Wednesday, February 27, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SAD down, but not out
Frames strategy to corner Cong govt
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
The Shiromani Akali Dal may be down, thanks to the drubbing it has received at the hands of electorate in Punjab, but it is certainly not out.

Within 48 hours of losing power, the SAD led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal has begun chalking out a political strategy to corner the Congress government headed by Capt Amarinder Singh who is yet to be formally sworn in as the next Chief Minister of Punjab. A meeting of the Political Affairs Committee of the SAD held here today took stock of the post-Assembly poll scenario in the state. Informed sources told TNS that the consensus of opinion at the meeting was that the new government would remain on a weak wicket, enjoying as it does a rather slender majority in the 117-member House. Therefore, it was felt that the SAD must start mounting pressure on it rightaway by demanding that the Congress should fulfil the poll promises it made during the election campaign. These included payment of bonus to farmers worth Rs 30 per quintal of paddy.

It would also press the new government to fulfil its other promises like free supply of 150 units of electricity to Dalits, hike in the old age pension and refund of reimbursement of electricity bills for the past six months.

The PAC emphasised that the SAD, when it came to power in 1997, took no time in fulfilling its election promises. These included free electricity and water supply to the rural sector, introduction of the “shagun scheme” for Dalits, introduction of old age pensions, payment of unemployment allowance and launch of the “sangat darshan” programme which continued throughout the five-year term of the Badal government. The Congress government must follow the precedent set by the SAD.

The meeting emphasised that one of the major achievements of the Badal government was to ensure a “totally hassle-free” procurement of the farmers produce during its reign. It would be interesting to see if the Congress government would be able to replicate this achievement. Wheat procurement season was not very far away. But the real test for the new government, according to the PAC, would come during the paddy procurement in September-October.

It was pointed out that soon after takeover, the Badal government had given a bonanza of Rs 1400 crore to the government employees by implementing the new pay scales. It remained to be seen if the Congress government would be able to replicate the achievement.

There were enough indications during the meeting that the SAD would not wait for long before launching a “mass movement” against the new government. The first real test for the Congress government would come when Malout election is held. The election had been adjourned due to the death of the SAD nominee, Mr Sujan Singh. It is likely to be held within the next three months.


‘Jagmeet factor’ spelt disaster for Cong
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
True to apprehensions expressed in party circles, the “Jagmeet factor” spelt disaster for the Congress in all nine assembly segments of Muktsar, Faridkot and Moga districts of Punjab in the elections to the state assembly where the party nominees lost to the candidates of the SAD-BJP alliance.

Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar is the sitting Congress MP representing the Faridkot parliamentary constituency which consists of nine assembly segments spread over three districts. These are Moga, Baghapurana, Panjgrain, Muktsar, Lambi, Gidderbaha, Malout, Faridkot and Kot Kapura. An old warhorse, Mr Brar wields vast influence in these constituencies and is widely perceived to be in a position to make or break the electoral prospects of most, if not all, Congress candidates in the area.

During the allotment of the party tickets, Mr Brar wanted the Congress ticket for a number of his supporters. These included his brother, Mr Ripujit Singh, who wanted to contest for Muktsar, and Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Badal for Lambi. Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Badal is a relative of the Chief Minister and Mr Brar was instrumental in his induction into the Congress a couple of months ago. It was publicly promised by Mr Brar at the time that the Congress would field Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Badal against the Chief Minister in Lambi. But Mr Brar’s efforts to secure the Congress ticket for Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Badal did not succeed. What really put him off was his inability to secure the party ticket for Mr Ripujit Singh for Muktsar. The Congress decided to field a former Chief Minister, Mr Harcharan Singh Brar. Annoyed, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar refused to take part in the Congress poll campaign for days together. Finally, he made his appearance in Moga to campaign for the party nominee, Mr Vijay Sathi. Most of Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar’s supporters were allegedly working for the party rebels or the Akalis contesting against the official Congress candidates in these constituencies. This was, however, vehemently denied by Mr Brar’s camp. Mr Brar was credited with the view that the “wrong allotment of the party ticket” would cost the Congress dear. The poll results showed that he was not wrong.

In Moga, the sitting Akali minister, Mr Tota Singh, beat Mr Vijay Kumar Sathi by a margin of 307 votes. Mr Tota Singh polled 42,579 votes against Mr Sathi’s 42, 272. In Baghapurana, Mr Sadhu Singh of the Akali Dal beat Mr Mahesh Inder Singh of the Congress by a margin of 5,048 votes. Mr Sadhu Singh polled 47, 423 votes against 42,375 secured by his Congress rival.

In Nihalsinghwala, Mr Zora Singh of the Akali Dal won comfortably by 16,729 votes against the CPI’s Mr Ajaib Singh Raunta who polled 18,827 against Mr Zora Singh’s 35,556. In Faridkot, Mr Kushaldeep Singh of the Akali Dal won the seat polling 57,282, against 51,111 secured by Mr Avtar Singh Brar of the Congress. In Panjgrain, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, an Akali minister, was declared elected, beating Mr Darshan Singh of the CPI. In Kotkapura, Mr Mantar Singh Brar of the Akali Dal was re-elected polling 42,717, beating the Congress party’s Ms Vibha Sharma who secured 40,979.

In Muktsar, Mr Harcharan Singh Brar of the Congress lost to an Akali rebel, Mr Sukhdarshan Singh Marar, by a margin of just 200 votes. Mr Marar secured 32,465 against Mr Brar’s 32,265. The Akali Dal’s official candidate, Mr Harnirpal Singh Kukku polled 26,844.

In Lambi, as expected the outgoing Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, won the seat polling 50,524 votes against 26,611 votes secured by a Congress rebel, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Badal, and 12,800 votes polled by the official Congress candidate, Mr Gurnam Singh Abulkhurana. In the neighbouring constituency of Gidderbaha, Mr Manpreet Singh Badal of the Akali Dal won polling 59,336 votes against 43,801 secured by Mr Raghbir Singh of the Congress.

A maverick, party-hopping politician, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar won the Faridkot Lok Sabha seat in 1999 by about 5,000 votes, defeating the sitting MP and the then Minister of State of Industries, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is the son of the outgoing Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. The families of Mr Brar and Mr Badal have been political rivals for decades. Before Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, his father, the late Gurmeet Singh, used to be Mr Badal’s rival. After his death, Mr Brar has been carrying on the battle against both Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his son, Mr Sukhbir Singh.

Mr Brar contested against Mr Parkash Singh Badal for the Gidderbaha assembly constituency in 1980 and 1985 but lost on both occasions. In 1989, he fought from the Ferozepore parliamentary constituency but lost to Mr Dhian Singh Mand of the SAD (Mann).

Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1992 from the Faridkot constituency as the Congress nominee when the Akali Dal boycotted the poll. In 1996, he contested as an Independent but lost to Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal. Ms Bubbly Brar, daughter of Mr Harcharan Singh Brar, who was the Congress candidate, also lost in the election. Two years later, he again lost to Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal who went on to become the Union Minister of State for Industries in the Vajpayee government.

Mr Brar, however, came into his own only in 1999 when he defeated Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, despite vigorous campaigning by the Chief Minister.


Life comes full circle for Amarinder
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
It was a long day for Capt Amarinder Singh today, as it was only at 3.37 p.m. that the party high command announced that he would be the next Chief Minister of Punjab. As people waited for the official announcement of the decision that Capt Amarinder Singh and others knew about in advance, the minds of those more informed amongst them went back to the longest night that had preceded this day, many years ago when Capt Amarinder Singh waited in vain on January 16, 1997, for the announcement of the Akali ticket by Shiromani Akali Dal chief Parkash Singh Badal.

Life has indeed come full circle since then. Capt Amarinder Singh is going to replace the very person (Mr Badal) who denied him the party ticket then, as Chief Minister tomorrow. Some say that it will be sweet political revenge for the new Chief Minister. I seems no one knows what destiny has in store for anyone. Mr Badal had not thought even in his dreams that the man to whom he denied the party ticket would replace him as the Chief Minister.

First, about the longest night. The all-powerful Akali Dal chief, Mr Badal, left for Lambi village after releasing the final list of 23 Akali candidates on January 16, 1997. Earlier on January 7 and January 14, he had released lists of 32 and 38 Akali candidates, respectively.

However, Capt Amarinder Singh's name did not figure in any of the three lists though he was one of the frontline leaders in the party. However, his two close associates, Mr Ravi Inder Singh and Raja Narinder Singh, were given the party ticket by Mr Badal. As Mr Ravi Inder Singh came to know about this development, he rushed to Lambi to make Mr Badal agree to allot the party ticket to Capt Amarinder Singh from some other place as the ticket for the Dakala constituency, from where Capt Amarinder Singh wanted to contest, had been allotted to Mr Harmel Singh , son-in-law of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

In fact, it was part of Mr Badal and Mr Tohra's strategy to deny the party ticket to Capt Amarinder Singh. In Patiala district, the party ticket was given with the approval of Mr Tohra except in the case of the Ghanure constituency where Mr Badal put up his distant relative, Mr Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur. By doing so both Mr Badal and Mr Tohra created an awkward situation for Capt Amarinder Singh.

To cut a long story short, Mr Ravi Inder Singh continued to persuade Mr Badal to allot the party ticket to Capt Amarinder Singh from Bathinda or Talwandi Sabo, from where he had been elected once earlier.

He told Capt Amarinder Singh, who was in his new Moti Bagh palace, to await a telephone call from him and also asked him whether he would be ready to contest from Bathinda. A few journalists, a senior IAS officer, Capt Amarinder Singh’s mother, his wife, Mrs Praneet Kaur, and his son, Mr Raninder Singh, were sitting in a room on the second floor of the palace.

He asked the journalists and the IAS officer about his prospects at Bathinda. Everyone told him that as an Akali “wave” had started sweeping the state well before the elections, he should accept the offer on the Bathinda seat. There was restlessness all around. The journalists had gone to the palace to know Capt Amarinder Singh’s version, but as there was hope that the party ticket would be allotted, they also continued to await the telephone call.

Shortly after midnight, the telephone rang. Capt Amarinder Singh picked up the receiver. He got the message that Mr Badal had not agreed even to allot the Bathinda seat to him as it had been allotted to a certain Hindu candidate. It was all over for the moment for Capt Amarinder Singh. In fact, the first indication that Capt Amarinder Singh got about the possibility of the denial of the party ticket to him was on January 5,1997 when Mr Badal visited Patiala city. He also went to the Moti Bagh palace where Capt Amarinder Singh had organised a public meeting for him.

However, Mr Badal’s attitude towards Capt Amarinder Singh at that meeting was indifferent. His friend, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, raised the issue of not allotting party ticket to Mr Tohra's son-in-law from Dakala at that meeting, but Mr Badal avoided the issue by saying that such matters should not be discussed at public meetings and left hurriedly for the house of Mrs Amarjit Kaur, where Mr Tohra was waiting for him. That day, Mr Tohra did not attend the public meeting at Capt Amarinder Singh's palace.

On January 18, 1997, the day Mr Parkash Singh Badal filed his nomination papers for the Lambi constituency as the candidate of the SAD, Capt Amarinder Singh called a press conference at his house to announce that he had quit the Shiromani Akali Dal along with his supporters including Mr Charanjit Singh Walia. He also announced that he would oppose the SAD candidates, especially those belonging to the Tohra camp, in Patiala district.

After a few months, he went back to the fold of his parent party, the Congress, which he had quit in 1984, on September 12, 1997. He became the president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee on July 4, 1998, and was elected to this office again on November 25, 2000, following organisational elections. He rejuvenated the party, which was in a state of flux following a historic defeat at the hands of the SAD-BJP combine in 1997.

Educated at Lawrence School, Sanawar, and Doon School, Dehra Dun, he joined the Indian Army in June, 1963, as a commissioned officer and took part in the war against Pakistan in 1965. In fact, he had resigned from the Army in early 1965 but rejoined it to take part in the operations. He is married to Praneet Kaur, a daughter of Mr Gyan Singh Kahlon, ICS, former Chief Secretary of Punjab, and has a son and a daughter. He will be 60 on March 11.

As " raj pandits" had decreed that the most auspicious time for him to take over as Chief Minister would be between 10.30 a.m. and 11.30 a.m. tomorrow, he will take the oath at 11.30 a.m., according to information available at Punjab Raj Bhavan here.


Amarinder’s appointments
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
Mr M.P. Singh and Mr Amarjit Verma have been appointed Secretary and Private Secretary, respectively, to the Chief Minister-designate, Capt Amarinder Singh, an official communication of the Punjab Government said tonight.

Capt Amarinder Singh is expected to make certain appointments, including those of his Secretariat, after taking oath of office and secrecy here tomorrow.

Mr S.K. Sinha is expected to be named Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister while other changes in the administrative set-up of the state may be made during the next two days.


1 dead in post-poll violence
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 26
Even as no untoward incident was reported from the district on the polling and counting days the violence after the poll results in the region have left one person dead and 13 injured, one of them seriously. The injured include an independent candidate, his wife and son.

Police sources said here today that Naib Singh was killed after the poll results were declared at Phul town allegedly by some of his relatives when their arguments turned violent. A case has been registered against Buta Singh, Bharpur Singh and Jarnail Singh (all cousins of the deceased) under Sections 302 and 341 of the IPC. The sources added that a section of Akali workers allegedly beat up Maghar Singh with blunt weapons. On his complaint the police registered a case against Pappa Singh, Naiba Singh and Iqbal Singh under Sections 452, 323, 506 and 341 of the IPC.

Some workers of SAD and Congress entered a scuffle, while they were raising slogans for their respective parties at Dhilwan village, near here. A section of them were allegedly drunk. Ranjit Singh, Kuldeep Singh and Basant Singh of Nathana and Major Singh, Jaswir Singh and Harbans Singh of Dhelwan were injured in the clash.

A case under various sections of the IPC has been registered on a complaint by Kuldeep Singh against Tara Singh, Major Singh, Kehar Singh, Jasbir Singh and Gurmail Singh. However, no arrests have been made so far, the sources added.

In another incident, some unidentified persons attacked Atma Singh and his family at Tungwali village. Atma Singh, who unsuccessfully contested from the Nathana assembly segment and his wife Jasvir Kaur were injured in the incident. Both have been admitted to the local Civil Hospital where the condition of Atma Singh was stated to be serious.

His relative said that about six armed persons had attacked him. While Atma Singh suffered injuries on head, his wife had a probable broken arm, hospital sources said.

In yet another incident supporters of Akali Dal and Congress party used unparliamentary language against each other at Chak Bhakhtoo village and the scuffle ended at the Bhucho police station.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, when contacted, said FIRs had been lodged in all cases where the complaints had been received by the police.

Mr Dev added that Buta Singh and Jarnail Singh had been arrested for the alleged murder of Naib Singh. He said some persons were also arrested in the assault case at Tungwali village. 


MC soft on influential builders?
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 26
Has the fund-starved Jalandhar Municipal Corporation been applying one yardstick for small-time violators and another for influential builders, who have been raising buildings in violation of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act and building bylaws and causing losses to the civic body by not paying penalty running into crores of rupees?

It seems so, if its soft approach towards land sharks known for their clout in political and bureaucratic circles is taken into account. While it orders the demolition of illegal structures built by common people, the civic body merely issues a few notices in case of those who exert influence, especially in the Punjab Local Bodies Department.

A glaring example of the civic body’s approach is the local CT Public School complex. The school management has been increasing the number of its wings on 14 acres of land since 1997, allegedly without seeking prior sanction of its building plan from the local municipal corporation authorities. The corporation, instead of taking any step to check the violation of the law by the school management, has turned a blind eye towards it after issuing a few notices to the latter. This has been done allegedly after pressure was exerted by bureaucrats in the Punjab Local Bodies Department who are said to be close to the school management.

While the civic body is facing an acute financial crunch after the abolition of octroi, nothing practical has been done to realise the penalty, estimated to be running into crores of rupees, from the school management.

Moreover, the building of the school, which has nursery, primary, secondary and information technology wings, apart from a hostel, mess, swimming pool, gymnasium and library, allegedly does not conform to the fire safety norms.

A perusal of the MC records revealed that a number of notices under Section 269 and 270 of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act were issued by the civic body in 1997, 1998, and 2000, but nothing had been done to realise the penalty of more than Rs 1 crore from the school management.

A senior MC official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said whenever MC officials tried to take action against the school, senior bureaucrats of the Local Bodies Department intervened to restrain them.

The Act, according to MC officials, contains a provision that if any defaulter refuses to pay the penalty and the compounding fee, the building can be demolished. However, no such step has been taken even after several years. So much so that construction work is still on at the site.

The local fire station authorities maintained that according to their records, the school complex did not have proper fire-fighting arrangements, which are mandatory in case of all education institutes or other big buildings.

The school chairman was not available for comments despite repeated efforts. Mr Samir Kumar, the Commissioner of the MC, said he was looking into the matter and assured that action would be taken. 


Globalisation of higher education sought
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 26
Globalisation of trade, production, and communication has created gaps between the rich and poor, which continue to widen. Sustainable development remains an elusive long-term goal. This was the consensus among the national and international-level scholars participating in the second round-table conference on the internationalisation of higher education here today.

The conference was hosted by Guru Nanak Dev University and sponsored by the Association of Indian Universities, New Delhi.

They were of the view that whether in the economic, political or social realms, higher education will contribute to raising the overall quality of life, so it must be internationalised.

Prof B.B. Dhar from the Association of Indian Universities, in his presentation “Strategy and Planning for Internationalism of Higher Education: Needs, Linkages and Policy Imperatives” lamented that India till date had really not taken the issue of internationalisation of higher education seriously and nor an attempt to formulate any strategy or policy except a few attempts by a few selected universities. He said the Indian scenario indicated that there were no government initiatives to encourage and develop higher education.

He emphasised that the government, the universities and the institutes of higher learning would have to change their policies and programmes to accommodate and attract foreign students. For this purpose, he suggested some changes, which included matches international standard curricula, maintenance of higher standards and quality education and encouragement to short-study Indian programmes within and outside the country.

Speaking on “Internationalisation of Indian Agricultural Education”, Dr V.M. Pawar and Dr P.S. Borikor have suggested that for internationalisation of the Indian agricultural education, we would have to create an excellent infrastructure like lecture halls, laboratories, library, sports recreation, hostel facilities. Secondly, we would have to identify the subject areas and the admission procedure which should be simplified through single-window system. The Office of International Education (OIE) should be set up to promote social infrastructure and cultural exchange. Networking should be developed through linkages and MoUs.

Stressing the establishment of a nodal agency within ICAR, Prof V.K. Patil presenting his views on “Internationalisation of Higher Education in Agriculture: Scope and Needs” said it was pathetic that in a country where 80 per cent population was depended directly or indirectly on agriculture, we find only 1.3 per cent college-going students availing of opportunity for higher education in agriculture.


Cops’ suspension too late, too little
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 26
As the Jalandhar police has virtually adopted a soft approach towards two controversial Punjab Police Inspectors by not arresting them in spite of their being hand in glove with Gagan Bakshi, an alleged hard-core criminal, arrested yesterday and facing as many as 22 cases of fraud, the mere suspension of the two officials, who have been booked for allegedly harbouring the criminal, has raised many an eye-brow even as the entire incident has rocked the city and exposed the criminal-police nexus once again.

The police had arrested Gagan Bakshi, a travel agent, facing about two dozen fraud cases and his accomplice Harminder Singh for allegedly deceiving innocent people to the tune of crores of rupees on the pretext of sending them abroad and numerous passports, fake US visa stickers and some stamps were seized from his possession. The investigation revealed that Gagan Bakshi, who had shifted his base to Chandigarh and Haryana, was suspected of having links with Mandhir and Navneet, the two main accused named by the Government of India in the Malta Boat tragedy. The visiting cards of the two accused have been seized from Bakshi.

But what had stunned even the police authorities was the preliminary investigation which pointed out that though in police records Bakshi was usually shown as untraceable, in reality, he was being patronised and harboured by a controversial SHO at Lambra police station, Mr Harjinder Singh, and Inspector Gian Singh, who had already been suspended for his alleged connivance with Bakshi. The latter was suspected to have been involved in the Malta Boat tragedy also. Interestingly, it was Gian Singh, who had been in charge of the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Jalandhar police for a long time.

But what was more ironical was that though a case had been registered against the two inspectors under Sections 216 and 120-B of the IPC on Sunday, no action had been taken against them despite the duo facing serious charges, allegedly, for their high connections in the Police Department. It was finally this evening that the two were merely suspended by the police authorities. It was being seen as nothing but a “face saving” exercise, since the two were not arrested as yet. So much so that though the duo were booked on February 24, Harjinder Singh even performed poll duty on that day in his capacity as SHO, Lambra. It was not for the first time that Inspector Harjinder Singh had got embroiled in a controversy on account of his alleged links with unscrupulous elements. Earlier he was suspended in 1998 on the basis of an inquiry conducted by the then DIG Jalandhar range, Mr Suresh Arora, for his alleged links with the land mafia, which had allegedly attempted to take possession of about 84 acres of prime land at Fazilpur village, belonging to a temple trust.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr L.K. Yadav, SP, who had initiated action against Bakshi and his accomplices, said Inspector Harjinder Singh had been functioning as an agent of Bakshi and he “used to leak police plans to Bakshi in advance.” “We had formed teams and had planned to conduct a raid on Bakshi, but Inspector Harjinder Singh revealed everything to Bakshi, who had even been staying at the residence of the police official,” revealed Mr Yadav. He said both the police officials were “business partners” of Bakshi. He said efforts were being made to arrest the police official duo. Meanwhile, informed police sources said efforts were afoot from different quarters to pressurise the EOW to go slow against the accused police officials known for their proximity to the high and mighty. Mr Yadav, however, said Mr Davinder Singh Bhandal, a local resident and another co-accused, had been exonerated on the basis of a preliminary inquiry into the case.


Mann resents being ignored for meeting on Ayodhya
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 26
The President of the Akali Dal (Amritsar), Mr Simranjeet Singh Mann, today expressed resentment over being ignored from the all-party meeting called by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee to discuss the Ayodhya situation.

Talking to TNS on telephone from New Delhi after the adjournment of Parliament on the Ayodhya issue, Mr Mann regretted that his party had been ignored at the all-party meeting. After some members stated that 30,000 “kar sevaks” had assembled in Ayodhya, the House was adjourned.

Mr Mann pointed out that his was the only party that had announced a programme well in advance to resist the attempts of the “kar sevaks” to take over the disputed land on March 10 and still he was not invited to the meeting.

He said, When he brought the matter to the notice of the Speaker he was told that his was a one-man party. “So is Mr Chandershekhar’s”, Mr Mann pointed out, while asking “if he can be invited then why not us?”.

The radical Akali leader urged the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, to ensure that no genuine representative of the people was denied the right to be heard at this important occasion.

“We are representing the voice of minority and the issue concerns the minorities of the country”, he said, while justifying his claim for representation at the all-party meeting.


BJP legislature wing meets
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
A meeting of the Legislature Party of the Punjab unit of the BJP was held here this morning under the chairmanship of Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, president of the unit. The party MLAs who attended the meeting were Mr Sukhpal Singh Saini( Ferozepore), Mr Avinash Rai Khanna (Garshankar) and Mr Tikshan Sud (Hoshiarpur).

Mr Rinwa authorised the party MLAs to elect their leader.

Speaking at the meeting, Mr Rinwa said that the people’s mandate was in favour of the SAD-BJP combine but “exaggerated” opinion polls changed the electoral scenario. He said that party representatives would meet the Election Commission of India to demand a ban on such polls or provision of a major penalty if these proved way of the mark.

He said the BJP would play the role of a responsible and constructive Opposition in and outside the Punjab Assembly. Mr Avinash Jaiswal, general secretary of the party unit, was also present.


Suspected plague cases in Patti

Amritsar, February 26
Two patients, suffering from suspected plague like symptoms, were admitted to Guru Ram Das Medical Institute-cum-Hospital here today.

Additional Deputy Commissioner Rajkamal Chaudhari today said Ajit Singh of Munawa village and Saranjeet Singh (14) of Mari-Udho-Ke village, both in Patti subdivision, were admitted to the emergency ward of the hospital.

He said they were suffering from chest infection and other plague-related symptoms. Blood samples had been sent for detailed analysis to the hospital laboratory, he added.

Mr Chaudhari said a meeting of all the district health officers had been called tomorrow to take stock of the situation and take preventive measures. UNI


BBMB plans new hydro projects
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, February 26
The Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) was planning to install new hydro projects to increase the generation capacity of the organisation. The new Chairman of the BBMB, Mr Rakesh Nath, gave this information while talking to this correspondent at Nangal yesterday. He was at Nangal to inaugurate the 28th All-India Electricity Boards Volleyball Tournament being hosted by the BBMB.

Mr Rakesh Nath said the board had approved a plan to bring up three generation projects on the Bhakra mainline. These projects are estimated to generate 18 MW extra electricity for the BBMB. Another 40 MW project was being planned on the Baggi tunnel in Himachal Pradesh. The feasibility study for the project had been completed but the technical studies were still going on. The BBMB planned to start the work on the said projects within the next financial year.

Besides these projects, studies were also going on explore the possibility of a power project down stream Bhakra Dam near Nahla village in Himachal Pradesh.

About the finances for the proposed projects, the Chairman said the BBMB had approached the financial institutions to arrange for finances. When asked about the errant payments by the partner states to the BBMB for the past few years, the Chairman said the organisation had now decided to penalise those states which delay payments. The states which delay payments to the BBMB would now have to pay an interest of 1 per cent per month, while the states which make timely payments would get a concession of 1 per cent.

Besides this, the BBMB had also approached the finance departments of states to keep budgetary provisions for the payment to be made to the board.

The Chairman also declined the possibility of corporatisation of the BBMB in the near future. Instead the BBMB was taking steps to minimise the operational and maintenance costs of the organisation and improve the efficiency of the existing generation units, he said. He said the partner states had requested the repatriation of their employees just one year before their retirement. The request was based on the plea that the states had to pay higher pensions to their employees working in the BBMB on the basis of the last pay drawn. To solve this problem the BBMB had proposed that instead of repatriation, the state employees working here could be given their parent scales just two to three months before retirement, he said.


Saru Rana gets security, hearing adjourned
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 26
Hearing on the bail application submitted by the public prosecutor pertaining of the Saru Rana case has been adjourned till March 4. It may be recalled that the Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, had applied for the grant of interim bail through his counsel after a criminal case had been registered against him on the application of a fine arts’ student, Ms Saru Rana, alleging harassment.

Arguments pertaining to the case were to take place today in the court of the District and Sessions Judge, Mr S.N. Agarwal. On the last date of hearing the defence counsel for the accused had obtained a stay on the arrest of the Vice-Chancellor. The defence pleaded that he needed more time to submit the relevant records.

Meanwhile, the police provided two female security guards to Ms Rana following her plea for the same submitted to the SSP alleging threat to her life.


Students, teachers seek VC’s removal
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 26
The Joint Action Committee, comprising students, teachers and non-teaching staff of Punjabi University today organised dharna and blocked the main gate of the university for several hours. Demanding the removal of the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, the protesters the dharna following allegations of a Fine Arts Department student, Saru Rana, who has lodged an FIR against Dr Ahluwalia and three others in an alleged case.

Several student leaders and teachers, including PUTA Secretary N.S. Atri called for the removal of the Vice-Chancellor and a high-level probe into the matter.

A student’s body opposed the dharna, but its president along some others were taken away by the police. A technical assistant with the Theatre Department, Mrs Ravinder Pal Bajwa, alleged that the Head of the Fine Arts Department subjected Saru Rana harassment as she was unwilling to “cooperate with her and the varsity head”. She said the attendance register would “vanish” whenever Saru Rana wanted to mark herself.

In a press note, the Vice-Chancellor dismissed the agitation as mobilised by a few “elements”. Accusing the SSP of failing to take concrete action on the complaint of Sarabjit Kaur against Saru Rana, he said he had sought departmental action against the SSP.


BKU holds rally on SYL canal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 26
The Bharti Kisan Union (Punjab), today staged a demonstration and held a rally demanding the completion of the Sutlej-Yamuna link canal to save Punjab from becoming a desert land.

The rally led by its president Ajmer Singh Lakhowal and Secretary-General Prof Manjeet Singh Kadran presented a memorandum to the Prime Minister. The union has demanded more water for Haryana and building of the “Ganga-Yamuna link,” canal, which only needs a small investment. By this the new canal link, will get water for its needs and Western Uttar Pradesh will also be saved from heavy losses due to floods. This would also benefit the farmers of Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh. Mr Ajmer Singh alleged that the politicians were not taking keen interest in the farmers and were only interested in encouraging fights between them to get political mileage.

Prof Manjeet Singh while addressing the rally, pointed out that presently the rivers in Punjab were giving less water than the estimates of 1950 and 1960, in Sutlej, Beas and Ravi.


Healthcare project for villages
Parmod Bharti

The Guru Nanak Mission Medical and Educational Trust, Dhahan Kaleran (Nawanshahr), in collaboration with its sister concern, Canada India Educational Society, Vancouver, and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), has completed the first phase of a primary healthcare project. This project would lead to the improvement of health and educational services in the rural areas of Punjab as well as the status of women by educating them to take up leadership.

Under the project, the is first of its kind in the state, the trust has covered more than 60 villages with a population of about 50,000. Besides epidemiological surveys, free medical check-up camps, exhibitions and street plays etc. were organized in the villages to educate the rural folk and improve sanitary conditions. It would also encourage community participation so as to motivate volunteers to work actively for this.

Mr Budh Singh Dhahan, president of the trust, told this reporter that the progress report of the first phase of the project had been submitted to the CIDA. Ms Naura Whyte, CIDA health consultant, also visited Dhahan Kaleran recently to see the running of the project. The trust is hopeful of getting CIDA approval for extension of the project for another five years, he added.

He says inadequate health services and the plight of the poor and ignorant people of the rural areas motivated him and other NRIs office-bearers and active members of the Canada India Education Society, to conceive the project so that they can serve their motherland in a better way. The project was discussed with CIDA, which approved the project in March last year.

Mr Dhahan says that the project would in the long run help in strengthening primary health care facilities and fill lacunae in the health delivery system. The project is also proving beneficial to students of the Guru Nanak College of Nursing, being run by the trust, as they would get an opportunity to serve in the rural areas.


Health staff to hold demonstration
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 26
Members of the Punjab Health Department Subordinate Offices Clerical Association will organise a black flag demonstration on February 28 in front of the office of the Director, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, at Chandigarh, in protest against the transfer of the association’s state president, Mr Sukhwinder Singh, from Ludhiana to Patiala on the basis of a “false” complaint.

Giving this information here today, Mr Balwant Singh Saini, district president of the association, said they would extend their three-day pen-down strike, started yesterday in the state, for an indefinite period, in case the transfer of the state president was not cancelled by February 28.

Mr Saini said they had already been holding protest rallies at the district headquarters since February 14 and now pen-down strike, but to no avail. He said Mr Sukhwinder Singh had been transferred by the authorities as a “false” complaint had been made against him on a “fake” letterhead of Mr Sukhdev Singh Libra, a Rajya Sabha member, in which it had been alleged that Mr Sukhwinder Singh had been taking part in the Assembly elections in favour of a particular candidate.

Mr Saini said the complaint was “false”, it had been proved as Mr Libra himself had given in writing that he (Libra) had not made any such complaint against Mr Sukhwinder Singh, Mr Libra had also recommended to the Secretary and Director, Health, Punjab to cancel the transfer. Mr Libra had also demanded an inquiry into the matter he said.

Mr Saini demanded that the Punjab Government should cancel the transfer of Mr Sukhwinder Singh so that work in the offices of the Civil Surgeons could be resumed by the clerical staff.


SGPC determined to send jatha to Pak
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 26
Heightened tension on the Indo-Pak border notwithstanding, the SGPC has decided to send a jatha of devotees to pay their obeisance at Sikh shrines in Pakistan from April 11 to April 20. According to reliable sources the SGPC has already sent a list of devotees to the Central Government through the state government for seeking approval for sending the jatha.

It is pertinent to mention here that the SGPC was in a dilemma to send the jatha to Pakistan due to Army build up on both sides.

Earlier, SGPC president Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar had given diametrically opposite statements on sending jatha to Pakistan.


Ravi Dass Jayanti celebrated
Tribune Reporters

Batala, February 26
A procession was taken out here today to commemorate the birth anniversary of Guru Ravi Dass. The procession started from the Dera road and passed through Gandhi Chowk, City Road, Hansli Bridge.

The procession was led by the Palki of Guru Granth Sahib. Students from various schools participated.

PHAGWARA: A shobha yatra was taken out here this evening on the eve of Guru Ravi Dass Jayanti. A large number of devotees, including women and children, took part in it. Starting from the historic Ravi Dass Temple at nearby Chakhakim village, the yatra passed through tastefully decorated bazaars here. 


Jalandhar YC chief killed in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Ropar, February 26
The Jalandhar Youth Congress chief, Mr Ramesh Kumar, alias Banti, was killed in an accident on the Ropar-Chandigarh road today. He was going to Chandigarh when his car met with an accident with a truck near Chanalo village.

Rajesh Gupta who was accompanying Banti also died in the accident, while his two guards, Surinder Singh and Karam Singh sustained injuries. The injured were shifted to the PGI, Chandigarh.

The police has registered a case under Sections 279, 304-A, 337 and 427 of the IPC against the driver of the truck Gurdial Singh.


Plenary session of Bishops begins
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 26
The 14th plenary session of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) took off at Trinity College here today. Rev Dr Thomas Dabre, General Secretary of the CCBI, led the prayers, followed by a welcome note by Dr Symphorian Keeprath, Bishop of the Jalandhar diocese, and the lighting of the lamp by Dr Lorenzo Baldisseri, Vatican Ambassador to India and Nepal.


Dharna against activist’s arrest
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, February 26
Several BJP activists led by Mr Surjit Kumar Jayani, outgoing Cabinet Minister and former MLA, Fazilka, staged a dharna before the Sadar police station here today in protest against the arrest of Sultan, a BJP worker of nearby Kami Khera village.

While addressing the activists, Mr Jayani, Mr Mohinder Pratap Dhingra and Mr Bajrang Lal Gupta, president and former president of the Municipal Council, Fazilka respectively, said they should not tolerate police excesses. They condemned the police for arresting their party activists. They said they would take up the issue of registration of false cases against party activists with SSP, Ferozepore, and demanded an impartial probe into the incidences.

The rallying activists raised slogans against the Punjab police.

Meanwhile, Mr Swaranjit Singh, DSP, Fazilka, said after the declaration of poll result on February 24, Inder Singh of Kami Khera village informed the police that he was beaten up by Sultan when he was celebrating the victory of Dr Mohinder Kumar Rinwa in the election. He was admitted to the local Civil Hospital. Sultan, who has been arrested on the basis of medico-legal report of Inder Singh, denied having beaten him.


Hepatitis claims life
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 26
Even as the health authorities have taken preventive steps to stop the spread of hepatitis-B, one of the 10 detected cases of the disease in Sooch village died last night at a private hospital in Ludhiana.

The death of Jarnail Singh (60) suffering from hepatitis-B has spread fear among the residents of the Sooch village as many other cases have been reported from the same village. Jarnail Singh was suffering from the disease for the past two months. The district administration has announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh for vaccinating the residents of the neighbouring villages against hepatitis-B. It has also given grants to the youth welfare and sports clubs of the villages for cleanliness drives in the village.


Man murdered, brother accuses sister-in-law
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 26
Mystery surrounds the death of Jarnail Singh who was found murdered in the fields at Haler village in Majitha police district last evening.

The crime was detected when Parkash Singh, brother of the deceased came to his village to meet him, but found him missing. He alleged that Jarnail Singh’s wife, Nirmal Kaur, too, could not give a satisfactory answer about his whereabouts. Later Parkash Singh searched and found his brother murdered in the fields.

In the FIR, Prakash Singh pointing an accusing finger at Nirmal Kaur alleged that she had illicit relations with Buta Singh, friend of Jarnail Singh. He further said his brother used to visit religious places. On the day of the incident, the deceased, along with his wife and friend, had gone to the village gurdwara but never returned.

A case under Sections 302, 201 and 34 of the IPC has been registered.

Meanwhile, the Civil Line police station registered a case of cheating on the complaint of Taranjit Singh, a resident of Gopal Nagar, against Parminder Singh Gill and Jagdish Singh of Maqboolpura road here. In his complaint, Taranjit Singh alleged that he, along with his friend, had given Rs 6 lakh to the accused, in advance for sending both of them abroad. But the accused neither sent them abroad nor returned the money, he alleged.


Woman drugged, raped
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 26
A mother of two children, was drugged and raped according to a report lodged with the police here. The police yesterday registered a case under Sections 376 and 120-B of the IPC against Balbir, alias Happy, and his two allegedly conniving sisters-in-law, Charanjit Kaur and Surjit Kaur.

Wife of an NRI, the woman alleged that the two neighbouring women came to her house at Bohani village on February 22 and were served tea. However, when she went inside to fetch water, the two ladies laced the tea with some drug. When she took tea, she swooned. Then they called in Balbir who raped her, alleged the victim.


Bank manager held on graft charge
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 26
The Vigilance Bureau has arrested Ajit Singh, manager, Punjab and Sind Bank, Dhoda village branch, for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 800 from Mr Lakhbeer Singh for passing his loan, here today.

Talking to The Tribune Mr Kultar Singh, SP, Vigilance Bureau, said the complainant, a resident of Chak Garay Khan here, had got a loan sanctioned to purchase two buffaloes. For releasing the loan, the manager allegedly demanded a bribe. He was caught red-handed.


Dacoity bid foiled, 4 held
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 26
The police claimed to have foiled an alleged dacoity plan with the arrest of four suspects yesterday.

Sources said Mr Darshan Singh, SHO, Khuyiansarwar, had put a naka on the Abohar-Sriganganagar road outside Sappanwali village. A reliable source informed the police that some suspects had taken shelter at an abandoned house in Vayyedwala village. The police cordoned off the area and raided the house.

Four persons, identified as Subhash, Bhupinder Singh, Hans Raj and Ranjit Kumar, were arrested while one suspect escaped.


Truck impounded for tax evasion
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 26
The enforcement wing of the Sales Tax Department today impounded a truck carrying cold drink bottles as the owner of the company had not paid the necessary tax amounting to Rs 88,000. Sources said the owner of the company had been bringing the bottles here from Delhi fro selling the same in and around the city. As the requisite tax, had not been paid, the owner had reportedly asked the driver of the truck to take an escape route instead of the general route.

Sources in the Sales Tax Department said the penalty would amount to a huge sum. They alleged that some vested interests had been trying to pressurise the officials concerned to hush up the case.


GND varsity Syndicate institutes memorial lectures
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 26
The Guru Nanak Dev University Syndicate which met here today has declared to institute Prof Bishan Singh Samundri, Principal Iqbal Singh and Mr Jaswant Singh Rai memorial lectures under various faculties.

The Syndicate approved the recommendation of the Vice-Chancellor to institute a memorial lecture on higher education in the memory of a former Vice-Chanellor, Mr Bishan Singh Samundri. Similarly, the meeting also approved the establishment of Principal Iqbal Singh Memorial Lecture under the faculty of Social Sciences. Principal Iqbal Singh was a member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly and was a renowned political figure of Punjab politics.

The Syndicate has also approved the institution of Sardar Jaswant Singh Rai Visiting Lectureship under the faculty of Life Sciences.

The meeting was chaired by Dr S. P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor. Besides other members, Ms Geetika Kalah, Secretary, Higher Education, Punjab and Ms Nisha Sahrd, DPI (Colleges), Punjab, were also present.

In a significant decision the Syndicate decided to exempt all students of M.A. (Sanskrit) Part-I and II from tuition charges irrespective of the income limit.

The meeting also disqualified Jagrup Singh (Roll No. 31530) of B.A. Part-III from appearing in any examination of any university on the charges of impersonation in the English Compulsory paper. Similarly, Mahavir Singh who impersonated for Jagrup Singh has also been disqualified for a period of five years.

The Syndicate allowed 40 per cent, 50 per cent and 60 per cent discount on the purchase of university publications up to Rs 500, more than Rs 500 and for the members of the Book Club on the purchase of university books for an amount of Rs 2000, respectively.

The meeting has also given its approval in principle for those officers/employees who are working on ex-cadre posts to be provided pay-scales, time-scale and promotion on the pattern of the Punjab Government.

In addition, the meeting approved proposals for grant of stipend/scholarships to the blind/physically handicapped students studying in the university.


Schools likely to start on April 1
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 26
Now the students of government high and senior secondary schools would not have to face acute pressure to complete the syllabi in six or seven months, as the Education Department is planning to make it mandatory to start the session from April 1 without waiting for the declaration of results of the previous classes. The academic session of some classes is reduced to seven months due to the late declaration of result of the previous classes.

The students, particularly those of classes IX and XI, would be benefited a lot if this is implemented as they were the worst sufferers due to late declaration of results of classes VIII and X, conducted by the Punjab School Education Board.

The session for these classes generally starts in August, thus depriving them of about four months of time, which could be utilised in a proper way.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
122 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |