Wednesday, February 6, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Amarinder’s open letter to Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, in an open letter to the Punjab Chief Minister, M Parkash Singh Badal, posed him 10 questions on various issues, including the rivers water and his personal property.

“For Punjab, the deprivation of its river waters is not a matter of political debate or polemics. It is an issue which concerns the future generations of Punjabis for whom the river waters are a vital lifeline.

“Will the Chief Minister of Punjab stand up and clarify the following issues agitating the minds of Punjabis today :

1. Is it not a fact that as a Chief Minister you accepted in 1979 Rs 2 crore from Mr Devi Lal, CM, Haryana, to start work on the SYL and issue notices U/S 4 of the Land Acquisition Act?

2. Is it not a fact that in October, 1985, the Akali government in Punjab accepted more than Rs 35 crore from the Haryana Government to construct the SYL canal?

3. Is it not a fact that on September 6, 1989, you accepted allotment of 71000 sq m of land in Gurgaon at the concessional rate of Rs 341 per sq m from Mr Devi Lal?

4. Is it not a fact that your family has constructed a five-star hotel called Orbit Resorts on this land the market value of which is Rs 500 crore at present?

5. Is it not a fact that your family has constructed a palatial 25-room house at Balasar village in Sirsa in Haryana on a 300-acre farm?

6. Is it not a fact that Mr O.P. Chautala, CM, Haryana, has had a dedicated irrigation channel constructed to carry water to this farmhouse at the Haryana Government’s cost and as a result of this, the value of this property has appreciated to crore of rupees?

7. Is it not a fact that your government removed F. Nariman, one of India’s renowned Constitutional experts and appointed a lesser known counsel in his place to appear before the Supreme Court to defend Punjab’s rights over river waters?

8. Is it not a fact that the Supreme Court ordered the Government of India in August, 2001, to negotiate a settlement between the Governments of Punjab and Haryana on the SYL issue?

9. Is it not a fact that the Government of India issued several summons to the CMs of Punjab and Haryana to come on the negotiating table and although the Haryana CM was willing, you were not?

10. Is it not a fact that because of your refusal to join the negotiations, the Government of India reported to the Supreme Court that it was not possible to come to a negotiated settlement and hence the Supreme Court passed the adverse orders against Punjab?

The PPCC chief said that Haryana gained waters to which it was never entitled and Punjab with 105 lakh acres of cultivable land received only 12 MAF of water while Haryana with only 80 lakh acres of cultivable land got 14.7 MAF of water.

He further alleged that Punjab’s share would be further reduced.


Populist manifestoes ignore real problems
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
Without sparing a thought about Punjab’s dipping fiscal status, almost all political parties in their respective manifestoes have resorted to populism, promising sops, concessions and freebies to various sections of the electorate to win their support.

But political parties have either overlooked or treated casually such issues of public importance as decreasing number of working days, growing tendency of absenteeism from government institutions, menace of tuitions, disappearing work culture, right to information, accountability, social reforms and the prevailing system of misuse of official authority for person gains.

Politicians have tried their best to avoid to unpopular promises for fear of loss of votes.

In remote areas, teachers rarely go to schools. They have devised various ways for wilful absence from duty.

This fact was in the know of the SAD-BJP government, but it failed to do the needful. The previous Congress Government also did nothing in this connection.

No political outfit has promised to tackle this. There is only a passing reference to it in the Congress manifesto.

Most of the doctors posted in civil hospitals and primary health centres in the countryside prefer to run private clinics in towns and cities instead of attending to their official duty. Though the government pays hefty pay packets to them, it does not ensure accountability.

Politicians have promised free medical treatment to poor patients but without ensuring the presence of doctors in civil hospital, etc.

The number of working days has gone down drastically in the past years. Non-working days have virtually out numbered the working days in calendar years.

The SAD-BJP government gave revised pay scales to employees but it did not cut down the number of holidays which was recommended by the Pay Commission.

By a rough calculation, a government employee has to work about 150 days in a year, if he utilises his or her all casual, earned and medical leaves beside the holidays declared by the government.

Almost each of the Chief Ministers has added one or two public holidays to the list of such days during their respective tenures. In the era of privatisation when banks have started working round the clock, Punjab cannot compete with the fast paced world without raising the number of working days.

Most deputy commissioners, district police chiefs and other officers at district headquarters run their administration from their bungalows instead of their designated offices. Politicians know it, but none of them has raised this problem in their manifesto.

One can find police gunmen sitting outside the offices even junior officers at district headquarters. Officers’ accessibility to public has touched rock bottom. In fact, the public servants have become virtual rulers. Most of them have lost interest in public service. As Mr Parkash Singh Badal failed to make public servants to work for people, he had to devise the sangat darshan mode to himself discharge the duties meant for public servants.

In Chandigarh, most of the Punjab Government officers at top level prefer to be in the Golf Club than going to their offices.

No political party has specifically promised to deal with this problem which people face. Hundreds of cases are pending in courts of District Development and Panchayat Officers, Deputy Commissioners, SDMs, Divisional Commissioners for years. There is no effort to make disposal of such cases time bound which can be done by popular Government.

But above all these is a problem of “forced” financial burden by top officers on their subordinates to cater to their private needs. In majority of the cases, expenditures on birthday parties and other get-togethers hosted by deputy commissioners, district police chiefs in districts, senior officers at divisional headquarters and other district heads is borne by their subordinates. Most of heads of departments try to marry their wards off before retirement as it has also turned a profitable venture. These corrupt practices are going on for the past several decades. Political parties have turned their back towards such problems.

In fact, those who become ministers also enjoy free hospital and payment for this is made by the officers of the department concerned at the district level. General assistants to DCs have to collect money through tehsildars from people to pay the unauthorised expenditure.

The system of corrupt practices devised, promoted and patronised by various deputy commissioners, chief engineers, excise, police officers and others who matter in the government, works uninterrupted more smoothly and accurately for the past several decades than the legalised system laid down by rules for governance in the state.

But no political party is ready to bell the cat because by and large politicians and bureaucrats have become partners in the loot of public.

Right to information is a need of the hour. No one can think about providing clean and transparent government without enacting such a law.

But it does not figure on the agenda of many of political parties in the fray.

Public, on the name of which state’s entire apparatus functions, should have uninhibited access to the details of all government projects, works, decisions, except in sensitive areas, executed in public interest.

In fact, there is unending story of such problems for which no political party has shown will to put an end all such things in their manifestoes. 


Parties overlooking villagers’ issue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
Political parties have been overlooking an important emotional issue common for 357 villages spread across Kharar, Morinda and Banur Assembly constituencies in Punjab located in the vicinity Chandigarh.

These villages fall under the Periphery Control Act, 1952, governing an area of 16 kilometres around Chandigarh and have a collective population of about 70,000. The Act prohibits any kind of construction outside the lal dora of the villages. So far, none of the parties has promised any help in curbing the official machinery from misusing the Act to displace the villagers, points out Mr Angrez Singh Badheri, president of the Pind Bachao Committee.

A total of 427 villages fall under the periphery of Chandigarh, of which 357 are in Punjab and others in Haryana. Political parties should promise that rights of villagers will not be sacrificed for expanding urban areas like Chandigarh and SAS Nagar or townships like Anandgarh.

Land acquisitions are made at very low rates whereas rates in the open market are four to five times the market rates, Mr Angrez Singh adds. On the other hand, the villagers are constantly under threat of facing demolition if they go outside the lal dora. If lands are to be acquired, residential accommodation should be provided besides a job. Snatching away of agricultural land from the farmer is depriving him of his avocation. Besides this, a minimum acquisition price of Rs 25 lakh per acre should be fixed in these villages. This price should be reviewable from time to time.

For the older lot, is an even more emotive issue as they have not other skills other than farming or rearing cattle. A scheme for pension is a must, depending on calculations made on area of acquired land. Under the Act, notices are issued to people for carrying out constructions outside the lal dora fixed in 1886. In today’s context, the lal dora has lost its relevance as population has multiplied.

Several Class III and IV government employees live in these villages. The Punjab Urban Planning Authority sends notices for violations at regular intervals.


CM blames Cong for Punjab woes
Tribune Reporters

Sangrur, February 5
Mr Parkash Singh Badal addressed an election rally organised in support of Mr Sanmukh Singh Mokha, SAD candidate from Sangrur, at the new Grain Market here today.

Mr Badal said now, it was up to the voters to decide the fate of both parties. He alleged that the Congress had always adopted a step-motherly attitude towards Punjab on all issues. It had not only “snatched” river waters, capital and Punjabi-speaking areas from the state, but also divided the people on the basis of religion, language and region, he added.

Mr Badal said the Punjabis were going to hand over the power to a party and asked them to think about the achievements of the both parties before casting their vote.

Mr Badal said on one hand there was the Congress party, which had no captain for chief ministership, while on the other hand, there was the SAD-BJP alliance which had already appointed him as its captain. He said there were three candidates in the Congress for the post of Chief Minister — Capt Amarinder Singh, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar.

He said Capt Amarinder Singh’s former gunman was contesting against Ms Bhattal in Lehra to ensure her defeat. Besides, Captain Amarinder’s maternal uncle was also in the poll fray as a candidate.

BARNALA: Mr Parkash Singh Badal lashed out at the Congress for doing “injustice to the people”. He was addressing a massive poll rally in support of Mr Malkit Singh Keetu, SAD candidate from Barnala.

Mr Badal said the poll was not a contest between candidates of these political parties but was indeed a fight for the future of Punjab. 


Cong undecided on leadership: Badal
K. S. Ahluwalia

Kapurthala, February 5
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has cautioned the electors against casting their voters in favour of Congress candidates in the state.

Addressing an election rally in favour of the SAD Akali candidate and state Transport Minister Raghbir Singh here last evening, he said the main contest was between the Akali-BJP-BSM combine and Congress CPI alliance.

He said confusion was prevailing in the Congress-led combine as its leaders were undecided on leadership.

He said the Congress had failed to fulfil the basic needs of the people during its four-decade rule.

He accused Rana Gurjit Singh, Congress candidate, from the Kapurthala seat of having purchased the party ticket by giving crores of rupees to the leadership.


Lion versus sacrificial goat
A. S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Lambi (Muktsar), February 5
The electoral contests between the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who is also the SAD chief, and his political opponent in this constituency have often been described as a fight between the lion and the sacrificial goat, with the latter always meeting its predictable end at the hands of the former.

In the 1980s, the Congress leader, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, enacted the role of a sacrificial goat in the contest against Mr Badal. He lost to Mr Badal in 1980 and again in 1985. With the election of Mr Brar to the Lok Sabha, this role seems to have been taken over by another Congress leader, Mr Gurnam Singh Abul Khurana.

The Chief Minister's native village, Badal, forms part of Lambi constituency from where he is seeking re-election. Mr Badal has managed to win from here, and earlier from the neighbouring constituency of Gidderbaha, even in the worst of times. In 1992, the Akali Dal boycotted the elections which gave a chance to Mr Gurnam Singh Abul Khurana to get elected to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha. He contested again from Lambi in 1997 but was trounced by Mr Badal. This time again, he is in the field against Mr Badal, but he faces an uphill task.

However, queering the pitch for Mr Badal is the challenge he faces from a close relative, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Badal. Young, energetic and well-educated, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Badal is the son of the late Mr Teja Singh, an influential landlord of the area and an uncle of Mr Parkash Singh Badal. As a matter of fact, it was Mr Teja Singh who introduced Mr Badal into politics. He died last year but he continues to command a vast fund of goodwill in the area which his son is now trying to encash.

Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Badal was inducted into the Congress party a few months ago by Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar who is now the Congress MP from the Faridkot parliamentary constituency. Lambi assembly segment forms part of Faridkot parliamentary constituency. It was publicly promised at that time by Mr Brar that the Congress ticket for Lambi constituency would be given to Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Badal. The Punjab PCC chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, also made the same promise. But at the time of the allotment of the Congress ticket, the ticket went to Mr Gurnam Singh Abul Khurana, leaving Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Badal high and dry.

His camp alleges that Mr Mahesh Inder Singh was denied the Congress ticket as part of a ‘‘deal’’ reached between Mr Badal and Capt Amarinder Singh under which both decided to put up ‘‘weak’’ candidates against each other in their respective constituencies. While Mr Badal has put up a political lightweight in Patiala to oppose the PCC chief, the latter has returned the compliment by denying the ticket to Mr Mahesh Inder Singh who could have posed a serious challenge to the Chief Minister in Lambi. Instead, Mr Gurnam Singh Abul Khurana has been fielded by the Congress in Lambi despite promises to the contrary earlier.

Mr Mahesh Inder Singh is now in the field as an Independent candidate and is leaving no stone unturned to make things hot for the Chief Minister. His camp claims the support of a large number of Congressmen also. He says that his late father had always been a great help to the people and the people wanted to repay their debt by voting for him. The Panthic Morcha has also announced its support for Mr Mahesh Inder Singh and its leaders, including Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode and Baba Sarabjot Singh Bedi, addressed a big rally in the area a couple of days ago.


Right time to grab MC land
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 5
The election time has become a boon for those who encroach upon the municipal land in Sirhind constituency, courtesy politicians and municipal officials.

Since the declaration of elections, a large number of kiosks have mushroomed on prime MC land and kiosk manufacturers are working day and night, making good money.

Residents of the town are surprised at the development and complaints to municipal authorities have had no effect. As the campaigning is picking up, so is the encroachment.

One can see such kiosks opposite the BDO’s office, behind the government school and on Bassi Road.

Some municipal councillors said they had approached the Deputy Commissioner in this regard who had then asked the District Grievances Officer to look into the matter, but the encroachment had increased rapidly.

They said the four election observers were not aware of the menace and all this was being done in connivance with the Executive Officer of the Municipal Council.

On the condition of anonymity, some municipal officials said they were being pressurised by senior officials at the behest of politicians not to stop any one from erecting kiosks on municipal land. They said some shopkeepers had encroached upon the corridors in front of their shops.

At the complaint of some residents, the Municipal Council staff brought a kiosk and some construction material of land grabbers to the council office, but these were released without the imposition of any fine.

Owner of one such kiosk said this was the right time to encroach upon municipal land by just assuring a good number of votes. Otherwise, persons like him, have to pay lakhs of rupees in bribe for this.

When contacted, the Executive Officer of the Municipal Council of Sirhind, said he was not aware of any encroachment on municipal land, but any encroachment would be removed.


Flouting EC rules, employees canvass
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
Flouting the Election Commission's guidelines on conduct of government employees during an election, hundreds of Punjab Government employees are actively participating in the election campaign for their favoured candidates. And in a run-up to the Assembly elections, attendance in various departments, boards and corporations is increasingly becoming thin.

Making a mockery of the guidelines, a sizeable number of employees are busy influencing their colleagues, relatives, employees unions and friends to secure votes for their candidate.

A random survey of different departments revealed that most of these employees had taken their respective bosses into confidence before going on the campaign.

Inquiries reveal that participation of government employees in some constituencies in Patiala, Sangrur, Kapurthala, Ludhiana, Bathinda, Ropar, Nawanshahr, Ferozepore and Moga was quite active. In the nearby Morinda and Kharar constituencies, employees of the Punjab School Education Board and other Chandigarh-based departments could be seen canvassing for candidates of the Congress and the Panthic Morcha. A senior official of the board was also seen seeking votes for the ruling Akali Dal candidate from Moga.

An employee said he was campaigning due to his personnel equation with the candidate. A few others said that rallying behind a candidate could ensure access to political power later.

Apart from barring the employees from participating in an election campaign or canvassing, the commission has categorically specified that the employees should not lend their names or use their official position to assist a candidate.


Poll mud-slinging, Bhatti style
Parbina Rashid

Chandigarh, February 5
To keep the voters on their heels, Jaspal Bhatti’s Nonsense Club is back with yet with another blow on the present electorate system — this time on the declining standard of the poll campaigns adopted by various parties for the forthcoming Punjab Assembly elections. However unlike his first of the election series “Punjab Suitcase Party” which rode in the crest of popularity, today’s street play “Mud Slinging Match” staged at the Sector 17 Piazza, lacked luster and the famous Bhatti pizazz.

Though the script bore all the Bhatti signatures — the right theme, caustic dialogues and a heavy dose of sarcasm with underlying meaningful messages — the two main characters portraying Parkash Singh Badal and Capt. Amarinder Singh around whom the play revolved failed to do justice to their roles. And with Bhatti himself playing the role of the Election Commissioner and at the same time shouting directions to his co-actors showed how little the troupe had worked for this project before the actual presentation.

“Mud Slinging Match” infused two themes — derogatory style of campaigning and free flow of alcohol and opium to woo the voters.

The show began with the Election Commissioner inaugurating a stall of liquor and opium and then proceeded to the cock fight between Badal and Amarinder Singh tearing each other’s reputation to shreds.

Though the play failed to attract favourable response from the audience, Bhatti’s after-play comments saying the spectators should appreciate this rare opportunity of election entertainment which comes after five years without any entertainment tax brought roars of laughter. And as for free flow of liquor and opium goes as a lure, it is justified, according to him, because no voter in a sober frame of mind could vote for “such worthless candidates”.

Nonsense Club will continue to conjure up street plays based on relevant themes on election issues, said Jaspal Bhatti while talking to media persons afterwards. Bhatti who is bitter over the way the contesting parties are throwing filth at each other through newspaper advertisements and other media said rather then finding negative points about others, the candidates should highlight their own achievements in a constructive way.

The Club will take the play to places like Bathinda, Gurdaspur and other remote areas where liquor and opium have become the dominant factor in the election campaign.


Cops trained to combat biological weapons
K. S. Chawla

Intensive training to combat hi-tech terrorism including chemical and biological terrorism, coupled with upholding the human rights are part of the syllabus at the Punjab Police Academy where NGOs, IAS and IPS officers are trained.

Emphasis is also laid on community policing and interaction between the police and the public. The authorities of the academy have changed the syllabus keeping in view the latest methods adopted by the criminals.

This is more than a century old institution that imparts training to the IPS (probationers) of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and Sikkim cadres; IAS and PCS officers (executive and judicial) of the Punjab cadre, besides, the DSPs, Inspectors, Sub-Inspectors and the ASIs from Bihar, Sikim, Bhuntan, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.

According to Mr D.R. Bhatti, Director, Punjab Police Academy, the institution primarily runs five types of courses and holds two sessions in a year. On an average more than 1,000 police personnel pass out of the academy. Specialised courses are organised on subjects related to the police functioning and dealing with the people. The officers have to undergo rigorous physical fitness training. They wake up at 4.30 a.m. and report for PT at 6 a.m. They are imparted weapon training from 7 a.m. to 8.30 a.m. The classes are held between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with an hour break. Again, they assemble for drill from 3 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. followed by an hour of sports. The roll-call is taken at 7 p.m. After this they return to the barracks and lights are put off at 9 p.m.

According to Mr Bhatti, the academy has a latest electronic weapon training simulator also known as firearms training system (FATS). This simulator has been imported from the USA at a cost of Rs 45 lakh. With the display of laser discs, various types of situations are projected on the screen on which five trainees can react at a time. It is an ideal system for sharpening the reflexes coupled with accurate evaluation of trainees performance.

The academy has its own mechanical shooting ranges. These are equipped with latest infrastructure necessary for weapon training and difficult shooting practices. A laboratory within the institution provides psychological backup during various training programmes. It is equipped with latest behavioural testing equipment necessary for sharpening and shaping the personality of the trainees. This laboratory conducts various behaviour modification sessions in the form of sensitivity training, stress management training, counselling and psychological testing.

A facilitative learning technique has been introduced in the academy. The role of the trainer is to encourage the trainees to learn with the help of audio-visual equipment such as epidiascope, overhead and slide projections, video screening and multimedia presentation.

According to Mr Bhatti this training involves visits to police stations and jails. A model police station has also been set up on its campus where trainees are briefed about registration of the FIR.

He further says that training is provided in upholding the human rights and understanding the culture of India from policeman’s point of view.

The men recruits are trained at the Police Recruits Training Centre, Jehan Khelan, Hoshiarpur. It is a subsidiary training centre of the PPS. Whereas, the women police constables are trained at the PPA itself.

The academy also organises special two months’ training camps for the jail staff, including the jail wardens, assistant superintendents and the deputy superintendents.

Special drill courses are also organised for the CRPF, BSF and the ITBP personnel. Tihar Jail, Delhi, has also sent a request for organising similar course for its personnel at Phillaur, Mr Bhatti added.


Sushma plays Hindu-Sikh unity card
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 5
The Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting and senior BJP leader, Ms Sushma Swaraj, played the Hindu-Sikh unity card while addressing an election rally in support of the SAD-BJP alliance candidate, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, here last night.

She said the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, had restored the glory of Punjabis which was badly damaged by previous Congress government.

Ms Swaraj, who was wearing a Punjabi suit and spoke in Punjabi for about an hour, claimed that the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and Mr Vajpayee managed to bring a “unity of hearts” among the Hindus and Sikhs of Punjab as the previous Congress regimes had tried to divide them on caste and religion to keep themselves in power.

“Punjabian di pug, jo Congressian ne lah ditti si, Badal te Vajpayee ne sambhali”, she said amid slogans like “Hindu-Sikh ekta zindabad”, “Atal Behari Vajpayee, Parkash Singh Badal zindabad.”

While claiming that there was no anti-incumbency wave or factor in the state, she asserted that the next government in the state would be formed by the SAD-BJP combine as people would exercise their franchise on basis of the SAD-BJP government’s performance in the past five years. The development carried out in Punjab during the past five years was not witnessed in the past more than four-decade rule of the Congress. She said on February 13, the Punjabis would make a choice between their “well-wishers and destroyers”. Mr Vajpayee gave a number of projects to Punjab in the past few years while the previous Congress governments snatched away the genuine rights of Punjabis, she claimed.

She urged the people not to be influenced by money-power and cast vote in favour of the SAD-BJP candidate. Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhuller, president, Municipal Council, Mr Gulzar Singh, Mr Narinder Mittal, Mr Parminder Goyal (all leaders of the BJP) and other prominent citizens were present on the occasion.


Where royalty mingles with the masses
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 5
Once a city of maharajas and maharanis which still addresses the erstwhile royalty by the same name, Patiala is seeing a demystifying of the royal legend through a “Maharani’’ who is making an all-out effort to blend with the people minus the royal tag.

Patiala MP Praneet Kaur may still be addressed as “maharani’’ in the city but seems to have left the royal image far away after climbing into the democratic bandwagon more than two years back when she contested and won the Patiala parliamentary seat.

Today she is the rallying point for her husband and Pradesh Congress President Capt Amarinder Singh who is often accused of being inaccessible to the people by his opponents and particularly Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) nominee Sarup Singh Sehgal. Even Sehgal, who speaks about the tall walls of the New Moti Bagh Palace of the PPCC chief as well as his lack of interaction with the people of the city, has little to say against the “availability’’ of Mrs Praneet Kaur.

Quite slim, wearing ordinary clothes and without the glitter of oversized diamonds which would normally be associated with a “maharani’’, Preneet Kaur is campaigning from morning to evening for her husband with a permanent “pallu’’ covering her head.

And the people seem to be reacting to her spontaneously with the common man identifying with her due to her open image. “We have never had problems meeting the “maharani’’. This is the common refrain of all party workers’’. Workers are also happy at the manner in which Mrs Praneet Kaur has been interacting with them since long. “She leaves important engagements to be at small social functions organised by grassroot level workers which has resulted in her having direct contact with party workers’’, said another worker.

Never a great speaker, Praneet Kaur keeps her speech to the minimum. What is more important is giving importance to each and every party worker at the various functions being organised by the party in favour of the PPCC chief. It was she who was seen pacifying over enthusiastic party workers at a function organised by senior Congress leader Vishnu Sharma. She is also quick to pick up the demands emanating from city leaders with demands for reducing Municipal taxes by Mr Vishnu Sharma being well received by her. She is also promising that she would ensure Patiala-based government employees get 15 per cent house rent allowance on the pattern of other corporations besides bringing in more employment opportunities to the city.

With Mrs Praneet Kaur in charge along with senior leaders, including DCC (Urban) President Ved Prakash Gupta, K K Sharma and Vishnu Sharma, the election campaign has become such that even those leaders, who had spoken out against the DCC leadership and even against Capt Amarinder, are now waiting to receive the PPCC chief and Mrs Praneet Kaur at various functions.

Presently besides Mrs Praneet Kaur, other family members, including brother-in-law Raja Malwinder Singh and his wife Harpriya Kaur, son Raninder Singh, daughter-in-law Reshma and daughter Jaiinder Kaur are also campaigning in various parts of the city. All the family members are accompanied by district leaders which means almost all the family members are campaigning in one part of the city or other.


Shot in the arm
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, February 5
The election campaign of Congress candidate Raj Khurana today got a shot in the arm with Patiala Lok Sabha member Preneet Kaur and the District Congress Committee (rural) chief, who had been conspicuous by their absence in his campaign, coming out in his support.

Ms Preneet Kaur and the District Congress Committee (rural) members, led by its president Hardyal Singh Kamboj, today took part in a public function organised at the old Grain Market in the town to bolster Mr Khurana’s campaign.

The DCC (rural) had been keeping away from Mr Khurana’s campaign till now mainly because Mr Kamboj is perceived to be close to Ms Preneet Kaur who was miffed at Mr Khurana for not extending his support to her candidature when she stood for election to the Patiala parliamentary seat. Mr Kamboj was himself a candidate for the Rajpura seat but could not get the nod from the party mainly because of the support extended to Mr Khurana’s candidature by former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.


Tohra promises ‘clean’ govt
Our Correspondent

Amloh, February 5
After a whirlwind tour of Chamarthal Kalan, Ranghari, Jhambala, Bhari Panchan and Tandha Badha with his team of supporters, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra president, SHSAD, addressed a well-attended rally at Badhouchi Kalan village held in favour of Panthic Morcha candidate, Mr Harnek Singh Dhiwana, contesting from the Amloh (Reserved) Assembly segment.

Mr Tohra asked the voters to teach the Congress a lesson by voting against it as it had attacked Harmander Sahib and demolished Akal Takht. He further, said that Mr Badal had defamed the image of the Akali Dal as allegations of corruption had been levelled against his family. In comparison, no finger of corruption had ever been raised against him. He promised a clean administration if the Morcha is voted to power.


Ambika not in race for CM post
Tribune News Service

Balachaur, February 5
“I am not in the race for chief ministership,” says Mrs Ambika Soni, general secretary of the AICC, maintaining that her “only vested interest was that the present SAD-BJP government should be voted out of power"”.

Talking to newsmen after the Congress rally here, Mrs Soni said the PPCC chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, was leading the Congress team in the coming elections.

“After the elections are over, the Congress Legislative Party, in consultation with the party president, will elect its leader. And I must make it clear that I am neither in the race nor shall I be a candidate. I am convinced that the rights of the workers of the PPCC should be protected,” she said, maintaining that if the Congress is voted to power, “Punjab will be back on rails for development and progress”.


Temple issue bait to garner votes: Buta Singh
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 5
Former Union Home Minister and Congress stalwart Buta Singh last night alleged that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the BJP were using the temple issue as a bait to garner Hindu votes and misleading the public, particularly the NDA partners.

Addressing a press conference after a poll rally for Mr Joginder Singh Mann, his nephew and the Congress-CPI candidate from here, Mr Buta Singh was replying to questions about the VHP ultimatum to government for constructing the Ram temple at Ayodhaya after March 12 and the Vajpayee government declaring that the temple was not on its agenda.

The VHP and the BJP were not interested in the temple but in votes, quipped Mr Buta Singh, under whose Home Ministership the “shilanayas” of the temple was done. However, he clarified that the “shilanayas” was done at the VHP office and not at the disputed site.

When told that the Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, had claimed that the temple was on the BJP agenda but was put on the back burner due to pressure from the NDA, the MP retorted that everybody was indulging in drama in vain to keep intact the conglomerate of 24 parties. In reality the BJP wanted to introduce a Hitlerian model of Nazism in India and the then RSS chief Hegdewar had actually met and discussed it with Nazi chief Hitler, alleged Mr Buta Singh.


Situation fluid in Ferozepore
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, February 5
The Congress vote bank in the city constituency appears to be in a state of uncertainty. The voters foresee a battle for supremacy between Mr Sukhpal Singh Nannu, the adopted son of BJP MLA Girdhara Singh, and Mr Bal Mukand Sharma of the Congress, who enjoyed a Cabinet berth in the government of the late Beant Singh.

The other contestants are Bhai Dhyan Singh Mand (Panthic Morcha) a former MP, Mr Surjit Singh of the BSP, Mr Sadanand Danav of the Lok Janshakti Party, Mr Hansa Singh, Mr Ashwani Mehta, and Mr Puran Bhatti (all Independents).

The Congress candidate has almost lost its traditional vote bank of Dalits, Rai Sikhs and most of the urban Hindu voters. Mr Ashwani Mehta, a rebel Congress leader, has the backing of traders.

On the other hand, Mr Hansa Singh has secured the support of a majority of the Rai community. He was a CPM leader who left the party to join the break-away group of Mr Mangat Ram Pasla.

According to official figures, there are more than 35,000 voters in this constituency who belong to the Rai community. This number can alter the political scenario of the area. A tour of the villages having a majority of the Rai community revealed that they were committed to vote in favour of Mr Hansa Singh. Earlier, these votes used to be polled in favour of the Congress.

One of the main factors behind the support of the Rai community is that Mr Hansa Singh had once protested against the local administration and the SAD-BJP government for granting proprietary right of landholdings to more than 5000 families settled beyond the Hussainiwala barrage along the Sutlej.

Mr Sukhpal Singh Nannu of the BJP feels that the votes of the Rai community would have otherwise gone to the Congress. The Congress candidate is said to have tried to woo Mr Hansa. However, he denied the rumours of any patch-up with the Congress.

He said neither the Congress nor the ruling SAD-BJP coalition was serious about the problems of the border areas and unemployment among landless labourers was increasing. He said there should be a special reservation in government jobs for those living in the border areas. Since the past 55 years, no government had tried to improve the standard of education in this constituency.

The BSP which bagged 21,151 votes leaving the Congress at the third place during the last Assembly elections cannot be ignored. Its growing popularity among the Dalits in this constituency is a challenge to the Congress. Political observers say that the BJP-SAD candidate will not be affected by the BSP.

On the other hand, Bhai Dhayan Singh Mand is trying to gain the support of traditional Akalis in the absence of any direct candidate being fielded by the SAD but being a Sikh the BJP candidate seems to be evenly poised.


A foreign-returned social worker
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 5
Before entering into the current Assembly poll fray as a Congress candidate from Sangrur Assembly segment, he was known as a social worker in the district. About four years ago, he set up the Umeed Khanna Foundation, a social organisation with pilot project “Health at the doorstep”.

Mr Arvind Khanna, who is contesting Assembly election for the first time, joined politics about five years ago as the district general secretary of SAD’s youth wing. He switched over to the Congress in 1998. At present he is the treasurer of the PPCC.

Talking to The Tribune here, Mr Khanna said his mother, Mrs Nagender was daughter of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala. He studied at Milfield School in the UK and passed his bachelor’s degree in business management in 1989 from Pepperdine University, California. He returned to Delhi in 1991 and joined the family business.

Mr Khanna lashed out at his political opponents who called him an “outsider”. He said he had been in the city for about five years and had been serving the people of this district through “Umeed Khanna Foundation” for the past four years.

He said he would make efforts to promote agro-based industry projects to this constituency to generate employment for the jobless youths.

In the presence of four Akali candidates, including two rebel candidates of SAD and one of the Panthic Morcha in the poll fray in this segment, Mr Khanna admitted that the contest would that this factor be tough. He said he felt his direct contest was with Mr Sanmukh Singh Mokha, the SAD candidate.


Bir Devinder tainted, says Cong rebel
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, February 5
Striking a rapport with the rural voters, a dissident Congress leader, Mr Balbir Singh Sidhu, who is contesting the Assembly elections from the Kharar seat as an Independent candidate, today listed the development works undertaken by him in the area in the past five years.

Addressing a gathering at Sante Majra village, he said the presence of the people of the area despite his being in the Opposition was in his favour. By raising the incident at Siau village where two Dalit children were murdered, he tried to garner support of the Dalit community — having a sizable vote bank in the constituency — against the SAD candidate. About the Panthic Morcha candidate, he asked the people to review the development works undertaken by the family of the candidate, Mr Rajbir Singh Padiala, during their respective tenures.

He painted the Congress candidate, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, as a tainted leader. Addressing another rally at Chapadchidi Kalan, he urged the electorate to vote for a candidate with a clean image. Mr Sidhu was weighed with coins during rallies at Jagatpura, Ratanhedi, Suratgarh and Daumajra villages.

The SAD candidate, Mr Kiran Bir Singh Kang was weighed against ladoos at Bhabat village. A section of merchant navy officials also announced their support for Mr Kang. A function was organised by Aggarwal Sabha at Hanuman Mandir in Phase 3B 2 here to pray for the win of the SAD candidate.

Mrs Navjot Kaur, wife of the Congress candidate, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, today conducted a door to door campaign in the Phase X colony. She was accompanied by Mr Harjinder Singh and Mr Jaswinder Kaka. A cycle rally will be taken out by the Congress workers in the town tomorrow.


Show of strength at Sohi’s rally
Our Correspondent

Lalru, February 5
The campaign of Congress candidate from Banur Assembly constituency, Ms Sheelam Sohi, today got a fillip with party dissidents from the constituency coming together to work for her success.

To strengthen Ms Sohi, three other dissidents Mr M.S. Gill, a former Cabinet minister, Mr Deepinder Singh Dhillon and Mr Sahibjit Singh, who were aspirants for party ticket shared a common stage at a function in Lalru. The three expressed their solidarity with Ms Sohi.


Door-to-door campaign by Kanwaljit’s kin
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, February 5
Accelerating his election campaign Ms Sarabjit Kaur, wife of Capt Kanwaljit Singh, general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal and a candidate of SAD-BJP alliance from the Banur Assembly constituency, today visited over two dozen villages and colonies in Lalru circle.

Accompanied by some other family members, party workers and supporters, Ms Sarabjit Kaur went for a door-to-door campaign and was weighted against coins and ladoos at eight places.


Reports on rly overbridge ‘true’
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 5
The Congress-CPI candidate from Phagwara, Mr Joginder Singh Mann, yesterday dared Mr Swarna Ram, SAD-BJP candidate, to either prove that press reports terming his claims on Railway overbridge hollow were incorrect or withdraw himself, from the poll fray. If Mr Swarna Ram proved that his claims on the overbridge were not false, I would, retire from the contest, Mr Mann said.




BATHINDA: Dr Ashok Gupta, director of the Lions Club (classic), said on Tuesday that the members of the club had decided to support the Independent candidate, Mr Rajbir Singh Sidhu, and not the Panthic Morcha candidate, Mr Gurdeep Singh, in the constituency. In a press note issued here, he said a resolution to support Mr Rajbir Singh was passed by the members on January 27. OC


BATHINDA: The Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Ms Sushma Swaraj, is optimistic about the SAD-BJP win in the state and has said there was no anti-incumbency factor in the state. Addressing a press conference here on Monday, she said response from various constituencies indicated that electorate was in a mood to give the SAD-BJP combine a second chance in the state. OC


Phagwara: Former Union Home Minister Buta Singh on Monday claimed that the Congress would get an absolute majority in Punjab. The party high command, he said, would advise the Congress Legislative party (CLP) on selecting a competent leader. Mr Buta Singh was addressing a rally in support of the Congress-CPI candidate from Phagwara, Mr Joginder Singh Mann, here. OC


ABOHAR: The Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal has given a call to the trader community in the state to vote out the ‘corrupt and anti-trader ’ SAD-BJP alliance in the forthcoming Assembly elections. Mr Madan Lal Kapoor, state president of the organisation, on Tuesday charged the alliance with backtracking on the promises made during the last elections and described abolition of octroi as an eyewash. OC


ABOHAR: The Congress candidate, Mr Sunil Kumar Jakhar, was weighed against coins at four places in Killianwali village on Monday. Dalit families in the village also weighed him against ladoos. Mr Jakhar was weighed against coins in several other villages in the constituency, including Pattibillah, Kikkarkhera, Waryamkhera, Shergarh and Sappanwali. OC


NAWANSHAHR: The CPM general secretary, Mr Harkishan Singh Surjeet, while addressing election meetings at Jandoli, Satnaur and Beenewal villages in favour of the CPM candidate from the Garhshanker Assembly segment, Mr Darshan Singh Mattu, came down heavily on the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and accused him of shedding ‘‘crocodile tears ’’on the issue of the SYL canal. He alleged that Mr Badal had received Rs 1.5 crore from Devi Lal in 1972 to start the digging of the canal. OC


PATIALA: Taxes, especially those by municipal corporations and committees, are likely to be reduced if the Congress comes to power in the state. According to a Congress leader, Mr Vishnu Sharma, a representation in this regard was recently made to the PPCC president, Capt Amarinder Singh, at a public function in the city. TNS


PHAGWARA: The Congress-CPI candidate from Phagwara, Mr Joginder Singh Mann, got a boost on Tuesday when more than 12 estranged local Congress leaders, including Mr Satbir Singh Sahbhi, Mr Harjit Walia, Mr Sukhjit Singh Pappi Parmar, Mr Balkishan Wadhwa and Mr Jaidev Sudhir decided to support him in the forthcoming Assembly elections. OC


MANSA: Weighing of candidates against coins and ladoos is one of the tactics adopted by candidates to boost their election campaign. Interestingly, inquiries reveal that the coins were mostly arranged by candidates themselves. The candidate keeps a bagful of coins, according to his or her weight ready, which are distributed in the gathering. In some cases, even the ladoos are also provided by the candidate themselves. While the coins are kept in safe custody for future use, ladoos are distributed. OC


MC men prevented from removing flags
Jaswinder Paul Singh

Bathinda, February 5
Employees of the local Municipal Council (MC) engaged in removing flags and other election-related material from government property in the city are finding it difficult to do their job due to the opposition of supporters of political parties.

The supporters of various candidates contesting from here did not allow the MC employees to remove publicity material, including posters, banners and slogans, from the walls of various government buildings.

The employees, in accordance with the orders from the District Election Officer, remove election-related material from government property daily.

The situation became tense this afternoon on the local Mall Road when supporters of a contestant stopped the employees concerned from removing the flags of their party from the poles in front of the election office of the candidate. Some of them even hurled abuses at the employees.

They asked them to first remove the big banners and flags of the other candidate whose office was situated a few yards away.

When the employees returned after removing the flags of the other candidate, the supporters did not allow them to do their duty.

They even manhandled one of them. The plea of the employees that they were obeying the orders of the senior officials failed to convince the supporters. The employees returned without removing the flags.

The supporters of this candidate also clashed with some press photographers clicking photographs during the episode. They threatened the employees and the photographers with dire consequences.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhullar, president, Municipal Council, said the employees had told him about the incident.

He said he had asked the employees to convey their grievances to the District Election Officer.

The District Election Officer-cum-Deputy Commissioner, Mr R. Venkatratnam, said the incident had come to his notice. He said legal action would be taken against those found responsible.


Banners, flags torn

Abohar, February 5
Banners and flags put up by Congress workers in the town were allegedly removed by activists of rival parties here on Monday. The district Congress president, Mr Sajjan Kumar Jakhar, in a complaint to the Election Commissioner in New Delhi , alleged that hundreds of flags put up to welcome Ms Sonia Gandhi, were found torn. OC


It is langar time for rural voters
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 5
Elections couldn’t have come to the state at a better time for the ruralites. The farmers as well as landless labourers are participating in the elections with gusto on a daily diet of “langar’’ and “daaru’’.

Collecting crowds is not a problem these days as the farmers have no work in the fields. With time for harvesting far away, all they have to do is to water the upcoming wheat crop.

However being free also means that they have little money in hand. Whatever they earned from the paddy is being spent on wheat, besides the marriages and other expenditure. The landless labourer also goes through trying times during this period and the election has come as a boon to him.

For the contestants, however, the situation demands spending money on two essential needs of the average Punjabi — a hearty ‘’langar’’ at noon besides an appropriate quota of liquor. Candidates who promise both these ingredients have sufficient men to participate in various “jalsas’’ organised by them.

Both the Akalis and the Congressmen are cashing on the needs of the ruralites to their advantage. In order to project a good show, SAD candidates are more keen to ensure a large presence of ruralites, who are their mainstay, in election meetings organised by the Chief Minister. During a recent meeting in Fatehgarh Sahib one could see farmers and peasants returning back home in tractor-trailers loaded with liquor cartons.

However, sources said cartons were distributed in a meticulous fashion, according to the number of people brought in by each party functionary at a particular function. As the party supporters have to be herded early for various public meetings it is also ensured that they get their afternoon food so that they do not get restless.

The trend is not only restricted to the Akalis. The Congress candidates also extend the same hospitality, as it is not odd to see men going to the election offices in tractor trailers sozzled in the morning itself.

Mr Lehmbar Singh, a farmer at Dakala said, “Ajeh teh mahaul hor garam hovega’’ meaning the poll scene would hot up more in the coming days. This is because voters, specially those of the backward classes, who are being targeted by both the Congress and the (SAD) are not displaying their poll preferences.


LHRI split on case against Bhattal
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 5
Mr Jatinder Rai Khattar, former president of the District Bar Association and Organising Secretary, Lawyers for Human Rights International (LHRI), has said the corruption case registered against former Punjab Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal should be withdrawn as she is innocent.

The case against Ms Bhattal under the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 409 of the Indian Penal Code was registered on a complaint of Mr Balwant Singh Dhillon, President of the LHRI. Mr Khattar said the case against Ms Bhattal should be withdrawn immediately. She had been found innocent in an independent inquiry conducted by the LHRI, he added.

Mr Dhillon, when contacted, said he would not withdraw the complaint against Ms Bhattal as the offence committed was non-compoundable.


3 cops shifted for flouting poll code
Tribune News Service

Rampuraphul, February 5
In an unprecedented move, the district police authorities today transferred three police officials, including two station house officers (SHOs) of two police stations falling in this Assembly segment for allegedly violating the code of conduct. The Punjab Power Minister, Mr Sikander Singh Malooka, is facing a tough fight from a youth leader, Mr Gurpreet Singh Kangar, in this segment.

Mr Gurdeep Singh, SHO, police station, Phul, Mr Rachpal Singh, SHO, Ballianwali and Mr Amritpal, in charge, police chowki, Bhagta Bhai Ka, have been sent to Police Lines at Bathinda.

They were transferred by district police chief Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, who took suo motu notice of the complaint lodged with him and the election observer by a contestant.

Sources said the three police officials were allegedly harassing workers of one of the constestants.

Three new police officials have been deployed to man these posts.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that some people, who were under great terror because of the atrocities committed on them by the members of ruling alliance through the police personnel by implicating them into false criminal cases, had not been coming out in support of the contestants of their choice. Though a section of politicians had been demanding the transfer of a section of police officials posted in this Assembly segment for the past many days, the district police authorities were finding it difficult to do the same in the absence of any written complaint against them.


Missing man found murdered
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 5
Panic spread among residents of the city when Amarnath (40), who had been missing for the past two days, was found murdered in the fields at Khurla Kingra village this evening. This is the second murder in the past three days here.

Amarnath, resident of Gandhi Camp locality, had gone to make some purchases from Des Raj in the Basti Danishmanda locality on Sunday. Rakesh, son of the deceased, said the matter was reported to the police when his father failed to return home in the evening. The body was found lying in a pool of blood in the fields of Col Naresh Singh of Khurla Kingra village by Nanju, a labourer. The body has been sent to the local Civil Hospital for post-mortem.

According to the police, Amarnath, was probably murdered at some other place and his body was dumped in the fields.

A case has been registered. 


Illicit liquor seized in Lambi 
Tribune News Service

Lambi (Muktsar), February 5
Six residents of the home constituency of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, from where he is contesting in the coming Assembly elections also, have been booked under the Excise Act for possessing illicit liquor allegedly to be used to woo the voters.

Official sources said during raids conducted by the Excise and Taxation Department, six persons of various villages falling in this Assembly segment were found in possession of illicit liquor.

Veer Singh and Teja Singh of Bhittiwala village, Khanda Singh of Roranwali village of Roshan Singh Biddowal village and Prem Singh of Barmala village had been booked under the Excise Act.

The sources said the raids to seize illicit liquor continued in the district. The team also raided Bhai Kera village today.

Mr Babu Lal, District Election Officer, Muktsar, has appealed to the electorate not to take any intoxicant from any contestant. He also warned that those who had been stockpiling liquor and other intoxicants to woo voters would be taken to task and legal action would be initiated against them.


GND varsity wins overall trophy
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 5
Host Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) maintained its supremacy in cultural filed by retaining the overall championship in the All-India Inter-varsity National Maharaja Youth Festival-2002 which concluded here today. It also won music and theatre trophies.

The Vice-Chancellor, Dr S. P. Singh and Director, Youth Welfare, Mr Baljit Singh Sekhon, received the trophy.

North Zone champion Punjabi University, Patiala, lifted the Maharaja Ranjit Singh trophy instituted by Guru Nanak Dev University for the first time to mark the bicentenary celebrations of Maharaja’s coronation contest. Punjabi University also bagged literary trophy for winning elocution and debate contests.

The festival sponsored by the association of Indian Universities, New Delhi and the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, was organised by GND University for the first time in Punjab.

Swami Ramanand Teerath University, Nanded and Dr B. R. Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad were declared winners for fine arts trophy. The dance trophy went to University of Mysore, Mysore.

Eminent writer, Kartar Singh Duggal, MP, presided over the valedictory function and awarded trophies to the winners.

The final results are:

On-the-spot painting: Swami Ramanand Teerth University, Nanded — first; Vinobha Bhave University, Hazirabag — second; Cartooning: Dr B.R. Ambedkar Marathwad University, Aurangabad — first, C.S.J. Maharaja University, Kanpur — second; Collage: Dr B.R. Ambedkar Marathwad University, Aurangabad — first; M.G. University, Kottayam and Allahabad University, Allahabad — second; Poster Making: Swami Ramanand Teerth University, Nanded — first; Jiwaji University — second; Rangoli: Banasthali Vidyapeeth, Banasthali — first; Nagpur University, Nagpur — second; Clay Modelling: University of Mumbai, Mumbai — first; Jiwa ji University, Gwalior — second; Music, Light Vocal (Indian): Punjabi University, Patiala and M.D. University, Rohtak — first; Nagpur University, Nagpur and Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi — second; Classical instrument (percussion): H.P. University, Shimla — first; Andhra University, Vishakhapatnam — second; Group song (Indian): Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar — first; M.G. University, Kottayam — second; Classical Instrument (non-percussion): Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar — first University of Madras, Chennai — second; Classical vocal: SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai — first; Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar — second; Western vocal: University of Mumbai, Mumbai — first; Nagpur University, Nagpur — second; Western Group song: Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar — first; University of Mumbai, Mumbai and Nagpur University, Nagpur — second; Group Skits: Dr H.S. Gaur University, Sagar — first; Aligah Muslim University, Aligarh — second; Mimicry: Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar — first; Banaras Hindu University, Nagpal — second; Mime: Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar — first; M.D. University, Rohtak — second; One-act play: Cochin University of Science and Technology, Kochi — first; Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra — second; Literary: Elocution: Punjabi University, Patiala — first; Devi Ahilya Vidyalaya, Indore — second; Debate: Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar — first; Punjabi University, Patiala — second; Quiz: M.G. University, Kottayam — first; Nagpur University, Nagpur — second; Dances: Punjabi University, Patiala — first; Karnatak University, Dharwad — second; Folk Tribal dance: University of Mysore, Mysore — first; Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappali — second.


Students protest against alleged harassment
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 5
Saru Rana, a student of Fine Arts department of Punjabi University, who has alleged harassment by the university authorities, today protested outside the Fine Arts Department along with her mother and dozens of university students.

The student, in her letter to the Vice-Chancellor, had stated that she along with some other girls were forced to attend to visitors at the university and instructed to wear particular kind of clothes. Amidst much shouting and allegations of mental harassment by her department and the university management, she along with her mother demanded an immediate reply from the Vice-Chancellor regarding the letter submitted to him by her. She insisted that all allegations made by her were authentic, although the students of her own class and department contradicted this and spoke at length against her.

The teachers and research scholars of the Fine Arts Department, dismissed her allegations as baseless and alleged that the incident was being blown out of proportions by her.

The Public Relations Office of the university in press note said although Saru Rana had written a letter to the Vice-Chancellor’s office about ‘ill-treatment’ of two students, but those students were no longer in the preview of the university as both had left sometime back. It was further stated that the inquiry into the whole matter had been entrusted to the Vigilance Department. The Press note stated that teachers and students of the Fine Arts Department had submitted written complaints regarding the ‘motivations’ behind the complaint filed by Saru Rana.

The university management has also alleged that some vested interests, both inside and outside the campus are exploiting the situation.


Gallery with a difference
Sukant Deepak

Patiala, February 5
There is every reason for Patiala’s Punjabi University to be proud of its latest addition. It is the only university in India to set up a botanical photo gallery recently. The gallery displays over 600 photographs of diverse plant species — sacred, diseased, medicinal, poisonous, common and endangered — as also of famous scientists involved in botanical research. The gallery, with an aesthetic design, offers an ambience reminiscent of an art gallery.

Housed on the top floor of the building which is also home to the Botanical Museum, the photo gallery has been built at a cost of Rs four lakh. The gallery has been allotted an yearly supplement of Rs one lakh for maintenance and further expansion by the university authorities.

With a view to infusing curiosity in the plant kingdom among the students in their decisive stage of career, the Department of Botany has invited students and teachers of schools and colleges from around the region to witness the pictorial display and interact with the members of the faculty. The gallery has already played host to the Vice-Chancellor of Srinagar University, a prominent academician, as also a team of scientists from China.

Dr V.K. Singhal, who is in charge of the gallery, is full of optimism. He doesn’t agree with the view that it would serve only an “ornamental purpose”. On the contrary, he says that the gallery would be of “tremendous value” for the Botany students. This will benefit students and research scholars alike as the display of various plant species can help in recognising the desired plants amongst thick forest vegetation, he says.

Visibly pleased with the new concept, Ms Dilraj Sandhu, Senior Research Scholar, says with some more additions, this display of plant life can be of immense help in giving a bird’s eye view to the elaborate biodiversity-versity, especially that of Eastern Himalayas.” The department has plans to install a video recorder and illuminated transparencies in the gallery shortly.

Elaborating the need for innovative departmental extensions in the institutions of higher learning, Prof. JS Dargal, head of the Botany Department, feels that this photo gallery complements the already existing botanical garden in the university. Apart from being a “definite visual treat”, Prof Dargal says that the gallery assumes special significance and importance as the display of plants would help the study of plant life in the “near real natural habitat”.


Cultural team arrives from Tripura
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 5
A 34-member cultural team from Tripura, under the aegis of the North Eastern School Student Cultural Exchange programme arrived here today.

The exchange programme is being coordinated by the Nehru Yuva Kendra here. The team organised cultural programmes at several places including Dashmesh Khalsa Senior Secondary School. The team also visited many places, including Punjabi University campus and gurdwaras in town. Officials visiting with the Tripura team were honored by different clubs and organisations of the town. Officials of the Nehru Yuva Kendra, Patiala, said that the visiting students would stay with different families at Patiala and said that this was being done so as to introduce the visitors to the culture of this part of the country.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
122 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |