Monday, May 21, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



BJP to seek more Assembly seats
Our Correspondent

Sunam, May 20
Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, Health Minister, said the Punjab unit of the BJP would demand more seats from the SAD in the ensuing Punjab Assembly elections as compared to the elections held in February 1997. Mr Chawla said this while addressing a press conference in the office of municipal council here on Friday night.

The minister further said in view of the commendable performance of the BJP in the state, especially in rural areas, the BJP would not hesitate to stake its claim over more Assembly seats. He said the BJP felt that there would be no hurdle in getting more seats.

Regarding control over tuberculosis (TB) in the state, the minister said the Health Department had divided the state into five zones. He said there were 3 lakh persons suffering from TB in Punjab, of which 75,000 had been found suffering due to sputum positiveness. He said as many as 30 persons died daily due to the disease in the state whereas in the country a patient died after every hour.

Dr Chawla further said no polio case had been detected during previous year. He hoped that the state would also not see any case of polio this year.

The minister said he had discharged 130 government doctors for practicing privately and absence from duty. He said two well-equipped mobile dispensaries had been launched in each district in the state.

On this occasion, Thakur Jagdish Rai, district president of the BJP, said the BJP had established its 25 per cent new units in villages. He also said the party had increased its influence among the weaker sections due to the polices of the BJP.

Mr Rai also said the district unit would demand three more Assembly seats namely Sangrur, Dhanaula and Lehragaga in the ensuing Assembly elections.


Cong not to field tainted men
Tribune News Service

Budhlada, May 20
Punjab Congress President Amarinder Singh said today that the tickets for the coming Assembly elections would not be given to those with a tainted image, and added that sentiments of the workers would be given due weightage while selecting the candidates for the same.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who was here in connection with the inauguration of a party office, said the resolution passed by the party at the Pachmari session in connection with the allotment of party tickets would be followed in letter and spirit.

The Congress President, while addressing the rally after the function, said eight sub-committees had been constituted to work out the problems. He added that recommendations of the committees would be a part of the party’s manifesto to make it people-oriented.

He added that he himself had been meeting the representatives of Scheduled Castes, traders, farmers, industrialists and other sections of society to know their problems so that these could be solved if the party came into power after the next Assembly elections.

He claimed that the party would contest elections on the issue of corruption by members of the ruling alliance and damage done to the Punjab economy by its Chief Minister, who had been befooling the people and trying to fetch their votes by giving them money under the garb of grants at sangat darshans.

He said Mr Badal who had been criticising the implementation of the WTO treaty in India, had never met the Prime Minister to urge him to withdraw India from the treaty.

While claiming complete unity among the party members he pointed out that the state leadership would shortly start block-level rallies.

He said Mr Badal had been feeling disturbed after he came to know about the huge rush at Congress rallies in the state. He said the Congress was willing to form a secular front in Punjab by joining hands with the Leftist parties and the issue would be taken up with the Left leadership at an appropriate time.

Regarding the Budhlada Assembly segment, Mr Amarinder Singh said under the alliance with the CPI, the seat could be given to a Congress worker even though Mr Hardev Singh Arshi, CPI MLA, had been representing if for the past 10 years.

Earlier, Mr Amarinder Singh said he would take up the matter regarding the purchase of land by outsiders in Rajasthan with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and the party high command.

Mr Malti Thapar, Mr Kirpal Singh Makha, Mr Harminder Jassi, Mr Jasbir Singh (all former ministers), Mr Ajit Inder Singh Mofar, MLA, were also present at the rally while a section of the leaders did not attend it due to alleged maltreatment given to them by the local leadership.


CM’s promises remain unfulfilled
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 20
There is resentment among residents of Gharota and surrounding villages for government’s neglect of the area regarding development. The area falls in the Assembly constituencies of Sujanpur, Narot Mehra and Dina Nagar and are represented by BJP MLAs. BJP MLAs of the area had failed to meet aspirations of constituents of the area said villagers.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister Punjab, visited Gharota on May 14, 2000 to lay foundation stone of bridge across Chakki river near the village which will connect Gharota with Mirthal on the GT road Jalandhar directly Bridge, when completed, will boost price of farm land beyond the bridge up to Mirthal and also boost economy of people of the area.

On the same day Mr Badal addressed a rally at Gharota and amidst cheers announced that the department concerned had been directed to complete the bridge by February 2001. He also announced that availability of funds would not hinder construction of the bridge. Something has gone wrong somewhere and completion of the bridge does not seem to be in sight in the near future. Lack of funds is the cause of the delay.

Mr Badal also promised to set up 66 kva power station at Gharota to regulate supply of power if the area so far but in vain. Power supply deteriorated after the visit of Mr Badal and no effort of the PSEB are in sight so far to set up the power station.

Similarly he announced to build a water tank in the village for drinking water’s supply. It too has not materialised.

Mr Badal declared that villages of the area, including Gharota, Chouhan Wala and Madnal would be included in the Kandi area. Reality is that no progress in this regard has been made so far.

The roads of the area continue to be in a state of disrepair. Bus service is far from satisfactory.

There has been no visible improvement regarding the provision of health and veterinary services. Number of vacancies of teachers in schools of the area continue to remain unfilled.

BJP sarpanch of the area keeping his name a secret said that promises made by the Chief Minister if not fulfilled will affect credibility of the government. There is resentment in this regard among residents of the area and will recoil on poll prospects of BJP MLAs who are part of the Punjab government in the coming Assembly polls.

The sarpanch appealed to the Chief Minister to recall his visit to Gharota in May last year and order action on promises made at the rally on that day to help his BJP colleagues to save from people’s wrath.


Women try to block CM’s way
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, May 20
The district police today had a tough time controlling two women aanganwari workers who tried to come in front of the car of the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, in protest against the denial of opportunity to them to meet him in connection with their grievances during his “sangat darshan” held in the city.

After Mr Badal left the city, these aanganwari workers jammed traffic near Red Cross Bhavan by staging a dharna in the middle of the road and raised slogans against Mr Badal and the Punjab Government.

Mr Kultar Singh, SSP, said one aanganwari worker was having some dispute with a sarpanch of a village in Bathinda district. She had come in connection with the inquiry being conducted by the SP, Mr Dharam Singh, on her application. After reaching here, she, along with the other aanganwari worker, wanted to meet Mr Badal in connection with the regularisation of their services.

He said these two women were asked to come to Red Cross Bhavan to meet Mr Badal. However, when they reached, the Chief Minister was leaving the city as he was getting late. Angry over this, the two women tried to come in front of Mr Badal’s car which was foiled by policemen present there.

Earlier, Mr Badal, while addressing the “sangat darshan”, said by signing the GATT agreement the Congress government, led by former Prime Minister P.V. Narsimha Rao, had signed the “death warrant” of Indian agriculture and the peasantry.

He claimed that he would hold “sangat darshan” in the constituency of every MLA. He added that no discrimination was being made in releasing grants for development works.

He alleged that both AICC President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, and the PPCC President, Mr Amarinder Singh, who belonged to royal families, were rootless leaders who lacked the basic knowledge of the problems of the common people. He added that Mr Amarinder Singh had been changing his loyalties for shortsighted political gains in the past and had never stuck to any party.

He alleged that the Lok Bhalai Party chief, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, had also been befooling the people by raising hollow slogans and indulging in cheap publicity gimmicks.

Mr Badal said while in the “sangat darshan” 90 per cent problems of the people were being solved on the spot, it also boosted the pace of development in the state.

Mr Badal announced that a 66 kv grid station would be set up in the city at a cost of Rs 5 crore. About 400 streetlights would be installed at a cost of Rs 18 lakh. He distributed old-age pension certificates to about 700 beneficiaries.


Efforts on to extradite Kalasinghian
K. S. Chawla

Ludhiana May 20
The Punjab Police is preparing a case for the extradition of Tarsem Singh Kalasinghian, alias Sema, a militant of the 80s, who has recently been nabbed in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

According to reports received by the Punjab Police, Kalasinghian was arrested along with five others in April. He is considered one of the originators of militant movement in Punjab along with Talwinder Singh Parmar of Panchta village in Kapurthala district. Sema’s village Kalasinghian also falls in Kapurthala district.

Kalasinghian originally was a naxalite and later joined the Babbar Khalsa under the influence of Parmar, who was associated with the Akhand Kirtani Jatha. Parmar, who had his base in Canada, was also responsible for the establishment of Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) militant outfit.

There are a number of cases pending against Kalasinghian in Kapurthala, Jalandhar and Ludhiana districts, including murder cases.

The Daheru shootout case, which took place at Daheru village in Ludhiana district on November 19, 1981, in which police Inspector Pritam Singh Bajwa and Constable Surat Singh of Jalandhar were gunned down, had gained much prominence during the initial years of militancy in Punjab. After the murder of Lala Jagat Narain, the founder of the Hind Samachar Group of newspapers in Jalandhar, Kalasinghian, along with some others was also allegedly indulged in shootout in Jalandhar city on September 20, 1981 near Ladowal village on the Ludhiana-Jalandhar road. On September 20, 1981, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was also arrested at Chowk Mehata — his headquarters in Amritsar district — and six persons were killed in police firing there.

The Punjab Police was looking for Kalasinghian and his accomplices, when on the morning of November 19, 1981 an encounter took place at Daheru village in Ludhiana district in which two policemen were killed and all militants hiding in a house of Amarjit Singh Nihang managed to escape.

Those who were named in the FIR at that time included Wadhawa Singh (present chief of Babbar Khalsa now based in Pakistan) Talwinder Singh Parmar, Amarjit Singh Nihang, Amarjit Singh police (Head Constable), Sewa Singh (Head Constable) and Gurnam Singh (Head Constable). Nachhatar Kaur, wife of Amarjit Singh Nihang, was arrested from the house. Daheru was the major hideout of the militants of Babbar Khalsa. Sewa Singh and Gurnam Singh, head constables, had later joined Bhindranwale and were killed during Operation Blue Star.

Kalasinghian and Parmar also later managed to escape from India, via Nepal border. Parmar, who was based in Canada, managed to sneak into India in 1993 and was killed in an encounter with the Punjab Police between Goraya and Phillaur when he was proceeding to his village, Panchta, near Phagwara.

Kalasinghian and his associates were also involved in the killing of a number of Nirankaris of Kapurthala and Jalandhar districts. Nirankaris were their main targets since the Akal Takht had issued a Hukamnama, asking Sikhs to boycott the Nirankaris after the April 13,1978 episode of Amritsar in which 13 Sikhs were killed in a clash with the Nirankaris and Baba Gurbachan Singh, then Nirankari chief, was allowed to leave Amritsar but later tried for the murder of the Sikhs. Baba Gurbachan Singh was later killed by Bhai Ranjit Singh, who became the jathedar of the Akal Takht after his release from the jail. Fauja Singh, an Agriculture Inspector and member of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha, was among the 13 persons killed during the clash at Amritsar. His widow, Amarjit Kaur, later became active in the Akhand Kirtani Jatha.

The Babbar Khalsa group, led by Parmar, had also killed a schoolteacher of Bathinda district for desecrating the sanctity of the Guru Granth Sahib.


Capt Kanwaljit woos non-SAD leaders
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 20
If the intense interest being taken by the Punjab Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh in the Banur Assembly constituency is any indication, a mid-term poll is definitely in the offing in Punjab. The Finance Minister, who has earlier been thought to be a little shaky in the constituency, has turned to wooing leaders from various parties and is emerging successful in this regard.

In a major success, the Finance Minister has been able to attract grassroot party leaders from the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD), the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to his fold at a function organised at Lalru yesterday.

At the function, most of the leaders joining the SAD were from the Tohra faction. Sources said this was in line with the party policy to try to consolidate the Akali vote bank which had been divided in the Patiala Lok Sabha constituency which was considered to be a stronghold of former president of the SGPC Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

Among those joining the SAD included president and general secretary of the Sarb Hind Circle, respectively, Karam Handesra and Bhag Singh Dhanauli. A large number of grass root workers joined the SAD along with both the leaders on the occasion.

The Congress and the BSP had been also hit in the Banur Assembly segment. Former Congress sarpanches Bal Bahadar Singh and Gurmail Singh, besides Sarwan Singh, general secretary of the BSP also joined the SAD.

Addressing party workers Capt Kanwaljit Singh announced that he would start an intensive round of his constituency from May 24 during the course of which he would cover 10 to 12 villages everyday. He urged the people to come forward to list their grievances. He also urged the party cadre to fan out in the constituency and aggressively state the positive achievements of the government so that the false propaganda being unleashed by its rivals was countered effectively. He said though the government had been just to all sections of society, a propaganda was being carried out that it was tilted against city dwellers. He said this was farthest from truth adding that the SAD had given concessions to businessmen in the form of sales tax.

The interest being shown by Capt Kanwaljit in the Banur segment had put at rest the speculations that he might shift to some other constituency in Patiala. Banur is often seen as a traditional Congress seat and Capt Kanwaljit’ s election was also made possible due to infighting in the party between defeated Congress candidate Mohinder Singh Gill and Ravinder Sohi, who also commands a strong presence in the constituency.


Man wanted in 18 cases arrested
Chander Parkash and Jaswinder Paul Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 20
Gopal Singh alias Kaka committed first crime in his life when he was just 25. A case of smuggling of narcotics was registered against him in Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan in 1993. Since then he has been keeping police forces of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh on tenterhooks, by escaping police net.

Gopal Singh alias Kaka, who has amassed crores also killed his wife within five months of his marriage in connivance of his mother-in-law Gurjant Kaur in 1998, and has been indulging in smuggling and other criminal activities using stolen cars with red lights atop. However, on May 18, he was arrested by Bathinda police along with his mother-in-law and narcotics and one country made pistol in the Sangat police station area.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, addressing a press conference here today, said that Gopal Singh alias Kaka, who had been facing 18 criminal cases registered by different police stations in different states, had confessed that after killing his wife Parwinder Kaur in connivance with his mother-in-law, threw the body into Bhakra mainline canal at Patiala.

The most wanted criminal of the area who also fired on a police party in Haryana in 1997 was having illicit relations with her mother-in-law and it was the main reason for the divorce of Gurjant Kaur from her husband.

The accused had been owning bungalows in various states including one at Gidderbaha town of Muktsar district. The accused also owns a fleet of cars. He managed to escape liabilities in connection with the murder of his wife despite efforts by his father-in-law to get him punished. His mother-in-law and brother-in-law had helped him during investigation of that case and deposed in his favour.

Cases are pending against him in Punjab and he is wanted in six cases in Haryana and two in Rajasthan. Most of these cases were of smuggling of narcotics. He was declared a proclaimed offender in almost all cases. Police force of different states had set up special teams to nab him but failed to do so.

The brother-in-law of the accused was also helping him run the ‘business’. His brother-in-law was booked by the police for preparing fake registration plates of the car he had stolen and which belonged to a police officer.

The SSP, said that police forces of various states where he was wanted has been informed. He said that the interrogation of the accused would reveal more to enable the police help nab other members of the gang. He added that the two cars used by the accused for smuggling narcotics belonged to police officials facing criminal charges.

He said that Gopal Singh was nabbed by the police on Friday from the police naka near Kaljhalani village under the Sangat police station. 


Roza Sharif Urs begins
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib
To the surprise of the organisers, the district administration and the Vigilance Department, a delegation of 165 Pakistani pilgrimage, led by Mohammad Nusratullah Cheema of Gujranwala, has come to participate in the annual Urs. It is after a long gap that pilgrims from Pakistan have arrived. Nobody had prior information about the Pakistani pilgrims and no arrangement could be made for their reception.

Sahibzada Faizal Rasool, leader of 65 pilgrims from Tobha Tek Singh in Faislabad, told The Tribune that they were brought to the Urs site in trucks and a police bus. The arrival of the Pakistani pilgrims has created enthusiasm among the organisers as well as the people of Sirhind town.

The Urs, which is celebrated in memory of Sufi saint Sheikh Ahmad Farooqui Sirhindi, will commence on May 21 and continue till May 24. Thousands of Naqshabandi Muslims from India and abroad are expected to pay their homage at the holy place.

This place is regarded as the second “Mecca” by Sunni Muslims all over the world. The Sheikh is considered next to Hazrat Mohammad in the religious order, hence the title “Alaf Saani”.

Roza Sharif, situated on the Fatehgarh Sahib-Bassi Pathana road in the vicinity of Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib, was built in memory of Sheikh Ahmad Farooqui Sirhindi, popularly known as Mujaddid Alaf-e-Saani in 1929. It has a separate entrance through Bahishti Gali. It has a prayer hall, where Muslims sit to pay their homage.

Sheikh Ahmad was the most eminent of Khwaja Baqi Billah’s disciples. He was ordered fourth in the Sheikh Abdul Ahmad Farooqui Kabuli Naqshabandi order and was born n Sirhind. From his childhood, Sheikh Ahmad moved in the company of “Alims and saints. Around 1599, he left Sirhind with a view to proceeding on a pilgrimage and reached Delhi, where he was welcomed by Khwaja Baqi Billah and the latter made him his disciple. Once Baqi Billah wrote to one of his friends: “A person named Sheikh Ahmad belonging to Sirhind has acquired immense knowledge. He is like a lamp which will illuminate the world”.

When Sheikh Ahmad visited Baqui Billah the second time, he was allowed to initiate disciples into the Naqshabandi order and was declared by the Khwaja as his successor. The theory of the appearance of the Mujaddid Alaf-e-Saani was based on a tradition ascribed to the Prophet Mohammad: “God willing, on the eve of every entry, a person will rise in this “Ummat” who would renew religion”.

Duiring his lifetime Mujaddid Alaf-e-Saani opposed Akbar’s religious policy Din-e-Allahi, and made himself the leader of Muslim orthodoxy.

Mujaddid Alaf-e-Saani and his successors are regarded very highly by Muslims in general and the nobility of Kabul in particular. It is said that the place was the burial ground for members of the Afghan royal family.

The annual Urs of Roza Sharif has great attraction for Muslims. The zeal and enthusiasm with which it is celebrated is shared by Hindu and Sikhs too.

According to Sajjada Nasheen Syed Mohammad Yahya Majaddai, pilgrims from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Iran are expected to arrive. The Urs will be totally a religious affair and no political activity will be allowed.

The district administration has made all arrangements for the Urs. According to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Vikas Partap, basic amenities like water, food, shelter and medicines would be provided to the pilgrims.

He said a bank counter for the exchange of foreign currency and an information centre had also been set up. Arrangements have been made for the stay of foreign pilgrims and VIPs. A mela officer has been deputed and an inquiry counter has been set up.

Mr H.S. Saran, SSP, said all pilgrims, particularly the foreign nationals, would be provided adequate security.


Maharaja can be depicted: SGPC
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 20
Even as the Sikh clergy has categorically stated that statues of Sikh Gurus cannot be installed, the SGPC has announced that Maharaja Ranjit Singh can be shown in person in a feature film or a play.

The light and sound programme — Sher-e-Punjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh — inaugurated by the Chief Minister here was not able to show the legendary Maharaja as the state government did not get the permission from the SGPC till the recording of the 90-minute programme. The programme was prepared to mark the bicentenary of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Though, the programme, exclusively prepared with the help of artistes of the Public Relations Department had attracted a big crowd, yet the absence of the Maharaja in the show was pointed out by drama critics. However, it was for the first time that the department had produced the entire programme without hiring artistes from outside.

Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, secretary, SGPC, confirmed that the state government was given permission to show the Maharaja in person in the light and sound programme.

Mr Ripudaman Sharma, Joint Director, Public Relations, said it was the prerogative of the senior officers to speak on the issue whether the Maharaja could be shown in the next programmes.

The Sikh intellectuals, however, feel that if the statue of the Maharaja can be installed at different places as to why he (the Maharaja) cannot be shown in person in plays or feature films. The intellectuals say that Maharaja Ranjit Singh cannot be equated with gurus as he had human follies too. The Maharaja was summoned by the then Jathedar Baba Phula Singh at Akal Takht for having developed illicit relations with a “moran”. Hence, there was no problem of showing him as a living person.

The statue of the Maharaja was installed many years ago in the same Ram Bagh, where the light and sound programme was being held.

The programme it seems would help the ruling SAD-BJP combine in the forthcoming elections as Mr Badal had promised to run his government on the pattern of the Maharaja. Though the programme did not have any mention of the present government but instances from life and history of Maharaja Ranjit Singh were selected in such a way, so that these could help the government in propagating the “secular” policies of the present government.

Similarities could be drawn between the policies adopted by Mr Badal and instances quoted in the programme relating to the Maharaja. For example programme mentioned that Maharaja Ranjit Singh had allocated liberal funds for the temples, inducted Hindus and Muslims as devans and generals. Persuing the same policies, Mr Badal had released grant of Rs 1 crore to Durgiana Temple for its beautification. He had also released grants for expansion of various temples in the state.


4 feared drowned as car plunges into canal
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 20
Around four persons were feared drowned when their Maruti Zen car plunged into the Bhakra canal at Ganda Kheri village on the Patiala - Rajpura road yesterday.

According to eyewitness accounts, the car in which three to four people were stated to be sitting, including a woman, hurtled into the canal when the driver veered slightly more to the left. The car hit a metal railing constructed on the side of the bridge before plunging into the canal.

Police sources said the exact number of people feared drowned in the accident could not be ascertained till late in the evening as no one has come forward so far in this regard. The police sources said they had received some queries but no one could identify the victims with certainty.

Meanwhile, neither the car nor the bodies could be located till late in the evening. The sources said divers had been requisitioned from Ropar, who arrived at the spot in the afternoon. They said efforts were being made to locate the car.

Witnesses on the spot at Ganda Kheri said the car was of blue colour. They said at least one or two women were sitting in the car and that there were two men accompanying them. 


Three killed in rail mishaps
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, May 20
Three persons, including a girl, were run over and killed by three trains between Phagwara and Jalandhar cantonment railway stations in the wee hours today.

Railway Police chowki in charge, Shambhu Dutt, said here today that Paul Singh of Khajurala village was crushed by a train between Chaiheru and Jalandhar cantonment late last night. According to information, Paul Singh had been away from home to complete formalities for obtaining visa for Italy.

In the second rail mishap, Santoshi, (18) was run over by a train near the Chaheru railway station early this morning. The deceased was daughter of Railway gangman Kallu and crossing the Railway line to answer natures call.

In the third mishap, a man was crushed under the wheels of a train at the Phagwara railway station this morning. The Railway Police has sent the bodies to the local Civil Hospital for post-mortem examinations.

In another incident, Chaman Lal of Ghurrka village in the subdivision allegedly murdered his father Sheru (80) late last night. According to information, Chaman Lal, under the influence of liquor, had demanded money from his father who recently received his old-age pension. On being refused, Chaman Lal attacked him with a sharp-edged weapon. Chaman Lal was arrested and the body sent to the Civil Hospital here for a post-mortem examination and a case registered under Section 302 of the IPC.


Sukhbir Badal opens hospital
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, May 20
Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, MP, and general secretary, SAD, while talking to mediapersons at Sukhmani Hospital here on Sunday categorically denied that the results of the recently concluded Assembly elections in five states would have any impact on Punjab Assembly poll. When asked about the issuance of the “self or bearer cheques” during “sangat darshan” programmes, as reported in a section of press, he said these had been issued to ensure “people’s involvement” in the development process.

He evaded questions about the possible unity with Mr Tohra and an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party during the ensuing Assembly poll and said that these issues were to be decided by the Political Affairs Committee of the party.


Temporary bridge collapses
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 20
A temporary bridge constructed on the Behman distributary on the Bathinda-Malout national highway in place of the bridge that collapsed on May 8, was damaged early this morning when a heavy vehicle passed on it.

The traffic on the main road between Bathinda and Malout had remained paralysed for many days because of the collapse of the bridge. It was diverted from the link roads thus creating problems for commuters. The PWD (B and R), responsible for clearing the debris, had to face many difficulties because of the heavy weight of the damaged bridge.

The cranes deployed by the department were not able to remove the debris as a whole. It was, therefore, broken into pieces. As the construction of a new bridge would have taken many days. so in order to facilitate the commuters, a temporary bridge had been constructed in its place.

But the temporary bridge was not able to help heavy vehicles. It was meant for light vehicles. Even the buses plying on the route had to be vacated before passing from the bridge.

The residents said the temporary bridge was not of much use because heavy vehicles could not pass on it. They said as a result these vehicles diverted through villages.

No official of the district administration or the PWD (B and R) could be contacted for their comments.


ASI eats humble pie, transferred
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 20
An ASI of the Bassi Pathana police station was forced by an Akali leader of the area to return Rs 18,000 which he had extorted from a marginal farmer of Hussainpur Kandipur village to settle his dispute.

According to information, Mr Jeet Singh of Hussainpur Kandipur village after harvesting wheat from his fields with a harvesting combine, put fire to the remaining straw. The fire spread to nearby fields of Pritam Singh and burnt a tyre of the trolly of Karnail Singh.

Pritam Singh reported the matter to the police. Mr Gurnam Singh, ASI Bassi Pathana, police station inspected the site and took Jeet Singh into custody.

With the intervention of village elders and the panchayat the matter was sorted out and Jeet Singh was fined Rs 40,000 as compensation to the affected farmers. Jeet Singh handed over Rs 40,000 to the ASI. The ASI gave Rs 11,000 to Pritam Singh and Rs 11,000 to Karnail Singh, both affected farmers, and kept the remaining amount with him.

On knowing about it Jeet Singh contacted Mr Rajesh Paul Singh Lalli, a senior Akali leader of the area, and narrated the incident to him. Mr Lalli contacted the DSP, Bassi Pathana, and brought the matter into his notice. The DSP, Mr Balwinder Singh, probed the matter and found that the ASI had grabbed Rs 18,000. He directed the ASI to return the money in the presence of Mr Lalli and villagers. The ASI returned the amount and apologised.

The Akali leader also took up the matter with Mr Sanjeev Gupta, DIG, Patiala Range, who transferred the ASI to Sangrur.


Sangat darshan programmes welcome: SIF
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 20
The Sikh Intelligentsia Forum (SIF), a teachers body of the Punjabi University, today claimed that the ‘sangat darshan’ programmes held at different places by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had proved to be a boon for a majority of the people in the state.

Professor Dalbir Singh Dhillon, president of the Forum , said a survey had been conducted by distributing questionaires among the public by research scholars. They revealed that 92 per cent of the public was in favour of the sangat darshan exercise .He said the survey revealed that people felt these programmes should be made mandatory and held at regular intervals. Only eight per cent people from the cities said that the programmes were a wastage of time and money. Dr M.S. Randhawa, a sociologist in Punjabi University said that people living in villages, were glad to meet the CM and eager to discuss their grievances without hesitation. According to the survey report by Prof Dhillon, people of border regions preferred more visits of the CM so that they could shake off their fear of the police.

Some urbanites complained that, Mr Badal gave less attention to cities and that preferential treatment was given to village residents by the Akali - BJP government . Some members of the Forum resolved to meet the CM to request him to widen the scope and number of visits for sangat darshan.


TUs to oppose changes in labour laws
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 20
The Centre of Indian Trade Union and unions of employee organisations of the Centre government and public sector have resolved to intensify jointly the campaign against reckless privatisation drive and retrograde amendments in various Labour Laws.

Mr Chander Shekhar state general secretary of CITU while addressing the convention expressed deep concern over privatisation of profit-making public sector units just to raise resources to fill the budgetory deficit, opening up of defence sector to foreign capital has brought serious consequences as large-scale corruption, which already had crept into our Defence services. He condemned the Centre’s attempts to incorporate retrograde amendments in various Labour Laws. This approach is against the Directive Principles of the Constitution aiming at establishing socialism and democratic republic. He appealed to workers and employees to ensure broader unity and intensification of campaign and agitation to force the government to change these anti-national policies.

Mr Ramesh Sharma, general secretary, Punjab Subordinate Services Federation criticised downsizing and retrenchment of employees and oversizing of ministeries and bureaucracy. He said that new states and districts were being carved out but numbers of teachers, doctors, safai sewaks was being reduced. Mr Amarnath Kumkalan explained that privatisation of procurement, storage and public distribution system of food was dangerous for people below poverty line and he said that it should be resisted by all means. Mr Gurmej Singh, chairman the Field And Workshop Union, condemned privatisation of civic amenity services like sanitation, water supply, electricity, and said that it was directed against the poor and less privileged people.


‘Govt ignoring small newspapers’ 
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 20
A deputation of the Punjab Small Newspapers Editors Union would meet the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to discuss the problems faced by the small newspapers because of ‘faulty’ advertisement policy of the Punjab Government. This was decided at the Small Newspaper Editors meeting held here today.

The union felt that the new government policy was in favour of big newspapers while the small papers, mostly those published in Punjabi, were ignored. The meeting also lamented that though the matter had been brought to the notice of the concerned quarters, yet no relevant solution had come out of it.

The meeting thus resolved to send a deputation to the Chief Minister to personally explain him the problems being faced by the small newspapers which was passing through testing times.

At the meeting, Giani Harnam Singh, Editor, Daily Gian Vaan, was elected as the Patron of the union while Mr Mohan Singh Prem, Editor of the Punjabi daily Pauh Futti, has been elected as the Chairman. The other office bearers elected at the meeting included: President — Mr Sohan Singh Bahru; Vice President — Mr Gurnam Singh; and General Secretary — Mr Sathnder Narula.


Seminar on democratic governance
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 20
“The print and the electronic media has played a key role in exposing corruption-based issues such as tehelka issue. It has also been successful in bridging the gap between the leaders and the common man. However, there is always need to reduce the illiteracy and backwardness,” said Mr Ashwani Kumar, a former Solicitor General of India and a senior advocate practising in the Supreme court, during a seminar on ‘Accountability in democratic governance, role of media and public opinion’ organised by the International Welfare Forum here today.

Mr Kumar laid emphasis on the need to evolve a corruption-free atmosphere which has reached the ‘drawing rooms and bed rooms’ of corrupt people. He said that today’s media has become so powerful that it will not comprise on issues where public interest is housed.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Narinder Singh Kapoor, Professor, Journalism and Mass Communication Department, Punjabi University, said the media in the present times has evolved very fast. 


Widow’s wait for relief
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 20
Narinder Kaur, widow of Satnam Singh, Inspector, 84 BSF battalion, who died in harness on April 27, 1988, is moving from pillar to post to get an ex gratia grant but in vain.

Talking to this correspondent today, she said her husband was posted on intelligence duty at Batala. On April 26, 1988, he received threatening calls from a militant outfit that he would be killed if he continued to pursue intelligence work for the BSF. The next day, her husband went to Dhariwal to meet his source. However, he was found lying unconscious with serious wounds in front of Paul clinic at Dhariwal. He was rushed to Civil Hospital, Gurdaspur, from where he was shifted to Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, Amritsar, where he succumbed to his injuries.

Narinder Kaur said that in pursuance of the authorisation of the ex gratia grant after the death of her husband, the district police chief reported to the DGP, Punjab, on October 5, 1988, that Satnam Singh had died on duty. The DGP, instead of recommending the release of the ex gratia grant to the widow, reportedly filed a case on the plea that his death was not in any way related to any terrorist activity.

However, letters issued by the Home Welfare and Justice Department entitle the widow of the BSF official to an ex gratia grant of Rs 1 lakh if he dies on duty.

Narinder Kaur, whose two daughters are of marriageable age now, has written to the DGP, BSF, and the Governor, Punjab, to intervene in the matter.


100 PSEB retirees given pension
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 20
A function was held at the local thermal plant to give the pension certificates to the employees of the Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant, Bathinda (GNDTP) Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant, Lehra Mohabbat and Chief Engineer, Western Zone of the PSEB who retired recently. At least 100 retirees were given the certificates at the function.

A press note of the GNDTP said that Mr Baldev Singh Mann, Administrative Member of the PSEB was the chief guest on the occasion. Addressing the gathering he said, that the pension was the right of the employees therefore the PSEB had decided to hold special function to give certificates to the employees.

He added that the officials had been given instructions that delay should not be made in giving the pensions to the retirees. He said that they had been asked to give priority to such cases. 


MC staff’s plea on pension
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 20
A section of retired employees of various municipal councils of the state, who attained the age of superannuation before April 1, 1990, has urged Mr Sukhbir Badal, General Secretary, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), to make arrangements for the release of their pension.

Mr Jagdish Rai Bansal, President, Retired Municipal Employees Union said today that Mr Badal was made aware of the fact that the Punjab Government had been giving pension to the council’s employees who retired after April, 1990.

The Punjab Government had been giving pension to panchayat secretaries, market committee employees and other employees of the semi-government departments but the same had been denied to them.

He pointed out that Department of Local Bodies collected data for giving pension to those who retired before April 1, 1990 last year and it had also assessed the financial liabilities for the same. The state Finance Department had also cleared the assessment of financial liabilities but the matter had been pending. 


Special Lok Adalat held
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 20
A special Lok Adalat for the settlement of criminal cases was organised at the Sessions Court Complex here today under the chairmanship of Mr Justice H.S. Bedi, Judge, Punjab and Haryana High Court and Executive Chairman, Punjab Legal Services Authority, Chandigarh, in which 892 cases were taken up, of which 750 cases were disposed of.

For disposal of criminal cases as many as 11 Benches were constituted. The police chief, Mr Sanjeev Kalra, was also present on the spot. This is the second Lok Adalat of this type organised in the state. The first such Lok Adalat was organised at Patiala.

Mr Justice H.S. Bedi said 17,971 pre-litigative bank loan cases were taken up of which more than 8,000 were disposed of. Banks recovered more than Rs 37 crore from the loaners. Similarly, Labour Lok Adalats were also held at Ludhiana and Patiala where about 6,000 cases were disposed of.


Lok Adalat organised
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 20
A Lok Adalat on pre-litigative and pending bank loan disputes was organised here at the district courts under the chairmanship of Mr Justice H.S. Bedi, Judge, Punjab and Haryana High Court. As many as 22 Benches were constituted and a total of 2,673 cases were taken up, out of which 958 cases were settled on the spot. More than Rs 5 crore were recovered by the banks.

Mr S. S. Grewal, Legal Remembrancer, Punjab, Mr H.P.S. Mahal, member secretary, Punjab Legal Services Authority, Mrs Pappu Abinash Singh, member state authority and Mr V.B. Handa, District and Sessions Judge took part in the Lok Adalat.


Christians stage protest rally
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 20
Christians staged a rally at Bhandari bridge today in protest against the “derogatory” reference to Jesus Christ in the book “Satguru Nanak Dev Ji” written by Mr Satnam Singh.

The rallyists, which included members of the Catholic Church, the Pentecostal Church, the Salvation Army, the Punjab United Christian Forum for Human Rights and the Christian Peace Council, disrupted traffic for about four hours.

The rally was addressed by Father Roby Kolenchery, Father Daniel Gill, pastor Stanley Joseph and others.


Tributes paid to Colonel Mahal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 20
Rich tributes were paid to Col Harpal Singh Mahal ( retd) at his bhog ceremony held at Kathgarh village, near Ropar, today. Col Harpal Singh passed away last week. He was the father-in-law of Mr Gurbachan Jagat, Director-General of the Border Security Force (BSF) and former head of the Jammu and Kashmir police. 


‘75 pc litchee crop damaged by hailstorm’
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, May 20
With Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Punjab Chief Minister’s efforts a joint meeting of the Pathankot Fruit Growers Society with farm experts and Mr Lakhwinder Singh Deputy Director Horticulture was held yesterday here under the chairmanship of Mr Rajiv Krishan Mahajan, president of the society.

Mr R.K. Mahajan disclosed that hailstorm, which had lashed the area this month caused extensive damage to standing Litchee crop. The nascent litchee fruit has been damaged to the extent of 75 per cent and a few trees uprooted due to storm. Sources say this is the fourth consecutive year that the litchee growers have been hit by natural calamity.

He also disclosed that at present in 1200 acres litchee was being grown in Pathankot block. Mr Suresh Jharia an expert from California addressing 50 fruit growers said that waxing of litchee was must for the purpose of its export.

The orchardists disclosed that the losses were attributed to the pre-mature dropping of fruit and the balance fruit left on the trees was also scarred, which on maturity will not be fit for marketing and the orchardist will be forced to sell it at a much lower price on account of its inferior quality.

Mr Lakhwinder Singh Deputy Director. Horticulture assured the members of the society that he would bring the matter to the notice of the higher authorities and try to remove the grievances of the society.


Kanwaljit’s warning on procurement
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 20
If the Centre withdraws from the procurement of agriculture produce and transfers the procurement to states, the SAD (B) and the government will oppose it tooth and nail, said Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, Punjab, while addressing a state-level rally of agriculture technocrats and farmers here today.

He said the surplus states would be badly affected with this decision and it would further create a marketing problem and ultimately affect the economy of the states. he said the Central Government could not run away from its responsibility of procurement and it had to purchase the produce from farmers at the MSP.


Campaign to educate farmers about WTO
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 20
Mr Anup Singh Bhullar, president of the Bharatiya Janata Party kisan morcha, today said economy of the country could not be sound if the condition of farmers was poor.

Mr Bhullar, while presiding over a meeting of the executive committee of the party here yesterday, said they had launched a campaign in the state to educate the farmers about the bad effects of the WTO and possible solutions to save themselves.

He said they would urge the government to adopt effective measures so that the agricultural sector could be saved from the negative affects of GATT.

He further said they would also urge the Central Government that an intelligence wing should be established so that those traders could be punished who had not paid the minimum support price (MSP) for various crops to the farmers.

He said the government should formulate a national purchase agency which should include agricultural experts and help the government in making policies for the purchase of various crops.

The kisan morcha leader further said the procurement of agricultural produce should be the responsibility of the government. He said the farmers should be given the maximum price for their produce.


160 kg poppy husk seized, 7 held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 20
Seven persons were arrested for their alleged involvement in smuggling narcotics and 160 kg poppy husk was seized from different parts of the district.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, in a press note issued here today said Parkash Singh, resident of Dabwali in Haryana, was arrested on May 20 for being in possession of 140 kg poppy husk. A case had been registered in this regard at Sadar police station under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the IPC.

Dr Jain said Parkash Singh used to smuggle narcotics in 1990. About two year ago he had restarted smuggling. He purchased poppy husk from Haripur in Rajasthan and sold it in different parts of Faridkot, Muktsar, Bathinda and Barnala. He said an accomplice of Parkash Singh had, however, managed to escape.

The Nathana police had registered a case against five persons for allegedly smuggling poppy husk and 20 kg of the same was seized from them. The accused had been identified as Manjit Singh, Mohna Singh, Sema Singh, Jaskaran Singh and Bhola Singh, all residents of Phullo village in Haryana.

Gurjant Singh, alias Kaka, of Ganga village in the district was arrested for allegedly possessing 7.2 gm of poppy husk and a case registered against him at the Nathana police station.

Dr Jain said the accused would mix wood dust with poppy husk and sold it in the retail.

Meanwhile, under the Gambling Act, the police had arrested three persons and two cases registered. Rs 1,510 had also been seized from the accused who were identified as Ramesh Kumar, Raju and Vinod Kumar, all residents of the city.

Four persons had been arrested and cases registered under the Excise Act in the district. The police had seized 150 kg of lahan, 19 litre of illicit liquor and an illegal distillery from the accused. Those arrested had been identified as Harbans Singh of Gill Kalan, Rur Singh of Raman, Gurnam Singh of Bir Talab and Nirmal Singh of Raike Kalan.


Man stabbed to death
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 20
The owner of a video cassette shop was stabbed to death in daylight at Gadaipur village allegedly by an employee of a video parlour and his two accomplices here today.

Vijay Kumar (33), a resident of Mathura Nagar locality near the Sodal road, was running a video cassette parlour at his residence. When he went to the shop of Kamal Kishore at Gadaipur village in the afternoon, he got embroilled in a quarrel with Ravi Kumar, an employee of Kamal Kishore, over the return of some video cassettes.

Following this, Ravi stabbed Vijay Kumar in the stomach killing him on the spot. The relatives of the deceased, however, submitted a complaint to the district police alleging that Ravi Kumar, along with Kamal Kishore and Prince, has murdered Vijay Kumar.

Mr M.F.Farooqi, SP, said a case under Section 302 had been registered and Ravi Kumar was arrested in this connection. The police was investigating the involvement of other accused in the murder case.

Meanwhile, Subash Kumar (20), a resident of Bundala Kalan of Adampur, died of snake-bite this morning. He was passing through the fields when a snake bit him on the foot. He died on the spot.

In another incident, Joginder Kumar of Dogri village, near here, committed suicide by immolating himself at his residence this afternoon. According to the police, the deceased had been under tension for the past one month due to some family problems. He was admitted to the local Civil Hospital where he succumbed to burn injuries.


Man, father held for killing wife
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, May 20
The Amargarh police has arrested Gurbachan Singh and his father Hari Singh, residents of Niamat Pur village, for allegedly killing his wife Gurinder Kaur (22).

According to information, Piara Singh, father of Gurinder Kaur and resident of Bhadoa village, had lodged a complaint yesterday that his daughter was beaten to death by her in-laws for not bringing adequate dowry.

In his complaint, he alleged that his daughter was married to Gurbachan Singh two years ago. Since then, her in-laws had been forcing her to bring more dowry. A case has been registered under Sections 304 A, 498 A and 34 of the IPC.

Meanwhile, Kishan Singh of Khatola village was allegedly robbed of Rs 25,000 by some youths near the Delhi gate here yesterday evening.


Driven to suicide by wife’s ‘illicit relations’
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 20
An alleged illicit relations of his wife forced a resident of Talwandi Sanghera village in Shahkot, to commit suicide by consuming celphos tablets at his house on May 16. The police, after receiving a complaint from Nirmal Singh the brother of the deceased, Balwinder Singh, yesterday evening got a case registered under Section 306, 201 and 34 of the IPC against two persons.

Nirmal Singh in his complaint said that his brother married Jasbir Kaur of Badhanwal village in Shahkot around 10 years ago. Later, his brother told him about the illicit relations of his wife with a resident of Shahkot and his efforts to persuade Jasbir Kaur proved futile. He further alleged that his brother was very upset over extra marital affairs of his wife for the past two years. Subsequently, when his wife came home late on Wednesday night the couple exchanged hot words over the issue. Perturbed over the issue, his brother took the extreme step .


Groom lands in lock-up
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 20
It was an unusual incident when a bridegroom landed in lock-up on his wedding day.

Sanjeev Kumar of Mandi had gone to Batala for his marriage yesterday. But there he was taken aback when the would be bride refused to garland him on the pretext that they had demanded dowry and reported the matter to the police.

The police arrested the bridegroom, his father and brother on the charge of demanding dowry.

Moreover, the bride’s parents have demanded Rs 1.5 lakh, which they said they had spent for the reception of the marriage party.


CMO office’s car, jeep attached
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 20
An Ambassador Car and one Gypsy, official vehicles of the Civil Surgeon’s office, here have been attached. The Civil Surgeon’s office was to pay arrear to Mr Ganesh Kumar Bhardwaj, Senior Assistant ESI Dispensary Dhariwal. He had filed a suit for recovery in the court.


Restructure tax on medicines: chemists
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 20
The Punjab Chemists Association, (PCA) has, urged the Punjab Government to restructure taxes levied on medicines in the state, through a memorandum given to Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, MP and general secretary, Shiromani Akali Dal (B) for onward transmission to the Chief Minister.

A deputation of the PCA which, included Mr R.D. Gupta, president, Mr Darshan Singh, General Secretary, Mr Megh Nath, executive committee member, and Mr Vinod Goyal from Kotkapura met Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal who was in the city yesterday in connection with the inauguration of a building and urged him to request the Chief Minister for accepting its demands.

The main demand of the PCA is that the surcharge levied on the medicines in Punjab should be withdrawn so that rates were on par with other states.

The chemists want that the octroi should not be levied on the medicines. They said that there was no octroi levied on the medicines in other states therefore it should be withdrawn.

The PCA further said that life-saving drugs should be exempted from any tax. They said that a list of such drugs should be prepared by an advisory committee that should include doctors and members of their unions.

The chemists said that if these consideration were taken care of the medicines would become affordable by all. They said that at present prices of the medicines were so high that the poor could not purchase these.

The PCA added that due to difference in prices of the medicines the same were being ‘smuggled’ from other states.

They further said that due to difference in prices spurious medicines were being sold in the market.

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