Thursday, January 31, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SYL part of Congress excesses: Badal
A. S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Kot Bhai (Muktsar), January 30
The Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said here today that he was ready to go to the jail to protect the interests of Punjab and its people on the issue of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal.

“I have been in and out of jail on countless occasions during my long political career. I would not mind going to jail one more time to safeguard the interests of the state,” he declared in a talk with TNS here.

Mr Badal emphasised that he had regards for the highest judicial body in the country but he could not sacrifice the interests of the state and its people by allowing the construction of the SYL canal.

When pointed out that an individual had filed a contempt petition in the Supreme Court against him for his earlier utterances against its verdict directing the state government to complete the SYL within a year, the Chief Minister said, “I don't care. We have no waters to spare and therefore, there is no point in constructing the SYL canal,” he said.

The Chief Minister blamed the Congress for “creating and complicating the SYL issue”. It was the Congress which agreed to the construction of the SYL. It was again the late Indira Gandhi who launched its construction work at Kapoori in Patiala district. “We had actually cited the SYL as an Emergency excess committed on Punjab by the Congress before the Shah Commission. We had filed a case against the SYL in the Supreme Court but the Congress withdrew it. So it was clear that it was the Congress alone which bore the responsibility for this issue. But he and his party was ready to make any sacrifice to protect the interests of the state on this issue,” he declared.

Mr Badal also said that he was confident that his party would come back to power in the state after the Assembly election slated for February 13. “I have toured nearly half the state and on the basis of feedback I have received from all parts of the state, I can confidently say that we are set to sweep the poll. You must note that while our election campaign is in full gear, the Congress is yet to get its act together. As a matter of fact, the initial euphoria and enthusiasm which was witnessed in the Congress cadre has evaporated and has been replaced by apprehension and despondency because of the largescale rebellion which has broken out in the Congress over the distribution of ticket. All this bodes well for our party,” he said.

The Chief Minister said his party was fighting on the basis of its performance and achievements during its five-year term.

“Our achievements are there before the people: power generation, industrialisation, agriculture, infrastructure, concessions and rationalisation of taxes etc and above all, the maintenance of peace and amity in the state, which have changed the face of the state. And we promise to do more if we are given another chance by the people of the state,” he said

In reply to a question, Mr Badal said that the issue of allotment of the party ticket to anyone after the death of the party candidate and Punjab Minister for Malout constituency, Mr Sujan Singh, had not yet been decided. “But the first claim on it would naturally be from his family,” he said

The Chief Minister also issued a stern warning to the party rebels on denial of the party ticket were contesting as Independents. “We will take strict action against them. We have no place for them in the party. We are going to expel them for life,” he said.


Sukhbir plays the PM card
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Nathana (Bathinda), January 30
A former Union Industry Minister and senior Shiromani Akali Dal leader, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, today urged the people to make a judicious choice between the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, and the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, on one side, who initiated the era of development at the grassroots level in the state in the past five years, and the PPCC chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, who was not even accessible to senior functionaries of the party for days together, on the other.

Mr Sukhbir Singh toured a number of places in the Bathinda, Mansa and Muktsar Assembly segments and addressed about 15 rallies today. Addressing people here, he said they should not expect any good from a person who was already a “maharaja” and had no concern with the plight of commoners.

He claimed that the manifesto released by the Congress highlighted goals which the SAD-BJP government had already achieved in the past five years. He said this indicated that the Congress had jumped into the election fray without any agenda. He said the charge sheet issued against the SAD-BJP government by the Congress turned out to be a bundle of false allegations and was a move to mislead the voters.

He said a number of former Congress ministers and senior functionaries of the party had jumped into the election arena as Independents against the “anti-Punjab” policies of the Congress high command while on the contrary a section of Akali leaders, who were disappointed after being denied the ticket, had started campaigning for the official candidates.

He warned the people that if the Congress was voted to power, it would not lift their paddy and wheat even at throwaway prices while in the past five years no farmer faced any harassment in this connection.

He said the SAD-BJP government was committed to the betterment of farmers. He said the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had decided to provide one-room accommodation free of cost to families of the Scheduled Castes and other weaker sections of society.

He said Mr Badal had taken pains to redress the grievances of the people at their doorstep and done a lot to make the economy of the state strong and generate employment. 


Brahmpura, Kairon refuse to bury hatchet
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 30
Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Cooperation Minister, and Mr Surinder Singh Kairon, former Congress Member of Parliament and father of Mr Adeshpartap Singh Kairon, Excise and Taxation Minister, have refused to bury the hatchet even after Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s intervention.

Mr Surinder Singh Kairon stated that he would support the rebel Akali candidate, Mr Harmit Singh, from Tarn Taran as the official candidate of SAD, Mr Alwinder Paul Singh Pakhoke, Senior Vice-President, SGPC, was not acceptable to him. Mr Kairon admitted that he had not been campaigning for Mr Brahmpura as the latter had not requested him to do so. He, however, said he would extend support to Mr Brahmpura, but not openly. Mr Kairon did not mince words while criticising Mr Pakhoke for engaging female Punjabi singers for the rallies being organised in Tarn Taran.

Mr Kairon also admitted that he had been supporting Mr Om Parkash Soni, a rebel Congress candidate from Amritsar. “Except Tarn Taran, I have been supporting all official SAD candidates”, he said.

Mr Kairon admitted that he had neither joined SAD nor he intended to do so like his son, who had been inducted into the Badal ministry. Giving reasons for supporting the Badal government, Mr Kairon said after his father Partap Singh Kairon, Mr Badal was the only Chief Minister who had left an indelible impression on the minds of voters.

Though there are confirmed reports that Mr Kairon had been campaigning in favour of Master Jagir Singh, former Congress minister, who is pitted against Mr Brahmpura, he denied the same after repeated queries. He said he would play “neutral” in Naushehra Pannuan from where Mr Brahmpura was seeking re-election.

He evaded a direct question whether Mr Brahmpura had been campaigning against his son, who was seeking re-election from Patti constituency.

It may be mentioned here that Mr Badal had brought rapprochement between the two stalwarts of the Majha region, but it proved to be short-lived.

Mr Kairon was also instrumental in getting the nomination papers of Mr Prem Singh Lalpura, sitting MLA, who had filed his papers on the Panthic Morcha ticket in Tarn Taran constituency, withdrawn.


Close contests in a crowded election arena 
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 30
Both the Congress and the ruling Akalis are at present engaged in a damage-control exercise to quell rebellion causing anxiety to official candidates in several Assembly constituencies across Punjab.

When persuasion failed and warnings did not cut ice, the only course left was expulsions. The presidents of both parties have used that option as much to send signals down the line as to maintain discipline when in the thick of electoral battle. If Mr Parkash Singh Badal axed Mr Gurbachan Singh Bachi for his anti-party activities in Sangrur, Capt Amarinder Singh felled 21, including former ministers and MLAs, in one stroke. Attempts to broker rapprochement, however, continue in several pockets. How far such extreme steps will have a sobering effect and stem the rot remains to be seen. A bewildering variety of 416 candidates — 284 Independent and 132 representing little-known or unknown parties — are among the 917 candidates who stand offloaded in the election arena. The state goes to the polls on February 13.

Therefore, the crowded election arena may upset the calculations of many candidates even as the presence of contestants of certain factions and organisations may not be of any reckoning with the voters. Most of the contests will remain multi-cornered. Close fights are on the cards.

Much of the trouble has spewed because the two parties gave tickets to new candidates and some old candidates, who had lost the last election. If the Congress has put up 64 new candidates out of 105 seats it is contesting (10 seats have been shared with the CPI), the ruling Akalis have included 44 new faces.

Therefore, the official candidates of the Congress and Akalis face challenges from the ignored ticket-seekers, some of whom quit the party to contest and others are contesting despite being expelled. The common poll refrain is that both the Panthic Morcha and the BSP will act as spoilsport. If the former is likely to cause some dent in stray Assembly segments in the vote bank of the ruling Akalis, the latter may erode the vote base of the Congress. There are apprehensions of sabotage from within, besides damage by the BSP. All Morcha candidates have been allotted SAD (M) symbol of gadda.

Punjab has a high percentage of Scheduled Caste/ Backward Classes population, about one-third and more than half of them living below the poverty line. The Scheduled Caste component Plan is in the range of 7 per cent to 8 per cent of the total Plan of the state. Cap it with gross regional imbalances—poverty in the southern region is 17.5 per cent against 7.6 per cent in the northern region, as per the 1993-94 figures, according to the India Rural Development Report, 1999, prepared by the NIRD.

The Congress in its manifesto, released on January 27, has offered a sop to this segment by declaring (page 8), “Congress party will also give special attention to the backward classes population of the state by reserving 27 per cent of the jobs for them.” As per the official policy, there exists a reservation of 25 per cent for the Scheduled Castes and 12 per cent for the Backward Classes. In addition, there is 13 per cent reservation for Backward Classes comprising of ex-servicemen, sportsmen, handicapped and freedom fighters, making a total of 50 per cent.

As per a court ruling, reservations cannot exceed 50 per cent. Therefore, it is not clear how the Congress will further raise the reservation to 27 per cent. This can be done only by displeasing one or the other section within the reserved categories. In that case, horizontal and vertical reservations would be affected. Will this poll-plank work to wean voters away from the BSP folds?

There are 69 women among those in the fray. If the number of candidates is up from 693 in 1997 to 917 at present, so is the number of women candidates — up from 52 to 69. In fact, out of 52 women contestants, only seven got elected and 39 forfeited their deposits.

The party-wise distribution of tickets to women is as follows—Congress-12, BSP-15, SAD-4, BSP (Ambedkar)-5, RPI-3, SAD (M) and LJSP-2 each. The other parties, including BJP, have given just one ticket each. There are 19 women candidates as Independents. The party-wise number of candidates are — Congress-105, SAD (Badal)-92, SAD (Mann)-84, BSP-99, BJP-23, CPI-10, CPM-15, NCP-35 and Lok Bhalai Party-36, Independents and others-416. 


Clash of prominent families on anvil
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Bholath (Kapurthala), January 30
Considered one of the few traditional Akali strongholds of the Doaba region, this constituency is heading for an interesting clash of two prominent families representing the Lobana and Jat Sikh communities in Bibi Jagir Kaur, former SGPC chief, and Mr Sukhpal Singh Khaira, son of her arch-rival and former Punjab minister Sukhjinder Singh.

This constituency which was part of the Kapurthala Assembly segment was provided with a separate identity during the 1977 delimitation process. It was retained twice by Mr Sukhjinder Singh and in the 1992 and 1997 polls it was cornered by Mr Jagtar Singh Multani and Bibi Jagir Kaur, respectively. Mr Multani chiefly won due to the boycott of polls by the SAD and Bibi Jagir Kaur defeated Mr Khaira in 1997 by a huge margin. The constituency has about 1.18 lakh votes comprising Jat Sikhs (about 45,000 votes), Lobanas (28,000), Dalits (25,000) and OBCs (1,0000).

Meanwhile, the Panthic Morcha has put up Mr Gurbinder Singh Samra and the candidates of the Lok Bhalai Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party are Mr Bachan Singh Gill and Mr. Kuldip Kumar, respectively. What makes the contest interesting this time is that on one hand, the prestige of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is at stake, and on other, it’s a litmus test for the Khaira family particularly when it is represented by a comparative greenhorn in Sukhpal Singh Khaira, who is fighting on a ticket of the Congress, which has always been opposed by his father.

The things are not the same this time for Bibi Jagir Kaur, though her supporters claim that she will repeat her 1997 performance. Though she has a good rapport with people, particularly, those belonging to the Lobana community, and she has been seeking votes in the name of development in the area, poor condition of roads and other basic infrastructural structures tell a different story. Secondly, her being embroiled in a case and the controversy over the mysterious death of her daughter may cast its shadow, apart from the “anti-incumbency” factor. Another factor which may affect her poll prospects is that a powerful lobby of Sikh saints led by Baba Kashmira Singh has pitched in the arena to shower their patronage upon Mr Khaira. 


Exchanging dupattas to secure votes
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 30
The exchange of pugri (turban) by two persons as a symbol of deal for a life-long association as religious brothers has been an important tradition of the Punjabi culture. But what has been generating the interest of the people is the fact that some rural areas of various Assembly segments falling in this district have been witnessing the exchange of duppattas (headgear of women) by relatives of various contestants, who have been trying to make it to the Vidhan Sabha through the February 13 poll.

As the campaigning has been picking up, various constituencies, especially the rural belts, are being gripped by the trend of exchange of duppattas. The relatives and better halves of the contestants are trying to woo the women electorate by showing their love and affection for them by exchanging duppattas with them, thus making them their religious sisters.

With this unique mode of campaigning, the contestants have been finding themselves doubly benefited as on one hand they have been finding that rural women, who usually shy away from the election process, have been jumping into the campaign and on other, their votes are secured.

A relative of a contestant told TNS that by exchanging duppattas and subsequently becoming religious sisters, women who generally did not come out of their dwellings even on the day of polling to exercise their franchise, could be wooed and motivated for taking an active part in the hustings.

In various Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in this part of Malwa region of Punjab, the women have played an active role in the campaigning for various contestants. In the last Lok Sabha elections, Mrs Harsimrat Kaur, wife of former Union minister, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, who was pitted against Mr Jagmeet Brar from the Faridkot constituency campaigned for her husband. His rival Jagmeet Brar was also supported by his better half Amanpreet Kaur, who did hectic campaigning in various parts of the constituency going from door-to-door.

In the five Assembly segments falling in this district, there are two women contestants out of total 50 — one each from Bathinda and Nathana.


Live political debates on Alpha Punjabi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 30
Beginning from February 1, Alpha TV Punjabi will air special episodes dedicated to the various issues at play during the forthcoming Punjab elections. The episodes will be structured in the form of live debates between the prime contenders in the polls.

Information in this regard was given today at Chandigarh Press Club by producer of the special 10-episode series titled “Chown Dangal”. Ms Anuradha Prasad said the idea was to bring the politicians to talk about basic issues which concern a common voter the most. The series which will feature politicians of the order of Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal, Capt Amarinder Singh, Prof Brij Lal Rinwa and Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. The programme will be relayed everyday at 9 pm.

The producer further informed that every 30-minute episode would throw open a debate on issues like corruption, violation of the model code of conduct, nepotism in Punjab politics, peasant problems and so on. The highlight of the function will be the participation of general public. A select audience representing a cross-section of society will pose straight questions to the politicians.

The series will be anchored by city-based journalist Mr Jagtar Sidhu.


SAD rebels give edge to Cong
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 30
Though Sangrur district is considered a stronghold of the SAD, after the withdrawal of nominations, the Congress seems to have got an edge over the ruling Akali Dal in several Assembly constituencies due to the presence of rebel SAD candidates, who are in the fray as Panthic Morcha candidates or Independents. However, in other constituencies, the Congress candidates will also face problems from rebel candidates in the fray.

SANGRUR: In the Sangrur Assembly constituency, the Congress candidate, Mr Arvind Khanna, seems to be ahead of the party rebels and Independents. Mr Sanmukh Singh Mokha is the SAD candidate, while Mr Jeet Singh Alloarkh, district president of the SAD (A), has been fielded by the Panthic Morcha. Mr Ranjit Singh Ballian (sitting MLA) who had recently resigned from the SAD and the Badal Ministry, is also in the fray as an Independent while Mr Amarjit Singh Titu, an aspirant of the Panthic Morcha ticket, is also contesting as an Independent. It seems the Akali vote bank will be divided between four candidates. During the past eight Assembly elections, since 1967, the SAD has won four times from Sangrur while the Congress and the Janata Party have won thrice and once, respectively. Mr Gurbakhsh Singh Sibia of the Congress and Mr Ranjit Singh Ballian of the SAD have won this seat twice each. While the Congress has its stronghold in Sangrur, the Akalis have their strong base in the Bhawanigarh-belt.

SUNAM: In Sunam, after the retirement of Mr Amandip Arora, a rebel Congress candidate in favour of her sister, Mrs Sonia Deepa, the official Congress nominee, the main contest is now likely to be between the SAD candidate, Mr Parminder Singh Dhindsa, and the Congress candidate, Ms Sonia Deepa. But the presence of Mr Gurpreet Singh Lakhmirwala (four times SAD MLA from Sunam) in the fray as the candidate of the Panthic Morcha has reportedly made the contest triangular. Since 1967, nine Assembly elections, including a byelection have been held in the Sunam segment, of which the SAD candidates have emerged victorious seven times.

Shortage of staff in schools and dispensaries, paucity of drinking water and non-disposal of filthy water from villages are the common problems in rural areas.

LEHRA: In Lehra, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, a former Punjab Chief Minister, is in the fray as Congress candidate whereas the SAD and the Panthic Morcha have fielded, Giani Naranjan Singh Bhutal and Mr Inderjit Singh Jeji, respectively. Mr Jeji has a strong mass base in the area as a renowned Akali and human rights activist. Hence, the Akali vote bank will be divided, so it seems Ms Bhattal has an upper hand over her rivals though she is facing a Congress rebel, Mr T.K. Bansal. Ms Bhattal and Babu Brish Bhan of the Congress have won this seat twice each since 1967. The Ghaggar problem is a major issue in Lehra since floods every year damage standing crops in thousands of acre of 26 villages in the constituency.

DIRBA: Mr Baldev Singh Mann (SAD), Mr Gurcharan Singh Dirba (Congress), Mr Chand Singh Chatha (Panthic Morcha) and Mr Surjit Singh Dhiman, an Independent, are among those who are trying their luck this time from Dirba. Besides the parties’ candidates, Mr Dhiman being a social worker, has a say in the constituency. In the past, Mr Baldev Singh Mann of the SAD won this seat thrice while Mr Gurcharan Singh Dirba of the Congress captured this seat twice. Now once again, both are in the poll fray, but nothing could be predicted. People of the area are demanding a Government College at Dirba as students have to go to Sangrur or Sunam for higher studies.


Harry Mann, Bhangu expelled 
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 30
A day after the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) President, Capt Amarinder Singh, expelled 21 senior leaders of the party, two more rebels have been expelled from the party on disciplinary grounds.

The expelled Congressmen are Mr Harry Mann, who is contesting as an Independent from the Samana Assembly constituency where the official Congress nominee is a former cabinet minister, Mr Brahm Mohindra, and Mr Hardev Singh Bhangu, who is in the fray as an Independent from the Ghanour Assembly constituency where the official nominee is Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa.

Both Mr Harry Mann and Mr H.S. Bhangu have been expelled for a period of six years by the Patiala District Congress Committee.


DCC chiefs told to expel rebels
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 30
Capt Amarinder Singh, President PPCC, has instructed all presidents of District Congress Committees in the state to expel the rebel candidates, contesting election against the official candidates of the party and against the candidates of alliance partner CPI. This was stated by Mr Sant Ram Singla, spokesman for the party.


Sonia to visit Punjab on Feb 5, 7
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 30
The Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, will address six election rallies in Punjab on February 5 and 7. Party sources said that on the first leg of her campaign tour, Ms Gandhi will address rallies at Sujanpur, Jalandhar and Abohar on February 5 and Talwandi Sabo, Sangrur and Morinda on February 7.


Toddler LBP takes steps forward
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Hariana (Hoshiarpur), January 30
It's 3 pm. A sizeable crowd has assembled in freshly ploughed fields. Everyone looks expectantly towards the vehicles passing by on the link road. The man they are waiting for is late. He was supposed to have turned up at 1.30 pm.

A few minutes later, a white car followed by two other vehicles approach the makeshift stage in the field. The crowd starts raising slogans like ‘‘Ramoowalia zindabad ’’. As the dust thrown up by the vehicles settles down, party activists run towards the car with garlands.

The man, with garlands almost hiding his face, rushes towards the crowd and greets people with a handshake. The man, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, President of the Lok Bhalai Party (LBP), has arrived.

The LBP has fielded 45 candidates in the state and adopted 30 Independents. It has also entered into a political alliance with the CPM.

Just a toddler in the state's political structure, the party was formed in March, 1999 . It is competing with the over 80-year- old Shiromani Akali Dal and the 116-year-old Congress.

Mr Ramoowalia, a former union minister and member of the Rajya Sabha, was active in the Akali politics for several years before joining the CPM a decade ago.

He is well versed in the art of mounting a political attack on Akali leaders, his favourite targets being Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra. He also knows the Akali idiom and vocabulary well, and uses these to make a dig at Akali and Congress leadership.

He says the political mafia, in form of Congress and Akalis leaders, who have ruled Punjab for the past several years have milked the state dry. ‘‘There is no differences in the political culture of both parties.’’

Mr Ramoowalia also uses theatrics to emotionally charge the audience and raises the issues of river waters, Chandigarh, Punjabi speaking areas and the SYL canal. ‘‘ What has Mr Badal done to resolve these issues ? ’’

He speaks of how a few families of Congress and Akali leaders were related to each other. ‘‘ Despite speaking against each other in public, in fact they are all one ,’’ he says amidst slogan shouting against the two parties.

The objective of his party, he says, is public service and to free the political system from corrupt politicians. He also reads from a CAG report to press home his point .

The speech over, Mr Ramoowalia rushes towards his car for the next destination. ‘‘Our party is making good gains in the state ,’’ he claims.


Ladoos replace coins
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Mansa, January 30
Candidates cutting across party lines in this district have no option but to grin and bear. The reason they are being weighed against ladoo’s and not coins, as was the common practice in the previous elections. This way they are unable to pocket substantial sums needed for their campaign expenses.

This trend is fast catching on since supporters have seen it is a safe option to wriggle out of their financial commitments towards election contributions without annoying their candidate. The findings of a random survey of the four constituencies of the district — Mansa, Joga, Sardulgarh and Budhlada reveal that only the candidates of the major political parties, that too a couple of times, have so far been weighed against coins while the lesser known parties are having to satisfy themselves with ladoos.

Mr Satish Kumar, an owner of a prominent sweetmeat shop here, told TNS, “Being a cheaper option everyone wants to be in the good books of the candidates and yet save on money. On an average, a person can only spend between Rs 1,800-2,500 on a function to weigh the candidate”. The abundant supply of ladoos’ at such venues also ensures a good gathering since all the ladoos have to be distributed at the spot.

On the other hand, several city residents said weighing with coins was a costly proposition. As many as 100 coins make 1 kg. It means to weigh a candidate of 70 kg, one would need coins worth Rs 7,000. 


Setting up hospital her dream
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Malerkotla, January 30
She is the wife of an IPS officer with a keen interest in politics and a spirit to serve people. Mrs Razia Sultana, who has been associated with the Congress for the past 14 years, is the party’s candidate from Malerkotla. Her husband, Mr Mohammad Mustafa, is the DIG, Jalandhar.

Talking to The Tribune, Mrs Sultana claimed she had been given the Congress ticket according to the wishes of the people of Malerkotla and also for her services to the party.

She has been a member of the PPCC for the past two years, was the vice-president of the Punjab Youth Congress in 1997 and the general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress women’s wing in 1995. She was also the chairperson of the Block Samiti, Sirsawa, Saharanpur in 1995, she added. Lashing out at people who called her an outsider, she said she was the daughter of Malerkotla and had completed her graduation from here. She will stay here if the voters gave their verdict in her favour.

Mrs Sultana said she had no differences with her brother, model-turned-politician, Mr Mohammad Arshad Dali, who was contesting against her on the Panthic Morcha ticket. After the resignations of Mrs Sazida Begum and Mr Abdul Gaffar from the Congress, there will be no adverse affect on her campaign, she says. As Mr Gaffar is contesting on the NCP ticket, so Congressmen will support her whole-heartedly and she will win by a big margin, Mrs Sultana says. Her dream is to set up a women’s hospital in this town. If she wins, her first priority would be to set up of a government hospital here. Her other concern is the absence of a new grain market at Ahmedgarh. Regarding her campaign, she claims to have received a good response from all sections of the society, especially from women. She hopes she will be the candidate of people’s choice.


Dedicated workers

The Congress has a history and a long unending list of dedicated and committed workers. Ch Kartar Chand, a close confidant of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, is one who belongs to this band of dedicated workers.

‘‘He was my bosom friend,’’ he says about Mr Beant Singh, maintaining that their friendship which started in the early 60s was because of ‘‘our love and commitment to the Congress.’’

‘‘I was with him until 10 to 15 minutes before his assassination outside the Punjab Civil Secretariat,’’ recalls Mr Kartar Chand, a ‘‘Paaledar’’ by avocation, claiming that ‘‘I always enjoyed my role as a worker and never ever thought of contesting any election anywhere. It is not the candidate but his or her team of workers that win elections.’’ A brother-in-law of Yamla Jatt, Punjab's uncrowned king of ‘‘tumbi ’’ — a single chord musical instrument — Ch Kartar Chand still lives in Jawahar Nagar camp in Ludhiana, which was initially set up as a transit camp for refugees from Pakistan.

‘‘I have worked for Congressmen in general and Sardar Beant Singh and his family in particular in every election since he got into electoral politics in 1962. Now I am here to work for Mr Tej Parkash Singh, a son of Mr Beant Singh,’’ he adds. Kotli, a small village on the outskirts of Payal subdivision headquarters, was all peaceful as a Tribune team visited the native village of the former Chief Minister of the State.

‘‘There are about 60 to 70 houses in the village. Everyone holds Sardar Beant Singh and his family in high esteem,’’ says Mr Pirthi Singh, a village elder, maintaining that ‘‘developmental activities in the village initiated during the last Congress government were discontinued after a change of government.’’


Pawar campaigns for Cong rebel
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 30
Mr Sharad Pawar, President of the Nationalist Congress, kick-started the party’s election campaign from the Amritsar (west) constituency here today.

Extending support to the Congress rebel candidate, Capt Rajinder Kumar, Mr Pawar targeted the farmers, a traditional vote bank of the Akalis, castigating the ruling party’s policies in the agriculture sector.

“These retrograde policies have ruined the farmers. It has seen the utter wastage of precious grain in Punjab and cotton glut in Maharashtra” said the four time Chief Minister of Maharashtra.

“The suicides by farmers has deeply disturbed me”, he said. The BJP which advocated the “swadeshi” slogan is now inviting “videshis”, he quipped.

Condemning the government for its stand on Pakistan, the former Defence Minister said sugar was imported from Pakistan to appease it while they were arming themselves to launch an attack, which led to the Kargil conflict.

Capt Rajinder addressing the rally at Chheharta resolved to put a halt to the flow of smack in the area. At least 20 persons have died in the last five years here. Due to growing unemployment the youth here has taken to drugs in a big way.

The party has announced its support to four more Independent candidates in the district. These are Mr Gulzar Singh Khasa from Attari, Mr Arjun Singh Mattu from Verka, Mr Tarsem Singh from Jandiala and Mr Nirvair Singh from Naushera Pannu.

Meanwhile, the Congress high command has expelled a party rebel, Raminder Singh Bolaria, from the primary membership of the party for six years and has taken a strong notice of the anti-party activities of party councillor Inderjeet Sharma, according to a press note issued here.


Promise to revive industrial units
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, January 30
The Congress will try to revive the industrial units that faced closure in the Banur area due to policies of the Shiromani Akali Dal during its rule of five years, besides introduce post-mortem facility in Civil Hospital, Dera Bassi, said Ms Seelam Sohi, the Congress candidate from the Banur assembly constituency.

Ms Sohi was addressing mediapersons here for the first time after she joined politics after the death of her husband, Mr Ravinder Singh Sohi, a former Chairman of the Zila Parishad, Patiala

Ms Sohi also released a six-point manifesto today. She announced to set up a cooperative sugar mill at Lalru, an information technology centre at Dera Bassi and to construct an old-age home in the Banur area.

Apart from this, various projects would be started to educate women of the area about their rights.

She revealed that the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate, Ms Karamvir Kaur, who was also contesting from the same constituency, may “harm her”.

Meanwhile, 12 members of the Yuwak Sewaon Club, Khanpur, also joined the Congress after quitting the Shiromani Akali Dal here today. The club members surrendered their SAD identity cards and expressed their solidarity with Ms Sohi.


Candidates promise district headquarters status
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, January 30
The five prominent candidates in the poll fray for the Kharar Assembly today promised proper educational and industrial infrastructure, better village link roads and district headquarters status for the town. The candidates, including those of the Congress, SAD and the Panthic Morcha, were speaking at a “meet-the-press” programme, organised by the Mohali Press Club here today.

On being asked about their nearest rivals, the candidates — Mr Bir Devinder Singh (Congress), Mr Kiran Bir Singh Kang (SAD), Mr Rajbir Singh Padiala (Panthic Morcha), Mr Harnek Singh Gharuan and Mr Balbir Singh Sidhu — (both independent) — avoided a direct reply. The two Independent candidates, who have been expelled from the Congress, vent their anger against the Congress high command for giving tickets to outsiders.

While the candidate of the SAD, Mr Kiran Bir Singh, defended the government, saying that the development of the constituency suffered as the sitting MLA, Mrs Daljeet Kaur, crossed over to the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, the Panthic Morcha candidate, Mr Rajbir Singh Padiala, who is son of Akali leader, late Bachittar Singh and the sitting MLA, Mrs Daljeet Kaur, blamed SAD for intentionally ignoring the area. He indicated that the murder of his father in year 1996 would be on the agendas of his election campaign.

On being asked about the threat, the Congress faced from the expelled dissidents in the elections in Punjab, Mr Harnek Singh Gharuan, a former minister, and Mr Balbir Singh Sidhu, a Congress candidate in the last parliamentary elections, said the wave in favour of the Congress had subsided after the uprising in the party over the distribution of tickets. “The Congressmen can never be expelled. As an independent one gets a better chance. Even the party President, Capt Amarinder Singh, tried the same card”, said Mr Gharuan.

Mr Balbir Singh Sidhu chided the Congress high command for keeping the suspense about the party ticket for the Kharar seat. He said that he had been among the front runners during the past five years when it came to area party rallies. Dismissing the plea on his being an outsider, Mr Bir Devinder Singh said it was the party decision to give the ticket from Kharar. “Both Mr Ghruan and Mr Sidhu are my friends and I was shocked to hear their decision”, said the Congress candidate who was quite articulate in choosing words while speaking against his opponents. He said the campaigning was going on smooth and described himself to be a “low profile” candidate.

On being cornered about the long-pending demand of the residents to give district headquarters status to SAS Nagar, Mr Kiran Bir Singh Kang said the demand was never “properly” presented by the sitting MLA from Kharar. Banking on the development works done in his ministership, Mr Gharuan said the town was made a sub-division in 1995 due to his efforts. “ I had planned an irrigation canal for the area but the project was shelved when the ministry of Mr H.S. Brar ended”.

Mr Kang listed the development works during the tenure of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. The closure of Punwire dominated the speech of all candidates. The Congress candidate accused SAD for sleeping over the issue for long and described assurances for revival as a political stunt.


Clash averted
Our Correspondent

Kharar, January 30
A clash was averted between supporters of Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Congress candidate from the Kharar constituency, and Mr Harneik Singh Gharuan, Independent, from Kharar who was expelled from the party here today.

Mr Mehar Singh, former president of the Block Congress Committee Kharar has complained to the SHO Kharar against Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Mr Harbagh Singh (ex-chairman Panchayat Samiti Kharar) and Mr Charanjit Singh (ex-president Municipal Committee Kharar) about this. He has written in his complaint that he recently resigned from the Congress because the party had given the ticket to an outsider and he was supporting Mr Harneik Singh Gharuan who was contesting as an Independent candidate from Kharar. He said that at about 11.15 am when he along with other persons were sitting in the office of Mr Gharuan, Mr Bir Devinder Singh along with others came there in their vehicles and wanted to take him for campaigning. When he refused to go, they tried to forcibly throw him into the vehicles. Meanwhile, many people came there and they ran away.

He has demanded action in this regard.

Meanwhile, Mr Harbagh Singh and Mr Charanjit Singh have also complained to SHO, Kharar, that when they were going on the routine campaign today and when they reached near the office of Mr Gharuan, they were stopped by a supporters of Mr Gharuan. They alleged that Mr Mehar Singh and his supporters gheraoed them and raised slogans.

They tried to push Mr Harbagh Singh from the vehicles but other Congress candidates arrived on the spot. They have levelled charges against Mr Gharuan also.


Kang cautions voters
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, January 30
The SAD candidate from Kharar, Mr Kiran Bir Singh Kang, has cautioned the voters against the propaganda of the Congress. He was speaking at the function organised by the Industrial Welfare Association of Phase IX here today.

Meanwhile, the candidate of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Mr Bhupinder Singh, alleged that the corruption was the basis of the SAD-BJP rule in the state. He was addressing a rally at Desu Majra village.


Cong goes musical

The Congress campaign has gone musical. An audio cassette by noted singers is being played in various parts of the Phagwara (reserved) Assembly constituency. It contains six songs eulogising the Congress and its leaders, it lambasts the Akalis. The songs mention problems of unemployment and suicides by farmers, pleading with the people to rid the state of the SAD-BJP government and to vote the Congress to power. OC

INLD support

FAZILKA: Contrary to the party directive, Mr Aad Lal Jakhar, President of the Punjab state unit of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), has decided to support the Congress candidate, Mr Mahinder Rinwa, from this constituency. The INLD has a considerable mass base in the area. According to the details available the INLD leaders and members met on Tuesday evening under the leadership of Mr Aad Lal Jakhar and unanimously decided to support the Congress candidate. The sitting MLA and Minister of Forest, Mr Surjit Kumar Jayani, was hoping for the INLD support, as the party is a partner in the NDA government at the Centre. TNS

Forum backs Cong

FEROZEPORE: The Joint Action Christian Forum, Punjab, has decided to extend support to the Congress in the Assembly elections. The forum announced a seven-member team to campaign for the Congress candidate for the Ferozepore Assembly constituency, Mr Balmukand Sharma. The forum alleged that during the Akali-BJP rule in the state, there has been an increase in atrocities against minorities in the state. According to Mr Alvin Bhatti, the forum, which has considerable support, especially in Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Ferozepore, has placed some demands which they hope would be implemented if the Congress came to power. OC

Party observers

CHANDIGARH: Capt Amarinder Singh, President, PPCC, has appointed the following Observers for monitoring the campaign for each district in the Assembly elections. Dr (Mrs) Malti Thapar, Ludhiana (Urban); Prof Charan Singh, Ludhiana (Rural); Mr Balbir Raja Sodhi, Amritsar (Urban); Mr Lakhmir Singh Randhawa, and Ms Ratna, Amritsar (Rural); Ms Mai Roop Kaur, Patiala Town; Mr R P Singh, Patiala; Mr Dharam Pal Sabharwal, Kapurthala; Mr Ram Pal Daipai, Mansa; Mr Ram Parkash Bali, Hoshiarpur; Mr Babu Ram Chawla, Faridkot; Mr Gurjit Singh Lehal, Gurdaspur; Mr Pawan Diwan, Jalandhar; Dr Harbans Kaur, Moga; Mr Nahar Singh Gill, Muktsar; Mr Prem Gupta, Bathinda; Mr Satwant Singh Mohi, Ropar; Mr Virender Rana, Fatehgarh Sahib; Mr Sukhjinder Raj Singh Lalli, Ferozepur; Mr Harnek Singh Mangewal, Sangrur and Mr Gurpal Singh, Nawanshahr. TNS


Where politics is a way of life
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 30
They have not only completed half a century in electoral politics but are a household name here. They are none other than the ‘‘Saathis’’ about whom people all over the town will tell you their stories.

Though the family has been successful in getting into the Punjab Assembly only thrice — twice by Mr Rup Lal Saathi and the third time by his elder son, Mr Vijay Saathi — they have contested virtually every election in Punjab since Independence.

‘‘In 1952, I revolted against the denial of ticket to me and contested as an Independent to ensure the defeat of the official candidate of the Congress. Exactly 50 years later, my son, Vijay Saathi, has got the Congress ticket,’’ says octogenarian Rup Lal Saathi, maintaining that ‘‘now I have been working wholeheartedly for the success of my son and the Congress. I have always opposed corruption, dishonestly and double standards in public life. It is why people in this town give us respect. My entire family has always been in the service of the people,’’ he claims, revealing that though ‘‘it is for the first time that I am not in the fray myself, yet our family has never spent any money on contesting elections. At times, we end up with some money left in our kitty at the end of elections.’’ Mr Rup Lal Saathi was elected to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha in 1969 and again in 1977. Mr Vijay Saathi was elected in 1992 when the mainstream Akalis had given a call for boycotting of the elections. And once both father and son were in the election fray simultaneously.

In 1957, his nomination papers were rejected and in 1962, he lent his support to Mr Gurcharan Singh Nihalsinghwala, the ultimate winner.

In 1992, Dr Malti Thapar defeated him narrowly. But Mr Vijay Saathi got into the Vidhan Sabha from Baghapurana. ‘‘When the Dass Commission was set up to probe charges against the previous Congress government headed by Mr Pratap Singh Kairon, I was a member of that Commission. It is because of our quality of calling a spade a spade that we have a very strong personalised vote bank. In case people vote for Vijay Saathi, we will certainly institute an enquiry against the present incumbent and Education Minister for allegedly amassing wealth and property disproportionate to his known sources of income,’’ says the senior Saathi.

Mr Vijay Saathi maintains that after the allotment of ticket, he had personally gone to all senior Congressmen of the district, including Dr Malti Thapar and Gills, who have promised him their fullest cooperation and support.


Remembering the Gandhi of Doaba

To achieve something one has to sacrifice his self. This one sentence changed the life-style of Pandit Mul Raj Sharma which made him to jump into the arena of education, freedom struggle and social reforms. The turning point in the field of education started when the Head-Master of the school of the nearby village refused to accept his request for allowing the students to leave the school before sunset to enable them to assist their elders in the day to day activities. The Head-Master not only refused in an unceremonial way but also challenged him to open the school in his village. The next day he started a primary school in his village which later on became an important centre for the spread of primary education within a radius of 10 miles.

He joined the freedom struggle in 1916. He went from village to village to educate the people of their rights and awakened them to participate in the struggle. This finally resulted in the highest number of participants/volunteers from the Doaba region and particularly from Jalandhar district in the country. He was arrested for the first time in 1920-21. He participated in all the movements started by Mahatma Gandhi and remained in jail for eight years. His rare feat of hoisting the national flag in the jail premises earned him the wrath in the shape of punishment of Danda-Beri. He was closely associated with the family of Shaheed Bhagat Singh. His name always figured in the posters along with Kishen Singh, father of Shaheed Bhagat Singh. Another turning point in the field of social reforms cropped when a young girl of his village became a widow at the age of 14. This episode was agitating in his mind during his imprisonment in jail and inspired by Sher-e-Punjab Lala Lajpat Rai Ji and guided by Swami Sharda Nand Ji, started Vidhwa Vivah Sahayak Sabha in his village. This enabled him to put a new life by arranging 3000 widow remarriages. This earned him the title of Raja Ram Mohan Rai of Punjab.

His simplicity, humbleness, kind heartedness and fearfulness, affection with the people earned him the popularity of the masses with the title of Gandhi of Doaba. He died on January 31, 1983.

— Geetesh Sharma


Daire’ can create awareness: Bhatti
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 30
Mr D.R. Bhatti, Director, Punjab Police Academy, Phillaur, strongly stressed the need for creating awareness and healthy change in the attitude of the people towards the girl child.

Applauding the successful performance of an anti-female foeticide Punjabi musical play “Daire” ably directed by Pran Sabharwal and Sunita Sabharwal and staged by the National Theatre Arts Society (NTAS), Patiala, and the Department of Women and Child Development at the auditorium of Punjab Police Academy, Mr Bhatti said the play with an effective message on the burning theme must be staged all over the country, especially in Punjab, to condemn Punjab’s lowest sex ratio and activate the people against the evil practice of female foeticide.

Mr Bhatti, who is also heading the Punjab Police State Apex Committee for NGOs projects, also honoured the Sabharwals with a shawl, memento and cash award and presented mementoes and gifts to 25 artistes of the team for initiating a state-level women empowerment theatre campaign against female foeticide.

The Principal, Dr Sulekh Kanwal, coordinator of the campaign, disclosed here that the play written by Dr Satish Kumar Verma, presented earlier at Moga and Mukandpur (Nawanshahr), got good response and would now be repeated at Mandi, Gobindgarh (Fatehgarh Sahib) Doraha (Ludhiana) and Ropar soon.


International  seminar concludes
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 30
The two-day international seminar on “inter-faith work to social harmony and world peace” organised by Punjabi University in collaboration with the World Congress of Faith (England) concluded today with the adoption of “declaration on ecology and spirituality” introduced by the Vice-Chancellor of the host university, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia.

Inspired from the mankind is facing from unprecedented ecological crisis, the declaration called upon all to rededicate themselves to the cause of brotherhood. The Vice-Chancellor said that the year 2004 was sacred to Sikh history as exactly 400 years ago, the fifth Guru compiled Guru Granth Sahib. “Year 2004, therefore, should be celebrated as an anniversary when the highest Sikh scripture was bequeathed to humanity,” he added. The declaration also called upon the World Parliament of Religions and other international inter-faith organisations to dedicate their programmes for 2004 to ecology and spirituality.

A total of 11 papers were presented which almost unanimously stressed upon an essential recognition that humanity needed to understand that ultimate reality transcended any definition of formula.

The two sessions held today were presided by Dr Allan Race and Dr Richard Boeke, respectively. Among others, Dr N. Muthumohan, Dr K.T.S. Sarao, Dr Joy Barow and Dr Oweh Cole read their papers.


Tributes paid to Gandhi, martyrs
Tribune Reporters

Tributes were paid to Mahatma Gandhi during a function organised here on Wednesday. A two-minute silence was observed in his memory and a contingent of the police reversed its arms to pay homage to freedom fighters and martyrs.

FEROZEPORE: A district-level Martyrs’ Day function was held at Gurdwara Saragarhi Memorial in which Commissioner Dharamvir, and Deputy Commissioner S.R. Ladhar, besides other senior civil and police officials paid homage to those who sacrificed their lives for the nation. A two-minute silence was observed.

HOSHIARPUR: Martyrs’ Day was observed to pay homage to those who sacrificed their lives during the freedom struggle. A function was organised at the zila parishad grounds where a two-minute silence was observed and a police contingent reversed its arms. Mr Iqbal Singh Sidhu, Deputy Commissioner, paid rich tributes to Mahatma Gandhi and other martyrs. Tributes were also paid by Mr Kuldip Kumar Nanda, DCC president.

MUKTSAR: A two minute silence was observed here on Wednesday in the memory of those who laid down their lives for the freedom of the nation on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary.

A function was organised in the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Babu Lal. A contingent of the Punjab police paid tributes to the martyrs by reversing its weapons. A function was also held at the office of the Deputy Commissioner in Bathinda.


Conserve oil, says DC
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 30
Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner, Fatehgarh Sahib, Mr M.L. Toora, CDM, Indian Oil, Chandigarh, flagged off a march past organised by oil companies to make the people aware for oil conservation. Hundreds of children with cards written slogans on conservation of oil participated in it, which started from Municipal Committee office, Sirhind, and terminated at Mata Gujri Senior Secondary School, Fatehgarh Sahib. Mr Partap called upon the oil sector to make oil conservation a public movement. It was time that different sections of oil users in society were actively involved in conservation drive.

Mr Toora said during the fortnight various functions were organised.

Mr T.S. Dhaliwal, SDM, Fatehgarh Sahib, gave away prizes. Mr Arif Akhtar, District Coordinator, Petroleum, Ms Amandeep Kaur Sandhu, Senior LPG Sales Officer, and Mr Rajiv Sreshta, Assistant Manager (Lube), addressed the gathering.


Two lecturers killed in mishap

Gurdaspur, January 30
Two college lecturers and a government employee were killed when their car collided head-on with a truck coming from the opposite direction at Suchetgarh village near Pathankot today.

According to the police, the victims had gone to Pathankot to confirm their election duty programme.

They were identified as Piara Singh and Narinder Kumar, lecturers at a Batala college, and Kamal Sharma, a clerk in the SDM’s office at Batala.

The police has registered a case against the truck driver who has absconded. UNI


Army recruitment rally on Feb 6
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 30
An Army recruitment rally will be held at Gurdaspur. Applications have been invited from Ramdasi Mazbi Sikhs and Dogra castes specifically for soldier (general duty) category. Candidates of other castes can apply for the technical soldier’s category. The candidates should be matric and between 16 and 21 years for general duty soldier and 16 to 23 years for technical till March 30, 2002, with about 170 cms of height.

Candidates are required to carry certificates regarding their qualification, age, residence mark-sheet, and caste, duly attested by respective SDM or tehsildar of the area. Sikh candidates should also carry 12 photographs each with turban and without turban. Wards of present or ex-servicemen require certificate of father’s defence enrollment or discharge certificates, respectively. The rally is scheduled for February 6. Candidates have been cautioned against approaching agents. This was informed by the Army recruitment department here yesterday.


Jawan cremated

Batala, January 30
The body of an Army jawan Jagdish Singh, who died in Jammu and Kashmir recently, was cremated with military honours at his native village Riali Kalan near here, yesterday.

Jagdish Singh was killed in poonch region of Jammu and Kashmir and his body was brought here yesterday. Deployed in the 7 Sikh regiment he was recently posted in Jammu and Kashmir.

Col C. Mukherji placed a wreath on his body on behalf of the Army. Senior civil and police officials also laid wreaths on the body. PTI


Relief sent for Kashmiri migrants
Our Correspondent

Barnala, January 30
Inspired by Mr Kanwarjit Singh Sandhu, SSP, Barnala, local residents sent a truckload of essential commodities for Kashmiri migrants living in a camp on Shyam Giri Mandir Road, New Delhi.

Mr Sandhu on Monday flagged off the truck carrying 90 quintals of rice, 1 quintal of wheat flour, 2.5 quintals of pulses, 20 kg of tea leaves, 10 kg of red chillies, 10 kg of haldi, 60 kg of washing soap, 113 cakes of bathing soap, 1 quintal of washing powder and one bag of old clothes from the local Geeta Bhavan complex for New Delhi.

Mr Sandhu contributed Rs 11,000.


Bunglings in voters’ list, 2 suspended
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, January 30
Mr S.R. Ladhar, Deputy Commissioner-cum-district election officer, today placed Mr Jugraj Singh, Block Primary Education Officer (BPEO), and Mr Sukhwinder Singh, a clerk in the district Education Department, under suspension after they were found guilty of bunglings in the registration of new voters when the electoral rolls were revised.

Sources said Mr Sajawar Singh, a candidate from the Guru Har Sahai Assembly segment, and Mr Om Parkash in a complaint to Mr Ladhar alleged that the names of several voters were not included in the list by Mr Jugraj Singh and Mr Sukhwinder Singh.

An inquiry was ordered into the complaint and a report was asked within 24 hours.

The complainants showed receipts of Form 6 to the returning officer to endorse their claims. The returning officer conducted an inquiry and the officer concerned was found absent from duty at the BPEO office. As many as 1,990 forms (4, 6 and 8) were found from the office which had been held up without any reason.

Mr Sukhwinder Singh said he had completed all formalities by December 3 and had deposited the forms at the office of the election tehsildar.

Mr Sukhwinder Singh Walia, Regional Transport Authority-cum-returning officer, Guru Har Sahai, endorsed the inquiry report and recommended that the erring official should be suspended.

The Deputy Commissioner said a charge sheet would be issued against them separately, adding that it was not possible to register those persons as voters, whose claims were not deposited with the election tehsildar.


Rs 3.2 lakh looted from bank

Moga, January 30
Some persons escaped with a booty of over Rs 3.2 lakh after breaking a safe in the strong room of Central Cooperative Bank at Khosa Panoo village last night, the police said here today.

The theft came to the notice of the Bank Manager only when he and other employees arrived at the bank and found the shutters locks broken, the police said.

The miscreants decamped with the money lying in the bank’s safe, leaving behind two gas cylinders which they brought with a welding set to cut open the safe. The SSP said a special investigation team had been constituted. Two suspects have been rounded up.


Murder suspect eludes police
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 30
A police party from Sri Ganganagar in Rajasthan today went to Shergarh village of this subdivision in search of Amar Singh, who had allegedly murdered his two daughters at Raziasar village by throwing them into a canal. His eldest daughter survived as she had gone to her maternal parents’ house few days ago.

According to sources, Amar Singh took his wife Rukma Devi (20) and two daughters aged seven months and four years, respectively, to Birdhwal Headworks of Gang canal on Monday evening. He reportedly first threw his four-year-old daughter into the canal as she was feeling thirsty. Then he snatched his younger daughter from his wife and threw her into the canal near Burji number 236. He also pushed his wife into the canal but she survived by catching hold of the shrubs on the sidewall of the canal.

Sources said Amar Singh then beat her up severely, tore her clothes and again pushed her into the canal. However, her cries drew the attention of Army men passing by who rescued her. She was admitted to a hospital and a medical examination was got done. The police said Rukma, originally a resident of 23-M village, was married to Amar Singh in 1996. Amar Singh was allegedly annoyed with her as she had given birth to three daughters. He managed to escape after the incident. A case under Sections 302 and 307, IPC, was registered against him.


ASI arrested on graft charge
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 30
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau has arrested ASI Jatinder Pal for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 5,000 from a complainant of Saidpur village in Chamkaur Sahib. The DSP (Vigilance), Mr Jora Singh, said that on the directions of the SP (Vigilance), a team of the department caught the ASI posted at Chamkaur Sahib police station with the cash which he had allegedly been taken to favour the complainant in a case.

The money was recovered in the presence of an SDO, Mr Ashok Kumar, and a clerk, Mr Rajinder. The ASI has been kept in custody at Phase VII police station in SAS Nagar.


PCCTU seeks CEC’s intervention

Phagwara, January 30
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) today sought the intervention of Chief Election Commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh for preventing the Punjab Government from “misinterpreting and misusing” the election code to exploit and harm 7,000 college teachers by allegedly not implementing the Pension-Gratuity Act passed in April, 1999, and not releasing Rs 21 crore as pay scale arrears received from the Centre in March, last year.

In a telegram sent to the CEC, Prof K.B.S. Sodhi, president, PCCTU, urged Mr Lyngdoh to instruct the state government not to obstruct the implementation of the past legislative decisions on the pretext of election code and do misappropriation of grants.

Meanwhile, the joint action committee (JAC) of federations associations and unions of managements, Principals, teachers and non-teaching staff of 172 private colleges would observe “save education day” on February 6 against the alleged anti-higher education policies of the state government, Mr Jaspal Singh Randhawa, general secretary, PCCTU, and member of the JAC, said here. PTI


Training camps for students on anvil

Moga, January 30
The Punjab School Education Board was actively considering organising training camp during summers at some hill station for promoting the talent of primary schoolchildren and teachers’ training camp at Tara Devi in Himachal Pradesh.

This was announced by Gurdev Singh Sidhu, Vice-Chairman of the Board, while presiding over the prize distribution function of Punjab state-level educational and cultural competitions of primary schools here yesterday.

The function was held at Bhupinder Khalsa Senior Secondary School. The opening ceremony was performed by Punjabi writer and novelist Jaswant Singh Kanwal by lighting the candle.

Selected students from 15 districts of the state participated in various competitions, including shabad gayan, kavishri, declamation, good handwriting, on-the-spot painting, way gayan, fancy dress and folk songs.

Ramandeep Kaur and Amanjit Kaur stood first and second, respectively in handwriting competition.

Mr Baldev Singh, Principal of the school, thanked the Board. UNI

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