Friday, February 8, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Pak still aiding terrorism, says Advani
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
The Union Home Minister, Mr L. K. Advani, today said Pakistan had not abandoned its dangerous dalliance with terrorism, if what Gen. Pervez Musharraf said in his statement at the so-called joint session of the “assembly” in Pak-occupied Kashmir on Wednesday was any indication.

The repeat reference to “murder and mayhem” of men, women and children in J and K as freedom struggle by General Musharraf was nothing but a smokescreen Pakistan had used for over two decades to “plan, aid, abet and execute” the campaign of cross-border terrorism there and in the rest of India.

Speaking at a meet-the-press programme in the Chandigarh Press Club, Mr Advani declared, “War is on against terrorism. It entered a decisive phase after December 13 attack on Parliament. Pakistan has crossed ‘lakshman rekha’. We have conveyed our government’s disappointment to the USA. There may have been a tactical change, but there is no strategic shift in Pakistan’s attitude. The problem is of the mindset of the Pakistan leadership, as far its approach to India is concerned. No deadline can be set when a solution is to be found”.

He appealed to the Congress, Samajwadi Party, BSP and Communist parties to help the government on the issues of terrorism and security, even as difference of opinion on other matters could be debated inside Parliament. In this regard, he sought the Opposition's support in passing the Bill on POTO.

He will spend two days campaigning in Punjab for the Akali-BJP candidates.

Mr Advani said that he had conveyed government’s disappointment over happenings in Pakistan at his meeting with the US Ambassador and the visiting Deputy Secretary, Treasury, when they met him on Wednesday to seek India’s support in cutting financial support to terrorist organisations. In India, such aid was through the havala system.

He listed five essentials that Pakistan should prove that it was against state-sponsored terrorism. They are: no state training, no financing, no weapon supply, no sanctuary and no infiltration across the border. The last two can be assessed because given the heavy deployment of the two armies, the two would become possible only with the support of the Pakistan Government.

Mr Advani said the government was aware of the hardship faced by farmers in the border belt due to deployment of the troops.

He reminded General Musharraf that J and K was integral part of India, “constitutionally, legally, politically and historically”. Having failed in the three wars, Pakistan was engaged in a proxy war that amounted to infiltration, sabotage and terrorism in J and K

Turning to Punjab, he said the state had suffered a long phase of terrorism. J and K is still suffering. That phase had caused instability and violence. The mischief from across the border had still not stopped nor has Pakistan responded positively to India’s list of 20 most wanted. While Pakistan has been dithering on 16, it has refused to hand over six Pakistanis India had sought. “We have not received any list from Pakistan,” he added.

On corruption, Mr Advani said political parties made all kinds of allegations during elections. It was not a non-issue. It remains a major issue and swing should be from “self-government” to “good government”.

Maintaining integrity in political life is important and instruments like the Lok Ayukt and even judiciary, are there to take effective steps against the corrupt.

Mr Advani was presented with the club memento by the president. This was Mr Advani’s third visit to the club. 


Vote for SAD-BJP to ensure Hindu-Sikh unity’

Mr Advani, who is on a two-day election campaign to Punjab, today addressed three rallies: at Rajpura, Morinda and Nangal.

He is scheduled to address public rallies at Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Moga and Amritsar tomorrow. Thereafter, he flies back to New Delhi.

Besides Pakistan and Kashmir issues, Mr Advani makes it a point to talk about national security and terrorism. Blaming the Congress for not resolving the Kashmir tangle and for loosing the opportunity to do so in 1971, Mr Advani calls for “political stability” in the border state.

Reports from Morinda and Nangal indicated that his appeal to the people was to vote for the Akali-BJP combine in Punjab to ensure Hindu-Sikh unity and for sustainable development. He also referred to the development that has taken place and the projects that have come Punjab’s way in the past five years.

Political observers say that the two-day visit of Mr Advani may impact the urban voters when seen in the context of national unity, integrity and security. He does not forget to remind people about the suffering they had undergone due to cross-border terrorism supported by Pakistan.

Mr Advani also dismissed as untenable the Opposition charge that war hysteria had been whipped up by the BJP-led NDA, keeping elections in view. He hoped the Opposition would not play with national sentiments compromising on security. The real ground situation was visible to one and all. The way Pakistan has behaved since Kargil, Agra and attack on Parliament did not leave any doubt about its intentions.

Party spokesperson Vinit Joshi said that the itinerary of Mr Advani had been designed to cater to SAD-BJP constituencies in key areas of the state. The choice of public rallies reflected the theme of Punjabiat to which Mr Advani refers to in his speeches.


People’s priorities different from poll promises
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

It is time the people set an agenda for the political parties. Politicians and the people have their own perceptions about each other and are mutually suspicious. If the politicians know that they will get away with not implementing all poll promises by justifying later why this same could not be done, the people, perhaps, are oblivious of the fact that the sops offered to them in the election manifestoes and campaigns come at a price that they themselves have to pay. The money for the sops comes from nowhere else but the people’s pockets as tax-payers.

Ironically, people have seen this happening in each election when their hopes fade away. Yet the process of voting again and again continues. What, perhaps, sustains this democratic electoral process as also the hopes of the people is the politicians’ pretence of concern for them and people’s myopic vision and short memory, a misplaced trust. How long will people continue to take politicians seriously, literally believing in what they promise and later show no contrition for not fulfilling those promises. It is high time the people understood the politicians and stopped them from offering sops.

All these 36 years, since Punjab was reorganised, the state elections have had a clean track-record. People have been alternately voting for the Akalis and the Congress in varying permutations and combinations at different points of time. The choice of the people is limited. The politicians have divided people on the basis of caste, creed, community, religion and every possible “isms”. Even candidates are selected depending on the composition of the communities residing in constituencies — the Hindus, the Sikhs, the Scheduled Castes, the backward classes, etc.

The percentage of Hindus and Sikhs in the total population has undergone major changes between 1981 and 2002. Areas and constituencies are demarcated and identified on the basis of a community’s concentration. Broadly speaking, Hindu predominance is accepted in the north-eastern and south-western districts (Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur and Jalandhar), while the Sikhs dominate in the rest of the districts. Nevertheless, the two principal communities have strong pockets in all three distinct regions — Majha, Doaba and Malwa.

The present election scene, however, shows that the Hindus in small mandis in Malwa and in several pockets elsewhere have realised that their destiny is linked to the Akalis. Therefore, it remains to be seen how effectively the Akalis cash in on this sentiment in the wake of a shrill Congress campaign that has taken the wind out of the Akali sails. In fact, the fierce ad campaigns and finger pointing have brought political ethics and morality to a low level. And it is for the court now to decide whose campaign is dirtier — the Congress or the Akalis!

