Monday, November 5, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SAD to oppose POTO if Press freedom hit
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 4
Breaking silence over the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO), the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), today declared that it would study all provisions of POTO, particularly freedom of the Press, before taking the final decision.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal said here today that though he was yet to study the provisions of POTO, yet his party would oppose any provision which would be contrary to the freedom of the Press.

Mr Badal, who was a strong critic of TADA, broke silence over the party’s stand to support this anti-terrorism Bill in Parliament and said, “We stand for the freedom of the Press and if any legislation curbs it we will firmly oppose those provisions. Besides, we will also keep in mind the national interests and other fall-outs of the ordinance before taking a final decision on POTO.”

It may be mentioned here that POTO has the provision to book any person, for concealing information about terrorism and terrorist activities, which has led to resentment among journalists.

The statement of Mr Badal opposing any move to curtail the freedom of the Press may force the BJP-led government to rethink about its provisions to get its safe passage in Parliament.

The Union Home Minister, Mr Lal Krishan Advani, on the other hand had been asserting that anyone who opposed POTO would be appeasing the terrorists.

Regarding decentralisation of powers, Mr Badal once again advocated the need of federal structure in the country and said states should be given more financial powers as too much dependence on the Central Government led to delay in completion of development projects. “We have to beg before the Central Government for financial assistance to complete development projects. The Centre should release funds to the states to carry out Centre-funded projects instead of instalments,” he demanded.

When asked whether there was any move to replace the present SGPC chief, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, in the forthcoming election to be held on November 27, Mr Badal said, “I am not a dictator who can announce the party candidate unilaterally. There is a set procedure to select party candidate and the political affairs committee will decide upon the candidate, which is scheduled to meet three days before the election.”

On the reported unity moves with former SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra, the Chief Minister tried to avoid a direct reply and said there would be a direct fight between the Congress and SAD in the next elections, and anyone who would oppose the Congress was welcome to join the SAD-BJP alliance.

Attacking the Congress regarding allegations of amassing properties in foreign countries by him, the Chief Minister said these were baseless allegations and SAD did not have any representative by the name of Mr Kulbir Singh Prempuri in the USA. “The party had already issued a legal notice to Mr Prempuri,” he added.


Congress to oppose POTO: Amarinder
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 4
The PPCC chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, today expressed apprehensions about the new ordinance issued by the government for the prevention of terrorist activities.

Addressing mediapersons here today Mr Amarinder Singh said it was a “draconian” measure which would curtail the rights of people and the press freedom. He said the Congress would strongly oppose the POTO notification, both inside and outside Parliament.

Turning tables on Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the PPCC chief pointed out that the SAD had always opposed TADA during the height of militancy in Punjab. They were now silent on POTO.

Lashing out at the draft agriculture policy presented at the just-concluded two-day national executive meeting of the BJP here, the Congress chief pointed out that the new draft proposed to lower the minimum support price and dismantle the procurement system. The farming community, especially in Punjab, would be hit hard.

Answering questions on pre-poll pacts for the ensuing Punjab Assembly elections, he said the party would have all “secular” parties as its partners and hinted at the CPI and the CPM joining the Congress to trounce the SAD-BJP combine in Punjab.

The general secretary of the AICC, Mr Moti Lal Vora, said in UP, the Congress graph was on the rise due to the “parivartan” rallies organised in more than 900 blocks of the state during the past two months. He said the people of the state were fed up with the politics of caste and religion being pursued by the BJP.


Apex body for Sikhs sought
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 4
The Institute of Sikh Studies’ seminar today unanimously voted for setting up an apex body to meet new challenges and tide over the critical times through which the Khalsa Panth is passing.

The two-day seminar on ‘’Institutional failure in Punjab with respect to Sikhism and missing Sikh prisoners’’ that concluded at Gurdwara Kanthala, also demanded that the Central and state governments should conduct a census to determine the number of persons who had been killed or had disappeared in Punjab between 1982 and 1995 in view of conflicting reports.

The two resolutions, moved by Dr Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon, were adopted, but were not without some emotive outbursts among participants. The ambience of the seminar invited some sharp comments from Justice Jaspal Singh, who presided over the concluding session.

He wondered why the scope of the seminar was limited only to institutions in Punjab, reminding the organisers and participants that whatever was said and done in Punjab had its fallout all over the world affecting the Sikhs. He was visibly upset over the lack of ‘’self-discipline and sense of time’’ among the speakers.

He said he was “disillusioned” to find the Sikh youth not bothering about the numerous problems that beset Sikhism. How else could one explain the absence of that segment of the Sikhs at the seminar? The reality was that the Sikhs themselves were to be blamed for the ‘’problems’’ they faced. ‘’It is we who have degenerated. We have to think of tomorrow’s problems that will rise, say once the issue of the voting right to the ‘Sehajdhari Sikhs’ is settled by the court’’.

The proposal on the apex body had come from Dr Kharak Singh, a well- known Sikh scholar. The idea was not to negate the existing Sikh institutions set up by the Sikhs. Initially, these had played a significant role but subsequently had failed to evolve to the extent required to meet the new challenges. These institutions, at present, are marked by the lack or inadequacy of performance. The crises faced by the Sikh Panth are varied and multi-dimensional: lack of unity, challenges to the Sikh identity, hurt Sikh psyche, mushrooming of deras, difficulties faced by the Sikh diaspora and backward tribes like ‘’Vanjaras, Sikligars’’, etc.

An appeal was made to the SGPC to convene a meeting of all recognised Sikh institutions, Sikh diaspora to draw up a concrete plan to set up the proposed apex body. There were voices against involving the SGPC which was charged with several ‘’failures’’ and dubbed highly politicised. Those who defended the continuation of the SGPC and reiterated that the apex body was not an ‘’alternative’’ to it as perceived by some, said the leadership had failed the institutions.

‘’The apex body is to be on the lines envisaged by Guru Gobind Singh at the time of conferring eternal Guruship on Guru Granth Sahib and entrusting the Panth with empirical responsibilities under the doctrine of Guru Granth-Guru Panth’’.

The seminar was apprised of the situation related to ‘’missing’’ Sikhs by Mr Inderjit Singh Jaijee, convener, Movement Against State Repression. His well-documented thesis was listened to with rapt attention. Based on his paper, the resolution demanded that the governments should release the names, addresses, dates of arrest, places of release, wherever applicable, of all persons held legally or illegally detained during the 1982-1995 period for so-called Sikh militancy-related offences in Punjab and other states. The figures available, as per official and unofficial sources, varied between 18,000 and over two lakh. ‘’Only a meticulously conducted census organised by the government with the participation of all political parties and human rights groups will establish the true figures’’.

One observer said most participants did not take a ‘’dispassionate’’ view of issues and showed lack of perspective. It is the scientific temper, not emotions, that should matter at such seminars.


Drivers face humiliation at hands of pvt octroi staff
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 4
Truckers and vehicle owners are at the receiving end at the hands of groups of musclemen of private octroi contractors and employees of different civic bodies of the state who employ various methods for collection of octroi at octroi posts throughout the state.

What is more disturbing for truckers and vehicle drivers and instills a sense of insecurity among them is the increasing use of muslepower by employees of private contractors and the alleged high-handedness by officials in those cities where collection of octroi is being controlled by civic bodies.

So much so, that sometimes, civic body officials or walkie-talkie yielding muslemen of private contractors are seen in Gypsys. They conceal their identity and stop vehicles for a search by posing as officials of the Sales Tax or Excise and Taxation Departments.

Mushrooming of such hi-tech groups of muslemen of private contractors and even officials is particularly noticeable at entry points of all townships of Punjab where octroi collection is in private hands and in corporation cities of Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Amritsar and Patiala.

As the vehicle owners enter Jalandhar city from the Phagwara side and from the PAP Chowk, they are surrounded by dozens of muslemen, carrying “lathis” and even ‘lethal’ weapons like iron rods. The first thing they do in the name of octroi collection is to order the truckers and vehicle drivers to alight from their vehicles and “volunteer” for search of their vehicles.

In case, any owner is hesitant to do so, the result can be humiliation in the shape of a slaps.

“They behave like goondas and don’t see any logic. If they think that you are following their dictats, they might pull you down to check papers pertaining to octroi or transit passes. This has been happening with me for about a month,” said Chain Singh, a Ludhiana-based truck driver, waiting in a queue to be questioned by “employees” of a private contractor, at the local PAP chowk, here. Similarly, a number of truck drivers at Rama Mandi alleged that they had been subjected to humiliation more than once by muslemen of private contractors. At Phagwara, this correspondent witnessed a number of young men with walkie-talkie sets at traffic lights, peeping into even private vehicles, causing embarrassment to commuters.

On questioning they revealed that they belonged to the octroi collection staff. Sometimes drivers are left stunned when suddenly their vehicles are made to stop by speeding Gypsys chasing them. “The other day I had just entered Ludhiana, when I saw a Gypsy chasing me and people in it signalling me to stop. When I stopped and asked who they were, they cornered my vehicle as if I was a criminal and ordered me to open the boot. As I got suspicious and asked for their identity cards, they admitted that they were from the octroi collection wing of the municipal corporation,” said Mr Mukand Lal, a local resident. 


Fire renders 135 families homeless
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, November 4
As many as 135 families of labour class were rendered homeless, when a fire broke out in the slum area of the local Mohalla Sunder Nagar on the Phagwara Road, at about 4 am this morning. The fire was reportedly started from the chullah of a Paswan. The fire tenders managed to reach the spot through narrow and digged lanes and controlled the fire. Their action saved more than 600 jhuggies. However, no loss of life was reported.

Mr Surinder Sham Arora, Chairman Arora Charities said they would arrange ‘langar’ for the victims till their rehabilitation.

Mr Ashwani Sharma urged the district administration to provide tarpaulin sheets and blankets to the victims. Mr Sukhwinderpal Singh, SDM, said the total loss was estimated to be about Rs 61 lakh.


Rs 40-cr housing scheme for Dalits
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 4
Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal today announced a special grant of Rs 40 crore for a housing scheme exclusively for Dalits. Under this scheme, plots will be provided to all those Dalits who do not have their own houses. Besides, each family will be provided with an instant cash assistance of Rs 40,000. Out of this, only Rs 20,000 will have to be returned through easy installments.

The Chief Minister made this announcement at a rally organised in connection with the inauguration of the Balmiki bhavan. Mr Badal said he had got this grant from the Central Government for providing houses to all homeless Dalits. He reiterated the resolve of his party to uplift Dalits in the state. He also blamed the Congress for exploiting this section of society without providing any material benefit to them.

The Chief Minister also announced that he had directed the Vice-Chancellors of all four universities to ensure that no meritorious student belonging to the economically-weaker sections, suffered for want of funds. He said these directions were conveyed at a meeting held in Chandigarh recently. He said meritorious students would be exempted from academic fee, hostel accommodation fee and other expenses.

Mr Badal claimed that if returned to power, he would ensure the eradication of poverty from the state. He admitted that although he had got five years to rule, this time period was too short for any major reforms as the Congress which had ruled for over four decades had created such a mess that it will need more time to be cleared”.

The speaker of the Punjab Assembly, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, Deputy Speaker Satpal Gosain and other senior leaders of the Akali Dal and the BJP said, Balmiki bhavans would be constructed in each district. Earlier, while talking to reporters Mr Badal said the candidates for the SGPC elections scheduled to be held on November 27 would be chosen by the political affairs committee of the party. 


Drive against ‘dera system’ launched
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, November 4
Taking cognisance of the heightened public sensitivity towards acts of sacrilege activists of Dal Khalsa along with the support of other Sikh religious groups, which included Nirvair Seva Society, Sukhmani Seva Society, Sikh Students Federation, Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee and Singh Sabha etc, today launched a drive against the “dera system” at a convention held here at Gurdwara Singh Sabha.

A five-member committee comprising Mr Jarnail Singh, Mr Hari Singh, Mr Prabhjot Singh, Mr Jaswinder Singh and Mr Shinder Pal Singh (all Dal Khalsa members) was constituted.

Mr Kanwar Pal Singh, leader, Dal Khalsa, Punjab, while addressing the convention appealed to the Sikh sangat to oppose those running deras and practising ideals against the tenets of Sikhism. He criticised different Akali factions for politicising the Bhaniara episode.

Significantly, speakers also criticised the Centre for not tabling a resolution in Parliament condemning senseless killing of Sikhs during the 1984 riots.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, former acting president, SGPC, blamed Mr Parkash Singh Badal for making the SGPC an “extension counter” of SAD.


Pak visas of rly staff expire
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 4
Even as the visas of Indian Railway crew men expired today, the inter-change of the goods train between Attari (India) and Wagha (Pakistan) may not take place in the coming days.

Mr Shashi Kant Madan, Station Master, Attari, confirmed that the visas of nearly 10 employees of the Railway who are engaged in inter-change of the goods train between India and Pakistan, could not cross the border till their visas were extended. He, however, could not explain why the Pakistan High Commission could not process their case while the visas stood expired today Mr Madan said that it would not affect the Samjhauta Express which would continue to ply between the two countries.

Earlier, ‘The News’ and ‘Jang’, daily papers of Pakistan, had carried a story accusing the Indian High Commissioner of denying visas to the staff of the Samjhauta Express. The Pakistan dailies with Islamabad dateline had stated, “The Indian authorities on Sunday denied issuance of further visas to the Samjhauta Express staff — thus causing an imminent halt to the train service. However, Mr Shashi Madan denied the allegation of Pakistan.

It is clear that the import and export business between the two countries would be adversely affected if corrective measures were not taken immediately.


Pak rangers open fire near Dhusi bandh
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, November 4
Uneasy calm prevailed in border village around Kamaalpur in this district due to unprovoked intermittent firing from across the border yesterday by Pakistan Rangers on those engaged in the construction of Dhusi bandh, stretching 5 km from Kamaalpur to Aadian. At about 11 am on Friday the Rangers started firing and work on the bandh had to be suspended.

Sources on the border said Mr Malhan, Commanding Officer of the BSF battalion here, visited the site at 3 pm and got the work resumed.

Yesterday again, unprovoked firing started at 5 pm and continued till 6 pm. This time the BSF returned the fire.

However, no loss of life or property was reported. BSF sources could not be contacted.


Sehajdhari Akali Dal formed
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 4
A new political party, the Sehajdhari Akali Dal was floated in wake of the forthcoming Assembly and SGPC elections.

An announcement in this regard was made at Akal Takht after the performance of “ardas”. However, Mr Darshan Singh Isapur, senior leader of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, described the move of floating a new party as “sarkari show”. He said Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal wanted to create confusion among the Sikh at the time of the elections. Earlier, activists of the Sehajdhari Sikh Federation, before floating the party, said a decision to this effect was taken to watch the interests of Sehajdharis.

It may be mentioned here that a petition regarding the voting rights to Sehajdharis has been fixed for hearing on November 6 by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.


Cong activist decides to contest poll
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 4
Mr Arvind Khanna, Chairman of the Umeed Khanna Foundation, and the PPCC Treasurer, will contest from the Sangrur Assembly constituency. This was stated by Mr G.S. Dhaliwal, public relations officer of the foundation, in a press note issued here today.

He started his campaign from the Bhawanigarh area. He addressed gatherings at Bhawanigarh, Gharanchon, Batriana, Kakra and Panwan villages.

However, it is not clear whether he will contest on the Congress ticket or as an Independent. Besides Mr Khanna, there are two other strong claimants of the Congress ticket — Mr Jasbir Singh, a former Punjab minister, and Mr Surinder Pal Singh Sibia, PPCC secretary.


Nabha BJP rift comes to fore
Our Correspondent

Nabha, November 4
The rift within the local unit of the BJP came to light yesterday, when two trustees of the Improvement Trust, Nabha, Mr Bhushan Lal Bansal and Mr Adarsh Bansal, both belonging to the RSS, at a press conference held here, levelled allegations against the Chairman, Mr Madan lal Dudeja, accusing him of infringing trust rules. They also presented documents showing irregularities in passing the estimates of the trust.

They alleged that the Chairman had misused his position and passed the estimates of lakhs of rupees without completing the quorum of the trust. They said the government nomination had never been completed in the trust and no trustee to represent the Scheduled Castes taken, which was mandatory according to the Section 4(2) of the Punjab Town Improvement Act, 1922.

They said the terms of two trustees, Mr Anil Rana and of Mr Mulkh Raj, had ended on January 21, 2001, but both had participated in the meeting held on January 25, 2001.

When contacted, the Chairman, Mr Dudeja, admitted Mr Rana and Mr Raj, had attended the meeting despite completion of their terms as he had got no intimation regarding this from the government. So they both attended the meeting in order to complete the quorum of the trust.

He said Mr Bhushan Lal Bansal and Mr Adarsh Bansal were not attending the meetings of the trust so he was planning to remove them.


PM committed a blunder: morcha
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, November 4
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has committed a blunder by not paying obeisance at Golden Temple during his two-day visit to Amritsar which concluded yesterday. Nor did he tender an apology for Operation Bluestar for healing the hurt Sikh psyche. Hence, the Akali Dal should recall its ministers from the Union Cabinet and sever links with the BJP in protest, demand Panthic Morcha leaders Bhai Dhyan Singh Mand and Jaskaran Singh. They are also vice-president and general secretary of the Akali Dal (Amritsar), respectively.


Family loses daughter on Karva Chauth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 4
Karva Chauth celebrations for a local family turned into tragedy when their only daughter married in Faridkot became a dowry victim.

Mridu, (27), daughter of Mr Dharamvir Duggal, a property dealer living in Deep Nagar Colony, was found dead in mysterious circumstances at her in-laws house last week.

The woman’s father was informed over the phone by the in-law but when he reached there they had vanished”. He took the body for a post-mortem examination, the report of which is awaited.

Mr Duggal today said that the Faridkot police had yet to arrest the culprits against whom a case had been registered at a police station in Faridkot.

He said his daughter had informed him over the phone that she could only visit their house on Karva Chauth if her in-laws were given Rs 1 lakh and a new car.

He said he had lost his son two years ago and his world had been shattered with the death of his daughter.

He said his mother suffered a stroke after knowing of the incident and was battling for life in a city hospital.


City comes alive on Karva Chauth
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 4
Market places in the city which normally wear a dull look on Sunday were colourful today as women gathered there in large numbers in connection with the celebrations of Karva Chauth.

Shopkeepers had displayed various items like bangles, sarees, suits, sweets and other eatables to attract the attention of the women.

The city gave the impression of a large mela.

Girls who had kept the fast for the first time seemed more enthusiastic than the older women.

Karva Chauth fever had gripped the city for the past several days. The women were seen applying mehndi and buying sarees, bangles and other items associated with Karva Chauth.

A 10 year old girl said the only thing that excited her were new dresses that she got from her father on this day.


Men, too, observe Karva Chauth fast
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, November 4
Some men too have begun fasting on Karva Chauth.

Newly-married Sanjiv Kumar fasted today since his bride Parveen had kept a fast for him.

Gurpreet, a class X student, today observed the Karva Chauth fast for the third consecutive year. When asked for whom? He quipped, “No one in particular.”

Devraj fasted for his beloved whom he plans to marry soon. His cousin Deepa also observed a fast for his would-be bride.

Men have started observing Karva Chauth with their wives, girl friends and mothers. While for some it is just a way to give company to their beloved, for others, it is just a fad.

Ten-year-old Simran fasted because his mother was observing Karva Chauth. A father-son duo also kept fast to give company to their respective wives.


NGOs asked to form corruption indices
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, November 4
In order to check corruption, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), has requested the NGOs to join corruption perception indices of various government departments.

The CVC would provide data regarding corruption to the NGOs and they, under the aegis of Transparency International, a German NGO, would rate various government departments on the scale of corruption.

The first rating of various government departments is likely to be published within six months. Mr K.L. Ahuja, officer on special duty to the CVC, Mr N. Vittal, gave this information while talking to this correspondent. He was at the NFL Nangal plant to supervise activities being organised on the eve of the vigilance awareness week.

Mr Ahuja said despite reformatory steps by the CVC to control corruption in government departments, very little had been achieved. In 924 cases where the CVC had recommended departmental action against corrupt officials, nothing had been done.

Besides, 6,900 cases against the allegedly corrupt officials had been lingering in courts for more than 10 years. The states were also reluctant to take action against accused bureaucrats.

Despite these bottlenecks, the CVC planned to take its drive against corruption a step further. It was now planning to involve youth in the drive against corruption. It had been proposed that groups of youth under the guidance of retired government officers would be asked to keep vigilance on a voluntary basis around “sensitive” government departments. A proposal in this regard had been sent to the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs by the CVC and had evoked a positive response. The said ministry had offered the services of the NSS or NCC cadets for the same.

The CVC had also written to the CBSE to include chapters on ethics in their curricula. It had written to the Chief Justices of various High Courts to expedite proceedings in cases against corrupt officials.


All set for ‘dhadi darbar’ on Nov 11
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 4
Mr Natha Singh Dalam, Public Relations Minister, Punjab, today presided over a high-level meeting here where arrangements were chalked out to organise a “dhadi darbar” on November 11 at Badrukhan village, near here, in connection with the bicentenary celebrations of the coronation ceremony of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

The meeting was attended, among others, by Mr Ranjit Singh Balian, Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Director, Public Relations, and Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur.

Mr Dalam, along with Mr Balian and other officers, visited the site of the “dhadi darbar” at Badrukhan village. Later, talking to mediapersons at the PWD Rest House here, he said the “darbar” was being organised by the state government in collaboration with the Punjabi University, Patiala. He said Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, would preside over the same. He said the dhadi jathas who would be adjudged first, second and third would be honoured with cash prizes of Rs 1 lakh, Rs 50,000 and Rs 25,000, respectively.

Mr Dalam said on November 10, a light and sound programme based on the life and regime of Maharaja Ranjit Singh would be presented at Badrukhan village in the evening.

Regarding the controversy over the birthplace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, whether it was Badrukhan or Gujranwala in Pakistan, Mr Dalam said “no comment”. He added that most historians were of the view that it was Gujranwala. He said “Badrukhan has great importance for us as it is the village of the Maharaja’s mother.

He said the controversy on the coronation ceremony of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was baseless because he was declared “Sher-e-Punjab” on Baisakhi after applying a “tilak” on his forehead by Baba Sahib Singh Bedi in 1801.

Mr Dalam said a rally to mark the coronation would be organised on November 18 at Amritsar which would be attended by Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, Prime Minister.


Sonia visits dera of Radhasoamis
Our Correspondent

Beas, November 4
Congress President Sonia Gandhi inaugurate the free eye camp at the Radhasoami dera here today.

Amidst tight security, Mrs Gandhi, along with party general secretary Moti Lal Vora and PPCC chief Amarinder Singh arrived at the dera this morning.

Briefing newsmen after the departure of Mrs Gandhi, the PPCC chief said the head of the dera, Baba Gurinder Singh, had personally invited the Congress President a few months ago. He informed that more than 25,000 persons had come to get their eyes examined at the camp.

Mrs Gandhi took a keen interest in the working of the dera. She left for Delhi in the afternoon.

The Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Dr Farooq Abdullah, and the Governor of Haryana, Babu Parmanand, are also due to visit the dera tomorrow.


Gidderbaha gets major facelift
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Gidderbaha, November 4
Even as the next Assembly elections are approaching near, this hometown of Punjab Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal is getting a facelift.

Though Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, MLA, who represents this Assembly segment, has been taking a keen interest in the development of this town and making efforts to bring maximum funds for the same, some of his friends turned foes are trying to create obstacles in the same.

Official sources said the Punjab Government had sanctioned Rs 46 lakh for making two traffic islands at the main entry points of city from the Bathinda-Malout road.

The sources said a railway underbridge would also be constructed shortly and the foundation stone for the same laid by Union Minister of Railway Digvijay Singh on November 29. Underground pipes were being laid down to ensure adequate supply of drinking water to residents.

Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, MLA, talking to mediapersons here today, said a municipal park was being set up in the vicinity of the city, apart from this, tenders for premix carpeting of criss-crossings would be floated within two weeks.

He pointed out that during ‘sangat darshan’, Mr Badal had given Rs 1.17 crore for various projects to develop the town and Rs 75 lakh out of this sum had been spent on development schemes. He said after some of his opponents got a stay over the use of funds for development, he managed to get Rs 50 lakh from the Chief Minister as special grant so that all the development works could be completed.

He pointed out at present 21 development projects were in the town and within a month or so the city would get a new face. Residents would be provided with basic amenities.

Gidderbaha town came into prominence in 1995 when during the chief ministership of the late Beant Singh, Mr Manpreet Singh Badal successfully contested the byelection against the Congress candidate, Mr Deepak Garg.

Mr Beant Singh, who camped about a month in this area and campaigned for the party candidate promised the residents that it would be made a model town. He also announced that it would be made a subdivision.


Gurdial Singh: give Punjabi its due
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 4
The Act passed 35 years ago providing Punjabi as the official language of Punjab should be implemented otherwise the future of Punjabi would not be bright. Prof. Gurdial Singh, Jnanpith award winner and noted Punjabi novelist stated this here yesterday at a one-day seminar on “Present status of Punjabi language and its future” organised as part of “Punjabi Week celebrations” at Guru Nanak Dev University.

Dr Joginder Singh Puar, a former Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala, inaugurated the seminar. Mr Amrik Singh Pooni, a former Chief Secretary of Punjab, presided over. Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor was also present.

Prof. Gurdial Singh said, “We, especially the intellectuals, prefer English to our mother-tongue, but countries like France, German and Japan have made development in all fields giving due regard to their own languages. For progress we have to shun dependence on English and take concrete steps for the development of Punjabi”.

Dr Puar stressed on the production of basic study material to meet present requirements of the Punjabi language. He said training in information technology should be imparted in regional languages of India, for the total development of the country.


Our N-reactors safe, say scientists
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 4
India’s reactors are safe from the radiation point of view. The scientists participating in the three-day national symposium on radiation physics, agreed here yesterday. This 14th national symposium was organised by the department of Physics, Guru Nanak Dev University, in collaboration with the Indian Society for Radiation Physics. Physicists: Dr Sunil Sabharwal; Dr P.K. Sarkar and Dr R.V. Srikantiah presented papers. Dr Sunil Sabharwal, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, described in detail the various applications of nuclear radiation in industry.

More than 200 delegates from the country attended the meet . Earlier, Dr A.R. Reddy, president, Indian Society for Radiation Physics, thanked the Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh, and coordinator, Dr Kulwant Singh Thind for cooperation.


Health workers raise demands
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 4
Mr Prem Kumar, co-ordinator of the Punjab State Health Employees Action Committee, in a press note issued here today said that the state government was not serious about the welfare of health workers.

Committee members demanded that the GPF accounts of the employees should be with the office of the DDO, seniority lists should be released as per the 1945 rules for all categories, field travel allowances should be continued, budgetary allocation for the planned schemes should be released on time, transfer rules should be framed and contract system should be done away with.


Forum: parking lots inadequate
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 4
Mr D.L. Jindal, president, Vigilant Citizens Forum (VCF), in a press note issued here yesterday, said parking lots in the city were inadequate and most of these had been reduced in the area due to encroachments.

He said the VCF had met the president and the executive officer of the Municipal Council to draw their attention towards the problem. He alleged that most of the parking places had been “converted into taxi stands”. Steps should be taken to remove these encroachments and more parking lots be created keeping in view of the increasing traffic and population of the city.

Mr Jindal said the other problem which demanded urgent attention was the upkeep of the public toilets. 


Ahmadiyas’ convention from November 8

Batala, November 4
The International Ahmadiya Muslim Community will organise its 110th annual convention from November 8 to 10 at Qadian in Gurdaspur district, Mr Saadat Ahmad Jawed, press secretary of the community, said here yesterday.

“Ahmadiya Muslim delegates from all over the world are reaching here to take part in it. The volunteers of as many as 35 departments have started work three days ago”, he told reporters here.

Qadian is the centre of worldwide Muslim Ahmadiya community and is the birth place of its founder, Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. PTI


Chambers issue: lawyers to meet on Nov 9
Our Correspondent

Mansa, November 4
A state-level conference of the Punjab Lawyers Association held here yesterday decided to convene a meeting of the executive committee of the association in Chandigarh on November 9 to chalk out its further line of action in consultation with the Bar Council and the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The conference was presided over by Mr Balraj Singh Sohi, convener of the association. Advocates from all over Punjab and Chandigarh participated.

The main agenda was non-provision of lawyers chambers in the new judicial complexes being constructed in the state. The Punjab and Haryana High Court had earlier issued directions to the state government to construct lawyers chambers along with new judicial complexes.


11 girls married off
Our Correspondent

Barnala, November 4
The Jai Durga Langar (community meal) Committee, Barnala, solemnised the mass marriages of 11 poor girls from eight villages of the district at the Aggarwal dharamshala yesterday.

Mr Amarjit Kaleke, chief president of the committee, said those married include Paramjit Kaur, Munti and Sandeep Kaur of Asoal Kalan village, Karamjit Kaur of Kaalele village, Salima Khan of Uppli, Ranjit Kaur of Waalian, Sukhwinder Kaur of Khiali, Birpal Kaur of Wazidke Kalan, Manjit Kaur of Barnala, Jitpal Kaur Amla Singhwala and Birpal Kaur of Sukhpura Maur village. Mr Kaleke said the committee had spent nearly Rs 28,000 on each girl.

Besides hosting a meal the girls were given items like the double bed, TV set, two chairs and a table, sewing machine, a bicycle, dinner set, trunk, fans, wrist watches, beddings and 11 suits etc.

Mr Malkiat Singh Keetu, MLA, Barnala, Mata Bimal Devi, Ubbe Wali Mata, Prem Chand Aggarwal, chairman, Punjab Beopar Mandal, Mr Rupinder Singh Sandhu, chairman, Improvement Trust, Barnala, and Ms Surinder Kumar Sindi, president of the committee, Barnala blessed the newly weds.


Cadet cremated with honours
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, November 4
The mortal remains of Cadet Rajesh Lalotra, Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun who died on the last day of his training in an explosion accident, were consigned to the flames at his native Dalla Balim, village in Dinanagar yesterday with state honours. Rajesh is survived by his father Dyal Singh, mother Sulochana Devi, brother Daljit Singh and sister Manju Manhans.

Mr Ram Lal MLA, Narote, Capt N.L. Yadav, Capt I.K. Parsad and Army jawans of the Dogra Regiment laid wreaths and paid tributes to the departed soul.


Minister: use less fertilisers
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 4
A grant of Rs 200 crore has been earmarked by the state government to enable the farming community to modernise methods to enhance the output of agricultural products.

This was stated by Raja Narinder Singh, Public Health Minister, while addressing a gathering at an Escorts mela that concluded at Government Ripudaman College grounds at Nabha, near here, today. He said the present government had done more for the farming community than the Congress governments in the past 50 years.

Raja Narinder Singh sounded a warning to farmers, saying that excess use of fertilisers should be done away with lest the land slowly turned barren.

Raja Narinder Singh urged the farmers to learn various methods of modern farming by attending such melas. In this regard, he praised the efforts of the Mehram group of publications and said the group was working towards the betterment of the farming community in the state by organising such functions.

The mela was inaugurated by Mr Zora Singh Thind, SDM, Nabha. Mr B.S Bir, Chief Editor, Mehram group of publications, said 35 companies and banks had set up their stalls at the mela.


Youth shot dead

Moga, November 4
Six armed assailants shot dead a youth in Charik village in this district and injured at least four others.

The brother of the youth was suspected of having relations with the daughter of one of the assailants, the police said here today.

The assailants entered the house of Jasgir Singh (24) yesterday when he was alone. In the ensuing scuffle, one of the assailants fired shots, killing the youth and injuring family members. The police has launched a search to nab the suspects. PTI


CM lays stone for medical institute
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 4
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today laid the foundation stone of the prestigious Rs 300 crore Punjab Institute of Medical Sciences here today.

The institute will have a medical college, and 1000-bed hospital. In the first phase, the government has planned to construct the building of the medical college to start its first batch of 100 students along with a 500-bed hospital at a cost of Rs 156 crore.

Later, addressing the gathering at a function Punjab Medical Education and Research Minister Manoranjan Kalia stated that the department had given the contract for the construction of the building to a multinational company to get the work completed within the prescribed time limit.

“The institute will be set up on 83,000 sq m. The ultra modern medical college-cum-hospital will have latest diagnostic and treatment facilities, including medicine, surgery, gynaecology, paediatrics, orthopaedics, ophthalmology, ENT, radiotherapy and radiodiagnosis, cardiology and cardiotheracic surgery, neurology, neurosurgery, gastroentrology, naphrology, transplant surgery oncology and trauma care,” Mr Kalia added. “Besides we will set up residential accommodation for the staff and hostel for students at a cost of Rs 15 crore”, he added.

Mr Badal in his address said that the funds have already been allocated for the project and there would be no paucity of funds at any state of the construction.

He further said though a former Congress Chief Minister had also laid the foundation stone of this institute about seven years ago, but funds were never allocated to start the work on the project. “I always lay the foundation stone of any development work after allocating sufficient funds for it and I assure you that it will be completed by April, 2004”, he added.

The Chief Minister went a step further and invited the representatives of the private company on dais and asked them to publicly declare that the medical college and hospital would be completed in time.

Those who were present on the occasion included the Director Principal of the PIMS, Dr Baljeet Singh, former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur, Rajya Sabha member Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Editor of the Hind Samachar group of newspapers Vijay Chopra, Mr Chunni Lal, a local MLA.


Beopar bhavan planned
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 4
During the festival season no government official will harass traders in the city. This was stated by Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Minister for Science and Technology, while presiding over a meeting of office-bearers of various organisations of traders and the police and the civil administration here yesterday.

Those present at the meeting included Mr R. Venkatratnam, Deputy Commissioner, Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhullar, president, Municipal Council, Mr Madan Lal Kapoor, president, Punjab Beopar Mandal, Mr Jiwan Lal, president, Bathinda Beopar Mandal.

Mr Garg said a beopar bhavan would be constructed here to provide board and lodging facilities to the traders of the Malwa region.

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