Tuesday, January 9, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




BJP high command frowns at Tandon
By P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 8 — The political dust kicked up by Punjab’s BJP Minister, Mr Balramji Das Tandon, here on January 3 charging his Akali colleague, Finance Minister Kanwaljit Singh, with withholding funds to the state’s municipalities for urban development, has reached New Delhi.

Reports reaching here indicate that the BJP high command has taken cognisance of the outburst of Mr Tandon, that struck at the very bond that held the SAD-BJP together in Punjab and lent credibility to the alliance in the NDA.

The perception in the BJP high command is that Mr Tandon has seemingly lost sight of the very fact that SAD-BJP coalition government in Punjab has sent politically correct signals across the country, after a period of tribulation. His utterances, therefore, would provide leverage to the Congress to whip up public electoral passions against the party in the urban areas of the state when the Vidhan Sabha elections are held in less than a year.

There are red faces among certain BJP ministers in Punjab who are peeved at the unsavoury controversy raised by their senior colleague.

Reacting to the SAD-BJP row, the PPCC president, Capt Amarinder Singh, was quick to demand that the government come out with a White Paper on where the funds meant for urban development, including Centrally sponsored schemes, as alleged by Mr Tandon, had been diverted.

Moreover, the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was also asked to come out with a factsheet as to why the devolution of funds to the municipalities was not being done or octroi realised from liquor withheld from the municipalities.

Understandably, Mr Badal played the usual Good Samaritan and engaged in dousing the flames ignited by Mr Tandon’s statement. In the process, denying that the alliance between the SAD and the BJP was cracking, he gave a “clean chit” to Capt Kanwaljit Singh.

Certain BJP ministers contacted by TNS today affirmed that the manner in which Mr Tandon went to town after a meeting with his Class A municipal committees’ presidents and executive officers on January 3 was in bad taste.

They also referred to a separate meeting BJP MLAs had held after a joint meeting of the coalition parties with Mr Badal in the last week of December, where he had impressed upon all MLAs to return to their constituencies, draw up a list of development projects, consult the Finance Minister and concentrate on identifying with the constituents if they wanted to return to the Vidhan Sabha at the end of the next elections.

At that meeting of BJP MLAs, sources said, it was decided to cobble together some “sore” points and “irritants” and meet Mr Badal separately for redressal. In fact in the past also Mr Badal had been specially invited to a BJP conclave where the BJP aired its grievances, with the Chief Minister assuring to set up a joint machinery and a workable mechanism to ensure the smooth functioning of the coalition down to the block level. This never happened.

In between the BJP’s state president, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, has been blowing hot and cold and later blaming the media for distorting his statements — an easy alibi. He has been queering the political pitch for Mr Badal rather too often. The BJP central high command, it is learnt, has been apprised of the actual situation by Mr Badal as well those who sought its intervention to contain its leader.

In fact, the poor housekeeping of the BJP has surfaced time and again. There is clear cleavage within the party’s organisational and legislative wings and dissatisfaction among workers who perceived that they were being given second-class treatment.

The earlier combination of Mr Daya Singh Sodhi and Mr Tandon had irked Mr Madan Mohan Mittal. His replacement and discomfort being caused by his successor, Mr Rinwa, is an open secret now.

Mr Tandon is in a hot spot due to another factor also. He has been spending more time in his hometown, Amritsar, than his constituency, Rajpura, where he migrated in February, 1997, allege his detractors.

With the Assembly elections round the corner and finding his wings clipped in Rajpura and having become rootless in Amritsar, BJP insiders told TNS that Mr Tandon was finding himself doubly unblessed.

The BJP on its own has little or no clout in the state and it can win urban seats only with the active support of the SAD.

Though Mr Rinwa talks of a BJP man becoming the Chief Minister, lays claim to a Rajya Sabha vacancy and had his way in getting a BJP MLA, Mr Satyapal Saini, inducted as a minister of state in the Council of Ministers, the fact remains that all these years BJP Ministers, with few exceptions, have failed to make a mark. They have not left any indelible impact on the psyche of their constituents. On the contrary they kept cribbing and sulking over the portfolios allotted to them. In fact, the new minister is still without a portfolio.


Calcutta sides with Tandon, flays Badal
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Jan 8 — Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, an Akali MLA and confidant of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal has come openly in support of Mr Balramji Dass Tandon. A senior BJP leader and Local Bodies Minister Punjab over the issue of “lopsided” development in the state.

Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta said though Mr Tandon and criticised Mr Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister Punjab for alleged discrimination against urban areas yet many other areas were being meted out step-motherly treatment so far as development of the state was concerned. “There is discrimination between against Majha and Malwa region. Sometime the state government would do discrimination within Malwa region. The Malwa region which falls under in the constituency of Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal was being given top priority while the rest of Malwa was ignored.”

Mr Calcutta said he was still an Akali MLA but he considered it his prime duty to make efforts for the implementation of election manifesto which promised overall development of the state. He, however, said being an Akali MLA he could not vote against the government on the floor of the Assembly, yet it was my moral duty to point out “grey areas”.

Mr Calcutta alleged that Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister Punjab virtually behaves like a “king” as he doled out developmental funds during the ‘sangat darshan’ with a particular style. He said he was critical of the functioning of Mr Badal as ministers were not taken into confidence while Budget was planned.

Mr Calcutta alleged that the ‘outburst’ of Mr Tandon against the Finance Minister was just a tip of the ice-berg. The problems being faced by ministers and MLAs were much more. They were not given importance before the Budget allocations. He alleged that Mr Badal had assumed ‘ultimate powers’ and representatives of public would never dare to speak against the ‘aristocratic’ style of Mr Badal. He said instead of allocating funds during the ‘sangat darshan’ Mr Badal should take everybody into confidence. This was why, Punjab, which had the highest per capita income had now relegated to 15th member in the country.

Coming down heavily on Mr Badal, Mr Calcutta alleged that like the Congress, the SAD-BJP government had borrowed heavily at a very heavy rate of interest. This would burden the common man in the near future.

He said the state government had done nothing to bring the industrial units back which shifted to adjoining areas during hey-day of militancy. He said though Akalis would get political powers from Amritsar, but after coming into power they forgot this holy city.


40 paise cut per paddy bag kicks up row
From Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

BUDHLADA (Mansa), Jan 8 — The deduction of 40 paise per bag of paddy procured by the Punjab Agro Industrial Corporation (PAIC) in the last procurement season from the payments made to the commission agents has created a controversy here.

The commission agents alleged the deduction of 40 paise per bag by officials of the procurement agency was illegal while officials of the PAIC said they had done so on the directive of their superiors.

Mr Kesho Ram Goyal, president of the District Arhtiya Association, Mansa, said the deduction of 40 paise per bag was done on flimsy grounds by the PAIC officials. When the commission agents inquired about the reasons for deduction they were not given any reply.

He added that when the commission agents persisted that deduction from their payments was illegal the officials asked them to submit supplementary bills for taking that payment. He said the submission of supplementary bills for taking that payment had no justification.

He alleged that during the procurement season the procured paddy bags were not lifted by the officials for about 20 days. When the bags were lifted the shortage in the weight was also charged from the commission agents.

Mr Goyal said on account of deduction of 40 paise per bag and charging the shortage in weight the commission agents had suffered financial loss without any fault on their part. He added that they were made to suffer this financial loss despite the fact that according to a provision in the Punjab Agriculture Produce Marketing Act the test weighing can be done within 24 hours of procurement by the officials.

However, the officials of the procurement agency flouted the rules openly and were now trying to make the commission agents suffer financial loss. He added that the hapless commission agents had been giving in to their diktats and had suffered financial loss.

Mr Tarsem Goyal, executive, PAIC, Mansa, when contacted said 40 paise per bag was deducted from the payment of those commission agents who had not stitched the paddy bags properly and had not printed their trademark on it.

He pointed out that PAIC officials had not deducted the amount on their own but they had done in keeping with instructions given by their superiors.

Mr Goyal pointed out that the commission agents had followed all instructions which were given to them by officials. He added that deduction of 40 paise per bag was being done on frivolous grounds.

He alleged the PAIC had also made payment to them against the procured paddy after about two months. The Punjab Agro officials had not returned the empty gunny bags to the commission agents which were supplied by them during procurements.


Circular on fitness leads to panic
From Our Correspondent

ROPAR, Jan 8 — The decision of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) management to get the medical fitness of its employees certified after the completion of 50 years of age has spread panic among workers. The circular in this regard that has reached recently at the subdivisional level in the district has spread apprehension among employees that it might be a new ploy by the board to reduce manpower.

In the circular that has been displayed at the noticeboards of a few subdivisions in the district it has been stated that the board framed its premature retirement regulations in 1982. According to these regulations, the competent authority has been given absolute right to retire any board employee on the date on which he completes 25 year of service or attains 50 years of age, by giving prior notice of three months or pay or allowances equal to three months in lieu of the notice period.

As per the existing rules mental and physical fitness certificate of board employees was obtained from the heads of department while considering their cases for continuation in service beyond 55 years. However, now the board has decided that in future the screening regarding the mental and physical fitness would be done through the medical panel of the Punjab Government.

For this purpose, medical panels are proposed at the district level for examining the physical and mental health of the board employees, after the completion of 50 years of age.

For the gazetted officers, the respective heads of departments have been directed to arrange for the medical certificates, while in the case of other employees the certificates would have to be sent by the officer under whom the workers concerned are working. These certificates would then be assessed by the board authorities for the continuation of service of the employees concerned.

The screening of the medically unfit employees is proposed to be done at three stages i.e. after completion of 50 years of age, at 55 years and at the third stage at the discretion of the controlling officer.

The employees here fear that most of the employees above the age of 55 and many who are 50 years old might be ousted by the board in lieu of the strict medical fitness levels proposed in the current circular. Various workers unions, for whom the latest decision of the board has come from the blue, are still considering their reaction against the current move.

The workers have termed the termination of services of the employees after just three months’ notice as draconian. They have demanded that even if the board wants to reduce its financial burden by reducing the number of employees it should offer the voluntary retirement scheme rather than adopting such anti-worker measures.


Probe ordered into PTU’s contract
From Vimal Sumbly
& Deepkamal Kaur

LUDHIANA, Jan 8 — The Punjab Government has ordered an inquiry into the awarding of contract by the Punjab Technical University (PTU) to a private firm for running the Postgraduate Diploma Course in e-commerce and software. It is alleged that a senior minister in the Badal government was instrumental in helping the company to get the contract.

The agreement was signed between the company and the PTU on August 28. The company was reported to have been given a favour by the PTU as no tenders were floated for the contract. Besides, the contract is said to be loaded with terms in favour of the company.

Five institutes were set up by the university and all of them in Ludhiana only. This was reportedly done to favour a particular person who was said to be a longtime friend of the minister’s son. Under the terms and conditions of the Memorandum of Understanding, the university was supposed to provide two rooms to each institute with 15 air conditioners, besides furniture. The university was also supposed to provide 100 computers, 20 for each institute. On the other hand, the company was supposed to provide the software for the training purposes and three faculty members for each institute.

The income generated from the fee charged from the students was to be shared by the company and the university in 70:30 ratio, in favour of the company. This is being questioned as to why the company was given huge concession when it had no major stakes. The software does not cost too much as compared to the huge infrastructure required to be set up by the university. Besides, the faculty appointed by the company is reportedly not upto the standard qualifications.

The Vice-Chancellor of the PTU, Dr H.S. Gurm, against whom the inquiry has been ordered, maintained that he was in no way involved in settling the terms and conditions of the contract. He said although the MoU was signed after he took over, the process was started much earlier. However, he claimed the contract favoured the students as they had been getting the best education.

The five institutes were set up in the government-run institutes, including a polytechnic and four ITIs. While according to the earlier terms and conditions, 20 computers were to be provided to each institute, there is not a single institute which has more than 10 computers. A good number of these computers are said to be obsolete and outdated. According to the earlier plan, each student was supposed to have one computer, now two students will be sharing one computer.

Some of the private colleges affiliated to the PTU and running BBA and BCA courses are sour over the raw deal given to them by the university. The lecturers of these colleges allege that the university has offered them traditional courses with obsolete syllabus, whereas it was handing over all advance and latest courses to the private companies here. They have to pass through a stringent eligibility test for getting appointment but the same did not apply to the faculty of private companies, they allege.


Ramoowalia: clarify stand on Sehajdharis
Tribune News Service

SANGRUR, Jan 8 — Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, national president of the Lok Bhalai Manch today asked Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), to clarify his stand with regard to attacks on Radhasoami, Nirankari and Sacha Souda sects by the SGPC president, Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi, and attempts to disfranchise Sehajdhari Sikhs in the SGPC elections.

Mr Ramoowalia alleged that the issue of disfranchising the Sehajdharis in the SGPC elections had the silent support of the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. He further alleged that the Akali leaders had become instrumental in getting removed Guru Granth Sahib from the houses of about 50,000 Hindus while nearly five lakh Sehajdhari Sikhs all over the world had stopped going to gurdwaras because the Akali leaders were continuously criticising the Hindus in one way or the other.

Mr Ramoowalia asked the Akali leadership to separate religion from politics to save the Sikh religion.

Talking to mediapersons here, Mr Ramoowalia alleged that the Akali leadership was tarnishing the Sikh philosophy, it’s principles, tenets and traditions for petty political gains. He said Mr Talwandi’s recent statement was an example of this in which he (Talwandi) had severely criticised the Sacha Sauda, Radhasoami and Nirankari sects and termed them as ‘government’ shops.

Mr Ramoowalia challenged the Akali leadership to have an open discussion with him on how Akalis had damaged the Sikh religion.

The Lok Bhalai Manch leader said when he was vice-chairman of Minority Commission of India, a memorandum was submitted by the Akalis in November 1995 to him demanding disfranchising the Sehajdharis. He said this memorandum had also been signed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

He stated that the Lok Bhalai Manch had formed a committee about two months ago to determine the damage, done by the Sikh leadership, to Sikhism. He said it was found that about 50,000 Sehajdhari Sikhs had got removed Guru Granth from their houses and nearly five lakh had stopped going to gurdwaras.


Weaning them from drugs
From Romesh Gupta

FARIDKOT: Under the aegis of the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, the District Red Cross Society has opened a 15-bed De-addiction Hospital on the Faridkot-Sadiq road.

Fifteen addicts are admitted every month to the hospital. The usual routine for patients comprises prayers and exercises for two hours in the morning. After breakfast, a team of doctors attends on each patient and counselling is arranged. In the evening various recreational facilities are made available to the patients, including indoor games, books, newspapers, an audio cassette player and TV sets. A yoga therapy session and talks by religious and community leaders are also organised. Some sports activities are planned to be introduced soon.

Mr A.Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner-cum-chairman of the District Red Cross Society, said that nearly 300 patients belonging to Faridkot and Ferozepore districts had been treated during the past six months. Cooperation was being sought from various social organisations to identify addicts so that they could be helped. Seminars would also be organised to make people aware of the bad effects of drugs. Special teams led by the SDO (Civil) and drug inspectors had been constituted to check the sale of intoxicants.

While on a visit to the hospital recently, the Deputy Commissioner talked to patients about their problems. A 60-year-old resident of Dhaipai village, who had been taking poppy husk for the past 40 years, appealed to him to arrange camps particularly in the rural areas, to educate the youth about the ill-effects of drugs. Other patients also expressed similar views.

A ninety-year-old resident of Bathinda, who had been addicted to opium for the past 65 years, expressed his gratitude to the hospital authorities for helping him.

The Deputy Commissioner said the Red Cross would shortly approach the Central Government to allocate funds for the expansion of the hospital and the provision of more facilities. The Red Cross, from its own resources, has been constructing a hall behind the hospital complex for the attendants of patients.

The Deputy Commissioner said in 1992, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment had set up a drug awareness, counselling and assistance centre here. Nearly 4,000 addicts had approached the centre for help. 


Govt promises on roads still unfulfilled
From Our correspondent

GURDASPUR, Jan 8 — Border Roads across river Ravi in this district are in a state of gross neglect. Promises by the SAD-BJP government and the Minister in charge PWD B&R that border roads will be constructed and repaired on priority have remained only promises.

The border roads including the one from Sanghour to Shampur and from Dorangala to Chauntra are still kutcha. On assurance from the government the panchayats of the area completed the earthwork but still are waiting for these to be laid with premix. So much so these roads become unfit for traffic in rainy season and as a result transportation of the produce of the area is affected.

The villages affected include Sanghaura, Shamsherpur, Wazirpur, Chauntra, Mansooran and many more. The panchayats of the area said that the SAD-BJP government might not be able to complete the task of the roads as promised because the tenure of this government remains to be very short. They added that it was premature to say whether the next government will give respite in this regard to the border villages. Keeping in view the past record irrespective of the parties in power.

Similarly roads from Jhabkara to Makaura Ferry, Behrampur to Awankha and Taragarh to Jhabkara are in bad shape. Earthwork has been completed on part of these roads by villagers but no interest to pave these roads or repair these roads appears to be taken by the powers that be.

These roads wherever they were pucca were washed away during rains earlier. At places there is no pucca road and at other places the potholes have come up on the road and make it difficult even for the pedestrians to have smooth and the condition worsens in rainy season.

The residents of the area demanded immediate allocation of the funds to pave new roads in the area and repair old one. They appealed to the political representatives of the area to keep their promise and pursue powers that be for the allocation of funds in this regard.


Function for leprosy patients
From Our Correspondent

PATIALA, Jan 8 — The National Theatre Arts Society (NTAS) honoured two eminent personalities at the New Year Cultural Programme organised by the local Dr Khushdeva Singh Leprosy Patients Colony. The programme was held to entertain the inmates of the colony here yesterday.

Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, IAS, Deputy Commissioner, Patiala, honoured Mr Khush Bash Rai Kapur, Principal Correspondent of ‘Daily Hindustan Times’ and Mr Mohan Lal Gupta, senior advocate and a veteran social worker, president of the Bir Ji Foundation, president of the Dr Jagdish Singh Memorial Fund Trust and co-chairman of coordination committee of social services societies of the city and presented NTAS the prestigious Annual National Integration Award-2000. The award consisted of a memento, a shawl and a cash award.

However, both the recipients donated their award money adding their own contributions to the Leprosy Patients Colony. Mr Bir applauded the efforts of Ms Sunita Sabharwal and Mr Pran Sabharwal, the Director couple and other members of the NTAS , Mr G.S. Kakkar, Mr Jigar Jalandhari, Mr Shyam Lal Gupta, Mr Navyug, Mr P.C. Tiwari, Mr Sucha Singh, Mr Karnail Singh, Chairman Bhai Sahib Gurbax Singh Memorial Trust and Mr Rajender Verma for the promotion of art and culture and the welfare of the inmates of the colony.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, IAS, Additional Commissioner, (Patiala Division) inaugurated the function. Mr Pran Sabharwal, Director NTAS and the chief organiser of the programme said such programmes were aimed at promoting feelings of equanimity among the downtrodden.

As many as 30 artists enthralled the audience with classical and folk singing, western and Punjabi folk dances and short plays. Five-year-olds Maina, Kajol, Happy, Nishta, captivated the audience with their singing and dancing.


Dual citizenship for NRIs sought
Tribune News Service

Patiala, Jan 8 — The Indo-Canadian Friendship Society (ICFS) today urged the Union Government to grant dual citizenship reciprocating the move of the Canadian government .

The association president, Dr Amarjit Singh Dhillon, said, a meeting of the organisation held under the chairmanship of the former Vice-Chancellor, Dr J.S. Puar, felt that the PIO card facility introduced by the Indian Government was a poor substitute.

Dr Dhillon said the ICFS was of the view that dual citizenship would greatly benefit the Indians in general and Punjabis in particular.

In another resolution, the ICFS urged the government to allow Canada to open a Consulate Office at Chandigarh on the pattern of offices in Bombay, Madras and Calcutta to issue visas. It also urged the government to develop Chandigarh Airport into an international airport.


Warrant to attach vehicles of hospital issued
From Our Correspondent

MANSA, Jan 8 — Mr Sukhdev Singh Civil Judge (senior division) Mansa has issued warrant for the attachment of the vehicles of Dr Naginder Singh, Director, Khalsa Dental College and Hospital, Nangal Kalan. The vehicles are Contessa car number PB-31B-1711 and Maruti van number PB-31R-1211 on an execution application filed by Mr Maghar Singh son of Mr Kehar Singh of Nangal Kalan.

Dr Naginder Singh, Director, Khalsa Dental College and Hospital had taken forcible possession of house of Mr Maghar Singh and demolished two rooms, for which Mr Maghar Singh had filed a suit (civil suit no. 229 of September 13, 1997) for permanent injunction in the court.

The court, in its judgement of September 14, 1999, decreed the suit of Mr Maghar Singh for permanent injunction restraining Dr Naginder Singh from raising construction over the suit property with costs.

In spite of the judgement Dr Naginder Singh, constructed the building of Khalsa Dental College and Hospital. Mr Maghar Singh again moved court and filed an application against Dr Naginder Singh on December 18, 1999 for executing the decree under order 21 rule 32 CPC for demolishing the building and for further punishment of civil imprisonment to Dr Naginder Singh,

On December 21, 2000 the court ordered to attach the property of Dr Naginder Singh and also ordered to demolish the constructed building till February 17, 2001, failing which Dr Naginder Singh would have to undergo civil imprisonment from February 17, 2001 onwards.

In the suit by Mr Maghar Singh, Mr Naginder Singh has been mentioned as Dr Naginder Singh, but in fact he possesses no degree for doctorate from any bona fide university or the Medical Council of India. He just 10+2 pass.

Yesterday, parents nearly 320 students doing or have completed the course of professional degree of dentists, held a meeting in the premises of the Khalsa Dental College and Hospital at Nangal Kalan, in which the director of the college expressed inability to get the recognition of dental courses, from the Dental Council of India. The parents formed a body under the chairmanship of Mr Kapoor, who was authorised to collect Rs 20,000 from each affected student’s parent, so that a delegation of the parents may go to Delhi to meet the Union Health Minister Mr Thakur to get the approval from the Dental Council of India, which will be helpful for the students to get their degrees from the Baba Farid Medical University of Health Sciences, Faridkot.


Malwa Manch to honour Mark Tully
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 8 — Mark Tully, BBC’s India representative for several years, will receive the Sardar Dayal Singh Majithia Memorial Award to be given away by the Malwa Sabhyacharak Manch, Punjab, at a Lohri Mela to be celebrated by the Manch in Ludhiana on January 11.

The Millenium Awards were announced by the convener of the committee, Prof M.S. Cheema, in Ludhiana yesterday. Others who will receive the awards in different fields will be:

Dr S.S. Johal (Dr B.K. Madan Memorial Award), Mr Hans Raj Pahwa (Rajesh Pilot Memorial Award), Mr M.S. Bhullar (Bhagat Puran Singh Memorial Award), Dr T.S. Cheema (Dr Edit Brown Memorial Award), Mr Hans Raj Hans (Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Memorial Award), Raman Deep Singh Grewal (Dhyan Chand Memorial Award), Sardar Sikander-Amar Noori (Mohd Rafi Memorial Award), Mr Maninder Gill (Dr V.N. Tiwari Memorial Award), Mr Rakesh Mittal (Gulshan Kumar Memorial Award) and Mr Avtar Singh (Dr M.S. Randhawa Memorial Award)

Addressing the Press conference, Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib, MP, appreciated the spirit of the Punjabis in celebrating festivals. He also lauded the role of the Malwa Sabhyacharak Manch (Regd) in promoting Punjabi culture. He said the manch was spreading the cultural joys and collective social participation in the form of a mela.

Mr Pawan Dewan gave a brief history of the manch. He said the festival would include a health competition for children and turban-tying contest for the youth. Dr P.S. Sohi would organise a seminar on the role of festivals in view of globalisation and liberaliation in the Seminar Hall of Punjabi Bhawan from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. This will be followed by various musical , dance and cultural items.

The festival will be attended by Capt Amarinder Singh, President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Jagjit Singh, Leader of the Opposition, Punjab Assembly, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, MP, Mrs Rama Pilot , MP. 


Show-cause notices to 2 councillors
From Our Correspondent

ROPAR, Jan 8 — Two municipal councillors, were today issued show-cause notices. In the notices that were served today to Mr Sudershan Lal and Mr Amarjit Singh they had been accused of inciting the crowd, damaging the property of an octroi contractor, Mr Gurdev Singh and attacking his workers on October 6, last year. The accused councillors have been asked to explain their position in respect of the above laid accusations pending which they might be ousted from the membership of the council and barred from contesting the elections for a period of three years.

The row over the octroi contract has been continuing among the rival factions of the ruling alliance of municipal councillors. Owing alliance to Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Food and Civil Supplies Minister and Mr Tara Singh Ladal, State Minister for Education.

The accused municipal councillors alleged that the octroi contract was benami. They alleged that the contract was actually taken by the President and Vice-President of the council who were abusing their position to harass the local traders. Though the President of the council refuted the above said charges, an inquiry had already been ordered into allotment of the benami contract.

The current move of issuing show-cause notices to the two municipal councillors seemed another counter-move of the ruling faction supported by Mr Tara Singh Ladal.

The situation in the council is such that the group opposing the President has 10 members while the ruling faction has nine members with it. Though the opposing faction do not have the required one third majority to remove the President, they can jeopardise any proposal of the ruling faction.

In the recent past the opposing faction had withdrawn the powers of the President of the council to supervise the octroi and had vested them with the Senior Vice-President.


Teachers’ union leaders to meet today
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 8 — An emergency meeting of office-bearers of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union will be held in Ludhiana tomorrow to consider the statement by the Punjab Minister of Higher Education, Mr Mohan Lal, promising to implement the pension-cum-gratuity scheme for the employees (10,000-odd) of 172 colleges within a month.

The union will deliberate, according to the general secretary, Mr Charanjit Chawla, on how meaningful and sincere was the announcement.

A former president and general secretary of the union, Mr S.S. Hundal and Mr V.K. Tewari, respectively, have also been invited to the meeting.

Though Mr Chawla refused to comment, the fact is that the union office-bearers may consider deferring the proposed “education bandh” and state-level protest march at Gidderbaha on January 18. That protest is part of the schedule of rallies in the Assembly constituencies of key ministers, including the Chief Minister.

Mr Chawla clarified that besides the meeting of the union office-bearers at the Panjab University Extension Library in Ludhiana, the zonal rally already fixed for that day would be held as scheduled tomorrow.


Undertrial commits suicide in lock-up
From Our Correspondent

HOSHIARPUR, Jan 8 — Undertrial prisoner Surinder Pal (20), son of Diwan Chand resident of Batala, undergoing imprisonment committed suicide by hanging himself from the gas pipe of a toilet block adjoining to the cell in police station at 10 a.m. this morning at Dasuya 40 km from here.

Mr Sanjeev Kalra SSP Hoshiarpur said that Surinder Pal was arrested yesterday on the instance of Surjit Singh’s family of Khuda village house of whom was looted by five persons on January 6, 2001 night. Surinder Pal was a servant with the said family for the past one month and his activities were doubtful. Before the looting incident Surinder Pal remained absent from the house for two days. Moreover after the incident he acted suspiciously. The SSP said that during interrogation Surinder Pal revealed the involvement of some persons in this looting. But he was tense and feared that after disclosing the identification of the alleged looters they would kill his family.

Mr Kalra said that the toilet block adjoining the cell where Surinder Pal committed suicide by hanging himself with his warm Loi (shawl) was not visible from the courtyard of the police station. He was checked by the duty constable Hari Lagan 10 minutes earlier before his suicide. Surinder Pal was to be produced before Magistrate today at about 11 a.m.

He said that constable Hari Lagan was suspended and the SP operation had been deputed to make inquiry into the case.

Meanwhile the District Magistrate had been informed in this connection who had ordered an Magisterial inquiry into the death. The Human Right Commission was being informed in this connection. He said that the family of the deceased Surinder Pal had also been informed. The board of doctors had been constituted for post-mortem, he added.


Man alleges foul play in death of brother
From Our Correspondent

PHAGWARA, Jan 8 — Social activist Dr Amarjit Chaucer today alleged foul play in the death of his younger brother Ashok Kumar and demanded justice even as the Punjab State Human Rights Commission had also taken cognizance of his complaint that the police was trying to hush up the case by not registering an FIR against an influential person suspected to be behind the incident.

Addressing a press conference here this afternoon, Dr Chaucer disclosed his 46-year-old brother, who was a bachelor, was found dead on November 4 last year. The police called it a case of excessive intake of alcohol. However, when Ashok’s room was searched on November 5 his diary was found in which he had written that he was being harassed by his tenant who wanted to usurp his house.

“I informed the police on November 6 and even presented photocopies of the diary pages”, claimed Dr Chaucer. However, instead of registering a case against the tenant the police sided with him, alleged Dr Chaucer. He showed the diary to the press and distributed photocopies. He disclosed that the diary would be presented publicly to the local DSP, Mr Satinder Singh, in a day or two. The deceased had scribbled in the diary that he was being blackmailed and threatened and pleaded that his death should be avenged (“Meri maut da badla zarur laina”).

Dr Chaucer averred that Ashok’s death was unnatural since blood was coming out of his mouth. He claimed Ashok was with his nephew on November 3 and in good health. He said he met various police officers for getting a case registered against the tenant but in vain.

On his petition, the human rights panel considered it a fit case and had sought a report from the Home Department by the thirteenth of this month.

Dr Chaucer, who is also vice-president of the local Environment Association, asserted his brother had died under suspicious circumstances and sought action against the person responsible for this unnatural death. “So far, I have been running from pillar to post for seeking justice which has eluded me”, bemoaned Dr Chaucher.


Seminar on ethnic dimensions opens
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Jan 8 — “Realistic attempts to peacefully resolve ethnic conflicts without resorting to political separation necessitate an appreciation of the emotional and illusive nature of ethnic identity and homeland psychology. Probing these matters requires not a knowledge of ‘facts’ but of commonly held perceptions of facts,” remarked Prof Walker Connor, a political scientist of Trinity College, Hartford, USA, while delivering his keynote address on ‘Ethnonationalism and tomorrow’s world map’.

Professor Connor was delivering this lecture at a three-day international seminar on ‘Ethnic dimensions in international politics’ organised by Guru Nanak Dev University under the aegis of its Political Science department here at the university. The seminar opened today.

Prof Paul Wallace of Missouri University, USA, while inaugurating the seminar, said that 21st century was witnessing a strange paradox with globalism and tribal ethnic identities competing with each other. He said this had given rise to political violence and conflict all over the globe.

Dr H.S. Soch, Vice-Chancellor, who presided over the inaugural session, in his presidential remarks, underlined the fact that in the course of modernisation people did not care much about the erosion of ethnic identity at the individual level put at the same time if there was a serious threat to such an identity at the social level, it evoked ‘pugnacity’ and was responsible for mass movement and insurgency.

The evening session was presided over by Prof Paul Wallace, in which two papers were read by Dr Olive Peacock and Dr Rupinder Kaur Dhillon.

Dr Kuldip Singh, Head of the Political Science Department, welcomed the delegates and Dr S.S. Narang, professor, political science, presented a vote of thanks. More than 60 delegates from India and abroad are participating in this seminar which will conclude on January 10.


130 hydel project sites identified
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 8 — The Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) plans to generate power from mini-hydel projects at a total cost of Rs 58 crore.

According to a press note quoting the Science and Technology Minister, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, 130 hydel sites for setting up mini-hydel projects have been identified in the state. The sites are located at the Ferozepore feeder, Kasur branch canal (lower and upper), Abohar branch canal, Bathinda branch canal, main branch (lower and upper) of Upper Doad branch canal, Sabraon branch canal and Kotla branch canal.

The estimated power generation is 130 mw.

Generation of electricity from renewable and non-conventional energy sources, including small hydro projects, is on the agenda of the state government, he added.

The minister said two projects at the Abohar branch canal and Bathinda branch canal, each with four units, had been completed and commissioned.

The projects will annually generate 30.12 and 26.25 million units of power, respectively.


Residents lament over loss of glory
From Anita Tayal

PATIALA, Jan 8 — Patiala, is today a shadow of its former grandeur. Declining standards are a big worry for its residents.

Prof Gursewak Singh, a former Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, says after the merger of Pepsu into Punjab, the city has lost its original stature. Government machinery and maintenance of public utility services are deteriorating primarily because of funds. The increase in population is creating traffic chaos and the industrial units are the main cause for the increase in garbage.

He adds that though the head office of the Punjab State Electricity Board is in the city, the department always needs some improvements. “To lay telephone lines, roads are dug but never repaired. The railway lines are passing through the city. For this, we can make overhead bridges or underground tunnels,” he suggests.

Dr D.C. Bansal, an eye specialist, emphasises privatisation of various departments because the government is helpless in handling public affairs. The method of garbage collection should be modernised, he says. With regard to heritage, he believes that Patiala should be developed as a tourist spot. The government has turned a blind eye to preserve monuments and if immediate steps are not taken, the results can prove fatal, he adds.

Dr Harbhajan Singh Deol, a former Commissioner of Linguistics Minorities in India, observes that the city requires a radical facelift as part of urban development. The impetus should be upon communication and sewerage— the basic ingredients of a progressive and healthy urban life. To enable an easy approach to the shopping centres, problems of parking vehicles, traffic hazards and unauthorised occupants need an immediate attention. The beauty of the city can be restored by maintaining public toilets and lavatories and marginalising the slum problems, he says.

Mr J.S. Saini, a Dhronacharya awardee, presents the picture from the perspective of sports. He feels Patiala is on the international map due to the establishment of the National Institute of Sports. The NIS has now virtually been converted into a satellite centre.

Speaking about the development of Patiala, he says it cannot be called a developing city as planning has gone haywire and illegal colonies have mushroomed everywhere. He observes that while efforts are on to beautify the city, the general standard of services are sliding down by the day. He concludes that the development of the city into an academic centre is another feather in its cap.

Ms Daisy Walia, lecturer at the Department of Dance, Punjabi University, gives her notion on cultural aspects. She says the Patiala Gharana is all but dead. The simplicity and purity associated with it has gone and has been replaced by an age of mixed music. She says the reason for this is lack of patronage for music and the arts. With slight amendments, the lost status of the city can be restored, she claims. First of all, an auditorium is required, where all artists can perform under one roof. A proper art gallery, where artists from far-flung corners can conglomerate and share their vivid experiences, is also required, she opines.


Bitta to set up suicide squads 
Tribune News Service

Patiala, Jan 8 — All India Anti Terrorist Front President Maninderjit Singh Bitta today announced that his organisation would establish ‘’suicide squads’’ which would be trained to take on antinational elements in terrorism-affected areas.

He was speaking to newsmen after honouring Poonamdeep Kaur , the widow of Major Manwindra Singh who laid down his life in the Kashmir sector last month. The father of the late army officer - Col Bakhtawar Singh was also honoured on the occasion by Forum members, including its Patiala unit chief Harpal Singh.

Mr Bitta said the squads youth would trained in self defence and arms. He said the first camp would be organised in Delhi soon following which its members would fan over in terrorism hit areas. He said the members of the special squads would fight militancy and provide aid and moral support to terrorism-hit families.

He also said the Front would challenge recent court judgements in which former militants had been acquitted in militant related cases due to lack of evidence. He said the Front would appeal that the cases should be tried on the basis of evidence collected at the time of incident and that concession should be allowed for the fact that some of the witnesses could have been forced to withdraw from the case. 



Travel agents dupe gullible youths
From Our Correspondent

HOSHIARPUR, Jan 8 — Hundreds of unemployed and educated youths, especially from the rural areas, are being duped by the so-called travel agents regularly in the name of employment in various countries.

These travel agents charge between Rs 60,000 and Rs 80,000 for sending a youth to the Gulf countries. They allure the youths in the name of a bright future and a luxurious life there. A majority of the youths who cannot afford to pay such big amounts force their parents to borrow money by mortgaging their property.

In a majority of the cases, these travel agents disappear after taking lakhs of rupees from these innocent youths.

Hundreds of such youths who have been duped by these agents are running from pillar to post to get their money back but in vain.

Even such youths — Romesh Kumar of Chak Ladian, Sukhdev Singh of Darapur, Shyam Singh and Darshan Singh of Chak Ladian, Sanjiv Kumar of Jasso Chak, Daramvir Singh of Chak Ladian, Gurnam Chand of Guraya, Roomal Singh of Satraian, Shakti Pal of Chak Noor Ali, Jaspal Singh of Khutian and Surinder Kumar of Satraian had recently made a complaint to the SSP, Hoshiarpur, against Teja Singh, a travel agent, of Havail Chang village in Mukerian Tehsil in the district.

They alleged that Teja Singh promised to send them to Muscat and get them employed there on a handsome salary. He demanded Rs 60,000 each from them. The parents of these youths arranged the money by mortaging their property.

Teja Singh allegedly took them to Delhi and provided them copies of visa for Muscat. However, the visas were found to be fake and they had to return home.

The SSP has deputed the CIA in charge to look into their complaint. Mr Sanjeev Kalra, SSP, said the police received such complaints regularly but without any proof it could not take any action. He said last year 48 cases were registered against 77 travel agents.


Police remand for Syal till Jan 10
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Jan 8 — Golden Forests Chief Managing Director R.K. Syal was today remanded in police custody till January 10 after being produced in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Sanjeev Berry. The defence counsel pleaded that Mr Syal be examined medically. The judge ordered that his medical examination should be done in Government Rajindra Hospital. Counsel of the accused had filed an application in this regard earlier.

The Vigilance Department officials submitted a report of a medical examination which had been got done by them a few days earlier to the court which they said threw light on the present health of the Golden Forests CMD.

According to officials, the Golden Forests CMD is suffering from the after-effects of a hip replacement surgery besides having mild tuberculosis. They said, however, that the nature of illness was not “significant” and that he was being given constant medication while in police custody.

Mr Syal has been remanded in police custody since January 3 after he was directed to be produced in court on a production warrant from Ropar. He had been arrested following a series of raids conducted on company officials in Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Patiala.

Meanwhile, the Vigilance Department is now in the process of checking the Bangalore-based accounts of company officials. Sources said efforts were being made to procure the keys to the Bangalore lockers following which they would be checked to determine the valuables there.


Security beefed up in Ferozepore
From Our Correspondent

FEROZEPORE, Jan 8 — In view of the spurt in cross-border crimes and increased threat percentage to security installations, security has been beefed up in this border town of Punjab. According to sources, vigil has been stepped up around religious places and congested areas to ensure that anti-social elements do not take shelter there.

The cantonment area has also been kept under surveillance in the wake of intensified attacks on Army stations.

The District Magistrate, Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu, has issued prohibitory orders to keep a check on anti-social activities.

In all villages falling within 500 metres of the Indo-Pak border, night curfew has been imposed from 7 pm to 5 am. However, these orders do not imply to the contractors and labourers who are on military or police duty. They will, however, have to carry authority letters and identity cards.

Public movement along the 100-metre stretch of railway tracks, rivers, distributaries and drains has been restricted and private boats in the Satluj and Beas have also been banned.

The District Magistrate has directed all panchayats to deploy well-built youths for “thikri pehra” near banks, bridges, post offices, canals, etc.



5-year-old boy abducted
From Our Correspondent

FARIDKOT, Jan 8 — Two unidentified youths abducted a five-year-old boy from Mahikhana mohalla, street No 1 here today.

According to information, the child, Bawa, was playing outside his maternal uncle’s house when the abductors arrived on a motor cycle at about 8 am and took him away.

Dr Arun Kumar Araon, district police chief, told mediapersons that police teams had been sent to different areas to locate the boy and the abductors.

He said a special police team comprising some senior officers headed by Mr Harbhajan Singh SP (D), had also been constituted in this regard. A case has been registered.

According to family sources, the child, accompanied by his mother, had come here from Ludhiana three days ago.


Builder’s office looted
From Our Correspondent

PHAGWARA, Jan 8 — Armed robbers stormed into the office of a road construction company at Chaheru, 8 km from here, on the night of Saturday-Sunday, attacked and injured watchman Lehmbar Singh and decamped with a vehicle and other valuables worth Rs 8 lakh.

Sadar Police Phagwara, yesterday registered a case under Section 458 of the IPC, it was learnt today. The robbers took away a computer, TV, tyres and a truck of the company.


5 booked under Dowry Act
From Our Correspondent

KHANNA Jan 8 — The Khanna police has registered a case under Dowry Act against five persons of Ludhiana.

According to a press release issued by SSP Khanna Mr R.N. Dhoke, Mr Jattu Lal Sharma complained to the police that soon after the marriage of his daughter Ms Kushal Sharma, her in-laws started demanding dowry. They demanded car and kothi for their son. His daughter was beaten up many time. They allegedly tried to kill her by pouring kerosene on her.


Exam cancelled due to wrong paper
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Jan 8 — The students of LLB (II year) course of Punjabi University Regional Centre came in for a rude shock when they were supplied with the wrong question paper in the third semester, examination.

Official sources said the students who were taking the examination of third semester were given question paper of Hindu Law instead of Land Laws today.

The local management after consulting the Punjabi University authorities cancelled the examination and informed the students that they would be given fresh date for the same paper.

Dr Jagroop Singh, Director of the Regional Centre, when contacted, said the question paper was not changed due to fault of Punjabi University authorities. He said question papers were packed in the wrong packet from the printing press from where these were published.

He pointed out that the students of the third semester who were taking the test at Patiala also faced the same situation and the university authorities cancelled the exam. 40 students were taking test at Bathinda centre, he added.


Arshpreet, Jatinder win painting contest
From Our Correspondent

Patiala, Jan 8 — Mr Vikas Pratap, Additional Deputy Commissioner, while addressing the students and teachers of Multipurpose School here today, said the younger generation will be their main plank for the promotion of road safety and traffic rules at the conclusion of road safety week.

Mr Pratap added that if children were made aware of these rules then elders would automatically understand the importance of these rules. Painting competition for students of class sixth to eighth and class IX to XII were also held. Arshpeet Kaur from Pheelkhana School bagged the first position in the junior category. Tanvi Anand from Civil Lines School and Gagandeep Kaur from Pheelkhana School got the second and the third positions respectively. In the senior section, Jatinder Singh from Tripri School bagged the first position, while Preetinder Kaur from Civil Lines School was placed second and Nisha Bhardwaj from Multipurpose School got the third. Ranjit Singh from Government Tripri School and Jatinder Kaur from Pheelkhana School bagged consolation prizes.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Avtar Chand Sharma, District Transport Officer, said during the road safety week they had organised various camps in all subdivisions to make people aware of road safety rules and doctors had conducted eye tests on about 940 truck-drivers. He added that in order to promote traffic rules and regulations traffic reflectors had been affixed on the rear of 439 trolleys and more than 2,000 vehicles were tested for pollution levels free of cost.


Students continue strike
From Our Correspondent

MALERKOTLA, Jan 8 — The strike by the Punjab Students Union in Government College entered the second day today. The union is protesting against hike in fee by Punjabi University, Patiala.

Gurmukh Singh Mann, district secretary of the union, Sangrur unit, said in a press note that they would continue their strike till the university authorities withdrew the hike in the fee.

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