Squatting Sickness
Political patronage puts admn on backfoot
Sanjay Bumbroo and Ashok Sethi/TNS

Amritsar, November 25
Even though the Amritsar municipal corporation has taken a proactive stand and formed a committee of senior officers on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to identify large-scale encroachments in various parts of the holy city, the exercise could prove to be a major headache for the authorities as most of the encroachments have the backing of one party or the other.

It is indeed ironical that when the phenomenon of encroachments began, the administration looked the other way and allowed some permanent structures and establishments to come up on pavements, roads and even in the earmarked green belts. The high court has come down heavily on the authorities to take immediate steps to remove these encroachments on a war footing and without delay to give a cleaner look to the holy city. The encroachments not only create traffic hazards but also lead to chaos in the city.

Various NGOs and social organisations, which had taken up cudgels with the district administration, the police and the municipal corporation, have suggested harsh measures to be taken on the encroachers’ mafia, which, allegedly in collusion with corrupt officials, has taken over the government land and roads to run their roadside business in a highly organised and blatant manner.

On the GT Road, the roads leading to the Golden Temple, Katra Jaimal Singh, Sher Singh, Hall Bazaar and even the public parks in the various posh residential colonies encroachments have taken place with great impunity and total disregard to the government’s directions.

Upset over the direction of the high court, some of the local SAD-BJP workers, during the “sangat darshan” of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, had urged him for the regularisation of the illegal encroachments, including the illegal khokhas on the drain near the Bhadrakali temple in the northern constituency. The CM had assured them that the government was interested in settling them rather than bringing them on the road.

It may be mentioned here that even the district police administration had also encroached upon a portion of the Amritsar-Wagah GT Road in Chheharta by establishing a police post in the middle of the road. A number of police pickets for private and police security guards, allotted to VVIPs, have also sprung up in several public parks in the residential colonies of the city, including Basant Avenue, Green Avenue, Medical Enclave. Two major private hospitals in Ranjit Avenue have opened up gates from the green belt area, much to the chagrin of residents of the area. The resident welfare associations of these colonies have been sore with the district administration for allowing the political bigwigs to encroach upon green belts.

However, municipal corporation commissioner D.P.S. Kharbanda said the main committee and the sub-committees on encroachments had already been formed and adequate machinery would be provided to the committee for removing the encroachments.

He said a public notice had been issued in leading newspapers informing the people at large about the directions of the high court to remove all illegal occupations from roads, bazaars, park pavements, etc. within 10 days. After that the government would hold mohalla and bazaar meetings to educate people and shopkeepers in particular areas to cooperate with the administration and ask them to voluntarily remove the occupation of the government land, otherwise the administration would be forced to evict them forcibly to clear the area.

The NGOs said the government should provide permanent machinery and men in proper strength, otherwise exercise of removing the encroachments would prove to be futile, besides enacting deterrent punishment, including imprisonment to the violators. They have further suggested that the corporation authorities should try to remove these encroachments one by one by involving the police and by giving proper notice to the encroachers.



Callous Cops?
No breakthrough in Ajnala gang rape
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 25
No breakthrough has been achieved in the sensational gangrape case in which the mother of eight children was allegedly raped by her estranged husband and his relatives in border village of Chak Dogra in Ajnala police station falling under Amritsar (rural) police district here.

Meanwhile, the medical reports have confirmed rape charges levelled by the victim. However, an enquiry has been marked to SP (D) Amrik Singh who, when contacted, said that he had got the complaint and would start an enquiry tomorrow. He said no arrests had been made so far as the accused had absconded.

The victim was raped by her husband and his brothers in front of her daughter on November 21 evening. She, along with her daughter, had gone to the fields to answer the nature’s call when the accused overpowered them and put a dagger on her daughter’s neck and committed the crime on the mother.

In her complaint she had stated that she had been married to Rattan Singh for the past 20 years from whom she had eight children. She alleged after six years of marriage, she came to know that her husband had illicit relations with the wife of his younger brother Partap Singh. She said she tried to resist Rattan from this illicit relationship. However, instead of this, she added, he left his family and started living in Partap’s house.

She alleged she had filed a case in the court of SDJM, Ajnala, for demanding a sustenance allowance. Enraged over this, the accused wanted revenge from her. She alleged one of the accused Babu Singh held her hands and remaining accused, including Rattan, Partap and Lal Singh, dragged her to the fields and raped her one by one.



A little jazzmatazz in holy city
Tribune News Service

Honor Heffernan from Ireland performs at IAFA in Amritsar.
— A Tribune photograph

Amritsar, November 25
Honor Heffernan, a critically acclaimed singer from Ireland, captivated the Amritsar crowd with her scintillating performance at the “Jazz Evening” organised by the Indian Academy of Fine Arts here. The jam-packed audience included Army personnel who especially came to watch the live show.

A versatile singer, Honor, who sang compositions from Jazz to Blues to Rock and Folk, enthralled the audience with her jazz songs.

During her singing career, Honor recorded four solo albums “Stormy Waters” and “Chasing the Moon” with her long time co-musician Noel Kelehan, which also featured Peter Ainscough, Richie Buckley, Mike Nolen and Martin Curry.

Her album “Fire and Ice”, released in October 2005, received critical acclaim as her finest album till now.

Honor’s fourth release “The Other Side” which came out two years later was of a slightly different genre. It featured former Prefab Sprout member Neil Conti on drums. The album has been able to evoke emotions in the lyrics of song writers like Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen. Besides working with the BBC Big Band with whom she recorded two concerts for radio.

Her first continental show of 2008 kicked off in Paris at the centre cultural Irelandais on February 14, which would end with a 16-day tour of India appearing at some of the most prestigious jazz festivals in the world.

Among the dignitaries present on the occasion were famous theatre artist Dr Neeta Mohindra, Dr Baldev Gambhir, leading artist and painter, besides the office bearer of Indian Academy of Fine Arts.



National youth festival promises to be a mega affair
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, November 25
Ramesh Inder Singh, chief secretary, Punjab, reviewed the arrangements for the 14th national youth festival to be organised in the holy city from January 12 under the aegis of the Punjab government in collaboration with the union government.

Ramesh Inder Singh said all events relating to the festival would be held in Guru Nanak Dev University complex and all auditoriums and ground have been earmarked for this five-day-long mega cultural show.

He said the government had constituted several power committees to get into the details, including nitty-gritty, for successfully organising this major youth festival in which more than 5,000 youths were likely to participate.

The festival would open on January 12 to commemorate the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekanand and conclude on January 16.

The participants would give performances in folk dance, songs, one-act plays, musical shows, besides every state in the country would project its traditional items.

The chief secretary said the committees had been directed to present their approved financial projections and estimates so that requisite funds could be arranged well in time for the mega event.

D.S. Jaspal, principal secretary, transport and information and public relation department, announced that hi-tech media centre would be established for coverage by national and local electronic and print media. He said the arrangements were being made for the live coverage of the show.

1,000 participate in zonal festival

The three-day zonal youth festival of associate institutes of Guru Nanak Dev University opened with great fanfare here today. The competitions started with giddha, while more than 1,000 student artistes of 19 associate institutes of the university participated in different items.

Dr A.K. Thukral, dean, students welfare of the university, inaugurated the festival. Baljit Singh Sekhon, director, youth welfare, welcomed the chief guest and student artistes. Blessing the student-artistes, Thukral said these youth festivals were organised to bring out the hidden talent of the youth. The items of giddha, one-act play and folk orchestra and histrionics enthralled the audience.

The competitions of classical instrumental and classical vocal were organised at Guru Nanak Bhavan Auditorium. The competitions of fancy dress, mimicry, skit, shabad/bhajan, group song, poetical symposium, elocution, vaar singing and debate will be held tomorrow.



CA’s office burgled twice within two days
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 25
The police’s inaction to nab the culprits involved in a burglary in the office of chartered accountant in the main commercial area on Madanmohan Malviya Road two days ago has resulted another burglary in the same office for the second time.

CA Atul Seth rued that on November 20 some unidentified elements broke opened the windows of his office from the back lane and took away Rs 1.5 lakh along with a gas cylinder and a pen drive containing important information. He said he immediately reported the matter to Circuit House police chowki and a police party visited the office complex for investigation.

Much to his surprise the burglars again struck for the second time and broke opened the window and took away another gas cylinder while opening all the locks of the drawers of the office tables. He urged the police to register an FIR and promptly investigate the theft and nab the culprits.

IGNOU establishes partner institution

Amritsar: Indira Gandhi National Open University has established a partner institution, Shahzada Nand College for Girls, here under the coverage scheme across the country for giving quality education to the students of the border region. College spokesman said the students would be admitted in the institute around the year under the walk-in admission policy and would be placed for the July and January sessions. — OC



‘Issue white paper on Operation Bluestar’

Amritsar, November 25
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) today demanded that the Union government should release a white paper on Operation Bluestar to expose the people who were responsible for the unfortunate event.

Party general secretary Bhai Ram Singh, in a statement issued here, said after AICC general secretary and scion of the Gandhi family Rahul Gandhi described Operation Bluestar and anti-Sikh riots in the aftermath of the assassination of Indira Gandhi as unfortunate and sad, it was necessary to expose those leaderships, besides the “foreign forces”, who were alleged to be involved in it.

He said according to the law, the secret and confidential reports of various intelligence agencies and the government had become a public document after 20 years. He said the central government should issue a white paper about the whole incident and the leaders who used to hold secret meetings at that time. — TNS



Four booked for land fraud
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 25
The Amritsar rural police have booked four persons, including a panchayat member, for allegedly forging a ‘Bainama’ (advance agreement to sell land) of more than 15 kanal village belonging to one Surain Singh.

The accused have been identified as Joginder Singh, Dalip Singh, Jaswant Singh, all residents of Avan Vasau village and Balwinder Singh of Jasraur village.

Tilak Raj, DSP Ajnala, said Surain Singh had transferred the 15 kanal land to his grandsons Inderjit Singh and Daljit Singh before his death 20 years ago. The accused forged a document showing Dalip Singh as Surain Singh. Panchayat member Joginder Singh confirmed his identity.

When the matter came to the knowledge of Inderjit Singh and Daljit Singh, they complained to the deputy commissioner Kahan Singh Pannu, asking him to cancel the ‘nteqal’ of the land.

The DC marked an inquiry to SDM, Ajnala who during investigations found that the Surian Singh had died 20 years ago. Subsequently, the DC ordered the Ajnala police to initiate action against the accused, who were booked under sections 420, 465, 467, 471 and 120-B of the IPC.



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