The present map of 117 Assembly constituencies was redrawn after the 1971 census. That process of delimitation involved gerrymandering to give advantage to the Congress by merging large Sikh-dominated segments into the urban, Hindu-dominated ones. Though sharp division between the main political parties continues, the principal communities have maintained communal amity and harmony.

Therefore, what the people expect from the new political executive is totally different from what is promised during the poll campaign. People’s concern and priorities are different: corruption, woefully inadequate infrastructure for socio-economic development, declining standards in education and the health delivery system, particularly in the rural areas, and the financial mess.

Punjab, as a whole, is a rural constituency with 66.05 per cent of the population classified as ‘’rural’’, as per the Census (2001). (To be concluded)


Keen contests likely in Akali bastion
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 7
The district comprises 10 Assembly constituencies and has been a bastion of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). In the ensuing Assembly elections, a majority of the constituencies in the district are likely to witness key contests due to the presence of Panthic Morcha and rebel candidates.

Three constituencies — Lehra, Sunam and Dhuri — are the key ones as Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, a former Punjab Chief Minister, and sons of Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, Governor of Uttaranchal, and Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister, are contesting on these seats.

However, the other constituencies are no less important, as candidates of the Panthic Morcha have shown their presence by emerging amongst the top three contenders, due to which these segments will also witness keen contests.

LEHRA: In this constituency, Ms Bhattal, the sitting MLA, is the Congress candidate. She is facing Mr Naranjan Singh Bhutal of the SAD and Mr Inderjit Singh Jeji, a former MLA and the Panthic Morcha candidate. Besides this, Ms Bhattal is also facing a Congress rebel, Mr T.K. Bansal.

Political observers feel that in spite of the presence of SAD and Panthic Morca candidates, it will not be difficult for Ms Bhattal to complete a hattrick this time as the Akali vote bank will be divided. Besides, the projection of Ms Bhattal as the next Chief Minister by her supporters with the slogan “Agla Mukh Mantri Kaun — Bibi Bhattal” is being done at her election rallies. In 1997, when the Akali wave swept the state, Ms Bhattal won from Lehra in a direct contest with the SAD candidate by a margin of 10,730 votes.

However, Mr Bhutal and Mr Jeji are also confident about victory in the election. People of the area feel that Mr Jeji is in a position to give a tough fight to Ms Bhattal as he is a known human rights activist and renowned Akali leader who defeated Ms Bhattal in 1985 while they consider Mr Bhutal as a “weak” candidate.

SUNAM: In the Sunam Assembly constituency, Mr Gurpreet Singh Lakhmirwala of the Panthic Morcha has made the contest triangular. The other two main contenders in the fray are Mr Parminder Singh Dhindsa (SAD), son of Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, and Ms Sonia Deepa Arora (Congress), daughter of the late Bhagwan Dass Arora who won from Sunam in 1992 and 1997. A keen contest is likely amongst the three.

It will not be a smooth sailing for Mr Parminder Singh Dhindsa this time as it was in the September, 2000, by election when he defeated Ms Parmeswari Devi, Congress candidate and widow of Bhagwan Dass Arora, by a margin of more than 16,000 votes. The Congress candidate, Ms Sonia Deepa Arora, is banking upon his father’s political legacy and the Congress vote bank.

DHURI: In this Assembly constituency, the fielding of Mr Gaganjit Singh Barnala, son of Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, by the SAD has changed the scenario. It seems that there will be a tough contest between Mr Barnala and Mr Dhanwant Singh (Independent), who emerged victorious as the Congress candidate in 1992 and as an Independent and rebel Congress candidate in 1997. Mr Iqbal Singh, the Panthic Morcha candidate, also gaining ground in this contest while Mr Achhra Singh of the CPI, being supported by the Congress, is also in the fray. Residents of the Dhuri segment are of the view that there will be a keen contest between Mr Gaganjit Singh Barnala and Mr Dhanwant Singh.

Besides these three constituencies, the contests in Sangrur, Sherpur, Dhanaula and Barnala segments will be triangular or quadrangular as on these four seats, rebel Akali candidates are in the poll fray. They will certainly eat into the vote bank of the SAD while in Dirba and Malerkotla constituencies, two Independents (one in each segment) have made the contests triangular for the Congress and the SAD. It is being felt that these Independents can affect the results in both constituencies.


Former rebels back as nominees
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
Is the expulsion of rebel candidates from the party a meaningless exercise carried out to satisfy of the official candidates? It would seem so as there are instances of rebels being rewarded by political parties at later stage.

SAD has fielded at least five candidates this time, who had contested the last Assembly elections as rebel candidates. The same can be said of the Congress.

Mr Sanmukh Singh Mokha is the official SAD candidate from Sangrur. Last time, he was a rebel candidate, contesting against Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa from Sunam. Mr Mokha got over 20,000 votes, creating a division in the Akali vote bank, resulting in the defeat of Mr Dhindsa.

Mr Charanjit Singh Walia is the official candidate of the SAD from Dakala in these elections while last time he opposed the official candidate , Mr Harmel Singh Tohra, and got over 14,000 votes. Mr Tohra won the last time in spite of the presence of Mr Walia. This time again both are pitted against each other as Mr Tohra is the Panthic Morcha candidate from the same constituency.

Mr Ujjagar Singh Wadali, who is the SAD from Morinda, had contested as a rebel candidate against Mr Ravi Inder Singh in the same constituency last time. Mr Wadali is now the official candidate and trying his luck against Mr Ravi Inder Singh again.

Mr Malkiat Singh Keetu, the SAD candidate from Barnala, had contested as a rebel against the then official candidate, Mrs Rajinder Kaur, defeating her by a big margin. Mrs Rajinder Kaur is now a rebel candidate while Mr Keetu is the official candidate.

Mr Mantar Singh Brar had defeated the official candidate of the SAD Mohinder Singh Brar with an impressive margin last time. Mr Mohinder Singh, who resisted the re-entry of Mr Mantar Singh Brar in the SAD, died about two years ago and Mr Mantar Singh Brar is now the official SAD candidate from Kot Kapura .

Likewise in the Congress, Mr Charanjit Singh Channi contested as a rebel against the official candidate in the last election from Nawanshahr and won by a huge margin.

The official candidate in that election was his mother, Mrs Amar Kaur. The Congress later on adopted Mr Channi and gave him a party ticket to contest the Lok Sabha election from Hoshiarpur, which he won and quit his Assembly seat.

The official Congress candidate from Nabha, Mr Randeep Singh, had contested as a rebel against party's official candidate, Mr Romesh Singla. It led to the defeat of Mr Singla, with the SAD candidate, Raja Narinder Singh emerging victorious. This time around, Mr Romesh Singla is contesting as a rebel candidate. He resigned from the Congress to contest as candidate of the Nationalist Congress Party headed by Mr Sharad Pawar. 


