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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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TOP STORIES

Promotion of doctors likely in Feb, says Principal Secretary
Patiala, December 26
Reacting sharply to the threat given by representatives of the Punjab Civil Medical Service-I (PCMS-I) Association that they will knock at the door of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Das Gupta: PM morally responsible for 2G scam
Ludhiana, December 26
CPI leader and member of the Lok Sabha Gurudas Das Gupta addresses a gathering in Ludhiana on Sunday. Prominent CPI leader and member of the Lok Sabha Gurudas Das Gupta has held Prime Minister Manmohan Singh “morally responsible” for the 2G spectrum scam, involving some Rs 1,76,000 crore but stopped short of asking for his resignation directly.

CPI leader and member of the Lok Sabha Gurudas Das Gupta addresses a gathering in Ludhiana on Sunday. Photo: Inderjeet Verma



YOUR TOWN
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Ludhiana


EARLIER STORIES



Land records of Faridkot dist to be online
Faridkot, December 26
The land records of Faridkot district will be made available online by January 31next year. The process of feeding the data on computers is on. The Sadiq revenue block in the district has already completed its task and online trials are being conducted to ensure a smooth working of the new process.

 Govt planning to sell public land, says Amarinder
Ropar, December 26
State Congress president Amarinder Singh today alleged that the SAD-BJP Government had decided to sell public land to meet its financial needs.Talking to reporters here, the former Chief Minister warned the state government against selling the public land.

Ambala gang supplying beggars at Jor Mela
Fatehgarh Sahib, December 26
A begger begs for alms along the road leading to the Fatehgarh Sahib gurdwara on Sunday. An organised gang of beggars is trying to cash in on the Jor Mela to make money and have left bleeding beggars at the mercy of devotees visiting Fatehgarh Sahib gurdwara.The three-day mela, organised to observe the martyrdom day of younger sahibzadas (sons) of Guru Gobind Singh, began today. Several devotees from all over the world will pay obeisance at the gurdwara.

A begger begs for alms along the road leading to the Fatehgarh Sahib gurdwara on Sunday. Tribune photo by writer





POLITICS

Centre discriminating with state farmers: Rajewal
Jalandhar, December 26
Alleging that the Centre was discriminating with state farmers, the BKU (Rajewal) yesterday urged senior Congress leaders to explain to the people of the state that why the Central Government was denying bonus on paddy to state farmers?

Keep politics off the religious stage: Capt
Ropar, December 26
“First, politics needs to be shown way out of gurdwara and then apply the edict of Akal Takht to keep it (politics) off the religious stage,” said president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Captain Amarinder Singh.


COMMUNITY


A man drives his horse cart in dense fog on the outskirts of Amritsar on Sunday.
A man drives his horse cart in dense fog on the outskirts of Amritsar on Sunday. Photo: Vishal Kumar

‘Extortionist’ cop evades arrest
Moga, December 26
Former in charge of the local CIA Staff, Satnam Singh, who was booked by the local police on charges of corruption, extortion, illegal detention and torture, is still evading arrest and allegedly creating pressure on senior officials in the Police Department to evade arrest.

Authorities take steps to counter chill
Bir Talab (Bathinda),December 26
If all goes well, the inmates of the Bir Talab deer park here will get through a comparatively better winter this season with the authorities concerned constructing special sheds in animals’ cages and covering birds’ enclosures with plastic sheets to shield them from chilly winds.

Conference of Ahmadiyya Muslim begins
Batala, December 26
Delegates from various countries, including Pakistan, took part at a conference of Ahmadiyya Muslims, which kicked off today at its international headquarters in Qadian town, near here. The three-day international conference began with recitations of the holy Koran.
Chairman of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front MS Bitta (right) felicitates family members of Shaheed Udham Singh on his birth annniversary, in Sunam on Sunday
Chairman of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front MS Bitta (right) felicitates family members of Shaheed Udham Singh on his birth annniversary, in Sunam on Sunday. — PTI

Vets to stage dharna on Jan 8
Chandigarh, December 26
The Punjab State Veterinary Officers Association has said that it will hold a state-level dharna in Muktsar on January 8 and also boycott the “Pashu Dhan” championship being organised by the State Animal Husbandry Department if the government did not notify the non-practicing allowance (NPA) eligible to them.

