P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Adequate security for deras, says DGP
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 23
Punjab DGP N. P. S. Aulakh said today that nobody would be allowed to disturb peace in the state and the law and order would be maintained at all costs.

Aulakh, who held a meeting with senior police officials of Faridkot and Ferozepore ranges at Bathinda and Muktsar today, said the Punjab Police was well-prepared to met any challenge.

Talking to mediapersons, he said though no demand for security had been made by the followers of the Sacha Sauda sect, paramilitary forces and the police had been deployed at the deras of the sect, providing foolproof security cover.

He said the police would consider any demand for security by any individual or organisation on merit.

Those who attended the meeting included Chander Shekhar, ADGP (law and order), M. K. Tiwari, IG (Patiala Zone), Suresh Arora, IG, V. K. Bhawra, IG (intelligence), Jatinder Jain, DIG (Faridkot range), Ishwar Chander, DIG (Ferozepore range), Nau Nihal Singh, Ram Singh, L. K. Yadav and Parmod Ban, SSPs of Bathinda, Mansa, Faridkot and Muktsar districts respectively.

The paramilitary forces would stay put in Punjab till there was absolute peace in the state, he said, adding that the forces had been directed to keep a strict vigil on the activities of anti-social elements. 


Ex-driver of dera chief given security
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 23
The Punjab police has provided security to Khatta Singh, a follower of Dera Sacha Sauda and former driver of its head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, late this evening.

Khatta Singh had said before the CBI sleuths probing the murder case of Ranjit Singh, one of the members of Dera Sacha Sauda committee for Haryana, was murdered by the functionaries of the Dera sacha Sauda on the directions of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

The security cover to Khatta Singh was provided after he moved an application to the police authorities concerned saying he apprehended danger to his life.

Whether apprehended danger to his life from the followers of the dera or not could not be known.


Summoning of Cong Leaders
Nandgarh differs with Vedanti
Chander Parkash/Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, May 23
Jathedar of the Takht Damdama Sahib Bhai Balwant Singh Nandgarh today disagreed with Jathedar of the Akal Takht Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti over summoning of Sikh Congress leaders and MLAs, who sided with Dera Sacha Sauda on May 14, to the Akal Takht.

Vedanti said on May 20 that those Sikh Congress leaders, who sided with the Dera Sacha Sauda sect on May 14 at Bathinda, could be asked to appear before Sikh clergy.

Talking to The Tribune on the phone, Nandgarh said the edict regarding social boycott of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and his followers was issued to the Sikh community by the Sikh clergy on May 17 from the Takht Damdama Sahib. Hence, no action could be taken against the Congress MLAs under the edict as they supported the dera on May 14.

Violence broke out in Bathinda on May 14 when a clash between the members of various Sikh organisations and the followers of the dera took place over burning the effigy of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

Replying to a question, Nandgarh said the Sikh Congress leaders were not to be summoned at the Akal Takht for any political considerations.

Giani Vedanti could not be contacted for his comments despite repeated efforts.


Dera row: Dullo, Bhattal express concern
Our Correspondent

Mohali, May 23
The Congress party in Punjab has expressed concern over the sudden turn of events in the state during the past one week, following controversy over Dera Sacha Sauda and other religious organisations.

Shamsher Singh Dullo, PPCC president, and Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, leader of opposition in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, termed the imbroglio as unfortunate and detrimental for the peace of the state.

They said every Indian was free to follow any faith or religion and it was the duty of the government to protect every religion and lives of its citizens.

Both leaders said it was the responsibility of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to play an impartial role to maintain communal harmony and secularism so that law and order prevailed. Nobody wanted to see the days of militancy once again, they added.

The Congress leaders appealed to all religious leaders, political parties, religious organisations and others concerned to rise above affiliations and petty politics, and to exercise great restraint at this critical juncture.

Dullo and Bhattal cautioned that in such a charged atmosphere, nobody should make provocative statements, which could break the secular fabric of brotherhood and mutual trust.

They further emphasised the Congress had always stood for secularism, peace, brotherhood and communal harmony, and even its leaders from time to time sacrificed their lives for this cause and for unity and integrity of the country.


Khalsa Diwan appeals to dera chief
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 23
The chief Khalsa Diwan today made an appeal to chief of Dera Sacha Sauda Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to accept the decision taken by Akal Takht over his act of imitating Guru Gobind Singh.

President of the Diwan Charanjit Singh Chadha said even if the dera chief had no intention to hurt the religious sentiments of the Sikhs, he should apologise in the interest of the general public. If peace in the state was disturbed, the public stood to suffer, he added.

Honorary secretary of the Diwan Bhag Singh Ankhi said the chief ministers of Punjab and Haryana should sit together to find a solution to the crisis. The Prime Minister should also intervene in the matter.

“We appeal to all sections of society to maintain peace in the state. The district administration also needs to be appreciated for the way the bandh was handled,” he said.


Canadian Sikhs for action against dera chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 23
Canadian Sikhs have expressed concern over what they describe the disrespect shown by the chief of Dera Sacha Sauda to Sikh maryada.

In a letter written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the Sikh Professionals Association of Canada has sought legal action against the dera head for hurting the Sikh sentiments all over the world and playing havoc with the peace in Punjab.

“The Central government must act decisively and immediately to restore peace and allay the fears of Sikh masses caused due to the provocation by the dera chief”, said Tarsem Singh Purewal, president of the association. 


Body urges SAD to snap ties with BJP
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 23
The Punjab Human Rights Organisation here today condemned the stand taken by the BJP, the alliance partner of the SAD in Punjab, on the Dera Sacha Sauda issue. It suggested that the SAD should break all ties with the party in case it continued to resort to blackmailing tactics.

Deputy chairman of the organisation Kirpal Singh Randhawa blamed the Congress for the controversy. The BJP, which should have stood by Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal backed out at the most crucial time.


60 more families quit Sacha Sauda sect

Sangrur, May 23
The Sacha Sauda sect today suffered another setback in the Sunam area when around 200 dera followers (60 families) dissociated themselves from the dera at a programme at Gurdwara Pehli Patshahi, about 13 km from here.

Talking to The Tribune, former chairman of the Sunam Market Committee Pritpal Singh Handa said members of these 60 families were presented with siropas at the gurdwara as they had decided to follow the teachings of the Sikhism.

Handa said the heads of these families submitted affidavits to the local Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, stating that they express anguish over the insult meted to Guru Gobind Singh by the head of Dera Sacha Sauda.

Meanwhile, former member of the SGPC Giani Raghbir Singh Jakhepal said they had received a list of a large number of followers of the dera, who wanted to join the Sikh Panth. They would be taken into the Sikh fold at a function at Jakhepal village.

Earlier, around 60 families from Cheema Mandi, Beer Kalan village, Sheron village and Sunam town had quit the Sacha Sauda sect. — TNS


Majithia for probe into Haryana, J&K violence
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 23
Punjab public relations minister Bikram Singh Majithia today demanded a high-level inquiry into incidents of violence in the Congress-ruled states of Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir during the Punjab bandh yesterday.

Majithia alleged that the incidents took place only in the two Congress-ruled states. These followed a set and well-known pattern.

Majithia said the Prime Minister should show sagacity and a balanced approach. He should restrain the Chief Ministers of Haryana and J&K. The Congress had always tried to create a division among the people but this time the people of Punjab did not allow it to exploit a sensitive situation. 


Scholars hold procession for peace
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 23
For peace in the state, scholars today held a candle-light procession at Sarabha Nagar market here late this evening.

The speakers included Prof Jagmohan Singh, nephew of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Prof Harish Puri, political scientist, Harish Rai Dhanda, chief parliamentary secretary.

The speakers, while regretting the sequence of events during the past one week, expressed relief that yesterday’s bandh passed off peacefully. They were critical of the state government, which they observed had been struck with inertia and was submitting to the diktats of the extremist forces.

Dhanda said the government was in control of the situation. It had exercised utmost restraint to ensure long term peace.

The speakers, who included artists, writers, academicians, poets and journalists, pointed out Punjab had seen the darkest period in history. “Let us not allow it to be repeated”, remarked one of the speakers.

