P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


UPA Cold
Paddy bonus hopes crash
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 13
With distress sale continuing in many markets, paddy procurement is beginning to take political hue in Punjab. As the procurement agencies have refused to accept paddy with more than stipulated moisture, the hope of bonus too has been dashed after Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today failed to meet union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar who reportedly was out of Delhi. Badal has come back, leaving a note seeking enhanced price.

Badal, who was in Delhi for a meeting of the National Integration Council (NIC), was hopeful of persuading the Centre for a bonus of at least Rs 50 by demanding Rs 300. Sources in Delhi said the UPA government had virtually brushed aside similar demands from other quarters following global financial crisis that required diversion of huge funds to the banking sector.

Chief Minister’s media adviser Harcharan Bains said, “State’s plea to the Centre is that Punjab contributes 60 per cent of foodgrains to the national pool and cannot be equated with other paddy-producing states. In the note left for Pawar, Badal has sought Rs 300 as bonus, besides raising in the paddy price to Rs 1,000 a quintal from back date as recommended by the Central Commission for Agriculture Cost and Prices. Punjab has also sought lifting of ban on the export of all non-basmati varieties of rice and review of categorisation of PUSA 1121 as basmati variety”.

The Opposition has taken up the issue to embarrass the SAD-BJP alliance. Former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has said, “In the five years of our government we had five crops of wheat and five of paddy which were procured smoothly.

Farmers' produce was lifted the same day and money for it also paid the same day. Now, despite tall claims of pro-farmer policies of the Badal government, it has been over 12 days since paddy has been lying in mandis all over the state where farmers have been camping”.

He adds, “Apart from inconvenience to the farmers it has led to blackening of the crop and reduced its value. Badal owes an explanation to farmers of the state. Why this is happening and how he will compensate them. I understand largescale bungling and money inducements have led to such a situation”. Though the statement by the former Chief Minister may be dismissed as a political assertion, it has the potential of snowballing into a major political issue in the Lok Sabha elections.


DC denies distress sale of paddy
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, October 13
Gurkirat Kirpal Singh, deputy commissioner, today said there was no distress sale of paddy in the district. He said reports in a section of the press that farmers were not being paid minimum support price (MSP) of paddy in certain grain markets and purchase centres of the district were untrue.

He said out of total 1.71 lakh metric tonnes of paddy, the government agencies had procured 1.37 lakh metric tonnes of paddy at MSP till yesterday. Paddy procured by millers was 33,504 MT (18,365 MT grade A + 15,139 M common IR-8).

The price of grade-A paddy purchased by millers varied from Rs 830 to Rs 885 and of common variety like IR-8 varied from Rs 745 to Rs 810. The common variety was not purchased by government agencies, he added.

Lower price in case of grade-A paddy was because as this variety had very high moisture content and was damaged. Hence, it did not fall in the specifications laid down by the government. The deputy commissioner said payment to arhtiyas was being made by all procurement agencies in 48 hours of the purchase.

Team inspects procurement

Muktsar, October 13
Acting upon directions of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to check irregularities in the purchase and lifting of paddy, a team of six bureaucrats comprising government agencies and Mandi Board officials today inspected various grain markets in his home district here. The team said the agencies had been ordered to speed up the purchase and lifting process. About the expected arrival of paddy, they said it would cross 1.65 lakh metric tonnes. Out of this, a total of 36 lakh tonnes had been purchased till date. 


Farmers undersell Pusa varieties of paddy
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Morinder/Samrala/ Khanna, October 13
Government’s plan to ensure diversification in paddy by expanding the area under high-quality varieties with basmati characteristics has hit the roadblock with farmers underselling their produce of these varieties to private traders.

A tour of Kurali, Morinda, Samrala and Khanna revealed that the farmers, who had planted the high-yield Pusa-1121, which is yet to be declared a basmati variety for export purposes, as well as other varieties of PHR-1 and Pusa-1, will incur losses compared to those who planted coarse varieties.

Swaran Singh of Boormajra village near Morinda, while talking to The Tribune, said he had planted Pusa 1121 on one and a half acres and had been able to get a yield of only 16 quintals. “This too I had to take to Rajpura to sell it to a private miller and I got a rate of only Rs 1,500 per quintal compared to the Rs 2,600 rate last year.” He said a coarse variety would have given him a yield of around 30 or 35 quintals per acre. Farmers in the region said they had to take Pusa-1121 as well as produce of other such varieties to Rajpura, Kurali or Tarori in Haryana, which was wiping out their profits. Surinder Singh of Maheshpuri village, near Khanna, said basmati varieties of PHR-10 and Pusa-1 were being bought at the rate of Rs 1,100 or Rs 1,800 per quintal while last year these sold for Rs 1,800 or Rs 2,300 per quintal.