250 POs in Sangrur dist
Sangrur, December 26
Bhan Singh (65), son of Sadhu Singh of Mauraan village, has been declared a proclaimed offender by a court. The Dirba police of the district needs him in a case under Section 15 of NDPS Act wherein more than 170 kg ‘bhukki’ was recovered from him on August 14, 2000.

HARIVALLABH SANGEET SAMMELAN
Festival fails to keep ‘jugalbandi’ promise
Kaushiki Chakraborty Desikan performs at the Harivallabh Sammelan in Jalandhar on Saturday. Jalandhar, December 26
There seems to be a lot of positive energy at the Harivallabh Sangeet Sammelan this year. The dharmashalas of the Sri Devi Talab Mandir are full with visiting scholars and researchers from India and abroad, who bask in the sun all day long and sit huddled up in blankets in the festival pandal at night.

Kaushiki Chakraborty Desikan performs at the Harivallabh Sammelan in Jalandhar on Saturday. A Tribune photograph

Patiala Aviation Club activities hit after instructor’s transfer
Patiala, December 26
Following the transfer of chief flight instructor (CFI) Captain GS Mangat and a Cesna aircraft, to the Sahnewal Aviation Club, activities at the prestigious the Patiala Aviation Club (PAC) have come to a halt.
A boy, 8, dressed as a langoor begs for money on the roadside,in Amritsar on Sunday.
A boy, 8, dressed as a langoor begs for money on the roadside,in Amritsar on Sunday. — AFP

JOINT PROPERTIES
Campaign for amicable partition launched
Amritsar, December 26
The district administration has amicably resolved about 3,000 joint property accounts in the campaign initiated to solve joint revenue account land properties.

Flood victims to get relief soon
Anandpur Sahib, Dec 26
The flood victims from around 15 villages situated near the Sutlej await compensation for their crops destroyed due to swollen river.August witnessed high rainfall leading to brimming of the Bhakra Dam. Consequently, the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) opened spillways of the Bhakra Dam releasing water into the Sutlej and further flooding of the villages.

Jail inmate dies in hospital
Ferozepur, December 26
An inmate of the local Central Jail died within 48 hours of the shifting to the Civil Hospital here by the jail authorities after he complained of stomach ache.Tarsem, alias Sema, who was convicted in a kidnapping case, was shifted to the jail in February. He was 25-year-old.

Tarn Taran group performs gatka in Singapore
Singapore, December 26
An Indian group performing gatka enthralled the audience as they performed at a religious festival held by the Sikh community here.Bir Khalsa Gatka Group from Tarn Taran, which has been promoting the gatka art, performed during ‘Naam Ras Kirtan Darbar’, a three-day religious festival that concluded today. 

 



CRIME

Five boats, nets seized; accused flee
Harike, December 26
In yet another case of illegal fishing being done by members of different gangs, operating in the protected Harike wetland sanctuary, officials and guards of the Wildlife Department have caught five boats, nets and 20 kg of fish from criminal elements, who escaped from the spot under the cover of darkness late last night.

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Promotion of doctors likely in Feb, says Principal Secretary
Umesh Dewan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 26
Reacting sharply to the threat given by representatives of the Punjab Civil Medical Service-I (PCMS-I) Association that they will knock at the door of the Punjab and Haryana High Court if the Department of Health and Family Welfare failed to finalise all pending cases of seniority of doctors working in the department, senior officials of the department said the association was unnecessarily blowing up the issue and misguiding the masses.

Principal Secretary (Health and Family Welfare), Punjab, Satish Chandra said since the seniority list had not been finalised, regular promotions could not be done. “But there is a valid reason behind it. The seniority list, which was prepared earlier, has to be revised as per the new criteria in the wake of instructions from the Department of Personnel,” he said.

He said: “We have received the PPSC recruitment list last week and promotions have to be done on the basis of that. The work for promoting doctors has been initiated and is likely to be completed by mid-January next year. Most likely, promotions will be done in early February,” he added.

Chandra also denied that the posts of senior doctors are lying vacant. “The posts are not vacant and senior-most doctors at disposal of the department have been currently given additional charge till regular promotions are made, he said.

Meanwhile, PCMS Association president, Dr Hardeep Singh, has claimed that no PCMS (I) Association existed now and there was only one PCMS Association, which was being headed by him.

