P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Manmohan unlikely to contest from Amritsar
Congress keen on Kiran Bedi
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 31
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is not likely to contest elections from the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency. The Punjab Congress is mulling putting up celebrities and political personalities as candidates to maximise its tally in the forthcoming elections.

The party is proposing to approach former supercop Kiran Bedi for the Amritsar seat to take on the BJP’s Navjot Sidhu.

There is also a proposal to field veteran politicians like Balram Jakhar and Buta Singh. While Balram Jakhar could be the party’s candidate from Ferozepur to end factionalism, Buta Singh is being proposed for the newly reserved Faridkot constituency keeping in view the ‘mazhabi’ Sikh vote in the constituency.

Another viewpoint is that Rajya Sabha MPs as well as sitting legislators should not be allowed to contest the election. This may jinx the chances of Ashwani Kumar, a prospective candidate from Gurdaspur, and Ambika Soni who is keen to fight from Anandpur Sahib. The move may also mar the prospects of Barnala legislator Kewal Dhillon, a candidate for the Sangrur seat and Amritsar west legislator O.P. Soni, from the Amritsar seat.

According to sources, the Prime Minister is not likely to contest the Amritsar seat because he would be needed to campaign in the entire country and it would be inappropriate to limit him to Amritsar. The party is keen to give the nomination from Amritsar to Kiran Bedi whose husband Brij Bedi is a prominent social worker of the city.

While Kiran Bedi’s candidature is unlikely to be contested, the party may have to sideline senior leaders in other constituencies if it projects celebrities or veteran politicians as prospective candidates. In Ferozepur, Jagmeet Brar is the party’s strongest candidate and he is not keen to shift to Bathinda to take on a candidate from the Badal family. Similarly in Gurdaspur, Ashwani Kumar is a natural candidate.

The party is likely to face a problem while finalising the candidate for the newly created Anandpur Sahib seat. Besides Ambika Soni and Jalandhar MP Rana Gurjit Singh, who perforce has to shift to another constituency as his seat has been reserved, Jagmohan Singh Kang and Bir Devinder Singh’s constituencies fall in the new parliamentary seat. Rana Gurjit, like Jagmeet, also has the choice to fight from Khadoor Sahib where he has a factory, but he is not too keen to do so.

Winnability will be the sole criteria in selecting candidates and other names being considered include former CM, Amarinder Singh’s son Raninder Singh who is being dubbed the best candidate to take on the Badal family from Bathinda.


Flood-hit battle swarm of mosquitoes
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 31
Floodwater mixed with industrial waste, which is still accumulated in villages of Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Moga and Ferozepur districts, has led to major health problems among humans and animal stock.

An epidemic is waiting to happen in over 18 flood-hit villages in these districts. Stench has filled air in these areas for the past couple of weeks. The floodwater had brought along industrial discharge of the Chhitti Bein.

Residents of the affected villages are forced to pass sleepless nights due to the swarm of mosquitoes. Hand-pumps throw out stinking water.

Though the government has installed seven machines at Bharoana village to drain out toxic water into the Kali Bein, frequent power cuts hinder the work. The Ranjit Sagar Dam authorities have set up two machines of 60 horse power each, while the BBMB, Talwara, has pressed into service a team with two machines of 25 HP capacity each. The Irrigation Department has installed three pumps to drain out the floodwater.

The worst affected are children and elderly persons who have been shifted to camps in gurdwaras and dharamshalas.

According to doctors, patients are flooding the camps with problems like skin rashes and fever. There are some cases of malaria and diarrhoea too.

On an average 250 or 300 cases are reported daily at a health camp set up in a gurdwara at Bharoana village, while 200 cases of skin rashes at a (homoeopathy) camp in Giddarpindi village. More than 2,500 cases have been recorded at a health camp held in the same village, medical experts said.

The health authorities claimed to have supplied these villages with adequate quantity of chlorine tablets besides carrying out chlorination of water bodies. The villagers have been asked to use boiled water. Medicines are being sprayed in stagnated water.

Mosquito repellents and skin ointments are being distributed among the villagers, claimed Dr Sunanda Sharma of the Community Health Centre, Tibbi.


