P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


2 held for firing shots; 1 hurt
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, March 2
A restaurant owner and his son were arrested for firing shots from a rifle, injuring a member of the village cricket team of nearby Mamun village at the restaurant on the Defence road here today.

Gurdaspur SSP Lok Nath Angra said Joginder Singh and his son Gobind Singh, owners of Fauji Dhaba, had been arrested.

Angry villagers on getting information about the firing reached the dhaba and took the injured boy, Shravan Kumar, a 16-year-old player of the village team, to Ravi Hospital. He had received a bullet injury in his right arm.

The villagers staged a dharna on the Defence Road near Mamun Cantt, demanding the immediate arrest of the culprits, following which the traffic on the Mamun-Jammu road remained suspended for one hour. It was lifted only after local SP Harpreet Singh visited the area and a case for attempt to murder with a fire weapon was registered against the culprits.

According to witnesses, the village boys had arranged a match today. After the match was over, three members of the team went to the dhaba for refreshment. Joginder, the owner, was busy on his cellphone and instead of listening to the boys started abusing them for creating disturbance and told them to leave the place. Annoyed with this, the boys tried to pull him out of the shop. He went inside and brought his licensed rifle and fired shots at the boys, injuring Shravan.


Institute of Studies in Guru Granth Sahib
Scholars resent shelving of proposal 
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, March 2
Resentment prevails among people of Punjab and Sikh scholars in particular over the failure of the Central government to establish the national institute of studies in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The Centre has shelved the proposal.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, during his visit to Amritsar on September 1, 2004, had announced that a national institute of studies in Sri Guru Granth Sahib would be established at Guru Nanak Dev University.

Inquiries made by this correspondent have shown that a number of meetings were arranged by the UGC and the human resource development ministry in this regard. Eminent scholars took part in those meetings. They interacted with the representatives of the ministry and the UGC in view of the special nature of studies to be under taken by the proposed institute. After a brainstorming session, it was recommended that an autonomous institute should be established for the purpose.

According to Prof Prithipal Singh Kapoor, former pro-vice chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, the ministry undertook an intensive exercise on the subject and finally sent a draft plan for the establishment of an autonomous national institute of studies in Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

The vice-chancellor of the university was also invited to make a presentation before the finance ministry, but before such a presentation could be made, the meeting was cancelled.

In a latest communication to the university, the UGC informed the vice-chancellor that the proposal of establishing a national institute of studies in Guru Granth Sahib had been scaled down to the level of centre of research on Guru Granth Sahib to be set up at the university. The vice-chancellor has urged the ministry to reconsider the decision.

The UGC has set up a six-member committee, headed by Prof G.K. Chadha, former vice-chancellor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, to evaluate the fresh proposal submitted by the vice-chancellor.

The Sikh scholars are annoyed that except Pritam Singh, former Professor of Guru Granth Sahib Studies, none of the scholars involved in the committee are from the field of studies in Guru Granth Sahib.

Professor Kapoor said it was unfortunate that the proposal had been shelved despite the announcement of the Prime Minister in that regard.

Former general secretary, SGPC, Manjit Singh Calcutta has appealed to the Prime Minister to intervene and honour his commitment made at the occasion of the 400th anniversary of installation of Guru Granth Sahib.


State’s connectivity by air to improve
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
Punjab chief secreary Ramesh Inder Singh has urged the Union Civil Aviation Ministry to send its team for building a civil enclave at the defence airbase near Bathinda. The Defence Ministry has given approval for setting up a civil enclave there. Now it will be the job of the Civil Aviation Ministry to build the enclave. The Avitation Ministry will send a team of the Airport Authority of India (AAI). That team will assess the requirement of land for constructing the enclave as exists at the Chandigarh Airport.

After the requirement of land is projected by the AAI, the state government will acquire the land for that purpose, it is learnt.

Punjab’s connectivity by air will improve vastly in the next few years. The Raja Sansi Airport at Amritsar is already under expansion. In fact, that has become one of the busiest airports in this part of the country.

The expansion of the Chandigarh airport has already been cleared by the AAI. The Punjab government is about to begin the process of acquiring land for the expansion of the Chandigarh aiport to make it of international standards. The Faridkot Civil Aviation Club is also being reactivated. Facility will be available there for the landing of the small aircraft on the pattern of the Patiala Aviation Club.

The Sahnewal Airport, near Ludhiana, is also being renovated. That will also be available for the landing of medium-sized aircraft.

Punjab has been facing the problem of connectivity by air. Bigger IT companies have not shown any interest in setting up shops in Punjab. IT companies, which employ highly paid qualified youth, prefer to set up shops at places which are connected by air. Even owners of other industries also prefer connectivity by air as they waste time by travelling on road.


Bansal for 4 pc agri-growth rate
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 2
The aim of the government to achieve 10 per cent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) can be achieved if the agriculture sector is given a boost. The agricultural growth rate should be increased from 2.6 per cent to at least 4 per cent. These views were expressed by union minister of state for finance Pawan Kumar Bansal while inaugurating a seminar on “Agriculture - Opportunities and Challenges,” organised at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) here today. 

The seminar was organised by the Dr Amrik Singh Cheema Foundation Trust.

Bansal said about 36 crore acres were suitable for agriculture, but resources were provided for just 15 crore acres. About 82 per cent farmers owned just 1 to 1.5 acre, which was not sufficient for the country’s agricultural growth. The government had to work hard, bring farmer-oriented policies to make them self-dependent. He said it was unfortunate that an agrarian state like Punjab was under debt and placed at No. 3 in the country.

At least 600 progressive farmers from Punjab and surrounding areas participated in the seminar. Jagdeep Singh Cheema, chairman, and Dr Amrik Singh Cheema welcomed the guests.

PAU vice-chancellor Dr Manjit Singh Kang, while delivering a key note address, elucidated the constraints of the declining farm size and the income of farmers. He also cautioned about the depleting natural resources. He expressed concern about inadequate post-harvest handling and pointed out about the natural calamities which affect the end productivity. Dr Kang stated that the Central and state governments had to take due note of the fact that 66 per cent of the population’s livelihood depended on agriculture. He suggested that the agricultural industry, in collaboration, with private sector should be encouraged to attract investment. Subsidiary farm ventures like dairy, piggery, poultry, mushroom growing and bee-keeping should be promoted through institutional support and marketing network. Subsidy to exporters from Punjab should be allowed because sea ports were too far away from this state.

Dr B.S. Sidhu, director, Agriculture, explained the programme of his department to surmount the present day challenges by the farmers.

Vice-chancellor Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University Dr V.K Taneja mentioned about the research being done by his university for developing the dairy sector through improved nutrition, reproduction mechanism and rearing of high pedigree bulls for better quality semen to the dairy owners.

Dr G.S. Kalkat, chairman, Punjab State Farmers’ Commission, explained the role being played by the commission for safeguarding the interests of the farming community.


Budget Blues
Farm loan waiver incomplete: CM
Centre offered inadequate solution to problem, says Badal
Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Maluka (Bathinda), March 2
Decrying the union Budget, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today said agricultural loan waiver was ‘an incomplete solution to the problem’.

He was here to attend the bhog ceremony of former minister Sikander Singh Maluka’s mother Chatin Kaur. He talked about ‘discrimination’ shown against Punjab. He charged that the Centre had not given special relief package to farmers of Punjab.

“A formula needs to be evolved to help debt-ridden farmers of Punjab resorting to committing suicide. In the absence of a special strategy, the ‘incomplete’ debt waiver would not be of much use to the farmers,” added Badal.

He said, “The issue needs to be discussed with all parties or an expert committee, which makes a survey in this regard, should be formed.”

“Though it has been said agriculture is a state subject, it is under the control of the Centre. The decisions taken by the Centre, like hike in diesel price and decrease in subsidies on fertiliser, is a big obstacle in the growth of farmers.”

“In the Budget, the UPA government claims to have taken care of debt-ridden farmers, but the loans taken from arhtiyas and private concerns have been ignored, which amounts to almost half of the total debt,” the CM lamented.

Jathedar Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Bikramjit Singh Majithia, Nirmal Singh Kahlon, Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, Jagdeep Singh Nakai, Sarnam Singh Phillaur, Vikram Singh Bikka, Sukhraj Singh Dutt, Sat Pal Singh Saini, Kamal Sharma and Chiranji Lal Garg were also present at the bhog ceremony. Badal also granted Rs 11 lakh for the welfare of villagers in Maluka.


Cong accuses govt of double standards
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
The Punjab Congress has decried the double standards being exhibited by the ruling SAD-BJP combine. On the one hand Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has been thanking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the UPA government for different projects and liberal financial support under various schemes, and on the other hand SAD president Sukhbir Badal was holding a rally against the Central government’s so-called step-motherly treatment in New Delhi.

Punjab Congress spokesman Jagmohan Singh Kang claimed that everybody in the state was aware of the fact that due to the regular and emphatic efforts of the Congress the UPA government had conveyed its gratitude by giving loan waiver package to farmers for making the country self-sufficient.

He questioned whether the SAD-BJP government had a magic wand that they held a rally on February 26, which resulted in the announcement of the loan waiver in the Budget yesterday.

He said this loan waiver exercise had been going on for a long time about which the UPA government was committed and an indication to this effect was given by the Prime Minister to a delegation of Punjab Congress led by Rajinder Kaur Bhattal on February 25 in Delhi.

Kang asked the ruling combine that if they were well-wishers of the farmers then why they didn’t take up their case for loan waiver and increase in MSP of foodgrains during the NDA regime.


Medical students for peace march reach holy city
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 2
More than 71 medical students from across the world who will participate in the peace march organised by the Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD) arrived here from the Attari joint checkpost today.

The delegates, which include 31 girls from Ukraine, Nepal, Bangladesh, Germany, Holland, Latin America, Australia, Mongolia, Nigeria, besides India, will participate in the three-day world congress of international physicians for the prevention of nuclear war in New Delhi from March 7. The conference will be inaugurated by Hamid Ansari, Vice-President of India.

The medical students paid obeisance to martyrs at the Jallianwala Bagh. The delegates from Pakistan were to join them at Wagah but as they had not got the visa they would fly to New Delhi.

Talking to the media at Jallianwala Bagh, Ankita Chowdhari said the main aim of the march was to urge the governments of developing nations to make provision in their annual budgets for improving healthcare and educational infrastructure in their countries instead of making nuclear arsenal.

Ankita said she had visited Karachi in Pakistan in 2004 and had interacted with the people there. She said no one there wanted war and were concerned about the deteriorating health and educational facilities being provided by the successive governments.

Welcoming the delegates, A.S. Padda, medical superintendent, Government Medical College, announced that the march would conclude in New Delhi on March 5 after passing though Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Doraha, Sirhind, Ambala and Panipat. 


Near God, yet far from His blessings
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 2
At least seven members of two Rajasthani families remain busy in making or selling not only toys of plaster of Paris (POP), but also those of gods and goddesses on a roadside near the Police Lines here. Still they are hardly able to make both ends meet.

Families of Raghu Nath Ram and Kharta Ram, who belong to Pali district in Rajasthan, are residing nowadays in two huts near the Police Lines, where they make these toys and idols. They also sell the toys and idols by displaying the same on the the Sangrur-Barnala road. Besides this, Raghu and Kharta also visit some towns and nearby villages to sell toys and idols. Both families have been here for the past three to four months.

Talking to The Tribune here yesterday, Kali, wife of Kharta Ram, said they charged between Rs 10 and Rs 75 from customers, but could not save money as they had to pay for the POP, varnish, kerosene, colours and distemper. Moreover, the sale of these toys and idols was also limited, so they always remained hand to mouth.

Inder Ram (16), son of Raghu, said no child of both families had gone to a school as they had to help their parents in making toys and idols.


Now, home delivery of jobs
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 2
Believe it or not, jobs are being delivered at home these days. Recently representatives of a Mohali-based company went door-to-door to distribute jobs in various parts of the district. Representatives targeted the matriculate unemployed youth.

The youth here said company representatives came to their houses and collected data about their education and other qualifications. After a few days they received simple postcards stating that they had been found fit for one job or the other and should come to Mohali and deposit a fee of Rs 300 with the company.

Shiv Kumar of Nangal is just a matriculate. He has been doing petty jobs here and there to making a living. Now suddenly company officials told him through postcard that he has been found fit for the job of a field officer/helper drawing a monthly wage of Rs 9,500. He has been asked to deposit Rs 300 as company fee at Mohali.

Shiv Kumar enquired from company officials on phone where he would be placed. The person attending the phone told him that he would be adjusted in Nangal or surrounding areas.

Shiv Kumar became suspicious as to how could he get so much salary in the vicinity of Nangal with just matric qualification. He dropped the idea. However, many other youth, who have received such postcards, are going and depositing the fee with company officials.

However, the entire exercise seems to be a racket to dupe unemployed youth for making a fast buck. Police sources said earlier also they had received complaints against such companies. Their modus operandi is that collect Rs 300 from thousands of students across the state with a promise of arranging jobs for them and then elope. Generally, nobody bothers to follow the complaint for just small sums ranging from Rs 300 to 500. This gives thugs opportunity to elope collecting Rs 15 to 20 lakh from one area.

Police officials said people should exercise some logic before falling for such schemes that seem abnormal.

Earlier also, a team of thugs had duped residents of villages in the district. They went there as government officials. The villagers were told that their houses were being numbered by the government. They were asked to pay Rs 10 for getting numbers encrypted outside their houses. The thugs then eloped collecting Rs 1,000 to 2,000 per village.

Later, when people enquired from officials, they came to know that there was no government move to encrypt numbers outside their houses.

District administration officials cautioned people against such conmen. They said whenever someone came with such unrealistic offer, the matter could be reported to local officials who could then check their credentials.


It’s Badal XI vs Bhattal XI
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
Politicians are known to play games at the cost of the people. But for a change, this time Punjab politicians have decided to play a time-bound game and will pay for it too. Come March 13 and the PCA stadium will witness a match between Badal XI and Bhattal XI.

The two teams will try to get even on the pitch. And to top it all, Punjabi humourist and satirist Bhagwant Mann will be the commentator. Mann will be accompanied by cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu. They are likely to be joined by Jaspal Bhatti.

The one-dayer has been planned to raise money for the disabled. It is a first of its kind attempt by the state Para Olympic Committee.

The Congress star players will be Rana Sodhi, Kewal Dhillon, Sukhpal Khaira, Harmohinder Jassi, Charanjit Channy while the SAD is pinning its hopes on Sukhbir Badal, Bikramjit Singh Majithia and Parminder Dhindsa. Interestingly, both sides will have non-playing captains in Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and state Congress president Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

The organisers are trying to rope in some Bollywood personalities to attract crowds.


Jahangir to meet SGPC on turban
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 2
United Nations special rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Pakistan’s human rights activist Asma Jilani Jahangir today entered India from the Attari border to hold meetings with senior SGPC office-bearers and Sikh organisations on turban issue in France.

The first such meeting will be held here tomorrow by a delegation of the SGPC led by general secretary Sukhdev Singh Bhaur.

SGPC president Avtar Singh said he had deputed Bhaur to submit documents on the significance of turban for Sikhs to Pakistan’s human rights activist. He said the SGPC would urge her to take up the matter with the United Nations in her capacity as UN special rapporteur on Freedom of Religion. Bhaur said he had prepared a case including documentation by Tarlochan Singh.


No sangat darshan during Budget session
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has decioded not to sangat darshan at his residence till March 25 as the Budget session of Punjab Assembly will be in progress. Disclosing this here today, advisor to Chief Minister Punjab Dr Daljit Singh Cheema said the next date for the Sangat Darshan would be announced after the Budget session.

The Chief Minister is expected to participate in all debates in the House and has asked officials to appraise him of the likely issues to be raised in 
the House.


Regular upgrade of curricula stressed
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 2
The UGC has proposed to raise enrolment ratio in higher education from 10 per cent to 15 per cent during the 11th Plan. It has been proposed to set up one college each in all districts and 30 universities besides upgrading at least 20 universities.

This was stated by economist Sucha Singh Gill, dean, Academic Affairs, Punjabi University, Patiala, during his keynote address at a workshop of principals on “Relevance of Faculty Improvement Programmes” here yesterday.

He said in this era of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation, the thrust should be on quality education. A regular upgrade of the curricula after every three years was the need of the hour. Periodical performance of the teachers should be reviewed.

A flexible system for orientation of the faculty should be introduced. If the universities were to excel, they would have to create their own fellowship programmes to meet the scarcity of general researchers. “We must encourage our scholars towards original research than repetitive one,” he added.

Gill said the National Knowledge Commission had recommended raising the number of universities from less than 350 to 1,500 to enable India to attain gross enrolment ratio in higher education to 15 per cent. This was being planned to reap benefits of emerging knowledge economy. Modern economies were fast being transformed into service economies with heavy dependence on information and communication technology. That required highly educated and skilled workforce, he added.

Vice-chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University Jai Rup Singh, in his inaugural address, said budgetary increase could not enhance the quality of education, only the teachers committed to their profession could.


A Pak school that will teach Devnagri
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 2
The Pakistan chapter of the Anglo-Asian Friendship Society (AAFS) will endeavour to establish a printing press in Lahore where Bhagvadagita, Ramayana,Vedas and Hindu literature will be published in Devnagri script for the first time after Partition.

The AAFS will also open a Hindi school where pupils would be taught to read and write in the Devnagri script.

Talking to The Tribune here, Dr Munawar Chand, general secretary of Krishna Temple, Lahore, said Devnagri is a script used to write several Indian languages, including Sanskrit, Kashmiri and Sindhi. He said the Hindu scriptures being published in Sindh and Hyderabad (Pakistan) were in Persian and Sindhi scripts.

“There is a need to come closer to the roots of the ancient Devnagri script that has been traced to 500 BC,” he said, adding the name Devnagri comes from the Sanskrit words Deva (god) and Nagari (city); together they mean the "City of the gods”.

Dr Chand, who is accompanied by wife Sunita and sons Sunil Chand and Sunny Kumar (both youth wing coordinators), claimed that members of the minority communities, including Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Behais, were enjoying freedom since Pervez Musharraf came to power in Pakistan. He hoped the new government to be formed in the coming days would also continue the policies framed by the Musharraf government for the betterment of minorities. The Luv Temple, recently found in the Lahore Fort, is in ruins and the government of Pakistan has decided to renovate it.

A delegation of Interfaith from Pakistan, including Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims and Christians, would also visit India in the near future. Dr Chand said the delegation would meet Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, president, Indian National Congress.

The AAFS secretary said the government of Pakistan had earmarked huge funds for renovating the Hindu shrines there.


Ahmadiyyas shocked at member’s killing
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 2
The killing of Basharat Ahmed Mughal (45), member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of the Karachi Jama’at, in Pakistan on February 24 has sent shock waves among the community members living in this district. He was the president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Halqa Manzoor Colony, Karachi.

According to his friends in Qadian, Basharat has been the 88th victim of attacks against the peace-loving community of Ahmadiyyat in Pakistan since 1984.

He was reportedly shot in his neck and back while he was on the way to a religious place to offer prayers. 


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