Monday, January 7, 2002, Chandigarh, India 


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Reconsider pact with CPI: Cong MPs
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 6
Senior Congress leaders today met here to decide the pending party candidates in Punjab even as six party MPs have sought a review of the party’s poll tie-up with the CPI.

The MPs, who are sore over not having a say in deciding party candidates in their constituencies, have also resented the way in which seat-sharing agreement was reached with the CPI. The MPs said they were not consulted before the final agreement was reached with the CPI and many of the winnable seats in their constituencies had been given to the CPI.

Sources said after submitting a representation to Congress President Sonia Gandhi yesterday, these MPs met senior Congress leader Arjun Singh and AICC treasurer Motilal Vora today.

The MPs are not only upset over the “winnable seats” having been given away but also because their relatives or confidants were candidates in many of the seats given to CPI.

While party MP Shamsher Singh Dullo wanted his wife to contest from Khanna, confidants of former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal were contenders from Shatrana.



Will Cong-CPI alliance survive?
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 6
Will the electoral alliance between the CPI and the Congress survive? This question has assumed significance after the alliance was opposed by a section of the party rank and file before the high command in Delhi yesterday.

Sources revealed that a section of leaders of the state unit had been opposing the alliance on the basis that some of the seats left for the CPI were the stronghold of the Congress. While the other plea was that some seats had been given to the CPI deliberately to harm the interests of certain leaders.

A senior party leader, on condition of anonymity, told TNS that there was a possibility of breaking away from the CPI. Most of the seats, which had been given to the CPI under the alliance, could fell into the kitty of the SAD-BJP combine. The Congress was strong enough to contest the elections on its own, he said.

Another leader pointed out that no senior leader of the party was taken into confidence before reaching an alliance with the CPI. He said the alliance was struck with certain anti-party motives. He even said if the Congressmen, who had stuck to the party for decades, were denied tickets, the SAD-BJP combine might form government again.

The Congress-CPI tieup was reached after much “mudslinging” on January 4. The CPI was given 11 seats, including those of Amritsar (west), Sri Hargobindpur, Shatrana, Dhuri, Rampuraphul, Mansa, Budhlada, Malout, Garhshankar, Nihalsinghwala and Khanna.

The sources revealed that earlier, leaders were resentful of the inordinate delay made by the Congress in reaching an alliance with the CPI and now they were dissatisfied with the seat adjustment. Mr Sher Singh Gagowal and Mr Harbans Singh Sidhu, who were confidants of the former Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, once represented the seats, namely Mansa and Rampuraphul, which had been given to the CPI under the alliance.

Congress workers of the Budhlada Assembly segment have been urging the party leadership to field its own candidate from the constituency. Some of them have threatened to observe indefinite fast if the high command failed to honour their sentiments. 


Tohra, Mann differ on seat adjustment
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 6
Differences between Panthic Morcha leaders over seat adjustment for the impending state Assembly elections have come to the fore as Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President, SHSAD, today refrained at from announcing the candidates for some seats.

A dispute between leaders of the SHSAD and Akali Dal (Amritsar) led by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann over seat adjustments were said to be the main reason behind the differences. Reliable sources said Mr Mann had put up the list of candidates from his party in each constituency claimed by Mr Tohra. Due to this, the announcement of the Panthic Morcha candidates’ list was being delayed.

Mr Tohra wanted to announce the candidature of 14 sitting MLA’s of the SHSAD from their respective seats today after waiting in vain for the joint announcement, but a last minute telephonic conversation with other leaders of the Panthic Morcha prevented him from doing so. Mr Tohra had called a press conference but instead of announcing the names of the candidates, he once again only talked about the unity controversy with Mr Badal.

While Mr Tohra denied to comment on any differences between the SHSAD and Akali Dal (A), he gave an indication about his frustration regarding the non-announcement of candidature of the sitting MLAs belonging to his party. When asked about the differences, as was evident from the statements issued by Mr Mann, Mr Tohra said he would not comment about any leader of the Panthic Morcha.

A sitting MLA confirmed that the announcing of names of the candidates by Mr Tohra was postponed after a telephonic conversation with other leaders of the Morcha.


Tohra: religious fight more important
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 6
Just a day after announcing that the chapter of unity with Mr Badal was closed, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, said today that he was willing to sit at home if Mr Badal would apologise before the Akal Takht for violating the hukamnammas and reinstate Bhai Ranjit Singh as Jathedar of the Akal Takht.

Talking to mediapersons at a press conference here today, Mr Tohra said for him religious fight was more important than political fight. ‘‘ The political fight can be carried on by the SHSAD and the Panthic Morcha but I will sit at home if Mr Badal bows before the Akal Takht’’, he added.

