Anti-Encroachment Drive
No more let-off, says MC
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, January 2
The Amritsar Municipal Corporation has decided to vigorously launch anti-encroachment drive from this month in view of the strict directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court which had issued guidelines that the officers would be held accountable for the encroachment within their jurisdiction.

Notwithstanding the political pressure and interference, the district administration and the corporation have decided to remove all the illegal occupations by shopkeepers and others on the government land.

MC commissioner D.P.S. Kharbanda said the civic authorities today took control of the big chunk of land at Batala Road which was clandestinely taken over by a group of anti-social elements. He said the drive was showing considerable results and added that they would continue with their campaign till the end of this month. He said the area around Sultanwind Road and adjacent to that was presently been cleared of all the encroachments.

However, certain areas where the machinery of the corporation was sent the local leaders backed by councilors were trying to stop the drive compounding the woes of the administration.

The administration has failed to act against the police station which had established its post in the middle of the Amritsar-Lahore GT Road near Chheharta.

Kharbanda said they were taking this in their stride and were committed to give holy city a cleaner look and provide smoother and hassle-free ride to vehicles and clear most of the areas under the occupation of the encroachers.

He, however, lauded the voluntary offers made by some of the encroachers who had agreed to adhere to the deadline set by the administration.

The residents besides the large number of tourists have been aghast at the large-scale encroachments, which have blemished the image of the city. A number of NGOs have turned their ire against the administration for allowing permanent construction of security guard rooms in the public parks in several posh colonies but the administration have turned the blind eye by allowing the VIPs to get away without taking any action against them.



New Year celebrations a low-key affair 
Neeraj Bagga
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 2
Global meltdown, liquidity crunch in the market and dense fog proved a damp squib for New Year celebrations as people of the holy city preferred to remain indoors watching New Year programmes on TV sets.

With a view to pay homage to the departed souls in the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack, members of the Creators Abhinay Kala Society lit candles in the Nehru Shopping Complex at Lawrence Road, an up-market shopping area where large number of people especially youngsters used to converge to welcome the New Year on its eve.

A banner in Punjabi hung out read “Enjoy the New Year but do not forget sacrifices of martyrs.”

Number of customers was less in New Year parties organised by various hotels, said A.P.S. Cattha, secretary, Hotel Association. According to him, one of the reasons could be costlier entry fee in the parties and liquidity crunch.

A young employee of a private bank Shruti said she went to celebrate the New Year in a local hotel and returned home before midnight due to the dense fog.

Fog descended on the roads of the city early in the evening and soon engulfed the town reducing the visibility considerably.

Vehicular traffic to Lawrence Road was stopped giving field hours to revelers. Policemen were deployed in large numbers to handle law and order situation.



New Year gift: Paddy bonus for farmers 
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, January 2
The farmers of the district would get a New Year gift in the form of paddy bonus. The District Food and Supply Controller would distribute cheques worth Rs four crore.

Talking to The Tribune, Dr Anjum Bhaskar, district food and supply controller, said honouring the wishes of the various farmer organizations, the government has decided to hand over paddy bonus cheques announced by the Central Government at the rate of Rs 50 per quintal. In is pertinent to mention that the farmers had demanded that the payment of the bonus should be given to them directly. Last year payment was given to the commission agents and several rice millers which caused delay.

She said more than 9,000 farmers enlisted with the department would be benefited with the newly devised payment mechanism.



Girl who took Initiative for Viable Education
Neeraj Bagga/TNS

Amritsar, January 2
At 22 she is taking care of education, motivating and shaping up careers for children of rickshaw-pullers, domestic helps, migrant labourers and single, abandoned mothers.

From her bubbly face and vivacious temperament, Pearl Jasra looks like any next door girl. However, she belies convention.

She lost her mother when she was 12, and her father, soon after.

Putting behind her personal loss and grief, she is pursuing her passion for ameliorating suffering of others with fortitude and grit.

Her effervescent personality has helped her in befriending children who in turn love her from their heart. For them she is their teacher, guide, motivator, friend and sister.

She finds immense pleasure in teaching children numbers, reciting poems and celebrating their birthdays, New Year and other festivals with them. The bunch of about 20 children converge at her house in the evenings when they do their homework with her, celebrates their birthdays and share their feelings.

The parentless girl soon became thorn in the greedy eyes of indifferent family members, who had their eyes on her property, except one sympathetic and caring maternal uncle, Dr Ernest. This was when Krishnaji, her maid, who was once associated with her mother, returned to the house with Kamini, an adopted child who was but a piece of “starved flesh.”

Little Pearl tended to, fed and caressed Kamini with love, who eventually returned to life. Subsequently, Kamini brought with her many of her friends who would land at Pearl house everyday for a bit of education and fun.

With her little resources and her uncle’s help, she persuaded some affluent families of the city to financially support children’s education.

Five years ago, she decided to organise entire activities, which gave way to float the Initiative for Viable Education (IVE).

Children, belonging to underpriviledged class, comprising maid servants, rickshaw-pullers and daily wage labourers, have been increasing. Most of them come from a slum colony located near her house.

She carefully monitors their homework adding special emphasis on improving their communication skills since children come from totally illiterate homes. Story-telling sessions are incorporated to inculcate moral values.

The IVE has identified many families, comprising widows, orphans and other underpriviledged, who would like to keep sending such children to the schools.

Story of her grit and fortitude finds display in the KSD (K.S. Durlabhji) calendar for 2009, published from Jaipur.



Security agencies for innovation in ’09
P.K. Jaiswar and Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, January 2
In spite of major crackdown on the drug cartel in the border region by different state and national narcotics agencies, the smugglers continue to succeed in breaching the security drag net searching and adopting new ways to smuggle huge quantities of drugs to different parts of the country and to the ultimate destinations abroad.

The year 2008 could be well described as golden time for various agencies involved in cracking down on drug smugglers and peddlers. The Special Narcotics Cell (SNC), Border Security Force (BSF), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and district police seized major drug hauls from smugglers. According to data more than 364 kilograms of heroin was recovered during 2008 besides huge quantity of other intoxicants and drugs was also seized.

The security agencies tackling the drug menace felt to change the strategy to confront the growing tribe of smugglers who were adopting aggressive approach by firing at the police raiding parties. This phenomenon was giving a tough time to the sleuths.

What is more worrisome is that the drug mafia has managed in luring the young generation in rural belt especially alongside Indo-Pak border as courier and expanded their network to hoodwink the intelligence and security agencies.

The most sensational and almost bizarre aspect of their expanding channels is their penetration in the export business of religious material in which a partner in the well-established and reputed firm of holy city dealing in religious material was nabbed by the DRI sleuths few months back while trying to dispatch packets of narcotics cleverly concealed in CD covers.

Another major notorious aspect in the changing drug trends, the mafia has been able to induct large number of women in drug peddling and distribution network, which has added a new dimension to this dangerous contraband trade.

The security agencies were baffled over this as it become difficult to keep a tab on new women entrance in this high money-spinning racket. Interestingly, the drug cartel looks for young bright ambitious girls who were also joined the ranks of courier.

Recently, a Mumbai-based girl was picked up by the SNC for possessing 10 kg of smack. The district police also held a number of women drug peddler previous year.

The numerous outfits involved in control of narcotics trade were suffered from lack of common strategy and command.

A need was being felt for establishing a central nodal agency with various components providing all kinds of inputs on this highly organised drug racket and work in universal as an umbrella organisation to send a clear message that no one would be allowed to breach this network.

According to data collected by “The Tribune”, the Special Narcotics Cell seized about 107 kg of heroin and smack from all over Punjab, majority of this in Amritsar and its adjoining areas during this year.

The district police also confiscated 50 kg of heroin. The BSF seized 105 kg of heroin while the DRI seized over 65 kg of heroin.

The SNC also seized eight kg of opium and 6.30 quintals of poppy husk besides Rs 34.50 lakh of fake Indian currency and 3,000 of foreign exchange and arms and ammunition.

The district police seized 20 kg of opium, 5 kg charas and 5 kg smack besides cocaine and poppy husk. The border security force has also stepped up the campaign and seized 105 kg of heroin besides Rs 20 lakh of fake currency. The Amritsar rural police district has also seized 39 kg of heroin and about 714 kg of poppy husk besides 7.50 Kg of opium, half kilogram of smack and narcotic powder of two kilogram.

The district police has arrested as many as 490 drug peddlers during this year and out of these 75 were notorious who were wanted in many other criminal activities also while the SNC achieved major success with arresting 47 international smugglers operating on both sides of Indo-Pak border.

BSF DIG Jagir Singh said that all the agencies in checking the menace of drugs need to innovate and keep upgrading their strategies as the smugglers were adopting novel methods to bring in the contraband from across the border.

He said that BSF was also keeping a close watch on the activities of the couriers and notorious elements with a tentative background in border villages.

He said the force was handicapped in view of the use of Internet and cellphones by the notorious gangs, as BSF don’t have the powers to intercept the conversations between the drug lords operating on the international border.

P.K. Sinha, SSP, SNC said alarmed at the aggressive approach of the current crop of smugglers by using fire weapons as defense to divert the police have added a new phenomena to the police who were under pressure to arrest them. He said that the police was working up a new strategy to deal with this new development and added that they would be able to devise a fresh mechanism and ensured to deal with armed smugglers.

Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, SSP Amritsar (city) Police district said the police had launched a crusade against drug menace in order to make region and society drug free. He said the police have adopted a multi-pronged strategy including the sensitising the people and youth for cutting demand reduction strategy and to cut the supply line.

He said the police held awareness camps and rallies especially in the localities like Anngarh, Maqboolpura, Gawal Mandi, Islamabad, Sultanwind Road and Hindustani basti where this problem was at an alarming stage. Various NGOs and religious institutions were also involved in this task.

The police had devised a new mechanism wherein they went ahead to forfeit the properties of the traffickers under various provisions of NDPS Act.

More than 36 cases of forfeiture were forwarded to the Competent Authority, Government of India by the district police, said Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh.



Patwari nabbed accepting bribe
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, January 2
A team of vigilance bureau, led by DSP Ashok Kumar, nabbed a patwari, Satpal, of Marhana circle while accepting a bribe of Rs 5,000 from a farmer, Niranjan Singh, of the same village here today.

Giving details to mediapersons, the DSP, vigilance, said the patwari had been harassing Niranjan Singh for transferring the ownership of an ancestral land in the name of his sons and was demanding Rs 8,000.

However the matter was settled for Rs 5,000 and the farmer brought the matter to the notice of the VB.

Ashok Kumar said medical officer Dr Padampreet Singh and pharmacist Manoj Kumar of community health centre at Sarhali were present as witnesses during the raid. A case under section 13(2) 88 of the PC Act has been registered against the patwari.



Snatchers flourish on Race Course road

Amritsar, January 2
Some miscreants snatched a purse from Dr Sharda Adlakha, a resident of Race Course road.

“My purse was snatched nearly at 7 pm and within minutes I informed the police,” Adlakha said, adding that cases of snatchings were rampant in her colony but people did not report them to police for fear of hassles.

She said a number of staff members of her hospital, located in the same locality, and patients had been victims of the snatchers. She said no woman from the area had courage to go out of her house alone in the evening.

A staff nurse of the hospital, Jasbir Kaur, said her purse was snatched in the broad daylight in the same locality about seven months ago. She was paying fare to a rickshaw-puller when the incident had occurred.

Another staff nurse Rajwinder Kaur lost her purse to a snatcher in the beginning of December while a day later Monika, a class IV employee, lost her purse.

Nikita Kahlon, a pathologist in the hospital, paid the price of resistance to save her gold chain with a fracture in her shoulder about five months earlier. The incident had taken place in the same locality. Last year Shivalika Khanna of Basant Avenue had to give away her purse to a snatcher after brief resistance for fear of her safety. 



Pannu releases calendar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 2
Deputy commissioner Kahan Singh Pannu released the New Year calendar at Virsa Vihar Sadan, Gandhi Ground here. Renowned artists along with DC took the opportunity to extend New Year wishes to the people.

Pannu said people should take new pledge and ought to give a new and positive direction to country and society.

Issuing the year 2009 programme, Kewal Dhaliwal, theater director and president of the Virsa Vihar said a seminar would be organised on the World Language Day on February 21 and a cultural evening on March 27 to mark work the theatre day.

A three-day fair would be organised on Baisakhi festival and a cultural fair would be held on every Thursday after month of April at Virsa Vihar.

The World Dance Day would be celebrated on April 28 and an evening dedicated to famous painter Manjit Singh Bawa would also be organised.

Dhaliwal said Virsa Vihar would celebrate its foundation day on September 1 while a 15-day workshop would be held for children during summer vacation in which two groups from 12 year and from 12-20 years would participate.

On Holi festival a classical music function for young exponents and a two-day poetry recitation program and seminar dedicated to great novelist Nanak Singh would be organised. He said the Year 2009 would be fully devoted to art and culture.



Proving mettle graphically
P.K. Jaiswar/TNS

Amritsar, January 2
Mandeep Singh, alias Manu, a self-taught computer graphic artist, now wanted to go beyond the established format, which the most of graphic artists were using, by utilising basic colours and adding different elements to enrich his creations.

Physical disability is no constraint for this 24-year-old artist, who has carved a niche for himself in this relatively new field and wanted to attain new heights.

Although he achieved a unique place in just few years of his journey in computer graphics art, still he was not satisfied with his present works. Till now he said he worked with existing forms.

“Till now my artistic process did not have many layers and I want a breakthrough wherein there is a journey of simplicity going towards the heart bypassing the mind,” says Manu.

He said, “I am planning to work in such a way that colours imbued with elements will harmoniously coexist and the visual will speak about no intervention of the tools of the craft.”

Manu got attracted to computer graphics after he started learning accounts on the machine. However, with encouragement from Avtar Singh, a sculptor who runs the Thakur Singh Art Gallery, his creations art got a voice.

A student of B.A. (Major) in History from IGNOU, the artist has won an award in the 70th All India Exhibition of Fine Art- 2004, in the 2nd Annual Indian Royal Academy Awards - 2005 at Gulbarga in Karnataka besides 2nd Agnipath All India Art Competition and exhibition in Travancore Art Galleries, Delhi in 2006. He also got the Vocational Award in 2004 from Rotary Club (Amritsar).

Renowned sculptor Avtar Singh while describing his work said that Manu had great sense of colours and produces wonderful compositions by just using mouse, keyboard as his tools and monitor as canvass.

He said he had already a berth in the National exhibition at Lalit Kala Academy, New Delhi and some international exhibitions and he was getting better after making his presence felt in many international exhibitions.



Sohal’s musical journey continues

Amritsar, January 2
Harinder Singh Sohal has earned name by lending his sonorous voice to several Punjabi numbers in general and ‘tappe’ and ‘boliyan’ in particular while being music director of various albums, stage plays, tele-serials and a movie.

Grandson of litterateur and freedom fighter Suba Singh, he had clear cut idea for carving a niche for himself in the world of music at a very young age.

He trained under the tutelage of popular music teachers in the formative and secondary stage and did major in music from the Prachin Kala Kendra, Chandigarh.

A fervent contender for preserving and encouraging traditional vocal and instruments of Punjab, Harinder, does not fall short of experimenting with blending voices and varied instruments.

For the reason, he is contacting to rope in prominent Hindi playback singer with south Indian back ground Kavita Krishnamurthy for his new album on much famous Punjabi folk lyric genres Tappa, Hir and Lohri. It would be his first cut in musical album while he wishes to enlarge the scope by cutting another in Hindi.

A Mumbai based music company has given his music in five albums. He has given music in nearly 70 plays. Not satisfied to be restricted to a genre, he has directed music for a Haryanvi album.

He identified and encouraged several young voices while guiding them to success. He directed the music of Punjabi religious movie “Sikhi Da Dhura” in which his find Jyotisha Kapoor, a ninth class student of DAV Public sang in the movie. Richa Aneja, a first year student and Sunanda, a final year student, both from BBK DAV College for Women, are other names he encouraged. According to him every dawn brings new challenge with it for a new melody is to be discovered to give soul to poetic composition.

He lent music for plays like Train to Pakistan, Lal Batti, Pinjar, Kabira Khada Bazaar Mein, Shaheed Bhagat Singh, License, Chanani Raat Da Dukhant, Saavi, Luna, Hamida Bai Ki Kothi, Kudesan, Aisle, Yatra, 1947, tele-serials Vanjara, Tarak Di Sanje and movie Sikhi Da Dhura.

He worked with big names in the music industry like Suresh Wadekar, Mohammad Aziz, Gurmeet Bawa, Surinder Shinda and many others. He was the spirit behind forming the Sohal Group of Arts (SGA), an organisation to preserve and development of performing arts and culture, in 1995. The Punjab government acknowledged its services by allowing its functioning from Virsa Vihar Amritsar, a home for art, music and plays.

The SGA is reviving fast fading Punjabi folk instruments. It consists of an assortment of varied artists from different backgrounds playing on a common platform, everything available in the treasure of folk music for its preservation.

They are proficient in playing phookni, vanjh, dhol, dholki, bukchu, chajj, sarangi, mattiyan, tumbi, flute, tudd, duff, daariya, matka, nagara, chimta and khanjri. It promotes folk music through stage shows, events, training workshops (vocal and instrumental), competitions.

The instruments were soon adopted by Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) in the youth festivals while local Khalsa College, Guru Teg Bahadur College, DAV College, followed the suit. — TNS



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