Thousands bid tearful adieu to Sandhu couple
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, January 13
Tearful farewell was given to Dr Shivinder Singh Sandhu and his wife Manveen, who died in a road accident on last Sunday while on the way to Bikaner in Rajasthan.

Thousands of people lined up on both sides of the road showering rose petals and offering prayers. The mile-long cavalcade was headed by flower-bedecked Canter carrying the mortal remains of the Sandhu couple. The funeral procession started from the Spring Dale School Complex at 1 pm winding its way to through the main roads and bazaars of the city to reach the cremation ground, near Gurdwara Shaheed Baba Deep Singh. Son Sahiljeet and daughter Kirat kept standing on the Canter acknowledging the condolences of the people with folded hands.

Leading the mourners were his long-time friend O.P. Soni, MLA, along with representatives cutting across party lines who were present in strength to pay their last respects to the couple who had played a significant role in reviving the cultural spirit of the city and brought education to the doorstep of the poor, needy and the destitute. The mourners, including several bureaucrats, senior police officers from all over the state, educationists, social activists, doctors, school children and a large number of admirers, had gathered at the cremation ground to get the last glimpse of their favourite couple who had led their lives with exemplary courage and conviction.

The bodies of Dr Sandhu and Manveen were laid on a single pyre, which was lit by Sahiljeet Singh Sandhu amidst Gurbani hymns after ardas.

Earlier, a large number of students, parents and friends gathered at the school grounds to offer floral tributes to the couple. A large number of political leaders, including MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, former minister Partap Singh Bajwa, BJP MLA Anil Joshi, former BJP minister Baldev Raj Chawla, Jugal Kishore Sharma, Prof Darbari Lal, Harjinder Singh Thekedar and Mayor Shawet Malik, laid wreaths on the bodies. Wreaths were placed on behalf of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and cabinet minister Bikram Singh Majithia by the deputy commissioner and other senior officers.

Guru Nanak Dev University registrar Dr R.S. Bawa, former principal S. Ahlawat, Dr Harish Puri, Vijay Puri, Dr Daljit Singh, principal, Khalsa College, Dr J.S. Dhillon, principal, Khalsa College of Education, Dr V.K. Sharma, principal, DAV College, Dr Neera Sharma, principal, DAV Public School, Anjna Gutpa, etc. were present during the funeral ceremony.



Narli loses its beacons of hope
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 13
The first time that the zero line (Indo-Pak border) at the ancestral Narli village was lit up (in a long time) was last year by the most illustrious couple of the holy city - Dr Shavinder Singh Sandhu, an orthopaedic surgeon, and his wife Manveen Sandhu, principal, Springdale School - who were killed in a car crash on Sunday.

They were the first ones to realise the importance of the ancestral village of Bhagat Singh which had been given a miss even by the government during the birth centenary celebrations of the martyr.

They had organised a maiden show of “Kuknoos (phoenix) Bhagat Singh”, a light-and-sound show, under the aegis of Punarjyot - a centre for preservation and promotion of the heritage of Punjab.

Narli is a village dominated by Sandhus - the clan of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

Phoenix (Kuknoos) is an imaginary bird which, according to ancient myth, burns itself into ashes every 500 years and is then born again. The light-and-sound programme depicted the supreme sacrifices made by Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru through “Kuknoos” (phoenix), the imaginary bird that reflects the hope that revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh never die.

The light-and-sound programme was an attempt to revive the pristine glory of the ancient Narli village, situated on the Indo-Pak border.

The village was frequently visited by the martyr during his life in hiding. However, with the death of the Sandhu couple uncertainty hangs over the custom of lighting up of the zero line.

The Sandhu couple had also been contemplating to install the statue of Sardar Ajit Singh Sandhu, paternal uncle of Shaheed Bhagat Singh in Amritsar who died unsung in Dalhousie on August 15, 1947.

It was Dr Sandhu and his dynamic wife who arranged the revenue record which showed some agricultural land in the name of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

Historical documents like “Buried Alive” - an autobiography of Sardar Ajit Singh (his paternal uncle) and history narrated by the village elders established beyond doubt that Narli - a border village on zero line - belongs to his (Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s) ancestors, who later shifted to Khatkar Kalan in Nawanshahr district.

The Sandhu couple took The Tribune team to Narli last year and revealed that Shaheed Bhagat Singh was a frequent visitor to his ancestral place and used to take shelter here when he was in hiding.

