P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Dera row
HC praises Punjab, Haryana
Centre given three days to file reply
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
The Punjab and Haryana governments today received a pat from the Punjab and Haryana High Court for taking adequate and timely steps to maintain law and order in the wake of frayed tempers over the Dera Sacha Sauda row.

The praise came when the court was hearing a couple of petitions relating to the Dera issue in which petitioners had sought protection of the life and property of dera followers in particular and other citizens in general.

“We appreciate the steps taken by the Punjab and Haryana governments in protecting the life, liberty and property of their citizens,” the Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Mahesh Grover, said.

The Punjab government filed an affidavit stating that “necessary steps and measures to control law and order and to maintain peace had been taken”. It was emphasised that the Bathinda police had been told to take immediate action and adequate steps to protect the life and property of dera followers. The affidavit highlighted the fact that during the Punjab bandh, no untoward incident had been allowed to take place and paramilitary forces had been deployed at sensitive places.

A similar affidavit was filed by the Haryana government stating that the government showed no laxity in handling the situation and companies of paramilitary forces were requisitioned from the Centre to maintain law and order.

The Union of India’s counsel, Daya Chaudhary, sought two days to file reply but the court in its order allowed her three days to do the same. The case has been fixed for hearing on May 31.

The much-awaited moment came when the UT Administration’s counsel, Anupam Gupta, whose submissions during the previous hearing had left the court fuming and fretting, stood up to address the Division Bench.

Gupta filed his personal affidavit which was ordered to be taken on record by the court But the court asked him to file another affidavit of the UT Administration, saying: “We never addressed you in your personal capacity. We referred to you as the senior standing counsel for the Chandigarh Administration”.


80 families leave sect
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 25
More than 80 families, comprising about 325 members of Dera Sacha Sauda, today broke their ties with the dera at Mangwal, Chathe Sekhwan and Kammomajra villages near here.

As per information, about 50 families (150 followers) snapped their ties with the Sacha Sauda sect in a gurdwara at Mangwal village, about 2 km from here, and another 25 families (160 followers) followed suit in a gurdwara at Chathe Sekhwan village, at a distance of 6 km from here. Meanwhile, seven families (18 followers) also left the faction at Kammomajra village, about 3 km from here.

All dera followers, who today left the Sacha Sauda sect, were presented with ‘siropas’. These dera followers had left the sect by stating that dera head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh had insulted Sri Guru Gobind Singh by imitating.

A large number of families from Cheema Mandi, Beer Kalan village, Sheron village, Jakhepal village and Sunam had earlier snapped their ties with the dera.


We can handle: Sukhbir
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
“The Akali-BJP government is competent enough to provide an atmosphere of security, peace and development to all Punjabis and also to bring the guilty to justice,” says Sukhbir Badal, maintaining that “overseas Punjabis have been appreciative of the manner in which the dera row has been handled by the Punjab government.”

Talking to The Tribune after his brief stay abroad, the acting president of the Shiromani Akali Dal is hopeful that the dera controversy will be resolved amicably. “We have learnt our lessons after paying a huge cost through the loss of lives, property and dignity and slackness of the development process.”

He says the centre should intervene to bring about a settlement of the dera row as it is a matter of national interest.

“I was in constant touch with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and senior functionaries of the state administration and briefed the investors I met in London during my six-day stay there. Though I had planned a 30-day tour to woo non-resident Punjabis to come and invest in Punjab to accelerate the pace of development here, I had to return because of the dera row.

Coming to the dera controversy, Sukhbir Badal says that the Shiromani Akali Dal believes that no religious sect should try to hurt the sentiments of the followers of other religions and sects. “In fact, there is a constitutional protection against such violations. A hukamnama from Akal Takht is a moral edict to ensure that the rights of the Sikhs are protected against any religious misadventure prompted by vested political interests.”

Regarding the dera controversy, he said the appeal issued by the political wing of the dera was violative of the secular and democratic ethos of the country.

He says the SAD has never shown any intolerance towards any sect. The present situation is “not our creation”. It is the endeavour of the Akali Dal to provide peaceful and conducive conditions in the state for people belonging to all sects, religions and castes.


Suit filed against dera chief
Our Correspondent

Barnala, May 25
Jatinder Singh, Miri Piri Sewa Dal office-bearer, has filed a complaint in the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Ramesh Kumari here today against the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for allegedly imitating Guru Gobind Singh.

The court has fixed June 12 as the next hearing of other evidence in this regard.

Jatinder Singh, through his counsel, has complained in his suit that Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has hurt the religious sentiments of the people.

A resident of the nearby Dhanual Kurd, he had earlier gone to the Handiaya police station to get a case registered against the dera head, but the police refused to do so, advising him to knock the door of the court for the same.


Shaheed Bhagat Singh replaces baba’s photos
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 25
Followers of Dera Sacha Sauda have started showing an unusual love for Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

Shops and other commercial establishments being run by dera followers have begun displaying the photographs of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, replacing those of Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

The reason behind this move could not be known. However, information gathered by TNS revealed that most of the dera followers had done so to avoid any kind of harassment by members of various Sikh organisations.

Interestingly, some of the Hindu families, which were having ‘unflinching loyalty’ towards Dera Sacha Sauda sect, are accepting siropas to join their respective religious fold. So far about 400 families of Bathinda, Mansa, Muktsar and Sangrur districts have shunned their ties with the dera.

Pawan Kumar, a spokesperson of the dera said these followers were never ever part of the sect. He added that they had never asked its followers to shun their parent religion.


Tough days ahead, DGP tells officers
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 25
Giving signals that the days ahead could be “tough” in the state, DGP N.S. Aulakh has directed the Punjab Police officials to pull up their socks and be prepared in view of the ongoing Sikh-Dera Sacha Sauda feud and the May 27 deadline fixed by Akal Takht for closure of all deras in the state.

The DGP also made it clear to all DSPs and SHOs that they would be directly held responsible in case any unsavoury development erupts in their respective areas of operation in days to come.

Aulakh, who along with IG (Jalandhar zone) Sanjiv Kalra, met the DIG (Jalandhar range), four SSPs of the Doaba region, DSPs and SHOs, came to Jalandhar in a chopper. After the hurriedly convened meeting, Aulakh and Kalra flew to Ludhiana to undertake a similar exercise there.


Probe sought into dera row

Patiala, May 25
Convener of the People for Peace in Punjab Dr M.S. Randhawa has urged the government to appoint a judicial commission, comprising a sitting judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, to probe into the controversial episode at Salabatpura which resulted into statewide unrest.

He said it was necessary to rule out the conspiracy if any, in view of public outcry by responsible persons of the state, alleging conspiracy behind enactment of the incident of “blasphemy”, which had too many similarities to that enacted by the Nirankari sect in 1978 in Amritsar, which played havoc with peace in the state. — TNS


Sadbhavna rallies by Left
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 25
Members of the peace committee of the Left parties, including the CPM, CPI and CPM, Punjab, today took out a sadbhawna rally at Dhuri, 13 km from here, to disseminate the message of peace and communal harmony among the masses in the wake of the on-going crisis involving Sikh organisations and Dera Sacha Sauda.

A similar rally was also taken out by the Left parties and other organisations at Sherpur. It was attended by Barri, CPI leader Sadhu Singh, leader of anganwari workers Surinder Kaur and leader of teachers Faqir Singh among others.


Badal launches projects aided by World Bank
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
The much-awaited World Bank-aided projects for providing drinking water in rural areas and augmenting road network in Punjab were formally launched here today.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal launched the two projects that are collectively worth Rs 2,780 crore. These are the Rs 1280 crore Punjab water supply and sanitation project to augment potable water supply to over 3000 villages of the state and the one which involves rehabilitation and widening of 1300 km of road at a cost of Rs 1500 crore.

Badal launched these projects at a ceremony at the CII here in the presence of operations advisor, World Bank, Rachid Benmesaoud, Water Supply and Sanitation Minister Bikram Singh Majithia and PWD Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa.

Badal assured that his government would improve infrastructure. The water supply and sanitation project was one of the most ambitious projects that will provide potable water to over 3000 villages, sewerage facility to over 100 villages and take care of village ponds in 1000 villages. With the completion of this project in the next five years, Punjab will become the first state with 100 per cent coverage of water supply to all 12,267 villages and habitations in all the 20 districts of the state.

Speaking about the road project, the Chief Minister said it would involve rehabilitation and upgradation and the loan component alone would be Rs 1100 crore. It was the largest-ever road sector project being undertaken in Punjab. The state government had set up a dedicated road maintenance fund to ensure adequate funding for the maintenance of roads. Badal said his government had given the nod to new resettlement and rehabilitation policy to take care of those people whose land or structures get acquired in the implementation of this road project.

The minister for water supply and sanitation Bikram Singh Majithia claimed he had created a special counter-intelligence cell in the purview of this project to keep an eye on all financial transactions. He would get a feedback from all panches and sarpanches regarding quality of material being used in the project. The minister said his major concern was that every penny spent on this project should be well spent.

He also requested the World Bank authorities to increase the scope of this project to meet the increasing demand by villages that are seeking inclusion in this project.

On the project road, Dhindsa said Punjab Roads and Bridges Development Board (PRBDB) would be the overall implementing authority of this project. He said in the first phase which was under execution, about 150 km would be widened. About 200 km of road would be get a facelift and another 350 km of road would be maintained. In the second phase, 500 km of roads would be upgraded.

World Bank Operations Advisor Rachid Benmesaoud said the bank was committed to helping all infrastructure-related projects especially those impacting the life of the maximum population.


Historic Verdict
Clubs told to vacate Ram Bagh by June 20
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 25
In a landmark order Sub-Divisional Magistrate-cum-Collector Vimal Setia today ordered the vacation of all three clubs from the historic Ram Bagh - the Summer Palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh - by June 20. The lease of the Amritsar, Service and Lumbsdon Clubs had expired 15 years ago.

The order reads, “I am of the view that the clubs have illegally occupied public premises.” The eviction orders clearly mention that having failed to vacate the premises by June, the municipal corporation will be at liberty to get the area vacated under Section 5(2) of the Land Eviction and Land Recovery Act, 1973.

The corporation had been fighting a legal battle for the past several years even as various non-government organisations, including Amritsar Vikas Manch, had sought the eviction of the clubs so that the character of the heritage building could be preserved .

Ram Bagh was got constructed by the Maharaja on the pattern of Shalimar Bagh in Lahore. The protected monuments in the city include the Summer Palace of the Maharaja, Service Club, a bathing tank, reading room, four watch towers and Baradari. The total area is 728 kanals and 3 marlas. Interestingly, the director, cultural affairs, and the Museum Department in a communication to the deputy commissioner, dated July 8, 1999, had urged handing over the charge of the buildings in Ram Bagh after its declaration as protected monument.

It was stated that no activity was to be allowed at Ram Bagh, including marriage parties and political rallies. It was also decided that clubs functioning in the garden shall be closed and shifted elsewhere. A copy of the letter was sent to the municipal corporation for ensuring vacation of the clubs from the historic building.

In a unanimous resolution the local municipal corporation vide resolution July 1, 1994, had decided that excess land in possession of the clubs should be got vacated immediately. It had also identified the encroachments by the clubs.


Kids want death for ‘hard-hearted’ father
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Goniana (Bathinda), May 25
Two sons and a daughter living in this town, 15 km from Bathinda, are praying to God for ensuring that their father is “hanged till death” for tormenting the family through sins committed by him (father) during the past few years.

Gursahib Singh, Satpal Singh (sons) and Veerpal Kaur (daughter) started hating their father, Gurdeep Singh, when he murdered their mother, Balwinder Kaur, on May 13 with a sharp-edged weapon. Gursahib and Veerpal also suffered injuries when they tried to save their mother.

Their mother’s murder is not only the incident, which has made these teenagers “hard-hearted”. What has made them invoke divine power for ensuring death sentence for their father is that they have been tortured by him ever since they were born.

Gurdeep Singh, who used to take drugs, forced the three children to leave school. After some time, Gurdeep committed a murder in Moga and went to a jail. Whenever he used to come out on parole, he used to beat their mother.

“One day, my father poured hot water on my mother, who suffered severe injuries,” said Gursahib and added that his father used to regularly torture all of them.

Fed up with the harassment being meted out to them by their father, they along with their mother started living with their maternal grandparents. They would work as domestic help to earn their livelihood. Their mother also used to work as domestic help and was murdered while she was on her way to work.

“Now, we fear that whenever our father will come out of the jail, he will kill us,” said the children.

They added that the police was the only hope for them as it would ensure that their father was given severest punishment for murdering their mother. They hinted that they could also write to the authorities concerned for ensuring death sentence for their father.

Gurdeep, who has been facing trial for the murder in Moga, is now lodged in Bathinda Central Jail following his arrest in the case registered against him in connection with murder of his wife.


Airport security issue taken up
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 25
Rajya Sabha MP Tarlochan Singh has taken up the issue of security at Rajasansi International Airport with the Civil Aviation Committee of Parliament.

Replying to his question about the security arrangements after bomb blasts in the Samjhauta Express on February 19 this year, the aviation committee assured him that adequate security measures were in place at the airport.

Tarlochan Singh said the committee had, in its reply, informed him that comprehensive security instructions and measures were in force to preclude the possibility of any unlawful interference, including sabotage and hijacking.

On his suggestion to start daily flights of the Air India Express from Amritsar to Dubai, the committee said the frequency of the flights had already been increased from three to five and there were plans to make it a daily service in the coming months, provided it continued to get a good number of passengers.

The second phase of expansion of the airport has been planned as a time-bound project. Two parking bays have already been completed.

Work on the main building was awarded on November 24, 2006, and is in progress. It is likely to be completed by March 2008, informed the committee.


Giri to Kalam: Open Amarnath pilgrimage for month
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 25
In a representation to President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, president of the Rajasthan Sadhu Samaj Verindranand Giri has urged him to open an annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath shrine in Jammu and Kashmir for at least one month. It will conclude on Raksha Bandhan (August 28).

In a message faxed to this correspondent here today, Giri stated that lakhs of pilgrims from the country and abroad take part in the annual pilgrimage, but despite terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir proper security cover was not provided to them.

He urged the President to instruct the Jammu and Kashmir Governor to get security guards deployed en route from Lakhanpur to the holy shrine.


11 EOs of civic bodies suspended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
Eleven executive officers (EO) of different municipal councils in Punjab have been suspended. A spokesperson today said that minister for local government Manoranjan Kalia said the officers were allegedly involved in financial frauds.

Kalia alleged that they had not been depositing deductions from employees’ salaries but were diverting the same for other purposes. The suspended EOs had allegedly diverted more than Rs 35 lakh each from pensionary and other benefits of employees of the urban local bodies.

The spokesperson said those suspended were Vijay Kumar Sharma— Pathankot; Manjinder Singh — Dinanagar; Manmohan Singh — Gurdaspur; Hardev Singh — Ferozepore; Jagtar Singh — Sujanpur; Aman Kumar — Kapurthala; Devinder Kumar Goel— Talwandi Bhai; Dewan Chand — Abohar; Bhupinder Singh Sra — Giddarbaha; Krishan Chand Sharma — Fazilka; and Krishan Kumar Goel — Rama. Besides, 27 other executive officers were being charge-sheeted for major punishment for dereliction of duty.


Dist planning board soon: Dhindsa
Our Correspondent

Barnala, May 25
The local district planning board and the district grievances panel will be constituted within a fortnight’s time for speeding up the development work and redressal of public grievances in the district. This was stated today by the deputy commissioner V.K. Ohri.

Punjab PWD and B and R minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa has already been made the chairman of the district planning board in addition to the chairman, district planning board, Nawanshahar.

The deputy commissioner informed that soon after the nomination of six non-official members (five civilians and one ex-serviceman) on the district planning board, it would start functioning.

He would then convene the board’s meeting as its member-cum- secretary. He made it clear that the district grievances panel, too, would be constituted within 15 days’ time to redress the grievances of public promptly.

Ohri further disclosed that the new district administrative complex would shortly come up at an estimated cost of Rs 10 crore. He further added that the procees of acquiring the Improvement Trust’s land would soon start.


76 ETOs to be recruited 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25 
In an unprecedented move, the Punjab government will refer recruitment to key government posts to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

To begin with, the recruitment of 76 excise and taxation officers (ETOs) will be referred to the UPSC. A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the cabinet subcommittee to discuss ways and means to mobilise additional resources for the state’s development.


Tribune Impact
Fresh case against accused
Fleeing of IG’s brother

Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 25
Taking serious view of the fleeing of Rakesh Sharma, brother of inspector-general of police, from police custody in alleged connivance with his younger brother Sandip Sharma, a PPS officer, the state police has sought detailed report from the police authorities in Amritsar.

The Civil Lines police has already booked Sandip, posted as assistant commandant , 5 Battalion, Bahadurgarh, and an additional SHO, Civil Lines, Vivinder Kumar, apart from registering a fresh case against Rakesh, who had been arrested in connection with a Rs 100-crore land deal case.

Though Sandip had denied his involvement, the local police is likely to send its report on the alleged pressure put on the Civil Lines police to ensure the release of Rakesh from police custody.

Since his (Rakesh) brother Sandip was posted here as SP sometime back, the police officials posted in the Civil Lines reportedly succumbed to his pressure and allowed him (Sandip) to take his brother along with him.

Meanwhile, the police is likely to tighten its noose around the officials of improvement trust and municipal corporation, who had reportedly connived in the shady deal of the prime land belonging to the improvement trust.

The Amritsar police had booked Rakesh on April 17 in the alleged Rs 100 crore fraud deal in which tenants were shown as owners of the controversial piece of land, measuring 10,000 sq yards, belonging to the Amritsar Improvement Trust in the posh Ranjit Avenue locality.


Probe sought into Boprai’s ‘wrongdoing’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 25
The dharna by members of the Joint Action Committee, seeking inquiry against the vice-chancellor of Punjabi University, entered its 34th day.

Convener of the JAC Dr Manjit Singh said yesterday despite the protest no matter regarding the victimisation of students, teachers, non-teaching staff and various other demands of students had been addressed so far.

He alleged that the vice-chancellor had done several irregularities and favouritism during his term. As the matters regarding his wrongdoings were highlighted, the VC had been acting against the whistleblowers, he added.

Orders of suspension, termination and transfers were the common practice to snub those who raised their voice against the VC, a spokesman for the committee said.

Dr Manjit Singh has urged the state government to order a vigilance inquiry against the VC. He said they had brought the matter to the notice of all functionaries at higher level, but no action was visible so far.

He said the vice-chancellor had been deducting 1 per cent salary of faculty members for the past one year without any authority and there was a lot of resentment among them. He demanded that the deducted amount should be refunded with interest. 


Theatre repertory makes varsity proud
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 25
The Theatre Repertory of Punjabi University, Patiala, has established several landmarks to carve out a niche for itself in the annals of theatre repertories. Established as an independent wing by vice-chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai in March 2005, the repertory has added more than Rs 12 lakh to the kitty of its parent institution.

It has earned Rs 12.42 lakh by staging over 165 shows in more than 100 villages, town and cities of Punjab of its two productions, “Mitti Rudan Kare” and “Neon Jarh”, based on the scourge of drug abuse and female feticide.

While Rs 8.44 lakh have been deposited in the university’s account, the remaining Rs 2.28 lakh have been reserved for the students of Guru Kashi College, Talwandi Sabo, under the Golden Heart Scholarship Scheme.

According to Dr Gurcharan Singh, director of the repertory, who has also directed the two plays, the objective of the scripts was based on declining sex ratio in the state and drug addiction among the rural Punjabi youth.

He said the shows fetched sponsorships from the state government, NGOs and village panchayats.

Given the feedback by the audience, which sometimes crossing 15,000, Dr Gurcharan said, “We have been able to achieve our goal. Professional theatre that we are taking to the Punjab hinterlands works impressively than political speeches and television due to its direct approach”.


GND varsity to revert to internal evaluation
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 25
Alarmed over the delay in the declaration of results, Guru Nanak Dev University has decided to revert to the internal system of evaluation, wherein answersheets would be checked by teachers on the university campus.

The unusual delay by the university in coming out with the result of examinations, some of which were held in December last year, had led to resentment among students. The external system of evaluation was introduced by the university last year.

Talking to The Tribune, B.R. Batra, in charge, examinations, said taking this seriously, the vice-chancellor had decided to go back to the internal evaluation system. Of the 210 courses offered on the university campus, results of around 170 had been declared so far, he said.

“The promotion of students from an odd to even semester is automatic and the students can appear for re-evaluations later on. Thankfully, this time around the university was holding examinations for odd-semesters. Had it been the other way round, the delay in results could have led to major problems. The university could not afford such delays for the next semester examinations,” he said.

The college admissions, in any case, would be held in June and all results would be out by then. The results of B Com I and II would be out by the end of this month and that of final year by July first week.


6 pc DA for employees of aided schools
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
The Punjab State Aided School Teachers and other Employees Union here today claimed that the state government had decided to increase the dearness allowance by 6 per cent with effect from January 1, 2007, for the teachers and other employees of 484 government aided private schools.

Gurcharan Singh, president of the union, said DPI (secondary schools) Jagtar Singh Khatra had issued a letter increasing the DA from 29 per cent 35 per cent. The employees of aided schools would now get DA on a par with government employees.

He said the DPI had ordered to deposit the arrear of DA from January 1 to May 31 in GPF of employees and from the next month they would get the increased DA with salary.


CBSE Class XII results

Patiala: Arundeep Walia of DAV Public School has topped in Patiala city by securing 93.6 per cent marks in Class XII (non-medical) of CBSE examinations.

Rupam Rana of Blossom Senior Secondary School has topped in the school by securing 89 per cent marks in CBSE Class XII (medical stream) examinations. Jashanjot Kaur (88.6 per cent) and Divleen Kaur (87.8 per cent) secured second and third position, respectively.

Budha Dal Public School once again maintained high standards of academic excellence in the examination. Sheenam Divedi of the school secured 93.2 per cent marks, Ramanjit 92.8 per cent and Srijna 91.6 per cent marks.

Army School too faired well with Satish Kumar Gupta securing 92.8 per cent marks and Isha Malhotra 90.6 per cent marks.

Subiraj Singh Bhullar has topped among all three Kendriya Vidyalayas of Patiala by securing 91.6 per cent marks.


From Schools
Summer camp at dance institute from May 28
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 25
The Indian Institute of Dance, Music and Modelling, Hira Nagar, will organise a summer camp for children from May 28. The institute will provide free pick and drop facility to the children during this summer camp.

Director of the institute Rajesh and president Jaspreet Kaur said one can choose six subjects of their choice for the full course of one month.

The subjects are: dance, music, painting, acting, photograpy, modeling, personality development and general knowledge.


M.Phil students’ meet at govt college
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 25
Students of M.Phil of Chaudhary Devi Lal University, Hisar, held a personal contact programme (PCP) at Government Physical College here yesterday.

Dr Satwant Singh Mohi, member, Punjab Public Service Commission, presided over the function.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Mohi , who is also a former MLA from Shutrana, called upon the students to inculcate the habits of hard work and discipline.

Later, he awarded certificates to the students. Dr Rupa Saini, principal of the college, and Dr Balbir Singh, director, youth welfare and sports of the university, were also present.


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