Thursday, January 17, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Badal, Mann ready to shed blood, not water
P. P S. GIll
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The Supreme Court directive to Punjab on Tuesday to complete and commission the Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal (SYL) within one year has opened floodgates of statements further sentimentalising the issue. Water is the lifeline of farmers, may they be of Punjab or Haryana or any other state. Both political and ‘’expert’’ reactions today have been along the predicted lines. So much so even media persons, accredited to the two states, have reacted on the respective government-lines.

The judgment of the Supreme Court has also allowed the politicians yet again to indulge in “blame game”. Interestingly, the same party reacts differently in the two states. More than “friendship”, as in the case of Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Om Prakash Chautala, it is the state interests that seemingly dominate the reactions. The issue, nevertheless, has come on the centre-stage of the poll campaign.

Mr Badal in a strongly worded statement has said: “I would rather shed every drop of my blood than allow even a single drop of water to flow out of my state in defiance of the Riparian principles’’. Similar sentiments were echoed by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, who said: ‘’Our blood and not water will flow in the SYL. We will not allow its completion at any cost’’.

Capt Amarinder Singh, however, maintained that if elected to power the Congress would file a review application before the Supreme Court. He did not miss the opportunity to lambast the Akalis for muddying the waters.

Obviously, a jubilant Mr Chautala, welcomed the Court decision. There are reports of illuminations in Haryana.

When the sharing of water has not been sorted out between riparian and non-riparian states, how will completion of SYL help? And the Punjab politicians have talked of ‘’unrest’’ over the issue. But is it for the courts and tribunals to solve such issues? Why cannot there be political net-working in the regional if not national interest?

One common denominator in the reactions of Punjab leaders is blaming each other for the mess over the SYL. The SYL project’s history, the facts on record, the money invested and wasted, the lives of engineers and labourers lost, the wrong alignment of the canal, the continuous damage the existing structure is causing to the fertile fields along its route, the havoc it causes during monsoons etc. are of no consequence to these politicians. Their main concern is votes.

The other contentious issues that remain unresolved pertain to even sharing of water and the riparian principles. Punjab and Haryana continue to talk of ‘’discrimination’’, while, despite presence of Congress governments earlier and friendly SAD-BJP-NDA-INLD at present, there is no agreement. This is so when agricultural production and productivity has plateaued in the two states, farming is becoming unprofitable, remunerative pricing of food grains is disputed, procurement is causing problems of storage, wheat and rice grown in Punjab and Haryana are not required in the once deficit states and there is a faulty public distribution system. Moreover, millions go hungry every night for want of buying capacity, here are two agriculturally ‘’advanced’’ states unable to decide on an issue.

No number of repetitive statements or creating a hype by the politicians by making allegations against each other would help. They have to see things in a wider, logical perspective in the larger interest of the region if sharing of water and completion of SYL is to be resolved amicably. The need is to address vital questions: how giving or denying water will benefit or harm which of the areas in the two states; how it will affect the ecology, geo-agronomy and economy; how sub-soil water that is getting depleted in some areas or there is water logging in other areas can be corrected; what alternatives are available to re-charge the aquifer or remedy the problems of salinity and alkalinity; what farm technology should be adopted to do away with ‘’flood’’ irrigation and opt for calibrated irrigation without wastage; how to identify water guzzling crops and diversify agriculture.

Both Punjab and Haryana are demanding “justified” resolution. This demand is being made since 1955. It is close to 50 years, yet, the issue remains “live”. Mr Badal’s statement reads, “It is regretted that the Supreme Court judgment is doubly unfortunate coming as it does at a time when the attention of the brave and patriotic people of this sensitive border state is focussed on the challenges being posed from across the border’’. 


Not a drop will be given, asserts Badal
Ajay Banerjee & Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Kurali (Ropar), January 16
Reacting to yesterday’s Supreme Court order asking for a time-bound completion of the SYL canal, the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today said, “We will not implement the court order at any cost. Not a drop of water from Punjab will be given to anyone even if we have to go to jail.”

A review petition has been filed before the apex court and even if the judicial process does not bear fruit, the SAD would not complete the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, meant to take water to Haryana, at any cost as water is a natural resource of the state, said Mr Badal. He was addressing a rally in support of Mr Ujjagar Singh Badali, the party candidate from Morinda.

On the political front, he ruled out any review in the allocation of party ticket, saying that those chosen were the best possible options with the party. Nobody was a weak candidate, Mr Badal said.

Admitting that there had been dissidence in five constituencies, he said it would not hamper the SAD poll prospects. Anybody rebelling in the party would be shown the door, he added.

The Chief Minister declared that he and his party workers would prefer going to jail rather than barter away the interest of the state. “I would shed every drop of blood than allow water, which runs our agriculture and industry, to flow away to other states,” an emotionally charged Chief Minister announced while adding that SYL was one of injustices meted out to Punjab by the Congress during its rule at the Centre and also in the state.

Terming the Supreme Court judgement as unjust, he said the principle of Riparian states did not apply in this case. (the principle applies when a river runs through two states or countries). In addition, a petition of Punjab before the Eradi Tribunal is still pending.

Incidentally, Mr Badal was speaking in the same constituency from where his arch political rival, Mr Ravi Inder Singh is contesting on the Panthic Morcha ticket. The Chief Minister while taking on Mr Ravi Inder said he was hand in glove with Punjab Congress Chief Amarinder Singh. He had betrayed the Akalis and wanted to support the Congress, the Chief Minister went on to say. Mr Badal also chided the Congress chief for repeatedly changing his stand on the SYL.

Capt Amarinder Singh was part of the Congress when the decision to dig the canal was taken. He never opposed it. Later, he joined the Akalis and changed his stand. Now he was back with the Congress.

Earlier, while talking to journalists, he said an all-party meeting would be called on the SYL issue to decide on the future course of action in the wider interests of the state.

Earlier, Punjab Finance Minister Kanwaljit Singh said the Congress was riddled with dissidence. The SAD-BJP combine was a party of people while the Congress was of the elite, he said, while taking a dig at Capt Amarinder by calling the Congress a party of “maharajas”.

SAMRALA (FOC): In a well attended election conference of the Akali candidate, Mr Kirpal Singh Khirnian, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President of the SAD, appealed the gathering to vote in favour of the Akali-BJP alliance.

Criticising the Congress, Mr Badal said it has complicated the Punjab problems during its 40-year rule.

Regarding the SYL, he said the foundation stone was laid by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi so that Punjab water could be diverted to other states but the Akali leadership had organised morchas and had gone to jails in thousands to save the water. He further promised that the SAD would not allow even a single drop of water to flow to other states. Water is the backbone of Punjab farmers, it would not be allowed to flow to the other states, he added.

Since the BJP government was at the Centre, it would be the interest of the people of Punjab to have an Akali-BJP alliance government at state level so that the just started works and the remaining issues of Punjab could be solved.

Mr Badal said the problems of unemployment, illiteracy and poverty peaked during the Congress rule in the country.


Cong to ‘abide’ by verdict on canal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 16
Congress treasurer Motilal Vora, who is in charge of Punjab affairs, today said his party would abide by the verdict of the Supreme Court in the Satluj-Yamuna Link canal (SYL) case.

He said if the Congress government came to power in Punjab, it would construct the remaining portion of SYL which fell in the state. Mr Vora, however, said a review petition was sought to be filed by the Badal government against the verdict in the SYL case and the party would await its outcome.

Mr Vora’s remarks are contrary to the stand of the PCC chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, who favours moving a review petition in the Supreme Court. Accusing the Badal government of not defending Punjab’s interests properly, Capt Amarinder Singh said yesterday that Punjab was facing shortage of water and had no surplus water to give to other states.


Badal sold out Punjab’s interests: Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Capt Amarinder Singh Chandigarh, January 16
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief Capt Amarinder Singh today accused Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal of “bartering away state’s interests” holding him solely responsible for the Apex court verdict on the completion of the SYL within one year.

Reiterating that the Punjab Congress would engage best of the lawyers and prefer a review petition before the Constitution Bench, the PPCC chief said that it was unfortunate that interests of Punjab had not been properly “safeguarded”.

In the 1966 reorganisation, while Punjab got 60 per cent of the territory, it got only 12 MAF of rivers water while Haryana with lesser territory got 14 MAF of water. The present SAD-BJP government never tried to present forcefully Punjab’s case.

“As far as the Congress is concerned, we rejected the Eradi Commission. Punjab does not have spare water. As such there is no question of giving any water to Haryana.

“But unfortunately, it had been Akalis in the past and even now who had been party to sacrificing interests of the State. It was Mr Badal who accepted Rs 2 crore from the then Haryana Chief Minister, Ch Devi Lal, to start work on the SYL. And now Mr Badal has proved his friendship with Mr Om Parkash Chautala,” he said alleging that Mr Badal had been going overboard in doling out favours to Devi Lal’s family in return for the land, immovable property and even specially dug up canal for his farms on Rajasthan border.

He said that unfortunately, the legal experts engaged by the Punjab Government to defend this case were little known. Accusing the government of not showing any concern even after the Apex court issued directions to both parties to settle the dispute mutually, the PPCC chief said that it was “convenient” for the Chief Minister to sidetrack this important issue which was the lifeline of Punjab in general and farmers in particular.

He said that though Mr Badal claimed himself to be a representative of farmers, was it what he had done for them. The Captain said that the stand of the Punjab Congress on the issue was clear as it would fight out on all fronts, including the Supreme Court, to prevent a drop of water from going to Haryana.

He admitted that the SYL was a “bomb shell” and a major issue for the February 13 elections.

Asked about the dissidence in the party over the ticket, the PPCC chief said that most of the ex-MLAs, who did not get party ticket this time had talked to him and were satisfied with the explanations.

He said that there were not many who would join the Nationalist Congress Party headed by Mr Sharad Pawar. “Who knows Sharad Pawar in Punjab?,” he quipped maintaining that the party was unified and destined to sweep to power.

The PPCC chief said that the charge sheet against the Punjab Chief Minister was ready and would be released in Chandigarh in a few days time.

The Captain also released a list of 25 Shiromani Akali Dal jathedars who had joined the Congress.


SYL canal: Tohra blames Congress, Akali CMs
Tribune News Service

SHSAD president Gurcharan Singh Tohra addressing a press conference at Ludhiana. — PSH

Ludhiana, January 16
Former SGPC chief and senior Akali leader Gurcharan Singh Tohra here today blamed successive Chief Ministers of Punjab, both of the Congress and the Akali Dal, for various acts of omission and commission that led the state to lose in the Supreme Court over the construction of the SYL Canal. Mr Tohra said he would soon convene a meeting of various parties, except SAD, the BJP and the Congress, to chalk out the strategy for a Punjab bandh to protest against the state government’s “criminal failure” to plead the case and protect the interests of the state in the apex court.

Addressing a press conference at the residence of Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, the Panthic Morcha candidate from Kila Raipur Assembly segment, Mr Tohra accused Partap Singh Kairon, Giani Zail Singh, Darbara Singh, Mr Surjit Singh Barnala and Mr Parkash Singh Badal of “selling” the interests of Punjab to the Centre. He said while Congress Chief Ministers had to do the bidding of the Centre and the party high command, Mr Badal had proved to be “the worst”. He said, Mr Badal was the only Chief Minister who had extended support to the NDA government at the Centre without asking for any return benefits for the state.

Mr Tohra said the Supreme Court decision would have an “obvious impact” on the electoral outcome as this had dealt a body blow to the SAD-BJP alliance in the state. He said Mr Badal had not cared to present the state’s case before the Supreme Court, which ultimately led to the court’s decision. Mr Tohra said the apex court had only decided on the issue of the construction of the SYL and not on the dispute over sharing of river waters.

The former SGPC chief said: “Now Mr Badal will have to construct the same canal against which he had led demonstrations and organised morchas and also come into power”. Mr Tohra claimed that Mr Badal had agreed to the construction of the canal back in 1977 under a mutual agreement with the then Haryana Chief Minister Devi Lal, but was prevented from doing the same by him (Mr Tohra).

Mr Tohra observed that the apex court’s decision would once again bring into focus the main issues concerning Punjab — the transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab, the transfer of Punjabi-speaking areas to Punjab and settling the water-sharing dispute. He said Punjab’s cause had never been pleaded well and Haryana had got more water than what had been agreed earlier.

The senior Akali leader claimed that the decision had to come much earlier, but was delayed as the Badal government had managed to seek some extra time through the Attornery General of India as they hoped that the elections would be held in the month of November and the decision would not have any impact on the poll outcome. “Now Mr Badal is cornered as he has no defence against the omission”, Mr Tohra claimed.


Ranjit Singh flays Badal on SYL
Tribune News Service

Bhai Ranjit SinghAmritsar, January 16
Coming heavily on Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Jathedar of Akal Takht, today called upon the Punjabis to stand like a rock against the order of the Supreme Court which had directed Punjab to complete the SYL Canal within a year so that supply of water could be augmented to Haryana and Delhi.

The former Jathedar dubbed Mr Badal as ‘traitor’ of Punjab who had sold the interests of the state allegedly to keep himself in power. He also called upon the leadership of the Panthic Morcha to launch an agitation against the decision of the apex court.

He alleged that Mr Badal was instrumental in signing secret pact with his then Haryana counterpart and got Rs 2 crore for completing the canal.

Bhai Ranjit Singh said the people of Punjab would not allow the completion of the canal at any cost. He alleged that like Udham Singh Nagar, the ruling Akali Dal ditched Punjabis on SYL Canal too. He urged the voters to dethrone the Badal government in the forthcoming Assembly elections.


A handful of families have been ruling Punjab
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
How a few families, which can be counted on the fingertips, control Punjab’s electoral politics and rule the state is an interesting story.

The few families, who call the shots in the state’s politics, are closely related to one another though such families have affiliations with different political parties. These can be categorised as big players and small players.

The families of Badals, Brars, Kairons, royals of Patiala and Tohras and Bhattals can be called as big players and those of Dhindsas, Barnalas and Manns as small players. By and large, big Jat Sikh landlords have kept a tight hold on Punjab’s electoral politics since 1955, irrespective of the political parties.

Among the big players are Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who became the Chief Minister for the third time in 1997, Mr Harcharan Singh Brar, who remained Punjab Chief Minister in 1995 and Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who was Chief Minister for a few months in 1996-97. At least, three members of Mr Partap Singh Kairon, who was Chief Minister in the late 50s and early 60s are now active politicians in the Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal.

The Badals have dominated the Akali politics for the past several years in spite of the presence of Tohras, Barnalas, Dhindsas, Manns and others. Actually, the Akali politics has revolved around a few families. Barnalas led by Mr Surjit Singh Barnala have played a decisive role in Akali politics since the 70s.

The kith and kin of Mr Parkash Singh Badal have the largest presence and domination in the state’s politics. Besides himself being the chief executive of the state, his son Sukhbir Singh is a member of the Rajya Sabha and son-in-law Adesh Partap Singh is a member of his (Mr Badal’s) Council of Ministers. And his nephew Manpreet Singh, is the MLA from Gidderbaha. Now, all three are in the run to be members of the state Assembly for another term. Mr Badal’s daughter had sought ticket from the Valtoha constituency for the coming elections but her plea has been rejected.

Mr Adesh Partap Kairon’s father and grandfather were Congressmen. But he joined the Akalis after becoming the son-in-law of Mr Badal. Kairons are close relatives of Mr Harcharan Singh Brar, former Congress Chief Minister. Mr Brar is married in the Kairon family. Mr Adesh Partap’s uncle (chacha) is a Congress candidate from Tarn Taran this time.

In other words, the Badals are related to Brars through the Kairons. The Brars are also related to Capt Amarinder Singh, President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress, through their son. Capt Amarinder Singh’s brother Malwinder Singh’s wife and the wife of Mr Harcharan Brar’s son are said to be close relatives. Capt Amarinder Singh is a brother-in-law (saadu) of Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, chief of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Mann). Capt Amarinder Singh’s wife Praneet Kaur and Mr Mann’s wife Geetinder Kaur are sisters.

Mr Sukbir Singh Badal’s in-laws are related to the late Mr Gurdarshan Singh Nabha, whose son Randeep Singh Nabha is an official candidate of the Congress party for coming elections. The senior Badal is also related to Mr Ravi Inder Singh, who had challenged his supremacy in the party and also as Chief Minister.

Mr Tota Singh, an Akali Minister, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, another Akali Minister, and Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon, Congress MLA from Samrala, are closely related. Many more such examples can be given.

The bug of parivarvad (nepotism) which was earlier confined to a few political families seems to have bitten one and all who matter in the decision-making process of political parties. Even hardcore leader Simranjit Singh Mann, who has been condemning the Badals for nepotism has fielded his son Eman Singh Mann from Sirhind as the Panthic Morcha candidate. The senior Mr Mann is already a member of the Lok Sabha.

Likewise, two members of the late Beant Singh’s family are official candidate of the Congress for the coming elections. Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa is a member of the Rajya Sabha and his son Parminder Dhindsa has been fielded from Sunam to contest the second time.

Former Chief Minister Surjit Singh Barnala’s son Gaganjit Singh is a SAD candidate from Dhuri. Mr Balram Jakhar’s son Sunil Jakhar is a Congress candidate from Abohar. Mr Sukhpal Singh Khera, an official candidate of the Congress from Bholath is the son of former Akali minister Sukhjinder Singh. Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo is a member of the Lok Sabha and his wife a Congress candidate from Khanna. Mrs Santosh Chowdhary is also member of the Lok Sabha and her husband Ram Lubhaya, is a Congress candidate from Sham Churasi.

The list is of such politicians is endless. 


Independents may give tough fight
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Mansa, January 16
This 10-year-old district, carved out of Bathinda, has always been politically active, having given rise to many movements in the past. It was not only the cradle and hotbed of the Praja Mandal Movement (PMM), but also a stronghold of the Naxalites in the 70s.

Bordering Haryana, this district is backward in every sense — educationally, economically and industrially. There is only one post-graduate college, two industrial training institutes (ITI) and no technical institute in the district. Infrastructure, too, is virtually non-existent. No major developmental project has been sanctioned here for more than one decade.

As in the past, the Congress this time also has decided to give two seats — Budhlada and Mansa — to the CPI following a poll alliance. The Communists have influence in these two seats.

The new entrants in the political arena here are the Lok Bhalai Party (LBP) headed by Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). While two candidates have been fielded by the LBP, one candidate has been fielded by the NCP.

The decision to leave Mansa to the CPI has caused a virtual revolt in the Congress with the district unit chief, Mr Sher Singh Gagowal, former minister, deciding to contest as an Independent. The dissidents claim that of the four Assembly seats in the constituency, two have been given to the CPI, unheard of in the state in the past, and was against the interests of the rank and file of the party.

In the 1992 elections, the Mansa seat was won by Mr Gagowal by polling 6,137 votes. The seat was won by Mr Sukhwinder Singh Aulakh of the SAD, who defeated Mr Boota Singh of the CPI in 1997. Mr Gagowal contested from Joga then. Mr Aulakh polled 36,011 votes as compared to 34,227 of the latter. Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, general secretary of the SAD, lost to Mr Ajit Singh Mofar of the SAD (A). The former polled 42,035 votes while the latter polled 45,152 votes. Mr Mofar later joined the Congress and has been renominated from the same seat.

The Budhlada seat was won by Mr Hardev Arshi of the CPI, who has ben renominated by the party. In Joga, Mr Baldev Singh Khiala (SAD) won the seat by defeating Mr Sukhdev Singh (Ind) but he left the party after differences cropped with Mr Prakash Singh Badal. He is contesting the seat on ticket of the Panthic Morcha this time.

Six candidates are likely to be in the fray in the semi-urban Mansa constituency — Mr Gursewak Singh Mann (Panthic Morcha) and Mr Jodha Singh Mann (LBP).

Former Deputy Speaker Jaswant Singh Phapre Bhai Ke, who rebelled against the candidature of Mr Aulakh, and Mr Gagowal are contesting as Independents.

A preliminary survey revealed that it would not be smooth sailing for the party nominees since the Independents are likely to give them a tough time. It is a house divided in the Panthic Morcha and things are bound to become harder for the contestants once the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which has a sizeable vote bank, announces its candidates after the January 20 rally to be held in Ludhiana.

In the largely rural Sardulgarh constituency, the going is likely to be tough for Mr Bhunder who is leaving no stone unturned in ensuring his victory after his defeat at the hands of Mr Mofar (Cong), in 1997. Besides these two contestants, Mr Gurmail Singh Moosa is the Panthic Morcha candidate. Lack of development and non-representation of loyal party workers at any level in the Badal government are the major issues that go against the SAD nominee.

Mr Bhunder has represented the constituency since 1972. The seat was won by Mr Kirpal Singh Makha of the Congress in 1992 when the Akalis boycotted the elections by polling 4,116 votes. He was the Irrigation Minister in the Harcharan Singh Brar regime.

The totally rural Joga constituency spreads over Bathinda and Mansa districts. As many as 33 villages of Bathinda and 26 villages of Mansa fall in the constituency.

The four-time sitting MLA, Mr Baldev Singh Khiala won on the SAD ticket but is now contesting as the Panthic Morcha candidate. Pitted against him are Mr Jagdeep Singh Nakai of the SAD, Mr Sukhraj Singh Nat (Cong), Dr Mohinder Singh (LBP) and Mr Surjan Singh Joga of the Nationalist Congress Party.

Of these candidates, Mr Nakai and Dr Singh are new entrants in the political arena. There is great resentment against the candidature of Mr Nakai and Mr Nat who are being touted as “outsiders” by the rank and file of the local units of the SAD and the Congress.

In the Communist stronghold of Budhlada, the Congress has left the seat to the CPI and Mr Hardev Arshi is seeking re-election on the party ticket. He was Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of the Vidhan Sabha and was also the Deputy Leader of his party. He polled 47,469 votes and defeated Mr Harbans Singh Datewas (SAD), who polled 41,020 votes last time.

There are three more candidates in the fray — Mr Datewas, Mr Mangat Ram Bansal (Bahujan Samaj Party) and Mr Ballam Singh Kalipur (Independent). Mr Kalipur has been urged to contest against the official SAD candidate by disgruntled workers of the area.


Malwa shapes political contours
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 16
All five Assembly segments, including the two reserve ones falling in this district, known as the heartland of the Malwa region, have been witnessing the repeat of the February 1997 poll, with some changes.

The electors of the Malwa region have always shaped the political contours of Punjab but never remained the permanent vote bank of any party. In the earlier Assembly elections since 1957, the candidates of the Communist Party, Akali Dal, Congress and Janata Party returned to the Vidhan Sabha after scoring victories in the five Assembly seats of this segment.

When the state was gripped by the SAD wave, Mr Harminder Singh Jassi of the Congress sprang a surprise by winning from Talwandi Sabo, which was considered a stronghold of the Akalis by defeating SAD candidate Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu. Mr Sidhu was defeated as a rebel Akali candidate. Mr Jaspal Singh Dhansukhkhana also contested as an Independent candidate. All the other four seats went to the kitty of SAD (Badal).

A major change being witnessed in this district this time is that there is no wave in favour of the SAD unlike during the 1997 poll. On other hand, SAD candidates are facing a challenge from a section of the party, which has joined the Panthic Morcha, comprising the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal and other Akali factions and led by the convener, Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi and rebel in the Rampuraphul Assembly segment so far.

Mr Sikander Singh Malooka, Cabinet minister, has been renominated by the SAD from Rampuraphul. He faces rebel Akali candidate Gurpreet Singh Kangar. Punjab Chief Minister and President of the SAD, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and former union minister Sukhbir Badal failed to turn up at his election rally organised in the first week of this month.

The SAD (Badal) has also put up sitting MLA and Cabinet minister Chiranji Lal Garg from Bathinda and Mr Makhan Singh from the Pakka-Kalan Assembly segment while from the Nathana and Talwandi Sabo constituencies, two new faces, namely Mr Guran Singh Tungwali and Mr Mohan Singh Bangi, respectively, have been fielded.

On other hand, the Congress has nominated a new face and an outsider, Mr Surinder Singla, who was once spokesperson of the AICC and played a significant role in bringing the oil refinery project for this district, from the Bathinda seat. Mr Jasmel Singh, confidant of PPCC chief Amarinder Singh, has been fielded from the Nathana reserve constituency. The sitting MLA of Talwandi Sabo, Mr Harminder Singh Jassi, and a former minister, Mr Harbans Singh Sidhu, who tasted defeat in the last Assembly elections from Rampuraphul, have been renominated.

The Pakka Kalan seat has been left for the CPI candidate under the electoral alliance.

The Panthic Morcha has also put up Mr Gurdeep Singh, Mr Teja Singh Toofan, Mr Jagrup Singh Dhillon and Mr Darshan Singh from Bathinda, Nathana, Rampuraphul and Pakka Kalan Assembly segments, respectively.

The Lok Bhalai Party has put up Mr Balwinder Singh Mahinangal, Mr Ranjit Singh Roos and Mr Nachhattar Singh Sidhu from the Talwandi Sabo, Nathana and Rampuraphul Assembly segments, respectively.

In the last 10 Assembly elections, Congress candidates represented the Bathinda Assembly segment five times, Akali Dal candidates thrice, Janata Party candidate once and an Independent also once.

For the February 13 poll, sitting MLA and Cabinet minister Chiranji Lal Garg, has been leaving no stone unturned to retain the seat and trying to pacify that section of party rank and file which is disappointed with him.

About 20,9,466 electors would decide the fate of candidates from this seat. The Nathana reserved constituency returned Akali Dal candidates to the Vidhan Sabha five times and the Congress candidates twice in the last seven elections. Mr Jasmel Singh, who is now contesting this seat as a Congress candidate, won the same as Akali Dal candidate in 1985. The total number of electors in this segment is 1,32,637.

From Talwandi Sabo, Congress and Akali Dal candidates won for four times each and once an Independent candidate in the last nine Assembly elections represented it.

PPCC President Amarinder Singh, who has been trying his luck this time from Patiala town constituency, won this seat as Akali Dal candidate in 1985. The total number of electors is 1,28,351.

The Pakka Kalan seat has remained the traditional stronghold of Akalis as its candidates won it seven times while the Congress candidates won it thrice in the last 10 assembly elections. The total number of electors is 1,25,379. Communist Party candidate represented the Rampuraphul seat four times, and Congress and Akali Dal candidate thrice each. The total number of electors is 1,38,087. 


NHRC rejects ex-SHO’s plea
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 16
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has rejected the plea of a former SHO of the local police Babu Ram Sharma to reconsider orders passed on June 20, 2000, directing him to pay Rs 30,000 as immediate interim relief to Mr Shanti Lal Bajaj a retired JCO, for allegedly “forcing” his wife Saroj Bajaj to commit suicide.

Rejecting the plea of the former SHO, the commission in fresh orders, a copy of which was received here today, said report was received from the state government without the compliance of the directions issued in case No. 309/19/1999-2000, on the ground that SI Babu Ram Sharma had raised an objection of having not been heard before the order was passed. According to him he was also facing criminal trial and departmental inquiry besides the writ petition pending in the high court. It was pleaded that the amount of interim compensation should not be recovered from him.

The SI had also made a representation to the commission that he had not been paid the amount of Rs 30,000. He is presently working in CIA staff at Fazilka and departmental inquiry is still pending against him. The commission had considered the matter.

In the police report received by the commission in the main complaint it was reported that the case registered by SI Babu Ram Sharma was in fact a false case based on a concocted story. It was further reported that he (SI) had allegedly started collecting money from people and this finding was based on the inquiry held by the police department. It could not be said that the petitioner was not given an opportunity of being heard. Directions for the payment of compensation were based on the findings prima facie given in the police report and on the basis of pre-ponderance of probabilities. Pendency of the criminal case or writ petition had no bearing on the award of immediate interim relief u/s 18(3) of Protection of Human Rights Act. Commission did not find any ground to reopen the case or review its orders. The NHRC asked the state government to submit full compliance report which would be taken up after six weeks.

It may be recalled that the city police had registered an FIR in June 2000 against Saroj Bajaj and others Under Section 376 of the IPC blaming them of sexual exploitation of a school girl when her (girl’s) mother was in the district jail in a smuggling case. Her husband Shanti Lal Bajaj, a retired JCO, and son were also implicated in the case later.

They had alleged in their affidavits that she was given third degree torture, including electric shocks, by the police during interrogation. The police however had denied the allegations. Mr Bajaj had also alleged that the SI used the complainant woman and her daughter to “grab money” not only from the Bajaj family but also from some other well-to-do citizens. Saroj Bajaj had alleged “harassment” by the editor of a local daily too. She committed suicide leaving behind a note naming nine persons, including the SI, an ASI.

The Railway police had registered a case in this connection at Sri Ganganagar police station in June 2000. The SI was arrested but granted bail by the Rajasthan High Court later. The Bajaj family filed petition before the NHRC. During hearing of the same orders were passed directing the Punjab Government to recover Rs 30,000 from the SI and pay interim compensation to the family of Saroj Bajaj.


Illegal colonisers, beware!
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 16
Perturbed over the mushrooming of illegal colonies in six districts, falling in its Jalandhar zone, the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) has started tightening its noose around the infamous land mafia and illegal colonisers, who have been violating the Punjab Apartment and Property Regulation Act, 1995, and the Property Regulation Act with impunity allegedly with the help of the musclepower.

Jalandhar is known as hub of influential land mafia and illegal colonisers, who have been luring people to invest their hard-earned money in illegal colonies developed by them. The musclepower and the political patronage of the land mafia can be gauged from the fact that a resident of Fazalpur village was shot dead in broad daylight inside Maqsudan police station on the outskirts of the city on April 30, 2000. The illegal colonisers, according to the PUDA authorities, have caused a huge financial loss amounting to Rs 50 crore to the state exchequer by evading the mandatory license fee for the development of the colonies — most of which lack civic amenities. The loss to the state mostly doubles, as in some cases, the civic bodies were made to carry on development works under the political and bureaucratic pressure without depositing development charges by the plot holders.

But in its bid to save the people from falling prey to the illegal colonisers the PUDA authorities have elected huge sign boards at the entrances of the illegal colonies for cautioning innocent people. The authorities have also booked a number of colonisers by registering cases under the PAPR Act against them. The sign boards put up by PUDA at the entrances of Greater Kailash Colony, Virk Enclave on the Nakodar road, near Wadala Chowk, Golden Avenue Extension, Basti Bawa Khel and Kalia Colony, advise people not to purchase plots in these colonies as this could invoke legal action under the PAPR Act. According to the Act, any person found guilty of violating the Act could be imprisoned for a period of three years or fined Rs 10,000 or both. The sign boards further threatened the buyers that in case they tried to construct any structure on these plots, it would be demolished by the PUDA’s special squad. “All these colonies belong to Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, Chairman, CT Public School, Mr Mohinder Singh, Mr Pawan Kumar, a resident of Adarsh Nagar, and Mr Jagir Singh. We had to put up sign boards as despite repeated warnings, mushrooming of such illegal colonies did not stop,” said Mr H.S. Nanda, Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA, Jalandhar. 


Candidates step up their campaign
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 16
Mr Didar Singh Bhatti, the SAD (B) candidate from Sirhind Assembly constituency, was weighed against coins in all 11 villages, which he toured today. All candidates of the constituency have intensified their election campaign.

Addressing a gathering at Nogawan village, Mr Bhatti said due to the development works and maintenance of peace by the Badal government, people were coming forward to extend their support and the party was getting an overwhelming response from all sections of society.

Various panches and sarpanches of the area declared their support to Mr Bhatti and contributed towards election fund. Addressing an impressive gathering of migrant Sikhs today, he said party stood supreme and assured them that the SAD would fight for their cause and their interests. Interestingly, this section of electorate is considered to be the personal vote bank of Mr R.S. Cheema, a former Akali minister, who had been denied the party ticket.

A large number of local citizens led by Mr Ashok Sood, president of Municipal Council, Sirhind, and Mr Rakesh Mitter, a social worker, today launched the election campaign of Mr Bhatti in Sirhind town by organising impressive gathering of prominent citizens.

Earlier, Dr Harbans Lal, sitting Congress MLA, intensified his election campaign by organising corner meetings, visiting slum areas and arranging election rallies in the rural areas. He said he had completed the first round of the constituency. He is banking on Hindu voters and trying hard to win over the supporters of Mr Cheema, who has been denied the SAD ticket and has resented the decision of the party. Addressing a delegation of industrialists led by R.N. Sharma, he alleged that the State Government had failed to release subsidy worth Rs 185 crore to the industrialists, which was given to the State Government by the Centre Government in May last year.

The Panthic Morcha candidate from Sirhind Assembly constituency, Mr Iman Singh Mann, son of Simranjit Singh Mann, has also intensified his campaign.

Mr Surinder Singh Banka, a candidate of Lok Bhalai Party, has also intensified his election campaign. Ms Rekha Jangra, a candidate of Nationalist Congress Party, has also started the poll activities.


Two BJP leaders quit party
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 16
Disillusioned with the party high command, two senior leaders and municipal councillors, Mr Avinash Jolly and Ms Premwati, today resigned from the primary membership of the BJP and joined hands with Mr Om Parkash Jolly, an Independent MLA and a former Mayor.

Meanwhile Mr Soni, a close confidant of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who had earlier resigned from the Congress due to differences with Mr Raghunandan Lal Bhatia, an MP today announced that he would contest the Amritsar (West) seat while Ms Nirmal Kant Suri of his group would contest the Amritsar (North) seat. The decision of Mr Soni to field his candidates in all constituencies of Amritsar is likely to make the going tough for the Congress. Mr Ranjit Singh Waryamnagal, a former Congress MLA, Mr Raminder Singh Bolaria, Mr Harpartap Singh Ajnala, Mr Sukhwinder Singh Sarkaria and Prof Darbari Lal, who were aspirants for the Congress ticket have already decided to raise a banner of revolt if the party high command failed to review its decision on ticket distribution.

The Congress high command had made sincere efforts to woo Mr Soni but in vain. He said the names of candidates for other seats would be announced within two days. He would float a regional party before the corporation elections due in the next two months, he added.


Ex-minister quits SAD
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 16
Protesting against the decision of SAD (B) president to allot the party ticket to Mr Didar Singh Bhatti from Sirhind Assembly constituency, Mr R.S. Cheema, a former minister and strong contender for the ticket, resigned from the working committee of the SAD (B) as well as from the primary membership of the party and announced to contest the Assembly election.

Besides Mr Cheema, Mr Manmohan Singh Makaronpur, vice-president of the district unit, Mr Mubark Singh Sethi, Mr Devinder Singh Bhapoo, Mr Kirpal Singh Sethi, Bibi Balbir Kaur Cheema, all General Secretaries of district unit of SAD, the entire circle SAD jathas of Bassi Pathana rural, city, Badali Ala Singh and Sirhind and Zila Parishad and Block Samiti members owing allegiance to Mr Cheema faction also announced to resign from the primary membership of the party. However, the circle Badali Ala Singh president, Master Narinder Singh and Mr Manmohan Singh Makaronpur denied to the mediapersons that they had resigned.

Mr Cheema also formed an 11-member committee to negotiate with the Panthic Morcha leaders — Mr Tohra, Mr S.S. Mann, Baba Bedi and Mr Ravi Inder Singh — to declare him a Panthic Morcha candidate. Answering a query, he replied that if the Panthic Morcha did not oblige him, even then he would contest.

He made this announcement yesterday at a workers meeting called by him at his native Gurudwara village. Hundreds of supporters of Mr Cheema attended the meeting. Addressing the workers, he alleged that money had played a role and the ticket was ‘sold’ to an outsider.

Mr Jagdeep Singh Cheema, Mr Devinder Singh Bhapoo, Mr Bachan Lal, Mr Jagjit Singh Virk, Mr Gurcharn Singh Nambardar, Mr Manmohan Singh Makaronpur, Mr Inderjit Singh Sandhu, Mr Lakhvir Singh Lakhi, Mr Major Singh Samshernagar, Mr Harjit Singh Cheema and Mr Piara Singh Rally have been made members of the 11-member committee.


Morcha ready to field SAD rebels
Vimal Sumbly

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 16
The Panthic Morcha today extended open invitation to SAD (Badal) rebels, saying that it was prepared to alter the list if better candidates were found from amongst the rebels.

The morcha claimed that a number of such candidates had approached the party and were in touch with them.

Addressing a press conference here today, the morcha convener, Baba Sarabjot Singh Bedi, disclosed that a committee headed by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and comprising Mr Simranjit Singh Mann and Mr Ravi Inder Singh had been constituted to verify the credentials of people willing to join the morcha.

Baba Bedi today announced the second list of 22 candidates, while 55 candidates have already been announced. It has left 35 seats for the Bahujan Samaj Party and four for the Masihi Lok Dal. These include Gurdaspur, Batala, Dina Nagar and Dasua. The morcha convener disclosed that the party leaders would meet Mr Kanshi Ram tomorrow at Jalandhar and hoped that some arrangement on seat adjustments would be reached with the BSP. Otherwise, the morcha would finalise the list of 35 candidates by tomorrow evening.

Baba Bedi was accompanied by Mr Sukhvinder Singh Bhaur and Mr Surjan Singh Thekedar. Both Mr Bhaur and Mr Thekedar belong to the Tohra faction. However, Prof Jagmohan Singh belonging to the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), a constituent group of the Panthic Morcha preferred to stay away from the press conference. He denied any differences on the allotment of ticket.

Baba Bedi said Master Johar Singh had been fielded from Kahnuwan Mr Manjit Singh Sohna from Amritsar North, Bibi Rajwinder Kaur Ranike from Attari, Bhai Manjit Singh from Valtoha, Mr Jagjit Singh Gabafrom Jalandhar Cantt, Mr Gian Chand from Jalandhar South, Mr Iqbal Singh Jhunda from Dhuri, Mr Gurtejpal Singh from Samrala, Mr Randhir Singh from Khanna, Mr Sardul Singh Kulgaran from Nangal, Mr Tarlochan Dev Sharma from Rajpura, Mr Mangal Singh Ghagga from Shatrana, Mr Randhir Singh Rakhra from Nabha,Mr Chanan Singh from Guruharsahai, Mr Mehar Singh from Ferozepore Cantt, Sant Sukhchain Singh from Budhlada, Mr Mota Singh Thesi from Lohian, Mr Shiv Kanwar Singh Sandhu from Sultanpur Lodhi, Mr Rurinder Singh Mann from Talwandi Sabbo,Sant Gurdial Singh from Anandpur Sahib, Mr Hardev Singh Khalsa (a former MP) from Pnajgranian and Mr Ajaib Singh from Mahalpur.

In Bolath, the party is supporting an Independent candidate, Dr Gurinder Singh Samra.


Morcha to support BSP on 30 seats
Our Correspondent

Dhuri, January 16
The Panthic Morcha will contest 87 seats in the coming Assembly Elections and support the BSP on the remaining 30 seats. This was stated by Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, general secretary of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) and a morcha leader, while addressing rally of the party nominee from Dhuri, Mr Iqbal Singh Chunda, here today.

Mr Chandumajra promised that if the Panthic Morcha came into power, it would waive loans to the tune of Rs 50,000 of shopkeepers, farmers and labourers in the state. He said the morcha would try to improve the economy of the state and create more job opportunities.

Mr Chanumajra alleged that the SAD-BJP combine government had failed on all fronts and every section of society was dissatisfied with it due to its anti-people policies. He claimed that there was frustration among farmers as they were not getting their due. He also criticised the Badal government for not fulfilling the promises made during the last Assembly elections.

He alleged the law and order situation in the state was worsening day by day. Mr Chandumajra also alleged that the economy of Punjab had been ruined due to the wrong policies of the Badal government.

Earlier, Mr Chandumajra inaugurated the election offices of Mr Chunda at Dhuri and Amargarh.


Tohra inaugurates election office
Our Correspondent

Sunam, January 16
Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President of the SHSAD and a senior leader of the Panthic Morcha, yesterday inaugurated the election office of Mr Gurpreet Singh Lakhmirwala, a Morcha candidate from here, near the local bus stand.

Addressing the gathering Mr Tohra refuted the allegations levelled against SHSAD leaders by the SAD leadership that they were the agents of the Congress by saying that, in fact, the SAD leadership had close relations with the Congress which was recently proved from the allotment of tickets by the SAD to “weak” candidates at Muktsar, Patiala and Lehragaga, from where top Congress leaders were contesting.

Mr Tohra asked people to cast their votes in favour of honest candidates. He said the Panthic Morcha was weak on the economic front but not on the “people’s front.”

Mr Harinder Singh, president of Sunam unit of the Panthic Morcha Mr Shwad Singh, Mr Neeta, Mr Bhola Singh Jakhepal, Mr Bhagwan Singh and Mr Gurpreet Singh Lakhmirwala, all leaders of the Panthic Morcha, also addressed the gathering.


CPI demands probe into MLAs’ funds
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 16
The CPI has demanded that MLAs’ funds, meant for the development of Assembly constituencies on behalf of the state government, should be accounted for.

Mr Amarjit Singh Asal, secretary, district council of the CPI, has raised the issue in a communication with the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), Mr L.M. Lyngdoh, copies of which were released to the press here today.

He said that account of crores of rupees, reportedly given exclusively to the ruling party MLAs or those in the good books of the Chief Minister, were never cross-checked.

Naming a particular independent candidate who allegedly enjoyed the patronage of the Chief Minister, Mr Asal demanded complete account from the MLA and the development projects for which the money was used.

He alleged that the MLA had distributed most of the discretionary quota to private schools, non-official organisations and places of religious worship to win their support.

Mr Asal said such grants were continuing despite the moral code of conduct and urged the CEC to look into the matter.


Congress no threat to SAD: Sukhbir
Our Correspondent

Kharar, January 16
Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal has claimed that although Mr Amarinder Singh, president PPCC, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, Speaker of former Punjab Vidhan Sabha and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, leader of the Panthic Morcha, have reached a compromise with a view to defeat the Shiromani Akali Dal in the coming Assembly elections, but they will not be able to do so. Not even a single candidate of the Panthic Morcha would be able to win election, he claimed.

Mr Badal was addressing a gathering here this afternoon after inaugurating the election office of Mr Kiranbir Singh Kang, SAD candidate for the Kharar Assembly constituency. He said to vote for a Panthic Morcha candidate was to vote for a Congress candidate.

Talking about virtual revolt in the Kharar unit of the Congress, Mr Badal said voters of this constituency did not know who was the real Congress candidate out of Mr Harneik Singh Gharuan and Mr Bir Devinder Singh. He claimed the position of the Congress was very bad and it was certain that the SAD would again come to power.

He said leaders of the Congress were levelling false corruption charges on the SAD-BJP government without presenting any proof to support these charges. He said how could the Congress give a corruption-free governance in the state when their own men were facing the charge of taking money in connection with distribution of ticket. He appealed to the voters of this constituency to vote and elect Mr Kang for overall development of the constituency.

Mr Kang assured the people that he would do his best for the development of the constituency.


NCP list for Punjab on January 20
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 16
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which is attempting to strike roots in Punjab, would announce its candidates for the forthcoming elections on January 20.

A party leader said list of NCP candidates would be approved by the central election committee of the party on January 20. He said the NCP would contest at least 25 seats in the state. Several senior Congress leaders in Punjab, who have been denied tickets, are likely to contest the election as NCP candidates.


Seven file nominations on day one
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
Seven candidates filed their nomination papers as the filing of papers for the coming Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections started today, a spokesmen of the Chief Electoral Officer, Punjab, said this evening.

Those who filed their nomination papers today are Mr Gurnam Singh Dhirowal and Mrs Ranjit Kaur Dhirowal of the CPI from Sri Hargobindpur (Gurdaspur); Mr Raghbir Singh of the SAD from Kapurthala, Mr Mit Singh Sehjhara and Mr Malkiat Singh, both Independents from Barnala, Mr Buta Singh of the CPI from Mansa and Mr Nathu Ram of the CPI from Malaut, Muktsar.


Cong candidate weighed against coins
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, January 16
The Congress candidate from the Banur constituency for the ensuing assembly elections, Ms Seelam Sohi, today opened party election offices at Lalru and Dera Bassi.

Accompanied by a number of her supporters, Ms Sohi addressed rallies at both the places and promised to give them a clean rule if she comes to power after winning the elections.

She alleged that the opposite party workers were unnecessarily interfering in her personal life and making ugly statements to damage her reputation.

The public in Lalru weighed her against coins and distributed sweets.

Those present on the occasion included Mr Inder Singh, former chairman of the Lalru Market Committee, Mr Labh Singh and Mr Balwant Singh, CPI leaders and Mr Satyapal Vaid, an invitee member of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee.


Spicmacay to promote ‘Gurbani kirtan’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 16
To mark the silver jubilee year of Spicmacay, an all India society devoted to the promotion of culture and classical music in its “purest form” will launch its celebrations with ‘gurmat sangeet kirtan ‘darbar’ in the Golden Temple here in collaboration with the SGPC complex.

Significantly it is for the first time that Amritsar will also host the society’s national convention in December to conclude the jubilee year.

SGPC general secretary Bibi Kiranjot Kaur and Ms Manveen Sandhu coordinator, Spicmacay north zone in a joint press meeting here today elaborated that ‘gurbani kirtan’ was auspicious and hence a befitting start for the celebrations, using traditional “tanti” instruments like ‘dilruba’ and ‘tanpura’ by renowned’ ‘kirtankaars’ Bhai Nirmal Singh accompanied by Bhai Manjit Singh.

Bibi Kiranjot however, regretted that classical ‘kirtan’ was increasingly being substituted by populist tunes and music instruments while “just a handful of kirtankaars actually know and use all 31 ragaas as prescribed for the kirtan by the Gurus.”

Ms Manveen informed that more than 30 local educational institutions and students from Punjab will attend the event scheduled for January 18 at Manji Sahib Diwan Hall at Harmandir Sahib.


Villagers allege doctor’s negligence
Residents stage dharna in front of hospital

Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 16
Hundreds of residents of Mahinangal, Bhagi Bander, Jhajjal and Laleana villages staged a dharna in front of a hospital here against the alleged negligence of a doctor which led to the death of Harbhajan Singh of Mahinangal village on January 13.

The villagers said stern action should be taken against the doctor who had shown negligence. Mr Gurdeep Singh, Sarpanch of Mahinangal village, said Harbhajan Singh had met with an accident on January 7 and was brought to the hospital. He had received injuries on his leg and arm. Dr Bakshi had operated upon him in the evening of January 13. When his condition became serious, Dr Bakshi referred him to another private hospital, he said. The villagers alleged that the doctor did not tell relatives of Harbhajan Singh about his death.

They claimed that Harbhajan Singh had died in the same hospital but the doctor, in order to deceive the attendants, told them to take the patient to another hospital. Upon reaching the other hospital, they were told that he had died before he was brought to the hospital.

Dr Bakshi, when contacted, said the allegation was baseless. He said the patient needed the support of a ventilator which was not available in the hospital, he was referred to another hospital where he died, the doctor said.

On January 14 after a post-mortem examination of the deceased was conducted, a doctor explained to the family members of Harbhajan Singh the complications that led to his death. Dr Bakshi said the patient had been hit by a car but he (doctor) had been told that his scooter had skidded. Certain villagers confirmed that Harbhajan Singh had met with an accident with a car belonging to the kin of a politician who tried to mediate between the doctor and the family members of the deceased.


Punjab’s assurance to envoys of South African countries
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr N K Arora, today assured a six-member delegation of Ambassadors/ High Commissioners of South African Developing Countries that Punjab was keen to transfer technology in agriculture and industry besides encouraging entrepreneurs to make investments in their countries to resuscitate the economy.

A deputation, comprising Mr Ana Maria Carreira, Ambassador of the Republic of Angola, Mr Joel Kaapanda, High Commissioner of the Republic of Namibia, Dr Ahmed KM Kiwanuka, High Commissioner of the United Republic of Tanzania, Prof. Moses Musonda, High Commissioner of the Republic of Zambia, Ms Lueia Muvingi, High Commissioner of the Republic of Zimbabwe, etc. welcomed Punjab’s goodwill gesture.

As many as 14 countries of South African block have setup a South African Development Community (SADC) to explore investment potential in agriculture, industries technical education and information technology. The delegation also expressed willingness to improve bilateral trade relations with India. The Director (Industries), Mr D S Guru, said contribution of industry and agriculture to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was 23 and 43 per cent, respectively.


Golden Forest case referred to CBI court
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 16
The Golden Forest land scandal case has been referred to the court of the Special Magistrate, Central Bureau of Investigation, here.

According to sources, there are three accused in the case — Romila Sinha, Pomilla Syal and Lehmbar Singh. Special Magistrate Jaspinder Singh Heyer adjourned the case to January 30.

The Vigilance Department had carried out simultaneous raids on the offices of Golden Forest at various places in the state on December 24 following complaints by investors and had arrested its eight top officials. The Vigilance Department had also raided four other associated companies, including Golden Project, Golden Tourist Resort, Golden Projects Limited and Golden Forest.

A case has been registered against company officials under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act and under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B IPC.

The investors had also claimed that cheques given by the company had bounced. An amount of Rs 4,000 crore of around 20 lakh investors across the country is involved in the case.


Sibbia confirmed as WSC president
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The appointment of Mr Baldev Singh Sibbia as President of the World Sikh Council was confirmed at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the World Sikh Council (WSC) held here today under the Presidentship of Mr Baldev Singh Sibbia. Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, Mr Kulbir Singh, Mr Harbhajan Singh and Maj Gen (Retd) Narinder Singh also attended the meeting. The Executive Committee made it clear that only the WSC with Mr Baldev Singh Sibbia was the “only legally constituted WSC. Mr Didar Singh Bains and Mr Jaswant Singh Mann are not even members of the WSC”, it said.

The Executive Committee by a resolution appealed to the Sikhs and others not to install photographs of Sikh Gurus in any shape or form anywhere, as it was against the basic tenet of Sikhism. They also appealed to the printers and the publishers not to publish any such photographs in any shape or form. Services rendered by retired Supreme Court Judge, Mr Kuldip Singh, as first President of the World Council were also appreciated by the meeting.


SHSAD men meet Jacob
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
A deputation of the local unit of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal led by Mr Joginder Singh Sawhney and Mr M.S. Kohli, president and general secretary of the party, today met the Governor, and submitted a memorandum demanding among others things “due status” to Punjabi language in the UT.

The memorandum complained that Punjabi was being ignored in UT. All signboards in the government offices and other places were written in English and Hindi but there was no sign in Punjabi.

Textbooks in Gurmukhi script were not available to the students opting for Punjabi medium. Children had to depend on Hindi medium books though their medium of instruction was Punjabi. Children who opted for Punjabi as medium of instruction in the government schools were discouraged.

The memorandum also complained that the SHSAD had not been given due representation in the advisory committee constituted by the UT Administration. The SHSAD also demanded that the UT should declare a public holiday on January 21 on account of the birthday of Guru Gobind Singh.


Meat sold despite non-functional abattoir
Our Correspondent

Batala, January 16
The local Municipal Council’s slaughterhouse has not been functioning for the past 18 years. Earlier, the council used to charge Rs 5 for every animal slaughtered and an average earning used to be between Rs 400 and Rs 500 daily from this source.

However, Mr Gian Chand, president of the council, told this correspondent here today that the council had collected Rs 19,890 till March 31, 2001, from this head.

Mr Harbans Lal Mahajan and Mr Mohan Lal, both Municipal Councillors, and Mr Parmod Vij (a former MC, Batala) said the meat should not be sold in the market as the slaughter house was not functioning. According to a rough estimate at least 60 meat shops had opened at the every nook and corner of the city. From where these shops were getting the supply of so-called fresh meat was anybody’s guess.

Mr Mahajan demanded a through probe into the whole affair. He urged the Punjab Chief Minister and the Chief Medical Officer, Gurdaspur, to look into the matter personally so that the culprits were booked.


Sadhu found dead
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 16
A 60-year-old blind sadhu was found dead in a cloakroom of the local railway station.

Volunteers of a local NGO performed the last rites after a post-mortem examination. In another incident, two persons were injured seriously when their scooter hit a cow near Jodhpur Romana village in the district. The injured were identified as Malkit Singh and Basant Singh of Hanumangarh.

Meanwhile, the volunteers of the NGO found a person in an unconscious condition on the road. On coming to his senses, he said his name was Ramprakash and he belonged to Abohar. He alleged that he fainted after consuming ‘prasad’ given to him by two persons who stole Rs 4,000 from him.


Passport office inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, January 16
Mr Babu Lal, Deputy Commissioner, today inaugurated a passport office in the city.

In an official press note, it was stated that applicants would just have to fill a form available here to get a passport and the office would send the same to the Regional Passport Office, Chandigarh. People would receive passports at their addresses, the note said.

Ms Rakhi Gupta Bhandari, Additional Deputy Commissioner, (General), among others, was present on the occasion.


Markfed staff flay govt inaction
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 16
Hundred of field employees, workers, plant workers and ministerial staff of Markfed from all over the state staged a protest rally in front of the district office of Markfed here yesterday.

They criticised the Markfed management and the state government for inaction against the District Manager, Mr L.S. Sekhon, allegedly responsible for bogus purchase of 4,500 bags of paddy in the Verowal mandi.

Mr Sekhon was transferred to Chandigarh after numerous departmental complaints against him. However, his transfer orders were abruptly cancelled on January 1, 2002.

The district Congress committee (rural), in a letter to Mr L.M. Lyngdoh, Chief Election Commissioner, had alleged that the cancellation orders came after the model code of conduct had been enforced. Mr Sukhwinder Singh Sarkaria, president of the committee, had urged that the manager should be transferred elsewhere as they feared tampering with records besides affecting the election process.

The employees also criticised the management for overlooking the purchase of substandard polythene covers from a Gujarat firm.

The field employees gave a three-month notice to the management to arrange for the disposal of the entire old wheat crop stocks, including the rain-affected stocks which are rotting due to being stored in the open and kutcha fields. A resolution to this effect was also passed by them.

The employees have called for a definition of storage facility for wheat beyond which they shall not be responsible for its upkeep and losses thereafter.

Among others who addressed the rally were Mr Bhupinder Singh and Mr Ashwani Kumar, president and general secretary respectively, of the state Markfed Field Employees Unions.


33 booths ‘sensitive’

Phagwara, January 16
Thirtythree out of 170 polling booths in this Assembly segment have been identified as sensitive, for which additional security arrangements will be made.

Returning officer-cum-SDM Amarjit Paul said here today that no candidate had filed nomination papers on the first day today.

He identified the sensitive polling booths as Pandori, Wahad, Palahai, Chiherru, Paurwa, Bhanoki, Madhopur, Khalwara, Bhularai, Khurampur, Dhadhe, Barna, Mehatan, Hardaspur, Gandhwan, Darvesh Pind, Mouli, Jamalpur, Chachoki, Nangal, Kherra, Chaharr, Chuk, Prama, Miherru, Lakhpur, Jagpaulpur and five in Phagwara town.

Punjab Tourism Minister Swarna Ram has been selected by the BJP to seek reelection from here. The Congress has chosen Mr Balbir Raj Sodhi as its candidate. While former Congress minister Joginder Singh Maan has announced to contest as an Independent. The BSP, Panthic Morcha and Shiv Sena are yet to declare their candidates. UNI


Punjab postings
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The following postings/transfers were ordered in Punjab today.

Mr Harbhupinder Singh is now Additional Controller-cum-Administrator, Printing Press, Patiala, against a vacant post; Mr Sukhjit Singh Bains is Additional Deputy Commissioner, (Development), Jalandhar, and in addition, Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA; Mr Chander Gaind is Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA, SAS Nagar, vice Mr Manvesh Singh Sidhu who goes as Estate Officer, PUDA, SAS Nagar; Mr Gagandeep Singh is Additional Deputy Commissioner, (General), Patiala, and in addition Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development), Patiala; Mr Amarjit Singh is Assistant Commissioner (Grievances), Kapurthala and also District Transport Officer; Mr NS Randhawa is Deputy Secretary Vigilance according to a press release.


Election observers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The Election Commission of India has appointed 42 General and 27 Expenditure Observers for Punjab Poll, with a view to ensuring a free and fair poll.


SHO arrested for taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, January 16
Gurcharan Singh, SHO city police here, has been put behind bars for taking bribe from Mr Sukhwinder Singh, organiser of a dance group.

Mr Vinod Chaudhary, DSP (Vigilance), who headed the team which raided the house of Gurcharan Singh today, said Gurcharan Singh, was demanding a bribe of Rs 5500 from Mr Sukhwinder Singh, a resident of Sarai Naga village, to allow him to organise dance shows on the occasion of Maghi mela. Due to refusal of accused Gurcharan Singh, Mr Sukhwinder Singh, had not been running the dance show since January 14. Gurcharan Singh was insisting that he should be given the bribe of Rs. 5500 first and only then he would allow for organising dance shows.

He added that the complainant; Mr Sukhwinder Singh promised Gurcharan Singh that he would give him Rs 5500 and went to his house. The Vigilance Bureau team, which accompanied the complainant, raided his house after he took the bribe. The bribe money was recovered from the bed of Gurcharan Singh.

Two-government witnesses, including Dr Satish Goel, and Mr Balwinder Singh, accompanied the raiding team.

He added that after the accused was arrested, he was put behind bars in the police station, Sadar, which is also located in this city.

Mr Kultar Singh, district police chief, said the team of the Vigilance Bureau had his permission to raid the house of Gurcharan Singh. He said earlier, too he had placed Gurcharan Singh under suspension in a corruption case.


Arjuna awardee booked under NDPS Act
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 16
The police today registered a case under various Sections of the NDPS Act against an Arjuna awardee in wrestling, Jagdish Singh Bhola, who also won the title of Rustum-e-Hind, for his alleged involvement in the smuggling of narcotics.

Sources said Jagdish Singh Bhola, an Inspector in the Punjab police and posted at Mansa district, escaped when a police party, which had laid a naka on the Sidana bridge, signalled a truck to stop on some suspicion. Jagdish Singh Bhola, who was sitting in another truck, fled away in a jeep which was accompanying the trucks.

When the trucks were searched, 50 bags of poppy husk weighing 35 kg each were seized from one truck and another 14 bags from the second.

The district police chief, in a press note here today, said those arrested on the spot disclosed that the man who had fled was Jagdish Bhola, alias “pehalwan”. Kuldeep Singh, his brother-in-law, and Sira, were also in the jeep.

Joginder Singh, Dheera, Kirpal Singh, Mahesh Kumar, Kewal Krishan, who were in the trucks had been arrested.

The police also seized a Maruti car carrying two bags of poppy husk. A case has been registered.


Smack worth 40 lakh seized
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 16
The city police claimed to have busted a gang of narcotics smugglers here today.

The Islamabad police apprehended two women and seized 400 gm of smack which cost Rs 40 lakh in international market from them. However their accomplices absconded.

Mr Devinder Singh, SHO, Islamabad police station, said on a tip-off the police apprehended Kamaldeep Kaur and her daughter Harjinder Kaur who used to supply drugs throughout the district.

Police officials revealed that Kamaldeep Kaur of Guru Ki Wadali, Lajpal of Dogar village, Kulwant Singh of Balarwal village, Onkar Nath Dhawan of Kashmir Avenue, Harjinder Kaur of Islamabad and Sukhjeet Singh of Kohala village used to procure smack from Ravi Pandey and Usha Rani of Delhi and sell it in Kot Khalsa, Islamabad, Vijay Nagar, Lopoke and other areas of the district.

A case has been registered.


Two held with pistols
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 16
The CIA staff of the police today arrested Balwinder Singh of the Islamabad area and Sukhdev Singh of Kot Khalsa and seized two countrymade pistols and several cartridges from them.

The SSP, Mr Harnek Singh, said that during an interrogation they revealed that they were recruiting members to form a gang and carry out thefts while policemen were on election duty.

The DSP, Mr Chaman Lal, said the police also arrested Rakesh Kumar of Chheharta and seized a motorcycle and clothes from him.

A case under Section 411 and 379 of the IPC has been registered against Rakesh.


Man with fake visa arrested
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 16
The police apprehended Harwinder Singh, resident of Kapur village at Adampur for possessing a fake passport at Rajasansi Airport yesterday.

According to a case registered at Rajasansi police station, the accused was to board a plane for the UK.

Police officials said he had been living in the UK for the past 12-14 years and had come here to meet his family. During checking, the Immigration Department reportedly found a fake visa with duplicate stamp in his possession.

Meanwhile, Jasbir Kaur of Balbawa village, was ran over by a truck near Boharwal village last evening. The driver of the truck, Harjinder Singh, is reportedly absconding.


GND varsity to introduce IT courses
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 16
Keeping in view globalisation and the information technology revolution, Guru Nanak Dev University will introduce postgraduate, graduate and diploma-level courses at the university campus, Amritsar, Regional Campus, Jalandhar and Gurdaspur, and University College, Jalandhar, from the 2002-03 session.

This was stated today by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh, while addressing the first meeting of the academic council of the university.

Giving details about the new courses, Dr S.P. Singh said the university would start an MCA course at the Regional Campus, Gurdaspur, and University College, Jalandhar. An MBA course would be started at Amritsar and Jalandhar.

A new course of M.Tech. (computer science) and MA (philosophy and applied philosophy) would be introduced. The new course of LL.B. will be started at the Regional Campus, Jalandhar) on the pattern of the National School of Law, Bangalore.

Dr S.P. Singh said in order to develop the regional campuses in Jalandhar and Gurdaspur, two technical courses of B.Tech. (computer science) and B.Tech. (electronics) were being introduced.

The university has decided to introduce graduate-level courses of BCA, B.Sc. (information technology) and postgraduate diploma in computer application (evening) at Jalandhar and a PGDCA course at Gurdaspur.

The Vice-Chancellor said the university had decided to start distance education from the 2002-03 session. Indira Gandhi National Open University and University Grants Commission had already approved of the proposal. Under this scheme, the university would impart quality education in information technology, management and other professional and vocational courses which are not presently available in its affiliated colleges.

It has also been decided to convert the existing Urdu and Persian wing into a full-fledged department.

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