P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s Birth Anniversary
No major announcements
Nawanshahr is Bhagat Singh Nagar * Adarsh School in Khatkar Kalan 
* Sports stadium after the martyr
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 28
The birth centenary celebrations of Shaheed Bhagat Singh today turned out to be damp squib even as neither the state government nor Centre made any concrete announcement, except renaming of Nawanshahr, an Adarsh School in Khatkar Kalan and a sports stadium after the Shaheed-e-Azam to mark the gala event here today.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said from today the name of Nawanshahr would be Bhagat Singh Nagar.

Earlier, the celebrations began with the presentation of “mera rang de basanti chola” by youngsters dressed like the martyr. Relatives of Bhagat Singh and other freedom fighters added to the patriotic atmosphere. However, sloganeering by Akali and BJP workers like “ Sukhbir Badal Zindabad”, “Navjot Sidhu Di balle balle, baki sare thalle thalle” spoiled the celebrations.

However, cancellation of the Prime Minister’s visit disappointed residents who were expecting a major announcement by the Central government.

On the requests made by Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and Sukhbir Badal that one of the Central universities should be established in Punjab after the Shaheed-e-Azam, the union minister said he would take up the matter with Prime Minister. He also promised to take up the demand of naming the proposed airport at Mohali after Bhagat Singh with the civil aviation minister.

However, the linking of Bhagat Singh with the Arya Samaj by BJP and Congress leaders is likely to initiate a debate in the country. Local government minister Manoranjan Kalia said Bhagat Singh had strong association with the Arya Samaj. But CPI leader Amarjit Singh Asal took strong exception to the statement of Kalia.

Hooda endorsed the views of Kalia and said his state had decided to establish a Chair in the name of the martyr at Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak.

Bhagat Singh’s nephews Abhay Singh and Kiranjit Singh also spoke on the occasion. The CPI leader, Joginder Dyal, said the birth celebrations of this great martyr should have been started much earlier.

Among those who addressed the public meeting included Sukhbir Badal, B.C. Khanduri, Chief Minister, Uttarakhand, and Ambika Soni, union minister for cultural affairs and tourism, Rajinder Bhandari, state BJP president.


Badal getting old, should quit, says Bhattal
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 28
Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal here today demanded that Parkash Singh Badal should quit as Chief Minister in view of his old age and his having lost touch with the ground realities.

She said during the first session of the state Assembly, the Congress had pointed out 111 cases of political vendetta but he had said that he was not aware of this and would seek a report. “We have stopped taking Badal’s words on face value. Age seems to be catching up with him as he is ignorant about what is going on in the state. He should, therefore, retire,” she said.

Bhattal said had it not been the Centre’s direction to celebrate Bhagat Singh’s birth anniversary in all states, the SAD-BJP regime might have easily ignored the historic event. “The Prime Minister couldn’t make it to today’s function as he was not keeping well,” she said.

“We would soon invite Rahul Gandhi to visit the state. Margret Alva will visit the state on October 13 and some restructuring is likely at the state level,” she added.


No political big-wigs, no speeches
It was different at the martyr’s village
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Khatkar Kalan, September 28
The 100th birth anniversary celebrations of Shaheed Bhagat Singh at his ancestral village Khatkar Kalan here were markedly different this time. There were no stages for political big-wigs, no speeches and no security checks for those visiting the martyr’s museum.

Still, it was in no way a low-key affair. In fact, there was a huge congregation of people freely moving about the village where their revolutionary leader had spent a few early years of his life. The visitors arrived carrying garlands and marigold flowers, showered these near the martyr’s statue and his uncle Ajit Singh’s memorial, went about the museum taking a look at his belongings, took a peep inside his ancestral home where everything had been kept intact and a newly constructed library building coming up close to it.

Youth associated with various social bodies entered the memorial barefoot, carrying huge posters of the Shaheed-e-Azam, unfurled the Tricolour, played drums and raised slogans “Inqilab zindabad”. There were huge convoys of visitors coming in buses, trucks, lorries and motorcycles.

A few rallies, too, were organised around the area by members of the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Naujawan Sabha and Punjab Students Federation and CPI (ML). Speeches were few. The programmes primarily included choreographies, skits, dances, songs and poems sung by school and college-going children. The cultural shows depicting the life and dreams of Bhagat Singh drew a good response from the crowds. Stalls of books, posters and calendars depicting Bhagat Singh’s pictures, too, were a crowd puller.

The only star attraction at the function was Jagmohan Singh, nephew of Bhagat Singh, who paid tributes at the memorial and addressed the crowds for a few minutes.

Asked why he did not go to Amritsar, he laughed and replied, “I often take the route other than what the government takes. I have been telling people that Manmohan Singh is not going to come. How can a man promoting communalism join the celebrations held to mark the centenary of a staunch socialist?” 


