Wednesday, December 26, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Shaheedi Jor Mela begins
Political conferences to launch poll campaign today
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 25
The annual three-day Shaheedi Jor Mela organised in memory of the younger Sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh, who were entombed alive by the Mughals for not embracing Islam, started here today with an akhand path at Gurdwara Jyoti Swarup Sahib. Thousands of devotees paid obeisance at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib and Jyoti Swarup Sahib.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Minister for Finance, inaugurated an exhibition organised by the district administration depicting various achievements. Mr Bhagat Singh, Financial Commissioner(R), inaugurated a light and sound programme, “Sirhind ki Dastan”, organised at Aam Khas Bagh by the Public Relation Department today.

The political parties of the state will organise political conferences tomorrow.

Panthic Morcha leaders are happy as the star campaigner of SAD(B), Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, will not be able to address the SAD(B) political conference due to injury.

It will be for the first time that two leaders of the Panthic Morcha belonging to this district, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, will address the conference from the same stage. Earlier, they had been organising separate conferences. The morcha is expected to launch its election campaign from the conference.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh told The Tribune that a record gathering of more than one lakh is expected as the SAD would launch its election campaign from here. He said the CM would definitely attend the conference.

The Congress is a divided house in the district. The announcement of the allotment of ticket to the sitting MLA, Dr Harbans Lal, has dampened the enthusiasm of the DCC president’s group, as he was also a contender for the ticket. Though the organisers claimed that the top state and central Congress leadership would address the political conference, the workers doubt that the PPCC president would make it as he has been missing most of the conferences initiated by the party to mobilise the workers in the state.

The BSP, Lok Bhalai Party of Ramoowalia and all factions of the BKU would also organise their separate conferences.

Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner, and Mr Parampal Singh Sidhu, SSP, say more than 10 lakh devotees from all over the country and abroad are expected to pay obeisance to the Sahibzadas, who were bricked alive here. They said no wine shops, gambling stalls or dances pandal had been allowed in the mela.

Drinking water and toilet facilities, a dispensary and an information centre have been set up. The devotees will also be provided adequate security and the mela has been divided into zones and duty magistrates have been posted. Observation posts and the policemen in plainclothes have been put on duty.

Meanwhile, village panchayats from almost every part of the state have put up langars. Today, more 100 community kitchens started serving food to people.


Shatabdi driver, guard felicitated
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 25
Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, SHSAD, President talking to The Tribune at Sirhind railway station today said the SAD had released the list of party candidates in a haste and considering the tension on the border, there were chances that the elections might not be held. He said the Panthic Morcha would announce the candidates after watching the situation. He said Mr Badal had not announced the remaining seats due to a controversy in his own party and not because he was hopeful of Panthic unity.

Mr Tohra had come to the station to preside over a function arranged by the morcha to commemorate the stopping of the Shatabdi Express at Sirhind. It was with the efforts of Mr Tohra, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, Mr Sukhdev Singh Libra and Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, all MPs, that the Railway Minister agreed to the stoppage at Sirhind and the train stopped today for the first time on the occasion of Saheedi Jor Mela. The driver of the train Mr Ram Bhajan, co-driver and the guard of the train were garlanded and Mr Tohra presented siropas to them. Sweets were distributed among all passengers.

Addressing a gathering, he said that ministers from Bihar had been very cooperative and earlier Mr Paswan, the then Railway Minister, had sanctioned 13 railway over bridges for the state, but due to financial crunch, the state could not construct them. He said now Mr Nitish Kumar had provided the stoppage of the Shatabdi and Sachkhand Express at Sirhind. He said the Sachkhand Express would start stopping from December 30.


Total voting through EVMs
P P S Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 25
Even as the political parties getting into the election mode, the Punjab Election Department has geared it-self up its for the Assembly poll.

The Additional Chief Electoral Officer, Ms Usha Sharma, told TNS tonight that voting in the Assembly elections would be totally through electronic voting machines (EVMs). The state will have approximately 18,220 polling stations. An order for 23,000 EVMs had been placed with the Electronics Corporation of India. The machines would be arriving within the next two days.

Ms Sharma said the training of Deputy Commissioners and Additional Deputy Commissioners on the use of EVMs would be held division-wise beginning with Jalandhar on January 2, followed by Faridkot for Ferozepure and Faridkot divisions and for Patiala division at Ludhiana on January 4. Thereafter, the rest of the election-duty staff would be trained. Care would be taken not to use the machines used for training on the polling day.

The start to the election process seems “inauspicious and unfavourable’’ to the SAD-BJP. If the announcement of 43 candidates by SAD President on Monday ruffled the BJP feathers, the Election Commission stepped-in to probe complaints of additions and deletions of voters’ names from the lists in several Assembly constituencies in Muktsar, Kapurthala and Amritsar districts. On the basis of one inquiry report , the commission has asked Punjab to proceed against several officials, including their suspension and shifting of the Deputy Commissioner, Muktsar. He has since been relieved. Another report pertaining to Amritsar and Kapurthala is awaited. The enquiries were conducted by Mr K.R. Prasad and Mr K.J. Rao, both Secretaries in the commission. The SAD delegation that met the commission in New Delhi has returned empty handed.

Though an announcement on elections is expected any time, much will depend on several factors, including political, as also the tension building up on the border with Pakistan. There are daily reports of people moving to “safe’’ places away from the border villages. The Chief Minister has asked the Deputy Commissioners of the three border districts, Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Ferozepors, to visit the villages. The existing geo-political situation in the states that are to go to the polls is under the commission scanner.

In the run-up to the elections, the SAD is the first to announce the first list of its 43 candidates. The BJP is in the process of finalising its candidates. After the unilateral announcement by Mr Parkash Singh Badal on Monday, followed by protests by the BJP, the two parties have already put their acts together and their leaders will hold a joint meeting here tomorrow on seat adjustment.

The scheduled meeting of the SAD-BJP will also discuss joint strategy to be adopted during the poll campaign, including common talking points aimed at launching a political blitzkrieg against the Congress as also making correctives on the wrong signals that have already been transmitted on the difference of opinion between the coalition partners following release of the first list of SAD candidates.

The BJP leaders are keen that their planned “rath yatra’’ should not be perceived to be purely a one-party show but a combined one.