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Das Gupta: PM morally responsible for 2G scam
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, December 26
Prominent CPI leader and member of the Lok Sabha Gurudas Das Gupta has held
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh “morally responsible” for the 2G spectrum scam, involving some Rs 1,76,000 crore but stopped short of asking for his resignation directly. He said the Prime Minister ought to own moral responsibility for the loss caused to the exchequer and it was for him to decided whether to resign or not.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Das Gupta, who was in the city to attend a state convention of the All-India Trade Union Congress, made it clear that the opposition parties would accept nothing short of a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to expose the 2G spectrum scandal in its entirety, while alleging that it was not only the DMK, to which the sacked Communications Minister A Raja belonged, which had pocketed the loot but certain Congress leaders had also shared the booty.

To a pointed question that Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was already looking into the alleged irregularities, Das Gupta said the PAC was not fully competent for this task. On complete disruption of proceedings of the two Houses of Parliament during the winter session, he said the adamant attitude of the UPA government had led to a logjam, which further went on to prove that the ruling coalition cared little for the opposition, which is a dangerous trend for a democratic set-up. Taking the Congress-led coalition government to task for its failure to curb prices of essential commodities, he termed the government as “worthless”. "Prices keep soaring, inflation is at its peak, while the government continues to promise effective remedial steps, which, unfortunately, are nowhere to be seen."

The CPI leader asserted that the phenomenon of a persistent rise in prices was the handiwork of traders, hoarders and corporates, who are holding the people to ransom while the government keeps looking on helplessly. Going a step further, he charged senior government functionaries with colluding with the lobby of producers of essential items and deliberately closing their eyes to the misery and plight of the common man.

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Land records of Faridkot dist to be online
Kulwinder Sandhu/TNS

Faridkot, December 26
The land records of Faridkot district will be made available online by January 31next year. The process of feeding the data on computers is on. The Sadiq revenue block in the district has already completed its task and online trials are being conducted to ensure a smooth working of the new process.

The computerisation of land records is one of the major projects announced by the SAD-BJP Government under the e-governance project. The government claims that it will end decades-long corruption prevailing in the Revenue Department at the grassroots level.

Under this project, which has been sponsored by the Centre, the registration, ‘fards’, mutation, field maps, ‘jamabandis’ of the land and all other records of the sub-registrar office will be computerised for easy access of landholders.

The District Magistrate-cum-Deputy Commissioner of this district, Dr S Karuna Raju, said patwaris, kanugos and tehsildars in all blocks had been instructed to complete the task in time. The work was initiated in February. The district has a total of 171 villages and data compilation work of 182 jamabandis.

The magnanimity of the task could be gauged from the fact that Faridkot has three revenue offices - Sandawan, Golewala and Faridkot. A total of 85 villages fall under this area, of which 44 villages have already been connected online and data entry for these villages will be completed by this month-end.

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Govt planning to sell public land, says Amarinder

Ropar, December 26
State Congress president Amarinder Singh today alleged that the SAD-BJP Government had decided to sell public land to meet its financial needs.Talking to reporters here, the former Chief Minister warned the state government against selling the public land.

“The state government has decided to sell its land and has made the Punjab State Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) the nodal agency for this,” he said. “All land is being transferred to the PIDB to enable it to sell it apparently to meet financial needs of the state government,” he added.

He alleged that earlier too, the government had sold its rest houses in the state and now it had decided to sell the public land. “This land belongs to the people of Punjab and the state government has no right to sell it,” Amarinder Singh said.

The Punjab Government had earlier decided to sell land under the Optimal Utilisation of Vacant Government Land Scheme to raise financial resources. On farmers’ protest in Rajpura, where land was being acquired for an IT park, the state Congress president said they should be paid the prevailing market rate. — PTI 

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Ambala gang supplying beggars at Jor Mela
Gurdeep Singh Mann
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 26
An organised gang of beggars is trying to cash in on the Jor Mela to make money and have left bleeding beggars at the mercy of devotees visiting Fatehgarh Sahib gurdwara.The three-day mela, organised to observe the martyrdom day of younger sahibzadas (sons) of Guru Gobind Singh, began today. Several devotees from all over the world will pay obeisance at the gurdwara.

