P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Race for Hoshiarpur, Amritsar LS seats hots up
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 11
Most senior BJP leaders from Amritsar and the Ropar-Hoshiarpur belt have rushed to Delhi to lobby for the party ticket. The BJP high command will meet on March 13 and 14 to decide the candidates for the Hoshiarpur and Amritsar Lok Sabha seats.

Sources said the tie for the Hoshiarpur, seat is mainly between Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, a former President of the Punjab BJP and Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, state unit President.

Mr Mittal, who was President of the state unit from 1998 to 1995, is from Ropar while Mr Khanna is from Garhshankar, both falling in the Hoshiarpur constituency.

Mr Mittal was elected to the State Assembly in 1977, 1992 and 1999 from Nangal, a segment of the Hoshiarpur constituency. He was the Minister for Food and Supplies in the Badal Government.

Mr Khanna has been elected to the State Assembly from Garhshankar in the last Assembly election. Both, Mr Mittal and Mr Khanna have a strong political clout in the party high command. Mr Mittal’s candidature is being supported discreetly by the state unit of the RSS.

Mr Prem Dutt Sharma, son of the late Mr Yagya Dutt Sharma, is also trying his luck. Normally, all parties opt for a candidate from the Saini community for Hoshiarpur which has substantial presence of this community in the area. However, no popular leader of the community is currently available with the BJP in that constituency. The name of Mr Sat Pal Saini, a former minister from Sujanpur, near Pathankot, was under consideration. But as he is an outsider, his nomination can create problems for the party.

For the Amritsar seat Mr Jagdish Sawhney, a leading transporter from Batala, has emerged as the front-runner. He is supported by Mr Devinder Gupta, a senior functionary of the state RSS state. It will be appropriate to mention here that the RSS plays a significant role in deciding the BJP candidates for the Lok Sabha. Mr Sawhney was elected to the Punjab Assembly from Batala in 1997.

Other heavyweights, in the race for the ticket from Amritsar are Mr Daya Singh Sodhi, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Dr Baldev Raj Chawla and Mr Sat Pal Mahajan. Mr Tandon and Dr Chawla were both ministers in the Badal Government. Mr Sodhi has also been the President of the state BJP before Mr Brij Lal Rinwa.

The BJP has decided to renominate, film star Vinod Khanna from Gurdaspur though a formal announcement is yet to be made by the party.

The Congress has already renominated Mr R.L. Bhatia for the Amritsar seat. Last time Mr Bhatia won from Amritsar defeating, Mr Daya Singh Sodhi (BJP) by about 32,000 votes. As Mr Badal has announced the names of all three candidates to fill Rajya Sabha seats from Punjab, senior leaders of the BJP have lost all hope to get a slot in the Upper House from the state. With the existing strength of its MLAs in the State Assembly, the SAD-BJP combine, could win only three seats of the Rajya Sabha.


SAD to complain to CEC on officers’ postings
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 11
The Shiromani Akali Dal chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today alleged that many bureaucrats were still continuing to serve in their home districts in violation of the Model Code of Conduct.

He said Mr H.S. Gill, Superintendent of Police, who is a brother of the Congress MLA from Beas, had not yet been transferred from Amritsar.

Addressing an election rally at Chaugawan in this district, today, Mr Badal said his party would write to the Chief Election Commission to take action in the matter.

He claimed that the Congress was unlikely to win a single seat due to its “non-performance” in the state and said the SAD-BJP combine would win all the 13 Lok Sabha seats.

Mr Badal alleged that the much-hyped anti-corruption drive of the Amarinder Singh government could not take off because his own family members and associates had landed themselves in corruption-related controversies. He alleged that instead of auctioning, liquor shops were virtually allotted to his favourite persons.

The contractors who were ready to give higher bids were not only stopped from participating in the auction but also beaten up in various parts of the state. He said this act of favouritism would become a poll issue.


Cong hoardings violate Model Code of Conduct
Lalit Mohan

Ropar March 11
Even 10 days after the implementation of the Model Code of Conduct, the government has made little effort to remove hoardings carrying pictures of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi in the district. The hoardings of the leaders at the entrance of the state from Himachal Pradesh in Nangal blatantly flay the Model Code of Conduct.

The hoardings, besides featuring luminescent photographs of Capt Amarinder Singh and Ms Gandhi, also carry messages highlighting development works in the state. Sources said the hoardings were put up by the PWD last year.

The cost of the each hoarding at Nangal was about Rs 12 lakh and that of luminescent tape used for these about Rs 12,500 per square meter. The hoarding put up at the entrance of the state was even larger than those at other places.

The PWD authorities were not available to comment on when the hoardings would be removed.

The hoardings have now come under criticism from leaders of the Opposition. The president of the Nangal unit of the BJP, Mr Rakesh Sharma, while addressing a press conference here today, alleged that the government had wasted money on hoardings. Moreover, he said, the government could not use public fund for putting up photographs of Ms Gandhi.

The amount could have been utilised for repairing road, which were causing inconvenience to thousands of commuters everyday. More than 50 accidents had taken place due to the poor condition of the roads and resulted in injuries to hundreds of passengers during the past one year, he said. Many accidents, especially involving two-wheelers, had gone unreported, he added.


SAD (Longowal) revival on cards
Sushil Goyal and Prem Sharma

Barnala, March 11
The revival of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Sant Harchand Singh Longowal) seems to be on the cards. It also appears that this move is being backed by the family of Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, the Governor of Andhra Pradesh. When asked whether she would accept the presidentship of the proposed SAD (Sant Harchand Singh Longowal), Ms Surjit Kaur, wife of Mr Barnala, said she would think over it.

The issue regarding the revival of the SAD (Longowal) was raised by a rebel SAD leader and former Punjab Minister, Mr Inderjit Singh Zira, after the “bhog” of “Akhand Path” of Sri Guru Granth Sahib held in memory of Mr Barnala’s younger son at his residence here today. Thousands of supporters of Mr Barnala attended the ceremony.

Today’s programme in political circles was also considered as a show of strength after the denial of Lok Sabha ticket to a member of the Barnala family or its protege. Prominent supporters or admirers of Mr Barnala, who visited his residence today, included Mr Tota Singh, a former Punjab Education Minister, Mr Surinder Singh Dhuri, a former Punjab Minister, Mr Mohinder Singh Deewana, an SGPC member; Jathedar Bharpur Singh Dhanaula, a former chairman of the Punjab Forest Corporation; Mr Baldev Singh Mann, the general secretary of the SAD; Mr Gurinderpal Singh Dhanaula, a former SAD leader; Mr Zira, Mr Rupinderjit Singh Sandhu, a former chairman of the Barnala Improvement Trust; and Mr Ajaib Singh Khetla, the senior vice-president of district unit of the SAD.

Mr Zira asked Mr Badal to change the Lok Sabha candidates for Sangrur, Patiala, Bathinda, Ludhiana, Tarn Taran and Ferozepore constituencies by March 15, failing which the SAD (Longowal) would be revived. He said a meeting of SAD workers and leaders would be held at Zira on March 15 to decide the further course of action for reviving the SAD (Longowal).

Mr Zira said they would request Mr Barnala to head the SAD (Longowal) after resigning from the post of Governor, Andhra Pradesh, keeping in view the sentiments of the workers. He said if Mr Barnala did not agree, then a request would be made to Mrs Barnala in this regard. Mr Zira also demanded a Rajya Sabha seat for Mr Barnala.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Barnala said he had not organised a show of strength as he was not interested in politics.

Mr Gaganjit Singh Barnala, son of Mr Barnala and MLA from Dhuri, said he would campaign for Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, the SAD candidate from Sangrur Lok Sabha Constituency.

Sources said top leaders of the Barnala faction also held meetings at Mr Barnala’s residence to chalkout the further course of action for opposing Mr Dhindsa’s candidature.

Meanwhile, Mr Badal visited Mr Barnala’s residence last evening and held a closed-door meeting with Mr Barnala and Mrs Surjit Kaur Barnala.

He asked them to help him contain dissidence in the Sangrur SAD. According to sources, Mr Barnala aired his resentment to Mr Badal over the undemocratic functioning of the SAD.


SJP for joint front against NDA
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 11
The Samajwadi Janata Party (SJP), headed by former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar, is trying to from a joint front of around six parties to oppose the NDA.

Mr Chandra Shekhar is believed to have approved a proposal to include the old “Janata Dal family” comprising the SJP, the Lok Janshakti Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Janata Dal (Secular), the Socialist Forum and the Nationalist Congress Party in to the front.

Mr Darshan Singh Jeeda, the president of the Punjab unit of the SJP, said a preliminary round of parleys among leaders of these parties was over.


Badal’s aide denied permission to operate companies
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 11
The Special Judge, Mr S.K. Goel, today dismissed an application of Mr Harbans Lal, a close aide of a former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, seeking direction to the Vigilance Bureau to allow him and his shareholders to run business of their two firms — Anil Rice and General Mills Private Ltd, Doomwali, Bathinda, and Anil Kumar Cold Storage Private Ltd, Rampuraphool, Bathinda.

Mr Harbans Lal, in his application before the court, had maintained that the Vigilance Bureau had sealed the companies on the pretext of searching its premises. This, he said, was causing losses to the shareholders of the companies.

Potato products of various agriculturists lying in cold storages of the company, were also deteriorating. Mr Harbans Lal pleaded that he, his partners and employees be allowed the permission to run the business. He also demanded parity before law as the other companies owned by the main accused in the case, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, like the Orbit Resort were being allowed to continue business.

The prosecution, in the reply filed before the court, maintained that the application of Mr Harbans Lal was not maintainable at this stage. They alleged that the companies were the product of ill-gotten money amassed from innocent people of the state. They, however, maintained that they had no objection in potatoes being removed from the cold storages.


Liquor shops’ auction will fetch Rs 30 cr more
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 11
The Punjab Government will earn around Rs 30 crore more revenue from the current auction of liquor shops than the revenue it earned last year.

Stating this here today at a press conference, Mr D.P. Reddy, Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Punjab, said so far the state had earned Rs 20 crore more than the revenue collected by the department from the auction of liquor shops last year. He added that the department had fixed a target of Rs 14 crore increase in the revenue.

Mr Reddy, who was here to supervise the auction proceedings for Bathinda, Mansa and Faridkot districts, pointed out that after the auctions were complete, the Punjab Government would earn about Rs 30 crore more than the revenue earned last year.

He said though during financial year 2002-2003, the increase in the revenue from the auction of liquor shops was Rs 100 crore, it came down to Rs 18 crore in the previous year.

Mr Reddy said today’s auction was held in a free and fair manner. The proceedings were transparent and nobody was denied his right to make a bid. All bidders were given equal opportunities.

He added that the auction of liquor shops in Bathinda district fetched Rs 57.51 crore against Rs 54.41 crore earned last year, Mansa district Rs 27.43 crore against Rs 26.95 crore and Faridkot district Rs 31.52 crore against Rs 29.83 crore.

Similarly, three districts of Ferozepore division, including Ferozepore, Muktsar and Moga, witnessed an increase of Rs 1.22 crore than the revenue earned last year. The total increase in Faridkot division was around Rs 5.17 crore.

He said Deputy Commissioners of Bathinda and Faridkot Mr K.A.P. Sinha, and Mr Hussain Lal, respectively, were present at the auction as observers.

Meanwhile, a section of press photographers were not allowed to enter the venue of auction, held under heavy security arrangements. A bidder also complained to officials of the Excise and Taxation Department that he had been receiving threats from a person belonging to Uttar Pardesh on his cell phone to not make any bids for the Bathinda circle.

When contacted Mr P.C. Pyasa, Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner (DETC) who organised Ferozepore and Faridkot divisions auctions, said though a bidder had complained to him regarding the threats, he was told to make bids without any fear.


Ponty not to get land in Mohali
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 11
A.B. Motions private limited, the company promoted by liquor baron Ponty Chadha, will not be given 50 acres of land in Mohali to be developed into an industrial park. At least not till the Punjab Government incorporates a new clause in its Industrial Policy that will establish both the mode of pricing and allotment of land for industrial, agro and information technology parks in the state.

Recommending this, the high powered Allotment Committee chaired by Chief Secretary Punjab that met on February 5, 2004, further suggested that allotment of land in Punjab for such parks be done through competitive bidding and only those who fulfil the criteria laid down by the Government of India for setting up such parks be allowed to participate in the bidding process.

If given a nod by the Cabinet, this would mean that Mr Chadha’s company will have to participate in competitive bidding for the allotment of land in Punjab for setting up of an industrial park.

The committee also recommended the formulation of a policy for pricing and allotment of land for multiplexes in Punjab. According to some of these recommendations, allotment of land for multiplexes be also done through competitive bidding where the reserve price be at least five times the allotment price of a developed industrial plot.

Another vital recommendation made by the committee was to allow existing allottees of large chunks of industrial land to change up to three acres of their land for multiplex on payment of the difference between the prevailing allotment price for the industry and the reserve price for multiplexes.

When contacted the Principal Secretary, Department of Industries and Commerce, Mr S.C. Agarwal, confirmed that land for Ponty Chadha’s industrial park or for any other industrial park would not be given till the government laid down a policy in this regard.

Interestingly however, while on the one hand, the Committee recommended amendments to Industrial policy to incorporate such a policy, it approved Quark’s 46 acres industrial park project at Mohali at the same meeting. “The Quark project is special. It cannot be compared to the one which Mr Chadha’s company is proposing. His company is going to invest Rs 40 to Rs 50 crore in the Mohali project out of the total of Rs 100 crore he plans to invest in Punjab. On the other hand, Quark is investing Rs 450 crore in its Mohali project alone. Moreover, the passing of the Quark issue was a mere formality. The Cabinet had already taken a decision on it,” said Mr Agarwal.


Birds died of gunshot wounds
Pathankot poaching case
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 11
Birds had died of gunshot wounds, says a report of the Wildlife Institute, a national-level body, which conducted a post-mortem examination on two peacocks and four grey partridges recovered from the private jeep of Pathankot Subdivisional Magistrate, Puneet Goel by two wildlife wardens on February 29.

The SDM was charged with poaching after two honorary wildlife wardens — Mr Gunraj Singh and Mr Sukhdeep Singh Bajwa — caught him with the “kill” on February 29 in a Hoshiarpur forest. The gun and vehicle used by the SDM were also impounded by Forest Department officials

Intriguingly, the Hoshiarpur Veterinary Hospital, where the killed birds were initially taken on March 1 for a post-mortem examination had said that the birds died of suffocation and a detailed examination was not possible as these were “rotten”. The veterinary doctors also held that a post-mortem examination was not possible after 24 hours of the kill.

Two Forest Range Officers — Mr Kulraj Singh and Mr Paramjit Singh — and wildlife Inspector Tarsem Lal then took the “killed birds” to the Dehra Doon-based Wildlife Institute on March 1 where a detailed post-mortem examination was conducted.

Institute experts also made video-clips of the entire examination and established that the birds had died of gunshot wounds.

Institute officials held that a post-mortem examination can be conducted within 72 hours of the death of a bird or an animal.

While the Hoshiarpur Veterinary Hospital gave “suffocation” as the cause of death, the Wildlife Institute observed that gunshot wounds proved fatal for all six birds.

Peacock, the national bird, figures in Schedule I of the Wildlife Conservation Act and killing it is a non-bailable offence. However, in this case, the SDM was released on bail on Sunday night, less than 12 hours after his arrest, after the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Hoshiarpur held a court at his residence at 9.30.

Interestingly, the bail was granted on the basis of a submission made by Gholu of Kloa village that he had caught the birds — peacocks and grey partridges — and put them in the black Mahindra jeep of the SDM. The jeep was subsequently intercepted by the wildlife wardens. The wardens were, however, not made witnesses in the case .

The gun of the SDM was also sent for forensic examination.


Councillor moves court on tainted officers
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 11
Within a week after The Tribune reported the selection of tainted officers to the PCS (Executive) cadre, a local municipal councillor today moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court, demanding the quashing of the selections and a CBI probe into the matter.

Hearing the public interest litigation filed by advocate and Municipal Councillor Ms Anu Chatrath Kapur, the high court today issued notice of motion to the State of Punjab for April 6. The matter came up for hearing before the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy and Mr Justice Surya Kant Sharma.

Challenging the Punjab state, the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC), its former Chairman Mr Surjit Singh Sangra and member Ms Harjit Kaur Randhawa for recommending “tainted” officers to PCS (Executive) cadre this year, the petitioner prayed for a CBI enquiry into the “circumstances that led to recommendation of discredited persons to the PCS posts”. She also sought a probe into the circumstances under which the criteria for selection of candidates was changed “to accommodate the favourites of chairpersons of both the panels who were due to retire on March 7 and March 4.”

Hearing the writ petition, the high court has issued notice to all 18 respondents in the case. These include, besides the PPSC and the Financial Commissioner, Revenue, Punjab, the 13 “tainted” officers who have made it to PCS (Executive) cadre this year. Apart from a CBI probe into the selections, the petitioner has requested the HC to screen the recruitments made to the PCS (Executive) posts, while at the same time praying that no appointment letters be issued to the respondents during the pendency of the writ petition.

Referring to The Tribune report, published on March 6 and captioned “Tainted persons get PCS posts”, the petitioner stated that for reasons best known to the PPSC, it combined the recommendations for 1994, 1996 and 2001 batches. She submitted in the PIL that the PPSC cancelled the General Awareness Test earlier advertised through a public notice in The Tribune.

“Instead of sending roll numbers to the candidates for the general awareness test to be conducted in January, 2004, the PPSC sent call letters for the interviews to be conducted on February 19 and 20,” states the petitioner.


Neelam takes ‘Kitchen Katha’ to Pakistan
Our Correspondent

Wagah (Amritsar), March 11
A 16-member troupe led by Ms Neelam Man Singh Chowdhry, a renowned theatre director and producer, today crossed over to Pakistan. They will stage a play “Kitchen Katha” in the ongoing Indo-Pak theatre festival being held at Lahore.

Amritsar-born Neelam, while talking to The Tribune, said the play was written by Surjeet Patar, a noted Punjabi writer, while the resource material for the play was based on Laura Esquivel’s “Like Water for Chocolate” and Isabel Allende’s “Aphrodite”.

She said participation in gurdwara “langar” during childhood left an indelible impression on her mind. The preparation for the “langar”, including chopping and cooking of vegetables, apart from their textures, was still fresh in her memory, she added.

So, she said, the story of “Kitchen Katha” revolved around the kitchen. The protagonist of the play is Chand Kaur, whose granddaughter Tara narrates a story to a writer. The play is told in a story-telling format. The play, in which eroticism is connected with food, diffuses the boundary between love and appetite.

The play has been staged in different countries, including Japan, Singapore and Germany. It is the first time that it will be staged in Pakistan.

Earlier, noted stage artistes, including Ms Usha Ganguly from Kolkata, Ms Neeta Mohindra, Mr M.K. Raina, Mr Kewal Dhaliwal, Mr Gurcharan Channy and others crossed over to Pakistan to participate in the festival.

The Indian groups will stage Usha Ganguly’s “Anter-Yatra”, Neeta Mahindra’s “Hame Kuchh Kehna Hai”, Kewal Dhaliwal’s “Luna” — which was written by famous (Punjabi poet Shiv Kumar Batalvi — and Shahid Nadeem’s “Jhalli Kithe Jawe” and “Buhe Barian”.

Meanwhile, Mr Aswani Shekhri, Culture and Tourism Minister, Mr Mahinder Singh Kaypee, Tehcnical Education Minister and Mr Rajpal Singh, Secretary, Punjab Sangeet Natak Academi, also crossed over to Pakistan to participate in the theatre festival.


Youth Cong meet
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 11
A meeting of the Punjab unit of the Youth Congress was held here yesterday.

It was decided in the meeting that 100 buses and an equal number of trucks will reach Moga for rally tomorrow.

The meeting was attended by Harvinder Singh Nippy, general secretary, Punjab Youth Congress, and Sanjiv Kumar Bittu, president, district Youth Congress, among others.


Pakistanis not allowed at mazar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 11
BSF personnel did not allegedly allow Pakistan nationals to offer namaz today at the mazar of Baba Shah Braham on the International Border in the Khem Karan sector.

The mazar situated a few metres beyond the fence where thousands of Indians and Pakistanis celebrate a joint mela every year on this day. But the tight security arrangement near the Mianwali BOP, the BSF guarding the area refused to give permission to the Pakistani nationals who had gathered on their side in large numbers to offer namaz.

The Baba Shah Braham Memorial Society which has been organising the annual mela said the mazar had attained importance as the records suggest that Guru Nanak Dev along with Bhai Mardana had visited the site. As such the people of the surrounding areas from India and Pakistan used to celebrate the mela jointly till the forces moved in January, 2002.

The secretary of the society, Mr Narinder Bittu, told newsmen that more than 20,000 persons offered prayers at the mazar. They were disappointed as the Indian security agencies refused to allow Pakistan nationals to visit the mazar.


Include ecology in peace talks: experts
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 11
Environments called upon the government to include ecology and geology in the peace road map with Pakistan.

Mr Ominder Dutt, director ‘Khetri Virasat’ an NGO, Dr Renu Bhardwaj, Head of Botanical and Environment Sciences, GND University, Dr Adarsh Pal, Mr Surinder Singh, Mr Sanjeev Sharma urged the governments of both countries to include, environmental issues as these were interdependent and corresponding to geographic similarities.

The two countries faced similar environmental problems. Mr Dutt also organiser five-day agricultural and environmental fair “sarbat vikas utsav” in Guru Nanak Dev University in collaboration with the Department of Botanical Sciences and sponsored by CAPART. The fair would start tomorrow.


Ghulam Ali earns ‘wah wahs’
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, March 11
It was an evening with a difference for music lovers who were mesmerised by ghazal samraat Ghulam Ali. The singer rendered a couple of ghazals at the request of the audience. He also sang those stanzas of his evergreen hit, “Chupke chupke raat din...” which were left out during its LP recording.

Ghulam Ali was interactive and chirpy during his performance. The congenial atmosphere was created by the presence of a team of popular singers and “shairs” in the audience. They included Hans Raj Hans, Sushil Chawla, Dr Barjinder Singh Hamdard, Buta Mohammed and Mr M. F. Farooqui.

If there was a powerful depiction of the state of a forlorn lover in “Karoon main yaad magar kis tarah bhulaaun use,” pangs of pain generated by love lost came through “Teri baatein sunaane aaye, dost bhi dil hi dukhaane aaye.” The performance was studded with intricate “alaaps” and “taans”, and made Hans Raj Hans, who sat on the floor in front of the maestro along with Poornima Beri and Debi Makhsoospuri, exclaim, “Wah ustaad, wah.”


60 pc cops suffer from hypertension, says Pandey
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 11
As many as 60 per cent police personnel suffer from hypertension, not due to the nature of their job but eating and drinking habits,” said Mr A.P. Pandey, Additional Director-General of Police (Vigilance), while delivering a lecture on the role of the Indian police for welfare of mankind and society, organised by the Department of Botanical and Environmental Sciences, Guru Nanak Dev University, here today.

He said it was surprising that most of the cases of hypertension were found among policemen in the age group of 22 to 25. He added that the police had a crucial role to play by sustaining whatever was developed by society and not letting the development to pass into wrong hands.

Later, talking to newspersons, he denied that the challan against Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to be filed in a few days, was being manipulated to derive political advantage for the ruling party in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. He refused to divulge details of investigations about the alleged foreign assets of Mr Badal and his family.

On Mr Adesh Partap Singh, Mr Badal’s son-in-law, who had gone abroad on the pretext of health reasons to evade arrest in corruption and disproporatinate assets case against Mr Badal, the ADGP said the police were doing its duty. He denied any animosity between him and Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, the Deputy Chief Minister.


Education is Gujral’s priority
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 11
“Development is my ideology and education has always been my priority as it is the only tool which can ensure development in the world,” says Mr Inder Kumar Gujral, a former Prime Minister.

At the same time, Mr Gujral predicted that unlike the common perception that local and regional issues would effect the outcome of the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls this time, the most important agenda before each Indian citizen is to see which party could secure the all-around development of the country.

In an interview with The Tribune, Mr Gujral said he was very clear about his ideology, which was nothing but development.”You need to have a dynamic approach about your ideology and in today’s world you cannot afford to be static as far as your ideology is concerned. We have an example in the Soviet Union’s fragmentation. Why it happened? Simply, for they did not change their ideology in accordance with changing times,” said Mr Gujral.

Coming to Punjab, Mr Gujral said though he was happy to see that India was progressing at a satisfactory pace in general, but it pinched him to observe that Punjab, which once led the nation with the Green Revolution was lagging far behind.

“Why has Punjab failed to keep pace with other states like Andhra Pradesh? Because there has not been political will or leadership. You may be amused to know that in his bid to elicit NRI investment, the Andhra Pradesh CM went as far as going to the airport and receiving NRI businessmen of that state.

He himself gave a presentation about the potential thrown open for them by the state. It is sad that we don’t have that attitude. Moreover, without providing children with basic education and facilities at the grassroots level, how can you expect them to be IT wizards,” said Mr Gujral.

“Why I had sanctioned the Science City near Kapurthala? It was for the education and development of a scientific temper in young minds. I am of the view that no educational institution can be of any help unless it leads to development of scientific temper. Development does not mean putting up some machines at a place, but, understanding how they work. I feel we should not miss the third revolution-knowledge revolution. For quality education we should grade all our institutes in the states,” said Mr Gujral.

Mr Gujral said he kept on wondering as to why NRIs have been exhorted “vaguely” to invest here without extending any exhaustive programme before them. “It is sad to see people making an issue of things like alleged discrimination in liquor vends auction than to take up the real issues like development and education,” said Mr Gujral.

Asked what was his views on the “feel good” factor, Mr. Gujral said he was satisfied over the pace of development in the country.


Punjabi film with all-women cast
Varinder Walia and Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, March 11
A feature film without a male character? An NRI producer-cum director, Jeet Matharu, has come here from England with a 33-member unit, including ace cameraman Hasmukh Rajput from Mumbai, to shoot a three-hour Punjabi thriller with an all-female cast.

The lone male artiste appears on the screen for a few minutes only the story is based on his cold blooded murder which remains shrouded in mystery in a college for women.

Interestingly all actors who have performed in the movie are students and teachers of BBK DAV College (for women). They are facing the camera for the first time. About 80 per cent of the shooting has been done on the college campus. The rest of the shooting is under way in different locations of the Holy City.

Talking to TNS, Matharu said he had a chance meeting with the college Principal, Ms J.Kackria. She introduced him to students of the Multi-media Department and the artistes who had performed at the World Youth Festival in the UK and France. Realising the talent and potential of the ‘first time artistes’ Matharu decided to re cast his film — ‘Addi-Tappa’ (the game of life), which is his long-cherished dream project.

Making his debut as producer and director under the banner of United Vision India, Matharu said he was pleased with the abundance of talent of the young students. Richa and Amrisha play the lead roles. He is being assisted by students Simrat Ghumman, Chanpreet in direction.

Celebrity singers Wadali brothers, Jaspinder Narula, Sardool Sikandar, Nachhatar Gill, Balkar Sidhu and Sahira Khan provided the Punjabi folk music touch. The music director is a local artiste, Gurmeet Singh. The lyrics are by a noted Punjabi poet, Major Litteranwala. The music was recorded in Mumbai and Amritsar by T-series and will be launched next month.

It is a low-budget movie as the actors are not being paid any remuneration. Besides India and Pakistan, the movie would be released in the UK, Canada, and the USA in May.

Thrilled by the experience, Matharu said he was planning to move to Amritsar permanently as it would become a hub for the artistes of both Amritsar and Lahore.


Life fellowship for Amrita Pritam

Patiala, March 11
Punjabi University has bestowed life fellowship on litterateur Amrita Pritam. A function was organised at her house in New Delhi on March 8, in this connection, a press note said here on Thursday.

Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai said Amrita Pritam was a living legend. Registrar Param Bakhshish Singh, Dr Dhanwant Kaur, Dr Amrit Pal Kaur, Dr Baldev Singh Sandhu and Dr Dalip Kaur Tiwana were present. OC


Cancer, heart diseases main killers: expert

Amritsar, March 11
Cardiovascular diseases and cancer are the major killers in developed nations. With the increased lifespan and an aging population, it is clear that the major goal of medicine in the 21st century would be the control of cancer, cardiovascular ailments and behavioural disorders.

These observations wee made here today by Dr Sandeep K. Basu, Director, National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi. Dr Basu was at Guru Nanak Dev University to deliver “J.S. Rai Memorial Lecture” on ‘New Biology to Molecular Medicine: The Stupendous Odyssey’ instituted by the university. Talking about infectious diseases, Dr Basu said the 20th century had seen that the developed world greatly benefited by modern medicines where only 1.2% of the deaths occurred while they played havoc with 42% of the cases in developing countries. — TNS


Truck operators block traffic

Patiala, March 11
Members of Guru Nanak Truck Operations Union blocked the Rajpura road for nearly two hours on Thursday demanding action against the tractor-trailer owners who were plying them for commercial purposes.

President of the union Sukhwinder Singh Pannu said the Punjab and Haryana High Court had issued directions to the regional transport authorities to check the use of tractor-trailers for transportation of material including sand, bricks and LPG cylinders.

Union leader Hardeep Singh Sidhu said tractor-trailer owners were not paying excise duty and hence could not use the vechicales for commercial purposes. They were also getting subsidy on tractor- trailer by the state government. OC

Retirement counselling

The Department of Psychology of Punjabi University organised a ‘pre- retirement counselling programme for university employees here on Thursday day. Vice- Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai inaugurated the programme.

The objective of the programme was to help people cope with the challenges of retirement besides, developing a positive attitude. Mr Boparai highlighted the importance of positive The Registrar, Dr Param Bakhshish Singh, said psychologist had become more relevant in the present times. OC


1 killed, 40 hurt as truck rams into camel-carts
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 11
More than 40 occupants of a truck, including two women, were injured as it overturned after hitting two camel-carts loaded with firewood outside the Military Station here this morning. The owner of the cart was crushed to death on the spot. The camel of the other cart was also killed.

Two groups of waiters and cooks attached to Ajay Catering Service and Raju Catering Service were hired for a marriage function held near Jalalabad West last night. They hired a truck for the return journey. As the vehicle was transporting 70 persons from Jalalabad West to Abohar this morning, it rammed into the two camel-carts.

Mangal Singh of Mammukhera village, the owner of a cart, was crushed to death on the spot while the camel of the other cart, owned by Surjit Singh of Jhotianwali village, was also killed in the accident. All injured have been hospitalised.

Some occupants of the truck alleged that the driver was under the influence of liquor.


Shiv sainiks protest against bad roads
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, March 11
Workers of the local unit of the Shiv Sena today staged a protest in front of the office of Chief Medical Officer (CMO) on the premises of the Civil Hospital in protest against the poor condition of roads inside the hospital.

The workers under the leadership of Mr Jagdish Kataria, president, district Shiv Sena, collected bricks and stones from the roads and dumped these before the CMO’s office.

Mr Kataria told mediapersons that they had met the CMO several times regarding the poor condition of the roads.

Mr Kataria gave an ultimatum to the administration to get the roads repaired with in a month failing which an agitation would be launched.

When contacted, Dr S.P. Jagat said he had highlighted the condition of the roads in a representation to the authorities concerned.


Ex-servicemen sore over scheme denial
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 11
The district unit of the Ex-servicemen League has flayed the Central Government for failing to implement the one rank one pension scheme for the welfare of retired Army personnel in spite of repeated promises. In a press statement here today, Col S.S. Banwra (retd), president of the league, said since 1992, the successive union governments had constituted four high-powered committees to sort out the problem but despite favourable recommendations by the committees, the needful had not been done.


Forum restrains power supply cut
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, March 11
Mr S.S. Arora and Mr Joginder Singh, president and member, respectively, of the local District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum have restrained the Executive Engineer of PSEB, Nawanshahr from disconnecting the domestic electricity supply of Mr Kuldip Singh of Dhandhuha village, Nawanshahr.

The petitioner, Mr Kuldip Singh, in his complaint, said he had applied for an extension of load and had deposited Rs 2,070 with the PSEB for the purpose. He had also purchased the property of his uncle Pakher Singh with an electricity connection (DH-529) for irrigation purpose in the name of Mr Pakher Singh. But, the PSEB authorities issued him a show-cause notice dated September 4, 2003 for disconnecting his domestic connection on the allegation that he had been using this connection for irrigation.


High Court
Formation of forest protection panels challenged
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 11
Challenging the formation of “Forest Protection Committees” in the state of Punjab, 13 gram panchayats today claimed that public funds were being diverted to “private individuals” under the garb of the committees by an MLA in connivance with a District Forest Officer.

In a petition filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the gram panchayats of Pathankot tehsil alleged that the diversion was taking place without their participation in “utter disregard and violation of the Punjab Panchayat Raj Act of 1994” and the notification issued by the Punjab Government in this regard.

Blaming respondents of “giving political colour to their constitutional duties”, the petitioners claimed that they were being ignored just before the elections as they “owed allegiance to one political party”.

Seeking directions to the state of Punjab and other respondents to quash the formation of the committees, they added that the notification made it mandatory to have a sarpanch and other gram panchayat members in the committee.

Taking up the petition, a Division Bench of the high court, headed by Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy, today issued notice of motion to the state of Punjab for March 16.

Kuka martyrs

In a written statement submitted before the high court, the Union of India has claimed that Kuka martyrs were not freedom fighters.

It was added that prayer for recognising Kuka movement as part of the freedom struggle could not be accepted because it was of a religious nature. The case will now come up for further hearing on April 29.

In his petition, advocate Malwinder Jit Singh Waraich had earlier sought directions to the Union of India and other respondents to take a decision on extending recognition to Kuka movement for granting benefits.

He had asserted that that the benefits under the “Swatantarta Sainik Samman Pension Scheme of 1980” had so far been denied. Giving details, he had stated that Kuka movement happened to be the pioneer attempt to liberate the motherland from foreign rule just a decade after the uprising in 1857. Under the leadership of Baba Ram Singh, it encompassed total non-cooperation with the government. The Kukas were later “blown before the canons in an open ground located in Malerkotla”.


Court clears Daler’s trip to Pak

Patiala, March 11
A local court has permitted Punjabi pop singer Daler Mehndi to proceed on a 15-day trip to Pakistan in connection with his performances.

Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate P.S. Dhanoa ordered the release of Daler’s passport yesterday on an application by him seeking permission to visit Pakistan for 15 days.

The noted Indi-pop singer was booked in an illegal human-trafficking case on a complaint by one Bakshish Singh last year.

The same court had last week rejected an application of Patiala police for the discharge of Daler from the case on the plea that nothing was found against him. A re-investigation of the case was ordered by the court.

The station House Officer of the Sadar police station, Mr Amarjit Singh Ghumman, informed the court that as of now Daler was not required in the investigations.

The court directed the police to keep a photocopy of the passport while Daler was directed to submit back the document to the police on his return. — PTI


Man gets 7-yr RI for rape

Hoshiarpur, March 11
Mr Harbans Lal, District and Sessions Judge, Hoshiarpur, has sentenced Madan Lal of Kotli village to seven years’ rigorous imprisonment under Section 376 of the IPC for raping a minor of Pandori Beghail Singh village. The Mukerian police had registered a case on May 24, 2003, against Madan Lal. — OC


Woman done to death by husband
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, March 11
Manpreet Kaur, who was married to Sukhdeep Singh of Vanbala village, was allegedly beaten to death recently by her husband and father-in-law Balwant Singh for “indulging in immoral acts.” They dumped her body in the septic tank of their house.

Mr R.S. Khatra, SSP, said Manpreet’s in-laws had been asking her parents to take her to their house, but they refused. After killing Manpreet Kaur, her in-laws informed her parents about it.

Mithu Singh and Jagjeet Singh, father and brother of the victim, respectively, who had been residing at Lallbai village, went to the house of Manpreet’s in-laws. They took out the body from the septic tank and all four threw it into the Rajasthan feeder canal, said Mr Khatra.

He pointed out that these facts came to light when a team comprising the DSP, Malout, and the SHO, Lambi police station, started investigating the matter. When it was established beyond doubt that Manpreet Kaur had become a victim of honour killing, a case under Section 302, 201, 120-B and 34 of the IPC was registered against the suspects.

Mr Khatra said Sukhdeep Singh, Mithu Singh and Jagjeet Singh were arrested today while efforts were on to nab Balwant Singh.

He said Manpreet Kaur had been killed about 20 days ago.


Man, 4 sons stab youth to death
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, March 11
A youth was stabbed to death in broad daylight allegedly by a man and his four sons.

Suraj Mehta, alias Pehelwan, son of Rajpal Mehta, was stabbed to death allegedly by Hansraj Sethi and his four sons Sandeep, Gaurav, Ajay and Amit.

Mr Satnam Singh, SHO, police station City, said Suraj a resident of Preet Nagar, along with his father, was on the way to the local Civil Hospital to get medicine for the father, who is a heart patient. When they were about to take a rickshaw near the local Bus Stand, both of them were allegedly overpowered and taken inside Sethi’s hotel by Hansraj Sethi and his four sons, who allegedly thrashed Suraj and attacked him with sharpedged weapons.

Suraj was taken to the Civil Hospital in a critical condition who came to their rescue after Suraj’s father raised the alarm. Suraj later succumbed to his injuries.

Sources revealed that personal enmity was behind the murder as the Sethis suspected Suraj of having illicit relations with the wife of one of the brothers. The police has registered a case under Sections 302 of the IPC against the five suspects.


Case registered against bus driver
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 11
A case has been registered against Mr Gurnam Singh, the driver of the bus, in connection with an accident in which two youths were killed near Khanpur village last evening.

While one of the youths who died had been identified as Darshpreet Singh Dhillon, the second victim has been identified as Ravi Thapar, a resident of Sector 29, Chandigarh.

According to the police the complainant, Mr Daulat Ram, father of Ravi Thapar, said that the five youths were coming back after attending a marriage in Ludhiana when the accident took place.

The injured persons, who had been referred to the PGI by the local Civil Hospital, are Manpreet, Varun and Kailash.

The case had been registered under Sections 279, 337, 338 and 304 A of the IPC.


Mother accused of poisoning kids to death
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 11
A woman has been accused of killing her two children, nearly three months after the crime with the state chemical examination laboratory ruling that they had been poisoned to death. The bodies that were buried in the local cremation ground after the claimed they had died following sudden ailment, had been exhumed following a complaint by her husband, a day after the incident.

In its recent report to the Forensic Department of Government Rajindra Hospital, the State Chemical Examiner has ruled that the immediate cause of the death of the children was due to poisoning by aluminium phosphide (celphos).

Sources said Usha, mother of the children, had been accused of killing her children by poisoning then and starving them. Earlier a post-mortem examination of the bodies of Deepak (4) and Billi (six) had revealed that it was a case of chronic starvation. The post-mortem findings, had been substantiated by the State Examiner. The laboratory in its report indicated acute and chronic infection of abdominal viscera.

Earlier, according to police investigations while Deepak had died on December 18, Billi died on December 19. Usha, who was living on rent in Darukutiya basti had said the deaths had occurred following sudden ailments.

The police exhumed the bodies when the father of the children, Dharma Giri, alleged foul play. Dharma Giri in his complaint to the police said his wife had been living separately for the past two years.

The Forensic Department of Government Medical College has prepared a final report regarding the cause of the death of the children and sent it to the Civil Lines Police Station. A case of murder is likely to be registered against Usha.

Her neighbours said she used to lock up the children in a room and be absent for long periods. Her third had been admitted to a Hospital with severe skin infection and weakness due to lack of food intake.


Crucial PTU meeting today
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 11
The Chairman of the Board of Governors (BOG) of Punjab Technical University (PTU), Chief Secretary Jai Singh Gill, has convened an emergency meeting of the board in Chandigarh on March 12 to deliberate upon the issue of implementation of 24-credit rule system for 2001-batch students of different engineering colleges in the state.

Sources in the Punjab Civil Secretariat revealed that the meeting was likely to accept the demands of agitating students, who were demanding implementation of 24-credit rule system in examinations for which the Council of Ministers had already given its nod at a meeting held on February 2.

The Principal Secretary, Technical Education and Industrial Training, in a communique to the then Vice-Chancellor, Mr Y.S. Rajan, on February 5, had said that the Council of Ministers had decided that the implementation of the system would remain applicable to the students of 2001 batch of Punjab Technical University.

But the BOG, in its meeting on February 24, reportedly expressed reservation on the implementation of the decision of the Council of Ministers on the pretext that it would lower the standard of quality technical education.

With the new PTU regime in place with the appointment of a new Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.K. Salwan, following the resignation of Mr Rajan last month, the BOG Chairman, Mr Gill, has been reportedly asked by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to resolve the month-long impasse between the students and the PTU. Around 1400 engineering students are on the war path by holding protest dharnas, rallies and observing relay fasts for the past more than one month.

Sources said the state Congress leadership was hard pressed to solve the issue as it could boomerang on the prospects of Congress candidates during the coming general elections as the All-India Sikh Students Federation and the Punjab Kisan Sabha had already lent their support to the agitating students.

The sources maintained that the members of the BOG, including Dr Sirohi, Director, IIT, Delhi, Dr Premvrat, Director, IIT, Rurkee, Mr R.S. Khandpur, Director-General of the Science City, Kapurthala, Mr R.Natrajan, Chairman, All-India Council of Technical Education are likely to attend the crucial meeting.


College struggles for affiliation
Kulwinder Sangha

Kharar, March 11
Students passing out of school in the town are suffering in the absence of a university-affiliated college and are compelled to depend on institutions outside the town.

The town has only one college — that too for girls — whose students can only appear privately in the university examinations as it has been denied affiliation to Punjabi University, Patiala.

The Arya College for Women, whose management is affiliated to the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, Jalandhr, has been imparting education to girls of the area since 1968. Despite its 18 qualified teachers and 550 students on its rolls, it has failed to secure the much-needed affiliation. The reason given by the university is that it lacks a minimum area of 5 acres required under the rules.

Eighty-two-year-old Om Parkash Aggarwal, guiding spirit behind the college and president of the management, has done commendable work in keeping the institution going over the years. Although he himself lacks formal education, he used to go from village to village to persuade parents to send their daughters for studies to the college.

Mr Aggrwal’s dream project faces a bleak future even after 35 years of its inception. Teachers say that the University Grants Commission (UGC) has said that non-affiliated colleges will not be allowed to function. They fear that a time will come when students of Arya College may not be permitted to appear in the university examinations even as private candidates.

The 15-room college is housed on the first floor of a building located centrally in the town. A girls’ high school, a sister establishment of the college, is on the ground floor. The college has remained an examination centre of Panjab University, Chandigarh, for 14 years. However, the centre was closed down in 1984 as it was decided that only affiliated colleges would be made examination centres. Students are now compelled to go to Bhagat Singh Memorial College, Patiala, for taking their examinations.

It is learnt that in 1997 Mr Sat Pal Jain, member of the college management committee and former MP, had written to the Dean, College Development Council of the university, to sympathetically consider the plea for affiliation, but to no avail.

A request was then made to the university in 1998 to grant associate status to the college so that it could become an examination centre and the students could be categorised as regular. However, this, too, was turned down.

Although the college management continued its efforts to get affiliation, the university finally wrote to it that it should contact the university in this connection only after acquiring the stipulated 5 acres.

The college runs only arts classes and its funds come from the fees collected from students and donations obtained from well-wishers. Despite the lack of official grants, it is learnt that the college at present has Rs 22 lakh in the form of fixed deposits.

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