P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Dera violence
Day IV

Cops unleash fury on dera followers
Vishal Joshi
Tribune News Service

Karnal, May 17
Highhandedness by the police in controlling the protesting followers of Dera Sacha Sauda has caused tension in the town.

After failing to control the protesting Sikhs and followers of Dera Sacha Sauda, the district administration seems to have given a free-hand to the police.

The police today chased unarmed aged and women on streets and beat them up mercilessly.

Two rounds of tear gas shell were also fired on the dera followers near the Meera Ghati chowk.

Several police officials in civil dress, including the security in charge of the SP, beat up ruthlessly an aged protester.

Even shopkeepers and shoppers were not spared by the police force.

The situation turned violent as in the morning, the police cane charged several women dera followers near Namaste Chowk. They were protesting against burning of the effigy of their dera head. In a bid to prevent their entry in the town, two rounds of tear gas shell were also fired on them.

Infuriated over the highhandedness by the police, the dera followers gathered at the committee chowk and raised slogans against the district administration.

The agitated crowd damaged the official car of the deputy commissioner. Since morning, SGPC and dera supporters had gathered at separate places to lodge protests.

Appeal made by the DC and the SP to the SGPC supporters to remain calm at Dera Kar Sewa gurdwara turned futile.

Brandishing swords, lathis and barchhis, the slogan raising Sikh protesters reached at the committee chowk and burnt the effigy of the dera head Baba Ram Rahim Singh. 


Sikh protest march peaceful
Tribune News Service

Yamunanagar, May 17
A protest march by thousands of sword-wielding members of the Sikh community, who raised slogans against Dera Sacha Sauda chief and burnt his effigies, on way to the mini secretariat passed off peacefully even when hundreds of agitated dera followers were present in the vicinity here this morning.

However, no untoward incident took place. Sikhs dispersed after handing over their memorandum and dera followers kept themselves stationed at the military grounds in Jagadhri.

Senior leaders of the two camps also worked overtime to ensure peace.

Tension had prevailed in Jagadhri and Yamunanagar since morning as dera followers started pouring at the military grounds and members of the Sikh community started gathering at two places - near the paper mill in Yamunanagar and Hanuman Gate gurdwara in Jagadhri.

The administration kept requesting the leaders of the Sikh community that DC Nitin Kumar Yadav would come to them and take their memorandum but they did not agree and took out the huge protest march to the mini secretariat.

On the other hand the administration somehow managed to persuade the dera followers to give memorandum to the DC at the military grounds only.

At around 10 am, DC Yadav, SP KV Ramna and SDM (Jagadhri) Narinder Singh went to the members of the Sikh community and appealed to them not to take out the march but in vain.

Thousands of Sikhs started marching towards the secretariat from Yamunanagar and an almost equal number of Sikhs marched to the secretariat from Jagadhri.

Traffic on the Chandigarh-Roorkie national highway in Jagadhri remained affected for more than two hours. It is to be noted here that hundreds of women carrying swords were also part of the march. 


Dera chief seeks Centre’s intervention
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Sirsa, May 17
Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh today demanded that President’s rule should be imposed in Punjab keeping in view the incident of burning of deras properties and notices issued to his followers to vacate the deras situated in Punjab. Besides it, he sought the central government’s intervention to solve the conflict with Sikhs after the Sikh high priests at Talwandi Sabo decided to boycott the dera followers.

While sticking to his earlier stand that there was no question of tendering apology, the dera chief insisted that the central government should constitute a commission to probe the whole matter that led to clash between the Sikhs and his followers. The decision in this regard was taken after holding a meeting with office-bearers.

Terming the decision of the Sikh bodies as unfortunate as for the first time, the dera chief accused the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for engineering the pre-planned attack on the dera followers at different places as a result of SAD defeat in the Malwa area in the recent assembly elections.

The dera chief further said it was necessary to constitute a commission to conduct a probe about the special characteristic of Guru Gobind Singh dress. “Moreover neither any law nor anything mentioned in the holy books of Sikhs restricts anyone to wear any kind of dress. If anyone has objection the way I dress, first the law should be framed for banning such dresses.

The spokesman of the dera, Dr Aditya Arora, maintained that ‘We are open to any kind of dialogue with Sikh high priests to sort out the issue and we will continue our effort despite the boycott decision as we do not want any further clashes.”


Haryana on high alert
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 17
Security arrangements have been beefed up in Haryana following an edict by Sikh clergy for a total social boycott of Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda sect. Senior police officers after a review of the situation today said that the situation was well under control and additional police personnel have been deployed at all sensitive places throughout the state.

“Proper precautions have been taken as per standard practices and additional manpower has been deployed at places with sizable Sikh population and those considered as sensitive. We can assure the people of Haryana that law and order situation is under control and nothing adverse is feared”, V.B Singh Additional Director General (Law and Order) told The Tribune.

He said increased mobilisation of followers of dera’s leader, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was seen after he made appeals to his followers to converge on the dera to discuss the situation arising out of the meeting at Talwandi Saboo. “On the call of the dera chief, his followers are arriving at Sirsa from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and other States, but their number is much smaller as compared to the regular gatherings at the dera on Sundays”.

RAF battalions called

Sirsa: The police has called battalions of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) to control the situation here due to a high tension after the reports that properties of deras were burnt in the different places in Punjab in the late evening here.

The information came when thousands of followers from different states, who were gathered at Dera Sacha Sauda, about 8 km from here, to decide the next course of action in view of the warning issued by the Sikh high priests against the dera chief and social boycott of dera followers. 


Protest over effigy burning
Our Correspondent

Fatehabad, May 17
Followers of Dera Sacha Sauda assembled here today in protest against burning of the effigy of their guru, Sant Gurmit Singh, by some Akali workers at Aherwan village in this district last evening.

The supporters assembled in the dera building here and expressed resentment over the insult of their guru.

They met SP Saurabh Singh and demanded stern action against those guilty of burning the effigy of their guru.

The SP assured them that the police would take action.

The supporters then moved towards Sirsa to participate in the congregation to be addressed by their guru.

On the other hand, a number of Sikh and Akali activists assembled at Ratia town in this district under the leadership of Joginder Singh Dhothi, president of the Haryana unit of SAD.

They alleged that the dera chief was trying to instigate violence by hurting religious sentiments of the Sikh.

They later left for Talwandi Sabo to participate at the meeting there. 


Jammu and Kashmir
Sikh bodies hold demonstrations
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, May 17
Expressing their anger against Dera Sacha Sauda, protest demonstrations by various Sikh organisations were held at different places across the Kashmir valley today, while an effigy of Dera Sacha Sauda’s chief Gurmit Ram Rahim was burnt at the Lal Chowk here today.

This was an unfortunate development and the Dera chief did not have any supporters outside his area, a Sikh youth said.

Protest demonstrations were held by members of Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and Sikh Federation from Amirakadal Gurdwara to the Court Road demanding strict action against the Dera chief.

Traffic on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway was blocked for about an hour near Qazigund, 80 km South of here in protest against the Dera Chief for hurting the sentiments of the community.

Reports of protest demonstrations have also been reported from other places, including Tral in Pulwama district and Nanak Nagar in Baramula.

Meanhile, Bajrang Dal national president Prakash Sharma said today that the Punjab government should take action against the Dera chief as he had the “hurt the sentiments of the Sikhs”.


Edict: Sangat dissatisfied 
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, May 17
Thousands of members of the Sikh community, who arrived here to participate in the Panthic meeting, raised slogans against Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, jathedar, Akal Takht and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to express their dissatisfaction over the edict issued by the Sikh clergy in connection with Baba Ram Rahim Gurmit Singh, head, Dera Sacha Sauda.

Thousands of Sikhs, who were present in the Takht Damdama Sahib complex, raised slogans when Giani Vedanti read out the edict in the open. Even some Sikhs, including representatives of various Sikh organisations, who later stormed into Gurudwara Takht Damdama Sahib, did not allow Giani Vedanti to continue with his speech.

The Sikh sangat demanded that one of the Deras of Sacha Sauda located in Salabatpura village of Bathinda district should be destroyed today itself and a price should be fixed for the Baba’s head. They alleged that the Sikh clergy had issued an edict by taking into the political situation of Punjab and Badal into consideration. They also demanded that time given to the governments concerned to arrest Baba Gurmit should be reduced from 10 days to few hours only.

Acting president, SAD (Amritsar), Bhai Daljit Bittu said Baba Gurmit would meet the same fate as of the slain leader of the Nirankari sect, who was done to death for his anti-Sikh Panth activities.

He, however, said if Baba tendered his unconditional apology for his action of equating himself with 10th Sikh master Guru Gobind Singh, the Sikh sangat could consider the fact that whether they should cool down their tempers or not.

Head, Damdami Taksal, Harnam Singh Dhuma said if the governments concerned failed to arrest Baba Gurmeet and sealed his deras in Punjab, Sikhs would carry out a peaceful protest march from Akal Takht to Delhi, where they would meet the President and Prime Minister.

He added that the Centre government should be more responsible for curbing the anti-Sikh Panth activities of Baba Gurmit.


SSP’s suspension sought
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, May 17
Protests continued in several parts of Amritsar here today against the Dera Sacha Sauda chief. Members of certain Sikh religious organisations burnt an effigy of the dera chief Baba Gurmit Ram Rahim, Baba Pyara Singh Bhaniarawala and Ashutosh Maharaj of Noormahal dera outside the Hall Gate. They raised slogans against the dera chief.

Tempers ran high and youth brandishing swords went around the walled city area, forcing shopkeepers to down their shutters. A strong contingent of police was deployed to keep a watch. Traffic in the Hall Bazar area was also blocked.

Unlike a complete bandh yesterday, markets in the city were only partly closed and many shops opened up by afternoon in the Hall Bazar area. Most shops on Lawrance Road were also open.

JALANDHAR: Parminder Singh, general secretary of the Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee, has dubbed the clashes between the Dera Sacha Sauda followers and the Sikhs as total failure of the Punjab government.

He has also sought suspension of the Bathinda SSP in this connection.

Taking the administration to task, Parminder said the Bathinda SSP and other senior officers concerned should be suspended as there was laxity on their part.

TARN TARAN: A near complete bandh was observed in the town against Dera Sacha Sauda, the call for which was given by Sikh organisations.

According to information, seven activists of Sikh organisations who were trying to close the shops at Chabal township have been booked for attacking a shopkeeper, Aman Kumar Sonu. Police sources said a case under Sections 452,324,323, 506, 148 and 149, IPC, has been registered against the accused.

The bandh was observed at Chohla sahib, Naushehra Panuan, Khadoor Sahib, Sheron, Sarhali, etc.

ABOHAR: District magistrate Bhawani Singh Detha today imposed Section 144 on Sriganganagar, banning assembly of more than five persons, processions, protest march, use of loud speakers without prior permission, carrying sharp-edged weapons and fire arms, etc. with immediate effect.

Nabha:A large contingent of the police on Thursday conducted a flag march in the town. 


Former MP arrested
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 17
Atinder Pal Singh ,a former MP, was arrested and remanded in judicial custody for seven days here today. Police sources here said the former MP had been arrested under Section 107/151 of the IPC to prevent him form instigating people by making inflammatory speeches. He was shifted to Patiala central jail today. Atinder Pal Singh, a former aide of SAD (A) president Simranjit Singh Mann, now floated the SAD (international). In the last assembly elections he contested against Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal. He was also an accused in the Indira Gandhi assassination case but was acquitted later on.

The situation turned normal in Patiala today after yesterday’s clashes between Akali workers and followers of the Dera Sacha Sauda.

In morning tension built in the Arya Samaj crossing area where Akali workers had damaged certain shops and houses after allegedly being attacked with bricks by followers of the dera. All shopkeepers of the area put up shutters and marched in procession against those who had damaged their business establishments.

The situation was defused with the intervention of religious leaders. The shopkeepers, however, demanded compensation for the loss to property in yesterday’s incident. The association of Arya Samaj traders handed over the list of loss suffered by shopkeepers to deputy commissioner Patiala DS Grewal.

Shopkeepers opened business establishments in the area by afternoon.

The association of traders of Arya Samaj area, however, said that they would resume agitation in case the shopkeepers were not compensated for the loss.

The deputy commissioner and SSP AK Asthana also held a joint press conference and issued an appeal to the residents to maintain peace in the district.

They said adequate security would be provided to shopkeepers who wanted to keep business establishments open. No procession or demonstration would be allowed as Section 144 of the Cr PC has been invoked

To a query the SSP said the yesterdays’ violence was the handiwork of miscreants who wanted to disrupt peace. A case has been registered and efforts are being made to identify the culprits.


