Thursday, January 10, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Question mark on fair poll in Punjab
T.R. Ramachadran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 9
A view gaining ground in certain sections of the political firmament in Punjab is that the democratic process in the state should be postponed till normality returned to the border districts of Ferozepore, Amritsar and Gurdaspur.

Even though Assembly elections are still a month away, there is hushed talk if the Assembly elections can seem to be free and fair in the midst of a war-like situation on the borders in Punjab.

This assumes significance in the light of people in a considerable number of the 16 border constituences having been moved to safer places because of the Army’s strengthening of the defences.

The displacement of people from the border areas of Punjab has arisen primarily due to the standoff between India and Pakistan following the December 13 terrorist attack on the seat of the country’s democratic polity — the Parliament House.

Since then New Delhi has unleased a phased diplomatic offensive against Islamabad to force the neighbour in coming down heavily against terrorists and terrorist outfits operating from their soil. Pakistan has harped on lack of evidence from India and refused to hand over the perpetrators of heinous crimes against the people of this country.

It is contended that the displaced villagers are feeling highly aggrieved with the disruption which has turned their lives upside down. They are more worried about normality being restored and returning to their hearth and homes rather than being dragged into the hurly burly atmosphere of elections at this juncture.

Various views are being advanced on the issue of going through with the Assembly elections in Punjab as announced by the Election Commission. The ruling Parkash Singh Badal Akali Dal-BJP combine is watching the situation closely while the Congress and others are sharpening their knives for the battle royal at the hustings.

With opinion sharply divided at the moment whether the next month’s Assembly elections in Punjab should be held or not, there are yet others outside the ambit of the state government and among the displaced people rooting for postponing the elections in the three border districts accounting for 16 constituencies. These constituencies are Abohar, Fazilka, Ferozepore, Gur Har Sahai, Jalalabad, Voltoha, Attari, Patti, Ajnala, Raja Sansi, Dera Baba Nanak, Narot Mehra, Pathankot, Sujanpur, Fathegarh Churian and Gurdaspur.

Meanwhile, the autonomous Election Commission vested with the responsibility of conducting elections is keeping a close tab on the developing situation in the border areas. While announcing the election schedule last month, the Chief Election Commissioner had said categorically that “in case there is a war we will definitely have to take care of national interests” and ruled out another Indo-Pak conflict.


Will MLAs be allowed to retain vehicles?
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 9
Will Punjab MLAs be allowed to retain the vehicles and security cover provided to them by the state after a formal notification for the elections to the state Assembly on February 13 is issued on January 16 ?

The Punjab Election Commission has sought the advice of the Election Commission of India on this sensitive issue besides seeking a clarification on the holding of political rallies at Muktsar during the traditional Maghi fair on January 14.

In Punjab, legislators are provided with vehicles, mostly Tata Sumos, with a monthly ceiling on diesel. Initially, certain MLAs were provided with Gypsies as a part of the security cover to them which were under the direct control of the Security Wing of the Punjab police. Normally, the legislators were discouraged from travelling in these security vehicles.

Finding it difficult to manage two vehicles, the state government decided to provide Tata Sumos to its legislators with a limit on the use of diesel. These vehicles with adequate seating capacity are also required to carry security personnel with the legislators.

Once the process of filing of nomination papers starts, all candidates, except members of the Council of Ministers, are to be treated on a par, say the guidelines of the Election Commission.

Though some of the political parties, including the Congress, have been demanding that even the official vehicles given to Ministers should also be withdrawn after the introduction of the model code of conduct on December 26, the Election Commission has made it clear that official vehicles cannot be used for electioneering and related jobs. As such, Ministers can use their vehicles for their routine official work, including travel.

But in the case of MLAs, there is no such direction. Punjab is one of few states where MLAs have been provided with vehicles by the state.

Besides vehicles, the other major issue will be the security cover provided to the candidates. According to norms, each candidate, after the filing of his nomination papers, is entitled to security cover which ordinarily means a Head Constable and three or four constables for mobile security, meaning thereby that his or her guards stay with him or her wherever he or she moves. There is no provision for static security cover.

But certain MLAs have been provided with a higher level of security which, according to Election Commission guidelines should be withdrawn and reduced to the cover extended to the other candidates. Only in the case of special advice from the security agencies, the candidate concerned can be provided with enhanced security.

The Punjab Election Commission, says the Chief Electoral Officer, Mr G.S. Cheema, is writing to the Punjab police to ascertain the level of security provided to the sitting legislators.

Mr Cheema said that a clarification had been sought from the Election Commission of India on the holding of political rallies at Muktsar in which leaders of all political parties, including those of the ruling SAD-BJP alliance, would participate. Even the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and the PPCC chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, are expected to be there for what is considered the last major opportunity for the contesting parties to show their strength.

The Punjab Election Commission will watch this political event to make sure that there is no “misuse of official machinery”.

“We hope to get a response from the Election Commission in a day or two on these important issues,” says Mrs Usha Sharma, Joint Chief Electoral Officer, Punjab.


CPI to issue separate manifesto
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 9
Though the CPI will have a joint campaign with its alliance partner, the Congress, it will issue a separate manifesto for the Punjab Assembly elections.

Informed sources said that the decision pertaining to the separate manifesto was taken at a meeting of the party’s State Council here today. Dr Joginder Dayal, secretary of the Punjab unit of the CPI, presided over the meeting.

Though the proceedings of the meeting have not been made public yet, informed sources said that the CPI’s thrust in the manifesto would be on corruption, suicide by farmers and landless farm labourers and the woeful condition of the farming community, traders and industry.

“It is a known fact that the SAD-BJP alliance government has surpassed all records of corruption during its five-year rule and the CPI will strike hard against the government on this issue”, a senior CPI leader said.

The CPI will make secularism versus communalism an election issue and go all out against the SAD-BJP alliance, projecting that there was a threat to the country’s secular fabric from such forces. It will also lay stress on communal harmony.

It is a known fact there are serious differences between the CPI and the Congress, especially the president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Capt Amarinder Singh, on the issue of the World Trade Organisation agreement and its implications in a predominantly agricultural state like Punjab. How common ground will be found on this issue is not clear. The strategy to be adopted to counter the onslaught of the ruling SAD-BJP alliance on this issue during the electioneering is also not yet known.

Meanwhile, the President of the All-India Congress Committee, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, today became active in resolving the tangle pertaining to the adjustment of seats between the two parties in Punjab. Yesterday, Mr Motilal Vora, treasurer of the AICC, who is in charge of party affairs in Punjab, had contacted Dr Dayal to resolve the issue.

The Congress, which has allotted 11 seats to the CPI, now wants to swap certain seats with it. For instance, the Congress wants to retain the Khanna seat and give another one in lieu of that. The allocation of certain seats by the Congress to the CPI has created a crisis for the Congress high command.

Mrs Gandhi, according to information available here, today requested the national general secretary of the CPI, Mr A.B. Bardhan, to talk to Dr Dayal to swap certain seats with the Congress.

Informed sources said that Dr Dayal told Mr Bardhan that though party was not in a position to exchange any seat with the Congress at this stage, he would try to find a solution to the problem to maintain cordial relations with the Congress.

Sources said that Dr Dayal might ultimately leave the Khanna constituency to the Congress and opt for another one. The CPI has not named any candidate for the Khanna seat yet.

The sources said that Capt Amarinder Singh also contacted Dr Dayal this afternoon to request him to exchange certain seats. The CPI has already announced the dates for the filing of the nomination papers of its candidates for the 11 constituencies.


Fresh exodus reported from border villages
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, January 9
Exodus of residents from border villages has intensified in view of the heavy concentration of the Army on either side of the border. Fresh exodus is being reported from more than a dozen villages across the Dhussi Bandh in this district. The affected villages include Wazirpur, Baupur, Durgi Aadian, Dostpur, Thundi, Nadala, Shahpur Malookchak, Salaampur, Shamsherpur, Salaach and Chautra.

Capt Kundan Singh (retd) from Dorangla said migration had increased due to fear of war between the two countries. The migration is continuing in spite of persuasion by the district administration and the police and BSF authorities not to do so because they were absolutely safe.

Dalip Singh, former Sarpanch of Chontra, said the migration had been limited to children, women and old men and that too was not total. A sizeable part of the population was not migrating because they felt that leaving villages would bring them more mysery than relief.

Ram Singh of the village said migration had intensified because of the shifting of the BSF from their observation post to the rear. Secondly, he said a large area on the border had been covered with mines and people were afraid that their children might become victims.

The residents of the border villages beyond the Ravi, close to the Pak border, have migrated. These villages include Maumi Chakranga, Cooker, Shhod, Bharyal Lassian, Toor, Chabe and Khojki Chak.

Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu, Deputy Commissioner, said the district had received Rs 1 crore for distribution among farmers whose crop had been damaged due to land mines and non-attendance beyond the border fence. The amount would also be distributed among landless labourers.

Certain buildings near Narot Jaimal Singh, Dorangla and Dera Baba Nanak had been identified for the setting up of rescue camps.


Cong ex-MLA’s threat to contest as Independent
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Nabha, January 9
Senior Congress leader and former legislator Ramesh Singla today raised the banner of revolt against the party by announcing that he would contest as an independent candidate in case he did not get the party ticket for this seat.

Though a large number of party workers have been congregating at Mr Singla’s residence here ever since the rumours that Mr Randeep Singh, son of former Minister Gurdarshan Singh, was the party candidate from Nabha, Mr Singla revealed that he would contest from the constituency if he did not get the ticket.

Though agitated party workers were reported to have removed Congress signs from the residence of Mr Singla yesterday, this was denied by the former legislator. He said he continued to be a loyal Congressman and said the party flag continued to fly atop his house.

He also made it clear that there was no technical bar in him being nominated for the party ticket, saying that he had been convicted by a special court with regard to certain irregularities committed by a firm in which he was also a partner. He said this did not disqualify him for the party ticket.

Though Mr Singla seemed to have the upper hand in the constituency till the tenure of Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, the tables turned in favour of Mr Randeep Singh after Capt Amarinder Singh became the Pardesh Congress President because of the close family ties between the two.


It’s Cong-bashing again at SAD rally
Our Correspondent

Banur, January 9
The Congress has been adopting “divide and rule” policy during its rule of 45 years which has rendered the economy of the state in badshape, besides inciting social and religious sentiments of common people, stated Capt Kanwaljit Singh, general secretary of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal.

The Finance and Planning Minister of Punjab made the statement while addressing the third rally of his election campaign at Grain Market, here today.

The backwardness of Banur Assembly constituency directly reflects the “indifferent” attitude of the Congress that ruled for over 45 years. The Congress candidates from the area hardly paid attention to the problems of innocent people, he alleged. The attitude had not only created an atmosphere of insecurity among the public but also deteriorated the law and order situation in the state.

The infighting over distribution of party ticket among the Congress candidates would benefit the SAD-BJP alliance in the forthcoming Assembly elections in Punjab, he claimed.

A candidate of SAD-BJP from Banur Assembly constituency, Capt Kanwaljit Singh held the Congress responsible for terrorism in the state. He also alleged that senior Congress leaders had organised an auction for party ticket in Delhi, which further reflected the state of corruption in the party itself.

While listing the development works completed in the past five years of SAD rule, he said to meet the water requirement for irrigation, 115 tubewells had been installed against 18 tubewells by the Congress in its 45-year rule in Banur. He said the SAD had spent in crores on various development projects in the past over four and a half years. Apart from this, the government had waived off a loan of Rs 85,00 crore.

Moreover, the government had started various welfare schemes for the youth, elderly persons, widows and downtrodden. The government was spending Rs 23 -24 crore per month on old age pension scheme to provide financial help to elderly women. To help the poor and needy, Shagun scheme and homes for homeless were also launched, he added. He also appealed to the party workers to strengthen the SAD-BJP alliance for a firm victory in the next elections.

Those who addressed the rally include Mr Gurkirat Singh Thuhi, political secretary of Finance Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Changera, district general secretary of Akali Dal, Mr Santokh Singh, chairman of Banur Market Committee, Mr Jaswinder Singh Jassi, state general secretary of Youth Akali Dal, Ms Gulshan Kaur, sarpanch of Mathiana village and Ms Raksha Thaman, state vice-president of BJP Mahila wing.


Indiscipline will be checked: Sahib Singh
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 9
The central leadership of the BJP is serious about the increasing indiscipline within the party and is now taking concrete steps to control it. This was stated by Mr Sahib Singh Verma, former Chief Minister of Delhi, while talking to mediapersons at the residence of Mr Tikshan Sud, State Minister for Excise and Taxation, here today. He said the BJP was considered to be the most disciplined party but its ever-increasing strength has created indiscipline.

Mr Verma supported the SAD-BJP alliance as it had been able to maintain communal harmony and create a sense of unity and brotherhood among all sections of society.

He said the BJP had gained in popularity and hoped it would form government with its allied party in UP, Uttaranchal and Punjab.

Replying to a question, Mr Verma said cases of all those Punjab Police officials who were facing trials for their fight against terrorists should be sympathetically considered. The Union Home Ministry was also taking steps to settle their cases.

Mr Verma had come here to participate in sadbhavna rath yatra of the BJP.

Earlier, Mr Verma visited the house of Mr Kamal Chaudhry, former BJP MP, who had resigned from the party. Mr Verma said he was unaware of the resignation of Mr Chaudhry.


Lok Bhalai Party may become ‘third alternative’
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 9
Even as major political parties, including the Congress, SAD and BJP, are yet to announce the list of their candidates for the coming Assembly elections, the Lok Bhalai Party led by Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, which is yet to open its account in Punjab, is virtually leaving no stone unturned to spring a surprise in the poll.

The Lok Bhalai Party, which has announced its candidates for 26 Assembly constituencies for the February 13 poll has decided to field its candidates in 90 segments. The CPM with which it has reached an electoral alliance, will field its candidates in 12 to 15 Assembly segments. The party leadership has been claiming that it can emerge as the third alternative for the people in Punjab.

Mr Ramoowalia while talking to mediapersons said hatred against the ruling combine would push his party into a position where it would be able to form its government in the state.

He claimed that his work in connection with bringing the Punjabi youths back to India from Pakistan jails, taking up the issue of taxi operators and transporters with the authorities concerned, and recruitment of Punjabis in the Delhi police had started paying him dividends as about 1 lakh NRIs had promised to support his party in the coming Assembly elections.

The party would also contest the elections on the basis of its faith in secularism, glorification of Punjabiyat and in making a casteless and classless society he said. The party had constituted 90 members’ booth-level committees in the villages for effective campaigning.

Mr Ramoowalia added that the party manifesto for the coming Assembly elections would be released on the occasion of Maghi Mela when it would hold its conference at Muktsar.


Panthic Morcha to contest 70 seats
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 9
Senior leaders of the Panthic Morcha have resolved to contest 70 seats in the coming Assembly elections. They met here this evening to decide the number of seats to be contested by different constituents of the Morcha.

According to information available here, the Sarab Hind Shiromani Akali Dal will contest 35 seats and the Akali Dal (Amritsar) 25. The remaining 10 seats will be contested by the factions headed by Mr Ravi Inder Singh and Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode.

Morcha leaders will meet Mr Kanshi Ram tomorrow to finalise seat adjustment with him. As Mr Kanshi Ram is in favour of his party contesting 77 seats, there may be friendly contests between the Morcha and the BSP as alliance partners on certain seats.


Punjab Lok Morcha to contest 60 seats
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 9
The Punjab Lok Morcha (PLM) leadership has decided to field its candidates in 60 Assembly constituencies for the coming elections in Punjab and its common manifesto would be released during this week.

Mr Darshan Singh Zeeda, President, Samajwadi Janata Party (SJP), one of the constituents of the Punjab Lok Morcha, in a press note issued here today, said former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar would campaign for the morcha candidates while Mr Inder Kumar Gujral would campaign only for those candidates who belonged to the SJP.

He added that the other constituents of the morcha included SAD (Democratic), NCP, Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party, Republican Party of India and MCPI. He added that the SJP would field its candidates from Bathinda, Talwandi Sabo, Joga, Mansa, Nihalsinghwala, Mukerian, Pathankot, Ludhiana (north and east) and Samana.

He added that they could enter into an electoral alliance with the Left secular forces, including the Lok Bhalai Party and CPM, to defeat the SAD-BJP alliance and Congress.


Yuva Shakti to contest 4 seats
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 9
The executive committee of the Yuva Shakti, Punjab, at a meeting held here today announced its decision to contest at least four Assembly seats in the state.

Mr Sohal Lal Amrohi, State President of the party, said his party was exploring the possibility of reaching a poll alliance with the like-minded parties, including the Panthic Morcha and the Punjab Masihi Lok Dal. He said it had already held many meetings with the Morcha leaders, including Mr Ravi Inder Singh, former Speaker of Punjab Vidhan Sabha, and Capt Chanan Singh Sidhu in this regard. He said the party also held meetings with he Masihi Dal to finalise a poll alliance.


CPI (ML) announces 8 candidates
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, January 9
The CPI (ML) has decided to contest eight seats in the coming Assembly elections in the state. This was stated in a press note yesterday by Mr Balwinder Singh Bajwa, a spokesman for the election committee of CPI (ML).

Mr Gurdev Singh a CPI (ML) leader of the district will contest from Sultanpur Lodhi Assembly seat. Other candidates contesting the elections are:- Mr Daljit Singh Advocate from Nawan Shahr, Mr Hans Raj Pabbawan — Nur Mahal, Mr Hari Ram Khojepuri — Dina Nagar, Mr Nirmaljit Singh — Baga Purana, Mr Mehnga Singh — Nihal Singh Wala, Mr Jagjit Singh Hatoor — Raikot and Mr Mela Ram — Malout.


Dango, Dharam’s real village
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 9
Dharminder. Dharam Bhaji. Garam Dharam. And so on. Punjabis and people elsewhere in the country fondly call the “he man” actor from Punjab in several ways.

Ask any one in Punjab the name of Dharminder’s village and the answer will be: Sahnewal. The answer is, however, wrong. Dharminder belongs to Dango village located near Pakhowal, about 25 kms from this city. In the village people call him “Oh Jagire da Dharminder”. Jagir Singh was his uncle who passed away a few years ago.

Dharminder’s family owns land in the village. Earlier, the land was in the name of Dharminder’s father, Kewal Krishan, who passed away a few years ago. Now it has been transferred in the name of Dharminder. The actor has another brother known as Jeet Singh, who also lives in Mumbai.

Dharminder has given his land to his cousins Gurjit Singh and Shingara Singh for cultivation.

Dango is a famous village of Punjab. Most of its inhabitants are Deols. It also has a fair share of Manns. A folk character, Munshi Dango da, of the village is an integral part of Punjabi folklore.

Though Dharminder was born at Dango, his mother, two sisters and elder brother remained with his father first at Lalton village and then at Sahnewal. Dharminder’s father was a teacher who served at various places in the vicinity of Ludhiana and kept his family along. Dharminder was a tubewell operator in a private company at Malerkotla when he left the job midway to try his luck in Bollywood.

Dharminder has not visited the village for the past several years. His brother Jeet Singh had come to the village to attend the marriage of his cousin a few years ago. Dharminder’s mother Satwant Kaur and father used to come to the village once a year when they were alive. His father had been incapacitated by paralysis a few years before his death.

Mr Shingara Singh says he has gone several times to Mumbai to meet Dharminder and his family. All of them treat him nicely. Dharminder has no airs about his high status. Even his sons Sunny and Bobby Deol talk about Punjab and our village, Mr Shingara says, adding that our family attends all important social functions there.

Dharminder’s ancestral house, which is called “andarla ghar”, has been abandoned. “My grandfather and Dharminder’s grandfather and his sons used to live in one house. But only a few weeks ago, the family demolished the house to construct a new one a few yards away from it”, he says.


Accidents due to ‘faulty licensing’
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 9
The traffic warden scheme on the pattern of the United Kingdom will be introduced in Punjab and residents will be included in it. This was stated by Mr J.P. Birdi, Zonal Inspector-General of Police, Jalandhar zone, at a traffic safety week function held here today. He also inaugurated the highway first-aid post on the G.T. Road at Chiheru, 1 km from here.

He declared that every 20 to 25 km of stretch of the National Highway No 1(G T Road) from Amritsar to Rajpura would have highway first-aid posts by the end of 2002. “We have 40 ambulances at this stretch,” he claimed. “We have also demanded recovery vans from the Surface Transport Ministry and the Government of India,” he added. “We have also sought permission for converting some vehicles into recovery vans,” he disclosed.

Out of the 42 Assembly constituencies falling in eight districts, under Jalandhar Zone, 22 constituencies had been identified sensitive as of now, Mr Birdi said. Mr Birdi said security for fashion would not be allowed. A review would be done and security withdrawn after that.

Deaths by accidents were three times more than the ones by murders, said Mr Birdi. He attributed mishaps flawed licensing policy with nexus between touts operating outside courts and DTO offices. A licence was given to any one just for 50 rupees, said the I.G. drunken driving, underage driving, lack of traffic rules education, lack of good roads, increase in vehicles were some of other causes of road accidents, he said.

Mr Birdi demanded that traffic education should be made compulsory and introduced in school syllabus. Mr Birdi gave away prizes to children who had taken part in on the spot about painting competitions on traffic. He also released a sticker to be provided to those who had all documents of vehicles to save them from repeated checking.

Mrs Gurpreet Deo, SSP Kapurthala, disclosed that under the National Selatium Scheme, the injured in hit-and-run cases were provided rupees Rs 25000 and those dead of Rs 50,000. Dr Narinderjit Singh, Dr J.S. Virk, Mr Malkiet Singh Ragbhotra of the Citizens Rights Forum also addressed the function. Mr Birdi also honoured those who had contributions in first aid post and the ambulance. 


Youths pledge to stop intoxicants’ use in poll
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 9
The youths of Nangal area today vowed to stop the use of intoxicants in the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state. At a huge rally organised in the main market at Nangal today the youth leaders of the area accused the politicians of distributing intoxicants among them especially during campaigning. They threatened leaders of political parties with boycott and gherao if they tried to distribute intoxicants. The rally was organised under the banner of the Citizen Welfare Association.

The president of the association, Mr Paramjit Singh Pamma, alleged that the ruling party tried to scuttle the rally by using police force.

It was alleged that certain members of the ruling party tried to pressurise the administration of the local educational institutions to stop the youths from participating in the rally. Even the police was deployed at the local colleges to stop the students from participating in the rally, he alleged.

Mr Pamma further said satta counters were operating openly in the area attracting students.

Mr Kuldeep Chand, the patron of the local NGO, Arpan, alleged corruption in the working of various local bodies. The other youth leaders who spoke on the occasion lamented the lack of vision among the local politicians. They alleged that none of the leaders had strived to attract industry. 


Technical snag causes power cut
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 9
A two-hour power cut is being imposed in the urban and industrial towns in Punjab following some snag in the transformer in unit no. 4 of the Ropar thermal plant and cut in generation in the Ranjit Sagar dam.

According to official information available here today, some fault had occurred in the transformer of the unit no. 4 of the Ropar Thermal Plant and engineers of the BHEL, Bhopal, had to be summoned to detect the same. The sources said the fault had been detected and it would take about a week to restore generation in unit no. 4.

The Ranjit Sagar Dam authorities have been advised to conserve water as a result of which generation had to be cut from 26 lakh units daily to 12-13 lakh units. 


DC conveys EC directives
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 9
The District Election Officer and Deputy Commissioner, Patiala, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, today informed about directives issued by the Election Commission regarding the forthcoming Vidhan Sabha elections to be held in the state on February 13.

Mr Bir informed that no state government employee whose spouse was a candidate in the elections or member of a political party, would be allowed to take part in the political activities of the same. He stated that such employees even if they be on leave could not leave their headquarters and would require a written order from the Chief Secretary in order to do so.

According to the directives, all officers on poll duty would behave in an impartial manner and would not use their position to help any candidate or political party and neither would they join in any campaigning exercise. While they could organise and oversee security arrangements concerning the law and order situation, the officers could not organise election meetings of any candidate nor could they act as a polling or counting agent for the same.

Mr Bir further informed that no government vehicles could be used for the poll campaign of any candidate. He said strict disciplinary action would be taken against those found flouting the directives or shirking their duty, adding that these directives were applicable till the end of elections.


Staff to be trained for EVMs
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 9
The district has received 110 electronic voting machines (EVMs) for training officials and employees put on election duty for the Assembly elections in the state.

Mr R.Venkatratnam, Deputy Commissioner and District Returning Officer, while presiding over a function held here today in connection with training of officials about the use of EVMs said 965 more machines would reach the district.

The training is meant for senior officials like SDMs, tehsildars, BDPOs, EOs and MEs, who will work as returning officers. In the next phase of training the junior employees of the election staff will be trained.


Man murdered over woman’s ‘possession’
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 9
The cold-blooded murder of a truck driver, Naib Singh, on December 19, which the police thought to be an accident, has turned out to be a fallout of a battle of “possession” between two paramours of a married woman.

Sukhdev Singh, a tent dealer, who allegedly had illicit relations with Rani Begum, a resident of the Udham Singh Nagar locality in this city, reportedly killed Naib Singh as he also had illicit relations with the woman. After killing him, both Sukhdev Singh and Rani Begum threw the body on the Bathinda-Dabwali Road near a marriage palace so it would took like an accident.

This is the fifth incident of its kind in this district in the past two years. Earlier, Paramjit Kaur of Mandi Kalan village of this district murdered her husband in connivance with her paramour by hiring contract killers. To evade detection of crime, they also made the murder seen like an accident.

In another incident, Dharminder Singh killed Gurdip Singh to win the love of a girl. After committing the crime, he burnt the body beyond recognition so it would seen like he had committed suicide after he failed to win over the girl.

In yet another incident, a folk singer, Charanjit Kaur Channi, after killing her husband Swaran Singh Sitara, also a folk singer, with the help of contract killers threw his body into a canal and later placed advertisements in newspapers in connection with his disappearance.

In the fourth incident, Jagga Singh of Kothe Kaursinghwala of this district murdered his friend Baljinder Singh and disfigured his face after putting his own clothes on the body. The motive was to elope with a girl without any detection by the police.

In the case of Naib Singh, the police had initially registered a case under Section 304-A, IPC, initially as the face of the deceased was crushed by a vehicle.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, district police chief, said investigations revealed that Naib Singh had illicit relations with Rani Begum who had been deserted by her handicapped and drug addict husband.

She also had relations with Sukhdev Singh as she used to get a tent from him for setting up a tea kiosk in cattle markets. Sukhdev Singh also used to give her money.

One day when Naib Singh went to her house he found Sukhdev Singh there. Both started quarrelling and a scuffle followed in which he (Naib Singh) was hit on the head. He died on the spot.

Both Rani Begum and Sukhdev Singh had been arrested and a chisel and rickshaw used in the crime seized from them. A case under Sections 302, 201 and 34, IPC, had been registered against them.


PUTA ‘robbing’ teachers of their rights
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 9
The Teachers United Front, which had earlier spearheaded the agitation against Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia before being reduced to a minority in the last elections to the Punjabi University Teachers Association, today accused the dominant faction of denying the teachers their democratic right to requisition a general body meeting of the Association.

In a statement issued here today by its convener Dr U.C. Singh and Co-Convener Dr B.S. Khaira besides its four constituents, the TUF said a requisition duly signed by 38 PUTA members was submitted to PUTA President Dr Dalbir Singh Dhillon on December 28 which the dominant group in the Executive had declared as infructious as it had scheduled a meeting of the General House on January 29. It accused the dominant faction of being ‘’too involved in the service of the Vice-Chancellor and seemed to have forgotten the teachers and their mandate.

The TUF leadership, which has come out for the first time against the dominant group in the PUTA as well as the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, after holding of the PUTA elections some months back, said as per the constitution of the association, it was mandatory to hold a requisitioned meeting of PUTA within seven days if 10 members submitted such a requisition.

The release claimed that the requisitionists wanted to discuss the promotions under the Career Advancement Scheme (CAS) and victimisation of teacher activists. It said a large number of eligible teachers continued to be ignored for promotions under the CAS for reasons best known to the PUTA president and his coterie. It said there was no schedule for interviews as per seniority and added that the Vice-Chancellor and his cohorts had promised that the process of promotions under CAS would be completed by September 30, 2001. It said this date was extended later to November 30, 2001 and then to December 21, 2001.

It added that on the other hand, the teachers who had raised their voice to meet the legitimate demands and rights of the community had been implicated in false and frivolous cases. He said this included ordering of a vigilance inquiry against Dr K.C. Singhal in spite of clearance by the Punjab Police, removal of Dr B.S. Khaira from headship of the Correspondence Courses Department, censoring of former PUTA Secretary Dr Balwinder Singh in the Syndicate and issue of show cause notices to Prof U.C. Singh and Prof Suchha Singh Gill.

The TUF claimed that besides promotions there were several other issues which needed immediate attention, including appointment of heads as per university rules of seniority, stoppage of leasing out of university property and departments to private companies.

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