P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Capt misses Youth Cong rally
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Moga, March 12
Contrary to expectations, neither the Chief Minister nor his Cabinet colleagues turned up at the Youth Congress rally even though the newly appointed Punjab Youth Congress president Ravinder Awla had put up a modest show of strength.

Party sources said the decision to keep away was reportedly taken as Ravinder Awla appointment has come under a cloud since his detractors claim that he was not only expelled for anti-party activities in the past but also the fact that the family was accused of misappropriating paddy stocks.

The gathering was kept in the dark about the inability of the leaders to make it till the last moment with national IYC chief Randeep Singh Surjewala ending up being the star speaker in the end. A large number of participants left the venue as word about the cancellation of the visit of the CM and other senior leaders spread.

Coming down heavily on the Akalis, Surjewala said corruption was virtually institutionalised during their five-year misrule. No section of society was left untouched and all jobs went to the highest bidder. It seemed that everything was up for sale and this has been proved during the ongoing anti-corruption drive during the two-year rule of the Congress.

Referring to the “India Shining campaign” of the BJP, he said it was nothing but rhetoric and propaganda of a government that has run out of ideas for the betterment of the masses. Instead, crores have been spent on the campaign which has left people wondering about what transformation has taken place in the country in the past five years, he pointed out.

Not only this, stars from the tinsel town have been roped in for a fortune to add glitter to the campaign. As per estimates, the NDA and its partners have allegedly collected Rs 7, 000 crore by unfair means and this money power would be evident in the coming days. If this money is spent on the welfare of the nation, no village in the country would be deprived of basic infrastructure, he opined.

Commenting on the road shows of AICC President Sonia Gandhi, he said there was a support for the party wherever she goes. The BJP is totally unnerved at this development and their leadership was making baseless and irresponsible statements.

Cautioning the dissidents, who were airing party matters in public, he said they would be strongly dealt with if they persisted on this course. He also referred to the various scams which have lowered the prestige of the country.

Others who spoke on the occasion included Beas MLA J.S. Dimpa, Dr Malti Thapar, Vijay Sathi, Mahesh Inder Singh Nihalsinghwala, A.S. Brar, Gurmeet Singh, Bhag Singh Sandhu, Joginderpal Jain, Ms Jagdarshan Kaur, Ms Bimal Kaur, Hari Singh Khai, and Ranwinder Singh.


Punjab Ministry okays Governor’s Address
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 12
The Punjab Council of Ministers today approved the Governor’s Address for the Vidhan Sabha Budget session beginning on March 15. Besides, six ordinances to be presented as Bills were also approved.

For the first time, the Governor’s Address will start and end with the playing of the National Anthem.

Immediately after the Governor’s Address, there will be obituary references and the House would adjourn till Tuesday morning when a vote-on-account would be presented after question hour and call-attention motions.

One of these motions pertains to the selection of DSPs under the sports quota.

The Akali Dal is preparing itself to raise this issue as well as the recent excise liquor vend auctions.

There will be a vote-on-account on March 16. The total requirement of funds for the next three months is around Rs. 6,783.67 crore. The regular Budget would be presented in June.

Among the Bills to be placed on the table of the House during the two-day session was one to amend the Punjabi University Act, 1961, and the Guru Nanak Dev University Act, 1969, for abolition of the posts of Pro-Vice Chancellor in the two universities.

The Council of Ministers also approved the conversion of the Punjab General Sales Tax (Amendment) Ordinance, 2004, the Punjab General Sales Tax (Second, third and fourth Amendment) Ordinances, 2004, into an Act.

The Ordinance on one-time voluntary disclosures and settlement of violations of the buildings constructed in violation of the building bylaws in the corporations and municipal committees and nagar panchayats into an Act will be placed before the House.


24 terrorists yet to be extradited: DGP
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 12
The Director General of Punjab Police, Mr A.A. Siddiqui, said efforts were on to get 24 hardcore terrorists, living in foreign countries, extradited and added that 140 companies of paramilitary forces had been demanded from the Centre for holding the forthcoming Lok Sabha poll in free and fair manner.

Mr Siddiqui, who was here to inaugurate Community Police Resource Centre (CPRC) in the District Administrative Complex (DAC), said help of the Interpol was also being taken to get these terrorists back in the country.

While addressing a press conference here today, he admitted that there was resentment among a section of IPS officers over the appointment of state cadre officers to key posts, including district police chiefs, but said he had given his advice over this issue to the Punjab government.

He, however, added that in the present system of the police administration, the state cadre officers were also needed to be accommodated.

He said recruitments in the Police Department were not being carried out as the state government had been facing financial crunch. Moreover, whenever a vacancy occurred, special police officers (SPOs), who were recruited in Punjab during militancy period, were being adjusted against the same.

When asked that how DSPs were recruited under the sports category, when the state had been facing financial crises, he said that only the government could make a comment on it.

When asked about the action being taken against nine police officers, to whom Mr Parkash Singh Badal alleged that they were biased against his party, Mr Siddiqui said the Election Commission should hold an inquiry into the allegations and he would take action according to its report.

He said he would write to Director General of Police (DGP), Rajasthan, in connection with shifting of those poppy husk vends, which had been running in those pockets of that state which were bordering Punjab, to far away places so that menace of smuggling could be checked effectively.


Ponty Chadha group rules the roost
Naveen S. Grewal & Kuldip Bhatia
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 12
A careful study of the post-auction scenario in liquor trade reveals that the two groups that managed to secure most licences in this largest revenue-earning district of Punjab have entered into partnership with smaller contractors already in the business. The only group that remains without any finger in the pie is the Garcha group (comprising two brothers Jagdish Singh and Man Singh).

This has satisfied most people who have been in liquor business but a mere 2.04 per cent increase in the auction amount has hurt the state exchequer. Even during the days of militancy, the state recorded a 7 per cent increase on an average. The marginal increases in the revenue earnings at Jalandhar, Amritsar and Ludhiana indicate only one thing — it’s Ponty Chadha all the way. If the conglomerate is not officially ruling the roost, it has assumed control of liquor trade by proxy.

Sources revealed to The Tribune that as far as its share in Ludhiana’s liquor trade is concerned, Ponty Chadha’s outfit not only holds the lion’s share of over 65 per cent out of the total projected revenue of Rs 230.36 crore but also around 60 per cent of the vends allotted to another group at Rs 77.75 crore. There was speculation about the Randhawa-Chhabra group, which came into being immediately before the commencement of the auction. But it is now established that Randhawa happens to be a nominee of the Ponty Chadha group.

With the ouster of the Garcha group from liquor trade, the clock has come full circle and it is getting the treatment of its own medicine. A local liquor contractor commented that what the Garchas did to others was being done to them. “Eliminating competition, intimidation of contractors who failed to fall in line was an everyday affair for the group, which remained the undisputed king of liquor trade till the arrival of Ponty Chadha”.

It may be recalled that during the Akali-BJP regime, it was the tiff between the then Punjab Excise and Taxation Minister, Mr Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, and his brother-in-law, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, that made the former bring Mr Chadha to Punjab to oust the Garchas, believed to be strong supporters of Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal who were virtually in control of liquor trade in the state.

After the Congress Government was voted to power in Punjab, the Garchas tried to make amends with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. Mr Man Singh Garcha, who looked after liquor trade, was even seen congratulating Capt. Amarinder Singh on his birthday at Motibagh in Patiala.

For the Garchas, it is a “tit for tat” policy the current government is following. During the auctions held in the Akali-BJP regime, the government had ensured that neither Mr Chadha nor anyone associated with him got even a single licence. The Congress has now done the same with the Garchas.

As the state government did not want to rub every liquor contractor the wrong way, it allowed the realignment of contractors, necessitated by circumstances leading to a chance in change in the post-auction scenario. While the Garcha group claimed that barring the Chhabras, all other major partners of the group had been forced out of business, trade circles refuted the charge.

Inquiries revealed that more than 12 partners of the erstwhile Garcha-Chhabra group had rallied round the Chhabras, placing their resources and premises at the disposal of the new group. Besides Mr Kewal Chhabra and Mr Harish Chhabra, the new group of contractors included Mr Om Prakash Johar, Mr Naresh Kumar, Mr Deep Malhotra, Mr Sanjeev Walia, Mr Rajinder Grewal, Mr Kuldip Singh, Mr Kilwant Sidhu, Mr Arun Kumar, Dewan Vinod Kumar, Mr Rakesh Gandhi, Mr Jai Parkash and Mr K.L. Arora.


‘Spokesman’ Editor to challenge excommunication
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 12
Challenging the authority of Sikh clergy to excommunicate him from Sikhism, Chief Editor of the ‘Spokesman’ Joginder Singh today claimed that he would file two petition against the action. One would be filed in the “court of Gurmat-knowing Sikhs”. The other in the court of law. “If the Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, has done something, he must defend his action in the court,” he insisted.

Addressing a press conference this morning, the Editor said a “representative meeting” had also been called at Chandigarh on April 11 for chalking out programmes aimed at liberating the Akal Takht from the clutches of clergy”.

The meeting, he claimed, would be attended by representatives from all over the country. It would be addressed by Canada-based writer Gurbakhsh Singh Kala Afghana.

The other speakers at the conference alleged that Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) president Gurcharan Singh Tohra’s hand in action against the Editor. They also alleged the involvement of the RSS in the decision to excommunicate him.

The Editor claimed that the “Sikh clergy was not vested with the authority to excommunicate anyone from the Panth. The Guru had placed an embargo on them and no one could lift that embargo. In fact, the Guru had rejected this Brahmnical practice altogether.... Sikhism did not vest this authority with any member of the clergy even if he was holding any office at a ‘Takht’ or at any other place of worship”.

Even “early-age religions” had discarded this “outdated practice”. By taking recourse to this medieval practice, the Sikh clergy had only brought disgrace to the Sikh Panth”, he said.

Blaming the clergy for misusing the name of Akal Takht, the Editor said rivals of ‘Spokesman’ could have been behind his excommunication. “By directing the Sikhs not to extend any patronage to ‘Spokesman’, the clergy has given a clear indication that they had been influenced by someone to stall the onward march of this popular Sikh magazine owned by a public limited company. It is also a case of misusing the name of religion for curbing the freedom of press”.

He added that the high priests were dancing to a political party’s tune and were serving the interests of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal).

The Editor concluded that the clergy was not above law. “There was no provision in Sikh religion whereby a priest serving at a particular place could be declared above law. It was in their own interest to defend their action or retrace their steps gracefully”.


Deputy Speaker demands cancellation of exams
District Magistrate orders magisterial probe
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 12
Even as Mr K.A.P. Sinha, District Magistrate, has ordered a magisterial probe into the facilitation of copying to the wards of VVIPs in the annual examination in a local school allegedly by invigilators, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, demanded that all exams held so far in that particular centre should be cancelled.

“I will write to the Education Minister, Punjab to cancel all exams held so far in that particular centre where wards of VVIPs have been helped in copying for the exams by a section of invigilators. I will also urge the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to take cognisance of the incident and initiate appropriate action against those invigilators and district education authorities,” said Mr Bir Devinder Singh while talking to TNS from Patiala today morning.

The copying scandal had dented the image of Punjab government, which had been claiming that it would check the menace of copying and would provide clean administration. Such happenings should be dealt with sternly and everyone involved in it should be given exemplary punishment, he said. He added that he was not going to spare those, who had been helping the “blessed ones” in their annual examination at the cost of those, who were “voiceless” in the prevailing system.

In one of the two examination centres set up at the local S.S.D. Senior Secondary School, where the wards of VVIPs have been taking annual exams of plus two class, a section of invigilators have been harassing ordinary students so as to help in copying to the wards of VVIPs.

A student, son of an advocate, was allegedly stripped in the examination centre when he refused to give his answer sheet to the invigilator for copying to a ward of VVIP on March 9. Though the matter was brought into the knowledge of Mr Wazir Chand, Controller of Exams, he was not being allowed to enter into the examination centre.

Mr Sinha said that he had asked the local SDM to complete his magisterial probe within a week from today. He said that action would be taken against the invigilators or others if they were found guilty of facilitating the copying to the wards of VVIPs.

Meanwhile, Mr Jaideep Nayyar, secretary of the school, said that school teachers and school management was not involved in any way in the examination process being held at the school premises.


Board to probe copying
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 12
The Punjab School Education Board Chairman today ordered a probe into the alleged copying incident that took place during a ten plus two examination at SSD Senior Secondary School, Bathinda, yesterday. Schoolteachers were allegedly helping VVIP students to cheat during the physics examination.

The Chairman of the board, Dr Kehar Singh, told The Tribune that he had deputed a senior board official to visit the centre to inquire into the incident and file a report following which action would be initiated against those found guilty.

‘‘The official will visit the centre to check the conduct of the next examination,’’added Mrs Narinder Kaur, Controller of Examinations, board.

Meanwhile, flooded with reports of mass copying and external interference in some other examination centres across Punjab, the Controller of Examinations today issued the first list of Class X and XII examinations that had been cancelled as a result.

The exams cancelled include the history examination of Class XII held at National College Bhikhi, Mansa, on March 3; chemistry examination of Class XII held at Government Senior Secondary School, Block-I, Mehta Nangal, on March 5; chemistry examination of Class XII held at Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Bada Pind-I, Jalandhar, on March 5; mathematics examination of Class XII held at Government Senior Secondary School, Nangal Lubhana, on March 9; English examination of Class X held at Government Senior Secondary School Patto Heera Singh, Moga, on March 10; English examination of Class X held at Kamla Nehru Kanya Senior Secondary School, Nihal Singhwala-I, on March 10; English examination of Class X held at Government Senior Secondary School, Valtoha-I (B-I), Valtoha-II (B-III), Amritsar, on March 10; English examination of Class X held at Government Kanya High School, Valtoha-III, Amritsar, on March 10; English examination of Class X held at Government Senior Secondary School, Bhikhiwind II, Amritsar, on March 10.


This spidergirl is for real
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, March 12
Renu Kumari, a 10-year-old school student of this city, has successfully developed a rare talent of climbing a straight wall up to a height of 35 feet without any help or fear just like the comic book hero — Spiderman.

Daughter of Gurbachan Singh, who is himself a renowned mountaineer of Punjab and an employee of the Punjab Police, Renu, stuns spectators by climbing any straight “pucca” wall effortlessly and can go up to 35 feet within a few seconds.

Talking to The Tribune, a confident Renu, who is an athlete, said she acquired the art of wall climbing under the guidance and inspiration of her father. She claimed that she was the only girl in her age group to have achieved this feat in the North. “My father has been teaching me the art of wall and chimney climbing for past six months. I don’t use a rope or any other tool while the climbing wall”, said Renu Kumari, while exhibiting her skills.

“I decided to teach her this art when I noticed her ability about six months back. Now she can climb a straight wall with help of just her bare hands and feet and can go up to a height of 35 feet. She can go even higher during performing the chimney-climbing act,” said Gurbachan Singh, who was one of six-member Punjab Police mountaineering, expedition, led by IG Mr P.M. Dass, which successfully climbed the 6000-feet high Lampak Peak in Garhwal in 2002. “I want to be another PT Usha,” said Renu, who is a class V student at the DAV School (Arya Samaj) here, when asked about her dreams and future plans.


Face to Face
Patiala Lok Sabha seat
I have earned nomination
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 12
For Ms Preneet Kaur, who is better known as the “Maharani” in Patiala city and constituency, the forthcoming election is one in which she feels she has earned her nomination by right due to her hard work. Daughter of an ICS officer and educated at Chelsea and St. Bedes in Shimla, the 59-year-old incumbent, who won the Patiala seat on her entry into politics, wants to be more known as a people’s ‘princess’ due to the effort she takes to strike a chord with the common man. The following is an excerpt from an interview with the Congress MP.

Q: What has been your single biggest contribution as an MP?

A: Managing to get the Ghaggar project approved by the Central Water Commission (CWC). I feel as a member of the Ghaggar committee, my persistent efforts resulted in the CWC giving a no-objection certificate to the project. As much as Rs 33 crore is expected to be spent on flood control measures before the rains this year, while the second phase of the Rs 144-crore project will start after that.

Q: How was your term different from those of others?

A: Besides spending every penny of the MP grant, I was involved in planning a number of projects for Patiala as well as other assembly segments of the constituency. These were put up before the government and passed. Something major has been done for each constituency — be it a Rs 127-crore sewerage project for Patiala, a link road for Banur, or a bridge for Rajpura or flood control works for the Ghanaur and Shatrana assembly segments.

Q: In the last election you were riding the crest of an anti-incumbency wave. Does this hold true even now?

A: I suppose this is always a small factor. Some things can be done and some cannot. But I have tried to reach out the people at both macro and micro levels. Also I feel the Congress government has done much more during the last nearly two years than the akalis did in the same period. We also have smooth procurement, satisfactory power position and 24-hour power supply to rural areas to our credit.

Q: Will Congress infighting affect your chances of victory? Rajpura legisaltor Raj Khurana is bitter for being sidelined, while Public Health Minister Jasjit Singh Randhawa has openly sided with dissidents during the recent crisis in the party.

A: I do not have any problem with Jasjit. I really do not know about anyone else. However, I believe none will actively work against the party. People vote for the party and do not get swayed completely by individuals.

Q: Why are you relying on family members and not Congress workers as campaign managers in different constituencies?

A: Every voter likes to be approached by the candidate or a family member of the candidate. In this manner the voter feels he is in direct contact with the candidate.


I want to be people’s voice
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 12
A student of Yadavindra Public School (YPS) which was established by the father-in-law of Congress candidate Preneet Kaur whom he opposes from the Patiala parliamentary seat, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate Capt Kanwaljit Singh has always been projected as being “different” from traditional Akali leaders. Sauve and sophisticated, Capt Kanwaljit Singh is the son of former Pepsu State minister Dara Singh. He hopes to be the “voice of Punjab” at the Centre, besides being instrumental in “affecting a change in government in the state” after the parliamentary elections. The following are excerpts from an interview with the 61-year-old leader who is also a legislator from Banur.

Q: What made you take the plunge? You already represent Banur in the state assembly.

A: Two reasons. Punjab needs a strong parliamentarian to represent its case. The attention of the Central Government and the people of the country need to be focused on issues and problems of the state. So far Punjab’s case has not been articulated in the corridors of power in Delhi. There is also the need for a regional party to have an effective representative at the Centre.

Q: On what are you basing your chances of victory in the constituency?

A: Factors which will work for me include my personal reputation as a dedicated Akali worker, my effectiveness in administrative and political matters and my easy accessibility to the people. My contribution to the state includes the setting up of the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) despite official resistance during the last government. The other factors include the desire of the people to see Atal Bihari Vajpayee as Prime Minister and the failure of the Amarinder-led government on the issue of development and employment generation.

Q: Do you feel facing the Chief Minister’s wife in the election is the biggest challenge in your political career?

A: It will be an interesting contest but practically it will evolve into a contest between the Chief Minister and me. I am very optimistic.

Q: What about the CM’s statement that you are not known outside Banur?

A: First of all I will laugh at it. I suggest he resign and seek re-election against me to check out his boast.

Q: What about friction in the party, particularly statements made by former SAD MP Prem Singh Chandumajra alleging SGPC president Gurcharan Singh Tohra was instrumental in fielding a “weak” candidate?

A: I am a candidate of the SAD and the BJP. My aim is to defeat the Congress and affect a major political change in the post-election scenario which includes affecting a change in government in Punjab.


Cong, SAD start poll campaign
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 12
As the Congress and SAD had announced their candidates for the Ropar (reserved) constituency, both the candidates today started their election campaign with much fanfare after paying obeisance at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib.

The SAD organised its first rally at the BZSFS Senior Secondary School ground which was presided over by Mr G.S.Tohra, president of the SGPC.

The Congress started its campaign by organising a series of rallies at Peer Jain, Sirhind and Bassi Pathana towns arranged by Dr Harbans Lal, MLA, and addressed by Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo and other senior Congress leaders.

Addressing the SAD rally, Mr Tohra and other party leaders appreciated the administrative qualities of Mr Vajpayee and lashed out at Ms Sonia Gandhi as well as Capt Amarinder Singh, Punjab Chief Minister. Mr Tohra said the SAD-BJP alliance would sweep all seats in the state.

Addressing the Congress rally Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, party candidate, lashed out at the NDA government as well as the SAD.


Mann announces Sangrur candidate
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 12
Akali Dal (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann today announced the candidature of Gurnam Singh Aulakh, a person who he claimed to be a victim of “police repression” after Operation Bluestar, for the Sangrur parliamentary seat.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Mann said his party would present a third alternative to the people of the state.

Mr Mann, while speaking about the rath yatra being taken out by Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani, said it would only result in a communal divide in the state. He said Punjabis would not tolerate this kind of activity in their state. He said the rath yatra would have an adverse effect on the electoral prospects of the SAD BJP combine.


Cancel auctions, BJP urges EC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 12
The Punjab BJP has urged the Election Commission of India to cancel the auction of liquor vends in the state.

In a detailed representation made to the commission today the BJP alleged the ruling Congress had collected a huge amount by favouring particular liquor contractors during the auction.

Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, President of the state BJP, alleged that the amount so collected would be used by the Congress to lure voters.

The BJP also asked the commission to look into the recent police transfers in Punjab.


MLA threatening me, says DTO
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, March 12
The local District Transport Officer, Mr Manmohan Luthra, in a complaint lodged with the SSP, has accused the local MLA, Mr Prakash Singh, and the president of the municipal council, Mr Lalit Mohan Pathak, of threatening to kill him.

Mr Luthra said in his complaint that on Thursday morning he received a call on his mobile phone from the MLA regarding disposal of a traffic challan of a relative of a Congress councillor, which he disposed off by imposing a minimum fine of Rs 3000 for plying of a vehicle as taxi. But around 4.30 p.m. Mr Parkash Singh and Mr Pathak started talking about the way of disposal of traffic challan and the penalty thereon and threatened him of dire consequences. Mr Luthra also said that he had already reported the threats and interference in his official work by Pathak but had not been looked into by the Police Department. He has urged the SSP to provide him adequate security.

Mr Parkash Singh denied allegations of the DTO and said we had asked him not to harass the public and ‘advised’ him to give up his ‘corrupt practices’.


Badal blames Cong for Operation Bluestar
Tribune News Service

Amarkot (Amritsar), March 12
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, SAD, today held the Congress responsible for Operation Bluestar. Addressing an election rally at Amarkot in Amritsar district, he blamed the Congress for the Partition which resulted in massacre of Hindus and Sikhs. It was Punjab which had suffered the most at that time.

He also visited the residence of the BJP councillor, Dr Renu Goel, to address the intellectuals’ meet. Mr Badal said the SAD base was being expanded with the induction of more Hindus. He pointed out that Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, a former Akali minister, had joined the party in 1960 and Mr Ramesh Singla, a former MLA, had recently joined the SAD.

Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, a former Local Bodies Minister, was also present at the meeting. Addressing a rural gathering, the SAD chief alleged that the militancy was the creation of the Congress.


2 labourers killed as wall gives way
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 12
Two labourers were killed when the retaining wall of a basement in the State Bank of Patiala headquarters here collapsed this afternoon.

Keshav and Vinod were killed when the newly constructed retaining wall gave way. While Vinod was a resident of the Tripuri township in the city, Keshav hailed from Ghaziabad. Both were declared dead on arrival at Government Rajindra Hospital. The incident occurred at around 3 p.m.

Police officials who visited the spot said that prima facie it seemed that negligence by the contractor had caused the mishap and a case would be registered in this regard. Inspector Krishan Kuman Panthey, who reached the spot, said it seemed safety norms were not followed during the construction of the retaining wall. A mere 9-inch retaining wall was being constructed by the contractor, which did not seem to be sufficient to withstand the pressure on it.


17 injured as bus tyre bursts
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 12
Seventeen passengers were injured when a Himachal roadways bus (HP-20-2914) going from Una to Hardwar met with an accident near Ragilpur village on the Ropar-Chandigarh road today. The bus overturned when its front tyre burst and the driver lost control of the vehicle.

Two persons coming from the opposite direction on a scooter also lost control and received minor injuries. The injured were shifted to the Ropar civil hospital. Four bus passengers received serious injuries while others were discharged after first-aid.

Those injured were Haripal Singh, Mandeep, Yograj Singh, the driver of the bus, belonging to Una, Satish Kumar of Una, Santosh of Nangal, H.P. Bhardwaj and Neelam of Chandigarh, Simranjit Kaur of Ropar, Krishan Gopal of Una, Manjit Kaur of Ropar, Asha of Anandpur Sahib, Dinesh Devedi of Bass village, near Nangal, Jaggivan Kumar of Una, Rajinder Mohan of Anandpur Sahib, Chander Shekhar, Sukhdev Singh and Rupinder Kaur of Ropar.


Freedom fighter Jagan Nath dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 12
Lala Jagan Nath, a freedom fighter and advocate, died after a brief illness at his home town, Moga, today, he was 97.

Described as a multi-facet personality, Lala Jagan Nath not only participated in the freedom struggle but also founded several centres of learning for women. He also devoted himself for the uplift of the weaker sections.

He was born at Salina village, near Moga, on December 16, 1906. After completing his BA (Honours) and LL.B. from Panjab University in Lahore, he started legal practice in 1930 in Moga and Ferozepore. At that time there were just 14 lawyers, who pleaded cases before a single Subdivisional Officer. He specialised in civil matters.

sFor taking part in the Quit India Movement, he spent three years in the Multan Central Jail. He also tried keeping alive the memory of freedom fighters from his area and set up the Lala Lajpat Rai Memorial Trust. He founded the S.D. School for Girls in 1943, which was upgraded to a college after Independence, and A.D. School and College in Dharamkot. He has five sons and four daughters, though only one of them pursued law.


Keep close to Punjabi ethos, state’s Hindi writers told
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 12
Noted Hindi writers who gathered here to take part in one-day seminar on Contemporary Hindi Literature of Punjab held at the Conference Hall of Guru Nanak Dev University were of the view that Hindi writers of Punjab had lost their identity. Despite their commendable contribution they were not being recognised today by the mainstream of Hindi literature. Dr Manmohan Sehgal, a Hindi writer, presented the keynote address.

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, preside over the seminar, said that if Hindi writers of Punjab wanted to have identity at the national level they would have to produce literature without detaching themselves from the Punjabi culture. He recounted that contemporary Hindi literature of Punjab did not enjoy the same status as that of before 1947.

The Vice-Chancellor on this occasion also released three volumes of autobiography of Dr Manmohan Sehgal edited by Dr Harmohinder Singh Bedi and Dr Naresh Mittal. ‘Sahit: Rachna aur Sandarbh’ written by Dr Neelam Sethi and a departmental journal ‘Pradhakrit’.

Dr Sudha Malhotra, a Reader of the Department presented a paper on the contributions of Dr Manmohan Sehgal. Dr Harmohinder Singh Bedi, Professor and co-ordinator of the seminar said that Guru Nanak Dev University had prepared a dictionary of Hindi writers of Punjab. He said the University had already bestowed a fellowship upon a Hindi writer, Dr Suresh Seth in recognition of his contribution to the Hindi literature.


Sandhu asks CM to clarify stand on Ajit Singh Poohla
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 12
Col G.S. Sandhu, Chairperson, Poohla Eviction Committee, and uncle of Capt Bikramjit Singh, OSD to the Chief Minister, today asked Capt Amarinder Singh to clarify his position on having directed the authorities to release of Tarna Dal Chief Ajit Singh Poohla, involved in many serious cases of crime in the area.

Tarna Dal Chief Ajit Singh Poohla reportedly had stated in a press statement that he was released within a few hours of his arrest with the intervention of the Chief Minister.

In a press conference here yesterday Col Sandhu said that he feared that if the Chief Minister was involved in his release. It was indeed a bad precedent. He said the imposition of 144 CrPC in Pahuwind village here favoured Nihang chief who allegedly had grabbed the Bhai Taru Singh Gurdwara.


SGPC to ‘liberate’ gurdwara from Poohla
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 12
The SGPC today threatened to liberate Shaheed Bhai Taroo Singh Gurdwara at Poohla village from the possession of the countroversial” Nihang chief, Baba Ajit Singh Poohla.

Mr Alwinderpal Singh Pakhoke, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur and Mr Onkar Singh Sharifpura, all office-bearers of the SGPC, stated that the SGPC would not tolerate the interference of the state government and Baba Ajit Singh Poohla in the management of the Sikh shrines.


High Court
Court comes to rescue of kidney patient
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 12
Coming to the rescue of a kidney patient, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, headed by the Chief Justice, Mr Justice B.K. Roy, today asked the Authorisation Committee to expeditiously consider the matter.

In his application, the patient’s husband, Mr Onkar Nath, had earlier alleged harassment from all quarters. The applicant had claimed that he had to run from pillar to post for getting an affidavit attested in connection with the transplant operation.

The authorities, he claimed, had expressed their unwillingness to attest the affidavit “on the pretext” that a writ petition regarding the alleged kidney scam was pending before the court.

He further submitted that terror caused by the petition was evident from the fact that the doctors and hospital authorities, instead of acting on humanitarian grounds, preferred to “escape” to avoid controversy.

Quashing of tender notice sought

Taking up a petition alleging a loss of Rs 2 crore to the state of Punjab in the purchase of chlorinators for tubewells, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion.

The Bench comprising Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar and Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall also fixed March 16 as the next date in the matter. Seeking directions for quashing a tender notice for the purchase of chlorinators, city-based firm Engineers and Associates had earlier contended that its rate was the lowest, yet another firm was favoured in an illegal and arbitrary manner.

The petitioner had asserted that there was a difference of 40 per cent between its rate and the one quoted by the other firm. The organisation added that the copy of the decision in the other firm’s favour was not even handed over to it.

Recovery stayed in teachers’ case

Issuing notice of motion on a petition filed by 122 headmasters, headmistresses and principals of government senior secondary schools in Hoshiarpur district against the withdrawal of administrative allowance, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has stayed the recovery.

In their petition, Mr Jai Singh and others had claimed that the amount was ordered to be withdrawn retrospectively. Counsel for the petitioners had contended that the action was arbitrary.


570 liquor shops fetch Rs 122.15 cr
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 12
As many as 570 liquor vends (478 vends of Punjab-made liquor and 92 vends of India made foreign liquor) of the district were today auctioned for Rs 122.15 crore for the financial year 2004-05. Last year, these vends had been auctioned for Rs 119.70 crore, thus registering a meagre increase of Rs 2.45 crore this year. Today’s auction was conducted by Mr I.S. Chahal, Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Patiala Division, here.

Mr Chahal said during the past two years, the district had seen 10 per cent increase every year, but this year the increase was restricted just to 2.35 per cent.

No mediaperson was allowed to witness the auction. Mr Chahal claimed entry of mediapersons could not be possible due to a flaw in the excise policy. Mr Chahal said liquor vends of eight excise circles, Sangrur, Lehragaga, Sunam, Dirba, Longowal, Dhuri, Sherpur and Bhawanigarh had been auctioned for Rs 66.91 crore while remaining seven excise circles of the Sangrur district, Barnala, Dhanaula, Tapa, Mehal Kalan, Malerkotla, Ahmedgarh and Amargarh were auctioned for Rs 55.24 crore for the financial year 2004-05.


SSP orders probe into cheating case
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 12
Five persons of two families, including an NRI woman have been charged with duping Surjit Singh of Domeli village of Rs 12 lakh’ on the plea of sending him to Canada but instead kept him shuttling between Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore before he returned to India. On a complaint of builder Harjit Singh, father of Surjit Singh, Kapurthala SSP S.K. Asthana has marked the enquiry against the five, including the NRI, Joginder Kaur, her son, Ravinder Singh of Domeli village, and their relatives Balwinder Singh his wife, Davinder Kaur, and son, Satnam Singh, of Phillaur.

The complainant alleged that Joginder Kaur had trapped him by telling him that Balwinder Singh was sending her son to Canada and that the complainant should also avail of the opportunity for his son. He gave the passport and Rs 50,000 initially to Balwinder and made the remaining payment in instalments. His son was kept at a deserted place as a captive in Indonesia from August 2001 to August 2002.

Meanwhile, when Joginder Kaur, who had left for Canada, was contacted she promised to take up the issue with Balwinder when she returned. But after she came back she did nothing.

The complainant presented audio/video cassettes about the case as a proof in this connection. He alleged that he and his family were being threatened with dire consequences by Balwinder.


Constable booked for NRI’s escape

Moga, March 12
The Punjab Police has alerted airports and police stations to prevent the escape of an NRI, based in Canada, who was recently arrested for allegedly committing fraud but two days back he escaped from the Civil Hospital here where he had been admitted.

SSP M.S. Chhinna told reporters here today that airports and police stations had been alerted to prevent the escape from country of NRI Harbir Singh, who originally belonged to Jaisinghwala village under Baghapurana Police Station in the district.

He said that a fresh case for escaping had been registered against Harbir Singh and of negligence against a police constable who was on duty with the NRI at the hospital.

Harbir Singh had been admitted to the hospital due to some stomach trouble since February 17 and escaped from the hospital on this Wednesday night, the police said. An enquiry had been entrusted to Deputy Superintendent of Police, Moga city, Mr Chhinna added.

The accused NRI, against whom a fraud and forgery case was registered in March 2002, had fled to Canada and then again came to his native village last month from where the police arrested him on February 9.

After the police remand expiry he was sent to judicial custody and since February 17 he was in Moga jail. Harbir was admitted to Moga civil hospital. When one of the policemen was away for dinner on Wednesday the accused managed to escape from the hospital. — PTI


2 brothers kidnapped, looted
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 12
Two brothers, Tejinder Singh and Karanbir Singh of local Fateh Singh Nagar, were kidnapped, thrashed and looted last nigh. They were hospitalised here.

Both of them were going on their scooter towards Hoshiarpur when some jeep-borne persons wielding sharp-edged weapons and baseball bats forcibly took them away in their jeep near Khati village on Phagwara-Hoshiarpur road. They later threw the victims out near Ramgarh village after looting them. A gold chain, cellphone, and a purse containing some cash and their vehicle was taken away . A case has been registered.


SDO sentenced
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 12
The Special Judge, Ropar, Mr S.K. Goel, has sentenced Baldev Singh Gill, SDO Irrigation Department, Punjab, to two-year imprisonment and imposed a fine for Rs 5,000 in a corruption case.

The SDO was booked by the Vigilance Bureau on November 2, 1993, on charges of corruption and possessing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.

A case under Sections 13 (1) and 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered against him.


District Health officer arrested for graft
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 12
The Vigilance Bureau yesterday arrested District Health Officer, Gurdaspur, Dr Satnam Singh Basra for being in possession of Rs 22,000 as bribe money.

According to Senior Superintendent of Police (Vigilance) Dilbagh Singh Gill, Harpreet Singh, a resident of Ludhiana, had approached Dr Basra to issue a fake birth certificate for his uncle Lakhwinder Singh living in the USA.

Mr Gill said that Dr Basra had demanded Rs 50,000 for the certificate, but deal was struck at Rs 22,000. However, he informed the VB and gave marked notes to the doctor which were recovered by the raiding party led by DSP Kashmir Singh, from his residence in the officers colony in Gurdaspur. A case has been registered.


9 kg of opium seized, 2 held
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 12
The district police yesterday seized over 9 kg of opium from two persons between Hari Nau village and Kasimbhatti under police station Kotkapura in this district. The two have been identified as Nihal Khan of Dhani Foldi village and Raj Kumar of Lohavat village Jodhpur district, Rajasthan. A case under Section 18/61/85, NDPS Act, has been registered against them.

Mr Kulshinder Singh, SSP, Faridkot, today said that, on a tip off, a police party led by Sub Inspector Janak Singh laid a naka between both the villages and stopped a Mahindra Jeep (RJ-19-IC-3897). After search the police seized a plastic bag full of the opium laying in a tool box under the driver’s seat. During interrogation both accused admitted that they had been visiting this area for the past many months to sell the drug.


Munshi held for graft
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, March 12
The Village Bureau has arrested Harkesh Kumar, Munshi posted at Khunder Utar Police Post for accepting a bribe of Rs 1500/- from Jeet Singh son of Krishan Singh for releasing his nephew Piara Singh, earlier rounded up by the police in a case of gambling.

Mr Inderjit Singh Randhawa SSP Vigilance said that the Munshi was arrested while accepting the bribe by a team by DSP Ravinder Singh in presence of government witness Resham Singh ADO and Janak Raj Clerk in the Treasury Office.


Boy kidnapped

Hoshiarpur, March 12
A case of kidnapping of a four-year-old boy was reported from Kapahat village at Hariana police station yesterday. According to police sources, Pankhan, son of Subedar Khan of Khera Hasanpur of Uttar Pradesh, presently residing at Kapahat village, stated in his complaint that three scooter-borne persons came to his jhuggi in his absence and kidnapped his son ,Irfarn. — OC


Junior beaten up, 3 engg students suspended
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 12
Dr P.K. Bansal, Principal, Giani Zail Singh College of Engineering and Technology (GZSCET), Bathinda, has suspended three students of fourth year from college and hostel for their alleged involvement in brutally beating up a first-year student Gagandeep Singh on March 9 in the college campus.

Official sources said that Gagandeep Singh was brutally beaten up by four identified and many other unidentified students when the victim refused to give them a chair in the canteen.

Gagandeep Singh was saved by some other students and admitted to local Civil Hospital. He was still under shock. The police had registered the matter in its DDR on the complaint lodged by him.

Dr Bansal said that four students, were suspended from the hostel and college on the basis of a preliminary inquiry. He added that an inquiry committee had been constituted to conduct a comprehensive probe and appropriate action would be taken according to its report.

Meanwhile, the accused were seen roaming in the college campus.


GND varsity’s Jashan starts
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 12
As many as 22 teams of different departments of Guru Nanak Dev University participated in an inter-departmental cultural competition Jashan-2004, which opened at the university’s Dasmesh Auditorium here today.

These teams took part in geet, gazal, folk songs, western songs, solo shabad and bhajan and western group dance contests. Dr R.K. Bedi, Dean (Students Welfare), said that more than 800 students from 35 departments of the varsity were participating in various dance, fine art, music, minicry, theatre contests.

Earlier, Mr Paramjit Singh Gill, DIG, Border Range, inaugurated the competition, while Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, presided over the programme.

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