Thursday, November 8, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Congress takes serious view of Brar’s remarks
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 7
Concerned over the emerging tussle between the senior party leaders in Punjab over the issues of leadership and ticket distribution, the Congress high command has decided to ask all its senior leaders not to make public statements over sensitive and controversial issues.

Taking serious view of the statements of senior party leader Jagmeet Singh Brar in which he had made reference to the PPCC chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, over issues of tickets and leadership, the party has decided to seek a clarification from Mr Brar.

AICC Treasurer Motilal Vora, who is going to Chandigarh tomorrow to oversee the campaign committee meeting of the party, said today that he would ask Mr Brar about the veracity of his statements. “I will ask him if he had indeed made such remarks,” Mr Vora said.

He indicated that state leaders would be told not to air their views on sensitive issues outside the party fora. Asked about the issues raised in Mr Brar’s statements, Mr Vora said the party had decided not to project anyone as Chief Minister and the decision would be taken by the elected MLAs at an appropriate time. On the issue of ticket distribution, Mr Vora said the issue would be decided by the Central Election Committee of the party in consultation with the state election committee. He said the state election committee would be set up soon.

Mr Vora said even Capt Amarinder Singh had made it clear that tickets would not be given to the kith and kin of senior party leaders. The AICC leader said that apart from merit, loyalty and image of the candidate would also be factors in deciding choice of candidates.

Meanwhile, Capt Amarinder Singh, who came to Delhi today met Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Mr Vora. Sources said he had invited Mrs Gandhi to Punjab and she is likely to address a rally in the state next month.

They said though the Congress had, in principle, agreed for an alliance with the Left parties for the coming Assembly poll, the modalities of seat adjustment were being worked out.

Tomorrow's campaign committee meeting in Chandigarh would decide the party’s schedule for rallies in all the 117 Assembly constituencies of the state. A meeting of the media committee is also slated in the evening.


No ticket for relatives: Amarinder
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 7
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee President, Capt Amarinder Singh’s, statement that party ticket will not be doled out to relatives of senior leaders has spelt doom for his brother Malvinder Singh, who is an aspirant from the Samana Assembly constituency and is also likely to affect the chances of other senior leaders, including his bete noire Jagmeet Brar, who, Congressmen allege, is lobbying for a ticket for his brother.

According to sources, the PPCC President is uncomfortable with his brother standing for elections from the Samana assembly constituency in Patiala district. With Capt Amarinder Singh openly declaring his preference to stand from the Patiala city seat and his wife already a MP from Patiala parliamentary constituency, he might not like his brother to stand for election from the same district.

The sources said this might have been in the mind of the PPCC President when he made the statement against doling out ticket to relatives of senior leaders. The sources said by this move the PPCC President had also stymied the chances of Mr Brar from getting the party ticket from Muktsar for his brother.

The Congressmen said the issue of party ticket for relatives had also figured prominently in a party coordination committee meeting in which Mr Brar had claimed that the PPCC President could not object to other relatives of senior leaders getting party ticket when his own wife was a party MP and his brother was an aspirant for the assembly ticket. By making a statement on the issue the PPCC President wants to close the issue once and for all.

It is not only Mr Brar who will be affected if the party decides not to give ticket to relatives of senior leaders. Many veteran leaders of the state, especially party MPs, are allegedly lobbying for party ticket for their relatives. Prominent among the MPs are Mr Balbir Singh, who wants that his wife Balbir Kaur should be fielded from Jalandhar, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, who is lobbying for the party ticket for his wife from Khanna, Mr R.L. Bhatia who is trying for a relative from Amritsar, Mr Charanjit Singh who wants to secure the Hoshiarpur seat for his wife, Ms Santosh Chaudhary who wants her husband Ram Lubaya to be given the party ticket from Phillaur or Mr Sham Chaurasia and Mr Gurcharan Singh Galib who want to field his son from Jagraon.

Other senior leaders aspiring for the party ticket for their relatives are Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa, who wants to see his brother fighting on the party ticket from Kahnuwan, Mr Mohinder Singh Gill, who wants his son to contest from Banur and Mr Devinder Singh Garcha, who is lobbying for his son from Ludhiana (rural).

The sources said with so many relatives in the fray a blanket ban on the issue was the only way to stop top leaders from lobbying for their kin.

However, they said though the PPCC chief had made a statement on the issue, his brother Malvinder Singh could take up the matter at the highest level of the party where he had contacts. Mr Malvinder Singh had already formally staked his claim to the party ticket from Samana by presenting his credentials to the AICC observer, who was here some time ago. Aspirants for the Samana seat included some of the seniormost leaders of the party, including former MPs Sant Ram Singla and Surinder Singla and party General Secretary Bir Devinder Singh. 


Rift widens in Cong rank and file
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 7
Even as the Assembly elections are round the corner, rift in the Congress rank and file has started widening after PPCC President. Amarinder Singh and Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, MP, have started making oblique attacks on each other.

Supporters of Mr Brar, who came under heavy criticism after he made an “attack” on Capt Amarinder, today came to his rescue and urged AICC President Sonia Gandhi to stop supporters of Capt Amarinder from making statements against Mr Brar.

Mr Anish Sidana, former senior vice-president of the Punjab Youth Congress and a confidant of Mr Brar, talking to The Tribune said several senior leaders, including Mr Vijay Sathi, Mr Raghubir Singh, Mr Surinderpal Singh Brar, Mr Gurdas Girdhar and Mr Rupinder Singh Brar, had taken exception to the statement made by Mr Partap Singh Bajwa against Mr Brar.

He pointed out that such statements were harmful as the elections were approaching. Mr Brar had always fought for the cause of Punjab and Punjabiyat, he added.

He alleged that Congress workers had come to know that the statement issued by Mr Bajwa against Mr Brar to mediapersons yesterday was drafted in the public relations office in the presence of Capt Amarinder’s confidants and it showed that they were in hard-in-glove with the Government.

He further alleged that some of the so-called Congress leaders who often shifted their loyalty and party, were misleading Capt Amarinder and played a significant role in “sabotaging” the Malout rally on September 11.

Mr Gurnam Singh Sema, PPCC member, said a section of Congressmen would meet Ms Sonia Gandhi on November 15 and urge her to discipline the party rank and file. She would also be requested to give ticket to those candidates who had worked for the organisation and were untainted, he added. The rift has affected the morale of workers who said if the leaders did not stop fighting, the party would suffer at the time of the elections.


SGPC to help Afghan Sikhs
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, November 7
In a significant statement, the SGPC president, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, today said he had no objection to the president of the Sarv Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD), Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, supporting him in the election of the SGPC President to be held on November 27.

Mr Talwandi was here in connection with the inauguration of the academic block of the Mata Sahib Kaur College for Girls today. He said though he did not need any support of Mr Tohra as there was no other candidate in the election, he had no objection to it at the same time.

Talking to select mediapersons, he said the SGPC had decided to bear all expenses of Punjabi families which were migrating to Punjab from Afghanistan after the attacks by the USA started in that country. The SGPC had also decided to look after them and to make arrangements for their food during their stay in Punjab. Also, if any family decided to settle down permanently in Punjab, the SGPC would take up the matter of their rehabilitation with the Punjab Government.

He added that SGPC had urged the authorities concerned to expedite the process of granting of visa to such families which were willing to shift to Punjab from Afghanistan. A letter to US President George W. Bush had also been written, urging him to make proper arrangements for the security of Punjabis.

Regarding unity among various factions of the Akali Dal, Mr Talwandi disclosed that he had made efforts to bring about unity among the SAD, SHSAD and other Akali Dals, but to no avail as Mr Tohra had laid down certain conditions. He said conditional unity was not acceptable to anyone.

He pointed out that the SGPC had decided to set up only technical educational institutes henceforth so that residents of Punjab and other states could be equipped with modern and job-fetching education.

When asked about his reaction over the new law drafted by Central Government to deal with the terrorism, POTO, Mr Talwandi said that he was not supposed to make a comment on it and only the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of the SAD was entitled to give its reaction.


Kabul war hits dry fruit trade
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, November 7
The US-led attack on Afghanistan launched a month back has affected the dry fruit market here, which was to some extent dependent on the fruit imported from Afghanistan.

Dry fruit traders are incurring losses as the prices of some fruits have increased after the US attacks. They had pinned high hopes on the festival of lights.

The fruit imported from Afghanistan include apricot, pistachio and fig, almond and raisin.


Power not misused by Badal in ‘sangat darshan’: HC
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 7
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has not found any ground to “invalidate’’ the ‘’sangat darshan’’ programme of the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. It has also held that the petitioners have failed to bring home the charge of ‘’misuse of power’’ by Mr Badal while distributing public money for political gains at the time of the forthcoming Assembly elections.

Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice M.M. Kumar, while delivering the verdict on two public interest litigations (PILs), filed by the President of the All-India Human Rights Watch, Col. N S Pandher, and two city lawyers, Mr Karam Chand and Mr A.P.S. Shergill, ruled: ‘’The arguments of the counsel for the petitioners may sound attractive in the backdrop of the hype created by the media but, it is not possible for the court to accept the same and grant a declaration that the disbursement of amounts from Rural Development Fund is ultra vires of the provisions of the relevant Act’’.

The judges also ruled that “the present Chief Minister may have made use of delegation of powers made in favour of the Chairman of Punjab Rural Development Board in a big way by distributing grants to various local bodies/authorities but on that account alone we can not invalidate his actions by declaring the same to be tainted by malafides because the petitioners have not produced any tangible evidence to prima facie prove that the amounts are being distributed by the Chief Minister or any other functionary of the government for purposes other than those enumerated in the relevant Act.’’

The judges held that ‘’the allegations that the Chief Minister has used the programme of ‘’sangat darshan’’ for attaining political goal is vague and cryptic to call for a detailed investigation. The petitioners have tried to link the distribution of grants during the ‘’sangat darshan’’ programme with the forthcoming elections to the legislative Assembly but keeping in view the fact that no evidence has been produced by them to show that the grants made out of the Rural Development Fund are intended to be used for unauthorised purposes, we can not draw dubious inferences’’.

In the detailed order, the judges observed that ‘’in a civil writ petition the petitioners have filed an application giving particulars of the cheques issued to sarpanches of seven panchayats and many other cheques issued to primary schools, ‘dharmshalas’ and ‘kabristans’ for the construction of additional rooms and repairs of existing structures but no evidence has been produced to show that money was given to any particular institution or individual on the ground of political affiliation’’.


ASI arrested for beating youth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 7
Admitting that a youth belonging to Ludhiana who was allegedly brutally beaten up by the Haadon police, the Khanna police late this evening arrested ASI Sukhminder Pal Singh, In charge of the police force concerned, and booked him on the charges of torturing the youth and negligence of duty. The SSP Khanna, Mr R.N. Dhokey, told the Tribune that an inquiry conducted by the DSP, Mr Sushil Kumar, had held the ASI guilty of torturing the youth, Mr Randhir Singh.

However, the SSP said, the victim was not of a good character as number of cases were already registered against him. The SSP said though the youth was an anti-social element, treating him like this was unwarranted.

Sources informed that the victim was in a serious condition in a hospital. The parents of the youth alleged that the police had threatened them with the registration of false case against them if they raised their voice against the police personnel allegedly involved in the case.

It may be recalled that The Tribune had already highlighted the case on November 5. Taking cognizance of the complaint filed by the Lawyer for Human Rights International( LHRI), the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) on November 6 had directed the Principal Secretary (Home) of the Punjab Government to conduct a detailed investigation and summit his report before January 2, 2002.

The PSHRC had also directed the District Magistrate, Ludhiana, to provide free medical aid to the victim from Red Cross fund and further directed him to constitute a board of doctors to conduct medico-legal examination of the victim. 


Trying to read people’s minds
Surinder Bhardwaj
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 7
Keeping in view the approaching elections of the State Assembly, different survey agencies have started analysing not only the minds of the voters but also the trends likely to emerge during the elections.

Inspired by their success in the previous elections, ‘Plus Surveys’ of Delhi, headed by renowned political analyst, Dr Bhasker Rao, has initiated a special election survey in Punjab, where at present the political scenario seems to be unpredictable. This survey would be telecast on various TV channels followed by comprehensive discussion on the survey reports by political leaders and analysts. The survey agency has deputed 10 teams, consisting of five members each, for collecting data, interaction with people from different walks of life in rural and urban areas and filling up proformas having 45 columns to ascertain information about the mindset of voters in the state.

Talking to The Tribune here today, G. S. Shulka and Ajay Gupta, both team leaders, gave detailed information about the opinion aspirations and predications of the people regarding the coming assembly elections. According to initial observations gathered so far, ‘corruption’ and not ‘development’ was going to be the main issue in the coming elections, they said. As per their interaction with a large number of people in different constituencies covered so far, secondary issues were different everywhere. As the state had a good network of roads, proper drinking water facility, and electricity in rural areas as compared to the other states people were not giving much importance to development activities.

However people in almost all areas visited so far were quite vocal about rampant corruption in government offices and openly alleged the involvement of leaders of the ruling alliance at the helm of affairs. They also doubted the intention of the government in controlling corruption. They also talked about the heavy charges for recruitment in government jobs. They said that the facility of free power to the farmers being provided by the Badal government had led to undeclared power cuts and non-supply of power to annoyed villagers, who in turn, have expressed their desire to pay for power, provided it is made available to them. The urban people are annoyed due to the increase in rate of power tariff.

According to information, sangat darshan, the most publicised programme launched by the government with much fanfare failed to impress voters. People argue that this programme should have been launched during the previous years instead of being launched during the election year. They feel that this was done clearly to allure them by indirect bribing and that the grants given directly to panchayats were likely to further enhance groupism in villages. People also raised question about the misutilisation and siphoning off of funds by sarpanches in connivance with officials.

Giving their reaction on the recent sacrilege of “Birs” of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in different parts of the state, prospective voters have opined that this issue had further damaged the reputation of the government among, without benefitting the Panthic Morcha in any way. People do not want it to be a political issue in the elections.

The survey found that the possible alliance between the BSP and Panthic Morcha was not going to have much effect on the SAD (B) and BJP alliance, rather it would affect the prospects of the Congress candidates. People feel that if BSP contests the elections at its own, then it could cause more damage to the Congress, indirectly benefitting the ruling parties. As per the survey, the BSP has only succeeded in extending its influence upto the Ramdasia community among the SCs, whereas other SCs were still ‘beyond their reach’.

In spite of releasing substantial large-scale monetary benefits to government employees, Badal had failed to win their sympathy. The main causes listed for this, inspite of launching prestigious development and welfare programmes include, open harassment-cum-loot of the people by police in general, and ‘traffic police’ in particular.

The survey indicated that as per the opinion of the people, there was no wave in the favour of any political party and there were more chances of anti-establishment votes being polled.


Mann refutes Dhindsa’s stand
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 7
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and senior leader of the Panthic Morcha, today said the SAD (A) would influence the policies of the morcha to a great extent. So, it was wrong of Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa to say that since he (Mann) was not a candidate of the Panthic Morcha for chief ministership, he should not be talking of tax holiday in Punjab or putting Congress and Akali leaders behind bars under corruption charges.

Talking to The Tribune over the phone today, Mr Mann said the SAD (A) would play a major role in the formation of Panthic Morcha’s government in the state following the ensuing Assembly elections.

Mr Mann was commenting on the views of Mr Dhindsa, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, about Mr Mann that he expressed to mediapersons at the Gurdwara Nankana Sahib near here yesterday.

Mr Mann also criticised Mr Dhindsa for not allegedly safe-guarding the interests of Punjab and Punjabis by saying that Mr Dhindsa neither opposed POTO nor wrote a dissent note against it at the meeting of the Union Cabinet. Besides, Mr Dhindsa had also not given a dissent note on the River Waters Bill though it was against the interests of Punjab, he added.

Mr Mann also criticised Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee for signing Moscow Declaration with Russia on international terrorism. Mr Mann said such treaties against terrorism were actually against the minorities.

Mr Mann condemned the Union Government for asking the USA to supply it arms by lifting the ban. He said this would lead to an arms race in the sub-continent and was a threat to peace.


No truck with Badal, says Panthic Morcha
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 6
Panthic Morcha convener Baba Sarabjot Singh Bedi ruled out any truck with the Shiromani Akali Dal by saying that Mr Parkash Singh Badal had ditched the Punjabi community time and again and he was feeling insecure as the assembly elections were round the corner.

This was disclosed by Baba Sarabjot Singh while addressing mediapersons at Rajpura, near here, today. He said that Mr Badal and his coterie had committed such acts which would not be pardoned for generations to come. He added that people like Mr Badal had destroyed Sikh institutions and his morcha would not be party to his anti-Sikh activities.

He said that his morcha was steadfast in its stand that Mr Badal should first reinstall Bhai Ranjit Singh as Jathedar as Akal Takht and only then would the morcha reconsider its stand towards any unity efforts.


Cong promises probe into corruption cases
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, November 7
The Congress will constitute a commission to probe into the corruption cases of SAD-BJP ministers, including Mr Parkash Singh Badal, if it came to power after the forthcoming election of the state Assembly. This was stated by Ch. Jagjit Singh, Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, while talking to mediapersons at the local PWD Rest House here today. He alleged that SAD-BJP ministers had made the state bankrupt.

They had banned fresh recruitments for government service soon after coming to power, but had now lifted the ban, he alleged Rs 1 lakh each was being charged for the recruitment of a peon and Rs 50 lakh each for the post of a Class-I officer, he further alleged.

He added that SAD-BJP leaders had brought Punjab under a debt of Rs 5,800 crore by raising loans from various agencies. They had sold various government properties, including bus stands, rest houses, lands etc. Their single-point programme was to grab money by hook or by crook, he said.

Ch. Jagjit Singh alleged that Mr Badal had raised a property of Rs 3,500 crore.

He further said the SAD-BJP government had suspended all welfare schemes for Dalits introduced during the Congress regime. It did not even provide the share capital of Rs 5 crore each to the Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes Corporations due to which both corporations could not get money from the Central government. The state government utilised the money given by the Centre for various Dalits welfare schemes. Old age pension were given after months harassing the pensioners.

Referring to sangat darshan programmes he said Mr Badal had changed the concept of government policy. He had centralised all money and power in his hands and was behaving like a dictator. Ch. Jagjit Singh said the Scheduled Caste, Backward Classes cells of the PPCC would organise a rally at Hoshiarpur on November 22, in which Ms Ambika Soni, General Secretary, Mr Moti Lal Vora, treasurer, AICC, Mr Ashok Gilhot, Chief Minister, Rajasthan, would address Congress workers.


Bitta differs with party on POTO
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 7
Close on the heels of the outbursts of Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, President, Anti-Terrorist Front (ATF) and former President, Indian Youth Congress, fired a salvo against the party high command on its stand on the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO).

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Bitta took a line different from the party high command on POTO. He said it was softer than TADA which did not have provision of death penalty for persons having links with terrorists.

Mr Bitta alleged that there were many leaders of various political parties, including the Punjab Congress, who had direct links with terrorists. He alleged that though he had submitted a report on the nexus between politicians and terrorists to the Union Home Ministry, no action had been taken against them. He threatened to make the report on the nexus between politicians and terrorists public if the government failed to take action.

Mr Bitta said that he had floated ATF to fight global terrorists and would oppose any person or party which opposed measures taken against the menace.

He said it was a “shame” that the senior Congress leaders like Salman Khurshid had stated that “Islam is in danger”. He said leaders of all parties must rise above party affiliations so far as fight against terrorism was concerned.


Ranjit Singh dares Vedanti
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 7
Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Jathedar, Akal Takht, has threatened to summon Mr Joginder Singh Vedanti, Akal Takht Jathedar, and Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar, Kesgarh Sahib, if he was reinstalled for allegedly violating the Panthic maryada.

Talking to TNS here today, Bhai Ranjit Singh said if Mr Vedanti considered himself to be a true Jathedar let him muster courage to summon him (Ranjit Singh) if he found him guilty of violating Panthic tradition. He, however, said if Mr Vedanti had no ‘guts’, he must resign as he “failed” to uphold the dignity and traditions of Sikh institutions.

Bhai Ranjit Singh alleged that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was responsible for violating Sikh traditions. He said the Sarbat Khalsa which worked well till 1925 (Sikh Gurdwara Act was constituted in 1925) was the most acceptable institution for the installation of Jathedars. He alleged that by violating the hukmnana issued on December 31, 1998, for maintaining Panthic truce till the end of the tercentenary celebrations of the Khalsa, Mr Badal had challenged the most powerful institutions of Takht.

He said the concept of “miri piri” which had been prevailing since gurus period was being altered to “piri miri”, as published in the SGPC’s journal, “Gurmat Parkash.”

On bailing out Mr Kirpal Singh Bandungar, officer on special duty to the Chief Minister, from the charges of visiting the dera of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara, Bhai Ranjit Singh said such cases could be reopened after his reinstallation as Jathedar.

He also took exception to the publication of the picture of Akal Takht without arms and weapons in the recent issue of the gurdwara gazette published by the SGPC.


Farmer commits suicide
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 7
Indebtedness has claimed another life in the State with the death of Jaswant Singh, a farmer of Bibi Pur village near here. He allegedly committed suicide today as he was trapped in debt. A suicide note was recovered by the police from his pocket.

Villagers told The Tribune that Jaswant Singh had only 2.5 acre of farming land and he had taken a loan to marry his three children. To repay the loan, he sold his land. He was cultivating land taken from the village panchayat on lease. He also used to sell milk.

The villagers admitted that he was under a great tension due to the debt.

In the letter recovered from his pocket, Jaswant Singh had written in detail the cause of committing suicide.

He mentioned that Sonu of Jalberi and his uncle, a police employee had forced him to commit suicide and they should be made responsible for his death. He has mentioned in the letter that Sonu and his uncle had filed a case against him in the court and were demanding Rs 4 lakh from him for an accident that they met with while travelling in his taxi.

Family members of Jaswant Singh told The Tribune that for the past two or three days, he was very upset due to threats, poverty and the court.

He went to the fields in the morning as usual and consumed some pesticides there. When the family came to know about the incident, he was taken to Civil Hospital, Fatehgarh Sahib, where he was declared brought dead.

In the statement recorded to the police, his son alleged that Sonu and his uncle had been threatening his father to recover Rs 4 lakh. They also used to rough him up and threatened him in the court complex.

The police has registered a case under Sections 306 and 506, IPC, and started the investigation.


Her daily fight for survival
Anirudh Gupta

This is the story of Nimmo, a desolate woman in her mid-forties who is fighting every moment, every day in abject misery under the sky.

Nimmo, along with mother Krishna, were thrown out of their house by her father, a former sarpanch of a neighbouring village about 10 years ago on the excuse of being mentally retarded and an unsound mind.

Finding no succour, both the mother-daughter duo landed in this border town where some elders took pity on them and provided them a shelter inside Bedi Bhavan in the city area.

About eight months ago, the incumbents of Bedi Bhavan vacated it after the demise of one of its elders. Since then the mother and daughter started living outside the main gate of Bedi Bhavan as they were not accommodated inside by the new landlords.

A few months ago, Krishna died leaving her to face the daily struggle of eking out a livelihood on the road. The endemic sufferings and sorrows soon transformed Nimmo, who was left alone in the world after her mother’s death, into a speechless creature.

Nimmo today survives on leftovers offered by neighbours and passers-by to keep her body and soul together, but never begs. She has become a source of amusement to children playing by the roadside and street urchins who at times even throw stones for fun, which instead of diminishing her agonies rather increases her pains.

To get a respite from the scorching heat, she sleeps on top of the water tank and keeps on wandering here and there. There are lot of NGOs and social service organisations, which have mushroomed in the town over the years, but in her case there seems to be no taker, nobody to share her sorrows and huger. No doubt, destiny has played a cruel joke on her, but where are all these voluntary organisations which claim to work day in and day out for the welfare of the poor and downtrodden? In her case, they too appear to have evaporated into thin air.


Cheque comes before mandal
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 7
Even as residents of the district are yet of forget the distribution of cheques for thousands of rupees to bhajan mandlis and bhandara mandlis during the sangat darshan programmes held by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in the Bathinda and Rampura assembly segments by violating the norms, another such case has come to light. It has been found that a cheque was given to a mahila mandal of Sema village about two months ago even before it came into existence. This has created a problem for the district administration.

This fact came to light when an inquiry was conducted by the Block Development and Panchayat Office (BDPO), Nathana, following a complaint made by Ms Amar Kaur, president of the Sena village mahila mandal.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that when Mr Badal was distributing the cheques on August 14 during the sangat darshan held at Nathane, a cheque for Rs 20,000 was given to Ms Malkit Kaur to be used for mahila mandal even though she was not heading any mandal at that time.

Official sources said after taking the cheque, Ms Malkit Kaur floated a mahila mandal and used the money for the same. Ms Amar Kaur meanwhile, continued to ask the BDPO for release of the same grant and was always told by the official concerned that Rs 20,000 would be given to her shortly.

Mr Parveen Kumar, BDPO, Nathana, said that during the inquiry it was found that Ms Malkit Kaur was not entitled to take the cheque and use the money. He said the inquiry report would be submitted to the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development) for guidance in proceeding further in this case.


BJP to observe Nov 25 as Unity Day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 7
In response to a call given by the President of the BJP, Mr K. Jana Krishnamurthy, the Punjab unit of the party has decided to observe November 25 as National Unity Day against terrorism.

All units of the BJP have been asked to organise rallies to observe the day, said Mr Avinash Jaiswal, general secretary (organisation), BJP, Punjab.

Taking into consideration the state-level function to celebrate the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, in which Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is scheduled to participate, the Punjab BJP decided to observe November 25 instead of November 18 as National Unity Day.

Date for instalments extended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 7
The Punjab Government has extended the date for depositing instalments for government land till December 31.

A spokesman of the Punjab Revenue and Rehabilitation Department said that earlier the defaulters were to deposit the instalments until October 31.


Dist Food Controller found dead
Our Correspondent

Ropar, November 7
District Food and Supplies Controller, Ropar, Hem Raj Mangla (55) was found dead at his residence in the government officers’ colony here yesterday. The body was found lying on the floor of his house by his servant early in the morning.

Police sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, are suspecting foul play. The body bore wounds on the face and other parts. Mangla was allegedly in an inebriated state when he died as bottles of whisky were found from the place.

A team of three doctors has been formed to conduct the post-mortem examination. Though none of the doctors was available for comments on but reliable sources said severe injuries were found on the genitals and other body parts of the deceased, which may have caused his death.

Mangla, who recently joined duty at Ropar, was staying alone.

He is survived by two sons, a daughter and wife. District administration officials condoled his death.


Jeep driver dies in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Garhshanker, November 7
Gurdev Singh, the driver of a jeep of the Excise and Taxation Department, was killed when the vehicle, which was on its way to Garhshankar from Mahilpur, collided with a truck near Golian village on the Hoshiarpur Chandigarh road, 5 km from here. Kewal Singh, who was also in the jeep, was seriously injured. He was admitted to the Garhshankar hospital and later referred to the DMC, Ludhiana.

In a separate incident, Gurdial Singh was crushed to death under his own tractor-trailer in Moranwali village when the vehicle turned over.


Holiday on November 13
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 7
The Punjab Government had declared a holiday on November 13 on account of birthday of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.


Payments not made, say arhtiyas
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 7
Nearly 100 arhtiyas of the local grain market today sat on a dharna and observed a complete strike in the grain market protesting that no payments had been made for the paddy procured by different agencies.

The arhtiyas also raised slogans against the Punjab Government and demanded release of payments immediately for the procured paddy.

Earlier, the local arhtiyas had observed strike for two days on October 29 and 30 against the non-payments for the procured paddy. But on October 31 the procurement agencies made some payments to the arhtiyas and promised to make the pending payments in a week.

On this assurance the arhtiyas ended their strike on October 31.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Mr Pradeep Kumar Singla, general secretary of the local Arhtiyas Association, said the procurement agencies had not made the payments for the paddy procured since October 12.

Mr Singla further said despite giving assurance to the arhtiyas with regard to payments, the authorities of the procurement agencies had “failed” in keeping their word.

He said the government should take necessary steps immediately to make the payments so that the arhtiyas and the farmers do not face any further inconvenience.

Mr Singla said their strike would continue till the payments for the procured paddy were made by the government procurement agencies.

He also said the further course action would be chalked-out at a meeting of the association here tomorrow in case the payments were not made by Thursday.


Border farmers getting power for 3 hrs: Rinwa
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, November 7
Dr Mohinder Kumar Rinwa, member of the election campaign committee of the PPCC and former MLA, Fazilka, talking to mediapersons here today urged the Punjab and Central Governments to pay Rs 10,000 per acre to farmers whose cotton crop had been ruined by American bollworm.

He said he and Mr Hans Raj Josan, former minister, had apprised Ms Sonia Gandhi of the situation during her visit to Dera Beas on Sunday and urged her to raise the issue in the winter session of Parliament.

Dr Rinwa also said the Centre should evolve a blueprint for the substitution of cotton with some other remunerative crop.

He also demanded that the minimum support price of sugarcane should be raised to Rs 110 per quintal and uninterrupted power and adequate canal water should be supplied to farmers for sowing wheat.

Dr Rinwa alleged that the power supply in the rural areas was insufficient, particularly in border villages where the farmers got “sample electric supply” for three hours a day.

Commenting on the functioning of the police, he alleged that the police was implicating Congress workers. While there was shortage of police force, even “small” leaders of the ruling party had been provided with security guards.


BJP councillor’s election nullified
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, November 7
Mr Vivek Aggarwal, Deputy Commissioner-cum-Presiding Officer, District election Tribunal, today declared as null and void the election of Mr Harbans Lal, a BJP municipal councillor, from Ward No. 12 of the local Municipal Council. Mr Rajinder Singh, his opponent, was declared elected as municipal councillor from the ward.

Mr Harbans Lal had filed his nomination papers from this ward as an independent candidate. At the time of allotment of symbols, the then Returning Officer allotted the lotus, the symbol of the BJP, to him, even though he had not applied for it. As a result, he contested as a nominee of the BJP and won the election.

Mr Rajinder Singh challenged the election on the grounds that the allotment of the BJP symbol to his rival had adversely affected his prospects.

Mr Aggarwal allowed the petition of Mr Rajinder Singh and declared the election of Mr Harbans Lal null and void. He said the allotment of “lotus” symbol to him was against election rules.


ASI killed in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 7
Ajit Singh, an ASI, was killed and two others were injured when the Contessa car in which they were travelling collided with a truck overloaded with bags of husk at Jandiala here last night. The car was coming from Rayya.

According to reports, the incident occurred when bags of husk from the truck fell on the car.

Ajit Singh, a resident of Tarn Taran, died on the spot while ASI Darshan Singh and Narinder Singh were injured. The truck driver is reported to have fled from the spot. A case was registered on the statement of Narinder Singh, also of Tarn Taran, under Sections 304-A, 279, 337 and 427 of the IPC at the Jandiala police station.

Meanwhile, the police has booked Charanjit Singh of Kalke and Chanan Singh of Dehrinala and seized 20 kg of lahan and 7,500 ml of illicit liquor, respectively, from them. A case has been registered under Section 61-1-14 of the Excise Act.

In a separate case, Darshan Singh of Jaura village was arrested for possessing over 8 gm of smack. A case has been registered under the NDPS Act at the Patti police station.


Man arrested for killing brother
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 7
The police has arrested Bhagwan Singh for allegedly murdering his brother Gursewak Singh on November 2.

The SSP said in a press note issued here today that Bhagwan Singh had killed his brother with a sharp-edged weapon. He had given a loan of Rs 9,000 to his brother who refused to return it. The suspect was already facing trials in various cases. He had been sentenced to life imprisonment in a case registered against him at Dayalpura police station. He was on parole when he reportedly murdered his brother.


5 arrested
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 7
The police has arrested five persons for their alleged involvement in gambling and other related activities. It has also recovered Rs 1,172 from their possession.

Dr Jatinder Jain, SSP, in a press note issued here today said the alleged culprits had been identified as Deepak Kumar of Partap Nagar, Ashok Kumar of Janta Nagar, Chiranji Lal of Hazi Ratan, Deepak Kumar of Sirki Bazar of the city and Krishan Kumar of Kele Bandar village.

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