Dera vehicles torched
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 17
The police cane- charged followers of the Dera Sacha Sauda and activists of various Sikh organisations, who clashed and torched vehicles outside Jalaldiwal village near Raikot, late this evening. Though some dera followers claimed the police opened fire, DIG Ishwar Singh and SDM Mukund Singh Sandhu denied it. Sacha Sauda followers allegedly hurled stones at Sikh jathas returning from Damdama Sahib. The jatha members retaliated by torching a number of tractor trolleys of a branch of the Sacha Sauda in jalaldiwal village.The administration has changed the return route of the jatha from to byepass Raikot area. Heavy contingent of the has been rushed to the site. 


Notice to CBI over dera chief gunman’s plea
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 17
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice to the CBI for July 30 over a bail plea by Safdal Singh, the gunman of Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim, head Dera Sacha Sauda, Sirsa.

Safdal Singh was booked under Sections 302, 120,134 of the IPC in July 2002, for murdering Ranjeet Singh. Ranjeet’s father Joginder Singh had then written a letter to the Chief Justice of the High Court on the basis of which, Safdal’s case and other cases of Dera were referred to the CBI.

The other referred cases included journalist Chhatrapati’s murder case and sexual exploitation case.


Badal writes to PM on minority definition
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 17
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has sought the immediate intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to get the controversial move regarding the status of minorities dropped.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, the Chief Minister has pointed out that the reported move to dispense with the just interpretation of the term "national minority" and replace it with a highly questionable dispensation at the state level would amount not only to tampering with it but also destroy the very fabric of the country's secular entity.

Badal in the letter referred to what he described as widespread apprehension and resentment among the minority communities in general and the Sikhs in particular against the reported move of the government of India to change the existing constitutional position regarding the definition and status of minorities in the country.

The letter says “ our Constitution embodies the broadest possible consensus on the relations between various segments of the rich regional, religious, linguistic, ethnic and cultural diversities which constitute the body and soul of the country. Our founding fathers fully and justifiably acknowledged the psychological, social and political requirement of instilling a sense of assurance and confidence in the minds of the minority segments so that people belonging to different shades of the ideological and political spectrum could participate in the task of nation building with pride.”

It adds that the question of majority-minority equation was debated at length by the founding fathers during the long and indepth deliberations in the Constituent Assembly. The Constitution that finally emerged truly represented the consensus that the national mainstream was composed of a national majority community and several national minorities. Indeed, for our founding fathers, the term "minorities" had a meaning only in the national context. Consequently, they provided for an elaborate structure of constitutional safeguards to protect and promote the interests of the minorities at the national level.

The reported move to dispense with this interpretation of the term "minority" would also run against the letter and spirit of the assurances given by eminent national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru to the minorities about the safety and security of their interests.

“ It is hard to understand the imperatives that have driven the union government to disturb the minority-majority paradigm based on the combined wisdom of the Constitution makers and undo the fruit of their toil, vision and far-sightedness. This is doubly unfortunate, coming as it does at a time when our great nation is just beginning to overcome the challenges of divisive tendencies in various parts of the country”, states the letter. 


Sectarian Violence
Parties appeal for calm
Tribune News Service

Ropar, May 17
Leaders of various political parties and religious organisations today made a fervent appeal to people to maintain peace and harmony in the district in the wake of sectarian tension in the state.

The appeal was made after a meeting convened by deputy commissioner Alok Shekhar and district police chief Parveen Kumar Sinha.

Members of the various parties condemned the episode, which had hurt the sentiments of some sections of the society, and urged them not to provoke the sentiment of others by holding protests.

They stressed the need for maintaining law and order and extended support to the district authority to keep the activities of anti-social elements in check.

The meeting was attended by Morinda MLA Ujagar Singh Badali, Nangal MLA Rana K.P. Singh, former MLAs Madan Mohan Mittal, Satwant Kaur Sandhu and Master Tara Singh Ladal, district Congress president Dr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, district BJP president Vijay Puri, district BSP president Charanjit Singh Ghai, CPI’s district secretary Lal Bahadur, district SAD(A) president Bhag Singh, SGPC member Gurinder Singh Gogi, former SGPC member Jarnail Singh Aulakh, senior Akali leader Dr R.S. Parmar, Gurdwara Singh Sabha president Amarjit Singh Satyal and representatives of various religious organisations.

Shekhar welcomed the suggestions of various leaders and thanked the parties for extending cooperation to the administration.

Sinha appealed to the members of the parties to keep an eye on the activities of anti-social elements and help police curb their activities.

He also appreciated the efforts of various organisations in keeping the district free from any untoward happening so far.

Patiala: The World Sikh Intellectual Council held an emergency meeting under the chairmanship of Baldev Singh Balluana, here today. In the meeting, members of the association condemned the action of Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh, terming it illegal as the Constitution of India forbids playing with the sentiments of any religious sect. They also demanded that the dera chief publicly apologise for his actions.

Ambala: The postal employees union today held a demonstration in Ambala Cantt to express concern over the Dera Sacha Sauda issue. The union members said the controversy was a matter of grave concern and could have dangerous consequences. They demanded that the Central government take prompt steps to ensure that the situation does not spiral out of control.


Violence: Cong seeks probe by HC judge

Chandigarh, May 17
The Punjab pradesh Congress committee has demanded a judicial probe by a sitting judge of the Punjab and Haryana high court into the recent incidents of sectarian violence in the state. The probe should be held to expose those responsible for the turmoil.

A demand to this effect was made at a meeting of office-bearers of the party held here today under the chairmanship of PPCC chief Shamsher Singh Dullo.

After the meeting, Parminder Singh, general secretary of the PPCC, in a statement said the party office-bearers condemned the failure of the SAD-BJP government led by Parkash Singh Badal to control the law and order situation. He said the Badal government had instigated miscreants to indulge in violence. The Chief Minister had allegedly hatched a conspiracy to divert the attention of the people from his government’s failures and made a crude attempt to shift the blame on the Congress.

People of the state asked why senior leaders of the Akali Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party, including Badal and Arun Jaitley, had gone to seek the blessings of Dera Sacha Sauda during the assembly elections.

The Congress appealed to all secular parties to join hands to restore normalcy in the state. At the meeting the Congress leaders felt that the Badal government had tried to shift the blame to the Congress instead of admitting its weak control over the administration, the police force and intelligence agencies which had failed to assess the gravity of the situation.

As far as the dress of the dera head was concerned, the Congress firmly believed that no human being could be equated with Guru Gobind Singh. It was Akali leaders who were trying to equate Baba Ram Rahim with Guru Gobind Singh although the Baba himself had never made any such claim, said the PPCC statement. — TNS


Petrol station allottees face harassment
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 17
There are several persons, who were given permission to set up petrol stations by various companies in 2005, facing harassment from the government authorities in Punjab.

On one pretext or the other, various departments are not issuing no-objection certificates (NOCs) to the allottees.

Sources said before the setting up of the petrol station, securing the NOCs was mandatory from various departments of the state. The applicant has to apply to the deputy commissioner concerned, who forwards the case through the district nodal officer to various departments for issuing the NOCs.

The new petrol pump dealers association said the department of housing and urban development had issued a notification (number HG2-499) fixing land use charges for housing projects, sports clubs, recreational institutions and leisure and tourism-related projects to be set up on the periphery of Mohali. However, there was no mention of petrol stations in the notification.

Officials of the forest department kept sitting on cases related to the giving of NOCs for months.

The association said that in the garb of this notification, the authorities in the department of town and country planning, who were to issue the change of land use certificates to dealers, were asking for the payment of conversion charges for setting up petrol stations. The association said that some of the dealers had been asked to pay up to Rs 50 lakh as conversion charges.

The association urged Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to instruct the officers concerned to issue the NOCs to the new dealers at the earliest. 


Dera branch near Bathinda attacked
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Maur Mandi, May 17
Hundreds of members of various Sikh organisations attacked ‘Naam Charcha Ghar’ of Sirsa based Dera Sacha Sauda located at village Ram Nagar, near this town and injured seven followers of that sect today.

The members of various Sikh organisations, who were allegedly having mob mentality, also set few vehicles parked inside the Naam Charcha Ghar, on fire. Though, the followers of Dera Sacha Sauda ran for safety, the Sikhs chased them in the nearby fields to attack them with lathis and swords. A policeman, who was deployed on security duty at that point, also suffered serious injuries after he came under the attack.

The members of various Sikh organisations, who openly expressed their dissatisfaction with the edict issued by Sikh clergy taken in connection with the alleged anti-Sikh Panth activities of Baba Ram Rahim Gurmit Singh at Takht Damdama Sahib, first staged a dharna at various places at Talwandi Sabo and then marched towards village Salabatpura where the sect is running a branch dera.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the members of Sikh organisations descended on the ‘Naam Charcha Ghar’ located at Ram Nagar village and caused huge damage to it apart from attacking the followers of the sect with sharp edged weapons.

