Monday, September 10, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Badal calls meeting to study Amarinder’s letter
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 9
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has summoned his personal staff officers, media adviser, the Advocate-General of the state and a few others to New Delhi this evening to scrutinise the contents of the latest letter sent by the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, to him, copies of which were released to the media here yesterday.

The “letter war” between the two major political rivals over the “immovable property” held by them appears to have percolated through to their respective hardline followers, both in the bureaucracy and academic circles.

The rejoinder by the PPCC chief and the reply by the Punjab Chief Minister are powerful pieces of rhetoric giving rise to speculation that this “war” is being carried on by “loyalist bureaucrats and academicians” on behalf of their masters.

Interestingly, the PPCC chief has indirectly hinted at the involvement of the Advocate-General of Punjab, Mr Hardev Singh Mattewal, in “fortifying the reply” by the Chief Minister. It is no secret that Mr Mattewal had been not only Capt Amarinder Singh’s Counsel but has also been representing several other Congress leaders, including Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar and Mr Bal Ram Jakhar besides the former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, and others.

His loyalty to the Chief Minister, for whom he works as his ears and eyes in the state administration as Advocate-General, is not suspect.

Mr Mattewal is considered close to Mr Parkash Singh Badal as well as Mr Om Prakash Chautala. He is among those called to New Delhi this evening, the others being Mr Ramesh Inder Singh, Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, Mr Harcharan Bains and a few academicians. Mr Badal is expected to fly direct from Amritsar to join them to consider the rejoinder given by the Captain.

Last week, when copies of the letter written by Capt Amarinder Singh about the “immovable property held by the Chief Minister and his family members were released to the Press, an emergency meeting was reportedly summoned at Mr Badal’s official residence around 4 p.m.

The participants in the meeting were the Chief Minister; his Principal Secretary, Mr Ramesh Inder Singh; the Additional Principal Secretary, Mr Sarvesh Kaushal; a general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar; the Advocate-General, Mr Mattewal; and the media adviser to the Chief Minister, Mr Harcharan Bains.

Mr Badal wanted the contents of the letter to be examined before a reply was sent to the PPCC chief. He also wanted legal advice on the charges made against him and his family members. It was decided to hold a second meeting around 6.30 p.m.

The second meeting was, however, not held. The Chief Minister reportedly received two replies — one from the Advocate-General and the other from his Additional Principal Secretary and the media adviser. While the reply sent by the Advocate-General was short (about 15 to 20 lines), the other one was a little longer. A copy of the latter draft was reportedly then faxed to the office of a Vice-Chancellor of a university in Punjab for “vetting” it and getting it translated both into Punjabi and Hindi by senior “trusted” members of the language faculties there. Interestingly, the draft sent by the Advocate-General was held back.

Though the involvement of members of the Chief Minister’s Secretariat, including bureaucrats, the media adviser and even party functionaries, is understandable, the role of academicians in drafting or even approving the draft of the reply has come under focus.

The situation is the same on the other side, too. A couple of senior bureaucrats, academicians and professionals have been doing the same work for the PPCC chief.


Centre asked to expedite movement of wheat
Our Correspondent

Ropar, September 9
The Punjab Government has written to the Union Government to allow the procurement of paddy from September 10. The Union Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Mr Shanta Kumar, was in Chandigarh to discuss the issue of procurement with the Punjab and Haryana Chief Minister. Both have urged him to allow the start of procurement on any date between September 10 and September 15. The Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Punjab, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, said this while talking to this correspondent at Nangal yesterday.

Mr Mittal said if the procurement was delayed it would create problems in the mandis. The Union Government had also been requested to expedite the movement of wheat from various mandis of the state. Much of the wheat procured in the last season in the state was stored in the mandis. The government should expedite the movement of the stored wheat to make room up for the procurement of paddy.

Lavy rice and other foodgrains stored in the shellers should also be shifted to create more space for fresh paddy. At present six lakh metric tonnes of foodgrains per month were being sent outside the state.

The Union Government had also launched the ‘Samporan Gram Rozgar Yojna,’ which would help in the consumption of about 50 lakh metric tonnes of foodgrains stored in the state. Under this schemes food for work programme would be launched in the rural areas of the state, people involved in these schemes would be paid 50 per cent of their labour in cash and the other half in the form of foodgrains. The foodgrains for the scheme would be given free of cost to the states by the Union Government. Even in the cash component the states would have to contribute 25 per cent of the total amount and the rest would be paid by the Union Government.

Mr Mittal said the matter had been resolved through discussion with the employees. The employees had been urged to take immediate action against the millers if foodgrains stored in their godowns were found to be less. However, if they do not take any action they would be held accountable.

On the abolition of octroi in the state, Mr Mittal said the deputation of the traders and the transporters met the Chief Minister on Friday. The meeting was also attended besides him by the local governments minister, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon and the Finance Minister Capt. Kanwaljit Singh. The traders expressed the view that they were not averse to paying tax, but wanted the harassment faced at the octroi posts to end. The Punjab Government was now considering the alternative form of taxes to make up for the loss in octroi revenue, he said. The matter was likely to be resolved within a week, he said.

Mr Mittal said work on the Swan river bridge which was the major demand of the Nangal and Nurpurbedi areas, will start soon. He distributed cheques worth about Rs 1.5 crore in the rural areas of his constituency. 


Decision on octroi within a week: CM
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, September 9
Mr Parkash Singh Bada, Chief Minister, talking to newspersons at Qadian today after holding a “sangat darshan”, said he would not enter into any argument in future with Capt Amarinder Singh, PPCC chief, regarding his property. He said Capt Amarinder Singh was an idle man whereas he was extremely busy looking after the interests of the state.

Regarding the prospect of appointment of a commission to probe into the charges of corruption against the Chief Minister if the Congress came to power, Mr Badal said it was a hypothetical situation.

Mr Badal said Capt Amarinder Singh had a habit of indulging in slander.

He said a decision on the octroi issue would be taken within a week. If at all octroi was abolished, alternate measures to generate funds and pay salaries to municipal employees would be taken, he said. When it was pointed out that the Local Bodies Minister, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, had issued a statement that octroi was going to be abolished shortly, he said it was his personal view and not the decision of the government.

On the procurement of paddy by government’s procurement agencies, Mr Badal said he was going to Delhi later today and would meet Mr Shanta Kumar, Food Minister, to finalise the date of procurement.

When newspersons said the enhancement of the minimum support prize of paddy by Rs 20 was not enough, Mr Badal said Punjab was a state having surplus paddy and there were no buyers for the crop.

Regarding reports of dishonouring of cheques, Mr Badal said these were baseless. If at all certain cheques had bounced, it was due to clerical mistakes only, which were later cleared and the cheques were encashed, he said. Regarding issuance of cheques in favour of BDOs and not in favour of sarpanches, Mr Badal said such cheques had been issued only in those cases where the panchayats lacked quorum due to factionalism.

Mr Badal today gave cheques for Rs 50,000 to the president of the Municipal Council, Qadian, and cheques for Rs 2.5 crore to 175 panchayats of Qadian for pursuing development works.


PoWs’ kin flay Abdul Sattar’s statement
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, September 9
The relatives of the 54 missing Indian PoWs languishing in jails of Pakistan have decried the Pakistan Foreign Minister’s statement that Pakistan is not holding any Indian PoW. Mr Abdul Sattar, Foreign Minister, had said New Delhi must accept Islamabad’s word that there was nothing to be gained by holding PoWs of the 1971 war. “We have released the Indian prisoners that we had soon after the war ended in accordance with the requirements of the international law”, Mr Sattar added. He said Pakistan had conducted a fresh inquiry into the missing Indian soldiers case in response to the request forwarded by the Indian Prime Minister during Indo-Pakistan summit in Agra.

Reacting sharply to this, Colonel Pattu, president, Missing Defence Personnel Relatives Association, told The Tribune over telephone from Delhi yesterday that Mr Sattar’s statement was full of lies. He said there were unrefutable evidences about the existence of the PoWs in Pakistan.

A former Indian spy to Pakistan, who was tortured by the Pakistan intelligence agencies for several years in various jails, Mohan Lal Bhaskar, while categorically refuting the Pakistan Foreign Minister’s statement said there were not less than 50 to 60 Indian PoWs still languishing in the Pakistan jails. During 1974 Major Ayaz Sipra, an instructor in the Defence College, Aptabad, and Colonel Asif Shaffi, CO, 2nd Punjab Regiment of the Pakistan army, who were jailed in the fort of Attak in connection with the Bhutto conspiracy case informed Bhaskar, who was also jailed there, that they had met Gill (Wg Cdr Gill) of the IAF and Capt Singh (Capt Giriraj Singh) of the Indian Army.

Colonel Pattu asserted that the book written by a British woman, Victoria Schoffield, titled, “Bhutto-trial and execution” carried a reference of the Indian PoWs being lodged at Kot Lakhpat jail in Pakistan close to where Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was kept in solitary confinement. He said General Pervez Musharraf, who even betrayed Mr Nawaz Sharif, the person who promoted him to the exalted position of army chief could not be trusted.

On the invitation extended by Pakistan to PoWs to visit jails of Pakistan, Colonel Pattu said they would visit Pakistan only if Indian Government agrees and arranges the visit and not at anybody else’s invitation.


Cop ‘hires’ killers to avenge kin’s murder
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, September 9
The district police has arrested three contract killers who were hired by a Punjab police constable posted in Faridkot district to murder two persons allegedly involved in the murder of his brother.

Police sources said on a tip-off, a building in the Lambi area was raided last night and three persons were arrested from there.

Mr Kultar Singh, district police chief, talking to The Tribune today, said a police party got the information that some miscreants were making a plan to commit dacoity in the area. He said the police party laid a “naka” on the Dera Baba Tibba Singh road to apprehend them. He said three persons were arrested while two managed to escape.

He claimed that during the interrogation of the arrested, identified as Amar Singh of Muktsar district, Ajay Kumar and Akhilesh Kumar, residents of Bihar, they confessed that they were contract killers and had been hired by Sarabjit Singh, a police constable posted in Faridkot district, to execute the killing of Chamkaur Singh and Avtar Singh, who were allegedly involved in the murder of Sarbjit’s brother.

They confessed that Sarbjit Singh, who managed to escape along with Amrik Singh, had paid them Rs 50,000 as advance for carrying out the task.

They admitted that they had made four attempts to kill Chamkaur Singh and Avtar Singh. They had once managed to enter the house of Chamkaur Singh and had opened fire but could not kill him.

A .315 bore pistol with cartridges and two swords had been seized from their possession, the SSP said.

He said it was not known yet how many contract killings had been executed by these three along with Sarbjit Singh and Amrik Singh.

A case in this connection had been registered.


Ex-sarpanches threaten revolt
Say they won’t back Brahmpura as candidate
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 9
The animosity between the groups led by Mr Surinder Singh Kairon, a close relative of the Chief Minister, and Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Cooperation Minister, has come to the fore as many former sarpanches of the area have announced that they would not support the latter if a party ticket is given to him during the forthcoming Assembly elections. They said that though they were staunch Akali workers, they would revolt against the ruling party if Mr Brahmpura would be named as candidate.

Leaders from the Naushehra Pannuan constituency alleged that Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, general secretary, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), directly supported Mr Brahmpura’s candidate during the recently held byelection for village Sarpanch. Mr Ranjit Singh, a confidant of Mr Kairon, alleged that Mr Sukhbir Badal took keen interest in the village-level election for reasons best known to him. He alleged that he did not want to elaborate on why Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal did so since it was the “internal matter” of the families of Mr Kairon and the SAD general secretary.

Mr Ranjit Singh alleged that he lost the election of Sarpanch fraudulently as three Cabinet ministers, namely Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, Mr Gulzar Singh Ranike and Mr Brahmpura, camped in the constituency for days together. He alleged that the seal of one of the five booths was broken at the behest of the district administration. He said he would file a petition before the District Magistrate in this regard.

He also alleged that Mr Brahmpura lured voters by giving false promises of employment in the cooperative bank. He said more than 500 forms bearing the signature of Mr Brahmpura were despatched to the residents of Naushehra Pannuan in violation of election norms. Mr Brahmpura had assured the voters that at least 500 youths would be employed in the cooperative bank from Naushehra Pannuan, he said.

Interestingly, the press conference was organised by supporters of Mr Kairon.

The confidants of Mr Kairon alleged that bogus votes were cast with the intervention of the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development). They said they would shortly meet the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to brief him about the alleged high-handedness of Mr Brahmpura. They alleged the SGPC funds were also misused during the election as its senior president supported the candidate of Mr Brahmpura. They claimed that many employees of the SGPC were also deputed for wooing the voters.

The confidants also presented to the newspersons Ranjit Singh Maini (72), who was allegedly beaten up at the behest of Mr Brahmpura in a land dispute case.

Among those who addressed the joint conference were Mr R.S. Maini, a former Sarpanch, Mr Charnjit Singh, a former Sarpanch of Naushehra Pannuan, Mr Charnjit Singh, Mr Rashpal Singh, Mr Daljit Singh Maini, Mr Kasturi Lal and Mr Ranjit Singh Rana, a former Sarpanch, Dhottian.

Levelling a serious charge against Mr Brahmpura, they alleged that he had sought the cooperation of Mr Tarlochan Singh Fauji, brother of Gurbachan Singh Manochahal, a slain chief of the Bhindranwale Tigers force, during the Naushehra Pannuan byelection.


Khaira woos Dalit voters
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, September 9
Mr Sukhpal Singh Khaira, secretary, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee and president Punjab State Progressive Farmers organised a Dalit convention at Bholath village, 18 km from here, today to woo Dalit voters of the Bholath Assembly constituency for the coming Assembly poll.

Mrs Jagir Kaur is at present represents the Bholath assembly constituency as a nominee of Akali Dal (Badal).

More than 5,000 Dalits, including Christians, Gujjars and people belonging to other backward classes participated in the convention. Mr Jagjit Singh, Congress MLA and Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha presided over the convention.

The convention assumed importance when Mr Sukhjinder Singh, a senior Akali leader, attended the convention along with his wife Mrs Mohinder Kaur.

Mr Khaira is a strong contender for the Congress ticket from Bholath. He fought the last Assembly seat from Bholath against Mrs Jagir Kaur but was defeated.

Mr Khaira earlier organised a big conference at Nadala village on July 22 to woo Jat voters of the constituency.

In the last Assembly elections Jat voters of this constituency sided with Mrs Jagir Kaur which resulted in the defeat of Mr Khaira who himself is a Jat. Mrs Jagir Kaur is a Lubana Sikh.

Mr Khaira invited Mr Jagjit Singh, a veteran Dalit leader, along with Mr Kulwant Singh Bhandari, senior vice-president of District Congress Committee and municipal councillor and Mr Narinder Singh, president Punjab Balmik Sabha to address the convention. Addressing the convention Mr Khaira criticised the Akali-BJP govt in the state for ignoring the Dalit Samaj and the weaker sections of the society.

Mr Sukhjinder Singh, Mr Jagjit Singh, Mr Kulwant Singh Bhandari, Mr Stephen Kala, a Christian leader, Mr Jarnail Singh, Mr Narinder Singh President, Punjab Balmik Sabha, also addressed the convention.


Blacklist slashed due to Mann’s efforts: Mand
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 9
Blowing hot and cold on the Panthic unity offer by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD President, Shiromani Akali Dal Panthic Morcha leaders Bhai Dhyan Singh Mand and Jaskaran Singh today maintained that the “unity” offer was a “good thing” but demanded its basis should be the unity effected by the then acting Jathedar of Akal Takht, Prof Manjit Singh, in 1996.

Bhai Dhyan Singh Mand and Jaskaran Singh, who are also Vice-President and General Secretary of the SAD (A) headed by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, demanded that Bhai Ranjit Singh be reinstated as Jathedar of Akal Takht in case unity was to be realised. Claiming that the entire credit for slashing the blacklist of Sikh NRIs went to the party chief and MP Simranjit Singh Mann who had persistently raised the issue in Parliament. The leaders demanded that the remaining names should also be removed from the blacklist.

“Are the Sikhs whose names have been retained on the blacklist more hardcore than KCF chief Wasan Singh Zaffarwal and Khalistan ideologue Jagjit Singh Chohan,” they asked.


BJP protest march on Sept 14
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 9
Following the failure of the efforts for a reconciliation among municipal councillors (MCs) of the BJP and the SAD who were involved in a brawl in the municipal council hall on August 28 during the general house meeting, the local leadership of the BJP has decided to hold a march in the city on September 14 to protest against the alleged maltreatment meted out to them by their Akali counterparts.

At a district level meeting of the BJP held here today, the party activists decided to demand the resignation of Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhuller, president of the municipal council, and suitable action against Punjab Science and Technology Minister, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, for their alleged involvement in creating a rift between the SAD-BJP alliance in the city.

Mr Narinder Mittal, president of the local mandal unit of the BJP, told The Tribune that workers from all over the district would participate in the march. He said party activists would also demand a high-level people into the corruption prevailing in the municipal council.

He alleged that Mr Garg had been trying to create a rift in the SAD-BJP alliance from the very beginning and making efforts to weaken BJP’s base here. He said the party activists had demanded that Mr Garg should not be fielded in the coming Assembly elections as the entire local unit of the party would oppose him.


BJP a sinking ship: Surjeet
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, September 9
Mr Harkishan Singh Surjeet, secretary general, CPM, talking to newsmen at Batala today said that the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre was a sinking ship and would meet its Waterloo at the hustings in UP. He predicted rout of the BJP in coming elections in UP, Uttaranchal and Punjab.

The CPM leader was at Batala to address party workers’ meeting to muster support for the agitation the party had launched from September 7 to expose the BJP-led government at the Centre. He said party workers would court arrest throughout the country from September 25 to September 27.

Mr Surjeet said the NDA government had failed on all fronts by implementing the WTO and GATT agreements. The economy of the country had been shattered on the agriculture front with the removal of quantitative restrictions on imports.


SAD (Panthic) against sharing of waters
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 9
A meeting of the district unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Panthic), was held here today to discuss and review the preparations for a rally and a dharna to be held here on Tuesday.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Baljinder Singh Kili, a member of the district unit of the dal, said the objective of the rally and dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office was to tell the state government that water was the only source of survival for the farmers of Punjab. The water available in Punjab belonged to the residents of the state and they would not allow any political party to give water to other regions.

He warned the state government that if a decision was taken to share water with other regions, his party would oppose it and make any sacrifice to stop its implementation.

He alleged that the RSS with the help of the Punjab Government was trying to join hands with the Sahajdhari Sikhs by giving them the right to vote so that later they could control the Gurdwaras. 


Construction of admn complex stalled
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, September 9
The work of building the local district administrative complex, started on the directions of the Chief Minister, is not likely to make progress before the Assembly elections, according to PUDA sources at Jalandhar. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, they said that soon after the clearance of the site for the complex by the Chief Minister, the building housing the office of the Deputy Registrar and the Assistant Registrar, Cooperatives, was auctioned. The sources said Rs 26 lakh out of the proceeds of the auction were deposited in the bank as fixed deposit to meet the rental expenses of the new building rented by the Deputy Registrar and the Assistant Registrar, Cooperatives.

The sources said that PUDA arrived at an agreement with the Deputy Director, District Animal Husbandry Department, to hand over the possession of 5 acres from the land for the TB Hospital, Jiwan Wal Babri, near here, or a piece of land of a nearby panchayat and Rs 50 lakh to construct the building of the department against the possession of the site for the complex. But nothing has been done so far, they alleged.

The sources said the construction had been stopped in view of the government’s lack of interest.

The sources said PUDA had been asked by the authorities to slow down the process in this regard. The transfer of land to PUDA for auction had been withheld for the time being, they said.

The PUDA has also promised to contribute Rs 25 lakh for the completion of the circuit house here, which is in its final stage. Further work on this project is reportedly not being done due to non-availability of funds from PUDA.

Meanwhile, local advocates are opposing the transfer of judicial courts to the proposed complex. They hold that the district courts, particularly the court building of the District and Sessions Judge, has an excellent architecture and it should be preserved at all costs.

The sources said most of PUDA’s funds were being diverted at the insistence of the Chief Minister’s office.


Favourites ‘cornering’ govt dole
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 9
Mr Lachman Singh Sewewala, general secretary of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, has alleged that the “tall claims” made by the state government in connection with the distribution of free plots to the khet mazdoors were not based on facts.

In a statement released to the Press here today, Mr Sewewala said the benefits of the various schemes announced by the state government for the downtrodden were not reaching them. Instead, the favourites of the ruling alliance were cornering these. The state government recently claimed that more than 15,000 plots of five marlas each had been given free to the Dalits and landless labourers, but in reality more than 50 families were living as landless labourers in the Chief Minister’s own constituency, he alleged.

While the government claimed that free land was being distributed to the landless, Mr Sewewala alleged that a plot of 14 kanals given to the khet mazdoors in 1972 had been encroached upon by a kin of the Chief Minister. Some of the houses constructed on the plot in Mithri Budh Gir village had been demolished. He claimed that at least 10 families in Singhe Wala village, 14 in Patoohi Wala, 13 in Kilian Wali, nine in Mithri Budh Gir and seven each in Gumiara and Bhatuana villages were still landless. These families had been living in the houses of landloards, dharamsalas, open areas or by installing tents in their respective villages. Mr Sewewala gave the names of 61 families of landless mazdoors living at various places in the Chief Minister’s home constituency and said a state-level rally would be held at Lambi (Muktsar) to press for their demands on September 12.


Prestigious complex lies uncared
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

The Beant Shopping Complex came into being six years ago. The massive three-storey building contains a number of business houses, besides computer institutes and government organisations. But it has not yet been handed over to the Municipal Corporation and the Corporation does not feel obliged to extend its facilities to the complex.

The building remains in the hands of the Improvement Trust which does not seem interested in its maintenance. The complex looks run down as it is not even cleaned except by the owners of the showrooms themselves. In the absence of public lighting, there are problems, particularly for offices like the Medical Transcription Centre which remains open till late in the evening. Broken window panes have not been replaced.

The staircase and the corridors present a dirty look with filth scattered all around. Some shopkeepers now clean the stairs and the corridors themselves. Some organisations have even encroached upon the corridors by putting up their own shutters. One organisation on the ground floor has installed air conditioners and water dripping from these creates puddles which one has to negotiate before climbing to the upper storeys. There is no lighting in the stairs except one at the entrance put up by a shop-owner. Besides this, there is a severe water shortage in the complex and most of the commercial organisations have installed pumps to draw water to overhead tanks.

* * *

The road from Sheranwale Gate to Adalat Bazar is one which has confused traffic managers of the city. At one time it was intended to be made a one-way road but the scheme could not be implemented despite repeated attempts. The residents, however, feel that the traffic congestion can be eased without making the entire stretch a one-way route, if encroachments in front of shops are removed and fruit and vegetable rehris are removed from the road at Sheranwale Gate. They say that the municipal corporation has not shown enough seriousness to remove the encroachments by shopkeepers. A place was earmarked for the rehris away from the road but they returned to the main road after some time.

* * *

A local social worker, Col Bishan Dass of the Citizens for Social Action, has achieved the distinction of planting 4,000 saplings during the current year. Col. Bishan Dass has achieved this target by getting saplings planted in various schools in the city, besides some government buildings including the Languages Department, the Police Headquarters, the Income Tax Headquarters and also Bhootnath Mandir. He said he was inspired by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, and wanted his own effort to match the work being done in the city in this regard. Col Dass takes the help of the Forest Department in his exercise and is also not averse to spending his own money to realise his dream.


Temple construction by March next: VHP
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 9
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has set March 12,2002 as the deadline for starting construction of Ram temple at Ayodhaya. Announcing this here today, the VHP National Secretary, Mr Champat Rai, said the VHP was committed to the resolution passed at the Maha Kumbh in January this year by the Dharam Sansad and work on the temple would start before the Shivaratri next year.

Talking to The Tribune at the end of a three-day conference of the parishad organised here in connection with preparations for starting construction of the temple, Mr Rai observed that the issue could not be decided by court. “It is a simple process of delaying the issue”, he observed, while asserting “the issues that deal with the sentiments of people cannot be decided by courts”.

The senior VHP leader claimed there was much enthusiasm among the people, particularly the sants, for starting the construction work. The VHP wanted the Government of India to enact a legislation as in the case of Somnath Temple. Because, like the destruction of Somnath Temple, the disputed structure at Ayodhaya was a victory symbol of the Mughals in India and “it had to go like other victory symbols”.

Mr Rai said the VHP had planned to organise meetings in two lakh villages across the country. “We will put across our point of view and explain to countrymen the reasons for constructing Ram temple at Ayodhaya”, he said. Besides, the VHP would organise 10,000 “Hindu sammelans” to mobilise the “Hindus for the noble cause”.

The VHP Secretary laid claim to the Mathura and Kashi mosques, built after temples were demolished there. He urged the Muslims to “settle amicably these issues and hand over all the three places to Hindus”. He said in a threatening tone, “if these places are not handed over to us, people are not going to stop here. Because if we will have to struggle and sacrifice, then why should we ask for just three places of worship. We will ask for all places damaged by the Muslim rulers”.

He did not seem happy with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government either. Expressing disappointment at the role of the government on the issue, he asserted: “Governments will come and go. But we are not bound by what the government says or does. It is only trying to delay the matter”.

He pointed out it would not take much time to raise the temple as the material was ready and it was only to be transported to the temple site.


Justice Ashok Bhan visits native village
Sushil Goyal

Tribune News Service

Moonak (Sangrur), September 9
"I feel at home. I am very happy as I am amongst my own people here today”, said Mr Justice Ashok Bhan of the Supreme Court who visited his native village for the first time today after his elevation to the post of judge of the apex court.

Before reaching here Mr Justice Bhan was accorded a warm welcome at Badalgarh and Banga villages. Members of the gram panchayats and other residents in large numbers garlanded Mr Justice Bhan at both villages. They also distributed “laddoos” to celebrate his visit and termed Mr Justice Bhan as a ‘proud’ son of the area.

Mr Justice Bhan was accompanied by his wife, Mrs Asha Bhan, his son Mr Akshey Bhan and Mr Sham Lal Garg, a former General Manager of the Ranjit Sagar Dam, during the visit to the village.

To welcome Mr Justice Bhan, welcome gates were put up on the main road here by different organisations. The residents of the village were in upbeat mood to celebrate the occasion. Mr Justice Bhan too met every one and accepted their best wishes.

Mr Justice Bhan, was here to attend a function at the local Aggarwal Dharmshala to mark the birth anniversary of Brish Bhan, father of Mr Justice Bhan, and a former Chief Minister of Pepsu.

The function was also attended by leaders of different political parties including the Congress, the SAD and the CPI.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Justice Bhan said. "It is a matter of pride for me that I took birth in this village (Moonak) and spent nine years of my initial life here”. He said he got his early education at the Government Primary School here by sitting on mat or old gunny bags.

Mr Justice Bhan favoured the setting up of a court at this subdivisional headquarter and assured the gathering that he would do his best to get it done.

Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, a former Punjab Chief Minister, and an MLA from the Lehragaga constituency, remembered Brish Bhan and narrated her family’s relations with Brish Bhan for the past several decades.

A medical camp was organised by the Moonak Lions Club in which about 700 patients were examined.

Mr Sarwan Singh Bir, a freedom fighter, presented a set of books, authored by him related to Babu Brish Bhan, to Mr Justice Bhan.


More rare plants for Baradari Gardens
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 9
Special arrangements would now be made by the district authorities for reviving the lost rare species of plants once planted in Baradari Gardens. This was stated by Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, Deputy Commissioner, at a function organised by the Red Cross Society in memory of Bir Dasondhi Ramji here yesterday. Mr Bir said at least 30 saplings of special variety and rare species would be brought from Dehra Dun to add beauty to Baradari Gardens.

He said more than six lakh saplings had been planted in the district. Mr Bir stressed the need to lay more emphasis on the overall growth of plants. Mementoes were given to those who were involved in the beautification of Baradari Gardens.

A poster painting competition was held on the occasion. Asha from Model Town Girls School won the first position, Manpreet from Bir Hakirat Rai Model School got the second prize, followed by Harpreet from Sunflower School in the third position.

The vice-president of the Red Cross Society, Mr Vijay Kumar Goel, highlighted the need for donating blood and eyes for the welfare of the community and encouraged people to participate in such camps held regularly by the society.

Ms Ravinder Kaur Bir, wife of the Deputy Commissioner, gave away prizes to the winners of various competitions. The Dasondhi Ram Birji Foundation honoured Ms Bir with the Karamyogi award.


Shankaracharya meets Namdhari Guru
Seeks support on cow protection
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 9
Muslims have also come forward to join the movement against cow slaughter in the country. Disclosing this here today, Shankaracharya Jyotishpith Adeshwar Swami of Madhav Ashram told The Tribune that the Imam of the Fatehpuri Masjid, Delhi, Maulana Mufti Mohammed Latif, had offered his support to the cow protection movement being launched in the country.

The Shankararacharya, on a nationwide tour to garner support for cow protection, today met the Namdhari Guru, Baba Jagjit Singh in the Gurdwara Bhaini Sahib near here seeking his support for cow protection. He said the purpose was to involve people of all sects in this movement.

The Shankaracharya said a rally was being organised under the banner of All-Party Cow Protection Movement on November 7 to mark the martyrdom of those who had laid down their lives for the protection of cows in 1969. At that time the movement was spearheaded by Swami Kripratriji Maharaj.

The Namdhari Guru assured the Shankaracharya of maximum participation by Namdharis in the rally.

The rally, the Shankaracharya said, would urge the Central Government to enact a legislation for the protection of cows in the country. A memorandum would be submitted to the Prime Minister on the same. A memorandum had been submitted to the Prime Minister earlier too.

In order to mobilise support for the rally, a “gauraksha yatra” would start from Brindabhan on September 30. It would pass through seven states — Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Delhi, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab. In Punjab the yatra would pass through all major cities including Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar and Patiala, besides Chandigarh.

As part of the campaign, a “gau raksha abhiyan” had already got the signatures of 200 MPs. The MPs belonged to all parties.


Centre for aid of mishap victims
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 9
Dr Jatinder Jain, SSP, inaugurated a highway integrated traffic enforcement cell (HITEC) on the Bathinda-Barnala road near Bhucho crossing today. He said the idea behind establishing these centres was to give timely medical help to mishap victims at accident prone points.

He said many facilities had been provided at the centres, including ambulance, first-aid box, drinking water and a PCO booth. Police personnel would be deployed there round the clock and provided with wireless systems and motor cycles so that they could reach the spot of accident immediately, he said.

Dr Jain said the HITEC centres near Jassi Bagwali village and at the Muktsar-Malout crossing had proved beneficial for many accident victims. Lives of at least 26 persons had been saved, he added.


Woman delivers on train
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 9
Santosh Nath, a sadhu, died on the spot when he was crushed under a vehicle on the Bathinda-Mansa road yesterday night. The vehicle sped away. Volunteers of the Sahara Jan Sewa (SJS) took the body to hospital and informed the police about the incident. After a post-mortem examination, the police handed over the body to the volunteers who performed the last rites of the deceased as there was no claimant of the body. In another incident, Ms Darshan Rani, an employee of the municipal council, get injured in an accident on the Mall Road.

Ms Manju Rani, who was travelling by a train coming from Agra to reach Ferozepore, gave birth to a child in the train. At the same time, the train reached Bathinda. Volunteers of the SJS admitted the child and the mother to a hospital. The woman was later identified as a resident of Ferozepore. The volunteers informed Ms Manju Rani’s family.


SMO: doctors not chargesheeted
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 9
Dr Harjap Singh Mahal, Senior Medical Officer, Rajoke (Khemkaran), said there were glaring mistakes in the minutes of the tour programmes of the then District Immunisation Officer, Dr Kanwaljit Singh, who had allegedly found six doctors absent from duty during a surprise checking of the block.

In a written statement issued here today, Dr Mahal claimed that the Principal Secretary, Health, had served a show-cause notice on the doctors and nobody was chargesheeted as stated by the authorities concerned. He further alleged that the information regarding the action being initiated by the state government against the doctors on charges of absenteeism was being selectively ‘leaked’ to the press though the communication was strictly between the Principal Secretary and the health authorities.

He alleged that certain medical officers of the block who were sent on deputation by the Civil Surgeon too had been marked as absent.


Prisoner dies of asthma attack
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 9
Balbir Singh 45, a prisoner at the local District Jail, died at the local Civil Hospital yesterday. According to the Medical Officer of the jail, Balbir Singh had a severe asthma attack and came to the jail dispensary at 12.20 p.m. On finding his condition critical, he immediately shifted Balbir Singh to the Civil Hospital where he died at 1.15 p.m.

Balbir Singh who belonged to Nangal Kalan village was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment under the NDPS Act. A post-mortem was conducted under the supervision of Mr Sukhwinder Pal Singh, SDM.


Overseas Cong chief: NRIs loath to invest in state
Our Correspondent

Garhshankar, September 9
Mr Daljit Singh Sahota, president of the overseas Congress, was accorded a warm welcome in Mahilpur by party activists.

Taking to mediapersons here, he blamed the economic policies of the SAD-BJP government for the “set back” to trade. Many units were on the verge of closure, he said. This was deterring the NRIs from investing their money in Punjab.

He expressed confidence that the SAD-BJP alliance would not succeed in the forthcoming Assembly elections and the next government in Punjab would be under the leadership of Capt Amarinder Singh.

He said if voted to power the Congress would lay greater emphasis on moderning agriculture, setting up industry and subsiding expenditure on education.


12 shops, two houses demolished
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 9
The 12 shops and two houses which were taken into possession by the district administration near Nabha Gate here yesterday were demolished under the supervision of Mr Amarjit Singh, Tehsildar, this evening. Of these 12 shops, some had been partially demolished last night.

The administration had taken the possession of 42 kanals of prime land, including these 12 shops and two houses, claiming that the land was in the illegal possession of Pritam Singh Thalesan as the land belonged to Shahi Samadhan, which is under the management of the Punjab Government.


Three occupants of car killed

Batala, September 9
Three occupants of a car were killed on the spot in a road mishap near Ghasitpura village, 6 km from here, on the Amritsar-Pathankot highway last night, the police said.

The accident occurred when the car, which was coming from Amritsar collided with a pick-up truck coming from the opposite direction. The car was overtaking another vehicle when the collision took place.

The deceased were identified as Mangat Ram of Dhadiala village, Avtar Singh of Shankarpura and Sukhbir Singh of Dhabawali village.

The police has registered a case and impounded the truck. The driver, however, has absconded. UNI


4 held for kidnapping businessman
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 9
The district police today claimed to have solved of a case regarding the kidnapping of a Delhi-based businessman with the arrest of four persons besides recovering two cars used in the crime.

Mr Gaurav Yadav, SSP said Prem Lata wife of a Delhi-based businessman T.R. Anand on September 7 complained that she along with her husband and their lawyer were returning to Delhi after appearing before a court in Amritsar, when they were intercepted by about eight persons led by Sanjiv Jairath of the Basant Avenue locality in Amritsar near Dr B.R. Ambedkar Regional Engineering College here in the afternoon.

She alleged that her husband had some financial dispute with one R.S. Jairath, father of Sanjiv Jairath and the appearance in the court was in connection with a case registered against her husband by the latter. Mr Anand was kidnapped by these persons travelling in two vehicles.

Mr Yadav said that a special investigation team was constituted to investigate the case and different police parties were despatched to Amritsar and adjoining areas to arrest the accused but the residence of Sanjiv Jairath was found locked.

On a tip-off that the accused were on their way to Jalandhar on Saturday, a naka was laid near the Bidhipur railway crossing on the G.T. Road and the car was intercepted.

The occupants of the vehicle, who were identified as Maninder Singh of Khojkipur village, Maninderjeet Singh and Paramjit Singh of Kaleke village in Amritsar, revealed that they were part of the group of kidnappers which had kept T.R. Anand in their captivity.

A police party was sent to Jalalabad village in Tarn Taran, where the businessman was held captive in an isolated dera. Mr Anand was recovered from this dera and Kuldeep Singh of Wadala Kalan village in Amritsar, was also arrested by the police.

Elaborating further about the motive behind the kidnapping of Mr Anand, the SSP said Jairath had got a case registered against Mr Anand in Amritsar for cheating him of Rs 30 lakh.

“It seems that Jairath want to settle the issue once for all and the kidnapping was carried out just to pressurise Mr Anand to return the money,” Mr Yadav said.


Boy crushed to death
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 9
A boy was crushed to death and another injured seriously near Krishna Prem Sarovar Kutia on the Bathinda-Goniana road here this evening. The deceased has been identified as Deepak (14).

He along with Vikas (17) was returning home after watching a movie when their bicycle was hit by a truck. The driver of the truck is absconding. The truck has been impounded.

Deepak, a resident of Raman Mandi town in the district, was a student of Class X. 

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