P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Discrepancies in Nanakshahi Calendar
Names of Patna Sahib Jathedars go
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 12
Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, has excluded the name of Giani Iqbal Singh from the seven-member committee on the removal of discrepancies in the Nanakshahi calendar .

Both Takht Patna Sahib and Hazoor Sahib have already rejected the Nanakshahi calendar. So much so, the tercentenary celebrations of Gurta Gaddi of Guru Granth Sahib is being celebrated as per traditional Bikrami calendar.

Jathedar Iqbal Singh said an emergency meeting of Takht Hazoor Sahib would be convened in a couple of days to discuss the issue. He, however, expressed surprise over the exclusion of names of Jathedars of both outside Takhts. He said the Sikh clergy of Patna Sahib would also take up the ‘threatening letter’, received by him (Jathedar Iqbal Singh).

In a release on the letterhead of Akal Takht, Jathedar Vedanti has asked the Sikh sangat to submit the suggestions aiming to remove the discrepancies, if any by August 16.

The members of the committee include Jathedar Vedanti himself, Giani Tarlochan Singh, Giani Balwant Singh, Nandgarh Jathedars of Takht Kesgarh Sahib and Damdama Sahib, respectively, Giani Gurbachan Singh, head granthi, and Giani Jaswinder Singh, granthi of the Golden Temple. However, instead of mentioning the names of Giani Iqbal Singh and deputy Jathedar of Hazoor Sahib, he took the ‘representatives’ of both outside Takhts.


Sore over govt ‘monopoly’, farmers hold back wheat
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 12
Farmers across the region are sore with the government for trying to monopolise wheat purchases. After a long time, farmers have got a chance to directly sell their produce at a slightly better rate than the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1,000 per quintal being offered by government. However, the government has banned direct purchase by private players.

This time, the farmers seem to be smarter. They are withholding most of their wheat, only a limited quantity is being sold to government agencies. This has already set alarm bells ringing in the government which has indicated importing wheat to jack up the food stocks, but that hardly deters the farmers who insist that they will sell their produce only when they get the right price. They too want to get the benefit of open economy.

President, BKU (Rajewal), Balbir Singh Rajewal, said earlier the government had announced it would procure 105 lakh tonnes of wheat which had come down to just 85-90 lakh metric tonnes (as per the Food Supplies Department). But the government would not be able to procure more than 60-62 lakh tonnes of wheat from Punjab, claimed Rajewal.

He further added that from Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, the government procured not more than 1 lakh tonnes. Big private players like CARGILL, ITC and Reliance had the capacity to procure huge amounts of wheat from Punjab, but the government had fixed just 10,000 metric tonnes for each of them, which was peanuts. "In case, they want to get more, they will have to seek permission from the government or the FCI, which is a tedious process", said Rajewal, adding that it was not only the farmer who will suffer, the consumer, too, will have to pay the price at the end.

Sangrur district remains on top in wheat production with approximately 8-10 lakh tonnes and Ludhiana comes next with 6-7 lakh tonnes of produce. According to the agriculture department of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), 2-5 quintal per acre yield (out of total 34.5 lakh hectare land) has already been lost in the recent rains accompanied with winds, which means minimum losses of 17.4 lakh tonnes of yield.

Meanwhile, R.P.S.Pawar, principal secretary, Food Supplies (additional charge), said wheat had started coming to mandis. He claimed that private players would not be able to compete with government agencies and farmers would prefer to sell the produce to government because of assured payment in 24 hours.


Economy to be poll plank: Sukhbir
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 12
Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Badal today said the Akali Dal would be fighting the parliamentary elections on the issue of the country’s economy. “The Congress has sounded its death knell by not being able to control the sky rocketing prices. The worst affected is the poor who are now not even able to afford two square meals. This is going to be the main issue in the elections,” he said.

Sukhbir was interacting with mediapersons after addressing a gathering of the food corporation of India employees union on the last day of their annual conference.

When asked about the preparations being made by the Akali Dal for the parliamentary elections next year the MP from Faridkot said it was too early to speak on such issues. Since his own constituency had been reserved for an SC candidate, when asked where he was planning to contest elections from, Sukhbir repeated that it was too early to comment.

When pointed out that the Congress was already moving its cadres for the preparations for the forthcoming parliamentary elections, Sukhbir said the party was frustrated, directionless and had nothing else to do.

Stating that DLF was all set to enter Punjab with a host of housing and infrastructure projects Sukhbir said other than DLF many other top companies of India were coming to invest in Punjab. He added that the possibility of reserving jobs for Punjabis in the various private mega industrial and housing projects in Punjab would also be considered.

He said the first year of their government in Punjab had been devoted to planning and the next two years the focus would be on implementation. “Our planning for the state is already showing results. The Lehra Mohabbat power plant would be producing another 250 MW of power before summers set in,” he said.

Earlier addressing an impressive gathering of FCI workers Sukhbir assured them that he would take their demand of ending the contract system in Punjab to the Chief 


State denied Central fund share due to official apathy
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
Bureaucratic and political apathy have put Punjab on the path of downslide, making it the slowest growing state in the country. One example in case is that the union government has allocated about Rs 75,000 crore for the current fiscal for centrally sponsored and development schemes for various states in the country. However, Punjab will get its share only from Rs 36,902 crore because it has not implemented other schemes for which allocation is to be made from the remaining amount.

Sources said there were certain schemes for which allocation of Rs 17,108 crore from the total sum of Rs 75,000 crore had been made. However, Punjab would not get any rupee because there was no scheme in Punjab for which allocation was to be made from Rs 17,108 crore to various states. Besides, there were fresh schemes for which the union government has allocated Rs 5,033 crore for the current fiscal year. Punjab would get a share only if it planned and implemented the new schemes.

Interestingly, the union government has allocated Rs 16,117 crore for certain schemes. However, Punjab has been unable to make out whether it can get any share from these schemes or whether these can be implemented in the state or not.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has told the officers that they should focus this year on centrally sponsored schemes and try to utilise the entire share of funds allocated for such schemes.

Punjab has been under-utilising these funds because implementation of schemes in the state is sluggish. The other reason is failure to contribute the state’s share to get the funds released from the Central allocation.

Sources said only 55 per cent of funds allocated for centrally sponsored schemes in Punjab were utilised.

For instance, there was allocation of about Rs 2,200 crore of which utilisation was about Rs 1,200 crore during the last fiscal year.

With efforts at the level of political and administrative secretaries, the state can get Rs 4,000 crore as its share from the allocation of Rs 2,400 crore made by the union government for the current fiscal year.


Bhattal, I following different paths: Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 12
No rapprochement seems possible between PPCC president Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, with the latter stating here today that both of them were following different paths.

Addressing mediapersons after attending a court hearing in the City Centre scam case, Capt Amarinder Singh said he and Bhattal were walking on different roads. "I speak for the welfare of the party workers while she is concerned about herself only," he alleged.

He said nearly 6,000 Congress workers were facing harassment at the hands of the Punjab police at the “behest of Akali leaders", but Bhattal had got the Vigilance case against her withdrawn instead of raising a hue and cry for the grassroot Congressmen.

The ex-CM also demanded action against DGP N P S Aulakh and his relatives in the alleged land grab case on similar lines on which a case was registered against former DGP S. S. Virk.

Cautioning the police on efforts by miscreants to revive terrorism, he said the recent recovery of RDX and drugs like heroin, ephidrine should be taken seriously. "The smugglers and terrorists have joined hands to create trouble in the state," he alleged.

Party can’t work as per his wish: Bhattal

Fatehgarh Sahib: Reacting to the statements of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh regarding his unwillingness to work with the PPCC president, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today stated that the party could not function according to the wishes of a single individual.

Speaking to reporters after presiding over a function of the unit of the Congress party here to mark the foundation day of the district, Bhattal said it was a fact that most of those who left the party at one point of time or the other, had rejoined the Congress after realising their mistake. Therefore, one should think twice before issuing such statements, which, she said, could spell doom for their political careers. She said Amarinder Singh should toe the party line as it was not going to function as per the whims and fancies of a person. Bhattal said she was willing to collaborate with Amarinder Singh and work jointly for the Lok Sabha elections. 

Badal adopting double standards: Bhattal

Chandigarh: Congress Committee (PPCC) president Rajinder Kaur Bhattal yesterday criticised Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for adopting double standards with regard to panthic interests by shielding senior BJP leader L.K. Advani for his remarks pertaining to Sikh Gurus and Operation Bluestar in his book titled “My Country My Life”.

Commenting on the statement of Badal defending Advani, Bhattal said Advani had hurt the sentiments of Sikhs by using improper words to address Sikh Gurus. She alleged that Advani had tried to create havoc with his remarks on Operation Bluestar in his book.

The PPCC president said Badal remembered the panth only before elections, while at other times panthic interests were relegated to the background. 


Kalia defends Advani’s book
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
Punjab local bodies minister and BJP leader Manoranjan Kalia today described as “ill-informed" the criticism of L.K. Advani's autobiographical book "My Country, My Life" by PPCC president Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

"The book is the strongest proof given by anyone so far that the Punjab tragedy was the result of the anti-Punjab and anti-Sikh policies of the Congress. It was the Congress, says the book, which started terrorism in the state not only to undercut the Akali influence, but also settle scores between rival groups within the Congress party”.

The book also illustrates how the patriotic community of the Sikhs was painted as anti-national and terrorists both by Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv Gandhi who had justified even the massacre of innocent Sikhs after Indira's assassination in 1984 by calling it "a minor earthquake after the falling of a big tree," said Kalia in a press statement here.

About who was responsible for Operation Bluestar, Kalia said, "Advani's book is the strongest and the most well-documented indictment ever of the Congress role in fomenting violence and communal tension in the state which led to the tragic Operation Bluestar."

About the allegation that Advani did not refer to Guru Nanak Dev as 'Guru', Kalia said, "It is clear that Bhattal has not read the book at all. Therefore, she is not aware that on page after page in the book, Advani refers to the Ten Great Masters of the Sikh faith as 'Gurus'.”

As for her objection to Advani's tribute to Guru Nanak Dev as 'the greatest in the tradition of saints', he said Bhattal should read Guru Granth Sahib to understand the true meaning of the term as used by the Gurus. Advani has disclosed in the book that reading of the holy Guru Granth Sahib is “the most important religious rite in his family in Sindh”.

Regarding the allegation about Advani's alleged claim that he forced Indira Gandhi to order Operation Bluestar, Kalia said, "Not only does Advani describe Operation Bluestar as the 'most painful moment in India's history,' but he emphatically states on page 437 that 'even the need for this operation and all its tragic consequences could easily have been averted.'”

On page 430, which, Kalia said, was being “misquoted,” Advani holds Indira Gandhi responsible for this painful act and attributes it to "Indira's policies and to her tendency to seek political advantage which led to the erosion of her credibility both at home and abroad."

Advani also refers to the well-documented instances where the Congress sought and got the support of extremist fringe for political gains against the Akali Dal. Kalia said Advani's book is a tribute to the outstanding bravery, glory and patriotism of the Sikhs and Punjabis.


Badal’s defence of Advani unfair: Calcutta
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 12
The controversy surrounding “My Country, My Life”, the political biography of Lal Krishan Advani, refuses to die down. Veteran SGPC member Manjit Singh Calcutta and a former president of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee Harwinder Singh Sarna yesterday asked Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal if he had himself read the book.

They said it was unfortunate that Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal had defended Advani for the remarks in the book, which said he had never demanded action on the Golden Temple in 1984. Badal had yesterday accused the mediapersons of exaggeration.

Sarna said if Badal had read the book himself then he ought to clarify his stand on Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale, who has been described as “bhasmasur” (a demon in Hindu mythology). In the footnote of page 437, Advani has given the description of “bhasmasur”.


Waive farm labourers’ loans: Kainth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
The Bahujan Samaj Party ( BSP) today said the silence of the Union and Punjab governments over loans of “khet majdoors” (farm labour) was disappointing.

Paramjit Singh Kainth, senior leader of the BSP, said labourers in Punjab were also under debt and needed help from the government. However, the government was silent over waiving the loans of farm labourers.

He said small and marginal farmers should be given full relief and their loans should be waived completely. However, big farmers, who had diverted loan money to buy luxury cars etc, should not be given any relief. Kainth said neither Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal nor the leader of Opposition, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal had taken up their cause.


New hope for 4,900 Sikh riot victims
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 12
Providing a new ray of hope to nearly 4,900 Sikh riot victims, the state government on Thursday asked Patiala divisional commissioner S.K. Ahluwalia to have a fresh look into the 1,300 rejected cases of compensation and issuance of red cards to over 3,600 new applicants.

Putting an end to the controversy between the Ludhiana district administration and the Danga Peerat Welfare Association, chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh stopped the ongoing interviews of 3,600 applicants of red cards with immediate effect.

A three-member committee headed by Ahluwalia with Ludhiana DC Sumer Singh Gurjar and Surjit Singh, representative of riot victims, will discuss the cases fresh.

The red card is issued to a Sikh riot victim on the basis of which he can seek compensation, employment and other benefits in future.

Disclosing this here on Thursday evening, Surjit Singh, president of the Riot Victims Association, said the decisions were taken at a high-profile meeting with the chief secretary where deputy commissioners of Ludhiana, Ropar, Patiala, Mohali and Jalandhar were called.

Officials of other government departments, including Food and Supply and GLADA, were also called.

The association president said the chief secretary told them to inform the public through the media that all cases, including the rejected ones and new applications, would be scrutinsed afresh.

He said the meeting also approved that sworn affidavits given by the gurdwara management and NGOs to a riot victim that he had taken refuge on their premises during the riots would be accepted as proof of his riot victim status.


Mega miss: Vedanti not to receive jagriti yatra
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 12
Weapons of Guru Gobind Singh and other Sikh martyrs have come out of the sanctum sanctorum of Takht Hazoor Sahib for the first time in 300 years and will reach here tomorrow, but Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, will not be here to receive these as he is reportedly away to Birmingham.

The weapons are being taken for darshan in specially designed ‘rath’ along with hand-written Bir of Guru Granth Sahib.

Panthic circles are astonished on Jathedar Vedanti’s missing the mega event and preferring to go abroad. However, sources in the Akal Takht secretariat said Jathedar Vedanti was ‘annoyed’ with Dr P.S. Pasricha, a former DGP , Maharashtra, and president of Takht Sachkhand Sri Hazoor Sahib, who failed to meet him (Jathedar) during his visit to Amritsar. However, Dr Pasricha said he always held Jathedar Vedanti in high esteem. He said he had visited Amritsar on the invitation of the Chief Khalsa Diwan and later paid obeisance at the Golden Temple and Akal Takht quietly like a common devotee. He said he could not meet even SGPC chief Avtar Singh who was away to Ludhiana on that day. He said he had specially invited Jathedar Vedanti to Hazoor Sahib and, hence, it was not his deliberate intention to ignore him during the last visit to Amritsar.

Meanwhile, the Guru Manyo Granth Jagriti Yatra, which entered Punjab on March 3, has been organised to commemorate 300 years of the installation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib and ‘parlokgaman’ of Guru Gobind Singh. The yatra started from Takht Sachkhand Hazoor Sahib on November 15, 2007, and Chief Ministers of different states received it when it traversed from their respective states .

The yatra has already covered 200 cities of the country across Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Bihar, UP, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Himachal since then.

A police contingent, led by SSP (Rural) Iqbal Singh, presented guard of honour to the yatra yesterday .


Computer teachers block traffic
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 12
Members of the district unit of the Computer Teachers Union led by district president Gurvinder Rattan today marched from Banasar Garden to the residence of MP from Sangrur Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa here in support of their demands. They also blocked traffic and held a dharna for an hour at Nankiana Sahib chowk in support of their demands. They raised slogans against the Punjab government for alleged failure to accept their demands.

Rattan warned the government if the demands were not met soon they would start gheraoing SAD and the BJP MLAs in their Assembly constituencies in protest.

Their demands include regularisation of their services, enhancement in maternity leave for women teachers from three months to six months, grant of medical leave, transfer of computer teachers on priority on marriage basis and issuance of their seniority list.


No upfront tuition fee from SC students in medical courses: Sud
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
The Punjab government has issued directions to all government and private medical, ayurvedic, homeopathy, dental and nursing colleges in the state that they are not to charge any tuition fee and non-refundable fees from Scheduled Caste students who are eligible for post-matric scholarship.

Disclosing this here yesterday, Tikshan Sud, medical education and research minister, said the decision was taken by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal keeping in view the poor financial conditions of SC students. He said it was noticed that some genuine SC students did not get admission due to their failure to pay upfront fee to the institutions. He said according to the earlier system, the student was required to pay fee and other charges upfront and later seek reimbursement from the government.

Now the institutes after admitting eligible students would seek reimbursement of fee and scholarship from the Punjab government after completing the process of admission.

Secretary, Medical Education and Research, Jagjit Puri explained that instructions had been issued to registrar, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, director, Medical Education and Research, director, Ayush, and principals of all medical, ayurvedic, homeopathy, dental and nursing colleges in the state to make this decision part of prospectus of their institutes and also bring this decision to the notice of every SC students at the time of counselling.


Baisakhi celebrations begin
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, April 12
Three-day Baisakhi celebrations started here, the birthplace of Khalsa, today. Akhand path started at Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, Sisganj, Bhaura Sahib, Fatehgarh Sahib and Qila Nandgarh. At Kiratpur Sahib too a ‘path’ started at Charan Kamal Sahib Gurdwara, Patalpuri Gurdwara and Sheesh Mahal. The bhog of the akhand path will be performed on Monday.

Devotees have reached here. The SGPC organised religious ceremonies to mark the occasion. All three days Panj Piaras will baptise devotees at the Takht. Weapons of Guru Gobind Singh have also been put on display. Celebrations here will continue till April 14. 


Minister to act in play
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
Punjab Transport Minister Master Mohan Lal will act in the play,“Vavorala,” that will be staged at Kala Bhavan (Randhawa Auditorium) here on April 16 under the banner of the International Punjabi Cultural Association. Jarnail Singh Hoshiarpuri, secretary of Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, will also act in the play.

Mukhtiar Dil, president of the association, said besides play, eminent singers, including Pali Detwalia, Suchet Bala, Balbir Suffi and he himself, would present a cultural programme, including of folk songs.

The programme, that has been named as Baisakhi Mela, was being organised with the help of Public Relations Department (UT) and the North Zone Cultural Centre, Patiala.


City Centre Scam
Amarinder case adjourned till May 10
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 12
Court of sessions judge G. K. Rai today adjourned the hearing in the City Centre scam case till May 10 for consideration of framing charges against the accused.

The defence today requested the court to adjourn the case pleading that they were yet to complete the inspection of the case file containing more than 12,000 pages.

Former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, his son Raninder Singh, relative Raminder Richi, ex-minister Choudhary Jagjit Singh, Today Homes company's managing director G.K. Gambhir, Chetan Gutpa and all other accused, except the family member of Gambhir, were present in the court.

There were arguments between district attorney Mitter Sain Goyal and defence lawyers. The defence representing Today Homes Company stressed that they be provided sufficient time for inspecting the case file. It was alleged they were not provided complete documents by the Vigilance Bureau.

The district attorney termed it to be delaying tactics in starting the trial. He said Amarinder's counsel had moved application for inspection of the file yesterday. In this way, the inspection work would continue for years, he added. After this, the judge fixed April 21 for hearing applications filed by defence lawyers.

Former trustees of the dissolved Ludhiana Improvement Trust, namely Sanjay Talwar, Kala Navkar Jain, Malkiat Kaur, Vijay Parti and Surinder Pal Singh Bindra appeared before the court and furnished bail bonds, as per the orders of the high court.


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