Thursday, September 20, 2001, Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Bush should visit US gurdwara: Tohra
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 19
Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president, SHSAD, said here today that he had called up Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee and Mr L.K. Advani last night and asked them to persuade Mr George W.Bush to go to a US gurdwara to console the Sikh community and give it the assurance that his government would protect Sikhs.

He said he had asked them to urge the US Government to show photographs of Sikhs on TV channels to ensure that Americans did not attack them by mistaking them for Arabs. He said Mr Bush had recently visited a mosque to console Muslims living in the USA but had not gone to any gurdwara. Mr Tohra was speaking to mediapersons at a joint press conference of Mr Sarabjot Singh Bedi, president, Panthik Morcha, and Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president SAD (A). He said delegations of various Sikh organisations were meeting the US Ambassador in India at Gurdwara Bangla Sahib, New Delhi, in this regard.

Referring to the recent meeting of leaders of political parties held at New Delhi to discuss the issue of providing support to the USA for rooting out terrorism, Mr Tohra said the government spokesman had unnecessarily said that the expected war could raise the prices of essential commodities. He criticised the NDA government for offering help to the USA even though it had not sought any assistance from India. The leaders said the Panthic Morcha would oppose the Indian Government if it allowed the USA to use airports of Punjab for attacking the Taliban.

Mr Sarabjot Singh criticised the statement of Mr L.K. Advani regarding granting general amnesty to those police officers against whom cases of human rights violation had been registered. He said action should be taken against the officers according to law.

Replying to a question, the leaders said the Panthic Morcha would make an alliance with like-minded parties in the forthcoming assembly elections. It would contest all 117 seats, they said.

Later, they addressed a rally organised by the district unit of the Panthic Morcha in front of the district courts.

Mr Jagjit Singh Thiara, Mr Harbans Singh Manjpur, Mr Devinder Singh Bajwa, Mr Charan Singh Lohra, Mr Balwinder Singh Bains and Mr Harjinder Singh Dhami, among others, also addressed the rally. They presented a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur, regarding the state of affairs in Punjab.


Wear pointed turbans, Sikhs in USA told
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 19
“Don’t wear white turbans and tie them in a pointed shape’’ , this message has been sent to the American Sikhs by the US Government through media even as the NRIs depending on daily earnings in the country are having a tough time due to loss of business.

Pictures and photographs distinguishing Sikhs from the Arabs are being regularly flashed on the television and in the newspapers in the states in an attempt by the US Government to minimise the hate crime incidents against the Americans, mainly the Sikhs. In fact, similar exercise is being undertaken in the UK and Canada from where incidents of attack on the Sikhs have also stated been reported.

While the American Sikhs continue to remain confined in their homes, daily wage earners like taxi drivers are having a tough time. According to Mr Sardool Singh, who lives in California and belongs to Pakhowal village in this district, the business of the taxi drivers has been hit hard. First they are not venturing out due to fear of violence. Secondly, very few people board their taxis fearing they are terrorists. Mr Sarool Singh revealed this to his relative Devinder Singh in Pakhowal.

Paramjit Singh Nagpal, a resident of Islam Gunj Ludhiana revealed to The Tribune that his close relative Inderpal Singh Moki who earns his livelihood in New York by driving a taxi told them that their business had been closed down. Ever since the attack on WTC last Tuesday, they remained indoors but when they ventured out today, they could not get any passengers as the Americans were either afraid of travelling in their cars or hated to travel in their cars. The driver had incidentally been awarded the best taxi cab driver recently by the local administration for his honesty in returning a bag of notes to a passenger, who forgotten it in his car

While the majority believes that the attacks were carried out due to mistaken identity some Indians settled in these countries told their relatives in India over the telephone and through the net that the backlash might be because of the ‘wrong’ detaining of a Sikh travelling in a train in New York one day after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. According to these NRIs some local papers published a photograph of a Sikh detained by the US police but his subsequent release was not given display due to which the impression of the involvement of the Sikhs might have remained in the public.

Guddi, an NRI in New Jersey, England, revealed to The Tribune through an e-mail message that heavy police force had been deployed in their city to prevent any attack on them.

Darshan Singh, an NRI in Vancouver, Toronto, told his relative Inderjit Singh a farmer in Shahpur village near here that the television was regularly educating the masses regarding distinction between the two communities.


Attacks on Sikhs: AISSF protests, Laden’s effigy burnt
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 19
The All-India Anti-Terrorist Front burnt an effigy of Osama bin Laden here today to protest against the terrorist attacks in America in which many people lost their lives. The rally under the presidentship of Mr Mohinder Singh Sidhu started from the PBN School and reached outside the Hall Gate passing through the main bazaars of the city.

Meanwhile the All-India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF) offered “ardas” for the Sikhs attacked in mistaken identity. They also protested against the attacks on Sikhs living in the USA and United Kingdom. AISSF president alleged that it was ironical that the Chief Minister, Punjab could go to America for his minor eye ailment and for taking grants but could not talk to administration there for the safety of these very Sikhs living there.

The Prime Minister Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee should send Mr Jaswant Singh, to the USA and the UK in this regard, the federation said. Meanwhile, Sikh organisations here elicited mixed response to the address of President George Bush to alley the fear particularly of the Sikh community and other minorities of Asian origin being targeted in the wake of terrorist attacks on America. Bhai Ranjit Singh former Jathedar Akal Takht feels secure for Sikhs over the American President’s assurance broadcast live on the American television channel.

Chief Khalsa Diwan honorary secretary Bhag Singh Ankhi called upon the Prime Minister, President of India as well as Chancellors and Ambassadors of America, Canada, Britain and Germany to take measures for a security to Sikhs other than media clarifications. He questioned the European countries who were relatively an educated population that could not differentiate between a Sikh and a Sheikh.

Referring to the burning down of a temple and atrocities on Sikhs on identity criteria, he said these attacks were inhuman to those Indians who have contributed to the prosperity of America and other European countries.

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee in its continued efforts to save the Sikh community from the madness perpetuated by vested interests has appealed for sanity the world over to stop attacks on Sikhs only due to their resemblance with Arabs.

President of the SGPC Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi expressed concern over the discrimination being meted out to the Sikh community not only in New York but were also in Canada and London. He reiterated the claim that Sikhs are on the side of the right against the evil of terrorism hence they should not be targeted. The SGPC president wants concrete steps other than assurances that could help them shed fear psychosis. 


Akhand paths in memory of WTC victims
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
The Punjab Congress leaders who met here today observed a two-minute silence in memory of those killed at World Trade Center in the USA. The President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Capt Amarinder Singh, said the party would organise akhand paths at the Golden Temple and Durgiana Mandir at Amritsar in memory of the departed souls.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said the state government had got no information whether any Punjabi had also been killed in the WTC catastrophe.


Convicted ADGP a VIP in hospital
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, September 19
The Additional Director-General of Police, Punjab, Mr Daljit Singh Bhullar, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in a triple murder case, has been enjoying VIP status in the local Government Rajindra Hospital for more than a month and a half even though he is being treated only for diabetes.

Mr Bhullar was found guilty of murdering Dr Paramjit Singh Sahota, an NRI, and two others in 1996 by the sessions court on August 1. The ADGP was admitted to the intensive cardiology care unit (ICCU) of the hospital the same day following a complaint of chest pain.

A perusal of the ADGP’s medical record has showed that he is undergoing treatment mainly for diabetes. Though he has been complaining of chest pain regularly, his condition appears to be stable. An ECG conducted on him two days back after he complained of chest pain showed no change in his condition.

The ADGP was shifted to a room meant for on-duty doctors instead of a regular ward along with others prisoners around August 15 after being discharged from the ICCU. Unlike other prisoners, who have now been moved to yet another ward, the ADGP continues to enjoy VIP status, with the on-duty room for doctors of the ward being sealed and converted into a special room for his stay.

According to sources, the hospital authorities released a circular last year making it clear that no chronically ill prisoner would be allowed to stay in the hospital for more than two weeks without the permission of the Medical Superintendent or the Principal of the college. The Medical Superintendent, Dr A.S. Sekhon, when contacted, said the knew about the circular but it was for the Principal to give directions to the faculty regarding the stay of prisoners in the hospital.

The medical college Principal, Dr Ravinder Singh, however, said he did not know about the circular or even the presence of the ADGP in the hospital. He said the government did issue circulars from time to time and promised that he would look into the matter. He said no permission had been sought from him for the stay of the ADGP in the hospital beyond two weeks. He said the matter was under the purview of the Medical Superintendent and it was for him to take action in this regard.

When this correspondent talked to Dr Harbir Kaur Rao, a professor of medicine who treated the ADGP from August 1 to 12, she said Dr Manmohan Singh was now treating him. When asked whether the doctor has obtained permission for the ADGP to stay on in the hospital beyond the permitted two weeks, she replied she had informed Dr Manmohan Singh in this regard when he took charge of the patient. Dr Manmohan Singh could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.

Hospital doctors, when contacted, were of the opinion that there was no point in continuing the ADGP’s treatment at the hospital as his symptoms were not receding despite continuous medication over nearly two months.

They said as the ADGP was still complaining of chest pain, he should be transferred to a referral institute so that advance tests, including angiography, could be conducted on him. They said in case the hospital authorities were convinced about the medical treatment, a board could be constituted to review his treatment record. In case the board felt that he was fit to be discharged, he should be sent back to jail, they said.


15 injured in bus-truck collision
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 19
As many as 15 persons were injured in a head-on collision between a bus and a truck on the Bathinda-Barnala road near Lehra Bega village, about 18 km from here, this morning.

The bus (number PB11C-7990) was coming here from Rampura, when near Lehra Bega village, the driver of the bus lost control over the vehicle due to some problem in the steering and it collided with a truck (RNC-1633) coming from the opposite side.

The traffic on the main road remained disrupted for many hours due to the accident. At least 15 passengers of the bus which was filled to the capacity, suffered injuries. Mr Sukhdev Singh, the driver of the bus remained trapped in the bus for about half an hour after the accident and suffered serious injuries on his leg.

Mr Kuldeep Singh, driver of the truck and Mr Kala, helper of the truck suffered minor injuries in the accident. Both the vehicles were badly damaged in the accident. Volunteers of Sahara Jan Sewa, an NGO of the city took the patients to a nearby private hospital of Bhucho. Later on some injured were shifted to the civil hospitals of Rampura and Bathinda for treatment.

Doctors of the local civil hospital said Mr Sukhdev was operated upon for fracture in his leg. They added that no passenger suffered serious injuries.

Volunteers of the Sahara Jan Sewa reached on the spot along with three ambulances and took the injured to the nearby hospital. Later on some of the patients were shifted to the civil hospitals of the Rampura and Bathinda as the private hospital of Bhucho was small and was lacked facilities to attend to so many injured at a time.

Among the injured seven could be identified immediately. These are Ms Vidya Devi, Mr Jagdev Singh, Ms Raj Rani, Mr Raj Singh, Mr Nirbhay Singh and Mr Bhagwaan Dass.


Cong promises Rs 360-cr package for
paddy growers
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee has started disclosing its election strategy. Its first aim is to give a big blow to the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s standing among the farming community, the mainstay of the Shiromani Akali Dal headed by him.

As a first step to make a dent in the base of Mr Badal and the SAD among the farmers , the PPCC today promised a Rs 360 crore package on paddy for the farming community. With this move, it has been become clear that the Congress will go all out to “grab” the farming vote bank from the SAD.

Capt Amarinder Singh, president of the PPCC, said that his party, if voted to power, would give Rs 30 per quintal as bonus on paddy to farmers in the state. This would be in addition to the minimum support price, which was Rs 530 per quintal for the common variety and Rs 560 per quintal for the grade A variety of paddy, announced by the government. He urged farmers to maintain their paddy sale records to get bonus.

The Congress had rejected the MSP announced by the Union Government. He said it should have been Rs 770 per quintal as the cost of producing one quintal of paddy was Rs 720, according to Punjab Agricultural University.

On the other hand, Mr Badal told The Tribune that he was satisfied with the MSP announced by the Centre. “We should not expect more on paddy as the Centre has increased the MSP after strong pressure built by me and my counterparts in Haryana and Andhra Pradesh on the Prime Minister”, Mr Badal asserted.

The Punjab Government had not yet applied its mind to the issue of announcing bonus on paddy. He admitted that the Union Government had been asked to effect an increase of Rs 50 per quintal in the MSP, but because of surplus food stocks in the country, this could not be done, Mr Badal added.

Meanwhile, Capt Amarinder Singh has alleged that there had been distress sale of paddy in the Majha belt.

When asked whether his party would announce a package for cotton growers, who were suffering because of the attack of the American bollworm, the PPCC Chief said that he would also get this examined from his party’s economic cell. He said the bollworm had flourished because of the sale of spurious pesticides. He alleged that one of Mr Badal’s close relations had a big pesticides manufacturing unit and he was supplying these in the state.

The Punjab Government and the Centre had not done anything worthwhile to stop attacks on Sikhs in the USA, the UK and Canada following the destruction of the World Trade Center by terrorists. The PPCC had decided to send a fact-finding delegation to these countries under the leadership of Mr Balbir Singh, MP. He would be accompanied by another MP, Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, and MLAs Amarjit Singh Samra and Avtar Henry.

The delegation would contact the Overseas Congress and the Punjabi community and also meet the officials concerned in those countries.

He said that he had no differences with Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar. The PPCC would organise election rallies at all district headquarters from September 30.

The party today submitted a detailed representation to the Punjab Governor. It said that Mr Badal wanted to give Punjab waters and certain areas to Haryana in lieu of the transfer of Chandigarh. This would not be allowed. If it was done, the Congress would resort to an agitation.

A meeting of the campaign committee of the Congress was also held today. It was attended, among others, by Mr Moti Lal Vora, treasurer of the AICC and in charge of party affairs in Punjab, Mr Surinder Singla, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, Mrs Sukhbans Kaur, Mr Gurcharan Singh Galib, Mr C.D. Kamboj and Mr Partap Singh Bajwa.


Indo-British police conference opens
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Phillaur, September 19
“The ISI has been planning to encircle India with its bases in various South Asian countries with the sale agenda to destabilise the country. It has been successful in establishing bases in Nepal and in Bangladesh. Besides Sri Lankans have more amiable connections with Pakistan than with India.

“Though the chances of resurgence of terrorism in Punjab are remote yet stray strikes or incidents here and there cannot be ruled out. Further, as long as democratic or political process remains in control of things leading to fulfillment of aspirations of people the chances of the revival of disruptive or terrorist activities get reduced.

“ It is why in the last four and-a-half years of the present government, which is considered a representative government of the Sikh community, in the state, the problem of terrorism has been solved.

“Besides the ISI, the only worry for the security forces in India in general and Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir in particular would be the spread of pan-Islamic terrorism.”

These views were expressed by the Director-General of the Punjab Police, Mr Sarabjit Singh, while speaking on the opening day of the two-day Indo-British police conference which is being organised at the instance of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Other Punjab police officers participating in the conference are Mr D.R. Bhatti, Dr G.S. Aujla and Mr S.V. Singh — all ADGPs; Mr S.S. Virk, Mr K.K. Attri, Mr R.S. Gill, Mr J.P. Birdi, Mr Chandrasekhar — all IGPs; Mr Rajinder Singh, Mr Suresh Arora, Mr Dinkar Gupta — DIGs; and Mr H.S. Sidhu, Mr P.S. Gill, Mr Jagdish Kumar, Ms Gurpreet Deo, Mr R.S. Sandhu, Mr Parvin Kumar Sinha and Ms Anita Punj — all SSPs/SPs.

Besides Dr Gopalji Mishra, Director of Forensic Sciences, and Mr S.S. Bains, a former IG, were also among the participants where besides the issue of handling of terrorism, policing in multi-cultural society; domestic violence and crime against women, including forced marriages; police training and methodology were discussed on the first day today.

The visiting police officers are Mr Michael Venables, Mr Peter Gallimore, Mr Brain Langford, Mr Martain Baines, Mr Jonathan Pickles, Mr Simon Letchford, Ms Yvonne Rhoden, Mr Jim Blair, Mr Steve Pitts and Mr Alan Hasler. They represent the London Metropolitan Police, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and the Liecestershire police. It is for the first time that such an international police conference is being organised in Punjab.

Mr Michael Venables said India had changed a lot since he came here for the firs time in 1969 and expressed the hope that the interaction of British police officers with their Punjab counterparts would be useful.

Mr D.R. Bhatti said some of the terrorist organisations, especially pan-Islamic, had been organising their meetings in Hyderabad in India. These include the PWG, ULFA and even organisations of the dreaded underworld groups. This was a serious challenge. Tracing history of terrorism and disruptive activities in India, he said that for Pakistan, Punjab was only the mean or mode to reach its ultimate goal — Kashmir.

“The situation is still the same. The ISI game plan has been to get India defence forces deeply involved in Punjab so that it could have a free hand in Kashmir. That is why it acted as a sanctuary, training centre, supply depot and sustenance centre for terrorism in Punjab.

“Cast in classic Maoist mould, terrorism in Punjab started with country-made or small personal weapons which were snatched or procured in an illegal manner. He said initial funding of the movement too was through indigenous sources, including bank robberies, snatchings and extortions for ransom. It slowly graduated to sophisticated weapons, explosives, high tech communication equipment and other things with money coming from abroad either through hawala or through Pakisani banks.

“Initially, the Punjab police was neither trained nor motivated to handle this problem. Gradually, it developed its own innovative techniques, including fabrication of bullet-proof tractor-trailer. Besides using terrorists against terrorists, emphasis was also on sustained interrogation of arrested terrorists. It worked. The fear that police officers interrogating terrorists would come on hit list came true and many officers sacrificed their lives. It was why the number of interrogating officers was increased substantially to evade identification. Another technique applied was posting of young officers as district chiefs. Infiltration into terrorist outfits, and creation of special teams also worked well in this fight against terrorism,” he said appreciating the role of “spotters” and village defence committees in some areas.

The Punjab DGP said as soon as elected government was installed the inflow of information from general public improved considerably thus making it easier for the security forces. The situation has improved so much now that the militant organisations had been finding it really hard to make any fresh recruitment for the past several years. The overseas support too has been gradually dying.

Mr K.K. Attri said from small weapons, the first AK-47 came to Punjab sometime in July 1986. In all more than 10,000 such weapons came to Punjab of which nearly 2,800 were seized by the police.


Akalis demand Baba Piara Singh’s arrest
Our Correspondent

Ropar, September 19
Various Akali leaders, including Punjab Minister for Printing and Stationery, Bibi Satwant Kaur Sandhu, district president of the SAD, Pritam Singh Selomajra, Mr Jarnail Singh Aulakh, Mr Jagjit Singh Ratangarh and Sandhu Singh Todar Majra SGPC members and president of the youth wing of the SHSAD, Karnail Singh Panjoli, demanded registration of a case of murder against Baba Pirara Singh for his allegedly instigating to his followers to burn the holy Guru Granth Sahib declared as jurisdic person by the Supreme Court. These leaders were present at the bhog ceremony of the ‘path’ organised in Ratangarh village to dispel the ill-will caused by the torching to the ‘Bir’ of the Granth allegedly by certain followers of the Baba Piara Singh.

Those present at the bhog ceremoney today passed two resolutions with the raise of hand urging the district administration to register a case against Baba Piara Singh and ban his ‘book’ Bhav Sagar Samunder Granth. Deputy Commissioner Ropar, GS Grewal and SSP Ropar GPS Bhullar, who also present on the bhog ceremony assured people present on the occasion that the guilty would be treated as per the law. They also urged the people to maintain peace.

Mr Karnail Singh Panjoli, president of the youth wing of the SHSAD addressing the gathering warned that if the government did not take steps to curtail the blasphemous acts of the Baba Piara Singh by September 30, they would launch an agitation. After the bogh ceremony about 200 persons led by the Chairman of Improvement Trust Ropar, Mr Gursevak Singh Dumana, organised a protest march through the Morinda town demanding action against Baba Piara Singh. They also blocked traffic in front of the Morinda bus stand for 15 minutes.


Protest against attacks on Sikhs
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 19
Hundreds of Sikhs today took out a protest march against attacks on Sikhs in the USA and the UK and the desecration of Guru Granth Sahib in Pandori and Ropar.

Led by Mr Gurmukh Singh and Mr Gurjit Singh Khalsa, president, Circle Akali Jatha, and former general secretary, Youth Akali Dal, respectively, the protesters presented a memorandum to the SDM, demanding the arrest of the guilty in the Pandori case within 72 hours.


Govt to spend Rs 42.5 cr on Zirakpur-Patiala road
Bipin Bhardwaj

Zirakpur, September 19
To ease heavy volume of traffic on the killer Zirakpur-Patiala National Highway 64, the Punjab Government will spend Rs 42.5 crore on a project for the widening and construction of small bridges on the road.

Dividing the project in two sections — from Zirakpur to Rajpura and from Rajpura to Patiala — the 55-km highway will be widened by September, 2002.

A stretch of 2.5 km of the highway which falls within Banur township will be four-laned. Apart from this, the Bhadurgarh - Patiala four-laned section of the highway will also be strengthened.

Sources disclose that work on widening of the first section of the highway — from Zirakpur to Rajpura — has been started and will be completed by September, 2002. A sum of Rs 25.27 crore has been sanctioned for the widening and four-laning of this 28-km stretch.

An amount Rs 17.32 crore will be spent on the Rajpura - Patiala highway. The amount will be spent on widening of the stretch from Rajpura to Bhadurgarh and strengthening of the rest of the road, which has already been widened. The project is to be completed within the next 13 months.

The project of widening the highway from 22 feet to 33 feet has been launched by the Buildings and Roads wing of the Punjab Public Works Department and the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board has financed it.

A bridge in Nabha Sahib village near Zirakpur will be constructed to reduce congestion on the highway. Presently, this narrow bridge is the main bottleneck which hinders the flow of vehicular traffic on this busy road.

Provisions of drains for storm water drainage have been made at prominent places, particularly in the township areas.

The department has also got clearance from the Ministry of Environment and the Punjab State Electricity Board to remove hundred of trees and a number of electricity poles along the highway.

For the removal of trees Rs 45 lakh has been paid to the Ministry of Environment and Rs 25 lakh to the PSEB, add sources.


Youth workers to get more responsibility: Sukhbir
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 19
Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, SAD General Secretary and MP, today said to strengthen the party for the coming Assembly elections, the youth workers would be given more responsibilities.

Mr Sukhbir Badal, who has been holding a series of rallies to mobilise the gathering for a function being organised at Killianwali village on September 25 in connection with the birth anniversary of late Devi Lal, while addressing a press conference here, said the party president and the Political Affairs Committee would decide about the candidates for the coming Assembly elections. He said loyalty to the party, winning chances and mass base of each candidate would be taken into account before allotting a party ticket.

Mr Badal said some of the sitting candidates could be changed but the final decision would be taken by the PAC and the party President.

He claimed that the kisan rally at Killianwali village would prove the fact that people were with the party. He said that lakhs of people from the nook and corner of state would attend the rally as the late Devi Lal always fought for the problems of farmers.

He said apart from the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, Chief Ministers of various states, central ministers and central leaders would attend the rally.

Expressing his concern over the attacks on the Sikhs and Punjabis in the USA and Britain he said Mr Vajpayee had been urged to intervene personally into the matter.

Condemning the terrorist attacks in the USA, Mr Sukhbir Badal said global unity was the need of hour to fight against all sorts of terrorism. He said the SAD-BJP combine government would not allow the terrorism to raise its ugly head again in the state. He said at present there was no information regarding the number of those Indians who had perished in the terrorist attack in the USA.

To a question, he said the Punjab Government had been pressing the Central Government to make arrangements for imposing heavy protection duty on the cotton which was being imported.

He said there was no truth in the reports that the oil refinery was not being set up in Punjab. He added that so far Rs 1000 crore had been spent on this project and further work was going on to complete the project.

He pointed out that the Punjab Government had also been making efforts to boost small scale industries. Those entrepreneurs who had shifted to other states during the black days in Punjab had been returning again as environment for setting up industries in the state was much better as compared to other states.

Mr Badal said all arrangements had been made for completion of the Guru Gobind Singh Marg passing through this city by November 15 and the Punjab Government had received the funds from the Central Government.


Poll: Mohindra plays Hindu card
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 19
Dissident Congress leader and former minister Brahm Mohindra has suddenly turned after the rank and file of the party has rooted for Pradesh Congress President Capt Amarinder Singh as the party’s candidate from his local traditional party seat which has returned him thrice. Mr Mohindra has started playing Hindu card and saffronised his politics since the last one month.

Mr Mohindra’s turning to religious programme started from August 15 when he presided over a function held to mark Independence Day in the traditional Hindu stronghold of Jauhrian Bhattian. The day saw the former minister being given an enthusiastic welcome by members of the Hari Gupta Memorial Club formed by the former leader’s sons. Mr Hari Gupta had been an ardent supporter of Mr Mohindra before they parted ways and getting his sons to his side was the first step to target Hindu community in the city.

Following this Mr Mohindra presided over a number of religious programmes in the city. This includes the local “Bavan Dvasti” festival besides a three-day “Raas Leela” programme held at Jauhrian Bhattian. He also led the shobha yatra related with the function a few days back.

Presently the former minister is scheduled to preside over “jagrata” programme of famous artist Jagat Singh Jagga. Attempts are being made to make the programme a success with huge hoardings being put up in the city with the picture of the Goddess Kali along with pictures of Mr Mohindra and the artiste.

This is not all. Mr Mohindra is scheduled to conduct a Ram Leela programme in Jauhrian Bhattian. The Ram Leela programme had not been held at Jauhrian Bhattian for the past two to three years. The former minister has also been presiding over a number of religious programmes during the last one month. The programmes are getting regular coverage on the local city cable network.

Sources said Mr Mohindra had targeted both traditional Hindu strongholds of Jauhrian Bhattian and Arya Samaj in the last one month. They said while the former minister had always relied on the Hindu vote to scrape through in three Assembly elections, this time he is wooing the Hindu vote in the run-up to the elections in order to lay claim to the seat as well as be in a position to influence poll results.

Mr Mohindra has been presently deserted by almost the entire rank and file of the party and he did not even stake his claim to the seat during a recent visit of an All-India Congress Committee observer to examine prospects of party candidates aspiring for party ticket in the forthcoming Assembly polls. Mr Mohindra has claimed that some misunderstanding about the schedule of the observer was responsible for his being unable to meet him though party sources say he did not have many persons who could claim the ticket on his behalf.

Congress workers said targeting the Hindu vote was also important for Mr Mohindra as his rival for the party ticket by the Pradesh Congress President. They said the fact that the PPCC President’s wife Preneet Kaur was able to win the Patiala Assembly segment comfortably in last Lok Sabha polls despite a total boycott of the campaign by Mr Mohindra had also jittered him. They said this had compelled him to start his own informal campaign among the people so that he could be in a position to dictate terms in the constituency and make a trade-off for some other seat in case he did not get the Patiala seat.


BJP-SAD rift widens
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 19
The rift between the district units of the ruling alliance partners — Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) widened today as the mandal president of the BJP, Mr Narinder Mittal issued a written statement that all BJP workers would boycott functions of the local SAD MLA, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg and the President of the municipal council, Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhullar.

Mr Mittal alleged in his statement that the rift between the units had widened due to the non-cooperative attitude of SAD leaders. He added the BJP workers were feeling let down. The BJP workers had left no stone unturned to make the functions and rallies of the SAD successful and implement the alliance poll agenda. At many occasions the BJP workers had worked day and night to create harmony and maintain cordial relations with the alliance partner but the local SAD leaders did not help .

Mr Mittal alleged that Mr Bhullar was wasting public money and there was large-scale corruption in the civic body. 


Cong to protest at sangat darshan venue
Our Correspondent

Ratwara Sahib, September 19
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Prakash Singh Badal, will be holding a sangat darshan programme here tomorrow amidst likely protests from the Congressmen.

Representatives of as many as 83 village panchayats of the area and Municipal Corporations of Kurali and Morinda are likely converge on the premises of the Ratwara Sahib Gurdwara here and convey their grievances and problems to the Chief Minister.

Meanwhile, the Congress is likely hold a protest dharna in the village during the sangat darshan programme. The police sources said the Congress protestants will not be allowed near the main venue.


Sehajdharis: hearing on voting rights adjourned

Chandigarh, September 19
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today adjourned the hearing of the petition seeking the debarring of sehajdharis from voting in the SGPC elections to October 3 and issued notice to the petitioners on the application moved by an organisation of sehajdharis for becoming a party as respondents in the case.

The court’s division Bench comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice M.M. Kumar entertained the application of Sehajdhari Sikh Federation, which had appealed for an opportunity to be heard as another respondent in the case.

The organisation contended in the application for becoming a party to the respondents that the petitioners were “out to create a minority within a minority and, thereby, implied taking away their (sehajdharis) right under Article 26 of the Constitution”.

The petitioners had challenged the inclusion of Section 2 (clause 10-A) of the Sikh Gurdwara Act vide amendment of 1959. UNI


Sehajdhari Sikhs’ plea to SGPC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
The Sehajdhari Sikh Federation here today urged the SGPC that it should not press the Union Government to debar Sehajdhari Sikhs from becoming voters of the SGPC.

Addressing a press conference, Dr Paramjit Singh Ranu said that nearly 80 per cent of the Sikhs all over the world were Sehajdharis. They should not be denied the right to vote in the SGPC elections.

He said that the SGPC should not adopt a fundamentalist approach to the Sehajdhari issue. It should not narrow the base of the Sikh religion by refusing the right to vote to Sehajdhari Sikhs.

The federation had been impleaded as a party in a writ petition pending for hearing on October 3 on the Sehajdahri issue.

He said the SGPC should, through preaching and other religious methods, persuade Sehajdhari Sikhs to become Amritdhari Sikhs. They should not be pushed out from the Sikh mainstream, he added.

He objected to a column in the form for voters pertaining to caste. Those filling the form would have to reveal their caste whereas Sikhism was totally free from casteism. He said the SGPC should have objected to this column.


Dr Chohan’s bail plea declined
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 19
Judicial Magistrate First Class Mewa Singh today declined the bail application of Khalistan ideologue Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan in a sedition case filed against him by Pradesh Congress Legal Cell member and local advocate.

The judge held that an offence under Section 124 (a) of the IPC was triable by the Sessions Court. Dr Chohan accordingly moved a bail application before the Sessions Court today which is likely to come up for hearing tomorrow.

Dr Chohan earlier had furnished bail bond of Rs 25,000 in the court of Judicial Magistrate Mewa Singh on the direction of Additional Sessions Judge B.S. Mangat who had granted him anticipatory bail on September 4.

Dr Chohan claimed that no recovery was to be made from him and sending him behind bars would not serve any purpose. The judge while fixing September 19 as next date in the hearing had said that if the trial court did not grant bail to the Khalistan ideologue he should be given a time of seven days to move the higher court.

Earlier on September 4, the Additional Sessions Judge had granted anticipatory bail to Dr Chohan. A complaint had been filed against him at the instance of Pradesh Congress Legal Cell office-bear Jagmohan Singh Saini who had claimed that he had raised the demand for creation of a separate Sikh State during a press conference addressed by him after his return from abroad. The complainant had also claimed that Dr Chohan had also rung him up to ask for suggestions which could lead to the formation of separate Sikh State following which he decided to take him to task and approached the court.


I never spoke against Baba Nand Singh:
Kewal Singh
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 19
Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, has denied that he had ever spoken against Baba Nand Singh, founder of the Nanaksar sect.

Earlier, a press note issued by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) had quoted Giani Kewal Singh as saying that many Nand Singhs had been born and vanished, but the holy Guru Granth Sahib continued to be the strength of the Sikhs.

Meanwhile, Mr Jaswinder Singh and Mr Baldev Singh, both members of the SGPC, have criticised those who have launched a campaign against Giani Kewal Singh.

Followers of the Nanaksar sect had demanded the resignation of Giani Kewal Singh as Jathedar when he allegedly used derogatory language against the Nanaksar sect.


Call for Punjab bandh withdrawn
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
The All-India Sikh Students Federation today withdrew its call for a Punjab bandh tomorrow. The call was given to protest against the burning of birs of Guru Granth Sahib in Rattangarh village yesterday.

After a meeting with the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, federation leaders, including Mr Avtar Singh Boparai, Mr Manjit Singh Bhoma, Mr Karnail Singh Pirmohammad, Mr Tejinder Singh Sandhu and Mr Amarjit Singh Pathankot, said that Mr Badal had promised strict action against the guilty.


Traffic blocked to seek killers’ arrest
Our Correspondent

Dhuri, September 19
The vehicular traffic on the Dhuri-Sangrur road was disrupted for about four hours following a dharna and blockade by more than 200 activists of various local organisations at Sangrur bypass here today. The dharna was staged on a call given by the Ravi Kant Murder Action Committee to protest against the alleged failure of the police in arresting the killers of a local youth, Ravi Kant (17), who was allegedly kidnapped from here on August 14 and later his body was found in a canal near the Sangrur police lines.

Earlier, the protesters assembled at the local Triveni Chowk, where they also held a rally.


Baba Farid’s Agman Purb celebrated
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 19
As part of the nine-day Agman Purb celebrations of Sufi Saint Baba Sheikh Farid, the Department of Public Relations, Punjab, presented a light-and-sound programme on the life of Maharaja Ranjit Singh here last evening. More than 100 artistes participated in the event.

Eleven stages were set up to present the programme. The artistes, including Ashok Kumar, Nawal Kishore and Harish, who played the key characters were appreciated by the audience.


Cloth shop gutted
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 19
A cloth shop was gutted in the local Bansawala Bazar in the wee hours today, resulting in the loss of articles worth lakhs.

Mr L.D. Gandhi, proprietor of Lila and Coy Cloth House, said cloth pieces, furniture, AC and TV, etc were damaged in the fire reportedly caused by a short-circuit.


Experts doubt smooth procurement of paddy
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 19
The Food Corporation of India and other state procurement agencies will begin procurement of paddy officially on September 21, but paddy has started reaching the mandis already. Despite claims of the FCI officials and state government on smooth procurement of paddy compared to previous years, the farm experts here have warned of paddy glut in the mandis. They said the government has created neither adequate extra storage facility nor done anything about the contents of moisture in paddy.

The agriculture experts at the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) had point out that the state government has failed to implement the recommendations of an expert committee on marketing, formed after last year’s paddy procurement crisis. It had suggested among other things, to start the purchase of brown rice in the major mandis and to install mechanised handling of paddy in other purchase centres for dry paddy.

Prof P.S. Rangi, Marketing Expert, Department of Economics and Sociology, PAU, said,‘‘ The total daily handling capacity of state mandis is about 2.5 lakh tonnes, but at peak time, the paddy supply would increase up to 5 lakh tonnes resulting in glut and chaos. Further, most of the farmers are harvesting paddy with combines resulting in moisture up to 27-30 per cent against the desired level of 18 per cent. It would require extratime for drying in mandis again delaying the procurement.”

He disclosed that about 125 lakh tonnes of paddy was expected to arrive in the state mandis. Nothing has been done to break the nexus of FCI officials, commission agents and other state procurement agencies, which indulges in malpractices. A study by the Department of Economics and Sociology, PAU has estimated a loss of Rs 125 crore during last procurement season to the farmers due to malpractices of the commission agents and officials. Mr V.K. Singh, Senior Regional Manager, FCI, also in a recent visit admitted that a mere relaxation of two per cent moisture in paddy due to political pressure and corruption ultimately resulted in about 10 per cent increase in moisture level at the final stage.

The agriculture expert said that the paddy reaped by manual harvesting contained just 14-15 per cent moisture, but the farmers did not prefer it due to the vagaries of weather. The large heaps of paddy in mandis generate heat resulting in discolouration and ultimately lower rates and poor quality rice. The nexus exploits this situation causing losses to the farmers and the state.

Is there a way out to check the paddy glut in the mandis and subsequent harassment of farmers? Prof Rangi says,“We are already manufacturing de-husking machines at Batala and Rajpura costing Rs 15,000/16,000. The government should purchase brown rice after de-husking by these machines at the farm level. It would result in staggering of market operations and less opportunity for the officials and traders to manipulate the procurement operations.”

He says nowhere in the world, paddy is purchased in the mandis in such a conventional manner. However, no one seems to buy this simple but costeffective idea of purchasing de-husked paddy or brown rice already followed by most of the rice producers in the world. It would revolutionise the procurement system, besides cutting the cost of transportation and handling of paddy. Farmers would also gain through husk, sold at Rs 80 to Rs 100 per quintal, adds Prof Rangi.


Training course in farming
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
Fifty women engaged in farming from Sheron village in Sangrur district are participating in a 10-day stipendiary training course organised by the Regional Save Grain Campaign Office in collaboration with IFFCO here today. This was stated by Dr S.R. Singla, Assistant Regional Director (S and R).


Abolish TACs, say employees
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 19
The National Federation of Telecom Employees (NFTE), considering the Telephone Advisory Committees (TACs) unnecessary burden on Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), today demanded the abolition of all TACs throughout the country. It also demanded the Union Government to take options from officers of the JTO and above ranks for providing them a chance to join the BSNL.

Talking to newsmen here yesterday, Mr Aditiya Narayan, vice-president of the NFTE, Mr R.K. Kohli and Mr Islam Ahmed, both secretaries of the NFTE, said all TACs in the country had a strength of about 4600 members which were a burden to the tune of Rs 18 crore annually on the BSNL. They said as there was no provision of TACs in the BSNL these should be abolished immediately. If the government wanted to retain these TACs then it should bear the burden on its own, they added.

The federation leaders alleged that Indian Telecom Service (ITS) officers, who were about 4500 in number in the country, did not want to lose their hold on the department therefore they were not seeking options from officers of the JTO and above ranks to join the BSNL.

The federation leaders said they would oppose any move of disinvestment in the BSNL by the government.


‘Missing’ singer was killed by wife: cops
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 19
It is an ideal story for a Bollywood movie. A folk singer kills her husband, also a folk singer, with the help of contract killers, throws his body into a canal and then inserts advertisements in newspapers in connection with his disappearance to prevent the detection of the crime.

Charanjit Kaur Channi, a local folk singer who has seven audio cassettes to her credit, after allegedly killing her husband, folk singer Swaran Singh Sitara, with the assistance of professional killers, inserted advertisements in newspapers that her husband was missing since July 2, 2000 and anybody who knew his whereabouts should inform her.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, in a press note issued here today, said that after the appearance of the advertisements, the police started investigations and came to know that Swaran Singh Sitara was not missing but had been murdered.

Further investigations revealed that he had been done to death by his wife along with others to whom she paid Rs 20,000 for the job.

Dr Jain said during investigations it came to light that Charanjit was frequently meeting Satpal Singh alias Satta. Her husband used to object to their meetings.

Dr Jain said Charanjit treated like a sister a woman named Kamaljit Kaur, who used to visit her house along with her husband, Baldev Singh. Swaran also used to object to their visits.

On July 2, 2000, the suspects mixed sedatives in his food. When he became unconscious, they allegedly strangled him to death.

Charanjit allegedly paid Rs 2,000 to her accomplices for hiring a truck to carry the body to the canal. She allegedly paid Rs 8,000 to them after the body was thrown into the canal. The last payment of Rs 10,000 was made a month after the incident.

Dr Jain said three persons, including Charanjit and Kamaljit Kaur, had been arrested in connection with the case.


Teachers of aided colleges to intensify stir
Our Correspondent

Ropar, September 19
As many as 5,000 teachers working in the 150 aided colleges of the state, have decided to intensify their agitation to press for their demands. The teachers, who have been observing a two-hour strike, every day for the past 18 days, have alleged that the government has turned a deaf ear to their protests.

Dr Avtar Singh, general secretary of the Anandpur Sahib unit of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union, said the teachers had been demanding the implementation of the pension and gratuity scheme. The government has already issued a notification in this regard but the scheme has remained unimplemented. Following protests by the teachers on August 22, the Minister for Higher Education Master Mohan Lal, had given assurance to them that the scheme would be implemented soon.

The teachers of the aided colleges under Guru Nanak Dev University would organise a rally at DAV College, Amritsar on September 28. On October 5, the teachers of colleges under Panjab University would hold a rally at Ferozepore, whereas colleges under Punjabi University, Patiala would block traffic at Modi College, Patiala, on October 12, Mr Avtar Singh said.

The teachers would also hold protest in the constituencies of the Finance Minister and the Chief Minister on October 19 and November 7, respectively, Mr Avtar Singh added.


Strike by non-teaching staff
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 19
Non-teaching employees of private colleges who are agitating to press for the fulfilment of their demands observed a strike today.

Mr Mohinder Pal, president and Mr B.K. Sharma, Secretary of the DAV College unit of the union in a press note issued here today, said the activists were agitating for the past about two months. They were observing a three-hour strike daily and a full-day strike on every Wednesday.

Their demands include payment of arrears after revision of grades w.e.f. January 1, 1996, in one instalment, 75 per cent of which was to be invested in small savings, release of house rent allowance and implementation of pension and gratuity schemes.

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