P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Plot to kill dera chief unearthed
Tribune News Service

Zira (Ferozepur), November 8
The police claims to have unearthed a plot to kill Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, head of Dera Sacha Sauda, with the seizure of another cache of arms and ammunition in the Mallanwala area of this border district last night.

The total recoveries include 25 packets of heroin, five AK-56 rifles, seven magazines and 750 cartridges; 10 Chinese-made .30 bore pistols with 21 magazines and 140 cartridges, and counterfeit currency of Rs 21 lakh.

DGP N.P.S. Aulakh said here today that the arms and ammunition were smuggled into the Indian territory from Pakistan through Hussainiwala sector and were to be used to assassinate the dera head.

The police had arrested Gursagar Singh of Gumtala village of Amritsar district, Sukhwinder Singh, alias Sukha, alias Shinda, of Khaneke village in Ferozepur district, and Kuldip Singh, alias Billa, of Muthianwali in Ferozepur district.

The DGP said they told the police that the arms and ammunition were sent by Ranjit Singh Nita, self-styled chief of the Khalistan Zindabad Force from Pakistan, specifically to eliminate the dera head.

There was no involvement of the ISI in the arms smuggling as far as preliminary investigations were concerned, he said.

The DGP said Sukhwinder had said the arms and other things were sent to him by Pakistan-based smugglers Ashraf Bhola of Kasur and Nayeer Khan of Sialkot, who was in the jail. Two persons identified as Ashiq, alias Arshad Afzal, and Malangi brought this cache into India on October 31 through Hussainiwala sector. It was to be delivered to Gursagar and Harmeet, who had planned to eliminate the dera head. Gursagar fell into police net while Harmeet Singh of Chehrata (Amritsar) escaped.

The DGP said there were many vulnerable points on the border in the riverine belts, which were being used by the smugglers.


Setback to Patiala police
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 8
The Patiala police’s theory about Gobind Kaur’s being a suspected “human bomb” preparing herself for killing Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh got a set back with the grant of bail to Gobind by the court of additional sessions judge Sukhwinder Kaur.

The police had arrested Gobind Kaur and Amarjit Singh, both residents of Marori village, on the basis of suspicion. The police had claimed that the duo had visited the Sirsa-based dera a couple of times to gather information in connection with their alleged plan.

Besides, the police had claimed that Amarjit, a labourer hailing from Marori village, and owner of a Samana-based photo studio Bagicha Singh had acquired two mobile phones to communicate with their third alleged accomplice Bakshish of Nizamiwala village, who was wanted by the police for his alleged attempt on the life of the dera chief in Haryana.


Coal stock dwindling
Power position may worsen

Patiala, November 8
The power position in Punjab may worsen due to dwindling coal stock position in two thermal plants of the state that has come under the ‘super critical category’.

According to Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) sources, coal stock at Ropar thermal plant is 34,000 tonnes and it is just sufficient for one and a half days.

Coal stock at Bhatinda thermal plant is also for three days and comes under the super critical position.

Position at Lehra Mohabatt Plant comes under critical category, but is slightly better than Ropar and Bhatinda.

Daily coal requirements at Ropar thermal plant is around 20,000 tonnes, whereas it is 8,200 tonnes for Bhatinda plant and 15,800 tonnes for Lehra Mohabatt plant.

According to sources, power utilities were facing acute shortage of coal at its projects across the country and persistent law and order problems at Central Coalfield Ltd (CCL) had hit dispatch to most of the thermal plants in the region.

Law and order problems have hit coal production, damage to properties and fatalities, the sources said.

Main reason for coal shortage at thermal plants is less receipt from coal companies. According to Central Electricity Authority sources, Central Coalfield Ltd was supplying less coal for thermal plants in Punjab and Haryana.

In Haryana, the coal stock at thermal plants at Yamunanagar continues to be negligible for 20 days and plant is running on the basis of daily coal receipt.

In the northern region, there are 13 thermal plants which have a coal stock of less than four days and come under super critical category.

These include Suratgarh plant in Rajasthan, NTPC plants at Annpara, Rihand, Singrauli, Tanda and Unchahaar, Panki, Parichha in Uttar Pradesh, Yamunanagar thermal plant in Haryana and Ropar and Bhatinda thermal plants of Punjab.

As per Central Electricity Authority parameters, if the coal stock is less than seven days, it comes under critical position and if it is less than four days, it becomes super critical.

Every thermal plant is supposed to keep a coal stock of 25 days. — UNI 


Nomadic Sikhs from south too joined celebrations
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 8
Nomadic Sikhs (sikligar and vanjara) in thousands, from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, living the below poverty line (BPL) joined mainstream Sikhs from the north for the first time in three centuries to participate in celebrations held at Hazur Sahib (Nanded).

A visit to the slums, close to the gurdwara, built by residents of Nizamabad (Andhra), near Nanded showed slum dwellers, whose ancestors had come with the Lahori Fauj (Sikh Army) to the south for making arms and ammunition, were happy they were ferried to Hazur Sahib for the celebrations in trucks and other vehicles.

The Lahori Fauj was sent by Maharaja Ranjit Singh to Hyderabad state on the request of its Nizam. Most of the Sikh soldiers who fought for the erstwhile princely state were allotted land and settled here after marrying local girls. However, poor sikligar Sikhs continued to live in slums for 300 years.

Some sikligars are said to be converted to Sikhism during the period of Guru Gobind Singh. Despite their poor condition, they never resorted to begging. They eke out a living by repairing utensils etc. However, they rue no Sikh leader had ever visited them to better their lot .

In Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan communities called sikligars, vanjaras and lobanas live in huts and shanty towns. They lack opportunities to break cycle of poverty, but are hardworking. They live with dignity and have been struggling to discover their religious roots.

The history of the Deccani Sikhs can be traced back to the visit of Guru Nanak who, crossed the Deccan, including Hyderabad, along with his Hindu and Muslim disciples. Thereafter, about three centuries ago,- some time in September 1708 AD, Guru Gobind Singh, while on a sojourn in the South, spent the last days of his life at Nanded, called Hazur Sahib. Some followers of Guru Gobind Singh stayed back and made Nanded their home by marrying into local families. The descendants of these Sikhs are known as Deccani Sikhs. 



Eye donation a movement in Doaba
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, November 8
This sleepy town has found a novel way to honour its dead. The names of the persons, who had pledged to donate their eyes after death, have been inscribed on a Roll of Honour set up at the local cremation ground. It has the names of around 100 donors. Ram Piari’s name figures on the top of the roll.

The brain behind this unique example is the local Eye Donation Association. It has virtually made eye donation a sort of movement in the Doaba region.

Thanks to the dedication of members of the association, 430 persons have got their eyesight back with their damaged corneas having been replaced with those donated by 215 persons after death.

As many as 20,000 persons have pledged to donate their eyes. The first eye collection centre of the state has been set up here. The donated eyes are kept at eye banks at the government medical colleges in Amritsar, Patiala, Faridkot and other places.

In an attempt to belie the myth that donating organs is a sin, many religious personalities have come forward to pledge their eyes. Among them are former Jathedar of Akal Takht Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar of Takht Sri Keshgarh Tarlochan Singh, Mata Kushalya and Pandit Hans Raj Guhana of Ram Sharanam Temple and many saints belonging to the Jain sect. In fact, most of the donors belong to the Jain sect.

IAS officers Krishan Kumar, director-general, School Education, N.K. Wadhwan, deputy commissioner, Hoshiarpur, and district police chief Sukhchain Singh Gill have also pledged their eyes. Punjab medical education minister Tikshan Sud, who belongs to this city, along with his family, has pledged to donate their eyes.

Avinash Rai Khanna, local MP, and his family have also filled in the pledge form.

The president of the association, Prof Bahadur Singh Sunet, and general secretary Jasbir Singh have some inspiring stories to tell. Suresh Mehta, who had pledged to the association to donate his eyes, passed away in Goa. Members of his family rang up the association office to get his wish fulfilled. The association asked the Goa Eye Bank authorities to do the needful.

The 30-member association has been extended all support by civil surgeon S.K. Mehta and a team of doctors.


CBI probe into contracts sought
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, November 8
The mining of sand and stones from rivers and rivulets flowing through Gurdaspur district has snowballed into a major controversy.

While Congress leader and former minister Raman Bhalla alleged alleging large- scale bungling in the award of contracts of mining and demanded a CBI probe into it. Stone- crusher owners and mining contractors alleged certain vested interests were trying to extract undue benefits from them.

Vijay Passi, president, Punjab Stone Crushers Union, Pathankot and Kuldip Singh Makkar, a representative of mining contractors, said there was neither bungling in the award of contract of mining nor there was any loot of sand and stone by any one of them.

They said when the consumers were having no problem in paying the amount charged by crusher owners for stone and sand why a section of Congressmen had been raising hue and cry over a non-issue. They added they were being defamed by political opponents for political considerations.

Raman Bhalla had alleged had the authorities concerned auctioned quarries of mines in proper manner, the state government could have earned Rs 40 crore instead of Rs 4.17 crore,it had earned .

Passi and Makkar said what had been agitating a section of people was the fact that they had checked theft of sand and stone by 'influential people'. This trend was very common during the previous years.

They claimed the amount being charged by them for sand and stone from the consumers was very less as compared to the amount being charged from people from the same material in other states. They added if they would not charge the amount of sand and stone, which was being charged by them now, they would be left with no option but to close down their crushers.

They pointed out rates of sand and stone had been increased as the state government had increased royalty on the same.

On the other hand, Bhalla said only a CBI probe could expose the scam in the award of contract of mining and subsequently loot of sand and stone by a section of people in this area. He said showcause notices issued to 52 mining contractors by director, industries, Punjab, V. K. Janjua, was not sufficient.


Staff support action against latecomers
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 8
Employees say they will support the government in case it showed will to take action against those in the habit of reporting late for duty. Employees want discipline maintained in government offices and those reporting late or leaving early from the duty without application should be taken to task.

Oma Kant Tiwari, general secretary of the Gazzetted and Non-Gazzetted Employees Organisation, said his organisation would not mind action against employees reporting late in the office. However, he said the number of employees having the habit of coming late was very small. He said the time of employees was wasted in hopping from one office to other, because the state government offices in Chandigarh were not located at one place, but scattered..

Another office-bearer of the organisation said the government should treat officers, reporting late for duty, in the same manner it wanted to treat the ministerial staff. In fact, first officers should be made to report in time and they should also be told to leave the office only after the office time was over.

Leader of another employees organisation said there were many officers who attended their offices only once or twice in a week, but mostly call ministerial staff to their official residence to clear files. And there were officers who just come to office in the morning for an hour or two and disappear after recess, often on the excuse of going to attend some important meeting. Ministerial staff has to go to the official residence of such officers in their own vehicles and spend money from their pocket.


Sewerage board ex-MD in spot
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 8
Work executed by the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board has come under a scanner, with the government directing the department to withhold retirement dues of its former managing director Pardeep Chaudhari who retired from service on October 31.

The Local Bodies Department in a notification on October 31, the date on which Chaudhari was to retire, informed the board it should withhold retirement dues of the officer. It maintained this was necessary till final decision was taken on the “cases under process”.

Chief vigilance officer, local government A.K. Parbhakar said probe into the two cases was going on against Chaudhari. He said the cases pertained to the execution of sewerage work in Patiala and Sangrur.

Parbhakar said in one case pertaining to the digging on the Jail Road in Patiala, it was found that excess digging had been undertaken. He said the board admitted this and it was decided to get the money recovered from the officers concerned. The vigilance officer said instead of doing this, Chaudhari had directed the money be recovered from the contractor who had gone to the court against the decision.

The vigilance officer said in an earlier case the department had to pay a contractor penalty of Rs 52 lakh when the board got an alleged arbitrary recovery of Rs 2 lakh from him and the Local Bodies Department was inquiring into the case.

Meanwhile, the retired MD claimed the letter was a result of “mischief” on the part of a few employees of the board. He added he had acquired the necessary no-objection certificate from the office of the chief vigilance officer, local government. 


Kapurthala fest gets audience upbeat
Aparna Banerji
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, November 8
If the day one of the Kapurthala heritage festival saw the town waking up to the Sufi, classical and spiritual shades of music in the voices of the classical maestros, the day two had a rhythmic treat reserved for the fans of Indian classical music.

The evening began with the tabla duet of Sandeep Das and Shubh Maharaj. The 21-year-old grandson of Krishan Maharaj and Das, the artist who’s had the audience of places like the Royal Albert Hall tapping their feet to his beats, were a treat to listen to.

To keep the audience involved in the performance, Das ensured audience’s participation by seeking volunteers from the crowd. Also a drummer of international acclaim, the inherently urban moves of his shoulders and the snapping of his fingers were a clear indication of his association with the drums.

Next was the performance of Shovana Narayan, internationally acclaimed Kathak dancer.

She presented a “paran” on Shiva. In the “ashva paran” she presented the movements of galloping horses. Then she came up with a “paran” from the Mahabharata, which talked about Arjun and his “dhanur vidya”.

A nayika enjoying the weather with the clouds and lightning all setting the right mood for her and the rain taking her into the mode of celebrations. Then Narayan mystified the audiences with the “Draupadi cheer haran”. A rare sequence about the life of Buddha being described by his wife Yashodhara was next in her performance.


Pak refuses visa to 86 devotees 
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 8 
Pakistan embassy has refused visa to 86 pilgrims who wanted to visit Nankana Sahib for the birth anniversary celebrations of first Sikh master Guru Nanak Dev. 

Stating this Harbeant Singh, secretary, Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) here today said the devotees could collect their passports from the office on any working day.

The Sikh jatha was to leave for Nankana Sahib on November 11 from the SGPC’s office and was to reach Pakistan on special trains. 

After paying obeisance at Nankana Sahib, the jatha would also visit gurdwara Sacha Sauda, gurdwara Panja Sahib and gurdwara Dera Sahib Lahore. It will return on November 20.


Doctor couple faces case
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 8
In a case of an alleged illegal medical termination of pregnancy (MTP), civil surgeon Dalip Kumar has written to the Sangrur SSP and the SHO of Khanauri to register a case against a doctor couple (Shweta Mehta and her husband), who runs a private hospital at Khanauri village, about 55 km from here.

The civil surgeon has also written to the Kaithal SSP and civil surgeon to initiate legal action against Shah Hospital, Kaithal (Haryana), as the woman, on whom the MTP was conducted at Khanauri hospital, had died at Shah Hospital.

Talking to The Tribune today, Dr Dalip Kumar said on a complaint of Ashok Kumar, he had entrusted an inquiry to the district family welfare officer Makhan Singh. According to the inquiry report, the woman had more than 12 weeks’ pregnancy.

She was from Arno village in Patiala district and is survived by husband, two daughters and a son. The hospital authorities didn’t carry out a post-mortem of the body and handed over it to the family.

The civil surgeon said her husband had told the inquiry officer that the doctors of Mehta Hospital had conducted an MTP on his wife.

The inquiry officer had seized the GAMS degrees of the doctor couple. According to the Indian Medical Council Act, no GAMS doctor could conduct an MTP.


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