Wednesday, February 7, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S





Punjab capital ‘shifts’ to Majitha
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Feb 6 — Even as empty corridors and deserted offices greet you at the civil secretariat in Chandigarh, close-by ‘Majitha’ is bustling with unprecedented ministerial activity. So if you need a long-awaited transfer or a licence or an omission to a clause, don't fret. Ready help is at hand, as the whole of Punjab Cabinet is camping here in anticipation of the byelections on February 19. Hurried signatures, assurances galore with a ready-to-meet the public Chief Minister, as a special bonus are thrown in. The ongoing characteristics that mark the Majitha polls.

A recent example is of the PCMS association, reportedly aggrieved over fresh directives issued by Baba Farid University of Medical Sciences making it mandatory to put in three years’ compulsory service in the rural area before being considered eligible for specialist degree. The PCMS not only got a pat for pointing out the objectionable clause but was also able to get a nod for its deletion by the Chief Minister himself with the intervention of Dr Baldev Raj Chawla (Minister for Health) as stated in a press note by the association.

Similarly, farmers were kept on tenterhooks before finally giving in to their demands of suitable action against commission agents of procuring paddy at slashed prices. The support of the Bharatiya Kisan Union comes from assurances such as these. The assurances to Masih (Christian) community to be also included for the shagun scheme earlier exclusively for dalits and release of cash for Christian community hall brought the community to support the SAD.

Prominent ministers camping here since February 1 are Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Minister For Cooperation, for zone 22, Mr Ratan Singh Ajnala for Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, zone no. 2, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg (Science and Technology Legal Legislative Affairs) supervising three important villages, Majitha, Majitha (Rural) and rural in zone 3, Mr Adeshpartap Singh Kairon (Taxation and Excise) zone 4. Dr Baldev Raj Chawla (Health) zone 9, Bibi Upinderjit Kaur (Housing and Urban Development) zone 5, Raja Narinder Singh (Public Health and Civil Aviation) zone 8 comprising nine villages, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal (Food and Civil Supplies Parliamentary activities) camping in zone 10. Mr Sikander Singh Maluka (Power) for zone 11. The SAD has divided the constituency into 22 zones while the Congress has subdivided the area into 23 zones.


Amarinder’s posers to Badal
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Feb 6 — Stung by the truckloads of riot victims campaigning in the Majitha constituency exhibiting their plight to turn voters in the SAD’s favour Capt Amarinder Singh, president PPCC put forth a few posers for the ruling government. Issues of how far the government was successful in eradicating corruption which was important part of the SAD manifesto, the Captain asked the reason for Mr Badal raising communal passions by harping on emotional issues such as Operation Bluestar and the ’84 riots while relegating vital issues to the background. He accused Mr Badal of having no positive poll plank to offer to voters and therefore was resorting to cheap gimmicks. Recalling the Chief Minister’s call to Army jawans to revolt, during Operation Bluestar, he asked as to how many of those deserters were rehabilitated or compensated. Many of the deserters are still languishing in jails. One Balwinder Singh is in the Amritsar jail for the last 17 years, he pointed out. Regarding riot victims of 1984 he said the public demanded to know how many riot victims were provided shelter, jobs or compensation by the SAD government.

On the question of “transparency in public life” he accused the Chief Minister of never declaring the assets of neither MLAs nor ministers in his cabinet during his four years’ rule although this was his major poll plank during elections.

“Not a single honest person could be identified for the honesty award.” This gives a “clear” picture of the extent of corruption in the government in power. Besides these, issues of employment, free and fair government on the pattern of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s glorious rule are also some of the posers for the Chief Minister. Will the CM care to answer?


News analysis
SHSAD: the fatigue is showing
By A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 6 — Not exactly a force to reckon with, the Third Front of political parties in Punjab may have been delivered a death blow by the sudden decision of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal and three other Akali factions not to put up a candidate for the coming Majitha byelection to the state assembly.

The byelection has been caused by the death of the SAD leader and Minister without portfolio in the Badal Cabinet, Mr Parkash Singh Majitha. With the withdrawal of the Third Front from the poll arena, the battle for the Majitha seat has now become more or less a direct fight between the SAD-BJP combine and the Congress.

Although the SHSAD has claimed that it is staying out of the poll battle because it could never be sure that elections conducted under the Badal regime would be free and fair, political observers say that the real reason lies elsewhere. The party and its old warhorse, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, seem to have become battle weary.

The front, which came into being a few months ago, consists of the SHSAD headed by Mr Tohra, the SAD (Amritsar) led by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, the Akali Dal (Panthic) led by Mr Jasbir Singh Rode and the Akali Dal (Democratic) headed by Mr Kuldip Singh Wadala, besides the Samajwadi Party, the Samajwadi Janata Party, the Janata Dal and the CPM.

It contested the Sunam byelection to the state assembly but its nominee, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the SAD despite the fact that the front left no stone unturned to improve the electoral prospects of its candidates by inducting such heavyweights as a former Prime Minister, Mr Chandra Shekhar, into the poll campaign. Mr Chandumajra ended up forfeiting his security deposit as well.

The SHSAD met a similar fate in the Nawanshahr byelection as well as the parliamentary poll held in 1999.

The continuous string of electoral defeats in which its candidates ended up forfeiting their security deposits as well appears to have induced demoralisation and rethinking in the SHSAD’s leadership as well as in its rank and file. According to well-informed sources in the SHSAD, the party supremo, Mr Tohra, was quite cut up by the fact that it was he and his outfit alone which had to conduct the poll campaign on behalf of the entire Third Front. The other partners in the front did precious little in these elections for the simple reason that they neither had any mass base nor adequate financial resources. Their influence was confined to a few pockets only and they had difficulty in projecting any party personality or a worthwhile issue.

Under the circumstances, it was left to the old warhorse, Mr Tohra, to conduct the poll campaign, stretch the party’s scarce resources to the maximum to cover poll expenses and come up with issues to keep the Badal government on the defensive.

In the end, it was Tohra alone who had to face the humiliation of suffering defeat after defeat not to mention the demoralisation in the SHSAD’s rank and file and the depletion of the party’s scarce financial resources. Party sources say that there was intense debate in the party as soon as the byelection to the Majitha seat was announced by the Election Commission with one section advising the party supremo to stay out of the poll battle. It was emphasised that even in the unlikely event of the SHSAD winning the Majitha seat, it would hardly make any difference to the power structure in the state assembly, which was dominated by the ruling SAD-BJP combine.

On the other hand, if the SHSAD once again lost the Majitha poll, it would send a very negative signal to the electorate of Punjab which could prove to be costly for the party in the state assembly elections which are not very far away.

The sources say that Mr Tohra lost no time in making up his mind to stay out of the Majitha electoral battle.


Shekhawat tours Punjab areas
From Gurpreet Singh
Tribune News Service

FEROZEPORE, Feb 6 — Taking the help of the Punjab BJP, that shares power with the Akali Dal in the state, the former Rajasthan Chief Minister, Mr Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, has stepped in to resolve the inter-state canal waters issue.

Accompanied by a battery of Irrigation Department officials from Rajasthan, Mr Shekhawat yesterday toured Punjab areas to ascertain why his state was not getting enough irrigation water from the Gang canal.

The district administration remained on its toes to accord welcome to Mr Shekhawat. He was given treatment no less than that accorded to a dignitary.

His visit is understood to have been prompted by complaints from water-starved areas of Sriganganagar district of Rajasthan. The areas are getting only about 1,900 cusecs of the canal waters against the allocated share of 2,700 cusecs. Theft and diversion of water are said to be the reasons behind the shortage.

Mr Shekhawat, who travelled along the canal in Abohar, Fazilka, Faridkot and Ferozepore areas, expressed the view that the canal had outlived its utility.

Addressing a press conference here last evening, Mr Shekhawat observed that a number of cavities in the canal were the rootcause of the water shortage in Ganganagar.

He advocated immediate repair of the canal and said he would ensure the Rajasthan Government regularly sent funds to the Punjab for the purpose.

Giving a clean chit to the ruling Akali Dal leaders, often accused of shielding affluent landlords of Punjab involved in theft and diversion of canal waters, Mr Shekhawat, instead, blamed the ruling Congress in Rajasthan for not paying due attention to the problem.

He charged the Rajasthan Government with reducing the budget allocated for periodical repairs of the canal. He lamented that the Congress Government had failed to enter a mutual understanding with the Punjab Government to hammer out the problem.

He claimed that the problem was not as alarming when he was in power in the state, as he frequently interacted with the then Congress Chief Ministers — Mr Beant Singh and Mr Harcharan Singh Brar — to ensure repair works.

He said he was in constant touch with the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and all necessary efforts would be made to give a fresh lease of life to the Gang canal. He claimed Mr Badal had promised to compensate Rajasthan for the Rajasthan Irrigation Department properties sold in Punjab. “He has accepted in principle to compensate,” he said.

Earlier, the Superintending Engineer of the Sriganganagar Irrigation Division, Mr A.S. Johra, said the Gang canal that came into being in the late twenties, had outlived its utility. He identified Karampura, Padampura, Rai Singh Nagar, Sadul Shehar and Anoopgarh areas as the worst hit by the water shortage.


I had advised Badal against sops: Chautala
Tribune News Service

JALANDHAR, Feb 6 — Observing that free power and water had harmed the interests of Punjab farmers and resulted in wastage of ground water, the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, today said he had advised his counterpart, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, against it after coming to power and even before the 1997 Punjab Assembly elections.

Differing with Mr Badal on the issue, Mr Chautala said the sops had harmed the farming community as farmers were mindlessly using the precious water for sowing of paddy and other non-viable crops.

“I rang up Mr Badal before he announced the sops and advised him not to do so. I tried to convince him that the people were against the Congress and the wave was in his favour and even if he did not announce such sops, they would vote for him,” Mr Chautala said.

He said, in comparison, Haryana farmers could not afford to waste the precious water. The state government had done a lot to conserve the state’s water resources. “Since we don’t have much of ground water and power resources, we are encouraging sugarcane farming, which can raise the ground water-table, as sugarcane has a recharging capacity which is absent in case of paddy and cotton.”

Mr Chautala said his government was offering the highest minimum support price of Rs 110 per quintal for the crop to the farmers and the state government had to suffer a loss of Rs 48 crore. “Even the Centre had objected to such a high sugarcane MSP, but we had to guard the interests of farmers, who are increasingly going in for sugarcane in place of paddy and cotton. We are opening two more cooperative sugar mills in the state.

Moreover, we have already given Rs 12 crore to Punjab for repair of canals and to convert ones into pucca canals so as to prevent seepage and consequent loss of water,” Mr Chautala said.

He said the WTO pact was likely to harm the farming community and the economy of the country and both Punjab and Haryana were impressing upon the Centre to amend or remove certain “anti-farmer” and “anti-industry” clauses in the agreement.


Move to sell gate built by Guru
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 6 — A number of public spirited people have urged the Punjab Government to protect the historic Lahori Gate at Sri Hargobindpur Sahib. There is a move to sell it for just Rs 40,000.

There is only one city gate built by a Sikh Guru still standing in Punjab. It is in Sri Hargobindpur Sahib on the banks of the Beas. Although once the city had five gates, today only Lahori Gate is intact. With a 370-year-old history, the gate was got constructed by Guru Hargobind. It is now facing a threat because of the Hargobindpur Sahib Municipal Committee’s real estate development programme.

Guru Arjun Dev first founded Sri Hargobindpur at this site on the Beas after the birth of his son. The town was then developed as a result of the sixth Guru’s efforts to promote social and civic values. Having visited the region in the 1630s, Guru Hargobind envisioned a city that would promote cultural integration. The town’s original form is now being slowly eroded by illegal construction. The natural beauty of this historic place is threatened by unguided building activity.

For many years spaces inside the gate have been used as shops selling everything from jewellery to vegetables to hosiery. These shopkeepers, and outside the gate itself, pay rent to the municipality at varying rates. At a recent meeting of the officials concerned, the prices were fixed for the sale of these shops to the occupants. Otherwise also the gate is in bad shape. Repairs have not been carried out to the structure for the past several years.

Conservation architect Gurmeet Rai, who has been doing preservation work in Sri Hargobindpur Sahib for over a year, suggests that if the district administration, through the local development authorities, is going to promote such real estate deals as revenue generating initiatives, then guidelines for the execution of these sales must consider the nature of the buildings and environment that affected by this.” The indiscriminate sale and development of public property can produce ready and much needed cash for local development, but may also result in the loss of historic sites such as Lahori Gate.


Obliging minister’s kin, Markfed way
From Gurpreet Singh
Tribune News Service

FEROZEPORE, Feb 6 — The local Markfed office continues to function from the bungalow of the son-in-law of the Punjab Cooperative Minister, Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, in the cantonment area. The accommodation is learnt to have been hired at a monthly rent of Rs 15,000 from Mr Baldev Singh, the minister’s son-in-law. While this amounts to benefiting a relative of a minister, both the Markfed staff and Mr Baldev Singh deny this, and claim that the office will be shortly shifted to a new building on the Malwal road.

Sources in the Markfed revealed that the office was shifted here temporarily almost three years ago. As the new building was under construction, the department hired the accommodation of Mr Baldev Singh.

The District Manager (DM) of Markfed, Mr Harmohinder Singh Walia, assured that the building will be shortly vacated and the office will be shifted to a new building sometime in March. He, however, pleaded ignorance about when and how the office was shifted to the present accommodation, pleading that “the decision may have been taken much before I joined here as DM”.

On being contacted for comment, Mr Baldev Singh denied that he was being accommodated by virtue of being the minister’s son-in-law. He claimed that his building was selected for the office through a proper procedure. “Markfed had invited applications for accommodation. Only after satisfying themselves, did they shift its office to my bungalow”, he said.


Sukhbir in race for RS seat
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 6 — Though the process for filling the Rajya Sabha seat from Punjab has started, so far no one has filed nomination papers. The last date for filing the papers is February 12.

The “casual vacancy” of the Rajya Sabha is to be filled because the seat occupied by Mr Barjinder Singh Hamdard has been declared vacant under Article 101(4) of the Constitution.

He did not attend the session of the Rajya Sabha for a long time. As it is a mid-term vacancy, the person elected will continue as member till April 9, 2004.

The scrutiny of the nomination papers will be held on February 13 and the withdrawals will be on February 15. Polling, if necessary, will be held on February 22 from 9 a.m to 4 p.m. Counting will be held on the same day at 5 p.m. The election process is supposed to be completed in all respects by February 24. Keeping in the view the strength of the SAD-BJP combine in the Vidhan Sabha, the nominee of this alliance is certain to be elected.

Though several persons are in the race for the seat, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, son of the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, is said to be among the front-runners. Mrs Parneet Kaur Kairon, Chief Minister’s daughter, is also reportedly interested in securing the Shiromani Akali Dal’s nomination for the seat.

Though the Punjab unit of the BJP has staked its claim to the seat, informed sources in the SAD said that one Rajya Sabha seat had been given already to the BJP and hence there was no scope to allocate another one to it.

Mr Hamdard was elected with SAD support.

Meanwhile, a meeting of the Political Affairs Committee of the SAD will be held on February 8 to decide the nominee for the seat.


High radioactivity in Bathinda water
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Feb 6 — A recent study has found high uranium and radon concentration 18 times more at 7134 BQ/L (becquerel per litre) than the safe limit in the drinking water of Multania village in Bathinda district.

The four-member group of scientists led by radiation and nuclear geo-physist, Dr Surinder Singh of the Physics Department of Guru Nanak Dev University in a survey of 24 villages, Bathinda district found high uranium and radon content, more than 400 BQ/L (permissible limit), in the drinking water of eight villages — Sangat Mandi, Multania, Mukand Singh Nagar, Dan Singhwala, Ablu, Mehma Swai, Malki Kalyani and Bhunder.

Recommending urgent remedial measures, Dr Surinder Singh said the effects of the gas were a health hazard and need attention at the earliest.

The villages are located near Jodhpur, Goriana and Bucho Mandi areas of district.

Elaborating, he said radon was a gas which was produced during the decay of radium in the naturally occurring uranium series. High value of uranium radon in drinking water may lead to harmful biological effects in humans. The chemical toxicity of natural uranium is a major hazard for kidneys, whereas enhanced radon activity may cause cancer, he said.

The UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiations (UNSEAR) has recommended the safe limit of radon concentration in water at 400 BQ/L for human beings.

Dr Surinder Singh stated that high uranium values were earlier observed in drinking water samples from these areas which have been published in journal Environment Radioactivity. He said the uranium concentration recorded in groundwater samples from Jodhpur, Gobindpur, Bhucho and Kuina villages was large.

Talking about the reason behind the high uranium and radon activity in the groundwater of Bathinda area, he said it might be due to the presence of radioactive granite rocks of Tusam hills, Bhiwani district of Haryana, a state which lies in the neighbourhood of Bathinda district.

He said the cause of most of the cancer deaths reported in 1999 may be due to the presence of high level of uranium and radon gas in these areas.

He urged government to provide financial assistance for the project in the area and the steps be taken to protect the valuable lives of this district from the harmful effects of toxic radioactive isotopes.


A much sought-after force
By Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 6 — The Punjab police is a much sought-after force these days . The latest to demand its deployment is Jammu and Kashmir, which has sought 20 companies for the peaceful conduct of the next phase of the panchayat elections in the trouble torn-state.

Besides, a request has also been received from the Gujarat Government for the deployment of one battalion of the Punjab police in the quake-ravaged areas.

The Punjab police is expected to respond positively to the Jammu and Kashmir Government’s request, but has politely turned down the request from the Gujarat Government because of its zonal commitments and domestic engagements. Ten companies of the force will be deployed in the valley later this month while others will follow soon. These 20 companies will stay put in the valley till the completion of the election process there.

The Director-General of Punjab police, Mr Sarabjit Singh, said that a decision was taken at the last meeting of the police chiefs of the northern zone to make available surplus force to any state in the zone for election or emergency duties. “Since we are committed to providing 20 companies to Jammu and Kashmir for the second phase of the panchayat elections, we will be left with no extra force. We have already sent 10 companies to Allahabad for Kumbh Mela duty. And we have the Majitha assembly byeletion at hand.”

Late last year, the Uttar Pradesh Government had requested the Punjab Government to send 10 companies of its police to Allahabad for almost two months for deployment during the Kumbh Mela.

These 10 companies, which reached Allahabad in the first week of New Year, are expected to return to Jalandhar later this month.

In response to the request from the Gujarat Government, the Punjab police had, Mr Sarabjit Singh said, sent two platoons as part of the state entourage which would run a community kitchen for one lakh persons a day in Bhuj.

“We wish we could send some force there but we have manpower constraints,” the Punjab DGP said.

Meanwhile, the two platoons sent as escort to the state convoy have reached Bhuj in Gujarat. In Bhuj, these policemen will not only provide security cover to the community kitchen being run by the Punjab Government and other voluntary organisations from the state but also assist the local administration in relief and rehabilitation work.

“We may send escort parties with groups belonging to religious, voluntary or other organisations going for relief work in Gujarat,” Mr Sarabjit Singh said.

Initially, the two police platoons will stay in Bhuj for a month. Their future deployment will be decided later.

Talking about the shifting of policemen and officers belonging to Amritsar revenue district in view of the Majitha byelection, he said that all had already been shifted out.


10 mill workers on indefinite fast
From Our Correspondent

MANSA, Feb 6 — Ten workers of the closed sugar mill, Budhlada Co-operative Sugar Mills Ltd, sat on indefinite hunger strike yesterday before the office of the SDM, Budhlada, in the district.

They also held a rally supported by the Bharati Kisan Union (Ekta), Lok Bhalai Party, Akali Dal (Mann the Communist Party of India (M), the Student Federation of India and All-India Students Association (AISA). The workers demanded the sugar mill be received.

Mr Beant Singh Kainth, president of the Save Mill Action Committee, said the government had acquired their land for a meagre Rs 29,000 per acre on the assurance that they would be provided jobs in the mill. They were recruited on daily wages of Rs 30 only. He lamented that persons having less educational qualification than him were employed on a monthly salary of Rs 2340.

Mr Kainth said the workers were not in a position to make both ends meet as they had not got salaries since 1994 when the mill was closed. Mr Kainth also released copies of a letter in which Mr Parkash Singh Badal as president of the Shiromani Akali Dal had written to the then Chief Minister, Mr Beant Singh, urging him to run the mill.

Mr Ruldu Singh, senior vice-president of the state unit of the BKU (Ekta) said the Punjab Government was not bothered about the plight of the workers whose land had been acquired for setting up these cooperative mills despite their protests for the past six years.

The SDM-Budhlada, Mr S.K. Sabarwal, when contacted, refused to comment.



Trauma team leaves for Gujarat
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Feb 6 — A trauma management team from the Department of Orthopaedics, SGTB Hospital Government Medical College, Amritsar was flagged off in the morning on Monday by Dr O.P. Mahajan, Principal Government Medical College, Amritsar, Dr H.S. Gill, Medical Superintendent, SGTB Hospital, and Dr R.P.S. Boparai, in charge, Orthopaedics, unit-II. The team comprising three senior orthopaedics residents along with five junior doctors and equipped with medicines/injectables worth Rs 1 lakh, operating instruments along with implements (nails and plates), disposable sterilised operating sheets etc costing about Rs 40,000. The team was flagged off in coordination with the SGPC, Dr Bachan Singh Bachan, Secretary, SGPC had offered services of mobile dispensary along with paramedical staff to the team.

In addition to that the students, interns and residents of the government medical college collected Rs 2 lakh which was sent to the Tribune’s Gujarat Relief Fund. The drugs, implants, instruments etc were contributed by Dukh Nivaran hospital while surgicals were collected from the samples collected by interns from the faculty members of the medical college Amritsar. 


Relief from destitute home turned down
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Feb 6 — While the whole country is collecting relief for the quake victims of Gujarat, in a unique case relief was not accepted from a social organisation by the district administration today.

The relief was rejected as Deputy Commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir felt that those giving the relief material needed it the most. The good Samaritan giving the relief was Baba Balbir Singh, the spirit behind the destitute home run near Sanaur, on the outskirts of the city.

The Deputy Commissioner was apparently moved by the poor condition of most of the inmates of the home and refused to accept the relief being offered by their management . He said that 200 blankets and food stuff collected by the management of the home be distributed among the inmates.

“I felt that the inmates needed the relief most of all as their condition is even worse then those of the earthquake victims”, he said adding that a tour of the destitute home revealed that some of the inmates were in a poor medical condition and needed advanced medical aid immediately.



Sikh team leaves for Gujarat
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Feb 6 — Members of the Akal Purkh ki Fauj, a social and religious body, left Amritsar for the quake-affected areas in Gujarat to identify orphans to be adopted by it with the help of other organisations.

Headed by Mr Jaswinder Singh, an SGPC member, a team comprising social workers, doctors, lawyers, businessmen and teachers, it will also provide artificial limbs free of cost. It appealed educational institutions to come forward and provide education free of cost to orphans and needy students in this hour of crisis, Mr Kuljit Singh, spokesman for the organisation said today.


Protecting the poor from cold
From Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

SANGRUR: The Sangrur Red Cross Society is doing a commendable job by providing quilts, sweaters, shoes and socks to the poor at their door-step in winter for the past two months.

Mr Anirudh Tiwari, Deputy Commissioner, launched the campaign for distributing quilts and other commodities among the poor and needy persons on November 22.

The Red Cross Society has so far distributed about 600 quilts, 225 sweaters, 175 shoes and 175 socks in villages, slums near the Railway Stations, bus stands and other congested areas, while it has fixed a target of distributing 1000 quilts, 500 sweaters and 300 shoes worth about Rs 5 lakh during this winter.

Mr Rajesh Dhiman, honorary secretary of the society and Assistant Commissioner (General), said the distribution of the quilts and sweaters was done usually during night by the officers of the administration as a person found to be without a quilt or sweater at this time was considered a poor.

During the night, residents of adjoining and nearby villages like Balian, Mangwal, Dhanaula, Badbar, Sohian and Bhawanigarh villages are also given quilts and sweaters.

At Sangrur, quilts were distributed at Dhakka Basti, Shekhupura Basti, Sunder Basti, Guru Nanakpura Basti, Haripura Basti, Ram Nagar Basti, Bhala Basti, huts outside Patiala Gate and near Barnala Kenchian railway crossing.

Mr Dhiman pointed out that during the day, the officials of the administration visited schools to distribute uniforms and shoes to needy students. Sweaters, shoes and socks were provided on the spot to students not having these bare necessities.

The administration had already provided sweaters, shoes and socks to the students in schools at Prem Basti, Sunder Basti, Bazigar Basti and at the primary schools, at Bhindra and Khurana, he added.


Dr Yoshimi report ‘unreliable’
From Our Correspondent

ROPAR, Feb 6 — The recent account of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s death based on the report of Dr Yoshimi is unreliable, Mr V.P. Saini, chairman of Netaji Research Foundation, said in a press note here today.

Mr Saini said according to the transcript of Dr Yoshimi’s interview: The truck carrying several men injured in the air crash arrived at the hospital at 5 p.m. on August 18, 1945”.

However, he had deposed before the Shahnawaz committee that the patients had arrived at about 2 p.m. before the Khosla Commission he had maintained they had arrived at about 12.30 p.m.

At the recently released interview Dr Yoshimi had also said that he had personally washed the injuries of Netaji with oil before dressing his wounds. Before the Shahnawaz committee he had stated that Dr Surata had treated the injuries.

Dr Yoshimi had said before the Shahnawaz committee that Netaji had died at 8 p.m., whereas before the allied intelligence he had said he had died at 11 p.m.

Dr Yoshimi’s account varied from that of his colleagues while he had stated that injections were given to resuscitate Netaji’s heart, sister Tsan, who was with him, had said he had serious burn injuries and there was no place on his body to give injections.

Also, Netaji’s name had not been entered in the records of the hospital at which the said doctor had treated him. Dr Yoshimi had neither seen or known Netaji before. Hence, it was not possible for him to identify him.

The Shahnawaz committee had asked Dr Yoshimi as to why no photograph of the body of Netaji was taken. He had said it was against Japanese custom to photograph the body. This was, however, not true as many photographs of the dead Japanese leaders of that time were available.

Moreover, the entire theory of Netaji’s death being floated by certain “vested” interests was based on the fact that he had died in an aircrash in 1945. There was no record of any crash at the Taihoku airport during that year.

Hence, Dr Yoshimi’s deposition before various commissions could not be trusted. There was, in fact, an effort to “throttle” the smooth and judicious functioning of the Justice Mukerjee commission of inquiry that was on the verge of solving the mystery surrounding the death of Netaji, Mr Saini alleged.

He accused the NDA government of not extending cooperation to the said commission to expedite its findings.


Mann wants security zone for Sikhs

AMRITSAR, Feb 6 (PTI) — Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President, Akali Dal (Mann), today advocated the need for a security zone for Sikhs in Kashmir and deployment of United Nation troops to protect their lives and property.

He said peace-loving Sikhs of the state were being targeted for no reason and warned that it would lead to serious repercussions.

Mr Mann said the problem in Kashmir was a fight between India and Pakistan but the Sikhs were being made “sacrificial lambs”.

He said he would go to Pakistan to talk to the leadership there for restraining militant organisations from attacking innocent Sikhs.

He stressed that he would also meet Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and question him why security was not being provided to the Sikhs.

Regarding the involvement of militants in the killings, Mr Mann said the Hurriyat Conference, the Hizbul Mujahideen and the JKLF had condemned the incident but Lashkar-e-Toiba was being blamed for the gruesome killings.

A delegation of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Kashmir) led by Mr Himmat Singh, General Secretary, today presented a memorandum to Mr Simranjit Singh Mann on the problems faced by the Kashmiri Sikhs.

The memorandum stressed that the Sikhs of Kashmir were peace-loving and had nothing to do either with the government policies or the militant groups.


Cong condemns Sikh killings
From Our Correspondent

GURDASPUR, Feb 6 — Mr Ashwani Kumar, AICC spokesman, has condemned the killings of the innocent people of one community in the Kashmir valley. He said it was an attempt of a hostile neighbour and its agents to provoke and would be resisted by the nation.

Mr Kumar said the Congress shared anguish of the aggrieved families and the minority community and called upon the government to correct its policy towards Pakistan.


Notice to doc for false evidence
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 6 — The alleged fabrication of a evidence by a medical officer of the Primary Health Centre, Bhagta Bhaika, in a criminal case has landed him in trouble as the District and Sessions Judge, Mr B.C. Rajput, has taken cognizance of the offence under Section 344 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Mr Rajput while delivering a judgement in a criminal case has issued a show-cause notice to the doctor why he should not be punished for the offence by holding a summary trial.

According to the facts of the case, Jangir Singh, Harvinder Singh and Binder Singh were booked under Sections 308, 323 and 34, IPC, in 1997 for allegedly causing injury to Baldev Singh of Aklian village.

When the matter was reported to the police, Head Constable Ved Parkash went to get the opinion of the doctor at Bhagta Bhaika regarding the condition of the injured. The doctor declared Baldev Singh as unfit to make any statement.

On February 23, Mr Ved Parkash again went to the health centre and the doctor said the injured could not give a statement. The same thing happened the next day.

On March 3, an X-ray revealed that one of the injuries was serious while the other was superficial.

Accordingly, a case under Sections 308, 323 and 34, IPC, was registered following which Jangir Singh and Binder Singh were arrested. Later, Harvinder Singh, too, was arrested.

However, the case took a new turn when Dr K.S. Brar, Emergency Medical Officer (Civil Hospital), a witness, said the doctor at the health centre had committed perjury. He said he was on duty when Baldev Singh was referred to the Civil Hospital, and admitted there on February 23. The patient was conscious at the time.

He said the prosecution had tried to fabricate evidence in order to delay the registration of the case.

The X-ray examination of Baldev Singh was conducted by another doctor, even then the opinion was obtained from Dr Surjeet Singh.

Mr Rajput held that the prosecution had failed to prove its case against the accused beyond reasonable doubt and accordingly the accused were acquitted.

He also ordered the prosecution of the doctor for giving false evidence.


Panel approached against PSEB
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 6 — Mr Pitresh Sharma of Model Town here has approached the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) against the alleged high-handedness of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) officials for disconnecting his two electrical connection on flimsy grounds.

He alleged that during November, 2000, a penalty was imposed on him, which was included in the electricity bill on charge of theft of electricity. When he made representations to the authorities concerned in connection with the wrong imposition of penalty, his electricity connections were disconnected.

He pointed that one of the connection was being used by his tenant and thereby not involved in this dispute, but was still disconnected on December 6, 2000. Moreover, the connections were disconnected without any prior notice, he alleged.

He added that he was forced to pay a heavy amount to get one of the electric connections restored. He further said after that PSEB officials started harassing him on the pretext of checking load.

He pointed out that he asked the PSEB officials to check the load in his presence, but failed to get any positive response. Again the electric connection of that portion which he had given on rent was disconnected and he had to deposit Rs 8,400 to get it restored.

He demanded that legal action should be taken against the PSEB officials. He added that he approached higher PSEB officials in this connection but in vain.

The PSEB authorities, when contacted, said Mr Pitresh Sharma was indulging in the theft of electricity and action against him was taken following the proper procedure and on the report of the SDO concerned. The PSEB authorities alleged that Mr Pitresh Sharma was unnecessarily raising a hue and cry to cover his own misdeeds.


Bathinda exchanges develop snag
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 6 — Telephone subscribers in the town today had to face difficulties when all telephone exchanges “suddenly” developed some snag. Sources said due to the snag a number of telephones went out of order.

Even the telephone number of the officials of Telecom Department could not be contacted despite repeated efforts. Moreover, the subscribers on dialing 198 did not get any satisfactory reply.

An official of the Telecom Department, when contacted, said on the condition of anonymity that only the main telephone exchange developed a snag while all other exchanges were working properly.

When asked why the numbers could not be dialled properly from the telephone, he said the fault had been removed and now the telephones would work properly.

However, subscribers were still facing the problem.


Army recruitment rally on Feb 20
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Feb 6 — An Army recruitment rally is being organised for soldier (general duty) for Sikh and Sikh (Mazhabi and Ramdasia) candidates from February 20 to February 25 at Khalra (Amritsar) for candidates of Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts only.

While February 22 has been earmarked for wards of ex-servicemen. The candidates are required to report on February 20 at Khalra.

Candidates must have passed matriculation (10th class) examination and be between 16-21 years. They should bring their caste certificate issued/attested by SDM, education, character and residential certificate in original and photocopies.

In addition to 12 photographs in turban and 12 photographs without turban. Children of ex-servicemen and servicemen should bring their father’s discharge book or copy of it as proof.


Medical camp organised
From Our Correspondent

MALERKOTLA, Feb 6 — A free homoeopathic medical camp was organised by the local Rotary Club at the Home for the Blind here on Sunday. As many as 329 patients were examined. Mr Jatinder Singla, secretary of the club, said medicines were distributed by the local Kapoor Homoeo Hospital free of cost.


Two of marriage party die in mishap

SANGRUR, Feb 6 (UNI) — Two persons of a marriage party died and three, including the bridegroom and the bride, were injured when the car in which they were travelling struck against a tree near Alisher village in Moonak sub-division, near here, today.

Sources said Gursewak Singh, bride’s brother, who was at the wheel, and Gurtej Singh, groom’s brother-in-law, died on the spot when the car banged against the tree. Ram Singh and Gurvinder Kaur, the groom and the bride, along with the other injured were taken to hospital.

The marriage party was returning from Rehanwali village in Fatehabad, the sources added.


College student crushed to death
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 6 — Vivek Sharma, a student of the local government Polytechnic College was crushed to death by a bus today.

Civil Hospital sources said Vivek Sharma, hailing from Abohar, was trying to board a bus when he fell down and was crushed under the rear tyre.


Punjab food contaminated
By P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 6 — Pesticides are as much a boon to agriculture as a bane having impacted human health, production and preservation of food and fibre.

These synthetic chemicals safeguard plants against insects, pests and weeds. The Green Revolution owes a major part of its success to pesticides. The average pesticide consumption in Punjab is 923 gm per hectare against the country’s 288 gm per hectare.

Besides adding to grain production pesticides have also altered the agro-ecosystem affecting the ecology, environment and economy and throwing up social problems as well. Most of the suicides are committed by consuming pesticides. If pesticide poisoning cases have increased so has the contamination of soil, air, water and food articles, including mother’s milk. The consumption patterns of pesticides have become a worrying point for scientists who are now on the lookout for means to check insects, pests and weeds. The aim is to introduce environment-friendly pesticides. Will the traditional Neem with its medicinal and insecticidal value show the way?

Research at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, has established that the pest problem in Punjab has been compounded by a shift in the varietal pattern, increased use of fertilisers, irrigation and dependence solely on chemical insecticides. Not only have several insects and pests become resistant to the chemicals, new insect and pest threats have also emerged.

Scientists like G. S. Dhaliwal, Ramesh Arora, Ashok K. Dhawan and Balwinder Singh of the Department of Entomology at PAU worked overtime to tell Punjabis the harm being caused to their health by these pesticides. The immediate question is: what is the alternative? The answer is to look for bio-pesticides, microbial and botanical pesticides. The problem is how to replace synthetic chemicals with economical and effective alternatives that would keep the pest population under control and revive natural enemies of pests, with chemical and bio-pesticides playing complementary and supplementary roles in integrated pest management.

It is such worrying aspects of plant chemicals that have made the Punjab Council for Science and Technology hold a three-day conference on “Bio-pesticides: emerging trends” in Chandigarh tomorrow. It will be inaugurated by the PAU Vice-Chancellor, Dr G. S. Kalkat, while the keynote address will be by Dr S. Kannaiyan, Vice-Chancellor, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore. Nearly 200 national and international scientists are expected to attend the conference. It is being sponsored by the Department of Biotechnology, the Small Industries Development Bank of India and the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences. The Society of Bio-Pesticide Sciences and the Indian Ecological Society are collaborating.

The conference, besides discussing botanical and microbial pesticides, predators and parasitoids, will focus on transgenic crops and their bio-safety, environmental implications as well as commercial aspects related to bio-pesticides.

Dr Dhaliwal and his colleagues in their paper “Pests, pesticides and environment: options for Punjab agriculture” present a balance-sheet of the impact of pesticides in the state in the global context. A major quantity, 44.5 per cent, of the total pesticides used in the state is on cotton, followed by rice, 22.8 per cent, with their residues finding their way into milk and milk products, cereals, pulses, vegetables and even mother’s milk besides animal feed. The scientists say the “cultural practices” recommended by PAU, if adopted by farmers, can considerably reduce the use of pesticides.

Of the one million pesticide poisoning cases occurring in the world, at least 20,000 are fatal, with India accounting for one-third of the total poisoning cases. Cases of blindness, cancer, diseases of the liver and the nervous system due to pesticide poisoning are not uncommon. These have been clearly identified in cotton-growing areas of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. Can Punjab be far behind since cotton is being vigorously revived after successive failures? The state is known for the sale and application of spurious chemicals.

A 1998 study showed that 58 per cent of those who committed suicide in Punjab consumed one or the other pesticide.

Will the conference enable Punjab farmers to safeguard their health and restore the agro-ecosystem?


Planning panel releases Rs 1.06 cr for development
From Our Correspondent

NAWANSHAHR, Feb 6 — A meeting of the District Planning and Development Board was held here under the chairmanship of Mr Raghuvir Singh, Transport Minister, on Monday. The minister released Rs one crore six lakh and thirtythree thousand for various development projects.

He sanctioned Rs 12.20 lakh for the construction of police station, Rs 28.65 lakh under rural sanitation of Scheduled Castes scheme, Rs 12.66 lakh for paying remuneration to teachers working under Shikhiya Kaimi Yojana, Rs 42.85 lakh for panchayats, panchayat samitis and Zila Parishads for carrying out development works, Rs 4.76 lakh for providing water supply facility at Balachaur, Rs 2.75 lakh for fishery etc. Presiding over the meeting of the District Roads Committee, Mr Raghuvir Singh said that Rs 5 crore would be spent on the construction of 70 km roads and Rs 4 crore on the repair of 108 km roads in the district. Mr Jatinder Singh Kariha, Mr Nand Lal (both MLAs) and the DC were also present on the occasion.


Intimidation case: charges framed
From Our Correspondent

PATHANKOT, Feb 6 — Mr Harish Anand, PCS, Judicial Magistrate, Ist Class, Pathankot, framed charges against Naresh Kumar, Omesh Kumar, Hans Raj and Harbans Lal, residents of Sohawra Kalan village for allegedly outraging the modesty of a woman of the same village and criminal intimidating under Sections 354/506/323/34 of the Indian Panel Code.

The complainant had stated that her husband was serving in the Army and was posted at the border and she was staying alongwith her mother-in-law and her three minor children. On March 26, 1997, she went to throw garbage on the common rubbish dump which was over 100 yards away from her house. The accused, on seeing her started using filthy language and as she tried to run away was overpowered by Naresh Kumar and Omesh Kumar who threw her to the ground.

The complainant further alleged that with the help of Hans Raj she was taken to the nearby fields. Where Naresh Kumar tried to outrage her modesty. She bit the hand of Naresh Kumar to escape from his clutches and raised the alarm. The accused threatened to kill her if she did not shut up.

After recording the evidence, and hearing arguments, Mr Anand framed the charges against all accused.


Bid to erect ‘Nishan Sahib’ at school foiled
From Our Correspondent

GURDASPUR, Feb 6 — Shwinder Singh and his 41 supporters were prevented from erecting Nishan Sahib in a part of government school building at Pakeevan village in the district. The police took them into custody while they were on their way to the site.

They were challaned under Sections 107 and 151, IPC, and presented before the Subdivisional Magistrate here.

The SDM, Mr T.K. Goyal, said the accused had made a futile attempt to erect Nishan Sahib in the building on January 30 but were prevented by villagers. The matter was reported to the authorities.

Some elements during the period of terrorism had installed Nishan Sahib in the building which was removed by the authorities.


Two run over by buses
From Our Correspondent

TARN TARAN, Feb 6 — Two persons, were killed in different accidents in the area even as the police seized 4.8 quintal of poppy husk.

According to reports today, an unidentified body of a woman about 35-year-old was found by the police near the local sugar mills. A case has been registered.

According to another report, an employee of the local Cooperative Sugar Mills, Sheron, Nirmal Singh, was crushed to death by a private bus.

In another incident Balwinder Singh of Naushehra Pannuan village was run over  by a Pepsu roadways bus near his native village yesterday. Case under Section 304-A, and 279, IPC, have been registered.


17 held for attacking govt officials
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 6 — As many as 17 persons who had built of ‘permanent and kutcha’ structures on land belonging to Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) have been arrested by the police for their alleged involvement in an attack on government officials and obstructing them from performing official duty.

Police sources said they were arrested as they started pelting stones on the officials who were involved in a demolition drive.

Apart from pelting stones, they also allegedly beat up the officials. They damaged the bulldozer which was pulling down the illegal structures on February 4.

The sources added that some of lathis and sharp-edged weapons had been recovered and the accused had been booked under Sections 307, 353, 186, 148 and 149 of the IPC.

Meanwhile, Mr Bhan Singh Bhora, MP, condemning the demolition of these structures, said while the Punjab Government on the one hand had been regularising illegal structures and encroachments, on the other, its officials were uprooting the residents of such structures.


Gang of drug addicts busted
4 pistols, 3 cars recovered
From Harjeet Singh

BATHINDA, Feb 6 — First Bittu started taking opium for fun. Soon after he started taking cough syrups and by the time he turned 20, he had started taking intravenous morphine.

Resident of Rampura town of this district, Bittu started stealing to arrange money for buying drugs.

After a few months, he began to head a gang of 10, all of whom are in their teens and are drug addicts.

They would have ‘fun’ with the money earned from disposing of goods stolen from various states.

An accused in 25 criminal cases, Bittu and his associates have been arrested. They have been identified as Neeta of Rampura, Soni Mahant alias Sukhdev Singh, of Talwandi Sabo, Sandeep Kumar, alias Simpi, of Talwandi Sabo, Iqbal Singh of Kilian Wali and Mohinder Singh of Maur.

Mohinder Singh, a goldsmith, used to purchase gold from the gang at throwaway prices. He had purchased gold worth Rs 3 lakh from them. The gang had also purchased four pistols to run their “business” smoothly in different states.

Almost all gang members had been to prison where they used to make plans for the next course of action. They also had three Maruti cars which had been stolen from different places.

The police has recovered a pistol, a scooter and cartridges from Iqbal Singh.

They would steal those things which were easy to sell such as television sets, scooters, and gold. The police has recovered three cars, 22 tolas of gold, three television sets, four pistols and Rs 18,000 in cash from them.

Cases of theft had been registered against them at different police stations of Sirsa, Bathinda and Rampura. Most of the electronic and other items were stolen from Rampura as they were more active in this area.

Mr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said so far eight cases registered in Punjab and Haryana had been solved.

Four members of the gang are yet to be arrested.


Student beaten up in revenge
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 6 — Rana, a college student, was beaten up and injured seriously by four other students near Ajit Road Chowk in the town yesterday evening.

Police sources said Navdeep Singh, alias Navi, Amandeep Singh, Harvinder Singh and Harkeerat Singh had beaten up Rana with sharp-edged weapon while he was going to his house.

Rana has been admitted to the Civil Hospital with 19 injuries on his person. He is stated to be out of danger.

Police sources said about one year ago, Rana along with an accomplice had beaten up Navdeep Singh who consequently remained in coma for about an year.

Navdeep having recovered attacked Rana to take revenge.

A case under Sections 323, 324 and 34 of the IPC has been registered against the accused.



GND varsity bags trophy
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Feb 6 — Guru Nanak Dev University won the national championship for the first time in the all-India inter-university national youth festival held at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Dr H.S. Soch, Vice-Chancellor said here today.

The said Guru Nanak Dev University was the only university from the North Zone which had bagged trophy. The youth festival was sponsored by the Association of Indian University, Department of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India. It concluded at Varanasi on February 2.

The university won the trophy by defeating Mumbai University by a margin of 13 points. The university won first positions in group song (Indian), group song (Western), classical instrumental (Non-percussion), debate and mimicry.

Mr Baljit Singh Sekhon, Director, Youth Welfare of the university represented North Zone in 14 events of music, theatre, fine arts and literary events.


Dharna against Headmaster
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Feb 6 — Students of Government Middle School, Phoos Mandi, today staged a dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner to press for their demands.

The students alleged that there had been no teaching in the school for the past three months and that the headmaster of the school had not taught them for the past three months and that he also misbehaved with the students.



Unions fight over stacking of rice
From Our Correspondent

GURDASPUR, Feb 6— The tug of war between labourers of the Gulla Union and the FCI Workers Union to control the stacking of rice in FCI godowns has led to the harassment of rice millers.

Workers of the Gulla Union have locked the godowns of the FCI and are not allowing the rice millers to send their stocks. Labourers owing allegiance to the FCI union, however claim it their right to stack rice in the godowns.

The stacking of rice has come to a virtual standstill. It was only 20 days ago that the rice stocks were accepted in the godowns because the millers paid money to workers of both unions.

Sources said since the millers had stopped paying both unions, more than 1,000 wagons of rice had piled up with the millers. The millers and arhtias are under pressure as they owe more than Rs 25 crore to farmers.

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