P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Belgian cops disrupt akhand path
Arrest 30 Sikhs in immigration raid at gurdwara
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 19
Coordinator of the American Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (AGPC) Pritpal Singh has criticised a raid at a gurdwara in Belgium by the Belgian police on the eve of Gurta Gaddi Diwas, disrupting akhand path of Guru Granth Sahib.

Talking to The Tribune on the phone today, the convener of the committee sought immediate intervention of Akal Takht to defuse the situation.

Dr Pritpal Singh said: “On behalf of 45 gurdwaras, he will write to the Belgian government for an explanation and also ask the America’s State Department to investigate the matter”.

The United Sikhs, an organisation, alleged that prayers were in progress for the tercentenary celebrations when the police raided Gurdwara Guru Nanak Singh Sahib in Vilvoorde, Belgium.

It stopped the prayers abruptly and arrested 30 persons as part of a citywide immigration raid.

The United Sikhs alleged that despite the protest of the gurdwara management that akhand path of Sri Guru Granth Sahib was taking place and that the granthi (person conducting the prayers) immediately displayed valid immigration papers, the police arrested him, stopping the path.

“The Sikh community was appalled by the police’s insensitivity in its actions during the raid, as it knew that the gurdwara was a place of worship. The organisation has decided to send a letter to the Belgian Prime Minister, seeking an investigation into the incident, an apology from the Belgian police and changes to the police procedures while handling places of worship”, Mejindarpal Kaur, legal director of the United Sikhs, said in a press note e-mailed today.

Mejindarpal contacted Ines Wouters, a Brussels-based lawyer, to investigate the matter and ensure that those arrested were being provided legal representation. The akhand path would restart.

Kuldip Singh, president of the United Sikhs, said: “Belgium has the right to enforce its immigration laws. However, the police actions here were blatantly disrespectful and violated all laws and norms regarding people’s right to prayer and worship in peace. There was no need for the police to stop the akhand path as valid papers were produced on the spot by the granthi”.

SGPC president Avtar Singh told the United Sikhs, “Sikh sentiments are hurt with the disruption of the akhand path of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The Belgian government should seek an explanation and apology through the Police Department for the action inside the gurdwara”.

“I will submit a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the government of Belgium to investigate the matter,” said the SGPC president.


Tribune Impact
Teacher couple suspended
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 19
Acting on the report of beating up of two deaf and dumb students by a teacher here, deputy commissioner Rahul Tiwari today suspended the couple accused of indulging in corporal punishment.

Tiwari said teacher Deepak Sinha and his wife Neelu, teachers in the school, had been suspended for allegedly beating the two boys.

The District Red Cross Society runs the deaf and dumb school and the deputy commissioner is its chairman.

Yashpal and Rajveer had bruises when this correspondent visited the school yesterday. They were beaten up on Friday.

The SDM,Talwandi Sabo, has been asked to look into the incident and submit a report for further action.



Lok Sabha Polls
Cong may align with BSM, LBP, AISAD
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 19
The Punjab Congress, already trailing behind the BJP and the SAD in declaring party candidates for the forthcoming parliamentary polls, is in the process of forming a front of like-minded parties, which can include the Bahujan Samaj Morcha (BSM), the Lok Bhalai Party (LBP)and the All-India Shiromani Akali Dal (AISAD).

According to sources, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Mohinder Singh Kaypee is the key organisation man at present that is holding parleys with these groups, as the party is unlikely to tie up with either the CPI or the CPM.

Simultaneously, the party is in the process of recommending candidates for the
forthcoming elections with a total of seven Central observers touring Punjab to
elicit the views of party workers, intellectuals and social organisations on
various interested candidates.

According to Kaypee the party will certainly look at the possibility of forging an alliance with the BSM of Satnam Singh Kainth, the LBP of Balwant Singh Ramoowalia and AISAD of Jaswant Singh Mann.

He said he was in favour of a broad coalition against the ruling SAD-BJP alliance. However, he refused to comment on various stumbling blocks in such an alliance, particularly demands from alliance partners to leave seats for them.

Former home minister Balwant Singh Ramoowalia is keen to contest from Sangrur and can be a formidable candidate in case the Congress chooses to leave the seat for him. The BSM and the AISAD may also have claims on a ticket each, but the Congress will find it difficult to adjust them, according to sources.

Kaypee himself could be a candidate from the Jalandhar (Reserved) seat though he said he would leave the choice to the party high command. Kaypee said each of the seven observers would submit reports of two constituencies each.

This time around, instead of calling candidates to meet them along with supporters, which had created problems during the last elections, the observers are meeting party workers, bar associations, doctors and opinion makers.

According to the present picture that is emerging, the stress could be on local leaders. When asked about the candidature of senior leader Buta Singh from Faridkot, the PPCC president said, “From what I know, he fights from Rajasthan”.

Sources said there was intense competition for most seats with only a few seats like Patiala (Preneet Kaur) and Ludhiana (Manish Tewari) being near certainties.

Problematic seats include those of Gurdaspur where Ashwani Kumar and Partap Singh Bajwa are candidates, Hoshiarpur where Shamsher Singh Dullo, Santosh Choudhary and Choudhary Santokh Singh are candidates and Ferozepur where Jagmeet Brar is pitted against Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi.

There is also the case of Rana Gurjit Singh who wants to contest from Anandpur Sahib (from where Ambika Soni is also a candidate), but whose seat now falls in the reconstituted constituency of Khadoor Sahib.


‘Acts of Sukhbir unconstitutional’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 19
The Punjab Congress on Friday submitted a memorandum to the state Governor seeking his intervention to prevent what it called the “unconstitutional, illegitimate and illegal working” of SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal.

It said the SAD president, as MP, was entitled to undertake works of development only in his own constituency and could not distribute cheques, lay foundation stones, inaugurate works etc beyond the limits of his parliamentary constituency as per the MPLAD guidelines.

A group of 26 Congress leaders, comprising MLAs and district presidents, including leader of the Opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, led by Congress president Mohinder Singh Kaypee, submitted a memorandum to the Punjab Governor that reads: “Unfortunately, Sukhbir has been visiting different parts of Punjab and laying foundation stones and inaugurating works of public importance in the presence of even ministers who remain meek and mute spectators.”

Further the memorandum alleges that Sukhbir has been frequently misusing the state helicopter by circumventing the law often by making the chief secretary or ministers accompany him to legalise his air travel, which again amounts to misuse of the state exchequer.

Giving examples, the Congress said on October 15, 2008, he visited constituency of Bholath and laid foundation stones of more than four projects that were already sanctioned, paid for and completed by the previous Congress government.

The memorandum further says that addressing a public meeting at Begowal village at the dera of Bibi Jagir Kaur, Sukhbir went a step further and declared that although Bibi Jagir Kaur had been defeated during the last Assembly elections, the present Punjab government considered her an MLA and that all works of development would be carried out through her.

“This act of Sukhbir amounts to exercising extra-constitutional authority,” the Congress leaders said.

The Congress has asked the Governor to seek an independent report from his sources to verify the allegations.


Vote out Cong: Badal
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, October 19
Accusing the Congress of human rights violations, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today called upon people of the state to oust the UPA government.

Addressing a gathering on the 76th birth anniversary of former head of the Damdami Taksal, late Sant Kartar Singh Bhindranwale, at Bhura Kona village, 45 km from here, Badal asked people to vote against the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections and pave the way for the NDA government for the overall development of the state.

Criticising Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said the PM did not give any package to the state for the uplift of the industry.

He said farmers were also suffering, especially in Punjab, due to the wrong policies of the Central government.

He said the state would become a power-surplus state in a couple of years with the setting up of thermal power plants.

Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, minister for rural development and panchayats, and Prof Virsa Singh Valtoha, MLA, were among the speakers.


Gurta Gaddi Diwas
Nanhi Chhaan launched
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, October 19
The second day of Gurta Gaddi Diwas celebrations here was marked with the launching of Nanhi Chhaan, a socio-religious campaign against female foeticide and depletion of greenery.

Harsimrat Kaur Badal, wife of SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, presented a sapling to each of the newly-wed couple to mark the occasion.

A large number of women participated in the launch of the campaign as devotees thronged the main Gurdwara from various parts of the state and outside.

The organisers attached historic significance to the holding of event at the Takht Damdama Sahib Gurdwara as the purpose of giving away saplings was to invoke devotees to honour the two great givers of nature, mother and tree.

Consistent with scriptures, Nanhi Chhaan initiative seeks to honour and recognise the importance of preserving trees and protecting girls and in turn mothers.

Harsimrat Kaur said female foeticide had badly hit the social structure and the sex ratio had got upset.

This would create serious problems in days to come if corrective measures were not taken immediately.

She said by planting trees, it was felt that environment protection would get the desired boost and add to its contemporary relevance and importance.

She said it was a sin to indulge in foeticide as the Sikh Gurus were strictly against such actions. However, people had gone astray and lost sight of the holy teachings.

Sukhbir Singh Badal said it was sad that Punjab led in female foeticide cases that had created an alarming situation.

He called for launching a crusade against foeticide and dowry and also stressed the importance of each person planting a tree.

Avtar Singh Makkar, president of the SGPC, warned people not to play with nature as this would prove disastrous.

Harpal Singh, chairman of Ranbaxy and actively involved in the campaign, said the initiative involved people of all religions, including Hindus, Muslims and Christians.

While the SGPC chief launched the campaign from the Golden Temple on August 27, Noor Alam Chisti of Ajmer Sharif and Vincent Michael Concessao, Archbishop of Delhi, also blessed the initiative.

Later, talking to mediapersons, Sukhbir Singh Badal hoped the campaign to succeed due to linking of religion with it.

More than 10 lakh saplings would be planted by next year, he said. He said greenery would be made compulsory in the masterplan of each city.


Church leader for all-religion body
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, October 19
Joel V. Mal, moderator, Church of North India (CNI), seeking the formation of an all-religion body to solve religious issues, will launch a campaign against religious hatred in the country.

Mal, who was here to preside over five-day-long synod of the CNI, said he would be meeting heads of other religions in the country to curb violence.

"It has become a matter of worry for right-thinking people that religious intolerance has been increasing. So religious figures and intellectual section of society should come forward to curb communal violence," he said.

Claiming that violence against Christians of Orissa and Karnataka by Bajrang Dal activists had brought a bad name to India, he said it also reflected that political leadership of the country had also failed to protect the minorities.

"Politicians can't set the things right as they indulge in vote politics. Only heads of religious bodies and intellectuals of the country can deliver a fatal blow to the communal violence," pointed out Mal.

He said the only tool to check religious hatred was to bring the heads of different religious bodies on a platform and form a body to reach out to people telling them not to follow 'diktats' of fanatics.

The synod will urge the government to act against culprits as per the law. The government must ban the Bajrang Dal.

"We have been waiting for the government to act on the memorandums, which
have been moved to it by the National Council of Churches of India (NCCI) and
the National United Christian Forum (NUCF), in connection with the killings and
rape of Christians in Orissa," he disclosed adding that Christians were forced to
live in forests.


160 prisoners to be freed today
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 19
The sentences of around 160 prisoners all over state have been remitted on the celebrations of Gurta Gaddi Diwas.

These prisoners will be set free from Ropar jail tomorrow. Around 38 prisoners were shifted to Ropar jail today.

These include 13 from Ludhaina Central Jail, five from Barnala jail, four from
Gurdaspur jail, three from Nabha jail, two from Borstal jail, Ludhiana, and one
from Moga jail.

Prisoners remitted from sentence mainly include those who are accused in accident cases. Some cases are of attempt to murder as well. These prisoners have been awarded three to five years of imprisonment.

"It will benefit only those inmates who are serving short sentences. Others lodged under life sentences will not get any kind of relaxation," said the authorities.

Relaxation in jail term ranging from four to six months has been given to prisoners of various categories.

Also the Ropar sub jail is being augmented to district jail. Jails, tourism and cultural affairs minister Hira Singh Gabria will inaugurate the jail.

It will now have capacity to have 500 inmates. It will house inmates from Ropar and Mohali districts.

Presently, there are 275 inmates, including 250 men and 25 women. In the absence of female staff at Ropar jail, female inmates are lodged at Patiala jail.

There are eight barracks, 40 cells and one langar hall in the new premises and 25 barracks for female inmates.

The government has also sanctioned 80 posts. Earlier, there were neither doctors, nor pharmacists in the jail.

Now the government has appointed a doctor, a pharmacist, superintendent, 10 head constables and other staff.

The state has seven Central jails at Bathinda, Patiala, Gurdaspur, Ferozepur, Amritsar, Ludhiana and Jalandhar, five district jails at Nabha, Sangrur, Faridkot, Kapurthala and Hoshiarpur, two open-air jails at Kapurthala and Nabha, one women's jail at Ludhiana, one Borstal jail at Ludhiana and 10 sub-jails at Fazilka, Moga, Muktsar, Patti, Ropar, Barnala, Malerkotla, Phagwara, Dasuya and Pathankot.


No end to Nanakshahi Calendar row
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 19
Even as all three Takhts of Punjab, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), SGPC and many Sikh organisations organised nagar kirtans on the eve of the tercentenary celebrations of Gurta Gaddi Diwas today as per Nanakshahi Calendar, the Takht Hazur Sahib, Takht Patna Sahib and many Panthic organisations would celebrate the mega event at Abchal Nagar, Hazur Sahib (Maharashtra), as per traditional Bikrami Calendar.

DSGMC president Paramjit Singh Sarna said the Delhi committee took out a nagar kirtan today ahead of Gurta Gaddi Diwas, which fell tomorrow as per Nanakshahi Calendar. He said the DSGMC would not participate in any function being organised by Takht Hazur Sahib because the mega event was being organised there as per Bikrami Calendar.

Nanakshahi Calendar has been adopted by the SGPC and approved by Akal Takht to determine the dates for important Sikh events. Designed by NRI Sikh Pal Singh Purewal, it replaces Hindu calendar and has been in use since 1998.

The Punjab government has also declared public holiday on October 20 on account of the tercentenary of Gurta Gaddi Diwas as per Nanakshahi Calendar.

However, talking to The Tribune, SGPC president Avtar Singh said though the SGPC and all three Takhts participated the tercentenary celebrations as per Nanakshahi Calendar, they could not ignore the mega event being celebrated by Takht Hazur Sahib. While accepting difference of Maryada being pursued by Takht Hazur Sahib, Avtar Singh said Akal Takht and SGPC being supreme bodies of the Sikhs world over could not ignore the event at Hazur Sahib.

Baba Bakala: The Dal Khalsa took out “Shabad Guru Satkar March” from Baba
Bakala to Hargobindpur on the eve of the tercentenary celebrations of Gurta
Gaddi Diwas today.

The organisers appealed to the Sikhs to sink their differences and rededicate themselves to the concept of Sarbat da bhala (the welfare of all) on this occasion. The procession commenced from historic Gurdwara Guru Tag Bahadur, Baba Bakala, and culminated at Damdama Sahib, Hargobindpur.

Party president Harchranjit Singh Dhami said: “To build a cordial environment for mutual understanding and trust, the major role and responsibility rests on established parties and institutions, be it political or religious”.


Rs 200 cr for upkeep of jails, says Gabria
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 19
While the capacity of Faridkot, Nabha and Kapurthala-based jails is being increased by the Punjab government to accommodate 6,000 inmates in these jails, more barracks are being constructed in other jails of the state so as to enable them to accommodate about 4,000 additional prisoners.

The state government has already earmarked an amount of Rs 200 crore for expansion of existing capacity of jails of the state as part of the government’s initiative aimed at improving the conditions of jails.

This was disclosed by minister for tourism and jails Hira Singh Gabria, who was here to participate in a function about “Gurta Gaddi Divas” at the government press.

“We are putting in our best efforts to improve the conditions of jails. Besides expansion, the checking of jails, in relations to complaints of inmates having possession of narcotic substances and mobile phones, would be conducted by the DIG (Jails),” said Gabria.

Referring to dilapidating heritage and historical buildings of the state, Gabria said the state government and his department were concerned over the issue and steps were being taken to prevent further deterioration of such buildings.

“The state government is spending Rs 3 crore for preparation of a master plan by the World Tourism Organisation. Punjab is the first state in the country which is taking such a step to protect its buildings. Once the master plan is ready, we will initiate the restoration process at these buildings, which involves expenditure worth crore of rupees. The rain-devastated Sunami gate of Patiala would also be reconstructed at the same place and having the same old design,” said Gabria.

Talking about rumours that the government press would be shifted out of Patiala, SAD general secretary Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra assured the press employees that no such step was being taken by the government.

“Rather, the state government has filled the demand and supply gap at the press in respect to printing paper,” said Chandumajra who accompanied Gabria. Chairman, ministerial services union, Harpal Singh gave a memorandum of demands to Gabria.


Bairagis seek more representation in politics
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 19
Bairagis of Punjab have sought for more representation in the political set-up of the state as they feel they have been sidelined.

They have also demanded ownership rights for those members of the Bairagi community whose forefathers were granted land-holdings by Baba Banda Singh Bahadur during his brief command of certain areas of Punjab following his victory in the Mughal-Sikh fight.

“Baba Banda Singh had awarded lands to his Bairagi followers and those Sikhs who had fought battles with courage. But, descendants of these Bairagis are still fighting to get ownership rights of those lands. For raising their voice at a bigger platform, the community needs its representation in the state’s politial set-up and in Parliament also,” said Krishan Kumar Bawa, president, Bairagi Mahan Mandal, Punjab, while addressing a gathering of Bairagis at a function organised by the mandal and the Baba Banda Singh Bahadur International Manch at Nabha today.

He also demanded setting up of a chair to immortalise the memory of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur in one of the universities of Punjab.

Patiala MP Preneet Kaur, who was the chief guest, remembered Baba Banda Singh Bahadur as a valiant leader and a true Sikh who protected the poor trampled by the Muslim rulers of the time.


Varsity auditorium to be upgraded
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 19
A 200-seat capacity and modern air-conditioned auditorium is all set to come up at Guru Gobind Singh Bhawan in Punjabi University. The project will be completed in less than a year.

“The university’s main library, which houses nearly six lakh books, rare manuscripts and journals, will also be renovated,” said Dr Jaspal Singh, vice-chancellor, while presiding over the fourth annual alumni meet of the university in the senate hall
here on Saturday.

Describing the facility as one of the largest libraries in the country, Dr Jaspal Singh said presently it portrayed a picture of being “the richest library in a poor state”.

Around 1,000 rare manuscripts were being digitalised and laminated under
the ongoing process of preservation of rare documents for the use of future
generations of teachers and scholars. All these projects would be completed
within one year, he added.

The vice-chancellor said in an effort to preserve and promote the Punjabi culture, the university had planned to document at least four Punjabi folk dance forms, giddha, bhangra, sammi and jhumar, in their original forms in textual as well as audio-visual formats.

This would be followed by a similar exercise to document Punjabi folk music and fine art forms. He urged the gathered alumni to help their alma mater in every possible manner so that it came up as a centre of excellence in the country.

Dr Jaswinder Singh, convener of the Punjabi University Alumni Association, disclosed that only 21 departments had raised their individual alumni units, while its alumni had set up individual units in the USA, UK and Canada.

Those who shared their views, experiences and old memories included Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, former MP, Parminder Singh Dhindsa, PWD minister, D.S. Guru, principal secretary to Punjab Chief Minister, S.K. Ahluwalia, commissioner, Patiala Division, Dr Satinder Singh Noor and Dr Dalip Kaur Tiwana, noted scholars and Dr M.S. Saini, Dean Academic Affairs.


Talk to French govt: SAD (A)
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 19
Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann today wanted the Union government to show the same concern on the turban issue it was expressing in case of Tamils being targeted in Sri Lanka.

“I have all sympathies with Tamils and am opposed to their persecution in Sri Lanka,” said Mann.

As the DMK and other Tamil Nadu-based political parties had put pressure to protect Tamils, the Union government had summoned the Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Delhi to tell him to stop maltreatment of Tamils in his country. He was conveyed the message strongly.

Mann said the French ambassador should be told either the French government allowed tying of turban in schools or trade relations would be severed.


CPI seeks aid for paddy farmers
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 19
Alleging distress sale of paddy in various parts of the state, the Communist Party of India (CPI) today asked Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to announce compensation to the tune of Rs 50 per quintal for paddy growers.

In reply to a question, a member of the national executive of the CPI Dr Joginder Dayal said the Chief Minister was shedding crocodile tears for paddy growers by just accusing the Centre for the plight of Punjab farmers.

Dayal claimed that Badal himself had miserably failed to check the fleecing of paddy growers in grain markets due to the “nexus” of “unscrupulous” traders and officials of procurement agencies.


Baba Banda Bahadur remembered
Our Correspondent

Nabha, October 19
The Bairagi Mahamandal today celebrated the 338th birth anniversary of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur at the local Triveni Palace.

The chief guest at the celebrations, Patiala MP Preneet Kaur, said the role of Baba Banda Bahadur in uprooting the Mugal regime was well known. She conferred Baba Kehar Singh Bairagi award on Bikramjit Singh.

Earlier, Krishan Kumar Bawa and Ravinder Nandi, president and general secretary of the mandal, respectively, expressed displeasure that the SAD-BJP regime had cancelled the holiday on the birthday of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, the saviour of the sufferers and tillers.


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 |