|P U N J A B||
Sunday, August 29, 1999
stir over govt inaction
Water poll issue in Bathinda
SAD workers agree to back Sodhi
Singh not to contest LS poll
Undertrial commits suicide
Lawyers refuse to call off strike
Sugar mill workers withdraw stir
Out-of-turn PCOs for war widows
Bid to smuggle arms foiled
Farmers' stir over govt inaction
BADAL (Muktsar): Hundreds of farmers whose land has been acquired for setting up the Lehra Mohabbat Thermal Plant has been holding demonstrations against the Punjab Government for not fulfilling the promises made to them when their land was acquired.
The farmers who have been holding demonstrations in Faridkot constituency from where Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, son of the Chief Minister, is contesting the parliamentary elections, alleged that Punjab Government had not provided government jobs to a member of each family whose land was taken over for setting up the thermal plant.
Talking to TNS here, Mr Jagdev Singh, convener of the Affected Farmers' Committee of Lehra Mohabbat, said they had been also appealing to the people not to vote in favour of Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal. He added that despite the police resistance the committee had been able to hold demonstrations at many places in the constituency.
He pointed out that the Punjab Government had provided a job to the one member of about 400 families whose land had been taken over while the members of the remaining 250 families were running from pillar to post without any positive result for many years.
He said on one hand, the farmers whose land was taken over had become landless and ultimately they become unemployed, while on the other, the Punjab Government was not providing them the jobs promised. He added that the main demand of the affected farmers was that one member of all those families should be given job whose land was acquired as was done earlier.
He added that their repeated pleas to the Chief Minister, Punjab State Electricity Board authorities and other official concerned had fallen on deaf ears.
Water poll issue in Bathinda
BATHINDA, Aug 28 National issues like stable government at the Centre, Kargil conflict and "swadeshi" and "videshi" Prime Minister seems to have taken a back seat and voters are more concerned about their day-to-day problems in this reserved parliamentary constituency spread over Bathinda and Mansa districts.
The issue which dominates in all nine assembly segments of this constituency is of inadequate availability of water for drinking and irrigation. The second issue is of stray animals which have been causing huge damage to the standing crops in the rural areas and accidents in the urban areas.
Hardev Singh, a farmer of Sardulgarh area, said: "No contestant has touched this issue in his campaign."
The electorate of this constituency is also examining the performance of ministers and MLAs of ruling alliance in the state in the last two and half years for making their opinion for the coming Lok Sabha elections.
Mr Mohinder Singh, an advocate of Bathinda pointed out that after the spread of jaundice and hepatitis-B in many pockets of Bathinda district the people had become worried about the drinking water. He added that the Punjab Government had failed to make arrangements to supply safe drinking water in rural and urban areas.
Water logging in certain villages of Talwandi Sabo, Bhudlada and Sardulgarh assembly segment, the railway over bridge in Bathinda and Mansa towns, non-abolishing of octroi in the urban areas having municipal councils have become poll issues in that particular areas and likely to influence the mind of the voters.
The other main issue
which has emerged in the coming elections is of not
paying the compensation to the farmers whose paddy and
cotton crops were damaged last year due to untimely
rains. Apart from it, alleged harassment of farmers in
the grain markets during the last paddy season at the
hands of central and state procurement agencies may help
the transfer of farmers' votes to the kitty of opponents
of SAD-BJP alliance candidate.
Rural women ignorant of poll
PATIALA: Even as the country is gearing up to provide reservation for women in Parliament, women empowerment at the grassroots level seems to have failed to provide them a political will of their own.
Rural women, and ironically even those who have been elected sarpanch and panches of their villages, are by and large ignorant of the poll process and are not taking any active interest in it.
Most of them have no political will of their own and would gladly vote for the candidate of their husband's choice. Also despite being elected village representatives, they are not taking part in electioneering leaving it to their husband or family to announce support for a particular candidate on their behalf.
Some like Angrejo, a backward class Panch of Jagatpura village in Dakala Assembly segment of this constituency, are willingly used as pawns by influential members of the village and paraded before visiting candidates. When The Tribune visited her village, the village Sarpanch had come to take her and other members to a function to be addressed by the Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, in favour of Akali Dal (Badal) candidate Surjit Singh Rakhra. When asked whom she would vote for, she says she would go along with other members of her caste. Other senior members crop up to say they would vote for whichever candidate would support them. They do not divulge further.
The case of Kesri Bai, a 65-year-old illiterate Sarpanch of Heeragarh village, is even worse. Kesri Bai is totally dependent on her sons to oversee the panchayat work as well as chart out the family's political strategy. Kesri Bai has no clarity of the election process or what is happening at the national level. When asked who was the Prime Minister of the country. She says Badal!
Even her sons admit that making an illiterate woman like her the village Sarpanch is a total failure. "Where seats are reserved for women in the Panchayati Raj system, at least some steps like ensuring only partly literate women should contest should be taken", says one of the sons.
Balbir Kaur, who is a Panch of Fatehpur Jattan village, is busy attending to household chores even as her sons are out campaigning. She has not decided how she will vote nor is she aware of politics. When asked whether she knows about Sonia Gandhi, she says: "the lady is the Prime Minister of the country". Balbir is similarly ignorant of the development work undertaken by the panchayat of which she is a member.
Likewise, Amarjit Kaur of Behal village, who is a Panch of her village panchayat, professes her ignorance of the election process by saying, "Aapan te gaur hi nahi karde". When asked whether she has any fixed ideas about politics or is in favour of certain policies, she says, "Our menfolk are doing that for us by campaigning for the candidates of their choice". When pressed if she had a particular preference, she says, "I will vote whoever I am told to do so."
Many other rural women, specially those from the poor strata, draw a complete blank when asked about their involvement in the poll process. Some like Amarjit Kaur respond with reluctance but refuse to be clicked by the photographer.
Most of them seemed to
prefer to sit at home. Consequently, hardly any woman
turns up to attend meetings of various candidates in the
villages. Those who do come are seen everywhere as they
form a part of the entourage of the candidate.
Dissident SAD workers agree to
AMRITSAR, Aug 28 Representatives of various Sikh bodies, including pro Badal SGPC member Jaswinder Singh advocate, who had risen in revolt against state BJP president Daya Singh Sodhi who is contesting the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat have now agreed to support him.
This was decided after a three-hour long meeting, held in the Information Office of the Shiromani Committee here today. Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, secretary-general Shiromani Akali Dal, who was deputed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal to bring about rapprochement between state BJP president and representatives of various Sikh bodies had tough time to convince the "dissidents" that they should work hard to ensure the victory of Mr Sodhi. Mr Sodhi had lodged strong protest with Mr Badal when a section of urban Sikhs had risen in revolt against him at the time of elections.
Mr Dhindsa told the representatives of Sikh bodies that poll pact between the SAD and the BJP could be endangered if they continued to oppose Mr Sodhi, especially at the time of elections.
Representatives of Sikh bodies insisted that the prime land (168 yards) which belonged to the local Municipal Corporation should be handed over to Santokhsar gurdwara which was promised by Mr Sodhi at the time of previous elections. On behalf of Mr Badal Mr Dhindsa gave a categorical assurance to the representatives of Sikh bodies that the gurdwara would get the 168 yards piece of land by the corporation after the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. He had reportedly asked them that due to the election code of conduct the piece of land could not be given to the gurdwara at this time.
Earlier Mr Sodhi and Mrs Laxmi Kanta Chawla, a BJP MLA had opposed the demand of the representatives of Sikh bodies that the piece of land could not be handed over to the gurdwara as it belonged to the corporation. The Sikh bodies had also pasted a wall poster against Mr Sodhi for not handing over the piece of land to the gurdwara.
Karan Singh not to contest LS poll
AMRITSAR, Aug 28 (UNI) Congress leader and former Union Minister Karan Singh said today that he had no plan whatsoever to contest coming Lok Sabha poll either against Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee or any other opposition leader.
Dr Karan Singh after remaining in political hibernation for years, the 'Sadar-e-Riyasat' of Jammu and Kashmir had once again decided to hit the campaign trail to woo voters for the Congress, which he re-joined early this month.
"A friend in need is a friend indeed", he said on his decision to re-enter the Congress while talking to reporters.
The Congress leader, who began his campaign trail by addressing a meeting here last night in favour of his party candidate and former Union Minister R.L. Bhatia, had plan to criss-cross the country in the next few days to boost the chances of the Congress which he believed was the only party which could provide stability and security to the country.
In fact in the 1967 and 1971 polls, Dr Singh commenced his election campaign from this holy city after paying obeisance at the Golden Temple, a shrine which had always been held in high esteem by his ancestors.
To a question, Dr Singh said that during his campaign he would lay stress on "stability, national security and all-round development". Multiple coalition experiments which the country had seen in the past couple of years failed to provide stable government, which only the Congress was capable, he claimed.
National security was directly related to "stability" and the Kargil issue clearly proved that a coalition government could not be entrusted with the task of building a secure and strong India, he added.
Mr Vajpayee claimed that there was no "intelligence failure" in Kargil, he said adding that if there was no such failure then there must have been a "political failure."
Acknowledging Mr Vajpayees leadership qualities, Dr Singh said that in a democratic set up the Cabinet had a very important role to perform.
The contradictory statement of Defence Minister George Fernandes from time to time showed the degree of responsibility of coalition government, he added.
Regarding Congress president Sonia Gandhis foreign origin issue, Dr Singh felt that by making it a campaign issue, the BJP and its coalition partners had forgotten that a "bahu" becomes a part of her in-laws house after marriage.
"This issue is nothing but inverted racism", he quipped.
Referring to Information and Broadcasting Minister Pramod Mahajans statement equating Mrs Gandhi with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, Dr Singh quipped that it was the most "disgraceful remark" by a Minister holding a responsible position.
While refusing to commit on whether the Congress would form the next government at the Centre, he opined that his party would do much better than the last Lok Sabha polls.
Badal seeks votes for Aliwal
SAHNEWAL (Ludhiana), Aug 28 "The world is watching if we Indians will allow a 'videshi' to rule over us or elect a true son of the soil as the next prime minister." This was the gist of the speeches made by the Chief Minister and president of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal at election rallies held in support of the party candidate from the Ludhiana Lok Sabha constituency, Mr Amrik Singh Aliwal, during a hurricane tour of his parliamentary constituency today.
Mr Badal exhorted the voters to make a decision if they wanted "swadeshi raj" under Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee as or wanted a foreign born and brought up, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, who wasn't even aware of the culture and languages of India, as the Prime Minister.
Mr Badal, who began campaigning in this Lok Sabha constituency from Macchiwara, later went to Sahnewal, Payal, Dehlon, Dakha, Jagraon and also addressed rallies in various parts of Ludhiana city.
Later while talking to mediapersons he said although Mrs Sonia Gandhi had been touring Punjab and yet she had failed to cut ice with the voters. Even the Congressmen had refrained from using her name and photograph during the annual mela at Baba Bakala recently because probably they have even realised that Mrs Sonia Gandhi was not an asset, but a liability. Had the Congress chosen some other leaders as their prime ministerial candidate, they could have swayed more votes in their favour, he said.
Campaigning amidst tight security, the Chief Minister's speeches lasted around 35 to 40 minutes each targeted on Sonia's foreign origin, and the rampant corruption allegedly encouraged by the Congress.
During his speeches, Mr Badal also made a reference to the issue of sharing of river waters of Punjab with Haryana and Rajasthan and promises to take up this issue with Mr Vajpayee, if voted to power. He alleged that the Congress and the likes of comrade Harkishan Singh Surjeet and Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia were against the waiving off of Punjab's debt by Mr I.K. Gujral who was the Prime Minister in 1998, but we took this matter with him and got the loan waived off, he asserts.
The SAD President was
accompanied by the senior vice-president of the party, Mr
Jagdev Singh Talwandi, Akali MLA's like Mr Jagdish Singh
Garcha and Mr Sadhu Singh Ghudani and the SAD candidate
from the Ludhiana Lok Sabha constituency, Mr Amrik Singh
Badal asks people to vote for
FATEHGARH SAHIB, Aug 28 Punjab Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal said this election was different from earlier one as the issue this time was swadeshi vs videshi. It is for the people to decide whether they wanted Mr Vajpayee or Mrs Sonia. If Mrs Sonia was elected, it would mean slavery. The sacrifices made by Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev for the freedom of the country would go waste said Mr Badal addressing election rallies in Sirhind town of the district today in support of Bibi Satwinder Kaur Dhaliwal SAD (B) candidate for the Ropar (R) Parliament seat.
He said that a vote for the Congress would be ratification of Operation Bluestar. He wanted that the Congress should be defeated.
Mr Badal said neither Mrs Sonia Gandhi could understand the problems of the public nor could she communicate with people properly. She does not understand our culture, people language and problems. He said she could not differentiate between paddy and sugarcane. He blamed the Congress for thrusting elections on people for its lust of power.
Mr Jagdev Singh
Talwandi, Raja Narinder Singh, minister, Mr Randhir Singh
Cheema former minister, Devinder Singh Bhappu, senior
Akali leader Didar Singh Bhatti and Mr Rajesh Pal Singh
Lalli, Mr Inderjit Singh Sandhu also addressed the
EC's role partisan, alleges
LUDHIANA, Aug 28 A senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader and member of the Rajya Sabha, Mr Lajpat Rai, has termed the Election Commission's role as partisan. Just as Pakistani umpires joined their cricket team in an effort to defeat their opponents, the EC also appeared to be playing a similar game, he alleged.
He told mediapersons here yesterday that while the Shiv Sena chief, Mr Bal Thackeray, had been defranchised for using the Hindutva card, no action had been taken against the sacked Akal Takht chief, Bhai Ranjit Singh, who was openly trying to exploit the Sikh masses by projecting the present Parliamentary elections in Punjab as a war between Akal Takht and Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister.
Mr Lajpat Rai also took a strong objection to the commission's choice of the Congress spokesman, Mr Kapil Sibal, as its legal advisor. He demanded the immediate removal of Mr Sibal from the present assignment.
Teachers' grouse about poll duty
CHANDIGARH, Aug 28 Representatives of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) today met the Chief Electoral Officer, Punjab, Dr Barjindra Singh, and requested him that college teachers should be put on election duty according to the rules of the Election Commission of India.
In a release issued here
today by Prof S.S Hundal and Dr Shinderpal Singh,
president and secretary of the Union, have stated that
teachers should be put on duty according to their status,
seniority and pay-scales. They have alleged that the
rules of the Election Commission have been violated by
the Deputy Commissioner of Moga, while putting the
college lecturers of Moga on duty. They have asked the
election officers of Punjab to look into the issue in
view of the resentment prevailing among teachers.
YC activists take out
PHAGWARA, Aug 28 About 500 Youth Congress activists took out a scooter and car rally here today in support of Mrs Santosh Chaudhry, Congress candidate from the Phillaur Reserved Lok Sabha seat.
flagged off the rally led by Mr Ashok Wadhwa, President,
Youth Congress, Phagwara. Sporting party flags, with
party symbol, Panja, stuck on the vehicles and raising
slogans for Mrs Chaudhry, the scooterists sped through
the local bazars.
Undertrial commits suicide
GURDASPUR, Aug 28 Tarlok Singh, an undertrial in a murder case, detained in the Central Jail here committed suicide today by hanging himself in the solitary cell, where he was confined. He tied his own 'parna' with a wooden piece fixed with the wall and committed suicide. Though many have contested the suicide theory because the cell in which the accused was detained is 6 feet 2 inches high and the accused was 5 feet 7 inches in height.
The undertrial had allegedly killed a colleague on January 26, after an altercation with him at Tibber, 5 km from here.
According to jail authorities the deceased was mentally disturbed. The jail doctor had declared him mentally unbalanced and even took him to mental hospital in Amritsar for treatment. The doctors there, however, termed it to be a case of mental depression and did not admit him to the hospital.
The jail authorities said the undertrial had scuffles with jail inmates and because of these he had been put in solitary confinement.
Mrs Sukh, wife of the deceased, who met her husband yesterday had met the Superintendent of the Jail after her "mulakat" and requested him to bring her husband out of solitary confinement. She said today that the death of her husband could have been avoided if the officer had conceded her request.
Jail sources, however, allege negligence on the part of jail authorities as regular rounds of solitary cells would not have given enough time to the undertrial to commit suicide.
Lawyers refuse to call off
MALERKOTLA, Aug 28 Mr Justice M.L. Singal, Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, today visited Malerkotla to listen to the grievances of the members of the local Bar Association who are on an indefinite strike for the last three weeks due to the uncooperative and disrespectful behaviour of Ms Kiran Bala, Civil Judge (Junior Division) here towards the lawyers.
Mr Singal also had a meeting with the local judges, including Mr Charanjeet Jawa, District and Session Judge, Sangrur at the local rest house. Later, Mr Singal met members of the District Bar Association, Sangrur, including the representatives of the Bar Association of the district. He heard grievances of the lawyers about the behaviour of the judge concerned.
They alleged that Ms Kiran was not cooperative towards the Bar, including the senior lawyers. The main issue raised by the association in the meeting was the recording of false orders by her against the senior members of the Bar Mr Kimat Rai, Mr Paramjit Singh Shergil, Mr K.K.Sharma and Mr Pritam Singh Bath, advocates of Malerkotla.
Those present at the meeting, included Mr Ram Sarup, senior advocate of Sangrur, Mr Lalit Kumar, Secretary, District Bar Association; Mr Baldev Singh Mann, President, Malerkotla Bar Association; Mr Manpreet Singh Shergil, former President of the Malerkotla Bar Association; Mr Qimat Rai Jain, Senior Advocate of Malerkotla; and representatives of the Bar Associations of Sangrur, Barnala, Dhuri, Sunam and Malerkotla.
Mr Singal appealed to the lawyers to give 15 days' time to him and resume work in the court. But the agitating lawyers did not agree to his suggestion and demanded immediate transfer of Ms Kiran.
Mr Singal said he would put the case before the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court and assured the lawyers that their demand would be accepted.
Sugar mill workers withdraw
TARN TARAN, Aug 28 The Sugar Mills Workers Joint Action Committee, Punjab has called off the agitation it was to launch against the Punjab government under which the committee was to organise state-level demonstrations in Tarn Taran and Faridkot Lok Sabha constituency tomorrow.
The accord in this regard was reached today in the premises of Co-operative Sugarmills Sheron between Mr Ranjit Singh Brahampura, cooperative Minister Punjab and representatives of the Joint Action Committee led by Mr Harpalk Singh, president Punjab State Sugar Mills Karamchari Dal and seven other representatives of other different employee organisations were present.
Mr Harpal Singh added
that according to changed circumstances the sugar mills
employees would now organise rallies in support of the
SAD. Giving details of the agreement Mr Harpal Singh said
that the minister assured them that after the Lok Sabha
elections a meeting with the representatives of sugar
mills employees would be held and their demands
Out-of-turn PCOs for war
AMRITSAR, Aug 28 The 101st exchange of Amritsar named Bhagat Ravi Das Exchange was commissioned yesterday by Mr R.N. Sharma, CGMT, Punjab Circle, Chandigarh.
Mr Sharma gave details of the developments likely to take place in Punjab in general and Amritsar in particular. He said telecom was preparing to meet the challenge of the private operators who should be in Punjab shortly.
Mr K.C. Jindal, General Manager, Telecom, Amritsar, said in the past three years about 43,414 number of lines and 15 exchanges had been added in the Amritsar telecom system. The charging from Amritsar to Patti had been decreased from a pulse of 36 seconds to pulse of 180 seconds. This applied in general to exchanges which were within 50 km of each other.
In order to help war
widows it had been decided to give them STD PCOs on
out-of-turn basis. Mr Jindal requested the affected
families to approach him so that the department could
offer its services to those who laid down their lives
fighting for the motherland.
Bid to smuggle arms foiled
FEROZEPORE, Aug 28 Army personnel deployed in the Ferozepore sector last night foiled a major attempt to smuggle arms and ammunition into Punjab, probably in a bid to disturb polling in the state.
According to an official press note issued here today, a large quantity of arms and ammunition were seized when troops on a patrol intercepted a group of persons near Dulchike village in the district.
On being intercepted they threw away their weapons and escaped.
Three AK-56 rifles, two
point 30 pistols, eight magazines of AK-56 rifles, four
magazines of pistol, 404 rounds of AK-56 rifle ammunition
and 121 rounds of point 30 pistol ammunition were seized
from the site of the incident.
Businessmen held, let off
LUDHIANA, Aug 28 Members of the Ludhiana Small Scale Manufacturers Association, Industry and Trade Forum, Punjab, and some others trade and industrial associations of the state, who had gathered at Vishwakarma Chowk today to protest against the "anti-industry" policies of the state were apprehended by the police and prevented from taking out the protest march. Mr Harish Khanna, president of the Ludhiana Small Scale Manufacturers Association, said the police rounded up the protestors, thus preventing them from taking the protest march. They were, however, released later on.
SAMRALA: The police today confined workers and leaders of the Punjab Pensioners Kalyan Sangathan to a local Durga Mandir on the arrival of the Chief Minister Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who was on an election campaign. The police told them that prohibitory orders were in force. Demonstration or meeting could not be held. But Mr Ajit Singh Bagri, General Secretary of Punjab State Pensioners Confederation said prohibitory orders cannot be imposed in the premises of a religious place.
News bulletin disrupted
PHILLAUR, Aug 28
All India Radio, Jalandhar, could not broadcast its
"paradeshik samachar" in full at 1.10 p.m.
today. The radio went off the air immediately after news
in Punjabi started. Only light music could be heard
during the gap of five minutes. Though the announcer
regretted the lapse, its cause could not be known yet.
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