Tuesday, January 30, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




Rajmohinder SAD-BJP choice 
From Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Jan 29 — The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, today took lead by announcing its candidate, Mr Rajmohinder Singh Majitha, Rajya Sabha member for the crucial Majitha byelection even as the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee which was scheduled to declare its candidate today had to defer the decision till tomorrow, in the wake of a number of claimants for the party ticket.

Notwithstanding the defiant posture of Mr Simerjit Singh, son of late Parkash Singh Majitha, who staked claim on the Akali ticket, Mr Badal preferred to field a “heavy-weight” as the result of byelection would pave the way for the formation of next government.

Declaring the candidature of Mr Rajmohinder Singh Majitha, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president of the ruling Akali Dal said that he (Mr Majitha) would be common candidate of the SAD-BJP and the Bahujan Samaj morcha.

However, Mr Amarinder Singh, PPCC chief, has been having tough time to decide on the candidature as supporters of different aspirants raised slogans in the district Congress Committee (Rural) in presence of Mr Amarinder Singh. Though Mr Amarinder Singh is likely to allot ticket to Mr Sawinder Singh Kathu Nangal who had lost the previous Majitha byelection by a thin margin of 3000 votes as rebel Akali candidate, yet the supporters of Mr Surinder Paul Singh, Mr Ranjit Singh Kathu Nangal — both former MLAs and Mr Sukhjinder Raj Singh Lali have been pressing hard to allocate ticket to an old Congress leader. Mr Amarinder Singh held closed door meetings with Mr R.L. Bhatia, a Congress MP and Mr Partap Singh Bajwa in Amritsar yet he could not finalise the name of “suitable” candidate till today evening. However, senior Congress leaders, who pleaded anonymity said that Mr Amarinder Singh might oblige Mr Kathu Nangal. Mr Kathu Nangal had joined the Congress on the pre-condition that he would be given the party ticket for the Majitha seat byelection.

Visibly upset over the denial of party ticket, Mr Simerjit Singh, son of late Parkash Singh Majitha, today convened a meeting of his supporters at his residence. Though Mr Parkash Singh Badal had expressed confidence that he would win over Mr Simerjit Singh. Yet the latter said he was determined to file papers as a rebel candidate. He reiterated that Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president of the SHSAD and Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, SAD (Amritsar) were still in touch with him. He said Mr Rajmohinder Singh had committed a “blunder” by taking a decision to contest the byelection as it was the “legitimate” right of the “Majitha family”. He said Mr Rajmohinder Singh had already been accommodated as Rajya Sabha member being a nephew of Sardar Parkash Singh Majitha. Instead, he (Mr Rajmohinder Singh) should have reciprocated the gesture by lobbying for the “Majitha family” to get party ticket.

However, Mr Badal said that Mr Simerjit Singh was like his son and could not go away from the party. The Majitha family had been “loyal” to the Akali Dal for so many decades and Mr Simerjit Singh could not take any step which could weaken the party, he said.

Mr Amarinder Singh, who had lodged several complaints with the Election Commission regarding the violation of election code of conduct, said that the CEC had failed to take any action against the ruling party during the previous Nawanshahr and Sunam byelections “Mr Adeshpartap Singh Kairon, son-in-law of Mr Badal, was caught red-handed while violating the code of conduct at Nawanshahr but the CEC did not take any action”. He, however, urged the Election Commission to ensure free and fair Majitha byelection. Mr Badal, however, has become extra cautious so far, as election omission is concerned. He said, he had deposited expenses of his official car from party fund so that nobody could blame him that official machinery was being “misused”.

Mr Badal said that his party would seek votes on “performance” of his government, the SAD-BJP would tell the voter that the Congress was the party which had always tried to divide people on communal lines. The Congress always discriminated against the demands of Punjab and Punjabis. He claimed that he had filed the case regarding the adjudication of inter-state waters in the Supreme Court but late Darbara Singh, the then Congress Chief Minister withdrew the case at the behest of Mrs Indira Gandhi — the then Prime Minister. The transfer of Chandigarh was also halted due to the Congress party, he alleged.

In firm voice, Mr Amarinder Singh announced that after coming to power, the Congress would ensure that Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his colleagues, who allegedly had amassed property through corruption would be put behind bars. He said if voted to power, he would set up a high-powered commission to probe corruption charges against the ruling party.

On the other hand, Mr Surinder Pal Singh, a former Congress MLA has asked openly Mr Amarinder Singh that he would support any candidate declared by the PPCC for forthcoming Majitha byelection. However, other aspirants for the ticket were not present.


SHSAD projects Tohra as CM
From Sushil Goyal and Vinod Seth

DHURI, Jan 29 — Top leaders of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) yesterday projected Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President of the SHSAD, as the next Chief Minister of the state and called upon the people to give power and an opportunity to Mr Tohra to save and serve Punjab, at the political conference of the SHSAD held in the local old Grain Market under the presidentship of Mr Tohra.

Earlier, leaders of the SHSAD were projecting Mr Ravi Inder Singh, MLA from Morinda, as the next Chief Minister during the past one year. Mr Ravi Inder Singh was also projected as the next CM during the Sunam Assembly byelection by the Sanjha Morcha of nine political parties.

Addressing the conference three top leaders of the SHSAD, namely Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, General Secretary of the SHSAD, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, MLA from Ludhiana, and Mr Randhir Singh Rakhra, Secretary-General of the youth wing of the SHSAD, projected Mr Tohra as a suitable candidate for the Chief Ministership claiming that only Mr Tohra was able to punish the “corrupt” persons and to provide people’s rule to the state by controlling the bureaucracy.

The SHSAD leaders also criticised Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab, and President of the SAD, for his alleged anti-Akal Takht activities, non-fulfilment of promises made with the people during elections, abandoning of Punjab issues including transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab and river waters dispute, corruption by his family members etc.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Tohra appointed Jathedar Gurinder Pal Singh Dhanaula, who recently had left the SAD and Mr Surjit Singh Barnala’s camp, as General Secretary of the SHSAD.

Mr Tohra also called upon the people to change the Badal government in a peaceful manner stating that Mr Badal had failed in protecting the interests of the Punjabis especially Sikhs as well as the state. He also asked the people to give a chance to the SHSAD as his party wanted to become saviour of the Punjabis.

Mr Tohra also said he was ready to declare a ceasefire against Mr Badal provided Mr Badal should first bow before Akal Takht and accept Bhai Ranjit Singh as Jathedar of Akal Takht.

Mr Tohra also lashed out at the BJP and the SAD for the implementation of the GATT agreement and WTO proposals. He said the WTO would not only ruin the farmers it would also hit our economy in all fields and would ruin our industry and farming. He also urged Mr Badal to ask the Union Government to come out of the GATT agreement.

Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra said the SHSAD had given a programme to the Punjabis, if they wanted to see Punjab as a prosperous state, protection of the interests of the farmers, traders and employees besides labourers and dalits, they should accept the SHSAD as this party had Mr Tohra like personality who could control the bureaucracy and the corrupt persons.

Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal said the future of Punjab in the hands of the Congress and the SAD was bleak. And this situation would not change till the people gave power to Mr Tohra who was able to curb the activities of the “corrupt” people and punish them. He also claimed that the law and order situation was worsening day-by-day in the state.

Mr Mahesh Inder Singh also claimed if Mr Tohra got a chance to rule the state, the picture of Punjab would change fast.

Mr Gurinder Pal Singh Dhanaula, said Mr Badal had ignored all issues of the state, including transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab and river waters dispute. He said Mr Badal was promoting his family members in the party and the government. He appealed to the SAD workers to leave the SAD to protect the Akali traditions.

Among others who addressed the conference included Baba Tek Singh Dhanaula, district President of the SHSAD, Mr Randhir Singh Rakhra, Secretary General of the youth wing of the SHSAD, Sant Baba Kapoor Singh Bardwal, President of the Dhuri circle of the SHSAD, and Bibi Beant Kaur of the Istri SHSAD.