Budha Dal dissolves educational society
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 28
In a direct fall out of the clash on September 21 when four Nihangs belonging to the Budha Dal were killed in broad daylight in the heart of the city following a firing incident, the heir apparent to the Budha Dal `throne' Baba Balbir Singh today formally dissolved the Sikh Educational Society of the Shiromani Budha Dal.

Baba Balbir Singh, while addressing a press conference this evening at the dera of the Budha Dal where the firing incident took place on September 21, confirmed that the governing body of the society, which runs Budha Dal Public School, widely perceived to be one of the most prestigious schools of the city, had been dissolved. Earlier the society was headed by Udey Singh, who had been booked by the local police along with several others following the firing incident. Udey Singh is still at large.

The baba announced that the educational society would now be headed by his wife Sukhwinder Jit Kaur. All persons loyal to Udey Singh had been removed and a new set of office-bearers had been announced. Baba Balbir Singh incidentally lost his father, two brothers and a nephew in the firing inciden

Charanjit Singh Channi would be the new secretary while Manmohan Singh Kohli would be the joint secretary. The new members of the society would be Baba Inder Singh, Parminderjit Kaur Brar, Harbhajan Kaur Sandhu and Lt-Gen Avtar Singh.

Baba Balbir Singh, who was flanked by his lawyers during the press conference, said Udey Singh had misappropriated crores of rupees meant for the proper functioning of the school. He said he had in his possession an affidavit that stated he “had been given powers to act as the chief patron of the Budha Dal by Baba Santa Singh”. He added that he was dissolving the educational society in the capacity of the chief patron of the Budha Dal and that the new governing body had also been registered with the Registrar of Societies Act.



City Centre Scam
Ex-Addl AG Sandhu arrested 
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 28
The vigilance bureau today claimed a breakthrough in the City Centre Project scam by arresting a former additional advocate general Harpreet Sandhu on the charge that he felicitated hawala transactions of Capt Amarinder Singh.

Sources said with the arrest of Harpreet the vigilance had moved closer to the former Chief Minister. A number of IPS and IAS officers considered close to Harpreet were also under scrutiny for their alleged role in various projects, cases and deals.

SSP, vigilance, Kanwarjit Singh Sandhu said Harpreet Sandhu had been booked as another accused in the City Centre Project scam.

The vigilance has accused Harpreet of representing Capt Amarinder Singh in the alleged meetings of the City Centre project in which the deals were struck and the land use of the mega project was changed illegally.

Further, he has also been accused of visiting foreign countries to plug loopholes in the Intranet Project involving Raninder Singh and Raminder Singh, son and son-in-law of Capt Amarinder, respectively.

Vigilance sources were excited at Harpreet Sandhu’s arrest, especially after he revealed during questioning how Rs 100 crore was allegedly siphoned off and shared and where the bids for the City Centre Project were opened illegally to let Today Homes Ltd prepare a better bid.

The sources said Harpreet had revealed the bids for the project were opened at Park Plaza hotel here in the presence of Today Home officials, former local bodies minister Jagjit Singh, former Improvement Trust P.S. Sibia, Raminder Richi, G.K. Gambhir , Manmohan Singh and witness in the scam R.D. Awasthi.

Harpreet had been identified as the mystery man who was present in many meetings of the City Centre Project. His description came in the account of the complainant and witnesses of the alleged scam. The witnesses had identified Harpreet as the same man.

The sources said as per the preliminary questioning of Harpreet, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh took Rs 1 crore in that meeting where Awasthi, who later helped the vigilance in busting the scam, was offered lakhs of rupees. However, Awasthi did not take money and chief engineer Manmohan Singh took Rs 5 lakh on his behalf.

Harpreet had allegedly visited Holland, Singapore, England to show that ABT Tech Company featuring in the Intranet scam did not exist. This was the main argument on which the Intranet scam investigation had gone in favour of Raninder Singh and Raminder Richi. 


Functions at other places in the state
Tribune Reporters

Barnala, September 28
The town today witnessed a large gathering at the local grain market on the call of the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Janam Shatabadi Committee, whose convener is playwright Gursharan Singh, to celebrate the birth centenary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

Youths could be seen wearing white kurta-pyjama and yellow turbans and raising slogans “Shaheed Bhagat Singh zindabad”. Various play and music groups presented patriotic songs on the occasion. People thronged book stalls for buying literature and posters related to the martyr. Ajmer Singh Aulakh and Gursharan Singh also spoke on the occasion.

BATHINDA: Hundreds of youths of 36 organisations of this town took out a torch march in the city late on Thursday to mark the 100th birth anniversary of Bhagat Singh. The march was flagged off by DIG Jatinder Jain and DC Rahul Tiwari.