SP (headquarters) J S Sidhu said a gang of robbers was dropped by a contractor at various points in the mela. “We are verifying the facts. Cops have been deployed to trace people who drop beggars here,” said the SP. He said there were around 15 beggars identified and action would soon be initiated in this regard soon.

“We have seen the vehicle dropping these beggars on roads leading to the gurdwara. They all were bleeding and were draped in white bandages,” said Jai Kishan, a resident of Bassi Pathana.

People were seen offering Rs 5 to Rs 50 to these beggars. Most of them are in a pathetic condition and have been left out in the cold.

Sources in the police said this was an organised gang, which came from Ambala during the mela every year.

“Packed in vehicles from the railway stations, these beggars are dropped at various crowded locations and are picked up at night. The contractor, who collects money, has demarcated various areas for these beggars. If someone tries to dislocate these beggars, the contractor in-charge intervenes,” said a police official at the mela.

Though none of the beggars disclosed their identities but they said around 18 beggars, suffering from different ailments were brought here by a contractor from the railway station.

In the evening, beggars “on duty” divide the money collected with contractors. “I collect Rs 200 to Rs 500 or more in a day at market places.

But at the mela, I have already collected Rs 250 by afternoon. As the pilgrims keep pouring in, the collections increase,” said a beggar, who identified herself as Pawa. She said the beggars were rushed back to the railway station at night to come back again next morning.

Another beggar, Jaggu, said he had been begging with his ailing son. The beggar said they visited the mela every year and came from Kurukshetra.

Sources said some of these beggars were not suffering from any illness but scratched themselves to evoke sympathy.

Fatehgarh Sahib SSP Ranbir Singh Khattra could not be contacted for comments.

Traffic chaos at mela sight
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 26
With the parking areas in Fatehgarh Sahib, including that of District Administration, converted to exhibition stalls, several devotees jostled for space to walk on roads leading to Fatehgarh Sahib gurdwara and Jyoti Swarup gurdwara.

Area residents allege mismanagement by VIP vehicles at all roads leading to the gurdwara. They said vendors had encroached upon the pavements where only VIP vehicles and well-connected people could ply and others had to walk on foot.

“I do not move out of my house to look after my business. Nobody visits my place during the three-day function. All routes are sealed for private vehicles especially on the second day of mela when political conferences are organised by political parties,” said Nakesh Kumar, a Bassi Pathana based businessman.

Area residents said there was hardly any space for vehicular traffic and it was tough to commute in the city. Police has taken security measures and sealed all the main roads and even streets in the city.

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Centre discriminating with state farmers: Rajewal
Sarbjit Dhaliwal/TNS

Jalandhar, December 26
Alleging that the Centre was discriminating with state farmers, the BKU (Rajewal) yesterday urged senior Congress leaders to explain to the people of the state that why the Central Government was denying bonus on paddy to state farmers?

BKU president Balbir Singh Rajewal said the Centre had already announced a financial help of Rs 1,400 crore for Maharashtra farmers, who suffered losses due to excessive rain recently. However, there was no compensation for Punjab farmers who had suffered a loss of Rs 1,800 crore due to the low yield of paddy this year owing to excessive rain during the monsoon.

Rajewal said the Centre first announced a fiscal help of Rs 1,000 crore to Maharashtra farmers. Then again it announced a grant of Rs 400 crore for them. Besides it, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar announced a separate fiscal help of Rs 200 crore from the National Horticulture Mission for those farmers whose orchards were damaged due to rain in Maharashtra. “However, no such generosity has been shown in case of Punjab”, said Rajewal, adding that even the Centre had announced Rs 400 crore as a compensation for rain-hit farmers of Andhra Pradesh.

He said senior Congress leaders in the state should explain the conduct of the Congress-led government at the Centre with regard to Punjab farmers. “The Congress wants to come to power in the state. It is making statements that farmers of the border belt should be given a special package. However, it is not telling farmers that it is the Congress government at the Centre that is denying a special package to farmers of the border belt,” said Rajewal.

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Keep politics off the religious stage: Capt
Tribune News Network

Ropar, December 26
“First, politics needs to be shown way out of gurdwara and then apply the edict of Akal Takht to keep it (politics) off the religious stage,” said president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Captain Amarinder Singh.

Amarinder attended the bhog ceremony of Rana Ranbir Singh, father of MLA Rana KP, here today. Commenting on the recently issued edict, Amarinder said Congress stage had never been set parallel to that of Guru Granth Sahib, unlike the way it is done at political stages of other parties. He said the Akal Takht should ensure that SAD was kept out of SGPC and gurdwaras.

“The Congress is clear about its stand on issue that it does not indulge in political activity in presence of the Guru Granth Sahib. It has become a tradition to set up political stages at the Jor Mel in Fatehgarh Sahib wherein parties put forth their point of view before public and there is nothing wrong in that,” he said.

Warning the Akali-BJP government was against selling public land, he said even if government decided to go ahead with selling land and people buy it, the next Congress government would cancel all the sales.

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‘Extortionist’ cop evades arrest
Kulwinder Sandhu/TNS

Moga, December 26
Former in charge of the local CIA Staff, Satnam Singh, who was booked by the local police on charges of corruption, extortion, illegal detention and torture, is still evading arrest and allegedly creating pressure on senior officials in the Police Department to evade arrest.

He is also allegedly taking the help of senior leaders of the ruling SAD and close relatives of Paramdeep Singh Gill, DGP of the state, who also hails from this town.

The controversial cop, who does not have a good track record in service, is said to enjoy the sympathy of a lobby of some senior police officials who patronised his “misdeeds” because if he is arrested and interrogated, he could reveal a widespread network of corruption allegedly prevailing in the Moga police with the help of political leadership.

The police had registered an FIR against him under Sections 323, 342, 385, IPC, and Section 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, on Thursday following directions of the high court.

As many as 16 local chemists, who furnished affidavits levelling allegations of corruption against him, have alleged that a few senior police officials may try to save him to save their skin; otherwise, he could land them in trouble.

The ‘victims’ of this cop, from whom he took lakhs of rupees as bribe, met here yesterday and decided to file a petition in the high court, in which they will demand handing over the investigation of his case to the CBI.

Even after one year of his suspension, the Police Department has so far not completed the inquiry regarding allegations of corruption levelled against him by local chemists.

The police had raided his house on Friday morning but it seemed just a formality. Sources in the police said that someone from the local police informed the cop prior to the raid, due to which he fled before the police reached his house.

The local chemists had alleged that the cop under the patronage of some senior police officials had devised a method of “recovery of a mysterious powder” to register criminal cases against them. Threatening to slap cases under the NDPS Act, he used to collect lakhs of rupees from them.

Interestingly, in many laboratory test reports of the “mysterious powder” conducted by the state forensic laboratory, nothing serious was found except the composition of certain chemicals used in drugs, which were normally sold to patients on the prescription of doctors.

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Authorities take steps to counter chill
Rajay Deep/TNS

Bir Talab (Bathinda),December 26
If all goes well, the inmates of the Bir Talab deer park here will get through a comparatively better winter this season with the authorities concerned constructing special sheds in animals’ cages and covering birds’ enclosures with plastic sheets to shield them from chilly winds.

As the deer park has been facing funds crisis for a long time, the local authorities, unable to go for any expensive method like installation of heaters and draping the animals, have resorted to putting the collected excreta of animals on fire near the cage and spread bundles of hay in all cages to ensure their safety from harsh winter.

The Bir Talab deer park has nine sambars, 17 cheetals, three hog deer, 81 black bucks and nine monkeys. Further the park has a good population of birds comprising 100 budgerigars, 10 black partridges, three partridges, 22 ducks, 12 red munias, two doves, 25 parakeets and one brown fish owl.

Sources in the deer park said that all arrangements, including construction, were being done with local solutions as the state authorities had released no funds for the safety of animals from the chilly winters.

Terming the cost of upkeep of animals and birds as exorbitant, “financially stressed” deer park authorities have been knocking at the doors of industrial houses, societies and non-government organisations (NGOs) to elicit financial support, but till now nobody has come forward for the cause.

Range Officer Gurpal Singh, who looks after the deer park, said, “We have tied up with various people at a personal level, who have assured to adopt animals with the start of the New Year. Once the scheme starts, a number of people will come forward, enabling us to provide animals with better feed this winter.”

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Conference of Ahmadiyya Muslim begins

Batala, December 26
Delegates from various countries, including Pakistan, took part at a conference of Ahmadiyya Muslims, which kicked off today at its international headquarters in Qadian town, near here. The three-day international conference began with recitations of the holy Koran.

Chief secretary of Ahmadiyya Muslim jamaat Mohd Inam Ghori welcomed the participants of the convention. — PTI

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Vets to stage dharna on Jan 8
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
The Punjab State Veterinary Officers Association has said that it will hold a state-level dharna in Muktsar on January 8 and also boycott the “Pashu Dhan” championship being organised by the State Animal Husbandry Department if the government did not notify the non-practicing allowance (NPA) eligible to them.

The association also extended its ultimatum given to the government for issuing a notification regarding the NPA till January 2. A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the state executive under the chairmanship of its president, Dr Ashok Sharma. The executive expressed its resentment against the bureaucracy, which despite the approval given by the Chief Minister to the move, was not implementing the same.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal at a meeting with the state executive of the PSVOA had approved the NPA for vets as admissible to their counterparts in the Health Department, but the Finance Department has not done notification for this so far.

Giving details of the meeting, Dr Sukhdev Singh, general secretary of the PSVOA, said it was felt, if this unnecessary delay on the part of the government continued, vets would be forced to take to street. He said to give time to the government to implement the measures, the association had decided to extend its ultimatum till January 2. 

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250 POs in Sangrur dist
Shariq Majeed
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 26
Bhan Singh (65), son of Sadhu Singh of Mauraan village, has been declared a proclaimed offender by a court. The Dirba police of the district needs him in a case under Section 15 of NDPS Act wherein more than 170 kg ‘bhukki’ was recovered from him on August 14, 2000.

After the arrest of the accused, a court in Sangrur sentenced him to 10 years and imposed on him a fine of Rs 1 lakh.

Police authorities say that after the accused was convicted, he filed an appeal for bail in the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the court granted him bail on November 30, 2004. On March 3, 2010, the plea of the accused was dismissed and his sentence was upheld by the lower court.

Authorities say that a CJM court, acting on the directions of the high court, issued arrest warrants against the accused but the police couldn’t find him and later the CJM court declared him a proclaimed offender. Later the high court sought an explanation from the SSP, Sangrur, as to why the accused couldn’t be arrested by the police.

Meanwhile, Dharam Singh of Khetla village, who had given a surety for the accused, had to deposit the surety amount in the CJM’s court.

This is not an isolated case the Sangrur police is grappling with. According to a rough estimate, there are around 250 proclaimed offenders in Sangrur district, a majority of whom are booked under theft, criminal and smuggling cases.

A police said on condition of anonymity that it was quite a challenge for the police to arrest the proclaimed offenders especially those who were not the residents of the state. He further said that the most they could do was to question the relatives and family members of the proclaimed offenders, but even they didn’t divulge much and could not be forced to do so. He added that they had been able to arrest around 30-40 proclaimed offenders recently, but there were new additions to the list.

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HARIVALLABH SANGEET SAMMELAN
Festival fails to keep ‘jugalbandi’ promise
Aparna Banerji
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 26
There seems to be a lot of positive energy at the Harivallabh Sangeet Sammelan this year. The dharmashalas of the Sri Devi Talab Mandir are full with visiting scholars and researchers from India and abroad, who bask in the sun all day long and sit huddled up in blankets in the festival pandal at night.

As the festival entered its second day on Saturday, the feeling that you were a part of the learned crowds, grew stronger. Even the children seemed quieter and the men at the shoe-keeping stalls could tell you what artiste was playing, if you asked them.

Two of the artistes, Gurpreet Kaur and Pt Vishwnath, didn’t turn up (Mohan Malsiani was roped in to fill the gap) but the sammelan had all the fire that day one had promised. Starting off late by an hour or so, the festival started with performances by Avtar Kaur (who sung a thumri, chaiti and dadra) and Malsiani, who weaved vocal magic in Raag Hansdhwani and Shiv Kalyan.

Rupak Kulkarni’s flute touched a special chord. The Harivallabh audiences have a thing for Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia’s disciples. Like Rakesh Chaurasia’s performance last year, Kulkarni’s recital was eagerly anticipated, people flooded in and the mood was all heated up. Along with tabla man Kalinath Mishra, Kulkarni regaled the audience with Raag Vachaspati and Majh Khamaj.

Pt Rattan Mohan Sharma’s disciplined recital was a delight. He presented Raag Puria and a bhajan.

One thing that has been a bit disappointing so far is that the festival has failed to deliver on the ‘jugalbandi’ promise. On day one, Sudhir and Amrita Pande ended up performing solo tabla bits instead of a ‘jugalbandi’ and Salil Bhatt and Ankit Bhatt’s performance gave you the same feeling on day two.

It was more of a Salil Bhatt and Sudhir Pande (his second appearance at the festival) show than a ‘jugalbandi’ between the cousins.

Ankit showed promise (especially in the tantrakari ang) but his sitar bits were way fewer than a ‘jugalbandi’ demanded. Salil regaled the crowds with Raag Vishwakauns, which he performed for the first time. The tabla-Satvik Veena camaraderie was strong and towards the end, the sitar, too, gave a surprising spell. On the whole, the trio was electric.

Last to perform was Kaushiki Chakraborty Desikan, the superbly talented daughter of Patiala gharana exponent Pt Ajay Chakraborty. She combines the sweet and strong elements of the Patiala gharana. Intense and honeyed, her variety and hold on the swaras and taal are outstanding. She performed compositions in Raag Bageshwari, Raag Pahari and ended with a bhajan. Yogesh Samsi (who will also perform solo tabla on the last day) and Ajay Joglekar (harmonium) accompanied her.

Hundreds of people sat on right through the end of the recital. The performances ended a couple of hours earlier than those on the first day. People were also crowding artiste Amit’s painting exhibition at Shree Ram Hall. 

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Patiala Aviation Club activities hit after instructor’s transfer
Aman Sood
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 26
Following the transfer of chief flight instructor (CFI) Captain GS Mangat and a Cesna aircraft, to the Sahnewal Aviation Club, activities at the prestigious the Patiala Aviation Club (PAC) have come to a halt.

The shifting of CFI would mean that aspirants seeking training for a commercial license will have to wait till the new CFI joins in Patiala.

The state government claimed that these transfers would streamline and strengthen the working of the Amritsar, Patiala and Sahnewal (Ludhiana) aviation clubs. The process would take a couple of months before it is streamlined.

As per rules, a trainee has to fly 200 hours to get license and gain eligibility. The PAC was imparting training to young pilots.

Sources said the department of civil aviation, Punjab, had shifted a Cesna -152 VT EMW aircraft to Sahnewal, leaving only two aircrafts with Patiala.

According to the rules, a flying club is required to have a minimum of three aircrafts to impart training. The PAC has another aircraft that needs repair but due to scarcity of spare parts the repair work is yet to be done.

Refusing to divulge more details, Capt Mangat said he was currently on leave due to personal reasons. “However I will join in Sahnewal,” he confirmed.

A senior official confirmed that the government was planning to make the three aviation clubs of Amritsar and Ludhiana, operational by handing over three aircrafts, in addition to PAC. “We have transferred the chief flight instructor out of PAC. The move is inevitable due to the night flying facility in the offing at Sahnewal,” he said.

When contacted, adviser, civil aviation, Punjab capt Abhay Chandra told The Tribune that though things would come to a halt for a few days, their department was keen on starting flying at Amritsar, Patiala and Sahnewal aviation clubs with in two months from now. “We will take aircrafts standing in Jalandhar, get them repaired and hand them over to the three aviation clubs of Punjab,” he said. He said they would do so before any inspection by the Director-General Civil Aviation, which checks the lapses at flying clubs.

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JOINT PROPERTIES
Campaign for amicable partition launched
Neeraj Bagga/TNS

Amritsar, December 26
The district administration has amicably resolved about 3,000 joint property accounts in the campaign initiated to solve joint revenue account land properties.

Deputy Commissioner KS Pannu said the Revenue Department, panchayats and village nambardars had been roped in to encourage people for an amicably partition of joint property accounts, which have been the cause of many a dispute especially in the rural areas. At the official level, partition of revenue land accounts was done in 1935 and during the 1960s at the time of consolidation of land holdings. The local administration embarked on the campaign about five months ago.

Pannu said during the past five decades joint land accounts called 'mushtarka khata' had not been partitioned, whereas descendants of the land owners had increased manifold. Besides, increase in land prices during the past 10 years, disputes over land ownership rights between the families had increased manifold.

Pannu said migration of some co-owners to foreign countries and deterioration in social values became a major cause of disputes in joint land ownership rights. The present system of partition of joint family properties in case of disputes was not only cumbersome, but it took years in resolving in courts, he added.

He rued that following inquiries, he came to know that 'khangi takseem', a revenue law providing a mechanism of partition of land on the basis of family settlement, is hardly used.

The Deputy Commissioner embarked on an awareness campaign to encourage the land owners to come forward for 'khangi takseem'.

He said fortnightly meetings were held with the revenue officers and the kanugo to review the progress of the campaign. He said those revenue officials delivering good results were being issued appreciation letters. 

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Flood victims to get relief soon

Anandpur Sahib, Dec 26
The flood victims from around 15 villages situated near the Sutlej await compensation for their crops destroyed due to swollen river.August witnessed high rainfall leading to brimming of the Bhakra Dam. Consequently, the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) opened spillways of the Bhakra Dam releasing water into the Sutlej and further flooding of the villages.

Consequently, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal visited Anandpur Sahib and ordered that the farmers should be compensated for the losses incurred. — TNS

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Jail inmate dies in hospital

Ferozepur, December 26
An inmate of the local Central Jail died within 48 hours of the shifting to the Civil Hospital here by the jail authorities after he complained of stomach ache.Tarsem, alias Sema, who was convicted in a kidnapping case, was shifted to the jail in February. He was 25-year-old.

This is the eighth death in the jail in the past over one month and 14th in the current year. A few days ago, Jagjit Singh, DIG (Jails), Punjab, had visited here to conduct an inquiry in connection with the death of an inmate in his barrack. Yesterday, an inmate, who was undergoing life imprisonment in a murder case, allegedly committed suicide.

It is learnt that Tarsem had complained of stomach pain on December 24 and he was shifted to the hospital last morning. He was responding to the treatment but died this afternoon. The cause of the death will be known after a post-mortem examination. — TNS

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Tarn Taran group performs gatka in Singapore

Singapore, December 26
An Indian group performing gatka enthralled the audience as they performed at a religious festival held by the Sikh community here.Bir Khalsa Gatka Group from Tarn Taran, which has been promoting the gatka art, performed during ‘Naam Ras Kirtan Darbar’, a three-day religious festival that concluded today. 

“We are responding to increasing number of calls from the global Sikh community for reviving this art among Sikhs,” said Manmohan Singh Bhagowal, who leads the group.

“This is our first visit outside Singapore and we expect to visit more countries in the coming year at the request of the Sikh diaspora,” said Bhagowal, who is also secretary-general of the Gatka Federation of India. The group, having performed across India, will visit Canada in April during Baisakhi. “We aim to attract youngsters to this art in India and overseas, said Bhagowal, who represents 600 centres across India and a growing numbers of centres in the UK and the US. ‘Naam Ras Kirtan Darbar’ is held every two years in late December here. — PTI 

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Five boats, nets seized; accused flee
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Harike, December 26
In yet another case of illegal fishing being done by members of different gangs, operating in the protected Harike wetland sanctuary, officials and guards of the Wildlife Department have caught five boats, nets and 20 kg of fish from criminal elements, who escaped from the spot under the cover of darkness late last night.

Official sources said a team of staff members of the Wildlife Department, including its guards, raided an island in the Harike lake late last night after they received information that some unscrupulous elements had been indulging in illegal fishing.

When they reached the spot, three accused, who were indulging in illegal fishing, escaped. The accused left behind their clothes and food items along with boats and nets.

This is the ninth incident in the past one month or so when officials of the Wildlife Department have found unscrupulous elements making an attempt to encroach upon the land belonging to the Harike bird sanctuary, which has been declared as Ramsar site also, for illegal fishing, killing of migratory birds and cutting of forest area.

Sanjeev Tiwari, Divisional Forest Officer (Wildlife), Ferozepur, said the accused had been identified as Suresh, Vishnu Deva and Vishnu. All of them belonged to Uttar Pardesh and Bihar. The accused had been carrying out fishing in an illegal manner for the past many months and had been caught earlier also.

He said the modus operandi of the accused was that they would live on the island for days together and indulge in illegal fishing during night time. After gathering a huge quantity of fish, they would transport it to the main land throughtheir boats.

He said a case against them had been registered under the Wildlife Protection Act. The police officials had also been informed about the incident so that another case could be registeredagainst them. 

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