P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Now, get 50 pc rebate on medicines
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 23
Country’s first fair price shop of medicines will be opened at the Amritsar Civil Hospital on November 25. All medicines manufactured by five public sector companies in India will be available from 40 to 50 per cent rebate.

Revealing this, health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla told The Tribune today that the union ministry for chemicals had given its approval for the opening of the shop. She said while the shop would be provided by the Civil Hospital, medicines and other required stock and even pharmacists would be provided by the union government. We would open such shops in all 25 civil hospitals of the state, she added.

She said as the shops would be run by Central employees and the medicines would be provided by public sector companies, there would be no need to float tenders. Earlier, the government had floated tenders, asking private stockists of medicines to set up such shops.

“However, when certain stockists offered to give rebate up to 99 per cent, we got doubtful about the stuff to be provided by them. We thought that how a medicine worth Rs 100 could be provided for Re 1 ”, she said.

The fair price shops may be allowed to keep medicines approved by the state Health Department.

Chawla said doctors would be directed to prescribe medicines being manufactures by the public sector companies. In case, the medicine of a particular salt was not available at the fair price shop, then the medicine of some other make could be prescribed.

Meanwhile, Chawla has asked the union government to instruct the teams of experts or officials of the union health ministry to inform the state government regarding their visits to the state. Recently, a team of officials, led by an IAS officer from the ministry, had visited Punjab without intimating the state government.

“Visits of Central officials could be more purposeful if they share their experience with officials of the state government”, said Chawla.


Coop sugarmills owe Rs 37 cr to farmers
BKU dharna from tomorrow
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 23
To protest against the failure of the Punjab government to clear Rs 37 crore dues of farmers, who had supplied sugarcane to state’s cooperative sugarmills, the Bharti Kisan Union (Rajewal) will hold dharna against the Badal government at Chandigarh from November 25.

BKU president Balbir Singh Rajewal said sugarcane growers were under debt and had to repay bank loan that the state government’s cooperative sugarmills had not cleared their dues of the sugarcane supplied last year.

Rajewal said he had taken up this issue with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and he had directed the cooperative mills to clear the dues by selling the land owned by them. However, dues had not been cleared so far. He said keeping farmers’ money without paying any interest on it amounted to a crime.

Besides it, the Badal government had fixed lower price of sugarcane than recommended by Punjab Agricultural University. The PAU had pegged the cost of sugarcane growing at Rs 183.35 per quintal. The Punjab government was supposed to fix the price by including at least 15 per cent profit for farmers in the cost worked out by PAU. However, the state government had fixed Rs 165 per quintal as price of sugarcane for early maturing variety this year, said Rajewal.

Meanwhile, operations of sand mafia in Punjab’s countryside has also been agitating the BKU. “Farmers were being made to pay up to Rs 3,100 per truckload for lifting sand from their own land near Machhiwara and other places,” said Rajewal. He said a confrontation between sand mafia and farmers was building up over this issue in some villages.

He said the Badal government should answer on what basis farmers were being made to pay money to sand mafia for lifting sand from their own fields. He said farmers owned land near various rivers in Punjab. “It was their right to lift sand from their own land and no one could stop them,” said Rajewal. “Even in case farmers wish to give sand to build gurdwaras or temples from the land owned by them, they have to pay Rs 100 per tractor-trailer,” said Rajewal. “It will be one of the main issues at dharna,” said Rajewal.

Other issue bothering the BKU was several money-spinning schemes by the PSEB to release power connections for tube wells on priority ignoring the farmers who had applied for such connections in general category in 1990s. He said the Badal government had promised to give tube well connections to farmers owning less than 5 acres, but this promise had not been fulfilled.


CPI to protest job cuts
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, November 23
The CPI will launch a struggle to save the jobs of thousands of youth in view of the financial crisis, which has not only hit hard not only financial institutions, but also industries, trade and agriculture.

Stating this to The Tribune, Dr Joginder Dayal, member, national executive, CPI, said though Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and finance minister P. Chidambaram had made a fervent appeal to the corporate sector to cut costs and reduce prices to uplift the sagging markets that might lead to recession, big business houses had failed to respond to their pleas. He added that instead of coming out with a positive economic plan to spur growth, industrialists were seeking sops to sustain the 

Dr Dayal said the country was facing the worst economic crisis which might lead to large-scale job cuts and result in social economic crisis of tremendous magnitude, and it would be difficult to cope up with this catastrophe. He suggested that the government and large business houses put forward a positive plan to come out of the economic turbulance.

Commenting on the rise of Hindu extremism, Dr Dayal said communal terrorist groups in the country had added a new dimension, which was threatening the unity and integrity of the country. He said the alleged involvement of Hindu right wing groups in Malegaon blasts had raised serious concern about the nefarious designs of elements who were out to divide the country on religious lines.

Coming down heavily on the Punjab government for its failure on all fronts, the CPI stalwart said it was blaming the Central government for all its ills. He said all democratic institutions in the state were being undermined by the SAD-BJP alliance with the emergence of SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal as extra-constitutional authority.

He said the CPI would ensure an inclusive agitation to inform the masses about the problems faced by the country in view of the economic crisis.


Dal Khalsa takes on BJP on ‘terrorism’
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, November 23
Taking a dig at the BJP for adopting double standards on the issue of “terrorism”, the Dal Khalsa has said the arrest of certain terrorists, who allegedly believe in the Hindutva ideology and are suspected to be involved in the Malegaon blasts, has opened the Pandora’s box.

Party president H.S. Dhami and its secretary Kanwarpal Singh said the recent arrest of the head of the Jammu peeth Swami Dayanand Pandey, Sadhvi Pargya and Lt-Col Shrikant Prasad Purohit for allegedly plotting terror crimes targeted at Muslims had brought the ugly face of Hindutva forces to the fore.

Contrary to usual assertions by security agencies that Muslim outfits were behind most terrorist strikes, it had emerged that the recent bomb blasts in the country were likely the handiwork of “Hindutva groups”, they alleged.

The governments concerned should tender an apology to Muslims for maligning their image after every blast, they said.

Criticising L.K. Advani for raising a hue and cry against the media for terming arrested members of Abhinav Bharat as “Hindu terrorists”, they reminded the BJP leader that the racial profiling of Sikhs and Muslims had been practised with complete impunity over the years.

“We can enumerate hundreds of screaming headlines across the country announcing the arrest of ‘Sikh terrorists’, ‘Kashmiri terrorists’, ‘Manipuri terrorists’ and the like. It’s ironic that the pleas of minorities to evolve a code of conduct to end such racial profiling went unheard and unattended,” they added.

Referring to BJP’s doublespeak on the issue, they said the saffron party had long been considered sympathetic to ultra-Hindu sentiment.

Ironically, the BJP, which had objected to the Jamia Millia Islamia vice-chancellor talking about arranging legal defense for his students in a terror case, had now been working overtime to ensure Sadhvi Pragya got “adequate legal assistance”. 


BKU to protest Canada’s questionnaire
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (Rajewal) will hold a week-long dharna here from November 25 to protest against the “discrimination” being meted out to Punjabis by the Canadian government, which has issued a questionnaire for all visa seekers.

Stating this here on Friday, Rajewal said the questionnaire released by the Canadian government was not only against social, political and religious norms, but also not in the interest of national security.

He said prospective visa seekers would now have to answer if they belonged to any political, social, religious or economic organisation and define their role in the said organisation. Besides, Rajewal said Punjabis would have to answer questions on whether they had any role in Operation Bluestar. He said even Army and police officials would have to disclose their place of posting, nature of work and record human right violations if any.

The farmer leader said the BKU would demand that this controversial questionnaire be withdrawn immediately as the country already had a clearly laid-out policy on issuing passports to its citizens to travel abroad.

The BKU is also expected to highlight other issues, including the fact that farmers are still to be paid Rs 3,700 crore by way of payments for sugarcane given by them to various cooperative sugar mills during the last crushing season. He said delaying payment to farmers would not be tolerated. 


Despite ban, mangoor fish sold in market
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 23
The seizure of over seven quintals of mangoor fish has once again focused on the lax enforcement of the ban of the non-indigenous fish that is a danger to the aquatic life in India.

The Supreme Court has banned the breeding, sale and storing of mangoor, a breed of fish from Thailand, since it has been labelled as a dangerous breed for the aquatic life in India.

A team of officials of the department of fisheries had confiscated over seven quintals of fish that was being sold at the fish markets at Sodal, Lama Pind chowk, Transport Nagar and Basti Bawa Khel, besides other markets in Hoshiarpur and Kapurthala. The vendors ran away upon seeing the raiding team.

Sukhdeep Singh Bajwa, honorary wildlife warden, said the fish had been banned by the SC since it was a danger to the aquatic life in the country. Although there has been no scientific study that it causes cancer among humans, the fish is carnivorous and air breathing which means that it can survive without water for many days.

Despite the ban, officials admit that mangoor was being sold openly across Punjab.

Fish farms in many villages of the state are doing brisk business by selling mangoor seedlings that are in great demand among fish farmers from Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

Ponds in a number of villages are being used for the cultivation of the fish since the returns are much more than any other species. This variety has caught their fancy since this fish is easy to rear and can survive even in filthy ponds.

The fish is boneless and is regarded as a delicacy. Its transportation is also not cumbersome, the officials added.

A fish farmer, on condition of anonymity, confided that the seed of the Thai mangoor comes from Kolkata. Patiala, Ludhiana and Sangrur were the three important districts that were doing brisk business.

Since this fish could survive even in dirty ponds, it was much cheaper than other varieties. Some fish farmers were dumping carcasses of cattle in ponds to feed these fish, he added.

The National Association of Fisheries (Punjab unit), has on many occasions, taken up the matter with the fisheries department, but to no avail.

The farmer said there were over 1,000 ponds in Mansa, Sangrur, Bathinda and Patiala districts where the seedlings were being reared and sold. He said the association had a list of these ponds and had cautioned the fish farmers that legal action would follow if they did not stop the cultivation of mangoor.

Environmentalists petitioned the SC seeking a ban on the cultivation of the fish since it would destroy many other varieties of fish. Sensing the danger, the Apex Court banned the cultivation and rearing of the fish. 



SAD goes back to panthic agenda
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
The SAD is going back to the panthic agenda in Punjab after preaching moderation for years.

The party has launched a twin-pronged programme of langar sewa and akhand path to be carried out in all constituencies of the state. The programme has been under way in the Malwa belt, which had completely rejected the SAD, and also in the Doaba and Majha regions.

Under the langar sewa, SGPC members of the respective constituency are responsible for taking people of the constituency along with food items to the Darbar Sahib in Amritsar to do sewa. Besides, akhand paths will be held in each Assembly segment. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s wife Surinder Kaur Badal is looking after both programmes, which are being implemented by the SGPC.

Political observers feel that the SAD is going back to the panthic agenda and religion due to the severe setback they suffered in the last Assembly elections in the Malwa region, which is the rural Sikh heartland of the state. Moreover, the party has to contend with the fact that the panthic agenda taken up by former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh during the Congress regime had resulted in a shift of traditional Akali votes to the Congress. Amarinder had established gates in Fatehgarh Sahib, the Minar-e-Muktae in Muktsar, encouraged jatha visits to Pakistan and was behind the elevated road project to the Darbar Sahib in Amritsar.

Though their adversaries feel the Akalis have every right to choose their agenda, they are opposed to what they term as the ‘misuse’ of the SGPC for this purpose. They claim the SGPC has given a preferential treatment to the SAD programme to the disadvantage of religious and social groups who all have to book these ‘sewas’ much in advance. They claim that the SGPC’s dharam parchar work will also be affected due to these programmes.

SAD general secretary Daljit Singh Cheema said the SAD had only given a motivation to the SGPC. He said since both programmes were village based, anyone could join them in the greater interest. Dr Cheema said the programmes were not being conducted for political gains and that the SAD was only fulfilling its ‘moral responsibility’ towards society by getting involved in them.

Congress legislator Sukhpal Singh Khaira said when Akali ministers and legislators held such exclusively religious programmes it amounted to promoting only one religion and didn’t send a positive signal to members of other faiths.


LS Polls
SAD (A) to name candidates for 10 seats soon
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 23
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) will announce its candidates for 10 Lok Sabha (LS) seats, Sangrur, Bathinda, Ferozepur, Faridkot, Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Anandpur Sahib, Khadoor Sahib, Ludhiana and Amritsar, in the first week of December to launch its election campaign in a big way for the ensuing LS elections.

Talking to The Tribune yesterday, general secretary of the SAD (A) Jeet Singh Alloarkh said the candidates would be selected by the party on the basis of their winning chances. The party was of the view that people were unhappy with the functioning of the SAD-BJP alliance and also the Congress, as they had not done anything concrete for the development and welfare of the state.

Alloarkh said since the party felt that people needed to get rid of the SAD-BJP alliance and the Congress party, it would contest the LS elections in a big way to emerge as a third alternative, he added.

The general secretary also said the SAD (A) would adopt social reform programmes in the elections to fight social evils like alcoholism and female foeticide. He said the party would urge voters not to vote for the candidate who lured them by offering intoxicants.

Welcoming the statement given by general secretary of the Congress Rahul Gandhi with regard to punishing the accused of the anti-Sikh riots of 1984, Alloarkh said now the BJP should also clear its position on Operation Bluestar and the anti-Sikh riots in the light of senior BJP leader L.K. Advani’s statement in his book.

He also appealed to the Jathedar of Akal Takht to convene a meeting of Sikh sects and organisations soon to discuss what stand should be taken by the Sikhs in the light of Rahul’s statement. 


No alliance with Lok Bhalai Party, says Bhattal
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 23
The Congress party has not made any agreement regarding seat adjustments in the forthcoming Lok Sabha (LS) elections in Punjab, neither with the Lok Bhalai Party (LBP) of Balwant Singh Ramoowalia nor with any other political party so far.

This was clarified here today by Opposition leader in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha and Congress MLA from Lehragaga Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. She made this clarification in reply to a question that some days ago Ramoowalia had stated that only he or the Congress high command in Delhi knew about the status of an alliance between the LBP and the Congress for the ensuing LS elections. At that time Ramoowalia had also strongly indicated that the Congress party would leave the Sangrur Lok Sabha seat to the LBP in the LS elections.

Bhattal also disclosed that Ramoowalia was keen to get support from the Congress in the LS elections and for this purpose he had met her about 10 times, but every time she had told him that any decision to this effect would be taken by the Congress high command. She said a meeting of the Congress’ state election committee would be convened by the state Congress president to send proposals, regarding LS candidates, to the Congress high command. After that the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) would hold discussions on the panels of candidates to be sent by the Punjab Congress for LS seats, and would decide the names of the candidates, she added.

When asked that Congress campaign committee chairman Capt Amarinder Singh had reportedly short-listed the prospective candidates for all 13 LS seats and had sent the same to AICC president Sonia Gandhi, Bhattal said even a Sarpanch of a village or any senior Congress leader could send a list of candidates of his choice to the party president, but finally panels of candidates for Punjab LS seats would be prepared and sent to the Congress high command by the state election committee of the Congress. However, she advised Congress leaders to avoid sending lists of candidates of their choice to the party president.

Whether she will contest the LS elections from Sangrur seat, Bhattal said she was not interested in contesting from Sangrur, because as an MP one had to stay in Delhi while she did not want to do injustice to her people and political works. She also said after the end of Assembly elections in four states, the Congress would hold two big rallies in Majha and Doaba areas before starting the election campaign in a formal manner.


Rift in Congress over candidates
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 23
It’s Amarinder Singh versus Mohinder Singh Kaypee. Groupism in the Congress came to the fore here yesterday over fielding of a candidate in the Lok Sabha elections.

As former deputy mayor Surinder Singh Chhinda asked Kaypee whether Dr Raj Kumar, former MLA, had sought permission from him to speak against former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for allegedly leaking some proposed names, including that of Congress MLA Om Parkash Soni, and if no, then what action was being taken against Dr Kumar. He said if the state leadership failed to give a suitable reply, they would boycott the meeting.

The meeting, held under the presidentship of Kaypee, had been organised to decide the candidate from the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency. All sitting and former MLAs, along with district Congress presidents, from this constituency attended the meeting.

Supporters of Dr Kumar came near the dais and tried to manhandle Chhinda. Chaos prevailed for more than one-and-a-half hour and later Chhinda, along with his supporters, left the meeting raising slogans against Dr Kumar and the PPCC president.

However, Soni said he was out of station to attend a marriage and had not sent anyone to disturb the meeting. He said a few members, including Dr Kumar and Ashwani Sekhri, who did not have base in the area were trying to divide the party. He said Amarinder had already clarified that he had not released any list and added it was the party high command which was to decide party nominee from Amritsar. He said he respected Kaypee and would support the person given the ticket from here.

PPCC president Kaypee said the party had finalised the candidature of Congress MLA Sukh Sarkaria from Amritsar in the Lok Sabha elections. He said leaders, including former Congress MLAs Sekhri, Dr Kumar, Sawinder Singh Kathunangal, Harpartap Singh Ajnala, Jasbir Singh Dimpa, Sardool Singh Bandala, former Mayor Sunil Datti and Rajan Aggarwal, had proposed the name of Sarkaria. 


Cancer spreads tentacles in Malwa
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 23
Cancer is spreading its tentacles in Malwa, according to the statistics given by the local Government Rajindra Hospital.

Sources in the hospital’s Pathology Department said from March, 2007, till September this year, 500 samples were received by the department, out of which 365 were tested positive for cancer.

The maximum number of such cases were reported from Sangrur, Bathinda, Mansa, Faridkot and Ferozepur. Most of the cases reported pertained to mouth cancer with 
their number being nearly 102. The affected people were in the age group 
of 40 to 60 years.

Earlier, most of the cases used to be in the age group of over 60 years. In 2001, just 11 per cent of the population in the Malwa region was inflicted by mouth cancer while now the percentage had increased to 28 per cent. This fact had been worrying doctors.

Doctors said most of the mouth cancer cases could be attributed to the use of tobacco products, which were normally used by labourers working in the fields.

Most of women patients were afflicted by breast cancer. A majority of them were from the lower strata of society and include labourers, who had migrated from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Cancer patients are doubly cursed as there is no cancer specialty hospital in the region. They have to come the local hospital for treatment.

Social activist Rajinder Kumar said: “Most of the poor women can’t afford proper treatment since it is very costly. They approach quacks, only to aggravate their suffering”.


Conserving Power
Each subdivision to have all-CFL village
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 23
For the purpose of saving energy, Punjab has identified one village in every subdivision for all chloro fluorescent lamps (CFLs) in place of ordinary bulbs and the process has begun. Five CFLs consume power equal to one 100-watt bulb.

A number of villages have shifted to the new power supply system. H.S. Brar, member, Distribution, PSEB, said, “In the first step, we have taken up one village in each subdivision of the state to set an example for others to follow”.

Darbar Sahib, Muktsar, has been fitted with 100 per cent CFL lighting and 1,500 light points have been changed at Darbar Sahib in Amritsar.

Jeetasinghwala in Baghapurana subdivision has recorded 100 per cent shifting to CFL. Charatsinghwala in Moga division and a village in Patiala district have also replaced all bulbs. Jehangir village in Doraha subdivision has 180 CFLs installed.

Many CFLs are designed to replace an incandescent lamp and can fit in light fixtures formerly used for bulbs. Compared to general service incandescent lamps, CFLs give light, use less power and have longer life. However, CFLs have a higher price. Modern CFL was invented by Ed Hammer, an engineer with General Electric, in response to the 1973 oil crisis. The design was eventually leaked out and copied by others.

Brar said, "A 20-watt CFL lamp gives light worth 100 watt given by a normal bulb. In a sense, a CFL recovered its cost in two months of use".

Baljinder Singh Sidhu, XEN (Doraha), said, "We are persuading people. We convinced the hospital authorities in Doraha to go in for CFLs." Brar said, "It is important to take elders into confidence as the first step of popularising a new technology. It is they who best can convince fellow villagers".


Jandiala Guru MC Chief’s Poll
Councillors accuse SAD MLA of interference
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
Eight councillors of the Jandiala Guru Municipal Council on Tuesday claimed that the SAD-BJP combine was not allowing elections to be held for the post of president of the council.

The councillors, who presented themselves before newsmen at the residence of Congress MP Rana Gurjit Singh, included those from the Congress (five), independent (two) and the SAD (one). They said one Congress councillor Ravinderpal Singh Kukku had fled Jandiala Guru fearing arrest. They claimed they had a simple majority with the council strength being 15.

The councillors said they wanted to make SAD councillor Tejinder Singh Happy president of the council, but the SAD legislator from their area Malkiat Singh was adamant on making independent councillor Raj Kumar Malhotra president.

SAD councillor Happy said elections to the presidentship of the council had been cancelled thrice. He said the police was also pressuring the councillors with a case being registered against councillor Sukhchain Singh and another councillor Kukku already gone underground fearing arrest.

The councillors also claimed that another Congressman Jaswant Singh Nausha, whose wife had lost in the council elections by two votes, had been allegedly kidnapped and there was no trace of him for several days.

The councillors also played a video recording of an election meeting organised at Jandiala Guru which was addressed by SAD minister Bikram Singh Majithia. The recording showed Majithia telling people not to spare Kukku if he was found trying to bribe voters or indulging in any other mischief and only elect persons who could get their work done from the police and civil administration.


Pak jurist who transliterated ‘Sukhmani Sahib’ in Amritsar
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 23
Justice Syed Afzal Haider, former minister of law, Pakistan, and judge in the Federal Shariat Court, who has done the transliteration of “Sukhmani Sahib” and other Sikh scriptures, and his wife, Begum Silvi Khurshid Faridi, direct descendant of Baba Farid, first Punjabi poet, whose hymns are enshrined in Guru Granth Sahib, will be present at the foundation day function of Guru Nanak Dev University here tomorrow.

A man of letters, proponent of strengthening democracy in Pakistan, Justice Haider is dedicated to the revitalisation of cultural and religious bonds between people of Punjab in India and Pakistan.

His contribution to the legal profession has become a milestone in the history of law, his works in other spheres of life have made him an ideal for generations to come.

Author of 20 books on religion, philosophy, history, law etc and more than 200 articles, Justice Haider has contributed profoundly to inter-faith dialogue. His books like “Zikr-e-Hussain”, “Zikr-e-Farid”, “Baba Nanak”, “Zikr-e-Sakhian”, “Farid”, “Nanak”, “Bullah and Waris”, “Zindagi Nama Baba Farid”, “Sukhmani Sahib” etc can be counted as seminal works .

His contribution to various fields got him awards like the Lifetime Achievement Award from Quaid-e-Azam Law College, Ambassador of Peace Award 2001, Bhai Vir Singh Award, New Delhi etc. His report on jail reforms and his participation in movement for democracy and in human rights commission of Pakistan are well known. He has transliterated Sukhmani Sahib in five scripts, including those in Persian, Roman, Shahmukhi and Gurmukhi.

Sukhmani Sahib is a set of hymns divided into 24 sections appearing in Guru Granth Sahib. Haider completed this task, which was lauded by the Sikhs on a pilgrimage in Pakistan in connection with the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

Presenting this tome, Haider has underscored similarities between Islamic and Sikh precepts. To buttress this, he has juxtaposed certain aayats, both Arabic original and English translation, from the Holy Quran with verses from Guru Granth Sahib that preach monotheism or oneness of God. He also acknowledges Sikh Gurus were well-read in the field of comparative religions.

Further, he points out the non-sectarian character of the composition. It has verses in Gurmukhi, along with the translation and transliteration in Urdu and English.


Pakistani singer denied visit to native town
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 23
Mehar Ali, a renowned Pakistani qawwal, was upset as he was not allowed by the authorities to visit his native town of Bhadaur in the Barnala district near here to offer prayers on the grave of his grandfather.

He was here for the first time to take part in the virasat mela and it was his “desire” to visit Bhadaur where many of his relatives reside. His grandfather and some other members of the clan lay buried in the graveyard there.

Mehar Ali said the objection raised by the authorities in his visit to Bhadaur was that his visa was only for Bathinda and Phagwara. His first cousin and other relatives had come here to meet him in the hotel where he was staying. His paternal uncle had stayed back at Bhadaur where his son Raj Mohammad was pursuing the family tradition of music.

He wants India and Pakistan to soften the border rules between the two countries so that the families of Punjab divided during the partition could meet.

Mehar Ali was leading the troupe alone as his younger brother Sher Ali was unable to come due to a fractured leg.

His father, Badaruddin Khan, had migrated to Kasur from where he shifted to Multan in 1965 before finally settling down in Faislabad in 1982.

He was annoyed that getting visa for particularly visiting Punjab was an uphill task.

Mehar Ali, who has over the years made a name in Sufi music, was hopeful that the authorities would positively respond to his request and allow him to visit Bhadaur before he left for Phagwara where he had to participate in a programme on November 24.

He hoped that the peace talks between India and Pakistan would reach a logical end so that people on both the sides were benefitted.

He said that opening of the Line of Control (LoC) in J&K for trade and visit of members of divided families on the basis of permit issued by the respective deputy commissioners instead of passport and visa was a welcome step and was appreciated also by people in Pakistan.


Bhakra Canal Mishap
Victim identified, suicide suspected
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Pasiana (Patiala), November 23
The person who had drowned in the Bhakra Main Line (BML) near here on Saturday afternoon, alongwith his car, has been identified as Naresh Kumar, a contractor hailing from Rampura Phul in Bathinda district.

Initially, it was suspected that an Indica with two occupants had fallen in the canal but, the fishing out of the car after 20 hour-long fishing operation revealed that it was a silver-coloured Alto with a single occupant and not an Indica as had been claimed by one eyewitness.

A farmer, who was grazing his cattle near the spot from where the car slipped into the river at around 2 pm on Saturday, said he had seen an Indica reversing towards the banks of the river from the road and suddenly it disappeared from the scene as it had apparently fallen into the BML.

The eyewitness’ account had revealed that the car was carrying two persons and probably their vehicle fell into the river accidently while the driver might have been reversing to take a U-turn for Samana township. He had indicated that one of two persons could be a woman.

A pall of gloom had descended over the area as the news of drowning of the car spread. A large number of residents of nearby villages had converged at the spot and some of them had started throwing ropes in the canal in their efforts to save the victim. SDM Gurmit Singh, who reached the spot after getting the information, had got rescue operations set in process by calling four divers from Khanauri.

The divers, who had started the fishing operation at around 6.30 pm on Satuday evening amidst fast flow of water in the canal, finally managed to pull the vehicle out of the canal at around 3.30 pm today even as, their initial efforts to recover the vehicle had failed following breaking of hooks that were entangling the vehicle.

The documents recovered from the body of the victim have identified him as Naresh Kumar, son of Kundan Lal, resident of Rampura Phul, said SHO Sadar Daljit Singh Virk, who supervised the rescue operation. Virk said the family of Naresh had got an FIR registered about his missing on Saturday evening at the Rampura Phul police station. “He had left his family at around 8 am on Saturday and said he would be returning back within a couple of hours, but, how he reached here after covering such a long distance was still a mystery. A police party is on the way to get the body,” said Virk. The victim, who was said to be an Army contractor, could have committed suicide, indicated the police authorities.


‘30 pc Central aid meagre’
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Gidderbaha (Muktsar), November 23
The Punjab government has released the first installment of Rs 2.64 crore for the cleanliness of ponds in villages falling under Gidderbaha constituency. Manpreet Singh Badal, Punjab finance minister, while speaking at three different functions at Daula, Peori and Bharu villages, stated this.

Manpreet Badal said the Central government, after collecting taxes, should bear half the burden of state governments as they could run development and public welfare schemes in their states in a better way. Elaborating the economic crunch, the finance minister said the condition of other states was no better than Punjab and the 30 per cent financial aid to states by the Centre was very small. He said in order to get more financial aid from the Centre, a meeting of all finance ministers of the country would be held on December 15. Badal made it clear that if any officer or employee of the treasury office was found to be involved in corruption charges, he would not be spared.

Speaking on the implementation of the recommendations of the pay commissions by the state governments, Badal said the Central government should bear the burden by paying half the amount to state pay commissions as their respective annual plans might not suffer much.

Later, the finance minister announced a grant of Rs 18.50 lakh for developmental works at Daula village, Rs 22 lakh at Peori village and Rs 10 lakh at Bharu village.


Land grab by minister alleged
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, November 23
Gurkirat Kirpal Singh, deputy commissioner (DC), has ordered a probe into the allegations levelled by four brothers of this district against Punjab agriculture minister Sucha Singh Langah for grabbing their piece of land situated at Jainpur Kukkar village.

The DC has asked the sub divisional magistrate (SDM), Pathankot, to carry out the probe into the allegations levelled by four brothers of Jainpur Kukkar village in connection with the grabbing of their land by the agriculture minister seven days ago.

Brothers Mohinder Singh, Jasbir Singh, Jagir Singh and Joginder Singh, in an application moved to the DC on Tuesday alleged that about 8 acres of land belonging to them had been grabbed by Langah.

They added that standing crop in their fields had also been ploughed down 
by Langah.

Langah, when contacted, dubbed the allegations as baseless and untrue. He disclosed that he himself had asked the DC to hold a probe into the allegations levelled against him. He added that he had asked the DC to get the land, which was grabbed by him as per the allegations of the complainants, demarcated through the tehsildar.

He claimed that he owned a piece of land at Jainpur Kukkar village for the past many years. 


Cops fight drugs with theatre
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Morinda, November 23
Cops have now turned to the medium of theatre in their battle against drugs.

The Ropar police organised the staging of a play, “Armaan”, presented by the Baba Farid Theatre Group, Amritsar, here on Thursday. This was the 40th show of the play that has already been held in Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts and is now covering Ropar.

Rajiv Mehra, director of the play, has been working with the theatre group for the past four years. Playwright Jatinder Brar has penned the play that is based on the true story of a family that wishes its son to become a doctor. But the boy falls in bad company and adopts criminal ways, leading to his death.

"The play is everyone's story. The families of most of the drug addicts have undergone such a trauma," said Mehra. Mehra added that the play had been supported by the Springdale Education Society and NGO Punarjyot. "The Punjab police promoting the play is a great achievement; we are looking forward to more government agencies joining us," he said.

The play has been widely staged in the border areas, which are worst affected by drugs. 


Pak national’s body awaits burial
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 23
The body of Pakistan national Asif (33), who died at the local government hospital on October 11 after he complained of chest pain, has not yet been buried as no Pakistan official has come here to identify the body. It has been kept at the Government Medical College.

After completing his sentence, Asif was to return to Pakistan. He had been provided consular access by the Pakistan High Commission and was expecting repatriation any moment.

According to the jail authorities, he died while being shifted to the local Civil Hospital. He was declared brought dead there. Asif had been suffering from tuberculosis ever since he was lodged in the jail.

He was arrested in 2007 for violations under the Indian Passport Act and Indian Foreign Act. Jail superintendent S.P. Singh said the body could not be sent to Pakistan unless it was identified by the Pakistan authorities.

In case nobody from Pakistan turned up, then the ministry of external affairs could give nod for Asif’s burial.


Woman raped by husband, kin
P.K. Jaiswar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 23
A mother of eight children was allegedly raped by her husband and brothers-in-law in front of her daughter at border village of Chak Dogra in Amritsar district here late on Friday evening.

According to the victim, when she, along with her daughter, had gone to the fields to answer nature’s call, the accused gheraoed them. They put a dagger on her daughter’s neck and one of the accused Babu Singh held her hands while the remaining accused, including Rattan Singh, Partap Singh and Lal Singh, dragged her to the fields and committed the crime.

She told the police that she had been married to Rattan for the past 20 years from whom she had eight children. She alleged that after six years of marriage, she came to know that her husband had illicit relations with his sister-in-law ( wife of his younger brother Partap). She said when she protested, Rattan left the family and started living in Partap’s house.

She said she had filed a case in the court of SDJM, Ajnala, demanding sustenance allowance. Enraged over this, the accused committed the crime.

Police authorities said statements of the victim and her daughter had been recorded and investigations were on. However, no arrest had been made. 


Policeman arrested in fake-currency case
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga, November 23
The local police has arrested a head constable of the Punjab police posted in the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) at Ludhiana in a case of fake currency that was registered on November 1 in the police station (south), here.

The police booked a woman Balwinder Kaur of nearby Duneke village, allegedly trying to deposit fake currency in her account in the railway road branch of the Oriental Bank of Commerce, here. 

The manager of the bank had complained to the police that the said woman brought Rs 40,000 to deposit in her account, out of which, 18 currency notes of Rs 500 each were found to be fake. On the basis of the complaint made by the bank authorities, the police registered a criminal case in this regard.

In her statement recorded before the police, the said woman had alleged that she got Rs 10,000 as loan from one Mohammad Azij who was a tenant of the policeman. He arranged the money for her from the head constable of the police. She had stated that the fake currency notes were given to her by Azij.

During the course of investigation, the police picked up head constable Darbara Singh from Ludhiana and produced him before a local court here. As per the request of the police, the court had granted two-day police remand of the alleged accused policeman for further investigations.

Sources in the police revealed that the policeman could be involved in a bigger racket of the circulation of fake currency in the state. The police would be carrying out search at his residences in Ludhiana and elsewhere in the next two days during the police remand, sources said. Sources added that Azij, through whom the fake currency was allegedly given to the woman, had also come under the scanner, but the police was trying to make him and the woman an approver in this case.

Further, the police was also probing into reports that this fake currency was smuggled into the country from Pakistan and possible links of the policeman with drug smugglers and terrorists, which if proved true, could land him in trouble. 


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