Wednesday, December 5, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Sitting MLAs to get Cong ticket
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 4
To the surprise of the public as well as the organisers, Capt Amarinder Singh, President, PPCC, failed to turn up, at the very first rally organised in Sirhind constituency today to launch the party’s election campaign in all constituencies of the state. According to the party, the aim was to activate the party workers as well as, to educate the public about the misdeeds of the Badal government. The rally, however, was a great success and attracted a massive gathering. Mr Lal Singh, senior vice-president of the PPCC presided over the rally.

Addressing the rally, Mr Lal Singh announced that the party high command has decided to allot the party ticket to all 14 sitting MLAs of the party in the coming Assembly elections. He said the decision was taken at a meeting of the party presided over by Ms Sonia Gandhi, President of the AICC. He declared Dr Harbans Lal, sitting MLA, as the next party candidate from Sirhind constituency putting all speculations at rest.

He said the writing on the wall was clear that the Congress was going to form the next government in the state under the leadership of Capt Amarinder Singh. The people were now waiting for the election day to oust the “most corrupt” government in the history of the state, he added. He said the rallies of the Congress were getting an overwhelming response unlike the rallies organised by the Akali Dals where forced gatherings were arranged by officials. He said even Mr Parkash Singh Badal has admitted, while addressing the rallies, that the infighting among the leaders of the SAD would harm the party resulting in its defeat. He said according to a survey the Congress would win 76 seats on its own and the BJP-SAD combine would get only 38 seats. The BJP, BSP and CPI would get one seat each. He said the survey showed that if the Congress, the CPI and the CPM form an alliance, they would sweep the poll. He announced that immediately after forming the government, the Congress would form a judicial commission to be headed by the sitting High Court judge to investigate the corruption charges against the Badal family and his council of Ministers. He said the government was yet to make payments of Rs 1500 crore for the paddy purchased to the farmers of the state. He alleged that this amount was being distributed in sangat darshan programs.

Mr Birdevinder Singh, general secretary, PPCC, in his speech said during his foreign tour he had gathered information that Mr Badal had amassed property worth more than Rs 3,500 crore in the USA alone. He said in Yuba and Frizno cities of the USA, he had farmhouses of 20,000 acres. He alleged that various posts were being auctioned in the state and the Badal family had collected crores of rupees by selling these posts through all recruitment agencies. He said the state was facing a financial crunch and salaries to the employees were being paid by taking loans from various boards and corporations. He said after coming to power the Congress would review all posts recently filled and the deserving would be recruited for those posts. He said the infighting among the Akalis, particularly during the tercentenary celebrations of the Khalsa, have brought a bad name to Punjab and lowered the prestige of the Sikhs all over the world.

Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, MP, said every section of society was annoyed with the Badal government. He said Mr Badal was befooling the people by giving sops to different sections of society at the time of the elections. He said the decision to abolish octroi was a mere eye wash as no alternative had been suggested to supplement the income of the councils. Mr Badal has taken this decision to derive political mileage, he said.

Dr Harbans Lal, MLA, who organised the rally, thanked the party for re-nominating him as the party candidate from Sirhind constituency. He assured the people that he would continue to serve the people of the area.

Dr Sikandar Singh, president, DCC, Mr Sadhu Singh former Minister, Mr Jagmeet Singh Sahota, Vaid Hari Krishan, members, PPCC, Bibi Prem Lata, president of the mahila wing also addressed the rally. 


Cong poll panel for Punjab

New Delhi, December 4
Former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, AICC general Secretary Ambika Soni and former Union Minister R. L. Bhatia figure in the 16-member state election committee for Punjab headed by PCC president Amarinder Singh, which was announced by AICC today.

Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, MP, and a known detractor of the PCC President, as also six other mps from the state including Praneet Kaur, are members of the committee. The announcement was made by AICC treasurer Motilal Vora who is in-charge of party affairs in Punjab. PTI


Rinwa stakes claim to seats in 8 districts
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 4
Reiterating that the BJP would want Akalis to leave 33 Assembly seats this time for it as against the 23 seats in the last elections, Prof Brij Lal Rinwa, President, Punjab BJP, staked claim to one seat each in Sangrur, Mansa, Bathinda, Muktsar, Faridkot, Moga, Fatehgarh Sahib and Nawanshahr districts. Talking to mediapersons here, Professor Rinwa also demanded Ludhiana (west) and Anandpur Sahib seats for the BJP. Ludhiana (west) is represented by Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, a Tohra faction MLA, it may be mentioned here. Professor Rinwa asserted that the BJP would have plus 23 and plus 18 seats in coming elections, the number it contested and won in the last elections.

However, he said the issue of seat sharing would be settled through mutual agreement. He said he would take it up at the earliest with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. The names of candidates were being shortlisted and would be announced 10 days after an agreement was clinched with Mr Badal, he said. He did not rule out minor changes in the selection of sitting MLAs. He said all aspirants would be required to provide list of their assets to party and a record of assets would be kept.

A common minimum programme would be framed by the SAD-BJP combine for contesting the elections, but both allies would have separate manifestoes, he said. The BJP manifesto would be prepared by a panel headed by him, said Professor Rinwa.

On unity among Akali factions, Professor Rinwa asserted the BJP would welcome Panthic unity but it would not use its good offices for the purpose as it would tantamount to meddling in the Akali affairs. There was only a clash of personalities, and not of principles, that stood in the way of unity, he quipped.

The BJP would take out a “vikas and sadbhavana rath yatra” in the state by December 27, he said.

Punjab Tourism Minister Swarna Ram, election in charge Vinod Sharma, BJYM president Sukhminderpal Singh Grewal, Local Improvement Trust Chairman Om Gupta, senior party leader Ram Suroop Arora were also present in the press conference.

Earlier, Professor Rinwa and other leaders addressed an anti-terrorist rally which turned out to be a pro-POTO rally. The Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha announced holding an anti-terrorism rally on Wagah border on December 6.

Earlier, the back of the stage collapsed due to rush of leaders. The stage was so shaky that repeated cautions were given from public address system about it. The rally was poorly organised and the entire pandal became virtually empty by the time Professor Rinwa rose to speak.


Mohan Lal, Kanwaljit on collision course
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh , December 4
It is a spillover the Shiromani Akali Dal may find difficult to contain at a time when the elections are round the corner. As the ongoing tug of war between teachers and the Punjab Finance Minister hots up, the alleged “high-handedness” of the Finance Ministry seems to be rubbing the Higher Education Department the wrong way. This was evident from the fact that the Punjab Higher Education Minister, Master Mohan Lal, mincing no words on the pension-gratuity problem, said: “The Finance Minister is certainly not above the Cabinet, which had approved the notification on payments through the government treasury. I have recommended the scrapping of the scheme altogether if it is to be dealt with in this manner. Obviously, they cannot withdraw it altogether, which means they are left with no option but to implement it without modification.’’

Speaking from Pathankot, the minister added that the Finance Department had come up with the proposal of asking private managements to form a corpus and augment it as per the requirements.

“I sent the file back to them, telling them that the notification cannot be tampered with and that they must conform to the guidelines laid down by the Cabinet. It is not a good reflection on the ministry and the government, especially at the time of the elections. I will come back and take up the matter again,’’ he stated.

However, the Punjab Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, seemed unmoved. “We have justification for all that we have done or recommended. I will be able to show you all you need to know by the evening,’’ he told this correspondent. However, by the evening he was busy “at a meeting’’ and unavailable for comment, his press secretary said.

Meanwhile, support for the protesting teachers has come from other quarters as well. The president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), Capt Amarinder Singh, also expressed wholehearted support for the teachers. “How can the Finance Minister think he is an authority over and above the Cabinet? If it has once been approved by the Cabinet, he cannot afford to meddle with the notifications all by himself. The Congress will back the teachers in their fight against the injustice being meted out to them by the Finance Department,’’ he added.

The teachers claim that in violation of the notification of December 18, 1996, the Finance Minister is unwilling to consider their legitimate demand of payment for the pension-cum-gratuity scheme through the government treasury.


Where faith and fear mingle
Villagers shun double-storeyed houses
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Laseriwal (Jalandhar), Dec 4
This is a unique and perhaps the only village of the country having no double-storeyed house for centuries together for a unique reason — the fear of the unknown.

It is not that the residents of this village of the prosperous Doaba region do not want to construct double-storeyed houses for themselves or that they do not have the money for that, but it is faith, mingled with fear, which has been preventing them from doing so.

The widely prevalent fear is that anybody who dares to construct a house at a height more than that of the ‘dargah’ building of Pir Mian Mithe Shah, will have to face the wrath of the saint. Though nobody knows exactly about the background of Pir Mian Mithe Shah, and the source of the belief that the houses with more height than that of the “dargah” building will invoke “celestial wrath”, it is believed that the saint was a contemporary of Guru Nanak Dev, who had also reportedly visited the village during his lifetime when it was a humming city and a major business centre of the region. It is also believed that Guru Nanak Dev had stayed there for some time during one of his “udaasis”.

To pay their respect to the saint, the villagers and people of nearby villages converge at the “dargah” on June 28 and 29 every year at a fair.

The faith, or in other words, the fear is so strong that none of the 400 odd houses is double-storyed. Villagers maintain that two or three residents who had dared to construct their houses at more than the “dargah’s” height in the late seventies had to bear the brunt in the form of death and disease or cracks appearing in such houses.

Another interesting aspect of life in the village, according to the residents, is that no theft has ever been reported in the village because of the “blessings” of the Pir. “It is perhaps the only village of North India where there are no thefts. If ever a theft took place, it was detected within no time and no outsider could steal anything from any of the houses in the village,” said Mr Harjinder Singh, a member of the village panchayat.

The “dargah” is a favourite place for prayer among those who want to go abroad in search of greener pastures. They come here to seek the blessings of the Pir to enlist celestial help in their mission.

Mr Tarsem Lal, another resident of the village reminisced by saying that before Independence, Muslims dominated the village population and it was a famous trading centre of the Doaba region.


Hype over birth of CM’s grandson
Tribune News Service

Phillaur, December 4
The National Commission for Women has taken a serious notice of the grand celebrations being held at the birth of a grandson of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, which in its view, undermined the dignity of the girl child.

The Chairperson of the commission Ms Vibha Parthasarthy, while talking to The Tribune here today, said it had been brought to the notice of the commission that many advertisements were published in papers by politicians of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal congratulating the Chief Minister and his family on the birth of a male child. She said the commission was stunned at such celebrations in a model state like Punjab, which had always been a pioneer in setting new trends.

Ms Parthasarthy said the commission had decided to take up the issue with Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, questioning the celebrations whereas he had issued a hukamnama against female foeticide recently. She said the celebrations sent wrong signals to masses.

Ms Parthasarthy was at the Punjab Police Academy, Phillaur, to attend the valedictory function on the concluding day of the regional conference on ‘Forging a new future for women in police’.

Ms Parthasarthy said Punjab and Haryana were on the top agenda of the commission due to the increasing incidence of female foeticide. She said the trend was disturbing.

She gave a clarion call to all religious leaders to announce a ban on the female foeticide on the lines of the Akal Takht Jathedar.

The conference in which policewomen from Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Chandigarh and Punjab took part, deliberated on the present status of women in the police force. It recommended an action plan for the uplift of the policewomen in the states.

Ms Rina Mitra, DIG and Director (Vigilance), Railway Board, Madhya Pradesh, announcing the action plan, said there should be uniformity in granting maternity leave to policewomen, woman trainers should be appointed and given equal opportunities.

Dr D.R. Bhatti, Director, PPA lauded the role of women in the growth of society. Ms Anita Punj, Deputy Director, PPA, proposed a vote of thanks.


SGPC chief seeks report on High Priests
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 4
In a significant development, the newly appointed SGPC chief, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, has sought details from the sub-committee constituted in February, 1999, against Prof Manjit Singh and Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedars of Kesgarh Sahib and Damdama Sahib, respectively.

It is pertinent to mention here that the three-member sub-committee was constituted by the SGPC against the two Sikh High Priests at the time when Bhai Ranjit Singh was placed under suspension as Jathedar Akal Takht. However, the committee constituted by the then SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, could not hold a single meeting.

Prof Badungar said since he did not know the details of the inquiry committee, he would be able to reply any question after studying the case.

Prof Badungar, who met the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, at New Delhi yesterday, said he (Prof Badungar) had expressed his inability to continue as Secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal. He said Mr Badal had promised to relieve him from the additional charge after an alternative arrangement was made.

To a question, Prof Badungar said he would ensure that neither the SGPC nor Sikh institutions including Akal Takht, were used for political ends. He said he would also ensure that the Sikh clergy worked independently.

Answering yet another question, Prof Badungar said he would make best efforts to resolve the differences between Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi, Golden Temple, and other Sikh High Priests so that Sikh ‘maryada’ could be restored as per the aspirations of the Sikh ‘sangat’.


Talwandi’s kin transferred
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 4
Even as Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, President, SGPC has announced that he won’t victimise employees, yet Mr Jawahar Singh, in charge, SGPC sub-office, Chandigarh, a close relative of Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, has been transferred to the Sikh History Research Board with immediate effect.

Sources said Mr Jawahar Singh is unlikely to take up the new assignment and may resign.


113 candidates file nominations
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, December 4
Mr Santosh Singh Randhawa, former PPCC president and senior Congress leader, filed his nomination papers as Congress candidate from Fatehgarh Churian Assembly constituency for the coming Assembly elections in Punjab. As many as 113 persons filed their nomination papers from 11 Assembly constituencies in the district. Thirty candidates filed their nominations from Kahnuwan and Sujanpur Assembly constituencies whereas 23 candidates filed their nomination papers from Dinanagar and 22 from Narot Mehra Assembly constituencies.

Mr Lakhmir Singh Randhawa, Mr Rajinder Singh, Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Mr Santokh Singh Randhawa and Mr Vinod Kalia filed their nominations from Fatehgarh Churian Assembly constituency.

From Batala, Mr Buta Singh Bajwa, Mr Balwant Singh, Mr Manjit Singh, Ms Amar Kaur, Mr Ajay Mahajan, Mr Ashwani Sekhri, Ms Janak Rani Sekhri, Mr Ravinder Kumar, Mr Pawan Kumar, Mr Jawahar Marwaha and Mr Darshan Lal Malhotra filed their nominations.

Mr Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Mr Lakhbir Singh, Mr Sukhdev Singh, Mr Ajmer Singh, Mr Parminder Singh Gill and Mr Kulwant Singh filed their nominations from Quadian Tripats.

From Sirihargobindpur, Ms Pritam Kaur Riar, Mr Ranjit Singh, Mr Gurjinder Singh, Mr Satwinder Singh, Mr Harbhajan Singh and Mr M.M. Singh Cheema filed their nominations.

From Narot Mehra, Mr Swatam Dass, Mr Suraj Parkash, Mr Girdhari Lal, Mr Roop Lal, Mr Dina Nath, Mr Shiv Lal, Mr Joginder Singh Chheena, Mr Gian Chand, Mr Kishan Chand, Mr Ganesh Raj, Mr Rumal Chand, Mr Mahavir Prasad, Mr Lahouri Mal, Mr Roop Chand, Mr Bihari Lal, Mr Tara Chand, Mr Raj Kumar, Mr Hans Raj, Mr Tarlok Chand, Mr Tarsem Lal, Mr Ruldu Ram and Mr Vijay Kumar filed their nomination papers.

From Pathankot, Mr Ashwani Kumar, Mr Rattan Lal, Mr Faqir Chand Kundra, Mr Jangbahadur Singh, Mr Ram Saroop Bagi, Mr Davinder Singh Darshi, Mr Ashok Sharma, Mr Balwant Singh, Mr Rakesh Kumar Mahajan, Mr Gopal Mahajan, Mr Sukhdev Vadehra, Mr Brij Mohan Puri and Mr Raman Bhalla filed their nominations.

From Sujanpur, Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, Mr Indu Bhushan Bhatia and Mr Dawinder Singh Darshi filed their nominations.

Ms Pritam Kaur Riar, Mr Surunderjit Singh, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa and Mr Fateh Singh Bajwa filed their nominations from Kahnuwan.

From Dhariwal, Mr Salamat Masih, Mr Ashok Masih, Mr Rajinder Singh, Mr Parminder Singh, Mr Faqir Singh, Mr Kamaldeep Bakshi, Mr Balwinder Singh Chahal, Mr Gurbachan Singh, Mr Ibrahim Irshad, Mr Gurbir Singh, Mr Jaipal Singh, Mr Sat Pal, Mr Narinder Kumar and Mr Kewal Krishan filed their nominations.

From Gurdaspur, Mr Ajay Verma, Mr Joginder Singh, Mr Khushal Bahl, Mr Raman Bahl, Mr Kamaldeep Bakshi and Kumari Sushil Mahajan filed their nominations.

From Dinanagar, Ms Aruna Choudhari, Mr Som Nath, Mr Mulakh Raj, Ms Sur Kumari, Mr Nanak Chand, Mr Lahouri Mal, Mr Davinder Kumar, Mr Manohar Lal, Mr Joginder Singh Chhina, Mr Rattan Anmol, Ms Kamla Bharti, Mr Subhash Chander, Mr Mahavir Prasad, Mr Mohan Lal Sapolia, Mr Kamaljit Chawla, Mr Tirath Ram, Mr Mulkh Raj, Mr Rattan Lal, Mr Bakshish Ram, Mr Surinder Kumar, Mr Vinod Parkash, Mr Yudhvir Singh, and Ms Sukhwinder filed their nominations.


Ban pre-poll transfers, says Ravi Inder
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
Mr Ravi Inder Singh, MLA owing allegiance to the Panthic Morcha, today petitioned the Election Commission of India to ban pre-poll postings and transfers in Punjab with immediate effect.

The petition refers to the “sangat darshan” programme of the Chief Minister, dubbing it a ‘single-party’ affair, and goes on to selectively refer to the observations of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on a PIL filed against the programme.

Justifying the petition calling for the ban, Mr Ravi Inder Singh appended a clipping from an English daily to say a similar ban has been imposed by the commission in UP, where, too, Assembly elections are due along with Punjab in February, 2002.


Bansal BSP’s Budhlada nominee
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 4
Mr Kanshi Ram, BSP supremo, claimed today that his party would form the next government in Punjab, winning 60-70 seats in the forthcoming Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections.

He announced that Mr Mangat Ram Bansal will contest the Budhlada Assembly constituency as nominee of his party. Mr Kanshi Ram was addressing a largely attended public meeting at Boha town in the district.

He did not rule out the possibility of entering into a poll alliance with the Panthic Morcha. He said so far leaders of the Panthic Morcha had failed to demonstrate their political strength and their activities had remained confined to holding conferences at melas alone.

He, however, said in case of an alliance with the Panthic Morcha, seats would be allotted to the morcha “according to its strength”.

Mr Kanshi Ram said Mr Ravi Inder Singh, former Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, would be the next Chief Minister of Punjab.

The BSP is the second party to announce its candidate after the Lok Bhalai Party which has announced the names of its candidates from the Mansa and Joga constituencies.

The Lok Bhalai Party President, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, during his last visit to the district, had announced the names of 18 candidates. Mr Ramoowalia had claimed that his party would form the next government in the state and “capture” Delhi within three years.

Mr Kanshi Ram flayed the controversial POTO and stated that his party was opposed to it. He supported the stand of the Opposition against the reinduction of Mr George Fernandes as Defence Minister and observed this should have been done only after he was cleared by the commission proving the Tehelka expose.

He said his party would focus on eradication of corruption, uplift of the downtrodden and providing a clean government. He announced that BSP rallies would be held at Khanna on December 8, Moga on December 23 and Bathinda on December 30.


CM ‘betrayed’ unity cause
Tribune News service

Patiala, December 4
In an indication that it had been hoping for unity among the Akali rank and file before the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state, the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal today alleged that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had betrayed the cause of Panthic unity by installing Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar as head of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

Talking to newsmen here, senior leader Prem Singh Chandumajra said despite pressure for unity, the Chief Minister had chosen not to go for it.

Questioned whether this had affected the election preparedness of his party, Mr Chandumajra said the party was holding a massive “Punjab bachao’’ rally on December 9 at Ludhiana to highlight the “misrule’’ of the Badal government. He said the rally would serve to launch the party’s election campaign.

The Panthic Morcha leader said the Morcha would go in for talks with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) after December 9. He said a committee comprising Mr Ravi Inder Singh, Mr Charan Singh Loharan, Mr Gurdeep Singh and Mr Gurbachan Singh had been constituted for the purpose.

On the issue of the POTO, Mr Chandumajra said the state government had only paid lip service to demands for amendments of safeguard the interests of several segments of society, including newsmen. In reality, however, no step was being taken to forstall the Bill. He said Union Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa was present when the Cabinet gave its go-ahead to the Bill.


Pasla expelled

New Delhi, December 4
Mr Mangat Ram Pasla, a member of the Central Committee of the CPI-M from Punjab, was today expelled from the membership of the party for indulging in “anti-party activities”. PTI


Massive survey on kids who don’t go to school
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
A massive house-to-house survey will be conducted throughout Punjab from December 7 to 9 to ascertain the exact number of children of 6 to 14 years of age who do not go to school.

All schools in the state will remain closed on December 7 as December 8 and 9 are already holidays to facilitate teachers to conduct this exercise as part of the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan. Once the exact number of children who have never been to school is established in each district, the second phase of the education guarantee scheme with the help of non-government organisations and other voluntary bodies will be started.

An initial survey put the number of such children at 15 per cent of the total population in the 6-14 age group, which comes to about 3 lakh. For example, a survey in Muktsar district put the number of such children at 14,288, necessitating the starting of 603 centres under the education guarantee scheme.

The thrust areas of the scheme are that all children in the 6-14 age group should be in school or admitted to a bridge course by 2003, should complete five years of primary education by 2007 and eight years of schooling by 2010. They must be provided with relevant and satisfactory education and all social and gender gaps at the primary and elementary levels should be bridged under the scheme.

According to Mr Ravi Sandhu, Secretary, Education, Punjab, the Union Government has already sanctioned Rs 25 crore for the remaining four months of the current financial year for the introduction of the education guarantee scheme in Mansa, Muktsar, Moga, Bathinda and Faridkot. The Union Government has also given its sanction for the release of another Rs 45 crore for extending this scheme to Patiala, Sangrur, Ferozepore and Amritsar for the remaining four months of the current financial year.

The department also hopes to get another Rs 66 crore for the remaining nine districts to be covered under the scheme for the remaining part of the current financial year. With 85 per cent of the funding coming from the Union Government in the initial stages, it will give the state Rs 136 crore during the remaining part of the current financial year and almost Rs 2,000 crore during the 10th Plan, adds Mr Sandhu.

He says that the special focus of the scheme will be on girls, children belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, urban slum dwellers, low female literacy blocks, disabled children and children in difficult circumstances.

The whole of Punjab is now covered under this Central-Government sponsored abhiyan. The department has already set up village education development committees, block and district education development committees besides getting the Punjab Sarv Shikhsha Abhiyan Authority registered under Firms and Societies Act, 1860.

Under the scheme, all NGOs or other voluntary organisations which participate in the programme will be paid Rs 850 per child per annum for imparting relevant and quality education to the beneficiaries. This will thus open up numerous job avenues for trained and unemployed teachers all over the state.


Lashkara beauties ready to set ramp on fire
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 4
As many as 20 beauties from all over the country are rearing to set the ramp on fire at the sprawling lawns of Hotel Gulmor here, the venue for Miss Lashkara contest, tomorrow.

The first such venture of the Lashkara channel, it has drawn excellent response of the participants from all over the country. Talking to The Tribune, the Event Manager of the channel said the participants had come from as far as Mumbai, Lucknow, Pune, Delhi, Bhopal, besides from Bathinda, Faridkot and Kapurthala in Punjab.

One of the organisers said over 100 entries were received by them. finally, 20 were shortlisted. Eminent personalities in the field of photography, modelling and beauty have been made the judges and are screening the shortlisted participants”, one of the organisers said.

The participants showcased the latest winter-wear collection at Ebony department store here today. It was a perfect blend of glitz and glamour with the contestants displaying the latest casuals.

One of the participants, Bharti Kapoor, a final year student from New Delhi, said, “I’m at the learning stage. These are a kind of grooming classes which have provided us a platform. It doesn’t matter if I win or lose, but I’m enjoying every minute of it”.

The preliminary titles include Miss Catwalk, Miss Perfect, Miss Photogenic, Miss Beautiful Smile, Miss Beautiful Hair, Miss Beautiful Skin and Miss Perfect 10.

It may be mentioned that former Miss India, Gul Panag, will be the anchor on the final day of the event. The prominent among judges are Mehr Bhasin, Jatin Kochar, Vandana Luthra and Blossom Kochar.


Dharna against octroi abolition
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 4
Employees of the Municipal Council, Sirhind, organised a rally and staged a dharna to express their resentment against the abolition of octroi.

The staff also burnt an on effigy of Mr Balram Ji Dass Tandon and raised slogans against the government.

Addressing the rally Mr Ram Lubhaya and Mr Dharminder Kumar Banda, president and secretary respectively alleged that the government had taken the decision under the pressure of certain big industrial houses and traders. They asked why the government had not taken this decision four years ago. No alternative had been suggested as source of income for the councils. They said that the government wanted to derive political mileage by abolishing octroi at the time of elections. They said it was already facing a financial crunch and had fallen into debt trap.

The leaders warned that if the government not withdraw the notification on abolishing octroi immediately, water supply, sewerage, sanitation and essential services would be hit. The state leadership was discussing this step. They alleged that the EO of the council locked octroi posts at midnight in spite of the fact that no written orders had been received by the council from the government. He did this only on the verbal instructions of the Director Local Government. They said that now the octroi staff was sitting idle and they had no place even to sit in the council premises, what to talk of work. Nor were they allowed to mark their presence since then. They said that the council would suffer a loss of Rs 1.75 crore and it won’t be in a position to pay the salaries, what to talk of development works. The council already had to make the payment of lakhs or rupees to the contractors for the work done. They said the employees would oppose the government in the coming assembly elections.

Employees of the Nagar Council observed a two-hour strike. A rally was organised in front of the council’s office, which was addressed by the president of the Nagarpalika Karamchari Union, Mr Tirth Ram. He threatened to start an indefinite three-hour strike from 2 pm to 5 pm daily. The union announced to observe a complete strike on December 10. Later union leaders presented a memorandum to the council president.

Members of the Municipal Employees Union staged a dharna in front of the main gate of the Municipal Council building. Mr Gurbaksh Singh, Mr Surjeet Singh and Mr Kulwant Singh, office-bearers of the union addressed the employees. Mr Kashmiri Lal Goel, president, Class IV Employees Union, assured full support to them. The dharna will continue till December 6.


Suicide by plus two student
Family blames teacher, wants her removed
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 4
Vineet Kumar, a student of plus two, allegedly committed suicide late last evening by consuming a poisonous substance. The family claimed that the suicide was a result of the trauma he had been facing after he was allegedly beaten up by a teacher in MSD Senior Secondary Public School on November 23.

It may be mentioned that Mr Surinder Kumar, father of the deceased, had given an application to the Civil Hospital and the authorities concerned that his son had consumed poison accidentally to take an exemption from the formalities of a post-mortem examination. He, however, alleged that Vineet was mercilessly thrashed by his school teacher on November 23 and since then had been under depression.

He said that he had met the Principal of the school, Mr O.P. Sharma, to lodge a complaint against the teacher and urged necessary action to be taken against her.

The students, who attended the cremation also alleged that the teacher would thrash her students at whim. The students and others also held a demonstration in front of the school to protest against the inaction on part of the school authorities.

Mr Kewal Krishan Garg, Secretary of the school management, and Mr O.P. Sharma, while talking to TNS though denied the role of the teacher in the incident said that she had been placed under suspension.

They claimed that about two weeks ago, the teacher had scolded Vineet in the classroom. A compromise was effected when a complaint was made. Vineet had been attending the school regularly and appeared to be cheerful, they said.

Mr Garg added that he had asked the parents of Vineet to give a written complaint following which he would issue a charge sheet against the teacher and start a regular inquiry.

He said he could not understand why Vineet had taken such a drastic step. Mr Garg added that Mr Surinder Kumar had himself denied that his son had committed suicide due to the incident which took place about two weeks ago.

He claimed students were demonstrating as they were agitated over the fact that a holiday had not been declared. He said a condolence meeting had been held in the school.

When contacted Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said he had received no complaint from the parents of the deceased.

The teacher, however, denied that she had beaten Vineet up and expressed surprise that her name was being associated with his death. She said that she had been placed under suspension due to public pressure.

She said that in her 21 years of teaching career, she had always tried to make the students perform better and never indulged in beating any one of them.


Work on Tehri project in full swing: Barnala
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 4
Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, Governor, Uttaranchal, said today that the 2400 mw Tehri hydroelectric project in Uttaranchal would start generating power by December 2002 as work on the project was in full swing nowadays. He said after the completion of the project, Uttaranchal would be in a position to provide electricity to the neighbouring states like Uttar Pradesh.

Talking to mediapersons at PWD Rest House here today, Mr Barnala said Uttaranchal had a potential to generate 25,000 mw of electricity as it had a large number of water sources. He also said Punjab and Uttaranchal had held talks in the recent past for setting up hydroelectric projects in collaboration in Uttaranchal, but no agreement had been signed between the two states so far.

Mr Barnala, who declined to answer any question related to Punjab politics, said 70 Assembly constituencies, including 12 for Scheduled Castes and three for Scheduled Tribes, had been created in Uttaranchal.

He said elections in Uttaranchal would be held simultaneously with the Punjab Assembly elections. He said the process of preparing voter photo identity cards was in progress which might be completed before the elections in Uttaranchal.

Mr Barnala also expressed satisfaction over the functioning of the Uttaranchal Government. He also said the government had opened 13 government colleges within one year.

He also said the Uttaranchal Government had not received any package from the Union Government except getting special status of hill state under which the state government would get 90 per cent aid from the Centre or some schemes.

Mr Barnala also stated that the Uttaranchal Government was making efforts to promote tourism in the state by chalking out plans in this direction. He said he was keeping his hobby of painting alive even in Uttaranchal. He said he had recently made two paintings showing snow-covered peaks.

Mr Barnala admitted that in his absence at the home district, his wife Surjit Kaur Barnala attended social functions on his behalf. But regarding political activities of Ms Barnala, he said, “Ask Ms Barnala about her political activities.”

Mr Barnala’s visit to the district is being considered an attempt to strengthen his group in view of the coming Assembly elections. It is said that Mr Branala will seek at least four seats from the SAD high command for his loyalists in the district.


Khalsa complex: design concept cleared
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
The design concept of the Khalsa Heritage Complex, Anandpur Sahib, was today approved after a four-hour discussion here at a joint meeting of the Scholars’ Panel and members of the Executive Committee of the Anandpur Sahib Foundation.

The National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, team led by Ms Suranjana Satwatekar, made a presentation covering the period of 500 years of Sikh history from Guru Nanak Dev onward.

The design concept work took different communication strategies into consideration keeping in view the Sikh traditions and ethos. The team used different metaphors and imaging for different conceptual works to depict the spirit of the Sikhs, particularly, during the period of the Gurus. The later period, however, has been shown with more live projections and illustrations. The presentation covered a period up to the resurgence of Punjab after the holocaust of 1947.

The Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, said that the decks were now clear for carrying out the detailed designing of the exhibits.

The Principal Architect of the Khalsa Heritage Complex, Moshe Safdie, said the hi-tech presentation was beyond his expectations. He was happy with the treatment being given by the designers to display and depiction.


Encroachments continue with impunity 
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 4
“This is government land. Private construction is banned. If anybody violates these orders, legal action would be taken against him, by orders of the Executive Engineer, PWD (B and R), Bathinda”. Thus reads the board written in the Punjabi language and installed on one side of the 100-foot wide road of this town.

But just 2 km from this board, an unauthorised colony comprising permanent structures starts.

With patronage of ruling politicians and government officials, the city has been witnessing encroachments even in the middle of roads, throwing the planned development of the town out of gear.

In most cases, the encroachers have adopted a unique modus operandi. They construct a religious place on a vacant piece of land belonging to the state or Central government. After grabbing it, they use the land according to their business interests.

Due to the apathetic attitude of the authorities concerned and boom in the real estate business, various parks belonging to the Municipal Council, pieces of land belonging to PUDA and the PWD have been also allegedly encroached upon by the land grabbers in the past many years. Instead of getting the encroached land vacated, the PUDA authorities have given 25-square plots to them.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that a spurt in encroachments was witnessed in the city as the authorities concerned have failed to implement town planning schemes in the past two to three decades. Also, most pieces of government land situated in the prime locations of the city were neither properly earmarked nor fenced.

The city, known as the heartland of the Malwa region, has also been facing the problem of unauthorised constructions.

Information revealed that whenever the authorities have tried to take legal action against the land grabbers and those indulging in the unauthorised constructions, they were “saved” by the ruling politicians. Those, who had been accused of violating the PUDA laws and had been booked in a criminal case, had been roaming freely due to their “connections” in the Punjab Government.

Mr R. Venkat Ratnam, Deputy Commissioner, said that in the past three months no incident of encroachment had been reported from anywhere in the district. He added that all the heads of various departments had been instructed to remain vigilant in this connection and if they found that any encroachment, they were required to remove it on the same day with the help of the police.

The heads have also been warned that any laxity on their part would invite an action against them apart from it, the Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) would hold regular fortnightly meetings to review the situations.

District-level committees had also been constituted to remove the encroachments and stop unauthorised construction.


NRIs to be made aware of schemes
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 4
The Patiala Divisional Commissioner, Mr D.P. Reddy, today directed district officials to carry out surveys of non-resident Indians in their districts so that they could be appropriately informed about the amendments done in various laws for their convenience.

Mr Reddy, who held a meeting in this regard with district officials of the Division and the NRI executive including its president Surjit Singh Rakhra and senior vice-presidents Avtar Singh Arora and Harpal Tiwana, also advised the Additional Deputy Commissioners of the Division to set up NRI units in their respective districts and subdivisions. He also asked them to carry out an accurate survey of NRIs living in their districts.

Mr Reddy also stressed the need of creating publicity about the special schemes launched for the benefit of NRIs by the government. He said this was necessary to ensure NRIs were not cheated while carrying out various transactions. He also decided to examine the scope of the Janam Bhoomi Scheme operative in Andhra Pradesh to adopt the provisions of the same in the state.

It was also decided to computerise all grievances of NRIs so that they could be disposed of in an efficient manner. He directed that all such grievances should be addressed within a period of one month.


3 car occupants killed in mishap

Sangrur, December 4
Three persons died on the spot when a car in which they were travelling collided with a Delhi-bound Pepsu Roadways Transport Corporation bus on the Barnala-Bathinda highway near Mehta village in the district today.

Two of the three victims have been identified as the car’s driver Prithi Singh (34) and Lakha Singh (22). The body of the third occupant of the ill-fated vehicle was yet to be identified.

The bodies have been sent to Barnala Civil Hospital and the bus driver taken into police custody after registration of a case, the police said. UNI


Lovers commit suicide
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 4
Three persons committed suicide in two incidents in the district in the past 24 hours.

A young boy and a girl reportedly committed suicide by consuming a poisonous substance in Tungwali village today. They were allegedly lovers.

The boy was identified as Gurmail Singh (20) and the girl as Rani Kaur (20), both of the same village. According to reports, the girl went to the house of the boy today where both of them consumed poison. As they belonged to different castes, the parents of both of them were reportedly against their relationship. Their bodies were handed over to their respective families after a post-mortem.

Gurmeet Kaur (18) of Chak Ruldu Singhwala reportedly committed suicide by jumping into the well of a tubewell yesterday at her village. The cause of the suicide could not be confirmed immediately. According to reports, the girl was working in the fields and jumped into the well when nobody was around. She tied her dupatta around her neck before jumping into the well.

Sunita (24) received injuries this evening when the kerosene stove burst while she was working in the kitchen. She was admitted to the local Civil Hospital. Her husband, Sanjeev, also received injuries while trying to extinguish the fire. They are residents of the local Parasram Nagar.


3 killed, 2 hurt in bus mishap
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 4
Three persons were killed and two seriously injured when a Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) bus in which they were travelling dashed against a tree after developing a technical snag on the Patiala-Samana road at Savajpur village this afternoon.

The deceased have been identified as Bharti Mittal, a 20-year-old student of the local Mohindra College, 58-year-old former Havaldar Chanan Singh, a resident of Samana, and Shashi Mohan Garg.

Deputy Commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir disclosed that the Chief Minister had announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs 50,000 for next of kin of the deceased. He said the District Red Cross Society would pay for the expenses of the injured. The cause of the accident, which has been attributed to a technical defect in the bus, is still to be pin-pointed.


AIDS testing centre for Jalandhar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
The Punjab Government today decided to open 10 AIDS testing centres.

The first centre will come up in Jalandhar followed by six more else-where under the National AIDS Control Organisation scheme, says a press note.


Photo I-cards mandatory in assembly poll
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 4
The Election Commission has admitted that there were loopholes in the Act that defines the expenditure to be incurred by a candidate during elections.

The Election Commissioner, Mr B.B. Tandon, while addressing a press conference here yesterday, said that various loopholes had come to light in Section 77 of the Representation of Peoples Act that defined the limit of money a candidate could spend while canvassing. However, he declined to comment whether the Election Commission was seeking to amend the Act.

Elaborating further, he said that at present the expenditure entailed on candidate by his party or from other sources was out of the purview of the Act. He also informed that during the forthcoming elections, a candidate could spend up to Rs 4.5 lakh during canvassing.

Mr Tandon said that now that the Supreme court had vindicated the stand of the commission regarding the use of EVMs, the commission had made the use of EVMs mandatory in the forthcoming Assembly elections in Punjab, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh and Manipur. He said that certain political parties were trying to make an issue of the use of EVMs which was wrong. He said that the EVMs had worked properly in elections held in Tamil Nadu.

Mr Tandon said that till now photo identity cards had been distributed to 75 per cent of the voters and he appealed to people to come forward to get their identity cards prepared as they could not exercise their franchise if they were not in possession of photo identity cards.


Kanungo held for tampering with record
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 4
The police has arrested Mr Ramesh Kumar, a kanungo posted here for allegedly tampering with official record in order to help some residents of Balluana village to grab land of Jasmel Singh of the same village.

Police sources said Jasmel Singh of Balluana had lodged an FIR with the police against some persons, including Mr Ramesh Kumar and some other officials for allegedly getting the land owned by Jasmel Singh transferred in their names. The accused had done so in connivance with revenue officials.

The police has registered a case.


Pvt colleges defer half-yearly exams
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 4
On the call of the Punjab and Chandigarh Colleges Teachers Union, the half-yearly December examinations were postponed in all aided and unaided private colleges of the state today.

Activists of the union will hold a rally on December 6 at Hindu College in protest against the dilly- dallying attitude of the government to implement their pension-cum-gratuity scheme which is pending since long. The protest rally will pass through the main bazaars of the city and culminate at the residence of the Health Minister.

Mr Sukhbir Singh, president, Khalsa College Teachers Union, said to press the government for the implementation of the scheme, the decision of postponing exams was most crucial. All college teachers unions would hold two-hour protest rally on college campuses from December 3 to 10, he added.

GARHSHANKAR: On the call given by the Federation of Managements, Federation of Principals, Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU), Federation of Non-Teaching Staff, and colleges Mahilpur and Garhshankar, all private colleges of the district observed “total cease work” on Tuesday. Rallies were held on college campuses and teacher leaders explained to students that why they had been forced to resort to “total cease work” as they had been cheated by the respective governments since 1990.

Professor P.S. Bansal and Dr Harcharan Singh, district president and general secretary of the PCCTU, and Prof Vinod Kumar Vij, former president of the union, demanded that the government should release payment for pension through government treasury. Rs 90 crore salary grant for the past three years that had reportedly been illegally withheld even after the Audit Department had admitted the claims of the colleges. Other demands include grant-in-aid for unaided posts and colleges that had not been included in the grant-in-aid scheme and immediate release of arrears given by the UGC and Central Government.

They said on December 7, a dharna and rally will be held at Miani village, the constituency of the Minister of State for Higher Education, Mr Balbir Singh Miani.


Annual function of DAV Model School held
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 4
The annual function of Lala Jagat Narain DAV Model School was held on the school premises at Kabir Nagar here yesterday.

Presiding over the function, Mr D.R. Gupta, Director, Colleges, said it had been decided to adopt a poor girl from the school every year and provide her free education. He also gave prizes to the students.

Mr Gautam Kapoor, Director of the Radisson Hotel, was the chief guest. He lauded the role of the school and the DAV Management Committee in the field of education.

Ms Anita Nanda, Principal of the school, said the academic performance of the students was excellent and assured that the school would continue its quest for excellence in education.


Teaching paralysed in colleges
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 4
The teaching work came to a standstill in private colleges of the district today as teachers of the colleges held a dharna in front of the residence of Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Punjab Minister for Science and Technology, here, as part of their “total ceasework” campaign.

The call for the “total ceasework” in the colleges of the state from December 4 to 10 was given by office-bearers of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers union (PCCTU) against the non-implementation of the Pension-Gratuity Act by the SAD-BJP government in state.

The teachers shouted slogans against the government and the minister concerned who had refused to implement the decision which could have enabled them to get pension and gratuity in line with the government employees.

The agitating teachers were annoyed with the decision of the government and said the protest would be intensified to wake the government up from deep slunder. They appreciated the action of state executives of the union who courted arrest at Chandigarh.

Among others who addressed the gathering were Mr S. Marriya, vice-president of the Principals association, Mr R.K. Deora, secretary, district unit of PCCTU, Ms S. Ghuman, Mr Vijay Kumar and Ms Diwan, all leaders of the union.


APJ College lifts youth festival trophy
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 4
The APJ College of Fine Arts, Jalandhar won Guru Nanak Dev University overall trophy of youth festival which concluded here today. DAV College, Jalandhar bagged the runners-up trophy while DAV College, Amritsar got third position.

Mr Darbara Singh Guru, secretary, Information and Public relations, Punjab presided over the valedictory function and awarded the trophies to the winners.

Dr. S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, said the university had created history by lifting the overall inter-varsity national youth festival trophy.

The music trophy went to the APJ College of Fine Arts, Jalandhar, while DAV College, Jalandhar, finished runners-up. In theatre competitions, DAV, Jalandhar, secured the top position while DAV College, Amritsar remained runner-up. The fine arts trophy was bagged by APJ, Jalandhar, and DAV, Amritsar, jointly. The BBK DAV College for women, Amritsar, was runner-up in this competition.

The folk trophy was awarded to DAV College, Jalandhar while APJ College, Jalandhar remained runner-up. The literary trophy was presented to APJ College, Jalandhar and DAV College, Jalandhar while Khalsa College, Amritsar finished runner-up.

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