P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


CM promises relief to victims of canal breach
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 7
Following an aerial survey of canal breach-hit villages in Rampura Phul, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today stated that the affected farmers would be fully compensated after a special girdawari.

Promising strict action against the guilty, he said the Secretary, Irrigation, would hold an inquiry into the causes of double breach that submerged wheat and potato crop on 2,500 acres apart from damaging 157 houses of poor in Phul town.

Interacting with mediapersons at Dhipali village, the Chief Minister said the affected farmers would be given due compensation from the state’s calamity relief fund.

He said the work on micro hydel project, alleged negligence in which is being blamed for the tragedy, will not restart till the completion of the inquiry into the matter. Regarding the poor quality of sand and bricks used in raising the level of canal, he said he could not comment on it right now, but assured that every aspect will be looked into.

He asked the officials concerned to deploy police so that no material was moved from the site to affect the inquiry. As the Army’s help was sought in plugging a major breach measuring 110 ft, the Chief Minister also met the Army officials who supervised the entire operation. The officials told that 14 JCOs and 160 other Army personnel started the work early this morning. The situation was controlled by 11 am.

Capt Amarinder Singh and Rampura Phul MLA Gupreet Singh Kangar lauded the Army for its excellent work.

On the other hand, the villagers pointed out many loopholes in the alterations made in the canal for the construction of micro hydel project and blamed the officials and contractors concerned for the same. T.P.S Dhillon, a farmer from Harnamsinghwala village, claimed they had told the officials about the poor quality of sand being used in raising the level of canal, but their pleas fell on 
deaf ears.

Interestingly, he said to some extent the farmers themselves were to be blamed for it, as they kept mum because the contractors were buying ‘tibbas’ (sand dewn) from them only. “They were getting money in lieu of their redundant tibbas and their fields were also getting leveled at the same time”, he added.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rahul Bhandari, told that the case for compensation to people whose houses had been damaged had been sent for the approval of the Election Commission.


Heartburning in SAD
Revolt, if Babaehali given ticket: Para
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, January 7
The entry of Milkfed Chairman Gurbachan Singh Babaehali into SAD with the speculation that he would be given SAD ticket from Gurdaspur constituency has triggered revolt among party workers. The hot contenders for SAD ticket from Gurdaspur Mr Gurmeet Singh Para, son of former SAD MLA from the area Mr Kartar Singh Para, Mr Amarjeet Singh Chahal and Hardyal Singh Gajni, held a press conference here to oppose the move to allot party ticket from Gurdaspur to Mr Gurbachan Singh.

While talking to mediapersons Mr Kartar Singh Para said if the SAD decided to allot party ticket to Mr Gurbachan Singh then they would be left with no option but to oppose him the forthcoming elections. The SAD should desist from giving party ticket to a new person. It should rather give party ticket to any of the old workers of the party.

They alleged that the trend of Congressmen switching over to SAD and being allotted the party ticket was demoralising the workers of the party. Earlier, Chairman of the Batala Improvement Trust who joined SAD just about a month ago was allotted the party ticket from Quadian.

Mr Gurbachan Singh, PPCC general secretary and former district president of the Congress, joined the SAD yesterday in the presence of the party president, Mr Prakash Singh Badal, at Chandigarh.

Mr Gurbachan Singh had been staking claim on Congress ticket from Gurdaspur Assembly constituency. He also organised rallies against the sitting MLA, Mr Khushal Behl, to prove his strength and stake claim on party ticket from Gurdaspur. Mr Khushal Behl wants party ticket for his son Raman Behl, president of Gurdaspur municipal council. To pacify the dissident activities of Gurbachan Singh the party re-appointed him on the post of Chairman of Milkfed about two months ago.

However, sources here told that after the chances of Mr Gurbachan getting party ticket from Gurdaspur became bleak, he approached the SAD leadership.

According to sources Mr Gurbachan Singh has been promised SAD ticket from Gurdaspur Assembly constituency. He, however, declined to comment on the issue. He said “I have joined the SAD unconditionally.”

Mr Gurbachan Singh has following in Gurdaspur and Kanuwan constituencies and his joining the SAD might affect the Congress party’s prospects in Kanuwan constituency represented by the PWD and Education Minister, Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa.

Meanwhile, according to sources the state leadership of the Congress was trying to persuade P.S Bhinder, former DGP and husband of late MP Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, to contest from Gurdaspur. Mr Bhinder neither denied nor accepted that he was ready to contest on Congress ticket from Gurdaspur Assembly constituency. He has also not yet applied for party ticket. However, when asked he said, “lot of time is left for nominations to be filed. Just wait and watch the developments.”


Bhai Kukku to fight as Independent
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, January 7
Winds of rebellion have started blowing in the SAD. Former SAD MLA Bhai Harnirpal Singh Kukku today announced that he would fight the Assembly elections from Muktsar constituency as an Independent candidate. The party has given ticket to Mr Sukhdarshan Singh Marar who had switched his loyalty on more than one occasion in the past.

Kukku has become second SAD rebel candidate to have announced his independent candidature in the last 24 hours.

Earlier, former MLA Mr Makhan Singh had declared his candidature from Pakka Kalan Assembly seat in Bathinda after the party gave ticket to Mr Darshan Singh Kotfatta. Ironically, the scenario was exactly opposite in the last Assembly elections when Bhai Kukku was the SAD candidate and Marar contested polls as a rebel candidate.

Talking to The Tribune, Bhai Kukku said he had reached this decision after a meeting with his relatives and supporters.

He rued that the party chose a turncoat over a loyal soldier.

He said he had been associated with the party for the past many years and his brother Bhai Shaminder Singh lost his life while contesting elections for the party. He said he had first right on the party ticket from Muktsar. He said people of the constituency were shocked at the party’s decision and they would vote in his favour.

Meanwhile, Bhai Kukku’s supporters, who were holding some posts in the party organisation, have reportedly submitted their resignations.

Political observers here opined that Bhai Kukku would certainly make a dent in the SAD’s vote bank, particularly in urban areas and even some pockets of Malout Assembly seat.


Punjab Police transfers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 7
As the full-bench of the Election Commission of India is to start its two-day visit to Punjab tomorrow, the Punjab Government in a late night move, transferred 10 IPS officers, including one IG of Zone and SSPs of three districts tonight. Another 25 Punjab Police Services (PPS) officers in the rank of SP and more than 70 DSP-level officials have also been shifted.

Among the IPS officers the transfer of IG, Rajinder Singh of Faridkot Zone, and three SSPs Mr H.S. Chahal (Sangrur), Mr Surinder Pal Singh (Gurdaspur) and Mr Rajesh Jaiswal (Jagraon) have been made on the recommendation of the EC. Mr Rajinder Singh has not been given a posting.

Mr V.K. Bhawra will be the new IG Faridkot zone. Mr B. Chandra Sekhar is the new SSP Sangrur while Mr Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh and Mr Shive Kumar Verma will be SSPs at Gurdaspur and Jagraon, respectively. For Mr Verma this is the third posting in three weeks.

Mr Jaiswal will replace Mr Verma while Mr Surinder pal Singh will be the SP, Special Staff Crime, at Chandigarh. Mr Chahal will be Commandant IRB at Patiala.

Mr Prabodh Kumar is the new IG crime. Mr R.P.S. Brar will hold additional charge of DIG, PAP, Training, at Chandigarh and Mr Jagdish Kumar will hold additional charge as DIG community policing.

At the SP and DSP levels, almost all the transfers were carried out as the officials had completed three years or were presently posted in their home districts. The EC had laid down these two criteria for shifting officials.

The following transfers at SP-level have been carried out tonight. Mr Opinder Jit Ghuman, SP, HQ, Hoshiarpur, and Mr S.K. Kalia, SP, HQ, Jalandhar will swap places. Mr Kanwaldeep Singh goes as SP Security and Traffic, Mohali. Mr Gurjit Singh is SP, HQ, Jagraon. Mr Kartar Singh is Commandant 75 Battalion, PAP, Jalandhar. Mr Harmanbir Singh is SP Traffic, Chandigarh. Mr S.S. Mand is SP, Detective, Tarn Taran.

Mr Dilbagh Singh, SP, ISTC, Kapurthala, has been shifted as the new SP, Vigilance Bureau, Jalandhar. Mr Surjit Singh Grewal is AC, 2nd Commando Battalion, Bahadurgarh. Mr Parambir Singh Gill is SP, Detective, Sangrur. Mr Dilbagh Singh, SP, HQ, Majitha had been moved as AC, Vth IRB, Amritsar.

Mr P.S. Khaira replaces Mr Dilbagh Singh. Mr Prithpal Singh Virk is SP, PSEB, Patiala. Mr Narjinder Singh Sekhon is SP, HQ, Fatehgarh Sahib. Mr Kashmir Singh Gill is SP, CM Security. Mr Sarabjit Singh is SP, Detective, Ferozepore. Mr Chaman Lal is the new SP, Vigilance Bureau, Chandigarh.

Mr Darshan Kumar is SP, City-II, Amritsar. Mr Bhupinderjit Singh Virk is SP, Computers, Chandigarh. Mr Rajinder Kumar Sharma is SP, Pathankot. Mr Jaspreet Singh Sidhu is SP, Counter Intelligence, Chandigarh. Mr Manmohan Singh is SP, HQ, Tarn Taran. Mr Sandeep Kumar Sharma is AC IXth battalion, PAP, Amritsar and Mr Sukhwant Singh Gill is SP, Detective, Fatehgarh Sahib.


Congress list by Jan 14: CM
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 7
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has said that names of candidates of the Congress party, to be fielded for the coming Assembly elections, would be announced by January 14.

The Chief Minister said that Punjab Congress Committee had sent its list of prospective candidates to the three-member screening committee constituted by the central party leadership.

The three-member screening committee was expected to clear the names of candidates by January 14 with the approval of All-India Congress Committee (AICC) president, Ms Sonia Gandhi.

He added that a committee headed by State Finance Minister Surinder Singla was preparing poll manifesto and it would be released with in second week of this month.

He was speaking at a rally organised by Mr Charanjit Singh Walia, chairman, Punjab Khadi Board and president, Punjab State Services Federation, at the local Vir Haqiqat Rai Park. Ms Preneet Kaur, MP, Patiala, also attended the rally along with senior party leaders.

The Chief Minister, who addressed a thanksgiving rally organised by the Punjab Services Employees Federation, while appealing to the employees for voting in favour Congress party for its action of conceding almost all their major demands, including sanctioning of promotional scales after four, nine and 14 years of service and setting up of the Fifth Pay Commission said that improvement of fiscal situation of the state by the Congress government enabled it meet the demands of employees.

While claiming that exodus from the Congress rank and file on the eve of Assembly elections would cause no damage to the party, he said that instead the party would emerge stronger and would be able to win significant number of seats to form its next government. He claimed that a number of senior Akali leaders and long-time associates of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal were trying to come into Congress fold.

He said that though he was not in favour of poll alliance with the CPI or the CPM as their respective leadership had already announced its candidates for majority number of seats, the final decision lied with the party high command. He added that he was not in favour of politics of pressure.

He said that party would contest its election on the basis of huge development projects which its government had carried out in every nook and corner of Punjab. He said that in the past five years, the Congress government had managed to bring investment to the tune of Rs 1.05 lakh crore in Punjab which had changed the economic complexion of state.


BJP scrutinises names of 300 for ticket
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 7
The Election-cum-core committee of Punjab BJP has considered the names of as many as 300 party leaders for finalising the list of party candidates to contest from 23 segments of Punjab Vidhan Sabha for state Assembly election. This was disclosed by Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, MP and BJP Chief Punjab, to the mediapersons here today.

He said the list of all the party ticket seekers would now be submitted to the National Working Committee of the party. The names would be announced either on January 10 or 12. — OC


Wetlands vanish in Punjab: Study
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 7
Don’t blame rice cropping for depletion of ground water in Punjab. A Panjab University study has concluded that the state has lost most of its wetlands-- nature’s sponge that stores rainwater, releases it slowly to feed ground water.

The study conducted by Dr Karanjot Kaur Brar and Mr Mehar Singh of the Department of Geography has shown that in the past 100 years only 11 per cent of the state’s wetlands remain.

This loss, mainly due to reclamation of land for commercial and agriculture use, has led to a low ground water table and also reduced flow of rivers. It can lead to a higher incidence of floods and a severe shortage of water in urban and rural areas, warns the study.

“Punjab is usually associated with only the man- made wetlands like Harike, Ropar and Kanjli and most of the attention both from the media and the government is focused on these. What is not generally known is that only a few decades ago the state was rich in natural wetlands,” says Dr Karanjot Kaur.

At the beginning of the 20th century Punjab had about 7500 hectares of natural wetlands located in the floodplains of its rivers. This was in addition to the village ponds and other depressions on the upland plains. Wetlands form a vital constituent of the ecosystem. They replenish the water levels during periods of scarcity and sponge up excess water after a heavy rainfall spell.

“This phenomenon was especially beneficial in the context of the rainfall pattern in Punjab. Here over 90 per cent of the rain is received in just 28.5 days annually. It is obvious that without the soaking up capacity of wetlands most of this water would be lost. The water crisis is not surprising in view of the scant regard for these wetlands,” pointed out Dr Karanjot.

Only 11 per cent of the natural wetlands remain in Punjab, says the study based on field trips, old and new topographical maps were analysed and remotely sensed data.

The wetlands in the floodplains of the Sutlej and the Beas rivers such as Rahon, Aur, Phillaur, Talwan, Nehra Jhil and Zahura Jhil have been lost. “The entire land was under cultivation. Some wetlands were being reclaimed for urban expansion near Tanda in Hoshiarpur,” says Dr Karanjot.

“The beautiful ox-bow lake near Machhiwara is gasping under the strain of encroachment and water hyacinth. It has been reduced to 2/3rds of its size and its water is murky. Just 10 years ago the waters were so clean that the bottom of the lake was visible,” she adds.

Wetlands are drained and reclaimed for human use, which could be either cultivation or urban extensions. A major portion of the wetlands of present-day Punjab were lost before the advent of the green revolution by constructing drains to empty water from the wetland. The ‘reclaimed’ land was then allotted for agriculture.


Fair sex getting drawn to drug trade in border belt
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, January 7
If the number of cases registered against women under the NDPS act are any indication then it seems that women are now actively involved in drug peddling and smuggling of narcotics and psychotropic substances in this border area.

According to information, the Ferozepore police has arrested 33 women on charges of drug peddling in various cases pertaining to the NDPC Act last year. Women in the rural segments have reportedly even started using drugs themselves. Recently, the police had arrested Sunita, wife of Vijay Kumar, on charges of drug peddling and recovered 102 gm of smack from her possession.

To add to this, even in scores of cases related to murder and other criminal activities women have been found amongst the main culprits.

Mr Arpit Shukla, SSP, while admitting the involvement of women in drugs trade, said it was indeed shocking that this menace, which was earlier confined to farmers and rural folks only, had now spread amongst women, youth and school and college students also. He told that the massive drive launched against drug peddlers in the border region had revealed that women were now being used as carriers as they were suspected less than men.

Before the dark days of insurgency in Punjab, drugs used to be smuggled through the porous Indo-Pakistan border. There were lots of drug carriers called "snakes" operating in this border belt. However, after the border fencing was done, cross-border smuggling had stopped altogether. Although, some sporadic cases of drugs being smuggled through Indo-Pakistan border were still being reported but mostly drug peddling had shifted to the Punjab-Rajasthan border where the bootleggers had found a safe haven.

The use of drugs has assumed alarming proportions in the area and this can be gauged from the fact that in the last 12 months, a staggering 513 cases have been registered under the NDPS Act in which 587 persons had been arrested.

Mr Shukla told that during the last year, the police had recovered 133.8 kg opium, 8,339 kg poppy husk, 2.67 kg smack, 20 kg heroin, 200 gm charas besides 5,573 injections and over 2 lakh spurious tablets during a special campaign launched against drug peddlers and smugglers.


Chinks surface at Congress meeting
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 7
Unruly scenes were witnessed and factionalism came to the fore at the very first party meeting held after the imposition of the code of conduct which was attended by the Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, here today.

The chaos prevailing at the meeting hall forced the minister to discontinue his address for a while. A section of party leaders raised an objection when the minister said, "I haven't said no to anybody for his work during my tenure as a minister." Following this the PPCC vice-president, Mr K.K Sharma and the PPCC secretary, Mr Chhote Lal, got up and countered the minister's statement. The latter accused the minister of giving power in the hands of a single man.

He was apparently hinting at Singla's political secretary Anil Bhola. It prompted supporters of both the groups to stand up and raise slogans in favour of their respective leaders. The minister was seen appealing to the party workers to calm down, but normalcy returned only after about 10 minutes.

Earlier, Mr Sharma didn't name Mr Singla while addressing party leaders at the start of his speech. He revealed that he too had applied for the party ticket from Bathinda and hoped that the party would respect public sentiments while allotting the ticket.

His remark is being seen in the light of recent demands of fielding a local resident as the party's candidate from the constituency. Replying on this account, the minister said: "I know a lot of people had applied for the party's candidature from Bathinda, but they should remember that development works carried out in the past five years had made the seat as one of the most sought after among the Congress leaders.


Dissidence in Congress, too
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Ghanaur (Patiala), January 7
Mr Madan Lal Jalalpur, vice-chairman, Zila Parishad and senior Congress leader organised a rally in the grain market here to pressure party’s high command to seek ticket from local Assembly in place of sitting MLA, Jasjit Singh Randhawa, failing he threatened to contest Assembly elections as an independent.

Mr Jalalpur also declared as both Mr Randhawa and SAD(B) candidate Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur were outsiders in this Assembly segment, the people of the area had decided to return their own candidate to the Vidhan Sabha this time.

Mr Jalalpur, who claims to be a kin of a Congress minister of Patiala district, has been trying for party ticket for many years by organising functions.

Mr Randhawa, who organised a rally in the town a few months ago, drew appreciation from Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Punjab Congress chief Shamsher Singh Dullo. Both Mr Amarinder Singh and Mr Dullo had announced the gathering at that rally was an indication that Mr Randhawa would win the seat.

Addressing the rally, he alleged Mr Randhawa had failed to serve the Assembly segment. Roads were in bad shape. Mr Randhawa failed to get the project connected with the construction of siphons under the Narwana branch canal, executed which was the main demand of the people of this segment.

He also alleged that Mr Randhawa did not treat people of the area properly whenever they went to him for any work. Mr Randhawa had also failed to bring college or Industrial Training Institute into this Assembly segment for higher education in this backward area. People of the area still face lack of basic amenities though Mr Randhawa remained a minister for years.


SAD sends Chautala to pacify ex-minister
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 7
After denying the party ticket to ex-minister Chiranji Lal Garg, the SAD today sent INLD chief Om Prakash Chautala to pacify him and persuade him to support the party candidate for the Bathinda Assembly seat.

The former Haryana Chief Minister urged Mr Garg to extend his support to Mr Sarup Chand Singla, the SAD candidate from the constituency. However, the latter didn’t make any commitment.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Garg said: “I humbly told him that now it is for my supporters to decide my future course of action.” He said he would only be able to spell out his future strategy after a couple of days.

Earlier, while addressing a press conference at Singla’s residence, Mr Chautala said his party workers would also campaign for the SAD in Punjab and added that the Congress would be wiped out in the forthcoming Assembly elections.


Dhillon, Goyal aspirants from Congress
Our Correspondent

Barnala, January 7
Race for Congress ticket from Barnala Assembly constituency between Mr Kewal Singh Dhillon, Vice-President Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee and Mr Hardeep Kumar Goyal, chairman Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee Training Department has hotted up.

Mr Goyal, is not a new entrant to the Punjab Assembly elections but Mr Dhillon is. Mr Goyal did contested from Barnala Assembly Constituency as a Congress candidate in 1985 against Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, a former Punjab Chief Minister Akali Dal (SAD) stalwart. Dhillon has never contested either Punjab Assembly or Lok Sabha election though he had been striving to get Congress ticket during Assembly or Lok Sabha elections in Punjab in the past too.

Mr Goyal who gave a tough fight to Mr Barnala, in 1985 from Barnala Assembly lost by 7,000 votes has again decided to stake claim Congress ticket from 

Mr Goyal said here today that he was prepared to contest the Barnala if he was offered Congress ticket this time. 


IMA to support party taking up health agenda
Manish Sirhindi
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, January 7
With elections scenes — hotting up in the state, various associations are busy in preparing charters of demands and urging the political parties to include these in their manifestos. These demands come with a promise that all members of the association will vote for the party which would ensure fulfillment of the demands after coming to power.

Latest to join the race for getting demands accepted, even before the election process is over, is the in- service wing of the Indian Medical Association (IMA). The demands are for the betterment of health care facilities and free services for the poor and the economically weaker sections of society.

In an appeal to all political parties in the state the IMA has sought free health services for the poor and the middle class families in the state-run hospitals. The association sought the inclusion of health-related issues in the manifesto of the parties on priority.

Dr. D. S. Bhullar, Chairman, In-Service doctors wing, said the association was also seeking modern health equipment and facilities across state to benefit all sections of society. For this the association has been advocating that the party should ensure sufficient budgetary provisions for the improvement of health services in the state, he said.

The IMA is also keen on getting regular jobs for doctors and the paramedical health staff working in various health centres in the state on contract, along with filling of vacant posts in the health department. It also seeks for due representation of health associations in policy matters related to health and a revamp of state medical colleges, instead of opening new ones.

Dr Bhullar said although previous governments in the state had guaranteed improvement in health care service, but still a lot was required to be done in this regard. He said the IMA had already appealed to all wings of medical profession to support the party that includes health agenda on priority in their manifesto.


6 in race for Cong ticket in Sangrur
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 7
According to sources six Congressmen, including local Congress MLA Arvind Khanna, have applied to the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) for party ticket for Sangrur Assembly constituency but due to Mr Khanna’s absence from the Sangrur Assembly constituency for several intervals, including one long interval, in the past more than one year, people of the area are of the view that Mr Khanna perhaps is not interested in contesting the election from Sangrur this time, and has applied for ticket just to complete a formality, being a sitting Congress MLA from this constituency.

Sources said besides Mr Khanna, Mr Jasbir Singh, a former Punjab Minister and now a member of the AICC; Surinder Pal Singh Sibia, president of the District Congress Committee, Sangrur; Pawan Sharma a general secretary of the PPCC Ms Varinder Kaur Ghuman, a secretary of the PPCC, and Mr Subhash Grover, a member of the Disciplinary Action Committee of the PPCC, had also applied for ticket for the Sangrur seat. One or two more persons had reportedly also applied for the Sangrur seat but the same could not be confirmed.

Along with the local MLA Arvind Khanna, Mr Jasbir Singh is also one of the front-running claimant for Congress ticket for Sangrur seat. Besides Mr Khanna and Mr Jasbir Singh, another claimant of the party ticket is Mr Surinder Pal Singh Sibia as he had distributed development cheques in various parts of the constituency on behalf of the government in the past two to three months. Mr Pawan Sharma, who has blessings of Central Minister, is also claiming party ticket. Ms Varinder Kaur Ghuman has association with Mrs Preneet Kaur, MP, while Mr Subhash Grover has the blessings of Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, Punjab.

Mr Arvind Khanna had defeated Mr Ranjit Singh Ballian, an independent candidate in February 2002 Assembly elections. At that time Mr Khanna had won the elections from Sangrur by a margin of 19132 votes. Mr Khanna reportedly has direct say in the Congress high command and it is in the air in the Sangrur constituency that if Mr Khanna wants to contest election from Sangrur he would get party ticket.

Another aspirant of the party ticket Mr Jasbir Singh had won the Assembly election from Sangrur in 1992 and later became a minister in the Beant Singh Government. Mr Jasbir Singh always terms himself as a “Garib Sikh” and now has a hope that if Mr Khanna refuses to contest then party may allot ticket to him.

Mr Surinder Pal Singh Sibia has close rapport with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, due to which he is also hopeful to get the party ticket. Mr Sibia had lost to Mr Ranjit Singh Ballian of the SAD in February 1997 Assembly elections by a margin of 2300 votes. He claimed that it was clear that the chief minister was in his favour because he (CM) had appointed the chairman of Sangrur Improvement Trust recently on his recommendation, besides giving development grants’ cheques to him for distributing the same among panchayats in the past some months.


Rinku is PPCC (Rural) secy

Amritsar, January 7
Mr Karamjit Singh Rinku, district president of the Congress (Rural), has been elevated to the post of secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. This was informed in a press release here yesterday. Mr Rinku said he had got a letter from PPCC chief, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, in this regard. He said the high command promoted him in view of his services for the party and work during the second phase of the vikas yatra.

Meanwhile, Mr Raman Bakshi, Municipal Councillor, has also been elevated to the post secretary of the PPCC. — OC


Transfer order in back date to skirt poll code ?

Chandigarh, January 7
Since the Election Commission imposed the Model Code of Conduct in view of the Assembly elections in Punjab, there are allegations that orders have been issued in back date to transfer officials.

Sources in the Health Department say Dr Shivraj Singh is one such case. In his case the “back-dated” orders were not to help him, but apparently to harass him. The doctor posted at Sunam was transferred on December 27 as Medical Superintendent at the lone Ayurvedic Pharmacy, Patiala. He joined duty at Patiala the following day.

The government issued another order on December 29 to cancel the doctor’s transfer from Sunam to Patiala. Sources say the order was issued after the EC announced the poll.

According to a senior doctor, Dr Shivraj’s only son is mentally challenged and needs care.

The second order came on January 2 as December 30 and 31 were closed days (Saturday and Sunday). January 1 was a closed day on account of Id. — TNS



Scholar summoned at Akal Takht
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 7
The Sikh clergy has summoned Dr Sukhpreet Singh Udoke, a Sikh scholar and former member of the five-member committee constituted by Akal Takht on the RSS, at Akal Takht secretariat here tomorrow on the basis of a number of complaints.

He was accused of using “derogatory language” against Jathedar Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, amounting to denigration of the highest temporal Sikh institution. Apart from this, Akal Takht has also sought clarification from Dr Udoke regarding the alleged “moral turpitude”.

A Canada-based Sikh girl had lodged a complaint against Dr Udoke along with “documentary proofs” that include an audio CD. She had alleged that Dr Udoke tried to develop “illicit relations” with her during his four-month visit to Canada. As part of proof she “successfully” recorded the “movements” of Dr Udoke.

However, Dr Udoke had already described the allegations as “concocted”. He claimed that such allegations were aimed at defaming him in the Sikh circles at the behest of his opponents. Dr Udoke is unlikely to appear before the Sikh high priests tomorrow since he had already refused to entertain such queries on the pretext that he could not “appear before the Jathedar who is already tainted”.

In case, Dr Udoke does not appear tomorrow, the Sikh high priest could initiate strict action against him.


Police website not updated
Our Correspondent

Barnala, January 7
The Barnala police has not updated its website since December 2006. The website is still showing Mr S.K.Asthana as SSP though three consecutive SSPs have been shifted from the police district after the transfer of Mr Asthana in December 2006.

As per records Mr Asthana was replaced by Mr S.K.Verma in December 2006 ,followed by Mr Yadav. At present Dr Naresh Arora is heading the district as SSP.

The Barnala police district website was launched by SSP G. Nageshwar Rao. but after the transfer of Mr Rao none of the other SSPs had showed any interest to carry on the project.

Even the crime data has not been updated since April last year.


Nirmal Singh memorial mela concludes

Nabha, January 7
Despite cloudy mornings, the audience which kept on swelling was spell bound by performances of celebrities of Punjab at the two-day-long cultural extravaganza — 15th Nirmal Singh Nehla Memorial Mela Nabhe Da that concluded here at the Ripudaman College ground. It was organised by the Nabha Social Welfare and Cultural Club Nabha. Exponents of Punjabi culture one after another and came on stage and received applause from the crowd. Day one was for play of Dr Ajmer Singh Aulakh — Jhanan Da Pani, a tale depicting the state of mind a Bihari woman who first was bought and married by one and than sold to another to clear his debt. Seema Anjan with her beautiful dance and singing charmed the audience. She made the audience dance with her hits — Ve main gajar vargi mera dul, dul painda rang and Dil lae gaiya twitri wallah.

On the second day folk-singer Sunita Bhatti in melodious voice sang Do Gharian Ruk Ja Ve and Ishq Mohabbatan de Saude, Mohammad Irshad’s — Dil Dena Te Dil Mangna and Preet Brar-Husanpreet’s — Jadon Jawani Varga Jor Si draw big applause. Dolly Guleria daughter of late legendry folk singer Surinder Kaur paid tributes to her mother by hit numbers Chan Ve Ke Shaunkan Mele Di, Hai Ni Maye Meriae and Mavan Te Dhian Ral Baithian Ni Mae. Gursewak Mann also regale the audience.

A blood donation camp was also organised and sweaters were distributed among the needy schoolchildren. The Club also honoured meritorious students. Awards were given to prominent personalities for excellent work in different fields. Bhai Kahan Singh (Literature) — Dr Ajmer Singh Aulakh, Nirmal Singh Nehla (Folk Singing), Gursewak Mann, Shiv Kumar Batalvi (Poetry) — Pargat Singh; Maharaja Ripudaman Singh (Social Services) — Avtar Singh Saini; Dr Bachitar Singh (Health) — Dr Amarjit Singh; Shiromini Media award — Dr Lakhvinder Johal; Ambassador of Punjabiat Ranjit Singh Rana (UK) — Shresht Punjabi Award — Sushil Dusanjh (Chandigarh). — OC


Dharna by FCI staff
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 7
Ten activists of the FCI Executive Staff Union sat on a day-long fast in front of the district office here today. They are protesting against the atrocities committed by the FCI management on its employees. District president of the union Parminder Singh along with other prominent leaders addressed the employees during the lunch break.

The demands were supported by hundreds of employees. The main demands of the employees are end to retrenchment, time bound promotion policy, and promotions for those who are working on one post for the past 20 years.

It was further stressed that the management should immediately resolve important issues through mutual discussions to maintain a conducive atmosphere and good relations.

A dharna at the regional office, FCI, Chandigarh has been planned on January 20. Mr Rajesh Kalia, Mr Gurinder Singh and other leaders were also present to address the employees.


Lohri for girls
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 7
The Dedicated Brothers Group, Punjab, a social organisation at its special meeting here decided to celebrate the festival of lohri this year specifically for girls to bring about awareness against female foeticide.

This function will be organised under the guidance of District and Sessions Judge, Mr Inderjit Singh, and the Superintendent of Police, Mr Mandeep Singh on January 7, according to Mr Rakesh Vermi, founder member and president of the organisation.

Those present at the meeting included Mr Harpreet Singh Sandhu, vice-president, and Mr Ravinder Pal Singh Waraich, according to Mr Gurbakhshish Singh Parmar.


Free medical camp

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 7
The Desh Bhagat Ayurvedic College and Hospital organized a two day free medical check-up camp in collaboration with Shree Baidyanath Ayurved Bhavan, Jhansi. Dr Zora Singh, the chairman of the Desh Bhagat Group of institutes inaugurated the camp.

Over 350 patients were examined and provided medicines free of cost. The principal of the college, Dr Loveleen, said there was a persistent research by the institute in the field of ayurveda. She added that treatment of chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, paralysis and skin diseases etc., could easily be treated with ayurveda. The Desh Bhagat group with the aim to serve ailing humanity organizes such camps from time to time. Dr R.C. Jain, Dr Sham Lal Goyal, Dr A.P Singh and Dr Amit from Baidyanath examined the patients. — OC


2 killed in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 7
Two persons were killed in a road accident at Keharwali village (Dasuya), about 35 km from here, in the wee hours today.

According to the police sources, Pappi, a resident of Kamahi Devi, died on the spot when the tractor-trailer (No. PB-54-3555) on which he and another person, Mohamad Din were travelling collided head-on with a truck (No. JK-02F-4379) near Keharwali village on Hoshiarpur-Dasuya road at about 4 am today.

Mohamad Din and truck driver Jasbir Singh, who sustained injuries, were admitted to the Civil Hospital, Dasuya, where the latter succumbed to his injuries.

Dasuya Police has registered a case under Sections 304 A, 279, 337 and 427 of the IPC in this connection.


Mobile sets worth Rs 5.20 lakh stolen
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 7
Burglars decamped with cash and mobile phones after committing burglary in two shops at Tanda town, 32 km from here, last night. The owners of the shops found the locks of the shutters of their shops broken and goods in the shop scattered this morning.

According to police sources, the burglars stole 37 mobile phones from Marwaha Telecom. Jatinder Kumar, shopowner, said that the estimated loss in theft was Rs 1.50 lakh.

The burglars also stole mobile phones worth Rs 3.70 lakh from the shop of Richhi Mobile.

The sources said the watchman, Jagat Bahadur, told the police that at least eight persons equipped with swords were wandering in the area at about 2 am. When he asked them about the motive, they instructed him to disappear, otherwise he would be killed.


2 held for drug peddling
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, January 7
The police has arrested two persons on the charge of drug peddling and seized 100 gm of smack from their possession. Mr Arpit Shukla, SSP, said the arrested persons were identified as Frandy, a son of Sujan Singh, a resident of Talwandi Butian Wali, and Prabhdyal, a son of Satnam Singh, a resident of Zira.

The SSP said the accused were nabbed from the area close to Saner village falling under Zira subdivision. He further said during interrogation the accused revealed that they had purchased smack from Matili in Rajasthan for Rs 15000.


Petrol station looted
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, January 7
Four car borne persons looted a Fazilka petrol station on the Malout road on Sunday morning. Four persons in Maruti Car (DL-1CB-7413) reached HP Fuel Centre at Chaurianwali village, 8 km from here on the Fazilka-Malout road at 4.30 a.m. and asked for petrol for Rs 300.

As the car was refilled one person brandished a pistol and looted Rs 7418 from cash box of the station. They also took away cell phone from the office and refilled the car for Rs 700 and sped away. A case under Section 382/34 of the IPC and the Arms Act was registered.


Justice Ashok Bhan gets Modern Ratna Award
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 7
Mr Justice Ashok Bhan, Judge, Supreme Court, and Dr Ravinder Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS) were conferred Modern Ratna Awards by the management of local Modern Senior Secondary School at a function organised on the school premises today.

Both Mr Justice Ashok Bhan and Dr Ravinder Singh had studied in Modern Senior Secondary School.

The school management conferred the awards for the significant contribution made by both the dignitaries in their respective fields.

Ms Gursharan Kaur Arora, Principal of the school, who read out the annual report of the school, said a number of students of the school had made a mark in various fields and managed to reach higher positions in national and international organisations.

Mr Justice Bhan while addressing the students said the staff members of the school, who were hard working were the real persons, who deserved all the appreciation for the achievements made by its students.

He added that school had also earned a name in the field of sports.

While sharing his memories related to his school days, he said that he was hopeful that students of the school would keep its tradition of achieving glory by putting their best in every field.

He also appreciated the cultural programme presented by the students on the occasion. 


School honours players
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, January 7
C.S. International School at Kumbh village (Mandi Gobindgarh) organised a reception on the school complex today to honour school players who brought laurel to the school by representing India in the Indo-Nepal Table Soccer Championship-2006 held in Nepal from December 29 to 31.

Anmoldeep Singh won the gold, Jaskirat Singh, Khuwinder Singh and Jasdeep Singh silver and Amandeep Singh and Mohit Sharma the bronze. Mr Jasveer Singh in-charge of the team, spoke on the performance of the players. The school Principal, Dr Aneema Jain congratulated the students and said this rural area school provided special care for allround development of students.

Mr Chanan Singh Matharoo, Chairman of the school management committee, Mr Jaswinder Singh, Mr Jagmail Singh, Mr Ajmer Singh Matharoo and parents of the students were also present on the occasion.


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