Wednesday, January 2, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab Vidhan Sabha passes four Bills
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
After a brief debate, the Punjab Vidhan Sabha today passed four Bills replacing the respective ordinances issued earlier and also ratified the Constitution (91st Amendment) Bill, 2000.

Among the Bills passed were, the Punjab General Sales Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2001, The Punjab Municipal (Amendment) Bill, 2001, the Punjab Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2001, and the Punjab Advocates’ Welfare Fund Bill, 2001.

Earlier, the last session of the 11th Vidhan Sabha today witnessed three walk-outs. The first to stage a walk-out was the BJP’s MLA, Mrs Laxmi Kanta Chawla. Before walking out of the House, she protested for not receiving the replies of her questions submitted in the previous session. She also raised the issue of not providing jobs to the dependents of the terrorist victims and revised salary to the jawans of Homeguards’ even after issuing statement on the floor of the House in this connection early last year.

Another walk-out was staged by the Congress MLAs, who were led by Mr Avtar Singh Brar. Raising the issue of enlisting of the bogus votes and deletion of the names of supporters of his party from the voter lists, Mr Brar said the ruling SAD-BJP combine was challenging the decisions of the Election Commission to impede the holding of free and fair elections in the state. Led by him, the Congressmen walked out from the House.

Yet another walk-out was staged by the CPI MLAs, Mr Hardev Arshi and Mr Ajaib Singh Raunta, who protested against the failure of the government to redress the grievances of the farmers. Speaking in the House, Mr Arshi urged the government to revise the price of the sugarcane to Rs 125 per quintal and to pay at least Rs 10,000 per acre as compensation to those farmers and also to labourers who had suffered losses because of the attack of boll worm on cotton crop in the Malwa belt.

As the Punjab Municipal (Amendment) Bill, 2001, pertaining to the abolition of octroi, came up for discussion, the Opposition MLAs, Mr Avtar Singh Brar and Mr Hardev Arshi, Mr Harminder Singh Jassi took the government to task for passing this Bill at the fag end of its term.

They said the SAD-BJP government had brought this Bill now as it was facing a rough weather. They said they were all for abolishing the octroi but the government should have abolished it immediately after taking over the reigns of power in the state. The government misled urbanites on the octroi issue for about five years and were now trying to buy votes by abolishing the same.

Fielding the reply, the Local Bodies Minister, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, said the government was unable to abolish the octroi earlier as the previous Congress government had emptied the coffers and there were no funds available to extend financial support to the Municipal Committees. He said now the government had enough funds to compensate the loss to be suffered by the committees because of the abolition of the octroi. He said no employee, who was engaged in the octroi collection in the committees till November 30, last year, would be retrenched.

He said the income of the committees had gone up manifold in the past years. Octroi was most obnoxious tax and almost all states in the country had abolished it. He assured the House that committees would face no financial crisis in the absence of the octroi. Taking pot shots on Opposition Benches, he said the SAD-BJP government was the first to abolish house tax in urban areas.

The special feature of the last session was that Mr Hardev Singh Mattewal, Advocate General, Punjab, for the first time gave clarifications regarding the Punjab Advocates Welfare Fund Bill, 2001 in the House. Making a detailed speech, he replied to the points raised by Mr Arshi and others while participating in the discussion. Mr Mattewal assured the members that he would ask the authorities concerned to give due importance to the suggestions given by members in the House.

Earlier at the beginning of today’s proceedings, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Mr Hardev Arshi, Mr Avtar Singh Brar and Mr Ajit Inder Singh Mofar wished the people of the state Happy New Year and also congratulated the Speaker, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, for his election as Vice-Chairman of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.


House adjourned sine die
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
The 13th session, which was the last of the current Vidhan Sabha, was adjourned sine die by the Speaker, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, here today. The session was spread over two days.


Cong panel agrees on 40 candidates
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 1
The Congress screening committee on Punjab, which would submit its recommendations to the Congress Central Election Committee tomorrow for final approval, has reached a consensus in about 40 seats on the choice of the party’s candidates.

The committee, which has had two long meetings in the past three days, held another informal meeting today. Sources said that the committee has been making efforts to suggest only one candidate from each of the 40 seats to make the task of the committee easier. While two names would be suggested for most of the remaining seats, a panel of three names may also be drawn for the seats where decision was proving difficult.

The party has yet not been able to arrive at an understanding with the Left parties over seat-sharing, with the Congress not willing to give more than eight seats and the CPI insisting on at least 10. Indicating that chances of an understanding with the Left parties were “dim”, sources said that the party would take a final decision before the meeting of the Congress Central Election Committee on January 3.

The party’s committee constituted to negotiate with the Left parties would tomorrow convey its assessment to the party high command.

Besides the eight Congress MPs from the state, members of the Punjab Congress Election Committee, including Mr Ashwani Kumar and former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, have given their list of candidates to the screening committee. All senior leaders from the state were heard individually by the screening committee. Sources said that leaders had each given a list of about 20 names, mostly from their constituencies.