A doctor of the Civil Hospital, Maur Mandi, when contacted, said so far they had received about eight injured and out of total eight, seven injured had been referred to the Civil Hospital, Bathinda.

Unconfirmed reports said those injured in today’s attack had been identified as Mithu Singh, Jagir Singh, Dev Singh, Darshan Singh, Mukhtiar Singh, Jagtar Singh and Satnam Singh (policeman).

The Dera followers alleged that though the district civil and police authorities had assured them that neither their Naam Charcha Ghar nor they would be allowed to get harmed by any one, no efforts were made to save them from the attack.


It’s harsher than the one against Nirankaris
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 17
The wording of the directive pronounced from Takht Damdama Sahib today is harsher than the one issued against Nirankaris from Akal Takht on June 6, 1978. That is a separate issue that the directive could not satisfy the radical Sikhs who sought drastic action against the chief of Dera Sacha Sauda.

While the edict against Nirankaris was pronounced under the seal and signature of the then jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Sadhu Singh, the directive against the dera had been issued under the signatures of jathedars of the four Takhts - including Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Giani Tarlochan Singh, Giani Iqbal Singh and Giani Jagtar Singh - jathedars of Akal Takht , Damdama Sahib , Kesgarh Sahib and Patna Sahib and granthi, Harmander Sahib, respectively.

Some interesting similarities could be drawn between both hukmnamas . While the edict against Nirankaris had mentioned that they were carrying out anti-human activities, the directive against the dera reads that its anti-Panthic activities were a great threat to peace and communal harmony in the country.

Unlike the edict against the Nirankaris, the directive against the dera has warned the Punjab, Haryana and Central governments of dire consequences if they failed to impose ban on the activities of Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim.

It may be mentioned here that the edict against Nirankaris had called upon the Sikh masses to use every legitimate measure to curb the activities of the then chief of Nirankaris, Baba Gurbachan Singh , who was later assassinated by the Sikh youths in New Delhi. Later, the Sikh militants targeted many Nirankaris following the directive from Akal Takht. However, despite a number of killings, the Nirankaris never retaliated and adopted the path of peace. However, the clash between Sikhs and Sacha Sauda have dangerous connotations due to the strong stand taken by the latter.


Protest at Paonta
Our Correspondent

Nahan, May 17
Over 3,000 angry Sikhs took out a protest march in Paonta town to protest against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Baba Ram Rahim who according to them dressed like 10th Guru Shri Govind Singh and claimed to administer ‘Amrit Sanchar’. Protesters also burnt effigy of the dera chief in front of Paonta SDM office.

They submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh through the Paonta SDM.

In the memorandum they threatened ‘direct action’ if early solution of the controversy was not found.

All shops in Paonta town, Badri Nagar, Devi Nagar and the Bhoop Pur area remained closed. School authorities had declared a holiday today.


Muslim leaders join protest
Tribune News Service

Malerkotla, May 17
Muslim leaders of Malerkotla today joined the protest march taken out by Sikhs, here today, against the Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

Brandishing naked swords, hundreds of activists of various Sikh organisations, raising slogans against the Dera head, they took out a protest march from Gurdwara Ha Da Nara to the SDM residence to submit a memorandum.

Muslim leader Manju Qureshi, general council member SAD, demanded the immediate arrest of the Dera head for hurting the sentiments of the Sikh community and a ban on his activities.

Protesters submitted the memorandum to SDM Jaspal Singh Jassi at his residence, as he was not available in his office. Sikhs and Muslim leaders after marching through various parts of the city later gathered at Gurdwara Ha Da Nara. 


Student’s body found
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 17
The body of Charanjit Singh Channi, a BA-II year student of Gurunanak Khalsa College, was recovered from Daulatpura sub canal near Gumjal village close to the inter-state border last evening.

Channi, son of a PSEB employee, was reportedly missing for past two days. His bike was, however, found near the Malukpura canal on the outskirts of the town yesterday afternoon.

Father Gurpreet Singh Bhusari suspected it as a case of murder and not suicide. He said Channi was having an affair with a married teacher, working in a private school. She lived in the same locality. Channi, after receiving a call on his mobile phone, left the house and did not returned, he asserted.

He alleged that the father of the teacher had, earlier, threatened the family over the affair.


Six die as car rams into train

Phillaur, May 17
Six occupants of a Scorpio car number PB-12-0153, were killed on the spot, when their car in which they were crossing an unmanned level railway crossing, rammed into Soemnath Express near Beaspind between Alawalpur and Kalabakra on Jalandhar-Pathankot railway section this afternoon.

Railway sources told The Tribune that the engine of the train developed a snag and the train was stranded till filing of reports.

The deceased were identified as Rajinder Singh of Nadala, Sucha Singh of Jalandhar, Balbir Singh of Nagra, Prabhjot Singh of Amritsar, Gurpreet Singh of Amritsar and Jagtar Singh of Mustapur. — OC


NTAS auditions 94
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 17
The National Theatre Arts Society (NTAS) organised 22nd annual Prithvi Raj Kapoor Talent Hunt Festival in Central State Library Hall, here, today.

This four-hour programme included the audition of 94 aspirants from various educational institutions. Chief librarian Satnam Singh Ahluwalia was the chief guest. While inaugurating the function, he said that the NTAS was attracting more and more talent. He lauded the efforts of NTAS director Pran Sabharwal for spreading value-based theatre all around. He urged the people, especially the youngsters, to inculcate reading habits and make use of state library books. He also said that the library was always responsive to the needs and tastes of their 19,000 registered members.

NTAS director dedicated the festival to Prithvi Raj Kapoor, a doyen of Hindustani theatre and pioneer of Indian cinema. He honoured the dignitaries by presenting them mementoes.


District bar assn elections tomorrow
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 17
Hectic campaigning has begun for elections to the posts of president, vice-president and secretary, of the Fatehgarh Sahib District Bar Association. The elections, which were scheduled to be held on May 7, will now take place on May 19. They were postponed due to an order passed by the chairman of the Bar Council Chandigarh on the petition of certain members, whose membership was struck off.

For the post of president, the contest is between R.S.Grewal, Gian Singh Saini and J.P.S. Chadha. The contest for the post of the vice-president is between Kamaljeet Singh Mattoo and Gurdev Singh. For the post of secretary, the contest is between Mandeep Singh Salana and Gursharnjit Singh Nagra.

Nirmal Puri and M.L. Singhi, who have been nominated as election commissioners, said votes of the aggrieved members will be sealed separately.

They said the association decided that the elections be postponed till May 12, the date fixed for the hearing by the Bar Council.

They added that the Bar Council Chandigarh had decided not to interfere in the internal affairs of the District Bar Association till rules are framed by the Bar Council of India in this regard.


Coop bank chairman, hotel manager arrested

Pathankot, May 17
The local police has arrested the chairman of Hindu Urban Cooperative Bank here and owner of Hotel Prag and his employee in the Vijay Ahire murder case.

TNS stated that Pathankot SSP Bhupinderjit Singh Virk revealed that the bank chairman and hotelier Mohinder Puri had been arrested under Section 304 of the IPC, besides his hotel manager R.K. Saxena. The hotelier was reportedly hospatilised after his arrest. The duo were today produced before a court and were remanded in judicial custody. — TNS


No upfront fee payment for SC students
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 17
The Punjab government today decided that scheduled castes students eligible for post-matriculation scholarships would not have to pay their fees, as the present system of upfront payment and subsequent reimbursement would be dispensed with.

The decision would benefit more than 62,000 students belonging to the scheduled castes. The colleges concerned, after admitting the eligible students, would have to seek the reimbursement of the fees and scholarships from the Punjab government. The government said a decision to this effect was taken at a high- level meeting held under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

With the implementation of the decision, scheduled castes students, whose family income was below Rs 1 lakh per annum, would be eligible for free post-matriculation education in the medical, engineering, nursing or other stream of their choice.


CS to look into lecturers’ services

Chandigarh, May 17
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has referred the issue of regularisation of the services of ad hoc government college lecturers to chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh.

Badal has asked the chief secretary to prepare a proposal to regularise their services, it is learnt. A deputation of these lecturers had met Badal in this connection.

Many of the lecturers have been working on an ad hoc basis for the past eight years.They were earlier given a lump sum of Rs 6,000 per month but later their salary was revised to Rs 12,000 on the orders of the Supreme Court. — TNS


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