P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Sukhbir fires salvo at Jagmeet Brar
Threatens govt on liquor vend auction
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Fakkarsar (Muktsar), March 5
Even as the Congress is yet to announce its candidate for the prestigious Faridkot Parliamentary constituency, the former Union Minister and Rajya Sabha MP, Mr Sukhbir Badal, has effectively started seeking “blessings” from the voters to ensure his entry to the Lok Sabha by launching his poll campaign in the district.

Mr Sukhbir Badal along with Mr Manpreet Badal, MLA, Gidderbaha, who has toured about 20 villages since yesterday, has been seeking votes from the people on the basis of the performance of the previous SAD-BJP alliance government.

Addressing a corner meeting in this village, Mr Badal said why the Congress leadership was not telling the people that their government had withdrawn all facilities, including pension, Shagun Scheme, free electricity to Dalits and scholarships for the Scheduled Caste students and why the Congress government led by Capt Amarinder Singh had failed to continue the development works that had been started by the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal?

“Whenever Congress leaders come to you, you should ask them that why their government has been following anti-people policies in the state and why the Congress Government ad failed miserably on all fronts in the past two years?” he told people.

He urged the people to ask Mr Jagmeet Brar, who claimed to be “Awaz-e-Punjab”, why he was trying to avoid contesting from the Faridkot constituency from where he had been elected twice and had enjoyed all comforts at Delhi as an MP?

He claimed that under the leadership of Capt Amarinder Singh, all Congress workers and leaders had been feeling demoralised and some of the party’s prospective candidates had even refused to contest the elections.

Those, who addressed the village-level meetings, included Mr Manpreet Badal, MLA, Mr Darshan Madhir, former chairman, Market Committee, Gidderbaha, and Mr Gora Singh, member, SGPC.

Gidderbaha: Addressing a conference here Mr Sukhbir Badal, said his party would approach the Punjab and Haryana High Court for the cancellation of the auction of liquor shops in Punjab in which large-scale bungling had been reported.

Accusing the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, of favouritism in giving liquor shops to a UP-based liquor baron at throwaway prices. Mr Badal said the party MLAs would raise the issue in the next Vidhan Sabha session. He added the SAD would not allow Capt Amarinder Singh to play with the state’s economy for his vested interests.

The Akali leader alleged that by appointing the son of Mr Bharat Inder Singh Chahal, Media Adviser, Punjab Government, as DSP from the sports quota, Capt Amarinder Singh had exposed that he could go to any extent to violate the constitutional norms to accommodate his ‘favourites’.

“How can an ordinary player be appointed a DSP when players who have won medals at the national and international level are finding it difficult to make both ends meet” he asked and added that earlier Mr Raninder Singh, son of Capt Amarinder singh, had also been found indulging in “hawala” transactions.

When asked to comment on the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani’s statement that regional parties were not relevant in the Indian political system, Mr Sukhbir Badal said the NDA ruled at the Centre due to active NDA’s rule at the centre for five years had been possible because of the active participation of regional parties.


CM justifies liquor vends’ auctions
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 5
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, said today that there was nothing wrong with either the ongoing auctions of liquor shops or the selection of DSPs under the sports quota.

He was talking to newspersons after the swearing in of the chairman and a member of the Punjab Public Service Commission at Raj Bhavan.

He said he expected a return of over Rs 25 crore from the present auction of liquor shops. “That is satisfying’”. “Only those people make noise who get left out, may they be individuals or liquor outfits or sportspersons. The system and selections are transparent and if someone has any objection, he can go to court. Some have already gone to court. Let the court decide”.

When newspersons persisted that the percentage of liquor offtake was not high or only a select liquor contractor was getting all the benefits, the Chief Minister shot back, “Whatever rise in quota is there, it is fine. You do not expect people to start their breakfast with liquor”. When a reporter said even liquor manufacturers had lodged a complaint with the Governor, “only those left out are crying foul the Chief Minister said. Who cares about them. Haryana is having liquor auctions on March 8 for one person. Is transparency there? Go and see”. Are we following Haryana’s example? quipped a newsperson. “I am not saying that. Our auctions are transparent. You can write whatever you want to’’ The Chief Minister replied.

When asked specifically about his Media Adviser, B.I.S. Chahal’s son getting selected as a DSP, ignoring several international-level players, the Chief Minister said: “Winning a medal is just one of the selection criteria. There are other factors as well. What do I do with those who are not educationally qualified? Can I make them DSP?”

Asked about Ms Sonia Gandhi’s visit to Punjab, as she had already been to Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, the Chief Minister said dates were being worked out and she would spend two days and one night campaigning in the state.


Liquor sale outlets auctioned
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 5
Liquor vends of Ropar and Fatehgarh Sahib districts were auctioned at Ambedkar Bhavan here today. Auction was supervised by Mr IS Chahal and Mr Manmohan Singh Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioners of Ropar and Fatehgarh respectively.

In Ropar district excise circle all old contractors who allegedly have support of Congress leaders got the contract. Auction passed off peacefully. It appeared as if every thing was pre-arranged.

During auction of vends of Bassi Pathana after the Excise officials declared reserve price supporters of a Congress leader gave their bid. Another contractor tried to raise the bid. However, he was plugged by supporters of Congress leaders. Soon the bell rang and the auction was over with no protest from anyone.

In Ropar district Excise circles of Ropar, Morinda, Kharar, Kurali and Nangal were auctioned. These fetched additional revenue of Rs 72 lakh over the last year’s revenue of Rs 58.73 crore. In Fatehgarh district Gobindgarh, Sirhind and Bassi Pathana were auctioned. It fetched Rs 83 lakh were over the last year’s revenue of Rs 37.13 crore.


Is Badal’s control over SAD waning?
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 5
Has the hold of Mr Pakash Singh Badal over the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) started waning? This question has become a hot topic of discussion in political circles.

Owing to recent happenings in the SAD, an impression has gone around that Mr Badal is losing grip over the party. Even second-rung leaders in the party have dared to challenge his decisions especially with regard to the distribution of the Lok Sabha ticket.

Mr Badal has been trying his best to pacify the Barnala group, which is openly opposing Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, the official nominee of the SAD in Sangrur district. But the group has maintained a hostile posture against Mr Dhindsa notwithstanding the efforts of Mr Badal. The Barnala group has come out with a new strategy to hit on at Mr Dhindsa. Mr Baldev Singh Mann, who is a staunch supporter of Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, has now put up a demand that Mr Gurbachan Singh Bachhi should be removed from the SAD.

Mr Gurbachan Singh, an ardent supporter of Mr Dhindsa, was recently accepted back into the party. Mr Dhindsa had played the main role to bring him back into the party fold.

In the Tarn Taran constituency Mr Badal had to take the hard decision against Mr Tirlochan Singh Tur, who had refused to withdraw from the contest against the official SAD nominee, Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala. Mr Badal made all efforts to make Mr Tur agree to withdraw from the election arena. But Mr Tur preferred to face the expulsion from the SAD instead of accepting Mr Badal’s plea to call off his election campaign.

Mr Tur is not alone to brush aside Mr Badal’s request. Even, Mr Prem Singh Lalpura, a very senior leader of the SAD, has also refused to toe Mr Badal’s line with regard to Tarn Taran constituency. Mr Lalpura has not only resigned from the political affairs Committee ( PAC), of the SAD but has also decided to oppose Dr Ajnala from Tarn Taran by supporting Mr Tur. Another Akali leader, Major Singh Uboke, is also supporting Mr Tur.

Mr Badal says that Mr Tur has been denied renomination from Tarn Taran for not performing well in Parliament. However, leaders like Mr Lalpura and Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, who have extended support to Mr Tur, have questioned performance of Mr Sukhbir Badal in the Rajya Sabha”.

In Patiala Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra openly challenged Mr Badal’s decision to nominate Capt Kanwaljit Singh as party candidate. Mr Chandumajara has not given up his fight to seek nomination from Patiala. He has held a one to one meeting with Mr Badal to plead his case.

In Ludhiana, also Mr Badal, faced a lot of problems when he announced Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon as candidate under pressure from his son, Sukhbir Badal. Senior leaders of the SAD in Ludhiana are still annoyed with Mr Badal over this.

Likewise, Mr Badal’s decision to extend support to the Indian National Lok Dal ( INLD) in Haryana has been vehemently opposed by certain section of the Haryana unit of the SAD. The Haryana unit of the SAD has been asking Mr Badal to put up akali candidates in certain constituencies where Sikhs have substantial presence in the state.


Regional parties lent strength to NDA govt, says Dhindsa
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 5
“If the BJP-led NDA Government at the Centre could provide stability, it was primarily because of the support it got from regional parties,” says Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister, holding that the comments made by the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, at Palwal the other day were “unfortunate”.

“What he probably meant was the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) in the context of Haryana and not all regional parties. Even comments about the INLD should have been avoided. After all, the INLD had stood by the Union Government throughout.”

“I am confident that the BJP-led NDA will form the next government at the centre with the active support of all regional parties, including the Shiromani Akali Dal,” Mr Dhindsa said, holding that odds are heavily against the ruling party in Punjab.

He visited The Tribune office here today.

“See the way the liquor auctions are being conducted. The recruitment of seven DSPs has exposed the state government. All these actions smack of rampant corruption in the state,” he said.

Mr Dhindsa, a General Secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal — one of the oldest and strongest regional political parties in the country today — said that regional parties had not only provided support and strength to the multi-party alliance at the Centre but also contributed tremendously towards the unity and integrity of the nation.

“I do not know the context in which Mr Advani made this comment that those who do not want to vote for the BJP should vote for the Congress than support any regional party. Anyway, such comments are avoidable.”

The Shiromani Akali Dal, said Mr Dhindsa, had made a headstart in Punjab by announcing its candidates for all 10 parliamentary seats it wanted to contest.

“We have a long history of working in perfect tandem with the BJP and we want this bond to be strengthened. We have perfect understanding and hope that the BJP will also announce its candidates for the three seats the SAD has left for it in Punjab,” said Mr Dhindsa, whose term as a Rajya Sabha member ends on April 9. This time he is seeking election to the Lok Sabha from his home constituency of Sangrur.

Mr Dhindsa said the Shiromani Akali Dal would soon decide about its nominees for the Rajya Sabha elections on March 26 to fill five vacancies from Punjab.


Tur praises Cong for anti-graft drive
Our Correspondent

Mr Tarlochan Singh Tur addresses a press conference in Amritsar
Mr Tarlochan Singh Tur addresses a press conference in Amritsar on Friday. 
— Photo by Rajiv Sharma

Amritsar, March 5
Mr Tarlochan Singh Tur, former MP who was expelled by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President of the SAD, for his alleged anti-party activities, has praised the Congress government for its anti-corruption drive. He has also given a call to revive the old SAD-based on ideals of the 1920s Akali Dal.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Tur said by launching its anti-corruption drive, the Congress had shown its seriousness to make society free of corruption. “They have not spared even their own leaders,” he said. He accused Mr Badal of supporting his own men by giving them the party ticket instead of going by the merit and the sacrifices of the candidates.

He appealed to the senior Akali Dal leaders to revive the old Shiromani Akali Dal.

Mr Tur claimed that Mr Surinder Singh Kairon, a confidant of Mr Badal, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, President, Lok Bhalia Party, and Mr Major Singh Uboke, former MP, had assured him of their support. He said Mr Ravi Inder Singh, answering queries of mediapersons on his explusion, had alleged that he was expelled from the SAD due to his silence when Mr Badal was in the jail facing corruption charges.

He said Majha region was with him as Mr Badal had shown his ‘real’ face in choosing a candidate who was an outsider and had no following there.


BJP candidates before March 20
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 5
The BJP will announce the names of its candidates for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections before March 20 after a meeting of its party leaders. This was stated by Mr Rajnath Singh, Union Minister for Agriculture, here today.

He said observes from all states would present their reports on March 14 and after discussions, the election committee of the party would announce the names of suitable candidates, including those from Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur.

Clarifying Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani’s reported statements exhorting the voters to avoid voting for smaller and regional-level outfits in the forthcoming elections, Mr Rajnath Singh said the Deputy Prime Minister’s remarks had been misinterpreted. Mr Advani’s remarks had put regional parties like the SAD in a quandary.

The Union Agriculture Minister, who was addressing mediapersons before a workers meet here, said the foreign origin issue of Ms Sonia Gandhi would be a major issue in the elections. Besides this the overall development and achievements of the NDA government during its five-year tenure and the resultant “feel good and India shining factors” would be the highlights of BJP campaign.

He said the foreign origin issue was an issue of national pride and the BJP, after getting two third majority in the elections, would take up this issue for discussion in the Parliament. He said, “if foreigners were to be heads of our country then why did we cry for freedom?” and added that even the Congress was ‘hesitant’ to project Ms Gandhi as its candidate for Prime Minister’s post.

Mr Rajnath Singh said the Congress was demoralised and was not getting any allies. He said the party had lost the trust of people as well as of various parties in the country and the acceptability of the BJP had increased.

Touching on issues of agricultural sector, he said the farm income insurance scheme would be launched all over the contry in October 2004. He said a Kisan Call Centre had been established to enable the farmers to get information on agriculture issue by dialing toll-free number 1551.


Congress infighting comes to the fore
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 5
While the Congress high command is yet to decide about the party’s candidate from the Faridkot Parliamentary constituency, the tussle that is going on among many of the senior party leaders from Moga, Muktsar and Faridkot districts falling in this constituency came to the fore today. Some of them levelled serious charges against three DCC presidents, including Mr Surinderiqbal Singh Brar, Mr Maheshinder Singh Badal and Mr Tara Singh Sandhu from Faridkot, Muktsar and Moga units, respectively.

Describing the charges as baseless and attempt to malign them, the three DCC presidents said it seemed that these Congress representatives were more busy in protecting their own interests and egos rather than paying attention to the welfare of the party at this crucial time.

Criticising their demand for fielding Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, national president of the Lok Bhalai Party, as the joint nominee of both the parties from this constituency, the three DCC presidents said such utterances not only send wrong signals to the workers but also damage the image of the party in the state. They said the senior party leaders should not level allegations that tarnish the image of the party.

Reminding them about their past and assuring all types of support, the DCC presidents said these leaders had earlier enjoyed ministerial berths in several Congress Cabinets and could build the image of the party in the elections.

Decrying the statement given by the senior representatives mentioning the Akali link of the three district presidents, Mr Brar, Mr Badal and Mr Sandhu in a joint press statement here today claimed that their loyalty to Congress was unflinching.

The DCC presidents appealed to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and PPCC president H.S. Hanspal to take disciplinary action against the leaders who were creating problems in the proper functioning of the party and the government.


Cong leader warns SAD candidate of betrayal
Tribune News Service

Jalal (Bathinda), March 5
In an unusual incidents, a former MLA and a senior Congress leader, Mr Harbans Singh Jalal, mounted the stage where the SAD candidate from the Bathinda Lok Sabha seat, Mrs Paramjit Kaur, was addressing an election meeting here today. Mr Jalal coutioned her that she should be vigilant as a former Akali minister was trying to defeat her by conniving with Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh.

Mr Jalal, who joined the Congress a few years ago despite the fact that he was elected MLA once as an Akali candidate, stated this before hundreds of people even as a former Akali minister, Mr Sikander Singh Malooka, was sitting on the stage.

Mr Jalal, who gave Rs 10,000 as election fund to Mrs Paramjit Kaur, also alleged that a former Akali minister, who indulged in looting of government money during the SAD-BJP rule in Punjab, sought forgiveness from Capt Amarinder Singh for his “misdeeds” to avoid any legal action when the latter started inquiring into his “misdeeds”.

Mr Jalal also levelled an allegation that former Akali minister had also promised to Capt Amarinder Singh that he would betray his party to facilitate the victory of the Congress candidate in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

Mr Sikander Singh Malooka, while admitting that Mr Jalal levelled allegations against a former Akali MLA from the stage, said he (Mr Jalal) did not name any one.

Mr Malooka pointed out that in his speech he made an indirect reference to the incident pertaining to the encroachment of the pond of the village by Mr Jalal and, hence, to cover his “misdeeds”, Mr Jalal came on the stage and started making allegations against a former Akali MLA without mentioning his name.

He said had Mr Jalal levelled allegations against him, it would have become difficult for Mr Jalal to leave the place without being questioned. He said after Mr Jalal levelled allegations against a former MLA, the people, who participated in the election meeting, started raising slogans against him.

However, Mr Jalal claimed that after he levelled allegations against a former Akali minister, the people started congratulating him. He said he had given money to Mrs Paramjit Kaur as he had become an MLA due to the help extended to him by a late Akali MP, Dhana Singh Gulshan, father of Mrs Paramjit Kaur. He said he would campaign for the Congress candidate in the Lok Sabha elections.


Need to rein in mischievous elements, says Channi
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 5
Some mischievous elements within the party are trying to harm the Congress by falsely projecting senior leaders as party candidates from various parliamentary constituencies in Punjab in the Press. This was stated by Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, former Congress MP from Hoshiarpur Parliamentary constituency, while sharply reacting to the publication of list of Congress candidates in a section of the press today.

Talking to this correspondent he said the Congress high command had not finalised the names of candidates even for those states where election would be held in the middle of April, 2004. Elections would be held in Punjab in the last phase of poll process on May 10. The high command was yet to finalise its nominees for all 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state, he said. The names of certain leaders were being dragged unnecessarily to create confusion among the party workers and the electorate and this would certainly harm the party in the elections, he added.

Mr Channi said leaders of AICC and PPCC should take up this issue seriously and should check the mischief-mongers who were briefing mediapersons and spreading concocted stories to harm the party.

He said leaders of AICC and PPCC, including Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr H.S. Hanspal, should immediately convene a meeting of the former Congress MPs of the state to discuss their candidatures as party nominees from their respective Lok Sabha seats and to chalk out a strategy for contesting the election effectively. Any delay in this regard could harm the party in the forthcoming elections, he said.


EC begins probe into Assembly poll rigging

Moga, March 5
The Election Commission has taken up for scrutiny records pertaining to the Moga constituency in Punjab following allegations of rigging during the February 2002 Assembly elections by defeated Congress candidate Sathi Vijay Kumar.

The records were taken by Under Secretary Ashish Chakrabarti and Section Officer Harbans Singh, following a complaint by Mr Vijay Kumar.

The then Education Minister Tota Singh of the Shiromani Akali Dal, was declared elected by 305 votes over Mr Vijay Kumar.

Mr Vijay Kumar, in his petition to the Chief Election Commission, had alleged that the returning officer, his assistant and other officials had flouted the law.

He alleged that while names of 631 voters were unauthorisedly deleted, names of 745 others were retained despite directions that they be delected. This was done to benefit the SAD candidate, he added.

The two officials, before returning to New Delhi yesterday, also inspected the relevant records with the SDM, who was then the ETO and others connection with the election process. They also visited some localities, including of a booth set up in the Mission School to ascertain the veracity of the complaint.

Mr Vijay Kumar approached the CEC when the state government failed to take any action against those indicted by the high-power commission for unauthorisedly deleting the names of voters. The commission, headed by IAS officer KPS Powar, was appointed by the Punjab Election Commission. — UNI


SAD (A) seeks Badal’s reaction on Advani’s remarks
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 5
Mr Gurlal Singh Danewalia, a member of the National Committee of Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and party’s candidate for Faridkot Lok Sabha seat today asked Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, president of the Youth Akali Dal (B) and SAD candidate, to make his position clear on the reported call of Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishan Advani regarding regional parties.

Talking to reporters here Mr Danewalia said by raising slogans like ‘feel good’ the BJP was conspiring to borrow two-party system from their mentors in the western countries. This had prompted Mr Advani to exhort the electorate to choose between the BJP and Congress only. The SAD (B) must come clear on its reaction to such political statement by a person who wanted to be the next Prime Minister of the largest democracy in the world, he said. This relationship was a business compulsion for Mr Badal, he added.

Criticising Mr Advani for planning a rath yatra, Mr Danewalia said the rath yatras in the past had proved to be rakt (Blood bath) yatras aimed at exploiting religious sentiments of the masses and created communal hatred and riots. The NDA, by wasting 750 crore rupees on the ‘India shining’ campaign, was trying to divert the attention of the electorate from real issues.

The SAD (A) had resolved to oppose the entry of Mr Advani’s rath yatra in Punjab, he said.

On electioneering in Faridkot constituency he said that those who had converted the SAD (B) into a private limited company for their own interests would be shown the door by the voters. The Badal family, facing trial in cases of corruption not the Panth was facing challenges, he added. What Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, Mr Inderjit Singh Zira, Mr Tarlochan Singh Toor and Mr Prem Singh Lalpura, a member of the PAC of the SAD (B), had said spoke volumes about the unrest growing in the SAD (B) over the family rule. One wondered how Mr Parkash Singh Badal could criticise the Congress for dynastic rule when he himself had confined his party to his wife brother and son, Mr Danewalia asserted.


PPSC Chairman, member sworn in
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 5
Lieut-Gen T.S. Shergill (retd) and Mai Roop Kaur Bagrian were today sworn in as Chairman and member, respectively, of the Punjab Public Service Commission by the Governor, Justice O.P. Verma, Punjab Raj Bhavan. General Shergill takes over from Lieut-Gen Surjit Singh Sangra (retd), who retires tomorrow. Mai Roop Kaur steps in on the retirement of Ms Harjit Kaur Randhawa. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, several Cabinet ministers, MLAs and officers attended the swearing-in function.

The outgoing Chairman Gen Surjit Singh Sangra told The Tribune that during his 21-month tenure, he was able to inculcate “team culture and institutionalise the commission I consider to be my baby. Today, I feel like a proud father for having successfully nurtured and nursed it”.

General Sangra added: “I can say with pride that the selection of PCS or Lecturers had been transparent and without any complaints of money having played any role. We have refurbished the sullied image of the commission though it will take some time for the people to overcome the shock”.

About his future plans, Gen Surjit Singh said he and his wife would devote most of their time attending to children of war widows. There is a school for some 50 such children at Jalandhar. The General is also tempted to write a book on his experiences as the PPSC Chairman.


SAD (Wadala) to contest three seats
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 5
President of the SAD (Democratic) Kuldeep Singh Wadala today announced that his party would contest three Lok Sabha seats.

At an emergency meeting senior party leaders at his residence at Wadala village near here this afternoon, favoured contesting elections on its own as the unity moves among various Akali factions proved to be futile.

“We have decided to field party candidates for Jalandhar, Phillaur and Hoshiarpur seats. Besides, we will support the candidates of Lok Bhalai Party Chief Balwant Singh Ramoowalia from Ludhiana seat. In case, Ramoowalia decided to contest from any other seat, we will put up party candidate from Ludhiana,” Mr Wadala added. He said that it was decided to hold 17 political rallies in different parts of the state. Commenting upon the alleged controversial auction of liquor vends, wherein, a UP-based liquor baron was allotted licences for three districts, Jalandhar, Nawanshahr and Hoshiarpur, Mr Wadala said that the Congress government was involved in acts of omission and commission. “The whole auction process was full of irregularities. There should be a CBI probe into the role of the officials to expose the true face of the government in this regard,” he added.


Security of Sena unit chief ‘withdrawn’
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, March 5
The Punjab Government has withdrawn the “security” of the chairman of the state unit of the Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray), Mr Surinder Dogra.

This was stated by the unit vice-president, Mr Pawan Parbhakar, talking to mediapersons here today. He said the party would contest Lok Sabha elections in the state. He said the security was withdrawn intentionally.


Era of hatred has ended, says Pak delegation
Our Correspondent

Wagah, March 5
A delegation from the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) today gave a joint call to both countries to cut down on defence spending against each other so that money could be spared for public welfare activities like health, education and other amenities.

The 77-member delegation, headed by Mian Anjum Nizar, left for Pakistan via the Indo-Pak joint checkpost here today.

Mr Nizar said more dependency on each other could smoothen out the wrinkles of mutual distrust and pave the way for solving larger and more contentious issues like Kashmir. He said even though SAFTA (South Asian Free Trade Area) may come into force in 2006, but in the meanwhile exchange visits would help to forge vital links between traders and varied segments from different sectors. Mr Allas Majid Sheikh member of the delegation, said the era of hatred had ended and now “we can only talk of reunions.”

He said contacts with the PHDCC, CII, FICCI and other business, industry and trade associations had made a difference to their outlook towards a bigger market in their neighbourhood.

The peace, trade and business initiatives as also exchanges in sports, cultural and other mutually compatible spheres could heal the wounds inflicted 50 years ago even as a new generation was poised to take over the reigns of the future. Mr Aziz Ahmad Mughal member of the delegation, said they were able to achieve two targets during their visit here, of brotherhood and business. As many as 600 items could be imported by Pakistan while 250 items could be imported by India.


Pak delegation gets to watch shooting of Indian film
Rashmi Talwar

Attari (Amritsar), March 5
The 77-member Pakistani delegation from the Lahore Chamber of Industry and Trade got special permission to watch their favorite cine star Shah Rukh Khan and Priety Zinta at the shooting of Yash Chopra’s yet untitled film here. They were on their way to Pakistan but spent more than an hour watching the shooting before leaving for Pakistan.

A thrilled deputy leader of the Pak delegation, Sohail Lashari, Sheikh Abdul Rashid, vice chairman Lahore Gujaranwala region said watching Indian film stars in real life was a bananza for them. “It was something spicier to take home”, they commented.

Meanwhile, Attari railway station witnessed a rush of visitors from the nearby border villages. The entire area was condoned off as the ghost of the “Gaddar” shooting mishap in 2002 (one boy was killed during the shooting in Amritsar) cast its shadow yet again. The entire Attari border township wore a deserted look as most of its inhabitants were taken as ‘extras’ in the shooting of the railway scene of the Samjhauta Express. The media was kept at bay.

Priety looked every bit a newly-wedded bride in an orange duppata, matching salwar with gold silver work, a cream colour short, Punjabi juti and nose ring, who supposedly had a reunion with her husband. Shahrukh Khan was sporting a casully slung brown jacket on his shoulders. The couple go for customs and immigration checks. Interestingly “real staff of both these agencies starred in the shooting as officers.

Last night was celebration time for the cast and crew of the movie on the birthday bash of Payal Chopra, wife of Aditya Chopra, co director and son of Yash Chopra.


Sohan Qadri to set up stupa in Phagwara
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 5
Sohan Qadri, the "tantrik yogi", is back to honour the call of his moorings. It has been long since he left his village of Chachoki in Phagwara and longer since he played around the milestone that used to be located half a kilometre away from his house. The road back home has been very long for the celebrated Indian, now rated among the best American mainstream artists, but he has chosen to travel back so that he can give to Punjab whatever he took from it.

On his schedule are two major works — building a stupa (a gyan stambha) at the same place in his village where the milestone of his childhood memory was located and setting up of a Sohan Qadri gallery in the space of Centre for Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) in Chandigarh. In an interview with The Tribune today, the painter spoke about his urge to give back all that he has and take nothing with him when he goes away.

"I have reached the level of spirituality that I desired. I never believed in charity because charity is the cause of repentance. I believe in the Buddhist philosophy of non-possession. When I die I want to have no money in my bank accounts and no painting in my studio. I will donate everything. The beginning will be made from Punjab because this is the place where Mulk Raj Anand discovered me. I would not have been what I am had it not been for him," says the master of colours.

In Chandigarh to work out the modalities with his long-time friend Rashpal Malhotra, Director, CRRID, Qadri informs, "The gallery will have my most celebrated works executed over the past 45 years. Since I have predominantly worked outside India, it makes sense to set up a gallery here. The space at the CRRID is just right as it exudes austerity, which is the quintessence of my works. My works demand the kind of space which this gallery offers. The gallery will not sell anything. Many people are conducting research on my works. They would also be helped once the gallery comes up."

Qadri is also focusing on the stupa in Phagwara. He explains, "This stupa will be an elaborate milestone. It will be built at a place where the milestone I am referring to once existed." Like his art, the stupa will symbolise energy of the spirit. The main structure will have a parikrama and a stupa with a jyoti adorning the top. The artist says, "The stupa will have the four yogas — bhakti yoga, gyan yoga, karma yoga and dhyan yoga. It will also have two mudras — the aakashi and the bhoomi sparsha mudras. I have built many shrines but I removed godheads from them." Qadri is also planning to set up a trust to facilitate poor art students in Phagwara.

With base in Copenhagen, Los Angeles and Toronto, Qadri is also visiting India for another cause this year. He will show simultaneously in Kumar's Gallery, Delhi and in New York from February 18. As for his style, the quote of celebrated art critic I.S. Sosset sums up all. He had said of Qadri, "This art comes from the other side of the mountain." 


Anandpur Sahib gets ready for Hola Mohalla rallies
Lalit Mohan

Anandpur Sahib (Ropar) March 5
Political parties today started preparations for the Hola Mohalla rallies tomorrow, the SGPC for the religious ceremonies and the pilgrims taking out ‘nagar kirtan’.

The SGPC president, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, along with the Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, today paid obeisance at Takht Kesgarh Sahib. Later the Panj Piara’s, including Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Takht Kesgarh Sahib, Giani Tarlochan Singh, Head Granthi, Harmandar Sahib, Giani Mohan Singh, Sant Mohinder Singh and Sant Baba Labh Singh laid the foundation stone of the 60-room Mata Jito Kaur Nivas. The nivas would be built by Baba Harbans Singh near Takht Kesgarh Sahib.

Mr Gurbachan Singh Tohra also laid the foundation stone of a new langar hall.

The Ropar Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, inaugurated the exhibition put up by various government departments in the afternoon. The exhibition in which about 20 government departments have displayed their activities has been up near the place where the Congress would hold its political rally tomorrow.

Besides the Congress, the SAD and the SAD (Amritsar) who are holding their political conferences at the traditional places, many other political parties are also making arrangement to hold their rallies. The Lok Bhalai Party is organising its political rally opposite Panj Piara Park near the Congress venue while Dal Khalsa will organise its rally ner the railway station.

Mr Avtar Henry, Food and Civil Supplies Minister, supervised the arrangements for Congress rally.

The locals, have put the arrival of pilgrims to Anandput Sahib as moderate this year. They said the total number of pilgrims coming to Hola Mohalla was at least 25 per cent less than normal.

With the pilgrims pouring in the district administration has diverted the traffic. The traffic on the Ropar-Nangal road has been diverted through Mahroli.


SGPC proposes Rs 220 cr budget
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 5
The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) has proposed a budget of Rs 220 crore which is Rs 16 crore more than last year’s budget of Rs 206 crore.

It will be passed in the general house, being held here on March 15.

As per proposed budget, many gurdwaras have suffered financial losses due to the surplus staff.

The expenditure of certain gurdwaras is more than the collection.

Although many temporary or surplus employees have been sacked by the SGPC, more austerity measures are likely to be taken.

In view of three centennial celebrations this year, the SGPC has earmarked special funds of Rs 3 crore of the Rs 22 crore meant for the Dharm Parchar Committee.

The general body funds have been put at Rs 15 crore while the trust funds will be Rs 3.51 crore. A sum of Rs 4.75 crore will be spent on publications, including the printing of holy Guru Granth Sahib. Education funds have been put at Rs 6.80 crore.

For the public services, Rs 3 crore has been earmarked for the development of superspecialty Guru Ram Dass Medical College and Research Institute, including the cancer institute. Similarly, Rs 1 crore would be spent on Guru Ram Dass Hospital. A sum of Rs 5 lakh will be donated to Pingalwara.

The budget report makes an interesting reading of the financial health of certain shrines. Against the proposed Rs 2 crore from the main ‘golak’ (money box) of Darbar Sahib, Tarn Taran, only Rs 1.80 crore was collected. Darbar Sahib, Tarn Taran, is yet to clear its dues amounting to Rs 32 lakh to the SGPC. Similarly, Gurdwara Chhehrta Sahib in Amritsar could not clear its outstanding amount of Rs 7 lakh which is yet to be paid to the SGPC on account of ‘Daswandh’ (one-tenth of the total income).

The financial position of the historic Gurdwara Muktsar is also precarious since it could not pay Rs 24 lakh to the SGPC and the Dharm Parchar Committee. However, the income from the “golak” of Gurdwara Dookh Niwaran, Patiala, Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib, Takht Shri Kesgarh Sahib and Golden Temple has witnessed a steep rise.


Will contenders for power ponder over poor fiscal health?
P.P.S. Gill

Chandigarh, March 5
Political parties are entering the Punjab Lok Sabha election arena at a time when the state’s finances are in bad shape, the rate of economic growth has slowed down and there is a complete mismatch between income and expenditure. All committed expenditures consume 109.9 per cent of the total revenue receipts.

The latest assessment of the financial position of the state revealed that the revenue gap of Rs 3,754 crore was financed from borrowings.

In this backdrop, the Congress and the Akali-BJP alliance should remember that the tax-payer’s money is not for making populist promises or doling out please-all sops that the state exchequer cannot meet. Punjab should not be punished due to their political estrangement.

At present the state was unable to even implement its Annual Plans without to borrowing money. The successive plans had remained almost static in the past few years.

The Congress and the Akali-BJP alliance should know that in the first 298 days of the current financial year, Punjab was in overdraft for 115 working days. Often, the state had to stop Treasury transactions to avoid the disgrace of closure of treasuries. The state’s overdraft was about Rs 300 crore on September 18, 2003. The overdraft is likely to be over Rs 700 crore at the end of this financial year. It was hoped that special ways and means advances given by the Centre, amounting to Rs 75 crore, would also be adjusted on March 31.

Given the poor financial health, the state has now opted for a vote-on-account on March 16 at the suggestion of the Election Commission of India. The regular Budget will wait till the end of the elections in mid-May.

Smarting under financial stress, Punjab has set up a committee on ways and means for resource mobilisation. The committee’s recommendations would be included in the regular Budget.

Will the contenders for political power ponder over the state’s slow economic growth, failing fiscal health and stunted industrial development?


‘Dastar bandi’ by Sikh panel every Thursday
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 5
The Sikh Nation Organisation has given a call to celebrate every Thursday as ‘Dastar Day’ and appealed to all Sikh men, women and children to wear kesri turbans on that day.

The aim is to build public opinion against the ban on religious symbols and wearing of turbans in schools by the Government of France. Speaking on the occasion the president of the organisation, Dr Manjit Singh Randhawa, said the French law was unjust and a clear violation of human rights which as per internationally accepted principles could not be curtailed except under exceptional circumstance.

Earlier, the students of Guru Harkrishan Public School during the demonstration, issued a code of conduct for political conferences to be held at Anandpur Sahib, the birth place of Khalsa. They urged upon all political parties to rise above petty politics and focus on the issue of Sikh’s identity and ideology. Meanwhile, Sikh girls students organised a demonstration at Lahori Gate, bus stand and other places in protest against the ban on wearing turbans in schools by the French Government.


Coloniser drawing water illegally?
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 5
A municipal councillor has demanded that the water connection taken illegally by a coloniser from the Municipal Council's pipeline should be disconnected immediately.

Dr Gurnam Singh, a councillor from Ward No 2, complained to the civic body that a coloniser was illegally drawing water from the civic body's pipeline for residents of a colony set by him as he had failed to construct a water tank in the area.

This had adversely affected the water pressure in his ward.

He said the coloniser had taken the water connection without seeking the permission of the council and also without depositing the required security amount.

Dr Gurnam Singh said he had brought the matter to the notice of the SDM, Mr Sukhwinder Singh Gill. The SDM had said he would look into the matter.



8 injured as van overturns
Our Correspondent

Khanna, March 5
Eight persons, including two women, were injured in a road accident near Gurdwara Kalgidhar on the G.T. Road here, this evening. The injured have been admitted to the Civil Hospital.

According to information, the accident happened when a Maruti van coming from Patiala tried to overtake a bus near Gurudwara Kalgidhar. The bus driver turned the bus to save a vehicle and the van lost the control and van rammed into a railing. It then over turned, injured eight passengers.

The injured have been identified as Anil Kumar, Dev Sharn, Prem Nath, Vijay Kumar, Bachitar Kumar, and the driver of the car, Surinder Kumar. The injured women are Tara Rani and Shushil. 


Probe ordered into allotment scam
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, March 5
The Pathankot Improvement Trust has ordered a probe into the allotment scam at Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Shopping Complex here.

The trust had formed a subcommittee to probe the allotment scam. The subcommittee, consists of Mr Madan Kaushal, District Town Planner, Mrs Suman Nanda and Mr Ram Murti Mahajan both trustees of the Improvement Trust.

According to official sources the sub-committee would submit its report before the house in 15 days.

The Tribune had on February 27, highlighted the scam in its columns. 


5 taken ill after meals from eatery

Phagwara, March 5
Mr Gurdev Singh, his wife Narinder Kaur, daughters Harjit Kaur and Bhavneet Kaur and son Simranjit Singh fell sick after they had meals fron an eatery. It was learnt today that all five were admitted to a private hospital.

A team of Health Department headed by SMO Dr Subhash Sharma checked the said eatery and rehris in the town and warned them of action if they sold unhygienic stuff. — OC


Reinvestigate Daler’s case, says Magistrate
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 5
An attempt by the Patiala police to get pop star Daler Mehndi discharged in the human trafficking case has failed with a local court dismissing the discharge application filed by it today.

The Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr P.S. Dhanoa, while dismissing the discharge application, ordered the Sadar Station House Officer to reinvestigate the case.

Earlier, the police had filed an application on January 31 urging that Daler should be discharged in the case as investigations into the allegations of human trafficking had not revealed any evidence against him. A few complainants in the case had filed a protest-cum-revision petition in the same court on February 3 claiming that they should be heard in the case. The complainants claimed that the police was planning to discharge the singer unilaterally without taking into account the evidence placed on record against him by them.

Later during arguments in the case on February 20 and 28, Gurpreet Singh, lawyer for the complainants, had claimed that there was sufficient evidence against Daler in the file submitted by the police in the court. The lawyer also claimed that on the basis of this record Daler’s brother Shamsher Mehndi had been sent behind bars and five persons had been declared proclaimed offenders. He claimed that in such circumstances, Daler could not be singled out for preferential treatment when the evidence against all the accused was the same.

Daler’s lawyer Brijinder Singh Sodhi while arguing the case earlier, had claimed that the complainants did not have any locus standi to file a protest petition at this stage. He claimed that the star was being discharged in the case for the time being and that the complainants could file a separate complaint against him and he could be summoned again if the court so wished under Section 319 of the CrPc.

Daler had earlier been given regular bail in the case on December 30 and had following this also been exempted from personal appearance in the case.


High Court
Punjab to videotape liquor vend auction in Ludhiana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 5
The state of Punjab today undertook that the auction of liquor vends in Ludhiana district shall be videotaped. Appearing before a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Punjab's Additional Advocate-General (AAG) also undertook that the clubbing of liquor vends, as per notice dated February 29, would be done strictly in accordance with the Punjab liquor licence rules and the excise policy.

In a related development, the High Court also issued notice of motion for March 22 on a petition filed in public interest by an Amritsar resident against the auction of vends held at Jalandhar.

Meanwhile, the AAG added that the guidelines earlier issued by the court, in a writ petition decided in August, 1995, would also be strictly complied with. The undertaking was given on a petition filed by Ludhiana-based liquor contractor Dharam Chand. He was seeking directions to regulate the auction of liquor vends scheduled for March 8.

The petitioner had alleged defiance of the relevant rules and High Court directions by the Punjab Government. Accusing them of acting with an ulterior motive, the petitioner had added that the state was encouraging the taking over of entire liquor business by liquor baron Ponti Chadha.

PAP recruitments

Taking up a petition filed by officials recruited in the Punjab Armed Police on the basis of outstanding achievements in sports, a Division Bench of the High Court has directed that the petitioners shall not be relieved till March 8 "if they have not been relieved so far from the post they were holding at the time of filing the writ petition". The officials were seeking the quashing of show-cause notices issued to them in this regard.

Issuing the directions, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice Nirmal Singh, also fixed March 8 as the next date of hearing in the case. Claiming to have represented the nation in different games at the international level, Sub-Inspector Kanwarjit Singh and 10 others had asserted that on a petition filed by Sub-Inspector Swaran Singh they were being reverted on the ground that their promotions were in excess of the 10 per cent quota provided in the Punjab Police Rules. However, they had not been impleaded as a party in the petition even though they were affected by the judgement.

Petition on pay scale

Acting on a petition filed by 133 pharmacist and nursing sisters, a Division Bench of the High Court has directed that their representation for granting a pay scale of Rs 5800-9200 with effect from January 1, 1996, should be decided by the competent authority within three months of receiving a copy of the order.

The directions were issued by the Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice Nirmal Singh. In their petition against the state of Punjab and the Director of Health and Family Welfare, Mr Narinder Kumar of Ludhiana and others had also sought directions for granting parity in pay scales.


District admn launches revised website
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 5
The district administration today under the aegis of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched revised official website www.jalandhar.nic regarding information on Disaster Risk Management Programme, to reduce vulnerabilities of communities in the most hazard prone districts of the country.

Jalandhar, which falls in high risk zone due to its proximity to Kangra and the Himalayan plate boundary, has been selected for this UNDP pilot project, whereby, the administration would form working groups to create awareness among departments and the public on impact of earthquake, response and preparedness plans and networking among line departments and the setting up of a computerised disaster management cell.

Deputy Commissioner Ashok Gupta dedicated the revised website to the city residents at a function here afternoon. Addressing the gathering, Mr Gupta said as per the latest seismic zoning map of India brought out by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), Jalandhar was found one of the main high-risk prone districts towards earth-quakes.


Octroi employee found murdered
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 5
Two persons, including an employee of the octroi contractor, were killed by some miscreants with sharp-edged weapons at an octroi post on the Tunga-Kularan-Sunam road near here last night. The cause of these murders is not known.

The police said the miscreants murdered Ranjit Singh of Nangal Kalan village (Mansa district), an employee of the octroi contractor of Sangrur Municipal Council, and Kulwant Singh, a resident of Ram Nagar Sibian village, near here. The body of Ranjit Singh was found today at the octroi post, while the body of Kulwant Singh was lying in the nearby bus-shelter.

The police has registered a case under Sections 302/34 of the IPC against the accused. The post-mortem of the deceased was conducted at the Civil Hospital here today.

Mr Indermohan Singh, SP (Headquarters), Sangrur, said prima facie, it seemed to be cause of personal enmity.

He said nothing seemed to have been looted from the octroi post.


Escapee car thief arrested
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 5
Mr Surjit Singh Kandhali, Inspector, CIA, Hoshiarpur, has succeeded in arresting a car thief Balbir Singh, alias Beera, resident of Talwandi Mange Khan, Zeera district, who escaped from the CIA custody on November 1.

This was disclosed by Mr Lok Nath Angra, SSP, Hoshiarpur in a press release here yesterday. He said Balbir Singh was arrested on November 1, 2003 and a car was recovered from him. During interrogation Balbir Singh revealed that he, along with Sandeep Kumar, alias Deepu of Patti Sang near Chowk Shekhan, Moga, and Balwinder Singh, alias Bittu of Talwandi Mange Khan had snatched the car from Gurwinder Singh, alias Bobby, of Tanda Urmour on August 29 2003. The driver was going with car to Karnal for its repair. They took lift from him near Mukerian. On the way they offered him tea laced with some intoxicants near Sirhind. After consuming tea the driver became unconscious. They tide him with his towel and threw him on the adjoning link road.

When the car did not reach the agency at Karnal the owner Rakesh Kumar, got a case registered at Mukerian police station on September 4, 2003. The SSP said after the registration of the case the police arrested Balbir Singh and recovered the car. But he dodged the CIA staff and escaped. Sandip Kumar had already been arrested and was in judicial lockup.Accomplice Balwinder Singh was still at large the SSP said the whereabouts of the driver Gurwinder Singh were still not known.


Murder accused escapes from custody
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 5
Paramjit Singh Goldi, facing trial for murder today escaped from police custody from outside the district and sessions court complex here.

Goldi, a resident of Basti Sheikh locality here had been shifted to Ludhiana central jail following request that he faced threats from rivals.

The Ludhiana Jail officials, who brought him to the court for proceedings in the murder case, refused to give details of the escape.

Meanwhile, police sources maintained that the accused fled from custody with the help of a woman who was to be identified. It is learnt that jail authorities earlier recovered a mobile phone from Goldi when he was in jail.

A red alert has been sounded in the district and the police was raiding his suspected hide-outs. Senior police officials, however, were silent on the escape.


Rally by engg colleges’ students
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 5
Students of engineering colleges, affiliated to the Punjab Technical University (PTU), held a rally, in front of the university office, here in support of their demands like the revocation of 24 credit rule for the students of 2001 batch.

Earlier, the Board of Governors (BOG) of the university, at a meeting on February 25, reportedly expressed reservations to implement 24 credit rule on the basis of apprehensions  that it could lower the standard of technical education in the state. It was again decided not to implement the rule, which, irked the students, who, maintained that the new examination system was more ‘harsh’ and “anti-student.”

Students, who participated in the rally, which took of from the Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall here, moved through main lanes of the city, while raising anti-varsity slogans and levelled allegations that the university officials in general and the Registrar, in particular, was playing with the future of students by creating technical hurdles in implementation of decision of the council of ministers in this regard.

 Mr Gurpal Singh Dhaliwal, state vice-president of the Students Federation of India (SFI) and a spokesman of Joint Action Committee of students, addressing the gathering, said that though they had several times pleaded for the revocation of 24 credit system in examination to the PTU authorities, but, nothing concrete was done in this regard causing disillusionment among affected students.

On the alleged lathi charge on students, who were on relay fast by the police on March 1, he asserted that the students would not stop opposing the PTU authorities such unlawful tactics. “We have decided to continue with the strike despite all pressures, to highlight the plight of the students and inform the public of the indifferent attitude of the officials towards demands of the students,” He said, demanding suspension of the registrar allegedly for indulging in anti-student activities.


VC’s remarks stir up hornet’s nest
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 5
A noting on an official file by Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University Swarn Singh Boparai calling a member of the Advisory Committee of Encyclopaedia of the Sikhism Department a “thief” and a “pimp” has stirred up a hornet’s nest. Mr Boparai maintains that he is a frank man and that he is calling a spade a spade.

The noting, which was written on January 1, 2003, has been recently circulated by Vice-Chancellor’s detractors. The note is written in response to a file put up before the Vice-Chancellor calling for a meeting of the committee so that the nature and dimensions of the work of the department could be discussed.

Mr Boparai while putting down his comments on the file, has written in Punjabi saying: “I have seen the composition of the advisory committee. It consists of a person who is a big thief and a pimp. Let this Committee sleep. Call a meeting of the Search Committee and send the bio-data (of persons who were to be given work under the project) to it”.

The Vice-Chancellor was apparently referring to a member in the 12 member-committee constituted by the ousted Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia. The members of the committee are: a former Guru Nanak Dev University Vice-Chancellor, Dr J. S. Grewal; a professor of the Department of Religious studies, Punjabi University, Dr Jodh Singh; a former Vice-Chancellor, Dr Amrik Singh; Maj Gurmukh Singh (retd); a former IAS officer, Mr Saran Singh; a New York University Anatomical Sciences Professor, Dr I. J. Singh; the National Minorities Commission Chairman, Mr Tarlochan Singh; the Guru Nanak Dev University Vice-Chancellor, Dr S. P. Singh; Dr Kirpal Singh; Dr S.S. Joshi; Dr Kharak Singh from the Institute of Sikh Studies; and Brig, Hardit Singh Kapur (retd).

Meanwhile, a university spokesman, Dr B. S. Sandhu, when questioned on the issue, said the committee was to give recommendations about pious work and the Vice-Chancellor did not want that anyone who did not have moral stature of that level to be associated with the work.

The president of the Forum for Educational Action and Reform said today that it did not behove of a high official like the Vice-Chancellor to make such remarks on official files.


Pbi varsity to offer engg courses to rural students
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 5
Punjabi University is set to become the first university in the country to offer engineering courses exclusively to rural students with the institution’s Planning Board and the Standing Committee of its Academic Council clearing the move. The proposal, which has already been cleared in principle by the university Syndicate, will be put before the House for formal clearance at its forthcoming meeting this month itself.

The engineering courses will be offered to the rural students at the new institute, Yadwindra College of Engineering, which is coming up at the Damdama Sahib Regional Centre of the university in Bathinda district.

The programme of the university is unique as it will select rural students for admission in the new institute after Class X. The students will give their Plus One and Plus Two examinations in the institute where they will be given special coaching in science subjects and English. Those who pass the Plus Two examination will get admission in engineering courses according to their merit. Besides inducting students in Plus One in the institute, the university has also decided to induct rural students who pass the CET examination for the next two years so that the engineering college classes start from the next session itself.

According to the plan made by the university, the students will appear in the Punjab Board Plus Two examination. This has been done to ensure that those who want to leave the institute do not suffer. And seats falling vacant due to the departure of the selected students will again be offered to those rural students who do well in the CET examination.

The new institute will induct 80 students in three courses of mechanical and electrical engineering besides B Tech (computers) in the first year of its operation.

Meanwhile, the Planning Board of the university has also laid downthe criteria to determine who is a rural student. Only students who have studied in rural areas for eight years and whose parents have also lived in a village for the same number of years can apply for a seat in the new institute. Besides, the board has decided that the fee charged by schools, in which the students have studied, will also be a criterion to ensure that privileged students who do their schooling from modern institutes in the rural areas do not become eligible for the same concession.

The project is the brainchild of the Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Mr Swarn Singh Boparai, who had first written a note in this regard to the Planning Board.


Conference on software  engineering

Patiala, March 5
The Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology (TIET) organised a national conference on “Software engineering principles and practices” here today. The conference was inaugurated by Mr Ashutosh Ahluwalia, vice-president (R and D), Quark Media House, Mohali.

Mr Ahluwalia highlighted the challenges being faced by the software industry and showcased recent issues related to software engineering. OC



9 medicos suspended for attacking student
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 5
Nine students of Government Medical College were suspended today following an alleged attack on a student of the final year by some junior students of the college and armed outsiders. The firing caused injuries to Gagandeep Ghuman, a student of old final (IIIrd profession).

The suspended students are Gagandeep Sharma, Rajiv Jain, Rohit Goel, Ankush Goel, Manish Gupta, Ashu Sharma, Jasjeet Singh Bedi and Jantej Singh.

Gagandeep Ghuman had reportedly tried to stop the junior students of new final (IInd profession) on March 2 from ragging first-year students. He was allegedly attacked by outsiders along with accused students. A strike was called by students following the incident yesterday.


Substantial fall in steel prices, says Jaitley
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 5
There has been a substantial reduction in the prices of steel following the suspension of export of steel for some time by the Union Government. This was stated by a delegation of the Joint Action Committee of steel consumers that met the Union Steel and Commerce Minister, Mr Arun Jaitley, in New Delhi yesterday in connection with the unprecedented hike in the prices of steel.

Mr Jaitley assured the delegation that the prices of H R coils, C R coils and C R strips would not be allowed to go beyond Rs 27,000 per metric tonne. He also said within a few days, the steel raw materials would be easily available on reduced price.

He advised the delegation that the local administration should be approached to initiate action against the business community engaged in the dumping and stocking of the steel raw materials.


Pak trade delegation visits Patiala
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 5
A delegation of business entrepreneurs from Pakistan, representing the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, visited the city here today.

The 75-member delegation was received by Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh and other officials of the administration. The team had a tour of the city and visited the Sheesh Mahal, NIS and Mohindra College.

Talking to local businessmen, the members of the delegation expressed hope that local industrialists and businessmen would also get a chance to visit Lahore soon.

They appreciated the warmth and hospitality shown by the people in India. They appreciated the efforts being made by both countries to maintain friendly relations with each other.

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