P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


CM waives tax on Naatshala
P. K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, June 29
Acceding to the prolonged demand of theatre lovers and artistes who have been fighting for the waiving off of the entertainment tax on live performing arts, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in a rare gesture announced to exempt the Naatshala from entertainment tax.

He made this declaration while witnessing the play “Faasle” at the Naatshala here late last evening. He said he was so impressed with the efforts of Jatinder Brar who had selflessly made the Naatshala, which not only helped in saving theatre art and encouraging theatre artistes, but also played a vital role in generating a lot of theatre audience and lovers who regularly visit here. Theatres artistes from Amritsar were shocked when the sales tax authority raided the premises of the Naatshala to collect entertainment tax. A lot hue and cry was raised by theatre lovers. They had made strong representations to the authorities for the exemption of tax on theatre which was running on a no-profit-no-loss basis and small donations collected from artistes and art lovers.

Naatshala was founded by Jatinder Brar who was instrumental in reviving the live performing art in the holy city after a gap of several decades. It was his passion that created a wonderful Naatshala equipped with the latest gadgets and technical backup which has become a place of importance for visitors and tourists. Many budding artistes, schoolchildren and theatre legends have performed here.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister announced Rs 10 lakh for the development of Naatshala and Rs 50,000 for artistes performing in a play written and directed by Jatinder.

Badal said theatre plays proved to be an important means for bringing in a considerable changes in the social setup by eradicating evils and producing a people’s consensus. “We should adopt this rich means to make a public opinion for creating a new social fabric.”


Badal wants more
Ashok Sethi and P. K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, June 29
It was a dream coming true for founder of Naatshala Jatinder Brar to whom goes the credit of creating the most modern theatre infrastructure in the holy city when Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal asked him to build a similar theatre in his constituency to promote this performing art.

Perhaps, for the first time the Chief Minister was seeing the play, “Faasle,” running for many years and that completed its 200 performance, dedicated to him. Impressed by the performance of Indo-Pakistan artistes, Badal exhorted the actors to organise the Indo-Pakistan theatre workshop at his native village to showcase the theatre work by artistes of Punjab in association with Paksitan’s young artistes. The CM invited Brar to visit his village to create a modern theatre with the latest equipment and organise a workshop for artistes of that area.

Deputy commissioner Kahan Singh Pannu, who had been instrumental in requesting Badal to witness the theatre, said he had been instructed by the Chief Minister to bring the theatre group to his constituency and other areas for people to appreciate works of young stars who had brought alive social, political and historical issues to the fore.

Pannu said he would coordinate with Jatinder and his associates to organise more such shows with Pakistani counterparts to foster Indo-Pakistan cultural ties to help bring the people together. He felt more workshops with actors from different regions of Pakistan and India would give a new dimension to this art.

He lauded Jatinder for reviving live theatre in this border region which had almost become extinct after the exodus of many eminent artistes. He said Preetlari village on the Indo-Pakistan border was a shining example of composite culture which had seen many top writers, poets, theatre artistes and actors to share thoughts on the erstwhile era. He said the government was keen on reviving traditional cultural ethos.


Descendant of Maharaja’s minister sheds light on his secular character
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 29
There is a need to look at Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh by modern historians and advise present rulers to adopt his secular policies for social and cultural transformation of the region.

Stating this to the media here today, Fakir Saif-ud-Din, sixth generation descendant of Fakirs, who held eminent positions in the darbar of Maharaja Ranjit Singh announced that he would coordinate with Punarjyot, centre for the preservation and promotion of heritage of Punjab, and hold an exhibition displaying various artefacts associated with the Maharaja. He said he would soon take up the matter with the Pakistan government for approval to display these artefacts at the exhibition likely to be held in Amritsar.

Fakir said he also aimed at working on the collaborative project with Punarjyot to revive the concept of Punjabiat founded by the Maharaja. He said through the exhibition, people, who till now had only learnt about the Maharaja, would realise his contribution to art, culture and history. This would also help spread his message of universal brotherhood among people of the region, especially the young generation.

He said his forefathers, Fakir Syed Aziz-ud-din, then foreign minister, Fakir Syed Imam-ud-Din, treasurer of Gobindgarh Fort, and Fakir Syed Noorudin, were pillars of Ranjit Singh’s kingdom and justified the trust the Maharaja had reposed in them. He said even after the death of the Maharaja, the Fakir brothers remained faithful to him when most of the people deserted him. He said loyalty was still intact in the Fakir family even after six generations.

Lauding Manveen Sandhu for making Maharaja Ranjit Singh reach people’s hearts through her book, “Maharaja Ranjit Singh - Personality Extraordinaire,” Fakir said, “We need to re-look at history from our perspective and not only through foreign accounts”. He said foreign rulers had tried to malign the visionary king Ranjit Singh by needlessly generating a controversy over his alleged liaison with Moran, the nautch girl. He said according to facts Moran was from an established dancers’ gharana and the Maharaja had married her to uplift the families of those involved in cultural activities of that era.


Passport office inauguration: BJP resents ignoring Sidhu
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, June 29
A controversy has arisen over breach of protocol by the Ministry of External Affairs by failing to provide proper seating on the dais to local MP Navjot Singh Sidhu during the inauguration of regional passport office by Pranab Mukherjee here yesterday.

District BJP president Bakshi Ram Arora said the party had advised Sidhu to take up this lapse with the Privileges Committee of Parliament for being ignored by officials of the Ministry of External Affairs during the opening of the passport office.

He said even Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had failed to acknowledge the presence of the local MP who had made efforts for the opening of a passport office in his constituency.

Arora said Sidhu represented more than 15 lakh people of the Amritsar constituency and he had taken up the issue with the local passport officer about the lapse. He said the passport officer feigned ignorance over the protocol breach and said the function was organised by senior officers of the ministry in New Delhi and had no role in preparing the programme schedule.

The BJP president said he had informed Daljit Singh Cheema, adviser to the CM, about the missing name of the MP from the invitation card issued for this function.

He said the party would seek a written apology for the lapse on the part of ministry officials. He also blamed the Congress-led UPA government for this protocol fiasco.


High Purchase Price
15 pvt milk plants close operations
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 29
At least five private milk plants in Punjab have closed their operations owing to the high purchase price of milk. With the retail price of milk having failed to keep pace with the high purchase price, these milk plants had become economically unviable.

The purchase price of milk has gone up from Rs 20 per litre to Rs 22 per litre, while the retail price has not gone beyond Rs 24 a litre. With profit margins shrinking rapidly, these private players have been forced to close their operations. Sources in the dairy business informed TNS that while the smaller players in the private dairy business had already closed operations, the bigger players were also beginning to feel the pinch.

M.M. Verma, associate vice-president of Wockhardtt and president of the Punjab Milk Plant Association, said the shrinking profit margins in the local trade, coupled with the withdrawal of export incentives on milk products, had hit the private dairy players the most. “Over the past two years, we have been plagued with the low procurement of milk. The poor monsoons led to heat stress in milch animals in the state, leading to low milk production. Though the milk production is much better this year because of an early monsoon, the high cost of purchase of milk has made business unviable,” he added.

However, the state-run milk cooperative, Milkfed, has managed to increase its procurement by 35 per cent over last year. “As compared to a procurement of over 4.70 lakh litres last year, our procurement is 6.25 lakh litres now. As the private players are not procuring much milk, we have been able to increase our procurement. We are also offering the highest rate of Rs 245- 255 per kg fat, which has ensured that the dairy farmers are now selling their produce to us,” said an officer in the dairy cooperative.

This means that it’s a win-win situation for dairy farmers in Punjab, as they are getting the highest-ever rates for milk. Last year, the farmers were getting just Rs 235- Rs 245 per kg fat as procurement price.



Cong prepares list of ‘SAD-BJP’ officers
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 29
The PPCC has prepared a list of 32 IAS, IPS and other officers, who had “helped” the SAD-BJP candidates in the panchayat and civic body polls in the state.

President of the committee Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and other senior Congress leaders will submit the list to the Punjab Governor and the Punjab Human Rights Commission.

Bhattal, accompanied by senior Congress leader Brahm Mohindra and PPCC chief spokesperson Bir Devinder Singh, said here today that the PPCC would take the government to task on the issue. “We are not going to tolerate all this high-handedness. Certain officers have acted impartially and had helped SAD-BJP candidates in a direct or indirect manner,” they said.

“We will also move the court and we are busy taking legal opinion on the issue,” said Bhattal.


Bhattal gives Rs 1 lakh to Chamkaur Singh’s family
Our Correspondent

Nabha, June 29
Thousands of Indians sacrificed their lives for freedom and once again it was the turn of Congress workers to sustain it. PPCC chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal stated this at Kishangarh Gurthali village, 17 km from here, at the antim ardas of Chamkaur Singh.

Chamkaur and his father Gurcharan Singh were shot at on June 5 by a group of people led by an Akali leader of the village. While Gurcharan died on the spot, Chamkaur succumbed to his injuries later at Rajindra Hospital in Patiala. Akalis were unhappy over the refusal of Gurcharan Singh, a Congress panch, to support the wife of the Akali leader for the sarpanch’s post. Four others had also shot at.

Terming Chamkaur and his father Gurcharan as martyrs, she said the Congress workers had laid down their lives while defending democracy. She said the party was indebted to them. She handed over Rs 1 lakh to the family.

Bhattal said “goonda raj” of Badal had crossed all limits of brutality. Bhattal demanded the registration of cases against the officers responsible for lawlessness in the state.

Bhattal was accompanied by former deputy speaker Bir Devinder Singh, MLA, Nabha, Randip Singh, MLA, Amloh, Sadhu Singh Daramsot, MLA, Samana, Braham Mohindra, former MLA, Romesh Singla and others.


BJP cashes in on rising prices
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

A banner put up by the BJP at Ghumar Mandi in Ludhiana.
A banner put up by the BJP at Ghumar Mandi in Ludhiana. — Photo by Inderjeet Verma

Ludhiana, June 29
With rising prices likely to be a major poll issue in the coming parliamentary elections, leaders of the BJP have readied themselves to cash in on public sentiment.

Big hoardings and banners have come up in the city with comparison of prices of essential commodities during the NDA regime and the UPA government.

“Jab se Congress aayi hai, mehngayi hi mehngayi hai” is a slogan on the top of a banner put up at the Ghumar Mandi Chowk, one of the busiest places in the city.

The banner displays the prices of wheat flour, beans, oil, ghee, LPG, cement and other essential commodities as also the rise in percentage per commodity.

The Congress has not responded to the banners so far though they were put up a few days ago.

Sources in the BJP said more such posters and banners to educate the masses on the spiralling prices would be put up across the state.

The sources said the elections, which seemed imminent with the poll bugle sounded by UPA president Sonia Gandhi, would be fought mainly on rising prices.


Cong workers seize MLA’s car
Tribune News Service

Ferozepur, June 29
State general secretary of the Congress Parminder Singh ‘Pinki’ has alleged that the official machinery was being misused by the SAD-BJP government to influence voters here. Talking to The Tribune, he said alliance leaders were trying to create a ‘terror’ among the Congress candidates. 

Fearing booth-capturing by the ruling party, the Congress leader demanded for adequate security here on the polling day.

“I have lodged a complaint of code violations by the SAD and the BJP during the campaigning, but no action has been taken by the Election Commission so far.”

Meanwhile, Congress workers staged a protest against local BJP MLA and chief parliamentary secretary Sukhpal Singh Nannu at Basti Tankawali alleging that he misused power to influence the voters. They seized a car with a red beacon belonging to Nannu for many hours, alleging that it was used for campaigning even though the electioneering process was over.

However, Nannu termed all allegations as baseless. He said there was factionalism among the Congress leaders due to which they were not even in a position to give a good fight to the alliance.


Jail staff to get latest training
Rs 30 cr for setting up college in Kapurthala
Our Correspondent

Barnala, June 29
To impart the latest training to jail staff in the state, a new college will be set up at Kapurthala shortly while the already existing college in Patiala will be upgraded to have facilities of the latest training techniques. A sum of Rs 30 crore has been earmarked by the state government for the purpose, said Hira Singh Gabria, minister for jail and social welfare.

He was here to campaign for Akali candidates for the MC elections.

Talking to reporters, Gabria said his department was making every effort to check security lapses in jails. The new college at Kapurthala will be set up on the Western pattern and hi-tech equipment would be provided to the jail staff.

To deal with overcrowding in jails, Rs 170 crore had been earmarked for the construction of new jails and renovation and expansion of the existing ones.

As for cultural affairs, the minister said he had held 32 meetings of the Arts Council of Punjab and new programmes to revive our cultural would be chalked out soon.

Canvassing in favour of SAD candidates, he promised to give liberal funds for the development of the city if the SAD-BJP alliance was voted to power.


Tributes paid to Maharaja
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh , June 29
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today paid glowing tributes to Sher-e-Punjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh on his 169th death anniversary. Remembering the great ruler on the occasion, the Chief Minister said the four-decade-long rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Punjab had become an ideal for all governments to emulate.

Local Bodies, Industry and Commerce minister Manoranjan Kalia also joined the Chief Minister in remembering the indelible contribution of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in the history of Punjab.

Information and Public Relations minister Bikramjit Singh Majithia remembered the Maharaja as a liberal and multi-faceted ruler whose life and achievements would continue to inspire generations.

AD president and Lok Sabha MP Sukhbir Singh Badal while paying tributes to Punjab's great hero said Maharaja Ranjit Singh was a "great icon" in Punjab's history and his contribution to the development of modern Punjab and India must be disseminated throughout the country.


Campaign against quacks launched
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 29
The state Medical Education and Research Department has launched a campaign against quacks and self-styled doctors, particularly those who offer ‘guaranteed treatment’.

These ‘doctors’ offer guaranteed treatment to every ailment. Department officials opined that no doctor, not even professional MBBS doctors, could guarantee treatment.

The department has issued a strict warning to quacks practising Ayurvedic, Unani and Homoeopathic systems of medicines to stop fleecing patients, particularly those coming from rural areas.

The Medical Education and Research Department has given a particular time period to private hospitals operating in the town to give details of the patients treated.

These so-called hospitals have also been asked to put a stop to advertisements in which they claim ‘guaranteed treatment’.

The state Ayurvedic authorities had, earlier this month, launched a campaign against quacks, particularly those having ready-made cures for sex-related diseases. They had conducted raids on at least five hospitals in the town.

The raids were conducted by top officials of the Ayurvedic Department. The places raided included Shahi Dawa Khana, Anmol Hospital, Dr Ghai’s clinic in the Shere Punjab cloth market and Yoga and Meditation Centre located in Harbaksh Enclave in front of the Punjabi University.

According to sources, proprietors and representatives of these clinics were called to Chandigarh where they failed to satisfy officials of the state Ayurvedic Department about the activities they undertook in their clinics.

A senior official of the department at Chandigarh said that there were about 500 such ‘doctors’ operating in the state and 200 had been identified as the ‘big fish’ among them.

According to sources, guilty doctors could be given prison terms ranging from one to five years under the law.

As part of its ongoing drive, department officials also raided such clinics last week in Jalandhar where they met with a fair amount of success.


Roads in Patiala dotted with potholes
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 29
Patiala’s reputation of having best roads in the region has almost got eroded even before onset of monsoon triggered heavy rains with a number of city roads and the ones leading to nearby villages and townships having been dotted with potholes, deep enough to lead to accidents.

The worst eyesore as far as roads were concerned was the Patiala Dakala road, a number of portions of which have got depressed in the absence of proper attention on the part of the authorities.

The road condition has got deteriorated to such a level that depressed portions of the road catering to more than a dozen villages, including, Kallar Bhaini, Mardan Heri, Bathoi Kalan, and Zaffarpur, have been leading to accidents and the road has acquired a new name as a “killer road” for itself.

“Depression of portions of road at certain places was very deep. As vehicle drivers were unable to notice caved in portions, particularly at night, they got involve in accidents. Moreover, the condition of the road was a big source of inconvenience for residents of villages falling along the Patiala-Dakala road,” rued Jaspal Singh of Kallar Bhaini village.

The residents alleged that they had brought the worse condition of the road to the authorities’ notice, particularly the Punjab Mandi Board, which was looking after the maintenance, but nothing was done to either relay the road or get it adequately repaired to ensure smooth flow of traffic.

“The condition of the road has got deteriorated further due to accumulation of water along with the side-berms during the month-long and persisting pre-monsoon showers lashing Patiala region,” complained vehicle driver Paramjit Singh Sidhu.

The road, official sources pointed out, was the NABARD project, but it had not undergone any repairs for past more than one year, which resulted in deteriorating its condition.

Not only that a couple of main roads leading to villages and adjoining townships were in need of urgent upkeep, but a large number of city roads were also dotted with potholes. Accumulation of rainwater converted these potholes into large cesspools. The worst condition of a road could be witnessed at the main arterial road passing beneath the railway over-bridge along with the main bus stand.


Manekshaw’s Funeral
PPCC resents defence apathy
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 29
Vice-president of the PPCC M.M. Singh Cheema has expressed resentment over the apathetic attitude of top functionaries of the defence forces vis-a-vis the funeral of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw at Wellington.

He said the absence of top brass of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, the defence minister and the supreme commander of the armed forces at the funeral was most shocking. It had set a wrong precedent.

Cheema said even political leadership forgot to pay last respects to the great General and did not bother to declare national mourning for the officer who was a role model for young defence officers.


10-yr-old girl dies of bullet injury
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 29
Mystery surrounds the death of 10-year-old girl Arunima who was hit by a stray bullet when she was playing with her younger brother on the roof of her residence here late last evening.

Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, district police chief, said the police had found several important clues in the incident.

Arunima is daughter of Raman Kumar, cable operator. Raman said his daughter was playing with his younger son Harsheel when she fell down. Harsheel told his parents about this and they immediately rushed her to a hospital where she was declared brought dead.

They later found that the victim had sustained bullet injury in her body. 


PTU counselling for admissions
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 29
Punjab Technical University ( PTU) today said there would be two counsellings for admission to bachelor programme for engineering, architecture and pharmacy courses. Counselling for the engineering courses will commence on July 1 and continue till August 12. The second counselling will begin on August 13.

For pharmacy course, counselling will be held from July 1 to 9. Every day 200 students, seeking admission on the basis of entrance test in pharmacy course, will be called for counselling.

The dean, Academics, PTU, said students could see the schedule for counselling for engineering courses and pharmacy on the university website : www. ptu.ac.in. He said before coming for counselling, the students should go through the schedule. The venue of the counselling would be government polytechnic for women, Ladowali Road, Jalandhar.


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