They said it was high time for the well-meaning people of the state to come forward and raise the voice of sanity. Brandishing of naked swords was certainly no solution to the problem.

One of the speakers concluded, “saner voices needed to be raised in the ongoing madness.... The gathering tonight might be small, but it would certainly mobilise people against violence”.


Sarna denies meeting dera chief

Chandigarh, May 23
Paramjit Singh Sarna, president, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, has denied his meeting with the Dera Sacha Sauda chief in the delegation of Swami Agnivesh yesterday.

Sarna said there was no question of his ever meeting such a self-styled baba, who had the audacity of imitating Guru Gobind Singh and replicating the historical initiation and baptismal ceremony. — TNS


Government sitting on notification
Deras lease out land to developers
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 23
The failure of the government to notify the order issued in 2004 regarding the control of the land belonging to religious deras and temples has led to a land scam worth crores of rupees.

The government, in an order passed on January 14, 2004, had decided that powers of “deodhi maullas” (managers) of all religious deras, gurdwaras and charitable institutions would be exercised by the financial commissioner (revenue).

It has also been stated in the order the commissioner shall exercise control over management of religious institutions such as deras, thakur dawars, shiv dawalas and dharamshalas as is to be exercised by dharamarth board as religious institutions.

However, despite the order, the land under the control of various deras and religious bodies is being sold. Many colonies have been raised on the land of religious institutions here.

Sources in the department of revenue said dera mahants, allegedly in league with property dealers, are exploiting the lacunae in law to sell land of religious institutions. According to the law, the land associated with religious deras or temples cannot be sold through registry. However, the mahants, who are just caretakers of the dera, are giving prime land located in or around urban areas on lease to developers.

Many influential persons, including police officers, have allegedly taken land on lease from certain religious institutions.

Even government grant has been used to set up streets and other basic amenities in such areas. This is despite the fact that the corporation or any other government body cannot levy tax on dwelling units raised on the land of religious institutions as it is meant for charitable purposes in papers.

The sources said had the order been notified, the commissioner could have got legal powers to protect the pubic land from misuse.

The land used by religious institutions, including deras and thakur dawars, was allotted to them by former rulers of the princely states. The mahants or pujaris (priests), who are the managers of these institutions, are not allowed to lease or rent out the land belonging to their respective deras or temples.

The archives department has written to the government that it has become quite common now that some unscrupulous elements are backed by revenue officials in exploiting lacunae in the law.


State govt to install CFLs in offices
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 23
In a move that could result in the availability of 150 MW of additional power to Punjab, the state government today decided to replace traditional incandescent lamps with the energy saving compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) in government buildings and offices.

This decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today. He has directed the state chief secretary to issue detailed instructions to all officers concerned to make the use of CFLs mandatory in offices. This would save on the consumption of electricity.

Badal said people should be made aware about the usage of CFLs through publicity campaign in the form of advertisements through print and electronic media. Punjab is the first state to take such a decision.

The Chief Minister also directed the chairman of the Punjab State Electricity Board to persuade consumers in rural areas to replace conventional bulbs with CFLs as they were a cheaper source of energy and subsequently extend this measure in the industrial and domestic sectors in a phased manner.

The chairman informed Badal that the state government would be saving 100 MW to 110 MW power in the agriculture sector with the installation of CFLs.

Showing deep concern over the theft of power in the state, Badal asked the chairman to take tough measures to check this menace and replicate the Gujarat model to minimise the transmission and distribution losses, besides checking the pilferage of power through illegal means.


Move to De-recognise SAD
EC directs SAD to reply before June 4
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 23
Punjab Chief Minister and SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal is in deep trouble at a time when he is busy resolving the Dera Sacha Sauda issue in the interest of the state.

Under secretary of the Election Commission of India Narendra N.Butolia has directed the SAD, through his letter dated May 11, to submit its reply before June 4 on the representation of Janta Dal (S) national executive member Balwant Singh Khera.

Khera through his counsel, Prashant Bhushan, had urged the election commission to de-recognise the SAD on the ground that party’s political structure was based on religion which amounted to violation of the principle of secularism enshrined in the Constitution.

Butolia said if the SAD failed to file a reply by June 4 the commission would be forced to take an appropriate action without any reference to it.

While addressing a press conference here today, Khera said his counsel had persisted that the SAD was aligned to the SGPC, the apex religious body of the Sikhs, and was mingling its political agenda with religious affairs and thus violating the constitutional provisions.

Though the SAD, in an undertaking given to the commission, had agreed to abide by the principles of secularism while getting itself registered. But, it was not sticking to its commitment as its members were also contesting elections to religious bodies like the SGPC and the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), Khera added.

“It is mandatory for all political parties to give an undertaking to the commission, as per the provisions of the Section 29-A of the Representation of People Act (RPA), at the time of registration. They have to swear that they would bear allegiance to the Constitution of India, and to the principles of socialism, secularism and democracy” Khera said.

He alleged that as per SAD’s constitution, submitted to the Gurdwara Election Commission (GEC), only Amritdhari Sikhs could become its members. Whereas in its constitution filed with the commission, available on the EC website (www.eci.gov.in) for getting the SAD registered and election symbol, it had provided a separate constitution in which it was clearly mentioned that the SAD was a secular political party and every adult was eligible for its membership.

Khera alleged that the SAD had taken active part in the recent DSGMC elections by violating its constitution. Badal had submitted two separate constitutions of his party before the GEC and the commission by violating all principles.

Khera said the party would organised a rally at Company Bagh, Jalandhar, on May 31in this regard. The Janta Dal (S) would seek Parkash Singh Badal’s resignation from the Chief Ministership for his alleged fraudulent acts.

Khera’s counsel had field a PIL in the Supreme Court in January. A bench, comprising three judges, refused to take cognizance of it after Bhushan failed to place on record any election commission’s order on the issue.

Later, Khera’s counsel decided to withdraw the petition and moved the election commission in this regard.



SAD wins Lehragaga MC poll for first time
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 23
For the first time in the history of the Lehragaga Municipal Council (MC), a candidate of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)was elected president of the council at Lehragaga yesterday.

In a meeting of the council held under the supervision of Moonak SDM, Dular Kumar of the SAD was elected president of the council, while Kamlesh Rani and Shinder Kaur were elected senior vice-president and vice-president, respectively.

Talking to The Tribune today, SAD’s in charge of the Lehragaga Assembly constituency Prem Singh Chandumajra said the post of the president had been lying vacant for the past over six to seven months, so election to the post was the need of the hour.

He said eight municipal councillors of the SAD attended the meeting, while Congress councillors stayed away from the meeting. He said this was a victory for the SAD as it’s candidate was elected president for the first time.


Rs 5 crore for new vehicles for Badal, family
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 23
The Punjab government has decided to spend nearly Rs 5 crore to add about 25 vehicles to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s fleet. This will be for the use of the Chief Minister, his immediate family, including Sukhbir Singh Badal, and also the high-security paraphernalia guarding the state’s ruling political family.

The new fleet will have a few high-end luxury SUVs like the Mitsubishi Montero --- that is like the famous Pajero model of the same company --- and costs about Rs 22 lakh-Rs 24 lakh each. These SUVs will be for the use of the Chief Minister. With this addition, the number of cars in the fleet of the Chief Minister and his family will be more than 65, sources in the government confirmed today.

At present, the Chief Minister’s fleet has about 40 vehicles. These are separate from the 60-odd vehicles provided by the Punjab police for security purposes at the Chief Minister’s office, in his cavalcade and for ferrying the accompanying security men.

The Punjab Chief Minister, till now, has been using an Ambassador car while his Haryana counterpart, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, travels in a Mercedes. With the Punjab Chief Minister being frequently on the move --- his preference being for road travel --- the security agencies need to have spare vehicles to ensure timely repair and maintenance. The Chief Minister is in the Z-plus category of security.

