P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Medical, Dental Colleges
Nod to teachers to work up to 65 yrs
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Teachers in Punjab’s government and private medical, dental, ayurvedic colleges and other such institutions can now work up to 65 years.

The state government today issued a notification in this regard, allowing the colleges concerned to re-employ willing teachers, who retired in 2003 or after, as per the age criteria fixed by the Medical Council of India (MCI), that is 65 years.

Sources said the notification had been issued following the approval given in this connection by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. However, the matter would be put before the state cabinet on April 23 for its ex post facto approval.

The authorities concerned in colleges have been told to consider only those teachers for re-employment whose service record has been unblemished.

“Now teachers in medical and other related colleges can teach up to 65 years.They will be offered re-employment on attaining the age of retirement that is 60,” said a senior government officer.

Recently, the Union government had suggested such a measure keeping in view the dearth of faculty, which is, perhaps, a countrywide phenomenon.

As various government medical colleges and other related institutions have been facing a serious shortage of teaching faculty and threat of de-recognisation from the MCI has been looming large on such institutions, the increase in the age for re-employment of retired teachers will help the authorities concerned to fill the 107 vacant posts in such institutions.

Sources said the retirement age of teachers in such institutions had been kept at 60. But on attaining retirement, teachers willing to serve further could be retained on the faculty up to 65 years. Obviously, after 60 years, such teachers will be re-employed on a contract basis. Recently, the MCI had warned the Punjab government, asking it to fill the vacant posts or the government medical colleges concerned would be de-recognised. The council had also urged for taking certain other measures.

Meanwhile, the Punjab government is likely to write to the MCI soon, urging it not impose cut on the number of seats in postgraduate medical courses owing to shortage of teachers. The state government is of the view that owing to cut in seats, the availability of medical teachers will further come down. After doing the PG course, some of the students opt for teaching job in medical colleges. Recently, medical students in Maharashtra had resorted to agitation owing to cut imposed on seats there.


Wheat crop on 400 acres gutted
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Sultanpur Lodhi, April 21
Wheat crop standing on nearly 400 acres of land spread over at least four villages of Dariawal, Fattudhinga, Mehmadwal and Sabuwal of the district was gutted in a devastating fire on this afternoon.

While the exact cause of breaking out of the fire is still not known, however, prima facie it is understood that a farmer of Dariawal village had set stubbles in his fields on fire and it spread to nearby fields in notime due to strong winds.

Talking to The Tribune, Kapurthala DC J.M. Balamurugan said according to preliminary reports, the wheat crop standing on about 200 acres of land had been destroyed. He had already asked revenue officials to assess the exact loss, he said, adding that the entire picture would be clear only after girdawari.

To a query, he said the district administration would send a detailed report to the state government on Tuesday for getting adequate compensation for the affected farmers at the earliest.

Among the affected farmers was Karnail Singh, sarpanch, Dariawal village. His wheat crop standing on 20 acres land was destroyed. Karnail said apart from his crop, the yield of a former sarpanch of the same village Kulwant Singh (20 acres), Malkiat Sing (20 acres) and Najar Singh (12 acres) was also gutted in the fire.

The wife of a farmer Amrik Singh became unconscious on knowing that the entire standing crop on their fields was ravaged in the fire.

While several fire tenders from Kapurthala, Jalandhar and Kartarpur were pressed into service to put out the fire, hundreds of farmers of about 10 nearby villages also did not leave any stone unturned to extinguish it.

Meanwhile, the district police has arrested farmer Ujagar Singh and his son Sukhwinder Singh of Dariawal village for burning the stubbles due to which prima facie the fire had begun. An FIR has been registered against them under Sections 435 and 188, IPC.

Kapurthala SDM Gurpreet Singh Khera and his subordinates visited the affected villages.

SANGRUR: On an area of about 20 acres, wheat straw got burnt in a nearby Mangwal village on Sunday afternoon. However, the reason behind the fire could not be known immediately.