The BJP plans to kick-start its poll campaign from Rajpura on December 30, when the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, will address the first poll-related public meeting in the constituency of Mr Balramji Das Tandon. The meeting there will be preceded by flag-off of the BJP “rath’’ at Chandigarh the same day. The central theme of this political sojourn through the state is, “sadhbhavna vikas yatra’’ — communal amity and development. “Patriotism’’ will be depicted through portraits on the “rath’’, which will end at Nangal on January 11 with a rally against terrorism at Wagah in Amritsar on January 2. The “rath’’ is being fabricated in Chandigarh.

A special vehicle is also being readied for Mr Badal to undertake election tours beginning early next year. He has already started off the campaign through “sangat darshan’’ programmes from his residence.

Over, two lakh wall posters listing major achievements, targeting particular segments of the voters, have been dispatched to the districts for distribution in the villages. Informed sources told TNS that a carefully crafted poll campaign will be put into practice. In fact, a Canada-based firm, relying on latest technology, including telecommunication, had given a demonstration on poll-campaign styles and strategies to the Council of Ministers recently.

The Congress is also fast processing the list of candidates to be forwarded to the central election committee as per the fresh guidelines the state unit has received from the AICC President, Ms Sonia Gandhi. Efforts are also to stem the tide of frustration and revolt within the Congress and put up a brave front. Judging by the enthusiasm of the ticket-aspirants, Congressmen are in an upbeat mood. The trouble is at the top with the leaders. Perhaps, far too many. 


Punjab followed CEC’s orders: Arora
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 25
The Punjab Government has strictly followed the instructions of the Chief Election Commissioner and transferred all those officers who were allegedly favouring some political leaders in their areas.

This was stated by Mr N.K. Arora, Chief Secretary, Punjab, while talking to mediapersons at Chhowni Kalan, 5 km from here, today.

Replying to a question Mr Arora said though there was no opposition by the IAS lobby against the appointment of Police Commissioners in the state, yet there was no proposal under consideration with the government in this regard.

He said after the rationalisation of the State Vigilance Department, a considerable number of pending corruption cases had been disposed of. To make further improvement working of the department was being reviewed weekly.

Earlier, Mr Arora inaugurated a kinnow grading and waxing centre set up by the Punjab Agri Export Corporation Limited at a cost of Rs 90 lakh. This was the fourth such unit set up by the corporation, while three were already in operation at Balluana (Ferozepore) Kangmai (Hoshiarpur) and Badal (Muktsar). This centre would provide sorting, grading and waxing facilities on subsidised rates. The fifth kinnow grading and waxing centre had already been set up at Tahliwala Jattan village, in Ferozepore district would be made functional shortly.

Mr A.R. Talwar, Managing Director of the Punjab Agri Export Corporation, said the state government had earmarked five kinnow estates at Abohar, Tahliwala Jattan (Ferozepore, Badal (Muktsar), Harian (Hoshiarpur) and Bajwara (Hoshiarpur). The Rural Development Board had sanctioned Rs 10 crore for creating infrastructure facilities at these estates.


Bogus names in poll list deleted
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 25
Following the directions of the Election Commission of India to inquire into allegations levelled by the Punjab Congress pertaining to bungling in the revised electoral rolls of the Bholath Assembly constituency in Kapurthala district, the District Returning Officer has rejected the voting claims of 2,528 persons on technical grounds.

Addressing a press conference here today, the Secretary of the Punjab Congress, Mr Sukhpal Singh Khaira, said the Deputy Commissioner, Kapurthala, had informed that 2,528 of the 7,570 new names registered in the revised electoral list of Bholath were found to be bogus and had been deleted.

Mr Khaira, who had complained to the Election Commission about the registration of bogus votes, alleged that the Returning Officer-cum-SDM, Bholath, Mr Harcharan Singh, in connivance with the former SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, had registered bogus votes to help the Akali Dal candidate in the forthcoming Assembly elections.

“Since our allegations have been proved true, the Election Commission should order the suspension of the Returning Officer for forging official records. He should also be shifted out of the constituency,” Mr Khaira demanded.

Referring to the guidelines of the Election Commission that every official having four years of service in a particular area should be shifted during the elections, Mr Khaira said the DSP, Bholath, Mr Harmail Singh, should also be transferred, as he had completed the tenure of four years.


No need to consult BJP over candidates’
Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Chandigarh, December 25
Top leadership of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal( SAD) has not liked the way its ally, the BJP, has reacted over the SAD’s first list of candidates for the Punjab Assembly elections released yesterday by the party chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

A number of senior leaders of the SAD told The Tribune that the BJP had no right to interfere in the internal affairs of the SAD. There was no need to consult the BJP leadership before releasing the SAD’s list. More over, the SAD had announced candidates for the constituencies on which its candidates contested last time.

The top leaders of the BJP had stated yesterday that Mr Badal should have consulted the BJP before releasing the list of the SAD candidates.

Akali leaders said the BJP, which raised several controversies requiring the intervention at the senior level to smoothen the relations between the two allies, should avoid raising any fresh controversy at this crucial juncture when the elections were just a few weeks away. In fact, the BJP should have appreciated Mr Badal for being first to release the list of candidates for the coming Assembly elections, a senior leader of the SAD commented.

He said earlier, the BJP leadership had been engaged in competitive politics with the SAD and raised several issues which created the impression that the ruling SAD was only watching the interests of ruralities. Such an attitude of the BJP had created of urban- rural divide in the state which had to be bridged by Mr Badal by holding a series of “sangat darshans” in Ludhiana, Jalandhar and other important cities in the state.

Senior SAD leaders had started building up pressure on Mr Badal urging him not yield further ground to the BJP. Allocation of more seats to the BJP from the SAD’s quota could create heart burning among the Akali activists another SAD leader said.

Informed sources said the BJP wanted the Balachaur seat for a woman candidate. However, Mr Badal has not obliged the BJP. He has renominated the SAD’s sitting MLA, Mr Nand Lal from that constituency. Unhappy over the development, the BJP made its disappointment public by speaking to media that it had not liked the way the SAD chief, Mr Badal, had released the list.

The sources said there was little scope for allotting more seats to the BJP. Hardly one or two more seats could be given to the BJP, a senior Akali leader said. Last time the BJP had contested 23 seats and its candidates had won 18 seats. However, there were chances of talking to the BJP regarding the swapping of certain seats.

For instance, the SAD wanted to surrender the Ludhiana( west) seat to the BJP and wanted either the Dasuya or Garhshankar seat in exchange. Candidates of the Opposition had won last time from both these constituencies. The four-member committee set up by the SAD for negotiating with the BJP on seat adjustment would meet the BJP leadership tomorrow to discuss this issue, it is learnt.

The SAD has been also probing the possibility of roping in the Bahujan Samaj Morcha headed by Mr Satnam Singh Kainth. The sources said informal discussions had been held with Mr Kainth by certain senior party leaders. In case of a tie up with the BSM, the SAD might allot two seats to it.

Meanwhile, there are reports that the SAD will replace its candidates in about five constituencies. Earlier, there were reports that about 20 candidates would be replaced. Certain candidates whose loyalty to the party and its leadership remained doubtful in the past were expected to be replaced, the sources added.


Talks on seat adjustment today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 25
A four-member Shiromani Akali Dal committee, comprising Mr Ranjit Singh Brahampura, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder will hold a meeting with a high-level committee of the Punjab unit of the BJP at Punjab Bhavan tomorrow to discuss the issue of seat adjustment for the forthcoming Assembly elections, according to a press release of the party.


Boy injured in blast dies
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 25
One of the five persons injured in a landmine explosion yesterday in Daulatpura village in Hindumalkot sector succumbed to his injuries late last night, hospital sources said this morning. Another explosion was reported from Bareka village in Fazilka sector on Saturday.

Sources said civilians were assisting the Army personnel in unloading ammunition from a truck at Daulatpura village, when the explosion took place. At least five persons were injured. They have been identified as Kamal Kumar, Raju, Kulwinder Singh, Manga Singh and Pappu. Except Kulwinder all injured were in the age group of 15 to 18 years, the sources said.

The injured were rushed to the District Hospital, Sriganganagar. Kamal Kumar succumbed to his injuries. Kulwinder Singh’s condition was also stated to be serious. The District Collector, Ms Kiran Soni Gupta, sanctioned Rs 5000 from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund for each of the injured persons.

Another report said a landmine exploded as cattle were passing near the border the Bareka village in Fazilka sector yesterday. Official sources, however , did not confirm whether any one was injured.


Jawan injured in landmine explosion
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 25
An Army jawan was injured seriously this afternoon when a landmine accidently exploded near Mohammed Pira village in the Fazilka sector, sources said. He was immediately rushed to the Army Hospital.

In another incident, an animal was killed when a landmine exploded near Pucca Chishti village close to the International Border this evening.

Meanwhile, official sources said the suspected man nabbed outside the border village of Muhaarkheewa had been identified as Amrik Singh of Mohan-Bhandarian village in Amritsar district. Amrik Singh was handed over to the police for further investigations.


Jagmeet’s removal ‘not’ approved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 25
Supporters of Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, a senior leader of the Congress, have built up pressure on the party high command to issue a clarification with regard to Mr Brar’s reported removal from the convenership of the Punjab Congress Parliamentary Party.

Mr Brar was away to Dehra Dun and he could not be contacted. However, one of his close confidants on condition of anonymity, said the issue had been taken up with the high command. He said as per his information, the party high command had not approved the removal of Mr Brar from the convenership. He said it appeared that certain Punjab MPs had announced Mr Balbir Singh’s appointment as convener on their own.

It was reported in the print media today that Mr Balbir Singh had been appointed convener replacing Mr Brar. However, denying any such development, supporters of Mr Brar said the issue had come up at the meeting of the coordination committee of the party which met in Delhi yesterday. At the meeting, Mrs Ambika Soni objected to a particular report appearing in a newspaper a few days ago about the move to replace Mr Brar. She argued at the meeting that it was not in the interest of the party to highlight such internal party matters in the newspapers.

Supporters of Mr Brar said Mrs Soni had yesterday spoken to Mrs Sonia Gandhi in this connection.

Sources said the move to remove Mr Brar had been directed to prevent him from becoming a member of the steering committee of the Congress set up to select party nominees for the Assembly elections in the state. Mr Brar has reportedly claimed that as he was convener of the Parliamentary party from Punjab, he should also be taken as member of the steering committee.

Meanwhile, the chances of an alliance between the CPI and the CPM- and the Congress in Punjab have become bleak. A majority of the members of the coordination committee at yesterday’s meeting opposed the alliance with the Left parties. Their argument was that the party could not afford to allocate 15 seats to the Left parties.

The committee was of the view that negotiations with the Left should continue and they should not be offered more than six seats, four for the CPI and two for the CPM.


Vedanti again appeals for Panthic unity
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, December 25
Mr Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, talking to newspersons after attending the observance ceremony of the death anniversary of Jagjit Singh, reporter of a Jalandhar-based newspaper at Purana Shalla, 5 km from here, said today his appeal for Panthic unity in the interest of Punjab still stood.

He said if need be, he, alongwith other Jathedars, might issue another appeal for Panthic forces to reach a compromise. He added that in such negotiations, no conditions should be put forth by any party.

Asked whether he would take action if the appeal was rejected, Mr Vedanti said he had appealed for unity in good faith and had no power to summon Panthic forces and impose unity.

He said Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi, Golden Temple, could not be punished for not attending meetings. 


Lok Bhalai Party to contest 90 seats
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, December 25
The All-India Lok Bhalai Party will release the final list of all its candidates by January 5 to contest the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state. It will contest the poll from 90 Assembly segments and the names of 24 contestants have already been announced. This was stated by Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, party President and member of the Rajya Sabha, while talking to mediapersons here after inaugurating the office of the party candidate from this Assembly constituency today.

He said if his party was voted to power, it would lay more stress on giving a clean and transparent administration besides strengthening Punjabiat which was the need of hour. Corruption and nepotism would also be curbed on top priority. Development would be taken up through generating more employment sources, promotion of education and uplift of the weaker sections.

Mr Ramoowalia said both the SAD-BJP combine and the Congress had devoted their energies to protect their own interests and paid no attention to resolve the problems of common people. He said the SAD-BJP alliance and the Congress were making alliances with other parties to grab power by all means but the state electorate was fed up with such tactics and would oust both groups in the poll.

