Monday, November 19, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Impounded buses sent on ‘PM duty’
Our Correspondents

Bathinda, November 18
While the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, seems to be happy over the celebrations of the bicentenary of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the transporters of the state are not so happy.

Thousands of buses and four-wheelers from the state and even neighbouring Haryana have been allegedly impounded by the authorities to transport people to Amritsar.

Not only the private buses, canters and trucks have been impounded, even the buses of the cash-starved state transport have also been sent on “PM duty,” as is being called by the district officials here.

Unconfirmed reports said more than 10,000 vehicles had been allegedly impounded by the district officials of state. These include about 2,000 vehicles in Bathinda, 1,000 in Sangrur and about 1,700 each in Ferozpore, Moga and Muktsar and rest in other districts of the state.

Sources said the village patwaris were ordered to ‘arrange’ people who would be taken to the rally in these vehicles. In some cases the people were being offered financial incentives also.

The bus drivers were issued ‘parchis’ bearing the initials of the officials and their designations but they were neither stamped nor printed.

The drivers of the vehicles were asked to go to certain specified petrol stations for getting the vehicles fuelled but some of the petrol stations refused to acknowledge the ‘parchis’ issued by the officials.

Traffic remained disrupted at the Bathinda-Goniana road as some of the drivers refused to get their vehicles fuelled upon their own and left their vehicles on the road. A driver of the impounded bus said they would be losing at least Rs 3,000 per day.

The drivers alleged that some ministers of the Punjab Government were amongst the highest transporters, including Mr Parkash Singh Badal, but their fleet of buses was plying normally and were not sent on the “PM duty.”

Many impounded buses were seen parked near the official residence of the SSP, Deputy Commissioner and other senior district officials late last evening. Private transporters alleged that impounding of buses illegally had become a routine and the same happened on September 25 also when the PM had visited Killianwali village, near here. No senior official of the district administration was available for comments.

MANSA: The district administration sent 40 private buses to Lambi, the home constituency of the Chief Minister, yesterday for taking people to Amritsar to attend the bicentenary of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh to be addressed by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee.

It is learnt that these buses would be further sent to Haryana to bring people to Amritsar to assure maximum number of persons at the said function.

The buses were impounded by the District Transport Officer, Mansa, on the directions of Ms Raji P. Srivastva, Deputy Commissioner.

Earlier, the authorities concerned had told the transporters that each of the bus would be provided diesel worth Rs 2600 but it was refused later. This has caused a resentment among the transporters.


Sukhbir future of Punjab: Sekhwan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 18
Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, a former union minister and son of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was projected as “future” of the state in the presence of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and other leaders.

When Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal was invited to deliver the message of his father in his absence, state secretary Sewa Singh Sekhwan, Revenue Minister, announced that the “future of the state” would read out the message of his father.


Scribes threaten to boycott functions
Tribune News Service

Moga, November 18
Members of the District Press Reporters Sangharsh Action Committee have threatened to boycott the coverage of all functions held by the Punjab Government and the district administration if the state government failed to solve the issue relating to the alleged misbehaviour of the Deputy Commissioner with journalists.

In a letter to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and other government functionaries, the journalists alleged that on November 8 when they went to the Deputy Commissioner to submit a memorandum against POTO to be forwarded to the Governor, the Deputy Commissioner did not come to take the memorandum, despite keeping them waiting for about an hour.

When a committee of seven journalists met the Deputy Commissioner on November 15 in this regard he did not take any interest. 


PPCC chief warns rebels of action
Poll talks with CPM on

Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 18
“I would not say anything about the statements given by Mr. Jagmeet Singh Brar. But in future, strict action will be taken against those who discuss any party matter in public. The party matters should be discussed at party level and not publicly,” said Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee (PPCC), President, Captain Amarinder Singh here today at a press conference, when he was asked about the controversy of giving ticket to kith and kin of the senior and powerful party leaders.

Issue of ticket to kin of powerful leaders, ignoring party workers, was raised a few days ago by the Convener, Congress Parliamentary Party and Member of Parliament from Faridkot, Mr. Jagmeet Singh Brar.

PPCC chief said that party candidates for Assembly poll would be announced shortly. He said election committee of the PPCC was shortlisting candidates and in two or three days the list would be sent to Delhi for approval of the party high-command.

Asked about the coalition with the Communist Party of India (CPI), PPCC chief disclosed, “negotiations are on with the CPI (Marxist) for the forthcoming Assembly election. I have personally met twice with the secretary general of the CPI (M), Mr Harkishen Singh Surjeet for seats sharing and soon, some arrangement would be made to work together in this state Assembly election. Clarifying Mr Amarinder Singh said that the CPM had proposed to contest 27 seats out of the total 117 seats.

On ticket distribution among young and senior party workers Captain Amarinder Singh said preference would be given to senior and dedicated party workers whom people could identify as their representatives in the state Assembly. “How could a 25-year-old young man outclass a senior and dedicated party worker who has been working for the past 20 years,” he added.

Captain Amarinder Singh said that charge sheet against the ruling party SAD-BJP alliance government of the state had been approved by the Congress Co-ordination Committee. It would be released shortly. On corruption in the ruling party, Captain Amarinder Singh said that when the SAD-BJP government assume office charge, from the Congress, the GDP growth rate was 7.1 per cent and now the growth rate had fallen down to 4 per cent which indicated bad performance of the ruling party.

The PPCC President, had come to attend a function organised on the occasion of birthday of Maharshi Valmiki by the Bhartia Valmiki Dharm Samaj at Arya Senior Secondary School, Arya Mohalla. He said that reservation policy had not been implemented as per the Constitution of India by the SAD-BJP government.

He assured the implementation of the same properly as per the Constitution, if they voted to the Congress to power. Reponding to a problem of a young man at the function that the chairman of the SC/ST development cell of the Congress party was not working for the development of the weaker sections of society, Captain Amarinder Singh said that from now onwards, the meeting of the representatives of the all economically, socially and politically weaker communites, would be hold at Chandigarh regularly to involve them in all development activities.

Others present on the occasion were, the Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, Choudhary Jagjit Singh, Secretary, All-India Congress Committee, Mr Shiv Ram Balmiki, president, District Congress Committee, Mr. Surinder Dabur, general secretary, PPCC, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, Chairman, Indian Youth Congress (Urban Development Cell), Mr Pawan Dewan.


Factionalism mars Cong rally
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, November 18
The district-level rally organised by the Congress here today at the old grain market as part of the Punjab Congress’s launch programme of election campaign, proved to be a lacklustre affair, thanks to the factionalism in the district Congress. Though the dissident leaders, Mr Parkash Singh and Mr Tarlochan Singh Soond, PPCC members and aspirants of party tickets from Nawanshahr and Banga Assembly segments, were together on the stage to give the “impression of unity” yet the thin gathering at the rally in the constituency, which is considered to be a stronghold of the Congress, exposed the Congress claims.

A few months ago, supporters of Mr Parkash Singh and Mr Soond had openly ‘revolted’ against the decision of the party high command to nominate Mr Kartar singh Sekhon as the district president and since then they had been holding their meetings and rallies separately. Moreover, the PPCC president, Capt Amarinder Singh, did not turn up to address the rally.

Mr Santokh Singh, former minister, while addressing the rally, accused the SAD-BJP Government of mismanaging the economy of the state. The Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had created a financial mess and burdened the state with heavy debt, he said. He had mortgaged bus stands and government offices, sold PUDA lands and taken loans against rural development funds to distribute grants in ‘sangat darshan’ programmes, he alleged. He said the Congress had prepared its people-oriented election manifesto, which would be released soon.

He also criticised the BSP supremo, Mr Kanshi Ram, for his derogatory remarks against Dalits and Sainis. He accused Mr Kanshi Ram of ‘bargaining’ the interests of Dalits.

Mr Santokh Singh said alliance with the CPI and the CPM was on the cards. He urged all secular parties to join hands with the Congress to put an end to the corrupt rule.

Ms Santosh Chaudhary, Congress MP from Phillaur and AICC secretary, Mr Avtar Henry, vice-president, PPCC, Mr Ramesh Dogra, MLA, Mr C.D. Singh Kamboj, Mr Parkash Singh, Mr Tarlochan Singh, Mr Pakher Singh Nimana (all PPCC members), Mr Ram Krishan Kataria, former MLA, Mr Kartar Singh Sekhon, Mr Iqbal Singh Transporter, Mr Chet Ram Rattan, (office-bearers of the district Congress), among others, addressed the rally.

Another rally was organised by the Ex-Servicemen Cell, PPCC, at Punjab Mata Vidhyawati Bhavan here today. Col Jorawar Singh (retd), chairman of the Ex-Servicemen Cell, Mr Santokh Singh, Col Jarnail Singh (retd), president of the district unit, among others, addressed the rally.


NCP to contest 40 seats
Our Correspondent

Mansa, November 18
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) will contest 40 seats of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha in the forthcoming elections.

This was disclosed by Mr Surjan Singh Joga, former MLA and president, Punjab Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Cell of the party.

He said Mr P.A. Sangma, former Speaker of Parliament, would address a conference of the party in the Joga constituency of the district on November 25.

He claimed that the base of the party had been strengthened under the leadership of the party national president, Mr Sharad Pawar and state president, Mr Sawaran Singh Patiala.

He said he would contest elections from the Joga constituency.

He had already started campaigning and toured more than three dozen villages of the constituency, he added.

He said if his party was voted to power, it will start a relentless war against corruption, unemployment and mounting prices.


Summon Talwandi to Takht: Sikhs
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, November 18
Over a dozen Sikh organisations today demanded that the SGPC President, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, should be summoned at Akal Takht and punished as per Sikh ‘maryada’. Mr Talwandi called the Divali message of the Akal Takht jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh, a bundle of lies.

In a statement issued on behalf of these organisations here today, Mr Gurjit Singh Khalsa, President, Guru Ramdas Welfare Manch and former general secretary of the Youth Akali Dal, alleged that Mr Talwandi was indulging in Blasphemous utterances against the Head Priest of the supreme spiritual-cum-temporal Sikh seat under the influence of anti-Panthic and anti-Akal Takht forces.

Sikh priests to meet tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 18
After studying the audio and video cassettes of the controversial speech of Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, SGPC chief, which was delivered on the eve of Divali, the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Mr Joginder Singh Vedanti, has reportedly found concrete evidence to initiate action as per Sikh traditions.

Sources close to Mr Vedanti said the issue was likely to be discussed at length at the meeting scheduled for November 20.


Fort that needs immediate care
Pushpesh Kumar

The Gobindgarh Fort
The Gobindgarh Fort, an archaeological site of national importance, which has fallen on bad days owing to lack of maintenance by the Archaeological Survey of India.

The Gobindgarh Fort here is one of the 30 monuments and archaeological sites of national importance looked after by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in Punjab. The fort has been losing its grandeur to the vagaries of nature due to maintenance owing to funds constraints.

Built during the early centuries of the Christian era the fort has 32 small and four large bastions placed at its corners. As it was established as a military fort rather than as a residential palace, many of the forts of Rajasthan and south India overshadow this fort in beauty. It is said that Raja Dab, an ancestor of celebrated Veena Pal, built the fort. It is believed that Rao Bhatti established the modern town of Bathinda in the Lakhi jungle area in the third century and it was captured from him by the Braras.

The region witnessed massive inflow of invaders from northwest in several successive waves between 1500 B.C. and 800 B.C. The main turning point in the history of Bathinda came in 1004 A.D. when Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni besieged the fort after King Jaipal had committed suicide. The fort was situated en route from northwest to the economically rich Ganga valley.

The fort then fell to Mohammad Ghori in 1189. But after only 13 months Prithvi Raj Chauhan managed to regain its possession in 1191 after a fierce battle. It was here on this fort that Razia Sultan, the daughter of Iltutmish and the first woman to assume the throne of Delhi, was first imprisoned on her defeat and dethroned by the then Governor of Bathinda, Ikhiyar-Uddin-Mohammad Altunia. In 1754 AD the fort was conquered by Phulkia chief Ala Singh, which remained under the rulers of Patiala till the merger of the princely states. Guru Gobind Singh had also visited this fort.

The fort, originally of mud-bricks, has witnessed enormous changes at the hands of successive rulers. The massive fortificated walls have a basal width with ramp and stairs leading to the parapet from the inner quadrangle. The entrance to the fort is through a three-storeyed gateway, flanked on either side by two massive bastions at the northern end of the eastern face. To the right of the gateway is Rani Mahal with projecting balconies and attached side-rooms, the roofs painted with floral designs. To the left of the gateway on top is a gurdwara built by Maharaja Karam Singh of Patiala. The Nishan Sahib at the gurdwara was installed by the Patiala regiment after their victorious return from World War II.

The fort, which now stands in the middle of the haphazardly growing town, is in a dilapidated condition. Many signboards warn the residents that the walls of the fort had been declared unsafe and could collapse any time. Last year the ASI celebrated the World Heritage Week at the fort to build public opinion so that the authorities concerned could be pressured into releasing more funds for the upkeep and maintenance of heritage monuments.

Sources in the ASI disclosed that due to the scarcity of funds the upkeep of the monuments was very difficult. Moreover, people have allegedly encroached upon many monuments in the state. The ASI has a strength of about 70 employees in the state to look after all these monuments. Most of the monuments are visited by senior officials only once a year.

The sources said while the ASI was short of funds a plan to collect donations was prepared by the government. Under the plan any individual, institute or body was free to donate money for the upkeep of archaeological sites in the country. The donations were made tax-free by the government. But the scheme did not elicit very favourable response, perhaps due to inadequate publicity.

The fort is a witness to the changing times and traditions of the region. A cross-section of the residents regretted that the pride of the city was in a bad condition. Most of them expressed ignorance about any ASI scheme wherein they could donate money to save the Bathinda fort. 

Make Gobindgarh fort accessible to people: manch
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 18
The Amritsar Vikas Manch (AVM) has demanded from the Central government to spruce up throw open Gobindgarh fort to public and tourists.

In a press note here today, Mr Mohan Singh, president the AVM urged the Central government to take steps for the maintenance of the fort and other historic buildings associated with Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his Army. He said that Gobindgarh fort presently was occupied by the Army, was in a state of neglect and disrepair.


Animal fair poor draw
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 18
Bi-annual animal fair of the state, held in this holy city near Divali and Baisakhi witnessed poor turn out. Earlier the fair could not be held on Baisakhi due to foot and mouth diseases. Though no case of this disease was reported from anywhere in the state yet fear persists.

Visit of Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee on the celebration concluding functions of bicentenary also had its effect on the animal fair. Earlier the cattle fair used to attract traders from far-flung areas since partition of the country. Then the best quality oxen from ‘Pothohar’, Hansi, Hisar areas; Arabi, Khurasani, Aindhi race mares and best quality cows from the areas of Majha and Sahiwal were the attractions of the fair. These animals all well bred and are addressed by beautiful and pet names.

These richly adorned creatures with ghanis (necklace), jhanjars (anklet), talhairas (head holder) and bells symbolise owners love for them.

Mr Rawal Singh, sarpanch of Fatehgarh Churian, panchayat who has been coming to the fair for the past many years, said that keeping animals had become unprofitable. He said it was better to buy milk from dairies nowadays as prices of inputs had increased manifold.

Mr Surjit Singh, a resident of Bahburi Kalan said that this time he had brought his horse “Sunder” not for selling but having it evaluated in economic terms in the mandi.

Mr Buphinder Singh, duty officer said that this year the Punjab government was expecting a profit of Rs 10 lakh from this fair by charging 4 per cent on every animal sold. He said that these fairs formed the core of the Punjabi culture.


Stay order on bank exam vacated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 18
Mr S.N. Aggarwal, District Judge, Patiala, today vacated the stay order handed down by the trial court restraining the Patiala Central Cooperative Bank from holding the competitive examination for the posts of clerks. The test was to be held this morning.

In his detailed order the District Judge said, ‘‘...If the holding of the test\examination is stayed, thousands of candidates coming from different parts of the state will feel harassed while lakhs of rupees spent by the defendants\appellants out of the public exchequer will go waste. In these circumstances, it is a fit case where the ex-oparte stay order dated November 17 passed by the trial court needs be vacated, and it is ordered accordingly’’.

The District Judge further ruled that the defendants\appellant bank may go ahead with the holding of the test. However, the bank was restrained from declaring the result till further orders by the court.

The Judge also gave notice of the appeal to the opposite side for December 3.

Earlier, the bank had pleaded before the District Judge that thousands of rupees were to be paid to the officials involved in the process of holding the examination. Printed material had been received. It was added that 12,000 candidates had to come from all over the country to Patiala for appearing in the examination. The bank would suffer irreparable loss if the examination was not conducted on the scheduled date and time. It was on these basis that the bank had prayed for vacating the stay against holding the examination.

The trial court, while granting the stay, had observed that the bank had not stated in the advertisement about holding the test. Nor was any syllabus communicated. Only pencil had been permitted to be used for answering the questions which could be erased giving scope for tampering the marks sheets\answer books.

The District Judge, however, held that civil courts could not exercise the same jurisdiction prima facie which was available to the High Court in writ jurisdiction.


Action committee to hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Dhuri, November 18
The members of the “Ravi Kant murder action committee” will stage a dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, on November 21 in protest against the police and the district administration for not arresting the killers of Ravi Kant (17), who was allegedly kidnapped from here on August 14 and later his body was found on the same day in the canal near Sangrur police lines.

The action committee, was formed by more than 300 representatives of about 47 local trade unions, employees unions and social organisations on August 22 to pressurise the police to arrest the killers of Ravi Kant and has been agitating in this regard since then.

According to a press note issued by Mr Hardev Singh Chahal, press secretary and co-convener of the committee, the decision to stage a dharna was taken at a recent meeting of the general body held here under the presidentship of Mr Baldev Singh, convener of the committee.


Bank organises cultural evening
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 18
A cultural evening was organised by the Central and Zonal Cultural Committee of the State Bank of Patiala at the NIS lawns to mark the bank’s foundation day yesterday.

The cultural evening began with the lighting of the traditional lamp by Mr A.K. Purwar, Managing Director (MD), State Bank of Patiala, who was the chief guest. The MD lauded the efforts of the cultural committee and assured his full support for such efforts which would bring team spirit among the employees of the bank.

The bank felicitated five oldest customers and employees of the bank. They were presented with shawls and bouquets.

A light and sound show was held and appreciated in which the story of a king and his manipulations were depicted. It was directed by Samir Arora. The function culminated with the usual Punjabi gidda and a patriotic group song.



Pulse polio awareness rally
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 18
A pulse polio awareness rally of school and college students was held by Dr Rajinder Kaur, Civil Surgeon, Ludhiana.

Ms Santosh Bhatia, Deputy Mass Media Officer, in a press statement said the rally ended at Old Civil Hospital covering areas near Gurdwara Kalgidhar, Subhani Building and Brown Road.


Exempt farm products from Act: association
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 18
Mr Gurdarshan Singh Brar, president, Northern India Agricultural Producers Association (Goniana unit), in a representation to Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister Punjab has urged to abolish the application of Essential Commodities Act (ECA) to agricultural products as it would hit farmers.

In a press note issued here today Mr Brar said that in the letter their association had urged the Chief Minister to help the farmers who were facing bad times. He added that prices of diesel, seed and pesticides were rising but they were not getting fair prices of farm products. The loss of crops had ruined the farmers.

He said that the implementation of the EC Act had added to their grievances as purchasers were now afraid of this Act and did not purchase their produce. He added that this Act hit the poor farmers. Due to various control orders and licensing policies of state and central government, it was not possible for farmers to run the cottage industries like gur, mini rice, flour and dal mills in rural areas.

He added that this act might prove to be a major hindrance for the country. He said that the Act should be amended and foodgrain and agriculture products exempted from this Act. 


Toshi murder case solved, one held
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 18
The Patiala police today claimed that it had solved the Toshi murder case by arresting one Harjinder Singh, alias Kala, with whom she was allegedly having an extra-marital affair.

Stating this here, district police chief Paramjit Singh Grewal said Kala had murdered 35-year-old Toshi on November 13 at Rai Majra village near the Rajpura octroi post by inflicting several wounds on her with a sharp-edged weapon.

The SSP said that during interrogation, Kala had disclosed that he had met Toshi on March 31 at Devigarh and befriended her. He said that the accused claimed that he had raped Toshi on the same day but had managed to placate her afterwards following which they started having an extra-marital affair.

According to the police, Kala and Toshi had purportedly taken a vow in the local Kali Devi Mandir promising fidelity to each other only. The police maintains that Kala, however, started suspecting Toshi of maintaining relations with other men also soon afterwards. It said on November 12, Kala took the victim to Anandpur Sahib and from there to Naina Devi where he tried to murder her but was unsuccessful.

The police said while coming back from Naina Devi, the couple got down at Rajpura and from there took a bus for Patiala and got down at the Rajpura octroi post. It said Kala took a rickshaw for Ali Majra village but got down before the village, following which he interrogated Toshi on her other affairs and soon after murdered her with a sharp-edged weapon.

Toshi’s body was recovered from near Ali Majra village one day after Divali. Her husband Roop Singh, a resident of Sanour, had during investigation claimed that the victim had left the house saying she was going to visit her parents at Khanna. 


Jewellery stolen
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 18
Gold jewellery worth Rs 50,000 and Rs 5,000 in cash were stolen from the house of Badrinath Verma, a resident of Damganj here, Saturday evening.

Mr Verma along with his family, had gone to his brother’s house when the theft took place. A case has been registered. 

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