Also, with Badal travelling in a high-speed SUV, the security personnel will also have to be provided with a vehicle that can keep pace with his convoy. The good old Gypsies will naturally struggle to catch up with a modern SUV, said a top police official. The pattern followed for the Chief Ministers of other states was studied and the security personnel in Punjab will also be provided with Indian-made SUVs that can to some extent match the speed of faster vehicles.

The Chief Minister’s security wing had done an assessment before sending a demand for more vehicles. The decision was made after a study at the level of chief secretary and a few other senior officers. Sources said the security wing had originally sought 80-odd vehicles. This was due to some confusion. The police department had thought that security vehicles were also to be provided out of the ministerial pool of cars. This was clarified and since the police had been allocated budgetary support for “CM security,” it was decided that the police would continue to provide the 60-odd vehicles for security.

With Sukhbir Badal having being given Z-plus security, the requirement of vehicles for his travel schedules has also to be kept in mind. Vehicles for the security of Surinder Kaur Badal, Harsimrat Kaur Badal and also the children of Sukhbir Badal will have to be provided.

During the previous Congress regime, the then Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, had also made a similar move to do away with Ambassador cars. The cabinet ministers were then provided with Toyota Camry cars.


Discrimination against anganwari workers alleged
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 23
The All-India Backward Tribes and Minorities Ekta Bhalai Manch has resolved to file a petition before the National Commission for Scheduled and Backward Classes for discriminating against anganwari workers and helpers during the past five years.

Manch president Kulwant Singh Bhatti said today that sarpanches elected in the general category in connivance with Child Development Project officers had by and large ignored women from Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes.There were reports that matriculate girls from well-off general category families were selected by ignoring much-qualified girls belonging to the Scheduled Caste and Backward Classes categories. Even physically challenged girls were denied jobs during the past decade.

Bhatti has sought details from a district programme officer under the RTI Act in this regard.


Schoolboy crushed to death, dharna by villagers
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 23
Gurjit Singh, a school-going boy of Gill Patti village of this district, was crushed to death by a bus when he and his sister were going to school.

After the accident residents of the village staged a dharna on the Bathinda-Goniana road demanding stern action against the driver and the conductor of the bus.The driver and the conductor of the bus fled the scene.

In another case, Nasib Chand (36), a clerk in the PWD, died under mysterious circumstances today. His condition deteriorated in the district administrative complex and was taken to civil hospital, where he died within hours.


PCOs to do watch and ward duties
Our Correspondent

Barnala, May 23
The police will shortly launch police community officers (PCOs) scheme in the district for doing watch and ward duties in various localities. The police had met residents of the district to work out modalities for starting the scheme.

SSP Paramjit Singh Grewal said today that the police would soon recruit 100 PCOs with an aim to offer employment avenues to unemployed youth. A three-member locality committees would be constituted in various parts of the district. These would offer honorariums to the PCOs after collecting the funds from the residents.

Identities of the PCOs would be verified to know about their track records and character. The selected PCOs would given 10 to 15 days training. A few fit and suitable persons already doing the watch and ward duties in various localities would be retained for doing the PCOs job.


Protesters Cry Foul
Kin of deceased employees of PSEB seek jobs
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 23
Dependent family members of deceased employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) today organised a dharna at the main gate of the board office here.

President of the PSEB Dependents Association Mohinder Pal Singh said the board should provide jobs to the dependents of the deceased employees. The government of Punjab was following a dual policy on the issue, he added.

While the government was recruiting the dependents of the deceased employees of the Punjab School Education Board, the electricity board has stopped giving jobs to the dependents of its employees who died while in service.

The protesters also threatened to intensify their agitation in case their demands were not met.


Firms to upgrade infrastructure in 36 towns
Sarbjit Dhaliwal/Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 23
While the Punjab government is keen to hold the elections to the municipal corporations by July-end, it has engaged expert consultancy firms to prepare detailed project reports (DPRs) for the upgradation of the infrastructure and to provide basic amenities in 36 towns of the state.

“We have no intention to delay the corporation elections”, said Manoranjan Kalia, local bodies minister, here today.

There are five municipal corporations ---Bathinda, Patiala, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar--- in Punjab. The elected bodies of four corporations will complete their term either at the end of this month or next month. Elections to the Bathinda municipal corporation, which was set up in 2003, will be held for the first time.

Already, the revision of the electoral rolls of the Bathinda and Amritsar corporations has been completed. In the case of the remaining three corporations, the completion of the electoral rolls will take some more time, it is learnt. However, at Bathinda, various political organisations have complained against the delimitation of wards and urged Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to order the review of delimitation.

Asked about the corporation elections, a senior officer of the state election commission said the process to revise the electoral rolls was on and as soon as it was completed, the state government would be informed to hold the elections.“We are trying to complete the pending work at the earliest possible”, the official said.

Meanwhile, Kalia said besides all district headquarter towns, Pathankot, Gobindgarh, Khanna, Batala, Malerkotla and some other towns had been included in the list of 36 towns. The union government would provide 80 per cent of the funds under the urban infrastructure development programme for these towns. The remaining 20 per cent share would be provided by the state government and the municipal committees concerned. For this purpose, the state government would set up a municipal infrastructure development fund. Kalia said the consultancy firms had been told to submit the DPRs of all towns in four months.

As far as the development of Ludhiana and Amritsar cities under the urban renewal mission was concerned, an MoU would be signed with the union government in this regard soon.

Asked about the setting up of urban development authorities in five corporation cities, Kalia said that a team of senior officers would soon visit Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Delhi and some other cities to study the models adopted there while setting up such authorities. “ We will adopt the best model”, he added. He said there would be no conflict in the functioning of the authorities and the elected bodies of the corporations.

Talking about building bylaws, Kalia said that the process was on to simply these.For the construction of five-marla houses, the enforcement of bylaws would be made more flexible, he added.

He said the government was preparing a proposal to introduce a self-rental value assessment system for housing tax purposes in cities and towns. 


Nod for three flying training schools
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 23
The Punjab government today cleared a proposal to set up three flying training schools at Amritsar, Ludhiana and Bathinda in public-private partnership mode besides upgrading the infrastructure at the Patiala flying training academy.

A spokesman of the Punjab government said today that a decision to this effect was taken at a review meeting chaired by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. The Chief Minister asked officials of the civil aviation department not to miss the aviation boom and tie up with leading players in the field for setting up world-class pilot training centres in the state. Badal also asked the secretary, civil aviation, to submit a detailed proposal for the upgradation of Sahnewal airfield in collaboration with the airport authority of India in a joint venture.

It was also decided at the meeting to present a proposal for the upgradation of an international airport and cargo hub (Mohali international airport).


Plan to restore heritage buildings
Patiala all set to regain past glory
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 23
Patiala is all set to restore its pristine glory and grandeur. Huge funds are being spent and the old heritage buildings are being refurbished and restored to its original glory.

Official sources say the state government has drawn up a series of plans to develop Patiala as a major tourist destination since the city is studded with palaces, museums and gardens, encompassing rich cultural and traditional architecture.

Sheranwala Gate, an ancient monument, would be rebuilt with its original grandeur and design with inbuilt gurdwara, temple, church and a mosque as a testimony to the age old cultural and secular values of the erstwhile princely state of Patiala.

The Mohindra Kothi has already been spruced up and now houses the newly established Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law from the current academic session. This is a temporary arrangement and the university will be shifted to its own campus soon.

The building, which once housed the head offices of the Punjab Public Works Department, would be preserved and conserved as a heritage site along with “Maiji di Serai”. The state government is also committed to preserve the landmark monuments marking the rich historical past like the Qila Mubarak, Old Moti Bagh Palace, Sheesh Mahal and Bahadurgarh fort as Patiala has been declared as counter magnet town under the NCR plan.

Patiala had historic gates built by the erstwhile rulers of this princely state. Now, the state has lost many of the gates owing to official neglect. These included the Lahori Gate, Sheranwala Gate, and Saifabadi Gate.

There is a popular demand for the restoration of these gates. The Samania Gate, which was damaged a couple of years back, get repaired under the supervision of experts. Sirhindi Gate, near the Patiala-Rajpura road, was also reinforced almost seven years back when a portion of the roof of the gate came crashing following incessant rains. This gate has also got repaired and given a fresh lick of paint.

The sources said the Heritage Society had decided to take up the restoration of all historic gates. It was proposed to request corporate and industry houses besides other establishments to sponsor the maintenance of these gates.

However, the society failed to get any response in this regard.


Jassi a versatile Punjabi singer
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 23
Jaspal Jassi, a versatile Punjabi folk singer, will come out with his new album “Mulakat” tomorrow. The album will be released by the vice-chancellor of Panjab University, R.C. Sobti, at students’ centre.

Jassi has won many awards and recognitions from literary societies and cultural clubs as a singer. Having started as singer at a young age, Jassi is M.Phil in Punjabi from Panjab University and he is teaching at SGGS Khalsa College, Mahilpur, at present. He got the “best singer award” at Jhankar festival in Panjab University in 1989. He has also remained a member of the board of studies of the Punjab School Education Board, Mohali.

Jassi performed at musical shows in Australia and New Zealand in 1999. His earlier three albums were “Koke Walie Alhar Mutiare; Mahje Di Jatti” and “Aitbar Di Chutti.” His new album has songs regarding patwari and miza.


Amarinder’s son files bail plea
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 23
Former Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s son Raninder Singh filed an application before the Punjab and Haryana High Court today seeking anticipatory bail.

The petitioner has sought direction to the authorities concerned under Section 438 CrPC to release him in the event of his arrest.

He has expressed fears that though his name is not there in the Ludhiana City Centre Scam FIR registered by vigilance bureau, he might be arrested on one ground or the other.

Amarinder’s another kin Manvinder, too, has filed similar application.

The case is listed for tomorrow in the court of Justice Umanath Singh. 


High Court
Punjab told to file reply within four weeks
Appointment of chief parliamentary secys
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 23
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the Punjab government and other respondents to file their replies within four weeks on a petition challenging the appointment of chief parliamentary secretaries in Punjab.

The Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Mahesh Grover, also directed that fresh notices be served upon those respondents who had not been served notices earlier. The next hearing of the case is on July 23.

Petitioner Jagmohan Bhatti had, during the previous hearing on April 23, submitted that the posts of chief parliamentary secretaries in Punjab be declared illegal, unconstitutional, and contrary to and in utter disregard of the 91st Amendment to the Constitution.

The petitioner had further sought the quashing of the appointments of the respondents, the same being illegal and unconstitutional and also being arbitrary and under the undue influence of the 13 appointees in the eyes of the law.

Importantly, it was pleaded that the Finance Department of the Punjab government should not to able to bear the expenses of these ‘illegal appointees’ and to withdraw all the facilities extended to the respondents in the interest of the state, its people and its state exchequer.

The other respondents were the Centre, the chief election commission, the Punjab government and the Punjab chief minister.

Today Home’s director seeks bail

The High Court on Wednesday adjourned hearing on the anticipatory bail petition filed by G.K. Ghambeer, Today Home’s Director, allegedly involved in the Ludhiana City Centre case, to May 30.

The petitioner had prayed for the grant of bail under Section 438 CrPC seeking direction to the arresting officer to release him in the event of his arrest in any case already registered or to be registered regarding Ludhiana City Centre.

A copy of the FIR filed by the Vigilance Bureau was also attached with the petition. Incidentally, many of the accused in the scam, including former local bodies minister Ch Jagjit Singh, have already been granted interim relief or regular bail by the court.


Land records being computerised
400-yr-old manual system disbanded
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 23
The city today disbanded the 400-year-old method of maintaining the land record system manually, which has been a key part of litigations. As a part of the e-governance programme, the district administration has begun computerising the land records under the “Integrated Land Records Management System.”

The centre for computerisation of land records was inaugurated here today by deputy commissioner K.S. Pannu.“Soon the land records, including copies of mutation and sale deeds, would be available at the click of a button,” he said.

Replying to a question, Pannu said e-copies of land records would not only help farmers, landowners and others, but also NRIs, who need not waste time for getting information about the land records.

Till now, Pannu said, it used to take at least a month to manually prepare the copies of records for the public, but with computerisation the process would become much faster and less cumbersome.

The system would establish clear titles to land, prompt updating of land records, provide easy and economic access to rural people and benefit farmers encompassing easier credit, quicker land conversions and lesser litigation, the deputy commissioner added.

Computerisation of land records would also go a long way in checking delays and malpractices and reduce the clout enjoyed by revenue officials. CMC, a private company, would start doing data entry work within a week. The computerised entries of fresh land transactions will begin from June 30 and the computerisation of the entire revenue records of the district will finish by March 31, 2008, he added.

Special “Fard Kendras” will be set up to provide the copies of revenue records to the public on special legally valid stationery. The process of training the patwaris in this regard has already been initiated.


Assistant held for graft
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 23
Officials of the state vigilance today arrested a godown assistant of the Punjab warehousing corporation for allegedly demanding a bribe from a man. SSP (vigilance) Shiv Kumar said complainant Ashok Kumar has alleged that the assistant demanded Rs 5,000 for handing over a cheque for Rs 19,242. 


Four held with stolen scrap
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 23
The police arrested four persons, Rajinder Singh, Anil Kumar, Mohan Lal and Gagandeep Singh from Gur Mandi when they were allegedly trying to sell stolen scrap.

The accused, who came to Gur Mandi on a tractor trolley with the scrap allegedly stolen from S.P. Singla Construction company, situated near railway phatak No. 21, were nabbed by the motorcycle patrol party, manned by head constable Devinder Singh.

A case under sections 379, 411 and 420 of the IPC has been registered at Kotwali police station.


School closed for third day
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 23
The Singh Sabha Kanya Pathshala (senior secondary school) remained closed for the third consecutive day today.

Students who had arrived from far-off places found the 60-year-old complex locked up and had no information as to when the school would reopen.

President of the new managing committee Gurlal Singh Danewalia, along with manager Dr Pritam Singh Sidhu, senior educationist Partap Singh Brar and Tek Singh Ghuriana met SDM Dr N.S. Brar and complained against the unconstitutional, arbitrary and highly objectionable attitude of the president of the former managing committee.

They rued that the former president refused to obey the orders of the director Public Instructions (DPI), Punjab, and tampered with records relating to rejoining of headmistress Rajwinder Kaur upon revoking her suspension.

They said the general body had elected the new office-bearers but the former president allegedly forced the staff to lock the school complex.

They said the girls’ hostel had suffered as its occupancy had gone down considerably due to the whimsical tirade against the headmistress. She had been time and again humiliated.

The former president had ignored calls from the district administration and the DPI (S) to appear before them and explain his conduct, they added.

The SDM has sought a report from the district education officer (DEO) in this regard. DEO (S) S.K. Mehta visited the school complex and on finding it locked, said he would report it to the SDM very soon.

The Punjab Government-Aided private schools association has condemned the former president and demanded strict action against him.

The former president has asserted that he would challenge the orders of the DPI.


Prof Sood gets ‘Bharat Gaurav Award’
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 23
The All-India Achievers Foundation has awarded prof Ashok Sood, of at Mata Gujri College here with the “Bharat Gaurav Award” at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, recently.

The professor was awarded for his initiative to invoke interest in English language among the people in this predominantly rural area.

The award was presented by M.V. Rajabekhran, union minister for planning.

The foundation, which is patronised by G.V.G. Krishna Murti, former Chief Election Commissioner and Bhisham Narayan Singh, former union minister and Governor of Tamil Nadu, has awarded 41 eminent persons from the fields of education, industry, science, technology and social service.

Prof Sood believes that unless we have dedicated and committed teachers to take teaching as a mission in their lives, a good educational system cannot be developed.

He feels that the power to alleviate all maladies affecting our society could be achieved by educating the people of our country. He strongly advocates that the very goal of education should be towards commitment to knowledge, advancement of learning, improving the quality of education and fostering a strong relationship between teachers and students.

Prof Sood also got the “Rashtri Shiksha Sanman” by the All-India Economic Development and Research Association last year.


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