Tuesday, January 1,
2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Corruption case against Bhattal: challan filed
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 31
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau has filed the challan in the court of the Additional Session Judge, Mr S.K. Garg, here in a corruption case registered against former Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal relating to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

Official sources said the challan was filed in the court of Mr Garg as the Special Judge, Mr B.C. Rajput was not available due to winter vacation. The challan was presented on December 26. Mr Garg has fixed January 2 the date of hearing and the case would be taken up by Mr Rajput.

A case under Section 13 of Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 409 of IPC was registered against Ms Bhattal by the Bureau police station at Ferozepore on May 22, 2001 on the complaint of Mr Balwant Singh Dhillon, senior vice-president, Lawyers for Human Rights, International and President, District Amateur Boxing Association, Bathinda.

Mr Dhillon had alleged that Ms Bhattal withdrew Rs 20 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund on December 30, 1996 for giving it to some needy persons and institutions. Mr Dhillon had sought registration of a criminal case against Ms Bhattal under relevant provisions of law.

Mr Surjeet Singh, the then Special Judge, in whose court, the complaint was taken up, had ordered the Vigilance Bureau, to probe the complaint.

The order to register a case under the IPC and the Corruption Act and subsequent investigation was made by DGP (Vigilance), Punjab when the Order of Special Judge, Mr Surjeet Singh was sent to higher authorities of the Bureau for action on the same.

Mr Dhillon said that he had met Ms Bhattal at Talwandi Sabo when she was the Chief Minister on December 19, 1996 and had come to attend a function at Regional Centre of Punjabi University, Patiala.

He added that he along with his friends had asked Ms Bhattal to give Rs 10 lakh for the construction of an indoor hall at Talwandi Sabo. Ms Bhattal told him that she was going to withdraw Rs 20 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund and would give them Rs 5 lakh for the same.

He pointed out that on December 21, 2000, he read a news item in an English daily that Ms Bhattal had actually withdrawn Rs 20 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund in her own name.

He added that after he started searching for the relevant documents he came to know that Ms Bhattal had dishonestly and fraudulently misappropriated the public money. He then moved court for justice.

In the second week of October, 2001, Mr Rajput issued a notice to Additional Director General of Police (Vigilance), Punjab and SP (Vigilance), application of Mr Dhillon. Mr Dhillon in his application had alleged that no investigation had been made till that date in the case due to Ms Bhattal’s cordial relations with the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Badal.

Mr Dhillon further alleged that he had learnt that the Additional Director General of Police (Vigilance) and the SP (Vigilance), Bathinda might hush up the case.

He also prayed that both these officials should be summoned for personal appearance in the court for delay in investigation.


Badal reflects on promises, problems 
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
When Mr Parkash Singh Badal took oath as Chief Minister at the PCA Cricket Stadium on February 12, 1997, a guessing game was on. No one was willing to give him a full five-years innings. Yet, he has led the SAD-BJP team to a complete five-year term.

And today, when he would have been hopping around in the constituencies cheering the party workers and mobilising public opinion in favour of the coalition, he is in bed nursing his left leg after an orthopaedic surgery. He walks, with effort, on his own using a walker. Ever since his return to his official residence on December 9, he has displayed “high spirits” fully co-operating with doctors and religiously following the exercise schedule.

Elections are very close to his heart. When not on any campaign in any election, his next best “hobby” is talk of development and find quick-fix solutions to the problems of the common people. His concern is as much for the farmer, making agriculture profitable through diversification and exports, as for the jobless youth, introducing short-term practical vocational courses for them enabling them to become self-employed. He is equally of concerned at the low quality of education at primary school level as also the poor health delivery system and lack of drinking water in the villages. He is keen on jacking up economy through industrialisation, infrastructure and information technology.

Literally under siege from favour-seekers and party leaders/workers, Mr Badal agreed to meet TNS at 8 pm for his yearend reflections and yearahead agenda. Squeezing past queues of people crowding the corridor leading to his bed-room, this correspondent found Mr Badal reclining and shuffling a sheet of papers, issuing instructions, attending to telephone calls — all at the same time. It took a few minutes to clear the room. And, perhaps, it must have taken much longer to frisk a large crowd still jostling at the gates, braving cold and fog, when the TNS correspondent left 45 minutes later.

Mr Badal has an unfinished agenda that he hopes to complete in his second term. He is relying heavily on the “performance” and “direct” contact he had established with the common people during his sangat darshan in rural and urban constituencies and wards. The development projects that have been initiated have a long gestation period. Nevertheless, these are listed among big landmarks.

His hypothesis is simple: The coalition had narrowed, if not fully bridged, the gap between the government and people. The on-the-spot resolution of problems and disbursement of grants showed government’s “transparancy” and “sincerity”. The money went from the budget. “Such interface was like doing a ‘mind scan’ of the people. I should not be saying so, but tell me, which other Chief Minister has identified so much with the people” ?

Mr Badal continued, “Name any segment from Dalits/ Balmikis to business and trade people to employees to Punjabi settlers abroad, we have catered to the needs of one and all. The feedback showed key workers were activated and people had made up their mind in our favour”.

Asked what made him so confident of returning to power, the Chief Minister said “fairplay” in politics and distribution of tickets. He equated a political party “president” to a “mother”. She can neither be partisan nor engineer factionalism. Therefore, the SAD-BJP had an advantage over the Congress, where the political race among leaders was to become Chief Minister. “Ours is a settled issue”.

Mr Badal identified poverty as one of the major problems that besets Punjab. This could be eliminated through education, industrial/agricultural development and making farming profitable. Unemployment was another item on the unfinished agenda.

But what really bugged him, as he reflected on the past five years, was the lack of “dedication” of the bureaucracy. It was as much to be blamed as the political executive that failed to rise to the occasion and make use of the available opportunity to administratively and economically re-rail the state.

But what warms his cockles the most is when he delivers punches on the Congress. “Right from pre-partition days when the Congress held its session on the banks of the Ravi, the party had not kept any promises made to Punjab and its people. He frequently used the expressions, “step motherly” “excesses” to describe how indifferent, callous and destructive Congress policies were all these decades that collectively made Punjab a broke — economically, politically, socially, religiously.

He does not subscribe to the theory of reserving 33 per cent seats for women. “We always give tickets to deserving women candidates wherever they are found suitable”.

Asked about rampant corruption in the administration and the anti-incumbency factors that may go against the SAD-BJP. As a seasoned political war horse, he gave a lengthy reply. He denied anyone having raised a little finger against him (personally) at the sangat darshan programmes. No one lodged any complaint of having paid money for getting a job or work done.

“Moreover, we have the institution of Lokpal. Any one could have approached it against anyone of us. No one has done. To be fair, we appointed a new Lokpal in consultation with the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. We had promised a clean, transparent administration. The people have faith in us. The people respect our policies. We have restored Punjabis’ respect, honour and dignity in the country. You know the Sikhs had become suspects in the eyes of the countrymen due to the Congress attitude and policies after 1984”.

For 2002, Mr Badal says regional parties have a larger role to play at the national centre-stage. He also promises to continue to endeavour to re-set economic priorities, re-define policies and work for social welfare of all. “Positive thoughts, positive approach, positive actions add up to positive results”. That is what the SAD-BJP would keep in mind, as he wished peace and prosperity to all Punjabis.


Badal “bullying” EC: Congress
Tribune News Service

Mr Surinder Singla, chairman of the Media Committee of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, today urged the Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr N.K. Arora, to issue instructions to all officers not to violate the election code of conduct. Mr Singla contacted Mr Arora by phone from Delhi this morning. Mr Singla said Mr Arora had assured him that he would do the needful at the earliest. Undue favours, which have been given to certain officers ignoring deserving officers, should be cancelled. Officers, especially, those associated with the decision-making process and the conduct of the elections should be told that action would be taken against them if any of them was found violating the election code of conduct. Mr Singla said that the Congress had got report from various districts that at certain places officers were passing the orders, obviously under pressure from the ruling SAD-BJP combine, which could help it in the elections.

Chandigarh, December 31
Taking serious notice of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s letter to the Prime Minister challenging certain decision of the Election Commission pertaining to the posting of officers in the state, the Congress today said the Chief Minister was trying to ‘bully’ the commission by using various means.

Speaking on behalf of the President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Capt Amarinder Singh, a spokesman of the Congress told The Tribune that a delegation of the senior Congressmen would meet the President of India on January 2 at 6.30 p.m. in Delhi to bring to his notice that how “Mr Badal was trying to subvert the democratic system in the state to rig the elections”.

The spokesman said by writing the letter to the Prime Minister with a request to take up the issue of transfer of the officers who had stayed for four years at one station in one go or in patches with the commission, Mr Badal had tried to put a political pressure on the commission which was an autonomous and impartial body. Mr Badal has opposed the transfer of such officers.

Instead of extending cooperation to hold free and fair elections in the state, Mr Badal was trying to confront the commission on various issues and interfering in its functioning. The spokesman said Mr Badal should not have allowed his officers to proceed to court against the commission as such a precedent would cause a big set back to the institution of the commission. Mr Badal should have implemented the directions of the commission with regard to the transfer of certain Deputy Commissioners gracefully and offered all records regarding new enrolment of voters to the commission for scrutiny.

The spokesman said the commission had exposed the “SAD-BJP gameplan” of enlisting bogus voters. At certain places the names of voters were deleted because of the efforts of the commission. Otherwise, it would have led to a big fraud in the elections.

Seeking a thorough checking of voter lists in all important constituencies, the spokesman said such a step required to be taken in view of the detection of the enlisting of a large number of bogus voters and also the deletion of the names Congress supporters from the voter lists.

Mr Badal should step down as Chief Minister and not muddle the democratic electoral process. It was the duty of the state government to post impartial officers in all districts to ensure smooth and fair conduct of the polling, the spokesman added.


Code violation: EC seeks report
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 31
The Election Commission has sought a report with regard to the alleged violation of code of conduct by the BJP Mayor of Jalandhar Municipal Corporation for using three official cars to ferry BJP workers to the party rally at Rajpura yesterday.

The Additional Chief Electoral Officer, Punjab, said today that they had asked the Secretary, Local Government, to submit the report in his regard for taking appropriate action. The sitting Congress MLA from Jalandhar (North) constituency, Mr Avtar Henry, in a message sent to the Election Commission yesterday, alleged that the Mayor, Mr Suresh Sehgal, had violated the code of conduct by using official cars for the purpose.

Mr Henry alleged that Mr Sehgal, a prospective BJP candidate from the Jalandhar (North) constituency, had used three Ambassador cars of the civic body bearing registration numbers PB-08-AD-0007, PB-08-5051 and PB-08-AD-0044 for ferrying BJP workers to the party rally site in the Rajpura Assembly constituency, presently being represented by Punjab Local Bodies Minister Balramji Dass Tandon.

Interestingly, the official cars allegedly used for election purposes by the Mayor have been allotted in the name of the Commissioner, Mr Samir Kumar, and two superintending engineers by the corporation authorities.

Meanwhile, the ADC, Mr Parveen Kumar, asked to conduct an inquiry by the District Returning Officer, today visited the corporation office and recorded the statements of employees.


Cong list likely by weekend
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
The first list of Congress candidates for the coming Assembly elections is expected by the end of this week as the AICC election committee has reportedly the names of single candidates for 50 seats each.

The election committee has already decided to renominate 14 of its sitting MLAs. The names of 50 candidates recommended today will now go to the party high command for formal approval before the first list is released this weekend, party sources said.

The party had initially announced that it would release the list by the end of this month. The entire process of inviting applications, initial scrutiny and interviewing of all aspirants, who numbered more than a thousand, was completed by December 18.

The SAD released its first list of 43 candidates some days ago. The newly formed CPM Punjab has also announced names of some of its candidates.

Other parties, including the BJP, BSP and Panthic Morcha are also in the final stages of finalising their candidates.

The first meeting of the Congress election committee was scheduled for December 27. The sources said after considering all factors, the six-member core group had recommended single candidates for 50 Assembly segments.

These are in addition to 14 sitting legislators. The core group also recommended two names each for 25 other seats. The recommendations of the core group were reportedly endorsed by the election committee.

Once these names of 14 sitting legislators and 50 candidates are cleared by the high command, the second list is expected shortly afterwards. The party high command, in consultation with the PPCC, is also examining all pros and cons, besides the give and take of seats with other “secular and like-minded parties” so as to defeat the SAD-BJP alliance. The alliance or adjustment of seats with the CPI and CPM is also expected to be finalised by the end of this week.

Meanwhile, the party has decided to postpone all rallies and public meetings at both block and Assembly constituency levels till January 5 because of the involvement of the PPCC chief and other senior leaders at the election committee meetings in Delhi.

The fresh dates for the postponed rallies and public meetings would be announced shortly.


Dhabas serving tea laced with opium
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 31
The district has been witnessing the mushrooming of poppy cafe where drug addicts are supplied tea prepared by mixing tea leaves with the poppy husk.

The police has detected the cultivation of opium in the area and arrested some persons who had been supplying the poppy husk and other intoxicants to the drug addicts at their doorsteps.

The new trend in drug addiction came to the light when the police managed to arrest owners of two roadside “dhabas” which were running their illegal business.

According to the district police chief, one Mintu, alias Fauja Singh, was running his dhaba on the Bathinda-Chandigarh state highway for the past many months and used to prepare intoxicated tea for drivers and cleaners of trucks, canters, buses and other vehicles.

In another case, Chinder Singh, running his dhaba on the Bathinda-Delhi highway, was also minting money like this.

Both the accused had also been selling poppy husk to their customers in retail by bringing the same from their contacts. Initially they used to supply the intoxicated tea to the driver and cleaners and when they would addicts, the accused used to start selling them poppy husk in retail.

Chinder Singh was running a dhaba earlier near Pathrala village on the Bathinda-Delhi highway and then he opened the second dhaba near Chak Ruldu Singh Wala village. Poppy husk in large quantity had been seized from both the accused, who had been arrested.

Dr Jain said a close watch was being kept on the road side dhabas cases under the N.D.P.S. Act had been registered against the accused.


Sangeet sammelan ends on soulful note
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 31
Maestros bade an emotional adieu to the 126th Harballabh Sangeet Sammelan and scores of classical musical lovers by presenting their spectacular performances which marked the conclusion of the three-day musical extravaganza at the local Devi Talaab Mandir premises last night.

It was Kolkata based vocalist Ajay Chakravorti, winner of the national award and the prestigious Kumar Gandharva Award, who took the audience to a different realm of classical music with his perfect rendition of different ragas. Starting with impressive “bols” of raga “yaman”— “Data gharib nawaz, main jaaun tore balihar”, Pandit Ajay Chakravorty, went on to mesmerise the audience with a “khayal” — “Pee ki suratiya mohe bhae” and a thumri with “bols” — “Yaad piya ki aaye Raam, yeh dukh saha naa jaae Raam”, which effectively unfolded the pain of a love-lorn girl.

He forced the emotional lot of audience to sing a chorus for him when he rendered “Dil ki choton ne kabhi chain se sone naa diya, jab chali thandi hawa maine tumhe yaad kiya”, followed by “Bairee koyaliya”, which unveiled the sweet voice of a “koyal” and its different scales.

Salil Bhat, the prodigal son of the Grammy Award winner Mohanveena player Vishwa Mohan Bhat, was equally impressive as he followed the style for which his father is known the world over. Sandeep Das supported him on his tabla.

Then it was veteran Ustad Mohan Malsiyani of All-India Radio, Jalandhar, who presented raga “Bhim Palasi”, in its original shades with “bols” “Kahe ko tan bhasam ramaaeo”. What came as a pleasant surprise was a perfect fusion of “alaaps”, “todas” and “taraana”, which embellished the whole performance-full of “ehsaas”. He was accompanied by Hari Om Srivastava on harmonium.

He also rendered a Meera bhajan, “Mat jaa jogi”, which it seemed represented the feelings of music lovers who in their hearts of hearts wanted the sammelan to continue for some more days.

Vivek Verma and his father Chaman Lal Verma came out with a soulful, “Naa maane mora jiyara”. Ustad Lashman Singh honoured them with a mala. The Khan Bandhus came out with memorable presentations on their instruments — “sur bahar”, sitar and sarod. They were accompanied by Rashid Mustafa and Shafatullah on tabla. Similarly, vocalist Sanjay Abhiyankar was accompanied by Ajay Joglekar on harmonium and by Kedar Pandit on his tabla.

Punjab Higher Education Minister Master Mohan Lal was the today’s guest. He said there was a need to eliminate nudity and vulgarity from music. Earlier, Ajay Chakravarti, a disciple of legendary Bade Ghulam Ali Khan said he was elated to be showered by so much of love from Punjabis.


Mann opposes use of EVMs
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 31
Akali Dal (Amritsar) President and senior Panthic Morcha leader Simranjit Singh Mann today opposed the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the Punjab Assembly poll. Talking to newsmen, Mr Mann said these machines could dupe the electorate and be doctored and manipulated.

Mr Mann is the third Opposition leader to oppose the use of EVMs. Earlier, BSP supremo Kanshi Ram and PPCC chief Amarinder Singh had opposed the use of these machines.

Rejecting offers of Panthic unity made by SAD General Secretary Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Mr Mann said if SAD President Parkash Singh Badal and leaders like Mr Dhindsa were so eager to achieve unity, then they should join the Panthic Morcha headed by Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi.

Demanding that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf should be given Indian airspace for facilitating his journey to the Kathmandu SAARC summit, Mr Mann said Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee should use the summit for defusing Indo-Pak tension through dialogue. He flayed the ban on rail, road and air services between India and Pakistan.

Mr Mann also opposed POTO in its new avatar.


Cong rallies put off
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
All Congress rallies and public meetings to be held at the block and constituency level s until January 5 have been postponed, Mrs Lakhwinder Kaur Garcha, general secretary, PPCC , announced today.

Though she said these were being put off because of the engagements of the PPCC chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, in New Delhi, in connection with the Election Committee meetings, the severe cold wave sweeping the region appears to be the main reason for the postponement.


BJYM changes rally venue
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, December 31
Due to the tension prevailing on the Indo-Pak border, the Bhartiya Janta Yuva Morcha (BJYM), Punjab, has changed the venue of its January 6 rally from Wagah to Putli Ghar Chowk, Amritsar.

This was stated by state BJYM president Sukhminderpaul Singh Grewal while talking to this correspondent here today.


Health officials ‘fleecing’ teachers
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 31
The newly selected teachers in the district are allegedly being fleeced by the local health authorities, who are conducting their medical fitness examination.

Several selected candidates, particularly the women, have alleged that there is no lady doctor available to conduct their medical examination. Secondly, they alleged that the health authorities are charging Rs 40 per candidate for the screening test, whereas the charges mentioned are Rs 10 only. It is mentioned in the medical performa that only chest screening is required , not chest X-ray, but the authorities are charging the fees of X-ray and though they are doing only the screening tests as none of the candidate is being given X-ray film.

The teachers have alleged that it was going on in connivance with the officials as the SMO of the hospital mentions on the slips of X-ray even the size of the film to be used i.e. 12x15.

According to the sources the charged amount reportedly goes to the user’s head of the hospital, which is being utilised by the SMO.

The Civil Surgeon was not available for comments. The District Health Officer said it was wrong to charge Rs 40 for the medical examination while the fee was Rs 10 only.

The SMO agreed to refund the money if approached by aggrieved teachers.

Mr Amardeep Singh Dharni, legal adviser to the SGPC and teachers have demanded that an inquiry should be conducted against the health authorities of the local Civil Hospital.

Meanwhile, the local Vigilance Department has initiated an inquiry on the directions of the SP, Vigilance, Patiala against the cycle stand contractor of the hospital for allegedly fleecing the devotees during the Shadeedi Jor Mela in connivance with the local health authorities.

According to information available, the cycle stand owner allegedly in connivance with the local health authorities and the policemen posted at the hospital naka during the mela forced the vehicle owners to park their vehicles at the parking stand in the hospital forcibly. The “naka” in charge intentionally erected “naka” in front of the main gate of hospital and even the vehicle bearing the VIP entry passes were not allowed to go beyond the “naka” and drivers were forced to park their vehicles inside the hospital and the contractor charged high rates for parking, where as this parking is meant for the relatives of the patients.

The matter came to notice when the private car of the SP, Vigilance, was also stopped on the “naka” and forced to park inside the hospital.

According to the sources, the contractor has revealed that he had been paying a handsome amount to the police at “naka” and health official on daily basis.


Patiala turns green this year
Jangveer Singh

Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 31
This year Patiala turned green with two years of plantations bearing fruit besides final phases of the beautification exercise of the Baradari Gardens being completed.

Though the town became more beautiful and orderly this year due to double laning in many new stretches as well as paving of streets in various colonies, the residents of the old city complained that similar attention had not been paid to them. Besides this, areas in the inner city continued to face acute water shortage during the summer months.

Anyone coming to the city after a gap of a few years would find a sea change. Besides restoration of the Rajindra Tank Lake and beautification of the Baradari gardens, the city has acquired a green cover due to plantations during the last few years, particularly gulmohar and other flowering trees. Intensive sapling plantation drive launched in the city during the past few years has borne fruit with there now being hardly any public place where a tree or a shrub has not been planted by the administration or social organisations.

This year also saw the finalisation of the overbridge project over railway crossing No. 22. A proposal to construct an overbridge and earlier than that an underbridge had been hanging fire from the past five years. The project was finally cleared this year due to a pro-active role played by Deputy Commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir even though there was resistance to the project from the trader lobby as shops have sprung up on both sides of the crossing. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal laid the foundation stone of the project last month and work on it was expected to start soon.

Another major achievement has been reconstruction of “sarovar” in the historic Mata Kali Devi complex. The sarovar, which has been non-functional since decades, was reconstructed following the interest shown in the project by the Chief Minister. Besides being a boon for the religious minded, the construction of the sarovar, has resulted in beautification of the temple complex, which otherwise had virtually become a dumping ground.

The Baradari Gardens, which saw massive development last year, saw addition of new facilities this year.

These included creation of more pathways to facilitate walking, establishment of canteen facilities besides Sulabh toilets and water coolers besides an addition in the music system.

The gateways to the gardens were also beautified in an ethnic manner this year. Besides this, a cycle path was created in the cantonment area, a central verge created and the road broadened from Dukhniwaran Sahib gurdwara to Railway crossing No. 20 and footpath and parking space created in the Leela Bhavan area.

The residents of many colonies also benefitted with the Municipal Corporation going in for paving a large number of streets in a sustained manner this year. The corporation also introduced vacuum cleaning of streets this year which has made the Mall Road and roads leading into the Baradari much more cleaner.

However, there was a feeling amongst the residents of the old city that the same consideration had not been shown towards them with the residents suffering the most during the summers due to an acute water shortage.

Amongst the lighter sides was the opening of more food joints even though traditional business did not do well with most new markets not finding any buyers.


Dal (Mann) war panel submits report
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 31
The 11-member no-war panel constituted by the Akali Dal (Amritsar) President, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, has submitted its report to him. Disclosing this here today, Bhai Dhyan Singh Mand, vice-president of the party and head of the panel and Mr Jaskaran Singh, general secretary of the party and member of the panel have alleged that any pro-war decision of the Vajpayee government will be anti-Punjab and that their party would oppose it. Both the leaders have flayed PM Atal Behari Vajpayee for not inviting Mann to all-party meetings.

They also condemned the detention of a large number of farmers of Makhu in Ferozepore district for opposing trampling of their crops by military tanks yesterday. However, the farmers were let off later, they said. The tanks had been off-loaded from a goods train at Makhu railway station and armymen started driving them through the surrounding wheat fields, they alleged. A larger number of farmers gathered and opposed crushing of their crop. The Army reported the matter to the police, who took the farmers to the police station, they alleged.

During our study of three border districts of Ferozepore, Amritsar, Gurdaspur we had come to the conclusion that ruling SAD-BJP workers were whipping up war frenzy while the residents there opposed war, added Bhai Mand and Jaskaran Singh.


4 polytechnic teachers die in mishap
Our Correspondent

Phagwara December 31
Four young staff members of community polytechnic near Palahi village, near here, died in an accident near Agra this morning, it was learnt tonight.

Three others received serious injuries. Nearly 12 staff members had gone on a pilgrimage to Hazoor Sahib, Nanded, in Maharashtra. They were returning to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal. When they were 20 km from Agra their vehicle met with an accident with a truck.


SGPC langar for border migrants
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
The SGPC will organise langar (community kitchens) at various places in the border belt for those who are migrating from villages because of the growing tension on the Indo-Pakistan border.

The President of the SGPC, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, said today that he had instructed to the SGPC officials concerned to start langar immediately. He said the SGPC might also request other Panthic organisations to extend help to the affected persons.

Mr Badungar left for Delhi to meet the Union Health Minister to discuss various issues pertaining to the medical and dental colleges run by the SGPC. He said he would ask the Minister to grant the status of deemed university to one of the institutions.


Tributes paid to security personnel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
The Punjab Vidhan Sabha met today for its 13th session. It adjourned after obituary references.

Tributes were paid to those security personnel and employees who were killed in terrorist attacks on Parliament House in Delhi and the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Complex in Srinagar.

In the absence of the Leader of the House, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, it was left to the Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, to lead the members. Those remembered included MP and former Union Minister Madhavrao Scindia, former MLA Lachhman Singh, the President of the Punjab Pradesh Freedom Fighters Association, Capt Amar Singh, Dr Krishan, Mr Nazar Singh and Mr Sadhu Singh

There was no question hour. The House was adjourned till tomorrow.


Jawan cremated
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, December 31
Two Army jawans, Manjit Singh (26) of Sanghar Kot village and Ranjit Singh of Kot Dharam Khurad village were on duty in Srinagar sector on Saturday when they were killed in a mine blast.

The body of Manjit Singh was cremated yesterday at his native village with full state honours. A large number of people of the area attended the cremation. Mr Gurdeep Singh, SSP, along with other police officers went to pay tributes to the martyrs .


Youth run over by train, dies
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 31
A beggar was found dead yesterday in the rest room of the local railway station. The cause of the death could not be ascertained.

Railway police officials handed over the body to volunteers of the local NGO after post-mortem for performing last rites as there was no claimants for the deceased.

In an another incident, a youth died after being crushed under train near Kahiri Bhagi village of the district. Volunteers of the local NGO were making efforts to know the whereabouts of the deceased. The GRP had conducted the postmortem of the body. Volunteers yesterday performed the last rites of a body on the railway track.


Woman ‘murdered’ parents-in-law
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 31
A bizarre case of a woman having allegedly murdered her father-in-law and mother-in-law by poisoning them to death has come to light.

A case has been registered at Islamabad police station on the basis of an affidavit submitted by Ms Sukhjinder Kaur a resident of Ranjit Pura locality and the daughter of the deceased. Ms Sukhjinder Kaur has alleged that her parents had been poisoned to death in March, 1998, by her sister-in-law Kuldip Kaur who, she alleged, was of dubious character. According to reports, Ms Sukhjinder Kaur said she was told about the murder of her parents by her sister-in-law’s maid servant Sarika who, too was allegedly poisoned by Kuldip Kaur. Ms Sukhjinder Kaur said her maternal uncle Mr Swaran Singh had tape recorded Sarika’s version. Mr Charanjit Singh, Deputy Superintendent of Police Headquarters, confirmed the registration of the case and said investigations were on in the case.


Travel agent booked
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, December 31
The local police has registered a case of fraud against a travel agent, Nirmal Singh, for giving a fake immigration visa of France to Mela Singh of Bholath.

Ms Gurpreet Deo, SSP, said in a press note today that the suspect, took Rs 4 lakh from the complainant for providing him the immigration visa. When the complainant came to know that the visa was fake he refused to go abroad. On the intervention of the gram panchayat, Nirmal returned Rs 2 lakh and promised to pay the balance amount in instalments.

When Nirmal failed to pay the balance amount, Mela Singh lodged a complaint with the SSP. a case was registered under Sections 420 and 406 of the IPC against Nirmal. However, no arrest has been made so far.


Man held for cheating
Our Correspondent

Barnala, December 31
The district police has arrested Vipin Kumar Gupta, who allegedly duped several persons of lakhs of rupees by promising to send them abroad.

Stating this here yesterday, Mr Kanwaljit Singh Sandhu, SSP, said Vipin Kumar, on the pretext of sending people to foreign countries by forming fake musical groups, duped gullible persons of huge amounts.

The SSP said the Bhadaur police had registered a case against him under Sections 420/467/468/471/ 120 of the IPC for cheating and forgery of documents.

The SSP said about 20 passports of the Canadian Embassy in Delhi had been seized from him. Vipin used to get these passport stamped from the Immigration Department. Then he would affix visa stamps on these passports. Canada-based Sukhjit Kaur was the accomplice of Vipin, Mr Sandhu said.


Insurance firms wary of war?
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, December 31
As the clouds of another Indo-Pak war loom large over the region, the local residents are trying to safeguard their assets.

Fearing of a war, the people have approached the insurance companies for covering their properties against the war risk. But the companies have declined to underwrite such risk as ‘the war’ as it is an excluded peril in the purview of the standard fire policy.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Malik, a marketing executive with the National Insurance Company, said only an act of terrorism through strikes, riot and civil commotion was covered in the policy. It was an in-built cover earlier, but after the September 11 incident, the insurance companies had decided to levy an additional 10 per cent surcharge on the fire policy.

Mr Subhash Aggarwal, a local trader, has criticised the insurance companies for not accepting the war risk.

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