Punctured canals sealed after Rajasthan objection
Raj Sadosh

Abohar, August 31
The government has plugged breaches in the Rajasthan feeder and Gang canals, that were made deliberately to drain out floodwater from villages of Ferozepur and Moga districts, following resistance by the government of neighbouring Rajasthan, official sources confirmed today.

MLAs from Rajasthan Gurjant Singh Brar (Sangria) and Dharminder Mochi (Tibbi) said the breaches, which were made on Friday at RD 5200 of Rajasthan Feeder to drain out floodwater, had been plugged. Brar and Mochi, along with irrigation minister Sanwar Lal Jat and agriculture minister Surinderpal Singh of Rajasthan, met Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in Chandigarh to lodge their protest over the suspension of supply to the Rajasthan canals. The supply to Rajasthan canals had been suspended in order to drain out floodwater through the breach. Meanwhile, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje Scindia also spoke to Badal on the phone. She offered to make available pumping sets to drain out floodwater from the affected villages, sources added.

According to the information gathered by The Tribune, suspension of water supply to two major canals had sparked criticism in Sriganganagar district. Punjabi farmers there had warned the SAD that it would be fatal for the BJP which was going to face the Vidhan Sabha elections in the next few days. They lamented the act of the Punjab government in diverting toxic floodwater to Rajasthan.

Meanwhile, sources said the irrigation authorities had released 1,000 cusecs of water each in the Gang Canal and Indira Gandhi Canal yesterday. 


50 lakh for damaged houses of Gurdaspur
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 31
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said today that te government had released Rs 50 lakh for this district to compensate owners of about 552 houses, which got damaged due to floods and heavy rain.

The Chief Minister, who was here to preside over the concluding ceremony of historical Chinj Mela organised at Babbehali village every year, announced that the government would compensate for crop damage on 5,500 acres. All dhussi bundhs, which developed breaches in the floods, had been repaired.

Ministers and MLAs, including Sucha Singh Langah, Lakhbir Singh Lodhi Nangal, Jagdish Sahni, Gurcharan Singh of the SAD and the BJP were present.

Badal said deputy commissioner Gurkirat Kirpal Singh had been asked to conduct a special girdawri for loss to crops.

He criticised the previous Congress government for setting complicated compensation norms, which were also against the poor farmers.

Regarding the rally being organised by the Congress at Lambi, his home constituency, Badal said such rallies were not going benefit the Congress, which had had been exposed before the people of Punjab.

He said the jail authorities were responsible for the attack on Nihang leader Ajit Singh Poohla at the Amritsar Central jail.

The Chief Minister announced Rs 10 lakh for the construction of a hall for lambardars and sarpanches in the district courts complex and Rs 5 lakh for setting up a sports training wing at Babbehali village.

Meanwhile, 250 wrestlers, hundreds of kabaddi players and athletes from across the state participated in the annual mela.


‘Our work starts after disease outbreak’

Laxmi Kanta Chawla Health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla said the job of the Health Department started after the outbreak of a disease. She claimed, “I do not want that any human being in the flood-affected areas die because of disease. It is a natural calamity and the government has made elaborated arrangements to deal with it”.

The health minister admitted that patients with skin diseases were pouring in the health camps. Additional health staff have been called from other districts. Moreover, mobile teams have been constituted to provide medical care at doorstep, she added.


Oldest Sikh leader hits a ton
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 31
The oldest surviving Sikh, Giani Mohinder Singh, a former SGPC secretary today completed 100 years. His family members from India and abroad will celebrate his 101st day tomorrow in a big way.

Full of dynamism, Giani Mohinder Singh still reads at least three newspapers and exercises for half an hour every morning. Asked about secrets of longevity, he says, “Honesty and simplicity.” This is the stock reply he gives on every birthday.

Recalling the sordid incidents of Partition, Giani Mohinder Singh said on the eve of Pakistan’s independence (August 13, 1947), the Baloch Army bundled him into a vehicle and took him to Kotwali in Mujang. When he was about to be shot dead, his life was spared on the intervention of a senior Muslim Army officer who was known to him.

The biggest contribution of Giani Mohinder Singh is that he saved the SGPC from being disbanded after Operation Black Thunder in 1988. When the then Governor and then deputy commissioner invited him to the Circuit House to offer the post of chairman of the Board which was to come after disbanding the SGPC, he immediately refused it. The former SGPC secretary said he categorically told the Governor at that time that the SGPC came into being after supreme Sikh sacrifices, and the Act under which it was formed could not be repealed on flimsy grounds.

He was the first one to organise the first death centenary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Lahore. He was instrumental in getting live broadcasting of the death anniversary programme of Guru Arjun Dev from Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Lahore, in 1936. After this, the Sikh community started organising Sikh centenaries.

The former SGPC secretary was a witness to the most significant historical events, including Jallianwala Bagh tragedy, pre-Partition Akali morchas and has worked with legendary Shiromani Akali Dal president Master Tara Singh.

This pure vegetarian leader credits his long and healthy life to clean living, good genes and regular cold showers. He was born on September 1, 1908, at Tarn Taran, in the Gursikh family of Giani Mangal Singh. Before serving as SGPC secretary from January 1959 to June 16, 1979, Giani Mohinder Singh also had a stint as the secretary of the Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, Lahore, from 1933 to 1947, during the most turbulent period.

Earlier, he was appointed secretary, Gurdwara Board, PEPSU, on December 22, 1949. He has been serving as the general secretary of the Guru Singh Sabha since 1967. He has been associated with a number of Sikh organisations, including the Nankana Sahib Education Trust, Khalsa College Governing Council and as chief, Khalsa Diwan.

He held his fort when gurdwaras were being attacked by frenzied Muslim populace in and around Lahore. “Sardar Patel once suggested to retaliate in a big way, but I refused to accept his suggestion since the situation was virtually out of control in Lahore at that time,” he recounts. He still remembers the “black day,” as he calls it, when the historical gurdwara in Mujang, belonging to Guru Hargobind Sahib, was set ablaze by a frenzied mob. Being secretary of the Lahore Gurdwara Committee, he had urged the then Army’s Major-Gen Rahis to deploy forces to protect Sikh shrines.



No leniency for dera chief, says Jathedar Nandgarh
Varinder Walia

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 31
Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib, has announced that the Sikh clerics won’t consider any fresh petition made by Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, chief of Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda, at the coming meetings of Akal Takht.
I may step down as Jathedar if compelled to relax conditions regarding the petition of the dera chief.

— Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh

Talking to The Tribune on the phone today, Jathedar Nandgarh said the statement of the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Gurbachan Singh, that the Sikh clergy could consider the fresh petition of the dera chief, if any, at the coming meetings of Akal Takht are were his “personal views”. Jathedar Nandgarh said the dera chief could not be absolved of charges till he got baptised and joined the mainstream of Sikhism unconditionally. Such conditions have been prevalent since the Gurus’ period.

He said the dera chief would have to tender an unconditional apology and appear before Akal Takht. Moreover, he (dera chief) will have to give an undertaking that he won’t indulge in any blasphemous activities in the future, the Jathedar added.

Recent closed-door meeting between Jathedar Akal Takht and Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal in Amritsar had indicated solution to the Sikh-dera row.

The ruling SAD wanted to settle the issue before the coming Lok Sabha elections. In the previous Assembly elections, the dera had supported the Congress, leading to big loss to the SAD.

Jathedar Nandgarh said he might step down as Jathedar if he was compelled to relax conditions regarding the petition of the dera chief.


Gas leak damages crop; 2 fall sick
Gurdeep Singh Mann
Tribune News Service

Bhadla Neecha (Khanna), August 31
Around 50 acres of crop was completely damaged and two villagers seriously taken ill, when a toxic gas leaked out from four big cylinders bought by some junk dealers of the village.

The matter came to light today when villagers approached police station Sadar, complaining of an obnoxious smell emanating from the village pond along with a dense cloud. The villagers told the police that such a situation had been prevailing in the village since Friday afternoon.

Initially, villagers did not take serious notice of the smoke but the condition got aggravated today when it became difficult to breathe in the village. “Even when we visited the area, we could not stand the suffocation. I am still feeling giddy,” said SHO Sadar, Dharampal Singh.

He said the problem got aggravated after strong winds helped to spread the gas in the village and the fields. Villagers apprised the police that there were a few junk dealers in the village who tended to discard their scrap into the village pond. “Earlier too the junk dealers have been dumping scrap in the village. This has been happening despite the fact that we have, time and again, barred them from doing so,” said villagers Jaspal Singh and Kashmira.

During the investigations, the police came across the fact that the junk dealers had tried to remove copper from some cylinders they had bought in scrap. In the process, the cylinders suddenly started leaking. Afraid of any further reaction, the junk dealers dumped the cylinders into the village pond on Friday.

The leakage has left two migrant labourers, Sanjeev Kumar and Mukesh Kumar, seriously ill. They have been admitted to civil hospital, Khanna.

Besides this, the crops of paddy and vegetables have got damaged. The farmers who claimed to have lost 5 acres to leakage are Amar Singh, Davinder Singh and Balwinder Singh.

The farmers pegged the losses in lakhs and demanded immediate compensation. A case in this connection has been registered at Sadar police station, Khanna, late in the evening for damaging crop under Sections 285,435, 336 and 34 of the IPC.

SSP Arun Pal Singh said samples of damaged tree leaves, crops and pond water have been sent for chemical examination. “We will arrest the accused by tomorrow,” he said.


150 PSEB employees held during protest
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Babbehali (Gurdaspur), August 31
The district police authorities today blatantly curbed the democratic rights of Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) employees by arresting them as they were preparing to show black flags to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on a visit to this area today.

The police swung into action when it came to know that about 150 employees of PSEB under the banner of the Technical Service Union (TSU) had assembled near a marriage palace. They had reached near the venue of function to show black flags to Badal. The workers of the TSU, forcibly bundled into two buses before they could show the black flags to Badal, were taken to Khanuwan police station and kept there till Badal left the district boundary.

Jagtar Singh Khunda, circle president, TSU, Gurdaspur, said they had been chasing the Chief Minister and trying to show him black flags as he had not fulfilled the promise made to them by him on April 8, 2008.

He added that the Chief Minister had promised all the seven employees, who were dismissed and 12 employees of the PSEB, who were placed under suspension for opposing the move to privatise the PSEB, would be reinstated. So far the CM had not implemented his promise.

Khunda announced that they would kept on chasing the CM and show him black flags. He also said the force being used by the state government and lathi charge that was resorted to would not deter them.

He said if the state government took any step to unbundle the PSEB, all members of the TSU would go on an indefinite strike and thus the functioning of the board would be difficult. Meanwhile, police sources said no case was registered against any agitator and they were all released immediately after Badal left this district. 


SAD (A) seeks action against gurdwara staff
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 31
The Shiromani Akali Dal, Amritsar (SAD-A), today demanded immediate action against the two Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib staffers who were booked for abetting suicide.

The police has booked storekeeper Joga Singh and langar in charge Kulwant Singh for allegedly torturing Karamjit Singh, a resident of Sirhind, who committed suicide on Thursday.

The family members of the deceased said the police failed to act accordingly due to political pressure. “They are just trying to hush up the case by delaying arrests of the accused,” said the brother of deceased, Jasvir Singh.

SAD (A) president Simranjit Singh Mann, condemning the act of violence by gurdwara employees, said the SGPC should take immediate action against the erring people.

SAD (A) general secretary Gursewak Singh Jawaharke said the SGPC failed to act accordingly in various cases, including the suicide case, due to political interference in religious matters.

“As per the relatives, who twice brought the matter into the notice of the manager of the gurdwara, it is quite clear that the deceased committed suicide after torture. It is a matter of shame on the part of the accused who hurled filthy abuses at such a pious place,” Jawaharke said. The pictures of the body of Karamjit also show marks of injury and the police should immediately arrest the accused, he added.

Meanwhile, Fatehgarh Sahib SSP Dr Kaustubh Sharma said they were looking into the matter and would make the arrests soon. “The accused have only beaten him (Karamjit) and may have also abused him and if someone commits suicide, it does not come under the purview of abetment to suicide. Still, we have registered a case in this regard,” he added.


All Congress groups get together at Beant Singh’s samadhi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 31
An all-religion prayer meeting held at the samadhi of Beant Singh, the slain former Chief Minister of Punjab, to mark his martyrdom day, had the representation from all groups within the Congress. The Akalis stayed away despite being invited to attend. The prayer meeting was also well attended by Congress workers. The Congress leaders, on their part, expressed anguish at the inordinate delay in the completion of the memorial dedicated to Beant Singh. The work on furnishing of the National Integration Centre, which is being developed at the spot, has begun.

Congress Legislature Party leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal attended the meeting. Though former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh could not make it, his son Raninder Singh represented him. Three former Pradesh Congress presidents, Shamsher Singh Dullo, Mohinder Singh Gill and Varinder Kataria, besides a number of legislators and office-bearers attended the meeting.

Those who paid tributes to the late Beant Singh, included his wife Mata Jaswant Kaur, party working president Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Union minister of state and Chandigarh MP Pawan Bansal, Anti-Terrorist Front chief Maninderjit Singh Bitta, former MP Gurcharan Singh Dadhahur and PPCC general secretary Parminder Singh Pinky. Beant Singh’s son and former minister Tej Prakash Singh and the late leader’s grandson, Gurkirat Singh, thanked the people on the occasion.


He proudly wears Punjabi attire
Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Balkaur Singh
Balkaur Singh

Chandigarh, August 31
In every society, there are only a handful people who dare to tread uncommon paths. Balkaur Singh, who retired today as excise and taxation officer of the Punjab government, after putting in 33 years of service, is one such person. Of the nearly 6 lakh employees of the Punjab government, he maintained a distinct identity.

He did not wear pants and shirt unlike most senior and junior babus in Punjab and many other parts of the country, even once during the entire tenure of service. And he did not even wear a kurta and pyjama while on duty. Without bothering about self-imposed protocol by babus, Balkaur Singh wore the traditional Punjabi dress, chadar, kurta and tilledar jutti during the period of his entire service. He was the only employee of the state government who attended top-level official meetings in the traditional attire.

Before joining service as an inspector in 1975, Balkaur did his postgraduation in English and Punjabi as a regular student from Panjab University in the early 1970s. He sat in the class room in the traditional Punjabi dress without bothering about what other students and teachers felt about his dress. “My colleagues and other students in the university and during service in the excise department used to taunt me, but I did not bother as I always feel proud of my Punjabi identity,” said Balkaur Singh.

A brief comment made by an English couple in 1966 changed his life forever. He was so hurt by the comment that he decided not to wear “pants and shirt” ever again. “The British couple was sitting in front of our college at Sirsa. Out of curiosity, I along with other students went to see them as we had never seen such people,” said Balkaur Singh. “As far as language and dress is concerned we are still ruling India,” said the Englishman. “Listening to that remark I felt so humiliated that I decided not to wear the attire given to us by Englishmen,” said Balkaur, who also holds postgraduation degrees in philosphy, sociology and psychology.

He says public life is dominated by thugs, corrupt and dishonest people. Bureaucrats and other government officials take pleasure in harassing common people. Hypocrisy has become way of life. Ruling classes of all hues are dishonest to people to whom they pretend to serve, he says. “As I had to guts to confront dishonest people, no one asked me to do anything illegal. I tried my best to serve small traders and businessmen honestly and never harassed them. In fact, I tried to help them. I spared those who committed mistakes inadvertently, but never spared those who have been dodging the government by using influence and their status”, he adds.

Balkaur says, “I will now promote Punjabi culture and expose hypocrites, who in the name of serving and promoting Punjabi culture are playing their own politics”.


CM announces land for mass com institute in Mohali
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 31
Acceding to the demand of the Chandigarh-Punjab Union of Journalists (CPJU), Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has agreed to give a piece of land for an institute of mass communication and union’s office in Mohali.

Badal made the announcement for the land while attending the 6th annual meet of the union held at Punjab Agricultural University here today.

He donated Rs 11 lakh to the union, besides declaring that a pension scheme would be formulated for journalists till the age of 80 years of age.

However, Badal expressed helplessness regarding the rollback of toll tax and blamed the previous government for having formulated complex policies in the matter.

“The SAD has always valued the freedom of the Press with due respect for its commentative, informative and suggestive role. My day starts with interaction with deputy commissioners following the news items,” the Chief Minister said.

National president of the Indian Journalist Union Suresh Akhori, while referring to the “undue importance” given to handful of journalists, stated that the journalists, who worked at the grass-roots level were elemental in formulating public opinion.

Emphasising the “journalistic code of conduct” S.N. Sinha, member of the Press Council of India, called upon the journalists to work in good and positive spirits and refrain from phony stings like that of Uma Khurana.

“With diverse expansion in media avenues, it has become the duty of every working and non-working journalist to reconfirm the thrust areas so as to reiterate media’s role in Indian democracy”, Sinha added.

Information and public relation minister Bikram Singh Majithia said a proposal had been sent to Jamia Milia Islamia for providing affiliation to the mass communication institute to be set up in Mohali. He announced a hike in the amount of free bus passes from Rs 800 to Rs 2,500 for accredited and veteran journalists and formation of cooperatives for residential colonies for journalists all over the state.


Sugar mills pin hope on Bacchus for revival
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 31
Bacchus could well be the answer for the revival of the fortunes of the cooperative sugar mills in Punjab with the department moving to revive its three refineries by supplying them with molasses produced by its sugar mills.

Sugarfed owns three refineries that are at present closed down in Nawanshahr, Nakodar and Gurdaspur. These refineries have been given licences to produce industrial ethanol. The Cooperative Department has moved the government to grant it a bottling licence so that the refineries can produce country as well as Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL).

This move will revive the distilleries as Sugarfed is still paying Rs 10 lakh annually as licence fee even though the distilleries have been closed for more than a decade as well as revive the cooperative sugar mills in the state, which will benefit by supplying molasses to the distilleries.

There are at present 15 sugar mills in the state with six of them at Patiala, Zira, Tarn Taran, Budhlada, Jagraon and Faridkot being closed after having been declared sick. The nine functioning mills, of which the mills at Nawanshahr, Ajnala and Morinda are the largest, employ 5,400 workers.

Cooperation minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh said he hoped to bring Sugarfed as well as the sugar mills out of the red by the next crushing season through this move. “The time has come to realise that sugar can only be a byproduct of all sugar mills and that they should also make commercial use of molasses as well as biogas produced by them,” he said.

The minister said accordingly a decision had also been taken to call for tenders for putting up 10-power generation plants alongside identified sugar mills. He said biogas-based cogeneration plants on partnership basis could contribute substantially to the power grid. Similarly, Sugarfed could also enter the ethanol market with the government already allowing 5 per cent blending of ethanol in petroleum. “This will increase to 10 per cent next year and we hope the country will gradually go the Brazil way which allows a blending percentage of as much as 22 per cent,” he added.

Kanwaljit disclosed that the department had prepared Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,300 crore-revival package for all 15 cooperative sugar mills in the state. He said under this package their crushing capacity would be increased and they would acquire modern machinery. The department had appointed consultants for each sugar mill to ensure a tailor made package.

Speaking on the issue of decreasing sugarcane production in the state, he said the situation would improve once the infrastructure was in place. He said the state had also requested the Centre to do away with the sugar levy policy so that mills could sell sugar in the open market as and when they wanted.


CBI probe into Orissa violence sought
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 31
Punjab Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira has asked every Punjabi to strongly condemn the violence against Christians in Orissa. Speaking for himself and on behalf of the Punjab Congress, Khaira said the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) were behind the violence.

Talking to The Tribune he said he was seeking a CBI inquiry into the violence, and in doing so he had the support of the entire Punjab Congress.

“The guilty must be brought to book. A civilised society cannot overlook murders of innocent people and organised violence by fundamental forces”. He said the Punjab Congress was also urging the Orissa government to immediately restore the rule of law in the state and compensate those who were killed, injured and also have suffered their sources of livelihood.

Khaira, who represents Bolath in Punjab, minced no words in saying that the perpetuators of violence had the tacit support of the state government.

He said over 30 Christians had died and there were reports of many being orphaned, while a large number were still reported missing in Orissa after arson, loot and murder. The incident had shamed the nation for which the BJP was directly responsible. The BJP had flared up communal passion in different parts of the country, including Jammu, with an eye on the next Lok Sabha elections, he said.

“The Christians in India are front-runners in the fields of education and health care. Such motivated attacks will only demoralise the promoters of good social causes,” Khaira added.

The legislature has also strongly criticised the SAD for remaining silent on the attacks on the minority community. Needless to remind Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal that the Sikhs are also a minority community like the Christians, therefore supporting an anti-minority party like the BJP amounts to being a party to the atrocities being committed on Christians.

“We understand your lust to cling to power, but you cannot bring a bad name to the whole Sikh community on such a sensitive issue. Therefore, I urge you to come forward and condemn the BJP’s sponsored violence in Orissa at the earliest,” he said.


Radical Sikhs to protest Central status for PU
Sanjay Bumbroo

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 31
Radical Sikh organisations will protest against the proposed move of the Punjab government to hand over the reins of Panjab University (PU) to the Central government at the behest of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Stating this here today, Kanwarpal Singh, general secretary, Dal Khalsa, and Bhai Mohkam Singh, spokesman of the Dadmdami Taksal, said the executive committee of the organisation would meet tomorrow to chalk out the future course of action to lodge their protest against the state government.

He said the move to transfer PU would prove to be disastrous as it could undermine the claim of Punjab on Chandigarh. He said this also reflected the incompetence of the government.

Kanwarpal alleged that the campaign for handing over the university to the Central government had been masterminded by a section of the teaching staff on the pretext that the Union government offered a retirement age of 65 for teachers. He said Punjabis, for over four decades, have been demanding that full control of PU should be handed over to Punjab.

“It seems that for Badal the interests of the RSS are more important than those of the thousands of students studying in 175 colleges affiliated to PU,” he said.


Stress on orientation courses for doctors
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 31
Dr A.S. Sekhon, principal of Gian Sagar Medical College and Hospital (GSMCH), here today underlined the need for organising orientation courses for in-service medical officers of the state government with a view to keeping them updated about latest developments in the field of health and medical education.

He was delivering a lecture on ‘Hospital Administration’ organised at GSMCH, near here, attended by senior medical officers from all over the state participating in an in-service training programme for doctors arranged by the Punjab Health Systems Corporation.

He said the state institute of health welfare could take a cue from the national institute of health welfare in organising such programmes periodically. Dr Sekhon said there was urgent need to cut red tape in the working of health department with a view to facilitate speedy redressal of problems faced by doctors on day to day basis.

Dr Sekhon recounted his experiences as a doctor in the Punjab Civil Medical Services (PCMS) and expressed confidence that the SMOs and MOs could deliver better if they were provided with required infrastructure by way of medicines and equipment.

T.R. Sarangal, managing director of the Punjab Health Systems Corporation who attended the lecture along with senior functionaries of the corporation, said he was impressed by the infrastructure available at the GSMCH and he would like medical specialists and also paramedics to undergo training at the hospital from time to time.

Dr Sukhwinder Singh, vice-chairman of the Gian Sagar Educational and Charitable Trust, welcomed the delegates.

He also traced the development of his dream project, the GSMCH, which he said he had nurtured when he was working in the PCMS.


PUDA to auction land in Ludhiana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 31
Under the Optimum Utilisation of Vacant Government Lands (OUVGL) scheme, the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) has announced to auction a prime chunk of land measuring 3.60 acre in Civil Lines, Ludhiana.

The site was cleared after demolishing unsafe structures of erstwhile district courts of Ludhiana.

PUDA chief administrator, Som Parkash, said the site was expected to fetch more than Rs 300 crore.

Earlier, another site measuring 2.88 acre in the area had been sold for Rs 174.82 crore.

He said a recent auction of a plot measuring 5.54 acre in Amritsar had attracted Rs 179.46 crore.

Quoting a recent survey conducted by the Future Capital Research (FCR) and National Council and Applied Economic Research (NCAER), he said cities like Amritsar, Ludhiana and Jalandhar had figured among the top 20 cities of the country. The study revealed that residents of Ludhiana, Delhi, Chennai, Surat, Chandigarh, Mumbai and Ahemdabad spent 55 per cent of their income on household consumption.

Residents of Jalandhar and Amritsar spent 80 per cent and 63 per cent respectively on household goods.


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |