Khaki Story
Joshi brigade, mahila mandal draw daggers
Sanjay Bumbroo & P K Jaiswar

Amritsar, March 4
Two factions of the district unit of the BJP have taken a diametrically opposite stands over the demand for action against two police officials facing assault allegations.

While health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla is in favour of retaining the SHO on the basis of his track record, the other faction close to Anil Joshi, MLA, has served an ultimatum to change him (the SHO). Earlier too Joshi had staged a protest dharna against the local police.

It is learnt that the health minister had met the DIG for retaining the SHO at the same police station.

The SSP had suspended ASI Kuldip Singh and transferred SHO Baldev Singh to the Police Lines from the D-division police station, outside which a high drama was staged on Sunday by the family members of Rakesh Kumar, alleging that he was falsely implicated in an assault case. The group led by district BJP Yuva Morcha president Sanjay Sharma at a press conference here today threatened to go on fast if the police administration failed to take action against the two police officials within 24 hours. The two cops were reinstated after a few hours of their suspension and transfer allegedly under pressure from a senior BJP leader. However, Sanjay Sharma said the senior police official acted on his own and there was no involvement of any party leader for revoking the suspension and transfer orders.

Meanwhile, the other group led by state vice-president of BJP Mahila Mandal Saroj Khanna, in a press conference held later in the evening, also threatened to go on fast if action was taken against the two “honest” police officers. She said the two officers had been successful in restricting the movement of anti-social elements in the area and the women were now feeling safe since their postings. She said the other group had been “blackmailing and threatening” the family due to which they were not able to stay home for the past couple of months. massive demonstration was held outside the D-division police station on Sunday evening after the attempt of the police to arrest Rakesh Kumar during the funeral of his grandmother which had enraged the mourners of the walled city. The mob gathered outside the police station with the body of the deceased old woman. Later, they were joined by BJP workers led by Bakshi Ram Arora, district president, and supporters of Anil Joshi, MLA.

It may be recalled that Anil Joshi, who was at loggerheads with the district police administration, had made a 21-member committee, including municipal councillors popularly known as “Joshi brigade”, for controlling the alleged carelessness by the local civil and police administration.



Great Gabba: City cheers Team India’s dream finish
Vibhor Mohan/TNS

Amritsar, March 4
India’s spectacular nine-run victory in the second tri-series final against Australia in Gabba was a treat to watch for the jubilant fans in the city.

The moment India rewrote history, defeating the world champions in their own backyard, the AGA Cricket Ground echoed with cheers of young practising cricketers, who wrapped up their evening session to celebrate their team’s victory. Rohan Verma, a die-hard Sachin fan, said his idol was once again unlucky to have lost his wicket in the nervous nineties. “It has happened very often in the past but he had managed to break the jinx in the last match. But young pacer Praveen Kumar rightly deserved the ‘man of the match’ award for his four-wicket haul,” he said.

“As highlighted by cricket experts time and again, Aussies are not used to playing under pressure and they just couldn’t come to terms with the fact that their crown of being world champions was slipping. This took a toll on their performance against the improved Indian side,” he added.

In the 29-year history of the tournament, India has made it to the finals thrice and lost all of the big matches to Australia. “But this time the selectors did the right thing by infusing young blood in the side and players like Rohit Sharma and Ishant Sharma have not let them down,” said Amarjeet Singh, another cricket fan.

“One needs to see the body language of the Aussies, who seem to have sub-consciously accepted that India is an equally good side, if not better in the present-day’s international cricket scene. We have been glued to the car radio as there was a prolonged power cut in the city today. I’m looking forward to watching the repeat telecast to catch all the action,” he added.

Elsewhere in the city, the mood was electric in restaurants where special arrangement had been made for screening the match for the customers, despite the power failure. “It was one of the most exciting matches I have seen, for the sheer fact that India was performing well against the mighty Aussies. The transformation in the Indian team is commendable. We have begun the party to celebrate the victory, which would culminate in bursting crackers in the night,” said Kunal Aggarwal, who was with his friends at Coffee Café Day.



LPG delivery runs out of gas
Vibhor Mohan/TNS

Amritsar, March 4
The thought of getting an empty cooking gas cylinder refilled can give sleepless nights to any city resident. An acute shortfall of cylinders has led to gas agencies maintaining long waiting lists, forcing consumers to buy cylinders in black market, which could mean shelling out up to Rs 400 for a cylinder costing Rs 310.

Scores of customers converge on the gas agencies, carrying empty gas cylinders in rickshaws and on scooters, whenever there is news of supply of new stock. Long queues can be seen in front of cylinder trucks parked on the main road. “It can take up to a week for getting a cylinder delivery on booking in normal course. That is why consumers who have a single cylinder connection don’t mind carrying their own cylinder to the agency’s godown. In times of emergency, turning to black marketers is the only option,” says Rajinder Arora, a resident of Chheharta, who works with a private bank.

“Constantly busy phone lines of gas agencies and long wait for a refill continue to give consumers a harrowing time. Gas agencies just don’t understand the problem of people staying here on transferable posts, who don’t want to go in for a second connection. It is unfair to expect them to wait for refilling of their single cylinder for a week,” says Balwant Singh, an Airport Authority of India (AAI) employee.

An employee of a local gas agency said the demand for cooking gas increases manifold during this time of the year and the situation is expected to normalise in the coming months. “The shortage is not confined to Amritsar city alone. Most other big cities of the state are also facing the same problem. The agencies cannot do much when the supply from the source is limited,” he said. When contacted, Dr Anjuman Bhaskar, district food and supplies controller, however, said there was a genuine shortfall in the month of January and the first half of February as the bulk supply from the Bharat Petroleum’s Jamnagar plant was not coming to the city. “The supply has now resumed and the situation is expected to normalise in a couple of weeks,” she said.

She added that the department had taken a host of steps to make sure cylinder shortage didn’t nag consumers. Raids were recently conducted on the premises of gas agencies for preventing illegal diversions of supply.

“Notices were also issued and raids conducted on restaurants and dhabas for checking commercial use of domestic cooking gas cylinders. Meetings were also held with the leaders of restaurant and dhaba associations,” she said.

In collaboration with the traffic police, challans of Rs 3,000 were issued to drivers illegally using LPG cylinders to run their car engines. “All this has made a difference,” she said.



Tarmac Trouble
Kin of assault accused hold traffic to ransom
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 4
Supporters and family members of Angrej Singh, accused in a case of assault on Rakesh Sharma, today demonstrated in the Lohgarh area seeking release of their arrested relative Gagan. They blocked the road for half an hour, much to the inconvenience of the commuters.

The police had booked Angrej Singh along with Baldev Raj, Gagan and Manish allegedly for assaulting Rakesh.

A high-level drama was staged outside the D-division police station when the police tried to arrest Rakesh on the counter complaint of Angrej.

The family members of Rakesh, along with BJP Yuva Morcha leaders, led by district president Bakshi Ram Arora and several municipal councillors, demonstrated outside the police station a couple of days back. This evoked suspension of an ASI and shifting of an SHO to Police Lines who was later shifted back within a few hours.

Speaking on the occasion, Angrej said the police had arrested his relative Gagan even as an inquiry was still being conducted by the police into the cases registered. They demanded release of Gagan, besides reinstating ASI Kuldeep Singh, who was under suspension after the protest by the family of Rakesh and BJP leaders.



Poor service: ICICI Bank told to pay Rs 12,000

Amritsar, March 4
The district consumer disputes redressal forum has asked a private bank to pay Rs 9,400 along with a compensation of Rs 2,000 and Rs 1,000 as litigation expenses to a consumer after finding the bank deficient in providing proper service to the consumer.

The forum directed ICICI Bank to pay Rs 9,400, the remaining amount of the insurance claim of Rs 23,660 which the complainant, Gurpal Singh of Guru Teg Bahadur Nagar, Kabir Park, spent on the repair of the car, which was badly damaged in an accident. Gurpal Singh, in his complaint filed against the bank, said his car, which had insurance cover with the bank, was badly damaged in an accident. The bank was informed, which appointed a surveyor to investigate into the extent of damage to the car. An estimate of Rs 23,660 was prepared by the car company. But the bank gave only 60 per cent of the amount to him on the pretext that he had violated the terms and conditions of the policy.

The forum observed that the bank failed to produce an evidence in favour of its claim. The forum directed the bank to pay the remaining amount of Rs 9,400 spent by the complainant on the repairs of the vehicle besides giving Rs 2,000 as compensation and Rs 1,000 as litigation expenses within one month from the date of the receipt of the copy of the orders.



‘Cobra Gang’ fame Mallhi, five others nabbed

Tarn Taran, March 4
The district police have succeeded to nab notorious criminal Rajinder Singh alias Mallhi of the local Muradpur colony along with his five associates. Talking to mediapersons, SP (detective) Malwinder Singh Sidhu said Mallhi (25) stepped into the world of crime at the age of 19. Seven criminal cases have been registered against him and he has been declared proclaimed offender (PO) in three cases. The SP further told that Mallhi is an active member of the ‘Cobra Gang’ which is led by Iqbal Singh Afridi, resident of Fatehbad. As Afridi is behind bars these days, Mallhi was heading the gang.The other accused have been identified as Kanwaljit Singh alias Bahadur, Gurinder Singh, Sarabpreet Singh, Jatinderpal Singh and Pushpinder Singh alias Shinda. Another gang member Sucha Singh of Sarli Kalan village was arrested a week ago. — OC



Centenary year of Shivala Kashmiri Panditan
Kashmiri Pandits to take out shobha yatra today
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 4
A shobha yatra is being organised by Kashmiri Pandits residing in the holy city tomorrow to celebrate the centenary year of Shivala Kashmiri Panditan, a historic edifice of the community built by Pt Kashmira Mal Mattoo here in 1908.

The temple is not only a symbol of Kashmiri Pandits’ centuries’ old rich cultural heritage but also a nerve centre of socio-cultural and religious activities of more than 150 Kashmiri Pandit families residing in the city.

Since localities like Chowk Farid and Kucha-e-Kashmiri Panditan were having the maximum concentration of Kashmiri Pandits, Pt Mattoo donated a piece of prime land, measuring one kanal in the Chowk Farid area, in 1908 to start the construction work of the proposed Shivala. The other community members also liberally donated money for the noble cause. The land for the Shivala and allied buildings was purchased from the Amritsar improvement trust.

After the partition of the country in 1947 communal riots broke out in Punjab and the city also witnessed a lot of loot, arson and blood shed on its streets. The historic building of the Shivala was gutted in the communal frenzy with the result its precious records were lost. A large number of Kashmiri Pandit families migrated from Amritsar to other places for safety. After the restoration of peace in the city an attempt was made by a team of dedicated workers to retrieve whatever was left of the old records from the debris.

The president of the Shivala Kashmiri Panditan Trust talking to The Tribune said the centenary celebrations also coincided with the Shivratri festival, which is the most famous and important of all the festivals of Kashmir. He said on Shivratri, which is celebrated by the Kashmiri Hindus on the dark 13th of Phalguna, Shivlinga is worshipped with flowers, incense and milk.

The festival is celebrated by the Kashmiri Pandits with great devotion, faith and pomp and show now. On the 12th dark day of Phalguna, “Wagur” (an earthen pot or steel pot now) is brought to the house. Food is placed into it and is placed on a small circular “asana” made of grass. It is supposed to be the Brahmin who has to perform the marriage ceremony of Shiva with Parvati. Some say that Wagur is Shiva’s messenger to Himalaya for his daughter Parvati’s marriage with Shiva. On the 13th dark day, Watak consisting of big earthen pitcher, two small earthen pitchers, two smaller earthen pitchers, one elephant trunk shaped figure, seven bowls are decorated with flowers garlands and sindoor.

They represent Shiva Parvati, Ram Brahmin, Seven Rishis, Ganesa and some other rishis. Walnuts are washed and placed into the pitchers and seven bowls. Then these are filled with water, some milk is poured into each one of them. Mishri (sugar) is also poured into them. Pooja is started at Pradosh Kala (dusk). Then fast is broken and boiled rice with a variety of cooked vegetables is taken.

The walnuts in the pitchers are taken out and washed, Pooja is performed and the flowers and other pooja samgri used for worship is immersed into a river. Walnuts are used as prashad and distributed among neighbours and all relatives. All members of the family, except the sick and children, keep fast. Devotional songs are sung. On the 15th dark day, Shiva is worshipped again and sweet dishes are offered to worshippers and Brahmin.



Tapping Tourism
Holy city ruined a big chance: SGPC member
P.K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, March 4
The holy city lost a very good chance of developing the hotel and tourism industry in the border region, thanks to the withdrawal of the dossier which was submitted to UNESCO for granting world heritage status (WHS) to the Golden Temple.

These views were expressed by Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, member, Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), here in view of the Union government’s decision to exempt the hotel and tourism industry from income tax in the cities which are listed in the world heritage sites by UNESCO.

Union finance minister P. Chidambram, in the recent Budget, announced this provision for world heritage sites for development of the tourism industry.

Welcoming the move, the SGPC member rued that the city had been deprived of its rightful place.

Talking to The Tribune over the telephone, she said, “Had the SGPC not withdrawn the dossier submitted to UNESCO to bring Darbar Sahib in the world heritage site list, these facilities granted by the government would have resulted in the automatic development of the hotel and tourism industry in the city.”

It is pertinent to mention here that the SGPC had rejected the dossier on the Golden Temple after the “division” in the Sikh community the world-over due to the alleged “glaring mistakes” and distortions regarding the Sikh history.

The dossier was prepared by Bibi Kiranjot Kaur and former SGPC chief Kirpal Singh Badungar was instrumental in sending it to UNESCO. The Shiromani committee executive, which was looking into the objections raised by the various Sikh intellectuals, had termed the dossier as anti-Sikh and later decided to withdraw it.



Pb would rank 7th in growth by 2012: GNDU VC
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 4
Even after achieving the growth target of 5.9 per cent fixed for Punjab during the 11th Five-Year Plan, the state would rank seventh in development by 2011-12.

This was revealed by Guru Nanak Dev University vice-chancellor Dr Jai Rup Singh while inaugurating a two-day seminar on rural industrialisation.

The event is sponsored by the UGC and is being organised by the Punjab School of Economics.

The vice-chancellor said due to an increase in non-agriculture activities, the land available for agriculture was declining.

More than 66 per cent population lived in rural areas and the employment avenues in these areas were shrinking.

He said the agricultural sector in Punjab had already reached the point of saturation as far as absorbing labour was concerned. In fact the employment elasticity of agriculture had turned negative.

So rural industrialisation held the key for making rural economy more dynamic.

He said more employment avenues should be created in the rural areas according to the aspirations of Punjabis. Besides, rural industrialisation would help in diversification of rural economy too.

R.K. Sharma, chairman, Centre for the Study of Regional Development and School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, presented the keynote address on 
the occasion.

He said low levels of labour productivity, capital intensity, technological and infrastructural bottlenecks were the major hindrances in promoting rural industrialisation.

And to shun these, imparting quality education and vocational training was important.

He said food, textiles, apparels and wood products had greater dominance in rural areas and these should be encouraged.

R.S. Bawa, director of seminar, said the Punjab School of Economics had already organised three seminars in the series under the SAAP programme.

He said more than 35 papers would be presented during the seminar, out of which three would highlight the role of khadi and village industries.



‘Heritage status for SGPC school’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 4
The building of Sri Guru Ramdas Khalsa School, being run under Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), will be declared and maintained as Sikh heritage.

This was announced by Avtar Singh Makkar, SGPC president, while addressing students, teachers and authorities of the school during a function dedicated to third centenary celebrations of Gurgaddi of Guru Granth Sahib.

Makkar said the students of the school had made a mark in various fields and brought laurels to the community.

He said the institute has not only strived for providing high quality education to students but also done a commendable job in saving Sikh culture. The steps like Gurmat Kirtan training for students is especially worth mentioning, said Makkar. He said the school students have won various cultural competitions. SGPC president also announced a grant of Rs one lakh to the school.

He said the building of the school would be inspected by authorities of Archeological Survey of India soon.



School Times
Down Under glory for 11 Spring Dale students
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 4
Educational Assessment, University of New South Wales, Australia, awarded 11 gold medals with commendation certificates to students of the local Spring Dale Senior School in International Assessments for Indian Schools, a test conducted at the international level. Educational assessment, Australia has awarded medals to the toppers of each state in each subject, at each class level.

As many as 1,74,527 students of classes 3 to 12 from 2,243 schools in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Mauritius, Maldives, UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Iran and Iraq have taken 3,02,336 tests in English, science, mathematics and computer skills.

Out of these only 1,787 students were awarded medals for scoring the highest marks in their states. The students of the school who were awarded for computer skills include Pragya Sethi (V), Vividh Talwar (VI), Ishbir Singh (VI), Karanpreet Singh Arora (VI) and Sehajdeep Singh Pasricha (VII). Gursanam Singh (X), Harshpreet Singh (XI) and Sukhdeep Singh (XII) were awarded for topping in science. Kaenat (VII) and Vibodh Rath (XI) were awarded for English and Harshpreet Singh (XI) for mathematics.

Swami Dayanand remembered

Local DAV International School, celebrated the “day of enlightenment of Swami Dayanand, founder of Arya Samaj” on its premises here. The school was fully decorated with flowers and beautiful lights. Various competitions, including paper reading, declamation and quiz contests, were organised to get students acquainted with his teachings. Speaking on the occasion, principal of the school, Anjana Gupta encouraged the students to follow in the footsteps of Swami Dayanand, besides highlighting the teachings and morals preached by him.



Admn urged to screen new cable operators
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 4
Amritsar Cable TV Operators Association has urged the district administration to screen new operators who were threatening people and were telling them not to opt for the Digi Cable launched recently.

Addressing mediapersons here, association president Kuldeep Singh said the association members would meet the concerned minister in the state and would ask the government to take effective measures to stop activities of these cable operators.

He alleged that a false propaganda was being made that the Digi Cable operators were cutting wires of the Siti Cable operators. He said earlier the main cable operator was too looting public by charging Rs 240 per month and issuing bills for Rs 176 only.

Earlier, welcoming the cable operators in the meeting organised by the association, chairman Pritpal Singh said more than 80 per cent of cable operators in the city had joined the Digi Cable network and were telecasting more than 106 channels. Soon these channels would be increased to 160 on Digi Cable, he added.



No industrial package a big disappointment for Punjab: Chugh
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 4
Former state president of Bhartiya Janata Party’s youth wing, Tarun Chugh, today said the UPA Budget was not people-friendly but poll-friendly.

In a statement issued to the press, he said the Congress-led government at the Centre had not announced any measures to check price rise or strengthen food security. “Also the Budget does not talk anything about strengthening the public distribution system,” he added.

Chugh said the already sick industry of Punjab was expecting an industrial package on the pattern of other states like Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and North East, but nothing was announced by the finance minister in this regard. He said the FM even failed to announce any relief package for the growth of export - oriented industry and business. The industry was already reeling under the load of service tax, TDS, VAT and central excise, he added.



My City
Civic amenities should top agenda
Sukhvinder Singh Narula

Spending huge amounts on developing Amritsar into a tourist destination is of no use unless the city residents are provided with basic amenities like sanitation, potable water, affordable public transport and smooth roads.

For example the construction of a 4-km stretch of an elevated road under a development project was launched by the previous Congress government. However, more than a year has passed the construction company has failed to provide any service road at the site. Potholes, bumpy roads and hazy atmosphere around this road have aggravated problems for the commuters, particularly for those on foot and two-wheelers. Even, the electricity poles on the route have been uprooted, resulting in darkness during evening and making it an accident-prone area.

The absence of trees, which were uprooted during the project, has resulted in increased pollution levels. Though the idea of planting trees by the local MP was a great effort, God knows how many trees have been planted and how many have survived on this route.

As the construction company has resources, the responsibility to save plants on the route should have been assigned to it. For the past three years media have been talking about the city bus service and trials have been done but it is still a distant dream. Adding to the woes are the three-wheelers running on kerosene. Even crushers and sand trolleys have encroached upon the open space near the international bus terminal. The other projects which still hang in the balance are Rehri Market and the solid waste management plant.



Rs 11 crore for Majitha development

Amritsar, March 4
Under the urban infrastructure development scheme, the Punjab government would spend Rs 10.88 crore on providing potable water and laying sewerage in Majitha.

This was revealed by information and public relations minister Bikramjit Singh Majithia while interacting with mediapersons here on Sunday. He said the government gave nod to the project during a meeting on February 22.

Majithia said the SAD-BJP combine had already initiated various development projects worth Rs 40 crore and was committed to upgrade the education system. “The government has already upgraded five model schools in the area, besides opening Adarsh schools,” he added. — OC



Woman arrested with stolen car

Amritsar, March 4
The police on Tuesday nabbed Jagir Kaur, a resident of Guru Nanak Pura, Beas, and recovered one stolen car from her possession while two of her accomplices escaped from the spot. According to the information, the police conducted a raid in the Jahajgarh area and held the accused from the spot. Her two accomplices Malkit Singh, alias Sodhi of Beas, and Rohit of Dusuha escaped. The police recovered an Accent car bearing a fake number (HR-01-R-5603) from her possession. — TNS



2 snatchers arrested

Amritsar, March 4
The police today held two snatchers, Jaswinder Singh of Newi Tung and Sitara Singh of Tung Pai on the Batala road, while escaping after snatching a gold chain from a woman near Medical Enclave.

The snatchers were caught with the help of bystanders, who got hold of the snatchers when they tried to flee.

During interrogation it was revealed that the snatchers had also tried to snatch a motor cycle and Kinetic Honda from the same area but could not succeed. They admitted to having committed many thefts and snatchings in the city, the police added. The police recovered one gold chain and a scooter from them. — OC



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