Later he also addressed a public meeting at the local Shaheed Bhagat Singh Park and appealed to the people to cast their votes in favour of his party. 


Shiv Sena to contest 30 seats
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 25
The Punjab Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) will contest more than 30 Assembly seats in the coming Assembly poll and announce the names of the candidates by January 19 after getting a nod from Shiv Sena Chief Bal Thackeray.

This was stated at a press conference held here this afternoon by Mr Pawan Gupta, the Sena’s state President after a meeting of the district workers of the party. The state Vice-President of the party Mr Pawan Parbhakar, and the president of the local unit of the party, Mr Inderjit Karwal, were also present at the press conference.

Mr Gupta announced that the party would have no truck with any other party, not even the BJP. However, he contradicted himself by declaring that the Sena could have an electoral alliance with a newly formed party with a strong base in Punjab. He declined to disclose the name of the party.

He said the names of candidates for various constituencies were being shortlisted. From Phagwara, four aspirants had sent their names, he said.

Mr Gupta ruled out any truck with the Tangri group of the Shiv Sena, adding that only the Sena headed by Mr Bal Thackery was a bonafide party.


Cong men say no to CPI candidate
Tribune News Service

Budhlada (Mansa), December 25
Congress workers of this Assembly segment have urged the party high command not to leave this seat to a CPI candidates if both parties formed an electoral alliance for the coming Assembly elections. Instead the Congress should field its own candidate, they said.

In a letter written to AICC President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, and other senior functionaries of the party, Mr Rattan Lal Goyal, president of the Block Congress Committee, pointed out that Congress candidates had won this seat five times and only a Congress candidate could win again, from here.

He pointed out that the town, which had produced a number of freedom fighters and Congress loyalists, was facing many problems as the local MLA of the Communist Party of India (CPI) had been ignoring the Congress workers since 1997 and the CPI rank and file also opposed the Congress candidates in the last municipal council elections.

He added that the PPCC president, Mr Amarinder Singh, who visited the town on May 20, 2001, in connection with the inauguration of the party office and to address a rally, assured the workers that their sentiments would be taken into consideration before deciding about a candidate for this Assembly seat for the coming Assembly elections.

He said on August 13, 2001, the AICC observer, Mr Ram Lal Thakur, MLA (Himachal Pradesh), visited the area and met various party workers. Mr Thakur assured them that he would recommend to the party high command that only a Congress worker should be fielded from this seat.

Mr Goyal said, it had become necessary to keep the Congress flock together and present favourable environment for the party, it had become necessary that only a Congress candidate should be fielded into election arena from here.


CPI rally on December 29
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 25
The CPI will hold a rally here on December 29 in protest against the policies of the Centre and the state government which were allegedly responsible for unemployement and corruption in the country. It will be addressed among others by Mr Chaturanan Mishra, former Union Agricultural Minister.

The state leadership of the party, including Dr Joginder Dayal, state secretary, Mr Jagrup Singh, member state secretaries and Mr Hardev Arshi, MLA besides district leaders, will participate in the rally.

Addressing a similar rally in the city today Dr Joginder Dayal said the decision to have a poll pact with the Congress during the assembly elections would be taken soon. 


No differences with BJP: Brahampura
Our Correspondent

Taran Taran, December 25
Mr Ranjit Singh Brahampura, senior vice-president of the ruling SAD and Minister for Cooperation, Punjab, has denied any differences with the BJP on seat-sharing issue. He said a four-member committee of the SAD would have a meeting with the BJP state unit on the issue tomorrow. Mr Brahampura was talking to newsmen today at Naushehra Pannuan village. He had come to inaugurate a sports stadium constructed by the Markfed.

He said the election manifesto of the SAD would be released soon and said the main issue of the party in the election would be the development done in the state during the tenure of the present regime.


Mission’s appeal to Jathedar Vedanti
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 25
The Malta Boat Tragedy Mission today urged the Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, to declare SAD ministers and an SGPC member ‘tankhaiyas’ for their alleged involvement in the infamous “pigeon scandal”.

The chairman of the mission, Mr Balwant Singh Khehra, while addressing mediapersons here, said the Punjab ministers, Mr Sohan Singh Thandal and Mr Sujan Singh, along with the SGPC member, Mr Tarlochan Singh Dopalpuri, had allegedly taken some persons to Canada without proper documents last year and abandoned them to their fate.

Mr Khehra pointed out that these senior Akali leaders were part of a human trafficking racket as they took money to push them into Canada through illegal means. He urged the Jathedar to take a serious view of the matter and punish them for their anti-Panthic acts.

The mission had brought along the parents of 300 young men who were drowned near Malta on December 25, 1996 and prayed at Akal Takht for the peace of their departed souls. They wanted to submit a memorandum to Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti but he was not available.

The mission chairman added that the Punjab Government had done nothing for the aggrieved families who had lost their young boys in this gruesome tragedy.

He expressed his anguish over the apathetic attitude of the government towards granting compensation to the families of those killed.


Probe into land-grab by ex-MLA
Chief Secy dissatisfied with earlier inquiry
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, December 25
The Chief Secretary, Punjab, Mr N.K. Arora, has ordered an inquiry into the controversy relating to 11 acres of agriculture land at Chak Sotrian village on a compliant of an ex-serviceman, Mr Bhagat Singh, of Khusal Joian village of this district, who alleged that the land was illegally possessed by Mr Hans Raj Joshan, former MLA, and his brother Hakam Chand after it was allotted to him (Bhagat Singh) by the Sainik Welfare Board after retirement.

Official sources said the SDM, Abohar, had been directed by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.R. Ladhar, to conduct a probe into the complaint. Mr Arora was not satisfied with an inquiry conducted earlier by a senior official of the district.

Mr Bhagat Singh alleged that 11 acres allotted to him was under the possession of Mr Joshan and his brother Hakam Chand. He alleged that both brothers submitted false affidavits and made wrong statements to keep the possession of the land. Mr Joshan even managed to change the girdawari in the name of their kin to save themselves from any action, he said.

He further alleged that Mr Joshan tampered with the revenue record relating to the land in connivance with officials of the Revenue Department so that the ownership of the land could not be proved.

He said Mr Joshan made a person belonging to the Rai Sikh community Vice-Chairman of the Jalalabad (west) block samiti by showing him as a Scheduled Caste, thus committing a fraud with the government in 1994.

Mr Hans Raj Joshan, when contacted, denied the allegations and said some persons were trying to malign his image so that he would not get ticket for contesting the coming Assembly elections.

He said he had no connection with the land and various inquiries conducted by the authorities concerned as they had found nothing against him.

He said the caste certificates were issued by the Executive Magistrate as per the norms laid down by the state government and he was not involved in the making of a Scheduled Caste certificate for anyone.


Ferozepore cantt residents smell war
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, December 25
The Army authorities in this district are taking all precautionary measures in the wake of volatile situation along the Indo-Pakistan border. The direct telephone access to the Cantonment here has been blocked due to security reasons. Various check posts and nakas have been set up at all entry points leading to the Cantonment area and the vehicles are being thoroughly checked by the Army personnel at these barriers.

The night patrolling by the police, the BSF and the Army has also been intensified and a close eye is being kept on the movement of suspicious elements in and around the Cantonment areas. The heavy armoured vehicles can be seen moving towards the border. People here are apprehensive of the difficult times ahead and are smelling war.

With the new year round the corner, the residents of this border district are hoping that the atmosphere would soon become normal. Residents hope that some solution might be found through diplomatic channels so that a possible conflict could be avoided. People remain glued to the television sets to know about the latest news on the situation. Everybody wants to be with his kith and kim till the clouds of uncertainty disappear.

The Cantonment area, which has always been a hub of activity with much hustle and bustle around, is wearing a deserted look those days. It seems that life has virtually come to a standstill. The shopkeepers and traders in the Cantonment are also bearing the brunt of the situation. Mr Vikas Dawer, who is running a cyber cafe in the Army Shopping Complex, said the business had been badly affected due to the escalated tension. The number of customers visiting the cafe has came down considerably, he added. Ms Mallika Bajaj, who is running a boutique, opines that if things continued in the same way it would be difficult for them to meet the running expenses.

The Armymen have gone on the front and the women and children prefer to remain indoor with prayer on their lips and hope in their heart that their loved ones would return home safe and sound. The Ferozepore Club, an evening rendezvous for both the Armymen and civilians, is seeing only a handful of visitors. According to Subedar Laxman Singh, there are only one or two visitors to the club these days.

Major-Gen O.P. Nandrajog, GoC, who himself is a veteran of 1965, 1971 and Kargil wars asserted that there was no reason to feel panicky. He assured that any misadventure on the part of the enemy would be rebuffed by spontaneous and vigorous reaction, adding that the forces were fully prepared to face any eventuality.


SC staff seek quota in defence services
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 25
The Gazetted and Non-Gazetted Scheduled Castes and Backward Class Employees Welfare Federation, Punjab, has demanded that the Central Government should allow reservation of jobs for these classes in defence services, private sector and courts.

Mr Jasbir Singh Pal, president of the federation, addressing the delegates during the fourth delegate conference of the federation at Dr Ambedkar Bhavan here today alleged that the Central and state governments were denying constitutional rights to the Dalits in the name of liberalisation and globalisation of economy.

“The Dalits are being denied their due share in government jobs by the ruling SAD-BJP combine government, which is highly deplorable. The indifferent attitude of the Central and state governments towards the Dalits can be gauged from the fact that more than 1.5 lakh government jobs reserved for Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes have not been filled so far. Besides, the state government had failed to provide seniority increments to the promoted Dalit employees in the past about five years of its rule,” Mr Pal alleged.

Mr Gurdev Singh, general secretary of the federation, alleged that though the state government had provided budgetary allocation worth crores of rupees for welfare schemes for the Dalits, the funds lapsed every year due to non-implementation of these schemes at the grass roots level. “The state government should ensure implementation of these welfare schemes to improve the conditions of the downtrodden sections, of society,” he demanded.

The conference unanimously adopted a resolution to oppose the SAD-BJP candidates in the forthcoming Assembly elections and a six-member committee was formed to prepare a comprehensive plan to get their demands accepted by the state government.


Clouds of war hover over kavi darbar
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 25
Ominous clouds of war hovering over India and Pakistan, a poetic wish for durable peace, religio-political stunts and hypocrisies, the need to change the rotten system and find new directions, sufferings, alienation, stress and strain afflicting the modern man the passion of love and divine faithfulness dominated the ghazals, poems and songs recited and sung at the trilingual kavi darbar organised here on Sunday evening by the Ghazal Darbar, Punjab headed by noted poet Arif Gobindpuri.

Satire, irony, humour, wit and sombre notes found voice in the poetry of about 30 poets, including Gurdial Singh Arif, Ulfat Bajwa, Inderjit Hasanpuri, Prof Bhushan Dhynpuri, Prof Kashmir Qadar and Baldev Raj Komal. The poets regaled audience for about four hours. Noted ghazal singers, Surinder Gulshan of Patiala gharana and Krishna Gill of Sham Chaurasi gharana, kept listeners spell bound with their singing.

Noted Urdu and Punjabi poet from Chandigarh, Gurdial Singh Arif, was honoured with the fifth Dag Dehlvi ghazal award on this occasion. The award comprised a trophy, a citation and a shawl.

Mr Harbhajan Batalvi, Director, AIR Jalandhar and Mrs Raj Anil Singh, Director NIIT Phagwara, also addressed the audience. 


Fireman posts: lapses in recruitment alleged
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 25
Alleging that irregularities were committed in the physical test and interview of candidates for the 13 posts of fireman and two posts of driver for appointment in the local fire brigade office of the local municipal council (MC), some municipal councillors have demanded immediate cancellation of the physical test and interview.

They have also urged the Directorate of Local Bodies, to send a representative to hold the physical test and interview again. They alleged that the irregularities had been committed by the MC authorities as there was no representative of the Local Bodies at the time of the interview and physical test of the candidates.

They said, the authorities even passed some candidates who had neither appeared in the physical test nor fulfilled the requisite physical standard. The physical test and the interview were held in November.

Mr Virsa Singh Sandhu, Fire Station Officer, Sangrur, has also written about the irregularities to the Secretary, Local Bodies, Punjab. He alleged that the president and the executive officer of the MC, by exerting pressure on him, got some candidates passed, even though these candidates had not appeared in the physical test.

Mr Sandhu also said the whole recruitment process should be cancelled.

Mr Mahesh Kumar Singla, president of the MC refuted the allegations. He said the authorities had received complaints that the Fire Station Officer, during the physical test, accommodated some candidates who had not fulfilled the physical standard. The council would now hold the physical test and interview again, he added.


Blood separation unit still lying idle
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 25
The Chief Minister is very much annoyed with the non-installation of the imported blood component separation (BCS) unit, reads a communication sent by the Punjab Civil Secretariat to the local Health Department after publication of a report in The Tribune in August.

However, even after a lapse of seven months, the unit, the first of its kind in the state, could not be installed at Guru Nanak Dev hospital here apparently due to a “financial crunch”. The unit has been lying idle for the past seven months for want of a meagre amount of Rs 2 lakh required for its installation. Amritsar is the only district selected by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) on the basis of maximum units of blood collected in blood banks. The installation of the unit is urgently required as it separates different components of blood in the shortest possible time. By using this machine, different components of a single blood unit can be used for other patients suffering from various diseases like thalasimia. As thalasimia patients need only red blood cells (RBCs), the unrequired plasma could be used for other patients.

The Minister for Medical Education, Mr Manoranjan Kalia, had sought a list of non-functional machines from heads of all departments of the medical college, and the authorities concerned had reportedly sent a reply that the BCS unit would be installed by the end of this year. The doctors said in the absence of the machine, precious components of blood go waste.

A statistical analysis of the annual collection of the blood bank shows that out of 18,853 units, 14,985 were collected from Amritsar city. The blood banks run by the government here are catering to 72 private nursing homes and government-run hospitals. These banks charge Rupees 330 for various tests whereas private blood banks charge Rs 93 only.


Coolies dread Wagah closure
Our Correspondent

Attari/Wagah, December 25
Apprehensions that land route between India and Pakistan will be closed has created tension among coolies (porters), who work at Wagah and carry mainly dry fruit consignments that arrive from Afghanistan to some distance from the Zero Line.

About, 1400 coolies who work in two batches at Wagah joint check post are worried over the prospect their being rendered jobless if the government decides to close the road for trade between the two nations following heightened tensions in the region.

“The suspension of the Samjhauta Express will put a blank on the trade chart between the two countries from the New year. With the closure of the road route trade between the two nations is likely to be hit adversely,” said Raju while talking to The Tribune here yesterday.

Another coolie Ashok said he was the only earning member of his family of six, including his unmarried sister. The closure of road would hit his entire family “and who is bothered about giving a job to an uneducated person”.

However, intelligence reports revealed that a large number of coolies were operating as “sawari operators” (commercial couriers) transporting banned goods to be sold at exorbitant rates.

Several coolies who worked here faced suspension while as many as 15 of them lost their licences following recommendations from the Ministry of External Affairs last year.

Their alleged functioning in connivance with anti-social elements and smugglers had forced the ministry to introduce baggage trolleys thus completely eliminating the presence of porters at the Attari station for security and economic reasons.


Cheap movies popular among migrants
Gurvinder Kaur

The much-awaited star-studded 'K3G' has hit the screen at a time when cine collections in the city have hit an all-time low with cinema halls running almost empty, forcing their managements to cancel the last show of the day many a times during the last two months. Whether 'K3G' will manage to reverse the trend and set the cash registers ringing will be interesting to see.

Viewer turnout is low and some of the cinema halls in the city have taken to showing grade B movies which can be bought cheaply and hence even with a low occupancy rate manage to break even, and at times bring in a profit too.

Even a novel idea of screening four different movies in the four allotted show timings fell flat on its face with 'Tagore Theatre' the only upmarket cinema in the city, which introduced this concept in Patiala having had to cancel the 4-7 and 7-10 pm shows on account of a virtually non-existent audience.

The twin theatres in the Tagore complex between themselves screened one show each of eight different movies for a week. While tagore played four Shahrukh starrers — Darr, Dil to Pagal Hai, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Josh — 'Mini Tagore' screened popular movies like Fiza, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Chachi 420 and Tere Mere Sapane for a week. All the movies failed to draw a crowd and the last two shows were eventually cancelled.

The seven cinema halls of the city without exception are running in loss. The only ray of sunshine in the otherwise bleak scenario was Gadar, which was screened at Capital. The movie grossed a huge profit. Even 'Laggan', a big hit nationwide, failed to draw crowds here as it clashed with the hugely popular Gadar.

More than a couple of theatres in the city, including Harbans, have taken to screening only grade B movies, including movies made by Mithun Chakravarty and the soft porn sleazy ones. Migrant labour constitutes the large chunk of the audience. Since these movies are available for even lower than one-fifth the amount to be paid for a class A movie, they manage to rake in some moolah inspite of a low turnout.

Cinema viewers of the city in their turn are peeved with the poor state of maintenance of most cinema halls of the city are in. "Except the recently renovated Tagore which can boast of state of the art facilities and tastefully done comfortable interiors, the maintenance of all other halls leaves much to be desired. "Not only are most of the seats torn or broken but rats scurry around the littered floors and the halls even stink" says Anumeet, a college student. "There is no fun watching a movie in such uncomfortable and unhygienic surroundings. Moreover the management does not allow the audience to settle down before commencing the show. Most of the times you end up missing the first 15-20 minutes of the show. No sooner than the previous show ends they begin to screen the next one with the audience of the last show yet to exit" complains Jaspreet, a housewife and mother of two.

The cinema owners on their part are an aggrieved lot. The general sentiment being that with so much tax to be given and virtually all films excepting a couple bombing at the box office, there is hardly any money in the business and they cannot afford to spend much on the upkeep of the halls.

The public and the cinema owners have been caught in a vicious circle here in Patiala. Till the public continues to boycott movies there can be no profit and unless there is some money the cinemas across the city cannot improve their facilities. Whether and when this trend will reverse remains to be seen. 


Award conferred on four
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 25
Union Law Minister Arun Jaitley conferred National Dapu Kartar Singh Dhaliwal Awards on theatre personalities Pran Sabharwal and Sunita Sabharwal and poets Harchand Singh Dilbar and Darshan Singh Buttar (Nabha) at a function organised by Delhi’s Punjabi Sahit Kala Sangam at the India International Centre’s auditorium in Delhi recently, according to a press note.

Mr Surjit Singh Rakhra announced that the annual awards, lash consisting of a citation, a shawl, a memento and a cash award of Rs 21,000, would be continued to recognise life-time achievement of Punjabi litterateurs, theatre activists, artists and journalists.

Mr Harbhajan Singh Rattan appealed to each Punjabi to purchase at least one Punjabi book a year to promote Punjabi literature and publications.


Facing odds with fortitude
Padmini Jain

Kashmiri the darner is a fairly known figure in Rajpura. For the past eight years he has been doing this business in his ‘‘khokha” in Jawahar Market and his shop is always full of clothes needing repairs.

What makes him different from the others is that his hands and feet are deformed while his trade demands nimble fingers. Despite his handicap, he does the job so well that today he is the most sought-after ‘rafoowala’ in town.

As a child he was struck by typhoid in Dhamoli village near Rajpura.

As he was recovering from the bout of typhoid, he was struck by some unidentified ailment which twisted his hands and feet out of shape and left him a cripple for life.

He became dependent on his mother and two brothers for almost everything. Life became a burden.

But obviously, the boy was made of a sterner stuff. Once the spirit of self-reliance was roused, there was no stopping him.

He observed his brothers who ran a tailoring shop in the village. Slowly he started mending clothes and over the years his fame as an expert darner spread.

Today, he commutes from his village to Rajpura in a rickshaw and works from seven to eight hours every day to earn Rs 150 to Rs 180.

Soft-spoken and well-mannered, Kashmiri, now 38, is conscious of his handicap and knows that he may never be able to get married and raise a family like a normal man.

But he enjoys playing with his nephews, and likes to watch the TV.

He keeps himself aware of the happenings in the world and says that he gathers knowledge by discussing matters with his customers.

He has adjusted himself to his problems and his family is also proud of him.

But it makes him angry when some people try to shower pity on him or try to take advantage of his disability.

He would be happier if the government could come to his aid either by allotting him a booth or by granting him a pension as it does to several other physically challenged persons.


Tiny tots captivate audience
Padmini Jain

Culture and heritage seemed to blend on the stage of Public Modern High School, Rajpura, when it held its annual function. An audience of more than 2500, including the parents and teachers of the students, watched spellbound as the children presented the captivating show.

Tiny tots, resplendent in their colourful dresses, welcomed the guests with their lively show. Saraswati Vandana was followed by a train of dances and skits. Boys and girls with flexible figures presented aerobics and yoga. Gidda and bhangra drew loud cheers.

The parents of the children also went round the school which was decorated tastefully.

Mrs Anoop Inder Kaur, Director of Cooperative Banks in Punjab, presided over the function. Mr Sohan Lal Shahi, Director of the school, was the guest of honour. Mrs Urmil Goyal and Mrs Nishi Dixit, Principals of the Hindi and English medium branches of the school, presented the annual reports of their respective schools

* * * *

The chairman of the MDH group, Mahashay Dharam Pal, known as Shahji to his friends and admirers, was in Rajpura to present gifts to the winners of the MDH lucky draw. The group had launched a scheme for its retailers in Punjab, the lucky draw for which was held in New Delhi. The 80-year-old chairman of the group, gave a Maruti Alto to Mr Chetan of Bharadwaj Department Store of Patiala. TVS motor cycles went to Khalsa Kiryana Store and Hemkunt Kiryana Store of Ludhiana.

Gifts were also presented to wholesalers and retailers of the group.

Mr Dharam Pal told the gathering that honesty and purity had shaped his journey from rags to riches. Manufacturers of spices, mehandi and dhup batti, Mahasheyan Di Hatti, is the largest exporter of species in the country.

* * * *

A family of Rajpura had gone to Patiala to celebrate a marriage. The baratis were returning in cars and vans, singing and clapping when a little after midnight a gas tanker crashed into one of the vehicles of the marriage party. The head-on collision smashed the vehicle and killed four of its occupants on the spot, and injured six others.

The driver of the tanker also died. The injured were taken to AP Jain Civil Hospital at Rajpura. Four of them were later shifted to PGI, Chandigarh. What was intended to be a wedding reception turned into a mourning gathering.


Nationwide bank staff stir on Jan 4
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 25
To educate bank employees about problems which could surface for those opting for the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) and to mobilise them to join a nationwide strike on January 4 against the transfer of 870 employees from Kolkata to remote areas, for not opting for VRS, a zonal-level convention of the State Bank of Patiala was held here today.

The convention was part of a series of such conventions being held in the state by the national leadership of the All-India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) in this regard.

Mr N.K. Gaur, national joint secretary of the AIBEA, addressing mediapersons, alleged that those employees who did not opt for the VRS were being victimised. He said the transfers were made a day prior to the date fixed for the VRS.

He said some of them were transferred to Darjeeling. He said the motive behind the harassment of the employees was that they should opt for the VRs.

In place of permanent employees, the authorities were in favour of hiring employees on contract, he said.

As per the rules, no employee of any nationalised bank could be transferred outside the “language area” other than one where he was appointed, he said, adding while transferring the employees, the rules were ignored.

He said although the VRS was considered to be the best option by those employees who wanted retirement, they were misinformed.

Later, addressing the convention, Mr Gaur said they would oppose the move of the government for denationalising the banks. He said working of the banks could be improved in the present structure and there was no need to give the banks to the private sector.

He said the populist schemes of politicians were major hurdles in making the banks profitable. He said to gain votes, they make promises like waiving loans to the tune of crore.

He said the employees did not have any objection if the loans of some defaulters were written off, but for that the banks should be suitably compensated.

The banks should be given more powers to get back the loans from defaulters by disposing the property mortgaged with the banks, he said.


Pensioners hold protest
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 25
At least 100 old-age handicapped pensioners and terrorist victims protested at the Hall Gate here yesterday wearing black badges, raising slogans against the government.

Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, BJP MLA, who sat alongside them, said the government should stop fooling people and give them what they deserve without further delay. Few days ago she had invited the District Social Security Officer (DSSO), Ms Kawaljit Kaur, to scrutinise such cases at their pensioners and terrorist victims camp.

Ms Kawaljit had told The Tribune that several banks were holding back payments to pensioners. Ms Chawla said complaints, especially regarding Allahabad Bank, Sultanwind road, had been received by the department while more feedback was being collected from aggrieved persons.

Earlier, too, the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Pension) had on October 16 in a complaint to the SSP demanded an FIR to be lodged against one official of Canara Bank, Jandiala Guru.

However, the case was pushed from one department to another and no action was reportedly taken.

The DSSO admitted to the delay in depositing the pension amounts in respective banks.

Most of the pensioners were illiterate and she alleged that the banks were misleading them by not mentioning the date in passbooks properly. Several cases involving delay of more than a year had come to light, she added.

Meanwhile, family members of terrorism victims Soma Rani, Gurmat Kaur, Sudesh Rani, Sushil Kumar, Pradeep, Malkit Singh, Nishan Singh, Angrez Singh appealed to the government to give them jobs. 


Bachi new PSEB Administrative Member
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 25
Mr Gurbachan Singh Bachi has been appointed the new Administrative Member (AM) of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) in place of Mr Baldev Singh Mann. Mr Mann’s two years' tenure ended on November 24 and the Punjab Government had given him an extension till further orders.

Mr Bachi, who assumed charge of his new assignment yesterday, was earlier working as Chairman of Punjab State Cooperative Bank at Chandigarh. He has been appointed for a term of two years. Mr Bachi is considered to be a loyalist of Union Minister S.D. Dhindsa.

Mr B.S. Mann is considered to be a staunch supporter of Mr Surjit Singh Barnala and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) has announced the candidature of Mr Mann from the Dirba Assembly constituency in the first list of 43 candidates released by the party yesterday. 


Dubey is Tourism Principal Secy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 25
The Punjab Government today ordered the transfer of Mr A.K. Dubey, Principal Secretary, Urban Development and Housing, and posted him as Principal Secretary, Tourism, to relieve Mrs Daljit Jaijee of the additional charge. Mr Dubey will also look after the work of Principal Secretary, Coordination, on the superannuation of Mr Shyam Lal on December 31.


NRIs raise funds for educational projects
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, December 25
Mr Budh Singh Dhahan, a social worker and president of the Guru Nanak Mission Medical and Educational Trust, Dhahan-Kaleran told mediapersons here on Sunday that he had got an encouraging response from the Punjabis living in Toronto (Canada) during his recent tour and had mobilised donations worth Rs 1 crore for the Trust.

He said a sister concern of the Trust — Canada-India Educational Society, Toronto — had been constituted under the chairmanship of Mr Tara Singh Jhikka. Some NRIs in Toronto, had helped him in the mobilisation of funds.

The society constituted in Toronto, he said had promised to mobilise funds worth $ 1.50 lakh every year for the Trust. Similarly, the Canada-India Educational Society, Vancouver had promised to host a “fund raising dinner ” every year to raise donations.

Mr Budh Singh further said the society in Vancouver had been instrumental in finalising partnership between Guru Nanak College of Nursing, Dhahan, and the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, to raise the standard of nursing education, Dhahan Kaleran.

The Canada-India Educational Society, has also been instrumental in getting a health project sponsored by CIDA, Canada under which 72 villages of the district were surveyed to provide better health and educational facilities to the rural people, particularly women.

In the next phase of the project, community health centres and educational centres would be set up in the villages.

Mr Budh Singh said the Trust had planned to start para medical courses, a postgraduate nursing course which may have 40 and 25 seats respectively.

He said his dream of setting up a Medical College at Dhahan Kaleran would soon be realised as the infrastructure required for the college was almost ready.

The Trust had plans to set up a trauma centre, a cardiology centre and had also applied for permission to set up blood bank, he said.

Mr Budh Singh disclosed that the North American Sikh Medical and Dental Association, USA, had already ‘adopted’ the hospital for providing it with facilities on a par with international standards.


Students resent hefty late fee
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 25
The Punjab State Education Board has been charging a hefty late fee of Rs 2,000 from students. Some students told The Tribune here yesterday that when they went to submit their examination forms at the local camp office of the board, they were asked to deposit Rs 2,330 instead of the usual fee of Rs 330.

Sumesh Malhotra, a plus two student, who had to appear for compartment in advanced mathematics and computer technology paper under vocational studies, disclosed that the result was declared on December 5 and he received it through post on December 18. As the last date for submitting the examination form was December 20 and December 22 and 23 being holidays, when he went to submit the form yesterday, he was asked to deposit Rs 2,330.

The students have been protesting against the exorbitant late fees being charged which they say they had to pay due to the fault of the PSEB officials who had delayed the dispatch of result. They demanded that the late fee should be slashed.


Education system in disarray: BSP (A)
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 25
The Bahujan Samaj Party (Ambedkar) has criticised the state government for its failure to revamp the education system in Punjab, particularly in the rural areas.

Addressing a party rally at Samipur village in Kartarpur, near here, today the national President of the party, Mr Devi Nahar, alleged that though there were three ministers in the state Cabinet dealing with the Education Department, the government had failed to improve the system during its about five years of rule in the state.

“Most of the schools falling in the rural areas are virtually running without teachers, which contradicts the claims of the government that it had upgraded hundreds of schools in the past five years to impart quality education to the students. During a round of the different parts of the state during the past one year, I found that most of the primary schools were functioning without proper infrastructure forcing teachers to hold classes in the open grounds of the village,” Mr Nahar alleged.

“Since wards of the Dalit community are studying at the schools in villages, the government is paying no heed to solve their problems. Moreover, the SAD-BJP government had failed to start computer classes in schools in the rural areas, he added.

He said the BSP (Ambedkar) had decided to contest the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state to ensure the defeat of the communal SAD-BJP alliance and the Congress.


Teaching resumes in unaided colleges
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, December 25
The teaching and examination work in all unaided colleges of Punjab has been resumed after the teachers strike was called off. According to Prof Davinder Arora, in order to make up for the loss of time and studies of the students, the teachers have decided to forego their winter vacation and conduct the examinations, which were postponed earlier due to the strike call.

Meanwhile, Mr Arora said their protest would continue in form of a relay fast up to December 31. He said the government should restore 95 per cent grant to the colleges so that the parents were not burdened due to forced enhancement in fee. The teachers union in a resolution urged Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to implement the Penions and Gratuity Act and release the pending arrears of the revised scales of the teaching and the non teaching staff.

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