Thursday, March 6, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Not a drop of water for Haryana, says Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 5
Accusing the SAD (B) leadership of adopting double standards on the issues pertaining to the farmers’ economy, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today asked its President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to sever its alliance with the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre as the Central Government had proved itself anti-farmer by enhancing the rates of diesel and fertilisers on the one hand and on the other earmarked a small amount of Rs 50 crore in the Budget for the diversification of agriculture in the country.

“If Mr Badal and his associates have some morality, they should come out of the NDA government which has cheated the farmers despite the fact that 70 per cent of the population of the country is dependent on farming,” remarked Capt Amarinder Singh while addressing a function organised in connection with Kisan Mela in the Regional Research station of PAU here today.

Hitting hard on the BJP-led NDA government for its anti-farmer attitude, the Chief Minister said the time had come for Mr Badal to establish that he was more concerned about the plight of the poor peasantry instead on having the pleasure of power by toeing the line of the Centre.

Condemning the previous SAD-BJP government for not fighting the case on the SYL canal issue in the Supreme Court, the Chief Minister asserted that the Congress government would not allow a drop of water to flow towards Haryana. “We have engaged best advocates and are hopeful that we will win the case,” he hoped.

If water was given to Haryana, a major chunk of Punjab state, including Bathinda, Mukstar and Mansa districts would turn into deserts and Punjab would fall into perpetual drought. The Congress government would not compromise on the SYL issue at any cost, he said.

Announcing the setting up of the Cotton Growers’ Foundation (CGF) here with an initial cost of Rs 1.5 crore for the revival of cotton in the Malwa region, Capt Amarinder Singh said the Punjab Government would widen the scope of contract farming so that the farmers could be economically uplifted. He added that within three years, the Punjab Government would bring 1,00,000 hectares of area under contract farming. He added that Rs 40 crore had been earmarked for the diversification of crops by the state government which would be increased every year.

He added that improved hybrid seeds of cotton were being brought into the state so that its production could be increased and cost of inputs decreased. The CGF would make an endeavour to do research in cotton to overcome the problem of pests and bollworm attack. He said only recommended variety of BT cotton should be used by farmers.

Mr Surinder Singla, Chairman, high-powered committed on Finance, Punjab, said the Punjab Government was trying to make Bathinda, a city of Textiles by bringing more industries in this area.

Dr K.S. Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor, PAU, Ludhiana, said the farmers should reduce expenses on the inputs. He added that farmers should use fertilisers and insecticides in a proper manner and use natural manure instead of fertilisers. He added that paddy cultivation in Punjab in a big way had made the land prone to a number of deficiencies. He said the farmers should be assured remunerative prices of their produce.

Mr Mohinder Singh Kapyee, Technical Education Minister, also spoke on the occasion.

Earlier, Capt Amarinder Singh gave cash prizes with a plaque to five farmers, getting high yield of cotton. These farmers were Budh Singh of Mansa district, Karnail Singh of Ferozepore, Rubas Singh of Ferozepore, Avtar Singh of Bathinda and Gursewak Singh of Bathinda.


Expansion of Punjab Cabinet within 3 days
Tribune News Service

Bathinda March 5
Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today hinted that the Budget to be presented by the Congress government in the Vidhan Sabha in the coming session would be pro-farmer and pro-people.

The Chief Minister assured that the Punjab Government’s Budget would be an attempt to bring relief to the people in general and the farmers in particular. He said the Budget would open another chapter of development in Punjab.

Talking to mediapersons here today, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, while declining to disclose the number of ministers to be inducted in the Cabinet in coming days, said only right persons would be given berth in the Cabinet. He added that the Cabinet would be expanded within two or three days after consultation with the AICC General Secretary, Ms Mohsina Kidwai. He also kept mum when asked whether all communities and districts of Punjab would be given representations in the Cabinet or not.

He, however, pointed out that the Punjab Government had been looking for a right person to be appointed as Lok Pal of Punjab as the post had fallen vacant after the death of Mr D.V. Sehgal.

The Chief Minister, while claiming that the anti-corruption campaign had paid dividends to the Congress in the Assembly elections of Himachal Pradesh said would be continued in Punjab. He pointed out that still a number of multi-crore scams, which took place during the previous SAD-BJP government, were yet to be investigated.

On being asked why Punjab Agriculture Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, was absent from Kisan Mela, Capt Amarinder Singh said she was away to Delhi for some work.

Meanwhile, the absence of loyalists of Mrs Bhattal, including three former ministers namely Mr Surinder Kapoor, Mr Harbans Singh Sidhu and Mr Guljar Singh from today’s function once again brought the differences among the district Congress committee to the fore.

The Chief Minister, who also inaugurated the badminton hall of international standard in the local Guru Nanak Club, announced that Rs 2 crore would be given to Bathinda for the development of parks and Rs 10 lakh to the club for its overall development.


Vigilance Bureau ‘shielding corrupt cops’
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 5
The functioning of the State Vigilance Bureau has come under a cloud as the panchayat members of Binjo village in Hoshiarpur district have accused the former of not initiating action against two Punjab Police constables, who had allegedly amassed assets worth about Rs 66 lakh, disproportionate to their known source of income over a period of two years.

Mr Avtar Singh, Sarpanch and other members of Binjo village panchayat, in an affidavit, submitted to Chief Director, Vigilance Bureau, on October 10 last year, had alleged that two Punjab Police constables - Ranjit Singh and Jaspal Singh - had amassed properties worth Rs 66 lakh in different parts of the state during the past five years, which was disproportionate to their known source of income.

Documents, which were in possession of The Tribune, regarding the properties acquired by these two of Binjo village and their family members, revealed that land measuring 86 kanals and worth Rs 25.57 lakh in Jalandhar district, 63 kanals worth Rs 16.35 lakh in Hoshiarpur district and 110 kanals worth Rs 19.28 lakh in Faridkot district were purchased during the period between March 13 to August 26, 2002, A sum of about Rs 5 lakh was spent towards stamp fee for executing the registration deeds in this regard.

Mr Avtar Singh further alleged that the registration deeds of these properties were executed far below the prevailing market price in these areas to evade stamp duty. He said the actual market price of these properties was estimated to be Rs 2 crore. The panchayat members further contended that the bank accounts and the lockers of these two constables and their family members should be checked to unveil the amount of unaccounted money, they were possessing.

Talking to this correspondent, Mr Avtar Singh, said the Vigilance Bureau officials were yet to register a case against the constables under the Prevention of Corruption Act even as all material and documentary evidence was provided to them in the form of an affidavit about six months ago.

The panchayat members alleged that constables were openly issuing threats to them even as the VB was trying to hush up the matter in its bid to save the employees.

Ranjit Singh and Jaspal Singh, however, denied the allegations and said their grandfather had sold his ancestral property in Hoshiarpur and Nawanshehar districts for Rs 37 lakh and the same money was used to purchase properties in different parts of the state.

“We have also taken loans for the purchase of agricultural land from banks and had been earning Rs 16 lakh per annum for the past two years by giving the agricultural land on contract. Infact, the sarpanch is our political rival and was involved in a conspiracy to murder me for which a case was registered by Hoshiarpur police in October last year,” Jaspal Singh alleged.

Meanwhile, the SP (Vigilance), Mr Lok Nath, maintained that the allegations against both the constables were found correct during preliminary investigation and a report, recommending registration of a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act, had already been sent to the Director (Vigilance Bureau) at Chandigarh about two months back.

“As soon as the head office will clear the file, necessary action will be taken against the constables,” Mr Lok Nath added.


Police remand for Chief Warden (Zoos)
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 5
A local court today remanded the Chief Warden (Zoos), Dr Vinod Sharma, the Deputy Director, Mr Gurpal Singh, and two others including an Inspector and a former ticket booking clerk in police custody till March 8 following their arrest yesterday in a case relating to irregularities in the purchase of meat and fodder and sale of tickets registered against them at the local Vigilance Bureau police station.

All accused, including Mr Sharma, Mr Gurpal Singh, Inspector Sukhdev Singh and booking clerk Rajinder Kumar were present in the court.

The Vigilance Department claimed that inquiries conducted in the case had revealed that the accused were responsible for causing a loss of nearly Rs 50 lakh annually to the state exchequer. This it said was done by buying sub-standard meat and fodder at high prices and recycling entry tickets to Chhatbir Zoological Park.

It said the zoo authorities had been purchasing buffalo meat from a Saharanpur based firm, Rehman and Company, at a rate of Rs 26 per kilogram even though the market price of the meat was only around Rs 16 per kg. It said this low quality meat itself had caused a loss of Rs 30 lakh to the exchequer. The vigilance also stated that around Rs 10 lakh was being pocketed annually by staff members of the zoo by recycling tickets which had already been sold. The booking clerk was the pointman in this regard. Besides this, the authorities of the park had also committed financial irregularities in the purchase of fodder as well as allotting advertisement space in excess of norms.

Dr Sharma’s defence counsel M.P.S. Waraich said the Vigilance Department had registered a false case against his client. He said the charges against Dr Sharma and the others had been probed by the department following a raid conducted on the Zoo last year. The charges could not be substantiated and the case was filed. He said the case had been reopened following change of government in the state with the intention of harassing his client.

As far as the purchase of buffalo meat was concerned, a high-level committee was responsible for this and Dr Sharma was not even a member of the committee. He also claimed that the rate of buffalo meat varied according to its quality.

The Vigilance Department had registered a case under Sections 409, 419, 420, 467, 468, 471and 120 (b) IPC besides, provisions under the Prevention of Corruption Act. 


Move on Anand Karj Act
Punjab MPs meeting today
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 5
The 100-year-old marriage Act for Sikhs, the Anand Karj Marriage Act which was later repealed was discussed during the in-camera meeting between Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht and Mr Tarlochan Singh, Chairman, National Commission for Minorities (NCM) during latter’s visit here is likely to be rallying point in the coming days.

Though in a communication to Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) the NCM Chairman said Sikhs should wait till the Constitution was amended under Article 25 but Mr Mann had decided to lobby for the same at the meeting of Punjab MPs, convened by Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Chemical and Fertiliser Minister tomorrow.

Mr Tarlochan Singh, however, asked Mr Mann to get signatures of large numbers of MPs for getting the Arcticle 25 amended. The Constitution Review Commission had already recommended to amend the article on the demand of various Sikh organisations.

Mr Mann, while talking to TNS, said the issue of separate ‘Anand Karj, Marriage Act’ would be a rallying point in the meeting of Punjab MPs tomorrow. He said he would also raise this issue on the floor of Parliament during the current session of the Lok Sabha. He said he would also raise the issue of enacting personal Sikh law in the forthcoming meeting tomorrow.

The Anand Karj Marriage Act passed by Viceroy and Governor-General on October 22, 1909, reads: “This Act would be extended to the whole of British India’. While introducing the Anand Marriage Act, the British Government had made it clear that it was being introduced to remove doubts as to the validity of the marriage ceremony common among the Sikhs called ‘Anand’.

During his closed-door meeting, Jathedar Vedanti had asked Mr Tarlochan Singh to lobby for the enactment of Anand Marriage Act and personal law for the Sikhs. The Anand Marriage Act was later repealed. In a communication to the NCM, the SAD (Amritsar) also emphasised the need for reframing to encompass all practical needs of registration of the marriages of the Sikhs.

Both Jathedar Vedanti and Mr Mann told Mr Tarlochan Singh that Sikh girls and boys, especially from abroad, have been objecting to get their marriages registered under the Hindu Marriage Act. Mr Mann said during the current session of Parliament, the Hindu code Bill, the Sikh personal law Bill should be taken up. “Today for all practical purposes, namely birth, marriages, adoption, divorce and death we are governed by all Hindu legislations. It could be undone if the Sikh personal law Bill is enacted.” He said he would urge the Member Parliaments from Punjab to get the long-standing demands of the Sikh conceded at the earliest.

Mr Dhindsa, in reply to the letter written by Mr Mann, said he had referred his (Mr Mann’s name) to the Chairman of the NMC for initiating appropriate action. Mr Dhindsa’s reply has made it clear that the points raised by Mr Mann would be discussed at length at tomorrow’s meeting. However, Mr Tarlochan Singh told Mr Mann that the issue of the appointment of Sikh judges would be taken up with the Chief Justice of India.

The NMC Chairman said he had requested the Foreign Minister to appoint a Sikh from public life as Ambassador to some important country. Though the increasing of the size of jatha to Pakistan would also come up for discussion at tomorrow’s meeting yet Mr Tarlochan Singh has sent a reply to Mr Mann that he had already taken up the matter with Mr Lal Krishan Advani.


Badungar should appear before Takht
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 5
The sacked Jathedar, Takht Kesgarh Sahib, Prof Manjit Singh, has said Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC chief, will have to appear before Akal Takht and the Sikh sangat for allegedly denigrating the high posts of the Sikh clergy, apart from causing avoidable embarrassment to the Sikh panth. He said he was making all-out efforts in this regard.

In a press note issued here today, Prof Manjit Singh alleged that Mr Badungar had been issuing “contradictory and baseless” statements. He said the recording of the statements of Akali stalwarts was not a clandestine exercise but it was done in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib.

He said senior leaders had cited contradiction facts against each other at the meetings of the Sikh clergy during his efforts to bring about rapprochement among warring factions.

He alleged that Mr Badungar had become laughing stock in the eyes of the Sikh panth by levelling allegations that he (Prof Manjit Singh) had recorded the statements without intimating the parties concerned.

Prof Manjit Singh said by rejecting the offer of investigating the charges against him by five neutral Sikhs, including Bhai Jasbir Singh Khanewala, Mr Badungar had displayed his inflated ego which was not acceptable in Sikhism. He said he had already offered to probe the charges of moral turpitude levelled against him by Giani Bhagwan Singh, Head Granthi, Akal Takht, in the presence of Giani Joginder Singh Talwara, a member of Akhand kirtani jatha.


Sonia to back move in Parliament: Mann
Apology for “Operation Bluestar”
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 5
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), has said that Congress President Sonia Gandhi is prepared to support a resolution expressing apology or regret for “Operation Bluestar” in Parliament.

In an exclusive interview with TNS, Mr Mann said he had met Mrs Sonia Gandhi in this connection. “She has assured me that her party will support such a resolution if moved by the Treasury Benches in Parliament”, Mr Mann asserted.

The only problem now was that the BJP was not prepared to move such a resolution. “I have also talked to BJP people in this connection but there was no desired response from that party”, he added.

It was for former Chief Minister and SAD President Parkash Badal to make the BJP and other NDA partners move such a resolution. “I would meet Mr Badal on this issue soon to ask him to take up this issue with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee for moving a resolution at the official level”, said Mr Mann.

“I am sure that Mr Badal, who has good rapport with Mr Vajpayee, had the capacity to coax the top BJP leadership for moving such a resolution”, Mr Mann added. The draft resolution could be prepared with mutual approval of all main parties. A national apology for “Operation Bluestar” was a must to sooth the hurt religious sentiments of the Sikhs. “Let the BJP take the initiative in this connection and Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s party would extend support to it”, he said.

Though national leaders, including Mrs Sonia Gandhi, have expressed regret over “Operation Bluestar” outside the House no resolution as such has been moved in Parliament in this connection.

Meanwhile, Mr Mann said that he was fully geared up for “collective diplomacy” by top Akali leaders for taking up various issues pertaining to Punjab at the national level. “Of course, I have serious ideological differences with Mr Badal with regard to political and religious matters but I am all for joining hands with him as far as safeguarding the interests of Punjab at the national level is concerned,” he said.

“A recent joint meeting of senior Akali leaders with Union Home Minister L.K. Advani was the first step in this direction”, he said. In fact, Mr Advani congratulated us — (I, Mr Tohra, Mr Badal) for meeting him collectively the death sentence on Davinder Pal Singh revoked, Mr Mann said. Several issues like opening Wagha border for trade with Arab countries, widows of the 1984 riots, river waters, transfer of Punjabi-speaking areas, sending jathas to Sikh religious places in Pakistan, release of Punjabi youths from various jails in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Russia etc were needed to be taken up collectively, Mr Mann said.


Bhagat Singh report soon
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 5
Mr Bhagat Singh, Financial Commissioner (Revenue), is expected to submit his report about the January 20 Panchkula episode well ahead of both the Budget session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha and the start of excise auctions in the state on March 14.

Though Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh had asked him on January 24 to submit a detailed report within two weeks about the “whole episode, which has been very unfortunate”, Mr Bhagat Singh had sought time till March 7 to complete his work.

The report is keenly awaited as corridors of the Punjab Civil Secretariat and the Punjab Mini Secretariat have been agog with speculations and expectations about its likely outcome and the action thereon. The Chief Minister's order also clearly stated that till submission of the report, Mr Mukul Joshi would remain on earned leave. Before he proceeded on earned leave, he held the charge of important departments like Excise and Taxation, Industries and Commerce in Chandigarh, besides the Secretary, NRIs and Industrial Liaison, in New Delhi. As a sequel to the order for a detailed report about the Panchkula incident, Mr Joshi was relieved of the charge of both Excise and Taxation as well as Industry and Commerce.

While the additional charge of the Excise and Taxation Department was given to Mr A.K. Dubey, that of Industries and Commerce was given to Mr B.R. Bajaj. No reliever was appointed for the positions held by Mr Joshi in New Delhi as Secretary, NRIs and Industrial Liaison.

Sources in the Department of Personnel maintain that at the end of his earned leave, he would be required to report back for duty in New Delhi as he has been already relieved of Excise and Taxation, Industries and Commerce. "It was, however, the prerogative of the Chief Minister to give him back these departments," the sources added amidst speculations that a lobby was active to get Mr Joshi back in saddle in time before the excise auctions start on March 14.

The counter lobby feels that putting him back would put the things back to square one as Mr Joshi, as per his letter of apology given to Mr and Mrs Y.S. Ratra, he had "requested a meeting with Mrs Ratra and never expected that this action would snowball into a major controversy.” The reason for seeking the meeting with Mrs Ratra, as explained by the Chief Minister himself at January 24 press conference, was that Mr Joshi felt Mr Ratra was "very hard on him" and he wanted Mrs Ratra to talk to him on this. As such, say members of the counter lobby, it amounted to influencing the Chief Secretary through his wife and thus could not be treated a "personal matter anymore".

Mr Bhagat Singh has been tight-lipped not only about the contents of his report but also about the exact date of its submission. Sources reveal that he has already interacted with all those who figured in the episode at any stage and is in the process of finalising his report.


Will Virbhadra initiate regional cooperation?
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 5
As “Raja’’ from Rampur Bushair, Mr Virbhadra Singh, prepares to take oath as Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, there is a enough reason for the “Maharaja’’ from Patiala, Capt Amarinder Singh, to rejoice. It will be unfair not to apportion to him a major share of the cake for the success of the Congress in the hill state.

Mr Virbhadra Singh had told TNS in mid-January that the Congress would win at least 50 seats out of 65. At that time, he had also bared broad contours of what the Himachal Pradesh Congress party and government would embark upon both in the interest of the state as well as development of the region.

“Regional co-operation for larger socio-economic benefit and uplift of the neighbouring states’’ was his theme song in the tete-a-tete he had with TNS here. Such an approach, he felt would be “cost-effective, generate friendly next-door neigbour syndrome rather than engaging in competitive economic and political pursuits’’. He is an ardent believer in economic-driven politics and not vice-versa. He was keen on inter-state projects to enrich the people in the region and better represent their case in New Delhi.

The Punjab Chief Minister, despite his in-house pulls and pressures, thus, can still look forward to better relations with Himachal Pradesh, which got a bitter deal from the NDA government; thanks to the previous BJP government of Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal.

The very fact that the Centre had gifted an “economic package’’ to Himachal and some other states had caused much consternation in Punjab, casting a shadow over future of industry in the state. And despite repeated requests by Capt. Amarinder Singh, the Centre refused to promise a level-playing field. Will the “Raja’’ erase apprehensions of the “Maharaja’’ on flight of industry from Punjab?

Going by the known views of Mr Virbhadra Singh on “regional co-operation’’, it is right time for Punjab and Himachal Pradesh to form a “common economic interest club’’ with Haryana as a member for effective integrated development of the region.

The problems that the three states face are neither unknown nor new and vary only in extent and degree. May these problems be fiscal or economic or related to infrastructure or agriculture and industry or market or health, education and employment. Together the three states can join hands to tap at least the hydro-power potential in Himachal Pradesh, as power is the engine of growth of which Punjab and Haryana are short.

Even as Punjab sustains hope that the Centre may eventually extend an “economic package’’, meanwhile, the two states can work out modalities for ensuring in situ promotion of industrial growth. In this context, the Planning Commission document, “India Vision-2020’’ should serve as the roadmap. The bottom-line of the document is that it is “knowledge’’ more than “capital resource’’ that would matter for future industrial development and calls for a paradigm shift in approach to this aspect.

While the existing agro-industrial and economic policies operative in the three states can be reviewed individually, collectively the three can draw up a common minimum programme to supplement and compliment each other’s socio-economic development. The architect of that Planning Commission document, Dr S P Gupta, who believes in integrated “co-operation, collaboration and interdependent approach’’ for the region. The three states can provide an excellent axis for new socio-economic venture by cutting across regional political fences.

Will or can Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Virbhadra Singh and Mr Om Prakash Chautala work together to harmonise a regional industrial policy that sans unhealthy competition? This is possible if the three bring about a degree of “congruity and convergence in the three industrial policies’’, believes Dr Gupta.

He will be in Chandigarh on March 15 for a two-day regional co-operation seminar being organised by the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development. All three states are participating, says the Director, Mr Rashpal Malhotra.

In fact, Members of Parliament, irrespective of their political parties from these states have already formed an “informal group’’ to discuss the regional needs and problems. The three Chief Ministers would do well to proceed from that flagpost and start a new trend in political and economic co-operation by having a joint meeting with MPs.


Amarinder govt unpopular: Badal
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 5
Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, Rajya Sabha MP and general secretary, SAD, today said the Congress government led by Capt Amarinder Singh had proved to be the most unpopular state government Punjab has ever had.

Mr Badal, who inaugurated the new building of Government High School at Malooka village today, said no development work had been started during the past one year, while unprecedented development had taken place during the tenure of the SAD-BJP government.

He alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh had no time for Punjab as he had remained in Punjab for only 51 days during his one year rule and had passed most of his time in Delhi.

Mr Badal pointed out that Congress candidates had lost elections in 17 Assembly segments out of 22 toured by Capt Amarinder Singh. He alleged that all sections of society had been frustrated with his style of functioning and alleged that the Congress had failed to keep its poll promises. Mr Badal said to press for the rollback in the prices of fertilisers and diesel, his party would meet union ministers along with representatives of kisan unions.He announced a grant of Rs 5 lakh for the development of the school, from MP’s fund.


BJP apprehends rigging in MC poll

Chandigarh, March 5
Apprehending large-scale booth capturing and rigging of municipal elections in Punjab by the Congress, the BJP today submitted a memorandum to the Governor seeking the replacement of all SHOs and DSPs posted in municipal committees till March 9. “The police officials of high integrity should be appointed from neighbouring districts. The ruling party MLAs and ministers should be stopped from entering the municipal towns concerned till the polling was over.”

The memorandum has been signed by Mr Avinash Jaiswal, Mr Harjit Singh Grewal and Prof Rajinder Bhandari, all senior office-bearers of the party. TNS


Sabha seeks man in Cabinet

Bathinda, March 5
The local Aggarwal Sabha urged the Chief Minister here today to take an MLA belonging to the Aggarwal community in the Cabinet in the next expansion. This demand was raised by Mr Kewal Krishan Aggarwal, a senior functionary of the sabha, when the CM presided over a function in connection with the Maharaja Aggarsain Chetna and Sadbhavna Yatra here today. TNS


Saluja elected

Amritsar, March 5
Mr J.S. Saluja has been elected president of the JD (U) Amritsar for the second time. Mr Som Raj has been elected vice-president. The other office-bearers are Mr Manmohan Singh, senior vice-president, Mr Baldev Singh vice-president, Mr Gulshan Kumar, general secretary, and Nirmal Singh, secretary.


Cops hold march to warn miscreants
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 5
The police today held a march to warn anti-social elements and restore confidence among more than a lakh residents of this politically sensitive subdivisional town.

The Station House Officers of all three police stations of the subdivision and 100 commandos joined the march led by ASP Rakesh Aggarwal. All of them were carrying sophisticated weapons on the 5 km-route. The march started from the police complex and passed through the wards declared highly sensitive for the municipal elections slated for Sunday.

The SDM, Mr Jaskiran Singh, returning officer of the elections here, had declared wards 2,6,8,18,25,26,29,30 and 31 as sensitive, out of these 6, 25 and 30 were quoted as highly sensitive. There had been complaints of threats coming from workers of both major political parties, the Congress and the BJP. Some had alleged brickbatting also. The police had asked for 200 commandos to control booths on the day of polling.


Punjab to hand over probe to CBI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 5
In an affidavit filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the state of Punjab today said the government had decided to hand over the inquiry regarding Panchayat Secretaries to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The affidavit, filed on behalf of the Punjab Chief Secretary by Additional Advocate-General Nirmaljit Kaur, further stated that a reference had already been made to the premier investigating agency in the matter.

Taking up the case, a Division Bench of the High Court directed the impleading of the CBI as a party. The case will now come up for further hearing after two months.

The secretaries, in their petition, had earlier alleged that action was being initiated against them in a mala fide manner due to political vendetta. Claiming to have been appointed by the previous government in October 2001, Raminder Singh of Ferozepore and six others, in one such petition, had added that the government had proceeded against them by issuing a blanket order without giving them an opportunity of hearing.

Seeking the quashing of an order dated December 10 vide which the services of total 909 secretaries were sought to be terminated, the petitioners had added that the same was illegal and arbitrary. Giving details, counsel had submitted on the petitioners’ behalf that the secretaries were appointed in the department concerned by a duly constituted Departmental Selection Committee.

Two trials

Taking up a petition filed by former Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission challenging the holding of two trials out of the same first information report, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday issued notice for March 12.

Arguing before the Bench, his counsel had earlier contended that the holding of two trials, when there was just one FIR, was nonpermissible, besides being in violation of Article 20 of the Constitution of India. He had also handed over a number of Supreme Court judgements to substantiate his contentions.

Giving details, counsel had asserted that the FIR alleging the receipt of bribe was registered after a trap was laid. Subsequently, the police claimed that the accused was in possession of assets disproportionate to his known sources of income following which two trials were sought to be held.

He had added that the Court below had also held that the consolidation of both the cases, though arising out of the same FIR, was not possible. This, he had further added, would cause prejudice to the petitioner’s right of a fair trial.

Orders reserved

The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday reserved orders on a bunch of writ petitions filed in the Punjab Public Service Commission recruitment case.

The officers were recruited in the state of Punjab during the tenure of PPSC’s former Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu. Challenging the orders passed against them, the petitioners had claimed that they were not related to the alleged scam in any manner.

Their counsel had submitted that there was no material with the state government for passing the termination orders. Counsel appearing on the behalf of Punjab state, on the other hand, had contended that even though there may not be direct evidence against all the candidates, they could not be “cleared” in view of Rs 22-crore recovery from the then Chairman and his family.


Arguments on the issue of maintainability of a petition challenging the elections of Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh from the Patiala assembly constituency remained inconclusive on Wednesday also. The case will now come up for further hearing on March 12.

It may be recalled that Harkirat Singh — a voter from Patiala — had earlier alleged that the Chief Minister had used a helicopter during his election campaign, but the expenses incurred in the process had not been specified. Alleging the use of chopper by the now CM for visiting his constituency and for dropping hand bills, the petitioner had added that an expenditure of approximately Rs 3,70,000 was incurred in the process.


Jail official charge-sheeted
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, March 5
The Superintendent, Central Jail, Ferzoepore, Mr Bhajan Singh, has charge-sheeted Mr Kartar Singh, Assistant Superintendent (Jail), Ferozepore, in connection with the thrashing of women inmates of the Central Jail following a scuffle between two groups of inmates. He has been told to reply to the charge sheet within three days failing which report will be sent to the ADGP for further action. Confirming this over telephone from Moga, Mr Bhajan Singh said after complaints from a section of women inmates of thrashing by jail officials, he conducted an inquiry in which he found Kartar Singh guilty of the charges levelled by the inmates.

Meanwhile, the 51 women inmates have gone on indefinite fast demanding action against the Deputy Superintendent Jail, Mr Sadhu Ram Jindal, who they alleged was also a party to the assault on a jail inmate Paramjit Kaur. The Superintendent of the jail, Mr Bhajan Singh, however, maintained that during the inquiry he had found that Mr Jindal had no role in the entire episode.

Earlier, more than five women inmates were injured during a scuffle between two groups on February 28 in the Central Jail.

In the fight, Paramjit Kaur, Pallo Bai, and Preeto suffered some injuries. Paramjit Kaur had levelled serious charges against the Deputy Superintendent, Jail, Mr Sadhu Ram Jindal, accusing him of manhandling and shielding the other group.


FDI in print will hurt national interests’ — Kuldip Nayar
Sukant Deepak

Patiala, March 5
Veteran journalist, Mr Kuldip Nayar today said that the central government's decision to allow 27% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in print media would have negative ramifications on the Indian social set-up. Stressing that in the said scenario, the foreign investors would look after their own interests without taking into account the social sensibilities of Indians, Mr Nayyar stated that newspapers in India had virtually become an industry and little attention was being paid on vital human interest stories. He stated that it was important that newspapers realised their social responsibility and contributed their best for the overall development of the country.

Speaking on the second day of the National Seminar on "Media and Society: Contemporary Trends" organised by Punjabi University's Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, under the headship of Mr N.S Johal, the veteran journalist lamented that even after 52 years of independence, the country had failed to develop as it should have been. Emphasised that political independence without economic independence was of little importance, Mr Nayyar called upon the journalists to refrain from journalism which was against the ethical values of journalism. Citing the example of the type of reporting done by some local newspapers during the Gujrat riots, he appealed to the journalistic fraternity to have a secular outlook and and not get influenced by factors like religion, caste or creed.

Mr Kuldip Nayyar, who is also the founder Head of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at Punjabi University interacted with the faculty, old and present students of the department and lauded the role of the present Head of the Department, Mr N.S Johal for his efforts to introduce the students to specialised institutes like Film and Television Institute of India(FTII), Pune.

Several old students from the Department discussed their views about the type of education that should be imparted to the students of journalism with Mr Nayyar and stated that the Department should organise such seminars regularly so as to give a chance to the students to interact with professionals working in the field. Others who spoke on the occasion included Mr Srivastava from IIMC, New Delhi, Dr N.S Kapoor and Dr G.S Mann from Punjabi University. Professional journalists including Mr Vikramjeet Singh from 'Punjabi Tribune', Mr G.S Ashk from 'The Times of India' and Mr Gulshan Kumar from Dainik Bhaskar interacted with the Department students.


Woman claims right over donated land
Jangvir Singh
Tribune News Service

Dadhera (Patiala), March 5
A school proposed for victims of terrorist violence here, which is expected to be spread over 23 acres of land donated by the village panchayat to the Police Department, may prove to be a blessing for many, but it has proved to be a curse for a family that has been tilling the land for the past 40 years.

Sixty-year-old Shakuntala, who turned this once barren land into a fertile tract, today appealed to the Director General of Police Mr Mehal Singh Bhullar, against the alleged injustice being done to her. Falling on the DGP’s feet after a function organised to give Rs 15 lakh to the village panchayat for donating land for the school, she appealed to him not to divest her of the land.

The DGP said he would look into the case. Other police officials accompanying him were more forthright. They took hold of the woman and escorted her out of the primary school compound in which the function was being held. No one listened to her even after the function.

Later, the DGP, when asked about the incident, said he did not know that there was any dispute regarding the land, which, he said, was part of the tract that had been donated to the Police Department to run school. He said while the porposed school would provide free education to children of terrorist victims, it would be open to other sections of society also.

However, of documents in possession of Shakuntala show that she had not only approached the district police chief in that regard, but also the Deputy Commissioner. Shakuntala has also approached the local court to stay her eviction from the land that she as well as the villagers, claim had been in her family’s possession for the past 40 years.

Shakuntala holds the village panchayat responsible for her plight. Even during the function, she was heard lamenting that she had been given a raw deal by the panchayat and that the panchayat should not be ‘rewarded’ for its act by handing over Rs 15 lakh to it. She appealed to the DGP not to give any money to the panchayat claiming it might be misused. Panchayat members, while admitting that Shakuntala and her family had been tilling the land for some time, said the land belonged to the panchayat and was being given to the Police Department for a social cause.

Earlier, in representations to various authorities, Shakuntala, who has five daughters and three sons, has claimed that police personnel had forcibly evicted her from the land. She has also claimed that the police force has pitched a tent on the land and that police personnel stationed there are not allowing her to till or look after her land.


BKU activists hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 5
 Demanding free water and electricity for the agriculture sector, hundreds of farmers led by the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) held a dharna outside the head office of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) here today. The protesters alleged that the present state government had backtracked on its pre-poll assurances.

Criticising PSEB for taking "anti-farmer" steps, BKU leaders lamented that despite repeated pleas by them, the board had not only refused to listen to their demands but also had now started cutting the electricity connections of their tube-wells. The farmers demanded that the state government should immediately release the first installment of the paddy bonus to the farmers.

Addressing the farmers, the BKU leader, Mr Balbir Singh, claimed that prior to the Assembly elections, the Congress had promised to improve the condition of the debt-ridden farmers and provide them with adequate financial relief. But the present condition of the farming community had further deteriorated especially in face of the "anti-farmer" policies adopted by the state government.

Several BKU leaders from nearby districts, while addressing the agitating farmers, said although the farming community was a major contributor to the finances of the state , the state government had failed to draft a concrete policy for the uplift of farmers. They further stated that the steep hike in the prices of diesel and pesticides was adversely affecting the financial condition of the small farmers.

Calling upon the state government to take steps to improve the condition of farmers, the BKU leaders stressed that their demands should be met immediately and PSEB should refrain from disconnecting electricity connections of tubewells. 


Sanction sought for 5 mobile phone towers
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 5
The local BSNL authorities have sent a proposal to the top BSNL authorities to accord sanction to the installation of five more mobile phone towers at Moonak, Sherpur, Mehal Kalan, Pakho Kalan and Amargarh in the district to provide better coverage to mobile phone subscribers and achieve the target of providing 12,000 mobile phone connections in this district.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Labh Singh, General Manager, BSNL, Sangrur, said 17 mobile phone towers were already functioning in the district while the 18th tower was being installed at Dirba to improve mobile phone service on Sangrur-Jind road. He said the Dirba tower would be commissioned by March 31 next. He also stated that the Sangrur BSNL had released 9,526 mobile phone connection till February 28 last.

Mr Labh Singh further said two new telephone exchanges were being installed at Ahan Kheri (Malerkotla) and Delhig road at Ahmedgarh while three telephone exchanges had already been installed during the current financial year in the district. Out of 140 telephone exchanges, barring two exchanges at Khokhar and Ratta Kherra, both in Sunam, telephone connections in 138 exchanges were now available on demand in the district, he added. He said telephone connections would be on demand in these two exchanges by the end of March.

The General Manager said a new telephone exchange with 4,000 lines, was being installed at Bhawanigarh to improve the services in the area. He said the work on the new exchange would be completed by March-end. The present exchange had a strength of 3,000 lines, he added.

Mr Labh Singh said out of a total of 140 exchanges of the district, only 10 exchanges were left to be changed over to optical fibre cable (OFC) media from the existing junction cable. He said the remaining exchanges would also be converted on reliable OFC media by March 31 next.


Jaswinder Singh is DIET body chief
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 5
In elections to the DIET Students’ Welfare Association held at Mansa today, Mr Jaswinder Singh (Moga) was elected state president while Mr Harmit Singh (Bathinda) was elected senior vice-president.

In a press note issued here today, the association said all 17 DIETs were divided into five zones and their zonal office-bearers were also elected. The association said efforts to privatise the Punjab Education Department would be opposed. The association also urged the state government to organise a state-level debate-cum-seminar with the help of educationists, academicians and experts to formulate an effective and viable education policy.

Other office-bearers are as follows: vice-president — Mr Sukhjit Singh (Amritsar); general secretary — Mr Balwinder Singh (Ropar); press secretary — Mr Hardeep Singh Sidhu (Mansa); and publicity secretary — Mr Ashwani Kumar (Nawanshahr).


Pak national arrested

Attari (Amritsar), March 5
A Pak national Mohammed Aslam (25) was arrested near Attari village last night while trying to cross over to Pakistan from the Indian side.

Confirming the arrest of the accused here today, the Superintendent of Police (Detective), Mr Makhan Singh, said the alleged accused during preliminary investigation revealed that he was a resident of New Orangi town in Karachi in Pakistan and had entered India through the Gujarat border three years ago. PTI


Riot widows to get subsistence allowance
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 5
The Punjab Government today decided to reconsider the issue of extending a subsistence allowance to the families of those who died during the riots and terrorist attacks.

An official spokesman said widows who had retired from group ‘C’ and ‘D’ posts with pension up to Rs 5000 per month would also get Rs 2500 per month as a subsistence allowance.


Pritam Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 5
Mr Pritam Singh, SP, Punjab CM Security, has been transferred and posted as SP/City-II, Ludhiana, against a vacant post, says an official press note.


5 booked for cheating
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 5
The local police today registered a case against five persons for cheating and defrauding a finance company by producing fake documents in support of the ownership of land and a travel agent for the breach of promise and fabrication of documents.

The district police chief, Mr Varinder Kumar, said a complaint lodged by a finance company stated that four persons had conspired and obtained a loan of Rs 1 lakh from him for the purchase of tractor from S.K. Industries on hire-purchase basis by producing forged ’jamabandi’ in respect of land pledged for the loan.

The accused have been identified as Gulzar Singh, Bahadur Singh, Jaswant Singh, Darbara Singh and owner of S.K. Industries, a tractor dealer, Mr Kumar added.

In another incident, a case was registered against a travel agent on a complaint lodged by Jasbir Singh, who had stated that travel agent, Amarjit, approached him in May, 2002, to offer that he could send him to Lebanon, in lieu of Rs 1.5 lakh, he said.

After accepting the offer, Jasbir paid the accused Rs 1.25 lakh but was sent to Jordan instead of Lebanon, where he was arrested and remained in jail for six months, the SSP said. While cases in both frauds had been registered, efforts were on to nab the accused, he added.


Man kills wife, commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, March 5
In a bizarre incident, Gurdip Singh (31), resident of nearby Mallpur Arkan village allegedly killed his wife, Avtar Kaur (28), brutally with a sharp-edged weapon last night and later committed suicide by consuming poison.

The couple had a 10-month-old girl. In a complaint lodged with the local police, Ms Tarsem Kaur, mother of Avtar Kaur resident of nearby Alchaur village, has accused the mother-in-law, her daughter Charan Kaur, sister-in-law Manjit Kaur and her daughter Ramandeep Kaur, of continuously harassing her daughter Avtar Kaur. She alleged that they had ‘instigated’ her son-in-law to kill her.

The police has registered a case under Section 302/34, IPC.


Smack seized, two held
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 5
The Faridkot police arrested two persons and seized 100 grams of smack from them in Teachers Colony here yesterday. The arrested men are Mangat Ram of Mangolpuri in New Delhi and Balveer Singh of Jadohan Kalan under the Najafgarh police station.

A case under Sections 21, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act has been registered against both. In a press note issued here today, Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, Senior Superintendent of Police, said the men had been bringing the smack from New Delhi to Punjab.

In the international market the seized smack is valued at about Rs 2 lakh. Mr Chahal said two persons with 115 gm smack had been arrested last month. The interrogation of the arrested men may give more clues in this case.


Engg colleges may get to use ITI facilities
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 5
“The Punjab government is planning to authorise various government-promoted engineering colleges to utilise the civil infrastructure of government polytechnics and Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) for running useful courses,” said the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, at the third convocation of the local Giani Zail Singh College of Engineering and Technology (GZSCET). He said this would result in an optimum use of the underutilised infrastructure of polytechnics and the ITIs.

The college has been asked to utilise the facilities of the Nathana ITI that have been lying unused since the institute was established. Crores of rupees were wasted, as the ITI could never take off.

The CM said the managing society of Ferozepore Engineering College could use the infrastructure at Jalalabad and Abohar. “The facilities in government polytechnic at Dinanagar and the ITI at Kahnuwal will also be put to an optimum use,” he said.

The proposal to establish new engineering colleges by upgrading polytechnics in four cities of the state would be implemented from the academic year 2003-04. These engineering colleges would be at Patiala, Hoshiarpur, Ropar and SAS Nagar. The college at Patiala would be for girls.

These colleges would be run by the Punjab Council of Technical Education and Entrepreneurial Development and admissions would be on the basis of a common entrance test (CET). Capt Amarinder Singh told fresh graduates at the convocation to promote entrepreneurship.

Out of the 450 students who received degrees at the convocation, the one getting first and second positions in various disciplines were given gold and silver medals, respectively. The gold-medal winners of the 2001 batch were Pooja Bansal, Suvesh Kumar Pahwa, Rahul and Gourv Kathuria, while the silver medallists for the year were Nitin Mahajan, Gurpreet Singh and Assema Goyal.

The gold medallists of the 2002 batch were Devinder Singh, Shweta Kataria, Pankaj, Parishkat Sharma, Rasneek, Amandeep Verma and Rahul, while the silver medallists of the batch were Sushil Kumar Mishra, Sunny Singh, Rajiv Kumar, Monika Sayal, Sourav Gupta and Amandeep Kaur.

The situation became somewhat awkward when some students were told to vacate their seats for a number of politicians accompanying the CM.


YPS children paint in vibrant hues
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 5
The fact that children want to create their own world provided they are given a chance has been well reflected by the vibrant use of colours and forms by young schoolchildren of the local Yadvindra Public School (YPS) in a painting exhibition organised by them on the School campus. Children of below 10 years participated in the exhibition which was housed in the basement corridors of the school. The exhibition attracted both children and staff of the school because of the innovative step as well as the precocious works of art produced by the children.

YPS Art teacher Manmeet S.P. Singh said the idea behind the exhibition was to let the children explore the world around them as well as express the same in their own manner. He said none of the children had been tutored as to what they should draw. The children had predictably taken themselves as well as their friends as role models for most of the works, which are lively and depict feelings of friendship.

Mr Manmeet Singh said the exhibition was a tribute to child prodigy Edmund Thomas Clint from Kerala, who died at the age of seven in 1973 . He said Clint during his short life span left a precious art treasure of 20,000 paintings of high artistic value.

The creations captivate everyone, particularly grown ups. This was because the paintings seemed to be uncorrupted by notions thrust upon the children by elders. The children had drawn in free form according to their own measurements often giving the paintings a surreal feeling.

The overall presentation was interesting depicting the different moods and touching all sort of themes from their day-to-day life , artistic temperaments in rich vibrant hues, impressions and images in varied forms and distinctive and delightful images.

Mr Manmeet Singh said the school wanted to provide innovative and meaningful art education besides encouraging artsitic creativity.


Punjab school board exams begin
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, March 5
Over 5 lakh students today appeared in the matriculation and Class XII examinations conducted by the Punjab School Education Board which began across the state today. While 3.76 lakh students appeared in the Class X examination, over 1.58 lakh students appeared in the Class XII examination.

Most of the school students who came to the government college here for the first examination today and are studying in various schools of SAS Nagar could be seen collected in groups revising their text books.

While the Class X students appeared in the English compulsory examination, the class XII students appeared in their maths examination. Animated discussion among students followed at the end of the paper with the class XII students getting together and discussing answers to the question paper.

Of the total Class XII students, the largest number of 12,0881 students will be appearing under the humanities stream, 30,594 students will be appearing in the Science and Commerce subjects, and the lowest number of 7,239 students will be appearing in the vocational stream. More than 9,000 of the total students appearing in the matriculation examination are private candidates. Over 15,000 teachers have been deployed on examination duties in 2,756 centres.

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