Friday, January 18, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SYL issue to dominate SAD manifesto
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 17
Taking a firm stand on the SYL canal issue, inter-state river waters and the transfer of Chandigarh and other left-out Punjabi-speaking areas into Punjab would figure prominently in the poll manifesto of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) which would be released later this week. A meeting of the manifesto committee, being held at Jalandhar, will give a final shape to the document.

This was disclosed by Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, President, SGPC, while talking to select mediapersons here today. He said Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, General Secretary, SAD, Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman, Minorities Commission, and other members of the committee would ensure that all demands enshrined in the Anandpur Sahib Resolution of 1978 were incorporated in the manifesto.

He said Punjab did not have even a single drop of surplus water which could be spared for Haryana or Rajasthan. The poll manifesto would also include the formation of a federal structure and autonomy for states.

Prof Badungar said all members of the SGPC were elected on SAD tickets and hence it was their duty to campaign for its candidates during the Assembly elections. He, however, said the ration or funds of the SGPC won’t be misused for the elections.

Prof Badungar said Punjab could not part with its precious wealth in the shape of river waters. Injustice done to Punjab by completing the SYL canal would be suicidal for the state, he said.

On the religious front, Prof Badungar said the entire Panth would be taken into confidence before the installation of any Jathedar. It may be mentioned here that as per the prevailing practice, the SGPC executive can appoint and remove any Jathedar with a majority decision. He said the practice of appointing and removing Jathedars, criticised by a large number of Sikhs, would be stopped henceforth. He said he held the Sikh clergy in high esteem.

Regarding the ongoing tussle between Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi, Golden Temple, and the rest of the high priests, Prof Badungar said they would resolve their matter mutually.

In a significant statement, Prof Badungar said Giani Kewal Singh had immediately submitted his resignation as Jathedar, Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, when he asked him to do so after a revision writ petition, filed by his son Barjinder Singh and close relative Joginder Kaur, was dismissed by the Additional Sessions Judge, Bathinda.

He said the resignation of Giani Kewal Singh would be accepted by the executive committee of the SGPC which would meet shortly. He said Prof Manjit Singh would formally take over the additional charge of Jathedar, Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, on January 18.


SYL: Badal’s threat to fill jails
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Malout, January 17
Punjab Chief Minister and President of SAD, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today threatened that activists of the party would fill jails in the state, if the circumstances required, to stop the completion of Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal.

Addressing corner meetings and rallies at various villages that fall in his home constituency, Lambi, in Muktsar district in connection with his own election campaign today, Mr Badal said the party was ready to make any sacrifice for saving the water of Punjab. His government and the party were determined not allowing a single drop of water to flow outside the state.

He pointed out that the intention of the Congress had become clear as the treasurer of the AICC and in charge, Punjab Congress affairs, had said if the Congress came to power in the state it would construct the remaining portion of the canal. Even the petition filed against the canal in the Supreme Court during his previous government was withdrawn by the next Chief Minister of the Congress government.

He claimed that SAD always fought on the basis of principles and made supreme sacrifices for protecting the interests of the state. But former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the then Congress Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana were instrumental in digging up of the canal. Apart from digging up the canal, the previous Congress government of Punjab and the Centre bartered away the interests of the state.

He alleged that Congress governments snatched away Punjabi speaking areas, Chandigarh and fair share in river waters according to riparian principles of the state and even generated hatred among those living outside the state against its residents.

The former Union Minister, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, who accompanied his father in the campaign, pointed out that it was the SAD-BJP government which eradicated the problem of water-logging in Muktsar, Faridkot and other parts of state. The previous governments never bothered to think about the problem which the people had been facing for the past more than two decades. He further pointed out that Punjab was the only state in the country where the farmers were being provided free electricity and water for agriculture purpose, where the ‘shagun’ scheme had been launched and the residential plots were being given to Scheduled Castes free of cost.

He said when the AICC chief, Ms Sonia Gandhi could not find time for Chief Ministers of those states where the party was in power and the PPCC chief, Mr Amarinder Singh, was not available even to candidates for the coming Assembly elections then how their government could ensure justice to commoners. He said people should cast their votes by judging the SAD-BJP government on its performance in the past five years. 


BJP treads cautious path on SYL
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 17
While the SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has taken a hard line on the SYL issue, its alliance partner in the state, the BJP, has chosen to tread a cautious path. Talking to this correspondent at Nangal today, a former state president of the BJP and the Punjab Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, said the party would wait for the decision on the review petition on the SYL issue which the Punjab Government has decided to file in the Supreme Court before taking any political decision.

Mr Mittal said though the Punjab BJP had always maintained that the state owned the river waters flowing through Punjab, it also respected the decision of the Supreme Court. The party was hopeful that the review petition being filed by the state government would yield favourable results, he said. He, however, blamed the Congress for creating the SYL problem. He said it was Congress Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who had started work on the SYL project despite protests by Opposition parties.

Mr Mittal, who has been renominated as the BJP candidate from the Nangal Assembly constituency, received a rousing welcome from party workers in the area yesterday. Mr Mittal has won the elections from Nangal three times.


Mann to launch stir on SYL issue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
‘‘I shall prefer to go to jail and even lose the coming Assembly elections rather than sacrifice the interests of the State," says Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP and a senior leader of the Panthic Morcha. He declared that his party would launch a peaceful agitation to ensure that not a drop of water flows out of Punjab through SYL. He urged the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to resign immediately. He also wanted that action should be taken against the Secretary, Irrigation.

Talking to newsmen here yesterday, Mr Mann said that the verdict of the Apex Court had vindicated the stand of his party that both the Congress and the Akali Dal were not sincere to the interests of the state.

‘‘It was Mr Partap Singh Kairon who built the Rajasthan canal and Mr Darbara Singh withdrew the case from the Supreme Court at the instance of the then Prime Minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi.

‘‘It was Mr Surjit Singh Barnala who signed an agreement with Mr Rajiv Gandhi to grant legitimacy to bartering away of the interests of Punjab. Not only that it was Mr Parkash Singh Badal who accepted Rs 2 crore from Mr Devi Lal to give his approval for the construction of the canal. The Punjab Government did not take the whole case seriously and did not present its case well before the Apex Court, ’’ said Mr Mann.

Mr Mann further said that the riparian principle was an international law. The Constitution adopted Article 246 where river waters was made a state subject. As such the Centre had no right to legislate on river waters.

He recalled that it was at Kapuri that the morcha against the digging of the SYL was launched. Later, this was converted into ‘‘dharam yudh morcha’’.

"We always were of the opinion that neither the Congress nor the mainstream Akalis were sincere in safeguarding the interests of Punjab. As such we have been principally opposed to each other and there was is no question of unity with the Akali Dal (Badal),’’ Mr Mann said, maintaining that ‘‘at no cost the completion of the canal would be allowed. It would be our blood and not water that would flow in the SYL. I know I may be hauled for contempt of Court for which I am mentally prepared to face it boldly even if I have to be imprisoned.’’

Mr Mann said that in 1999, he had made his intentions known when he spearheaded the move to fill up the half-completed SYL canal.

He said the intentions of the present Akali Dal Government were obvious as it did not oppose the passing of the Waters Bill, thus according it legal sanctity. In the Rajya Sabha only Mr G.S. Tohra opposed it. Even the Cabinet of which Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa is a member gave its approval. So the verdict did not come as a surprise for Mr Badal. His loyalty and friendship to Mr Om Parkash Chautala was more important than safeguarding the interests of the State.


Tohra revives Chandigarh transfer issue
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Kharar (Ropar), January 17
The star campaigner of the Panthic Morcha, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, today revived the issue of the claim of Punjab on Chandigarh and transfer of Punjabi speaking areas to the state. The people of Punjab voted to power parties “friendly” with the Centre but those parties never got their core issues addressed, he alleged.

Charging the successive chief ministers of the Congress and Akalis for “selling” the interests of the state for their political survival, the former President of the SGPC said development was linked to water and the people were sensitive to the idea of water sharing at a time when there water shortage in certain areas. The very issues for which the Akali morchas were staged had been sidelined, he said, adding that the chief ministers had forgotten the sacrifices of the Punjabis.

The Supreme Court order asking a time-bound completion of the SYL canal was the result of a clandestine agreement by the SAD leader with the neighbouring state. Mr Badal never bothered to present the case properly before the apex court, he charged.

Filing of the review petition after the Supreme Court order was a political gimmick. If he (Mr Badal) termed the SYL canal as an injustice meted out by the Congress, why did he not challenge it in the past five years as there was a friendly government at the Centre, questioned Mr Tohra.

Addressing a rally in support of the party candidate, Mr Rajbir Singh, who is son of the sitting MLA, Mrs Daljeet Kaur, the leader said there was scarcity of water in Ropar district through which canals were passing. He challenged the Chief Minister to reply about the steps taken by him to address the core issues of the state in the last five years. “Bridges, roads, upgradation of schools and improving of the civic amenities is done by every government”, he added.

Replying to a charge by Mr Badal that the Panthic Morcha leaders were hand in glove with the Congress, he said it was the Mr Badal who had joined hands with the Congress if one looked at the SAD candidates, pitched against Capt Amarinder Singh, in Patiala.

Mr Tohra made an effort to address the concerns of non-Sikh voters. He said the Panthic Morcha was a secular forum. Coining slogans of unity, he said the era of terrorism could not be linked to the entire Sikh community. It was the Congress which had fuelled terrorism.

As the Kharar Assembly segment has a decisive vote bank of Dalits, Mr Tohra also asked the Dalits to vote for the party candidate.

Talking to mediapersons, the former SGPC chief said the Panthic Morcha had announced its candidates as no agreement on seat sharing had been reached so far with the BSP. The BSP was expected to announce its candidates on January 20. Mr Tohra did not rule out seat adjustments.

Mr Ravi Inder Singh, sitting MLA and candidate of the Panthic Morcha from Morinda, said in the five Assembly segments of Ropar district, the fight was between the Panthic Morcha and the Congress. The SAD was nowhere in the race. About the Congress candidate , Mr Bir Devinder Singh, who is pitched against Mr Rajbir from Kharar, he said the former had been expelled from his home. 


Voters have never really backed Cong
Ajay Banerjee and Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 17
Steeped in Sikh history, nestling in the foothills of the Shivaliks and largely a rural belt, Ropar, has always witnessed pitched electoral contests with big names in Punjab and even national politics testing their luck.

This time, dissidence within parties and a split in Akali votes due to the formation of the Panthic Morcha, has the potential to throw up interesting results in an area which has never really backed the Congress.

All five Vidhan Sabha seats of Nangal, Anandpur Sahib-Ropar, Morinda, Chamkaur Sahib and Kharar were won by the SAD-BJP combine in 1997. In the past three Assembly elections, the only time the Congress returned with a “good” report card was in 1992 when the Akalis boycotted poll and a very low voting percentage. Even then the now Punjab Food and Supplies Minister, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, and Mr Ramesh Dutt of the BJP had managed to win from Nangal seat and Anandpur Sahib, respectively. In 1985, the Congress representation was by way of Mr Ram Prakash Bali from Nangal and Mr Bhag Singh from Chamkaur Sahib. Otherwise, records indicate, the electorate has shown a tilt towards the SAD- BJP combine.

This time, the Congress may gain due to a split in the Akali votes on account of the Panthic Morcha candidates Mr Ravi Inder Singh (Morinda) and Mr Rajbeer Singh Padiala (Kharar). The latter is the son of Mr Bachiter Singh Padiala, who won in 1985 and later his mother Daljit Kaur Padiala won the seat in 1997 by polling 56,399 votes and defeating Congress nominee Balbir Singh Sidhu (17,565) votes. In fact the Congress was third behind BSP’s Man Singh who polled 21,643 votes.

One of most watched constituencies will be Morinda where sitting MLA Mr Ravi Inder Singh, had switched sides, leaving the SAD due to his much publicised differences with the Chief Minister, Mr Prakash Singh Badal. In 1992, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang of the Congress had won the seat but lost narrowly in 1997 when he polled 33,151 votes and Mr Ravi Inder Singh polled 37,986. In 1985, Mr Ravi Inder won, defeating, Mr Sudesh Sharma, who was latter killed in militant-related violence. Now the SAD will field Mr Ujjagar Singh Badali, an associate of Mr Badal, while the Congress has reposed its faith in Mr Kang. Mr Badali had contested in 1997 as an independent and polled 13,837 votes.

In Anandpur Sahib, the place where Sikhism was founded, Minister for State for Higher Secondary and Primary Education in the Punjab Government, Master Tara Singh Ladal, will be challenged by Dr Ramesh Dutt of the Congress, a resident of Noorpur Bedi. The latter had won in 1992 on the BJP ticket, but he shifted to te Congress mid-term. Mr Ladal had won in 1985. Now Mr Ladal is already facing trouble on account of silent dissidence from a aspirant for a ticket of the SAD. In 1997 Mr Ladal polled 37,878 votes while the next was Mr Ramesh Dutt with 31,833 votes. In 1972, Giani Zail Singh was elected as MLA he went onto become the Chief Minister and later the President of the country. In Nangal, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal of the BJP will fight Mr K.P.S. Rana of the Congress to attempt and retain his seat for the third time in a row. He had won defying the Congress wave in 1992 and retained his seat in 1997 polling 29,867 votes with Mohinder Pal Gautam of the CPM coming second with 20,596 votes. In Chamkaur Sahib during the 1997 elections, the sitting SAD MLA from Chamkaur Sahib, Ms Satwant Kaur Sandhu won polling 40,348 votes and retaining her seat for third time. She had won from the seat in 1977 and 1980 also. She had boycotted the elections in 1985. Mr Bhag Singh, of the Congress had won then. He was not given a ticket in 1997 and contested as an independent candidate only to be placed third with 2,573 votes. Mr Nirmal Singh of the Congress was second with 11,919 votes. In 1992 Mr Shamsher Singh Rai of the Congress was elected. This time, the Congress has put its faith in Mr Bhag Singh.

There has been keen contest for the Kharar seat.After death of Akali candidate from Kharar, Mr Bachitar Singh, the anti incumbency factor and sympathy wave gave his wife, Daljeet Kaur Padiala a win. This time Rajbir Singh, son of Mrs Padiala is the candidate of the Panthic Morcha. A minister in the Congress regime and a MLA from Kharar, Harnek Singh Gharaun, did not get the party ticket this time. A former MLA from Khanna, Mr Bir Devinder Singh has been fielded by the Congress this time. The SAD has tried a new face Mr Karan Bir Kang, leader of the Youth Akali Dal. 


Constituency MLAs
1985 1992 1997
Nangal  R.P Bali (Cong)  M.M. Mittal (BJP) M.M. Mittal (BJP)
Morinda  Ravi I. Singh (SAD) J.S. Kang (Cong)  R.I Singh (SAD)
Anandpur Sahib Tara Singh (SAD) Ramesh Dutt (Cong) Tara Singh (SAD)
Chamkaur Sahib Bhag Singh (Cong) S.S. Rai (Cong) S. Sandhu (SAD)
Kharar  Bachitter Singh (SAD) H.S. Gharaun (Cong) Daljit Kaur (SAD)


Was poppy husk meant for voters?
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 17
Was the huge quantity of poppy husk, loaded in two trucks and one car, seized by the police yesterday allegedly from an Inspector of the Punjab police and Arjuna awardee Mr Jagdish Singh Bhola, consignment for a contestant of the forthcoming Assembly poll, to be used for wooing voters?

The question has assumed significance as Mr Bhola, who has won the title of Rustam-e-Hind, wields considerable influence in the corridors of power.

Two contestants and a section of Congress workers while talking to TNS alleged that the poppy husk was being brought in the district by the ruling politicians to use it to woo voters for the elections. They added that if the authorities concerned failed to take the legal action against those politicians, who were behind the consignment, they would approach the Election Commission of India for the necessary action.

The district police authorities, which have launched a campaign against the smuggling of narcotics, have managed to break police-smuggler nexus a number of times. Earlier, the police authorities booked two ASIs and a head constable of the Punjab police under the NDPS Act for their alleged involvement in smuggling of narcotics. They were placed under suspension and some of them were also dismissed from services subsequently by the district police authorities.

The question which was being raised at various levels in political and administrative circles was that whether a similar action will be taken against Mr Jagdish Singh Bhola, who has been posted in Mansa district and presently attending a practice camp at the National Institute of Sports, Patiala.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, district police chief, said the police parties had been raiding various premises where Mr Bhola was suspected to be hiding and the same treatment would be meted out to him which was being meted out to persons in cases of smuggling of narcotics.

Mr Bhola, who was travelling in a truck which was loaded with poppy husk, escaped when the police signalled it to stop at a naka on the Sidana bridge yesterday.

The police impounded two trucks, one car and seized a cellphone and a huge quantity of poppy husk from the trucks and the car which was seized from a cold store, located near Gill Kalan village in the district and being run by Mr Bhola.

Mr R.P. Meena, DIG, Faridkot, said the district police chief, Dr Jain, had been asked to give the report of the case and after examining it suitable action would be taken against the guilty persons. When asked whether Jagdish Singh Bhola, would be placed under suspension like the other police officials, who were placed under suspension when they were found indulging in smuggling of narcotics, he said any action would be taken only after examining the report.


Former Cong ministers join NCP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
The almost defunct Punjab unit of the Nationalist Congress Party, headed by Mr Sharad Pawar, former union minister, today got a shot in the arm as a number of former Congress ministers and MLAs today joined the party. Mostly, those Congress leaders, who failed to get party ticket, have joined the NCP, which is trying to make a base in Punjab for the first time.

They were welcomed into party fold by Mr P.T. Pitambaram, national general secretary and in charge of Punjab affairs of the party. He came here from Delhi this morning accompanied by Mr Swaran Singh, president of the NCP Punjab unit and Mr Amrit Brar, a member of the National Council of the party.

Addressing a press conference at the local Press Club, Mr Pitambaram said a large number of former Congress MLAs and ministers and other senior leaders wanted to join the NCP. A party meeting would be held in Delhi on January 19 to decide the number of seats to be contested. He said that the NCP had its own agenda and political philosophy which would be followed in the state. He said Mr Pawar would resolve the problems of the farming community. As Punjab needs industrialisation to diversify from agriculture, Mr Pawar could play a significant role in the area, he added. Mr Sharad Pawar and other senior leaders of the party would visit Punjab to campaign for the party candidates after the completion of the filing of nomination papers by candidates.

Mr Romesh Singla, former general secretary of the Punjab unit of the Congress, Mr Gulzar Singh, former Minister from Bathinda, and Mr Amrit Brar, who did the ground work to make the former Congress leaders join the NCP today, claimed that the NCP would like to field its candidate in all 117 constituencies in Punjab.

Mr Singla claimed that Mr Gulzar Singh, Mr Shiv Chand, Mr Darshan Singh Brar, Mr Gurdev Gill and Mr Lakhmir Singh Randhawa, all former ministers, Mr Sunder Shyam Arora, general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Amardeep Khana, vice-president of the Municipal Committee at Nabha, had joined the party today.They would contest as party’s nominees in their respective constituencies. The party might field Mr Jagjit Singh Jagga, president of the Kandi Area Sangarash Samiti, from Anandpur Sahib.


Nagar Council chief expelled for 6 yrs
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 17
Senior Congress leader and President of local Nagar Council K.L. Gaba was today expelled for six years for indulging in anti-party activities. This was announced by Mr Ashok Prashar, President, Block Congress Committee (Urban), at a press conference here today.

Giving details, Mr Prashar said Mr Gaba was served a show-cause notice on December 17, 2001, for praising BJP leader and Punjab Tourism Minister Swarna Ram at a meeting held in Ward No 14. The notice was received by Mr Gaba’s wife on December 19. Mr Gaba failed to reply within 10 days thus inviting disciplinary action. Indiscipline won’t be tolerated and action would be taken against those opposing official party candidate Balbir Raja Sodhi, Mr Prashar added.

Mr Joginder Singh Mann, who was denied a ticket, had declared that he would contest as an independent candidate and file his nomination papers on January 22, a day ahead of official candidate Balbir Raja Sodhi.

Mr Gaba when contacted said he was duty-bound to project the activities of the council and added that he had not indulged in anti-party activities.


20 more file papers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
On the second day of filing of nomination papers for the Assembly poll, 20 candidates today filed their nominations, according to information available at the office of the Chief Electoral Officer here.

Those who filed their nomination papers today include Mr Rulda Singh, Independent (Khanna), Mr Chand Singh Chopra and Mr Karnail Singh, CPM and Ms Harchand Kaur, Indian National Congress (Sherpur), Mr Bhola Singh Virk, Independent (Barnala), Mr Gobind Singh Longowal, SAD (Dhanaula), Mr Harish Kumar, Akhil Bharatiya Shiv Sena Rashtravadi (Moga), Ms Upinderjit Kaur, SAD ( Sultanpur Lodhi), Mr Bahadhaur Singh, Mr Sewa Singh and Mr Hans Raj, Independents (Narmahal), Mr Prem Das, Democratic Bharatiya Samaj Party, (Nakodar) Mr Ramesh Kumar, Independent (Zira), Mr Kirpal Singh, SAD (Amritsar), Mr Ashwani Shekhri, Indian National Congress ( Batala), Mr Satpal Saini, BJP (Sujanpur) Ms Rekha Rani, CPI (Mansa), Mr Madan Lal Garg, Independent, Mr Hardev Arshi and Balbir Singh, CPI (Budlada).


Its electoral Olympics
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Kila Raipur (Ludhiana), January 17
Kila Raipur is famous for and synonymous with Rural Olympics in Punjab, where athletes battle it out in traditional sports that are unique and exclusive to Punjab. However, currently “electoral Olympics ” is going on in the Assembly segment that mostly comprises rural areas.

Two main stalwarts of state politics — Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal of the Panthic Morcha and Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal — are fighting it out in the dusty and dark street corners of 82 villages in the segment. Both cover at least 10 villages in a day.

Not to be left behind is Mr Tarsem Jodhan, rebel Communist and former MLA from here, who also commands a considerable clout in the area.

The Congress has fielded Mrs Gurdial Kaur Khangura, belonging to a well-known business family in the hotel industry.

In the end it may prove to be a photo finish, with all main candidates claiming to be far ahead of others in the electoral race.

Mr Grewal, who resigned as minister when he parted ways with Mr Parkash Singh Badal to join Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, has been active in the area for quite some time. He belongs to Mehmasinghwala village which is dominated by Grewals. In fact, of the 82 villages in the segment, 56 have the Grewal majority and Mr Mahesh Inder Singh is the only Grewal candidate fighting the election. Mr Grewal’s main rival remains Mr Garcha, sitting MLA from here and Minister for Technical Education. He had won in the by-election after the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh, vacated the seat as he had also been elected from Lambi in Muktsar. Mr Garcha had defeated Mr Tarsem Jodhan, with the entire government coming to his support. Besides being faced with the anti-incumbency factor, he may also have to tackle the rebels and dissidents within the party.

Only a fortnight before his candidature was announced, local SAD workers had passed a resolution asking Mr Badal to nominate Mr Jagjit Singh Ghungrana instead of Mr Garcha. Mr Tarsem Jodhan, who is contesting independently, also has his pockets of influence. His plus points are that he always remains with the people and is accessible. He had managed to poll about 30,000 votes against both Mr Badal as well as Mr Garcha.

Mrs Gurdial Kaur Khangura may have the Congress nomination and strong business background to her credit, but the seat is not considered to be a safe one for the Congress. 


Cong promise to farmers
Our Correspondent

Dhuri, January 17
“To maintain unity and communal harmony in the country, defeat the SAD-BJP alliance in the coming Assembly elections”, Mr Joginder Dayal, Secretary of the state unit of the CPI, called upon the gathering here today. He was addressing the rally of his party nominee from Dhuri, Mr Achra Singh.

Mr Dayal said the Congress-CPI alliance had been made to set up a secular morcha to defeat the communal forces.

Ms Roop Kaur, secretary, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, said if the Congress came into power, loans of farmers would be waived by declaring farming as sick industry.


JD (S) to support Congress in Moga
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 17
A senior leader of the Janata Dal and former MLA, Sathi Roop Lal, along with his supporters, has announced to support Sathi Vijay Kumar, the Congress candidate from Moga. Sathi Vijay Kumar is the elder son of Sathi Roop Lal and was first elected to the state Assembly in the 1992 elections from Bagha Purana constituency.

In an exclusive interview with The Tribune here today, Sathi Roop Lal said the Janata Dal (Sharad) would not field its candidate from Moga and had decided to support the Congress candidate. Sathi Roop Lal, who has been contesting the Assembly elections from Moga regularly since Independence, has opted to stay away from active politics. “The anti-incumbency factor is likely to work against the ruling party’s candidate, Mr Tota Singh, Education Minister,” he said.

Lashing out at the Education Minister, he said Mr Tota Singh should publicly declare his assets as promised in the party manifesto of the last elections.

He announced that he was collecting affidavits against the minister with regard to collecting money for appointments and transfers of teachers in the area.

However, he demanded an independent inquiry by the CBI into the transfers and appointments of teachers.

Meanwhile, Mr Piyara Lal, district president of the Youth Janata Dal, has also announced to support Sathi Vijay Kumar along with his supporters from Moga constituency.


Khitmatgar party releases manifesto
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 17
Mr Desh Raj Bhangi, veteran freedom fighter and former associate of Acharya Vinoba Bhave, today released the manifesto of the Bharatiya Khitmatgar Party.

The party has promised to give clean administration. It has also proposed to abolish caste-based reservation, but at the same time promised to make arrangements for providing education to Dalits free of cost.

The other promises in the manifesto include maximum facilities to soldiers and farmers, solution to the Kashmir problem by extending help to the freedom struggle of Pakhtoons in Pakistan.


CBI directed to probe dera attack
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
In just over two years after Dera Dhakki Sahib in Ludhiana district was attacked allegedly by a crowd, Mr Justice K.S. Garewal of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today ordered an inquiry into the incident by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Accepting the report on the incident by an Additional Director-General of Police attached with the Punjab Human Rights Commission, Mr Justice Garewal also ordered that the proceedings before the courts concerned should also be kept in abeyance until the report from the investigating agency was received.

Mr Justice Garewal observed that even though the case pertained to land dispute, the matter had apparently acquired religious and political colour as there were complaints of sacrilege and involvement of politicians and as such an independent inquiry should be conducted by the CBI.

In the petition, two human rights organisations — International Human Rights Organisation and its Women’s wing) — had sought the implementation of the Commission’s recommendations issued on the basis of investigation conducted by the ADGP.

The two organisations claimed that the ADGP, in his report, had revealed that the followers of Baba Darshan Singh were harassed by the police. Going into the background, they claimed that an organised mob had attacked the dera on December 2, 1999 in which three persons were injured and scriptures burnt. The attack, they contended, was aimed at occupying the dera after chasing away Baba Darshan Singh’s followers.

Ravi Inder’s plea withdrawal allowed

Mr Justice Jawahal Lal Gupta and Mr Justice N.K. Sud of High Court on Thursday permitted Mr Ravi Inder Singh, MLA, to withdraw his petition, challenging Shiromani Akali Dal’s election symbol, for arguing the matter before the Election Commission.

In his petition, the MLA had sought directions to the Election Commission of India for changing the symbol from “scales”, to any other symbol, before the Assembly elections. As an alternate, the petitioner had sought directions to the commission to decide his representation before finalisation of nominations. After arguing the case at length, counsel for the petitioner prayed for permission to withdraw the petition so as to argue the case before the Election Commission.

Release increment to non-strikers

Allowing a petition filed by 82 teachers, a Division Bench of the High Court today directed the state of Punjab and other respondents to release the benefit of an increment to its employees who had not participated in a strike on February 8, 1978.

Delivering the verdict on a petition filed by Mr Surinder Singh and others, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice N.K. Sodhi and Mr Justice Jasbir Singh, also directed the release of arrears by May 31. In their petition, the teachers had sought directions to the state for grant of an increment for non-participation in the 1978 strike. Counsel had claimed that the increment was denied to them on the ground that they were working on an ad hoc basis at the time of the strike.


Poll ‘crucial’ in view of war threat
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 17
The ensuing Assembly elections in Punjab have assumed greater importance in view of the threat of war. If the electorate takes any “wrong” decision, it will send a wrong message to the enemy that the people of the state do not endorse the policies and decisions taken by the Prime Minister against Pakistan. This may encourage the enemy to attack the country and the state would be the worst sufferer. This was stated by Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Minister for Finance, while talking to this correspondent here today. He was here to kick off the election campaign of SAD candidates in the district.

Answering a query regarding the judgement of the Supreme Court on the SYL canal, he said all economic, political and religious problems of the state were the legacy of previous Congress governments. He said the state had no surplus water and not even a single drop of water would be allowed to flow out of the state. He said the decision would be opposed tooth and nail and the SYL issue would be raised with the Central Government.


Fast-track courts from tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
Fast-track courts, for expeditious disposal of pending cases, will be launched in the state of Punjab on January 19. A decision to this effect was taken during a full court meeting of the Punjab and Haryana High Court Judges held on January 14. 

According to a circular issued by the High Court a fax message giving information regarding the launch of fast-track courts had already been sent to the District and Session Judges in the state. Information was also forwarded to the inspecting judges of Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Ferozepore, Faridkot, Sangrur and Patiala.


Crushed to death
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 17
A 20-year-old man Chaman Singh was injured seriously when a truck hit his bicycle on the Bathinda-Goniana road today. 

He was taken to the local Civil Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. 

The body was handed over to the family members after a post-mortem examination. The driver absconded.


ROs, AROs appointed for Amritsar
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, January 17
Mr S.S. Puri, Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Election Officer, Amritsar, said today, that returning officers (ROs) and assistant returning officers (AROs) for the 16 Assembly constituencies of the district had been appointed. He was addressing a meeting of officers deputed on poll duty.

The nomination papers of candidates will be accepted from today while the last date of filing nominations is January 23. The scrutiny of documents would be done on January 24 and the candidates can withdraw their names till January 28, he said.

The counting will take place on February 24. Mr Puri said the code of conduct would be strictly implemented as per orders of the Chief Election Commissioner and legal action would be taken against defaulters.

The Chief Election Commissioner has appointed Mr Saraswati Prasad, Director, Agriculture, Government of India, as the observer and voting through electronic voting machines (EVMs) would be carried out under his supervision.

Mr Puri said Mr Prasad would hold a meeting with representatives of various political parties on January 18 at the local Bachat Bhavan with regard to the functioning of EVMs.

KAPURTHALA: All arrangements have been made in the district for holding elections to four Assembly constituencies of the district on February 13.

This was stated by Dr Roshan Sunkaria, Deputy Commissioner, and Ms Gurpreet Deo, SSP, in a joint press conference have on Thursday.

They said 731 electronic voting machines had arrived in the district for 553 polling stations set up in the district.

PHAGWARA: There are 1,48,553 voters, including 79,470 male voters, in Phagwara (reserved) Assembly constituency. This was stated on Thursday by the Returning Officer-cum-SDM, Mr Amarjit Paul.

About 700 officials have been deployed for conducting the poll, he said.

A demonstration of the use of electronic voting machines will be given to the poll staff at the local Kamla Nehru College for Women on January 19, January 30 and February 6.


Voters to be trained to use EVMs
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, January 17
The District Election Office, Faridkot, has deployed 60 supervisors to impart training to voters to ensure proper use to electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the three Assembly constituencies, including Faridkot, Kotkapura and Panjgrain in the district.

According to Mr A. Venu Prasad, District Election Officer-cum-Deputy Commissioner, 4,40,437 voters would be covered under the programme. The training will start from the Panjgrain Assembly segment on January 23 and three villages will be covered every day. Mr Prasad said more than 20,000 employees will be deputed on 488 polling booths of the rural and urban areas of all the constituencies to complete the voting work.

Mr Narinder Singh, Executive Magistrate, Faridkot, Mr Suchha Singh, SDO (Civil), and Mr Jaspal Singh, SDM, Jaitu, have been appointed returning officers for Faridkot, Panjgrain and Kotkapura Assembly segments, respectively.


Camera teams for making voter ID-cards
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 17
Camera teams will visit various villages of the Nathana constituency till January 27 for making photo identity cards of voters.

Those voters who do not have photo identity cards can get themselves photographed between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. when the camera teams reach their respective villages. This was stated in an official press note issued here today.


1.75 kg of poppy husk seized, 2 held
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 17
The district police has seized at least 1.75 kg of poppy husk and apprehended two persons in this regard last evening. The police on an information held a naka behind Guru Nanak Dev Hospital and nabbed the accused, Jagir Singh of Chavinda Khurd and Sarbjeet Singh of Mug village, with the contraband. They were riding a scooter. During interrogation the accused revealed that they used to sell poppy husk in Medical College, Medical Enclave, Gopal Nagar, Chheharta and other areas of the city.

Meanwhile, Pargat Singh of Chavinda Khurd village has been arrested for allegedly possessing 40 gm of smack.


Opium seized
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, January 17
The local police has seized 10 kg of opium worth Rs 2 lakh and arrested two persons — Balwant Singh and Lal Singh. Mr Harchand Singh Sidhu, SSP, said a white Maruti car coming from Gurdittiwala was stopped at a barrier near Chahal village and contraband recovered from under the seat of the car.


Kids to be trained in civil defence
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 17
Special teams have been formed to educate schoolchildren about civil defence and blackouts. The teams will hold training camps at various schools of the city from January 22.

Mr Darshan Singh Grewal, ADC and district coordinator of the civil defence committee, said here today that 8 teams had been formed. These would visit different schools and educate students about civil defence by delivering lectures at the morning prayers.

He said wardens and officials of civil defence and Principals and teachers of schools were included in the committees. Each team would visit 2 to 4 schools during the training period, he added.


Cultivate sporting habits: VC
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 17
Cultivating of sporting habits is vital for the overall growth of a student’s personality. This was stated by the Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, while distributing prizes to children of Punjabi University Model Senior Secondary School at its 26th annual athletic meet here today.


Rs 15 lakh grant for GND varsity
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 17
The University Grants Commission has sanctioned a grant of Rs 15 lakh to the school of Punjab Studies of Guru Nanak Dev University for a project of computerisation of Punjabi language, according to an official information released to the press here today.

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