The village is strategically positioned, a few kilometres from Lahore. The Sandhu couple spent a huge amount from their pockets to highlight the ancestral village of the great martyr.

Moreover, the Sandhu couple had been providing huge financial assistance to the Citizen Forum Vidya Mandir School, Maqboolpura, where more than 400 orphan children are getting free education.

They would also give huge financial help to government school Narli and Naatshala, a hub of theatre artistes of India and Pakistan. “Our schoolchildren have again become orphans,” says Master Ajit Singh who runs a school for the wards of those who died due to drug addiction.

On the other hand, Dr Sandhu had conducted a survey of the border belt few months before his death that revealed that the entire border belt nowadays is in the grip of hepatitis C, which is likely to assume alarming proportions in the coming days.

After detection of about 180 cases of hepatitis B, C and HIV virus among special police officers (SPOs) in the Tarn Taran district, Dr Sandhu found that villagers of the border belt of Amritsar and Tarn Taran were greatly infected with hepatitis B.

Dr Sandhu brought to the notice of the health authorities that hepatitis C will soon kill more people each year than AIDS if preventive measures are not taken.

Dr Sandhu also launched an awareness campaign about the ill effects of the contaminated injection therapy prevalent in the villages propagated by many of the so-called RMPs.

The Sandhu couple also used to distributed disposable syringes among the RMPs.



Remembering Manveen Sandhu
She triumphed in getting justice to Moran
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 13
The dynamic principal of local Springdale School, Manveen Sandhu, who died in an accident near Bikaner alongwith her husband Dr Shavinder Sandu and two others, was instrumental in removing stigma attached to Moran, a young dancer (nautch girl) and beloved of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, hailing from Lahore, after two centuries.

It may be recalled that Maharaja Ranjit Singh, was declared “Tankhaiyya” (guilty of religious misconduct), by the then Jathedar of Akal Takht, Akali Phula Singh, for having relations with the Muslim dancer.

She made relentless efforts to get Moran her deserved place in history by getting the name of “Pul Kanjri” changed to “Pul Moran”.

She penned the play “Moran Sarkar” (Moran government), few months before her death which was staged for the first time by actors of Lahore, Peshawar and Amritsar at Naat Shala, here on June 30 last year. It was a first attempt to establish Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s marriage with Moran.

After painstaking research, Manveen Sandhu, principal of Springdale Senior School, established Maharaja Ranjit Singh had married the Muslim dancer as part of his social reform movement and to win over other confidence of other communities.

Bollywood actor Raj Babbar also saw the rehearsal and gave valuable suggestions. Research of Sandhu revealed Moran was not a nautch girl but belonged to a family of entertainers. After a coin was minted in the name of Moran, she became “Moran Sarkar”.

As per Dr Fauzia of Pakistan, who has written a book “Taboo” on Lahore’s Hira Mandi, the “Twaif” community of Moran had set of rules and regulations to ensure its performing art was preserved in its pure form. Moran’s charm captivated the Maharaja's heart when he was just 21. His was a transition from physical to spiritual love and attachment.

The Maharaja soon realised the women in Moran’s community were being exploited by society. To give a message to society at large he decided to sanctify his love for her by marrying her. The Maharaja married her in 1802 and they went to Hardwar for a dip in the holy Ganga.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh made an effort to uplift Moran’s community. Moran's ‘biradari’ lived in a village called Makhanwindi near Amritsar. The Maharaja gave the biradari a place near Amritsar city and named it Sharifpura to reaffirm the honour of the community and encourage them to explore other vocations in case they wished to do so.

She led a life of simplicity and piety after her marriage with the Maharaja. She soon became the Maharaja’s link with the common man. Moran earned the love and respect of people of Lahore, who lovingly called her Moran Sarkar. After 10 years of living in Lahore and contributing to social, educational and religious fabric of the Durbar, she finally moved away from Lahore.



Be a witness to Indian culture
Youth Fest goes beyond colleges;
Now see events at 12 more places
Tribune News Service

An artist busy giving final touches to his painting.
An artist busy giving final touches to his painting. Photos: Vishal Kumar

Amritsar, January 13
The People’s Participation Committee, constituted for the ongoing 14th National Youth Festival, has identified 12 different locations in the city to showcase myriad forms of Indian culture and performing arts.

Committee chairman Vimal Setia said here on Monday that since a large number of residents of the city could not view the entire programme at Guru Nanak Dev University and colleges, the committee decided to arrange shows for a specific period at highly visited public places in the city.

