Saturday, January 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Congress fountainhead of corruption: Sukhbir Badal
Tribune News Service

Rampuraphul, January 25
A former Union Minister and SAD general secretary, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, dubbing the Congress charge sheet against the SAD-BJP government a bundle of allegations without proof in Chandigarh yesterday, alleged that the Congress was fountainhead of corruption.

Mr Badal, who has emerged as the star campaigner and has been addressing 10 to 12 rallies in a day, talking to TNS at the residence of Mr Jagdeep Singh Nakai, SAD candidate from the Joga Assembly segment, here alleged that senior Congress leaders had come out openly against their party leadership over the “virtually selling of tickets”.

He said the Congress was agendaless and was making allegations without proof. “If the Congress leadership has proof against the SAD-BJP government, why was it not making it public,” he asked.

The Congress leadership should tell voters why so many of its rebels had jumped into the election arena to contest as Independents and why some of those who did not have any standing in the Congress and had no mass base, had been given ticket by ignoring the claims of strong and loyal aspirants. It should also explain why various district units of the party had revolted against the high command over the allotment of ticket.

As many as 12 former Congress ministers had been indicted by the Lok Pal for corruption and other cases pertaining to bunglings but they had still been given ticket, he said. What had happened to the promise of PPCC chief Amarinder Singh that no tainted leader would be given ticket, he asked.

Before levelling the allegations of corruption in recruitment, the Congress leadership should know that the Punjab and Haryana High Court quashed recruitment of number of persons for various government posts by the previous Congress government, he said.

He said one of the allegations of the Congress in the charge sheet pertained the inter-state issues. He said it was the SAD-BJP government which managed to get a Rs 8500 crore loan waived from the Centre.

“Can the Congress leadership dare to speak about who initiated the digging of the SYL canal? Can it tell people why it has been dividing Punjabis on the basis of caste, religion and region for the past so many decades? Can it tell people why former Congress Prime Minister has been facing trials in corruption cases?” he asked.

He claimed that in the past five years, the SAD-BJP government managed to bring industrial units worth Rs 52,000 crore in the state while in the past 45 years of its rule, the Congress had brought in, industry worth only a few thousand crore.

Apart from this, the SAD-BJP government introduced various welfare schemes like free power and water for agriculture, free power for scheduled castes and revival of focal points for the uplift of all sections of society.

He challenged the Congress leaders to compare the development carried out by the SAD-BJP government with its own previous governments.

He asked the Congress how it could give the people an active government when its national President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, and state President, Amarinder Singh remained elusive even to senior leaders for days together.


Playing name game to confuse voters
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 25
Principal contenders of various parties seem to have started playing a “name game” to spoil the chances of one another as some of them have fielded candidates having identical names of their main opponents in their respective Assembly segments.

Whether the “ploy” will really help them remains to be seen. However, this can lead to wastage of votes by confusing the voters and could affect the results where the race seems to be neck and neck.

The main contenders have been trying to make Independents who have names similar to them to withdraw their nomination papers to avoid any damage to their own prospects.

This trend has become a strategy to win the elections among almost all parties.

Information gathered by TNS on the basis of list of candidates released by various returning officers of this region, revealed that candidates of recognised national and state-level parties had been facing this problem in Gidderbaha, Rampuraphul, Barnala, Bagapurana, Abohar, Ferozepore cantonment, Bathinda, Sangrur, and Muktsar districts.

In the Rampuraphul Assembly segment, Mr Sikander Singh Malooka, state Power Minister, who had been renominated by the SAD, is facing an Independent with the name of Mr Sikander Singh. Mr Gurpreet Singh Kangar, senior Akali leader, who will contest as an Independent, will face two candidates of the same name.

In the Bathinda Assembly segment, Mr Surinder Singla, Congress candidate, will face an Independent whose name was Mr Surinder Kumar. In the Bagapurana Assembly segment of Moga district, Mr Sadhu Singh, SAD candidate, will contest against an Independent having the same name.

In the Abohar Assembly segment in Ferozepore district, BJP candidate Ram Kumar will face a namesake independent while another Independent, Mr Sudhir Nagpal, will face an Independent with a name similar to his.

In the Ferozepore cantonment Assembly segment, candidates of the Lok Bhalai Party and Lok Janshakti Party have a similar name, of that Kulwinder Singh.

In the Barnala Assembly segment of Sangrur district, the SAD candidate, Mr Malkeet Singh, who will face rebel Akali candidate Rajinder Kaur, may have problems as an Independent too, is named Malkeet Singh. In the Sangrur Assembly segment, Mr Nirmal Singh, BSP candidate, also faces a similar problem.

In the Muktsar Assembly segment, Mr Sukhdarshan Singh Mrar, senior vice-president of the district unit of the SAD, who has joined the race as an Independent, will also have to fight against a namesake Independent.

Political observers feel that as electronic voting machines will be used in all Assembly segments, the candidates who had similar names could suffer as it will confuse the electorates, especially rural women and illiterate voters.

They said the candidates should educate the voters about this.


A war of flags at Samrala
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Samrala, January 25
A fierce war of flags has virtually gripped this semi-urban constituency which is heading for a quadrangular contest.

There is hardly any house, shop or building in this town which does not have the flag of one party or the other flying over it. Though the Congress, the Shiromani Akali Dal, the Panthic Morcha and the Bahujan Samaj Party have fielded their candidates from here, the ‘‘flag war’’ is being fought mainly by the first two parties.

Again, this town witnessed a massive show of strength by candidates of the Congress, the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Panthic Morcha on the last two days of filing of nomination papers. While the Congress has fielded the sitting MLA, Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon, a liquor contractor, the Shiromani Akali Dal has again placed its faith in Jathedar Kirpal Singh Khirnia.

The Panthic Morcha has fielded young Gurtejpal Singh "Bhagwanpura", a son of former Punjab Minister, Mr Jasdev Singh.

While Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon and his followers organised a massive procession on January 22, the penultimate day of filing of nominations, by starting from the historic Gurdwara Guru Gobind Singh, Ranwan, the SAD nominee too took the same route. The only difference was that while Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon paid obeisance at the historic shrine, Jathedar Khirnia got started there an ‘‘akhand path for success in the elections’’. Besides, a ‘‘langar’’ was also organised.

The Dal workers, in their endeavour to ‘‘beat’’ their arch-rival, took out an equally large procession to bring to standstill the normal activity on the Chandigarh-Ludhiana state highway on the last day of filing of nominations.

Young Gurtejpal Singh Bhagwanpura, too, came in a big procession to file his nominations.

These attempted show of strengths apart, this constituency is heading for one of the toughest contests. From flags, the competition and hostility may spill over to other areas. This is one of those constituencies where consumption of liquor shoots up tremendously during election days.

According to Mr S.S. Brar, returning officer, there are 1,19, 538 voters in Samrala. There are 141 polling stations of which 17 have been declared sensitive. ‘‘We are keeping a watch on the election expenses of each candidate,’’ says Mr Brar, maintaining that each candidate had been clearly instructed to maintain his ‘‘expenses book’’ and get it checked by the expenditure observer on the scheduled days.


Congress citadel faces challenge
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Nawanshahr, January 25
This small district comprising three Assembly segments —Nawanshahr, Banga and Balachaur — has generally been a Congress citadel for long, even as the Akalis and the BSP have of late started registering their presence.

Nawanshahr, which has been carved out of Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur districts, has been a stronghold of the Congress, with former Punjab Minister Dilbagh Singh retaining the Assembly segment, most of the time after it was de-reserved in the early seventies. He is said to be the man behind the creation of the district of Nawanshahr, during the Congress regime, headed by the late Chief Minster Beant Singh.

While Balachaur has been the stronghold of the Congress because of the presence of a large number of Gujjars in the segment, the situation is different in Banga, which has been giving almost equal chances to the Congress and other parties with voters judging the candidates, on the basis of their performance.

Even as Nawanshahr, came to limelight in the year 2000 by-elections, it will witness more interesting contests in view of the recent developments following denial of ticket by the SAD two of its sitting MLAs — Mr Mohal Lal from Banga and Mr Jatinder Singh Kariha. It was Mr Kariha, who had secured a victory for the SAD in the last by-election, by defeating his Congress rival Parkash Singh by more than 26,000 votes. This time, he has been denied the ticket, with the party preferring to field Mr Rasham Singh Thiara, who had also laid a claim on the seat last time, but was not successful.

Though Mr Jatinder Singh Kariha, has not challenged the party’s decision openly, party sources said, this unexpected development could create some discomfort for the official nominee of the SAD, which was already facing the “anti-incumbency” wave, sweeping the Doaba region of Punjab. While Congress candidate Parkash Singh is hoping to get some mileage out of it, there is seemingly no effort on the part of the SAD to counter it. A lot depends here upon the swing of the Jat Sikhs and Sainis, who dominate this constituency. The Lok Bhalai Party has put up Mr Sohan Singh Rattu, while Mr Daljit Singh is likely to be the CPI (ML) nominee.

Mr Kariha may not have chosen to put up a banner of revolt, but this task was accomplished by the SAD sitting MLA, Mr Mohal Lal, who was also denied the ticket. Though he has not come out openly against the SAD leadership, he has resigned from the party to join the BSP, which has made him its official nominee from Banga. The Congress has put up Mr Tarlochan Singh, a son of the late Punjab Minister Jagat Ram, who was gunned down by terrorists.

But what has given an interesting angle to the poll scene is the development pertaining to the SAD, which has finally decided to join hands with Mr Satnam Singh Kainth, a former BSP leader, who had retained the seat in 1992 as a BSP candidate and later parted ways with Mr Kanshi Ram to form his own political outfit the Bahujan Samaj Morcha. Political observers feel that since Mr Kanshi Ram felt stung by the defection of Mr Kainth and saw the latter as his rival, he will make extra efforts to defeat him. Mr Mohan Lal’s selection by the BSP is seen to be a part of this gameplan. Traditionally, Banga has been one of the few constituencies of the Doaba region, which has been giving chance to parties other than the Congress. If in 1966 it was retained by Mr Harbhaj of the Akali Dal, it was Mr Harbans Singh Bika’s (CPM) turn in 1977.

Sleepy Balachaur has always favoured the Congress since Independence, except for once or twice, particularly, when Mr Hargopal of the BSP cornered it in 1992, followed by Mr Nand Lal of the SAD in 1977. It has also given a chance to Mr Rattan Chand Kataria of the Congress.


An unpredictable constituency
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 25
Moga is one of the smallest districts of Punjab carved out by Mr Harcharan Singh Brar in 1996 after he became the Chief Minister. But it remains quite important in Punjab politics. It is from here that the Akalis, after remaining in political oblivion for about a decade, declared war on the Congress by organising a mammoth rally in November, 1996, which marked the beginning of the end of the Congress rule in the state.

However, it has always remained unpredictable as no major political party can claim to have an edge over the other in any of its three Assembly segments of Moga, Nihalsinghwala and Baghapurana.

In the 1997 elections, it had returned two Akalis and one Congress-supported CPI candidate. Mr Tota Singh, who later became Minister for Education in the Badal government had defeated Mr Vijay Sathi of the Janata Dal, by a comfortable margin of about 20,000 votes. The Congress candidate, Dr Malti Thapar, had been pushed to the third place with about 14,000 votes.

While Mr Tota Singh has been renominated, the Congress has this time allotted the ticket to Mr Vijay Sathi, who has already joined the Congress. Mr Sathi is said to be very close to senior vice-president of the state unit, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar. In fact, it is Mr Brar, who is understood to have prevailed upon the party high command to allot ticket to Mr Sathi. Dr Malti Thapar has already distanced herself from Mr Sathi and her husband Pawan Thapar is contesting as an Independent. Against a comfortable victory in 1997, Mr Tota Singh faces stiff challenge this time.

The Nihal Singh Wala (reserved) constituency has returned Mr Ajaib Singh Raunta of the CPI consecutively for the past two terms, in 1992 and 1997. This time again, the seat has gone to the CPI in the seat sharing arrangement. In 1997, Mr Raunta had defeated the SAD nominee, Mr Zora Singh, by about 18,00 votes. Despite the wholehearted support of the Congress, it proved a close contest. This time, there is some resentment among Congress workers against the party leadership for allotting the seat to the CPI, which might lead to the weakening of Mr Raunta’s prospects. The constituency will again witness a keen contest.

In Baghapurana, the sitting MLA Mr Sadhu Singh of the SAD is placed in a direct contest against Mr Mahesh Inder Singh of the Congress. In 1997 also, Mr Sadhu Singh had defeated Mr Mahesh Inder Singh by about 4,000 votes. Mr Roop Lal Sathi, a former MP, had contested on the Janata Dal ticket and secured about 7,000 votes. This time, Mr Sathi is supporting the Congress as his son Mr Vijay Sathi has been allotted the Congress ticket from Moga. This may make the position of the Congress candidate in Baghapurana relatively comfortable. Besides, he has managed to get the support of the family of Mr Nachhatar Singh Gill, which commands a lot of respect in the area.

Although the contest in all the three districts is going to be direct, the Bahujan Samaj Party and Panthic Morcha have some pockets of influence. However, these may not be too significant to make any major difference. The presence of Dr Pawan Thapar may damage the Congress prospects in Moga to some extent. However, as of now things are as unpredictable as ever in Moga, without any political party in a position to claim a clear edge.


Minister Sujan Singh dead
Tribune News Service

Malout, January 25
Mr Sujan Singh, Minister of State for Panchayat and Rural Development, Punjab, who had been renominated by the Shiromani Akali Dal from this reserved Assembly segment for the coming elections, died early this morning in his house at Kotbhai village in Muktsar district, 20 km from here, due to cardiac arrest. He was 61.

Yesterday, Mr Sujan Singh came back to his house at about 10 p.m. after campaigning for himself and had his dinner before going to sleep. Soon he felt uneasy and started coughing. He vomited at about 3.30 am following which doctors were called. He again vomited at about 4.45 am.

Talking to TNS, Mr Harpal Singh, brother of the deceased, said Mr Sujan Singh, who was born on October 10, 1940, at Kotbhai village and was a graduate, breathed his last at about 8 am before he could be shifted to the PGI, Chandigarh, as suggested by the doctors.

Mr Sujan Singh is survived by three sons, two daughters and wife, Mrs Mukhtiar Kaur, who is a member of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) from Doda in Muktsar district.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, initiated Mr Sujan Singh, an ex-serviceman, into politics when he was made to contest elections from the Jundla Assembly segment in Karnal district in Haryana in 1982 from where he won. He created history on September 27, 1985, when he became an MLA, in both Punjab and Haryana as he won the Assembly elections from the Pakka-Kalan constituency in 1985. He later resigned from the Haryana Vidhan Sabha.

Mr Sujan Singh also saw military action in the 1965 Indo-Pak war and sustained bullet injuries. After completing his job in the Army he joined as Panchayat Officer in the Department of Panchayat and Rural Development in the state and later became minister of the same department after winning from this Assembly segment in the 1997 elections as the SAD-BJP alliance candidate. Mr Sujan Singh also remained a member of the Punjab State Subordinate Service Selection Board in 1978. People from all walks of life started pouring in at the residence of Mr Sujan Singh immediately after the news of his death spread in the area.

The body of Mr Sujan Singh was taken to the cremation ground in procession and was cremated with full state honours. An 11-gun salute was given and many rounds were fired in the air by a contingent of the Punjab police as a mark of respect to the departed soul.

Mrs Surinder Kaur Badal, wife of the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, Mr Gurdev Badal, Mr Tara Singh Thandal (MLAs), Mr Sube Singh, former DGP, Punjab, Mr Dharambir, Commissioner, Ferozepore division, Mr Babu Lal, Deputy Commissioner, Muktsar, and Mr Kultar Singh, SSP, Muktsar, attended the funeral.

MUKTSAR: Sujan Singh was cremated with state honours at his native Kotbhai village in this district this evening.

His eldest son lit the pyre. Commissioner of Ferozepore division Dhram Vir laid a wreath on the body on behalf of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

CHANDIGARH: The Punjab Govenor, Lt-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd) and Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, on Friday condoled the sudden demise of Mr Sujan Singh. The two have conveyed their heart-felt sympathies to the bereaved.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Mr Natha Singh Dalam and Dr Upinderjit Kaur, all ministers, have also mourned the death.

The Punjab government offices remained closed on Friday in the second half as a mark of respect to the departed soul.


CBI charge sheet against Bikramjit
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
The special cell of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today filed a charge sheet in the court of the District Judge against Mr Bikramjit Singh, Principal Secretary, Home, Punjab, accusing him of “amassing wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income”.

Yesterday, the sanction of the Union Government to proceed against Mr Bikramjit Singh, was received.

The CBI has charged him under Sections 5(1)(e) read with Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 and section 13 (1) (e) read with Section 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

He is already on bail in these cases.

The Punjab Government had referred the case of “alleged possession of disproportionate assets valued at more than Rs 50 lakh” of Mr Bikramjit Singh to the CBI in 1997 when Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal was the Chief Minister.

When the present Shiromani Akali Dal-Bhartiya Janata Party government assumed power, it withdrew the notification issued by the previous Congress government asking the CBI to investigate the charges against him.

Mr Bikramjit Singh was appointed Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister but was soon shifted out as the controversy over his CBI case generated a lot of heat. The sources in the CBI maintained that various hurdles were created in the way of the CBI from investigating this case.

From the Chief Minister’s Secretariat, he was shifted as Principal Secretary, Irrigation and Power, before being sent to the Home Department as its Principal Secretary.

The CBI after completing the investigation sought the sanction of the Union Government to launch prosecution against him in July last year. The Punjab Government, on the other hand, maintained that no request from the CBI for sanction to start prosecution against him was received.

The CBI in its report maintained that Mr Bikramjit Singh was maintaining a fleet of cars and a number of credit cards besides a large number of bank accounts. Among the properties mentioned in the charge sheet include House No 517 in Sector 33-B; shop-cum-office 76-77 in Sector 8-C and shop-cum-office 439-440 in Sector 35-C besides purchase of agricultural land measuring 32 kanals at Bazidpur village. The charge sheet also reportedly mentions that the officer also had several “benami” properties.


Five nomination papers rejected
Our Correspondent

Batala, January 25
Of the 12 nomination papers filed by the candidates from the Batala Assembly constituency, five have been rejected, according to Mr Inder Yas Bhatti, returning officer, Batala.

The remaining seven candidates in the fray are Mr Jagdish Sawhney (BJP), Mr Ashwani Sekhri (Cong), Mr Kulwant Singh (BSP), Mr Amarjit Singh, Mr Avinesh Kumar, Mr Surinder Singh and Mr Parbodh Kumar (Independents).


Liquor gives hiccups to observers
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 25
The election observers appointed by the Election Commission of India today warned the contesting candidates that strict action would be taken against any candidate if they were found distributing liquor or intoxicants to the voters to lure them. They also asked the candidates to avoid long motorcades while campaigning in the constituency. These observers were attending a meeting with the candidates or their representatives, convened in connection with the implementation of the model code of conduct during elections. The meeting was presided over by Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur. Besides the candidates and their representatives, Mr Vyas Ji, Mr Swami Singh and Mr P.K. Tripathi, all general observers; and Mr Prabodh Seth and Mr S.L. Thakur, both expenditure observers, took part in this meeting.

The observers exhorted the political parties and contesting candidates to strictly curb the menace of distribution of liquor or intoxicants among voters and long motorcades for holding elections smoothly. The observers also asked the candidates to maintain their accounts properly and submit the same to the authority concerned on the already fixed days.

On this occasion, certain candidates brought to the notice of the observers that some candidates had spent more than Rs 6 lakh till now on their election campaign. They asked the observers to tell them what action was being taken against them? The observers replied that they had already got done videography in such cases, and assured them that if they found the complaints were factual, they would report to the Election Commission in this regard.

The observers also appealed to the political parties and the contesting candidates to strictly follow the model code of conduct.


Fierce contests in store
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, January 25
This district, a cocktail of several castes, will witness fierce straight contests in most of its assembly constituencies in spite of the presence of a large number of candidates.

Last time, from all 11 constituencies, SAD-BJP candidates were elected. However, this time it will be impossible for this alliance to repeat that historic performance. The Congress-CPI combine is expected do far better this time compared to its performance in the last elections.

Interestingly, the total number of voters has gone down in this district compared to the last vidhan Sabha elections when the number of voters was 13.13 lakh. It has now come down to 12.9 lakh following the cancellation of 1.12 lakh votes and addition of 55.47 thousand new voters.

There are two kinds of assembly constituencies. Batala, Pathankot and Gurdaspur are predominantly urban constituencies. While Qadian, Sri Hargobindpur, Kahnuwan, Sujanpur, Dhariwal, Fatehgarh Churian, Narotmehra and Dina Nagar have by and large a rural character.

Certain rural constituencies are dominated by non-jat Sikh communities. Constituencies like Sujanpur, Narotmehra and Dina Nagar have a dominating presence of castes like Rajputs, Gujjars, Dalits and Sainis.

Because of this reason, the SAD, has fielded a Christian candidate, Mr Munawar Messiah, from Gurdaspur, replacing Mr Kartar Singh Pahra, who had won last time. The Congress has fielded Mr Salamat Messiah from Dhariwal.

In the Pathankot belt, the BJP MP, Mr Vinod Khanna, has earned the respect of the populace. He had won the last Lok Sabha elections from Gurdaspur, in spite of the Congress wave, defeating the Congress heavyweight, Ms Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder.

Mr Khanna will have to campaign hard to improve the chances of his party's candidates in the Pathankot-Dina Nagar-Sujanpur belt.

At Batala, there is almost a direct contest between, Mr Jagdish Sawhni (BJP) and Mr Ashwani Sekhari (Cong) in spite of the presence of other candidates. In Qadian,too, there will be a direct contest between Mr Natha Singh Dalam of the SAD and Mr Tripat Rajinder Singh of the Congress. In Kahnuwan, the fight will be between Mr Partap Singh Bajwa (Cong) and Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan (SAD).

In Sri Hargobindpur, the contest will be between Mr Gurnam Singh Dhirowal (CPI-Cong) and Capt Balbir Singh Bath (SAD). A strong Congress rebel, Mr Fateh Jang Singh, is also in the fray. He may spoil the chances of the CPI-Cong candidate.

In Dhariwal, the main fight will be between Mr Sucha Singh Langah of the SAD, Mr Sucha Singh Chotepur of the Panthic Morcha and Mr Salamat Messiah of the Congress. In Gurdaspur, the main contest will be among Mr Khushal Behal (Cong), Mr Munawar Messiah (SAD) and Mr Kartar Singh Pahra, an Akali rebel.

In Dina Nagar, it will almost be a straight contest between Ms Aruna Kumari of the Congress and Mr Sita Ram Kashyap of the BJP. In Narot Mehra, the fight will be between , Mr Rumal Chand of the Congress and Mr Bhishamber Dass of the BJP.

In Pathankot, it will be between veteran Master Mohan Lal (BJP) and a new young face, Mr Ashok Vakil (Cong). In Sunjanpur, it will be Mr Satya Pal Saini versus Mr Raghu Nath Sahai of the Congress while in Fatehgarh Churian, it will be between Mr Sukhjinder Singh of the Congress and Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon of the SAD.


Son-in-law gives Badal fever
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Patti (Amritsar)
The prestige of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is at stake in this constituency as his son-in-law Adeshpartap Singh Kairon is seeking re-election. However, infighting between the Kairon family and Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Cooperation Minister, which has reached a flashpoint has been giving sleepless nights to Mr Badal.

Mr Adeshpartap Singh Kairon, son of Mr Surinder Singh Kairon, a former Congress MP, had joined the Akali party at the behest of Mr Badal and was inducted into the Cabinet after winning from Patti in the 1997 Assembly elections. Mr Adeshpartap Singh had defeated his nearest rival Mr Sukhwinder Singh of the Congress with a margin of more than 47,000 votes. The Patti constituency will face a triangular contest with Mr Adeshpartap, Mr Tarlochan Singh Chakwalia (Congress) and Mr Harminder Singh Gill, President, all-India Sikh Students Federation and a Panthic Morcha candidate, in the fray. Mr Sukhchain Singh (BSP-Ambedkar), Ms Darshan Kaur, Mr Maninder Singh, Mr Sukhbir Singh, Mr Arur Singh, Mr Parmjit Singh Dhand and Mr Sukhwinder Singh have filed their papers as Independents.