The local Naib Tehsildar Nirmal Singh who visited the site said, however, no grain of wheat was gutted in the fire as farmers had already harvested their wheat crop and lifted the same from the fields. He said the fire had been controlled by the Fire Brigade and villagers jointly.

Meanwhile, district president of the Lok Bhalai Party Sardar Ali has asked the state government to grant compensation to all those farmers whose standing wheat crop had been destroyed due to fire in this district. 


Wheat glut in Ropar, Kharar markets
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 21
Punjab farmers are reaping the benefits of bumper crop this year. Wheat procurement in Ropar and Kharar has exceeded the figure achieved last season.

In Ropar, the procurement is 66 per cent more than the last season, while in Kharar the figure stands at 117 per cent.

In the Ropar market, the state and central agencies have procured 33,001 tonnes of wheat in the first 21 days of its arrival, while this figure was 19,786 tonnes last season.

Morinda has registered 11,225 tonnes followed by Anandpur Sahib at 4,319 tonnes, Ropar at 4,124 tonnes and Chamkaur Sahib at 1,333 tonnes.

Similarly, in Kharar, the total arrival of wheat last season was 34,655 quintals, while till today it was 75,278 quintals. In Kharar, Punjab Agro has been the major buyer with 44, 784 quintals of wheat procured from Kharar and Daun Majra markets. Punsup has followed the suit with 20, 131 quintal.

During the onset of procurement, some framers' unions have opposed the banning of private players into the procurement market. Seeing this, market pundits have predicted that the farmers might go into the mode of storing their produce and later selling it to private players at a price higher than MSP. However, since the storing proved to be a costly affair, most of the farmers sold their produce to Central and state agencies in market.


Rs 2,000 crore released for farmers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
The Punjab government has released over Rs 2,000 crore to farmers of the state for wheat procured up to last week.

Chief Minister said his government had fulfilled its commitment of ensuring payment within 48 hours and of lifting of their wheat immediately on arrival in mandis.

The Punjab government has announced that it has set aside Rs 11,000 crore for total procurement season to ensure hassle-free payment to the farmers. Out of this, Rs 8,000 crore has been placed at the disposal of the Food and Supply Department for the month of April alone.

Six government agencies and private millers have procured more than 30.60 lakh tonnes of wheat in Punjab for central pool, according to an official spokesman of the government. Agencies and private millers procured more than 31.17 lakh tonnes of wheat till Sunday evening. Out of the total procurement of 31, 17,250 tonnes of wheat in all the procurement centers of Punjab, government agencies procured 30,60,806 tonnes of wheat (98.2 pc) till date, whereas millers have lifted 58,845 tonnes (1.8 pc) of wheat.

Till yesterday, Pungrain had procured 5,50,030 tonnes (18.5 pc), whereas Markfed procured 7,39,757 tonnes (24.2 pc). Punsup procured 7, 12,185 tonnes (23.3 pc), Pswc procured 3, 87,402 tonnes (12.7 pc) whereas Paic was able to procure 3,69,267 tonnes (12.1 pc) of wheat.

The FCI had been able to procure 2,85,458 tonnes (9.3 pc). Patiala district with 6,42,144 tonnes of procurement was leading in procurement operations, whereas Sangrur district with 5,39,390 tonnes was at second slot and Ferozepur district with 4,07,045 tonnes ranked at the third position.

The state government has set up over 1,615 procurement centres and activated its total machinery to ensure smooth procurement.


Sukhbir seeks Sonia’s statement on terrorism charges
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Member of Parliament and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal today asked Congress president Sonia Gandhi to break her silence on charges that dreaded terrorists in Punjab were sheltered and aided by senior Congress leaders like Capt Amarinder Singh and Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

“Incontrovertible evidence on the murky role played by the Congress party in the terror blood-bath that rocked Punjab for more than a decade-and-a-half has now been provided by two former Chief Ministers belonging to this party. Independent and credible reports about the bloody games of the Congress had been circulating the media and political circles for a long time. The Bhattal-Amarinder spat in broad daylight has only confirmed those reports and proved beyond any doubt that terrorism in Punjab had been mothered, nursed and sustained by the then ruling party as part of its diabolic conspiracies to defame the SAD and the Sikhs for cheap political gains," Badal said in a statement released here.

