Sunday, July 29, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Chinks in SAD deepen 
Panches’ byelection today
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
The panchayat byelections to elect 66 sarpanches and over 460 panches in Punjab tomorrow has deepened the rift in the top ranks of the Shiromani Akali Dal headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

The Majha area, the Cooperation Minister, Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura and the Excise and Taxation Minister, Mr Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, son-in-law of the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, are engaged in an intense tussle over the election of a sarpanch of Naushehra Pannuan village. In the Malwa area, Mr Sikander Singh Malooka, Power Minister, is engaged in settling scores with his opponents in the party at Bhairupa village.

Though the political rivalry between Mr Brahmpura and the Kairon family especially Mr Surinder Singh Kairon and Mr Adesh Partap Singh Kairon is quite old but it has now become a talk of streets not only in the Majha area but in the entire state. Mr Brahmpura has the support of Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, the Minister for Animal Husbandry and certain other important Akali leaders of the area.

The latest bout between the Brahampura group and the Kairons is on the election of the sarpanch in Naushehra Pannuan village. Mr Brahmpura, who represents the Naushehra Pannuan constituency in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, had put up Mr Nav Amarbir Singh, son of the late Balbir Singh Pannu, for the office of sarpanch. The authorities concerned first appointed Mr R.D. Sharma as the returning officer. But all of a sudden he was replaced by Mr Mohinder Singh.

Smelling a conspiracy, allegedly on the part of Kairons, Mr Brahmpura along with his supporters, came out in the streets of Naushehara Pannuan and staged a dharna there. He openly alleged that the authorities concerned have changed the returning officer at the instance of the Kairons.

In the Malwa area, Mr Sikander Singh Malooka, has removed Mr Gurpreet Singh Kangar, from the primary membership of the party. Mr Malooka is also the president of the district unit of the party. Mr Gurpreet Singh Kangar is said to be close to Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, son of the Chief Minister. While removing Mr Kangar from the party, Mr Malooka has alleged that he (Mr Kangar) was supporting the Opposition candidate in Bhairupa village. But the root cause lies elsewhere. Claiming closeness to Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, Mr Kangar has given the impression in the area that he would be the party candidate in the ensuing Assembly elections from the Rampura Phul constituency from where Mr Malooka was elected last time. Mr Malooka’s action against Mr Gurpreet Singh is clearly directed to pre-empt his chances to acquire a party ticket.

This problem is not confined to Majha and Malwa regions only. Elsewhere, the SAD is facing problems in its ranks. Panchayat elections have given further fillip to the ongoing cold war among Akali leaders. It is a dangerous omen for the SAD in the ensuing Assembly elections.

Meanwhile, at certain places both Congress and Akali leaders have taken these elections very seriously. They have put their whole energy to get their candidates elected. For instance, Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, an Akali minister and Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, a former Congress minister, have been camping at Kahnuwan village for the past several days to campaign for their candidates. It looks more an election fight between Mr Sekhwan and Mr Bajwa than between candidates for the office of sarpanch. Same is happening at other villages where polling will be held tomorrow. Both the SAD and the Congress leaders feel that the outcome of these panchayat byelections could set the trend for the ensuing Assembly elections at least in the areas where elections were being held.


SAD, BJP to decide on seats ‘jointly’
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 28
Sharing of seats between the SAD and the BJP in the ensuing Assembly elections in Punjab will depend on the winning chances of the candidates of the both alliance partners. At the time of announcement of the elections, the claims of both parties will be examined before reaching a settlement. If the BJP proves its claim on 35 or more seats, the SAD will not hesitate in allotting it that number of seats. The BJP had contested 23 seats in the February 1997 elections.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister for chemicals and fertilisers, and secretary-general of the SAD, said this in reply to a question that BJP was demanding 35 seats in the ensuing elections.

He also said the SAD had no objection in having an alliance in the elections with any party, except the Congress.

Mr Dhindsa also said that minimum support price (MSP) for paddy would be announced before the end of current session of the Parliament on August 31.

The minister said the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, had taken up the issue of handing over the management of gurdwaras in Pakistan to the SGPC with Mr Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan, during his recent meeting with him at Agra. He further said this issue would be taken up again by Mr Vajpayee with Mr Musharraf during his visit to Pakistan.

He also disclosed that Union Government had released Rs 18.5 crore for creating the infrastructure for National Games to be held in September in Punjab. Besides, the Punjab Government had also released Rs 15 crore for this purpose, he added.


Punjab Cong manifesto by Aug 15
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 28
The Punjab Congress, which has devised a multi-pronged strategy to fight the forthcoming Assembly elections, will finalise its election manifesto by August 15.

The special committee of the Congress on Punjab, which met here today under the chairmanship of Mr Manmohan Singh, also finalised a blueprint of the “charge sheet” against the Badal government.

The manifesto committee of the party also met separately at the AICC headquarters here to discuss the various issues which will form the basis of the party’s electoral campaign in the state. The seven-member manifesto committee, headed by Ms Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, will meet in Chandigarh on August 6 before finalising the party’s election manifesto.

The party has also drawn up its campaign committee which has been entrusted with the task of organising rallies in all 117 constituencies of the state. The committee, chaired by party MP R. L. Bhatia will have about 100 members, including former PCC chiefs, party MPs and ministers. The names of committee members are expected to be released on Monday after these are approved by Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

To strengthen the party’s organisational set up, AICC treasurer Moti Lal Vora, who is in charge of Punjab, has appointed observers who will be sent to various blocks in the state to report on the party’s preparations for the poll. A meeting of the observers has been convened on August 7 where they will be assigned specific areas.

Mr Vora said though work for selecting party’s candidates had not yet begun, he was already receiving about 10 bio-datas everyday from the aspirants. Bio-datas were also being given to the observers and PCC leaders. The observers appointed by the AICC include Mr Narendra Budiana, Mr Suraj Khatri, Mr Ramnarayan Mena, Mr Surendra Kumar Bhuyar, Mr Suraj Bhan Solanki, Mr Gangaram Sharma, Mr Subhash Sharma, Mr Sekh Nazimuddin, Dr Ajit Degwekar, Mr Sanjay Pathak, Mr K S Gujral, Mr Jagtar Singh Kang, Mr Sankar Pannu, Mr J Singh Gehlot, Mr K D Sultanpuri and Mr Deepak Mathur.

Sources said PCC chief Capt Amarinder Singh had been told to make certain changes in the charge sheet he presented today to the special committee headed by Mr Manmohan Singh. The charge sheet, they said, would also be ready by August 15. Besides Ms Ambika Soni, Mr Oscar Fernandes and Mr Ahmed Patel, today’s hour-long Punjab committee meeting was attended by its members, including Mr Yogendra Makwana, Mr Virbhadra Singh and Ms Nirmala Shaktawat.


Cong forms panel for NRIs
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 28
Realising the importance of the fact that a large number of voters belonging to the Doaba region are relatives of NRIs, the Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee (PPCC) has formulated a state-level committee to keep in mind the interests of the Punjabis living abroad.

According to an estimate, a sizeable number of Punjabis, at least 70 lakh, are living abroad and have a large number of relatives and friends residing here, which, as the Congress leadership feels can play a vital role and tilt the scale in its favour during the forthcoming assembly elections. The Congress is pinning hope as the Doaba region has been its stronghold and the chances of its electoral prospects getting brighter may increase if it is able to make inroads into the territory of NRI relatives.

The 24-member committee, formulated by the PPCC President, Capt Amarinder Singh, today will be headed by Mr Balbir Singh, a senior Congress leader and an MP from Jalandhar, while former Punjab minister Gurvinder Singh Atwal has been nominated as its convener. Senior Congress leaders, including Dr Lekh Raj and former minister Lakhmir Singh Randhawa, will be members of the committee, the objective of which, according to Mr Balbir Singh, will be to strive for the protection of the interests and rights of NRIs and their families. “We will stress for the formation of an Act on the lines of the Urban Control Act for saving agricultural lands of NRIs from unscrupulous elements,” Mr Balbir Singh said.

Though Mr Balbir Singh denied that the setting up of the committee had any link with the forthcoming elections, a number of senior Congress leaders admitted that the formulation of the committee at the moment was an important step as far as electoral prospects of the party in the Doaba region were concerned. “NRIs and their families and relatives here have been our traditional supporters and we cannot think of going to the polls without their support,” a senior Congress leader said.

The party was serious about attaining the NRI support is clear from the fact that half of the committee members nominated by the PPCC are NRIs living in countries like UK, Canada, Norway, the Philippines, and the USA.

Mr Tejinder Bittu, secretary of the PPCC, said the committee would take up all problems being faced by NRIs. Though at the moment, we will be taking up such issues with the government, but after coming to power we would set up a nodal agency in the office of the Chief Minister to deal with such problems and at the same time senior Punjab officers would be posted at Delhi and Amritsar airports,” Mr Balbir Singh and Mr Atwal said. Alleging that the NRI Sabha, Punjab, had failed to solve problems being faced by the NRIs, Mr Balbir Singh said in case the Congress came to power all government officers would be ordered to disassociate themselves from the sabha.

Those who have been inducted as members of the newly formed committee included Mr Daljit Singh Sahota, Mr Avtaar Singh Kang, Mr Mohan Singh Sanghera, Mr Ravinder Singh Johal (all from UK), Mr Gurmail Singh (Norway), Mr Surjit Singh Patiala (Norway), Mr Taranjeet Singh Purewal (Canada), Mr Paramjit Singh Johal (Canada), Mr Gurmej Singh Bath (Australia), Mr Kirpal Singh Sahota (USA), Dr Manjit Singh (Italy), Mr Kirpal Singh Randhawa, Mr Kirpal Singh Dhillon, Mr Parkash Singh all from (Nawanshahr), Mr Jugraj Singh, Mr Anant Ram Badhan, Mr Krishan Kumar Kattar, Mr Vinod Gadura all from (USA), Mr Baldev Raj Sandhu (Phillippines), Mr Manjinder Singh Johal and Mr Mohan Singh Kotla Heyar (UK). The first meeting of the committee will be held in London on July 4.


Rajkumari Mahip Inder cremated
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, July 28
The last remains of Mahip Inder Kaur, youngest daughter of the late Maharaja Harinder Singh of Faridkot, were consigned to flames at Sahi Samadhan here today.

A large number of local residents, senior district officers along with Deputy Commissioner A. Venu Prasad and members of the royal family attended the cremation.

She had died due to a massive heart attack on July 26 at Mashobra, near Shimla, and her body was brought here yesterday.

Later, talking to this correspondent, her elder sister and Chairperson of the Maharawal Khewaji Trust, Ms Deepinder Kaur, denied any foul play in her death. She said Mahip had been living her life well and she was looked after by an adequate staff.

She disclosed that her father, Raja Harinder Singh, had constituted a trust under the supervision of Grindlays Bank, London, in 1955 to look after the needs of his children. He also formed the Maharawal Khewaji Trust to look after the objectives and activities mentioned in his will. Ms Mahip Inder Kaur was the Vice-Chairperson of this trust.

Ms Deepinder Kaur disclosed that her younger sister was living at Mashobra for the past about 10 years. (Mahip Inder Kaur) was born on September 19, 1949, and studied in New Delhi and Shimla. She was found of music and travelling. Her antim ardas would be performed at Quilla Mubarik on August 6.


‘Jebkatris’ caught again
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 28
“Old habits die hard”. This holds true in the case of Nirmala on whose forehead “jebkatri” was tattooed during the chief ministership of late Beant Singh. She was again caught red-handed while committing a similar crime along with her accomplices at a local marriage palace yesterday.

Nirmala along with her two accomplices Nooran and Jeeto were arrested while they were trying to steal gold chains from women who had come to attend a religious function at the local marriage palace. The function was organised by the Nirankari sect.

The tattooing of “jebkatris” on the foreheads of Nirmala and others a few years ago had triggered a controversy and invited criticism for the policemen who had done it. Later, surgery was done to erase the tattoo from their foreheads.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said Nirmala, Jeeto and Nooran were arrested and three gold chains weighing about 60 gm were recovered from them. The fourth accused, Tejo, was yet to be arrested.

He added that the modus operandi was that they used to hire a taxi to reach the venues.

After reaching the venue, the accused used to mingle with the crowd at the function. Then one of them would steal jewellery and pass it to the other who would bring it out.

The accused, who had been indulging in these activities for the past about 15 years, had been operating in Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab areas. The accused belonged to Sansi caste.

The sources added that so far these accused have committed more than 100 such crimes. The accused used to operate at railway stations bus stations and other busy spots in the cities.

Dr Jain said a case against the accused had been registered.


CM defends sangat darshan programmes
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 28
Mr Parkash Singh Badal said today that it was unfortunate that the Congress had filed a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the holding of sangat darshan programmes in the state.

Mr Badal, while addressing a gathering at a sangat darshan programme held at Mithri Budhgir village in Muktsar district said the action showed Congress annoyance at the popularity that SAD and BJP had gained because of the sangat darshan programmes.

He said these programmes were not meant for getting any political mileage, adding that the only purpose was to reach out to the people who were not able to approach higher officials of the state machinery.

The panchayats and residents of Mithri Budhgir, Singhewala, Fathuhiwala and Channu attended today’s programme.

Mr Badal said to monitor various development works in various districts of the state the DC had been asked to give the report to the authorities at Chandigarh every week. He said the whole of the state had been divided into sectors for proper implementation of various development schemes. He said under the new plan the district had been divided into sectors and for each sector a senior official would be appointed.

He added that the official would give the progress reports of the projects to the DC every second day.

He added that to curb irregularities in development projects and to bring transparency special billboards would be displayed at the site of the project on which the progress and the cost incurred would be displayed.

He said the problem of the weaker sections of society would be dealt on a priority basis. He added that the state government had given Rs 75.41 crore for the marriage of Dalit girls in the state.


Assembly poll: parties at it again
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 28
Even as the assembly elections are due after about five months in Punjab, leaders of various political parties have started wooing people by adopting various methods.

In the recent past two “jagrans” have been organised in the city. One of the “jagran”, organisers Mr Sewak Ram Bhola, is an active Congress worker while another organiser Gurdas is a close associate of a Cabinet minister.

The residents feel that these “jagrans” are being organised with the aim to promote party policies by cashing in on the readymade huge gathering. The Punjab Law and Justice Minister, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, attended the “jagran” organised on July 17 while Mr Harminder Singh Jassi, president, District Congress Committee (DCC), Bathinda attended a “jagran” held after a few days.

On August 9 Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal will hold his first series of sangat barshans in the city. On that day he will meet people at 13 venues in the city to redress their grievances on the spot and give them grant for development works.

Mr Charanji Lal Garg, Law and Justice Minister, while talking to TNS said yesterday that a meeting of workers and municipal councillors of SAD-BJP was held and they had been asked to give their priorities so that adequate funds for the same could be taken from Mr Badal.

However, a section of residents with whom TNS talked to pointed out that Mr Badal never bothered to hold a sangat darshan in the past four-and-a-half years even though he had been holding the same frequently in his own Lambi assembly segment, which was near to this town.

They added that now Mr Badal was trying to woo them by announcing grants for various development works. They added that residents of Ganesha Basti, Nai Basti, Power House Road and Ajit Road had been living in poor condition as rain water remained stagnant there for days together but in the past four-and-a-half years the Punjab government never felt concerned about their plight.

Mr Krishan Kumar Garg, BJP municipal councillor, while talking to TNS alleged that crores of rupees had been wasted in the city but the authorities concerned could not solve the problem of stagnant rainy water. He added that people were being harassed by leaving huge house taxes. Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhullar, President, Municipal Council, said no requisition was given to him by the municipal councillors for holding the elections of vice-president.


Kangar refutes charge of anti-party work
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 28
Mr Gurpreet Singh Kangar, senior Akali leader and director, Faridkot-Bathinda Rural Bank, today alleged that the Punjab Power Minister, Mr Sikander Singh Malooka, had been indulging in anti-party activities.

Reacting to his expulsion for six years from the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) by Mr Malooka, who is also district president of the SAD. Mr Kangar said the expulsion was not fair as he (Mr Kangar) had never indulged in anti-party activities.

He alleged that it was Mr Malooka who had been indulging in anti-party activities and eroding the base of the party in this area. He claimed that people were turning away from Mr Malooka.

Mr Kangar, who is a close associate of Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal and commands a considerable influence in this area, was expelled from the party after cancelling his primary membership yesterday by Mr Malooka.

In the press note issued by SAD secretary, Babu Singh, yesterday, Mr Malooka alleged that Mr Gurpreet Singh Kangar had been indulging in anti-party activities and violating its discipline for the past more than three years. He added that the recommendation of the expulsion of Mr Kangar was made by the circle unit of party.

Mr Kangar, however, claimed that an independent probe could make it clear that he had a larger following than Mr Malooka. He also claimed that Mr Malooka had no authority to expel him.

He alleged that some vested interests had been trying to weaken the party but the workers who were aware of this fact would not allow such elements to succeed in their designs.

Mr Malooka could not be contacted despite repeated efforts.


PPCC appointments
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
Capt Amarinder Singh, president, PPCC, has appointed Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mrs Lakhwinder Kaur Garcha, general secretary, announced this here today.


57 died in Kiratpur Sahib truck mishap
Our Correspondent

Ropar, July 28
Official sources have now confirmed the death of 57 persons in the Kiratpur Sahib truck mishap. The sources said Sangrur district authorities have faxed a list of 17 more missing persons from the area who are believed to have died in the mishap. They also sent the list of 39 victims who have already been cremated.

Mr G.S. Grewal, Deputy Commissioner, said it could be concluded that 56 victims were from Sangrur district. One of the two unidentified bodies lying at the hospital was today identified as that of Kuldeep Singh (15) of Dirba. An unidentified body lying at the local Civil Hospital was believed to be that of a migrant. The body was given an official cremation at Ropar after a post-mortem.

Meanwhile, the search operation to locate more bodies in the Sutlej did not yield any result today. The Deputy Commissioner said, officials along with the relatives of the victims, who had been camping here, searched for the bodies for the whole day but without any results. However, the search operations would continue till the kin of the victims were satisfied, he added. Till date 41 bodies of the victims have been fished out from the Sutlej out of which 40 were from Sangrur and one remained unidentified.


Main line trains allowed to run at 110 kmph
Our correspondent

Phillaur, July 28
Divisonal Railway Manager J.S. Marwaha has expressed satisfaction at the safety measures in Firozepur railway Division and claimed that trains were permitted to run at the maximum speed of 110 km per hour on main lines.

The DRM said yesterday that speed limits between 2 am and 6 am had been reduced to 80 km per hour due to security reasons. Night patrolling has been ordered between mid night 12 and 6 am and pilot trains provided for trains carrying important passengers. The DRM said added that 12 computerised Railway reservation centres would be opened in Northern Railway including one at Kot Kapura. Mr Marwaha claimed that 66 unmanned railway crossings out of total 696 in Firozepur Division would be manned in phases. Replying a question the, DRM said that Railways had opened a “Customer Care Institute at Delhi to give training to Railway staff to behave well with the public.

 When asked about over bridge at the Phagwara-Satnampura railway crossing, Mr Marwaha said that issue was still pending with the Punjab government for technical feasibility. He, however, told that area around Phagwara railway station would be beautified at a cost of Rs 10 lakh. On problems faced by exporters of the area the DRM said that he would soon hold a meeting with exporters on their problems. Mr Marwaha said that the Ludhiana-Jalandhar rail section would be electrified by March 2002 and electrification of the Jalandhar-Amritsar rail section would be completed in next phase. 

The DRM told that “closed circuit cameras” have been installed at important Railway stations of Firozepur Division to observe activities of anti-social elements. He said safety measures were being taken in important railway sections of the division. He said the speed limit in all branch railway sections has been increased from 50 km to 75 km per hour. 


Morcha flays import policy
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 28
The removal of quantitative restrictions on the import of 1429 agricultural and industrial items produced in India has posed a serious threat to the economy of the country.

This was a part of the first resolution proposed by the Punjab Lok Morcha during its district-level convention held in the Trade Union Central Hall, here today. The convention was attended by members of the Marxist Communist Party of India, the Samajwadi Party, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Democratic), the Janata Dal (Secular), the Samajwadi Janata Party and the Republican Party of India which together form the Punjab Lok Morcha.

Speaking on the occasion, leaders of the parties opposed the anti-national and anti-people policies of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation being pursued by the BJP government at the Centre and supported by the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and other allied parties. They felt that the WTO would pose serious threat to the economy in Punjab.

The convention criticised the government for abandoning its responsibility of procurement of foodgrains and other essential agricultural commodities. It also demanded the complete decentralisation of power at the grassroots level.

The morcha criticised the Shiromani Akali Dal for its inability to provide a clean and efficient administration in the state.

The speakers criticised the district administration and the Department of Drainage for not making adequate arrangements to control floods.


Garg admits to rise in unemployment
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 28
Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Minister for Science and Technology, Punjab, admitted that the number of unemployed youths, even those of technically qualified ones, was rising in the state. Due to downsizing in various government departments they were finding it difficult to get government jobs, the minister added.

Mr Garg, while talking the mediapersons at the valedictory function of the Faculty Development Programme of the North India Technical Consultancy Organisation said here today that the technical graduates should be encouraged to set up their own enterprises. The focus of the youths should be diverted from the government jobs and the agencies like the NITCON were doing a good job for this, Mr Garg said.

The Department of Science and Technology of the state government had planned to set up as many as 130 mini-hydroelectric stations in Punjab. Mr Garg said the land for setting up these stations would be given free of cost. The state government would sign a 30-year contract with the entrepreneurs on the purchase of power at Rs 3.01 per unit, he added.

Mr Garg said the state government had sunk 500 out of 1,000 solar tubewells in the state. The technical graduates should set up units for manufacturing solar tubewells. A solar tubewell costs about Rs 4.56 lakh and was given to the farmers for Rs 35,000 and the rest of the amount was paid jointly by the state and union governments. The graduate could benefit from these schemes of the Science and Technology Department.

Criticising the Indian system of education the minister said even after 53 years of independence a ‘perfect’ system was yet to be evolved. Every year the syllabus is changed to experiment with new technologies without knowing the effects.

Mr Baljit Singh, Managing Director, NITCON, said the second training programme would be organised at Jalandhar in August. The main aim of the programme was to train the teachers of the Engineering Colleges, Polytechnics and Management Institute which in turn would inculcate the spirit of entrepreneurship among the students. A total of 23 faculty members from the region successfully completed the training programme, which included marketing in small business, role of supporting institutes, goal setting and mock exercises and managing small-scale industries.

Mr Garg later gave away the certificates to the trainees.


Workshop to check declining sex ratio
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
Keeping in mind the declining sex ratio, the Voluntary Health Association of Punjab (VHAP) has organised a three-day regional-level workshop for NGOs on “Evolving intervention strategy for checkmating the declining sex ratio” which started at the Common-wealth Youth Programme Campus, here yesterday.

According to the Executive Director of the VHAP, Mr Manmohan Singh, the idea behind the workshop is to evolve an interventional strategy to curb the menace which has to be implemented at the grass-root level. The workshop is being attended by representatives of various NGOs in Punjab and key activists working in this field all over the country.

“On this issue,” said activists, “Our social values and concern has taken a backseat,” They said the non-implementation of the existing Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994, had worsened the existing adverse situation.

Focussing specifically on Punjab and Haryana, it was observed that easy availability of ultrasound facility for determining the sex of a child was accentuating the existing grave situation. According to many activists, involving religious leaders in the crusade against antenatal sex determination was effective.

In order to send this message of the grassroots level, the VHAP is once again putting in efforts to bring 800 priests from local gurdwaras together in Fatehgarh district which tops the list of lowest female: male ratio in the country and mobilise people against this evil, he added.


Musical snag irks phone subscribers
Tribune News Service

Virk (Jalandhar), July 28
Telephone subscribers of nearly 12 villages, including Virkan, Gahaur and Chachoki, have complained that whenever they pick up their phones, they are attuned to music and other programmes relayed through the main transmission tower of All India Radio (AIR) in place of the dial tone and so are the persons on the other side of the line. They have alleged that the officials of the Telecom Department have not been able to rectify this snag for years together.

For the residents, the music is nothing but a nuisance and sheer disturbance, particularly, when it has been going on for the past about six years.

“We have been undergoing this musical tyranny for over six years but nobody is there to listen to our woes and rectify the snag despite a number of complaints to the telecommunications officials. Whenever, we approach the local telephone exchange officials, they come for a while, especially, when there is no transmission in the morning hours and try to satisfy us by extending a number of logics or by shifting the buck to the AIR authorities,” said Gurpal Singh, a resident of Virk village.

Similarly, Manjinder Singh of the same village questioned as to why they were forced to pay the bills when the Telecom Department was not in a position to correct the fault.

“The music is so loud, most of the time during a phone call, that we are unable to hear the voice of the other person. We get some respite during a few hours in the morning when nothing is transmitted through the tower”, he said.

Though the, SDO, Phagwara, or Xen (Telecom) were not available for comments, Mr Amarjit Singh, a Phagwara-based JTI, denied the existence of such a problem.

When this correspondent tried to ascertain the gravity of the problem picking up a telephone on request by a resident, a Punjabi pop number greeted him in place of the dial tone.


Tributes paid to Sukhjinder
Our Correspondent

Sunam, July 28
Thousands of persons, including leaders of the Congress, SHSAD, SAD, SAD (A) and Lok Bhalai Party, today paid rich tributes to Mr Sukhjinder Singh, acting president of the SAD (A), at his native village, Kalia, about 40 km from here. Mr Sukhjinder Singh died on July 19 at a hospital in Ludhiana after a prolonged illness.

All speakers in their addresses praised Mr Sukhjinder Singh for his services to the society and for the welfare of downtrodden and needy persons. They said he lived a simple life and proved that he was a man of principles. They said he dedicated his life for the cause of the Panth.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers, announced a grant of Rs 2 lakh for constructing a school or dispensary at Kalia village in memory of Mr Sukhjinder Singh.

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the SAD (A) announced a grant of Rs 10 lakh for raising a memorial in memory of Mr Sukhjinder Singh.


58 loan cases settled in Lok Adalat
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 28
The State Bank of Patiala organised a special Lok-Adalat at the local Civil Courts Complex today. It was presided over by Mr B.C. Rajput, District and Sessions Judge-cum-Chairman of the District Legal Services Authority.

In all four courts were organised which settled 58 out of 198 cases. Mr Gurbir Singh, Civil Judge (Senior Division), Mr Surinder Mohan, Chief Judicial Magistrate, Ms Poonam Ratti, Civil Judge (Junior Division) and Mr Avtar Singh, Civil Judge (Junior Division) were the magistrates who listened the cases.

The bank was able to recover Rs 20.17 lakh. Bank officials said they would try to persuade other defaulters to clear the loans taken by them.

Mr B.C. Rajput said the Lok Adalat was organised as per the guidelines of Mr Justice H.S. Bedi, Judge, Punjab and Haryana High Court-cum-Executive Chairman, Punjab Legal Services Authority.

Mr Rajput said the settlement of loan cases through Lok Adalats was even more beneficial to the loaners as some rebate was generally given to them by the banks concerned. Mr Mahadev Bilani, Deputy General Manager of the bank, was also present on the occasion.


Laxmi Kanta writes to CM on probe orders
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 28
The BJP MLA, Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, today reminded the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, of orders issued by him on a number of occasions.

Ms Chawla, in a letter to the Chief Minister which was released to the press here today, said Mr Badal had directed senior police officers to probe various cases in which some persons were killed or kidnapped during the past one year.

Citing the case of 14-year-old boy Gopi who had died in police lathi charge during the shooting of film ‘Gadar’ on June 16 last year, she said the inquiry ordered by the Chief Minister had made no headway.

Ms Chawla further said during the Assembly elections on March 26, the Chief Minister had promised to look into the disappearance of Kirandeep Kaur from Harike Patan. She said although the IG, Border Range, was directed to enquire into the case but she had not received any report in this connection.


Ex-Jail Minister hospitalised
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, July 28
Former Jail Minister of Punjab Upinder Sharma was today shifted from Ferozepore Central Jail to the local Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital on medical grounds. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering Mr Raj Kumar Garg of the BJP and injuring six others BJP workers at Kotkapura on July 7, 1992.


Two labourers buried alive
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, July 28
Two labourers, engaged in the digging of tubewells in two separate villages were buried alive and a women died due to snake biting yesterday evening.

Bhagwan Singh died in Vajidpur Badeshe village and Chotto Ram died in in Kuthala village. Their bodies were taken out of the wells with the help of the police and were sent for a post-mortem examination.

Labourers working in the subdivision have urged the government to give compensation to the families of the deceased.

In the third incident, a migrant labourer Pawitri Devi (40) of Mujjaffarpur (Bihar) died due to snake biting in Ahmedgarh village yesterday.


1 killed, 2 hurt in accident
Our Correspondent

Sunam, July 28
One person was killed and other two were seriously injured when their car (PB-44A/5580) in which they were going to Jakhal collided with a tractor-trailer (PB-13/8779) on the Jakhal road here today.

The deceased has been identified as Mr Paramjit Singh, 23, son of Harmesh Singh Jaura, an Industrialist of Sunam. Paramjit was doing MBBS final in Russia and has came here to meet his parents just a week ago. Those injured have been admitted to the local Civil Hospital. The body of Paramjit was handed over to his parents after a post-mortem. The police has registered a case and impounded both vehicles and arrested Manjeet Singh, driver of the tractor.


Doctors to attend seminar on Aug 5
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 28
A state-level convention on “Peace, Health and Development” will be organised on August 5 here by the Association of Indian Doctors for Peace and Development in Collaboration with the local unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

About 200 doctors from all parts of the state are expected to participate in the convention which will be organised on the eve of Hiroshima Day with an aim to resist the danger of nuclear war and establishment of peace in the world. This was stated by Dr Surinder Singla, organising secretary of the Punjab unit of the association here today.


Pingalwara workers’ fast continues
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 28
The fast by Pingalwara Union members who were earlier sacked, has entered its 12th day here today.

The workers have been observing fast in protest against the non-fulfilment of their demands by the All India Pingalwara Society (AIPS) and the district administration.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Azad, president of the Pingalwara Workers Union, said the union had demanded the implementation of the Minimum Wages Act and regularisation of workers according to the government rule.

He said the AIPS had also not implemented the provision of the provident fund, pension and gratuity to retired workers.

Mr Jaswant Singh, alleged that Dr Inderjit Kaur, president of the AIPS was expelling senior workers by making wrong allegations.


CPI flays PSEB for power cuts
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 28
The city unit of the Communist Party of India (CPI) today criticised the PSEB authorities for being unable to provide uninterrupted power supply to residents of the city, despite the district having two thermal plants. Mr J.S. Ghai, secretary of the party, said in a press note here today that the power cuts were unscheduled, unannounced and lengthy.

He said the power crisis was due to the mismanagement of the authorities concerned. He said the authorities had not drawn long-term plans and residents had to pay for their shortsightedness.

The CPI leader alleged that the authorities did not pay any heed to the needs of people, despite protests by various social organisations against the frequent power cuts from time to time.


Row over grant of contract
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, July 28
Row over the grant of contract for the maintenance of street lights led to pandemonium in municipal council meeting here yesterday, following which factionalism in the BJP-ruled council came to fore.

A BJP faction held a protest meeting in a portion of municipal council office which was attended by Congress councillors to oppose the official meeting.

According to available details, the municipal council in its meeting held on May 24 under the chairmanship of Mr Mohinder Partap Dhingra, had by majority vote approved the grant of contract to Daulat Ram for Rs 2,38,000 for one year. At that time Mr Phool Chand, a BJP councillor who was also a member of the sub-committee to approve the contract, objected to the grant of the contract to Daulat Ram.

The objection was supported by another sub-committee member Mr Surinder Kalra of the Congress.

Due to objections on the proposal, the Deputy Director, Local Self Government Ferozepore, had disapproved the grant of contract a few days ago. Upon this, in the yesterday’s meeting, while confirming the proceedings of previous meeting, Mr Dev Raj Monga, an expelled BJP councillor, supported by Mr Surinder Kalra and Paramjit Singh both Congress councillors, demanded detailed record relating to the contract given to Daulat Ram.

Mr Mohinder Partap Dhingra expressed inability in presenting the record on the plea that the official-concerned was not available.

However Mr Monga, Mr Kalra and Mr Paramjit Singh stressed on showing the record as they alleged that the official concerned was present. This led to wordy duel and seven BJP and five Congress councillors walked out of the meeting.


Only plans, no action
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, July 28
The Ropar police has been making announcements regarding the introduction of new schemes here to improve police effectiveness and have better relations with the public, but so far nothing seems to have happened on the ground.

Though three months have passed since the plans were announced, these are yet to be given concrete shape. Many residents are wondering whether the police statements in this regard were merely made off-hand without adequate planning or serious intention to improve matters.

In the last week of April, the police had stated that a beat system would be introduced and beat boxes set up in the town.

The Ropar SSP, Mr G.S. Bhullar, had said at a seminar here in April that a community policing project would be launched, under which the police would have counsellors at the Phase I and the Sohana police stations. These counsellors were also to give counselling to rape victims.

A part from this, NSS volunteers were to assist the police in activities like door-to-door verification of tenants and servants, traffic control and checking of eve teasing. The Phase I and the Sohana police stations were to be modernised and training provided to policemen to behave in a friendly manner with the public.

At that seminar an ADGP, Mr A.A. Siddiqui, had made a significant statement: the image of the police was not good in the eyes of the public and there was need to reverse this.

When Mr Bhullar was asked about the schemes today, he said on the phone from Ropar that he had received a proposal from the SAS Nagar SP regarding the beat system. They had sought more vehicles and personnel for this purpose. He said the town should be treated as a special case in the matter of provision of vehicles and manpower.

He said a police drive to create awareness about traffic rules among schoolchildren was already going on in Ropar district. He added that a private organisation at SAS Nagar had promised to provide counsellors for the police stations here, apart from NSS volunteers, to assist the police, but it had not yet fulfilled its promise.

The SSP said more equipment and infrastructure had been sought from the higher authorities for the modernisation of the Phase I and Sohana police stations. Training courses, he said, were held for police personnel from time to time aimed at ensuring good relations with the public.

How long will it take for the police plans to be implemented, if at all, is anybody’s guess.


Taneja elected MC senior vice-president
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, July 28
Mr Avtar Singh Taneja, an independent candidate, was elected senior vice-president of the local municipal council while Ms Balwinder Kaur Randhawa retained the post of vice-president, the election for which was held here today.

Eleven out of 20 members of the council attended the meeting. Mr Prem Singh Lal Pura, MLA belonging to the SHSAD, attended the meeting. However, Mr Jatinder Kumar Sood, president of the council, could not attend the meeting due to some health problem. As many as eight councillors belonging to Mr Ranjit Singh Brahampura camp remained absent from the meeting.

Mr Swaran Singh Sidhu, senior member, presided over the meeting in which Mr Jagir Singh, SDM, Patti, was appointed observer by the district authorities. 


Sub-Inspector arrested
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 28
The Bhawanigarh police yesterday arrested Gurmukh Singh, Sub-Inspector, posted at the same police station, for allegedly committing negligence, while on duty by giving a chance to an accused in a rape case to escape from the custody.

Mr Darshan Singh Mann, DSP, Bhawanigarh, yesterday said a case under Section 223 of the IPC had been registered against Gurmukh Singh and he has been placed under suspension.

Mr Mann said a boy raped a schoolgirl at Balad Kalan village near Bhawanigarh yesterday afternoon. The boy was caught by the villagers and handed over to Gurmukh Singh. But the boy escaped from the police station due to negligence of the Sub Inspector, he added.

The police has registered a case against the boy under Section 376 of the IPC for raping the girl.


Father, 2 brothers murdered
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, July 28
Nachhatar Singh and his two sons Gurlal Singh and Balraj Singh were murdered by his third son Sukhraj Singh in Duhowala village of this district on the evening of July 26, according to a delayed report.

Police sources said accused Sukhraj Singh used a sharp-edged knife to commit the crime. All three persons died on the spot.

Nachhatar Singh, a farm labourer, had three sons. Sukhraj Singh, the eldest, was married while the other two were not. For the past few months, Sukhraj Singh had been suspecting that his younger brothers were having illicit relations with his wife.

On July 26, a scuffle took place between Sukhraj Singh and his two brothers on this issue. Mr Bohar Singh, brother of their father who lives in the same village, brought about a compromise among them.

However, later again a heated exchange took place and Bohar Singh went to their house when they were quarrelling. Sukhraj Singh allegedly took out his knife and attacked his two brothers. When the father tried to save his two younger sons, he was also attacked by Sukhraj Singh with the knife.

All three died on the spot and the accused fled the spot.

The police was informed and a complaint against Sukhraj Singh lodged in the police station by Mr Bohar Singh.

Mr Kultar Singh, SSP, said the accused Sukhraj Singh had been arrested. He added that a case in this connection was registered under Section 302 of IPC in the Kotbhai police station.

The SSP also said the police had unearthed a ‘modern and scientific’ distillery from a dwelling in Dhikana village. It was being used by Harbinder Singh for the distillation of liquor.

A case in this connection had been registered under Section 61 of Excise Act and the accused arrested.


2 held for selling medicines
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 28
The district police today arrested two culprits for allegedly selling medicines. In a press note issued here today the district police chief, Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, said Baljit Singh and Deepak Kumar were selling medicines to the people from the residence of Baljit Singh.

They bought the medicines at cheap rates and sold these at exorbitant rates to the people claiming that they were qualified doctors. At least 50 bottles of Cosedyl were seized from them, the SSP added.

A case under Section 420 of the IPC and Section 15 of the Indian Medical Act has been registered against them.


ETT teachers hold dharna on rail track
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 28
Unemployed ETT teachers today held a dharna on the rail track on the outskirts of Gidderbaha city on the Bathinda-Sriganganagar rail section in protest against the non-acceptance of their demands.

A large number of unemployed ETT teachers from various parts of the state, who had reached the home district of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab, first held a procession through various villages of the area.

Mr Sukhcharan Singh, general secretary of the union, while talking to The Tribune said members of the union were stopped by the police from holding a rally near Guri Sangat village. He alleged that some of their members were detained by the police for about an hour. It was only after other members of the union sat on a dharna on the Bathinda-Muktsar road near Buttar Sharinh village and blocked the vehicular traffic that the police released the detained members.

He further said when the police did not allow them to move further, members of the union sat on a dharna on the rail track due to which several passenger and express trains had to be cancelled. He added that they would not lift the dharna until the authorities did not listen to their grievances.

No official from the Civil, Police or Rail Department could be contacted. 


Lok Bhalai Party supports teachers’ demands
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 28
Mr Bharat Bhushan, regional president, Lok Bhalai Party, Maur Region in a press note here yesterday justified the demands of the ETT Union activists.

Mr Bhushan added that the primary qualification for appointment to the posts of the Primary Teacher was Elementary Teachers Training (ETT) degree awarded by the District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs). The state government should give preference to the ETT pass teachers and after giving appointments to all ETT pass candidates the B.Ed candidates should be considered.

The state government should come forward to solve the issue and the fast by ETT union activists should come to an end. The party leaders have also written to the state Chief Minister Mr Parkash Singh Badal on the issue, the press note said.

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