The screening committee comprising party treasurer Motilal Vora, senior leaders N.D. Tiwari and Margaret Alva besides the PCC chief Capt Amarinder Singh, and CLP leader Jagjit Singh, held a marathon meeting yesterday where an effort was made to select candidates common to all lists.

Sources said that the bio-data of candidates who figure in the common list were being rechecked to ensure that they met the guidelines prescribed by the high command. “Though there are new faces, it is being ascertained that they have served the party with commitment,” a leader associated with the screening committee meetings said.

Meanwhile, Punjab Congress leaders are meeting the President tomorrow to complain about the “misuse of official machinery” during the election.


Parties fail to agree on seat sharing
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
Though for the past two months, the Congress has been engaged in discussions with Left parties for an electoral tie-up, it has failed to clinch the issue yet. The CPI has submitted a list of 13 seats to the Congress for allocation to it, but its response is still awaited.

Informed sources said that the CPI has demanded Budhlada, Mansa, Rampura Phul or Bathinda, Amritsar ( West), Sri Hargobindpur, Adampur or Banga, Garhshankar, Payal, Shatrana, Dhuri, Nihalsinghwala, Malout and Gurharsahai seats from the Congress.

The CPI has reportedly given the ultimatum to the Congress high command till tomorrow to clinch the issue of the seat adjustment. Otherwise, the CPI will announce its first list of candidates tomorrow here. The CPI on its own would contest about 35 seats. The Congress has offered about eight seats to the CPI, but the CPI declined the offer, saying that the number was too small.

Earlier, there were reports that the Congress had entered into electoral understanding with the CPM in Punjab and had offered four seats to it. But now, sources say, the Congress has brought the offer down to two seats — Garhshankar and Naya Nangal. But neither the CPM nor the Congress have confirmed it.

The unity talks between the former SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, and the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, have been going on for the past one month through various mediators but there appear to be several hurdles yet to be cleared in this connection.

According to sources, Mr Tohra has told the mediators, including Mr Om Prakash Chautala and Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Ministers of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, respectively, that he would have no difficulty in shaking hands with Mr Badal, if he (Mr Badal) agreed to appear at Akal Takht to seek pardon for the alleged violations of certain edicts issued by the former Jathedar of Takht, Bhai Ranjit Singh.

The sources said that efforts were being made to find the way out of this condition laid down by Mr Tohra. It has been suggested by certain persons that Mr Badal should write a letter to Akal Takht requesting that if he had done any wrong in the past, he was ready to come to explain his position. Such a letter would provide an opportunity to the five Sikh high priests to examine Mr Badal’s case and to summon him to Akal Takht, if required. Whether this suggestion has been accepted by the Badal camp, it is not known.

On the other side, though the Panthic Morcha and the BSP have announced their electoral alliance, the adjustment of seats between the two has not been made yet. It appears that the morcha leadership would not be able to satisfy Mr Kanshi Ram, President of the BSP, as far as the number of the seats to be allocated is concerned. A few days ago, Mr Kanshi Ram had stated that his party would contest 80 seats. Mr Badal’s party has been negotiating with the Bahujan Samaj Morcha on adjustment of seats. But how many seats it has offered to the BSM, it is not clear yet. The Morcha has asked for five seats from the SAD, according to informed sources. 


Badal to leave Chandigarh on Jan 3 for campaigning
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
The SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who was today examined by the operating orthopaedic surgeon, Dr P.S. Maini, has permitted him to travel. He has also given him a list of do’s and don’ts.

Consequently, while sharing information with members of the party’s Political Affairs Committee (PAC) that met at his official residence today, an election strategy was also drawn up enabling active involvement and participation of Mr Badal.

Mr Badal will move out from Chandigarh on January 3. After spending the night in Jalandhar, he will proceed to Amritsar the following day. After paying obeisance at the Golden Temple, he will go to Attari to meet the border area residents and know first hand their needs and problems. He will visit Khemkaran on January 5 and on the same day address the first election rally at Tanda in Hoshiarpur.

Announcing his poll schedule at a press conference, Mr Badal said he would visit all 117 constituencies, travelling in a specially fabricated vehicle fitted with a hydraulic chair and a special bed. He would address conferences at Moga (January 9), Ferozepore cantonment (January 10), Sultanpur Lodhi (January12), Muktsar (January 14) and Morinda (January 16).

The PAC decided to set up its central election office in Jalandhar.

Asked about the efforts to forge unity among the warring Akali factions and groups and related questions on alliances and seat sharing, Mr Badal reiterated that any party or individual committed to defeating the Congress was welcome.

Taking all questions together, he said: "The SAD will give due respect to anyone coming forward against the Congress. Mr Om Prakash Chautala has had a breakfast meeting with Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra. I do not know what transpired at the meeting. Even Mr P.K. Dhumal, while going to Rajpura for the BJP rally, met me. We have not asked for ‘mediation’ by anyone. I strongly deny that in the absence of unity the SAD-BJP is on a weak wicket. Neither numbers nor candidates matter. What matters is winning a seat. There are some internal matters between us. The next list will be out this week, probably in two parts. There are no negotiations with the BSP and no final decision yet in respect of the BSM. We have a committee to work out alliances. Punjab’s interest lies in ensuring that the Congress is kept out of power. We have no other interest. We have no personal enmity with anyone. Punjab comes first, every time and always’’.

Mr Badal said Punjabis believed in democracy and democratic means. Unlike in Bihar, Punjabis were always for a ‘’fair and free’’ poll. ‘’Even when panchayat elections are held, rival groups eat together. Our party and the government will not do anything that is violative of the code of conduct drawn up by the Election Commission of India’’.

At the press conference, the Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, and the Speaker, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, were also present.

The committee passed a resolution extending full support to the brave and patriotic people of the border villages, assuring them of every possible help in their hour of anxiety due to the escalation of tension on the border with Pakistan.


Seat adjustment: BSP, morcha hold talks
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 1
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) today formally announced its alliance with the Panthic Morcha even as its party chief Kanshi Ram participated in a closed-door meeting with senior morcha leaders to discuss seat adjustment in the forthcoming Assembly elections.

The BSP Chief yesterday participated in a closed-door meeting with Panthic Morcha leaders Ravi Inder Singh, Prem Singh Chandumajra and Jasbir Singh Rode in Mr Chandumaja’s house which continued till late in the evening. Earlier Mr Kanshi Ram presided over a function organised at Dhiru ki Majri.

Talking to TNS after the meeting, the BSP leader said his party would also support a party which had a Panthic ideology and which was committed to serving the poor and the downtrodden. He said only the Panthic Morcha fitted the bill.

Meanwhile morcha leader Mr Chandumajra said preliminary discussions had been held on the issue of seat sharing between the morcha and the BSP. He said both parties had decided that the win ability factor alone should determine seat sharing. He said seats would be allotted according to the winning chances of each morcha constituent or the BSP in each constituency.

Mr Chandumajra declined to go into the exact figures which were discussed. He however, said the BSP would get the lion’s share of its seat in the Doaba region followed by the Majha and Malwa areas. He said the first joint list would be declared on January 3.

When questioned about the absence of Akali Dal (Amritsar) President Simranjit Singh Mann at the meeting, Mr Chandumajra said he could not be conveyed about the meeting in time due to which he could not participate. He said another meeting would be held between the various constituents before the first list of candidates was announced on January 3.

The Akali leader claimed that the Fatehgarh Sahib and before that the Ludhiana rallies of the morcha had proved that the people were fed up with Akali-BJP rule and were looking for another alternative. He said the Panthic Morcha remained the only viable non-Congress alternative before the people of Punjab.

Earlier, Mr Kanshi Ram addressed a public function at Dhiru ki Majri. 


Vehicle tax amnesty for defaulters
Varinder Singh
Tribune news Service

Jalandhar, January 1
The Punjab Transport Department has implemented the Transport Vehicle Tax Amnesty Scheme to benefit owners of transport vehicles like auto rickshaws, trucks, school buses and mini buses, tourist buses except for long-route buses, who could not pay the road tax and the special road tax.

The scheme has been implemented for the third time in the past two decades, according to which vehicle owners will have to deposit tax dues, without paying penalty or interest on the principal tax amount. Earlier, the scheme was introduced in 1996 and 1999 for a limited period. The scheme will help owners of all types of transport vehicles except long-route buses, and will realise nearly Rs 5 crore from the defaulters, the number of which could be in thousands, some of whom have not paid tax for three to five years. Normally defaulter has to pay heavy penalty ranging between Rs 1,000 and Rs 5,000 plus interest of 1.5 percent when caught.

“Actually, the scheme has been launched by the department for realising principal tax amount as there are thousands of those transport vehicle owners who do not bother to pay taxes for years together. Moreover, it is to remove burden from those transporters, who feared paying the taxes for fear of swelling of the principal tax amount for different penalties and interest. For example, if an autorickshaw did not have the mandatory fitness certificate and was running without paying road tax, its owner could end up paying fine to the extent of Rs 5,200 per annum,” said Mr I.A.S Grewal, Joint State Transport Commissioner. He said the scheme had been initiated for two months and defaulters could deposit their principal tax amount with the department upto February 19, 2002.

As the department faced problems in addressing the problems of the transporter defaulters and waiving the tax straightway, it had to invoke certain provisions of the Punjab Motor Vehicle rules, according to which, the state government could waive tax to any type of vehicle. “Now all which is to be done by defaulters is to contact their respective Transport Department offices and to deposit their principal tax amount within the specified period,” said Mr Grewal clarifying that the long-route transport buses had not been brought under the ambit of the tax amnesty scheme for several intricacies involved.


Confidant challenges Harminder Jassi
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 1
Mr Niranjan Singh Kutiwal, once a confidant of sitting MLA of Talwandi Sabo and senior Congress leader, Mr Harminder Singh Jassi, who remained the Sarpanch of Kutiwal village for 15 years, has declared that he would contest the coming Assembly elections as an independent candidate if the party high command did not allot the ticket to Ms Surjeet Kaur Gatwali, widow of late minister Avtar Singh Gatwali.

A decision to this effect was taken at the meeting convened recently by Mr Kutiwal at Maur Mandi. Several Congress workers, including 60 former and present sarpanches of 28 villages of Maur Mandi block, and Ms Gatwali, participated in the meeting.

Mr Kutiwal said he remained a member of the market committee, the Zila Parishad and the Block Samiti for years together and never lost an election. He added that he along with his supporters were instrumental in the victory of Mr Jassi in two consecutive Assembly elections.

He claimed that he had decided to jump into the election arena as an independent candidate only after the panchayats of various villages asked him to do the same. He said various panchayats had given him permission to contest the coming Assembly elections to fulfil their aspirations.


Sarpanches oppose ticket to Saini
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, January 1
Factionalism in the Sujanpur unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party has come to the fore, when more than 200 sarpanches, panchayat members and BJP office-bearers of the area today convened a meeting at Padyan Lahri village 5 km from here, under the leadership of Mr Swaran Singh Thakur, former vice-president, Gurdaspur district BJP and president, Gurdaspur district Kisan Sangh, demanding from BJP high command to change the candidate from Sujanpur in the coming assembly elections.

Alleging that Mr Satya Pal Saini, BJP MLA from Sujanpur and Punjab Minister for information and Technology had made a false claim before BJP high command, that majority of sarpanches and office-bearers of the area had supported his candidature. The speakers said that Mr Saini had lost faith of party workers.

Addressing the gathering Mr Sawarn Singh Thakur said that, Mr Saini has misbehaved with party workers several times and thus he lowered party’s image in Sujanpur Assembly Constituency. Mr Ram Lubhya sarpanch of Kalesar village alleged that Mr Saini had ignored the villagers and distributed favours to outsiders. Mr Yudhvir Singh Jasrotia, organising secretary, Sujanpur, Kisan Sangh alleged that Mr Saini had not spared even SAD workers. He further alleged that majority of the 137 panchayats of Sujanpur Constituency were favouring denial of party ticket to Mr Saini.

Mr Narinder Parmar, former president district Yuva Morcha, Mr Raj Kumar Bittu, municipal councillor of Sujanpur, Mr Chattar Singh former sarpanch Gho, Mr Brij Bhushan, secretary Mazdoor Sangh, Ranjit Sagar Dam, Mr Rashpal Singh, sarpanch Nagrot village, Mr Ram Paul, BJP president Jugial also addressed the gathering.


CPM to contest 18 seats
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 1
The CPM has decided to field its candidates for 17-18 seats for the forthcoming Assembly elections.

The state secretary, Prof Balwant Singh, and a senior party leader, Mr Lehmbar Singh Taggar, at a meeting at a Noormahl today said the party would announce the names of candidates shortly.

Prof Balwant Singh said the party’s strategy would be to support the candidates fielded by the CPI in the state.


BJYM shifts venue of Jan 6 rally
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, January 1
The Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, Punjab, has shifted the venue of its proposed rally on January 6 from Wagah border to Putlighar Chowk, Amritsar, due to the prevailing tension on the Indo-Pak border. This was stated by the Morcha state President, Mr Sukhminderpaul Singh Grewal, here today.

This decision of shifting the venue from the Wagah border to Amritsar city has been made on the advice of the Prime Minister yesterday. Mr Grewal said the Broadcasting Minister, Ms Sushma Swaraj, Ms Uma Bharati, Mr Shiv Raj Singh Chauhan, Punjab BJP President, Prof Brij Lal Rinwa, would address the state-level rally.


Border residents in high spirits: Arora
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
The Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr N.K. Arora, and the Director-General of Police, Mr Sarabjit Singh, will visit border subdivisions in Amritsar in a day or two for first-hand assessment of the state of preparedness and civil-Army liaison following the deployment of armed forces on either side of the international border, leading to the escalation of tension and reports of migration.

The Financial Commissioner, Revenue, Mr Bhagat Singh, visited the area last weekend, when he reviewed the arrangements with the district administration. He has submitted a detailed report to the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who will be going to Attari and Khemkaran on January 4 and 5.

Giving details, Mr Arora said there was daily monitoring of the situation in the three border districts of Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Ferozepore. The Principal Secretary, Home, Mr Bikramjit Singh, was the coordinator and was in constant touch with Western Command. “There is neither panic nor alarming reports as such. The people, who have weathered many a war earlier, are in high spirits. Though nine locations for shelter camps have been selected, there are nearly 22 families in only one, Rohiwala Mandir in Patti’.

The other shelter camp sites are at Tarn Taran, Patti, Sarhali, Khadoor Sahib, Jandiala, Jagdev Kalan, Vallah and Chheharta.

Mr Bhagat Singh said Amritsar alone had a 240 km border with Pakistan. Out of seven subdivisions, four were along the border. The population within 6 km of the fenced border was 2.96 lakh. District officers had already visited 47 villages in Patti, Tarn Taran and Amritsar-II subdivisions. ‘’We have set up six assistance booths at Attari, Bikhiwind, Khemkaran, Sursinghwala, Jhabal and Lopoke. Besides, there are control rooms at Ajnala, Patti, Amritsar-II, Tarn Taran and Khadoor Sahib in the offices of the subdivisional magistrates’’.

Mr Arora said contingency plans were ready and the Police, Health, Animal Husbandry and other departments concerned had been activated. The directors of Health Services had been asked to proceed to the border belt for an on-the-spot assessment of requirements, in terms of medicines and fodder, etc.

Mr Badal today said that all social and religious organisations, including the SGPC, were actively involved in arranging langar for people. ‘’Most of the people have only moved their valuables, whatever little they have, to safer places. There is no large-scale migration or organised evacuation as such. Punjabis are brave people. But as part of the contingency plan, each of the border districts has been given Rs 1 crore’’.

Both the Council of Ministers and the SAD’s Political Affairs Committee have passed resolutions in support of the people living in the border areas. The headquarters of the Commissioner, Jalandhar Division, has also been shifted to Amritsar for better coordination.

Mr Arora said the situation in Ferozepore and Gurdaspur was normal with no indication of any panic reaction. The civil administration in the three districts had activated the civil defence system.


Coal slurry brings misery to village
Lalit Mohan

The world would never be the same for charno Devi, a resident of Bela Dhiani village, near Nangal. Doctors had to remove one of her eyes allegedly due to acute infection caused by slurry from a coal dump in her village.

Charno Devi told this correspondent that one day, when there was strong winds, coal dust particles entered her eyes. she did not take it seriously but soon her eyes developed irritation. For several days she took medicine from local doctors, which proved futile.

She was later told that her eye has been damaged beyond cure and had to be removed to prevent the spread of infection. She now sits in front of her kutccha house, blaming fate for her misery.

However, the local doctors who treated Charno Devi, do not blame fate for her misery. They are of the view that coal dust particles damaged her eyes. The infection was caused allegedly due to organic compounds that might have been adhering to the coal dust particles.

Dr Charanjit Singh, an eye specialist, who conducted an eye camp in the area, said the eye ailments caused by particles suspended in the air were common in the area.

However, Charno Devi was not the only one who had suffered due to the pollution in her village. The coal slurry dumps of the closed unit, Punjab National Fertilisers and Chemicals Ltd (PNFC), have brought only misery to the 300-odd population of the village.

Village sarpanch Bhatti, who has been running from pillar to post to get the coal dumps removed from the village, stated that the company, Karan Sales, started dumping coal slurry in the village about a decade ago. Company officials lured the poor with jobs and made them agree to dumping of the slurry in the village.

It was only when huge dumps of coal slurry were deposited near houses of the people that they realised what was in store for them.

they then petitioned the district administration and the pollution control board authorities to stop further dumping of slurry near their homes and get the dumps lifted. However, the authorities did not bother to take action.

The position now is that though the PNFC had been shut on the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the villagers are still suffering due to the coal dumps. Whenever winds blow towards their houses, these are covered with coal dust particles, the sarpanch alleged.

He said the company owners do lift coal slurry from the mound whenever they find a buyer for it. However, the entire mound has never been cleared despite requests.

The local NGO, Mr Kuldeep Chand, who has also been talking up the cause of the villagers, pointed out that the firm dumped the coal slurry in the village in violation of the pollution control board guidelines, which stipulate that coal slurry cannot be dumped near a residential area.

In addition due to constant exposure to the coal slurry, asthma problems had grown in the village over the last few years. The district administration and the government should get the dumps lifted out of the village to save the people of the area from pollution-related ailments, he added.


Beating up of SGPC men: 11 cops suspended
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, January 1
The district police chief, Ms Gurpreet Deo today suspended 11 police officials, including an assistant sub-inspector, two head constables and eight constables, who were allegedly involved in beating up of six employees of the SGPC Sultanpur Lodhi on December 21 last.

Ms Deo said the suspended officials had been directed to report at Police Lines.

Ms Deo said the officials had been suspended on the report of the findings of the joint inquiry conducted by Deputy Commissioner Vivek Aggarwal and herself.

When asked if any action had been taken against the Sultanpur Lodhi DSP and SHO, she answered in the negative, saying that they were not involved in the “beating incident” and there was only a supervisory lapse on their part.

Six employees of the SGPC, including the Gurdwara Ber Sahib manager, were allegedly beaten up by the police when they objected to the construction of a chowk by the PUDA on the land belonging to the SGPC.


Beopar Mandal revamped
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 1
The Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal has been reorganised following the expiry of the two-year term of the existing executive committee. The mandal has are released the first list of its candidates for the coming Assembly elections.

The new office bearers are: patron — Mr Bimal Gupta; chairman — Mr Prem Chand Aggarwal; president — Mr Madan Lal Kapoor; senior vice-presidents — Mr Lachhman Singh Mehta; Mr R. D. Gupta, Mr Sham Lal Anand (Rajpura); vice-presidents — Mr Sat Pal Satyam (Sangrur), Mr Mohan Lal Palta (Kotkapura), Mr Kharaiti Lal Garg (Rampuraphul), Mr Ashwani Kumar, (Abohar), Mr Surinder Mukhi (Rajpura), Mr Mela Ram (Bhadaur); secretary — Mr Banarsi Dass Goyal; additional general secretary — Mr Vijay Garg (Bathinda); secretaries — Dr T.R. Singla, Mr Rajinder Nirankari (Rajpura), Mr Surjit Mehta (Patiala), Mr Mehnga Ram (Maur), Mr Satish Dhingra (Fazilka), Mr Major Singh Dhillon (Malout), Mr Gurinder Arora (Muktsar); cashier — Mr Kasturi Lal Aggarwal; joint secretaries — Mr Munish Garg (Bathinda), Mr Rajinder Kumar (Raju), Mr Narsingh DassChalana (Malout), Mr Surinder Kathpal (Jalalabad), Mr Kamalkant Mittal (Rama), Mr Ashok Bansal (Bathinda). organising secretary — Mr Vinod Sharma.

Mr Kapoor said five candidates on behalf of the organisation had been finalised for the Vidhan Sabha elections. They are: Mr Raj Kumar Khurana (Rajpura); Mr Darshan Lal Saraf (Faridkot); Mr Mela Ram (Bhadaur); Mr Surender Kathpal (Jalalabad west), Mr Sudhir Nagpal (Abohar). Another list will be released by the weekend, Mr Kapoor said.


Jawan cremated with honours
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, January 1
The body of an Army jawan, Baldev Singh, who was killed in Anantnag on December 27 while fighting intruders from across the border, was cremated yesterday at his native village Sandalpurnoar Dorangla in this district.

A large number of people, including those from surrounding villages, government officials and ex-servicemen attended the ceremony.

Wreaths were placed on the body by Colonel Mukerjee on behalf of the Station Commandant, Tibber Cantonment, Naib Tehsildar Dorangla on behalf of the Deputy Commissioner, and DSP Jagdeep Singh Hundal on behalf of the district police chief.

A Punjab police contingent fired shots in the air and paid respects by reversing the arms. The father of Baldev Singh, Mr Kashmir Singh, lit the pyre.

Baldev Singh, joined the Army about eight years ago and was posted to the 25 Punjab Regiment. He was transferred to the 7 Rashtriya Rifles at Anantnag about a year ago. 


Four accident victims identified
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 1
Four members of the Community Polytechnic of Palahi village, who were killed in a road accident near Agra on yesterday have been identified. They include Vikram Kapoor, a computer instructor, Vinod Kumar, a clerk, Rajinder Kumar AC/refrigeration instructor and Jagdish of polytechnic extension centre.

Meanwhile, those who sustained serious injuries, including Kuldip Kumar, Harmesh, Jaswinder and Sucha Ram, are being brought to Ludhiana and Phagwara hospitals.

The Community Polytechnic, Palahi, its 13 extension centres, all four schools of Palahi village were closed today as mark of respect to the departed souls, according to Jatinderpal Singh Palahi, general secretary of the management running these institutions.

The staff members were returning from Hazoor Sahib at Nanded to see Taj Mahal at Agra when their Tempo and a truck were involved in an accident near Agra.



Farmer killed as tractor overturns
Our Correspondent

Mansa, January 1
Surinder Singh, driver, and Gurdeep, conductor, were injured seriously when their canter carrying fruit over turned near Bahamanwala village on the Rattia-Boha road after it crossed checkpost of Punjab state.

In another accident, Mala Singh (30) of Rampur Mander village of the district died when the tractor driven by him overturned in the fields. 


Heads of departments ‘not to leave’ station
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, January 1
With war clouds hovering over the horizon, the district administration is gearing itself up to meet any emergency. Ferozepore city has been divided into 10 sectors and the Punjab Home Guards and Civil Defence sleuths have been entrusted with the job of imparting training to the people to safeguard themselves in case of Pak aggression.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.R. Ladhar, chaired a meeting of the Civil Defence Internal Vigilance Committee to take stock of the situation and make necessary arrangements in case of a conflict. Mr Ladhar said as per the instructions from the Chief Secretary all district heads of the various departments had been advised not to leave the station without prior permission of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ladhar said although there was no reason to get panicky, but “we should always be prepared to meet any eventuality”.

Mr Ladhar, who visited the villages along the zero line of the international border, stated that the villagers were ready to render all possible assistance to the administration and the Army. He said, the residents had always risen to the occasion and contributed their might in different forms in the past. He said in case of war, control rooms would be established at the subdivision and the district headquarters and the residents of the border villages would be evacuated to safer places.

He instructed the District Food and Supplies officials to keep adequate stock of foodgrains and fuel. He also instructed the Civil Surgeon to keep in stock all important medicines and prepare a list of blood donors in the district.

He said committees were being formed at the village level which would keep an eye on the movement of suspicious elements. The DIG, Mr H.S. Dhillon, the SSP, Mr H.S. Sidhu, the ADC, Mr Dilip Kumar, and the SDM, Mr Gurtej Singh also attended the meeting. 


Passports from DCs’ offices
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, January 1
The Punjab government has decided that passports will be prepared at the offices of Deputy Commissioners from January 1. Disclosing here yesterday Mr A. Venu Prasad Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot., said all related documents would be available at the respective offices (Deputy Commissioner’s office) and the aspirants after completing all formalities would personally submit the papers there to complete the process speedily.

The government had taken this step to avoid inconvenience to passport seekers at the regional office at Chandigarh due to rush of work, said Mr Prasad.


Hotel owner hurt in firing
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 1
Mr Vanish Katia, one of the owners of the local Sepal Hotel was injured when some youths, who came to attend the New Year eve, function fired at him in the marriage hall, after the function was over.

The police sources said Vanish, who suffered injuries on one of his hands, was immediately rushed to a hospital and given treatment. His condition was reported to be stable.

A case under Section 307, 148, 149 of the IPC and Section 25 of the Arms Act has been registered against the accused on the complaint of Mr Vijay Katia, another owner of the hotel. While some of the accused have been identified as Babbar, Neeta and Dalip the remaining yet to be four were unidentified. A police party has been dispatched to nab them. 


Journalists assaulted
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 1
Miscreants reportedly attacked few reporters and employees of the Patiala office of a Hindi daily when they were coming out from their office situated in the Surya Complex here last night.

According to the FIR registered at the instance of Chief Reporter Sridhar Raju, the attack took place when he along with two others employees came out of their office. According to him, about 12 persons attacked hem resulting in injuries to him and an other journalist, Pankaj Sharma.

According to him, a person accosted them and started abusing them following which he called his other cohorts who shorted beating them up. District Police Chief Paramjit Singh Grewal was informed about the incident. Later the police reached the spot and took some persons, as identified by him, into custody. The reporter later the persons were, however, let off by the police. 



B.Ed. degree holders stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 1
About 1,000 activists of the Unemployed B.Ed. Teachers Front (Bathinda unit) yesterday staged a dharna, blocked traffic and raised slogans against the authorities to press for their demand of issuance of appointment letters to those who had applied for the 3,311 posts advertised recently.

The activists alleged that when the advertisements for 3,311 posts of Junior Basic Teacher/Elementary Teachers Training (JBT/ETT) were issued, the authorities had stated that the ratio of appointment of B.Ed. and ETT candidates would be equal, but now only the latter were being issued appointment letters.

They alleged that even as the code of conduct had come into force with the announcement of Assembly elections in the state, the ETT candidates were being issued appointment letters and the date of joining was indicated as December 24, 2001.

Most of the candidates had come from far-flung places in response to a news item published in a vernacular daily. About 40,000 applications from B.Ed. degree holders were received for these posts.

Mr Narotam Singh, district president, Mr Avinash Godara, general secretary and Ms Paramjit Kaur, vice-president of the front, alleged that the authorities were making excuses that the code of conduct had been enforced and appointment letters could not be issued to them. Later in the day, the activists presented a “demand letter” to the Punjab Government through the Deputy Commissioner.


Barnala college is youth fest champ
Our Correspondent

Nabha, January 1
In the Sangrur Zone Youth Festival of Punjabi University Patiala, which concluded here today at Government Ripuduman College, S.D. College, Barnala won the championship trophy. While Government Ranbir College, Sangrur bagged the runners-up trophy, Government Ripuduman College got the third position.

Following are the results of the festival:

Giddha: Government Ripuduman College Nabha (recommended); Government Ranbir College Sangrur; and S.D. College, Barnala (commended).

Bhangra: Government Ripuduman College, Nabha (recommended); Guru Gobind Singh Khalsa College, Sanghera; and Government College, Malerkotla (commended).

Classical dance: Government Ranbir College, Sangrur (recommended); LBSA Mahila College, Barnala (commended).

Classical instrument (percussion): S.D. College, Barnala (recommended): Government Ripuduman College, Nabha (commended).

Classical instrument (non-percussion): S.D. College, Barnala (recommended); Government Ripuduman College, Nabha; and Government Ranbir College, Sangrur (commended).

Classical vocal: S.D. College, Barnala (recommended).

Orchestra: S.D. College, Barnala (recommended); Government College, Malerkotla, LBSA Mahila College, Barnala, and Government Ranbir College, Sangrur (commended).

Group skit: Government Ranbir College, Sangrur (recommended); Akal Degree College for Women, Sangrur; Government College, Malerkotla; S.D. College, Barnala, Government Ripuduman College, Nabha (commended).

Histrionics: Government College, Malerkotla (recommended); Desh Bhagat College, Barhwal; S.D. College, Barnala, Government Ripuduman College, Nabha; Government Ranbir College, Sangrur (commended).

Group song: Govt College Malerkotla (recommended); S.D. College, Barnala and LBSA Mahila College, Barnala (commended).

Mimicry: Government Ripuduman College, Nabha (recommended); Government College Malerkotla; S.D. College, Barnala; LBSA Mahila College, Barnala; and Government Ranbir College, Sangrur (commended).

Geet ghazal: S.D. College Barnala (recommended); Desh Bhagat College, Barhwal; Government Ripuduman College, Nabha; and Government Ranbir College, Sangrur (commended).

Folk songs: Government College, Malerkotla (recommended); Desh Bhagat College, Barhwal; Government Ripuduman College, Nabha and Government Ranbir College, Sangrur (commended).

Vaar gayan: S.D. College, Barnala (recommended); Akal Degree College, Mastuana; Government Ripuduman College, Nabha; and Shanti Tara College, Ahemadgarh (commended).

Shabad/Bhajan: S.D. College, Barnala (recommended); Government College, Malerkotla and Government Ranbir College, Sangrur (commended).

Debate: LBSA Mahila College, Barnala and Government Ranbir College, Sangrur (recommended); LBSA Mahila College, Barnala; Government Ranbir College, Sangrur; Government Ripuduman College, Nabha; Akal Degree College for Women, Sangrur; and Shanti Tara College, Ahemadgarh (commended).

Poetry recitation: Government Ranbir College, Sangrur and Akal Degree College, Mastuana (recommended); Desh Bhagat College, Barhwal; Government College, Malerkotla, S.D. College, Barnala, Government Ripuduman College, Nabha; and LBSA Mahila College, Barnala (commended).

Elocution: S.D. College, Barnala and Government Ranbir College, Sangrur (recommended); S.D. College, Barnala, Government Ripuduman College, Nabha; Desh Bhagat College, Barhwal; Government College, Malerkotla; LBSA Mahila College, Barnala (recommended).

Costume (traditional): Government Ranbir College, Sangrur (recommended); Desh Bhagat College, Barhwal; S.D. College, Barnala; and LBSA Mahila College, Barnala (commended).

Fancy dress: LBSA Mahila College, Barnala (recommended); Government College, Malerkotla; Government College, Sunam, Government Ripuduman College, Nabha (commended).

On the spot painting: Government College, Malerkotla; Government Ripuduman College, (recommended); S.D. College, Barnala; and LBSA College, Barnala (commended).

Collage making: S.D. College, Barnala and Government Ripuduman College, Nabha (recommended); Government College, Malerkotla; S.D. College, Barnala; and Government Ranbir College, Sangrur (commended).

Poster making: LBSA Mahila College, Barnala (recommended); Government College, Malerkotla and Government Ranbir College, Sangrur (commended).

Clay modeling: LBSA Mahila College, Barnala; and Government Ranbir College, Sangrur (recommended); and S.D. College, Barnala (commended).

Cartoon making: Government Ranbir College, Sangrur and Government Ripuduman College, Nabha (recommended); Government College, Malerkotla; S.D. College, Barnala; and Government Ranbir College, Sangrur (commended).

Rangoli: Government Ripuduman College, Nabha and LBSA Mahila College, Barnala (recommended); Akal Degree College, Mastuana; S.D. College, Barnala and Government College, Sunam (commended).

One-act play: Government Ripuduman College, Nabha (recommended); Government College, Malerkotla; and S.D. College, Barnala (commended).

Group mime: LBSA Mahila College, Barnala (recommended); Government Ripuduman College, Nabha; Government College, Malerkotla; S.D. College, Barnala (commended).


Students attend camp
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 1
As many as 41 students participated in the Rotary Youth leadership award camp which concluded at Punjabi University today.

Rotary spokesman, Manmeet S.P. Singh said the camp, which was organised by the Rotary Club, Patiala Greater, saw students being engaged in co-curricular activities for four days.

Ms Nisha Sharda, Director, Public Instructions (Colleges), inaugurated the programme. The Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, gave away the prizes. Speaking on the occasion Dr Ahluwalia said the university would allocate funds for such programmes.

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