MUKERIAN: Ashwani Kumar, minister of state for industry, addressed a gathering at a function organised to celebrate the birth anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh at Arya Girls High School here on Friday. Former Punjab Vidhan Sabha speaker Kewal Krishan presided over it. Members of the families of 28 Kargil martyrs were also honoured on the occasion. Those who spoke included Jiya Lal Chaudhary, president of the Arya Samaj, and Arjun Singh, Hoshiarpur zila parishad chairman.

Gurdaspur: A large number of unemployed youths from this bordering district and surrounding areas visited the two-day job fair organised by union minister of state for industry Dr Ashwani Kumar at the Beant Singh College of Engineering and Technology here today.

The fair was dedicated to the birth centenary of the great martyr, Bhagat Singh, and around 15,000 unemployed girls and boys from Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Amritsar and surrounding areas turned up at the job fair. The minister was successful in bringing 27 companies and corporate houses offering jobs to the youths on their doorsteps for the first time in Punjab.

The job aspirants were in such a huge number that the police had to be tough with them in controlling them.

While addressing a huge gathering near the job fair venue, Dr Ashwani Kumar said giving a life of dignity to the youth was the most justified tribute to Shaheed Bhagat Singh. He said the government was committed to removing unemployment and poverty at the grass-roots level.

Those present on the occasion included Ashok Kumar Sharma, MLA, Pathankot, Khushal Bahl, a former Punjab minister, Shrawan Kumar, Pathankot Municipal Council chief, and several Congress leaders from the area.


Martyr remembered with respect, fervour
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 28
The Sadhbhavna Organisation of India (SOI) celebrated with fervour the 100th birth anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh at the Patiala School for Blind, Deaf and Dumb, Lower Mall, here today.

The school's principal Renu Singla along with the founder of the SOI Subash Bansal presided over the function.

Celebrations were also held at other parts of the city. The Baradari garden branch of the Patanjli Yog Samiti, under the supervision of yoga teacher Braham Kumar, organised a function to mark the proceedings. Braham Kumar and Shaukat Aziz sang patriotic songs on the occasion. The District Congress Committee (Urban) also celebrated Shaheed Bhagat Singh's 100th birth anniversary at Amar Ashram today. The staff and students of Government Secondary School of Tohra village organised a function on the school's premises to mark the occasion.

The Punjab unit of the All India Anti-Terrorist Front at the Truck Union also celebrated the martyr’s birth anniversary. Vice-president of the All India Anti-Terrorist Front Harpal Singh and president of the local Truck Union Sukhvinder Singh Pannu jointly hoisted the Tricolour. Sweets were also distributed to mark the occasion.


Poor participation regretted
Our Correspondent

Abohar, September 28
SDM N. S. Brar, apparently concerned over the poor participation by citizens in the three-day series of functions on Shaheed Bhagat Singh's birth anniversary, regretted that only a few had spared "precious moments" from their busy schedule to participate in the national integration rally taken out from Shaheed Bhagat Singh Chowk here.

Interestingly, none of the 31 members of the Municipal Council participated in the march that passed through the main roads of the town. Even most of the invitees whose names figured on the invitation card were missing. Only former MLA Dr Ram Kumar Goyal and former president of the Lions Club Rajiv Khanna offered biscuits and fruits to more than 500 school students who took part in the march. No other NGO thought of putting up a welcome gate or stall for serving water or refreshments.

Only two Congress councillors, Vimal Thathai and Des Raj Singla, were present

A short play, directed by Prof Gaurav Vij, was staged.


‘Little Bhagat Singhs’

Bassi Pathana, September 28
Yuva Khatri Sabha and management of Saheed Bhagat Singh memorial School, Bassi Pathana, celebrated the birth centenary of Saheed Bhagat Singh with great enthusiasm.

A function was organised on this eve and a large number of people from every walk of life attended the function. On this occasion school children dressed as Bhagat Singh took out a rally, which passed through the bazaars. — OC


Wildlife Week  celebrations at Chatt Bir
Tribune News Service

Banur, September 28
As part of its wildlife week celebrations from October 3 to 7, the MC Zoological Park, Chhat Bir, will organise various activities for children.

These include quiz competition for schools, category I for students up to class V on October 4; quiz competition for schools, category II for students in classes VI to X on October 4; Painting competition for schools, category I for students up to class V on October 5; Painting competition for schools, category II for students in class VI to X on October 5; bird watching session and hands-on sessions on wildlife articles open to all on all days.

A polythene removal campaign by the zoo staff and other volunteers will be held on October 5.

A special public display of “Gullu” along with an anti-polythene rally for schoolchildren will be held on October 7. A press meet and state-level function will also be held on the same day.

The entry to the zoo will be free for general public from October 3 to 7. The zoo will be remain closed on October 1 and 2.

Vehicles will, however, be charged at government rates. Entry to the lion safari will also be chargeable.

Field director Dharminder Sharma said the competitions were aimed at generating awareness on wildlife conservation issues among children.

They also intend to sensitise young minds towards wild animals and inculcate a sense of responsibility to the cause of protecting wildlife.

The polythene removal campaign will be organised by the zoo staff to comb the forest areas of the zoo that generally escapes the attention of the staff.

In addition, students will be involved in taking out an anti-polythene rally carrying banners and posters to make public aware of the ill-effects of polythene on environment, humans and wildlife.

“For the first time, bird watching sessions will be organised for students at the shallow lake in the zoo. The lake is home to many migratory bird species that travel long distances to reach here. The visitors will be educated about the habitat and migratory behaviour of birds. A bird watching tower has been constructed by the lakeside and binoculars and bird posters have been arranged for the purpose,” he added.

Hands-on sessions on wildlife articles would be organised as a zoo education activity under the guidelines of the Central Zoo Authority, he said.


Rousing reception for ‘Chak De India’ girl
Our Correspondent

Abohar, September 28
“Chak De India” star Tanya Abrol was given a rousing reception on her visit to her hometown today. She was escorted by drum-beaters to the cinema house on the police complex road, where her parents, relatives and hundreds of students, besides eminent citizens, waited with enthusiasm.


2 jails to have industrial units
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 28
The Punjab Government will develop two modern jails at Kapurthala and Faridkot with small industrial units inside them. This will be done with the cooperation of some industrialists to impart skill training to prisoners.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal recently saw two different proposed models prepared for Kapurthala jail by students of the Chandigarh College of Architecture under the supervision of the director-general of the Bureau of Police Research and Development Kiran Bedi. 


Notice to education secretary on recruitment of teachers 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 28
A Division Bench, comprising Justice J.S.Khehar and Justice M.M.S.Bedi, today issued notice to the Punjab Education Secretary and other respondents for January 30.

The notice came in the wake of a plea challenging the Punjab government’s move to give preferential treatment to candidates, who had passed their middle and matriculation exams from rural areas, for recruitment.

The Bench also ordered that the selection, if made during the intervening period, would be subject to the final outcome of the case.

The wit petition has been filed by Sukhraj Singh Dhami, resident of Sandhran Sodhian village, Hoshiarpur district, wherein he sought directions to quash the advertisement of August 29,2007. The said advertisement had invited applications for the 4,000 posts of masters/mistresses of various subjects.

Significantly, the advertisement mentioned that five extra marks would be given to the candidates who had passed their middle and matriculation examinations from the schools in rural areas.

It was argued by the counsel for the petitioner that such a provision was nothing but a clear discrimination against the candidates who had passed the relevant examinations from the schools in urban areas.

The counsel cited judgements of the high court and the apex court to assert that such a classification was unconstitutional. It was further contended that the Supreme Court had in fact already held that reservation for candidates from rural areas was void.

By awarding extra marks to candidates from the rural area schools, the state government was trying to do something indirectly which cannot be done directly, the counsel added.

Wakf board plea

The Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Mahesh Grover, today gave two weeks’ time to Punjab to file reply on a matter relating to the petition filed by Punjab Wakf Board. Importanly, the state counsel informed the Bench that government had withdrawn two of the three impugned notifications over which the board had expressed serious reservations.

One of the afore said notifications pertained to the restraints on financial powers of the board while the other barred the board to pay money to lawyers engaged by it for official purposes.

The state counsel informed that the third notification regarding the authority to the board to make appointments was under perusal of the government and sought time to file reply. At this, the Bench gave two weeks’ time to the state to file the reply


New agro policy soon: Chatwal

Bathinda, September 28
To supplement the income of farmers and to generate employment, the Punjab government has initiated efforts to facilitate the setting up of 50 agro-based units in the state in the next two years in small, medium and large sectors.

For promoting private participation in the agro-based industry the state government has decided to indulge in equity participation with private players.

“The Punjab government has been preparing its new agro policy and it will be announced shortly,” said A.S. Chatwal, MD, Punjab Agro Foodgrain Corporation, adding that 30 of the total 50 agro-based projects worth about Rs 3,000 crore were in the pipeline.

Chatwal, along with senior officials of the corporation, visited the grain markets and purchase centres to check the procurement today. — TNS


Landran Brawl: Raids but no arrest
Tribune News Service

Kharar, September 28
The police conducted raids on various places to nab students involved in a brawl on the Chandigarh Engineering College campus, Landran, here today.

Police sources said raids were conducted on the residences of the accused. A policeman had been especially deputed near the college.

According to sources, one of the accused, Harkirat Singh, was also admitted to Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32, Chandigarh, with serious injuries late Thursday night. Both warring groups are from politically influential families.

The college authorities have already suspended six students. They are: Harkirat, Gagandeep, Jasjit, Kushaldeep Singh Sekhon, Kulbir Singh and Baldeep Singh. Their entry to the college has been banned.


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