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    UN chief asks India, Pak to resolve Kashmir issue through talks

    UN chief asks India, Pak to resolve Kashmir issue through talks
    Antonio Guterres

    United Nations, January 23UN chief Antonio Guterres has ruled out any mediation to resolve the Kashmir issue unless all parties agree to it and asked India and Pakistan to address their outstanding issues through dialogue.The UN Secretary-General’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that in principle good offices of the UN chief are always available for mediation, but everyone needs to agree on involving the world body.Asked about escalating tensions between India and Pakistan due to ongoing skirmishes and firing along the border, Dujarric said, “We’re obviously aware. We’re following this… what’s been going on, really for the last 10 days.”             Asked why the Secretary-General is not so keen to involve himself in this crisis, Dujarric said, “In principle good offices of Guterres are always available for mediation, but everyone needs to agree on involving the UN.”     “As a matter of principle I’m not talking specifically about this issue, but about any issue where there is conflict between parties, the Secretary-General’s good offices are always available,” he said.“As in any issue, both parties or more than… you know, if there are multiple parties, everyone needs to agree on involving the UN. That is true of any mediation effort,” Dujarric said.“The Secretary-General would encourage both sides to address any outstanding issues through dialogue,” he said. PTI


    President, PM pay tributes to Subhas Bose

    President, PM pay tributes to Subhas Bose

    New Delhi, January 23

    President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday paid homage to freedom fighter Subhas Chandra Bose on his 121st birth anniversary.“He remains one of our most beloved national heroes and an icon of India’s freedom struggle,” Kovind tweeted.

    View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

    The Prime Minister, who is in Davos to attend the World Economic Forum, tweeted a video dedication for the freedom fighter along with a message.“The valour of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose makes every Indian proud. We bow to this great personality on his Jayanti (birth anniversary),” he wrote.

      Born on January 23, 1897, Bose was a member of the Indian civil services in England before returning to India. He was a key member of the freedom struggle and was affectionately called Netaji.

    View image on Twitter
     Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “We remember Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, a patriot, who inspires each of us even today. This verse, from the immortal INA (Indian National Army) marching song is as relevant today as it was then:  March, March on forward. Singing songs of happiness as you go. This life belongs to our motherland. Lay it down for the motherland.” IANS

    Climate change, terrorism grave concerns: PM Modi at WEF

    Climate change, terrorism grave concerns: PM Modi at WEF
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the World Economic Forum. Reuters

    Davos, January 23

    Narendra Modi became the first Indian prime minister to address the World Economic Forum (WEF) here today during which he talked about “serious” challenges and “grave concerns” facing the world, including terrorism.

    Climate change and terrorism are grave concerns before the world, Modi said, while asserting that terrorism is dangerous but what is equally dangerous is the “artificial distinction” made between ‘good terrorist’ and ‘bad terrorist’.

    Speaking at the plenary of the WEF annual summit, Modi also said it is painful to see some youngsters getting radicalised, adding that India’s position on the menace of terrorism is well known and he would not like to elaborate on that.

    “Let us create a ‘heaven of freedom’, where there is cooperation and not division, fractures,” Modi told the gathering.

    He also emphasised that a predictable, stable, transparent and progressive India is good news in an otherwise uncertain global environment.

    The prime minister, who arrived here yesterday, said issues of peace, security and stability have emerged as serious global challenges.

    He also noted that the last time when an Indian prime minister came here in 1997, India’s GDP was a little more than USD 400 billion, but now it has increased more than six-times.

    Referring to WEF’s theme of ‘Creating a shared future in a fractured world’, he said the Indian philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (the world is one family) has become more relevant in today’s time to address fissures and distances in the world.

    Asserting that India is proud of its democracy and diversity, Modi said the country has always contributed towards global peace and believes in the values of integration and unity.

    Touching upon the issue of climate change, he urged the world to think about what can be done to mitigate this threat while emphasising that caring for the environment is a part of India’s culture. PTI


    Capt orders immediate release of pending old-age pensions Instructs removal of CM’s picture from free bicycles being distributed to girls

    Capt orders immediate release of pending old-age pensions
    The government is burdened by a Rs 110-crore liability per month on account of pension arrears.

    Tribune News Service

    Chandigarh, January 23

    Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has ordered immediate release of pending old-age pensions, with strict instructions to regularise payment to the beneficiaries.(Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)The Chief Minister issued the directives during a meeting to review various schemes of the Department of Social Security and Women & Child Development here on Tuesday.Expressing concern over the non-payment of old-age pension in many places since April 2017, Captain Amarinder expressed the hope that the process of payment would be regularised by March, with directions to make December payment by January 31. Pointing out that the government was burdened by a Rs 110-crore liability per month on account of pension arrears, the Chief Minister directed the department to start releasing the arrears in a staggered manner.The Chief Minister also directed the department to sort out the cases of absentee beneficiaries at the earliest, so that all eligible persons are included in the list, which now stands at 16,24,269, against the earlier 19,87,196. The meeting was informed that 93,521 cases (4.71%) had been found to be ineligible, while another 1,96,478 were absentee cases.The ineligible cases related to those who did not fulfil the eligibility criteria, an official spokesperson said after the meeting.The meeting also discussed a proposal to implement the electronic benefit transfer scheme to ensure timely and smooth direct payment of pension to the beneficiaries, he added.In another decision, Captain Amarinder ordered to get latest specifications, including colour, for the free bicycles being distributed to girls, with no photograph of the Chief Minister, in contrast to the existing practice of having the CM’s picture on these specially coloured blue and saffron bicycles.The issue of vacant Group A, B, C and D posts for the disabled in all government departments was also discussed, and the Chief Minister was apprised that 287 of the 899 vacancies had so far been filled by the Department. Captain Amarinder has ordered the remaining vacancies to be filled by April 30.Social Security Minister Razia Sultana and Deputy Speaker Punjab Vidhan Sabha Ajaib Singh Bhatti were among those who attended the meeting.


    No info from China on Pareechu flow, water panel seeks MEA help

    Says neighbouring country stopped sharing info last year citing damage to monitoring site across the border

    SHIMLA: It’s been a year since China shared information on the flow of the Pareechu, a tributary of the Sutlej river originating from the Tibetan Autonomous Region, raising concerns in the Central Water Commission that has now sought the external affairs ministry’s help to assess its hydrology.

    PTI FILEPareechu, a tributary of the Sutlej, wreaked havoc in 2005 when a glacial lake was formed after its course was breached.

    COMMISSION HAS TWO MONITORING STATIONS — ONE AT CHUMAR NEAR LEH AND THE OTHER AT SUMDOH IN LAHAUL AND SPITI DISTRICT AT THE CONFLUENCE OF SUTLEJ AND SPITI RIVERS

    Commission regional director AK Gupta said, “We wrote to the ministry 10 days ago. China stopped sharing information about the tributary’s flow last year. They said that the water monitoring site across the border is damaged.”

    The commission has two monitoring stations — one at Chumar near Leh and the second at Sumdoh in Lahaul and Spiti district, at the confluence of the Sutlej and its main tribuusing tary, the Spiti river. The flow is also monitored at Khab where the Sutlej has been dammed to generate 1,500 MW of power for the Nathpa-Jhakri hydel project.

    The Himachal Pradesh government constantly monitors the flow in the Pareechu through its department of science and technology.

    The lakes formed in the catchment areas of rivers originating from Tibet are monitored satellite imaging.

    SURGING THREAT Pareechu wreaked havoc on June 26, 2005, when a glacial lake was formed after its course breached. The lake, the size of 20 football grounds, burst, flooding the Sutlej. The water washed away the strategic Hindustan Tibet road or National Highway 22 at a number of places. Ten bridges and 11 ropeways were swept away.

    Fifteen bridges were damaged on the 10-km stretch of the highway between Wangtoo and Samdoh alone. Though no loss of life was reported, as many as5,000 people were evacuated under the army’s Operation Varuna. The total loss due to flooding was Rs 800 crore. Pareechu originates in India and meanders through China-occupied Tibet before merging into the Sutlej at Sumdoh.

     

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    Army organises mini-marathon

    Army organises mini-marathon
    Children participate in a mini-marathon which was organised to celebrate the 70th Army Day in Bathinda on Monday. Tribune photo: Pawan Sharma

    Tribune News Service

    Bathinda, January 22

    The Chetak Corps of the Indian Army has organised Chetak Mini-Marathon called “Lets run for the nation” to celebrate 70th Indian Army Day here today. The event was flagged off by Brigadier Tarundeep Kumar, Station Commander from Multipurpose Stadium. The DC and various other senior civilian dignitaries were also present.A total of 1,379 participants, including 342 children and 66 women, took part in the marathon with zeal and enthusiasm. The winners of the marathon were felicitated by Lieut-Gen PC Thimmaya, General Officer Commanding, Chetak Corps.In the 10 km category, the first prize was bagged by Lance Naik Mohkan Singh, second by Mr Preet Pal Singh and third by Gunner Arvind Kumar. In the 5 km category, the first prize was bagged by Sumit Awasti, second by Gurukumal Singh and third by Mohmmad Hamza.


    Actor Mohit Raina promotes TV show on Battle of Saragarhi

    Actor Mohit Raina promotes TV show on Battle of Saragarhi
    Actor Mohit Raina strikes a pose during a promotional event in Amritsar on Monday. Photo: Vishal kumar

    Tribune News Service

    Amritsar, January 22

    Actor Mohit Raina today visited the city to promote his upcoming TV show ‘21 Sarfarosh: Saragarhi 1897’. The show is based on the Battle of Saragarhi.Mohit is playing the role of Havildar Ishar Singh who, along with other 21 Sikh soldiers of the 36th Sikh regiment of the British Indian Army, had successfully defended a remote outpost in the North-West Frontier Province from an attack by over 10,000 Afghan tribesmen.Produced by Contiloe Productions, ‘21 Sarfarosh: Saragarhi 1897’ will be aired on Discovery JEET from February 12.Talking about his role, Mohit, who was also one of the leads in Devon Ke Dev Mahadev, said, “The moment I heard about the role, I wanted to play the character and understand the situation. My fascination for uniform also motivated me to grab the role.”The show will be aired for a period of over two months, depicting the courage of Sikh soldiers who laid down their lives in the line of their duty.On preparations, the actor said, “I am so excited to be in Punjab. I have learnt a lot about Punjab and its culture while playing the role of Ishar Singh. I had listened to many Punjabi songs and watched movies. Ishar Singh was ready to sacrifice his life for his motherland. The intensity and passion of the character have to be lived from the core of the heart.”The show has been shot in the Leh-Ladakh region. Bollywood actor Mukul Dev is also playing the role of Afghan leader Gul Badshah.


    “Time we had a Ministry of Security” by NN Vohra

    Given the enhancing security threats from varied sources and the fact that it is the duty of the Union to protect the states against internal disturbances, a National Security Policy is needed, as also the machinery to implement it.

    “Time we had a Ministry of Security”
    NN Vohra.

    NN Vohra

    J&K Governor

    IT would be relevant to note that the states have the constitutional responsibility for the maintenance of police and public prder and are vested with powers to make all required laws and to take all necessary executive decisions for ensuring internal security within their jurisdictions. Insofar as the Union is concerned, it has the much larger responsibility of protecting the states against war and external aggression and internal disturbances. While our Constitution makes reference to security and not to national security, it would be incorrect to arrive at the conclusion that the Union and the states have distinct and separate duties for safeguarding the country and providing safety and security to the people of India. 

    Understanding national security

    It would be useful to have a broad understanding of the term national security. In simple words, national security comprises all facets of external security, which relates to protecting the country’s territories against war and external aggression, and internal security which includes all matters relating to the maintenance of peace and public order across the length and breadth of the country. It needs being recognised that our security concerns relate to innumerable targets and activities within our country and it would no longer do to merely focus on defending our frontiers. I would go to the extent of saying that, today, there is no important institution or activity which is not insecure. It has, thus, become extremely essential to safeguard almost every arena and to particularly secure arrangements relating to food, water, energy, nuclear power, science and technology, environment, ecology, finance, business, commerce, banking, cyber space and other important quarters.

    Union-state understandings required

    We have neither secured the required Union-state understandings nor developed a pan-India approach which would meet the requirements of a National Security Policy. Insofar as the role of the states is concerned, the Union has not so far been able to convince them to fully accept their constitutional duty to maintain internal security within their jurisdictions. In this context, it needs being stated that, in the years past, a majority of the states have been unable to establish efficient intelligence agencies and maintain well-trained police forces in adequate strength to effectively put down any arising disturbance. Consequently, the states have been perennially relying on the Union for the deployment of Central Armed Police Forces, and even the Army, for the restoration of normalcy in the disturbed areas. Thus, in the past decades, particularly in the North-East region and Punjab, the Union’s Armed Forces have had to be deployed on an extensive scale and for prolonged periods. Among the consequences of such deployments, there have been recurring agitations against the alleged violations of human rights of the affected populations and vociferous demands for the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. It is not easy to explain the Government of India’s approach, particularly in the context of the constitutional prescription that it shall be the Union’s duty to protect the states against internal disturbances. Considering the developments which led to the demolition of Babri Masjid, questions have been repeatedly raised about what exactly is the Union’s constitutional responsibility, particularly when it is duly warned and is well aware of an arising conflagration, as was the case before the demolition of Babri Masjid. Furthermore, after the 8/11 terror attack in Mumbai, grave concerns have also been voiced about the Union’s actual capability for dealing with such challenges. There must not be any further delay in promulgating a well-considered National Security Policy which is founded in unambiguous Union-states understandings to work together for collectively safeguarding the country’s unity and territorial integrity. It is a matter for serious concern that the states have not been able to provide adequate budgetary resources for maintaining their police forces in sufficient strength. The states are also reprehensible for interfering with the day-to-day working of the police organisations and politicising their functioning, which has resulted in eroding the discipline, integrity, morale and professionalism of the constabularies. It is regrettable that, to explain their varied failures, the states have been advancing the specious argument that they suffer from paucity of resources and, in any case, it is the responsibility of the Union to provide them adequate funds for the expansion and modernisation of their police forces as under the Constitution, it is the duty of the Union to protect the states against internal disturbances. Over the years, whatever may have been the complexion of the political parties in power, it has been the Union’s general tendency to avoid any confrontation with the states, far less question them about the factors and influences which have been leading to recurring internal disturbances. Consequently, whenever approached by a state in distress, the Union has been, without fail, providing assistance by deploying Central Armed Police Forces, and even the Army, to restore normalcy in the disturbed area. Thus, the Union has concerned itself essentially with dousing fires and has rarely ever questioned the states about the root causes of the disturbances in their areas. The Union has also been hesitant in exercising its authority under Article 256 of the Constitution to issue appropriate directives to the affected states for taking the required actions to timely quell arising disturbances. On the contrary, the practice actually followed in the past decades has been for the Union Ministry of Home Affairs to merely issue “advisories” to the states concerned in regard to the management of emerging situations. Thanks to the Home Ministry’s amiable approach of only issuing cautionary notes to the states concerned, it has not been possible to pre-empt any arising disorder. 

    National Security Policy needed

    If we recognise the gravity of the progressively enhancing security threats which are emerging from varied sources, from our neighbourhood and beyond, and also remember that it is the duty of the Union to protect every state against internal disturbances, then no more time can be lost in the Union taking immediate initiatives for finalising a holistic National Security Policy and, thereafter, proceeding to establish the required nationwide machinery for implementing it. For securing the required Union-state understandings in the arena of national security management, it would be enormously beneficial if the draft National Security Policy and all major issues relating to its implementation are discussed and settled in meetings with the Chief Ministers under the aegis of the Inter State Council (ISC), which is chaired by the Prime Minister. Once the states have clearly accepted their responsibility to maintain internal security, there would be no reason why they should not become progressively capable of effectively dealing on their own with any arising internal disturbance. And when the States become self-reliant, the Union shall be able to progressively reduce the large-scale deployment of its Armed Forces for dealing with disturbances in the states. In the foregoing context, it needs being noted that except in Jammu and Kashmir, where we are fighting Pakistan’s proxy war, the recurring deployments of the Army elsewhere in the country, for dealing with local insurgencies and internal disturbances in the states, has the rather worrying potential of blunting the Army’s edge and, besides, generating internal problems regarding the operational efficiencies of its officers and men who are recruited, trained and equipped to fight and destroy the enemy at first sight and not to be involved in situations in which the rules of engagement demand considerable restraint. Once the Union has been able to promulgate a bipartisan National Security Policy, the next important step would be to undertake a thorough state- and Union Territory-wise critical review to identify deficiencies in the existing security administration systems. Side by side, it shall be useful to carry out a close critical assessment of the Union’s own wherewithal for discharging its constitutional responsibility to safeguard the nation.  The Union would need to review its obligations on various fronts and, inter alia, enhance allocations to enable the central intelligence agencies to significantly enlarge their capacities for providing timely intelligence to various quarters, at the Centre and in the states. And among their many responsibilities, the intelligence agencies shall need to urgently equip themselves for particularly protecting the defence and governmental establishments, the financial sector and large public and private organisations against cyber crimes.  

    Strengthen NIA

    Needless to stress, when Union-atates understandings are arrived at in regard to the management of national security, a very important agreement shall have to especially provide for the enactment of an anti-terror law, enforceable in the entire country, which enables the Union agency concerned to take immediate cognisance and launch investigations without having to obtain sanctions and clearances from varied state or Central authorities. As of now, we have only the NIA which was enacted in a rush after the 8/11 terror attack. This statute requires considerable strengthening to ensure immediate cognisance of offences committed anywhere in the country to be followed by prompt investigations. Also, the list of offences covered by this law need to be dynamically reviewed and enlarged and, side by side, attention given to upgrade and enhance the powers and modalities for special investigations. Further, the obtaining procedures for the establishment of Special Courts and the completion of trials within given time frames also need to be urgently reviewed and rationalised. If the NIA is to function as the nodal agency to counter terrorism, cyber crimes and other major threats, it shall need to be provided very strong and prompt support by the Central and state intelligence agencies and by the law enforcement machinery all over the country. Many years have elapsed since it was proposed to establish the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC). If I recall correctly, this proposal was opposed by the states which had demanded that the law to establish NCTC should be passed by the Parliament and, further, that this organisation should be administered by the Union Home Ministry and not by the Intelligence Bureau. These arguments reflect the distrust of the states in the functioning of the security organisations managed by the Union and yet again point to the urgent need for arriving at the required Union-states understandings to lay the bedrock of an effective National Security Policy.  

    Trained manpower necessary

    I now come to another very critical issue which has continued to be neglected. This relates to the fundamental necessity of ensuring that all security management departments and agencies are manned by personnel who are adequately trained and equipped to perform the sensitive tasks which they are required to handle. Traditionally, appointments to posts at various levels in the Home and Defence Ministries and other security management organisations have been from among various generalist cadres. Over the years, varied problems have arisen because the large majority of those deployed in such important agencies may have had no prior experience of working in the security management arena. Serious personnel-related problems have also been surfacing in the functioning of the Central intelligence agencies, particularly in the Research and Analysis Wing. For want of a well-planned approach, deficiencies have been faced in regard to the availability of the required number of adequately trained and experienced functionaries who are required for manning the various organisations which comprise the Union’s security administration apparatus. Problems relating to the shortage of trained human resource would pose an even larger problem once the National Security Policy has been promulgated and a significantly enlarged apparatus is required to be made operational. Establish a National Security Administrative Service There have been significant shifts in the geo-political environment in our neighbourhood and beyond and there are new threats to our country’s interests and security. In this context, I would yet again stress that we can no longer afford to follow ad hoc and disparate approaches in regard to national security management and the Government of India should not lose any more time in taking the full step to establish a National Security Administrative Service whose constituents, selected on the basis of a pan-India competitive examination, should be got especially trained in the various required areas and deployed to man the Government of India’s security administration system. Thereafter, members of this service could also be progressively allocated to the states for managing their security management machinery.Set up a new dedicated ministryMy concluding observation relates to the need to establish a new ministry which is entirely dedicated to the efficient implementation of every component of the National Security Policy and to keep a close and constant watch to see that the states effectively maintain internal security in their domains. It needs being recognised that the Union Ministry of Home Affairs is faced with ever increasing day to day pressures on varied fronts and its senior echelons are required to deal with a horde of subjects, of which one relates to internal security management. With its existing responsibilities it would be impractical to expect this ministry to devote whole time attention only to security management related issues, all of which require zero delays and immediate decisions. In this context, if national security is to be effectively managed, the time has come to establish a dedicated Ministry of National Security Affairs which is led by a senior Cabinet minister and manned by handpicked and especially trained functionaries drawn from the National Security Administrative Service, which I have earlier proposed. Finally, I would yet again stress that if the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of our country is to be effectively protected then it is of the foremost importance that the Union and States act in very close concert to ensure the efficient implementation of the National Security Policy. It is equally necessary that all matters relating to National Security are viewed with utmost concern and prompt decisions are taken to ensure that not the slightest chink is left to subvert the national interest.(Excerpts from the 12th RN Kao Memorial Lecture delivered on Jan 22, 2018 in New Delhi)


    PM’s Davos address today, to meet business honchos

    PM’s Davos address today, to meet business honchos

    Zurich, January 22

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi today arrived here on way to Davos to attend the World Economic Forum meeting where he would share his vision for India’s future engagements with the international community.After reaching Davos, he would be meeting Swiss President Alain Berset today. The Prime Minister would also attend the welcome reception by India and later host a dinner for global CEOs. Modi would deliver the opening plenary address at the WEF summit tomorrow. He is scheduled to have a bilateral meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in Davos.(Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)“On his way to Davos, PM @narendramodi arrives in Zurich. First visit by Indian PM to #Davos in 20 years! PM would make a keynote speech at the Plenary of the #WorldEconomicForum, address International Business Council and interact with CEOs. #IndiaMeansBusiness,” an External Affairs Ministry spokesperson tweeted.Tomorrow, Modi would interact with global business community members, besides delivering his keynote address. The theme for this year’s summit is ‘Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World’. In his departure statement on Sunday, the PM had said India’s engagement with the outside world in the recent years has become “truly and effectively multi-dimensional covering the political, economic, people to people, security and other spheres”. — PTI


    Sepoy Mandeep cremated with full state honours

    SANGRUR :Sepoy Mandeep Singh, 23, killed in unprovoked ceasefire violation by Pakistan in the Krishna Ghati sector in Jammu and Kashmir, on Saturday, was cremated with full state honours at his native village Alampur in Lehragaga tehsil of the district, on Sunday.

    BHARAT BHUSHAN/HT■ Family members paying tributes to sepoy Mandeep Singh as his body arrived at his native village Alampur in Lehragaga tehsil of Sangrur district on Sunday. Congress leader and former CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal is also seen.

    As Mandeep’s body arrived, a pall of gloom descended on the village.

    Rich tributes were paid to the soldier who was also accorded a gun salute.

    His body, wrapped in the Tricolour, was brought to his native village.

    He had joined the 22 Sikh regiment about two-and-half years ago. His uncle Nirmal Singh is also an ex-serviceman.

    His father Gurnam Singh and younger brother Jagdeep Singh, 20, lit the pyre.

    Emotions ran high as people raised slogans like ‘Pakistan murdabad, and ‘Indian Army zindabad’.

    Former Punjab chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Lehra MLA Parminder Singh Dhindsa and Lehra sub-divisional magistrate Bikramjit Singh Shergill also attended the cremation. Many army officers and police personnel were also present.

    “Punjabis sacrifice their lives for the country, but this is a difficult time for the family. We are proud of Mandeep,” said Bhattal.

    Mandeep had joined the 22 Sikh regiment around three years ago and was to visit home on leave in February to make arrangements for the wedding of his sister.

    He is survived by his parents and two siblings — an elder sister and brother Jagdeep, who wants to join the army.

    “I am proud of my brother who has sacrificed his life for the country. I will also join the army to kill the country’s enemies,” Jagdeep said, adding that he spoke to his brother over phone three days ago.

    Residents of Mandeep’s native village of Alampur in Moonak sub-division, around 70km from Sangrur, are also in shock.