The places are Jallianwala Bagh, Gol Bagh, Town Hall, Ram Bagh Gardens, Nehru Shopping Complex, Lawrence Road, District Courts, District Shopping Complex, Ranjjit Avenue, Dana Mandi, Chheharta, Putlighar, Rani Ka Bagh and the bus stand.

Performances of folk and classical dances like Kuchipuddi, Manipuri, Bharatnatyam, Carnatic and others would take place at these locations for easy access of maximum number of people.

Setia said the artistes would perform twice a day from 10 am to 12 pm and 3 pm to 5 pm.



Rightfully Ours
Residents give colony a facelift, want MC
help to fix the rest
Neeraj Bagga
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 13
Shaheed Madan Lal Dhingra Colony is an epitome of sea-change brought over by the collective efforts of the resident-members of its Shaheed Madan Lal Dhingra Housing Welfare Society.

Clean roads, well maintained gardens and concerns shared for everybody’s well-being in the society have significantly raised its living conditions, especially civic amenities. But the about 225 families in the colony located on the Amritsar-Jalandhar GT Road have their own share of grievances which they think can be addressed by the municipal corporation. The amenities needed by the residents include a proper water supply, frequent blocking of storm channel and development of a park.

Between the colony and the GT Road is a park dedicated to martyr Madan Lal Dhingra. The deplorable condition of the park offers a disappointing view to the onlookers.

“Moreover, it sends a wrong message to countrymen regarding the kind of respect which is being given to martyrs of the freedom struggle,” says Arvind Seth, president of the society.

Interestingly, only half of the park has a pavement. Dishevelled grass, unwanted growth of bushes and inadequate lighting arrangement point towards the apathetic attitude of the municipal authorities.

Except a life-size statue of the martyr, the park has nothing to offer.

Besides, its only gate made of iron, opening towards the GT Road is rusted and is blocked with stones.

In such a scenario, the park hardly receives any guests, rather it draws anti-social elements in sufficient numbers. Fearing their intrusion in the colony, the welfare society had put up barbed-wire along its wall.

Seth said funds collected from the families were utilised in employing security guards, cleaning of roads, planting of saplings, installing lights and contributing pay for gardeners.

The society hired three guards to consolidate a security cover after a spate of theft incidents, including the theft of manhole covers from the locality.

According to chief MC commissioner D.P.S. Kharbanda, “Some gardeners had been provided to maintain its five gardens. They said since massive construction for the flyover on the GT Road was in progress, some problems were bound to occur. However, they (problems) would be resolved once the work was over.”

Earlier, residents of the colony had also flayed the improvement trust and its contractors for using inferior construction, electric and sanitary materials.



Go in for organic farming, says
ex-Planning Board official

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 13
Former vice-chairman of the Punjab State Planning Board Dr S.S. Johl said owing to the excessive water pumping, the water balance is getting disturbed and depleted, resulting in the degradation of soil with excessive use of the fertilisers and pesticides. He said the only solution to these problems was to adopt the change in farming techniques in Punjab.

He was delivering a lecture on the latest farming techniques and scientific temper at the three-week special winter school at Academic Staff College of Guru Nanak Dev University organised by the department of physics. ASC director Dr H.S. Bhatia welcomed Dr Johl, while the course coordinator Dr R.K. Bedi detailed the aims of the course.

Dr Johl said Punjab was always called “Granary of India” and hence there was a lot of pressure on farmers to produce more and more food. He stressed on using organic farming and aerobic farming which were different from the conventional farming to improve the quality and aroma of the food products at lower price. He also talked about different cultures consisting of jaggery and cow dung to create bio manures which would improve the quality of the organic matter in the soil. He advocated the organic cultivation.

Dr Johl also talked about the scientific temper. He said the three questions why, what and how were the basics of the scientific temper. He said if one wants to gain knowledge, he should do it with an open mind. One should be open to the new ideas and also respect the opposite views. He said teacher with a scientific mind and temper would be open to the queries of students.



MC’s construction work halted
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 13
The market committee yesterday stopped the construction work which had been launched by the municipal corporation for setting up a weigh balance service centre for weighing solid waste close to the Bhagatawala grain market.

Officials of the market committee visited the construction site and stopped the work.

Market committee secretary Gehal Singh confirmed the development, saying the land belonged to the market committee and the MC had no right to construct anything over it. He said a letter to the tehsildar, demanding earmarking of the committee land, had been forwarded.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |