Monday, June 25, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Paswan to launch nationwide stir
Employment ‘should be’ fundamental right
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 24
The Union Minister for Communication and the President of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) gave a call to the weaker sections and the Dalit community to join hands with his party for a just and equitable society.

Addressing a “jan jagran’ rally at the Grain market here today, Mr Paswan focussed on the plight of the Dalits and outlined his party’s commitment for their emancipation. He said his party would launch a nationwide stir from August 1 to August 9 to mobilise public opinion for the inclusion of “right to employment” among the fundamental rights. The LJP would strive for free and compulsory education for children up to the age of 14 years, as envisioned by Dr B.R. Ambedkar, father of the Indian Constitution.

Mr Paswan released a commemorative stamp on Sri Guru Ravi Das at the rally. He announced that a commemorative stamp on Maharaja Ranjit Singh would be issued in next three months and a postal stamp on Maharishi Valmiki would also be issued. The rally was also attended by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Tota Singh, Minister for Education, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Minister for Agriculture and Mr Vijay Danav, Joint Secretary, Bhartiya Valmiki Dharam Samaj.

The LJP President lamented that since the Independence, the successive Congress governments had paid only lip service to the weaker sections. With the NDA government headed by Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee taking over at the Centre, there had been a sea change but even now comprehensive plans were yet to be formulated to alleviate poverty and to improve the lot of farmers, farm workers and women.

He said his party had taken up the matter with the government to seek reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in proportion to the size of their population. The LJP, he maintained, would continue to fight against poverty, hunger, illiteracy and unemployment which were the main stumbling blocks in the uplift of the Dalits.

The Union Minister gave a clarion call to his party cadres to consolidate the organisational set-up right from the district level to block, mohalla and village level and to propagate the policies and programmes of the party.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Badal outlined his government’s agenda for the welfare of the weaker sections of society and the Dalits. The SAD-BJP government, he said, stood for peace, prosperity and communal amity.

Claiming that the uplift of the dalits was among the top priorities of his government, the Chief Minister claimed that the government had so far disbursed Rs 45.41 crore under the “shagun scheme” for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Another Rs 15 crore had been provided to panchayats for the purchase of land for houseless poor where government land was not available and the government had formulated a plan to set up Valmiki bhavans at all district headquarters and a grant of Rs 50 lakh had been provided for the Valmiki Bhavan here.

Expressing serious concern over lack of focus on the plight of the poor in the government planning system, he stressed the need for an immediate shift in the Budget allocation of the Centre under which at least 85 per cent funds were earmarked for alleviation of poverty and the welfare of the poorest of the poor.

The Chief Minister paid rich tributes to Sri Guru Ravi Das and appealed people to follow in the footsteps of great gurus and saints who had spread the message of brotherhood and respect for all religions.


Tight security embarrasses leaders
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 24
Tight security arrangements at Circuit House and the grain market, the venue of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) rally here today, embarrassed senior party leaders who had to bear the brunt of angry workers.

A ruckus was created outside the venue with a large number of workers, including women, started raising slogans against the police and party leaders. They alleged that police personnel on duty had prevented their entry inside the pandal. A senior party functionary, standing on the dais, was seen scolding the policemen for obstructing the entry of party workers. “Hamari party ka function hai aur hamare karyakartaon ko roka ja raha hai. Aisa kaise chalega?” (It is our party rally and our party workers are not being permitted inside).

Earlier, at Circuit House where Mr Paswan and the Chief Minister were together in a room for over 20 minutes, Mr Badal’s security staff laid the usual tight security cordon and among those who were not permitted to enter inside was “red faced” Mr Amar Singh Mehmi, state president of the LJP.


Office-bearers’ list 
Amarinder gets lion’s share
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 24
While approving the list of office-bearers, including members of the executive of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, the party high command has provided a clear edge to Capt Amarinder Singh, President of the PPCC.

Though certain leaders belonging to factions of Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar have been accommodated in the list of office-bearers but a lion’s share has been given to Capt Amarinder Singh. His supporters dominate the list of members of executive, district presidents and the party’s top brass including vice-presidents, general secretaries and even secretaries, though these are not considered as members of the executive as per party’s set-up.

In other words, Capt Amarinder Singh, has been backed to the hilt by the party high command or say by Moti Lal Vora, Treasurer of the AICC, who is in charge of the party affairs in Punjab and Mrs Sonia Gandhi, President of the AICC, who gave a final nod to the list before leaving for the USA yesterday. It has been proved beyond doubt that at the moment Capt Amarinder Singh’s writ runs at the party’s high command level.

The main task before the high command was to bring about a unity among the three factions by giving due representations to supporters of Mr Brar and Mrs Bhattal.

It appears that Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and even Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar are not “fully” satisfied with the list released by the high command. They have conveyed their “anguish” to the party high command, it is learnt. What has piqued them is the number of office-bearers. “ It has exceeded the number of office bearers agreed upon at the meeting held before the release of list”, said a senior leader of the Bhattal camp. At what level it was done, it is not clear yet. The high command was requested by these leaders to maintain a sort of balance in the list by treating all main factions almost on a par. Neither Mrs Bhattal nor Mr Brar were available to comment in this connection.

Sources said both Mrs Bhattal and Mr Brar had given two separate lists of their supporters to make them either office-bearers or members of the executive of the party. There were at least 16 names in Mrs Bhattal list, according to sources.

Next two days are very crucial for the Congress in the state. Tomorrow, the party is holding a rally of panches, sarpanches, former chairpersons of zila parishads, at Bathinda. It is an official rally being organised by the PPCC.

The high command has told, all senior leaders that they should be present in official rallies to give a boost to the party’s election campaign. And day after tomorrow, a meeting of the coordination committee to decide party’s election campaign strategies will be held in Delhi. The question being discussed in the party circles is that what stand will be taken by Mr Brar and Mrs Bhattal, at the meeting of the Coordination Committee headed by Mr Moti Lal Vora. Mrs Bhattal and Mr Brar are likely to press the party high command to adjust certain more senior leaders, whose names have not figured in the party’s yesterday list.

Moreover, by clearly indicating that the party high command is with Capt Amarinder Singh, the onus has now been shifted on him (Capt Amarinder Singh) to show results by launching a full fledged campaign and by taking all senior leaders along in the fight against the SAD-BJP government. No Congress leader has earlier got such unequivocal support from the party high command.

The high command has also rejected all allegations against Capt Amarinder Singh made by his opponents within the party, according to sources. Informed sources said Mrs Ambika Soni, who was asked by Mrs Sonia Gandhi to find out substance in the allegations, has given a clean chit to Capt Amarinder Singh.


SAD-BJP failed on every front: Amarinder
Our Correspondent

Lalru, June 24
The SAD-BJP government has failed on every front and has created an atmosphere of insecurity and uncertainty among the people of the state. Apart from this, unemployment has been increased to many folds and corruption has touched new heights during the past four and a half years of the Badal government.

This was stated by Capt Amarinder Singh, President, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, while addressing a rally of party workers of the Banur constituency in the local grain market, here today. He alleged that, “the government’s anti-farmer policies were forcing farmers to commit suicide every year. Favouring the ruling government, the Punjab police was doing injustice with the Congress workers in Majitha, Tarn Taran, Ferozepore and other parts the state”.

He alleged that the Badal government had opened “sale windows for government jobs” and collecting money not only from unemployed youth but also from employees seeking transfers to suitable places. He claimed that if the Congress forms government in the state, the Staff Selection Board (SSB) and the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) would be scraped.

He said a commission would be constituted to inquire about the misappropriation of funds by the Badal government on different development projects which have been carried out during its period.

Mr M.S. Gill, a former minister, said the SAD-BJP government had been misleading the public by organising sangat darshans in the state. He claimed that the Congress would come in full majority and form a people and farmer-friendly government under the leadership of Capt Amarinder Singh.

Mr Jagjit Singh held Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance and Planning Minister, responsible for the failure of the Akali government. He alleged that the minister had stopped all financial help being provided to the public for various facilities.

“The industrial sector has adversely affected due to wrong economic policies of the Badal government. A majority of the industrialists were forced to abandon their units”, Ms Praneet Kaur, MP from the Patiala constituency.

Criticising the SAD, Mrs Gurkamal Kaur, president, Punjab Mahila Congress, said the SAD had done nothing for the rehabilitation of the terrorism-affected persons who had migrated from the state.

Among others who addressed the rally were, Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa, General Secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Hardyal Singh Kamboj, president of the District Congress Committee, Mr Ravinder Singh Sohi, a former, Chairman of the Zila Parishad, Mr Deepinder Singh Dhillon, treasurer of the Punjab Congress (Legal Cell), Mr Sahibjit Singh, a member of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, and some other local leaders.


20,000 to attend Cong rally today
From Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 24
Even as smiles have returned on the faces of Congressmen at the grassroots level over the unity in the Punjab unit of the party brought by the high command after adjusting almost all sections in the newly constituted Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), the party is likely to unfold a section of its agenda relating with rural development at panchayati raj chetna rally being organised here tomorrow. The rally will be presided over by PPCC president, Capt Amarinder Singh.

Mr Harminder Singh Jassi, president, District Congress Committee (DCC), Bathinda, who has been managing the arrangements of the rally told TNS that about 20,000 workers of the party, panchayat members, sarpanches, members of zila parishad and panchayat samities would participate in the rally.

Party sources said the rally would be a turning point in the prevailing political scene of the state as it would be morale booster for the grassroots level workers who were sitting idle for the past many years after getting disappointed over factionalism and sharp differences among the state leadership.

After the SAD-BJP combine came to power in the state, the Congress started surviving for its survival due to dissensions factionalism and splits on among those who were managing the affairs of the party.

The defeat of Congress candidates in the three Assembly byelections had made the workers despodent. They alleged that Congress candidates had tasted defeat as there was complete dis-coordination among the state leaders.

Within party, a section of leaders was trying to marginalise the PPCC chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, over his failure to cash in on the alleged misdeeds of the Punjab Government led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal. Even the SAD leadership was feeling elated when Capt Amarinder Singh was re-elected PPCC chief as they hoping that soft approach of Capt Amarinder Singh would prove beneficial for them in the coming elections.

However, the hard stance adopted by the party high command to bring unity among the rank and file in Punjab paid dividends as it has managed to project that Congress is united now.

Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, MP and convener also played a key role in bringing about unity among the party rank and file. Talking to TNS today he said their main fight was against the misrule and misdeeds of the SAD-BJP government and the party was determined to free people from the present ruling set up in the state.

He pointed out that the Punjab Congress had now become a fit force to take on communal alliance of the SAD-BJP in the Assembly elections whenever these would be held.

He added that the sentiments of people at large would bring party back to power in Punjab.

However, a section of Congress leaders told TNS on condition of anonymity, that there were some shortcoming in the newly constituted PPCC and various other committees.

They hoped that Mr Amarinder Singh would remove the same at the earliest in the interest of party. They said if it was not done, they would meet AICC president, Ms Sonia Gandhi.


Cong ‘kisan’ rally at Bathinda today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 24
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) after the announcement of its office-bearers has become election mood oriented starting with a Congress-sponsored kisan rally tomorrow (June 25) at Bathinda. This was disclosed by a general secretary of the PPCC Dr Raj Kumar from Amritsar district here today.

Addressing reporters, Dr Kumar said 22 committees had been formed to look into urban and rural problems and submit reports to PPCC president captain Amarinder Singh. Thereafter the party will announce election manifesto based upon the reports.

Taking a dig at the Akali-BJP ruling combine, Dr Raj Kumar said that Mr Parkash Singh Badal had formed an unholy alliance with Mr Surinder Singh Kairon to take possession of land by illegal means and the proposed selling of the mental hospital land to favour his kin is an example. He said that the ruling combine had placed most of its properties under mortgage and were selling prized government land to fund elections. He said the Congress had promised to abolish octroi besides rolling back hiked prices of electricity, bus fare fee, of educational institutes, hospital charges etc.


Punsup gets nod to export food grains
Our Correspondent

Ropar, June 24
To cope with the burgeoning problem of foodgrain storage in the state, the Punjab Government has decided to allow Punsup to export foodgrains on its own. Punsup’s case has been forwarded to the Union Government for its approval.

Earlier, only Markfed had the permission to export foodgrains on its own in the state. The export of foodgrains from all other agencies was routed through the state trading corporation. Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Punjab, gave this information while talking to this correspondent at Nangal yesterday. He was here to visit his constituency.

Mr Mittal said that at present there were about 270 lakh tonnes of foodgrains lying stored in the state. It was going to create a major storage problem for the state in the coming days, he said.

The problem could be averted only if about 15 lakh tonnes of foodgrains were moved out of the state per month, he added.

He said that besides taking up the matter of foodgrain movement from the state with the Centre, the Punjab Government was also trying to make arrangements on its own.

It had been decided that private investors would be invited to build stores in the state. He said such investors would be given occupancy guarantee by the Punjab Government. A proposal for increasing the rentals for foodgrain storage was also pending with the Finance Ministry, Mr Mittal said.

He said the Union Government had also announced the national storage policy according to which private investors were to be called upon to build stores in different parts of the country.

The Union Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Mr Shanta Kumar, had announced that in future the government would restrict its activities just to procurement, while the storage work would be handed over to private investors.

Mr Mittal, when asked about the implementation of the new storage policy of the Central Government, said it was still in its infancy. Due to the delay in its implementation, the Punjab Government had been forced to make its own arrangements for storage, he added.

About paddy procurement, Mr Mittal said the Punjab Government was making arrangements for the procurement of about 125 lakh metric tonnes of paddy in the coming season. He said 80 per cent of the rice lying in the stores of the state was levy rice. The situation was becoming grim as about 74 per cent of the paddy procured last year had already been milled and there was a fresh need to store rice in covered godowns, he said.


SAD reviving terrorism: Channi
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 24
The SAD-BJP government headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal is trying to bring back all those, who were responsible for the killing of more than 25,000 innocent persons, including women and children, during terrorism on the pretext of bringing them back in the mainstream. This was alleged by Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, the Congress MP from Hoshiarpur, in a press note issued yesterday.

He criticised the recent statement by Mr Badal in which he had stated that if any terrorist desired to come back in the mainstream, he would be allowed to do so. Mr Channi said the SAD leaders were trying to revive terrorism by helping the protagonists of Khalistan. In doing so they wanted to create terror in the minds of the electorate.

He further alleged that the main aim of the SAD leadership was to implement the Anandpur Sahib Resolution to make Punjab an independent state. On account of instability in the Centre, there was no check on the anti-national activities by the SAD leaders, he said. He apprehended that if the evil designs of the SAD leaders were not checked soon, they would succeed in disintegrating the country.

The MP pointed out that Mr Badal had failed to constitute the commission to probe into the causes of terrorism as was promised in his election manifesto.


Badal doing RSS bidding: Bhaur
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, June 24
The SAD has left the “Panthic agenda” on the directions of the RSS for political interests. This was stated by the SHSAD general secretary, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, while talking to newspersons here today.

He alleged that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had “frozen” demands of Punjab, including transfer of Chandigarh and Punjabi-speaking areas.

Criticising Mr Badal for saying that peace could be disturbed with the Panthic agenda adopted by the Tohra dal, he said thousands of Akalis courted arrest to implement the agenda, but Mr Badal preferred to sacrifice it only for power politics.

He said now Mr Badal was trying to disturb peace by allowing Wasan Singh Zafarwal and Jagjit Singh Chohan in Punjab.


Gidderbaha MC chief may quit
Tribune News Service

Gidderbaha, June 24
Even as Mr Subhash Jain Lilly, president of the local municipal council, has called a meeting of municipal councillors on June 27 in connection with voting on the no-confidence motion moved against him by a section of councillors, he is likely to submit his resignation tomorrow.

Information gathered by The Tribune today revealed that a meeting of the Sanjah Morcha Sanchalan Committee, under whose banner most of the councillors were elected, would be held under the chairmanship of Mr Ashok Dheer, former chairman of the Punjab State Seed Corporation (Punseed) to chalk out a plan to deal with the no-trust motion against Mr Lilly.

As many as 12 councillors out of a total 15, have requested Mr Lilly to convene a meeting for discussing the no-confidence motion moved against him by them.

Mr Lilly, who was once close to the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and local MLA Manpreet Singh Badal, ceased to enjoy confidence after differences had cropped up between him and the local Akali leadership. Efforts were on to remove him from the post of council President, sources said.

Mr Dheer, who was also a confidant of Mr Badal, had also started keeping him away from functions being organised by the SAD in the area. He and Mr Lilly remained absent from a series of sangat darhsans held by Mr Badal in his hometown here in the recent past.

Mr Lilly said the meeting had been called to take a decision for saving activists of the committees and councillors from harassment and bringing them out of the dilemma.

He pointed out that he and his associates were supporters of the SAD but now the leadership had been conveying to them that their services were no more required by the party so they had been sitting idle in their houses.

He alleged that pressure was being put on and favours were being offered to some of the councillors to secure their votes in favour of the no-confidence motion by a section of the ruling Akalis.

He said it was not easy to remove him from presidentship as he was duly elected by the same councillors.

Mr Dheer said some decisions in connection with the no-confidence motion would be taken at the meeting.

He said the sanchalan committee was committed to “cleanse” politics.


Villagers’ good work ‘may come to nought’
Tribune News Service

Devinagar Hirasinghwala (Patiala), June 24
Fighting against time in the face of an imminent monsoon, residents of this village and others along the Kotla minor canal are not ones to admit defeat easily. They gave up their land for the construction of a drain which was supposed to take excess water released from the Kotla canal to Tangri river to safeguard their villages in the area. The villagers dug up the drain by not only putting their tractors to use but also contributed towards the effort through cash collections among themselves. The result has been the digging up a 7,000 feet long drain which is seven feet wide.

However, even after doing all this, the villagers of nearly seven to eight villages of the area might not be able to save their lands from being flooded by water released from syphons of the Kotla minor during the monsoon season. This is because the villagers are not able to get hume pipes which are to be laid underneath the bundh of Tangri river to release the water of the drain constructed by them into the river.

“It has all come down to the provision of Rs 50,000 for the hume pipes or releasing pipes in the custody of the government to ensure the project meets its logical conclusion and the villagers along the canal are saved from flooding”, said Gurdeep Singh, husband of this village’s sarpanch. Gurdeep said the villagers had now given an ultimatum to Drainage Department officials that if the pipes were not provided within two days, the villagers would breach the bundh and put pipes on the spot immediately.

He said such a decision was taken because the monsoon was round the corner and no time could be wasted further to complete the project. He said the villagers, who had already contributed Rs 1.25 lakh for the project, would have to now spend additional money for the hume pipes to ensure their effort does not go waste.

Giving details of the project, Mr Gurdeep Singh along with Rurki sarpanch Gurdial Singh and Tarsem Singh Kotla village disclosed that the Kotla canal invariably flooded several villages, including Devinagar Hirasinghwala, Mehmoodpur, Rurki, Kotla, Bhagwanpur Jattan, Malkan and Jagir villages. He said the idea to construct the drain was first mooted in December 2000 by the villagers and a formal application was made to authorities concerned. He said the villagers, however, started work on the project themselves with Dakala legislator Harmail Singh Tohra giving Rs 2 lakh.

The villagers said the district administration also released Rs 2 lakh for the project on June 3 while they contributed Rs 1.25 lakh through self collection. Making a strong case for the provision of hume pipes whose two lengths of 60 feet each had to be laid below the Tangri bundh, they said they had helped the government by performing kar seva for establishing the drain as it had itself made an estimate nearly seven to eight times the amount which had been spent till now on the project.

Gurdeep Singh said while they needed 14 pipes of eight feet each to release the drain water into the Tangri, adding the Drainage Department had offered them two pipes which were of no use. Drainage officials said funds had not been earmarked for the project due to which they could not be released adding efforts were being made to help the villagers in some way or the other. They said the canal could not be breached by the villagers themselves without taking the permission of the administration adding any such move without proper planning could wreak havoc in the area in case of flash rain in the catchment area.


Dorangla residents resent govt apathy
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, June 24
Residents of Dorangla town and its surrounding villages are sore about the apathy of the SAD-BJP government towards the development of the area. Residents of a number of panchayats, including Dorangla, Dugri, Dostpur and Hardochhani at a meeting at Dorangla recently resolved to boycott the coming Assembly elections if their demands were not met.

According to Mr Varinder Kumar Sarpanch, Dorangla, their demands included the restoration of the Dorangla Development Block, repair of link road from Dorangla to Hardochhani, the maintenance of pond at Dorangla, adequate supply of medicines at the Primary Health Centre, Dorangla, and the upgradation of Government Middle School, Dorangla.

About a year ago Dorangla was made Dorangla Development Block. Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, Minister for Rural Development and Panchayats, had laid the foundation stone. The sarpanch of Dorangla alleged that Rs 25,000 were spent at the function. The development block has not become functional yet and no activity to set up the infrastructure had been initiated.

The link road from Dorangla to Hardochhani was washed away during the 1988 flood. No government had made any provision to pave the road. Pond at Dorangla on the Dorangla Galhary road during rain overflows at times flooding the main road.

The panchayat had repeatedly written to the government to taken up the maintenance of the pond or allot funds to Dorangla panchayat for its maintenance. Dorangla has primary health centre but funds sanctioned are far from adequate.

The residents criticised the elected representatives of the area in the Punjab Assembly and Lok Sabha for their gross neglect of the area in spite of the promises made during elections to redress the grievances of the area.


Balbir Singh Nathana cremated
Our Correspondent

Chak Fatehsinghwala (Bathinda), June 24
Body of Mr Balbir Singh, MLA, Nathana was cremated here today at 4.15 p.m. with full state honours. He died at the PGI Chandigarh at 12.15 a.m. today. He was suffering from cancer and admitted in the PGI on June 6.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab Mr Tota Singh, Education Minister, Mr Sikander Singh, Power Minister, Mr Sukhminder Singh and Mr Makhan Singh both MLAs and members of the SGPC were present on the occasion.

Mr Balbir Singh is survived by wife Gurmail Kaur, three sons Jaspal Singh, Amarinder Singh, and Harpal Singh,. His eldest son Jaspal Sing lit the funeral pyre.

The family members of the MLA said that condition of Mr Balbir Singh worsened three days ago and yesterday six units of blood was transfused to him. But he did not respond to it. He had been suffering from the disease for the past one year. Earlier also he was admitted into the PGI and discharged from the hospital after he got some relief.

He became normal but a month ago his condition became serious and was admitted into the PGI, Chandigarh.

Mr Balbir Singh born on February 1, 1953, was the son of Mr Gurdial Singh, a labourer. His mother Mrs Mukhtiar Kaur also helped her husband in fields for a living for the family.

Parents were not able to provide for his education because of poverty. Even then he had matriculated from a government school.

The entered politics very late. Contested Block Samiti elections in 1995 for the first time and he was defeated.

He was given ticket for the Punjab Assembly in February 1997 from the Nathana reserve constituency. He had defeated Mr Gulzar Singh of the Congress party by 16, 800 votes.

Mr Balbir Singh would be remembered as down-to-earth person. Accessible to everyone even after becoming an MLA, took special interest for the development of the down-trodden.

A contingent of the Punjab police reversed arms and fired five shots in respect for the departed leader.

Mr Bhan Singh Bhaura, MP expressed grief over the death of Mr Balbir Singh, MLA, Nathana who died last night at the PGI, Chandigarh. He said that people of the area had lost not only an MLA but also a good human being. He said that Mr Balbir Singh was the leader of the masses. He said that he had done a lot for the welfare of the weaker sections.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhullar, President of the local Municipal Council, paying the tributes to the departed leader said that he was very humble human being.

He said that Mr Balbir Singh had proved wrong the speculations of the people that he would become a successful politician. His sudden demise had sent a wave of shock and grief among his friends.

CHANDIGARH: The Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, and the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, in separate statements have expressed grief over the death of Mr Balbir Singh Nathana, who represented the Nathana constituency in Bathinda district in the state Assembly.

They said Mr Balbir Singh was popular among the down-trodden of society as he worked for their uplift.


Water-borne diseases on rise in Mansa
Our Correspondent

Mansa, June 24
Spread of water-borne diseases in this district has reached alarming proportions. While private clinics are receiving a large number of patients suffering from diarrhoea, jaundice, gastroenteritis and typhoid, very few cases have been reported at the local Civil Hospital.

According to information, Mr Parkash Singh Lamhey, Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development), is also suffering from jaundice.

The district administration is silent on the issue and seems to be doing nothing as far as preventive measures are concerned.

Dr Ashwani Bansal said he had received more diarrhoea, gastroenteritis and typhoid cases during the past few days. Children had been more affected than adults, he said.

Dr Pawan Kumar of Budhlada said out of the total cases reported in a day, around 25 per cent complained of diarrhoea and some typhoid, jaundice and gastroenteritis.

Dr Sat Paul Sharma said in summer such cases increased manifold as people drank water from just any place to quench their thirst. “I have been receiving more of typhoid cases.”

Dr Sat Paul Jindal said as the incidence of jaundice and typhoid was increasing, one must take preventive measures like drinking clean water and consuming eatables kept in hygienic surroundings.

Unhygienic water supply and insanitary conditions are the main factors which cause such diseases.

Officials concerned, however, said the spread of the diseases was a “self-inflicted curse” as no care was taken by service connection holder for its maintenance, repair or checking it for corrosion.

Dr S.S. Sharma, Civil Surgeon, said samples of water from the waterworks would be taken and chlorine tablets would be distributed among residents, besides giving special stress on hygiene.


Liquor den in govt building
Ravi Bhushan Puri

The patwarkhana (a place where the revenue officials work) situated at the Shahpurkandi road, about 5 km from here, was constructed by the government by spending a huge amount about 10 years ago. The building was constructed at a suitable place so that it could be easily accessible for the inhabitants of Kuther, Siunti, Manwal, Gho, Pangoli and Shahpurkandi.

After the building was constructed nobody bothered to occupy it and use the same as patwarkhana. Since the building had been lying unoccupied people did not spare the doors, windows, grills and other fixtures.

The patwarkhana has virtually converted into a liquor den. People and anti-social elements use this patwarkhana for drinking wine and gambling.

On the other hand, the patwarkhana situated near the Improvement Trust building is housed in a dilapidated building which may collapse anytime.

The conditions at the patwarkhana are pathetic. Revenue officials have no access to drinking water, toilet or any other facilities. The surroundings speak of filth and are a constant breeding ground for flies and mosquitoes. The roof of the building near the Improvement Trust can collapse anytime.

According to Mr D.R. Sharma, a local resident, this clearly reflects the carelessness and negligence of the government and the authorities concerned who have not bothered to provide even basic facilities to their employees. Rather they are subjected to the hazard of working in a building which has outlived its life and is not fit for habitation.

The tehsildar, Pathankot, was not available for comments.


Concessions for urban voters soon: Rinwa
Our Correspondent

Ropar, June 24
The BJP will extract some concessions for the urban voters from its coalition partner, the SAD, in view of the forthcoming Assembly elections. An indication to this effect was given by the state President of the party, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, while talking to newspersons at Nangal yesterday.

Mr Rinwa said the BJP was pressing the Chief Minister to lower the electricity charges for domestic users, rationalise the octroi charges, give concessions to the small-scale industries and lower the water and sewerage charges in the urban areas.

The committee, which had been formed to suggest the amount of concessions for the urban people, would submit its report by the end of the month. The Chief Minister has assured that the suggestions would be considered sympathetically, he said.

News reports that the BJP would field its sitting MLAs in the forthcoming elections from their respective constituencies were termed as immature by Mr Rinwa. He said no decision in this regard had been taken. An 11-member election committee of the party had been formed. It would suggest the names to the central parliamentary committee which would take the final decision about the party candidates in the coming elections, he said.

He said his party would contest more than 23 seats it had contested in the previous elections. However, the exact number of seats would only be decided after the SAD-BJP joint-meeting on the issue.


Send mahant to jail, demand residents
Our Correspondent

Barnala, June 24
The demand of sending Mahant Sewa Dass Muni, chief of Dera Baba Inder Dass (who allegedly raped an eight-nine-year-old girl) to jail in and around Tapa is gaining ground.

Mahant Sewa Dass Muni who was arrested on May 31 from Dayanand Medical College Hospital, Ludhiana, following the registration of a case under Section 376 of the IPC at the Tapa police station is under judicial custody in hospital now at Patiala up to June 28.

Rumours are afloat in the area regarding the medical examination reports of the victim and the dera chief allegedly involved in the case.

The SSP, Mr Ajaib Singh Kaleka, told this reporter on Friday that the medical examination report of the Mahant did confirm that he was capable of sexual act.

Setting at rest the controversy pertaining to difference of opinion of the reports of medical examination of the victim conducted at Civil Hospital, Barnala and Civil Hospital, Sangrur, Mr Kaleka said the terms used in the medical reports might vary but both confirmed that rape had been committed.

He further said there was no malafide intention involved in the medical examination report of the girl at Barnala either on the part of medical examination authorities of Civil Hospital, Barnala, or the police.

Certain voluntary organisations, including some mahila organisations like the Mahila Mukti Morcha, Punjab, and residents of the area in a protest rally at Tapa on June 16, had demanded that mahant guilty of rape act must be sent to jail from hospital as they felt that he was faking illness.


Punjab to check vulgarity on TV
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, June 24
The Punjab Government will not allow vulgarity in TV programmes. Nor will it allow any Punjabi male or female singer to sing a vulgar song or songs with double meaning.

This was stated by the Cultural Affairs and Tourism Minister, Mr Swarna Ram, here today. He asked electronic media to relay programmes with a sense of responsibility.

Mr Swarna Ram said the state government would soon form a ‘‘censor board’’ to check vulgarity.

The minister said he had summoned an urgent meeting of intellectuals besides representatives of Punjabi Satellite Channels, including ETC, Alpha, and Lashkara channels, on June 25 at Chandigarh to frame outlines for the proposed State Censor Board. 


1 killed, 15 hurt in road accident
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 24
Sukhraj Singh (20) of Hoshiarpur district was killed and 15 others were injured when the canter in which they were travelling overturned near Mastuana Sahib, about 8 km from here, this afternoon. Occupants of the canter were on their way to Longowal from Sangrur after appearing in a written test for recruitment in the Army. From Longowal, they were to go to Kapurthala and Faridkot for joining Army training camps.

Sources in the local Civil Hospital said 12 injured boys were admitted to the hospital, of which Sukhraj succumbed to his injuries. Four boys who sustained minor injuries were also treated in the emergency ward. The persons admitted to the hospital are Harinder Singh (Fatehgarh Gujjran), Onkar Singh (Sherpur Khan, Hoshiarpur), Gagandeep Singh (Amritsar), Gurpreet Singh (Moga) Kala Singh, Avtar Singh (Bhawanipur, Kapurthala), Gurpreet Singh (Bhai Jattan), Shavinder Singh, Nishant Singh and Satnam Singh (Amritsar) and Gurmeet Singh (Ferozepore).


1 killed as bus overturns
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 24
Luv Kumar (35) was killed and 24 others, mostly women, were injured, when a private mini bus overturned as its rear tyre burst on the G.T. Road near Chachoki village today. The Party was coming from Ludhiana and was to reach Phagwara for a ‘shagun’ ceremony.

The injured include Gita, Raksha, Poona, Kiran, Renubala, Mina, Rajinder Kumar, Surinder, Mot, Raj Rani, Dhiraj Kumar, Rina, Vina, Harinder, Varinder, Manohar, Niraj Kumar and Shekhar. Gita and Raksha are still under treatment.


Grabbing of MC land ‘not to be allowed’
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, June 24
Master Mohan Lal, Minister for Higher Education, Punjab, stated during a meeting with municipal council employees today that he would not allow the local Dhobi Mahasabha to grab land of the municipal council.

A tussle has been going on between the municipal council and the Dhobi Mahasabha for the past 40 days over the construction of a hall in dhobi ghat near the cremation ground.


NTAS plea on rail fare relief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 24
The Patiala-based National Theatre Arts Society has urged the government to ensure simplification and implementation of the railway fare concession rules for the artists.

At a meeting of theatre activists and art lovers held here today it was emphasised that the intentions of the government were not being translated into action because of the bureaucratic red-tapism. The meeting urged the State Sangeet Natak Akademies, state departments of Cultural Affairs and the North Zone Cultural Centre to simplify the procedure for the concession. 


Cable operators’ plea to govt
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 24
Local cable operators want the intervention of the district administration so as to regularise the rates of pay channels.

Mr Kamaljit Singh and Mr Sanjay Bansal, two cable operators, said the cable operators would abide any decision taken by the district administration in this connection.


Punjabi writer dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 24
Mr Baljit Singh Balli, who edited a Punjabi magazine, Jagriti, for about 12 years and also contributed to various newspapers after retirement from government service, died here after a prolonged illness. He was 70.

He wrote 22 books and also did PhD on a topic related to Guru Granth Sahib. He was honoured with the Sadhu Singh Hamdard Award a few months ago by the Punjabi Academy, Delhi. He is survived by two sons and a daughter. He will be cremated tomorrow at 11 a.m. at the Sector 25 cremation ground here.


Dist HQ to have admn complexes
Our Correspondent

Moga, June 24
The Punjab Government has decided to set up administrative complexes at district headquarters all over the state with a view to bringing all government offices under one roof for the convenience of people. This was stated by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal while laying the foundation stone of a mini-secretariat here today.

This complex, stated to be the biggest in the state, will cost Rs 36 crore and will have seven storeys.

He denied there was a financial crisis and added that the state government had consolidated its financial position with proper management and austerity measures undertaken during the past few years.

He said the Union Government had given Rs 80 crore for the completion of the international airport at Amritsar. Mr Badal said the state government proposed to soon set up another thermal plant at Goendewal which would be the biggest in the state.

He said the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, had sanctioned a golden chair for Punjab which would be kept at Amritsar museum.

He said a big statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh would be set up in front of Parliament. He urged people of Punjab to stay united and maintain law and order so as militancy would not be allowed to raise its ugly head again.

Addressing a Press conference, Mr Badal denied that he had any links with Zaffarwal. He condemned the attack on the train carrying “birs” and asked the Bengal Government to take notice of it. Earlier, he distributed cheques worth lakhs of rupees to panchayats at a sangat darshan programme.


6 ‘kale kachhewale’ attack house, 1 held
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 24
A gang of six armed persons, alleged to be “kale kachhewale,” attacked a house in New Sarabha Nagar locality early this morning.

One of the marauders was nabbed by the police after being informed by a resident. No one was injured in the attack mounted by the gang members.

The “kale kachhewale” had created terror among people by attacking farmhouses and isolated houses on the outskirts of Jalandhar, Phagwara and Phillaur last year.

The gang members, carrying firearms, attacked the house of Kuldip Singh around 2.30 a.m. and ordered the family members to come out of the house. As the frightened family members refused to do so, a gang member climbed the boundary wall and tried to enter the house by breaking open a window.

Meanwhile, Kuldip Singh, informed one of his neighbours about the attack. The neighbour in turn informed the area Sub-Inspector, Mr Surjit Singh, over his cell phone and the latter reached the spot along with other police officials. All gang members except one managed to flee from the scene.

The SSP or any other senior police officer was not available for providing information about the identity of the arrested gang member. A case has been registered at the Sadar police station under Section 458 of the IPC.


Shop attacked, 2 killed in shooting
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, June 24
Two persons were killed and several others injured in a shooting that took place amid hundreds of people near the Makhu gate locality here yesterday. According to information, at around 7 pm, around 20-25 persons equipped with weapons, hockey sticks and iron rods thronged a shop situated in a thickly populated area. They came in a Maruti Zen and a jeep with motive to threaten and kidnap the owner of the shop, Baaj Singh, against whom Pritam Singh, who allegedly led the attack, was nursing a grievance.

As soon as they got out of the vehicles, they entered the shop and attacked Baaj Singh who was watching a cricket match along with his friends. The mob allegedly thrashed everybody present near and inside the shop.

Later, they took away Baaj Singh in the jeep. Meanwhile, Chinnda one of the friends of Baaj Singh, arrived at the scene and fired couple of shots into the air to disperse the mob. He shot Pritam Singh as he along with his accomplices tried to flee in the car. He died on the spot while Sonu Dhall succumbed to his injuries later.

The car went out of control and hit a scooter passing by, injuring two persons. The third persons in the car was also injured. The injured have been admitted to Civil Hospital amid tight security and the bodies have been sent for a post-mortem examination.

Baaj Singh who was wounded and found by the police late in the evening said he was taken to a location near the grain market where he was first beaten up and then locked inside a store. A case has been registered.


Woman kills daughter, commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, June 24
An instance of poisoning of a four-year-old girl by her mother and later on she (mother) committing suicide in the Jain Street locality here has come to light. According to details, Krishan Devi (32) is believed to have given poison to her daughter Pooja, on Saturday afternoon and consumed the same poison herself. Krishna reportedly died after a short while, whereas Pooja was taken to the local Civil Hospital in a serious condition in the evening and she died today morning.

Two minor sons of Krishna Devi, aged 11 and eight years, had gone to their maternal house and no one was present at the time of the incident. Mr Om Parkash, husband of the deceased woman, runs a fodder shop.

Police sources maintain that Krishna used to remain ill and might have ended her and her daughter’s life in a fit of depression.


Migrant labourer gangraped
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 24
A young migrant woman was gang-raped by three migrant workers Manoj Kumar, Shivnarayan and Arun who were arrested under Section 376 IPC yesterday, the police said today. The medical examination of the woman confirmed that she had been raped.

It is learnt that Babu Nand Yadav, along with his wife and a four year old son, had come from Bihar in search of greener pastures.

They were accosted by a Bihari rickshawpuller who promised them a job and took them to a farm house at Nawanpind village where about 20 Biharis were staying.

The three accused raped the woman at the farm house. The police had rounded 20 persons but booked only three, letting off the others after questioning.


Harassed wife files FIR against husband
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, June 24
A harassed wife has filed an FIR against her husband and his brother.

According to police sources Ms Asha Rani, wife of Piare Lal of Gujjaran Lahri village, stated before police on Wednesday, that she was married to Piare Lal of Sujanpur, a PSEB employee posted at Jugial.

She alleged that she was shunted out by her husband after 22 years of marriage and was not given any maintenance. She alleged that the brother of her husband, Bakshi Ram served Army in the name of her husband Piare Lal and after retirement he was drawing pension.

The victim apprehended that the accused would ruin her life.

The sadar police has registered a case under Sections 420/467-468-47 of the IPC and arrested the accused.


PAU gets Rs 50 cr corpus grant
From K. S. Chawla

Ludhiana, June 24
The Punjab Government has sanctioned a corpus grant of Rs 50 crore to the PAU to give impetus to Green Revolution or what is known as diversification of agriculture in the state. Stating this, Dr K.S. Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor, PAU told The Tribune today that the university had submitted 18 projects to the Punjab Government in this regard and research would be intensified to give a new direction to agriculture.

The Vice-Chancellor said the corpus grant of Rs 50 crore would enable the PAU to earn an interest of Rs 5 crore every year which would be pumped in research programmes of the university. The university had been facing a deficit of Rs 22 crore and the state government had imposed a cut of 10 per cent on the annual contribution of finances to the university.

The government had already agreed to waive this cut on the request of the Vice-Chancellor. The cut was meant for the next five years. The Vice-Chancellor had said the PAU should not be subjected to the cut as the research work would suffer and the working of this university was different from other universities.

Dr M.S. Bajwa, Director Research, PAU, who held discussions with the Financial Commissioner (Development), Punjab said the emphasis would be on having varieties with quality produce as there would be more global competition with the implementation of the WTO agreement.

Dr Bajwa said research would not only be intensified for cereal crops but also for vegetable and fruits with emphasis on use of biotechnology to develop varieties resistant to pest attack. Research on cotton and sugarcane would also be intensified.

The winter maize which was at present sown in Punjab would be improved with an emphasis on protein content. Stress would also be laid on conserving natural resources and improving environment and biodiversity.

There was need to provide better marketing infrastructure and social economics, Dr Bajwa said.

Agro forestry would also be improved with wood treatment research. Food processing and packaging would also be part of the research.

The PAU had also intensified research on sugarcane and a sizeable area had been brought under it at the Ladowal farm. The government had recently transferred land of the central seed farm at Ladowal to the PAU to undertake research and seed multiplication programme of various crops. 


SBP to set up 50 more ATMs
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 24
The State Bank of Patiala (SBP) will install 50 more automated teller machines (ATMs) in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi by the end of March, 2002. Presently, only five ATMs have been functioning at Chandigarh, Shimla, Jalandhar, Patiala and Delhi in the SBP branches.

Besides, the SBP will also launch “anywhere banking scheme” shortly from Chandigarh. Under the scheme, all branches of the bank in a city will be connected with the main branch and with one another.

Talking to The Tribune last night here, Mr J. R. Devgan, General Manager (Operations), State Bank of Patiala, said the bank would install ATMs in 25 branches by the end of September this year while 25 more ATMs would be installed in other branches by the end of March, 2002.

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