P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


‘Panth Rattan’ to Khannewale 
Clergy exonerate SGPC chief 
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 15
The Sikh clergy of Patna Sahib today exonerated SGPC chief Avtar Singh, his personal assistant Roop Singh and assistant secretary of the committee Daljit Singh Bedi following a written clarification that they did not denigrate any Takht while awarding “Panth Rattan” to Bhai Jasbir Singh Khannewale posthumously.

The “Gurmatta”, passed by the Sikh clergy at an emergency meeting at Takht Patna Sahib, expresses satisfaction over the written clarifications submitted by the SGPC chief and other senior functionaries of the committee.

Earlier, the SGPC chief had stated that he would appear before the Sikh clergy at Takht Patna Sahib as directed by Jathedar Iqbal Singh.

Talking to The Tribune from Patna Sahib, Jathedar Iqbal Singh said there was no need for the SCPC chief to appear before the Takht before September 5 since they had stated that he held all five Takhts in high esteem.

In his clarification, Jathedar Avtar Singh has said he never intended to denigrate any Takht by saying that it was the prerogative of Akal Takht only to bestow “Panth Rattan” on Khannewale posthumously. It may be mentioned here that Jathedar Patna Sahib had claimed that such awards were presented from other Takhts too.

Earlier, too, Jathedar Iqbal Singh had embarrassed Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar of Akal Takht, on the pretext that all five Takhts enjoyed equal powers.

So much so Takht Patna Sahib and Hazoor Sahib have not yet implemented Nanakshahi Calendar, approved by Akal Takht and the committee, so far. The Maryada of both Takhts, Patna Sahib and Hazoor Sahib, is different from that practised by Akal Takht and Takhts of Kesgarh Sahib and Damdama Sahib. While the recitation of Dasam Granth is a part of the daily Maryada of Takht Patna Sahib and Hazoor Sahib, it is not done at the Takhts of Punjab.


Atta-dal scheme marks I-Day
Holiday in schools today
Tribune Reporters

Hoshiarpur, August 15
Despite heavy showers, the 60th anniversary of Independence Day was celebrated at the Police Ground, here, today.

Minister for medical education and research, forest and wildlife, parliamentary affairs and labour, Punjab, Tikshan Sud unfurled the National Flag and took the march past salute from the contingents of the BSF, police, Home Guard jawans, NCC cadets, scouts and girl guides.

Tikshan Sud congratulated the people and paid floral tributes to the freedom fighters who had laid their lives during the freedom struggle and all those martyrs who sacrificed their lives while performing their duties for the country.

A colourful cultural programme was staged by schoolchildren to mark the celebration. The minister also inaugurated the atta-dal scheme for 83,582 beneficiaries of the district. He announced Rs 51,000 for the welfare of the children who performed in the cultural programme on this occasion.

He announced holiday in all schools of the district tomorrow.

As many as 25 sewing machines and eight tricycles were provided by the District Red Cross Society to the needy. Forty-five persons who have achieved distinctions in the fields of sports, social service and education were honoured on this occasion.

Flag unfurled

SANGRUR: Punjab jails, tourism and cultural affairs minister Heera Singh Gabria today unfurled the National Flag here. He inspected the parade and took salute from a march past, comprising contingents of the Punjab Police, NCC cadets, Scouts etc.

He launched the atta-dal scheme in the district by distributing atta and dal among poor persons.

He also honoured freedom fighters and other persons for their contribution in various fields. On behalf of the District Red Cross Society, he distributed 10 sewing machines among the needy women.

A large number of school students presented a PT show and colourful cultural programme.

Freedom fighters remembered

FEROZEPUR: Dr Upinderjit Kaur, education, vigilance, civil aviation and justice minister unfurled the Tricolour and took the salute from smartly dressed contingents drawn from the BSF, Police, Home Guards and NCC during an impressive march past at Shahid Bhagat Singh Stadium here today.

She said the Punjabis have always remained on forefront in sacrificing their lives for the sake of the motherland. She said that the government has envisaged special programmes for the uplift of the downtrodden.

She distributed 25 sewing machines to the poor families and 25 tricycles to the handicapped persons.

Inaugurating the atta-dal scheme here, she said that 1,10,987 beneficiaries of this border district would get subsidised atta-dal on monthly basis. She also honoured 75 persons, including officials, students, sportsmen and social workers.

Earlier, the minister accompanied by Bhagwant Singh, deputy commissioner and D. P. Singh, SSP, paid floral tributes at the samadhi of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev at National Martyrs Memorial, Hussainiwala.

She also visited the samadhi of "Punjab Mata", mother of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

Centenarians honoured

ABOHAR: Rajjo Devi (123) was among three residents aged above 100 years honoured during the Independence Day function organised by the gram panchayat at Sukhchain village in this subdivision today.

Chief guest Khazan Devi Parihar, a social activist, garlanded Rajjo Devi, Jetha Ram and Shankar Lal and presented them mementoes and woollen shawls.

The well-attended function held in Uttam Government Primary School complex, the first of its kind here, was coordinated by the Megh Samaj Sangathan and Bharat Vikas Parishad.

The Forest Department also launched the Green India campaign under which 10,000 saplings each are to be planted in Sukhchain and Daulatpura villages of the subdivision.

Block forest officer Balwinder Singh addressed the gathering before starting the plantation drive.

PPCC vice-president Sajjan Kumar Jakhar hoisted the National Flag at the city Congress function held in the Gandhi Grounds.

‘Run for nation’

MALERKOTLA: The Punjab Youth Congress ( PYC ) today organised a 'run for the nation' here to celebrate the Independence Day.

Members of the Youth Congress led by PYC chief Vijay Inder Singla participated in this run.

Earlier, the PYC chief unfurled the flag at a ceremony in Dehliz Kalan village, near here.

Jobs promised

BATHINDA: Punjab irrigation minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon today said the SAD-BJP alliance government of Punjab was committed to giving good governance to the people apart from lifting the standard of life of the commoners.

The minister said the Punjab Government had been leaving no stone unturned to eradicate unemployment and poverty from society.

Earlier, Sekhon took salute from the march past taken out by contingents of Punjab police, Punjab Home Guard and schoolchildren.

Plea to fight drugs

MUKTSAR: Punjab agriculture minister Sucha Singh Langah today urged the people to cooperate with the state government in its crusade against drug addiction, corruption and female foeticide.

Addressing people after unfurling the National Flag, he said the Punjab Government had been making efforts to improve the economic plight of the farmers.

Earlier, the minister took salute from the march past taken out by Punjab police and schoolchildren on the occasion.

March past held

FARIDKOT: Parminder Singh Dhindsa, public works minister, unfurled the National Flag during a function at Nehru stadium here today.

Contingents of the Punjab Police, Punjab Home Guard, NCC and others presented an impressive march past. Dhindsa handed over bags containing subsidised atta-dal to 16 beneficiaries and said that 50,077 persons of the district would avail benefits of the scheme.

The Red Cross donated 10 sewing machines and 12 tricycles for handicapped. Besides, 17 locals from various vocations were awarded for showing expertise in their fields.

Achin Bansal, who topped the IIT entrance exam, from Kotkapura subdivision was also honoured.

Locals honoured

MOGA: Satpal Gosian, deputy speaker, unfurled the National Flag and took salute from the police, Punjab Home Guards, NCC and other contingents at a function held at Guru Nanak College here today.

He inaugurated the atta-dal scheme by handing over bags of subsidised wheat and pulses to 10 beneficiaries and informed that Rs 600 crore had been kept aside for the scheme.

Besides, 39 locals were honoured for carving out niche for themselves in their fields. Students and faculty of Lala Lajpat Rai Polytechnique Institute presented a choreographed item.

Chemists’ rally

NABHA: Azadi from drugs and femicide was slogan of chemists of the town on 60th Independence Day.

They took out a bike rally to spread the message against these social evils. The civil surgeon, Dr Usha, flagged off the rally from the Patiala gate of the town in the morning.

Addressing the gathering of the chemists, grocery merchants, doctors and staff members of the civil hospital, she exhorted them to work hard to end this menace from society.

Punjab Chemist Association president Surjit Mehta congratulated the chemists for for taking up this noble cause.

200 new buses soon

BARNALA: Master Mohan Lal, minister of transport, unfurled the National Flag here today. He said 200 new buses would be added to the fleet and later all buses would be airconditioned.

He said no corrupt official would be spared if any one from the public helps in nabbing the corrupt one he would be rewarded with Rs 25,000.

The minister inaugurated the atta-dal scheme by giving ration to five recipients.

Many needy ones were given sewing machines and tricycles on the occasion.

Tight security

AMRITSAR: Security forces were on high alert across the district in view of the Independence Day celebrations here today. A special dog squad was pressed into service at various strategic locations, including the Guru Nanak Sadium where the National Flag was unfurled by Manoranjan Kalia, minister for local government and industries.

The 14-member German delegation led by Nombert Lammert, president of German Bundestag, was the guest of honour at the function.

Kalia presented mementos to the German delegation. Distinguished personalities from different walks of life and outstanding sportsmen were honoured for their performance. He also announced a cash prize of Rs. 10,000 for each school that participated in the celebrations. He also distributed 15 sewing machines to the widows and the needy. Disabled persons were provided with 15 tricycles.

Independence Day was also celebrated at Guru Nanak Dev University and various other educational institutes.

Sewing machines, tricylcles given

GURDASPUR: Punjab Vidhan Sabha speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon unfurled the National Flag at a district-level function organised at the local Government Degree College.

He took salute from the contingents of Punjab Police, Border Security Force, NCC cadets.

An impressive cultural programme was also organised to mark the day.

The chief guest distributed 10 sewing machines among poor women and five tricycles to handicapped persons on the occasion.

The parliamentry secrertary Nand Lal, was the chief guest of the Independent Day celebrations at Pathankot in which school students also participated in various cultural events.

The chief guest granted Rs 51,000 to the students who participated in the celebrations.


Atta-dal: I-Day gift for the poor of Punjab
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 15
The government formally launched the subsidised atta-dal scheme for the poor in the state here today.

An announcement to this effect was made by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal while addressing a gathering during the state-level celebrations of Independence Day at the Government College for Boys.

The CM said with this the government has fulfilled its poll promise. The state government had relaxed the criterion for Below Poverty Line (BPL) eligibility by raising the national bar from Rs 7,200 per annum to Rs 30,000 and extended this benefit to approximately 14 lakh families in the state.

Badal also announced that the farmers in possession of 42,000 acres of government land on river banks would also be given ownership rights on the particular land they were cultivating at a very nominal cost.

Reiterating his commitment to eradicating poverty and literacy from the state, he said it was unfortunate that even after 60 years of Independence, these two major problems were still prevailing and the dream of prosperous India that our freedom fighters had seen was still to be realised.

He exhorted the people to change the fate of the country by dedicating themselves to this noble cause and imbibe the spirit of patriotism and nationalism.

According to a recent survey, one-third of the India population survived on less than Rs 20 per day, said Badal. The condition of poor in Punjab remained shocking despite the myth of its being a great a prosperous state.

He informed that in view of this the state government had undertaken an ambitious programme aimed especially at the upliftment of the poor, providing them basic necessities and fighting illiteracy, unemployment, drug menace and other evils.

The CM said to ensure the fast and planned development in urban area that government had chalked out a comprehensive plan to develop Ludhiana and Amritsar as modern cities and Rs 2,053 crore and Rs 3,150 crore, respectively, would be spent in these cities. As much as Rs 240 crore and Rs 160 crore would be spent separately only for the development and cleanliness of the slums in Ludhiana and Amritsar, respectively.

Besides, 40 other towns had been identified and funds arranged for similar development works. The Government of India had approved the project of 6-laning road between Jalandhar and Delhi. He said that he was seeking the approval to extend this project upto Wagah.

Badal announced that the government would appoint 16,670 teachers within two months and the government would ensure to set up at least one Adarsh school in every assembly constituency to impart free education to poor children.

Lauding the efforts to tackle the problems of drug addiction, Badal said 20 beds in every government hospital would be reserved for drug addicts besides a new programme of tele-medicine to link all district hospitals with the PGI at Chandigarh and other three government medical colleges in Punjab would also be established.

Skill training centres would be set up to generate employment opportunities for Punjabi youth, said the Chief Minister. A security training centre would also be established at Ladda Kothi.

He recalled that nearly 80 per cent of the warriors who made great sacrifices during country's freedom struggle belonged to Punjab. And, Punjab being the border state suffered the brunt of Partition in which lakhs of families faced the wrath of marauders while others lost their dear ones.

Earlier, the CM unfurled the National Flag and took salute from the parade by contingents of the PAP, Punjab Police Academy, Phillaur, Punjab Police, Punjab Home Guards, NCC (Boys and Girls), NCC Air Wing, Ex-Servicemen, Scouts and Girl Guides.

Badal presented State Awards comprising a memento, citation, shawls and cash award to 27 prominent personalities for their outstanding contribution in different fields.

The awardees include the late Rajinder Singh Gola, Isha Dang, Kashish Mittal, Daljit Singh, Karnail Singh, Surinder Garg, Jatinder Kaur Arora, Neelam Gulati Sharma, Barjinder Pal Singh, Saroj Rani, Sadara Singh Pawar, Anup Kumar, Vijay Breja, Manjit Kaur, Vijay Kumar Goel, Surjit Singh Duhre, Mukesh Sharma, Naib Tehsildar, Randhir Singh, Tarsem Lal Bansal, Vaid Mohinder Singh, Achin Bansal, Avneet Sidhu, Lakhbir Kaur, Phul Raj Singh, Jagjit Singh Chopra, Harveen Sarao and Ranbir Singh Mudhal, DDPO, Gurdaspur.

The CM also presented the President Medal Award to Bahadur Lal and Avtar Singh, both Company Commanders, Punjab Home Guard. He also honoured freedom fighters and his family members.

Badal also presented 20 sewing machines to needy widows and 16 tricycles to the handicapped persons and honored 25 freedom fighters/family members.

Schoolchildren presented a beautiful cultural programme and mass PT show on the occasion.

Badal announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh for the participating children and holiday on August 16 in all educational institutions. 


In the end, a few get the bounty 
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 15
It was ironical that the Punjab minister for food and civil supplies Adesh Pratap Singh Kairon launched the much-awaited atta-dal scheme during the Independence Day celebrations here. For, till six in the evening, ration depots here were still transporting wheat and dal while Blue card holders waited through the day outside these depots. It was only after sunset that only a handful of beneficiaries went back home with the subsidised wheat and dal.

The implementation of the scheme for which meticulous planning had been done months ago turned out to be a shoddy last-minute affair. At some places, the depot holders had not even bothered to lift the wheat and dal from Markfed and Punsup godowns. At many places where the depots had received the stock in time, the depots remained shut.

Yesterday, the district food and civil supplies officer of SAS Nagar Rakesh Bhaskar had claimed that the stock had reached all depots across the district. However, in Mohali village, the Punsup van was delivering wheat and dal sacks at 5.30 pm. “We were busy with the minister’s function this morning. We had to arrange for the launch of the scheme, preparing bags etc,” said depot holder Harvinder Singla. The beneficiaries who had queued up outside these depots had also been told that they should visit the depot only in the evening.

Other depot holders pointed out that they had to pay in advance for the stock and the government had not fixed any commission for them. Sources said the depots in Phase I had not lifted the stock at all and were likely to begin work only in the evening.

At Khizrabad village, falling in Kurali subdivision, out of the two depots in the village, only one remained open through the day. Sources in the village said the other depot said had closed. It had received the requisite stock last evening.

Sources at Dera Bassi added that stock was still reaching depots. The actual distribution of wheat and dal will begin tomorrow. Till yesterday, only 275 quintals of the stock had been lifted and over 1000 quintals was yet to be lifted. There are almost 33,000 beneficiaries of the scheme in SAS Nagar and 330 depots would be distributing the wheat and dal across the district.

At Banur where the Markfed godown had remained sealed for some days during a vigilance check, the lifting of stocks was going on till the filing of the report and distribution had yet to begin. 


Villagers block highway for 5 hrs
Tribune News Service

Charan Ganga Breach

Minister Bikram Singh Majithia has ordered special girdawri to assess losses to crops by floods due to the breach. He has also ordered a survey to assess loss of property

Anandpur Sahib, August 15
Villagers of flood-affected areas of Anandpur Sahib blocked the Ropar-Nangal highway for five hours. They were demanding immediate plugging of the breach in Charan Ganga.

Irate villagers blocked the road from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm. The police had to divert the traffic towards Nangal from Jhajj Chowk.

While employees of the drainage department plugged the breach on Saturday morning, a gush of water at around 11:30 am washed away the repaired part of the river banks. The employees again started work to plug the breach but by night yet another gush of stream left the breach even wider.

Demanding immediate plugging of the breach, the villages (mainly from worst affected Lodhipur village) raised slogans against the state government and district administration.

The protesters lifted the blockade after getting an assurance from minister for information and public relations, water supply and sanitation, science and technology, environment Bikram Singh Majithia. While on his visit to Rupnagar to hoist the Tricolour, Majithia also met the protesters and assured them of getting the breach plugged within next 24 hours. He promised that if it were not done within next 24 hours, he would get it done under his supervision.

The minister met flood-affected people in Lodhipur village and ordered special girdawri to assess losses to crops. He also ordered a survey to be conducted to assess loss of property.


Pak rights activist seeks prisoners’ release
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 15
Pakistan Human Rights activist Shaista Pervaiz Malik has offered to locate the family of a Pakistani national languishing in the local Central Jail after Pakistani authorities refused to accept him.

Mediapersons have highlighted the plight of Mukhtiar Ahmad from Kasur in Pakistan, who had been languishing in jail despite completing his jail term in 1999. According to sources, despite his repeated requests the authorities have refused to accept him. Mukhtiar had urged journalists who visited him the jail to somehow contact his family in his native village Tatara Kamble in Kasur district.

Malik,who also happens to be a senior vice-president of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) women’s wing, has agreed to pursue the case for his early repatriation. She said a large number of prisoners were languishing in different jails of both countries. She urged the government to take steps for releasing them.


‘Bagaar’ funds I-Day functions
Freedom from British, not corruption
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala August 15
Though India got independence from the British 60 years ago, it is yet to free itself from the clutches of corruption. Even the celebrations of Independence Day in the state are organised on ‘bagaar’ (obligations enforced on the common people by the bureaucracy).

Sources here revealed that the government provides just Rs 60,000 to a district for organising the Independence Day functions. This amount goes just in arranging a tent for the function in which a cabinet minister hoists the National Flag.

The rest of expenditure -- on arranging sweets and refreshment for children participating in event, hospitality for the VIP guests, vehicles for transporting participants and organising programmes --comes in the form of ‘bagaar’ from various government departments.

The sources say that onus of arranging sweets goes to the Department of Food and Civil Supplies, transport to the District Transport Office and VIP guest treatment from undisclosed funds of the district administration.

Since there is hardly any accountability of the amount spent on the function, the said arrangements come through ‘bagaar’.

The amount was even lesser a few years ago and even the payments of tent service were not possible in the amount provided.

Besides the district headquarters, Independence Day is also celebrated at the subdivision levels where the local SDM or MLA hoists the flag. Here also there is hardly any accountability of the total amount spent on the celebrations.

The government should at least ensure that Independence Day celebrations are free of corruption. The people should be free from giving ‘bagaar’.


13-yr Isha gets award
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 15
Thirteen-year-old Isha Dang has been awarded the State Award by the government of Punjab at the Independence Day state-level function held here today.

The award was presented to her by Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal. The award has been conferred on Isha for her cultural activities at state, national and international levels. Isha has also done three charity shows and collected Rs 4,50,000, which was donated to deaf and dumb children and the Red Cross Hospital Welfare Society by her.

The award includes one shawl, a gold medal, Praman Patra and Rs 11,000 cash. She owes and dedicates her award to her guru, Dr Daisy Ahluwalia, head of the Dance Department, Government College for Women, Patiala. She becomes the youngest to receive the award in all over Punjab.

Talking to The Tribune, a student of class VIII of Our Lady of Fatima School, Patiala, Isha said she had performed about 160 stage shows till date in India and abroad. She performed twice in the Global Village Festival, Dubai in 2005 and 2006. In 2005, she also mesmerised the audience of Singapore during the Singapore Khalsa Association Meet.

Isha started dance at the tender age of 3 and has bagged 91 prizes till date. Some of her prestigious awards include the Award of Honour by the Punjab Heritage Foundation, USA, best dancer award by the Nishtha Sanskrit Manch, Gurgaon, and Patiala Heritage Festival in 2003. In 2006, she was selected among the top three finalists out of lakhs of entries in Pogo Amazing Kids Awards-2006 by Pogo Channel.

She said she never ignored her studies. "Till date, I have always scored more than 80 per cent marks. I have won a silver medal in G.K.Intelligence test held by the Central Institute of GK Learning, New Delhi in 2001. I thank God for all His blessings. Whatever I am today, is because of encouragement and support of my parents and guru", she added.

She said she felt confused when the Chief Minister asked her what he could do for her. "I would have said to transfer my mother to Patiala, who is serving at a village school for the past 14 years. If my mother is with me, I will be able to concentrate more on my career," she said, while tears rolled down her cheeks.

Now Isha's name has been nominated for National Child Award for Exceptional Achievements by the Director, North Zone Cultural Centre, Patiala. If selected, she will get the award on November 14 by the President of India. 


Martyrdom Day of Isru
Same old rhetoric, same old people
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Isru (Ludhiana), August 15
It was the same old rhetoric with the same old people. Only the roles changed this time with the Akalis enjoying power in the state. The occasion was to observe the martyrdom of Master Karnail Singh Isru, who laid  down his life for the  liberation of Goa.

While parties set up stages at the usual spots, the SAD and the Congress swapped venues. The SAD organised the show at Grain Market, the venue for the official function, the Congress set up the stage exactly at the same place where the SAD had set up last year.

And the speeches at the places of both major parties were almost the same. Only the speakers changed.

Like last year, when the Congress was in power, PPCC president Shamsher Singh Dullo had presided over the state function at Grain Market. He had delivered a long speech about the achievements of his government, infrastructure development, healthcare, education and power. This time it was the turn of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to make almost similar claims, while accusing the Congress of “having done practically nothing”. He claimed to have done wonders during five months of his regime.

Dullo talked almost the same things what Badal had talked last year at the same stage. Rising unemployment, growing poverty, poor state of finances, law and order, corruption, etc. Dullo deviated only a little when he mentioned that the SGPC should take on the dera culture in a proper manner by way of educating people and not perforce as the SAD government was trying to do.

Even for the comrades, not much had changed as the issues of economic liberalisation, “anti-labour policies of the successive governments” and succumbing to capitalist America remained the same. The only addition to their theme this time was the “surrender of the UPA government”, which they are supporting, “to the United States on the Indo-US nuclear deal”. They reiterated their warning that they could no longer hold the communal forces at bay if the union government did not heed to their advice.

And the BSP continued to harp on the theme of social revolution, not as scripted by B.R. Ambedkar or Kanshi Ram, but one launched by Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh.


Tardy Kashmir talks worry Pak MPs
Sanjay Bumbroo and 
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, August 15
Pakistani parliamentarians today expressed anguish over the tardy Indo-Pak talks on Kashmir.

Azma Zahib Bhukhari, a young MP from Pakistan Peoples Party, said India and Pakistan must pave way for a structured dialogue in a cordial atmosphere to resolve the Kashmir issue, which continued to rankle the minds of the people of both countries. She said representatives of both countries must sit across the table for composite talks and with a mindset to find lasting solutions to various issues.

Human rights activist and advocate Azma felt that we have to devise ways and means to improve the lot of the common man who had been deprived of the basic amenities. The poverty stricken people of her country were being lured by fundamentalists running madarsas and indoctrinating the innocent minds to join the radical groups.

Expressing views that Pakistan needs to be freed from the military rule, which had not allowed democracy to gain roots there, Shaista Pervaiz Malik, a senior activist of the women’s wing of Pakistan Muslim League, said the time had come for the people of Pakistan to get rid of the military regime. She said the freedom of the Press and judiciary had been greatly welcomed by the people of Pakistan and the time had come for the political parties to assume power.

Welcoming the ban lifted on the visit of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, she said it would pave way for his return and the restoration of democracy.

She said the progress in improving relations between India and Pakistan had come to a standstill and there was needed a strong political push to resolve the differences and allow people to move freely across the borders.

She said the sad past continued to haunt our relations and we had to shed the mistrust and move into fast-forward mode.

Leading tourist professional from the neighbouring country Ahmad Shafiq said religious tourism could help improve the relations of both countries.


Delegates for stronger ties
Tribune Reporters

Wagah, August 15
Greeting each other on the Independence Day of Pakistan (August 14 ) and India, participants of both countries resolved to call upon the countries to continue with the ongoing peace process. The resolution condemned terrorism and all forms of violence.

Noted journalist and founder of the Hind-Pak Dosti Manch Kuldip Nayyar called upon people of both countries to continue with the peace process, as the common man in both countries wanted peace and harmony.

Earlier, the Hind-Pak Dosti Manch, members of the South-Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) and parliamentarians and delegates from India and Pakistan carried a torch light from the Jallianwala Bagh to Wagah joint checkpost to herald in peace .

Addressing enthusiasts backing the mission for warm relations with the neighbouring country, Nayyar appealed to both governments to take positive measures to develop a region of peace in the subcontinent.

Imtiaz Alaz, secretary-general SAFMA, Belum Hasnain, Samina Gurki, Shakila Rasheed, Mohammad Pervez Malik, Chowdhar Manzoor Ahmad, all members of the National Assembly, Pakistan, Mohammad Iblis Khokhar, Col Haider Ali Khan, Samiullah Khan, BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu and senior journalist Satnam Manak participated in the torch-light procession .

Another resolution called upon opening of visa centres at Amritsar and Lahore and relaxing of the visa procedure so that the buses plying between Amritsar and Lahore should not remain empty. The resolution also advocated opening of trade between India and Pakistan which would ultimately herald in an era of development in the region. Yet another resolution called for exchanging of newspapers, magazines and viewing TV programmes of both countries.


Nayyar for early release of POWs
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 15
The government should take immediate steps for getting prisoners of war (PoWs) languishing in various Pakistani jails released. This was stated by veteran journalist Kuldip Nayyar while addressing a large gathering of rural folks and members of Pakistani delegation who had thronged the Wagah joint check post to take part in the annual candle light vigil yesterday night.

Taking note of allegations levelled by civilian prisoners released by Pakistani rangers Nayyar said the government should immediately take up the matter with Pakistan.

Col Haider Ali Khan, a veteran writer, urged both countries to stop spending huge amount on defence build up.

Earlier, at a function held at Dana Mandi, Attari, the police had a tough time controlling the crowd which wanted to listen to Lakhwinder Wadali. Singer Hans Raj Hans along with Pakistani singer Tahira Naddi sung a duet song.


Drive against music piracy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 15
As a part of the on-going efforts to curb the menace of music piracy in India, the Indian Music Industry (IMI) initiated a set of raids over the past week to counter piracy syndicates operating in Punjab.

In the raids, 26 blank chips and 10 chip adopters were recovered along with others items. Commenting on the seizures, Vijay Lazarus, president, IMI, said, “The IMI through its anti-piracy operations is waging a tough battle to promote and encourage legitimate music culture in India.

These integrated surprise raids by the MI and the police have controlled the booming counterfeit trade market to a large extent, however, enhanced public awareness regarding piracy and its menace will certainly help in eradicating the problem and the media will undoubtedly play a major role in it.”

The latest in the series of raids were carried out in Faridkot district - at Sanjay Studio, near the Jaiton bus stand and at a residential premise in Balmiki Colony in Jaiton.

Both the raids resulted in seizure of several pirated CDs.


Transport Dept earns Rs 125 cr as revenue 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 15
After days of despair on account of falling revenue collections, there is a good news for Punjab.

The Transport Department has registered an increase in revenue for the first quarter of this financial year.

The department has posted a revenue collection of Rs 125-crore during the first quarter, as against Rs 111.92-crore during the first quarter of the last year, an increase of over 12 per cent. Notably collection from VAT and stamp duty has registered a decline since last year.

Sources said the impressive reform performance had been achieved due to reduction in illegal plying of buses. During this period, 1500 buses were detected plying without permits and 768 impounded.

After VAT, excise and stamp duty, the revenue receipts from the transport department are an important revenue earner for the government. During 2006-07, the department contributed Rs 467. 62-crore to the state’s kitty, as against Rs 431.14-crore in 2005-06, an increase of 3.8 per cent.

This year’s target has been fixed for Rs 515-crore.


Give jobs to our wards, plead freedom fighters’ widows
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 15
Independence seems to have stopped holding any relevance for Tej Kaur, widow of freedom fighter Ram Singh of Sivian village of this district.

“Every year, the authorities concerned used to honour me on Independence Day by presenting a shawl. But the shawl has not been solving problems of my family as we have to struggle hard to manage two meals a day as none of my two grandsons has been given jobs by the Punjab Government despite the fact that they are literate,” said Tej Kaur, anger reflecting from her face. 

Tej Kaur, along with other widows of freedom fighters, attended the Independence Day function organised by the district administration here today. 

Punjab irrigation minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon honoured her by presenting her loi.Tej Kaur, who has about 2.5 acres of land, has been finding it difficult to run the family with a widowed daughter-in-law and two grandsons.

Surjeet Kaur, widow of freedom fighter Malagar Singh of Ablu Ganga village, echoed the same sentiments. Surjeet Kaur has also been finding it difficult to live a dignified life with five daughters and one on the meagre pension given to her. Her husband, who was sepoy in Indian National Army, also participated in freedom movement.

She said she had been making rounds to various offices for getting a job for her grandson for the past many years, but without success. She added that for any government, vote bank was priority and the welfare of families of freedom fighters had disappeared from their agenda. She said that she had been keeping three ‘lois’, which had been presented to her in the past few years by the authorities concerned.

Murti Kaur of Bajoana village has been considering herself as doubly cursed as her father Mukand Singh, who was a freedom fighter, had died few months ago. After that her mother had also departed forever.

“Now I have been making relentless efforts to get the amount of pension of my father, which has still been lying with the department concerned but nobody has been giving a patient hearing to her. I am the only issue of my parents,” she said and added that such maltreatment from the authorities concerned for the wards of freedom fighter was not expected.

Jasmel Kaur, widow of freedom fighter Nahar Singh of Jassi Pau Wali village of this district, came to the function today with the hope that state government would announce something for the welfare of families of freedom fighters , but returned disappointed in the absence of any such announcement. 

She said that if the state government wanted to honour them in real sense then it should give jobs to their wards.

Meanwhile, Surjeet Kaur, widow of freedom fighter Jawala Singh of Manwala village, who was invited for today’s function, was not even given a ‘loi’. 


March to dera stopped
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 15
The heavy police force, deployed by the district administration at various spots today, did not allow activists of various Sikh organisations, including the Dal Khalsa, the SAD (A), Sikh Missionary College, Guru Gobind Study Circle, Akhand Kirtni Jatha, the Sikh Welfare Society and the Tarna Dal, to move towards the local branch of Dera Sacha Sauda at Banjer Bagh. 

They were marching towards the dera branch to lodge their protest against the “nam charcha” (religious congregation), arranged in connection with the birth anniversary of Dera Sacha Sauda head Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. The dera had cancelled the congregation yesterday. 

The march was stopped by the police at the traffic lights crossing on the Hoshiarpur-Bharwain road, about 0.5 km from the dera.

SGPC aid to jailed Sikhs

Amritsar, August 15
The SGPC today gave cheques for Rs 50,000 each to Sikhs who had been kept in a Jodhpur (Rajasthan) prison after Operation Bluestar.

Chief of the committee Avtar Singh distributed the cheques among beneficiaries at a function here. He said the committee had received 171 applications for financial help.— OC


Protests mar Sangrur I-Day 
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

  • Municipal councillors boycott function
  • Freedom fighters get VIP seats only after protest
  • Farmers observe ‘black azadi’

Sangrur, August 15
Local municipal councillors (MCs), led by their president Simrat Rana Punia and district president of the BJP Jatinder Kalra (who is also a BJP MC), today boycotted the Independence Day function, organised by the district administration here.

They also staged a dharna for more than three hours in front of the office of the Municipal Council, alleging that the district administration had “insulted” them by sending invitation cards of an ordinary block in the pandal of Independence Day function, in place of the VIP block. They lifted the dharna after the arrival of cabinet minister Heera Singh Gabria, chief guest at the function.

Out of total 21 MCs, 13 MCs belonging to the SAD, the BJP and the Congress, were seen at the dharna site. Some other persons, including leaders of the SAD and the BJP, also took part in the dharna. They also raised slogans against the district administration.

SDM Mohan Lal and ADC Indu Malhotra came separately to take the MCs to the function site, but the MCs declined to oblige them.

A group of the freedom fighters, led by Harinder Pal Singh, general secretary of the district unit of Punjab Freedom Fighters Organisation, also expressed resentment at the function for not allotting seats to them in the VIP block. On behalf of the freedom fighters, Harinder Pal Singh protested in a loud voice there and said the freedom fighters had been allotted seats in an ordinary block while clerks and other employees had occupied seats in the VIP block. Later, on the intervention of ADC Indu Malhotra, the freedom fighters were allowed to sit in the VIP block.

Meanwhile, hundreds of farmers under the leadership of BKU (Dakonda) today observed “black azadi” in Majhi village (near Bhawanigarh) against the proposed acquisition of 1,200 acres of the farmers in Majhi and Beembar villages by the Punjab Government for setting up a thermal plant there.

District president of the BKU (Dakonda) Gurmeet Singh Bhattiwal said the farmers today took out a protest march, carrying black flags, in Majhi village and later burnt the effigy of the Punjab and Centre governments in the grain market there to compel the government not to acquire their fertile lands.


Govt has fulfilled its promises, says Kanwaljit
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 15
Capt Kanwaljit Singh, cooperation minister, Punjab, unfurled the national flag on the occasion of the 60th Independence Day celebrations held at Yadavindra Public School (YPS) stadium here today.

Speaking on the occasion, he said the Punjab Government had fulfilled its promise, which was made during the elections. Starting from today, atta-dal would be distributed to 13.50 lakh poor families in the state. He said the total expenditure to be incurred on this scheme was estimated to be about Rs 835 crore and to achieve this end, 97,000 blue cards had already been distributed in Patiala district alone for the benefit of the poor.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh also paid tributes to freedom fighters who laid down their lives during the freedom struggle.

The minister also distributed tricycles to 19 handicapped persons and 12 sewing machines to poor women. He honoured Dr Gurpal Singh of Government Rajindra Hospital, veterinary doctor Dr Parampal Singh and other renowned people from various walks of life.

He further added that the Punjab Government would spend Rs 561 crore for the development of Patiala.

Madan Lal Jalapur, MLA, Ghanaur, S.K. Tiwari, IG, Patiala range, SDM Vimi Bhular and other dignitaries were also present on the occasion.


Inside Babudom
Revert excess DGPs, Centre tells Punjab
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 15
The Centre has once again questioned the practice of giving the rank of director-general of police (DGP) to several officers over and above the permitted number of posts. This time Punjab has been asked to start the process of “reverting” the excess DGPs to their previous posts of ADGP.

At present there are six IPS officers in the rank of DGP, while there can be no more than two at a given point of time. If suspended former DGP S.S. Virk, a Maharashtra cadre officer, is included, the number goes up to seven.

The question among bureaucratic circles is: Will those already promoted as DGPs reverted as ADGPs?

A section of officials believe that such a thing could happen only if the union ministry of home affairs takes the matters seriously and pursues it. A decision on the fresh move of the central government questioning the number of DGPs and the subsequent action, if any, has to be taken by the Chief Minister, who heads the home department also.

If the Chief Minister decides to take some action in this regard, A.P. Pandey, DGP, Punjab State Electricity Board, is likely to be reverted. He was the chief director, Vigilance Bureau, when cases of corruption were registered against Parkash Singh Badal during the previous government. Pandey is also the junior most among the DGPs. His immediate in the seniority list is Mohd Izhar Alam and both are from the 1974 batch.

Out of the seven DGPs, G.S. Aujla will retire on October 31 this year. Since S.S. Virk is yet to be technically relieved of his duties by the state government, he is also counted among DGPs. The state government says it has suspended Virk, while the central government has cancelled his deputation to Punjab.

At the level of the DGP, there is only one cadre post. Another ex-cadre post can be created making it two posts of DGP. The number of ex-cadre posts can exceed the prescribed statutory limit only with the approval of the Centre, which has not only turned down the request but has asked for reversion of these officers. The others in the same rank are N.P.S. Aulakh, DGP (Home Guards), K.K. Attri and Rajdeep Singh Gill, DGP, Punjab Police Academy.

Attri is from the 1971 batch, while Aulakh and Gill are from the 1972 and 1973 batch, respectively.


Jobless teachers choose I-Day venue for protest
Our Correspondent

Fazilka August 15
A furore was caused at the official Independence Day function here today when more than 25 unemployed teachers dramatically staged a protest march.

The protesting youths were allegedly lathi-charged by the policemen present on the occasion. The protesting unemployed teachers were whisked away from the venue of the programme in the Government Senior Secondary School for Boys.

Around 10 am today, when the cultural programme relating to I-Day celebrations, was going on that the unemployed youth teachers dramatically entered the venue and started shouting slogans of ‘Bhagat Singh zindabad’, ‘Inqalab zindabad’.

The police resorted to mild lathicharge and their three leaders were immediately taken to the city police station.

Neeraj Aneja, president of the Berojgar B.Ed. Teachers Front, Sumit and Mohinder Kumar have been rounded up.

They said they had tried to raise voice against the government on pattern of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev who had hurled a bomb in the assembly during the British regime. No police official was available for comments.


Honoured for popularising science

Chandigarh, August 15
Neelam Gulati Sharma, joint director, Punjab State Council of Science and Technology, was today honoured for exemplary service in the field of science and technology at the Independence Day function at Ludhiana. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal awared her “Punjab Sarkar Parman Patra”. — TNS


Students at their  spirited best
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 15
The 60th Independence Day was celebrated across the city with great fervour and patriotic spirit. Surjit Singh Rakhra, senior leader of the SAD (B) unfurled the tricolour at Anardana Chowk while Jayanta Ghosh, chief administrative officer of Diesel Loco Modernisation Works, did the same at DMW, Patiala.

Lions Club, Patiala Central, celegrated the 60th Independence Day at Sant Rama Nand Public School, where president of the club, H.S. Sethi unfurled the flag. All club members and staff of the school were present on this occasion.

Scholar Fields Public School, Patiala, also celebrated the day with great pomp and show. Chief guest, T.S. Dhaliwal, DIG (Commandos), Punjab Police, unfurled the tricolour on the occasion. A colourful cultural programme was also presented by the students of the school.

Independence Day was also celebrated at the Government TB and Chest Hospital, here today. Dr Jai Kishan, head and director of the hospital, unfurled the national flag in the premises.

Speaking on the occasion, he appealed to the leaders, administrators and policy makers to work for the welfare of the poor. A cultural programme was also organised on the occasion. 


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