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Punjab to promote religious tourism
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 16
Punjab has finally woken up to promote religious tourism and has chalked out an elaborate plan to link various shrines not associated with the Ten Sikh Masters but other religions in the state.

Minister for Jails, Tourism and Cultural Affairs Hira Singh Gabria, who was in the city today to preside over a function organised by the Punjabi Geetkar Sabha to release a book of different Punjabi folk writers, Geetan Bhari Changer, at Punjabi Bhawan, said the Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs had chalked out an elaborate plan amounting to Rs 9.20 crore.

While Rs 8 crore will be paid by the Centre, Rs 1. 20 crore will be provided by the state government, he pointed out.

The plan envisages developing a pilgrimage circuit covering Anandpur Sahib, Kiratpur Sahib, Chamkaur Sahib, Fatehgarh Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, Muktsar, Sultanpur Lodhi, Goindwal, Khadoor Sahib, Baba Bakala, Sri Hargobindpur, Dera Baba Nanak, Batala, Amritsar, Rauza Sharif (Fatehgarh Sahib), Devi Talab (Jalandhar) and the 19th century Batala Church in Gurdaspur district.

Gabria also said the state government was chalking out a comprehensive plan to encourage and honour the cultural organisations, Punjabi writers and artistes who had made excellent contribution for the promotion of traditional Punjabi cultural and heritage in the country and abroad.

The Minister also took the opportunity to come down heavily on the increasing tendency by some TV channels and video directors to distort our ancient cultural ethos for petty gains.

Some of the channels and so-called "creative minds" were crossing the limits with the result that most of the programmes could not be watched while sitting in the drawing rooms, he lamented.

Cultural organizations should strive hard to create awareness among the people for the preservation and strengthen our old age rich Punjabi culture and art.

The government would ensure due respect to the writers and the artists and would give them representation in the cultural committees so that their valuable experience could be utilized, he added.

He also called upon the writers to raise a strong voice against the deterioration in the relationship of parents and children wherein our age old culture of respecting our parents was on the wane.

The minister honoured five renowned Punjabi folk writers on the occasion with various awards. They include Chan Jandialvi (UK) with Sardar Charan Singh Safri Award, Sanmukh Singh Azad with the Ferozdin Sharf Award, Bachittar Anparh Assiwala with Shri Nand Lal Noorpuri Award, Pali Dewatwalia with Gurdev Singh Mann Award and Sadhu Singh Dilshad with Saajjan Raikoti Award.

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Dera Deadline
Police on guard
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, June 16
Apprehending possible reaction by activists of Sikh organisations against the government's failure to arrest chief of Dera Sacha Sauda Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh for his alleged blaspheming of the Sikh religious traditions before the deadline falling tomorrow, the police has intensified its vigil in the area.

The security at the three centres of the Sacha Sauda sect situated at Jagera in Payal sub-division, Jalaldiwal in Raikot sub-division and Gahaur in the Ludhiana city area has also been reviewed.

Besides directing the rank and file of the force to ensure implementation of Section 144 in their respective areas, the district authorities have asked all SHOs to identify habitations of Premis and Sikh activists.

They have also been directed to act swiftly in case important information about possible disturbances is provided by some person.

Investigations by the Ludhiana Tribune revealed that the police had beefed up security in and around all the deras owing allegiance to Sacha Sauda sect and residences of Premis in the areas falling under jurisdiction of Sangrur and Ludhiana (rural) police districts.

To make the arrangements foolproof, areas have been divided into zails and incharges of these specified areas have been asked to take help of local leaders and social workers to identify the localities.

Sources further reveal that the SHOs had been asked to submit reports about the arrangements that have been made and the organisations and persons helping the police in maintaining the law and order situation in their respective areas.

It is learnt that such persons or organisations will be felicitated by the authorities after the present tension is eased.

Talking to the Ludhiana Tribune after supervising the security arrangements at Dera Sacha Sauda in Jaladiwal near Raikot, SSP, Ludhiana (Rural), Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, claimed that all arrangements to protect life and property of members of all sections of society had been beefed up already.

Urging the office-bearers of various social and religious organisations to work for maintaining peace and tranquility in the area, Bhullar claimed that no one would be allowed to disrupt the law and order situation.

"As it is the constitutional and moral duty to protect life and property of all, we will not allow anyone to disrupt peace in the area. I have directed my officers to value information and suggestions given by all individuals and organisations irrespective of their political alliance," said Bhullar.

The security at Dera Sacha Sauda in Jagera, near here, and surrounding villages Kalarh and Jhammat was also beefed up today. DSP Payal, Rattan Singh Brar, supervised the security arrangement at the dera and villages inhabiting followers of Sacha Sauda.

As police headquarters looking after the security of the dera in Jagera are situated about 35 km away, the circle office has to make special arrangements to protect life and property of Premis here. In fact only three villages (Jagera, Kalarh and Jhammat) out of 26 villages inhabiting Premis fall under Payal sub-division.

Security arrangements at Naam Charcha Ghar in Gahaur were also reviewed by SSP R. K. Jaiswal.

Referring to information received from residents of the area surrounding the dera, Jaiswal claimed that the villagers were satisfied over the role of the police and paramilitary forces deployed in the area.

He said that the police personnel had been directed to guard the life and property of all members of society.

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