Though Mr Badal had arranged a meeting between Mr Surinder Singh Kairon and Mr Brahmpura, the rapprochement between them was temporary. The squabbling of these two Majha leaders has become a headache for the Akali high command.

RAJASANSI: This is one of the three constituencies of the state where the Congress high command changed its official nominee, Mr Parminder Singh, a former minister, at the eleventh hour. Mr Sukhwinder Singh Sarkaria, district president (Rural), who had filed his papers as an Independent after being denied ticket has now become the official candidate of the party. As of now, Mr Parminder Singh has refused to obey the directives of the party and said he was the real nominee.

Mr Veer Singh Lopoke, Akali MLA, is seeking re-election from this constituency. During the previous elections, he had polled 52,182 votes while Mr Sukhwinder Singh of the Congress had got only 31,527 votes. Besides, Mr Joginder Singh, a BSP candidate. Mr Lakhwinder Singh of the Panthic Morcha, Mr Sukhbir Singh, Ms Surjit Kaur and Mr Kuldip Singh have filed their papers as Independents.

AJNALA: Congress nominee Ravi Rajbir Singh Randhawa will face formidable challenge from rebel Congress candidate Harpartap Singh Ajnala, son of the late Harcharan Singh Ajnala, a former Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha. Major Rajbir Singh Ajnala, the elder son of the former Speaker who had unsuccessfully contested the previous Assembly elections was also aspirant for Congress ticket. The Congress high command is busy bringing about a rapprochement between Mr Randhawa and Major Rajbir Singh Ajnala.

Dr Rattan Singh, Cabinet Minister and an Akali candidate, is seeking re-election from this border constituency. The other candidates who have filed their nomination papers include Mr Baldev Singh (SHSAD) and Mr Gurmukh Singh (BSP).

VALTOHA: Akali MLA Jagir Singh has been denied ticket this time. The SAD has instead fielded Mr Gurdial Singh Algon, a confidant of Mr Surinder Singh Kairon from this constituency. Mr Virsa Singh Valtoha, member of the Subordinate Services Board, was also aspirant for Akali ticket. Bhai Manjit Singh, Senior Vice-President of the SHSAD, is Panthic Morcha candidate. With a division in Akali votes, Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, a former minister and Congress candidate, seems to be in the comfortable position.

KHADOOR SAHIB (RESERVE): Mr Ranjit Singh Chajjalwaddi, Akali MLA, has shifted his loyalty and now seeks re-election as Panthic Morcha candidate. Mr Manjit Singh is a candidate of the SAD while Mr Sukhdev Singh Shahbazpuri, a former minister, is the Congress candidate. Mr Sarup Chand, Mr Dalbir Singh and Mr Parduman Singh are also in the fray as Independents.

NAUSHEHRA PANNUAN: The most interesting contest will be witnessed here. Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Cooperation Minister, is seeking re-election on Akali ticket. Mr Surinder Singh Kairon, a close relative of Mr Badal, has already announced his support to Congress candidate Master Jagir Singh, a former minister who had won from this constituency in 1992. Ms Manjit Kaur, Shiromani Akali Dal (Panthic), Mr Swarn Singh, BSP (Ambedkar), Mr Nirwair Singh (Congress) are also in the fray.


Tohra ruined unity chances: Badal
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, January 25
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today alleged that the Akali unity could not be achieved because of the impossible demands of the former SGPC President, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra. Addressing a public rally here in support of the BJP candidate and senior leader Mr Balramji Das Tandon, and later at Ghanaur in favour of the SAD nominee Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur, the Chief Minister said the SGPC President had put up one demand after an other as he did not want unity and was in league with the Congress.

The Chief Minister said any vote for the Panthic Morcha would be a vote for the Congress and would be akin to throwing ones vote in a well. He said on the other hand a vote for a SAD would be one for the further development of the State. The Chief Minister also indicated that the SYL issue was likely to become a major poll issue.

Speaking on the occasion, BJP Minister Balramji Das Tandon highlighted the development work initiated in the state by the SAD-BJP government, adding that around Rs 150 crore had been spent on the Rajpura constituency itself. At the Ghanaur function the SAD minister, Mr Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur highlighted large-scale construction of roads in the constituency during his tenure.


It is the bomb factor here!
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Fatehpur (Mandi Gobindgarh), January 25
The impending Assembly elections in Punjab are being fought on varied issues ranging from development to corruption to unemployment and SYL but for the hundreds of residents of this village, falling in the Sirhind constituency, the main concern is the threatening presence of hundreds of explosives dumped in a rivulet near the village, allegedly by scrap and furnace industrialists of Mandi Gobindgarh.

The villagers led by its panchayat have been going about in vain since August last year to get the explosives removed from the rivulet.

From requesting the police authorities, district administration officials, local leaders to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in a sangat darshan programme held nearby last year, the villagers have done everything to get the explosives removed but nothing has come of it so far.

Tired, the villagers are now waiting for political leaders to come to their village for votes.‘‘ It is then that we will take them to the rivulet,’’ Mr Manjit Singh, the sarpanch, said, adding that it was in August last year that some children spotted the explosives.

The villagers found hundreds of explosives packed in sand bags in the rivulet. Mr Manjit Singh said it was clear from the packing that someone had deliberately dumped them here. They allege that the explosives came in scrap imported from the middle east by the furnace industry.

The villagers reported the matter to the police and two police personnel were posted on permanent duty at the rivulet. The villagers were assured that the district administration would take up the matter with the Army authorities and the explosives would be removed soon. After a month or so, an army team came and selected a ground near the rivulet to destroy the explosives. The team, however, never came back.

The policemen posted on duty had, meanwhile, shifted to a room in the village. one of them said it was not possible to stay in the open in this cold weather.

The Sarpanch said status quo remained. The children stay away from the place. The villagers have pinned their hopes on the elections.

The main candidates for this constituency are: Mr Didar Singh (SAD), Dr Harbans Lal (Congress), Mr Iman Singh Mann (Panthic Morcha) and Mr Randhir Singh Cheema (Independent).


Morcha to probe militancy
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 25
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Panthic Morcha) will stick to the Anandpur Sahib resolution and seek solution of all outstanding Panthic and political issues according to this document only. Besides, if voted to power, it will set up a commission to probe the reasons that led to a decade of militancy in Punjab.

This was disclosed by the Panthic Morcha Convener, Baba Sarabjot Singh Bedi, after presiding over a meeting at Mansuran, headquarters of the Sant Samaj. Moreover, the Morcha will also waive off loans up to Rs 50,000 of small farmers and bring down the price of electricity to the level of 1997 by preventing pilferage. Other senior Morcha leaders, including Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, Mr Ravi Inder Singh and Bhai Jasbir Singh, also attended today's meeting.

Baba Bedi said that the leaders unanimously decided that a long-lasting and permanent solution to long-pending problems, both Panthic as well as political in nature, would be possible only in accordance to the Anandpur Sahib resolution. However, he did not elaborate or specify the exact terms of reference.

The Panthic Morcha convener said the leaders also decided to campaign jointly throughout the state. They would launch their formal campaign on January 30, from Kila Raipur, from where senior party leader and former minister, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, is contesting the elections. He hoped the joint campaign by all the senior leaders, including himself, ‘‘will certainly help to boost the morale of the party cadres, which is already buoyant over the massive response from the voters.’’

On the issue of seat adjustment with the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Punjab Lok Morcha, Baba Bedi disclosed that, while there would be some friendly contests with the BSP, there was likelihood of an adjustment with the Punjab Lok Morcha led by Mr Kuldeep Singh Wadala of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Democratic).


NDA may recommend mid-term poll: Jakhar
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 25
The results of the Assembly elections in UP and Uttranchal may force the NDA government to recommend a mid-term poll for the Lok Sabha.

Stating this former Lok Sabha Speaker Bal Ram Jakhar said yesterday that the SAD-BJP government in Punjab was poised for defeat in the Assembly elections as all categories of people including farmers, traders and employees had faced unprecedented humiliation in the past five years.

The state government had surpassed all limits of economic and social exploitation of the people who were promised a fair and democratic rule during the last elections. Farmers were neither provided canal water for irrigation at proper time nor three-phase electricity supplied for running tubewells as per schedule. They were forced to go in for the distress sale of paddy and cotton. Prices of inputs for agriculture had scaled new heights but crop could not fetch remunerative rates. Domestic power supply to small customers had registered a five-time rise, commercial rates were revised five times, minimum charges for industries had been made unaffordable. The minimum billing for drinking water supply and sewerage had been hiked.

Addressing an election rally here Mr Jakhar lambasted rebels for objecting to the fielding of his youngest son on the Congress ticket. He claimed none of the villages of the subdivision was having link road, potable water, electricity when he won Assembly elections in 1972. All villages were linked with roads, provided drinking water facility, schools, and electricity when the Congress was in power.

Later talking to reporters Mr Jakhar said the constituents of the NDA would lose government in all states that were going to the polls next month, as they had not come up to the expectations of the people. The NDA ministers had been working as dictators and not as servants of people. Corruption was rampant in every state wherever the NDA constituents were in power. It was unfortunate that the government had not implemented the agriculture policy framed by the Congress government. The Congress had earmarked Rs 1000 crore for the development of horticulture in the Eighth Five Year Plan so that farmers could switch over from traditional crops. The Budget was just Rs 24 crore in the Seventh Plan. The present government had dropped the scheme.

Mr Jakhar regretted that all cooperative mills earned profit when the Congress was in power in Punjab but the SAD-BJP government had created such circumstances that all mills failed in repaying even interest on loans obtained from cooperative banks and were finally closed down. The Congress, if voted to power, in Punjab, would simplify sales tax structure, initiate for uniform taxation pattern in the north zone and make life of traders dignified. He hoped that the Congress would get two thirds majority in the Assembly elections.


Setback for Congress nominee
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, January 25
Mr Bal Mukand Sharma, Congress candidate from the Ferozepore city constituency, got a jolt today with most of the Congress leaders of the city deciding to back an Independent candidate, Mr Ashwani Mehta.

According to reports available, chief of the local unit of the Congress, Mr Ashok Kumar Gupta; vice-president, Mr Kulbir Singh Sodhi; Municipal Councillors, Mr K.C. Sharma, Mr Chander Mohan Handa and Mr Satpal Satti; Mr Dharam Pal, a former general secretary of the Punjab Youth Congress; Mr Jatinder Goyal, a former president of the municipal committee, and many other workers have parted ways with Mr Bal Mukand Sharma.

The dissident Congress leaders have alleged that Mr Sharma was involved in many corruption cases and should not have been allotted the party ticket.

Political observers feel that the dissidence activities within the Congress may hamper the prospects of it’s candidates in the city.


PM to address rally on Feb 6
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, will address BJP rallies at Ferozepore and Pathankot on February 6, party sources said today.

An important meeting of the state unit of the BJP was held yesterday under the chairmanship of Mr Pyare Lal Khandelwal, national General Secretary of the party, where Mr O.P. Kohli, Prof Brij Lal Rinwa, Mr Arvind Jaiswal, Mr Vinod Sharma, Mr Satpal Mahajan and Mr Manohar Lal Khattar were present.

Besides Mr Vajpayee, the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, will visit Punjab on February 7 and February 8 to address rallies at Banur, Rajpur, Morinda, Nangal, Hoshiarpur, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Moga and Amritsar.

Mr Madan Lal Khurana will campaign with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in Ludhiana from January 28 to January 30 while Ms Uma Bharti will be in Punjab on February1 and February 2 to address rallies at Batala, Dhariwal, Mukerian, Dasuya, Jalandhar, Moga, Baghapurana, Kotkapura, Jaito and Bathinda.

Ms Sushma Swaraj will visit Punjab on February 2 and February 4 to address rallies at Mandi Gobindgarh, Nabha, Khanna, Jagraon, Ludhiana, Ferozepore, Guru harsahai, Jalalabad, Fazilka, Abohar and Malout.


BJP leaders counter RSS charges
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 25
The confrontation between the BJP and the RSS yesterday took a serious turn with state BJP leaders saying that the RSS leaders were ‘‘misguided and playing in the hands of vested interests’’. They also asserted that the RSS leaders, although respected, had no role in deciding the policies of the BJP and least of all candidates to be fielded.

Addressing a press conference here today, the state BJP president, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, general secretary Avinash Jaiswal, official spokesman Vineet Joshi, state secretary Anil Sareen and party district president Harbans Lal Sethi today refuted the charges levelled by Mr Sunil Mehra that he was asked to pay money for getting party nomination.

Mr Mehra had alleged that Mr Sethi, Mr Ramesh Sharma and Mr Avinash Rai had demanded Rs 30 lakh from him for the allotment of ticket from Ludhiana West. His charges were substantiated by two senior RSS leaders, Chaudhary Satprakash and Mr Mitter Sen.

The BJP leaders claimed that Mr Mehra's name was also on the panel of candidates chosen by the 11-member state election committee and submitted to the central election committee for the final say. It was by chance that the central election committee finalised the name of Mr Pran Bhatia. Mr Rinwa claimed that the BJP considered several factors like ‘‘organisational commitment, role played in making successful the programmes of the party in the past five years, adhering to the organisational decisions, mass activity and winnability’’. He said Mr Mehra could not meet all requirements, which led to his name going down on the second spot after Mr Bhatia.

Reacting to the charges of the RSS leadership, the BJP leaders said it was unfortunate that such a situation had arisen.They hoped that all issues would be resolved .

Mr Rinwa asserted that ‘‘as Mr Pran Nath Bhatia is our official candidate, it is the duty of every worker of the party to devote time and energy in ensuring his victory. Though all workers of the party are working as disciplined soldiers and it is expected that they would do so in future also, still I would like to add that anyone found guilty of indiscipline would be dealt with sternly’’.

On the other hand, senior BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member Lala Lajpat Rai, whose role in the controversy was considered to be pivotal, today regretted that he was being dragged into the controversy just because he did not support Mr Mehra. ‘‘I was not against him. Nor was I for him’’, he clarified, adding that ‘‘same was the case with Mr Bhatia. I was not sure about the conduct of Mr Mehra after getting the party nomination, so I did not support his case’’.


Garg makes tall claims
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 25
Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Minister for Science and Technology, Punjab, who has been renominated by the SAD from his Assembly segment, while dubbing the Congress as an issueless party said people would make a judicious choice on February 13 and bring the SAD-BJP alliance back to power.

Talking to the TNS here today, Mr Garg said Congress was divided. He claimed that Punjab had seen unprecedented development in the five-year rule of the SAD-BJP alliance.

He said during his tenure long pending demands of the people, including the setting up of a B.Ed college, power-cut free city, construction of an overbridge at the ‘khooni phatak’ linking the main city with the trans-railway colonies, class ‘A’ status to the industries of the region and easy supply of LPG cylinders to the residents, were fulfilled.

To provide immediate assistance to the victims of road accidents, HITEC (highway integrated traffic enforcement cell) had been set up at all entry points of the city.


Lok Jan Shakti backs Brar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
The Lok Jan Shakti Party has pledged its support to Mr Harcharan Singh Brar, former Chief Minister of Punjab, who is contesting as a Congress candidate from the Muktsar assembly constituency.

This was announced here today by Mr Makhan Singh, President of the Kisan Cell of the Lok Jan Shakti Party, which is headed at the national level by Mr Ram Vilas Paswan. In a statement, he said the party’s rank and file had already joined the election campaign of Mr Brar and would leave no stone unturned to ensure his victory because Punjab needed “honest and hardworking leaders” like him. His contribution to the development of Punjab in general and Muktsar in particular was “well-known”, he said.


‘Punjabiat’ no longer binds them together
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Samana (Patiala), January 25
Punjabiat and Hindu-Sikh brotherhood may have been symbolised by the SAD and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, but the grand alliance with the BJP which saw it carving out a huge majority in the last assembly elections seems to be breaking apart with those living in the urban areas keeping away from the rallies of the Chief Minister.

The Chief Minister addressed panthic crowds during his whirlwind tour of this district today during the course of which he addressed rallies at Nabha, Patran, Samana and Devigarh in favour of party candidates Raja Narinder Singh, Mr Surjit Singh Rakhra and Mr Charanjit Singh Walia. Urban Hindus were absent from the rallies almost everywhere.

The urban voters’ absence was most pronounced in the rally held at the grain market in Samana. There was a virtual sea of only blue and saffron turbans in the crowd. A few urbanites who came out of their shops to listen to the Chief Minister, preferred to do so from the sidelines. They made no bones in declaring that they will support the Congress candidate from the constituency even though he was an outsider and they did not know much about him.

The Badal government has ignored the urbanites, Mr Ram Lal Sharma said. When they were told of the ‘‘concessions’’ given to the urbanites, they were quick to add,‘‘ there is no BJP ‘prabhav’here and we feel uncomfortable in the company of the SAD and its Panthic supporters.’’

The BJP is also finding it difficult to draw crowds to the rallies of SAD candidates. BJP presence at the Samana rally was non-existent in terms of supporters even though there were a few urban leaders on the stage.

In Nabha, though there was a substantial number of BJP leaders on the stage, there were hardly any party workers in the rally. ‘‘The BJP leaders are finding it difficult to answer the urban voters specially with the manner in which they had been sidelined in the coalition government,’’ said Mr Subhash Verma, a shopkeeper.

The Chief Minister in his speeches targeted the urban voters, particularly traders, saying that the commission of arhtiyas had been increased from 2 per cent to 2.5 per cent and traders had been given a concession of Rs 640 crore in sales tax. Octroi had also been abolished. However, there were not many who seemed to agree with these statements, even though the Chief Minister received hearty guffaws when he talked about the concessions given to farmers.

Mr Badal spoke at length on the SYL issue. Besides this, it was mainly Congress bashing. The Panthic Morcha was dismissed as an outfit which was in league with the Congress and the Chief Minister chided Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra for resorting to such tactics at this age.


President’s Medal for Bhullar, 9 others
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
Ten officers and men of the Punjab police have been chosen for the award of the President’s Police Medal on Republic Day. They include Asian Games gold medalist wrestler Kartar Singh and Inspector-General of Police (Intelligence), Mr Sukhdyal Singh Bhullar.

According to information reaching here, Mr Harchand Singh Sidhu, Senior Superintendent of Police, Ferozepore, has been chosen for the award of the President’s Police Medal for distinguished service. Mr Bhullar, who is already a recipient of the President’s Police medal for Gallantry, has been chosen for the President’s Police Medal for meritorious service this time.

Like Mr Bhullar, wrestler Kartar Singh (Commandant, Punjab Armed Police, Jalandhar), Mr Swaran Singh (DSP, Intelligence), Mr S.S. Boparai (DSP, Morinda), Sub-Inspector Chaman Lal (CID, Punjab), Sub-Inspector Sita Ram, Assistant Sub-Inspector Om Parkash and two others have also been chosen for the award of the President’s Police Medal for meritorious service.


‘Abstain’ from voting for drugs
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 25
To ensure drug-free elections, a unique drive has been launched from Maqboolpura, a locality of widows, where at least 50 drug addicts have died in the past few years.

Children and widows of the addicts today gave a call to reject alcohol and narcotics in lieu of votes. Master Ajit Singh, convener, De-addiction Society, Punjab, Citizen Forum and Vidya Mandir School, Maqboolpura, said they would go to Takht Kesgarh Sahib to seek the blessings of the Jathedar.

Drugs are easily available in Maqboolpura and most of the addicts are poor. The Tribune was the first to highlight the plight of the residents of this colony. Though Maqboolpura falls in the Assembly constituency of Health Minister Baldev Raj Chawla, open sale of drugs has still to be checked.

The children, who have lost their fathers to drugs, were carrying placards which read: “Don’t accept naroctics in lieu of votes.” They said they did not want more children to lose their fathers.

Master Ajit Singh said the De-addiction Society would give a call for boycotting those parties which would distribute “nasha” (drugs or liquor) among the voters.

It may be mentioned here that similar awareness rallies were also organised at Chheharta in Amritsar where about 60 persons had died due to drug addiction in the past about five years.

Meanwhile, illicit liquor is being distilled in various villages at the behest of various political parties. Cartloads of “gur” used for the purpose is being supplied to the villages. The police and poll observers have reportedly turned a blind eye to such activities which are in gross violation of the model code of conduct. After the publication of reports of distillation of illicit liquor, a number of cases had been filed during the Majitha byelections. Though Akal Takht had also given a call against the use of narcotics and drugs, such activities go unabated in this border district. Similar reports have also been received from Gurdaspur.


National honour for Punjabi language
Nirmal Sandhu

IN 1994 Dalip Kaur Tiwana was given a junior fellowship by the Union Department of Culture. Since smaller writers in other languages got bigger fellowships, she felt slighted and refused it with a rebuke: “This shows that the selectors either don’t have any knowledge of Punjabi literature or they are willing to accord it only the status of B-grade literature.”

This feeling of discrimination with Punjabi language and writers at the national level is widely shared in literary circles. However, with the K.K. Birla Foundation conferring on Dr Dalip Kaur Tiwana’s “Katha Kaho Urvashi” its prestigious Rs 5 lakh cash award, Saraswati Samman, given annually to an outstanding literary work in an Indian language, this feeling of grievance should abate. It is not just a writer’s personal victory. The recognition, even if belated, has gone to the Punjabi language and literature, rather the whole state.

Dalip has written and spoken so much about herself — innumerable newspaper articles and interviews, apart from the two autobiographies “Nange Pairan Da Safar” and the oddly titled “Puchhte Ho To Suno” — that it is difficult to say anything what is not already known to her readers.

In fact, women writers in Punjabi are generally self-exploratory and write often for self-comfort while left-leaning male writers take upon themselves the responsibility of reforming the society. Amrita Pritam and Ajeet Cour too voice their internal yearnings and external struggles. Perhaps sensitive women then had no other platform for self-expression and self-defence. However, through self-revelation and through their women characters, they do portray the plight of women mistreated in the Punjabi social system — Amrita and Ajeet being more urbanised and daring than conventional Dalip.

Of them, Dalip is more of an academic, being the first woman to top in M.A. (Punjabi), to do Ph.D. in Punjabi (development of short story) and become the Professor and Head of a university’s Punjabi department. An outspoken activist teacher, she was a students’ friend and guide. Her teacher politics came in the way of her getting the Shiromani Sahitkar Award, but the late Prof Attar Singh silenced her detractors saying a writer is expected to speak against injustices.

At a “meet-your-writer” programme at Panjab University in April, 1989, Dr Dalip Kaur Tiwana enthralled the gathering with her scholarship and also explained why she wrote: “Some write to find a meaning of their existence, others to forget it. I write to understand man’s journey from the past to the present - kithon ture si te kithe aa gaye”

Dalip wrote her first piece when she was studying in Mahendra College, Patiala. Some boys found a clever ploy to talk to her. They would approach this beautiful girl from a big landlord family to request her to write for the college magazine. To get rid of them, Dalip penned her first story. But when Principal Teja Singh read it, he refused to believe it was her maiden attempt. He encouraged her to write. The rest, as they say, is history.

Starting with “Agni Pariksha” (1967), Dalip kept writing, but recognition came with her “Eho Hamara Jeevana” winning the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1971. Thereafter awards kept pouring in and her usual response was: “my responsibility towards literature has further increased.”

After retirement from Punjabi University, Dalip Kaur Tiwana has been busy growing old, leading a life of near seclusion, but keeping herself occupied with what she is good at: writing. She never learnt cooking or managed the kitchen like an ordinary housewife. Her understanding and accommodating husband, Bhupinder Singh Minhas, also a Professor in the same university, allowed her that luxury. When I phoned her, congratulating her on winning the honour, she sounded happy — as happy as a sensitive writer can be in these trying times.


Alarming decline in sex ratio
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 25
There has been an alarming decline in the sex ratio among children up to six years of age in the last decade. While the sex ratio among children in this age group in 1991 was 875 girls per 1000 boys in 2001 it came down to 793 girls per 1000 boys.

Making these revelations yesterday at the launch of a statewide programme for checking female foeticide in Punjab, the Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, Mr Rajan Kashyap, said the main reason for this was the “hijacking of technology with criminal intent”. Describing it as “misappropriation of technology for selective destruction of human beings”, he said, those who had devised this technique could never have imagined that it would be used for this purpose.

Tracing the social background of the problem in Punjab he said, there was general preference for male child in Punjab due to “misconceived social pressure”, as the male child was considered to be a bread winner, who would support the aged parents and also carry forward the family pedigree. In sharp contrast, the girl child was considered to be a life-long burden as she would need dowry at the time of marriage and demanded extra protection.

Mr Kashyap quoted a United Nations report on Punjab and Haryana, which had indicted the two states, “the extensive practice of sex-selective abortion is a chilling indicator of gender discrimination and unequal status of women in society”. Comparing the European and Indian sex ratio figures that with Punjab, he informed that while in Europe the sex ratio was 1063:1000 in favour of females in India it was 927:1000 in favour of males. And in Punjab it was the worst at 874:1000 in favour of males.

Terming female foeticide as “inhuman attack by humans on human nature”, he warned it would have “horrendous implications” like more crime against women, breakdown of traditional family system, prostitution, homosexuality, perversions, AIDS, drug and alcohol abuse, sow seeds of destruction and “end of romance”.

Suggesting remedial measures, he said, Punjab was determined to enforce Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994, which holds the determination sex of unborn child as legal and prescribes punishment for doctors, women and motivator which could include 3 years imprisonment, fine up to Rs 10,000 and the suspension of doctor’s licence.

Mr Kashyap quoted a survey conducted by the Punjab Health Systems Corporation to “understand the psyche of the women who undergoes female foeticide”. The survey revealed that only 30 per cent women consented to female foeticide, 45 per cent due to the pressure from husband and 25 per cent due to the pressure from the family. This data, he said, was insensitive to religion, caste, education or economic status.

Other findings showed that in more than 75 per cent cases family was having only 1/2/3 daughters and no son. Desire to have a son and limited family led to female foeticide. Only 15 per cent cases mentioned economic reason like dowry as a reason for terminating female pregnancy. The study which was still going on, revealed that 86 per cent woman interviewed admitted that female foeticide was a sin.


Bitter after ‘experiments with truth’
Monica Sharma

Chandigarh, January 25
He is guilty of innocence. Indictable for believing honesty to be the best policy. Reproachable for blabbering out the reality when he could have maintained silence. Rundown, exhausted and disheartened after his “experiments with truth”, Balwinder Singh — prime witness in Punjab’s former Chief Minister Beant Singh’s assassination case —today plans to hand over a memorandum to the UT Administrator during the Republic Day celebrations.

The reason behind his disillusionment with “this uncompassionate creation” is not very hard to see. An auto-mechanic with the Sector 7 painter who paints the gray Ambassador car used in former CM’s killing, Balwinder Singh was reportedly promised protection, a secure job as a Constable in the Chandigarh police, along with cash prize. The authorities, however, failed to keep their promise, so claims Balwinder Singh.

He was given security, no doubt, and some money, but no job. “Initially I did work with the Home Guards, but with no hope of being absorbed in the regular police and the allowances being far less than my requirement, I left the job,” he reveals.

For over two months now he is without work. Balwinder Singh has even addressed a letter to the Inspector General of Chandigarh Police seeking his help in the matter but alleged that no action had been taken on his plea so far. His petition is pending before a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and will come up for hearing on March 19.

His anxiety to get a job with the police, however, is not without basis. No one is willing to offer him work because of the sentries around him. “I can not even sit on the footpath with my tools and repair scooters. The cops around me would scare away the clients,” he says. “And if I ask the guards to go away, the apprehension of someone planting a bomb in my tool box would not let me live peacefully”.

Balwinder Singh’s troubles do not end here. Every time he begins to settle down in a house, the landlords force him to vacate the premises. “They think I am going to forcibly take possession of their property. Tired of shifting houses again and again, he eventually decided to take a house on rent in a village but within a month village elders united and asked him to leave. They thought I was a mafia don or something”.

Little wonder, then that life continues to be miserable for this “victim of circumstances”. “I have three children to take care of, a father who is half-insane because of the tensions and a mother who suffers from blood pressure,” he declares. “Every day something like Rs 300 is spent on their medicines. I have two brothers to help me out but the expenditure is more than what we earn.”


IGP, Litigation, relieved from duty
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
The Punjab Government has relieved, Mr R.K. Sharma, Inspector General of Police, Litigation Branch, Punjab, from his duties with immediate effect according to an order issued by Mr Bikramjit Singh, Home Secretary, Punjab. He has been relieved in the light of the Supreme Court’s order. Mr Bikramjit Singh has stated in the order that Mr Sharma ceases to be in service with immediate effect in view of the order of the Supreme Court which is required to be implemented forthwith.

Mr Sharma has applied for voluntary retirement from June 5, 1993, but was allowed to withdraw his request for retirement by the Union Government in August 1997. However, the Union Government’s order was quashed by the Central Administrative Tribunal. The Union Government preferred a writ petition in the High Court against the CAT’s order. The High Court passed an order that the state government may take fresh decision regarding departmental action within six months in this case. However, the Supreme Court gave an interim stay on January 11 last against the High Court’s order. Mr Bikramjit Singh has stated that the order passed by him regarding the relieving of Mr Sharma from his duty will be “without prejudice to the departmental disciplinary proceedings already pending against him”.


‘We won’t give a drop of water’
Our Correspondent

Samana, January 25
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister of Punjab and President of the SAD, while addressing an election rally of Mr Surjit Singh Rakhra, SAD-BJP candidate from the Samana constituency, today said whenever there was a Congress government at the Centre it always gave a stepmotherly treatment to the people of Punjab.

He alleged that the Congress had always been a foe of Punjab. He highlighted the heroic role of Punjabis in the freedom struggle.

He categorically said that the SYL canal would not be permitted to be constructed and not even a single drop of water would be allowed to be given to any other state from Punjab.


Villagers seek better bus facilities
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 25
Residents of Gillpatti village have urged the district authorities to provide proper bus service to their village.

In a letter to Deputy Commissioner the village panchayat and residents alleged that private and PRTC buses which were supposed to stop at the village bus-stop were flouting the rule.

They said although there was an approved bus-stop on the main road yet villagers had to face inconvenience as only four or five buses stopped there.

They alleged that those buses which had permit to halt at Gillpatti village too did not bother to stop. They said they had personally met the bus owners and drivers and requested them to stop their buses in the village but to no avail. They requested the district authorities to issue strict guidelines to private buts operators and government bus drivers to stop buses at Gillpati village.


BKU’s ‘rail roko’ stir on February 8
Our Correspondent

Bhikhi (Mansa), January 25
The Bharatiya Kisan Union, Ekta (BKU, E) has decided to block rail traffic in the state on February 8. This was stated here today by union leadership at a state-level rally organised as part of “waive loan” campaign launched in the state. President of the state unit of the union Mr Pishora Singh, said the “rail roko” programme would be held at various places in different districts simultaneously to pressurise the government into accepting the demands of farmers.

He said the main demand of the union was waiving of loans. Today’s rally was organised to create awareness among the farmers about the “rail roko” stir Mr Ruldu Singh, senior vice-president, of the union, said the farmers whose cotton crop was damaged this year should he given suitable compensation. He alleged that the government had failed to protect the interests of farmers. Mr Surjeet Singh Paul, press secretary of the BKU said policies of the state government were anti-farmer.

He alleged that following the instructions of the World Trade Organisation the central government had started creating problems during the procurement of different crops. He said subsidies on various agricultural inputs had been taken away in a phased manner to implement the policies of the WTO while other countries are providing subsidies up to 80 per cent to the farmers.

He said condition of farmers would worsen in the coming years due to such policies. Mr Gurmeet Singh Ditupur, state secretary of the union said the present state government had not fulfilled the promises made in its election manifesto in 1997.

The government had not done anything for waiving farmers’ loans. Mr Malook Singh Hirke, Mr Durbar Singh, Kishangarh, Mr Joginder Singh Ugraha, Mr Ralla Singh Mansa, Mr Gurjant Singh Maghania, Mr Ram Singh Bhainibhaga, Mr Bogh Singh Mansa, and Mr Gurtej Singh, all senior leaders of the union also addressed the rally.


A rationalist even in death
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 25
Honouring wishes of Krishan Bargari, state president of the Tarakshil Society, Punjab, his son handed over the body to Dr Mauli, Head of Department of Anatomy, CMC, Ludhiana.

Bargari died on January 21 of blood cancer. Mr Mauli said it would help in research on cancer.

Born at Bargari village in Faridkot district in 1957, Bargai was a state-level player of kabaddi and active member of the Technical Service Union.

He was one of the founder members of the Tarakshil Society in 1984-85 when religious intolerance, hatred, and violence rocked Punjab.


Poll panel may relax I-card conditions
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 25
Identity card condition for casting votes, might be relaxed by the Election Commission. An indication to this effect was given by the District Election Officer, Mr G.S. Grewal, here yesterday. He said in view of the current situation, the Election Commission would have to relax the condition of identity cards.

Earlier, the Election Commission had said voters who possessed the voter identity cards would be allowed to vote. In this regard, the district election officers were also directed to issue cards. However, both companies engaged by the commission to make the cards have failed to deliver the goods. A Punjab government undertaking, ESPL, was given the contract to make identity cards in this district. The company failed to deliver and its contract was cancelled. Later, the Haryana Government undertaking, HATRON, was engaged for the purpose. However, sources revealed that even that company had withdrawn from the contract. The sources further disclosed that the said companies withdrew from the contract because they found the work of making identity cards financially not viable. The said companies had to hire digital cameras, for making voter identity cards, at a cost of about Rs 1500 per day. The cost of hiring cameras could be recovered only if they made about 1000 cards per day. But since, the required output had not been maintained it made the contract unviable.

The withdrawal of the companies from the contract had adversely affected the plans of the district administration to provide online voter identity cards to the voters. Mr Grewal had earlier told mediapersons that the facility for making online voter identity cards would be provided at the Ropar mini-secretariat from January 14. After the withdrawal of HATRON, contract has not been given again. If the voters who still do not have I-cards are not covered under the voter identity scheme the said condition would have to be relaxed, said Mr Grewal.


New IGP (IRB) at Patiala
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
The following police officers were today transferred on administrative grounds (completion of four years/ home district service).

Mr R.S. Gill is posted as IGP, IRB, Punjab, Patiala; Mr S.M. Sharma goes as IGP, Zonal I, Patiala; Mr Jasminder Singh is DIG, Training, Commando, Bahadurgarh, Patiala; Mr C.S.R. Reddy gets additional charge of DIG, Border Range, Amritsar; Mr Gurmail Singh is now SP, Security, at Chandigarh; Mr Naresh Kumar is Commdant, 6th IRB, Laddha Kothi; Mr Kuldeep Singh is SP, Headquarters, Tarn Taran; Mr Surinder Kumar Kali is SP, Detective, Amritsar; Mr Amrik Singh is SP, Detective, Tarn Taran; Mr Mohinder Singh Chahal is SP, Detective, Jagraon, and Mr Vijay Kumar is SP, Operations, Ludhiana.

Mr Paramjit Singh Grewal, SSP, Patiala, will get his posting order later. However, he will relinquish charge immediately, says an official release.


Additional charge for J.S. Maini
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 25
Mr J.S. Maini, Principal Resident Commissioner of Punjab Bhavan here has been given additional charge as Investment Promotion Commissioner of the state. An official announcement said Mr Maini had been redesignated as Principal Resident Commissioner, Government of Punjab and Ex-Officio State Investment Promotion Commissioner, Punjab Bhavan with immediate effect.


Medical college students attacked by 20 ‘outsiders’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 25
There was tension in the Government Medical College here after an attack on medical students by 20 boys at 10.30 a.m. today.

Saurab Sharma received serious injuries when one of the boys, who were all outsiders chopped three of his fingers with a butchers knife “datar”. Several others received injuries by butcher knife and baseball bat while one pointed a revolver at the students, reveals eye witness.

Medical students gave call for an indefinite strike soon after the incident.

It all started when five to six boys entered room No 29-C in block-C, which is near the principal’s office while the rest stood guard on the block’s entrance, after alighting from two Zen cars, three motorcycles and on unnumbered scooters, revealed students.

They caught hold of Ankur Hastir, adviser, Medical Students Association (MSA), a student and slapped him. They were wanting to know whereabouts of Sunil Malhotra president of the MSA, who caught one of them last night and made him apologise during night celebrations by students of college.

However the outsiders, started hitting others with butcher knives. Some 30 more medical students joined and a free-for-all ensued. A few medical students received injuries inflicted by “datars”, baseball bats etc. Many from both parties were kicked, slapped, punched before Dr (Mrs) Gurdeep Kaur Kalsi, Head Department of Anatomy. Mr G.S. Sandhu, Director Physical Education and hostel superintendent Prabodh Kakkar reached the site and intervened. A medical student Kanwarjit Singh told this correspondent at the spot that he was hit with a “datar” but his thick jacket saved him.

SHO Civil Lines Manjit Singh confirmed the arrest of two persons in the case and the registration of an FIR.


Four women arrested for running brothel
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 25
Even as the district police has stepped up vigil on mischief makers and anti-social elements, the latter have been devising new ways to indulge in illegal activities under cover whether it is peddling of poppy husk, distillation of illicit liquor or even running a brothel.

The district police today claimed having unearthed a brothel being run in the Namdev Nagar area of the city, under the cover of an acupressure clinic. Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, in a press note issued here today said a woman of Amar Pura Basti of the city was running the brothel from rented premises. The accommodation was divided into two parts and one of the partitions was used as an acupressure clinic and other part converted into a bedroom.

Dr Jain said a police party led by Mr Jaspal Singh, DSP (City), raided the so-called centre and arrested four women aged 22, 24, 28 and 30 years. The main accused had also introduced her sister into the business. They had customers coming from neighbouring cities also and took advantage of the acupressure clinic, name of the brothel. They had a mobile phone to arrange meetings with the customers.

In the recent past, the district police had unearthed the peddling of poppy husk from the various dhabas dotting the city and made huge seizures of poppy husk and illicit liquor also. He said a case under Section 3/5 of the Suppression of Immoral traffic Act in women and girls had been registered and further investigations were on.


14 arrested for smuggling drugs
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 25
The police has arrested 14 persons and registered 10 cases against them under the NDPS Act at various police stations of the district in drive against smuggling of narcotics.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, in a press note here today said the police arrested Dhan Singh, a resident of Kamal village, and recovered 100 gm of opium from him. A case under Section 18 of the NDPS Act has been registered at the Kotwali police station.

The police also arrested Jaspal Singh, Makhan Singh and Kulwinder Singh of Kothe Natheana village and seized 150 kg of poppy husk from them and registered a case under Section 15 of the NDPS Act at the Nahianwala police station, against the accused.

Mithoo Singh of Manwala village also has been arrested under the NDPS Act and the police recovered 10 kg of poppy husk from him. Seven kg of poppy husk seized from Harbhajan Singh of Gillpatti village. A case under Section 15 of the NDPS Act has been registered against him at the Dyalpura police station.

A case under Section 15 and 18 of the NDPS Act was registered against Jarnail Singh of Siriawala village for possessing 250 gm of opium and 37 kg of poppy husk was seized from him. Opium (160 gms) has been seized from Jasvir Singh of Kot Shamir, a case under Section 18 of the NDPS Act has been registered against him at the Kotwali police station and 102 kg of poppy husk was recovered from Baldev Singh of Charink.

Under the Arms Act, the police arrested Darshan Singh of Malkana and registered a case under Section 25 of the Arms Act at the Rama police station. The police recovered one 31 bore pistol, five live cartridges from him. A case under Section 25 of the Arms Act has also been registered against Javir Singh of Jassi Pauwali and recovered .315 bore pistol, one live cartridge from him.

The police has also arrested 46 persons under the Excise Act and seized 620 kg of lahan, 200 litres of illicit liquor, 72 litres of whisky from them and 43 cases registered against them at various police stations of the district.

Under the Gambling Act, the police has registered 20 cases against 23 persons and recovered Rs 16,263 from them. The cases under the Gambling Act has been registered against them at various police stations of the district.


Symposium on Vivekananda’s philosophy
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 25
Swami Vivekananda Study Circle here is celebrating national youth day on January 27 and organising a symposium on the philosophy of Swami Vivekananda and its relevance to present day youth, at local DAV college.

Mr R. Naruala, press secretary of the study circle, in a press note issued here today said eminent scholars and educationists of the region would participate in the programme and would throw light on various aspects of Swamiji’s life and his preachings.

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