Wednesday, January 9, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


High command softens stand
Assembly ticket to Cong leaders’ kin
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 8
Amid signs of the Congress high-command getting soft on the demand for Assembly ticket to confidants and relatives, the six MPs today met AICC Tresurer Motilal Vora in the evening today.

AICC sources said the high command had decided to give ticket to relatives of two of the six MPs as their cases were close to the guidelines fixed for deciding the ticket.

While not agreeing to the demand of other MPs, whose relatives were considered relatively inexperienced, the high-command, however, has sought their suggestions on some other Congress leader of their choice from the seats they were seeking.

The high-command seems convinced about the views of MPs about seats in Muktsar and Hoshiarpur districts. Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is likely to contest from one of the seats in Muktsar and his relatives may also contest from adjoining constituencies. The Congress wants to put up strong candidates in these seats even if guidelines for ticket had to be somewhat relaxed.

Except Ms Praneet Kaur and Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, all other party MPs met Mr Vora today. Ms Ambika Soni was also present in the meeting. The MPs also raised the issue of some persons, previously having links with militants, figuring as party candidates.

They also pointed to reports about some rich industrialists getting party ticket. Sources said former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who is reported to be upset at some of the decisions on party candidates, met Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the evening today.

With the impasse on seats sought by MPs apparently broken, decks have been cleared for releasing the list of candidates. Sources said Congress President was likely to call PCC chief Capt Amrinder Singh and Mr Vora tomorrow for final round of consultations. The list is likely to be released on Thursday.


Punjab Cong divided on ticket issue
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 8
There is widespread consternation among Congressmen from Punjab that the process of selecting candidates for next month’s Assembly elections in the sensitive border state is being “hijacked” by a select few owing allegiance to PPCC chief Amarinder Singh.

Even though lobbies are at work, the ire is directed against Capt Amarinder Singh who is allegedly trying to push the candidature of those who back him when it comes to the crunch — the leadership of the Congress Legislature Party.

The PPCC is already on a high with the semblance of a shadow government already in place in the belief that the Akali Dal-led coalition government of Parkash Singh Badal is on its last legs and the Congress certain of regaining power.

Be that as it may, factionalism in the PPCC has surfaced with renewed vigour posing fresh headaches for the Congress high command in reconciling the views of all sections. Intense lobbying and manoeuvering by ticket-seekers is the order of the day which has compounded the problems for the strategists and senior leaders of the AICC.

“The Congress is highly divided and efforts of Congress President Sonia Gandhi that the party should put up a united face appears to be coming apart,” is the common refrain of the ticket seekers who have the blessings of certain senior Congress leaders at the state and national levels.

The seemingly intractable differences in the PPCC encompassing MPs and former PPCC chief and chief ministers are too evident. To avoid an accusing finger being pointed at the PPCC, it has left the final decision to Mrs Sonia Gandhi. That has caused its own complications for the Congress high command and especially Mr Motilal Vora who is in charge of Punjab affairs.

Another sore point is the electoral arrangement sought to be pushed with the CPI. A sizeable section of Congressmen wanted the party to go it alone and capitalise on the favourable climate for their party in Punjab rather than what they describe as “playing into the hands of the Akali Dal (Badal)” by giving those seats to the CPI which the Congress has more than an even chance of winning.

Several Congressmen from Punjab, including trade unionist M.M.S. Cheema called on Mrs Sonia Gandhi on January 1 and impressed upon her not to have any truck with the Left parties in Punjab. At the same time, they underlined the need to have at least two Congress trade union leaders among the Congress candidates.

Mrs Sonia Gandhi is believed to have assured these Congressmen from Punjab that no wrong would be done.


Cong hires chopper to take on Akalis
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 8
If Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal could hit the campaign trail on an improvised vehicle, the Congress will take him on through a helicopter. The state Congress has hired a seven-seater helicopter for PCC chief Amarinder Singh to enable him to campaign in all 117 constituencies.

The party is not merely relying on the usual charge sheet, manifesto and rallies to nail down the Akali-BJP government. There will be short films and audio cassettes mocking the state government for its “failures.” Some of the top Punjabi artistes have been employed to record jingles, jokes and light commentary for the audio cassettes which will be sent all through Punjab. Unlike the normal lecturing on corruption and other failures of the state government, the cassettes will touch these issues in the manner and lingo of Punjabi humour.

The party is also preparing a one-hour movie which it plans to show on the cable network throughout the state. The film narrating the story of the “failures of the Akali-BJP government,” would be shown through cable network over four-five days in short capsules of about 15 minutes. The Congress is also planning an aggressive media campaign with a series of advertisements in newspapers to convey its viewpoint.

Party leaders said the helicopter had been hired for a month from a company based in south India and will be available to the PCC from January 16.

Capt Amarinder Singh not only plans to tour all 117 constituencies during the 14-day campaign period, he will also visit certain constituencies at the time of the filing of nominations by party candidates.

The Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, will address four rallies in the state once the campaign begins. While no dates have been fixed yet, party leaders plan to hold her rallies in districts of Jalandhar, Gurdaspur and Bathinda. Congress leaders said Mrs Gandhi had already visited Patiala, Amritsar and Ludhiana and effort will be to organise her rallies at new places. Apart from Mrs Gandhi, Congress Chief Ministers from Hindi-speaking states and CWC members will also address election rallies in the state.


CPI rejects Congress demand on seats
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
The CPI today rejected the Congress demand to renegotiate the allocation of seats as an alliance partner.

Mr Motilal Vora, Treasurer of the All-India Congress Committee, who is in charge of the party affairs in Punjab, contacted the CPI Secretary, Dr Joginder Dayal, this morning with a request to reopen the agreement reached on the allocation of constituencies to the CPI.

Dr Dayal made it clear to Mr Vora that it was not possible now to reopen the agreement. He said the CPI could only swap the Khanna constituency with Payal in case any member of late Beant Singh’s family did not want to contest from the Payal constituency. However, if Mr Tej Parkash Singh, son of Beant Singh, wanted to contest from the Payal constituency, then the CPI would prefer to contest from the Khanna constituency.

Dr Dayal said as the CPI had tremendous respect for late Beant Singh and his family for their contribution to bring peace in Punjab, his party had left the claim on the Payal constituency and accepted the Khanna constituency from the Congress in lieu of that. Otherwise, the CPI had its stronghold in the Payal area.

It may be mentioned that the Congress allocated 11 seats to the CPI on January 4 here following an agreement between the two parties. The constituencies allocated are Rampuraphul, Amritsar (west), Sri Hargobindpur, Nihal Singh Wala, Budhlada, Garhshankar, Dhuri, Shatrana, Khanna, Malout and Mansa. Dr Dayal said only three new constituencies — Rampuraphul, Garhshankar and Khanna — had been allocated by the Congress to his party this time. Rest of the constituencies allotted to the CPI were the same which his party had contested in alliance with the Congress last time (1997).

Meanwhile, the Congress high command has reportedly rejected the demand to give party ticket to close relations of the Members of Parliament ( MPs) from Punjab. Informed sources said the high command made it clear that it could consider one or two cases of close relations on the basis of their standing in the party. Otherwise, no one should expect party ticket purely on the basis that he or she was related to a particular MP.

The sources said the MPs had been told to bring to notice those party leaders who deserved ticket but had been ignored. Cases of such leaders could be considered and even party ticket could be given to them.


DCC men unhappy at tie-up with CPI
Our Correspondent

Mansa, January 8
There is discontentment among district Congressmen over the decision of the high command to enter into an alliance with the CPI and to give Mansa and Budhlada seats to the CPI.

The allotment of these seats to the CPI has marred the future of senior Congress leaders of the district who have been deprived of a chance to win.

They claim that in the present political scenario, the Congress stands a good chance to form the next government and hence they feel cheated by the decision of the high command.

Mr Sher Singh Gagowal, former minister and president of the DCC, said they had no alternative but to accept the decision of the high command. He said the party could have won both seats of Mansa and Budhlada due to the “failure” of the SAD-BJP government on all fronts and rampant corruption.

There is also discontentment over the nomination of Mr Ajitinder Singh Mofar who defacted to the Congress from the Akali Dal (Amritsar) as nominee from the Sardulgarh Assembly constituency of the district.

Sources said a senior Congress leader of the area was thinking of contesting a rebel party candidate to oppose the official nominee of the party.

It is also learnt that Mr Manjit Singh Jhalbutti, former PCC secretary, who was expelled from the party may file his nomination papers from the Budhlada Assembly constituency against CPI candidate Hardev Arshi.

The Congress high command has not announced its nominee for the Joga Assembly constituency of the district so far.


Morcha to continue negotiations with BSP
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, January 8
The Panthic Morcha will continue negotiations with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on the issue of seat adjustment and is likely to scale down its share in the proposed alliance drastically to accommodate the party.

Morcha sources said though it would not play second fiddle in the alliance and not agree to the BSP’s demand of leaving the majority of seats to it, the morcha was likely to go into the next round of negotiations with the BSP realising it may have to part away with nearly 50 per cent of the seats to the party.

Meanwhile, Morcha leader and Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal President Gurcharan Singh Tohra while talking to newspersons here, tried to dismiss the recent utterances of morcha head Baba Sarabjot Singh Bedi on the issue of seat adjustment with the BSP, saying that the remarks did not meant that talks with the BSP had broken down.

Mr Tohra said further negotiations would be held on the issue with the BSP. He also discounted reports suggesting that BSP supremo Kanshi Ram was only trying to delay their poll campaign by making outrageous demands and was in league with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. He said this canard had been spread by the same persons who accused the Panthic Morcha of having an understanding with the Congress.

The former SGPC President categorically stated that the unity chapter with SAD had closed. He said there was no chance of unity now as the Chief Minister had not responded positively to his demand of restoring the dignity of former Akal Takth Jathedar Bhai Ranjit Singh and apologising for violating the hukamnama.

He said the Chief Minister had tried to evade the issue by going to Akal Takth recently and conducting a sham exercise. Mr Tohra said when it had been accepted widely that the Chief Minister had violated the directive of Akal Takth there was no way out for him but to apologise.

The former SGPC chief, who said he had till now been sticking to the issue of restoring the dignity of Akal Takth, would now start a political battle to oust Mr Badal.

The former SGPC chief gave a long explanation to tell how he had started getting distanced from the Chief Minister. The rally was also addressed by SHSAD district president Rajinder Singh Tohra in the absence of other senior leaders.


Poll observers for keeping eye on EVMs
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
In a significant decision, the Election Commission has decided to depute election observers from the date election material, including electronic voting machines (EVMs), starts arriving in the state going to the polls next month.

For example, when EVMs start arriving in Punjab from West Bengal in a day or two, it will be in the presence of election observers that these will be unloaded and kept at the already approved places.

One set of keys of the strongrooms where these EVMs will be stored will remain with the election observer while the other set will be with the Deputy Commissioner-cum-Returning Officer of the district concerned.

Special units of the paramilitary forces have been deputed to accompany these EVMs from West Bengal to Punjab.

When contacted, the Joint Chief Electoral Officer of Punjab, Mrs Usha Sharma, said that instructions about the appointment of election observers for overseeing the storage of EVMs had been verbally received.

These election observers, she said, would be senior civil services officers from outside Punjab belonging to the same category of officials who were otherwise appointed election observers to oversee the smooth conduct of the poll.

Earlier, the election observers used to be appointed only after the election process had started with the filing of nominations. This time, though the formal notification about the conduct of the elections would be issued on January 16, the election observers would be in position from January 9 or 10 onwards.

These election observers assigned the job of overseeing the storage of the EVMs will stay put till the time of polling.

The first convoy of trucks carrying EVMs left West Bengal yesterday and is expected to reach Punjab tomorrow. The work on transporting the EVMs to Punjab is expected to be completed by January 16 or 17. In all, Punjab has requisitioned 23,000 EVMs for the February 13 poll.

Training of the election staff in the use of EVMs has already started. This is for the first time that the entire election will be conducted using EVMs.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Election Commission said that the number of voters in the coming Assembly poll would be 1,56, 17, 880 against 1, 52, 25, 395 in the last elections. The number of polling stations would remain unchanged at 18,880.


CRPF to guard voting machines
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 8
The Election Commission has decided to deploy paramilitary forces to guard the electronic voting machines during the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state.

In a directive issued to the district administration today, it has asked the authorities concerned to specify the places where the machines are scheduled to be kept so that the CRPF can be deployed there.

The commission has stated in the directive that it had requested the Union Home Ministry to provide paramilitary forces for guarding the machines. The ministry has granted the permission to deploy the CRPF forces at all 17 district headquarters in the state where the machines will be kept during the elections.

It also states that the machines will be sent to the respective headquarters by February 7 under the security of the forces.

Meanwhile, the first voter list for the elections will be released tomorrow. The sources here said due to strict vigilance of the Commission the number of voters had decreased in the current lists. The number of voters in the Nangal Assembly constituency had decreased by about 1,000, in Chamkaur Sahib by 5,000, Morinda by 2,000 and Kharar by about 10,000. In the district, the number of voters had increased by 3,000 only in the Anadpur Sahib constituency.


Special girdawari in border areas
Over 1 lakh migrate from Ferozepore district
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, January 8
Even as more than one lakh persons residing in areas located near the Indo-Pak border in this district have shifted to safer places along with their head of cattle, the Punjab Government has asked the deputy commissioners to carry out a special girdawari to assess the loss by January 10.

In a letter written to the Deputy Commissioner of this district yesterday, government has asked that a special girdawari be undertaken to assess the loss suffered/to be suffered by the cultivators on account of land occupied by the Army, the inaccessibility to look after the crop due to restrictions, imposed by the Army and other similar circumstances in view of the war-like conditions in the border areas of the state.

The girdawari should be completed before January 10, 2002, and its report sent to the government, giving all details. Further, the entire compensation money should be paid to the real lessees/cultivators as and when it is paid.

Landless persons who were dependent upon land for their living and who have been forced to leave the villages and, thus rendered unemployed, should also be compensated. The farmers, who cannot get fodder because of lack of accessibility to their lands, should be provided fodder.

Mr S.R. Ladhar, Deputy Commissioner, said the people, who had been shifting to safer places on their own, were being provided with tarpaulin covers and vehicles for transportation of luggage. Arrangements for providing items of daily use, wheat, husk, fodder and medicines to the villagers had been made. The revenue patwaris had been asked to remain present in border villages so that the district administration could be informed of the problems of the people and other developments.

He added that all bridges falling in the border areas had been secured by erecting police pickets. Army personnel had been provided with tents, ropes for guarding sensitive areas and empty bags in lakh. A rehersal for blackouts was being done in the district. The staff in hospital and dispensaries were being kept in full presence.

Manually operated and motorised boats had been kept ready for evacuating the people living across the Sutlej in case of an emergency. The civil defence personnel had been provided with the necessary material and training.


BJP executive member quits
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 8
Just before the elections, the state unit of the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) today suffered a jolt when its state executive member, Mr Vikram Singh resigned from the primary membership of the party. He quit in protest the party for not taking action against two BJP ministers, who were allegedly involved in human smuggling and money laundering cases.

In a faxed resignation to the party’s national President, Mr Jana Krishnamurty, Mr Vikram Singh said that instead of probing the allegations against the two ministers — the Minister for Excise and Taxation Mr Tikshan Sood, and the Civil Supplies Minister, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal — the party leadership had issued a show-cause notice to him.

Though he had provided information to the state BJP chief, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, and the organising secretary, Mr Avinash Jaiswal, against the two ministers, they had failed to consider his demand for a high-level probe into the matter, Mr Vikram Singh alleged.

“Besides, it is more shocking to learn that the party leadership has decided to take strict action against those BJP workers of Hoshiarpur, who had come to meet me to know about the facts with regard to allegations levelled against the ministers. It was simply unthinkable that a party which had always stood for democratic values, can indulge in such heinous practices to stangulate the feelings of the party workers,”he alleged.

The resignation letter further states, “Under these circumstances, I am finding it utterly difficult to remain in this organisation. Therefore I resign from its membership. I hope that you will understand the seriousness of the issue raised by me and will take necessary action against the ministers.”


JD (S) to contest 13 seats
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 8
The Janata Dal (S), a constituent of the Punjab Lok Morcha, will contest 13 Assembly seats while the rest of the seats will be contested by other parties of the morcha.

Briefing mediapersons after a meeting of the core committee of the party, its state convener, Mr Harish Khanna, said besides Ludhiana West and Ludhiana East, the Janata Dal (S) will field its candidates from Jagraon, Hoshiarpur City, Moga, Bagha Purana, Jalalabad, Abohar, Attari, Malout, Jalandhar Cantonment, Jalandhar Central and Khanna. The names of nominees for these seats were being considered and a formal announcement would be made soon.

Mr Khanna said the party manifesto had already been drawn-up and the focus would be on the failure of the SAD-BJP government on all fronts. “The party is all set to give a befitting fight, in close cooperation with other constituents of the Punjab Lok Morcha, to both SAD-BJP combine and the Congress in the forthcoming elections.”

Despite the fact that the BJP, an ally of the SAD, was leading a coalition government in the Centre, the Punjab Government failed to project the outstanding demands like the transfer of Chandigarh and other Punjabi speaking areas, share in river waters and increased Central investment in the state, he said.

The Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had backtracked from his promise to constitute a judicial commission to probe human right violations, police excesses and killing of innocent people at the hands of militants and security agencies, he said.


Panel to make higher education poll issue
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 8
The joint action committee comprising managements, principals, teaching and non-teaching staff of private colleges will make SAD-BJP ruling combine’s back-tracking on the issue of higher education a poll issue. The government had during its five-year rule shied away from its commitment for higher education., a JAC leader said today.

Putting a poser to Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the JAC leader asked as to what substantive change had taken place that the 95 per cent grant-in-aid scheme introduced by Mr Badal in 1977-78, was being diluted and downsized.


Shiv Sena to contest over 50 seats
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 8
The state unit of Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) today announced that it would contest over 50 seats in the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state.

Talking to reporters here, Mr Pawan Gupta, state president of the sena, said over 50 seats had already been identified and the list of the candidates and the party’s manifesto would be released by January 19.

“Earlier we had decided to contest 30 seats, but we increased the number after assessing the enthusiasm in the party workers during our meetings organised in various districts in the state, last month,”he added. He criticised the ruling alliance for not fulfilling the promises made in the manifesto in the last election and said the Punjab wing of the Shiv Sena would oppose BJP also, as it had failed to do anything regarding its poll promises.


Congress nominee kicks off campaign
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 8
People of this district, particularly of the Sirhind constituency, are looking forward to the Congress to fulfil their long pending demands and make Fatehgarh Sahib a model district, Dr Harbans Lal, a former minister and Congress candidate from the Sirhind Assembly constituency, said while addressing a gathering here today on the occasion of inaugurating his election campaign.

He said every section of society was annoyed with the policies of the government . He said the decision to abolish the octroi was eye wash. Vaid Hari Krishan, permanent invitee of the PPCC, said the constituency had been divided into 21 zones. He inaugurated the main election office of the party.


Another SAD leader rebels
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, January 8
After Mr Gurpreet Singh, senior Youth Akali Dal leader challenged the official candidate, Mr Sikander Singh Malooka, in the Rampura Assembly segment in Bathinda district, Mr Sukhdarshan Singh Mrar, senior vice-president, SAD, Muktsar, has decided to contest the Assembly election from this constituency as an Independent against the party candidate, Mr Harnirpal Singh Kuku.

Besides this a section of party rank and file, including SGPC members, have been opposing the renomination of Mr Makhan Singh from Pakka Kalan Assembly segment in Bathinda district. The SAD leadership has also not announced the candidate for the Talwandi Sabo Assembly segment.

Mr Mrar, member, District Planning Board, and Zila Parishad and Block Samiti, told TNS that he had decided to contest as an Independent as the party leadership did not take the workers into confidence before allotting the ticket to Mr Kuku.


Migrant mother delivers baby in open
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, January 8
Geetu, who has migrated to this town from Bare Ke village located near the Indo-Pak border in Ferozepore district, is both a happy and disappointed woman today.

She is elated over the fact that she has delivered a baby boy under the open sky near the local grain market where she and her husband have made their temporary dwelling following the military build-up on both sides of Zero Line.

The disappointment comes from the fact that she has not been getting “congratulations” from her mother-in-law, father-in-law and other kin from her husband’s side which the mother of a newly born boy baby normally gets in society.

She is also disappointed because she is unable to arrange proper medical care for her child due to the lack of money, though he has been vaccinated. The child, her first issue, was delivered with the help of women living near the locality.

Her husband Gugu and mother Chimbo said that their main priority now was to arrange for clothes for the baby to keep him warm and safe from the biting cold winds which have been blowing in this region for the past fortnight.

They said that due to inadequate shelter, eight to 10 persons have to bundle in small tents every night while during daytime, they would sit in the open and look here and there for a job.

Meanwhile, the opinion of people residing in villages and towns located near the Indo-Pak border is divided over the fact that whether there should be a war between India and Pakistan.

A section of residents pointed out that earlier terrorism had caused huge losses to them as the Indian Government had erected the fencing wire along the border to check the infiltration of extremists. Since then, they had been finding it difficult to earn enough from the cultivation of pieces of their agricultural land located across the fencing. And now, if the war broke out, they would not be able to stabilise their living for decades.

Mr Ashok Kumar of Ferozepore city, who has witnessed two wars, asked why the Indian Government had initiated a war-like preparation after the terrorists’ attack on Parliament House on December 13. He said if the government was serious about eliminating terrorism, then it should have taken such steps very early as everyday, innocent persons were being massacred in Jammu and Kashmir by terrorists and mercenaries.

He pointed out that people of border areas would cooperate with the Army personnel in all the situations for the sake of protecting national honour, but added that, at the same time, they also wanted that the leaders should take concrete steps to check all sorts of terrorism.

A retired Army personnel residing in the border area while talking to TNS on the condition of anonymity said that it would be good for both the nations if the war was avoided but if Pakistan did not stop sponsoring the cross-border terrorism, then India should remain prepared for meeting all types of situation.

Meanwhile, a number of families have been shifting to safer places in Haryana and various parts of Punjab from border areas in Ferozepore district daily.


DGP visits villages along Zero Line
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, January 8
The Director-General of Police, Mr Sarabjeet Singh, along with the DIG, Ferozepore Range, Mr Hardeep Dhillon, and the SSP, Mr H.S. Sandhu, today visited the villages along the Zero Line to take stock of the situation in the wake of the ensuing Assembly elections and the prevailing volatile situation between the two hostile nations. The DGP held a series of meetings with senior Army, BSF and civil officials to discuss the scenario and to take adequate measures accordingly.

While talking to The Tribune at the MES inspection bungalow, Mr Sarabjeet Singh said the visit was part of the extensive tour of all border areas of Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Ferozepore, which he was currently undertaking. He said he was here primarily to have a first-hand review of the situation in these areas where large-scale exodus was taking place. He said instructions had been given to the police officials to protect the life and property of such migrants by all means.

Regarding the possibility of the postponement of the Assembly elections in Punjab, the DGP said it was under the prerogative of the Election Commission.

Later, the DGP met senior Army officials and visited the Mamdot area where he had a meeting with BSF officials.


PUDA directed to pay 2 lakh as compensation
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, January 8
The Ropar District Consumer Forum has directed the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) to pay Rs 2 lakh as compensation for causing harassment to Mr Jagdish Lal of Kaithal for not allotting the plot at SAS Nagar despite repeated requests.

The complainant alleged that he had applied for a 250 sq yards plot in the Urban Estate, SAS Nagar, in 1969. He deposited Rs 500 as per the terms and conditions.

He was asked to deposit Rs.4500 which he did through a draft of Rs 4000 and paid the balance of Rs 500 subsequently. However, his name was not entered in the draw of lots for the allotment of plots, he alleged.

He was again asked by PUDA to deposit Rs 25,000, which he deposited in September, 1993. He was later told that his first draft of Rs 4,000 sent to PUDA was not traceable. He again deposited Rs 9,000 in September, 1995. However, still the plot was not allowed.

He said PUDA asked him to give option for the allottment of the plot in scheme No. 76 to 80 at the rate of Rs 3750 per sq yard though the land under these schemes was still to be acquired. Interestingly he was entitled to allottment a plot at the market rate which prevailed in 1969.

In addition to the allotment of the plot he also demanded Rs 2 lakh as compensation for unnecessary harassment and mental agony suffered by him due to delay on the part of PUDA. He also demanded an interest of Rs 18 per cent on the sum deposited by him with PUDA with effect from 1969.

In its reply PUDA asked for the dismissal of the complaint, arguing that it was not at fault. It also raised several preliminary objections.

The forum comprising president J.P. Gupta and member S.K. Bhatia, while deciding in favour of the complainant and awarding the compensation, directed the PUDA to allot the plot at the rate of Rs 1,200 per sq yard either in Sector 70 or some other sector of equal status at SAS Nagar.

Besides this, the forum also allowed Rs 2,200/- as cost of case to complainant. The forum directed PUDA to comply with the directions within 30 days.


Councillors allege discrimination
Our Correspondent

Rampura Phul, January 8
Nine councillors of the local municipal council have alleged that they have not been paid entertainment quota for the past three months. In a joint press note issued here today, the councillors alleged that they were given stepmotherly treatment by the president of the council. The councillors belonging to the group of the president were being paid the quota regularly, they added.

The councillors were given Rs 750 per month as entertainment quota but they have not received it for October, November and December.

The step implied the discriminatory behaviour of the president and officials concerned of the council, the councillors alleged.

They threatened that they would resort to an agitation if the attitude of the president did not change.

Those who signed the press note included Mr Swaran Singh Kukku, Ms Raj Rani, Mr Gian Tanwar, Mr Suresh Bahia, Ms Murti Devi, Mr Sunil Bitta, Dr Puran Chand, Mr Avtar Singh and Mr Harish Kumar. They also alleged that none of them was paid the expenses supposed to be paid to councillor for attending the meetings of the municipal council.

Mr Charanjeet Singh Jatana, president of the council, said the allegations of the councillors were baseless. No discrimination was made while paying salaries or other perks to the councillors. The allegations were aimed at maligning his image, he added.

Mr Jatana said the records of the council could be examined in this connection. He however, added that it could happen that the salaries of councillors were delayed due to some unavoidable circumstances and in such case all councillors had to suffer, he added.


Writers’ Home: impressive  exterior, gloomy interior
Sukant Deepak

Patiala, January 8
Switches fail to answer, geysers refuse to respond, carpets eaten by termite, stinking pillows, stained bedsheets, curtains unwashed for seven years and not a single drinking water source inside the building. All this aptly fits the interiors of the Sahitya Sadan, better known as the Writers’ Home established along with the Headquarters of the Language Department here.

Inaugurated on November 1, 1992, by the then Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr Beant Singh, the exterior of the building, as visible in the photograph, is an eyewash of the gloom which the interiors offer. The home which boasts of 26 rooms, including 2 dormitories, is meant to cater to the writers visiting the headquarters of the Language Department but the guests tolerate the conditions of the grossly ill-maintained wall-to-wall carpeting, aircondition and ample furniture as no permanent staff and funds have been allotted to the home since its establishment nine years ago.

Mr Paramjit Singh, who has been staying here for three months with his drama troupe, visibly annoyed with the conditions and empty liquor bottles thrown on the parapets of the building informs. “The beds are broken, toilets unclean and sewage blocked. How can anybody be expected to live in such medieval conditions?” When enquired about the cleaning and sweeping of their rooms, he laments. “During our entire three-month stay, the safai karamchari has ‘graced’ his presence only twice or thrice.”

One of the caretakers, perhaps hinting at platonic functional specialisation, says; “How are we responsible for the present conditions of the home? We are the employees of the Language Department, still we are doing the duties allotted to us. As far as the cleaning of the rooms is concerned. there is only one sweeper for this huge building.”

In the past the Writers’ Home has facilitated several writers of repute to complete their works here, but the present condition of the rooms has shunned many to come here today.

Dr Ishwar Singh Tang, a Shiromani Punjabi Sahityakar awardee, still a regular at the home, pleads, “This is a unique and the only kind of a place where an artist can stay in an airconditioned room in only Rs 25. Measures must be taken to transmit funds and manpower for the building so as to make it a more comfortable place.”

The building was infact on the verge of becoming a thing of the past when the Punjab government wanted to convert the Sahitya Sadan into a bachat bhavan, but with the committed effort of the Kendriya Punjabi Writers Association, the proposal was scrapped.

The Director of the Language Department, Mr Madan Lal Hasija, under whose jurisdiction the homefalls, avoided elaborating on the proposal of some private parties which wanted to rent out a part of the home so as to generate funds for maintenance. “The Language Department is doing all it can. We have been continuously negotiating with the government for funds and permanent staff so as to ensure better maintenance as well as providing temporary staff at the home to ensure cleanliness”, he added.


Bhog of Bhattal’s father-in-law held
Our Correspondent

Sunam, January 8
Cutting across party lines, Mr Joginder Dayal, state secretary of the CPI, Mr Parminder Singh Dhindsa, SAD MLA from Sunam, and Ms Surinder Kaur Longowal of the CPM, and other leaders today paid tributes to the late Jaswant Singh Sidhu, father-in-law of Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, former Punjab Chief Minister, at his bhog ceremony held in Lehragaga near here.

Condolence messages sent by Mrs Sonia Gandhi, president of the AICC, and Mr Moti Lal Vora, treasurer of the AICC and in charge of Punjab Congress Affairs, were read by Mr Bir Devinder Singh, senior Congress leader.

In her message, Mrs Gandhi stated that no one could dare to eclipse the role of Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal in the politics of Punjab Congress.

Mr Vora, in his message, mentioned that the selection of Congress candidates for the Punjab Assembly segments had been stopped as the list would be finalised only after the return of Mrs Bhattal from Lehragaga to Delhi.

Dr Joginder Dayal lauded the role of Jaswant Singh in the political career of Mrs Bhattal.

Mrs Bhattal, addressing the thousands of persons on the occasion, thanked the political and social personalities and organisations for extending moral support to her. In this hour of grief.

The absence of Capt Amarinder Singh, president of the PPCC, was noticed by everyone.


Mann backs scribes
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 8
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, Akali Dal (Amritsar), today said he would take legal action in defence of journalists, if the Army or the state government took action against mediapersons, who covered movement on border in the recent past.

Mr Mann was responding to the press reports that the Army had sought the help of the government in restricting movements of journalists along the border and asked it to take action against a mediaperson of an English daily. He said he viewed the orders as an attack on the freedom of the Press and would move court in support of the journalists if any action was taken against them.

Mr Mann, who had returned from a tour of the border areas, expressed disappointment at the facilities being given to the villagers there. He said no arrangements had been made by the government to provide food and shelter to the people who had to flee their houses.

He has also demanded compensation to the farmers, especially sugarcane growers, of several border areas whose crops were destroyed during the activities of the Army. Neither the Army nor the government had made announcement of any compensation in this connection, Mr Mann added.


Waive farmers’ loan, demands BKU (R)
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib January 8
The Bhartiya Kisan Union (Rajewal) today organised a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office here today in support of its demand to waive loans of farmers.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Mann, national president of the BKU said the farmers were passing through a crisis and their condition had become pitiable. He said the “wrong” policies of the government were responsible for this. He said at present the farmers were not in a position to pay the debt and had started committing suicides.

Supporting their cause by giving data, he said as per the report of the RBI and the Ministry of Finance, industrialists had not repaid loan amounting to crores. He said if the economy had not failed due to this, how could it be affected if the loans of the farmers were waived.

Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal, general secretary of the union, said if the farmers were waiving of loans they were not seeking any concession as the government was responsible for it. The costs of agricultural inputs had increased. He appealed to the farmers not to vote in exchange for free liquor and other intoxicants.


Curbs on loudspeakers, public meetings
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 8
District Magistrate R. Venkatratnam has till March 3 imposed restrictions on the use of loudspeakers and assembly of more than five persons in public places and has fixed closing time for the shops under Section 144. CrPC.

Mr Venkatratnam said in both cases, prior permission of the SDM concerned was necessary.

The marriage palaces would also have to take care that the sound of loudspeaker does hot go beyond their premises.

District Magistrate has also banned the shouting of slogans and holding of meetings in public places, except in cases of marriage, and death.

In another order, he said the shops would remain open between 8.30 a.m. and8.30 p.m. on week days.

The dhabas and hotels in the urban areas would remain open till 11 p.m. while those in rural areas till 10 p.m. The liquor shops in the rural and urban areas will be open till 11 p.m.

The shops will remain closed on Sundays.

In another order, Mr Venkatratnam said the residents of other states at present residing in Bathinda district, should get their addresses registered with their nearest police station.


22 PCS officers transferred

Chandigarh, January 8
Following directions of the Election Commission (EC) in view of Punjab poll on February 13, the state government today ordered transfers of 22 Punjab Civil Services (PCS) officers who were posted at one place in the state for more than four years. The transfer orders of these officials would be implemented within two days, Punjab Chief Secretary N.K. Arora said here. These 22 officers also included some subdivisional magistrates. Meanwhile, the EC has given permission to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to carry with him a cavalcade of 10 vehicles at the most to enable his guards, an ambulance and doctors to accompany him. The decision was taken following a formal permission sought by the Chief Minister’s office. UNI


Teacher not posted despite court order
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, January 8
Ms Inderjit Kaur, one of the four teachers promoted as Centre Headteacher, is still waiting for her posting. It was on October 23 that the promotions and postings were announced. Ms Inderjit Kaur was posted at Gharota, where there was no post of Centre Headteacher. Since then she has been moving from pillar to post to get her appointment as Centre Headteacher in the district but in vain.

She moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court last month for action in this regard. A High Court Bench comprising Mr Justice Amarbir Singh Gill and Mr Justice Swatantar Kumar, in reply to a petition filed by her on December 12, directed the DEO (Primary) to post her at a suitable place within three weeks and intimate the court about her posting. However, the DEO has not posted Ms Inderjit Kaur as per court directions.

Ms Inderjit Kaur said the DEO had issued two lists of appointment of Centre Headteachers in the district after the court order.

She said she met the DEO on October 30 and intimated him that the post of Centre Headteacher did not exist at Gharota and requested for fresh orders, but in vain. She gave a notice to the DEO through an advocate of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on November 19 to give her a fresh posting within 15 days but to no avail.

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