The farmers of the state are suffering mainly because Pusa-1121 cannot be exported as basmati. Millers are apprehensive as to how the variety will do without the basmati tag. The variety was being touted as ideal for the state because it required less water, thus easing pressure on already depleting underground water. It is planted soon after the monsoon starts. At present around 8 per cent area in the state, around four lakh hectares, is under basmati cultivation.

The government on its part today urged the Centre to “immediately” lift the ban on export of non-basmati rice and to re categorise Pusa-1121 as basmati variety. Civil supplies minister Adesh Partap Singh, in a communiqué to union commerce minister Kamal Nath, said this would also enable rice millers to purchase superior grade ‘A’ non-basmati paddy from the market and help farmers to get higher prices for their produce.

Meanwhile, the Young Farmers Association has urged farmers to stock their produce of Pusa-1121 till the Centre takes a decision on the export of this variety. Its secretary-general Bhagwan Das Gupta said the rates of this and other varieties would increase once their export was allowed under the basmati tag.


BSF team in Pak for meeting
P.K. Jaiswar
Tribune News Service

Attari, October 13
An 18-member delegation of the BSF, led by U.K. Bansal, additional-director general (west), today crossed over to the Pakistani side at the Attari-Wagah joint check post to attend the biannual meeting of the Indian force and Pakistan Rangers.

Among other issues, smuggling of narcotics, fake currency, arms, inadvertent crossing of border by civilians, status of border pillars, illegal constructions and recent upsurge in ceasefire violations in Jammu and Kashmir were on the agenda of the meeting. The delegation included officers from the Narcotics Control Bureau, Survey of India and PWD.

The ADG said although the infiltration, smuggling of narcotics and counterfeit currency was not a new problem for the two border forces, several sensational incidents had taken place in the past.

Expressing concern over a sudden spurt in the smuggling of counterfeit currency, he said it was being used in illegal activities and the funding of militant groups. More than Rs 70 lakh in counterfeit notes had been recovered in the past six months. He said it was the priority of the BSF to stop this illegal activity.

Bansal said the meeting was aimed at coordinating measures taken by the two border forces for an effective management of the frontier without any confrontations.

Meanwhile, Shafqat Nawaz Khan, DDG, Pakistan Rangers, welcomed the Indian delegation at the check post. Talking to the media, Khan blamed that counterfeit currency was being smuggled into Pakistani territory from the Indian side. He said both forces would discuss all issues at the meeting being held in Lahore.

The Indian delegation would be received by Director-General, Pakistan Rangers (Punjab), Muhammad Yaqub Khan at Lahore.


Peshawar bond between India, Pakistan
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 13
Even as Amritsar-born Hindu bridegroom Pawan Kumar Narang and his relatives failed to get visa to Pakistan to take barat to the home of bride Anita in Peshawar, she reached here for the wedding that was solemnised today.

The family of the bride brought a recorded aarti of a temple in Peshawar, which was played during the “jaimala” ceremony.

Pawan said such marriages could strengthen ties between the two countries. Anita urged the governments of both countries to relax visa restrictions to encourage cross-border marriages.

Father of the boy, Gian Chand is a karyana merchant in Amritsar while girl’s father owns a cosmetic shop in Peshawar. The family of Gian Chand had shifted to Amritsar in 1956. He said many families had moved to other parts of India in 1971 and 1980 and settled there.

Gian Chand said more than 1,000 families of Hindu and Sikhs still live in Peshawar. Hindus had temples with of lord Shiva, Hanuman and Bhaironath there. The Peshawari Hindus prefer to marry in their own community, especially those based in India.

It was a tough decision for more than 3,000-odd families of Hindus and Sikhs to leave Peshawar, the land of Pathans, where they did not suffer even a single casualty during the Partition. They came to here via the Wagah route in 1955-56. Many families later moved to Jalandhar, Khanna, Ferozepur, Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and other places.

Around 500 Peshawari families live in a locality on the Amritsar-Wagah road here. 



LS polls: SAD woos fairer sex
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepur, October 13
With an eye on the coming Lok Sabha elections, the SAD, in an apparent attempt to woo women electorates, has decided to constitute women wings at the village, block and district levels. 

At a conference held at historic Gurdwara Jamni Sahib, Vajidpur, on Monday, Paramjit Kaur Gulshan, MP, who is also national president of the party’s women wing, said it was imperative to bring all women workers under one umbrella so that they could work together to spread awareness about the various developmental works being initiated by the party. The conference was attended by irrigation minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon, Dr Shavinder Kaur Johal, Hari Singh Zira, former MLA, Avtar Singh Minna, Bibi Manjit Kaur Faredawala, chairperson of the Zila Parishad, Bibi Jaswinder Kaur, chairperson of the Ghal Khurd Block Samiti, besides hundreds of party workers.

Gulshan said the party had given adequate representation to women leaders during the formation of panchayat samitis, block samitis, zila parishads and at various other prominent positions in the party hierarchy.

Gulshan exhorted the women folks assembled at the conference to work for the growth of the party so that Akali-BJP combine could bag all 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state. She said an 11-member committee would soon be constituted in all districts to prevent any atrocities against the fairer sex.


Amarinder, Bajwa condemn arrest of Bholath Cong MLA
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 13
Former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and party Campaign Committee in charge as well as former minister Partap Singh Bajwa have condemned what they term as the “arbitrary, illegal and unlawful arrest of Bholath Congress legislator Sukhpal Singh Khaira.

In a statement here yesterday, Amarinder said the arrest of Sukhpal and his supporters for peacefully protesting the demolition of the foundation stone of a waterworks scheme laid during the earlier Congress regime “was the height of intolerance and throttling of democracy.”

Bajwa claimed that the Badal government had touched its nadir. “What is clear is that Khaira has been arrested for taking up the cause of the people of his region”.

Meanwhile, Bajwa in a separate statement said clear bias had been established in the allocation of funds for development and new projects against the backward Doaba and Majha regions. He said Khaira had supported the movement against discrimination and lopsided development.

He said since the government could not escape the charge of discrimination against Doaba and Majha they had taken recourse to this game plan. “Challenged to prove the validity of their claims of equal development of all regions they have failed to provide concrete examples existing on the ground. Therefore, they have taken recourse to desperate measures”.


Jawans encounter snakes on the frontiers
Chander Parkash
Tribune News service

Bamial (Gurdaspur), October 13
Now Border Security Force (BSF) jawans, keeping vigil on the border, also have to be wary of snakebites.

Apart from keeping an eye on the “activities” on both sides of the fence wire erected along the Indo-Pakistan border, BSF jawans have been having encounters with snakes.

Though only two cases of snakebite have been reported in the border belt in Gurdaspur sector, frequent encounters with snakes have made jawans extra alert. The jawans have been given gum boots by the authorities to protect them from snakebites.

“We find that encounters with snakes, hiding in grass and weeds, have been increasing. A number of times, we are horrified to find snakes in our ‘morchas’ and bunkers,” disclosed jawans to this correspondent during a tour of border areas.

Most of the jawans have their hands full. They carry a gun in one hand and a‘danda’ in the other to repulse attack of snakes. Jawans enter the morchas after searching these. After sunset, the jawans move around with charged torches so that they can detect a snake before it can bite them.

Officers and jawans of the BSF have also invoked blessings of deities to prevent losses. Now most of the border observation posts (BOPs) and forward posts have small temples where idols of Lord Shiva and snake (Nagraj) have been installed.

“Almost all jawans pay obeisance at such temples before marching on patrol and other duties. Snakes have become a menace for us,” the jawans pointed out.

The jawans said they had been exposed to snakebites as the morchas were ill maintained. The morchas, built with bamboo sticks, tin sheets and other weak material, cannot withstand vagaries of weather.

“We have started using a special chemical for avoiding snakebite. When that chemical is sprinkled around BOPs and morchas, snakes avoid entry in that particular area. The foot patrol duty is being performed by jawans wearing the gum boots,” said a senior BSF official.

Jawans said as the area, having a thin population, had water bodies and wild growth, it was the most suitable place for snakes to move freely. Snakes were also a major hazard for residents of the villages located near the border and such areas had been witnessing a large number of incidents of snakebite.


Funds meant for tourism promotion diverted
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 13
The Tourism Development Department, Punjab, has been diverting funds sanctioned for specific projects to the projects in “politically important” districts.

Information gathered under the Right to Information (RTI) Act revealed that funds sanctioned by the Centre for certain projects were never used for many of these. These projects were “dropped” and the money transferred to projects proposed for Patiala and Amritsar districts. Most of this diversion of funds was done in 2006.

This “misuse of funds” is considered a serious financial irregularity, but Tourism Department officials point out that permission for all such diversions was taken from the Union Ministry of Tourism, the funding agency.

However, they concede that though the Centre permitted diversion, a large portion of the sanctioned amounts for the original projects was not released due to the misuse.

In 1999-2000, the Centre released Rs 15 lakh out of the Rs 50 lakh it had sanctioned for tourism complex at Ferozepur. In 2006, this project was dropped and used in Amritsar. In 1999-2000 a Rs 40-lakh project to upgrade the tourist complex at Kiratpur Sahib for which Rs 12 lakh had been released was dropped and the money used in Amritsar. Another Rs 18 lakh was released for a yatri niwas at Mohali (sanctioned Rs 60 lakh) was used for Amritsar in 2006. As a result in 1999-2000 while the Centre sanctioned projects worth Rs 1.5 crore, the state got only Rs 45 lakh as this amount was mis-utilised.

In 2000-2001, Rs 2 crore was sanctioned by the Centre for a tourism complex at Harike wetlands, upgrade of hotel Amaltas Ludhiana, yatri niwas Jalandhar and a tourism reception centre at Amritsar. All these projects were dropped and in 2006, the released amounts “adjusted” in the development of Wagah border, Amritsar and Patiala.

In 1997-1998, the Centre sanctioned Rs 30 lakh for the tourism complex at Anandpur Sahib. Out of which the Centre initially gave Rs 6 lakh to the state. In 2006, this project was dropped and the Rs 6 lakh “adjusted” in the project of developing Amritsar as tourism destination. Since the grant was misutilised, the Centre did not release the rest of the sanctioned money. Similarly in 1997-1998, the Centre sanctioned Rs 14 lakh for a tourism complex at Malout for which Rs 5 lakh was released. In 2006, the Punjab government used this money for the development of Attari Wagah border. The rest of the money was not released by the Centre.

In 2002-2003 the expansion of a fast food centre in Madhopur was dropped and the amount is yet to be adjusted. In 2003 2004, the plan to upgrade tourist infrastructure in and around Amritsar was also dropped and the Rs 18 lakh out of the Rs 81 lakh sanctioned used in Patiala.

All these amounts were routed to Amritsar and Patiala. In March 2006, the Centre had sanctioned Rs 4.6 crore for developing Patiala as tourist destination and another Rs 4.8 crore for developing Amritsar as tourist destination. Sources add there was no dearth of funds that justified the misutilisation of funds meant for other projects.

The Rs 5 lakh sanctioned in 2005 for the celebration of rural sports mela at Kila Raipur in February 2006 was not used, as was the Rs 10 lakh for the Kapurthala craft mela in 2006.


CM greets people on parkash utsav of Valmiki
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 13
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today extended greetings to people of Punjab on the auspicious occasion of parkash utsav of Valmiki and exhorted them to follow his teachings and ideology to carve out an ideal society regardless of caste, colour and creed.

In his message, Badal said Valmiki, creator of the first-ever epic, the Ramayana, was a great exponent of Indian culture and civilisation. His masterpiece creation, the Ramayana is a fountainhead of human culture, moral values and ethics, reservoir of wisdom.

Animal husbandry minister Gulzar Singh Ranike also extended greetings to people of the state and called upon them to celebrate it collectively rising above parochial considerations of casteism, thereby paving a way for altruism in human life as preached by Valmiki.


SAD urges PM to slash fuel prices
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 13
Member of Parliament and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to announce immediate cut in diesel, petrol and fertiliser prices in view of the sharp reduction in the prices of crude oil in the international market.

Stating this here on Saturday he also demanded that the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy be fixed at Rs 1,000 per quintal and an additional bonus of at least Rs 300 per quintal.

Sukhbir said, “The prices of crude have registered a nearly 44 per cent fall. Since the diesel prices in the domestic market were hiked ostensibly because of the rise in the price of crude in the global markets, there is no reason why it should not be reduced in the background of new market realities.”


Plants in coop sugar mills to generate Rs 200-cr power: Kanwaljit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 13
The Punjab government has planned to generate Rs 200-crore power a year by setting up co-generation plants in all cooperative sugar mills.

Cooperation minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh stated this here today at a workshop organised by Sugarfed on how to make cooperative sugar mills self-sufficient. The chairmen and Board of Directors of all cooperative sugar mills attended 
the workshop.

The minister said the state cooperative mills had potential to generate 100-120 MW power and the state electricity Board had offered to purchase proposed power at Rs 2.86 per unit generating Rs 200-crore revenue annually, while losses of all mills were just Rs 77.95 crore.

A plan to convert the mills into mega sugar complexes had been drafted, he added. Accordingly, increasing of crushing capacity of the mills had become imperative as now only a mill with crushing capacity of 5,000 metric tonne of sugarcane was sustainable. Besides the creation of additional sources of income, emphasis was being laid on diversification and production of ethanol as the Centre had permitted mixing of ethanol with petrol and diesel up to 5 per cent, which would be increased to 10 per cent next year.

The minister said the state government had agreed to grant bottling licence to three distilleries of the state cooperative sugar mills and proposals were being drafted for this.

He said Rs 22 crore out of the pending Rs 37 crore arrears of sugarcane growers would be paid in a week and efforts were on to clear all arrears.


Airlines find Amritsar airport unviable
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 13
Thousands of NRIs and common air passengers from Punjab will be hit with major airlines contemplating gradual frequency reduction or discontinuation of their services from the Rajasansi International Airport, Amritsar, in view of mounting input costs and dwindling recoveries mainly on the “over-serviced” Amritsar-London route.

Most of airlines including, Air-India, Jet Airways, Ujbekistan Airlines, Turkmenistan Airlines and Singapore Airlines, were operating their international flights and were getting a good response from economy class passengers. But, hardly any one of them was getting any Club-Class travellers, who were considered to be the main income source.

This peculiar situation has not only discouraged most of existing operators, but has also been hindering any further growth and scope of international air-services from Punjab’s lone international airport where airlines were otherwise getting 3,000-4,000 UK or US-bound economy class passengers every month.

Travel experts suggest that if the grim situation, combined with the absence of government incentives to businessmen booking their cargo from the airport, the state government levied air turbine fuel surcharge, mounting fuel costs and ongoing global economic slowdown, remained in place for some more time, most of the international carriers were likely to be left with no option but to gradually pull themselves out of what was already treated as an “offline airport”.

Air-India, which had started its Amritsar-London-New York flight amidst much fanfare in March, had to discontinue it early this month. Jet Airways was also said to be reviewing its booking performance from the airport, trade sources said.

“We are getting a very good response from the economy-class passengers on this sector, but our performance in respect of the Club Class is close to zero as corporates and big business houses of the state were preferring New Delhi to Amritsar. The major hindrance for corporates is that the cargo incentive settlement at the airport by the Customs is manual, which causes inordinate delays in settlement of incentive refunds. Moreover, there is no incentive to airlines by the Punjab government.

Airlines also fail to recover their costs as they have to pay parking and other charges for the Amritsar airport at the rates equivalent to the ones charged by the Airport Authority of India in New Delhi,” said a travel trade expert and representative of one of the airlines on the condition of anonymity.

Airline experts observed that once more airlines decide to discontinue their operations from Amritsar, hundreds of passengers and NRIs from Punjab will have to pay more in travelling to New Delhi to fly by international flights.


More dengue cases reported
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 13
Dengue cases continue to pour in hospitals here. A patient admitted to the DMCH, Ludhiana, died today, taking the death toll due to the disease to four.

Six patients of dengue were admitted to the DMCH in the past two days, taking the total number of dengue patients to 54, whereas two more confirmed cases were reported at private hospitals here. Of these eight patients, six were from Aggarwal Colony and two from the Bhatti Road area.

Despite claims of the health authorities that the situation was not as grim as was being presented, the number of suspected and confirmed dengue cases reported from the city and other places has crossed 50.

However, the health authorities maintained that so far only 28 confirmed cases of dengue had been reported.

Indu Bhushan Aggarwal, assistant civil surgeon, claimed that six confirmed cases of dengue had been referred to the DMCH, Ludhiana. He said the Health Department was taking necessary steps like providing radical treatment to all family members of the patients, arranging for spray operations in the affected areas and blood tests of residents. 


