Wednesday, November 21, 2001, Chandigarh, India

 

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Badal calls party leaders to Delhi
Special ‘rath’ for CM’s canvassing?
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 20
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who underwent surgery this morning in Delhi, has directed his party’s top brass to continue political activities with full vigour.

Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, Secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), told this correspondent on the phone that a meeting of the Political Affairs Committee of the party would be held on November 25 and a meeting of members of the SGPC on November 26 in Amritsar as announced earlier. Mr Badal has also called senior leaders of the party to Delhi for political consultations on November 23.

However, according to Mr Harcharan Bains, media adviser to the Chief Minister, the venue of the PAC meeting would be shifted to Delhi as Mr Badal was willing to preside over it.

Both meetings have been called to discuss the election of the President of the SGPC scheduled to be held on November 27. The main issue will be whether Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi should be renominated President.

It is significant to mention here that the relations between Mr Badal and Mr Talwandi were strained a few weeks ago. But the situation has changed now. Mr Talwandi has become a big supporter of Mr Badal. He has gone to the extent of saying that no one can match Mr Badal in state politics.

Mr Badal’s son, Mr Sukhbir Singh told TNS on the phone from Delhi that the mood of the Badal family and senior party leaders present there was upbeat as the surgery had been successful. The doctors had said that Mr Badal would be discharged after four days.

Mr Sukhbir Singh said that the family had planned to shift Mr Badal to Chandigarh immediately after he left hospital.

Meanwhile, official sources said that Mr Badal would be able to resume his official routine immediately after his arrival here but would not be able to move out for some more days. He would have to take precautions to avoid any infection for a month or so. Mr Badal remained busy till 11 p.m. yesterday and also did official work like clearing of files, etc.

A proposal has been made by certain senior leaders to provide a “rath”-type motorised vehicle to Mr Badal to enable him to resume his “sangat darshan” and the election campaign.

Mr Badal’s injury has become a cause of worry to the Congress for a different reason. Senior Congress leaders have the feeling that the injury may lead to a “sympathy wave” for Mr Badal in the rural areas. They say that earlier it was perceived that Mr Badal’s absence would cause a setback to the election campaign of the SAD-BJP.



Crucial SAD meeting to be held in Delhi
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 20
The venue of the crucial political affairs committee (PAC) meeting of the SAD which was scheduled to be held at Chandigarh, will be shifted to New Delhi as Mr Parkash Singh Badal had been hospitalised there.

Though the agenda for the meeting is “to discuss current political scenario,” sources said the discussion would focus on the SGPC election, apart from the forthcoming Assembly elections.

Mr Badal has called Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder and other senior Akali leaders to New Delhi to discuss the issue of Panthic unity in wake of a closed door meeting with Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal.

 

Priests call for Panthic unity
Talwandi’s remarks shameful: clergy
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 20
Close on the heels of a closed-door meeting between Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, the Sikh high priests today called for complete Panthic unity after a marathon meeting held at the Akal Takht Secretariat here today.

In another significant development, the Sikh clergy described the unsavoury remarks of SGPC chief, Jagdev Singh Talwandi against the high priests as “most unfortunate and shameful.” The audio and video cassettes carrying the “objectionable” speech of Mr Talwandi, in which he described the message of Giani Joginder Singh Vadanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, on the eve of “Bandi Chhor Divas” (Divali) as “bundle of white lies” and the Sikh clergy as “jeondian lashhan” (spineless), were played at the secretariat. Mr Talwandi had also accused the Sikh clergy of making too many foreign trips in the name of propagation of the Sikh faith.

After the meeting of the high priests, Jathedar Vedanti said the decision on the case of Mr Talwandi had been reserved. Action could be initiated in the forthcoming meeting which is likely to be held before the annual election of the SGPC chief, scheduled for November 27. This was for the first time that video cassettes were played at the Akal Takht Secretariat to frame charges against Mr Talwandi.

Earlier, in a message, the five Sikh high priests made a fervent appeal to leaders of all warring Akal leaders to get united on a single platform as per the aspirations of the Sikh Panth. The message reads: “With the prevailing distrust and disunity among the Panthic leaders, coupled with the provocative statements issued against each other, has led to an unsavoury atmosphere. We had issued a similar appeal to such leaders on the anniversary of “Operation Bluestar” on June 6 too. We had appealed at that time that the Akali leaders should rise above vested interests and should get united for the larger interests of the Panth. Now we again ask the Panthic leadership to adopt the path of unity without any further delay.”

To a question, Jathedar Vedanti said the call for Panthic unity was an appeal and not a directive. When asked whether "hukmnama" (edict) could be issued if this appeal fell on deaf ears, Jathedar Vedanti said it could be considered later on.

Sources said if Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra responds to the appeal, the future of Bhai Ranjit Singh, who is still projected as the "real Jathedar" by the Panthic Morcha and rival Akali factions, could be uncertain.

Earlier, the directives issued by the Akal Takht for forging Panthic unity had limited success. Interestingly, it was Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who refused to disband his faction when Prof Manjit Singh, the then acting Akal Takht, Jathedar, had given a call for Panthic unity in May, 1994. As a result, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) was formed on June 1, 1994, at Akal Takht but Mr Tohra again joined the Akali Dal led by Mr Badal.

The message for forging unity among the warring Akali leaders was signed by Jathedar Vedanti, Prof Manjit Singh, Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedars of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib and Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, respectively, Giani Bhagwan Singh, Head Granthi, Akal Takht, and Giani Jagtar Singh, priest, Golden Temple.

Meanwhile, Jathedar Balbir Singh, chief of the rival faction of the Budha Dal, and Giani Daler Singh were given "tankhah" (punishement for religious misconduct) for having links with Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara. Talking to the Press, Jathedar Balbir Singh claimed that he was still chief of the Budha Dal and had visited the dera of Baba Bhaniara with a view to observing the "anti-Panthic" activities of the Baba.

He alleged that Baba Santa Singh was given land in New Delhi in lieu of the "kar sewa" at Akal Takht undertaken by him after "Operation Bluestar" in violation of the Sikh maryada. He said many Sikhs had established relations with Baba Santa Singh during the 17 years of his excommunication from the Sikh Panth but no action had been taken against them so far. He said such persons must be summoned to Akal Takht.

On the other hand, the cases of Sant Shamsher Singh Jagera, president, International Sant Samaj, Baba Dhanwant Singh and few others who were summoned at Akal Takht for violation of Sikh traditions were kept pending. It is for the second time that the case of Sant Jagera could not be considered while the case of Baba Dhanwant Singh has been pending for long.


 

Badal to respond positively to unity appeal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 20
The President of the SAD, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, will respond positively to the appeal for unity among leaders of different factions of the Akalis made by the five Sikh high priests in Amritsar today.

Reacting to the unity appeal, political sources close to Mr Badal said that he had never opposed unity among top Akali leaders who had parted company with him about three years ago. Mr Badal, according to the sources, wanted that there should be unity to defeat the Congress in the coming Assembly elections.

In fact, the sources said, Mr Badal had earlier made appeals for unity among the political forces which wanted to see the Congress wiped out in the elections.

When asked whether Mr Badal had talked about unity in the Panth at his meeting with Mr Tohra yesterday, the sources said that there was reference to unity but no frank discussion could be held.


 

Badal’s kin grab land?
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 20
Gunmen of a powerful, political family and kin of the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, allegedly demolished an office and a hall reportedly belonging to Manjot Singh Kahlon and his mother, Mrs G.K. Kahlon, Principal, Khalsa College for Women, last night and forcibly occupied the premises.

A bulldozer was used for the demolition.

Mr B.S. Sekhon, Director, Youth Welfare Department, Guru Nanak Dev University, and father-in-law of Mr Manjot Singh Kahlon and Mr Mandeep Singh, alias Manha, president of the Youth Akali Dal, who was present at the demolished site (approximately measuring 200 sq yards) adjoining a cinema hall near the railway station, alleged that Mr Surinder Singh Kairon, close relative of the Chief Minister, was behind the forcible grabbing of the premises.

Mr Manjot Singh and Mrs Kahlon, speaking to this correspondent at the demolished site, said the persons took away a scooter, a computer, a fax machine, besides an EPABX machinery and an air conditioner.

Armed persons were seen guarding the site last night. They (guards) were also heard using abusive language for the “owners” and also threatened to shoot them. The SSP, Mr Harnek Singh, was not available for comments while Mr Rajesh Jaiswal, SP, City, said the area was not under his jurisdiction.

Speaking to The Tribune on the incident, Mr Satya Pal Dang, veteran CPI leader, said he had learnt from reliable sources much earlier than last night’s episode that the previous SSP, Mr Parampal Singh Sidhu, was allegedly transferred and replaced by the present incumbent to facilitate such a land-grab as the present SSP was due to retire soon and hence was more pliable to the government.

He said the sources had informed him that Mr Surinder Kairon was behind this attempt and that even some forged documents were procured by him (Mr Kairon). Mr Dang expressed the fear that if the matter was not investigated it would give more “teeth” to land-grabbers to continue with their illegal activities.

Talking to this correspondent today, Mrs Kahlon said the DSP in charge of the case asked them to give proof of ownership instead of the getting the place vacated from armed guard after the matter was reported to the police. Mr Mandeep Singh said Mr Kairon called him last night, asking him to distance himself from the matter.

Mr Sekhon said the police seemed to be influenced by the powerful family. Incidentally, the adjoining cinema hall site (Parkash cinema) belongs to the Kairon family. 

 

Pak national among 2 held
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, November 20
The police has arrested a Pakistan national Haidar Ali of Landa Bazar, Lahore, and Mussatqeen of Kiratpur in Bijnour district of Uttar Pradesh for allegedly committing espionage and seized handmade maps of Indian defence installations and other documents from their possession.

According to police sources, on a tip-off, Inspector Malkiat Singh, SHO, along with a police party raided a place near Sainik gurdwara here and arrested the suspects.

A handmade map of Mamoon Cantonment and Mamoon Ammunition Depot, a photostat copy of passport in the name of Mohammad Hasif of Lahore on which a photograph of Haider Ali was affixed, three documents containing information about the Army’s “Puran Vijay Shakti” exercise, the Kandla sea port and the annunition destroyed at Bharatpur and Mamoon depots were seized from Haider Ali.

The police seized a passport in the name of Yunis of Meerut on which a photograph of Mussatqeen was affixed, a diary containing important telephone numbers, a map of the Beas bridge and 390 injections of morphine from the possession of Mussatqeen.

After the preliminary interrogation, the suspects disclosed that they were indulging in espionage activities since the past year and by now had supplied important documents and information to Pakistan twice.

The arrested persons admitted to their links with Pakistan’s ISI.

They have been booked under relevant sections of the IPC.


 

Lok Bhalai Party to contest 90 seats
Our Correspondent

Mansa, November 20
“The Congress has used Punjab as a political laboratory. It may be secular in other parts of the country but in Punjab it has always encouraged communalism to derive political gains”, said Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, president of the Lok Bhalai Party while addressing mediapersons here today.

Mr Ramoowalia was on a tour to address public meetings in the interiors of the district. He said people in large were against the Congress, SAD and CPI. He said the Congress and SAD were ridden with groupisms.

He ruled out the possibility of entering into alliance with the SAD, BJP or Congress. He held the Congress responsible for the removal of Mr Inder Kumar Gujral, as the Prime Minister.

Mr Ramoowalia said his party would contest 90 seats in Punjab and had already nominated 18 candidates. The party had decided to put Mr Jodha Singh Mann and Dr Mohinder Singh Chauhan from Mansa and Joga constituencies, respectively, of the district, he said. He claimed his party was getting overwhelming response from voters in Punjab.

He said the SAD-BJP combine had brought the state at the door of bankruptcy. He said police stations were being auctioned.


 

MLAs boycott meetings
Our Correspondent

Mansa, November 20
None of the four MLAs, including Mr Sukhwinder Singh Aulakh, MLA of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, attended the meetings of the District Planning Board and District Grievances Committee held at Mansa yesterday.

It may be recalled that the three opposition MLAs, Mr Ajitinder Singh Mofar of the Congress, Mr Hardev Arshi of the CPI and Mr Baldev Singh Khiala, rebel Akali MLA, had boycotted the District Planning Board meeting last month and they abstained from both meetings yesterday.

Today’s meetings were presided over by Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development and Fisheries Minister Punjab. The two meetings were over in just half an hour after going through some items of the agenda and rest of the items were not discussed due to absence of the MLAs of the district.


 

Punjabis more prone to heart diseases
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib
“Prevention is better than cure. If we do not change our lifestyle and eating habits, there is a real danger of an epidemic-like situation being created in the next 20 to 25 years pertaining to cardio-vascular ailments. And most of the deaths in the country, particularly in northern belt, will be due to ‘Syndrome X’ diseases”. This warning comes from Dr Gurpreet Singh Sidhu, a renowned cardiologist of the country from the Patiala Heart Care Institute. He was addressing a free heart check-up-cum-blood donation camp organised by the Blood Donors’ Society, Bassi Pathana, in collaboration with the local ADB branch of State Bank of Patiala.

He said in the northern belt, particularly in Punjab, after the “Green Revolution” diseases like obesity, diabetes and hypertension had increased manifold, resulting in a big rise in “heart attacks”. This had happened mainly due to the changed lifestyle of the people and stress and strain of modern-day life. People had stopped doing physical work. In 1947 when the country got freedom, we mostly had infectious diseases. After the sixties it turned into the diseases of “lifestyle”, like obesity, hypertension, diabetes, hypercholestrems, coronary artery diseases named as “Syndrome X” diseases. Such diseases are fast increasing, partly because of the genetic pre-disposition and of dietary habits and sedentary life style. He said this disease had also spread to the rural areas. This was an alarming signal. The farmers, who were known for their hard work, had now stopped doing work in the fields and depended totally on migrant labourers.

He said the need of the hour was to develop a positive health concept. Only those could serve society and the nation who were physically sound.

He said 4 km of daily walk, consumption of less fat in diet, organised lifestyle, yoga and light exercise were the means by which such diseases could be overcome. He said in 1973 a survey was conducted by the Medical Association in Finland. It was found that most of the people suffered from these diseases. Social organisations and the government woke up and started educating the public. Now, in a recent survey, it was found that the heart attack risk was the lowest in that country.

Dr Arun Chopra, from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, said in hospitals of Delhi 60 to 80 per cent patients suffering from cardiac diseases were from Punjab.

Dr D.V. Gandhi, another renowned surgeon, gave detailed information about the changing management concept of heart diseases in the new millennium.

Mr Sareen, Deputy General Manager of SBOP, Mr Mittal, Administrative member of SBOP, and Mr Aggarwal, manager of the local branch, said that there was no other better method to commemorate the foundation day of the bank than by organising such camps.

Dr Mohinder Singh and Mr Shiv Malhotra, President and the Secretary, respectively, of the Blood Donors’ Society, said the society was formed in 1985 and the blood donation camp was a regular feature of the society after every three months.

Later, in the blood donation camp more than 100 units were donated to the team of the PGI, Mr S.P. Bansal, Deputy Manager SBOP, donated blood for 104 times, Shiv Malhotra 85 times, Dr Mohinder Singla 71 times, Kamal Gupta 64 times, Kulbhushan Malhotra 64 times, Ajay Malhotra 63 times, Surinder Dhiman and Lakhbir Bajwa 60 times, Dr S.K. Khullar 57 times, Baldev Jindal 55 times, Sushil Singla and his daughter 45 times, Ashok Gautam, Tarlok Gupta 45 times, Prof Harshwinder, Paramjit Singh Sandhu and Tara Singh 43 times.


 

Cancer death rate high in village
Tribune News Service

Giana (Bathinda), November 20
Even as deaths due to cancer have been taking place continuously in this small village bordering Haryana, residents have reportedly stopped disclosing the reason of the death of their kin to people because of the social stigma.

Though the health authorities claim that situation in the village due to cancer cases was not alarming, two deaths, as per official record, had taken place from December 31, 1999, to October 27, 2001, while three more patients had been getting treatment of cancer from a hospital based in Bikaner in Rajasthan.

Residents of the village, who feel shy while talking of deaths due to cancer as they feel that highlighting it in the media has been reducing the marriage chances of their boys and girls, have claimed that at least 70 residents had fallen prey to different forms of cancer from 1970 to 1998.

A recent survey conducted by the district health authorities on the directions of the Principal Secretary, Health, Punjab, Mr Rajan Kashyap on October 27 this year revealed that three residents had been undergoing treatment for cancer and two deaths due to the disease had taken place in the past two years.

Those who died due to cancer in the past about two years included Gian Kaur (60), who was suffering from breast cancer and Bikkar Singh (30), who was suffering from stomach cancer. Four teams were constituted by the health authorities to conduct a door to door survey.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the state government decided to institute an inquiry into it. Whether the inquiry was conducted or not could not be known.

Dr S. Nevetia, District Immunisation Officer, Civil Hospital, Bathinda, when contacted, said three patients of cancer in a population of over 3700 persons was not much and cause for worry.

Information further revealed that as compared to an averaged 3.8 per cent cancer deaths in the state the village accounted for about 17 per cent cancer deaths in the past more than one decade.

 

54 AIDS cases detected
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, November 20
As many as 54 cases of AIDS have been detected in Hoshiarpur district during the past four years. This was disclosed by Mr Iqbal Singh Sidhu, Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur, in a press note issued by the District Public Relations Office here today.

He said the health authorities were regularly watching the health and activities of these patients. To make public aware about AIDS, camps were being organised, especially at truck unions and petrol stations, where condoms were provided to truck operators. He said 1,022 TB patients were detected during last year in the district.

To provide better health facilities to the maximum number of people, expansion of the buildings of civil hospitals in various cities and towns had been done at a cost of Rs 8.79 crore, he said.


 

Drug de-addiction camp organised
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 20
Dr Mehboob Singh Sran, project-in-charge of the Red Cross de-addiction hospital here today said sports and cultural activities helped the youth to use their energy in constructive areas and divert attention from drugs.

Dr Sran, who held a drug de-addiction and awareness camp at Janda Wala village in the district today with the help of village panchayat and Shaheed Udham Singh Sports and Youth Club, said where as the opium addiction was on the decline, the use of cheap intoxicants like poppy husk and drugs was increasing. Some addicts had been consuming upto 2 kg of poppy husk in a month, he said.

He regretted that the easy availability of intoxicants and numerous quacks posing as qualified doctors were adding to the number of addicts. In some cases, the addicts had devised coded language for the drugs. Dr Sran said as many as 20 addicts expressed willingness for getting treatment.

Mr Jasbir Singh, sarpanch, said with the efforts of the club, the youths had freed themselves from the clutches of drugs. Moreover, annual sports competitions and setting up of a library in the village provided channels for using energy of the youth.


 

100 unauthorised taxis plying: union
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, November 20
Resentment prevails among taxi owners with authorised licences in the district. Mr Promod Kumar, Mr Ravel Singh and Mr Tilak Raj, representatives of the permit holders’ taxi union, while talking this correspondent today, said about 100 unauthorised taxis were plying in the district and evading tax, thus causing loss to the government.

The leaders said only 15 taxis were plying under the authorised permits. They said the unauthorised taxis were engaged by cooperative and rural development banks and other government institutions for implemention campaigns. They said no action had been taken in this regard despite repeated reminders to the authorities concerned.

They said they had to pay to the government for operating their taxis. They admitted that they charged a little more than those plying unauthorised taxis to meet the expenses.

Mr O.P. Verma, District Transport Officer, admitted that unauthorised taxis outnumbered the authorised ones. He said a campaign had been launched to check the unauthorised plying of taxis. As many as 365 challans had been done last year, he added.


 

Training camp for unemployed women
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 20
A training camp for unemployed women, being organised by the Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA), began at the local Zila Parishad yesterday. Mr D.P.S. Kharbanda, Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development), inaugurated the camp “Women Energy Renewable Energy Employment Programme”.

Mr Suresh Goyal, district project officer, PEDA, said in a press note issued here today that the purpose of the five-day training camp was to help educated women who were unemployed. Mr Goyal said the successful trainees would be provided solar shops by PEDA. The shops would be equipped with solar instruments like solar cooker, solar lamps, solar homelight system, solar drier, etc. He said PEDA would also make arrangements for the sale and repair of these instruments. Mr Tripjit Singh, JE, PEDA, Muktsar, and Mr Bhola Singh, instructor, ITI, provided information about the maintenance and care of solar instruments.


 

Jassi blames vulgarity on audio companies
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 20
Jasbir Jassi, Punjabi pop singer, who was here on Sunday to perform at a programme, denied charges that his songs were promoting vulgarity and instead accused various audio companies for the same.

Jassi, while talking to mediapersons, said he never tried to highlight or promote vulgarity in his songs. “Sometimes singers are not shown the videos shot for their songs and thus obscene scenes are used.”

He said while in “Dil le gai kudi Gujarat di” he was told that there would be “some revealing” scenes, in the case of his latest song, “Channo da jawani wich” no vulger scene was shot with him. “In this song, even I was not aware that the number would be having such revealing scenes. The model was hired after the audio recording was over,” Jassi claimed.

To a question he said from now onwards no video of his songs would be released unless he approved it. “Sometimes singers, especially new entrants, are at the receiving end and have to obey the companies”, he said.

He said Punjabi music and stage owed much to Gurdas Mann. Praising Mann, he said the word “Punjabi singer” was made respectable by him.

Jassi, a resident of Dalia village, Gurdaspur, said he first shot into limelight with the Punjabi song “Channa ve teri channi...” in 1993. He said continuing with stage and singing, he did MA (music) and learnt theatre from Harpal Tiwana. He denied that the craze for Punjabi pop was declining. “Punjabi songs are popular even in South India where most people do not understand Punjabi but enjoy the beat of the music”, he added.

Asked for his comments on the “Raaj Gayak” award for Hans Raj Hans, he first denied having any knowledge about it but made a passing remark that Gurdas Mann deserved it for his contribution to Punjabi music.

Later, performing at the show he lived up to the expectations of the audience who could not stop themselves from dancing.


 

Sena chief gets threats from Pak fundamentalists
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 20
Mr Surinder Kumar Billa, president, All-India Hindu Shiv Sena, has alleged that he has been receiving threatening letters from Pakistani fundamentalists.

In a communication to the Union Home Ministry, Mr Billa said the Hindu jatha which is scheduled to go on a pilgrimage to Katasraj and other Hindu shrines in Pakistan in March next year, could cancel the visit if foolproof security was not provided. Mr Billa said if Pakistani fundamentalists would resort to an extreme step, the All-India Hindu Shiv Sena would retaliate and not let any Muslim jatha to visit India.


 

Pensioners await dues
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 20
Even as a pension scam of Rs 23 crore has been unearthed, the government is allegedly not paying any heed towards hundreds of such persons who have been running from pillar to post to get their dues.

Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, BJP MLA, while talking to mediapersons alleged that there were about 2,000 families which had failed to get pension despite promises from the government. This year even though the SDM, on the orders of the Deputy Commissioner, had filled about 1,000 forms, only 39 persons were provided with pension.

She alleged that “political transfers” of some conscientious social security officers had added to the problem.

Rekha Behl (50), a widow and cancer patient, has not got any pension even after three years of applying. Even her mother Bimla’s pension was allegedly being drawn by a fake person. Rekha said she did not have any other means for sustenance. 


 

Rally by nurses
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 20
The Punjab Nurses Association today took out a rally in the Banur constituency and disrupted traffic on the Patiala-Chandigarh road in support of its demands.

The state president of the Punjab Nurses Association, Ms Jiwanpreet, calling the Badal government a “government of false promises”, accused the Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, of going back on his word in respect of granting special Nurses Allowance amounting to Rs 2000, which he had promised in June,1999. She also said that the government had backed out of the already declared nurses scale of Rs 5800- 9400.

The president of the Students Nurses Association, Ms Suman, while condemning the hike in the fee structure of nurses training, demanded a stipend of Rs 2000 during the first year, Rs 3000 in the second year and Rs 4000 in the final year of the training.

The rally was addressed by Ms Gurcharan Kaur, secretary Punjab Nurses Association , Ms Paramjeet Kamboj, Ms Amarjit Kaur and other state leaders of the association. 


 

Medical camps for tooth diseases
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 20
The Health Department, Punjab, in cooperation with the local Rotary Club is organising medical camps for tooth diseases.

These medical camps are being held at civil hospitals in Bathinda, Rampura and Talwandi Sabo from November 17 to December 1. During these camps patients are being examined free of cost for problems related to teeth.

Mr P. Bansal, president of the Rotary Club, in a press note issued here today said the needy and poor people of old age were being provided dentures free of cost. He said Dr Bawa Ram Gupta, Civil Surgeon, Bathinda, inaugurated the medical camp here. Dr R.C. Goyal, District Dental Health Officer, was taking care of the locally held medical camp.


 

Cultural festival organised
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 20
The State Bank of Patiala, Bathinda zone, organised its seventh cultural festival here recently in which bank employees and their kin participated.

Mr Mahadev Balani, Deputy General Manager, SBOP, Bathinda zone, was the chief guest. Addressing the participants and guests, he stressed the need for cultural festivals.

The zonal festival provided a platform for employees of various branches and their families to interact with each other. He also gave details of the modernisation plans of the bank. Of the 23 items presented during the show, some solo items were presented by employees and their kin. A skit directed by Mr Gurmeet Khurana, “VRS and after” was presented during the festival.


 

Health staff extend strike
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 20
The pen-down strike by members of the Punjab Health Department Subordinate Offices Clerical Association has been extended till November 22.

The association is protesting against the alleged illegal appointment of two Senior Assistants in the Health Department by the Director, Health and Family Welfare recently.


 

Paddy sold, payment eludes farmers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 20
Thousands of farmers are making daily rounds of the shops of commission agents here and in other parts of the state to get the payments of paddy sold about a month ago. According to the sources in the Department of Food and Civil Supplies, payments worth more than Rs 300 crore are still pending towards commission agents. Consequently, they are unable to make the payments to the farmers. The state procurement agencies reportedly owe about Rs 50 crore to the commission agents in Ludhiana district alone, which has been ranked as number two in the state by procuring 13 lakh metric tonnes of paddy.

Mr Sadhu Ram, president, Arhtiyas’ Association of Khanna Mandi, claimed, “The Finance Minister, Mr Kanwaljit Singh, had recently promised to release funds to clear all pending payments at a meeting with our association, However, only a small portion of pending payments has been cleared so far. The state agencies owe more than Rs 25 crore to the commission agents of Khanna Mandi alone. Consequently, we are unable to pay to the farmers, who daily comes to our shops.”

Mr Ranbir Sood, vice president, Arhtiyas’ Association of Khanna Mandi, said: “The District Food and Supplies Controller, Captain Parveen Vij, had promised to clear all the pending payments by the last Monday. However, the payments have not been cleared even after a week.”

It is learnt that the state Finance Department had released funds worth about Rs 1000 crore to clear the payments of paddy, procured by the state procurement agencies. However, the sources said the district officials had not utilised all funds, which were inadequate. The sources in the department of Food and Civil Supplies admitted that the department had to pay about Rs 8 crore to the commission agents, though Rs 70 crore had been paid during the past few days.

Mr Sood disclosed that the Department of Food and Civil Supplies had cleared the payments for the paddy procured by October 8, Markfed by October 19, PUNSUP by October 16 and Punjab Warehousing by October 16. The state procurement agencies had stopped paddy procurement in the last week of October, though few thousand of quintals of paddy was still procured by the commission agents daily.

Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, president, Bhartiya Kisan Union, alleged that farmers were harassed by the state government. He said the farmers were also forced to pay Rs 3 to Rs 10 per bag to the commission agents to get the payments soon. The state government should clear the payments soon otherwise the union would be forced to launch an agitation against the state government. The union has already announced a dharna from November 29 at Abohar to seek compensation from the state Agriculture Department for the alleged sale of spurious pesticides in the region resulting in heavy loss of cotton crop.



 

Cotton growers want loans waived
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 20
The Punjab Kisan Sabha in a resolution today demanded that the government should pay a compensation of Rs 10,000 per acre to those farmers whose cotton crop was damaged this year, besides waiving their loans.

The resolution was passed at a rally organised in front of the office of the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) here. Members of the sabha from the district and office-bearers of kisan sabhas from Haryana and Rajasthan participated. The farmers also sat on a dharna. The Punjab Kisan Sabha, a wing of the CPI, has been holding dharnas and rallies throughout the state in this regard.

Dr Joginder Dayal, President of the sabha, said if the government could waive the loans of industrialists, it should do the same for the farmers. They also demanded that a CBI inquiry should be conducted into the sale of “fake” pesticides and those manufacturing them. The farmers also demanded that the import of cotton should be banned.


 
 

HUDCO to make Preetnagar a model village
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 20
The Housing and Urban Develop-ment Corporation (HUDCO) has accepted in principle the proposal put up by Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University to adopt ‘Preetnagar’ village to develop it as a model village. This announcement was made by Mr V. Suresh, Chairman and Managing Director of HUDCO at a joint meeting of the high officials of the Ministry of Urban Development, sociologists and architects held here.

The meeting was presided over by the Vice-Chancellor while Mr S.S. Chattopadhya, Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development, New Delhi, was chief guest.

Preetnagar is the home town of renowned Punjabi writers like Mr Gurbax Singh Preetlari, Mr Nanak Singh, Mr Balraj Sahni, Mr Upinder Nath Ashk and other distinguished writers to develop it as a Model village.

Mr V. Suresh, Chairman and Managing Director, HUDCO, assured the university authorities that their proposal would be considered at the higher level by the Urban Development Ministry in a favourable light.


 

23,000 EVMs to be used in poll
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, November 20
Around 23,000 electronic voting machines (EVMs) will be used in the Assembly elections in Punjab scheduled to be held early next year and only those possessing the voter identity card will be allowed to exercise their franchise. This was stated by Mr G.S. Cheema, Chief Election Commissioner, Punjab, while presiding over a meeting of returning officers to review the ongoing process of making voter identity cards.

Exhorting officials to expedite the process of making of the I-cards, Mr Cheema said more than 75 per cent of the work had already been completed and the state Election Commission was fully geared up to hold a free-and-fair poll in Punjab.

Mr Cheema said around 18,000 polling stations would be set up, adding that the first phase of making the I-cards would be completed by December 15.

Asked about allegations of tampering with the EVMs during elections in the past, Mr Cheema said it was very difficult to tamper with the EVMs and all allegations were found baseless by the court.

Regarding, the petition filed in the high court by Mr Ravi Inder Singh to discard the use of EVMs, Mr Cheema said the state Election Commission was merely an instrument in the hands of the Election Commission of India and whatever decision would be taken by it in the matter would be implemented.

Mr Cheema said Muktsar district had already completed 86 per cent work pertaining to the I-cards followed by Ferozepore where 83 per cent of the work had been completed.

Mr S.R. Ladhar, Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore, said all returning officers were being asked to complete the process well in time. He said training camps would be held for officials to acquaint them with the functioning of the EVMs.

Asked about the detection of 3,000 bogus votes in the Lambi constituency under Muktsar district, Mr Cheema said the matter was being looked into.


 

SHO accused of misbehaviour
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, November 20
More than 500 persons, led by Mr Narinder Kumar Sharma, president, Block Congress Committee, Dhariwal, Mr Vinod Sharma, president, SAD, Dhariwal unit, Mr Satish Sharma, president, Municipal Committee, Dhariwal, and Mr Rajneesh Sood, president, Beopar Mandal, Dhariwal, sat on dharna in front of the Dhariwal police station and blocked traffic yesterday in protest against the alleged misbehaviour of the Station House Officer (SHO) with a woman councillor.

According to the leaders, Ms Jatinder Kaur, BJP councillor of Ward No 1 of Municipal Committee, Dhariwal, yesterday went to the Dhariwal police station to bring about a rapprochement between Gurchain Singh and Jagjit Singh, who had been called to the police station after a scuffle between the two. Inspector Rajbir Singh, the SHO, reportedly resented the intervention of the BJP councillor and the two were involved in a verbal duel.

The leaders said the SHO detained the councillor in lock-up. As a result, activists owing allegiance to various political parties gathered in front of the police station and blocked traffic for three hours. They raised anti-police slogans and demanded the suspension of the Dhariwal SHO.

Meanwhile, Mr Darshan Singh Dhindsa, SP (Operations), accompanied by Mr J.S. Hundal, DSP, and Mr S.K. Sabharwal, SDM, Gurdaspur, rushed to the spot and negotiated with the protesters.

Meanwhile, Mr Rajbir Singh has been summoned to the police lines here by the SSP, Mr Lok Nath Angra. Mr S.K. Sabharwal has been deputed by Mr Kulbir Singh Sandhu, Deputy Commissioner, to hold an inquiry into the incident.


 

4 held in plot to free undertrial
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 20
The police has arrested four persons who had reportedly made a plan to get an undertrial freed, while he was to be produced at a court at Talwandi Sabo.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, in a press note issued here yesterday said Buta Singh and Jasvir Singh of the city, Jasvir Singh of Kotshamir village and Bittu of Raman were arrested by the police yesterday from a local club as they had chalked out a plan to get Lakhwinder Singh, alias Lakhi, freed from the police custody.

He said the persons were arrested on a specific tip-off. Lakhi was a hard core criminal who had been lodged at the Central Jail and facing various cases under different Sections, he added. One of the alleged culprits, Buta Singh, was carrying a .12-bore countrymade pistol and five cartridges. A case under Sections 224, 511 and 120-B, IPC, 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act had been registered in this connection, he added.


 

Poppy husk, illicit liquor seized
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 20
The police seized 102 kg of poppy husk, 13 litres of illicit liquor, 10 litres of country liquor and 24 litres of lahan in different cases registered in the district.

Dr Jatinder Jain, SSP, in a press note issued here yesterday said 90 kg of poppy husk was recovered from three persons at Balloh village. They were arrested under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act. Five persons, including Randhir Singh, Pala Singh, Gurmail Singh, Labh Singh and Naresh Kumar, were arrested under the Excise Act. Three other persons were arrested under the Prevention of Gambling Act. They have been identified as Jagdish Kumar, Parmod Kumar and Mahesh Kumar.


 

BBK DAV College wins youth fest trophy
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 20
The local BBK DAV College for Women bagged Guru Nanak Dev University’s ‘A’ zone women’s youth festival trophy. R.R. Bawa DAV College for Girls, Batala, stood second while Khalsa College for Women, Amritsar, remained third.

The ‘B’ division trophy went to SDSPM College for Women, Rayya, while SGAD College, Khadoor Sahib, finished second and GTB Institute of Computer Management, Khanjot, third.

Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, presided over the concluding function of the festival and gave away the trophies.

Earlier, Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor of the univesity, said GNDU had been adjudged the top university of India in cultural fields, besides sports.

The results are as under:

Group shabad/bhajan:

RR Bawa DAV College for Girls, Batala, 1; and BBK DAV College for Women, Amritsar, 2;

Group song (Indian)

BBK DAV College for Women, Amritsar, 1; and RR Bawa DAV College for Girls, Batala and SDSM College for Women, Rayya, both 2.

Vaar singing:

BBK DAV College for Women, Amritsar, 1; and RR Bawa DAV College for Girls, Batala 2.

Folk orchestra:

BBK DAV College for Women, Amritsar, 1.

Classical instrument (non-percussion):

Khalsa College for Women, Amritsar, 1; and SN College for Girls, Amritsar, 2.

Classical vocal:

RR Bawa DAV College for Girls, Batala, 1, and BBK DAV College for Women, Amritsar,2.

Shabad/bhajan:

SN College for Girls, Amritsar, 1; and BBK DAV College for Women, Amritsar 2.

Geet/gazal:

BBK DAV College for Women, Amritsar, 1; and RR Bawa DAV College for Girls, Batala, 2.

Folk songs:

SN College for Girls, Amritsar, 1 and RR Bawa DAV College for Girls, Batala, 2.

Western vocal:

SR Government College for Women, Amritsar, 1; and DAV College, Amritsar, 2.

Western group songs:

DAV College, Amritsar, 1; and SR Government College for Women, Amritsar, 2.

Poetical symposium:

SGAD College, Khadoor Sahib, 1; SDSM College for women, Rayya, 2.

Elocution:

BBK DAV College for Women, Amritsar, 1; and RR Bawa DAV College for Girls, Batala, 2.

Debate:

DAV College of Education for Women, Amritsar, 1; and BBK DAV College for Women, Amritsar, 2.

Quiz:

DAV College of Education for Women, Amritsar, 1 and RR Bawa DAV College for Girls, Batala, 2.

Painting (landscape):

BBK DAV College for Women, Amritsar, 1; and RR Bawa DAV College for Girls, Batala, 2.

Painting (still life):

BBK DAV College for Women, Amritsar, 1; and RR Bawa DAV College for Girls, Batala, 2.

Sketches:

BBK DAV College for Women, Amritsar, 1; and DAV College, Amritsar, 2.

Cartoons:

BBK DAV College for Women, Amritsar, 1 and DAV College, Amritsar, 2.

Poster making:

BBK DAV College for Women, Amritsar, 1; and SN College for Girls, Amritsar, 2.

Rangoli:

BBK DAV College for Women, Amritsar, 1 and SMDRSD College, Pathankot, 2

Flower arrangement:

SD Arya Mahila College, Dina Nagar, 1; and BBK DAV College for Women, Amritsar, 2.

Phulkari:

RR Bawa DAV College for Girls, Batala, 1; and DAV College for Women, Amritsar, 2.

Clay modelling:

BBK DAV College for Women, Amritsar, 1; and RR Bawa DAV College for Girls, Batala, 2.

Skit:

BBK DAV College for Women, Amritsar, 1; and RR Bawa DAV College for Girls, Batala, 2.

Mime:

BBK DAV College for Women, Amritsar, 1; and RR Bawa DAV College for Girls, Batala, 2.

Mimicry:

BBK DAV College for Women, Amritsar, 1; and RR Bawa DAV College for Girls, Batala, 2.

One-act play:

BBK DAV College for Women, Amritsar, 1; and Khalsa College for Women, Amritsar, 2.

Classical dance:

BBK DAV College for Women, Amritsar, 1; and Khalsa College for Women, Amritsar, 2.


 

Minister’s gesture
Our Correspondent

Moga, November 20
The Education Minister, Punjab Mr Tota Singh, has donated a sum of Rs 50,000 for the construction of houses of the five sons of a labourer, whose eyes were got transplanted earlier by the Moga Seva Bharti.

This was stated by the vice-president of the organisation, Mr Vishva Mitter Daba, here yesterday. He said they were all residents of Raunta village.


 

Students hold exhibition
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 20
Students of different departments of BBK DAV College for Women organised an exhibition and sale of articles. 

The Principal of the college, Ms J Kackaria, in a press note isued here on Monday said the proceed from the exhibition would go to the poor students’ fund.


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