In another significant revelation, Mr Tohra said that Mr Badal and his supporters were willing to appoint Bhai Ranjit Singh as Jathedar through the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee.

Giving examples of several prominent leaders, who had bowed before the Akal Takht in the past, Mr Tohra said he was surprised that Mr Badal would still consider something more important than the stature of the highest seat of the Sikhs. He said the main enemy of the masses in Punjab was the Congress and he was willing to do anything to defeat the party. 


Different political chefs, similar menu
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
Mandate alone is not enough for a political party (singular or coalition) to govern with success. It requires a strong will and determination to fulfil poll promises. This seldom happens. Had it happened, Punjab would not have been in crises or an unseen disquiet that persists today.

There is a kind of sameness in the “policy statements” that a government makes on assuming office. May that government be that of the late Darbara Singh, Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, the late Beant Singh, Mr Harcharan Singh Brar, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal or Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

A perusal of the policy statements and issues touched upon by successive governments shows that not only the promises made are of the same genre but even the idiom used is similar. Only the delivery is different. These statements have a familiar ring and refrain as do the resolves on maintaining law and order, peace, communal harmony or on economic development and building of the infrastructure, etc.

The political phraseology is also the same — an appeal to the Opposition for cooperation, not confrontation, with an assurance on fair play and a level playing field, no vindictiveness and witch-hunting. The statements, in ways more than one, are couched in the same syntax.

Yet browsing through these promises all one finds are broken dreams and the shattered aspirations of the people, who were served a “tempting menu”. The songs these political parties sing when in power are different from those sung by them when out of power. The political menu remains the same, so do allegations and counter-allegations.

Here is a sampling of policy statements:

Darbara Singh in June, 1980, had promised a strong economic, social and political infrastructure. He blamed the previous government for doing nothing and crumbling under its own weight for it had spent time spreading communalism and casteism.

On political cooperation, he had talked of giving up recrimination and vindictiveness. He identified only one adversary: social and economic injustice. He had scoffed at cynicism or indifference, assuring to translate ideas into reality. He had decried slogans of separatism. He had talked of a shortage of vital inputs and the necessities of daily life that had got aggravated in the past three years and assured the kisan of a better future.

Then came Mr Barnala in 1985 when the ink on the Rajiv-Longowal accord was fresh, Punjab was burning and the assassination of Indira Gandhi and the anti-Sikh riots were embedded in the psyche. He had promised to restore the dignity and honour of the Sikhs and maintain communal amity. He had sought the Opposition’s constructive cooperation to “heal the wounds”. He had talked of a commission of inquiry to go into the association, connivance and support of political elements to terrorists. He was conscious of the feeling of hurt and alienation of the youth. He had promised the rehabilitation of the Army deserters.

He had talked of the finances of the state being in a shambles. He had pointed at the industrial, commercial and economic stagnation and the lack of employment opportunities. He had promised to undo the anti-rural policies of the previous government.

Then, after a spell of President’s rule, came Beant Singh in 1992.The Akalis had boycotted the elections due to the terrorist threat. The Congress had come to power with barely 10 per cent votes. Yet, it was left to Beant Singh to restore peace and democracy down to the grassroots, thereby enabling the Akalis to join the mainstream.

His task had remained unfinished, following his assassination by a “human bomb” in August, 1995.

Then came Mr Brar (September, 1995) and Mrs Bhattal (November, 1996). The former had talked of a law and order policy based on the fundamental principles of jurisprudence, assuring that the rule of the law would prevail. He had said: “There cannot be any law without order and order without law”. He had also promised the protection of human rights. Both, order and law, collapsed within the Congress, thanks to the brand of politics of Mrs Bhattal. Though Mr Brar did not believe in the philosophy of unnecessary confrontation and sought the cooperation and support of other parties to maintain peace, his own party remained in turmoil.

And, of course, he had talked of a transparent and efficient administration and promised to remove the public perception of corruption in various spheres of government, including recruitment and the transfer of government employees. He had promised development and the uplift of the weaker sections as well as the kisan.

Mrs Bhattal in 1996 came up with a five-point charter of governance, including a promise that her family members would not interfere in the administration. She also promised what her successor had, politically and administratively. It is another matter that even before she could show what she could do as the first woman Chief Minister, the Assembly elections were announced in the last week of December, 1996. Till date she says that her economic agenda for the development of Punjab was “stolen” by the Akalis.

Then stepped in Mr Parkash Singh Badal in 1997. What Mr Barnala had promised in 1985, Mr Badal repeated that with some variation and additions, including inter-state disputes, reopening the issue of greater autonomy, setting up of a federal system of government, declaration of assets by the elected MLAs, etc.

He, too, in his appeal to the Opposition, had talked of political “conciliation” to resuscitate and resurrect Punjab. He, too, promised to undo the anti-kisan policies of the previous government (the Congress, 1992-1997). He had also identified himself with the kisan and also talked of a commission of inquiry to examine the growth of terrorism, just as was done by Mr Barnala in 1985. Both later kept quiet on the issue. Such issues are often kept dormant till election time.

Though prepared by different political chefs, the menu, with varying ingredients, has tasted the same. And most of what was prepared and served in the past over 20 years has also putrefied. Hence, the crises that beset Punjab. 


Dissidence surfaces in SAD units
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, January 6
Dissidence has erupted in the ranks of the SAD with party workers conveying their resentment against the ruling alliance ministers and nominees for the forthcoming Assembly elections, from the Nangal and Anandpur Sahib constituencies.

At Nangal today, former circle jathedar of the SAD, Mr Sardool Singh, declared his candidature from the Nangal Assembly constituency against Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Food and Civil Supplies Minister.

At a meeting held in his native Kulgrahan, village Mr Sardool Singh announced that he would contest the elections against the ruling alliance minister as he had allegedly ignored the area. Prominent Panthic Morcha leaders, Ravi Inder Singh and Prem Singh Chandumajra were also present at the meeting.

When asked if the Panthic Morcha would field Mr Sardool Singh from Nangal Mr Ravi Inder Singh the matter would be discussed at the joint meeting of the morcha and the BSP. The list of candidates of the Panthic Morcha would be declared within a week, he said.

Some Akali leaders of the area, including Mr Mann Singh, former circle jathedar of SAD, Mr Ranjit Singh circle jathedar of the SAD, and Mr Inderpal Singh Chadha, senior vice-president of the local unit of SAD, also attended the meeting.

Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, when asked to comment about the dissidence in the SAD camp, said only those Akali workers who wanted to help the Congress were indulging in dissidence activities.

Fissures have also started appearing in the Anandpur Sahib Assembly constituency unit of SAD. Nearly 35 sarpanches from the area held a meeting at Ghanauli last evening and opposed the allotment of party ticket to Mr Tara Singh Ladal, State Minister for Education.

They demanded that the ticket from Anandpur Sahib should be allotted to Mr Jarnail Singh Aulakh, SGPC member of the area.

Threatening to boycott the elections if the SAD ticket was allotted to Mr Ladal, the sarpanches alleged Mr Ladal had ignored the area during his stint as minister and of allotting important market committee and other seats to outsides.

Earlier, Nurpur Bedi area sarpanches had opposed the candidature of Mr Ladal in favour of Mr Aulakh.

The meeting was attended, among others, by Mrs Gurcharan Kaur, president of the Municipal Council, Anandpur Sahib, Mr Sarwan Singh, senior vice-president of the council. Mr Ladal was not available for comments on the issue. 


MPs lobby for international airport at Chandigarh
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 6
Members of Parliament from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir would collectively lobby for an international airport at Chandigarh. The airport at Chandigarh could help boost the agriculture-based exports from Punjab and Haryana and on the other hand promote tourism in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. Mr Suresh Chandel, MP from Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh, gave this information at Nangal yesterday.

Mr Chandel, who played a pivotal role in bringing together the MPs from the region on a common platform said the first meeting of 20 MPs from these states to discuss the problems faced by the region was held at Fridabad on December 19.

At the meeting all MPs irrespective of their parties, expressed their willingness to collectively lobby for the issue that could lead to the overall development of the region. Even the MPs who could not attend the meeting like Mr Simranjit Singh Mann and some others, expressed their support for the issues.

Issues that came up for discussion were the early completion of the Delhi-Chandigarh highway. The work on the highway has been going on a today pace for the past 15 years and still there was no sight of extending it up to Chandigarh.

The MPs have decided to collectively urge the minister concerned to speed up the work to complete the highway.

The other issues on which the MPs decided to work together were the opening of diagnostic centres of PGI at various places in all states of the region. It was also decided that due to the heavy traffic on the Chandigarh-Delhi road a trauma centre should also be demanded near Karnal. An alternative rail track joining Jalandhar with Jammu and the demand for Shatabdi train till Anandpur Sahib were the other major issues that came up for discussion, Mr Chandel added.

Mr Chandel further said overall development of the region had been affected due to the small numbers of the representatives of the individual states in Parliament and their isolation from each other. The state like Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, had been more effective in getting their demands fulfilled from the Union Government due to their better numerical strength.


Morcha’s complaint against Dhindsa’s remarks on CEC
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 6
The Panthic Morcha will file a complaint to the President of India against the Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, for his remarks against the Chief Election Commissioner. Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra said this while talking to mediapersons at Anandpur Sahib today.

Mr Chandumajra, who had come to Anandpur Sahib to attend the function at the house of Mr Baghat Singh Ghatiwal, circle president of the SHSAD, said that the remarks of Mr Dhindsa against the CEC amounted to direct interferance in the working of the Election Commission. By doing so the minister had violated the code of conduct and sought action against him.

Mr Chandumajra also criticised Mr Badal for permitting officers concerned for moving the court against the directions of the EC. 


Amarinder’s brother withdraws from race
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
Mr Malwinder Singh, younger brother of Capt Amarinder Singh, president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, has withdrawn from the race for the party ticket for the state Assembly elections.

A close confidant of Capt Amarinder Singh told The Tribune from Delhi on the phone that Mr Malwinder Singh was a contender for the party ticket from the Samana constituency.

However, he withdrew his name from the list of aspirants as he wanted to strengthen the hands of Mrs Sonia Gandhi and his brother and avoid allegations of nepotism in the allotment of the party ticket.

Actually, Samana has become a most-sought-after constituency. There are several contenders for the party ticket.

Among them are Mr Surinder Singla, Mr Sant Ram Singla, Mr Bir Devinder Singh and Mr Harry Mann. At one stage, Mr Brahm Mohindra’s name also cropped up for this seat as his Patiala constituency, from where he has been elected thrice is likely to be allotted to Capt Amarinder Singh this time.

The withdrawal of Mr Malwinder Singh appears to be a clever move on the part of Capt Amarinder Singh, who has been under pressure to make his brother take such a step. Now, Capt Amarinder Singh will be able to tell the party high command that other senior leaders pressing for the party ticket for their close relations should also be told not press their claims.


BSP, Morcha forge alliance
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 6
Putting speculations about their differences to rest, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Panthic Morcha have finally joined hands to enter the poll arena to defeat the SAD-BJP alliance by showing flexibility on the issue of seat adjustment.

After a close door meeting at the BSP supremo Kanshi Ram’s Urban Estate residence here late this night with the Panthic Morcha leaders, including Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, Mr Kanshi Ram declared that his party and the Morcha had decided to contest the poll jointly. He said a flexible formula had been formulated and according to which at least 40 seats would be contested by the Morcha, while rest of the 77 seats would be contested by the BSP.

The BSP, according to Mr Kanshi Ram, would declare its candidates during a state level “Ha Ha Kaar” rally to be organised on January 20 at Ludhiana. He clarified that the Morcha, for which 25 seats have been identified, would announce its candidates as per its own convenience. “Rest of 15 seats to be contested by the Morcha would be decided within one or two days,” Mr Kanshi Ram said.

He said on coming to power, a jat would be the Chief Minister in Mr Ravi Inder Singh.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that Mr Kanshi Ram’s friend turned foe and head of the Bahujan Samaj Morcha (BSM), Mr Satnam Kainth, was trying to forge an alliance with SAD the (Badal). Mr Kainth, according to sources close to Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had met the latter during his tour of the border areas falling in Amritsar district on January 4. The only issue to be decided between the two was the number of seats to be contested by the BSM, which was demanding three to five seats in the Doaba region. The SAD, according to sources was considering the BSM’s demand seriously.


Pasla releases second list
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 6
The rebel faction of the state unit of the CPM led by Mr Mangat Ram Pasla today released its second list of candidates for the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state.

In a press statement issued here today, Mr Pasla announced that Mr Ajit Singh Thakkar from Kahnuwan, Mr Makhan Pallan from Nurmahal, Mr Harnek Singh from Sherpur and Dr Baldev Bika from Banga would be the official party candidates.

Stating that his party would contest at least 22 seats in the Assembly elections, Mr Pasla said that his party would support the candidates of other Left and secular parties in the remaining 95 seats.


BKU (E) plans ‘rail roko’ in Feb
Our Correspondent

Maur Chadatsingh (Bathinda), January 6
Having failed to get its demands fulfilled by holding dharnas, rallies and road blockades, the BKU (E) has decided to intensify its ongoing struggle by blocking rail traffic at different parts of the state on February 8.

This was stated here today by the state leadership of the union at a rally organised as part of its ‘waive loan’ campaign launched in the state.

Mr Pishora Singh Sidhupur, president of the state unit, said the “rail roko” programme would be undertaken at various places in different districts simultaneously so as to pressure the government to accept their demands.

The main demands of the farmers were waiving of loans for their inability to repay these due to frequent failure of crops. The condition of farmers was so bad that some of them had even committed suicide.

Today’s rally was organised to create awareness among the farmers about the ‘rail roko’ campaign.

Mr Ruldu Singh, senior vice-president, said the farmers whose cotton crop was damaged this year should be given suitable compensation. He alleged that the government had failed to protect the interests of farmers.

Mr Surjeet Singh Phul, press secretary, said the policies of the present government were anti-farmer. He alleged that following the instructions of the world organisations the Indian Government had started creating problems during the procurement of different crops.

He said the subsidies given on various agricultural inputs had been taken away in a phased manner in order to implement the policies of the WTO. The condition of farmers would worsen in the coming years due to such policies.

Mr Surjit Singh Gill Kalan, assistant secretary of the district unit, said the present state government had not fulfilled the promises made in its election manifesto five years ago. The government had not done anything for getting the loans of farmers waived. Government had crossed all limits of corruption.

LUDHIANA: The Bharti Kisan Union (Lakhowal) has sought the waiver of all loans of the farmers of Punjab and any party that concedes this demand would be supported by the BKU.

This was stated here on Sunday by Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, president of the BKU, in an interview with the Tribune. Mr Lakhowal said the Punjab farmers owed about Rs 10,000 crore to the government, commercial banks and the arhtiyas.

Mr Lakhowal said he had informed Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister at Jalandhar, yesterday of this demand. Mr Badal had sought the support of the BKU in the ensuing elections to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.

Similarly, he said, Mr Amarinder Singh, President, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, had also met him and other BKU leaders and sought their support for the Congress. Mr Amarinder Singh had also been given the same demand charter.

The BKU chief was sore that the political parties make tall promises at the time of elections, but forget them after the poll. The financial condition of the Punjab farmers, especially cotton growers, had gone from bad to worse during the past five years, he lamented.

He disclosed that more than 1,000 farmers had committed suicide during the past five years in Punjab and worst affected districts were Sangrur and Bathinda followed by Faridkot, Mansa and Ferozepore.

Mr Lakhowal said that the BKU executive and other leaders would meet at Ludhiana on January 15 to decide on extending support to the political parties in the elections.


Transfer of villages sparks off debate
Raj Sadosh

Abohar, January 6
The transfer of 35 villages in Balluana, Fazilka and Jalalabad Assembly segments to Arniwala sub- tehsil has sparked off a debate.

The state government had issued a notification last fortnight transferring Arniwala, Paka, Bannawala, Jhotianwali, Jandwala Bhimeshah, Dabwala Kalan, Kuhadianwali, Burj Hanumangarh, Ghuriana, Mammukhera, Muradwala Dalsingh, Mulianwali, Thippanwali, Kandhwala Hazarkhan, Tahliwala Jattan, Islamewala, Kamalwala, Mahuana Bodla of the Balluana Assembly constituency, Chak Kheowali, Chimnewala, Jodki, Ghattianwali, Chak Pakhi, Aliana, Hauzkhas, Sahiwala Banwala, Dabwala, Sham Khanka, Rohrianwali, Nukerian and Haleemwala of the Jalalabad Assembly constituency and Shajrana, Singhpura of the Fazilka constituency.

As many as six panchayats have passed resolutions opposing the transfer of their respective village to the new sub-tehsil. The Panchayat of village Kheowali Bodla has decided to move the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the orders. The sarpanch and other members said they were not opposed to the creation of the new sub-tehsil, but their commercial interest would suffer as they had been having all transactions with Fazilka town, they won’t have an easy assess to the new sub tehsil headquarters. They regretted that their representation to the Chief Minister had not been considered.

Besides Mr Balwinder Singh, sarpanch, Kheowali Bodla village, Mr Jagsir Singh, Mr Mohinder Singh, Mr Chanan Singh, Mrs Mehru Bai and Mrs Gurdev Kaur, all sarpanches, were also reportedly inspired by the residents of their villages Chak Dabwala, Chak Banwala, Badhewala, Jodkia Andhewali and Ghatianwali Bodla to pass resolution opposing the transfer of their respective villages to the new sub-tehsil Fazilka was nearer and safer than Arniwala.


Steps to check foeticide suggested
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 6
Tiny tots held a demonstration against female foeticide at the local Mata Kaushalya Hospital, here, yesterday while an expert group constituted by the PCMS Association, Punjab, suggested measures to check the evil.

A meeting was also organised by the Culture and Heritage Conservation Initiative and the PCMS Association. The issue needed urgent public attention as Punjab had the lowest female child ratio in the country, said Dr M.S. Randhawa and Dr D.S. Gill.

Meanwhile, the PCMS expert group said the sex determination test by ultrasonography was conducted within 14-16 weeks of pregnancy and the provisions of medical termination of pregnancy were misused to abort female foetus by labelling the normal pregnancy as having ‘‘congenital abnormalities’’, ‘‘missed abortions’’ or ‘‘intrauterine deaths’’. There was no way of checking this misuse if a gynaecologist and reporting ultrasonologist were in league with each other, it said.

The experts have suggested to the state government that female foeticide can only be checked effectively if a partial ban is imposed on second trimester abortions, except those approved by a board of three doctors. It maintained that medical termination of pregnancy in second trimester should be decided only by a board of three doctors of approved centres.

This should also be made mandatory that an ultrasonography film with patient’s name, date and time be kept in the indoor case file, whenever a second trimester abortion was advised, the experts said.

Such a ban would not only check female foeticide, but also reduce the incidence of criminal and septic abortions at the hands of unqualified medical practitioners, they added.


Power to burn, but not light houses
Ravi bhushan Puri

On one hand, street lights in Pathankot keep glowing during the sunniest of days while on the other, hundreds of homes have to go without light as the government has no power for them.

At present more than 3,000 street lights, which comprises 250 Watt mercury vapour lamps and 100 Watt lamps are there in this town. Four 250 Watt bulbs lit for an hour consume one unit of power the same as 10 bulbs of 100 Watt for an hour.

Power consumption per family of an average of five individuals is 30 units for a 10-hour power supply.

Street lights are not switched off in the day, for more than four hours including during the peak two hours in the morning in the town.

According to sources, there are no switches to turn off the lights during the day, no lineman to repair them nor funds to buy equipment.

Both the PSEB and Municipal Council, which maintain the street lights in tandem with each other, say that they are helpless on account of lack of coordination between the two.

The lights are directed to be switched off at 6 am, says a PSEB official. However it is not done as switches get burnt or are missing. Even at the SDM courts, the lights glow even when there is sunlight.

According to experts the only way out is to replace the switches with sensor-equipped switches like Delhi and other metropolition cities to save this colossal waste.


BJP leaders ask Pak to hand over terrorists
Tribune News Service and UNI

Amritsar, January 6
Ms Sushma Swaraj, Information and Broadcasting Minister, today called upon the countrymen to unite on a single platform, cutting across party affiliations, with a view to stamping out terrorism from the country.

Addressing a rally of the BJP Yuva Morcha here today, Ms Swaraj said that need of the hour was to launch a consistent drive against the menace of terrorism which had claimed many innocent lives in various parts of the country. She alleged that neighbouring Pakistan had been aiding and abetting terrorism for the past more than two decades.

She said Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, Prime Minister, had extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan by launching the Delhi-Lahore bus. However, instead of reciprocating the goodwill gesture of India, Pakistan engineered the Kargil conflict in the most treacherous way. Similarly after the Agra summit, India witnessed the most heinous attack on Parliament. She said there was evidence available with India which showed the hand of Pakistan in the crime. She said it was surprising that the USA which had faced to monstrous attacks on WTC towers had been preaching that India should exercise restraint.

Leaders attending the rally asked Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf that instead of extending a hand of friendship he should first deal with terrorism and hand over the terrorists to India whose list had already been forwarded to his government.

The speakers also lambasted the USA, Britian and other nations who are advising India to show patience and avoid an armed conflict. They sought to remind the USA of its failure to declare Pakistan a terrorist state despite being given strong evidences of its hand in sponsoring terrorism on the Indian soil.

In a hard-hitting speech Ms Bharati said “paar ki larai” mean ‘battle’ to end terrorism and would be fought on the other side of the border. “The national tricolor will be hoisted at Islamabad”, she said amidst slogans of Pakistan ‘murdabad’ Musharraf ‘murdabad’.

She alleged that when the game plan of the ISI failed in Punjab, it diverted its activities towards Jammu and Kashmir.

Punjab BJP President Brij Lal Rinwa who also spoke on the occasion too favoured a decisive battle against terrorism. The people of the border areas of Punjab have faced hostilities in the past and are not afraid of the enemy, he added.

National Yuva Morcha chief Shiv Raj Chauhan said India was aware of its strength and would emerge victorious in its fight against terrorism. He said scared of war Pakistan was appealing to other nations to intervene, but it was too late.

Following tension on the border, the rally venue was shifted here from the Wagah check post.


Border residents scared of mines, leave villages
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, January 6
Residents of border villages in the Dorangala sector are leaving their villages. Ram Singh, husband of sarpanch of Vazirpur Afgana village, said the people were shifting as BSF personnel had been shifted from border observations posts of Chauntra and Salauchi villages.

Residents of Miani, Slampur, Vazirpur Afghana, Salauch, Chountra and Shamsherpur have also shifted. This correspondent saw four tractor-trailers carrying residents and their luggage moving to safer places in the district.

According to Dalip Singh Chountra, the residents were shifting for fear of land mines which have been laid on several acres in the border belt.

The district administration has made girdawari of the land where mines were laid.


Kanwaljit promises more development
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, January 6
Promising of more developmental works in the Banur constituency and making Dera Bassi a replica of Chandigarh, the Punjab Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, today kicked off his election campaign here. He drew a sizeable crowd at Ram Lila Ground.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, the SAD-BJP candidate from the Banur Assembly constituency for the coming Punjab Assembly poll, challenged the Congress to field any candidate against him. ‘‘The Congress MLAs elected from the area have not contributed anything towards the development of the area’’, accused the minister. He claimed that the development of the area started in 1997 after he was elected to the Assembly.

Amidst slogans, Capt Kanwaljit Singh recounted the development works done by him in the area in the past five years. He appealed to the voters to ensure the victory of the SAD-BJP alliance for the second consecutive time. ‘‘We were able to get huge amount of money for developmental works and purchase of agricultural outputs because of presence of a friendly government at the centre’’, said the minister.

Others who asked for votes for the Captain were Dr Sushil Raj Kumar of the BJP, Mr Jagjit Singh Dali, Mr Mam Raj Gandhi, Mr Bhupinder Saini and Akali leader Manjeet Bhatia.



Untrained handling theatre in Punjab’
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, January 6
In most cases, theatre in Punjab is being handled by untrained persons. Training has something to do with art, but the type of training being provided is not proving to be helpful.

These views were expressed by playwright Atamjit Singh here yesterday. He is the director of a theatre workshop being organised in Amritsar from January 9 to 30. National-level experts have been invited to attend it.

Dr Atamjit Singh, a senior lecturer at Government College here, said when theatre departments were opened at Panjab University and Punjabi University, the objective was to encourage the art. However, students who passed out from these departments usually avoided going into theatre and preferred the fields of TV and video in Mumbai and Delhi.

In fact, he said, at Panjab University, the department had now been named the Department of Theatre and TV. He felt that this department had hardly contributed anything substantial to Punjabi theatre.

He said the ideal way was to select committed persons for the workshop and introduce them to the technicalities inherent in the art. They would be given an idea of the work that had been done at the national level and an opportunity to know whether they were really interested in the art.

The workshop was aimed at giving exposure to persons who had various misconceptions about theatre. The basic idea was to introduce various aspects, especially of a technical nature, to those young persons who were determined to stay in theatre. The aspects to be covered would include movement, mime production process, music, stage setting, make-up, costumes and acting.

Dr Atamjit Singh said selection for the free-of-cost workshop, in which Guru Nanak Dev University was a collaborator, would be done on January 8.

Kewal Dhaliwal was the workshop coordinator. The experts included Bhaskar Chandravarka (music), N. Goswami (movement), Satish Anand (production), Dolly Alhuwalia Tiwari (costume) and Shamanand Jalan (acting), Neelam Mansingh and Gursharan Singh.

The eligibility conditions included residence in Punjab, age between 21 and 35 years and participation in at least five plays.



Bhatti road in bad shape
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 6
The local Bhatti road which connects the Bathinda-Goniana road with the Barnala bypass is in a bad shape. There are big potholes and trenches all over the road. There are eight private nursing homes, two homoeopathy dispensaries on the road. The patients who visit these have to face a lot of inconvenience.

The road connects to a number of colonies, like Balla Ram Nagar, Teachers Colony etc. Residents of these colonies said the authorities concerned had not been paying any attention towards the pathetic condition of the road for the past two years. They alleged that they had met the authorities a number of times in this connection but all in vain. The residents say the condition of the road belies claims of the local SAD-BJP candidate for the forthcoming Assembly elections that he had made efforts to improve the condition of roads, sewerage and provide potable water. They said in the absence of proper drainage system, they had to wade through the stagnant water for days together during rainy season.

Out of 80-feet wide road, only 18 feet was metalled as the remaining part had been encroached upon by the ramps build in front of houses and shops by their owners, they added. They said if the condition of the road in the area where senior leaders of the ruling party resided was so poor anybody could guess the state of affairs in other parts of the city.

They even alleged that when they asked the municipal authorities to rectify the problem they said it was the responsibility of the Sewerage Department and when they visited the latter they were told to go to municipal authorities. 


Sepoy Jasbir Singh cremated
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 6
Mortal remains of Sepoy Jasbir Singh of 12 Sikh Light Infantry were consigned to flames with full Army honours at his native village Jhinger Kalan, about 48 km from here today. Sepoy Jasbir Singh laid down his life while fighting in the Uri sector in Jammu and Kashmir on January 3, 2001.

The body was received by his father Nirmal Singh. Wreaths were placed on behalf of the Army and district administration on the body of the martyr Sepoy Jasbir Singh.


PR Dept seniority list not finalised
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
No action has been initiated so far on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to the Punjab Government to finalise the seniority list of officers working in the Public Relations Department. The directions were issued on September 12 last year and the state government was asked to formalise the list within three months.

Sources in the government reveal that one of the officers in the department was recruited in 1986 and placed at number one on the merit list in spite of the fact that he did not possess certain basic qualifications, including a postgraduate degree in arts or sciences, experience of working in a newspaper and the mandatory requirement of having passed the Punjabi examination at the matriculation level.

They say that once these discrepancies came to the notice of the department, the said officer not only joined Panjab University here and obtained a postgraduate degree but also managed a certificate of having cleared the Punjabi examination at the matriculation level. All this was done without even obtaining study leave or prior permission from the government. Further, they point out, that the directions of the Supreme Court were clear in such cases where employees not fulfilling the basic qualifications at the time of their recruitment should be discharged from service. But they allege that because of the patronage of high-ups, this officer was being protected.


Addl Executive Officer for Batala
Our Correspondent

Batala, January 6
Mr R.K. Singla, Executive Officer, Municipal Council, Batala, was transferred to Jalandhar on December 26, 2001, but he was not allowed to join duty there. He returned to Batala on December 28, 2001.

His successor as per earlier orders, Mr P.N. Goel, was to take over as Executive Officer, Batala, was relieved from the Municipal Committee Dasuya and joined duty at Batala on January 1, 2002.

Mr Goel has been appointed Additional Executive Officer MC, Batala, according to Mr Gian Chand, President, MC Batala.


Two travel agents arrested
Our Correspondent

Mansa, January 6
The district police has arrested Bakkshish Singh of Phulluwala Dod village and Gurjant Singh of Akbarpur Khudal village of the district under Sections 420, 406 and 120-B of the IPC.

The case was registered at Budhlada police station of the district. This was stated here today by Mr Dilbagh Singh Gill, SSP, Mansa.

He said the accused Bakshish Singh along with his wife Paramjit Kaur, Makhan Singh and Gurjant Singh of Akbarpur Khudal village and Roop Singh of Dhapali village of Bathinda district had defrauded Mr Sikander Paul Singh and allegedly extorted Rs 2.5 lakh from him with a promise to send him to the USA.

Roop Singh took the complaint to Bahrain where Makhan Singh was residing. In Bahrain Makhan Singh and Roop Singh asked the complainant to deal in liquor which he declined whereupon he was beaten by them. After some time the complainant returned to India and lodged a complaint against the accused.

Mr Gill further said Bansi, a resident of Tapa town of Barnala was arrested and 150 kg of electric wires along with a cutter and a blade were recovered from him.

With his arrest the police has busted a gang of thieves indulging in theft of electric and telephone wires. Sarwan Singh wanted in some cases registered in Rajasthan and Haryana, is the leader of the gang.

The police has registered a case under Section 411 of the IPC and efforts are on to arrest the accused.


Gang of vehicle thieves busted
Our Correspondent

Majitha (Amritsar), January 6
In a major breakthrough, the Majitha police has busted a gang involved in stealing cars, tractors and motorcycles and selling these with fake numbers.

In a press conference here today, Mr Gurdev Singh, Senior Superintendent of Police, said four persons, Hardev Singh, Satnam Singh, Rajwinder Singh and Devinder Singh, were arrested while another accused Jagmeet Singh was still absconding. Another member of the gang, Harjinder Singh, was arrested at Ludhiana and brought here.

The police has recovered a Gypsy, an Esteem car without number which was stolen from Sanjog Palace here, a Swaraj 735 tractor stolen from Bhagtanwala, five motorcycles which were stolen from Manawala, railway station, Court-Road and various other places of the district. A .380 bore pistol was also seized from Devinder Singh. A case has been registered.

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