Voters give ‘chronic’ politicians thumbs down, want young blood
Sarbjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, February 7
There is a marked difference in the current Assembly elections from the previous ones. Voters, who used to be secretive earlier, this time frankly discuss the merits and demerits of candidates and also the political parties in the fray in their respective areas. They also give indication to whom they vote for.

This trait appears to have been infused by the electronic media which run such debates in its news-cum-views capsules.

Talks with a cross-section of voters in Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur, Ferozepore, Ludhiana and in the countryside show that there is resentment among people against the politicians who have monopolised politics in their respective areas. The ratings of such politicians have gone down among the electorate.

People are fed up with old faces contesting elections again and again. “No candidate should be allowed to contest the elections more than two times whether he or she is elected or not,” says Mr Venod Kumar, a bank employee posted in a branch near Hoshiarpur. They should make way for the younger generation, adds Mr Bala Ram, a local resident.

Another development is that at a number of places, voters are determined to “teach a lesson to the candidates from the families of ‘chronic politicians’ who have been around for the past several years.” Even cronies of such politicians contesting at certain places might face the wrath of voters.

Political parties should not impose candidates on people. The parties should develop a system of selecting candidates with participation of party activists from the constituency concerned, says Mr Patras Massih, a resident of Bhattian Rajputtan, near Mukerian.

There should be a retirement age for all politicians. “If, as per rules, an employee becomes unfit to remain in service after 58 years of age, why a politician above this age should be allowed to run the government, obviously a bigger task,” says Mr Gurmeet Singh, a resident of Gardhiwala in Hoshiarpur district. Old and infirm politicians should not be given tickets.

Jaspal Dhami, a writer, says, “We have adopted a western model of democracy. In the West, no politician dares to contest after being rejected by the people, but in our country politicians rejected two or three times even re-enter the election arena. It should be stopped by making a legal provision,” he adds.

Politicians in the West quit politics forever if their name is found linked to any scandal, corruption or criminal case. But in this country, politicians have set no such examples. Even those indicted by probe commissions or convicted by courts contest elections.

Voters should make such leaders sit at home, says Mr Balbir Singh, former Sarpanch of a village near Jalalabad.

Almost all people feel that popular governments have become a burden on them. For survival, a Chief Minister first makes a jumbo size council of ministers and then adjusts the remaining MLAs as chairpersons of government organisations or gives them other officers of profit.

Making a telling observation, Dr Harbhajan Singh Deol, former head of the National Integration Chair in Punjabi University, says that the politicians are a very clever lot. They have reduced elections to a clash of personalities. For instance, in the current elections it is a clash among Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar and a few others.

Ideas and ideology have disappeared. The only mission of present day politicians is kursi and power and pelf associated with it. Public service has disappeared from their agenda, he asserts.

Political parties deliberately build up their campaigns around emotional issues to divert the attention of people from the real issues. When asked what its solution was, Mr Deol says that the intelligentsia should play its role to teach, guide people about what was in their interest. The intelligentsia must assess the political parties and their candidates in the fray with honesty and impartiality. He said that it was unfortunate that a large section of intelligentsia preferred to remain silent in this connection, while the other section had become subservient to different political parties. 


Akal Takht Jathedar seeks Vatican status for Amritsar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 7
Jathedar Akal Takht Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti today sought Vatican status for Amritsar.

After returning from the Vatican City, Jathedar Vedanti told a select media-persons that he was very much impressed with the status and affection given to St John Paul by the devotees from all over the world. He said a lot had yet to be done to promote the status of Jathedar Akal Takht.

Earlier, the SGPC in its budget session on March 30 last year had demanded Vatican status for Amritsar. It may be mentioned here that Vatican state is world’s smallest autonomous zone.

Jathedar Vedanti said he was the first Jathedar of Akal Takht who was allowed to carry his three-feet-long ‘sword’ in the Vatican City.

Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti said though the Akal Takht Jathedar is considered as ‘Pope of Sikhs’ but after visiting the Vatican City he found that similar status was not being given to him (Jathedar). He said for acquiring such a status, the appointment of Sikh clergy should be made purely on merit. He said while selecting the new Pope a tough procedure was adopted by 120 cardinals of the Vatican City. They (the Cardinals) appoint the Pope with voice vote.

Jathedar Vedanti hoped that being a humble and responsive the new SGPC president, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, would take appropriate steps so that appointments of Sikh High Priest should be non-controversial. He said he had already made certain suggestions to the SGPC chief and many of them had been accepted.


Cops turn blind eye to code violations
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, February 7
In a run-up to the general Assembly elections, it appears that the cops are playing it safe as far as the checking the violations of the Election Commission’s model code of conduct is concerned.

As a result of this the candidates of the prominent political parties and the Independents have made a mockery of the code of conduct. In the Kharar Assembly segment, ever since the canvassing began, not a single case of the violation has been registered.

During the filing of the nominations papers, a case was registered for carrying fire arms without permission and vehicles of candidates of the SAD, the Panthic Morcha, the Congress and two dissident congressmen were impounded for being driven without the registration documents at the behest of the Returning Officer (RO).

Police officials find a reason for turning a blind eye to the violation. “We can take action only under the cognizable offences. Certain provisions of the model code do not allow us to directly register a case”, said a police official requesting anonymity. On the day when most of the candidates took out long processions while going to file their nomination papers, instead of booking the candidates directly for the violation, their vehicles were impounded for not carrying the registration documents. Another police official sad that the violators of model code of conduct should attract punitive action.

Treading a safe path, the police normally registers a case on the basis of the complaints received from the Returning Officer. If any violation was found the police authorities also wrote to the Election Commission. However, the officials of the Election Commission maintained that under the existing powers vested with the police, the violations could be checked to an extent.

So far no case has been registered in the Kharar Assembly segment against the candidates offering liquor to their supporters.

Citing an example, EC officials said defacement of the public property could be checked under the defacement Act.

The Returning Officer, Mr Jaipal Singh, said whenever he came across a violation he wrote to the police authorities. He said he had directed the Executive Officer in various civic bodies and the Tehsildar in rural areas to check defacement of the public property.



Chained detainee rescued
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
In an alleged case of human rights violation, an Amritsar district resident, reportedly picked up by the police, was allegedly chained to a hand pump at a police post before being rescued by the warrant officer appointed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

In a report submitted to the High Court today, the warrant officer, Mr S.C. Nassa, claimed that 45-year-old Kuldeep Singh was found chained to a handpump inside Baba Bakala police post near Nikka Raiya village on February 6. The cops present in the post, when questioned regarding the registration of any case against the alleged detainee, replied in the negative, the officer added.

He added that as the keys were not handed over, the chain was removed from the hand pump before the alleged detainee was taken away. A number of photographs were also taken, which were also placed on record.

After going through the report and hearing arguments, Mr Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel of the High Court ordered Majitha’s Senior Superintendent of Police to hold an inquiry into the matter and submit his report on March 15. The Judge also fixed March 20 as the next date of hearing.

In his habeas corpus petition, Kulwant Singh had earlier alleged that his brother, Kuldeep Singh, was kidnapped by a Punjab Police Sub Inspector on January 20 — the same day he was released by another warrant officer appointed by the High Court. Going into the background of the case, the petitioner added that he was initially picked up by the police on January 16 before being rescued by the warrant officer.

Denying the allegations, counsel for the police officers argued that Kuldeep Singh was never chained to the handpump. In fact, he had entered the police post along with another person on the pretext of seeing the officer in charge of the police post and the officials had no knowledge about the alleged chaining of the “detainee”. 


Badal, BJP harming minorities: Mann
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 7
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President, Shiromani Akali Dal (Mann), dubbing yesterday’s killing of a Muslim migrant by Gurpartap Singh Kairon, brother of Mr Adeshpartap Singh Kairon, Excise and Taxation Minister, as a communal murder, alleged today that Mr Parkash Singh Badal and the BJP were causing harm to the minorities in Punjab and the country as a whole.

Mr Mann, who today addressed six election rallies of party candidate Barinder Singh, who is contesting from the Talwandi Sabo Assembly segment, said Gurpartap should be booked and put behind bars. He said relatives and associates of Mr Badal were trying to score victories in their respective Assembly segments by terrorising the people through violence.

He alleged that several senior Akali leaders, including ministers and MLAs, had committed crimes like murder and were facing trials. He demanded that such leaders should be barred from contesting elections. He said it was the moral responsibility of people to teach a lesson to all those criminals who were contesting in the Assembly elections. A section of the liquor mafia had also been calling the shots in the elections by violating the model code of conduct, Mr Mann said.

He said Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, who had been making appeals that the coffin scam should not be made an issue as it would demoralise the armed forces, should tell the people whether a government had the moral right to stay in power when it was involved in making a fortune from the sacrifices made by Army personnel.

He alleged that by not arresting former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and giving her time to make arrangements for securing her bail in the court of law in a corruption case showed that there was complicity between corrupt Congress leaders and Mr Badal.


Stakes high for Harcharan Brar
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, February 7
A triangular contest has shaped up in this key constituency of the Punjab Assembly where the Congress leader and the former Chief Minister, Mr Harcharan Singh Brar, is locked in a close fight with the sitting Akali MLA, Bhai Harnirpal Singh, and a rebel Akali leader, Mr Sukhdarshan Singh Marar.

All the three principal contenders for the seat are influential and well-to-do and are leaving no stone unturned to ensure their success. A large fleet of cars, jeeps, Sumos and Qualis and three-wheelers fitted with loudspeakers make the rounds of the predominantly rural constituency from early morning to late at night blaring forth propaganda on behalf of their candidates and distributing pamphlets, badges and other propaganda material.

The stakes are particularly high for the former Chief Minister, Mr Harcharan Singh Brar, who has billed it as the last electoral battle of his long political career. Mr Brar has served as the Governor of Hayana and Orissa besides being the Chief Minister Punjab in August, 1995. He is one of the oldest serving politicians of the state. His political career spans nearly half a century. Mr Brar, who first contested and won an assembly poll way back in 1957, is the only Congress politician to have defeated the present Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, in the latter's home constituency of Gidderbaha in 1966.

Mr Brar was elected from Muktsar in 1992 and during his tenure, he conferred the status of district headquarters on Muktsar which is standing him in good stead in the present poll. He did not contest in 1997 due to ill-health, leaving the field clear from Bhai Harnirpal Singh, who is the younger brother of the late Bhai Shaminder Singh, an Akali MP and close confidante of Mr Badal, who was killed in a bomb blast at the height of terrorism in Punjab.

Mr Brar's ill-health, which forced him to opt out of the election five years ago, led to speculation that he would no longer be able to take interest in active politics. This led to the birth of several aspirants for the Congress ticket in Muktsar, including Mr Avtar Singh Sidhu, a protege of the PCC chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, and Mr Ripujit Singh, young brother of the sitting Congress MP from the Faridkot parliamentary constituency, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar.

The nomination of Mr Brar as the Congress candidate for the Muktsar seat led to a virtual revolt in the party but things have since settled down. Mr Brar has had to face the wrath of the people during election tours who complain that Mr Brar becomes inaccessible once elected and seldom bothers to listen to their grievances. His son and daughter, Mr Sunny Brar and Ms Bubbly Brar, are now trying to assuage their hurt feelings by promising that a part of the Brar family, including his grandson, would remain permanently stationed in Muktsar.

Bhai Harnirpal Singh's camp is deeply worried about the impact Mr Marar's presence will have in the difficult contest. What is causing additional worry for him is repeated claims by Mr Marar's supporters that they have the support of the General Secretary of the SAD, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also the son of the Chief Minister. This has forced Bhai Harnirpal Singh to bring out and distribute pamphlets quoting Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal's interview to a language daily of Jalandhar in which he says that he has no connection with any Akali rebel. Mrs Surinder Kaur Badal, wife of the Chief Minister, also recently went to the residence of Bhai Harnirpal Singh here and announced that there was no question of the Akali Dal extending support to any party rebel.

But the rumours have refused to die down. Mr Marar has launched a vigorous campaign and his vehicles and posters can be seen in each and every part of the constituency. He had to pull out of the election campaign for a short while for a medical checkup at Ludhiana where doctors diagnosed that he was suffering for a pancreatic disorder and would require bed rest. This raised hopes in Bhai Harnirpal Singh's camp but the relief proved to be shortlived because Mr Marar has now declared that he had been declared medically fit by the doctors and would take the contest to the logical conclusion.


Left to play role in govt making’
Lalit Mohan

Nangal (Ropar), February 7
The left parties would play a major role in the formation of the next government in Punjab. In the forthcoming Assembly elections, neither the Congress nor the SAD-BJP would get an absolute majority and the left parties, which would win about 10 seats, would play a decisive role in the formation of government. This was stated by Mr Harkishan Singh Surjeet, general secretary of the CPM, while talking to The Tribune, here today. He was in the Nangal constituency to campaign for the party candidate, Mr Mohinder Pal Gautam.

Mr Surjeet said the left parties would support the Congress on a conditional basis. Mr Surjeet criticised the statement made by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, yesterday that raking up the coffin issue would demoralise the countries' forces. The Prime Minister was trying to hush up a major corruption allegation against his defence minister, he said.

He said that the BJP had been exposed after the Tehelka scandal and would be voted out of power in all the states in which the elections were being held.

Later, addressing a rally in the main market of Nangal, Mr Surjeet criticised the BJP government for following pro-capitalist policies. He said the government was blindly following the policies of privatisation.


PM must apologise for insulting Sonia: Cong
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
The AICC general secretary, Mrs Ambika Soni, today sought an “unqualified apology” from the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, on three accounts — using intemperate language against women, as a class; insulting AICC President Sonia Gandhi; and slighting the Leader of the Opposition.

Briefing media persons at Punjab Congress Bhavan, she said during his two public meetings at Pathankot and Ferozpore on Wednesday, the Prime Minister showed his “frustration” at the low turnout of the audience at Akali-BJP rallies by attacking women, in general, and Ms Sonia Gandhi, in particular, by making derogatory remarks. “This only shows that age is catching on with him,” she added.

Mrs Soni said when the country was talking of woman empowerment, using uncomplimentary language was an insult to women. It had offended the Congress. By describing Mrs Sonia as a “foreign” woman and casting aspersions on her, Mr Vajpayee had lowered the dignity of the office of the Prime Minister as also of the AICC President, who is also Leader of the Opposition. She has always stood up for the country and cooperated with the government.

Her comments were endorsed by Mr Moti Lal Vora and the PPCC President, Capt Amarinder Singh. They said the only reason why the Prime Minister thus spoke was the fear of sure defeat of the Akali-BJP combine in the Assembly elections looming large. Even media coverage of the six rallies by Mrs Sonia had rattled the Prime Minister.

Mr Vora was asked a spate of questions on the fissures in the state leadership and on the conduct and statements of the party MP, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, who had gone on air, alleging that money had played a part in the allotment of tickets and he had affidavits to provide that. Asked why he had not been asked to apologise and no disciplinary action had been taken against him, Mr Vora said he could not contact him and on some occasions when he had, Mr Brar denied having said anything.

Mrs Amibka Soni, who intervened, said she had seen Mr Brar on television and when she asked him, he had told her that the affidavits he had received alleging “sale” of tickets were being verified by him before he could submit to the AICC. Obviously, given the sharp division in the top state leadership, Mr Vora was on the defensive. He did not give a convincing reply as to how Mr Brar could go on record without verification. This had cast a shadow of doubt on the credibility of the Congress that was being exploited by the Akalis.

When asked about the recent statement of Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal that the issue of leadership was “still open”, Mr Vora reiterated that elected MLAs would decide on that and the party had a system, wherein, the AICC President approved the choice. He admitted he had spoken to Mrs Bhattal, who denied having made any such statement. But did not know if the denial had appeared in the press.

Capt Amarinder Singh defended the ad campaign and said this had hurt the Akalis because “truth is bitter and always bites. I will go hammer and tongs at the Akalis exposing their corruption.”

Capt Amarinder Singh asked the government to ensure peaceful elections and provide security to the people. He was referring to the firing incident at Bhikhiwind. He said the person involved were still absconding. He wondered if that was because of government connivance. 


Arjun questions PM’s claim on coffin issue
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 7
Senior Congress leader and former Governor of the state, Mr Arjun Singh, today disputed the claims of the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, on the coffin controversy, claiming that even the Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, had himself admitted certain goof-ups in the deal.

Addressing a largely attended public rally in support of the party candidate from Ludhiana West, Mr Harnamdass Johar, Mr Arjun Singh appealed to the people to ensure that the Akalis were not returned to power in the state. He alleged that they were the same people who had facilitated the return of die-hard Khalistanis like Dr Jagjit Singh Chauhan and Wassan Singh Zaffarwal. He ridiculed the claims of the Akali-BJP Government in the state of having established peace, communal brotherhood and progress in the state.

He pointed out that it was only the Congress which had made so many sacrifices for the return of peace in Punjab.

Referring to the claims of the Prime Minister on the coffin issue, he said Mr George Fernandes in a letter to him (Mr Arjun Singh) had himself admitted that there were ‘‘some goof-ups’’ in the deal. He questioned the moral authority of the Prime Minister to plead for not raking up the coffin controversy.

‘‘This obviously means that the Prime Minister does not want the truth to come out’’, he observed, while adding that the Congress would not allow to let the guilty go off scott free.

Challenging the claims of the Akali-BJP alliance about it being a cohesive group with roots in the history and culture of Punjab, Mr Arjun Singh alleged that the Akali-BJP alliance was the ‘‘most opportunistic one’’. ‘‘If they have anything in common, it is communalism’’, he remarked.

The senior Congress leader also urged the Prime Minister to clarify his stand on the Ayodhaya issue. He pointed out that the BJP was playing a dual game. ‘‘While on the one hand it is encouraging and supporting the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in its chetna yatra, on the other hand it is claiming that it (the Ram temple) was not on its agenda,’’ he pointed out.

Slams Badal on Longowal pact
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, February 7
Mr Arjun Singh, a former Governor of Punjab and member of the All-India Congress Working Committee, today came down on Mr Parkash Singh Badal for opposing the Rajiv-Longowal pact to solve to Punjab issue.

Mr Arjun Singh was addressing an election rally in favour of Congress candidate from the Sultanpur Lodhi Assembly seat, Mr Rajanbir Singh, who is contesting against Dr Upinderjit Kaur, Housing and Urban Development Minister and Akali candidate.

Addressing the rally, the Congress MP from Faridkot, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, criticised the SAD-BJP government for its failure to resolve various disputes concerning Punjab.

Prominent among others who addressed the rally were Mr Balbir Singh, MP, Mr Umrao Singh, former MP, for Sadhu Singh, president of DCC, and Mr Rajanbir Singh.


SAD, Cong men clash at rally
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, February 7
A verbal duel between workers of the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Congress marked the visit of senior Congress leader and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit here today, even as the latter castigated the SAD-BJP combine government by holding it responsible for “rampant” corruption in the state.

Ms Dikshit was here to address a poll rally organised by Congress candidate Rana Gurjit Singh. However, tension arose when some Akali workers put up a parallel stage and declared that they were holding their meeting. Congress activists opposed this action of the Akalis, leading to a verbal altercation between workers of the two parties.

Ms Dikshit, however, continued her address despite protests by Akali workers. Recalling her association with Kapurthala, where she was born, Ms Dikshit alleged that corruption had become synonymous with Punjab.

Later, Ms Dikshit participated in a rally at Jalandhar cantonment, organised by Congress candidate, Ms Gurkanwal Kaur. 


Cong workers quit party, back Rakhra
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 7
Congress workers led by the sarpanch of Pasiana village in the Samana constituency and office-bearers of the Block Congress of the Tripuri township announced their decision to quit the party and support the candidature of the SAD nominee, Mr Surjit Singh Rakhra, who is arrayed against former Congress minister Brahm Mohindra.

At a rally in Pasiana, sarpanch Lal Singh, panch Labh Singh, former Sarpanch Dalmir Singh, panch Roda Ram, panch Pawan Kumar along with their supporters vowed allegiance to the SAD-BJP-BSM nominee.

Women leaders of Tripuri township in Patiala which falls under the Samana constituency also assured Mr Rakhra of their support at a rally held here yesterday. Women Congress leaders, including Ms Charanjit Kaur, block president, Ms Lakhvinder Kaur, general secretary (rural), Ms Surjit Kaur and Ms Balwinder Kaur along with other women supporters decided to support the Akali Dal during the forthcoming elections.


Morcha rejects Sohi’s claim of support
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 7
Ms Sheelam Sohi, a Congress candidate from the Banur Assembly constituency, had claimed the support of the Panthic Morcha. But the Panthic Morcha rejected the claim saying it was preposterous. It affirmed its support to the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate in the Banur constituency.

While addressing mediapersons at Chandigarh last night, Ms Sohi said, “Mr Sukhdev Singh Wajidpur, executive member of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and Mr Amrik Singh Malikpur, executive member of Sarv Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) were openly supporting her during the election campaign”.

When contacted Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, general secretary of the SHSAD, denied any truck with the Congress. He said that the Congress, as well as the SAD and the BJP, had opted for similar policies to make the state bankrupt.

Moreover, these parties had sown the seed of corruption in Punjab. Thousands of youth were forced to come on roads due to lack of employment avenues during their rule, alleged Professor Chandumajra.

Ms Sohi alleged that the wrong policies of the Akali government had made the state weaker economically and socially. It had also deprived the public of the basic amenities.

Ms Sohi claimed that scores of Akali workers had joined the Congress changing the equation in favour of her. She said there was a direct contest between the SAD and Congress candidates in the Banur constituency now.


Kanwaljit’s supporters create traffic jam
Our Correspondent

Lalru, February 7
Traffic on the busy Chandigarh-Ambala highway was disrupted for over an hour as thousands of farmers jumped into the election campaign of Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party candidate from the Banur Assembly constituency here today.

The traffic heading towards Ambala was diverted from Dera Bassi to the Handesra-Ambala road. Vehicles coming from Ambala were directed to take the same route.

One side of a 10-km-long stretch of the highway near Lalru was completely closed to traffic and over 2000 tractors were allowed to take the road. The cops on duty had a tough time controlling the enthusiastic supporters.

Thousands of passengers, motorists and commuters were put to great hardship till the tractor rally left the highway and took to link roads. Giving a rural touch to canvassing, Mr Jasjit Singh, son of Capt Kanwaljit Singh, flagged off the tractor rally at the local Grain Market and started the third phase of campaigning. The rally passed through 50 villages amid the beating of drums and slogans.

Mrs Sarabjit Kaur, wife of Capt Kanwaljit Singh, along with her other family members visited over 10 colonies in Zirakpur. Ms Naseeb Kaur Batth, Secretary of the women cell of the SAD, also addressed the public in these colonies. 



The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal on Thursday suffered a big jolt when one of its senior leaders and a former minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhillon, joined the Congress in the presence of AICC President Sonia Gandhi and PPCC President Amarinder Singh. Mr Dhillon said he had decided to quit the SAD and join the Congress as there was no intra-party democracy in the former. TNS

The PPCC chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, has assured a deputation of the Punjab and Chandigarh Colleges Teachers Union (PCCTU) that if the Congress forms the next government in the state, it would continue offering 95 per cent grant-in-aid to the private colleges. This was stated by members of the delegation here on Wednesday. OC

Mr Gurpreet Singh Kanger, an Independent candidate from Rampura Phul, was weighed against 200 bottles of blood by his supporters. This is perhaps the first instance when an Independent candidate in the state was weighed against blood. OC

Banners and flags put up by a Congress candidate were allegedly removed by the supporters of his rival candidate in the Moga constituency. This was stated in a complaint lodged by the Congress candidate with the Election Commission. OC

Violating rules laid down by the Election Commission, a number of candidates contesting from the Moga Assembly elections are putting up their posters on the walls of private houses in the town. OC

Mr Manjit Singh, an Akali worker on Thursday decided to join the Congress and support Mr Vijay Kumar Sathi, Congress candidate from the Moga Assembly constituency. OC

The District Milk Dairy Union has decided to support the SAD-BJP candidate, Mr Janmeja Singh Sekhon, in the forthcoming Assembly elections. According to Mr Pramod Sharma, president of the association, the development work undertaken by Mr Sekhon in the Ferozepore Cantt constituency was the reason behind their support. OC


Bhinder accuses Badal govt of non-performance
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, February 7
A former Union Minister, Ms Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, has accused the SAD-BJP government of non-performance, particularly in the border areas.

Addressing a rally at Kalanaur in support of the Congress candidate from the Dhariwal Assembly constituency, Mr Salamat Masih, she alleged that the Public Works Minister, a SAD-BJP candidate from the constituency, had neglected the area.

She accused the minister of being allegedly involved in number of land grabbing cases. and using sub-standard material for building roads.

Ms Bhinder assured that the Congress would form a clean and corruption-free government in the state and constitute a special border board to plan development in the border areas.

Employment oriented industries, with an agro base, would be set up in Punjab to generate employment and the Congress manifesto would be implemented to the letter, she promised.


People fed up with govt: Kanshi
Our Correspondent

Dhuri, February 7
Mr Kanshi Ram, president of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), here today addressed an election rally of his party's is nominee from Dhuri, Ms Sultana Begum.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Kanshi Ram said the people of Punjab were fed up with the SAD-BJP government and wanted to get rid of the present corrupt regime.


Health main concern of women voters
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
For a 20-year-old woman in a close-by Punjab village who has suffered a miscarriage, a deserving candidate is one who ensures the safe birth of her second child. Her main concern is whether her village would ever have trained midwives or whether she would always have to travel 20 km to Chandigarh to seek medical aid.

For years, women inhabiting Punjab villages close to the UT have been awaiting welfare services. While most villages in such segments as Morinda, Kharar and Banur still don’t have civil dispensaries, there are some which have clinics for animals but not for human beings (like Sangariwala). Most villages have at the most a primary school. Only a few have higher secondary level schools. As The Tribune surveyed over 20 villages (within 25 km of UT, the seat of power in Punjab) to gauge the response of rural women to the Punjab poll, it found that corruption and unity were not the issues dominating their voting priorities. They are looking for a political rule that can balance human concerns.

The rural women are concerned about lack of midwives, primary health centres and vocational training centres. Girls in Kansal, Seonk, Parchh, Karondiawala etc have no occupation after schooling. Sangariwala has no school. Children go to Mullanpur for studying.

Kansal, just 1 km from the Punjab CM’s residence, has one primary school, whose building can collapse any day. Mothers send their wards to Chandigarh for studies. Raminder Kaur, a resident, said, “Both my daughters go to Chandigarh for studying. There are no bus services here. No candidate talks about these concerns.”

In Nayagaon, after the February 1 murder of a SAD activist, Kaka, women of this village have stopped venturing out. Their only appeal to key contestants — Mr Ujagar Singh Wadali (SAD), Mr Jagmohan Kang (Congress) and Mr Ravi Inder Singh (Panthic Morcha) is restoration of peace. Said Savitri Devi, “Peace is also an issue here. Water, roads, schools and health care were never on the backburner. Anyone who promises all this will fetch my vote.”

Sushma, another resident, talked of the migrant vote in the area. “For migrants, development is not a core issue. They will vote for anyone who feeds them.” Kusum of Malhi colony, remarked, “Hame bhi tum gaadi mein ghuma do; tum jidhar kahoge hum udhar vote daal denge.”

Deeper down, the issues get serious. Sangariwala has no school or health care centre. A resident, Jarnail Kaur informed, “For deliveries we have to rush to Chandigarh. They don’t treat our cases urgently. You can imagine the plight of a woman in labour pains. Mullanpur has one midwife, who is not trained.” Karamjit Kaur of this village had a delivery at the PGI. Her stitches opened after five days of the delivery. She kept bleeding before she could be taken to the PGI for medical aid. Sangariwala girls miss vocational courses. Sixteen-year-old Kulbir has been wasting time because there is nothing to do. “A private party had opened a stitching centre but it has now been closed down.” Similar is the condition of Parchh, Seonk and Karondiwala where women want politicians to solve their basic problems.

Toga village of Morinda faces a grave problem. The 3-km road passing through Toga is just about 10 feet wide. Trucks ply illegally and face no action. Informed Jasbir Kaur, a resident, “We have been telling the candidates about this problem. Recently, a man was crushed to death. Our children play outside. Is any political party responsible for their lives?”

The condition in Kharar villages, where key contestants are Mr Harnek Singh Gharuan (rebel INC), Mr B.S Sidhu (Independent), Mr Kiran Bir Kang (SAD) and Mr Bir Devinder (INC), is no different. Gurmail Kaur of Ballumajra informed, “There is no school. We have to go to Duan for medical aid.” The plight of Badongi, Chhajumajra, Chahpur is also the same. The Banur constituency in Patiala boasts of nothing better. For Raj Kaur of Bassi, health is a big concern. “We have no trained medical staff. Even for pregnancy cases we go to Banur, from where we are further referred to the PGI.” Karala, Dhanauli, Fatehpur and Lalru follow in the same line.


Poll frenzy fails to grip border youth
Rashmi Talwar

Mulakot/Roarawala/Attari on Indo-Pak border (Amritsar), February 7
Even as border villages get ready for the poll under the shadow of the Army gun, the mood is essentially lacklustre among local youths. The task of meeting daily needs has overshadowed the election euphoria.

A depleting source of income, emancipated cattle and no means of livelihood are their main concerns.

Many residents have returned only two days earlier from places they had migrated to. Consequently, many first-time voters, who turned 18 or above recently, have no voter identity cards.

Rorawala Khurd village, barely 1 km from the Indo-Pak border, is dotted with flags of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate Gulzar Singh Ranike, who is the sitting MLA. Gursewak, a resident of the village, will follow in the footsteps of his father, who is a SAD supporter.

In nearby Rodanwala Kalan village, Rajinder Singh (21) has been won over with a bottle a day by workers canvassing for Mr Ranike’s sister-in-law Rajpinder Kaur, candidate for the Panthic Morcha. Narinder Singh (18) of Mulakot village will be casting his vote for the first time. “About 36 kilas of land owned by my family has been mined”, he says. “The buffaloes cry for fodder. Our vegetables are sown in fields with mines. For the first time we are buying vegetables from the market,” he adds. “I want to teach a lesson to the sitting SAD MLA”, he says holding a flag supporting the Congress candidate.

Gursewak Singh (19) of Rajasansi village, has unwillingly turned to farming. He is a graduate but has not got a government job. Indifferent about the election euphoria, he says every candidate is out “to grab what is meant for the poor.” Disappointed over his joblessness, he does not want to cast his vote.

Harpartap Singh (21) of Attari village is doing a diploma of polytechnic on production and industrial engineering. “If an MLA only spends only 10 per cent of the grant on the village, he is held in high esteem. Villagers are so gullible,” he says. He’s not averse to joining politics as a career.


Nishan Sahib breaks, one killed, 4 hurt
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 7
The accidental fall of a 40-year-old Nishan Sahib at Gurdwara Baba Deep (Shaheedan Sahib) lead to the death of a pilgrim while four others were seriously injured.

The injured were rushed to Guru Ramdas Hospital. The incident occurred at 10.30 a.m. here today.

Jagjit Singh (50), resident of Delhi, died on the spot when he was pierced in the head with a sharpnel from the 115-feet-high Nishan Sahib.

Speaking to this correspondent, the Additional Manager, Darbar Sahib, Mr Major Singh, said the unfortunate incident occurred when sevadar Mahinder Singh was replacing the “chola” (a traditional ritual) from Nishan Sahib. Rust and weight made Nishan Sahib fall and caused its breaking.

The sevadar fell on terrace of the gurdwara many feet below and sustained fractures in his legs, arms and back.

The deceased’s brother, Bhupinder Singh (45), also sustained serious injuries on his forehead and in the eyes from another sharpnel from Nishan Sahib. He told The Tribune that he, along with his brother, had come after nearly 20 years to this ‘Guru Ki Nagari,’ to fulfil a ‘mannat’ (wish) by putting the chola on Nishan Sahib. The other injured are Taranbir Kaur, who was hit in the arm with pieces of Nishan Sahib and sustained fractures there. Another injured Amarjit Singh was stated to be out of danger.

Meanwhile in a statement SGPC members Mr Puran Singh Josh and Mr Onkar Singh Shariefpura said that sevadars of Shaheedan Gurdawara had, in many written complaints to the SGPC, complained about the precarious condition of the Nishan Sahib.

They also stated that they had pointed out to the SGPC, also about the bad condition of two Nishan Sahibs installed at Sri Akal Takht. Yet no attention had been paid to it.

Meanwhile Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, general secretary, SGPC, in a statement said an inquiry would be held and action would be taken against the guilty.


Bhattal directed to go to Special Judge
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
Disposing of an application filed by former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal for adjourning the alleged corruption case registered against her “to some date in March 2002”, Mr Justice R.C. Kathuria of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today ordered that she could seek adjournment on appearing before Bathinda’s Special Judge on February 8.

Mr Justice Kathuria observed that since Bathinda’s Additional District and Sessions Judge had already directed her to appear before the Special Judge on February 8, she should appear in court on the specified date and pray for adjournment.

In her application, the former CM had initially asked for directions to stay further proceedings in case pertaining to the first information report registered on May 22 last year by the Vigilance Bureau at Ferozepur, along with directions for adjournment. Counsel, however, did not press the prayer for stay. Going into the background, her counsel had claimed that Ms Bhattal had reached the Special Judge’s court on February 4, but as the presiding officer was not present, she appeared before Additional District and Sessions Judge Karnail Singh.

Staying the execution of non-bailable warrants issued against the former CM subject to the condition that she appeared in the court of Bathinda’s Special Judge on February 4, Mr Justice Kathuria had, on the last date of hearing, ordered the Special Judge to admit her bail on her furnishing the requisite bail bonds to his satisfaction.


Hearing in Kewal Singh’s case adjourned
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 7
The hearing of the bail application of Giani Kewal Singh, a former Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib, facing a criminal case along with his son Baljinder Singh and another kin, was adjourned to February 11 today as the police failed to submit necessary documents in the court.

Mr Karnail Singh, Additional District and Sessions Judge, adjourning the case asked the police authorities to submit the necessary record with the court positively on the next date of hearing. The record is to be brought from Talwandi Sabo police station.

Giani Kewal Singh, his son Baljinder Singh and a kin Joginder Kaur are facing a case in connection with the death of his daughter-in-law Sharanjeet Kaur under mysterious circumstances in 1997.

It is pertinent to mention here that the police authorities concerned have failed to arrest the three accused despite the fact that non-bailable warrants issued against them by Judicial Magistrate Talwandi Sabo. The bail application moved by them has not been accepted by the court so far.

The non-bailable warrants were issued against them when they failed to appear in the court of Judicial Magistrate, Talwandi Sabo. However, the operation of non-bailable warrants was stayed on June 14 2001, by the District and Sessions Judge, Mr B.C. Rajput. The case was later shifted to the court of Mr Surjeet Singh.


Enforce ban orders: DC
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, February 7
Taking a serious note of the violations of the orders passed under Section 144 of the Cr. P.C. prohibiting carrying of firearms in the district, the District Magistrate, Mr S.R. Ladhar, directed officials concerned to ensure strict compliance of the orders for ensuring free and fair conduct of the Punjab Assembly elections.

Mr Ladhar, in a press note issued here today, said though carrying of firearms was prohibited an order passed on January 11 some incidents of the open flaunting of firearms had taken place. Even some criminals cases had been also registered against the persons who had been carrying firearms to terrorise and intimidate people, he said.

The District Magistrate, exercising the powers vested with him under Section 144 Cr of the Cr PC, ordered that all licensed weapons should be deposited at the nearest police station or authorised gun houses, latest by the midnight of February 9 and be kept there until the completion of the election procedure in the state. He added that the orders would not be applicable to those cases where an exemption had been granted by the licensing authorities.


Science congress inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 7
“There is a need to integrate scientific disciplines, humanity and social subjects so as to make education relevant to the present needs of society”, said Prof A. Nigavekar, Vice-Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC) while inaugurating the fifth Punjab Science Congress at the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology (TIET) here.

The theme of the congress is “science and technology in the new millennium”. About 500 delegates from different parts of the country who will present 250 research papers and 125 poster presentations in three broad categories of medical sciences, physical sciences, agricultural and life sciences will participate in the three-day congress.

Welcoming the delegates, Director of the TIET, Dr Mahesh P. Kapoor, insisted that basic sciences were the foundation of applied disciplines such as engineering and medicines. He said over the past decade, there had been a downward trend in the interest in applied sciences which had resulted in an adverse impact on the quality of education and research. He called upon the policy planners and academicians to reverse the trend.

Speaking on the occasion, President of the Punjab Academy of Sciences, Prof R.C. Sobti, announced that from next year a Children’s Science Congress would be held, coinciding with the main congress.


Father appoints examiner for son
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 7
Can a father recommend examiner for his son? Yes, if the meeting of board of studies (commerce) held at Guru Nanak Dev University is any indication.

According to sources, a senior lecturer of DAV College, Jalandhar, whose son is a student of B.Com (Professional) today attended the meeting in which examiner for B.Com were finalised. Many papers of B.Com and B.Com (Professional) are common. The meeting was presided over by Dr G.S. Bhalla, a senior Reader of Commerce in Guru Nanak Dev University.

When contacted by TNS, Dr Bhalla admitted that Mr Vijay Gupta whose own son was to appear in the examination attended the meeting today. He, however, hastened to add that he learnt about this after the meeting. Dr Bhalla said that Mr Gupta was one of the examiners recommended by the Board of Studies which was against the rules. He said he would take this matter to the Vice Chancellor so that appropriate action could be initiated.


Teachers, students stage rally
Our Correspondent

Barnala, February 7
In response to a joint action committee of the Private College Management Federation, Federation of Principals Association of Private Colleges, Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU), and Private College Non-Teaching Employees Union call for “save education”, private college management as well as principal of local S.D. College, PCCTU and PCNTEU activists staged a district-level rally yesterday.

Students of S.D. College, Lal Bhadur Shastri Arya Mahila College and Guru Gobind Singh College Sanghera (Barnala) also joined the rally.

Addressing the rally, Prof R.S. Brar, PCCTU executive member, regretted that after making promises to private college managements, principals, college teachers, non-teaching employees and students the SAD “betrayed” their confidence. 


Students stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 7
Members of the ETT Students Welfare Association today sat on a dharna on the Bathinda-Muktsar road near Deon village to show their resentment against the bus operators who did not honour the concessional passes of the students. The traffic remained disrupted for about an hour.

The students shouted slogans against the Punjab Government and officials concerned of the PRTC and Punjab Roadways and private bus operators who were responsible for “harassing” of students who travel to the educational institutions daily. They said although they possessed the concessional passes issued by the authorities, the private bus operators did not allow them to travel in their buses without a ticket. They alleged that the owners of a particular transport service, who were patronised by an influential politician harassed them.


Teachers meet PPCC chief on aid issue
Our Correspondent

Barnala, February 7
A deputation of Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) comprising Prof Aminderpal Singh, secretary, PCCTU, Punjabi University, Patiala, Prof R.S. Brar, executive member, PCCTU, and Prof Malkit Singh, PCCTU chief, Sangrur district, called upon Captain Amarinder Singh, PPCC chief yesterday, at a local industries’ complex to bring to his notice grievances of teachers of private colleges regarding reduction in grant-in-aid by about 95 per cent by the state government.

Captain Amarinder Singh assured them that if the Congress was voted to power in the Assembly polls, it would continue to offer 95 per cent grant-in-aid to private colleges.

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