A one-minute silence was also observed by the gathering to express shock and grief over the deaths of thousands of people in Gujarat in the recent earthquake. Mr Tohra also appealed to the people to send relief to Gujarat for the earthquake victims.


Shot in the arm for Amarinder
From Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Jan 29 — The Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh, has scored a major tactical victory over his opponents in the party by getting the party high command to endorse his stand that no leader will be allowed to organise any rally individually and that all rallies in the state will be organised under the banner of the Pradesh Congress Committee.

In a communication to the PPCC chief, the party general secretary in charge of Punjab, Mr Moti Lal Vora, said the party had decided to take this step following reports that rallies were being organised in the state without the approval of the PCC or the high command . He said such activities were painting a bad picture of the party before the electorate apart from demoralising the party grass roots workers.

Mr Vora in his communication, a copy of which was procured by TNS, has said any party worker violating the above norms will be dealt with strictly and disciplinary action will be taken against him .

The communication of Mr Vora to the PPCC chief has apparently been necessitated following a function organised by former party kisan cell president Harinderpal Singh Mann at Samana on January 11 to felicitate party MP Jagmeet Brar against the wishes of the state Congress leadership. Mr Brar had come to the rally despite an appeal by senior leaders of the district, including former MPs and legislators , that he should not do so as Mr Mann had been suspended from the primary membership of the party .

The communication is being touted by Amarinder loyalists as a sign of the closeness the PPCC chief enjoys with party president Sonia Gandhi. They said even though Mr Jagmeet Brar had claimed in the press that he had met Mrs Gandhi and taken her permission to attend the Samana rally, he had been chided by the party general secretary for attending the rally without the permission of the high command .

Amarinder loyalists claim the communication, while being a clear pointer to the party high command’s wish to put Capt Amarinder Singh firmly in the saddle, also justified the action taken against Mr Mann by the Patiala District Congress Committee (Rural) which has expelled him from the primary membership of the party despite attempts of Mr Jagmeet Brar to ensure no action was taken against him.

The sources said the supremacy of Capt Amarinder Singh had also been proved from other contents of the letter which clearly mention that no leader, irrespective of his stature, will be allowed to issue press statements against another party leader or against the policies of the party. All partymen, irrespective of their stature, have also been barred from airing their grievances in the media .

Mr Vora mentions in the communication that he was issuing these directives following a number of media reports on statements by senior party leaders against each other and also against the party policies. He said the measures were being taken to ensure strict discipline in the party .

The communication has also asked the Pradesh Congress to organise workshops for party workers and leaders at regular intervals to discuss policy matters or any other differences in the party. It said the AICC would nominate senior leaders as observers at such workshops.


Amarinder irked by latecomers
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Jan 29 — Even as Mr Amarinder Singh himself was late by an hour but he expressed his displeasure publicly over the late arrival of some senior Congress leaders, including PPCC members, for about three hours.

The PPCC chief who had a stint as Captain in the Army, announced that he would enforce “Army discipline” in the party, especially at a time when party was facing crucial Majitha byelection. “From today onward, I won’t wait for even a minute. The gates of the venue of meetings would be closed at scheduled time. Latecomers will have to sit outside the venue”, he declared while addressing a public gathering at the district Congress committee (rural) office, here today. He said he would be camping in the Majitha constituency to monitor the campaigning.


Sukhbir tipped for RS seat?
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Jan 29 — With the fielding of Mr Rajmohinder Singh Majitha, a Rajya Sabha member for the ensuing Majitha byelection, Mr Parkash Singh Badal seems to have killed two birds with one stone. One, Mr Majitha is considered as the “fittest” candidate for ruling SAD as he had distributed liberal grants from his ‘MP quota’ for the Majitha Assembly constituency. Second, if Mr Majitha wins the byelection, he will have to vacate the Rajya Sabha seat. Hence Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, general secretary SAD and son of the Chief Minister could contest the Rajya Sabha election subsequently. Though another Rajya Sabha seat from Jalandhar had already fallen vacant with the disqualification of Mr Barjindar Singh Hamdard yet Mr Badal did not want to adjust his son against the ‘sole seat’.

Allocation of funds by Mr Rajmohinder Singh Majitha for Majitha Assembly constituency had shown that he wanted to contest the Assembly election from this constituency. Mr Majitha himself had claimed that he had distributed 70 per cent of his quota for Majitha constituency. Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, a former Minister alleged that the Rajya Sabha member did not belong to one Assembly segment but to the entire state. He said allocation of MP’s funds to a particular Assembly constituency was “un-becoming” of an MP. 


CM ready to forge ‘Panthic unity’
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Jan 29 — Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president, Shiromani Akali Dal, has said that he is ready for forging ‘complete Panthic’ unity with a view to defeating the Congress.

After a gap of 25 months, this is for the first time that Mr Badal showed his willingness to forge unity. It was December 1998 when Mr Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra parted ways. Though Mr Tohra had been emphasising for ‘Panthic unity’ Mr Badal never spoke on this issue.

Replying to a question, Mr Badal said that his party was ready to reach poll alliance with any like-minded party to defeat the Congress, which allegedly had ruined the state’s economy during the governance.

Mr Badal seems to have expressed willingness for the ‘Panthic unity’ in wake of the statement of Mr Simerjit Singh, son of late Parkash Singh Majitha that Mr Tohra and Mr Mann might field him as ‘common candidate’ for the byelection. In case Mr Simerjit succeeds in getting the support of rival Akali factions the Akali votes could be divided.


Alternative to SAD-BJP combine soon: MCPI
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 29 — The Marxist Communist Party of India (MCPI) will make efforts to mobilise Left and democratic forces in Punjab to build an alternative to the SAD-BJP alliance and the Congress because the policies, economic as well as political, adopted by those parties had proved detrimental to the interest of the people of the state.

Mr Prem Singh Bhangu, a Central Committee member of MCPI, and Mr Kuldip Singh, state secretary of the MCPI, said here today in a joint statement that corruption, nepotism and lawlessness had increased during the Akali regime.

The statement opposed the policy of globalisation, privatisation and liberalisation and called upon the Left and democratic forces in Punjab to unitedly fight and mobilise the people against the onslaught of foreign capital and multinational corporations.

The SAD should make clear its stand on the World Trade Organisation because, on the one hand, it was opposing the WTO and, on the other hand, participating in the NDA government at the Centre which was implementing this agreement.

The MCPI also criticised the proposed third front of the CPM, comprising all patriotic forces, including the Congress, irrespective of their economic policies, under the garb of fighting the communal SAD-BJP alliance.

The MCPI would organise district-level conferences in February to educate the people on these issues. 


Sikh jathas: Talwandi to meet PM
By Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 29 — In an endeavour to sort out the issue of sending Sikh jathas to Pakistan on various occasions, including the ensuing Baisakhi, the President of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, will meet the Prime Minister on February 6, a day before his meeting with the RSS chief, Mr K.S. Sudarshan, in the Union Capital.

According to sources, the SGPC chief, accompanied by the Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, and the vice-chairman of the National Minorities Commission, Mr Tarlochan Singh, will meet Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee at 11 a.m. on that day to impress upon him the need to take up the matter of SGPC-sponsored jathas visiting Sikh shrines with the Pakistan Government at the inter-government level.

After meeting the Prime Minister, Mr Talwandi will also meet the Union Home Minister and senior officials in the Ministry of External Affairs to end the deadlock over the sending of Sikh jathas on historic and religious occasions.

Even at the last meeting of the executive committee of the SGPC held at Alamgir in Ludhiana, it was felt that the SGPC was the umbrella organisation under which all other bodies, including the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, had been sending jathas to Pakistan. Of late, besides the Delhi committee and Takhts, certain state gurdwara committees, too, had started sending jathas, thus eroding the authority of the SGPC, besides providing a lever to the powerful ISI to carry on its anti-India activities.

To protest against the formation of the Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee the then SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, had decided against sending Sikh jathas to Pakistan. The decision created a furore as the Pakistan Government refused to bow to the SGPC demand to disband the Pakistan committee.

With the Baisakhi festival a little more than 10 weeks away, the SGPC executive felt that the issue should be taken up urgently with the Union Government and its traditional authority restored in an honourable way so that it could start sending jathas to Pakistan at the earliest.

Various Sikh organisations had complained of harassment at the Attari railhead last time when pilgrims were held up there for two days before they could travel to Pakistan to participate in the birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev in November. Then the SGPC had not sent any jatha.

The meeting between Mr Talwandi and the RSS chief on February 7 may also go a step further in removing misgivings, if any, about the sangh’s interference in the Sikh Panth which has been the subject of a major controversy.


Scholars oppose globalisation
Tribune News Service

JALANDHAR, Jan 29 — Globalisation and liberalisation were the products of minds of those who believed in neo-colonisation and materialism, and the Indian leadership, has bowed before the multinational companies. This consensus emerged among scholars participating in the three-day annual conference of the Punjab Academy of Social Sciences. Literature and the Punjabi Bhasha Academy which concluded at the local Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall here today.

Mr Harbhajan Singh Deol said policies of most of the countries were being “Americanised” under the name of globalisation and warned that foreign goods would kill cottage ad local industries of the country. He said politicians had failed to act in time to check globalisation. He alleged that a nexus among politicians, businessmen and bureaucrats was responsible for the degenerating economical condition of the state, questioned Mr Deol.

Dr Chaman Lal said there was no visible impact of globalisation on the Punjabi language as yet and that was why there was no movement to protest against globalisation. He said on one hand, it was a positive sign that so many Punjabi channels and programmes had become part of the electronic media, but at the same time, people had started losing taste of reading good literature. Striking a different note.

Mr Sukhdev Singh, said the new economic order was bound to affect the languages of the country since only those who had command over English got good jobs. “This is going to affect the Punjabi language and culture” said Mr Sukhdev Singh.

The president of the Lok Bhalai Party, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, said the ruling party, which i the past had been opposing the globalisation, had been now exposed .

He said the effect of globalisation had now started showing that the country was pro-heading towards intellectual and cultural dependence. He said the need of the hour was to arrest the brain drain to the West.

Earlier, Mr Ranjit Singh Ghumman, said the Indian Government had to watch the interests of farmers while keeping itself within the ambit of the WTO and the only solace for the farming class could be more funds for agriculture sector.


Punjab to start IT courses for drop-outs
From Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

MALOUT, Jan 29 — The Punjab government has decided to impart Information Technology (IT) education to the school drop-outs in the state.

Official sources said that the Punjab government had decided to extend the facility of free education in the IT to those school drop-outs who had left studies due to poverty or lack of knowledge.

Sources added that in the initial phase, two courses would be introduced for such students. In the module one course the students would be given IT education for six months and in the module two courses, the students would be imparted IT education for one year.

Only those students would be given the benefits of this scheme who had scored 60 per cent marks or first division in the matric or 10+ two examinations and afterwards left the studies for poverty and other factors. The facility would be extended to rural students in the initial phase.

Official sources said that the scheme would be inaugurated by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in this town in the first week of next month.

Mr Gurdeep Singh, Principal, Malout Institute of Management and Information Technology (MIMIT), when contacted, said that in Muktsar district, the MIMIT would impart IT education to rural dropouts. He added that the MIMIT would organise evening classes and use its own computer laboratory and faculty to impart IT education free of cost to students.

He added that the MIMIT would give six months certificate course to the students while the one-year diploma course certificate would be given by the Punjab Technical University (PTU) Jalandhar. He added that the PTU would conduct examination before awarding the diploma certificate.

He pointed out that in the initial batch, 30 students would be selected for which the applications had started pouring in. For the next academic session, 30 students would be added. The registration of the students would start on first of February.

He said that the main purpose of the scheme was to prepare the school drop-outs as IT professionals so that they could become capable of earning livelihood in dignified manner.

He disclosed that the MIMIT at present had been running two courses including MBA and B-Tech and for running two more courses including MCA and one other, the All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) had been approached through the Punjab government.


600 spinning mill workers join SAD
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Jan 29 — The Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) today got a shot in the arm when at least 600 members of the Bathinda Cooperative Spinning Mill Workers Union joined the party in presence of Punjab Science and Technology Minister, Mr Chiranji Lal, at a function organised here.

The 600 workers, who joined SAD under the leadership of Mr Sukharvir Chand, Chairperson and Mr Tara Singh, president, said that they would motivate members of workers union of spinning mills located at Goindwal Sahib and Abohar to join the party.

Mr Garg, while addressing the workers said the Punjab Government would not close down three cooperative spinning mills which were still running in the state.

He added the he would arrange a meeting between the unions and the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, shortly so that some financial aid could be given to the mills to keep them running.

He alleged that the cooperative spinning mills which had closed down in the past was due to wrong policies of previous Congress government of state.

He pointed out that the Punjab Government had decided in July last year that no cooperative spinning mill would be closed down.

The government was also opposing the implementation of WTO norms to protect the interests of workers and farmers.

Mr Major Singh Grewal, Managing Director, Spinfed, who was present on the occasion, said that all mills had been running well and had produced 32,000 kg of yarn.

He added that Spinfed had demanded Rs 6 crore from the Punjab Government to purchase cotton from the market.


Wipe out Cong in next poll: Hussain
Tribune News Service

JAITU (Faridkot), Jan 29 — The death anniversary of a BJP leader, Mr Gurbachan Singh “Patanga” , virtually turned into a pre-poll campaign, when the Union Minister of State for Human Resources Development, Mr Shah Nawaz Hussain, appealed to the Sikhs to wipe out the opposition Congress in the next assembly election.

Reminding the Sikhs of alleged atrocities meted out to the community by the Congress in the past, he wondered why the party was still being favoured by some in the state. In no uncertain terms, he called upon the Sikhs not to forget that the Congress “engineered” 1984 carnage that claimed thousands of lives in Delhi and other parts of the country.

Adding that the Sikhs outside Punjab are safe under the BJP regime, he claimed that “the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, “has restored the honour” of the Sikhs, who can now roam around in Delhi with a sense of dignity.”

Accusing the Congress of ruining the Punjab economy, he said, the Akali Dal-BJP regime had put back on rail the stalled development of the state.

Indicating that the party was being put into an election mode, Mr Hussain said he will visit Punjab during the poll campaign to expose the Congress.

Referring to the killing of Mr Patanga by terrorists, he assured the gathering that his government will never let Pakistan-sponsored militancy resurface in Punjab.

Mr Hussain, who was earlier a sports minister and mysteriously removed from the post against the backdrop of match fixing controversy, declined to comment on the CBI investigation against the tainted players.

He also denied having been removed and said, the party had promoted him by offering a more busy office. He also refused to disclose the details of the match-fixing scandal which he had gathered during his tenure as sports minister and claimed that the government was not trying to save any “influential” player.


Punjab sends 2 lakh blankets
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Jan 29 — Even as Chief Minister Punjab Parkash Singh Badal appealed to Punjabis to donate liberally blankets, woollen sheets, lohis, clothes and articles of daily use for earthquake victims. Capt Amarinder Singh president of the PPCC talking to mediapersons today pressed for the urgency of sending foodgrains to quake victims, such as rice that is in plenty in Punjab obviously an attempt at cutting on the fervent appeal of the Chief Minister.

The Chief Minister, in his appeal, has called on non-government organisations (NGOs) to come forward to help those in need. He declared that more than two lakh blankets and woollen clothes have been despatched to ‘Bhuj’ the worst-hit township in Gujarat by special Air Force flight with the latest one taking off this morning.

Mr Badal said that in his talk with the Gujarat Chief Minister the latter had asked for relief in the form of ready-to-wear clothes, tents and blankets etc. Mr Badal stated that the first consignment consisting of 42 truck loads of relief material gathered from various cities and townships of Punjab for Gujarat victims were already despatched and more will be done in the coming days.

Calling for collective responsibility to help the suffering he called upon the NGOs to work in tandem with government agencies to extend maximum help in the tragic circumstances.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Narinderjit Singh informed that special cells have been set up under government instructions to all subdivisions, headquarters of Amritsar under SDM I and II to monitor and collect relief from donors at Red Cross Bhavan Amritsar on a 24-hour basis. 


Prisoners donate blood for quake-hit
From Harjeet Singh

BATHINDA, Jan 29 — Prem Parkash (27), an undertrial at Central Jail here, feels that by donating blood for the victims of the earthquake in Gujarat he has atoned for the crime, for which he is facing trial under the NDPSA.

Baljinder Singh (32), another undertrial, who hails from the Haji Rattan area of the city, too, is happy that he has done something for the victims by donating blood.

Various undertrials and prisoners of the jail here got an opportunity for this social service, when the authorities organised a blood donation camp.

Prem Prakash, who donated blood for the ninth times, hails from Chautala village of Haryana. He said that it was his uncle’s son who had first inspired him to donate blood.

He added that although he was facing trial now, he wanted to do something for others and the camp gave him a golden opportunity to atone for his actions.

Balwinder Singh said that a family tragedy had inspired him to do something for people who were victims of circumstances or natural calamities.

When asked whether he was donating the blood willingly or under ‘compulsion’, he said that it was the joint and voluntary decision of all undertrials and prisoners.

About 25 units of blood were collected from the jail which would be sent to the quake victims. The jail authorities also donated 350 tents for the victims.

Mr Jaspal Singh, Deputy Commissioner, who inaugurated the camp, also met the blood donors and appreciated their willingness to donate blood. He also interacted with the prisoners.

Mr Swaran Singh, Jail Superintendent, was also present.


Donations pour in for Gujarat victims
From Our Correspondent

PATIALA, Jan 29 — Various government and private associations have donated their one day’s salary to help Gujarat earthquake victims.

The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Engineers Association secretary Anil Miglani while expressing deep concern and grief over the unprecedented loss of life in the devastating earthquake said a meeting of the executive decided to donate their one-day salary towards the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.

Mr Amar Singh, secretary of the Associate Banks Officers Association, said every member of the Associate Banks in the country would contribute towards the relief fund set up for the victims of the quake.

A sum of Rs 1 lakh has been collected by members of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Hoshiarpur. A team of doctors has showed its willingness to go to the affected areas and provide medical aid to the victims. The association has sent the dressing material alongwith 100 units of blood.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir here today stated that relief material for Gujarat quake victims would be sent by the District Red Cross unit.

He said it had been decided following a meeting of the Red Cross unit, that relief material, including blankets, milk powder, biscuits, rice, clothes would be sent in special trucks and that voluntary organisations had taken lead in collecting the relief material .

Expressing deep concern and grief over the incident, Mr Bir asked people to come forward and help the people of Gujarat. Mr Vijay Kumar Goel donated a cheque of Rs 11,000 in the relief fund. Mr Mohan Lal Gupta, Advocate and Chairman of Veer Ji Foundation, gave 200 blankets, 50 shawls, 10 quintals rice and other eatables for the victims.

Mr Krishan Jindal, vice-patron of the Red Cross, has given 500 blankets and Gurudwara Singh Sabha has donated 30 beds, including blankets, bedsheets, towels and two bags of utensils. Donations have also been made by Mr Amar Singh Kamboj, Mr Kishan Chand Chadda, Mr Jaspal Singh, apart from many other social organisations. Mr Bir said various blood camps have already been set up at Delhi and if required more blood will be collected in time.


Earthquake rumours lead to sleepless night 
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Jan 29 — The tremors of the earthquake, which claimed thousands of lives in Gujarat, may have been felt on January 26 by residents of the city, but it was today that they experienced the fear associated with it. Thousands of people in the city and in various villages in the district spent a sleepless night, remaining vigilant throughout, in anticipation of the tremors which never came.

This was the result of spread of rumours in the entire district that an earthquake could strike the state early in the morning. The time was also spelt out at 5 a.m. Villagers adjoining the city did not take any risks. They preferred to sleep in the open putting out beds away from their houses. The fear psychosis continued till 7 a.m. before people heaved a sigh of relief.

Some people came out of their houses in the early morning and started strolling on the roads fearing the worst. Rumours of an earthquake started in the morning with certain residents imagining tremors and reporting that an earthquake had struck the area. Such rumours were reported from New Lal Bagh Colony, Yadvindera Colony and few others.

Sohan Singh, a resident of Mansahia Colony, said he had received a telephone from Canada about the impending quake likely to hit Punjab today morning. Other people also reported that the rumour spread like wildfire through the telephone.

The situation was worse in the villages in the district. Pritam Singh, a resident of Sheikhupura village, who works in a newspaper office, disclosed that an announcement was made from the village gurdwara warning about an impending earthquake in the early morning and urging people to come out of their houses. He said such announcements had also been made from gurdwaras of nearby villages.

Sources said the rumour had spread in the entire Malwa belt and its origin probably lay in Ferozepore and Bathinda, where also announcements of a likely quake had been made from public places yesterday.


Ministers to donate one month’s salary
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 29 — All Punjab ministers will donate one month’s salary as contribution to the relief efforts for the earthquake victims of Gujarat.

This was stated by the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, here today. A Chief Minister’s relief fund for the victims is also being set up.

The Chief Minister appealed to the people of the state to make generous donations as the earthquake had brought untold misery.

He expected employees of various departments, boards and corporations to donate at least one day’s salary for the humanitarian cause, said an official press release.

The Subdivisional Engineers Association, PWD (B and R), Punjab, at a meeting held here today decided that its members would contribute one day’s salary to the Chief Minister’s relief fund for the earthquake victims.

Staff members of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on Sunday mourned the death of thousands of persons in the earthquake. They observed a two-minute silence.

The staff have decided to donate one day’s salary to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund, according to the Secretary, Mr N.S. Mavi.

Meanwhile, the Speaker, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, hosted a lunch at Punjab Bhavan for distinguished visitors from abroad in Chandigarh for the 64th Conference of Presiding Officers and Secretaries of Legislative Bodies in India, which was scheduled to be held from January 29 to February 2. The conference has been postponed due to the Gujarat tragedy.

Among those who have arrived are Mr John Marck, Deputy Speaker, House of Commons, United Kingdom, Mr P. Ramnah, Speaker, National Assembly, Mauritius, Mr William James Hartley, Speaker, Legislative Assembly of British Columbia (Canada), Major-Gen Sarath Munasinghe, Deputy Speaker, Parliament of Sri Lanka, Mr Waruna Dhamn Dasanayaka, Assistant Secretary-General, and Mr Andre Pompon, Secretary, National Assembly, Mauritius.

The assembled foreign guests and others, including Union Minister S.S. Dhindsa and Punjab Minister M.M. Mittal, observed a two-minute silence.


Periphery area residents meet Governor
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 29 — A deputation of residents of areas surrounding Chandigarh today met the Governor of Punjab, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd) and submitted a memorandum to him opposing the new city of Anandgarh.

The deputation was led by Mr Shamsher Singh Dulo, MP, and Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, a former Punjab Minister.

The deputation held that establishing of a new town would displace residents of 29 villages with a population of nearly one lakh besides consuming thousands of acres of fertile and productive land. The residents of the periphery of Chandigarh have small land holdings and have worked very hard for the past two decades to convert this barren land into fertile land. And now when the land had become productive, the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party government had decided to establish a new town here.

Earlier, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had himself opposed establishing of new Chandigarh in the same area when the proposal was mooted by the previous Congress government headed by Mr Beant Singh, the deputation said.

It further maintained that four dams constructed during the previous Congress government at a cost of Rs 30 crore at Mirzapur, Siswan, Jayanti Devi Ki Rao and Parch would be abandoned after new town comes into being. Besides an Air Force station at Mullanpur Garib Dass, too, would be affected.

The deputation maintained that all representations made by panchayats of the area to the state government had evoked no response. The people of the area had been demanding for a long time setting up of Notified Area Committee to regulate the development of the area.

Instead of encouraging planned development of the area, the government agencies had stopped releasing new water and power connections to the great harassment of the people.

The deputation also apprised the Governor about holding in abeyance the starting of an ITI at Boothgarh village in Majri block. It also demanded appropriate compensation for the people whose land was being acquired for the Morinda byepass and the Chandigarh-Ludhiana rail link.


Noise, air pollution affect Abohar
From Raj Sadosh

ABOHAR: This sub-divisional town of Ferozepore district has emerged as a highly polluted area, thanks to apathy of the civil and police authorities.

Even after local as well as district authorities received a number of complaints, action was deferred due to political or other kinds of influence, sources said. The residents of many localities are protesting against the functioning of small-scale industrial units in residential areas. These units had been illegally licensed by the local Municipal Council and the Punjab State Electricity Board had reportedly released connections without following procedure.

According to the residents, some units in the Thakar Abadi area had been manufacturing leather washers for big industries. They had been dumping the waste leather on vacant plots adjacent to residences and near a public school also. The foul smell emanating from the waste had polluted the entire locality. The problem was aggravated during rains. The heaps of leather waste had caught fire many a time and the fire engines never came on time to douse the flames. The council had only once removed the waste — the promise to make it a regular practice remained unfulfilled. The residents had brought the matter to the notice of the Human Rights Commission also.

A confectionery unit is there just opposite the main post office here. The Government High School (Model) is located next door. The school had been selected for computer education recently. The students find it difficult to learn with their teachers trying to cope with the noise of the mixers and grinders of the confectionery unit. Residents of the locality opposite Gian Cinema had lodged complaints with the sub-divisional authorities and the Municipal Council. They complained that cracks had appeared in their buildings and the waste of the unit had polluted the environment. No action had been taken to close down the unit apparently due to undisclosed pressures.

The council had developed a waste depot to dump the garbage opposite the main post office, touching the boundary wall of Nehru Stadium. Scores of pigs can be seen rummaging the garbage inside the stadium as well as on the road connecting post office, stadium, telephone exchange and the Abohar Club used by the elite. The club’s boundary wall is encircled by dirty water as the drains are clogged.

The Railway Colony had also a sewage pool as the Punjab State Water Supply and Sewerage Board could not complete its project to link Arya Nagar sewer with the new sewer channel on the Bhawani Cotton Mills road due to paucity of funds. Hundreds of people residing in Nai Abadi pass through the link passage adjoining the Railway Colony, had to bear the foul smell due to stagnant of sewage. This pool had polluted the environment of the Railway Colony as well. There were so many other places in the town, including Patel Park, which had been polluted due to collection of sullage.

Noise pollution was at its peak in this town. The Punjab and Haryana High Court had issued instructions to check use of loudspeakers but the authorities here were not bothered to enforce restrictions. The orders issued by the District Magistrate had virtually become ceremonial. More than 30 gurdwaras and temples here had fitted six to eight megaphones at the top of the buildings to force people to listen to prerecorded cassettes in the wee hours and after the sunset. The functionaries at these buildings of worship were competing in raising the number of megaphones besides high power amplifiers.

College hostels have been lodging protests over noise pollution stating that it had become difficult for their inmates to study. They regretted that cinema owners had been permitted to use one loudspeaker on a rickshaw hired for publicity, but every cinema management was using more than four rickshaws illegally equipped with horns which plied even outside hospitals and educational institutions. The music shops, paan beeri stalls were also playing decks at the top of the volume, adding the noise pollution.

Another irritating factor was obscene posters. The city walls had been flooded with posters of southern movies dubbed in Hindi. A majority of the cinemas here were trying to attract the youngsters by screening vulgar films. Cable operators , too, allegedly operated objectionable foreign channels after midnight. Social organisations had demanded action against such obscene posters but these posters could be seen even on the walls of the girls’ hostel.

Medical experts here had confirmed that the number of patients suffering due to noise and air pollution besides the cultural “invasion” was increasing day by day. The OPD at the Civil Hospital as well as private clinics had majority of persons complaining of depression, hypertension, besides respiratory diseases.


HC summons CBI record on PCA land
From Our Correspondent

CHANDIGARH, Jan 29 — Mr Justice Amar Dutt of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today summoned the record of CBI on the basis of which UT’s Special Judge, Mr B.S. Bedi, had quashed the FIR pertaining to the allotment of 15 acres of land to the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA), Mohali

A criminal revision petition has been filed by a Sector 10 resident, Mr Karam Chand, under Section 401 of the Cr.PC for quashing the order given on March 3 last year in FIR No. 8 registered on February 25, 1997, by the CBI against some unknown Punjab officials. The final report was filed by the CBI on October 10 last year.

The petitioner said the CBI investigated the matter which was later scuttled in different manners by exerting political influence on CBI officers investigating the matter. Three senior officers including DIG, SSP and Investigating Officer were transferred during the course of investigation, he contended. It is clear that the CBI and other officers responsible for the investigation have apparently been neutralised either to go slow or to drop this issue by finding a way out, he alleged further.

After hearing the arguments, Mr Justice Dutt observed: “During the course of arguments it has transpired that details of investigation conducted by the CBI are not available on records received from the Special Judge. This is probably on account of the fact that the original file was made available for perusal of the court during the arguments and was taken away by the CBI after completion thereof.”

“Since it may be necessary during the course of arguments to scan investigations conducted for scrutinising the conclusions arrived at by the CBI, Mr Rajan Gupta, CBI Standing Counsel, has been directed to make available for the court’s perusal a complete set of investigations carried out by the CBI by February 2”, the judge ruled while adjourning the case to February 16.


Three of family die in mishap 
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 29 — Tragedy struck the Chadha family living in the Book Market area once again with three of its male members losing their lives in a road accident near Nauni village, about 45 km from Mandi in Himachal Pradesh. The deceased included Amandeep Singh, his cousin Gurjinder Singh and the latter’s brother-in-law Ravinderpal Singh.

Amandeep was 19, his cousin Gurjinder 23 and Ravinderpal 34. While Amandeep and Gurjinder were bachelors, Ravinderpal was married to Gurjinder’s sister Dimpy. All three were only sons of their parents.

Amandeep and Gurjinder had accompanied Ravinderpal to Janjheli in HP to get some herb for some infection in the leg. Ravinderpal had suffered an accident about three years ago and had fractured one of his legs. Since then, pus continued to ooze out of his wound. He had gone to fetch the herb from Janjheli. However, the three were not lucky enough to return home with the herb as they met with a fatal accident on their way back.

Ravinderpal was married to Dimpy about five years ago. He leaves behind two small children One is three years old and the other is one and a half years old. Ravinderpal, who belonged to Mohali, was running a television shop.

The family has been regularly frequented by a spate of tragedies. Gurjinder’s father Manjit Singh had died some years ago. This was followed by the death of Manjit’s younger brother Bittu within a year. And the tragic climax came yesterday when death visited them again, this time claiming three lives.

Gurjinder has three sisters and was the only son of his parents. The tragedy has been too horrible for Gurjinder’s mother. She was not prepared to believe that her son like her husband had also passed away, “leaving me alone”. As if this was not enough she also lost her son-in-law, Ravinderpal leaving her daughter widowed and grandchildren orphaned.

Heart-rending scenes were witnessed at the local crematorium at Daresi Grounds. Amid the grief and gloom the family members were trying to console each other. Amandeep’s father, who lost his only son, tried to put up a brave face and could be seen consoling his wife and sister-in-law. Yet, he could not help tears filling his eyes.


Encyclopaedia of Sikhism to be on DVD
From Our Correspondent

PHAGWARA, Jan 29 — The Canada-based first author of multimedia Encyclopaedia of Sikhism on CD-ROM, Mr Raghbir Singh Bains, today declared the encyclopaedia would be brought on still more sophisticated DVD in 2002.

Talking to this reporter here, Mr Bains disclosed that while the CD had 650 megabyte capacity the DVD had 8000 megabyte capacity. While the present CD had 20,000 pages the DVD would have 50,000 pages, continued Mr Bains. Calling his project the first ever in the world on Sikhism as well as the most expensive, Mr Bains regretted belated recognition of his work at home.

“To begin with, I was discouraged by my home country but when instant recognition came from foreign lands India also joined in, he said. However, better late than never,” quipped Mr Bains.

Giving details of the CD-ROM encyclopaedia, Mr Bains claimed it had audio, video, animation, graphics, text, in short, everything about Sikhism till July 2000.

It had 20,000 pages, 3500 subjects, 160 hours for viewing, 1430-page Guru Granth Sahib in English, kirtan in 31 ragas, history of the Sikhs, gurdwaras, 60 kirtanias, Punjabi learning/speaking course, games and quizzes on Sikhism for children, Sikh social and religious ethos like birth, marriage and death rituals and also interfaith jewels and quotations from the Bhagwadagita, the Bible and the Koran.

Mr Bains said the CD-ROM would be constantly updated.


Sikhs urged to shun rituals
From Our Correspondent

NAWANSHAHR, Jan 29 — The Guru Nanak Mission Medical and Educational Trust, Dhahan Kaleran, about 20 km from here, yesterday celebrated the “agman purv of Guru Gobind Singhji in a different way. Besides organising kirtan durbar and a religious congregation the trust invited Sikh scholars to mobilise and educate the people regarding the teachings of the great Sikh gurus and exhort them to devote themselves for the welfare of mankind rather than getting immersed in ritualism.

Dr Maheep Singh, a renowned Sikh scholar from Delhi while speaking on the occasion called on the Sikhs to devote their energies for the betterment of their present and future generations. He opined that the Sikh preachers should be well-educated and have the capacity to mobilise people to follow Gurmat principles. They should work for the welfare of society in a well-planned manner like Christian missionaries.

Lauding the efforts of the trust towards spreading education and health services for the rural people in the state, Dr Maheep Singh urged the sangat to come forward and make concerted efforts to enable the youth to face the challenges ahead in the era of globalisation.

Bibi Harjinder Kaur, member of the Dharam Prachar Committee, Chandigarh, lamented the considerable encroachment of dogmatism and ritualism in Sikh religion. She called on the people, especially Sikh women, to get inspiration from the life of Mai Bhago and inculcate Gurmat principles. She also expressed her concern over the rise in drug addiction among the youth.

Mr Sarup Singh Alag, a renowned Sikh missionary, Mr Tarlochan Singh Dopalpur, SGPC member and Baba Budh Singh Dhahan, founder of the trust, among others also addressed the congregation. Baba Budh Singh Dhahan appealed to the people to donate generously to the trust, which now plans to establish a medical college and make the public school being run by the trust residential school. He announced that the trust had decided to start PMT and CET coaching classes for the convenience of rural youth.

On the appeal of Baba Budh Singh, Mr Gurcharan Singh Chakdana donated a sum of Rs 1 lakh and Mr Surjit Singh Panesar promised to make donations to the tune of Rs 50,000 per annum. A number of other people also made donations.


Residents sick of power cuts
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Jan 29 — The district has got two power plants but still has the ‘distinction’ of facing frequent, long and unannounced power cuts.

The two thermal plants of the district, Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant Bathinda and Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant at Lehra Mohabat have produced record power the last year still the residents face the uncertainty of power cuts. Official sources revealed that the Bathinda plant produced 27907 lakh units of power last year and established a new record. But the record power generation meant nothing for the common man of the city, as their life still depends on the mercy of “power people”.

The ‘trend’ of power cuts in the city is not new to the residents but power cuts in winter, when power consumption is less, give sleepless nights to the residents. During summer the “peakload” is used as an excuse by the PSEB officials to “gift” the power cuts to the residents, but for the past few months of this winter season unscheduled power cuts have meant higher sales of generators even in the offseason. Residents allege that every two hours they have to bear with a power cut. The large scale use of generators mean added air and noise pollution levels, which have already crossed the 'safe' limits.

The unscheduled power cuts have led to the shortage of drinking water in the city. Sources in the Punjab Water Supply and Sewarage Board revealed that the power cuts have reduced the capacity of water purification plant, which has led to low pressure of drinking water in remote areas of the city.

The residents have taken to the ‘newly’ introduced invertors to take care of the power cuts, as they are easy to install, maintain, economical and do not add to the noise and the air pollution. Mr Naresh Kumar, an invertor salesman said the sales of invertors had seen a 300 per cent jump in the last six months. Even those who have installed generators have installed invertors, as it automatically recharged when the power supply resumes, he added.

Power cuts have affected the functioning of the government offices and even the civil hospital and other important offices. Many units of the city, who earlier availed no power cut during peak load facility had opted out and installed generators. Students are also finding it difficult in view of forthcoming examinations.

A senior official of the PSEB said the frequent power cuts during the past few days were due to low power generation. “We have no control on the frequency and duration of the power cuts imposed as the decisions are taken by the higher authorities. We support the demand of the public that Bathinda should be declared power cut free city,” he added.

Mr Kewal Krishan Aggarwal, General Secretary, DCC, said the two power plants of the district were of little use to the locals. The Power Minister of Punjab, belongs to the district and makes tall claims about the achievements but the facts reveal the other side of the story, lamented Mr Aggarwal.


Women should fight for rights: Uma
From Our Correspondent

BADAL (Muktsar), Jan 29 — Ms Uma Bharti, Union Sports and Youth Affairs Minister, said the women would not secure equal rights in society unless they get equal respect from every member of society.

Ms Bharti, who was here last evening in connection with the annual function of Dashmesh Girls College and to lay the foundation stone of swimming pool and astro turf of the college, said the women would have to fight to get equal status in society and they also should fight for securing financial independence.

She said due to financial dependence on men, the women had to face various problems. She said she was not in favour of the 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament but complete economic independence for women.

She said a new era had started in 21st century when the women would rule all over the world. “From Badal village to Delhi and from America to India, women would rule in 21st century, she said adding that the time had come when the world would be dominated by women in all fields.

She said she was not a feminist and had equal respect for men without whom women cannot feel secured. Men, too, should have the respect for women and should also feel secure in their presence. The women should be like a river which create its own way and not like a train which need the track and had to wait for the green signal, she added.

She also expressed grief over the massive destruction caused by earthquake in Gujarat, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister of Punjab, was also present on the occasion.

Ms Bharti distributed prizes among college students who participated in the cultural items. The students who get the prizes include Anjli Kasrija for poem recitation. Vipen Dhillon for rangoli, Veerpal Kaur for clay modelling, Avneet Kaur Sidhu, Jaspreet Kaur Sandhu and Inderjit Kaur Mann, for quiz contest, Rajwinder Kaur, Simpaljit Kaur, Navdeep Brar, Lakhveer and Mandeep Kaur, for group dance.


Rich tributes paid to Baba Ram Singh
From Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

RAYIANA (LUDHIANA), Jan 29 — Glowing tributes were paid to Baba Ram Singh, the founder of the Kuka movement, on his 186th birth anniversary here today.

A simple but impressive function was organised here in his native village, which was attended by hundreds of people belonging to different sects and ideologies.

The state government had declared Baba Ram Singh’s birth anniversary as a holiday today and had organised the function to mark the event. However, the Namdhari sect leader Baba Jagjit Singh did not attend today’s function since he was said to be in Delhi. The Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljeet Singh, who was scheduled to preside over the function, also failed to arrive here till late in the afternoon.

The Minister for Information and Public Relations, Mr Natha Singh Dalam, announced that a life-size portrait of Baba Ram Singh would be installed in the Central Hall of the Punjab Assembly before the beginning of the budget session. He also promised that work on all memorials of Namdhari martyrs would be completed this year.

Mr Dalam said the Union Minister for Railways, Ms Mamata Banerjee, had conceded the plea of the Punjab Government and approved the installation of a life-size portrait of Satguru Ram Singh at Ludhiana Railway Station. He said Satguru Ram Singh’s portrait would always serve as a source of inspiration for the coming generations, reminding them of his great sacrifice for the freedom of the country.

The minister said Satguru Ram Singh was a master organiser and moblised the masses for non-cooperation and boycott of all government institutions. At the same time, he also waged a war against the evil social customs prevailing in the country at that time. The British feared the Namdhari so much that they blew up a number of them through canons at Malerkotla.

He announced that the state government had drawn up a comprehensive plan for the development of Bhaini Sahib, the headquarters of Namdharis and the Raiyan, village the birth place of Satguru Ram Singh. A development board had already been set up for the purpose and a sewerage project costing Rs 40 lakh was being laid out in Bhaini Sahib.

The state government had also set up a Satguru Ram Singh Chair at Guru Nanak Dev University, which would carry out research on philosophy. The state government had approached the Union Human Resource Development Ministry for including the contribution of Namdharis in the freedom struggle in school syllabi.

Mr Surinder Singh, vice-president, Namdhari Darbar, appreciated the efforts of the government in setting up Namdhari memorials.


Khalra panel decries RSS statements
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Jan 29 — The Khalra Mission Committee (KMC) took strong objection to the reported statement by the RSS spokesman Mr M.G. Vaidya reiterating RSS earlier stand of “Sikhs as part and parcel of the great Hindu society.”

As reported in a section of the press quoting the interview in the latest issued of the “Organiser” official mouthpiece of the organisation (RSS).

Mr Surinder Singh Ghariala, Chairman of the KMC talking to mediapersons said the responsibility of the ill-will caused between the two communities would solely lie on the outrageous statements made by the RSS.

Taking a strong note of the statement he said the RSS by its misleading propaganda was seeking to drive a wedge under its larger plan of subsuming minorities into its fold.

Attacking the Badal government for its policies, Mr Ghariala said Mr Badal had challenged the supremacy of the Akal Takht time and again. 


Stamp on Giani Gurmukh Singh Musafir released
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 29 — A stamp on Giani Gurmukh Singh Musafir, a veteran freedom fighter and first Chief Minister of reorganised Punjab in 1966, was released by Mr Ram Bilas Paswan, Union Communications Minister, at Delhi at a formal function to commemorate the stamp on personality series: ‘‘Socio-Political’’ on January 27.

Giani Gurmukh Singh Musafir (1899-1976) joined the freedom struggle at an early age, stirred by anguish over the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919. He threw himself into the freedom struggle movement, calling people to action through his sensitive poems in Punjabi. He went on to play a crucial role in the struggle in Punjab, courting arrest many times. He was drawn to the Akali movement for social reform, which took him to the highest religious office of Sikhism : Jathedar of Akal Takht in 1930. 


TB eradication drive stepped up
From Our Correspondent

FARIDKOT, Jan 29 — The Punjab Government has divided the state into four zones to mobilise the TB eradication programme in the state. A state-level committee headed by the Principal Secretary, Health, has also been constituted in this regard, said Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, Health Minister, at a press conference here today.

He said almost all TB patients belonging to poor families in Faridkot, Moga, Bhatinda, Ludhiana, Ropar and Jalandhar district had been brought under medical aid process and the work for identifying the others was in progress. He said several teams of experts had also been deployed in other districts to identify the patients. He said that two mobile vans equipped with all medicines and other equipments would shortly be deployed in slum areas in each district.

He admitted that there was shortage of funds with the Health Department in the state. However, he said a request has been made to Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, to allocate adequate funds to do the needful. Directions have been issued to all Civil Surgeons to seek the cooperation of voluntary organisations.

The minister added that no case of polio had come to the notice in the state during the past two years. Dr V.S. Mohi, Civil Surgeon, said the district Health Department had been providing medical aid to 677 TB patients free of cost.


Truckers’ threat to boycott FCI goods
From Our Correspondent

BARNALA, Jan 29 — The Sangrur Truck Operators Union has threatened Food Corporation of India (FCI) not to transport any of its commodities unless payments of truckers for transporting paddy were cleared and their securities refunded.

Disclosing this here today, Mr Malkit Singh Keetu, MLA, and president, truck operators union, said truck operators of the district won’t transport FCI goods due to non-payment of the carriage charges and non-refund of their securities by the District Manager, FCI, Sangrur.

Mr Keetu said a meeting of truck union chiefs of Sangrur, Barnala, Sherpur, Dhuri, Dirba, Malerkotla Lehragaga, Sunam, Bhadaur, Bhawanigarh, Dhanaula, Tapa, Mahal Kalan held at Sangrur a couple of days ago took this decision.


Spinning mill union leader ends fast
From Our Correspondent

MANSA, Jan 29 — The district administration was able to persuade Mr Jagdev Singh Chakerian, general secretary of the Save Mansa Cooperative Spinning Mill Action Committee, to end the fast today which he had begun on January 22. The DC urged the workers of the spinning mill to withdraw their agitation and assured them that they would be rehabilitated and given loans for self-employment.


Price panel’s recommendations criticised
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Jan 29 — The Punjab state unit of the Janata Dal (United) has criticised the recommendations of the Commission on Agricultural Cost and Price to reduce the minimum support price of wheat by Rs 60.

Mr Bhupinder Sharma, vice-president of the JD (U), in a press note issued here today said the price of agricultural inputs had been increasing regularly. The reduction in the minimum support price would, therefore, badly affect the farmers. He said before reducing the price, the government should decrease the price of diesel, pesticides and other ingredients needed for agriculture. He also demanded that the price of wheat be fixed at Rs 650 per quintal.


312-cr scheme for SCs
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Jan 29 — Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Punjab Minister for Science and Technology, has said the state government would spent Rs 312 crore for the welfare of the Scheduled Castes under the component scheme in the current financial year.

Mr Garg was addressing a gathering at the Gulabgarh village in the district. Earlier, he inaugurated blood donation camp organised by the local Guru Gobind Singh Youth Welfare Club.


300 cr to be spent on 29 flyovers 
Tribune News Service

JALANDHAR, Jan 29 — The Punjab Government has chalked out a special programme under which an amount of Rs 300 crore would be spent for construction of 29 flyovers in different parts of the state.

Stating this after inaugurating a drain bridge near Mallian Kalan village, the Punjab Finance Minister, Captain Kanwaljit Singh, said the state government was making all out efforts to provide better transport facilities to the people of the state and under a special programme all the main and link roads would be repaired within the current financially year and an amount of Rs 500 crore had been earmarked for widening of main roads and an amount of Rs 560 crore would be sent for the repair of roads. In addition to this, an amount of Rs 2,700 crore would be spent on another project aimed at four-laning major roads.

The Finance Minister said a provision of Rs 25 crore had been made for proper implementation of the “Shagun” scheme and all the eligible families would be covered under it.

Addressing the gathering, the Punjab Sainik Welfare Minister, Mr Ajit Singh Kohar, said the state government was laying special focus on the welfare of ex-servicemen and to solve their problems. As a step towards this direction, the state government had decided to include a representative of ex-servicemen in the district-level grievances removal committees.

The Finance Minister also laid foundation stone of a bridge at Ghudowal village.


Fake recruitment scam detected
Warrants issued against two
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Jan 29 — The district police has secured the arrest warrants of Amarjit Singh Chadda, president, and Subhash Kumar, an office-bearer of the Security Guard Union affiliated with a Class IV Employees’ Union of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) for their alleged involvement in cheating people of crores through a fake recruitment agency.

Police sources said that arrest warrants had been secured after it came to notice that the accused had allegedly robbed people of lakhs on the pretext of getting them the job of security guard in the FCI.

The district police arrested three persons — Major Singh, Sohan Singh and Jaswant Singh — a few days ago for allegedly running an unnamed fake recruitment agency. On questioning them, the fake recruitment agency racket came to light.

The three accused confessed that they had been running a fake recruitment agency and cheating unemployed youths by promising them jobs in connivance with leaders of security guard unions.

The accused, who had been running the fake agency for the past two years, had collected about Rs 1.5 crore from people in Punjab. The accused collected money from their ‘customers’ on the pretext that it would be given to ruling politicians.

They started the agency after the services of all security guards of godowns were terminated by the FCI management and they were replaced with Punjab Home Guard jawans and Special Police Officers (SPOs). Most of the victims of the accused were those whose services were terminated by the FCI management in 1999.

Many of the victims arranged the money after disposing of their valuables, including jewellery and other household goods. The accused got fake application forms printed and the ‘victims’ were asked to fill those forms. The fake agency owners also organised a rally to show that they were pressuring the authorities to give jobs to their ‘clients’.

The victims alleged that though they had been cheated, the FCI management and ruling parties had not come forward to fully expose the scandal.

Mr Amritpal Singh Brar, President, Punjab Young Farmers Federation, demanded that the Central Government should suitably compensate the unemployed youths who had been cheated.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said that police parties had been raiding the premises of Chadda and Subash Kumar to arrest them, but both had absconded. A case in this connection had already been registered, he said.


Gang of robbers busted, 2 held
From Our Correspondent

JALANDHAR, Jan 29 — The district police claims to have busted a gang of robbers with the arrest of two of its members and recovered 25 kg of poppy husk from their possession.

Mr Gaurav Yadav, SSP, today said two persons were intercepted by a police party at Jallowal village near Bhogpur yesterday and recovered 25 kg of poppy husk from their possession.

Both were arrested and later identified as Roop Singh and Parkash residents of Bara Khanpur village in Muzaffarnagar.

The arrested persons revealed that they were part of an 11-member gang of robbers. Parkash had been incarcerated in Central Jail, Ambala, where for 20-years for robbery and murder. However, after serving the sentence for eight years, he came out on parole about eight months ago but never returned to prison so far, said Mr Yadav.

The other gang members have been identified as Ghanshyam, Ranjit Singh, Gobind, Raju, Badli, Chatru and Surjan, all residents of Bara Khanpur village in Muzaffarnagar district, Charan of Jattan Khanpur village and logar of Mastgarh village in the district.

All these persons belong to Bawaria community, a tribe which had been notified as a Criminal tribe during the British regime in India but was denotified in the post-independence era, said Mr Yadav.


Terrorist held, 2 pistols seized
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Jan 29 — The district police has made a major achievement by arresting Harcharan Singh, alias Tally, who was allegedly involved in terrorist activities, and has seized two .12 bore pistols and four live cartridges from his possession.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said here today Harcharan Singh had a small business of electrical goods at Raman in Bathinda district. In 1991 he came in contact with Gurdarshan Singh of Raman, a dreaded terrorist. Thereafter he started participating in the activities of the terrorists.

Dr Jain further said Rajpal, alias Raja, alias Laddu, resident of Ramsara, an active terrorist, had given the pistols and the cartridges to Harcharan Singh to commit some crime.

A case has been registered against him at the Raman police station, Dr Jain added.

The police has also seized 10 kg of poppy husk from Makhan Singh resident of Mahima Bhagwana village. A case has been registered against him at the Nahianwala police station under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act.

Under the Excise Act the police has arrested five persons and seized 34 litres of illicit liquor from them. Cases have been registered against Gurdev Singh of Bhucho Kalan, Pawanjeet Singh of Pucci Karamchand Mehraj, Lachhman Singh of Chanarthal, Beeru Singh of Bir Talab and Jagga Singh of Hirewala.

The police has also arrested seven persons for satta transactions and registered seven cases against them. They have been identified as Bobby Kumar, Jagdish Rai, Askho Kumar and Om Parkash, all residents of Bathinda, and Nand Lal, Ajay Kumar and Jagan Nath of Rampura. The police has recovered Rs 4,058 of satta money from them.


Sarpanch held for defalcation
From Our Correspondent

GURDASPUR, Jan 29 — The Dorangla police today arrested Mahinder Kaur, Sarpanch of Paharipur village, while her accomplice Rajinder Singh, Panchayat Secretary, a resident of Khokhar, 5 km from here, is absconding. The accused had misappropriated panchayat funds to the tune of Rs 3.09 lakh. Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, said that a case under Section 409, IPC, had been registered against the accused.

Members of Paharipur panchayat on February 1, 2000 had complained to the Deputy Commissioner that the accused had misappropriated funds including grants, given by the government. The SDM was asked to inquire into the matter.

According to the report the accused had misappropriated Rs 85,000 in 1998-99 by way of auction of the panchayat land. The accused only spent Rs 20,000 for the development of the village. In 1999-2000 panchayat received Rs 3.3 lakh from the auction of a village land and grants sanctioned by the government. But the accused spent only Rs 1.5 lakh for developing the village and misappropriated Rs 1.8 lakh.

The SSP said in 2000 and 2001 the panchayat had received Rs 2.39 lakh and the entire amount was lying deposited in the bank. But according to record of the panchayat part of the amount had been spent on the development of the village.



PUTA to put up issues before PFUTA
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Jan 29 — The Punjab Federation of University Teachers Associations (PFUTA ), will take up the case of alleged victimisation, “tardy” implementation of the career advancement scheme (CAS) and the decision to get teachers appraised by students in Punjabi University at a meeting being held on the campus here on February 3.

The executive body of the Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA) is also meeting on January 31 to decide on the future course of action on these issues and its deliberations will also be discussed at the PFUTA meeting.

PUTA Secretary Balwinder Singh disclosed that the university body had already organised an emergency meeting following a Syndicate meeting organised a few days back . He said the meeting, which was presided over by PUTA President Bhupinder Singh Khaira criticised stopping of promotions in the university which, it claimed, had been almost completed in all the other universities of the state.

He said the university did not pursue the case for approval of the amended statutes even though the career advancement scheme (CAS) was adopted by the Punjab Government in March, 1999, till one year. He said even after such an inordinate delay the authorities did not pursue the case for approval of these amended statutes.

The PUTA leader said in October, 1999, it was decided that till the approval of amended statutes, the interviews under the CAS should continue under the existing rules and some interviews were also held. He said, however, suddenly, despite the reservation of some Syndics, the Vice-Chancellor got the earlier decision revised from the Syndicate on January 25 to stop the process of the CAS. He said PUTA members were agitated why the earlier legally valid process had been stopped, adding members felt this was the result of the negative, whimsical and anti-academic attitude of the Vice-Chancellor.

Dr Balwinder Singh alleged that the Vice-Chancellor was adopting ways to deny the legitimate promotions and rights of the faculty and to create an atmosphere of sycophancy. He said PUTA would approach the Governor, who was also Chancellor of the university, and the Chief Minister in this matter so that the stalled process of promotions could be started immediately.

He said the higher authorities would also be asked to intervene in the matter of victimisation of Dr K.C. Singhal, whereby he was removed from the headship of the Syndicate recently. He said PUTA felt this was a case of political victimisation and arbitrary use of power to suppress the voice of dissent and to stop teachers from exercising their constitutional and democratic rights.

The PUTA executive felt that the Vice-Chancellor was adopting an attitude of confrontation.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
120 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |