Thursday, January 24, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Congress “charge sheet” against Badal today
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 23
The PPCC president, Capt Amarinder Singh, while claiming today that no more changes would be made in the list of party candidates for the February 13 poll, said that state leadership would wait till January 28 for the rebel candidates to withdraw their nominations and any action against them would be contemplated after the last day of withdrawal of nominations.

Mr Amarinder Singh, who was here today in connection with the function organised by the District Congress Committee for filing the nomination of the party candidate, Mr Surinder Singla, said the people of Punjab had come to know that the vote for the Congress would be a vote for better future of state which had witnessed devastation under the ‘misrule’ of the SAD-BJP alliance.

He said he had appealed to rebels, who had been contesting against the official nominees, to withdraw their nominations so that an effective Congress government could be formed.

Lashing at the Akalis, the PPCC president alleged that for their narrow interests, the Akalis had always bartered away the genuine rights of Punjab.

He added that a people-oriented manifesto of the party would be released this week and a charge sheet against Mr Badal’s government would be released tomorrow.

The Akalis had also created bloodshed in Punjab by passing the Anandpur Sahib resolution in 1973 and later amending in 1978 as it was purely a document of secessionism and separatism.

He further alleged that the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who claimed himself to be a champion of the farmers’ cause, had deliberately lost the case in connection with the completion of SYL canal in the Supreme Court to benefit his friend and Chief Minister, Haryana, Mr Om Parkash Chautala, and in lieu of an expensive piece of land on which Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal was constructing a hotel worth Rs 250 crore.

He added that the Congress government, if formed, would file a review petition in the Supreme Court for getting justice for Punjab, which had earned a reputation of food bowl of India and now had been witnessing deterioration in the agriculture.

The Congress, if voted to power, would revamp the job recruitment agencies of the government as, in the past five years, these sacred institutions had become dens of corruption and jobs were being sold for money.

A major section of rank and file of Akalis was fed up with the corrupt practices of Mr Badal, and had started coming to Congress fold.

Mr Surinder Singla said that he had come to Bathinda to change the complexion of Punjab and this area, in particular. He added that he would make Bathinda and its surrounding areas, the number one region in the country.


Cong, SAD agendas same, idioms differ
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 23
A perusal of the proposed manifestoes of the Congress and the ruling Akali Dal reveals a common denominator in what the major political parties talk when it comes to “saving” Punjab. There is a kind of similarity. Only the idiom is different.

Therefore, Punjab would be setting a new political trend, if the Congress and the Akalis were to work out and agree on a “joint” common minimum agenda for the state in these elections. The two should promise to perform within the parameters of the agreed “Agenda”, irrespective of who gets elected.

The dividing line between the manifesto and the “charge sheet” the Congress is preparing against the SAD-BJP government is pretty thin.

A preview of the two documents, still under wraps, throws light on the thinking in the Congress that is still battling with the in-house problems. The ruling SAD is also grappling with the manifesto and the dissidents.

The SAD has entrusted the task of drafting its manifesto to two professors of the Punjab Agricultural University. This has obviously been done keeping in view agriculture, the mainstay of state’s economy and the problems that beset this sector. Apart from lip-service and sympathy, not much has been done to resuscitate farm economy.

The Congress manifesto focuses mainly on agriculture—retaining “free” supply of electricity and water, diversification, agro-industrial development, crop loans and waivers thereupon, subsidies and early completion of canals—Uppar Bari Doab, Kandi and Dasmesh.

The “charge sheet” has a wide sweep. It includes issues of corruption, communalism, economic mess, financial crisis and unfulfilled promises in social engineering, besides, of course, personal allegations against the number one ruling family of the Badals. Inevitably, to woo and win the voters, the Congress while making “non-performance” of the government an issue will also hold out “promises’’ what it would do would, if elected to power.

The Congress, so far, has not revealed much of its “Action Plan”. But it has revealed that the Punjab leaders and the high command thinking is at a tangent when it comes to please-all, populist promises.

For a long time, the Congress has been harping on the state of the economy and demanding “financial emergency” in Punjab. What would it do if voted-in? The working of the Congress mind can be studied by a perusal of the memorandum the party submitted to the Eleventh Finance Commission in November 1999.

The Congress favours: 1. “tactical, progressive and forward looking” devolution of funds for a strong federal financial set up. 2. Punjab agriculture should be adopted as a National agenda and funded accordingly. 3. Devolution of funds should be growth-oriented and states encouraged to mobilise own resources. 4. The system of distinction between Plan and Non-Plan be dispensed with. No one-time assistance should be given to any state under Articles 270 and 272 of the Constitution. 5. All taxes under Articles 268 and 269 should be levied and collected by the state. 6. Backward states should get grants under only Article 275. 7. At least 85 per cent of the income tax and excise duties should be given to states. 8. Punjab should be declared a deficit state. 9. For dealing withspecial problems — border security, water logging, debt trap in agriculture, scheduled castes etc. higher grants should be given. 10. A corpus of Rs 1,000 crore should be created for three tier institutions’ so as to fund revenue generating schemes. 11. At least 20 per cent of non-suburban railway fare should be given to the states based on revenue collection there.

The SAD-BJP government has also been raising these very issues in all the five budgets that Capt Kanwaljit Singh has presented. So why not a common agenda?


SYL canal issue: who is to blame?
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 23
After the Supreme Court directive to Punjab on making the SYL canal functional within one year from January 15, 2002, politicians have been busy trading allegations.

For a week now, Congress and Akali leaders have been blaming each other’s party for the rap the apex court has given. Unfortunately, no politician has taken the trouble of going through the 100-page judgment of Mr Justice G B Pattanaik and Mr Justice Ruma Pal.

The media, too, has confined itself to publishing only statements and allegations of politicians without studying the genesis of the issues involved or the basis on which the Supreme Court issued the mandatory injunction directing Punjab to make the SYL canal functional within one year and the Centre to discharge its constitutional obligation in the implementation of the direction given to Punjab.

It is pertinent to mention here that Haryana had filed a suit under Article 131 of the Constitution demanding that orders and agreements dated March 24, 1976. December 31, 1981, and July 24, 1985, be treated as ‘’final and binding’’ on Punjab and to immediately restart and complete the remaining portion of the SYL project, making it usable in all respects. The brief facts are as follows:

The Centre had intervened on a request from Haryana and issued a notification on March 24, 1976, allocating a share of water from the Ravi and the Beas. (The SYL is to have a length of 214 km. The Haryana portion is 92 km. Already, nearly Rs 600 crore has been spent by Punjab and Rs 250 crore by Haryana.)

A suit was filed by Punjab, when Mr Parkash Singh Badal was the Chief Minister, against this order in the Supreme Court. Later, it was ‘’withdrawn’’ on February 12, 1982, after the late Indira Gandhi intervened and the Congress Chief Minister of Punjab, the late Darbara Singh and Haryana’s Mr Bhajan Lal entered into an ‘’agreement’’ brokered by Indira Gandhi on December 31, 1981. Then came the Punjab Settlement following the signing of an accord between Rajiv Gandhi and Sant Harchand Singh Longowal on July 24, 1985. Under this a Clause was inserted on the construction of the SYL and its completion by August 15, 1986. This was followed up by the setting up of the Eradi Tribunal on April 2, 1986. It gave its report on January 30, 1987. Punjab filed a review petition against its decision. That petition is still pending.

Punjab issued a White Paper on April 23, 1982 ‘’appreciating’’ the ‘’agreement’’ of December 31, 1981. The state Assembly had repudiated it on November 5, 1985.

On the other hand, the construction of the SYL was completely stopped in July, 1990, following killings. By then 90 per cent of the work had been completed.

In the recent suit filed by Haryana, on which the January 15 directive has been issued, Mr Badal had been working closely with leading legal brains since 1998. Among those consulted were Mr Soli Sorabjee, Mr F S Nariman, Mr Rajinder Sachar, Mr Harish Salve and Mr Arun Jaitely. The Advocate-General, Punjab, Mr H S Mattewal, played a key role. When his opinion was sought by the government, he submitted a six-page brief for Mr Badal in October 2001. The Chief Minister fully agreed with that.

At one place, Mr Mattewal, inter alia, recorded, ‘’I am pained to mention here about the way in which the river water issue has been handled on these occasions. Allocating 8.00 million acre feet to Rajasthan, a non-riparian state, in 1955, 1976 and later also is not justified on riparian principles. The decision to withdraw the suit pending in the Supreme Court in terms of Clause 4 of the 1981 agreement was in my humble opinion a blunder so far as the interest of the state of Punjab is concerned.... Even the Rajiv-Longowal Accord of July 24, 1985, so far as the legal aspect of the water dispute is concerned, did not recognise all claims of Punjab as per the riparian law’’.

Interestingly, Dr Rajeev Dhawan, who represented Punjab, is on record as far as the Punjab Settlement is concerned. It is pertinent to quote from the submission made before the Supreme Court on this account: ‘’It is no doubt true that the Punjab Settlement cannot be said to be a settlement on behalf of the state of Punjab, as Longowal had no constitutional authority to enter into any agreement’’.

Going through the 100-page Judgment it is clear that the Judges based their directive purely on the December 31, 1981, agreement between the Congress Chief Ministers and Indira Gandhi and on the July 24, 1985 Punjab Settlement clause pertaining to the SYL construction and completion.

The judgment, inter alia, reads; ‘’We have already indicated the genesis of the construction of the SYL canal as well as the allocation of water in favour of the state of Haryana and the agreements entered into between the states in the presence of the Prime Minister of India, which ultimately led to the withdrawal of the earlier suits filed in the court. The state governments, having entered into agreements among themselves on the intervention of the Prime Minister of the country, resulting in the withdrawal of the pending suits in the court, cannot be permitted to take a stand contrary to the agreements arrived at between themselves’’.

The blame for the present mess thus can be apportioned to both the Congress and the Akalis, and not Mr Badal alone or anyone else for having failed to properly represent the Punjab case in the Supreme Court. Punjab is filing a review petition.


Cong replaces three candidates
Buta, Amarinder get ticket for supporters
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 23
While the Congress did not change candidates in Punjab on any of the seats from where ticket-seekers had come to the AICC office, it replaced candidates on Phagwara, Amritsar Central and Raja Sansi seats.

Sources said the seats were replaced at the intervention of senior leaders, including Mr Buta Singh, Mr R.L. Bhatia, MP, and PCC chief Amarinder Singh.

Mr Buta Singh, who had been seeking ticket for his son from Amloh and for his relative Mr Joginder Singh Mann from Phagwara, succeeded in getting the party’s decision on Phagwara reversed.

Mr Buta Singh, along with Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, had met Congress President Sonia Gandhi a few days ago to seek ticket for his candidates.

The sources said in Raja Sansi, the party decided to replace Mr Parminder Singh, a confidant of former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, with Mr Sukhwinder Singh Sukhsarkaria who was district president of Amritsar (rural) .

The sources said both PCC chief and party MP from Amritsar R L Bhatia were supporting the candidature of Prof Darbari Lal from Amritsar Central.

One reason for the party not changing its candidates in Kharar and Pathankot was that they enjoyed the backing of senior leaders like Mr Arjun Singh, the sources said. In Jagraon, Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib, MP, firmly opposed any change in candidate. Mr Darshan Singh Brar, a contender from the seat, spent several days at the AICC here to convince the high command about his case. 


Kanwaljit Singh files papers amid traffic jam
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, (Patiala) January 23
Thousands of supporters of Capt Kanwaljit Singh, a SAD-BJP candidate and the General Secretary of SAD, gathered at the Ramlila grounds in support of their leader who filed his nomination papers for the ensuing Assembly elections from the Banur constituency, here today.

Thousands of supporters insisted on accompanying Capt. Kanwaljit Singh who could be seen asking them to wait for him while he went to file his nomination papers in the office of the Returning Officer. But the enthusiastic public turned down his request and accompanied him resulting in a four-hour traffic jam on the Chandigarh-Ambala highway.

Thousands of Capt.Kanwaljit Singh supporters came from far away villages of the constituency beating drums and raising slogans and assembled in Dera Bassi to express their solidarity. Long queues of vehicles were lined along almost every road converging at the local bus stand putting thousands of passengers and motorists into hardship for hours.

Addressing a massive gathering in Ramlila ground, Capt Kanwaljit Singh claimed that the massive turnout indicated the popularity and performance of the Akali government.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, said if the SAD returned to power computer centres would be opened in every village for women and 1,00, 000 unemployed youth would be provided job avenues apart from making 50-unit electricity free for the people belonging to the backward class. 


Notice to Punjab on Kewal Singh’s bail plea
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 23
The Additional Sessions Judge, Mr Surjit Singh, today issued notice to the state for January 31 while hearing the application moved by Giani Kewal Singh, a former Jathedar of Takht Demdama Sahib, his son Baljinder Singh, and a close kin, Joginder Kaur, for securing bail in a criminal case registered against them in connection with the dowry of his daughter-in-law, Sharnjit Kaur, in 1997.

Giani Kewal Singh had to resign from the post of Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib due to intense pressure on him by various religious bodies after the trial court dismissed a revision petition filed by his son and the other kin against the order of a lower court in which the Judicial Magistrate issued non-bailable warrants against all three accused on January 10.

Giani Kewal Singh, who was booked in a criminal case along with his son Baljinder Singh and Joginder Kaur under Sections 304-B and 34 of the IPC in connection with the death of his daughter-in-law, Sharnjit Kaur, in the Talwandi Sabo police station on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, was summoned in the court by the Judicial Magistrate of Talwandi Sabo after he disagreed with the report filed by the police authorities in connection with the cancellation of an FIR against him and others.

When he, along with the others, failed to appear in the court of the Judicial Magistrate, Talwandi Sabo, non-bailable warrants were issued against the accused and Mr Raghubir Singh Chahal, DSP, Talwandi Sabo, was asked to execute the warrants personally by the Judicial Magistrate.

However, Giani Kewal Singh and the other accused got a reprieve on June 14, 2001, when the District and Sessions Judge, Mr B.C. Rajput, stayed the operation of the lower court issuing non-bailable warrants against them. The case was later shifted to the court of Mr Surjit Singh, Additional Sessions Judge.

The case against the accused was registered on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on May 18, 1997. When the police authorities did not take any action against the accused, Mr Amarjit Singh, brother of the deceased, approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court for justice through a writ petition.

Sharnjit Kaur, who was married to Baljinder Singh in 1996, was found dead under mysterious circumstances in 1997. Her body was found floating in the “sarovar” of Gurdwara Likhan Sar located in front of the official residence of Giani Kewal Singh in the Takht Sri Damdama Sahib complex.

Though non-bailable warrants had been issued against Giani Kewal Singh and his kin and they had not secured bail from any court of law, yet the police authorities have failed to arrest them.


Expenditure limit unrealistic
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 23
The humdrum of huge processions at the time of filing of nomination papers and a fierce campaign launched by a number of experienced and influenced contestants perhaps indicates that the ceiling of Rs 6 lakh on election expenses for any Assembly constituency in Punjab is “stretchable by a few zeros.”

Hardly anyone observed the three-vehicle caravan guideline issued by the Election Commission on the last two days of the filing of nominations. This was done probably with an attempt to “browbeat” one’s immediate rivals by a “massive show of strength” before one’s popularity is actually judged by the electorate of the state on February 13.

The expenditure limit, if one goes by the norms followed by candidates by important parties, is “unrealistic”. For example, take the case of the Ludhiana (Rural) Assembly seat which has almost 3.5 lakh voters. There are 344 polling booths.

Going by the standard market rates, if any candidate from this constituency sets up 20 election offices, which are provided to him free of cost by his supporters, he would be required to pay a minimum of Rs 3,000 a day for the furniture taken on rent from a tenthouse. These election offices would remain operative at least for 21 days.

On the day of polling for setting up his facilitation centres outside ecah polling booth, he or she would be required to cough up a minimum of Rs 70,000 to Rs 80,000 on the shamianas, furniture, including chairs and tables.

Putting up of banners at vantage points throughout the constituency and also on motor vehicles used during processions, including the one at the time of filing nominaion papers, would cost another Rs 60,000 to Rs 90,000.

On the day of filing of nomination papers, most of the candidates in Punjab had on an average 200 or more vehicles in their respective processions. Going by a conservative estimate of Rs 400 a vehicle per day, the cost would work out to be around Rs 80,000.

Add Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000 on banners, flags and posters to it and one gets an idea how much a candidate would have spent on the day of making his application. This does not include the cost of loudspeakers or public address systems, refreshments served to the workers, supporters and friends and some professionals hired for carrying out certain specific duties, including making announcements.

So once a candidate has spent about Rs 1.5 lakh — a very conservative estimate — on his nomination day procession, and needs a lakh of rupees for the polling day chores, what is left with him is just Rs 3.5 lakh for a three-week campaign. This would include holding of rallies, corner meetings, printing of slips for distribution among voters of his constituency, engaging of loudspeakers and professional announcers , printing of posters and their pasting throughout the constituency.

Besides, the major part of the expenses goes on hiring of vehicles, refreshments and printing and distribution of election material. For example, if a candidate hires 10 vehicles for all 21 days, his cost works out to be something like Rs 2 lakh, minus petrol and diesel. Printing of election material, posters, slips for voters, local manifesto and other related material cost anything between Rs 80,000 and Rs 1.2 lakh.

The distribution of liquor, blankets and even cash is also widely prevalent in Punjab. The expenses under these heads are seldom reported.

And intriguingly, some of the candidates dole out huge amounts to “secure” party tickets, thus making the system from the day one “manipulative” and “unrealistic”, say observers. There are cases where candidates have paid to their respective parties huge amounts to secure “tickets”. Such allegations were made and seldom denied by any party ever during the ongoing election.

Does that mean that the election expenses mean expenses incurred only after filing of nomination papers?


Not taming Ghaggar may prove costly to SAD
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 23
“Tusi Congress chak do, asi Ghaggar chak dayange,” was the oft-repeated slogan of the Akalis during the run-up to the last Assembly elections. The slogan may well haunt them in the days to come with little work being done to canalise the Ghaggar or other seasonal rivulets which continue to inflict misery on the people of this district.

A promise to canalise the Ghaggar as well as tame the seasonal rivulets was a major factor which helped the Akalis romp home in most of the constituencies facing problems of flooding every year, including Shutrana (reserved), Samana, Dakala and Ghanaur.

“We went by their word and voted for the Akalis as the Congress had not done anything to mitigate our suffering ever since we settled here after Partition,” said Karam Singh of Shutrana village. Karam Singh and many others in Shutrana, who were displaced once during Partition and allotted land in the area, have to face the threat of displacement every year. The successive governments only give them lip service as far as tackling the problem of flooding is concerned.

“We have got so used to high powered teams visiting us every year to study ways and means of canalising the Ghaggar that the word does not mean much to us any longer,” said Mela Ram of Chicherwal, also in Shutrana constituency. He was apparently referring to the special team of officers which had visited Khanauri and other flood-prone areas in the constituency two years back and had recommended that the Ghaggar be canalised to offer a permanent solution to the problem of flashfloods.

Mela Ram said another team had again promised the canalisation of the Ghaggar before the start of the monsoon season this year, besides making the Batisdara a channelised drain but this promise also remained unfulfilled.

This year, around 1,000 acres were affected due to a breach at Rasoli village which inundated agricultural fields in the neighbouring villages of Shutrana and Naiwala. The loss was much more in the preceding year with villages of Kangthala, Gurunanakpura, Rasoli and Naiwala being virtually marooned. There were breaches galore in the SYL canal in the Ghanaur constituency and at Ojhan village in the Dakala constituency this year. Around 25 villages are wedged between the Ghaggar and Tangri rivers in the Dakala constituency and face floods every year.

In fact, residents of these villages were also angry at the non-release of funds for taking up of flood protection works in their constituency that all the sarpanches got together around one month back and announced they would not support either of the two main political parties in the fray and that they would put up their own candidate for election in the constituency.


Original candidates refuse to step down
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 23
The Chairman of the State Election Committee and MP, Mr R.L. Bhatia, today confirmed that the official candidates were changed on the basis of secret surveys conducted by some senior journalists at the behest of the Congress high command even as both candidates — Ms Ratna and Mr Parminder Singh — have refused to withdraw their nomination papers, thereby putting the party high command in tight spot. They said they continued to be official candidates as they had not received any intimation to the contrary from the high command.

Ms Ratna, Congress nominee from Amritsar (Central) pitted against firebrand BJP MLA Laxmi Kanta Chawla said that it was a ‘cruel joke’ to the only woman candidate from the Majha belt as the party high command had decided to replace her with Prof Darbari Lal, a former MLA who had lost from this constituency twice.

She said, ‘‘I am the legal nominee of the party while Prof Darbari Lal has no locus standi to claim as an official candidate.’’ Mr Bhatia admitted that Ms Ratna had been accommodated at the behest of Ms Sonia Gandhi who wanted to field at least one woman candidate in each parliamentary constituency. However, Mr Bhatia said the change of candidates would help the party win the elections in these constituencies.

Ms Ratna has already covered one-third of her constituency during the 10 days of campaigning. She announced that she would meet Ms Sonia Gandhi to lodge her protest against the change of candidature. She had filed her nomination papers yesterday amid great fanfare.

When asked whether she would obey the directives of high command if directed to withdraw he renomination papers in favour of Prof Darbari Lal, she said such a decision would be taken after receipt of official intimation only.

Meanwhile, Mr Parminder Singh, former minister and official Congress nominee from Rajasansi, who was replaced with Mr Sukh Sarkaria, claimed that he was the ‘real nominee’ of the party. He said he had not received any official information from the high command regarding change of his candidature. He alleged that Mr Sarkari was denied party ticket when he (Mr Parminder Singh) had informed the party high command that a criminal case was pending against him (Mr Sarkaria). Mr Parminder Singh said Mr Sarkaria had already filed his papers as an Independent candidate while he had filed as a Congress nominee after getting the authority letter from the party high command.

Mr R.L. Bhatia confirmed that Capt Amarinder Singh, president Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, and Ms Gandhi had conducted at least three ‘secret surveys’ separately through some senior journalists. The last special survey was conducted by a former professor of journalism who is now connected with a television channel which led to change of three candidates yesterday.


EC frowns at processions
Over 1300 in election fray
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 23
Even as the process of filing of nomination papers by candidates — official, rebels and Independents — for the February 13 Punjab Assembly elections ended today, the state election office spent a busy day compiling a fact report on flouting of the code of conduct by contestants on Tuesday.

According to reports reaching here, a total of 983 candidates had filed their nominations when last reports came in around 7 p.m. The election office was still compiling the reports from 117 Assembly constituencies.

Taking cognisance of the processions taken out by the candidates while going for filing of nominations that created chaotic conditions in several constituencies, the election office today shot off letters to the Deputy Commissioners concerned asking them to explain why they had failed to act upon the violation of the code and also why they did not report to the election office.

The Additional Chief Electoral Officer, Mrs Usha R. Sharma, said a detailed report had been sent to the Election Commission. While she was briefing media persons on the gross violation of the code of conduct, reports were pouring in from various parts of the state of ‘‘huge processions’’ taken out by the candidates who filed their nominations today. These reports had come from Bathinda, Nawanshahr etc.

The Bathinda report said that a flutter was created in the ruling Akali circles today when a rebel candidate, Mr Gurpeet Singh Kangar, filed his papers against the official SAD candidate, a minister, Mr Sikandar Singh Maluka, in Rampura Phul, where Mr Kangar had headed a procession of thousands of supporters.

Similarly, traffic was disrupted and chaos prevailed in Nawanshahr when candidates went to file their papers. Another report from Phagwara mentioned that the filing of papers by Mr Joginder Singh Mann as the official candidate of the Congress instead of Mr Balbir Raja Sodhi has created a problem. The change of candidate is reported to have taken the life of Mr Roshan Lal Gauri, who suffered a massive heart attack when he was told that his protege, Mr Sodhi, had been dropped as the Congress candidate in favour of Mr Mann.

Meanwhile, a report from Anandpur Sahib said that the Minister of Food and Supplies, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, today filed his papers for Nangal constituency.

The state election office has also written to the government to remove all such hoardings listing achievements of the government. These hoardings are in cities and villages. The instructions are that these should be ‘‘covered, painted or removed.’’

The police has been asked to put on hold the meeting of the departmental promotion committee till the elections were over. On the other hand, the Election Commission's attention has been drawn to news items as to who was funding the ‘‘Etc TV channel ’’ for propagating the ruling SAD-BJP. The Deputy Commissioner, Jalandhar, has been asked to explain how the party flag of the BSP was flying over the district election office.

The Chief Secretary, Mr N K Arora, will hold a meeting with the Chief Electoral Officer, Mr G S Cheema, and Mrs Sharma besides other officials in respect of ‘‘pending’’ matters. There are reports that the government was unresponsive to several issues raised with it by the election office which has not received ‘‘action taken report’’ pertaining to some of the departments, like the Police, Education, Rural Development and Panchayats etc.

There were also reports that the Local Government Department had effected transfers without clearance from the election office.

But the main point of discussion tomorrow will be regarding security arrangements and security cover to be provided to the candidates.


Warrant not to affect campaign: Bhattal
Tribune Reporters

Moonak, January 23
Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, former Punjab Chief Minister, against whom a Bathinda court issued non-bailable warrant yesterday in a corruption case, today declined to comment on whether she would surrender to the court or apply for an anticipatory bail. She said her lawyers would examine the non-bailable warrant before deciding to seek a legal remedy.

Talking to TNS after filing her nomination papers for the Lehra Assembly constituency as a Congress candidate here today, Ms Bhattal said she had a great respect for judiciary. She said if she received summons she would appear in the court. But she had not been summoned so far, she said.

Ms Bhattal claimed that her opponents had chosen the election time intentionally to harass her and divert her attention from the election campaign.

She also alleged that the SAD-BJP Government and her political opponents were hand-in-glove. This was the reason why the government agencies had not secured the permission of the Governor before presenting a challan against a former Chief Minister.

She said the warrant would not affect her career or election campaign adversely as thousands of people joined the procession when she today went to the Moonak SDM’s office to file her nomination papers. Besides, people of the area weighed her against coins and laddoos at some places.

Ms Bhattal also claimed that she would win the elections with a big margin. She further claimed that the SAD candidate, Mr Niranjan Singh Bhutal, and the SHSAD candidate, Mr Inderjit Singh Jeji, would fight for the second and third positions. She alleged that her opponents had also fielded Independent candidates from Lehra constituency to harm her.

She said she had promised her voters to find a permanent solution to the problem of the Ghaggar. She said the SAD-BJP government had not done any development works in her constituency. She would now complete the work started during her tenure. Ms Bhattal also claimed that she would develop the Lehra constituency on the pattern of Chandigarh.

Later, she attended a function at a rice-sheller where also she was weighed against coins. This function was attended among others by Mr Brij Lal Goyal, vice-president of the PPCC, Mr Sampuran Singh Chhajli, CPI leader and Mr Parshotam Lal Singla, executive member of the Punjab Kutcha Arhtiya Association.


RSS-BJP rift in Ludhiana
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 23
The denial of ticket to RSS nominee from Ludhiana North seems to have led to a sharp division between the RSS and the BJP leadership in Ludhiana. A senior RSS leader and the Zonal Chief of Ludhiana and Sangrur districts, Chaudhary Sat Prakash, and the city president, Mr Mitter Sen said, that they had recommended the name of Mr Sunil Mehra for nomination from Ludhiana North. However, Lala Lajpat Rai “maneouvered” the nomination of Mr Pran Bhatia, from here, who had not applied for the ticket.

The controversy might weaken the chance of the two BJP candidates from the city as most of the RSS cadre is upset and reluctant to join the campaigning with no clear direction from the top to work for the BJP candidates. The two senior leaders said they would not force any of their workers to campaign for any candidate.

The two senior RSS leaders also confirmed that Mr Ramesh Sharma, city vice-president of the BJP had admitted before them that he had demanded Rs 15 lakh from Mr Mehra for ensuring the ticket.

Mr Mehra revealed in the presence of all the leaders that he was called by Mr Harbans Lal Sethi, Mr Ramesh Sharma and Mr Avinash Rai (Lala Lajpat Rai's son) to Lala Ji's residence and asked to deposit Rs 30 lakh if he wanted party nomination. When Mr Mehra expressed his inability to pay such an amount, it came down to Rs 15 lakh only. But Mr Mehra said that he could give this amount only after the nomination, as he could not collect the funds before he gets party nomination. But Mr Sharma asked him to deposit Rs 1 lakh in advance. Mr Sat Prakash and Mr Sen said that Mr Sharma admitted in their presence to have demanded the money, “but only for the party work”.

Chaudhary Sat Prakash and Mr Mitter Sen said, they had already intimated to higher RSS and BJP leadership about these developments.

The controversy seems to be proving too embarrassing for Lala Lajpat Rai, who has been denying his role in the demand for money. However, he admitted that he has opposed the party nomination of Mr Mehra from Ludhiana North, as he did not think, he (Mr Mehra) was competent and capable enough to contest from here.


‘Badal promoted family interests’
Our Correspondent

Barnala, January 23
Addressing an election rally today near local Improvement Trust office in support of Mr Paramjit Singh Barnala, general secretary, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) as well as Panthic Morcha nominee from Barnala Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, convener Panthic Morcha, alleged that Parkash Singh Badal, Punjab Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) chief had been for the past five years to promoting his family interests.

Baba Bedi said that Badal had failed the Punjabis and it was need of the hour to vote him out of power on February, 13.

Baba Bedi pleading for the Panthic Morcha nominees urged voters to give mandate in favour of Panthic Morcha nominees all over Punjab. Baba Bedi declared if the Panthic Morcha was voted to power the Panthic Morcha government would usher in industrial revolution to make Punjab prosperous. He said that Panthic Morcha government would offer employment to the youth of Punjab and strive for better health facilities and improving the standard of education.

Interests of farmers would be waived loans to the extent of Rs 50,000.

Paramjit Singh Khalsa, general secretary, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and as Panthic Morcha nominee from Barnala was weighed against coins at two places by the residents of Barnala on Tuesday evening.

The residents first weighed Paramjit Singh in local Sadar Bazar at the Chatta Khu Chowk and then in local Handiaya bazar.

Addressing people on this occasion, Paramjit Singh Barnala promised that he would strive to make Barnala a full fledged district, drug-intoxicant free region concentrating on all-round development of Barnala Assembly region.


Much fanfare and blatant code violations
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, January 23
The last day of the filing of nominations for the Punjab Assembly poll witnessed much fanfare and large-scale violations of the code of conduct here today.

Candidates, who came to file their poll papers, arrived amid fanfare at the office of the Returning Officer, Kharar Assembly constituency, cum-SDM, Mr Jai Pal Singh, in Phase I. It seemed the candidates were engaged in a show of strength. Convoys comprising a large number of vehicles, including cars, trucks and tractor-trailers followed different candidates. Hundreds of supporters of the candidates raised slogans amid the beat of drums.

The police had to divert traffic away from the road in front of the SDM’s office.

As many as 19 candidates filed their nomination papers today. Most of the papers were filed after midday.

The Congress candidates, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, and the Panthic Morcha nominee, Mr Rajbir Singh Padiala, had filed their nomination papers yesterday.

The Shiromani Akali Dal candidate, Mr Kiranbir Singh Kang, reached the office of the Returning Officer to file his papers followed by a large number of supporters. His wife, Ms Navneet Kaur, filed her papers as the covering candidate. Mrs Manmohan Kaur, a local municipal councillor, who had accompanied Mr Kang to the SDM’s office, said Mr Kang’s supporters had followed him in “500 vehicles”.

Mr Amrik Singh Mohali, senior vice-president of the Ropar district unit of SAD and a local municipal councillor, who was one of the aspirants for the SAD ticket, filed his nomination papers as an Independent candidate. No one was put up as his covering candidate. He said he had come to file his papers along with supporters in three cars only. Rest of his supporters came a little later “in 130 cars.”

Mr Harnek Singh Gharuan, a former Congress minister, who was not given the party ticket this time, filed his papers as an Independent and also from the party side. He said even though he had not been given the ticket he was a member of the Congress party. His wife, Ms Sukhwinder Kaur, filed her papers as the covering candidate. Mr Gharuan was followed by a large number of supporters.

Another Congress leader aspiring for the party ticket, Mr Balbir Singh Sidhu, filed his nomination papers as an Independent candidate. His brother, Mr Amarjit Singh, filed the papers as his covering candidate. Mr Sidhu’s convoy included a large number of tractor-trailers.

Mr Lakhwinder Singh, a Congress leader who, too, had been aspiring for the party ticket, filed his papers as a candidate of a joint forum which comprised the Ramgarhia Sabha, the Vishwakarma Bansi, the Kirti Samaj and the Backward Classes, Punjab. Mr Jaswant Singh filed his papers as the covering candidate of Mr Lakhwinder Singh.

Ms Daljit Kaur, sitting MLA from Kharar, and mother of Mr Rajbir Singh Padiala, a Panthic Morcha candidate, today filed another set of papers as the covering candidate for Mr Padiala. Papers had been filed by her yesterday also as a covering candidate for her son.

Others who filed their nomination papers are Mr Dharam Singh (Minorities and Dalit Front), Jagmaal Singh (Lok Bhalai Party), Ms Gurmel Kaur (Janata Dal-United), Mr Bhupinder Singh (NCP), Mr Rachhpal Singh (Lok Jan Shakti), Mr Dalbir Singh, Mr Balwinder Singh, Mr Birinder Singh and Mr Rajbir Singh — all Independents.

The Returning Officer, Mr Jai Pal Singh, said the violations of the code of conduct by the candidates were being taken note of and a report in this regard would be sent to the election observers.


Amlala, Badauna file papers
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, January 23
On the last day of filing of nominations, candidates of the Panthic Morcha and the Bahujan Samaj Party filed their candidatures from the Banur Assembly constituency here today.

Accompanied by supporters, Mr Manpreet Singh Amlala of the Panthic Morcha and Ms Karamjit Kaur Badauna of the Bahujan Samaj Party filed their papers with the Returning Officer at Dera Bassi.

Addressing a gathering, Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra of the SHSAD, criticised the Shiromani Akali Dal for not fulfilling the promises made to the public before the previous elections. He alleged that unemployment and corruption had touched new heights during the SAD rule. Industrial sector had been ignored.

He said the SAD had failed to fulfil its promise on closure of the Punjab Meat Plant located in Behra village.


8 Cong leaders withdraw resignations
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 23
Eight district and block Congress office-bearers, who had resigned from their posts in protest against the denial of party ticket to Mr Joginder Singh Mann, withdrew their resignations this evening following the allotment of the ticket to Mr Mann.

This was stated by Mr Mann, Congress nominee from Phagwara (reserved) Assembly constituency, and Mr Ashok Prashar, block Congress (urban) president, at a press conference here today. Those who withdrew resignations are Mr Brij Bhushan Prabhakar, district general secretary, Mr Ram Murti, block general secretary (rural), Mr Lal Chand Lali, Mr Pawan Sharma Pappi, Mr Ashok Delux, Mr Karamjit Sodhi, Mr Ashwani Sharma, Mr Kulbhushan Narang — all urban block office-bearers.

Mr Mann said he would urge the District Youth Congress president not to accept the resignations of the 10 Youth Congress office-bearers who had also resigned in protest against the allotment of party ticket to Mr Balbir Raja Sodhi. Mr Mann also called upon all Congress men, including Mr Balbir Raja Sodhi whose ticket was withdrawn to accommodate Mr Mann, to help defeat the SAD-BJP alliance candidate, Mr Swarna Ram.


Sonia to address 5 rallies in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 23
Capt Amarinder Singh, President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), today stated that Mrs Sonia Gandhi, President of the All-India Congress Committee (AICC), would address five big Congress rallies in Punjab to give a boost to the election campaign of the Congress candidates.

Addressing a press conference here today, Capt Amarinder Singh said she would address three rallies in the Malwa belt and one-each in the Doaba and Majha belts. However, he declined to give details of Mrs Gandhi’s programme.

The PPCC President claimed that the Congress would secure a two-third majority in the forthcoming Assembly poll to wipe out corruption from organisations like the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) and the Punjab State Subordinate Services Selection Board.


Development plan for Kharar: Kang
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, January 23
A proper perspective for the development of the Kharar constituency has been worked out and it is based on experience gained while interacting at the grassroots level. Stating this here today, Mr Kiranbir Singh Kang, SAD candidate from the Kharar constituency for the coming Assembly poll, said he was committed to taking specific development initiatives. He appealed to the people to remain united and work for his victory. Mr Kang was addressing a gathering after inaugurating his election office in Phase III B-2 here today.

In a press note issued by Mr Kang, he stated that for infrastructure development of the area he would set up an advisory council which would comprise municipal councillors, presidents of welfare committees for different phases, zonal representatives and distinguished professionals from various fields. He would lay stress on education, woman empowerment, agriculture, industry, trade and cultural activities.


Anti-SYL stir on morcha agenda
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 23
Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, today said the poll manifesto of the Panthic Morcha would promise to launch a ‘morcha’ (agitation) against the completion of the Sutlej Yamuna Link canal.

Addressing mediapersons here today, Mr Tohra said the manifesto would also include the demands of Anandpur Sahib resolution, including the transfer of Chandigarh and other Punjabi speaking areas to Punjab and fair adjudication of inter-state river waters. Mr Tohra alleged that Mr Badal had failed to protect the interests of Punjab so far as the distribution of inter-state river waters was concerned.


554 Sangrur booths sensitive
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 23
The Election Commission of India has appointed Mr Vyas Ji, Mr Swami Singh and Mr P.K. Tripathi, all IAS officers, as general observers for the 10 Assembly constituencies of this district while Mr Prabodh Seth, an IRS officer, and Mr S.L. Thakur have been appointed as expenditure observers in the district for the current Assembly elections.

Stating this here, Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, said the district administration had made elaborate arrangements for holding a free and fair poll in the district.


PPNCP announces 6 candidates
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 23
The Punjab Pradesh Nationalist Congress Party (PPNCP) has announced the names of six party candidates for the Assembly elections. Mr Amritpal Singh Brar, secretary PPNCP in a press note issued here today said the names of following members have been cleared as official candidates of the party. Mr Gulzar Singh from Pakkan Kalan, Mr Makhan Singh Khemuana from Nathana, Mr Niranjan Singh Kutiwal from Talwandi Sabo, Mr Rajinder Gupta from Budhalada, Mr Jaswinder Singh Attari from Ghanoun and Mr Ramesh Gupta from Adampur.


Stress on saving petroleum products
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 23
With the increased consumption of petroleum products, it has become necessary to save these by creating public awareness, said Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner, while addressing a function held here today in connection with the oil conservation fortnight being celebrated by oil companies throughout the country.

He said the government is making all-out efforts to create mass awareness about the importance, methods, benefits and the need for oil conservation through curbing wasteful practices, improvement in the oil-use efficiency of equipment, devices and vehicles and R&D activities. He said the government has also allowed different alternative means like CNG, LPG as auto fuel.

Addressing the function, Mr Arif Akhtar, district coordinator for oil, said there is a big gap between the demand and domestic availability of oil products. He said our domestic production of crude products is only 32.50 per cent and 68 per cent we had to import, which causes financial crunch and affects our economy.

Mr Rajiv Sreshta, AM, Sales, Lube Indian Oil Corporation, insisted on using only quality lubricants, which reduce the consumption of various fuels by 6 to 10 per cent.

On this occasion, Mr Vikas Partap also flagged off a cycle rally from the District Administrative Complex, which passed through the main bazaars of Sirhind and Bassi Pathana towns.

The school children were displaying cards having oil conservation slogans and wearing colourful oil conservation jackets.


Study circle’s drive for drug-free poll
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 23
A movement for ‘Drug-free-elections’ in Punjab is slowly building up. A number of NGOs led by the Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle have pledged to root out the menace of drugs in the Assembly elections. They have resolved to launch an aggressive awareness campaign in the state to prepare the electorate to reject alcohol and drugs.

Expressing concern over the rise in drug addiction, particularly among youths and school students, Mr Rashpal Singh, additional secretary of the study circle, had called upon the NGOs and people of Punjab to devise ways to deal with the problem.

The study circle has also issued an appeal to all parties to refrain from distributing intoxicants during the elections.

Mr Rashpal Singh said here today that the movement against drug abuse had been started on a war-footing. Various NGOs, social and academic organisation and like-minded people were coming forward to join the fight against drug abuse.

The circle also appealed to the Chief Election Commissioner to take steps in this regard and appoint NGOs as observers. The NGO was also in touch with the Narcotics Control Bureau and other Central Government agencies. The circle had already been appointed state representative of all organisations working against drug abuse in Punjab by the Federation of Indian NGOs working for Drug Abuse Prevention (FINGODAP).

Meetings to curb the use of drugs during elections have begun in different blocks. A large number of social and religious societies, temple and gurdwara management committees have also pledged to make these elections free from drugs.

The circle has also published small slips with the words “Mother ji, Father ji, for the sake of our future, please don’t vote for drug distributors. Parents who wish will sign the given slips with the words “OK kids”. These slips are being circulated in the schools, particularly in villages and backward areas, where people are easily lured by parties.

In the Hoshiarpur-Nawanshahr zone, more than 15,000 slips have been signed by parents of schoolchildren.

According to Dr Manmohan Jit Singh, zonal secretary of the circle, more than 15 office-bearers of various parties, including sitting MLAs and ministers, have till date filled the declaration forms stating that they will not distribute alcohol and other drugs or promote persons indulging in such activities.

They include Mr Tikshan Sud, state minister, Mr Varinder Singh Bajwa, president of the district unit of the SAD (B), Mr Kuldeep Nanda, president, DCC, Mr Harjinder Singh Dhami, president, SHSAD, and many other leaders. More than 25,000 handbills, 5000 posters, 1000 stickers, 50,000 cards, 300 banners and 600 stapney covers have been distributed till now.


HC takes up Afghan girl’s plea
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 23
She migrated to Australia after the turmoil in Afghanistan. He left for the country of kangaroos from a village in Amritsar district for obtaining a degree in engineering. They met, fell in love, got married in October last year before flying back to India. The bride even changed her religion. Her father hires detectives to find their address and began to threaten them with the help of the local police. You would have dismissed it as just another script for a film had it not been for a petition filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

In their petition, Muska Kakar, alias Muskan Kaur, of Afghanistan and her husband Jai Dev Singh of Dhagna village claimed that a senior police officer was pressuring the groom and his family to hand over the bride to her father. Seeking directions for protecting their “life and liberty”, the two contended that the girl’s parents had even taken her to Pakistan in an attempt to create distance between them before they tied the knot. Muska added that she had even changed her religion to become a Sikh and the news was published in this daily.

Taking up their petition, Mr Justice K.S. Garewal of the High Court directed Tarn Taran’s Senior Superintendent of Police to ensure that no harm was done to the petitioners. The Judge further ruled that the bride “shall not be forced to accompany her father if she was against it”.

In his detailed order, the Judge ruled that the directions were necessary as the couple were stated to be married and obviously wanted to live together. “If the girl’s father forces his daughter to return with him to Afghanistan against her wishes, it may amount to commission of a criminal offence under the Indian Penal Code”.

Going into the background of the case, the Judge ruled: “Muska Kakar and Jai Dev Singh met in Australia and decided to get married. The bride is an Afgan national, daughter of an army officer. Her family had migrated to Australia in 1989 due to turmoil. On the other hand, the groom belongs to a Sikh family of Amritsar district who went to Australia for studies in January 1999. There is an obvious reason why the bride’s father has not approved of the marriage and has come back to India to take her back. She has fears about her personal safety in case she accompanies her father. She has categorically stated so in her statement recorded by the Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate on November 10 last year. The petition is disposed of with a direction to Tarn Taran’s SSP to ensure that no harm is done....”


Transfer row in Mandi Board
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 23
Some officials of the Punjab Mandi Board are allegedly working in an arbitrary manner under the garb of the model code of conduct imposed by the Election Commission.

The transfer of an accountant of the Sirhind Market Committee to the Khamano Market Committee and vice versa in the district has become a bone of contention.

The Sirhind Market Committee is without an accountant whereas two accountants are working at Khamano.

According to information, Mr Major Singh, accountant, Sirhind Market Committee, was transferred on December 21 to the Khamano Market Committee and was relieved from Sirhind on December 26.

However, the secretary of the Khamano Market Committee did not relieve Mr Gurdeep Singh, accountant, who had been transferred to the Sirhind Market Committee. Mr Major Singh approached the Punjab Mandi Board which directed the secretary of the Khamano Market Committee to relieve Mr Gurdeep Singh. However, the order is yet to be implemented.

The SDM, Khamano, who is also the administrative officer of the Market Committee, said he had asked the secretary not to transfer any employee as the election code of conduct had been imposed. However, he said he had not objected to relieve any employee. He said it was up to the secretary to decide.

Sources said an employee had been allowed to join after the imposition of the code of conduct.


Missing driver’s body found
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 23
The body of a local taxi driver, Rajiv Kumar, who was missing since January 12, was found in Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh) on January 20. The missing case was, however, registered on January 16.

The body was found in a decomposed condition and had been lying there for nearly a week. A voucher found in the pocket of the deceased helped the police there to trace the phone numbers to Yatrika Travels and it further informed the Amritsar police. The body had a bullet wound on the forehead.

According to the FIR lodged on the complaint of the father of the deceased, Joga Singh and an unidentified person have been named as accused. He alleged that they had hired the taxi giving a self-address of Bagian village. They had hired the taxi for going to Meerut in UP. The address was found to be false only when Rajiv failed to return and his parents tried to contact him at Bagian village.


Firing by man in Army gear causes scare
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, January 23
Firing in the air by an unidentified motorcycle borne man in an Army jawan’s uniform in Clock Tower bazaar here on Tuesday at 6 p.m. caused scare among shopkeepers and residents.

According to eye witnesses, two motorcycle-borne young men, one of them wearing the uniform of an Army personnel riding on the pillion, reached the bazaar from the Court Road side and started firing in the air. After walking a few steps, he again fired a few rounds from his carbine. Thereafter, he sped on a read-coloured Hero Honda with his companion. Nearly 24 bullets were fired in the air and 12 empty cartridges were recovered from the scene.

The eye witnesses stated that the person, who was firing, was suspected to be under the influence of liquor. The incident lasted for two minutes.

The police reached the scene and chased the motorcyclist. It is understood that the motorcycle was driven by a resident of border village Pakka Chisti.


Bar association
Our Correspondent

Sangrur, January 23
The following have been elected office-bearers of the District Young Lawyers’ Taxation Bar Association: president Charanjit Sharma; secretary Manmanohar Gupta; and treasurer Kamal Anand.


Rs 17-cr benami deals unearthed
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 23
Naresh Kapoor, a resident of the city, has been booked for money laundering and benami transactions to the extent of Rs 17 crore.

Mr L.K. Yadav, SP, said here today that Naresh Kapoor had been laundering money and purchase properties, “benami” thereby earned crores in profit “We were astonished to know during investigation that he had done transanctions of about Rs 17 crore, which may be the tip of the iceberg,” said Mr Yadav. Investigations have revealed that Kapoor was converting huge black money of businessmen into “white” for commission for long time by posing himself an NRI and issuing fake certificates of foreign exchange transactions. “He used charge commission for issuing fake certificates to businessmen along with bank drafts from his own account, showing that the money had come from foreign countries. Moreover, he was indulging in procurement of huge “benami” properties and we are investigating the whole racket,” said Mr Yadav.

Earlier, Kapoor was arrested from Dehra Dun, in a case relating to the issuance of fake Kisan Vikas Patras and Indira Vikas Patras worth Rs 2.5 crore.

A case has been registered under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 of the IPC and Section 3 of Benami Transanctions Prohibition Act 1988.


Two booked for cheating Punsup
Our Correspondent

Mansa, January 23
The Bhikhi police has registered one more case against Raj Kumar, a resident of Bareta town in the district, and Vijay Kumar Singla, district president of the Shiv Sena, under Sections 406, 420, 467, 468 and 471 of the IPC and Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, on a complaint of Mr Mohammad Salim Javeri, District Manager, Punsup.

According to information available here, the accused took a rice mill, M/s Jai Vishnu Rice Mills at Bhikhi on a lease for 1999-2000 and allegedly misappropriated the paddy stocks.

It is learnt Punsup gave 11,229 bags of paddy for milling to the mill out of which 14 wagons of rice were to be produced. However, only one wagon was delivered to Punsup and the remaining 13, valued at about Rs 38.77 lakh, were reportedly misappropriated. Later they issued two cheques for Rs 38.77 lakh to Punsup which bounced.

The Punsup authorities filed a criminal complaint in the court under Sections 138 and 142 of the Negotiable Instrument Act against them. While Raj Kumar was arrested by the police, Vijay Kumar is reportedly absconding.

It may be mentioned that earlier also the Bhikhi police had registered a case against the accused on a complaint of the District Manager of the Punjab Agro Industries Corporation for misappropriation of 31,987 bags of paddy valued at about Rs 65 lakh.


Harash, Ravneet win quiz competition
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 23
Harash Mittal and Ravneet Kaur, students of Police Public School, won a quiz competition on “Traffic rules and regulations” held on the school premises here yesterday.

Seven schools of the city: Police Public School, Army School, St. Joseph’s Convent School, St. Xavier High School, Bathinda Public School, Sri Guru Harkrishan Public School and MSD Senior Secondary School, participated.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, was the chief guest on the occasion. There were five rounds in the quiz. Mr Raj Kamal Devashwar, Principal, Police Public School, while speaking on the occasion said the competition was organised to create awareness among students about traffic rules.

Ankur and Pankaj, students of MSD Senior Secondary School, secured the second position while Vikram Yadav and Aditi Sharma, students of Army School, got the third position.

Students of St. Xavier’s High School, Navjot and Jackson, were placed in the fourth position. Dr Jain gave away prizes to the winners.


Varsity non-teaching staff hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 23
Activists of the non-teaching employees association of Guru Nanak Dev University held a dharna today against the non-implementation of their demands. They demanded special allowances, time scale promotion, filling of vacancies of Librarian, abolition of contract system, regularisation of daily wages and curtailment of government interference in university affairs.

Mr Amarjit Singh Bai, secretary of the association, urged the authorities to implement their demands without any further delay.

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