News 27-28/07/06 India/World

Rain brings relief to farmers
Tribune News Service


Bathinda, July 26
Large parts of the region were lashed by moderate rain today. Experts feel that it beneficial for cotton and paddy crop and will ease power scenario in the state.
Mr Jabbarjang Singh, a farmer from Bir Behman village, said: “The showers would reduce my expenses on diesel, besides dampening the soil thereby curtailing the need to irrigate fields more at least for the coming few days.” He lamented that he had burnt diesel worth Rs 15,000 to irrigate his 10 acre paddy and five acre cotton crop this season, as he didn’t have a power connection. Iqbal Singh, another farmer from Gehri Bhagi village, said the increase in diesel prices over the past few years had put a lot of burden on the farmers and only good rainfall could reduce their input cost. He said residents of their village recently burnt rag dolls and rain god finally answered their prayers. Reports of rain have also been received from different pockets of Mansa, Muktsar and Faridkot districts. Ex-chairman of the North India Cotton Association, Ashok Kapoor, said the rain augured well for the cotton crop. He said though the crop was getting adequate water, beneficial effect of rain was missing. He said farmers were feeling deficiency of rain and reports of withering of crop were pouring in, although no major setback came to light. He said boll formation had begun in the early varieties and plants were also in a health condition. He said rain would boost the height of plants. He said two-three more showers would see Punjab’s cotton crop through. He said rain would be more beneficial if weather opened up after it.
Swinging celebration

Decked in finery, members of the Gymkhana Officers’ Wives Club get together in a joyous mood at the Gymkhana Club, Jalandhar, to celebrate Teej. — Tribune photo
800 years of Sultanwind
The ancient village where followers of Prithviraj Chauhan settled and that nurtured brave soldiers and numerous militants too, moves towards development, albeit slowly. Varinder Walia and P. K. Jaiswar trace the history and passage of time for the village
How could anyone ever turn the clock back in Sultanwind? How could members of main communities living in a 800-year old village ever go back to being nails and flesh — of the same finger? Drive through Sultanwind now and see how. That dark phase is not even a blip on anybody’s mind.

The story of Bhai Manjh

A painting depicts Bhai Manjh, follower of Guru Arjan Dev, who tumbled into a well but saved the wood that he was carrying for ‘Guru ka langar’.Bhai Manjh whose real name was Teertha used to do the seva by bringing wood as fuel for preparing langar. He was a staunch devotee of Pir Sakhi Sultan and had two mazaars of the pir at his residence. He was one of the rich zamindars of the area and was also the head of the village.

However, after listening to the spiritual discourses of the fifth Guru, he razed down the two mazaars. Despite opposition by the residents of area, he did not abandon the path shown by the Guru.
One day, while carrying wood he tumbled into a well following a storm. Guru Arjan Dev found that despite his predicament, Bhai Ji had saved the wood from getting wet. The Guru honored his disciple by saying: “Manjh is beloved of the Guru and the Guru of the Manjh”. However, the ancient well in which Bhai Manjh had tumbled has been covered with a marble structure at the cost of its historicity. Guru Hargobind visited this village when their barat stayed here on its way to Baba Bakala from Guru Ki Wadali and had tied his horse to a killa (wooden nail) that turned into a tree.

Named after “Pir” Sakhi Sultan, Sultanwind is four centuries older than the city of Amritsar. Situated on the old Golden Temple road, Sultanwind was once a Muslim-dominated village before Partition. The ancestors of the villagers, who were followers of king Prithviraj Chauhan, fought valiantly Mohammad Ghori before settling down here.

A number of mazars in the village periphery show that a large number of Muslims who lived there left for the newly-created Pakistan after the bloodshed of the Partition.
Guru Arjan Dev visited Sultanwind to rescue his follower Bhai Manjh after he had tumbled down a well while bringing wood from a forest.
Guru Hargobind stayed here during his marriage. Other prominent religious figures who visited the place included Baba Budda Ji, Bhai Gurdas Ji, Bhai Bahlo Ji, Bhai Salo Ji and Bhai Bidhi Chand.
An old tree of “Karir”, where the sixth Guru tied his horse, still exists in the gurdwara.
But the gurdwara, now under the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), is not properly maintained.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh had constructed two “burjis” (minarets), on the old Golden Temple road. This was how the adjoining village Doburji was named. However, both the ‘burjis’ – the grand landmarks, have been demolished.
Long ago the present city of Amritsar was a dense forest. Several villages fringed the forest. Many legendary and mythological references are attached to this land owned by adjoining villages of Tung, Sultanwind, Gumtala and Gilwali.
Dr Guravtar Singh, who belongs to this village, claimed that the land of Sultanwind started from Gurdwara Dukh Bhanjni Beri (in the Golden Temple premises). The location of the Golden Temple was a low-lying area with a big pond surrounded by dense jungle. It was next to the city of Lahore, then the capital of Punjab. A highway connecting India to some central Asian countries also ran through this piece of land. The price of real estate here has, of late, increased manifold. The price of land, which had crashed during the peak of militancy, is once again picking up. A PUDA approved Kanwar Enclave, named after slain Khalistan Commando Force Chief, Kanwarjit Singh Sultanwind, is fast coming up. The upward swing of land prices is mind-boggling. At present, it is between Rs 4,000 and Rs 5,000 per yard.

Supreme sacrifices
The villagers made Sultanwind proud by making supreme sacrifices in all the fields –World Wars, Jaiton Morcha, Morcha of Guru Ka Bagh or freedom struggle.
Over 1,38,000 Indian troops fought in Belgium and France during World War I, many of them Sikhs. The marble slab outside the police station displays that 135 residents of this village participated in World War I. Out of them, seven had sacrificed their lives.
In the first battle of Ypres at Flanders in 1914, a platoon of Sikhs died fighting to the last man, who shot himself with his last cartridge rather than surrender. Sikhs still made up a disproportionate quantity of the forces that India gave to the war effort. Sikhs again fought on a number of fronts, where Sikh units were largely deployed. The British government established a police post as reward for the bravery of the villagers who had participated in World War I.

Interestingly, there was hardly any takers for the land when the gun-totting Kanwarjit Singh was alive.
Following the restoration of normalcy, real estate business has seen an unexpected swing. The village that provided a sanctuary to the terrorists has become much sought after by the colonisers these days. A number of terrorists belonged to this village. Militancy became the reason for the non-development of the region.
The village is divided into 12 “patties” (zones). These include Patti Mansoor, Patti Balol, Dadujalla, Bhainiwal, Malka, Sau, Sultan, Pandora and Shaho Ki. The area was recently brought under the Amritsar South constituency. Earlier it was under the Jandiala constituency.
According to a rough estimate, the village has a population of about 40,000, and has 25,000 registered voters.
Sultanwind came under the Municipal Corporation in 1972. However, there is nothing to show in the name of development.
Interestingly, immediately after World War I, the British government made the labyrinthine lanes of the area “pacca”, as a reward for the bravery shown by the villagers during the war. The Chitti Gali was completely marbled. It is in a bad shape now. The four-km long stretch was never repaired. It is marked by large potholes.
Since the village is located across the Sultanwind canal, it got deprived of development.

An old house made with Nanakshahi bricks in a narrow lane stands in mute testimony to passage of time in the 800-year-old Sultanwind village.

Recently, the Punjab government decided to construct a gate and repair the road in the memory of late Lance Naik Gurmit Singh, killed during the Kargil War.
The authorities started the construction with much fanfare on April 14 this year. However, the work progressed further than the platform for the gate.
According to information, the corporation passed a grant of Rs 26 lakh for the purpose. But the completion of work still seems to be a distant dream.
The area is now marred by water seepage that has clogged the village damaging residences and important building like Gurdwara Atari Sahib where the sixth Guru is believed to have stayed.

Waiting for development
The literacy rate of the village is low. However, few educated persons who have brought laurels to Amritsar feel concerned about the lack of development of their ancestral village. Mr Sum Dutt Vasudeva, Additional Advocate General, Himachal Pradesh, and Dr Guravtar Singh, a government veterinary officer, who belongs to this village said there had been no development worth its name since Sultanwind village was included in the Amritsar Municipal Corporation.
The road connecting the village to the city as also with Daburji village on the main GT Road (Amritsar-Jalandhar Road) is full of potholes. Neither is there any water supply scheme nor any sewerage system.
Dr Guravtar Singh said heaps of domestic waste could be seen littered in the main bazaar and drains remained full of filth. “There is neither a dispensary nor any library.
The corporation as well as the state government has completely overlooked this village since it ahs no godfather,” he rued. Dr Guravtar Singh was one of the two doctors from the country to have participated in the regional training of meat inspection in Asia held at Veterinary Management Institute in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
When Chauhan fought Ghori

Prithviraj Chauhan (1178-1192 AD), the ruler of Ajmer and Delhi, was one of most powerful rulers of India. He succeeded to the throne in 1179, while still a minor, and ruled from the twin capitals of Ajmer and Delhi.
The Chauhan succession had been rather confused since the death of Vigraha-raja in 1165; Prithviraj reconsolidated control of the Chauhan kingdom and conquered several neighboring kingdoms, which made his state the leading Hindu kingdom in northern India. Delhi was captured from the Tomara Rajputs during the early years of his reign, and was renamed Qila Rai Pithora.
He campaigned against the Chandela Rajputs of Bundelkhand.
His kingdom included much of the present-day Indian states of Rajasthan and Haryana, and parts of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
In 1191 AD, Muhammad Ghori proceeded towards India and captured Bathinda. Prithviraj Chauhan too advanced towards Bathinda to check the enemy’s advance. Both the armies faced each other at Tarain. In the first battle of Tarain, Mohammed Ghori was defeated. Mohammed Ghori, after the defeat at Tarain, was on the look out for an opportunity to strike back. In 1192 AD, he again invaded India with an army of 1,20, 000 soldiers. Both the armies faced each other again at Tarain.
Prithviraj realised that the enemy was in an advantageous position and proposed a peace treaty.
But Muhammad Ghori kept Prithviraj Chauhan engaged in peace talks and suddenly attacked him, inflicted on him a crushing defeat. Prithviraj was caught and killed.
This was the turning point in the history of India.
Thus, Delhi and gradually the rest of India fell into the hands of the Muslim rulers and many of the followers of Chauhan settled in Sultanwind. The Chouhans and Mahal Jats who dominate the village trace their origin to Rajputs, Dr Guravtar Singh who himself is a Chouhan, claimed.
28.7.2006. 19:24:19

- Israel calls up reservists
- Israel: bombing to continue
Israel has pressed its bombardment of Lebanon and mobilised thousands more reservists as its main international backers Britain and the United States were set for a White House summit.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair is seeking a United Nations Security Council resolution as early as next week to defuse the Middle East conflict, his spokesman said.

"We are not the only players in this but we believe what we should be working towards is a UN resolution as early as possibly next week," his spokesman said.

With international pressure mounting for a halt to the fighting, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice - in Malaysia for an Asian foreign ministers' meeting - was mulling plans to return to the Middle East.

But despite Asian and European Union calls for an immediate ceasefire, President George W Bush again warned against what he called a "fake peace", maintaining the stalling position adopted at an international conference in Rome on Wednesday that Israel seized on as a green light to press its offensive.

That interpretation was disputed by delegates to the meeting which Israel did not attend.

17th day of fighting

With the fighting now in its 17th day, Israeli aircraft and artillery pounded south Lebanon early today after sporadic clashes between Israeli troops and Shi'ite militants of Hezbollah through the night.

Five civilians, including a Jordanian, were killed, bringing the death toll in Lebanon from Israel's offensive to 425 people, including 354 civilians.

Police said a couple were killed when their home in the village of Deir Aamiss, south of Tyre, was hit in an Israeli attack and bodies could not be extracted from the rubble owing to the continued bombardments.

In the same region, a 75-year-old woman was bleeding underneath the rubble of her house in the village of Talloussa as rescue efforts to reach her proved in vain.

The Israeli air force carried out more than 27 raids at dawn in areas to the east of Tyre, which were also hit by some 300 shells fired by Israeli artillery.

The bodies of a Lebanese couple were retrieved from under the rubble in a house in Kfar Joz, where four civilians, including three children, were also wounded in the Israeli strikes.

Hezbollah has announced the death of 32 of its fighters, including two rescue workers, while its Shiite ally Amal reported the death of six of its militants since the fighting broke out on July 12.

Dozens more civilians, including a large number of children, are still buried underneath the rubble of houses destroyed in Israeli air strikes around the Tyre region, according to rescue workers.

To date, a total of 51 Israelis have also died in the cross-border fighting - the majority of them soldiers - since the fighting broke out on July 12.

Patriot missiles near Tel Aviv

The Israeli army says it will deploy Patriot anti-missile batteries near Tel Aviv, Israel's biggest city, in case Hezbollah starts using long-range rockets against the Jewish state.

Israel's own Arrow missiles will also be deployed around Tel Aviv's coastal conurbation to bring down any rockets fired from south Lebanon by the Shite militant group, army radio said, without saying when the deployment would happen.

Hezbollah has so far only hit the north of Israel with the hundreds of rockets it has fired since July 12 in response to the Israeli offensive.

Patriot missiles are already deployed in the north but they are ineffective against the small rockets which Hezbollah has used so far.

Air campaign stepped up

After nine elite troops were killed in clashes with Shi'ite militants around the border town of Bint Jbeil on Wednesday, including an Australian-Israeli soldier, Israel's security cabinet decided to step up its air campaign.

But government ministers said they would restrict riskier ground operations to setting up a border buffer zone of a few kilometres in south Lebanon.

Israel has insisted there is no question of another occupation of its northern neighbour, with memories still raw of the quagmire that resulted from its 1982 invasion.

The cabinet also decided to call up three divisions of reservists, which could mean the deployment of as many as 30,000 more troops.

Opinion poll

Opinion polls suggested that the government's tough policy continued to enjoy broad public support and that many Israelis wanted to see the military pound Lebanon even harder.

A poll in the top-selling Yediot Aharonot daily found that more than 70 per cent of Israelis supported intensifying the offensive and some 65 per cent supported the mobilisation of additional reservists.

Army chief Dan Halutz said "enormous" damage had been inflicted on Hizbollah and that hundreds of fighters had been hit. Hezbollah says it has lost 30 of its men.

UN Security Council

The UN Security Council expressed shock over an Israeli attack on a UN observer post in Lebanon which killed four peacekeepers, but made no condemnation in its statement in the face of strong US opposition.

"The Security Council is deeply shocked and distressed by the firing by the Israeli Defence Forces on a United Nations observer post in southern Lebanon on July 25," said the statement passed unanimously by the 15-nation council.

Tuesday's attack in the hilltop town of Khiam killed unarmed military observers from Austria, Canada, China and Finland.

UN chief Kofi Annan said the raid was "apparently deliberate", a charge Israel denied.

With Washington appearing increasingly isolated in its rejection of an immediate ceasefire, US President George W Bush said he was "troubled" by the destruction Israeli strikes had caused.

But he rejected any "fake peace" that did not tackle the conflict's root causes, echoing Israeli demands for a lasting solution to the presence of Hezbollah rockets on its northern border.

"Authorisation" to press on

Israel insists it will not halt its assault until the two soldiers held by Hezbollah are freed and the group's military wing has been disarmed.

It seized on the failure of a 15-nation conference in Rome to demand an immediate ceasefire as "authorisation" to press on.

But Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, whose country currently holds the European Union presidency, said Israel had misread the conference's outcome.

"It is their interpretation and it is wrong," said Tuomioja, who was due in Lebanon on today.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair flew out to Washington for his summit with Bush, facing mounting domestic opposition to his backing for the United States tacit support for Israel.

Two separate newspaper polls this week suggested that a majority of Britons believe the Israeli response has been "inappropriate and disproportionate".

A row over the use of a Scottish airport as a staging point for US arms deliveries to Israel to sustain its offensive appeared to have blown over head of the summit.

White House spokesman Tony Snow said the row was just "a paperwork question" and British officials told London newspapers that more stopovers at Prestwick airport for arms deliveries were in the pipeline with the government's blessing.

"It is a right we have always granted," an official in Blair's office was quoted as saying.

In Malaysia, Rice said she was "willing and ready to go back to the Middle East at any time," but aides said she was more likely to leave tomorrow than on today.

Gaza Strip

In the Gaza Strip, where Israel is engaged in another assault to retrieve a third captured serviceman, two people were killed, bringing the death toll from the month-old offensive to at least 145 Palestinians and one Israeli.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said there were efforts under way "which lead us to believe that he will be released soon."

But the armed groups holding him denied Mr Abbas's comments.

"There is nothing new concerning this file," said a spokesman for the armed wing of the ruling Hamas movement.
REDMOND, Washington (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp. (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research) said on Thursday it sees no reason now why its new Windows Vista operating system would be delayed, but stopped short of committing to its previously stated launch target.
Microsoft has already postponed the release of its much-anticipated upgrade to Windows for consumers until after the crucial holiday shopping season to improve the system's quality. It plans to ship Vista to corporate customers in November this year.
"We will ship Windows Vista when it is available," said Kevin Johnson, co-president of Microsoft's platforms and services division. "However, we are going to ship the product when it is ready and we are just going to take it milestone by milestone."