De-addiction hospital awaits grant
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 13
The local Red Cross Drug De-addiction Hospital, which has treated many drug addicts since its inception in September 2005, has been waiting for a grant of Rs 7 lakh for the current financial year from the ministry of social justice and empowerment, government of India, to run its affairs smoothly. The hospital had sent its case to the ministry through the Department of Social Security, Punjab, more than two months back.

At present, the hospital has only Rs 70,000 in its account, of which an amount of Rs 28,700 was today sent as financial assistance by V.K. Ohri, deputy commissioner, Sangrur. In a letter sent to the ministry, the hospital authorities had sought Rs 4.68 lakh for staff salary, Rs 1.20 lakh for paying rent of the building, Rs 72,000 for medicines, Rs 60,000 for contingencies and Rs 36,000 for transport purposes.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Mohan Sharma, project director of the hospital, said if it did not receive the grant within a month or so, it would be difficult for the authorities to run affairs.

Sharma further said after getting treatment from the hospital, two persons from Hareri and Kanakwal villages, who again started taking intoxicants, had committed suicide. He said five drug-addicted policemen had also got themselves treated from this hospital recently. The hospital had treated patients who were addicted to smack, opium, poppy husk, alcohol and drugs, he added.

The hospital has treated more than 1,480 patients so far, of which more than 1,000 are living with their families as they have completely given up the use of drugs and other intoxicants. This information is gathered from time to time by the hospital authorities by remaining in touch with families of de-addicted persons.


Jassi to lend voice against female foeticide
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 13
The unethical practice of female foeticide in Punjab has disturbed Punjabi pop singer Jasbir Jassi a lot. He has offered to lend his voice to the state government in the form of a music album to make the masses aware and fight against social evils prevalent in the state.

“Dil lai gayee kudi Gujarat di...” fame singer Jassi was in the city last evening to attend a wedding ceremony. In an exclusive interview with The Tribune, Jassi said the declining female ratio in Punjab was a matter of concern. “How will a society grow without a girl?” he asked.

A few sentences from his recent album Lorie (lullaby), the lyrics of which have been written by Dr Gurbhajan Gill, even made Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s wife cry during a recent programme in Delhi.

“There were tears in her eyes and she could not hear more than two lines. In this heart-rending song, the unborn girl asks her mother to sing a lullaby before separating her from the womb. I have decided to dedicate the song for the noble cause. If the state government wants, I will lend my voice to fight against other social evils like drug addiction and dowry system,” said the singer.

The singer will soon be seen in a Hindi movie too. He said, “I have started singing songs having social relevance. I will try to convey social messages to the masses through my songs”.

A happily married man, Jassi is blessed with a son and a daughter. He said he loved his daughter more than his son. He added that he intended to sing for the farming community as well with special reference to Punjab Agricultural University, which was going through financial crunch in recent times. In his message to the youth of Punjab, the leading singer said there was no dearth of money in India. “Hard work, clarity of mind and dedication are needed to achieve any goal in life”, he added.


SSP fears attack on Mohit in jail
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 13
It is testing times for SSP, Vigilance (Patiala) Shiv Kumar Sharma, whose son Mohit Sharma is the alleged mastermind of the recent robbery of diamonds worth Rs 1.75 crore. He is in a three-day police remand with the Jalandhar police.

One of the top cats of the Punjab police, who had put many criminals behind bars during the days of militancy, Shiv Kumar fears they will settle score with his son in the jail. He is scared that his son will have to pay the price of his service to the government. His fears are compounded by the fact that many prisoners have attacked a high-profile inmate in the past.

The accomplices of those whom he had killed in encounters are still languishing in jails.

It was due to his fear that he kept his son out of the state for a long time and never made him join the police service, his son always dreamt of.

Now Shiv Kumar is concerned about the fact that his son will share the jail cell with those very criminals who had been caught by him.


Stray cattle menace plagues Moga
Illegal cowshed in grain market adds to the problem 
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga, October 13
Despite tall claims made by the local municipal council and the animal husbandry department of periodic cattle round ups, herds of stray cattle continue to roam freely on roads of this town, endangering lives of motorists as well as the pedestrians.

The problem in this town arose from the flawed policies and planning of the local body, according to sources. The animal husbandry department and the local administration were equally responsible for the problem, they added.

The biggest cowshed in this town has been carved out illegally in a tin shed in the new grain market. A couple of months back, there were more than 500 cows kept here but with the procurement season of paddy that had already begun, half of the portion had been evacuated and more than 200 cows set free to move in the town.

The market committee, grappling with shortage of space, has long been requesting to vacate their tin shed but the committee/persons running this cowshed had encroached upon this area in manipulation with the senior civil executive officials of the local administration.

It was learnt that there was a total collection of more than Rs 2 lakh per month (accountable as well as unaccountable), apart from the cattle feed from the local donors.

There were six cowsheds legally functioning from this town, apart from few others running from the outskirts having huge spaces. But the money collection was much higher here because of its location in the heart of the town. Therefore, it was being patronised by the local officials for the reasons best known to them.

As per the official figures available from the animal husbandry department, the population of stray cattle roaming freely in the district was 6,256, out of which, 961 could be found in this town.

It had also come to the notice in the recent past that some cattle were seen ambling across the township's open spaces at night. They were being deliberately driven into the township by their owners to graze. Most of the cattle were not stray, but belong to those residing in the outer areas of the town and the nearby villages.

‘Scientific running of cowsheds can earn you money’

The national president of Rashtriya Gau Raksha Sewa Samiti Swami Krishna Nand, who was here in the town last week, visited many gaushalas located in and outside the town to review their functioning. He was of the view that the local NGOs should come forward and run the cowshed scientifically. He said scientific running of the cowsheds could be a source of income. One could sell milk, urine, dung and its by-products. He said proper utilisation of the resources could also help in creating job opportunities for youth. He listed out projects of making paper, generating power and cooking gas from the cow dung. He was of the view that it could emerge as an eco-friendly cottage industry at the village level that could be run from shamlat land, which were traditionally meant for grazing of the cattle. He also appealed to the union and the state government to reserve the shamlat lands for making gaushalas and ban selling or leasing out this land for any other purpose.


Ishmeet, Divya Dutta get Rafi awards
P.K. Jaiswar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 13
Star Voice of India late Ishmeet Singh was declared the best singer while Labh Janjua of “Jee Karda” (Singh is King) fame was awarded with the best playback singer award in the 28th Mohammad Rafi night organised by Mohammad Rafi memorial society here in the evening.

Among others who were awarded during the function include famous Bollywood and Punjabi films actress Divya Dutta and fight director Mohan Baggad. Best Punjabi singer award went to Firoz Khan while Rana Ranvir got the best comedian award. Dr Daljit Singh, senior director, Jalandhar Doordarshan, received the Rana Jaspal Singh award for the best promoter of rich Punjabi culture.

The audience kept one minute silence for two departed souls - Mahindra Kapoor and Ishmeet Singh, on the occasion. Incidentally, Ishmeet Singh was declared the best singer a day before his death.

Hailing from Khanna, Labh Janjua made his mark in the Hindi film industry and become a favourite with bollywood producers after his hit songs and chartbusters ‘O yaara dhol bajake’ and ‘Soni de nakhre’ from the film “Partner”. But one song which brought him fame world over was “Jee Karda” in Akshay Kumar-Katrina Kaif starrer “Singh is King”.

A versatile actress, Divya Dutta ultimately made her presence felt after 10 years of struggle in Bollywood with mega hit “Veer-Zaara” in which she acted alongside Shahrukh Khan, Priety Zinta and Rani Mukherjee. 


Golden palanquin taken to Hazur Sahib
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 13
The golden palanquin, made by the Kar Sewa sect, Tarn Taran and headed by Baba Jagtar Singh, was taken to Takht Hazur Sahib, Nanded, with religious fervour. The devotees were chanting hymns from Guru Granth Sahib on the occasion.

The palanquin will reach Mumbai on October 27 from where it will be taken in religious procession and reach Nanded ( Hazur Sahib) to mark the tercentenary celebrations of Gurta-Gaddi. It will be installed at gurdwara Sri Dashmesh Darbar, Sachkhand Sri Hazoor Sahib, on October 30.

The cost of the palanquin is said to be more than Rs 50 lakh.

Earlier, the Dera Baba Jagtar Singh sect had sent a gold palanquin worth crores of rupees to Sri Nankana Sahib in 2006. However, the organiser of the Khalsa march to Nankana Sahib, Baba Amrik Singh was accused of embezzling huge donations received. Giani Gurbachan Singh, Jathedar Akal Takht, deputy commissioner, Tarn Taran, and other senior officials of the district were present when the palanquin was flagged off for Mumbai.


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