‘Lofar’ Branding
DSP to probe; charge could not be substantiated: SP (D)
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 12
The sensational incident of branding “lofar” on the back of a jail inmate, Ashwani Kumar Bhola, took a new turn as superintendent of police (detective) Surjit Singh Mattu today pointed out that the allegations levelled by the undertrial prisoner could not be substantiated.

Deputy superintendent of police Balkar Singh has been entrusted with the investigation in the incident. It would not be appropriate to comment at this point of time. However, he added that the preliminary investigations into the case could not prove the allegations levelled by Bhola.

The SP said a board of doctors had also been formed to enquire into the matter. He said further action would be taken only after the medical report was received.

The medical examination report also did not validate his allegations. The medical examination reportedly revealed that the wounds were about 24-hour old, while at that time he was in “Bakshikhana” on the court premises where he was taken for a hearing in his case.

It is pertinent to mention here that Bhola was branded “lofar” at his back on September 10 allegedly by two police officials and doctors of the high-security Amritsar Central Jail where he had been lodged for the past eight months. He had alleged that he was beaten up by two police officials, SI Vavinder Kumar and ASI Dilbagh Singh, besides two doctors of the jail who later tattooed him “lofar” with a scissor in the morning on the jail premises. He has been lodged in the jail under the NDPS Act and possessing fake currency.

However, jail superintendent S.P. Singh termed today’s incident as fraud and said that such incident was not possible in the jail. He said the allegation being levelled by the victim was baseless. The jail superintendent alleged that Bhola enacted this drama and claimed that he tattooed himself at Bakshikhan. He said the allegation that he (Bhola) was branded at about 8 am, whereas the doctors visit the jail after 9 am and the patients could meet them only after 10 am.

This was the second incident of this kind. Earlier in July 2004 Rockey, an undertrial in a theft case, had alleged that he was branded “chor” by the then deputy jail superintendent.

About the reason behind the incident Bhola alleged that he was being harassed by the police as he was an eyewitness to the sensational killing of about five persons who were encountered by ASI Dilbagh near Vallah in 1992. He said he had given statements to the Punjab Human Rights Commission in this regard. He said he was being pressurised to withdraw his statements from the commission.

The incident came to light when he was brought to the court for hearing in the case where he took off his shirt and showed the “tattoo” to the judge who referred him to the civil hospital for medical examination.



Land Scam
Scrap controversial 188-acre scheme, plead farmers
P.K. Jaiswar/TNS

Amritsar, September 12
Even as the Vidhan Sabha committee has indicted former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, former local bodies minister Choudhary Jagjit Singh and the then chairman of the Amritsar Improvement Trust Jugal Kishor Sharma for illegal exemption of land under the New Amritsar Scheme from acquisition, the farmers whose land falls under the scheme today demanded scrapping of the entire 188-acre scheme.

Out of the original 275-acre scheme launched in 1996 only 156 acres had been left, while the remaining land was exempted by consecutive governments. The SAD-BJP government reportedly exempted 87 acres, while the Congress government let off 32.10 acres of land to private colonisers.

New Amritsar Kisan Sangharsh Committee president Rajiv Singh recently said that innumerable alterations had been made to the original scheme of 275 acres, out of which only 156 acres belonging to farmers remained. About 119 acres of land was exempted by various governments to their “favourite” colonisers, he alleged.

He along with other aggrieved farmers alleged that how the colonisers obtained exemptions was not a big secret as “healthy” and “profitable” relationships existed between colonisers, politicians and bureaucrats. He alleged that the governments had policies for letting off the land for big colonisers but not for farmers who had been denied even the genuine compensation for their agricultural lands. He said a compensation worked out for farmers was much lower than the market price. He said the scheme was re-launched after exemption in 2003 and a compensation of Rs 16 to 20 lakh per acre was awarded to the farmers which was slightly higher than the prices given 10 years back.

He urged Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and Bikram Singh Majithia to scrap the scheme with immediate effect as promised by them and their alliance partners during assembly elections.



Greener Pastures
USA proposes one million visas for Indians in 2009
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, September 12
The USA shares complex relations with Pakistan but would always value its ties with Pakistan as its ally which fought terror alongside America after the 9/11 attack on the twin towers in New York. This was stated by assistant information officer in the New Delhi US Mission Lisa Swenarski de Herrera here on Wednesday.

Interacting with the media, a group of three top US diplomats from Delhi said India needed to engage Pakistan with structured dialogue as the new political dispensation had replaced the army rule.

Lisa said India should not suspect and be skeptical about US special ties with Pakistan and added that it was America which had offered the 123 nuclear deal to India because it felt that India was a developed nation with strong democratic traditions.

Senior diplomat in the economic section Christina Landi said the Indo-US trade was growing at a phenomenal pace of 25 per cent annually and had reached $ 41 billion till the last fiscal year and hoped that both the countries would gain a great deal by accelerating faster growth.

Another diplomat Nina Diaz said America would open more opportunities for Indians to visit the USA next year and added that one million visas would be issued in 2009 for giving chances to students, scientists, doctors, engineers and for tourist promotion. She said both the countries need to organise joint campaigns against the illegal immigration agents who were duping the innocent Indians and were charging huge sums for giving them safe passage to the USA.

Nina said Americans were ashamed of hate crime against the Sikhs in the USA and American aviation security personnel were educating their airport staff about the Sikh identity. She said the USA would soon open a consulate in Hyderabad to facilitate people living in southern India for comfortable access to procure travel documents.

She further said that 30 diplomats were touring 26 major cities during this week to familiarise themselves with the local issues and offer friendship to Indians. 



‘Indian students wishing to study in US should consult USIEF’
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 12
The Indian students who wish to study in the US should go for professional advice from the United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF) for official, authentic and unbiased source of information.

These views were expressed by Lisa Swenarski de Harrera, assistant information officer and editor-in-chief, SPAN, while delivering a lecture on “US-India relations: A socio-economic-political perspective” organised at Guru Nanak Dev University here on Wednesday.

Lisa said more than 5.8 lakh students from all over the world are studying in the USA. She said India topped among China, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan and contributes more than 80,000 students. She disclosed that most of the students opt for business and engineering followed by physical and life sciences, social sciences, mathematics and computer science. She was of the view that Indian students prefer to study in the US because of global education, variety and flexibility, cutting-edge technology, hands-on training, campus diversity, support services and financial assistance.

Nina Diaz, political officer at the US embassy in India, while speaking on Indo-US nuclear deal said the deal would help India meet its long-term energy needs and manage its growing demand for hydrocarbons. She said it would also regularise India’s relations with other nuclear regimes and position India to play an enhanced role in the international system. She said the deal would stimulate opportunities for the US and Indian business and would also enhance their scientific cooperation.

Christina Landi, economic officer of the US embassy in India, while presenting her views on the Indo-US economic relations revealed that India-born Americans are among the most affluent and best educated of the recent immigrant groups in the US. Thirty per cent of the R&D researchers in American pharmaceutical companies are Indian Americans and over 700 companies in the Silicon Valley are owned by Indian-Americans. India sends more students to US colleges than any country in the world, she added.

The vice-chancellor, Dr Jai Rup Singh, said Indian academic degrees should also be recognised as equal to those from the US so that Indian students could continue studies in America without any loss.

He said Guru Nanak Dev University was committed to the promotion of global education but instead of sending its students to universities in other countries was more interested in mutual exchange programmes of faculty and students.



‘56 pc US women favour lady President’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 12
More than 56 per cent of the women population in the USA want to see a lady on the post of President, said Lisa Swenarski de Herrera, assistant information officer, US Embassy, New Delhi, while participating in a seminar on “Women’s role in politics in America” organised by the BBK DAV College for Women here on Thursday.

Lisa said even 60 per cent of men were also in favour of a woman President which became clear during the recent presidential elections being held in America in which Republican candidate Hillary Clinton got more than 19 million votes. She said that even though her country was one of the most developed countries across the globe, still 40 per cent men didn’t want a woman to become President.

She said that generally women didn’t jump into the political arena in their early life as they were busy with their studies before the marriage and after that they were busy bringing up children. She said most of the females in the USA did not choose politics as a career and as they thought that they were just capable of doing household chores or administrative job but even then 16 out of 75 Senators were women.

Earlier addressing the students and staff of Khalsa College, Lisa said that though the cost of higher education in America was about $ 16,000 to 40,000, the government was providing loans to students at a cheaper rate, besides giving scholarships on various courses to brilliant students.

She also visited the Global Institute for Child Disability and was impressed with the treatment being given to the mentally challenged children at the institute.



Another male bastion falls to women artistes
Varinder Walia/TNS

Amritsar, September 12
Women artistes today leapt into yet another male bastion by staging four Punjabi plays, produced by women directors as part of a five-day “Punjabi theatre festival of women theatre directors” at Punjab Naatshala, which started here today.

This mega event has been organised by the Theatre Persons in collaboration with Punjab Naatshala, North Zone Cultural Centre, Patiala, and the Sangeet Natak Academy, New Delhi, under the title “Nari Rangmanch Utsav”. The festival is dedicated to Nadira Zaheer Babbar, wife of Raj Babbar, who was also present on the occasion.

Interestingly, the modern Punjabi theatre owes its origin to Irish actress Norah Richards. Prof Richards came from England to take up the assignment of a professor of English in Dayal Singh College, Lahore, in 1911. His wife, Nora Richards, accompanied him who is considered as founder of the Punjabi theatre.

According to Anita Devgan, there was a time when men would play the role of women. The credit goes to the theatre personalities of yesteryear like Dr Harcharn Singh, a Punjabi playwright and director, who brought his wife on the stage for the first time. Preet Nagar also became the hub of theatre personalities where family members of Gurbax Singh Preetlari, including women, would perform on the stage when theatre was an exclusive male domain.

The five-day festival started with a play “Terrorist Dee Premika”, directed by noted women artiste Anita Devgan and produced by the Theatre Persons. The Punjabi plays, “Kujh Ta Karo Yaro”, directed by Anita Sabdish and produced by the Suchetak Kala Manch, Mohali, would be staged tomorrow. The rest of the plays, “Khidki Band Kar Do”, directed by Harvinder Kaur and produced by Katha, Delhi, and “Boohe Barian”, directed by local artiste Neeta Mohindera , produced by Rangtoli, Amritsar, would be staged on September 14 and 15 at Naatshala.



Panchayat secy booked for graft

Amritsar, September 12
The Vigilance Bureau here recently booked panchayat secretary of Pathankot block and resident of Thetharke Nikka at Dera Baba Nanak for allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs 3,000 from newly elected sarpanch of Balo Chak village in Pathankot.

SSP (vigilance) Dilbagh Singh, in a press note issued here, revealed that sarpanch Chain Ram told the bureau that accused Narinder Singh was demanding Rs 3,000 to give the panchayat record which he took from the previous panchayat of the village. He said the matter was settled at Rs 1,500.

The vigilance team led by DSP Santokh Singh laid a trap and nabbed the accused red-handed while accepting the bribe. A case has been registered under sections 7, 13 and 2 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. — TNS



Hindu sabhas oppose foreign missionaries
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 12
Various Hindu organisations have come on a common platform to protest against the “Changai Sabha” allegedly to be addressed by foreign Christian missionaries in the holy city on September 22.

Representatives of the Dharam Jagran Samanvya Vibhag (DJSV), Punjab, Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), the Balmiki Samaj, the Bhagat Kabir Sabha, the Brahmin Sabha and the Adi Dharam Sabha here on Wedenesday submitted a memorandum to the deputy commissioner through ADC Paramjit Singh urging him not to allow the foreign missionaries address the religious congregation in Alexandra school.

Earlier addressing media persons here today Krishan Arora of the RSS alleged that foreign missionaries Peter Jenkins and Danial Chorani along with an eight-member delegation were coming to the city on a tourist visa to address the religious function which was against the Constitution of the country.

Arora said they didn’t believe in violence and were for resolving the issue in a peaceful manner. He said if the administration failed to initiate any action they would be forced to launch an agitation and the government would be responsible for any untoward incident. He said that conversions were being carried out in the country in a planned manner by giving doles to the poor sections of society.

ADC Paramjit Singh said they had no information regarding the holding of the Changai Sabha as the management of the Alexandra school had not sought prior permission. He said they had come to know about the function from the Hindu organisations. He said they would contact the school management in this regard and would ask them not to allow foreign missionaries to address the congregation so as to maintain law and order in the city.

Speaking on the occasion, Sunil Sehgal, president of the DJSV (Jalandhar unit), alleged that under the influence of political parties bureaucracy and the police officers had failed to initiate any action against these missionaries who were regularly coming to the country for conversion of Dalits.



Centre of Advanced Studies
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 12
The department of chemistry of Guru Nanak Dev University has been accorded the status of Centre of Advanced Studies by the University Grants Commission (UGC), New Delhi, for a period of five years w.e.f. April 1.

Stating this in a press note here today, Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed, head of the department, said under the programme UGC had sanctioned a grant of Rs 1.63 crore to the department in the form of equipment and recurring grant. He said the thrust area of research would be “Supramolecular chemistry: Synthetic, catalytic, physicochemical and analytical studies.” The UGC had also sanctioned a grant of Rs 50 lakh for upgrading infrastructure and 15 research fellowships to promote research, he added.



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