The SAD president further said it was no secret that the Congress party acted as a mafia gang of murderers and looters during those mad days in Punjab. "But now, these killers and looters have fallen foul of each other and have started revealing the dirty truth in public," he said, adding that Sonia must come clean on this highly sensitive issue.

He added that his party would welcome a thorough probe by a central agency like the CBI into the entire gamut of the Congress role in the tragedy of Punjab. He said the exchange of incriminations and recriminations between Amarinder and Bhattal could not be dismissed as an internal affair of the Congress party, as it involved the question of accountability for senseless killings of thousands of innocent Punjabis.

"At stake also is the issue of security, unity and integrity of the country. Also, the Congress owes an explanation to the Sikh community as to why it chose to paint a fiercely proud and patriotic community as traitors and terrorists, while the entire conspiracy was, in fact, the handiwork of the opportunistic leadership of this party."

Referring to the ongoing spectacle of running battles between the "brother-sister duo" of Amarinder and Bhattal, SAD president said the truth revealed by each against the other had frightening implications for peace and communal harmony in the state and the country and Gandhi must state clearly as to why such leaders had been so honoured by her party as to be rewarded with the high office of the state Chief Minister.

Cat out of bag, says Chandumajra

Meanwhile, SAD general secretary Prem Singh Chandumajra has said at last the cat was out of the Congress bag as far as promoting terrorism in Punjab was concerned.

He said now Congress leaders had themselves started revealing who were the people behind violence in the state.

Chandumajra said the SAD leaders had been saying from the rooftops in ’70s and ’80s that Congress leaders were behind violent activities in the state. But the Union government did not accept that argument. “Now the Congress leaders were themselves making it public that who were their party leaders giving shelter to those involved in violence,” said Chandumajra.

Not only in Punjab, but Congress leaders had been playing such a role in other states like Assam, he alleged.

In the ’70s and ’80s, many states had come under the spell of violence and the Congress was responsible for it. He said there was no need to hold inquiry, keeping in view the fact that the Congress leaders were revealing the names of their party leaders who played a questionable role during the violent era in the state.


‘Bhattal sought my help for getting her
nephew rescued’

Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Vein Puin (Tarn Taran), April 21
PPCC chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, is in a spot when Sohan Singh, elder brother of Madha Singh, slain militant of the Babbar Khalsa International, made startling revelations here today that she (Bhattal) took his services to rescue her nephew Harpartap Singh from the captivity of militants.

This seems to have corroborated the claims of Sandeep Kaur, wife of slain Babbar terrorist Dharm Singh Kashtiwal, who in her autobiography “Bikhra Painda”, has hinted that Bhattal’s nephew was released by militants following some deal.

Sohan Singh claimed that “Bhattal and her brother Manjit Singh Bhattal visited Sangrur jail where I was lodged, touched my feet and sought my services to secure the release of her nephew. Being a brother of Madha Singh, the police tortured me in custody for no valid reason.” However, Bhattal pleaded that he was the only one who could get the child rescued. He further claimed that Bhattal got me one-month parole. He said he succeeded in getting Harpartap released at Kumbarwal village (Sangrur). “On my direction, the captors gave Rs 5,000 to Harpartap as compensation for keeping him in captivity.

“Earlier, I asked Bhattal to get the parole of Jang Bahadur Singh of Bhuchar village (Jhabal) sanctioned by the jail authorities of Sangrur as such facility could not be granted to him (Sohan Singh) due to some technical problem”. He, however, said Jang Bahadur failed to deliver goods because the captors of Harpartap Singh suspected that the letter which was given by him (Sohan Singh) was a forged one. “The fact was that the letter was written by Bhattal and signed by me, that created suspicion. Bhattal never met me again after the release of her nephew,” he claimed.


Capt: I don’t need any certificate from Bhattal
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 21
Upset over the allegations of providing shelter to Babbar Khalsa chief at his Moti Bagh Palace made by PPCC president Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today claimed that he relentlessly fought militants when the SAD had boycotted.

Talking to The Tribune on telephone on his way to New Delhi, Amarinder said, “Akali Dal (Panthic), then headed by me, lost 18 Assembly candidates to militants’ guns and this is enough to prove my credentials. It were the Marxists, Congress and Akali Dal (Panthic) which dared to contest the elections despite the assassinations. I don’t need any certificate from Bhattal to prove my credentials,” he said.

However, Amarinder claimed that he did not know Sandeep Kaur, wife of slain militant Dharm Singh Kashtiwal, who in her autobiography had alleged that Bhattal’s house used to be a safe sanctuary for militants. “Why I would keep links with such persons having dubious background? Hence, no question of funding her autobiography. I am taking the autobiography of Sandeep to the high command so that an independent inquiry could be initiated to cross check the credentials of Bhattal,” he added.

Replying to a question, the former Chief Minister said anybody could ask K.P.S. Gill, the then DGP, or Central agencies how the leaders of Akali Dal (Panthic) had suffered at the hands of militants.

Answering another question on he being summoned to New Delhi, he said, “It was part of routine party affairs which have been blown out of proportion.” However, he admitted that he got some missed calls from Ahmad Patel the next morning when he was on a tour of Majha region. “Before I could call back I received another call by Patel Sahib.” The former Chief Minister said Patel accepted his request of postponing the meeting in New Delhi to April 21 due to his busy schedule.

Meanwhile, both Amarinder and Bhattal are holding meetings with leaders of the party high command in New Delhi. Among those who are camping in New Delhi include senior Congress leader M.M. Singh Cheema, vice-president, PPCC.


I was misquoted by media: Kaypee
Accuses Amarinder of committing grave indiscipline by speaking against state party leadership
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
The ongoing battle in the Punjab Pardesh Congress today saw its working president Mohinder Singh Kaypee claiming he had been misquoted by the media while reacting on the visit of former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to his house yesterday even as he accused Amarinder of committing “grave indiscipline” by speaking against the state party leadership.

Kaypee clarified his position at the PPCC office here, where he had come to attend a meeting of the search committee constituted to recommend party candidates for the Amritsar (South) bypoll.

The senior leader maintained that he had only reacted to a specific question as to whether meeting anyone individually at his residence was an act of indiscipline. “I answered this question in the negative because such private visits cannot come under the ambit of indiscipline.”

Clarifying that he had not given clean chit to Capt Amarinder Singh for his recent utterances against PPCC chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, he said the fact of the matter was that the statements of Amarinder were harming the interests of the party.

Explaining the turn of events yesterday, Kaypee claimed that the former Chief Minister had rung him up, asking whether he could come to his house. “I told him I was going out for some work in 15 minutes, following which he said he would come within that time itself.”

Kaypee claimed that journalists and photographers also followed suit, leading to a wrong impression about the visit.

The working president said he was nobody to give a clean chit to Amarinder. “I also do not approve of the comments made by him against Bhattal,” he said, adding that it was wrong to claim that Bhattal was working in league with state Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. “She has been performing well and whenever she gets the chance, she has been attacking the Akalis,” he claimed.

Kaypee also maintained that he was an old associate of Bhattal, and that he continued to stand with her. He also indicated that he often did not see eye to eye with Amarinder even when he was a member of the latter’s ministry. When questioned about the closed-door meeting with Amarinder yesterday, he said he would not like to disclose the details. “However I did stress upon the need to work with unity.”

Meanwhile, the PPCC has also issued show cause notices to legislators Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu, Gurpreet Singh Kangar, Ajaib Singh Bhatti and Makhan Singh for violating party discipline by airing their views on party spokesman Bir Devinder Singh. Disciplinary Committee chairman G.K.Chathrath said the legislators had been asked to submit their replies within seven days.


Capt-Kaypee meeting keenly watched by SAD (B), Bhattal group
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 21
If Capt Amarinder Singh’s “suddenly erupted love” for the Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee (PPCC) acting chief Mohinder Singh Kaypee has baffled common Congress workers, particularly, “fence-sitters”, the largely unexpected development is also being monitored closely by the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) leadership as well as Amarinder’s rival Bhattal group.

Amarinder had virtually stunned one and all within the Congress and outside by descending on the Jalandhar residence of Kaypee on Sunday evening after his much-hyped meeting with “victims” of political vendetta from Baba Bakala and Beas areas of the Majha region.

What left Congressmen and others scratching their heads was a set of open-ended questions, with the biggest one being what had led Amarinder to embrace Kaypee and whether he had “dumped” Kaypee’s detractor within Congress and his former close aide and the then local bodies minister Chaudhary Jagjit Singh.

Middle and even senior-level Congressmen were left confused. They were unable to figure out if Kaypee, who was once considered close to Bhattal, particulary, for proximity of Amarinder and Chaudhary Jagjit Singh during the previous Congress regime, had finally joined the Amarinder camp? Or, was it Kaypee’s way to show his anguish over the elevation of his alleged detractor within the Congress Bir Devinder Singh as spokesperson of the party by PPCC chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

If confusion had gripped the common Congress workers over the Amarinder-Kaypee meet, the “predicament” of “fence-sitters” within the Congress was even worse. On the one hand, they were unable to predict as to who, Amarinder or Bhattal, would emerge as a winner out of the ongoing battle of wits, while on the other, they were busy deciding which side they should join.

Most senior Congress leaders were unable to predict the future of the ongoing and intensifying Bhattal-Amarinder spat and they were seen discussing the issue with one another.

Meanwhile, highly placed sources in the PPCC indicated that Kaypee-Amarinder understanding was a “calculated” move, as Kaypee was said to be interested to contest the Jalandhar parliamentary segment in the forthcoming elections in the wake of Jalandhar becoming a reserve constituency.

It is not that it was Amarinder alone who was able to woo the support of senior Congress leader like Kaypee from within the PPCC, but Bhattal has also succeeded in garnering support of a number of former close aides of Amarinder, including former minister Lal Singh, Amarinder’s former OSD Harchand Singh Barsat and former Patiala Mayor Vishnu Sharma.

While Bhattal was scheduled to visit the Patiala-based residence of Barsat after holding an hour-long “chakka jam” in protest against the non-lifting of wheat from mandis, Barsat, Lal Singh and Vishnu Sharma were not leaving any stone unturned to make the “chakka jaam” a big success.

On the other hand, the SAD (B) leadership was learnt to have been observing the Amarinder-Bhattal spat keenly, as they feel that any rift within the Congress could have direct repercussions on the Lok Sabha polls.


PPCC interviews in Chandigarh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
The heightened tensions in the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) today resulted in the party interviewing candidates for the Amritsar (South) Assembly constituency for which a bypoll is to be held on May 22 at the office here.

The search committee, constituted by the PPCC, met under the chairmanship of party working president Mohinder Singh Kaypee and was attended by committee members, including Lal Singh, Tej Prakash Singh, Partap Singh Bajwa, Malkiat Singh Birmi and Dr Harbans Lal. 


Chandigarh-Ludhiana Railway Line
Farmers begin struggle against land acquisition
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 21
Activists of the Bharti Kissan Union (BKU), Punjab, began their struggle today to get the market price compensation for over a 1,000 farmers whose land would be acquired for laying the Chandigarh-Ludhiana Railway line.

Farmers are demanding compensation of Rs 1.60 crore per acre of land acquired for the purpose, saying land for the Mohali airport was taken on this rate.

The union, along with a number of farmers, staged a dharna in the Mini Secretariat and handed over a memorandum to the deputy commissioner seeking acquisition of land at the prevailing market price, 50 per cent of relocation allowance, besides employment in the Indian Railways for at least one member of the affected family.

The Tribune had highlighted last week that the Railways had initiated the process of acquisition of 250 acres of land in Samrala subdivision and 62 acres in Payal subdivision.

The memorandum also listed that the government should acquire all land on a similar pattern adopted for acquiring land for the Mohali International Airport.

Avtar Singh Mehlon and Jagdish Singh Sadarpura, president and general secretary of the BKU, threatened to launch a massive agitation if their demands were not met.


15 acres of shamlat land grabbed
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, April 21
A group of politically influential persons allegedly in connivance with certain police personnel have grabbed over 15 acres of shamlat land at Manwal village near here. The group reportedly sold a chunk of their land, a hillock adjoining the shamlat land, to a brick-kiln owner for lifting the soil. While doing so the group members also got soil lifted from the shamlat land and later merged it with their fields.

The village panchayat after passing a resolution took up the issue with the Revenue Department, complaining that Jarnail Singh, Mehar Singh, Raghubir Singh and Dalip Singh had sold a portion of the shamlat land adjoining their land. A demarcation of the disputed land was done and the four were found defaulters.

The four did not give up the possession, following which the panchayat passed another resolution in October 2006 and gave a representation to the then transport minister, Raghunath Sahai Puri, who subsequently asked the block development project officer to get the shamlat land evicted. His directions, too, failed to drawn the attention of the revenue officials.

The panchayat members then approached Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on February 23 for his intervention. An inquiry was then marked to the Gurdaspur deputy commissioner.

The complainants alleged that the investigation officer was the local patwari, who in connivance with the local police officials and the suspects submitted a concocted report.

The patwari did not consult the panchayat members during the re-demarcation. Fully grown trees were felled and disposed of during night from the shamlat land, they alleged.

Jarnail Singh, however, claimed that Karan Singh and Allahddin, panchayat members, had been making false complaints. He said they had occupied their own land (hillock) adjoining the shamlat land.

Efforts to contact Pathankot tehsildar Yesh Pal Sharma proved futile till late this evening. 


Another case of land grab
P.K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, April 21
An owner of a large chunk of land was first hooked on to drugs and then kidnapped allegedly to grab his agricultural land.

Sarabjit Singh, the victim and native of Spariwind village, has been allegedly abducted by Kultar Singh, Mukhtar Singh and Kewaljit Singh, all resident of the same village and his close relatives.

Amritbir Kaur, daughter of Sarabjit, in her complaint at the Majitha police station stated that the accused had got transferred more than 90 kanals of agricultural land at various villages worth Rs 75 lakh in their names in connivance with several revenue officials.

Amritbir alleged that the accused had obtained thumb impressions on the said documents after drugging him. However, she claimed that her father could sign any document as he was a matriculate.

She further said her family was not being allowed to meet him, who was not keeping good health. Sarabjit’s family in their complaint also alleged that the accused were drug peddlers and a number of cases had been registered at various police stations in this regard.

Meanwhile, Preet Inder Singh, SHO, Majitha police station, said the investigations were on in the case.


Businessman thrashed for pestering girl
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, April 21
A renowned local businessman had to face the music for pestering a girl for the past few days. A high drama was witnessed near the Patel Chowk here today when relatives of the girl caught him and gave him a sound beating.

According to eyewitnesses, Manoj Sethi, a Sarna-based businessman, had been pestering the girl, a resident of the Nangal Bhoor area, for the past fortnight trying to allure her. The girl today made a phone call to her parents while Sethi was forcing her to accompany him to the adjacent Patel Chowk. Receiving the phone call, her brothers and neighbours assembled at the site and thrashed the eve-teaser.

The drama lasted 30 minutes on the busy road. Traffic was also disrupted. The irate public later handed over the man to the police. Since the suspect was having “political links,” the police let him off just after an hour from police station Division No-II.


People urged to use RTI Act in public interest
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 21
The New Democratic Party (NDP), recently formed here with the motto of providing clean politics and making people aware on various public issues, organised its first seminar on the Right to Information Act (RTI) here last evening.

Addressing the seminar, secretary of the People for Transparency, an NGO, Kamal Anand said before the RTI Act there was a symbolic democracy in our country, but now participatory democracy had started working. Anand further said under the RTI Act, one had to just give a simple application to the PIO concerned with a Rs 10 postal order to seek information and if reply did not come within 30 days, one could send appeal to the State Information Commission Office, SCO 84-85, Sector 17-C, Chandigarh, for further action.

In charge of the local RTI Act centre, Sham Lal Singla said this was a very simple and strong Act for the welfare of the public. He said many people knew about this Act, but did not use it. So there was a need to use this Act in a big way in the larger interest of the public.

President of the NDP A.S. Mann, college lecturer Shalinder Singh, organising secretary, NDP, Prahlad Singh, Nand Lal Gandhi, Gurhakam Singh, Sanjiv Kumar, Gurdev Singh Dirba, Kulwant Singh, Surinder Singh Patran and Gurdial Singh also took part in the discussion.


Lanka on Ramayana Trail
Tourism project to showcase 50-odd sites
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 21
The Sri Lankan government has embarked upon a special tourism project to showcase the 50-odd sites connected to the Ramayana, including Ashok Vatika, under the Sri Lanka’s Ramayana Trail.

The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, with Renton de Alwis as its chairman, has already extended an invitation to the Indian government and Hindu organisations to start mobilising pilgrims keen on visiting the ancient sites.

In an interview with The Tribune, Surinder Kumar Billa, president, All-India Shiv Sena, said a meeting was called in Delhi on April 19, where Alwis said the Sri Lankan government had adopted Ashok Vatika, besides other sites of great religious significance as tourist destinations. The beautification and landscaping of the sites had begun and pilgrims had been invited from India. “The first jatha can leave next month if the pilgrims are assured proper security,” he said.

A colourful booklet carrying information about the various sites connected to the Ramayana located in Sri Lanka was released after the meeting. “The colour of the soil of the ancient battlefield is still red today. Exotic alpine Himalyan species are found amid the tropical Sri Lankan vegetation, the legacy of Hanuman’s voyage carrying a mountain with life-restoring herbs,” it adds.

The trail will include “Seetha Kotuwa”, the palace where Sita was kept before being moved to the vatika, “The Chariot path and Seetha Tear Pond”, “Divurumpola”, the place where Sita underwent “agni pariksha” and “Ravana caves”, tunnels which are of architectural brilliance and provide easy routes through the hills.

“A handful of Indians, including NRIs like Ashok Kainth, have been working on the project with the Sri Lankan government. A CD carrying visuals of the places of interest for Hindu pilgrims has also been prepared. The Sri Lanka Tourism Department has already specified the distances of these places from Colombo and at most sites temples already exist,” said Billa.


4 injured in blast at factory
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 21
Four labourers were injured, two of them seriously, when a boiler exploded at Abhi dyeing factory in Mahavir Colony on the Tajpur road at around 9.30 p.m.

A neighbouring house was also damaged when a portion of the boiler fell on it due to the impact of the explosion.

The injured, Jai parkash Pandey, Rajinder Kumar, Varinder Kumar and Sarihn, were under treatment at the CMC hospital.

Investigation was on to find the reason behind the blast.


Brick-kiln workers hold dharna
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 21
A large number of brick-kiln workers of the district, under the leadership of state general secretary of the Lal Jhanda Punjab Bhatha Mazdoor Union (LJPBMU) Tarsem Jodhan, staged a dharna and held a rally in front of the office of the Assistant Labour Commissioner (ALC) here today in support of their demands. They also took out a protest march through the town.

They were demanding the implementation of minimum wages for workers, working at the brick-kilns in the district, besides the arrest of the brick-kiln owners for allegedly kidnapping state vice-president of the LJPBMU Gurpreet Singh Rooreke and district secretary of the CPI (ML) Liberation Harbhagwan Bhikhi from Natt village (near Dhuri) some days ago.

Jodhan warned the administration that if their demands were not met by April 24, they would hold a demonstration here on April 25. He also said they today held a meeting with the ALC, who assured them that he would write to the DC.


Hearing against SAD youth leader adjourned
Tribne News Service

Ropar, April 21
The hearing in the case against SAD youth president Kiranvir Kang has been adjourned till April 28.

Kang, his associates and another SAD leader Rajvir Padiala's group were booked on July 2, 2004, for causing the death of two persons at a political rally in Kharar during an incident of firing.

The district attorney had moved an application in the court of additional sessions judge G.S.Saran, seeking the withdrawal of case against Kang.

On July 2, 2004, Kiranvir Kang and his cohorts had a dispute with Rajvir Padiala and his group. Firing between two groups led to the death of two - Pramajit Singh from village Kheri Sodhiyan in Sangrur and Harvir Singh from village Gurnehri in Patiala.

The police had registered a cross case in this context. Both Kang and Padiala's group were booked under various sections of the Arms Act.

Meanwhile, the next date of hearing in a sedition case against SAD (A) president Simranjeet Singh Mann has been fixed for May 21. Mann failed to appear before court today. He was booked in June 8, 2005, on charges of sedition.

He had delivered an objectionable speech at Anandpur Sahib. His party men were also booked.


General health care course to start in 307 institutes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
The Punjab government has decided to start vocational course in the stream of general health care in 307 medical institutes.

Stating this here today, Tikshan Sud, medical education and research minister, said the state government was focusing on increasing the employability of students by offering them those courses that have a greater demand in international job market.

He said the CBSE had already started offering new elective subject of general health care and it would be appropriate for the medical institutes of the state to start certificate, diploma and degree courses for students clearing class X and XII examination.

He said the instructions had been issued to the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences to evolve these courses at certificate, diploma and degree level and offer these courses to 307 medical institutes affiliated to the university.

Jagjit Puri, secretary, Medical Education and Research, informed vice-chancellor of the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences had been asked to frame the curriculum and course material of new courses and coordinate with medical institutes. 


German retailer to invest Rs 900 cr in Punjab
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Germany-based global wholesale retailer Metro Cash & Carry will soon be launching its operations in Punjab. The Indian arm of the company proposes to invest Rs 900 crore for setting up its operations across four districts in the state.

Senior officials in the Department of Punjab Industries informed The Tribune that a formal proposal by the global retail major has been received and it will be put up before the empowered committee soon.

It is learnt that Metro is actively looking at Punjab not only to set up its retail business but also for the easy availability of fresh produce. The company is, in fact, looking at Punjab as a major sourcing hub for their centres across India.

The Metro Group already has a sourcing company based in Delhi, Metro Group Buying, which does its export-based sourcing. The company currently has two cash-&-carry centres in Bangalore and three in Hyderabad, besides one each in Mumbai and Kolkata.

The company proposes to set up two distribution centers at Ludhiana and one each at Mohali, Zirakpur, Jalandhar and Amritsar. Each of these centers will come up on an area of eight acres and will become operational by 2010.

These distribution centers will be a one-stop shop offering a range of food (including fresh fruits and vegetables) and non-food products to cater to the needs of all customers. Metro will bring the business-to-business model to meet the requirements of retailers, caterers, hotels and restaurants.


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