Tuesday, March 5, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Defeat leads to crisis in BJP
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 4
The Punjab BJP has been rattled by the rout in the Assembly elections in the state. A crisis has started in the party. The blame game is on. Complaints with regard to the role played by senior leaders of the party against their own candidates at certain places have also become a matter of concern in the party.

Out of the 23 candidates put up by it, only three won the elections. There were nine Ministers and a Deputy Speaker of the BJP in the Punjab Assembly. All were defeated except Mr Tikshan Sud, who won from Hoshiarpur. All its sitting MLAs were defeated.

In fact, four out of the total of nine Ministers lost the elections by a margin of over 10,000 votes. And three Ministers lost by a margin of over 15,000 votes. In most of the constituencies where the BJP candidates were put up, they got fewer votes than that polled by the SAD-BJP in the Lok Sabha elections in 1999.

What went wrong? This question has been debated at recently held party meetings. The party has, by and large, blamed the media for its rout in the state. However, such a perception in the party is far removed from reality.

A major contribution to the party’s defeat was by its Ministers, who enjoyed power to the hilt. In the process of enjoying power, they ignored the party rank and file.

It was, in fact, the anguish of party workers against their Ministers and MLAs which was reflected in the Assembly elections. As party activists, except a few, remained sidelined in the past five years, they paid back by cold shouldering the Ministers and MLAs at the hustings.

Mr O.P. Kohli, a leader of the party high command, who held a meeting of senior leaders here a few days ago, was frank enough to tell all concerned that ignoring party workers over the past five years had proved costly in the elections.

It has become a common practice among politicians to promote the interests of their close relations and forget party activists after becoming Ministers and MLAs.

The BJP Ministers and MLAs had become aware of the urban-rural divide well before the 1999 Lok Sabha elections. However, no one from the party tried to bridge that divide. It is a fact that the then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, held “sangat darshan” in big cities like Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Amritsar, but it was not enough to undo the damage done earlier.

Not only did the BJP lose the Assembly elections in the urban centres, even Akali MLAs lost in those areas where sizeable towns were a part of their constituencies. Of course, the delay in the implementation of the promises made to urbanites before the Assembly elections by the SAD-BJP combine in 1997 also played a major role in its defeat in the urban areas.

The Punjab BJP has a long way to go to learn how it should handle its partner in a coalition government. Its mishandling of certain issues like sops for the urban areas went against it. 


Major reshuffle in Punjab police
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 4
The Punjab Government has ordered the following transfers and postings in the Police Department:

Director-General of Police

Mr Jarnail Singh Chahal becomes the new Chairman-cum-Managing Director, Pepsu Road Transport Corporation.

Additional Director-General of Police

Mr S.V. Singh will be the new ADGP-cum-Chief Director, Vigilance Bureau; Mr B.P. Tewari will be ADGP, Operations; Mr S.K. Verma goes ADGP, Human Rights Commission; Mr S.S. Virk will be the new ADGP, PAP, Jalandhar; Mr Lalit Bhatia becomes ADGP, Vigilance and Security, PSEB, Patiala; Mr S.C. Jain goes as ADGP, Railways, Patiala; Mr D.R. Bhatti will be the new ADGP, Computer and Wireless; Dr G.S. Aujla will be ADGP-cum-Director, Punjab Police Academy, Phillaur; Mr M.P.S. Aulakh will be ADGP, Rules; Mr N.P.S. Aulakh becomes ADGP, Training; and Mr R.S. as Chalia has been posted ADGP, Home Guards and Civil Defence.


Mr Mohd Izhar Alam, IG, Prisons; Mr A.P. Pandey, IG, Vigilance Bureau; Mr Bakshi Ram, IG, Computer and Wireless; Mr Anil Kaushik, IG, Zonal-1; Mr R.C. Prasad, IG Investigation Lok Pal; Mr Chander Shekhar, IG, CDO; Mr J.P.Virdi, IG, Crime; Mr Jyoti Trehan, IG, PPA, Phillaur; Mr S.M. Sharma, IG PAP, Jalandhar; Mr G.D. Pandey, IG, Ops; Mr Sanjiv Gupta, IG, Headquarters; Mr Sumedh Singh Saini, IG, Intelligence; Mr Suresh Arora, IG Litigation; Mr Rajinder Singh, IG, Security; and Mr Satish Kumar Sharma, IG , Zonal-11.

Deputy Inspectors-General

Mr Mohammad Mustafa, DIG, Ferozepore Range; Mr Hardip Singh Dhillon, DIG Training, PAP, Jalandhar; Mr Dinkar Gupta, DIG, Jalandhar Range; and Mr C.S.R. Reddy, DIG, CM Security.

Senior Superintendents of Police/Assistant Inspectors-General of Police

Mr Narinderpal Singh, SSP, Amritsar; Shashi Prabha Dwivedi, SSP, Majitha; Mr Narinder Bhargav, SSP, Tarn Taran; Mr B.K.Uppal, SSP, Gurdaspur; Ms Neerja Voruvuru, SSP, Batala; Mr Paramjit Singh Gill, SSP Jalandhar; Mr R.N. Dhoke, SSP, Kapurthala; Ms Gurpreet Kaur Deo, SSP, Hoshiarpur; Dr Naresh Kumar, SSP, Nawanshahr; Mr Devinder Singh Garcha, SSP, Khanna; Mr A.S. Rai, SSP, Sangrur; Mr B. Chandrasekhar, SSP, Fatehgarh Sahib; Mr Gurinder Singh Dhillon, SSP, Barnala; Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, SSP, Faridkot; Mr Sudanshu S. Srivastava, SSP, Mansa; Mr Ishar Singh, SSP, Bathinda; Mr Parveen Kumar Sinha, SSP, Ferozepore; Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, Moga; Mr Paramjit Singh Sarao, SSP , Muktsar; Mr Tejinderpal Singh, SP, Vigilance, Amritsar; and Ms Anita Punj, SP, Vigilance, Ferozepore.


13 IAS officers shifted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 4
In addition to a major administrative reshuffle in the Police Department, the Punjab Government has ordered the transfers and postings of 13 IAS officers and one PCS officer today.

Ms Kusumjit Sidhu has been appointed Secretary, Higher Education, and Director, Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Public Administration.

Mrs Satwant Reddy will be the new Secretary, Department of Planning, Advisory Council and Special Economic Packages.

Mr J.R. Kundal becomes the Secretary, Department of Welfare of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes.

Mr Rakesh Singh has been appointed Secretary, Housing and Urban Development.

Mr T.R. Sarangal will be the new Director of Industries and Commerce.

Mr Suresh Kumar wil be the Managing Director, Punjab State Industries Development Corporation.

Mr Himmat Singh has been appointed Managing Director, Punjab Agro Industries Corporation.

Ms Vini Mahajan will continue to be the Special Secretary, Expenditure.

Mr Kirpa Shankar Saroj has been posted Special Secretary, Jails and Judicial Reforms.

Dr Roshan Sunkharia will be the Special Secretary, Relief and Resettlement.

Mr P.S. Aujla has been appointed Managing Director, Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation.

Mr Gurminder Singh Grewal becomes the Director, Rural Development and Panchayats.

Mr Yashvir Mahajan will be the Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA, SAS Nagar.


Old guard may block Singla’s way
Resentment among voters, party workers
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 4
Even as the Congress high command and state leadership has been trying to form a Cabinet which can deliver the goods, the question which is being hotly debated among the party rank and file is that will recognition be given to Mr Surinder Singla, an eminent economist, who created history by emerging as the lone victorious candidate of the party in the five districts of the Malwa region with a respectable margin, braving all odds, in the Cabinet.

Mr Singla, a former chief spokesman of the AICC and member of Parliament, who was projected as the next Finance Minister in a Congress government, registered an emphatic victory with a margin of more than 13,000 votes, despite the fact that he was an outsider and faced a party rebel in the election arena.

All Congress candidates in Bathinda, Mansa, Faridkot, Muktsar and Moga districts, including former Chief Minister Harcharan Singh Brar failed to make their entry into the Vidhan Sabha.

What went in Mr Singla’s favour was his eminence and expertise in economics and his projection as next Finance Minister by Mr Amarinder Singh and former Union Finance Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh during the election campaign.

This coupled with his own vision on reconstruction of the state economy in general and “Bathinda mission” in particular saw a popular wave in his favour.

A major cross-section of voters to whom TNS talked, pointed out that they apprehended that a section of the old guard would make efforts to keep young, energetic and those with the ability to put the state’s economy back on the rails out of the Cabinet.

They said if Mr Singla was not taken into the Cabinet as Finance Minister, the credibility of Mr Amarinder Singh and Dr Manmohan Singh would suffer.

Mr Kewal Krishan Aggarwal, general secretary, DCC (I), pointed out that if Mr Singla was not made Finance Minister, there would be great resentment among the people as well as party workers. He claimed that people had high hopes from Mr Singla regarding the reconstruction of economy. They would feel cheated if he was kept out of the Cabinet.

It would be construed as punishment to the Malwa region for siding with the SAD-BJP alliance.


Swearing in: bad news for gatecrashers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 4
Here is some bad news for gatecrashers.

Don't come if you are not officially invited to the swearing-in ceremony of the new Punjab Council of Ministers scheduled for 11 a.m. at Punjab Raj Bhavan tomorrow.

Wiser by the chaotic scenes which were witnessed at Raj Bhavan when the new Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, was sworn in on February 27, the authorities have decided to be very strict. Under no circumstances will they allow a repetition of events of last Wednesday when even the wife of the Chief Minister, Mrs Parneet Kaur, MP, a former Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, the son of the Chief Minister and several other VIPs had to squat on durries because the seats meant for them had been occupied by others.

Sources at Raj Bhavan say that the problem on that day arose primarily because a number of PCS officers who had been assigned the job of regulating the flow of invitees abandoned their posts and preferred to hover around the new Chief Minister and powers-that-be for wangling new postings. Some of them are said to have succeeded in their endeavour.

Similar chaos was witnessed at the tea party which followed the swearing in of the Chief Minister. With gatecrashers outnumbering the invitees, tea and eatables vanished in no time. The milling crowds also ruined meticulously prepared flower beds and broke flower pots.

However, as far as tomorrow is concerned, sources say that nobody will be allowed to enter Raj Bhavan without invitation cards even if accompanied by the Ministers designate.

Invitation cards will have to be produced at several checkpoints in and outside Raj Bhavan and the identity of the invitee established before he is allowed to proceed. The Chief Minister has directed that not more than four persons should be allowed to accompany a minister designate or MLA.

Raj Bhavan has increased by a thousand the seating arrangements made for the invitees; against 2,500 chairs placed on February 27 under a shamiana on the lawns of Raj Bhavan, 3,500 chairs have been provided for tomorrow's ceremony. In addition, arrangements have been made for another 4,000 persons who can stand and watch the ceremony.


Bibi questions siropa denial to CM
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 4
The denying of “siropa” to Capt Amarinder Singh during his visit to the Golden Temple after assuming the charge of Chief Minister is likely to snowball into a major controversy, with Bibi Jagir Kaur, a former President of the SGPC, saying that partiality in a “guru ghar” (gurdwara) was not acceptable.

She said if Capt Amarinder Singh was denied “siropa” on the ground that he belonged to the Congress, then the step was “unfortunate”. She said though the exit poll had helped the Congress to form government in Punjab, even then the verdict of the people must be accepted gracefully.

Bibi Jagir Kaur said all were equal in the “guru ghar” and the practice of bestowing “siropa” should not be discontinued. She, however, said it it was a decision of the executive committee, then she would not like to comment on the issue.

However, according to reliable sources, it was the verbal orders of the SGPC chief not to present “siropa” to visiting dignitaries.

Bibi Jagir Kaur said if Mr Harcharan Singh Brar and Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal — the then Congress Chief Ministers — could be presented “siropa”, why was it denied to Capt Amarinder Singh. She said if the Congress was responsible for Operation Bluestar, those responsible for it had already been punished. Moreover, Capt Amarinder Singh had resigned as Congress MP in protest against Operation Bluestar. On raising a memorial to the operation, Bibi Jagir Kaur said she was in favour of the proposal.

Replying to a question, Bibi Jagir Kaur said it was unfortunate that Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi, had been absenting himself from the meetings of Akal Takht. She said if Giani Puran Singh failed to act as per the “maryada”, the SGPC should take action. It may be mentioned here that Giani Puran Singh had excommunicated three Sikh high priests from the Sikh Panth through a controversial “hukmnama”.

Bibi Jagir Kaur also took exception to the “deficit” budget of education being passed by the SGPC.

On the decision of the SGPC to send jathas to Pakistan, Bibi Jagir Kaur opined that devotees should not be sent till the Pakistan Government disbanded the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. She said the charge of gurdwaras should be handed over to the SGPC.

When asked about the “derogatory” remarks made by Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi against Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Bibi Jagir Kaur said such remarks should be avoided as the Jathedar was considered to be supreme in Sikhism.

Meanwhile, a deputation of 489 former SGPC employees who were dismissed from service on the direction of Sikh gurdwara judicial commission met Bibi Jagir Kaur and sought her help for their rehabilitation. Bibi Jagir Kaur said she would take up the matter with the Akali high command and the SGPC chief so that they could be reinstated as per fresh directions of the judicial court. She also appealed to them not to resort to an agitation. 


Charges against VC bailable
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 4
Round one in the ongoing attrition in Punjabi University today went to the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, with District and Sessions Judge S.N. Aggarwal disposing of a bail petition filed by him saying all allegations were bailable and directing the police to give the Vice-Chancellor one day’s notice in case any fresh case was to be registered against him.

The Vice-Chancellor is in the midst of a controversy with a student of the Department of Fine Arts first claiming that she had undergone mental harassment during trips made outside the university for official functions, then claiming the harassment was done on the behalf of the VC and finally getting an FIR registered against Dr Ahluwalia claiming the latter had made lewd gestures at her during official functions.

In his order which also covers three other accused, including the Fine Arts Department Head, Dr Saroj Rani, a research scholar, Ms Aman, and an employee, Mr Jaspal Singh, the judge ruled that one day’s notice should be given to Dr Ahluwalia in case the police wanted to register any fresh case against him. He also directed that the notice could be pasted outside the residence of the VC in case he did not accept it. He left it to the discretion of the police to get the passports of the accused deposited if found neccessary.

Earlier, Dr Ahluwalia’s counsel had asked that a two-day notice be given to the Vice-Chancellor in case any other case was to be registered against him. This was opposed by the public prosecutor who said there was no provision for such a notice. The prosecutor also claimed that the police had not done any investigation in the case which was contested by the counsel of Dr Rani who said his client had twice been questioned by the police on February 24 and 28 for hours together and that the issue had been highlighted by the Press also.

Meanwhile, the joint action committee comprising teachers, employees and students under the chairmanship of Dr U.C. Singh resolved to organise a gate rally and burn effigy of the VC tomorrow. In a release here, the committee also gave a call for a strike in affiliated colleges of Punjabi University on March 9 besides deciding to hold dharna for three hours everyday from March 11 onwards. The committee also demanded the immediate arrest of the VC and his removal, besides a comprehensive probe into the acts of omission and commission committed during the three-year term of Dr Ahluwalia.

In a separate statement, a faction of the Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA) today attacked the PUTA president, Dr Dalbir Singh Dhillon, for the paid advertisements appearing under his name in some papers. The PUTA secretary, Dr N.S. Atri, and three other executive members said it was for the first time that the elected office of the PUTA president was being misused to shield the VC. They alleged the PUTA president was acting as mouthpiece of the VC and said the novel manner in which the advertisements were appearing in support of the VC were highly condemnable and required a high-level probe.

Opposing what they called the ‘’unilateral selfish game of the PUTA president’’, the faction requested the law enforcing agencies to take the Saru Rana episode to its logical conclusion without getting influenced by the tactics adopted by the VC in connivance with the coterie led by the PUTA president. ‘’It is the need of the hour to apprehend the guilty and give exemplary punishment so that in future such incidents do not occur’’ it said, besides demanding that the VC be sent on a long leave.


2-day holiday in Pbi varsity
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 4
Punjabi University authorities today declared a two-day holiday shortly after the joint action committee (JAC) comprising teachers, employees and student organisations decided to hold a gate rally on the campus tomorrow.

A university spokesman disclosed that a decision to this effect had been taken late in the evening. He said the decision had been taken to ensure “outside elements” did not get an opportunity to take the law in their own hands and that the staff members and visitors coming to the university were not inconvenienced due to this. The spokesman said besides this the university had also taken into account the two-day mourning announced by the Central Government on account of the tragic death of Speaker Balayogi in a helicopter crash. He said besides this it was also felt that a holiday would also be befitting in view of the swearing-in-ceremony of the new ministry tomorrow.

The university spokesman said the two-day holiday would be covered in due course to ensure that the academic activity did not suffer. 

The JAC headed by Dr U.C. Singh and comprising of a faction of the Punjabi University Teachers Association, employee unions and student organisations has announced that it would hold a gate rally and burn an effigy of the Vice-Chancellor tomorrow besides holding a continuous dharna in front of the VC office.


Channi engineered ‘our’ defeat
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 4
Mr Naresh Thakur, Mr Ram Rattan and Mr Pawan Kumar Adia — all Congress candidates who lost from Hoshiarpur Mahilpur and Garhdiwala segments of Hoshiarpur district, respectively, alleged in a joint press conference here today that Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, Congress MP from the Hoshiarpur Parliamentary constituency, along with his political secretary, Mr Om Parkash Saini, had conspired to defeat them in the recent Assembly elections. They claimed that they had proof about this conspiracy. Mr Channi had a meeting with Mr Mohinder Pal, president, Balmik Sabha, Hoshiarpur, Mr Saini, general secretary, DDC, Mr S.K. Sharma, vice-president and Mr Varinder Jassal, general secretary City Congress, Hoshiarpur, at Milan Palace, Mahilpur on February 10, 2002, where a conspiracy to defeat them was hatched. Mr Jassal, who had a cordial relations with them, taped the conversation of Mr Channi, Mr Saini, Mr Pal and others. They played the audio tape of the conversation in the conference claiming that Mr Channi had instructed his supporters to defeat all of them. They further alleged that Mr Saini went to all the beneficiaries whom he had got released amount from the MP’s Local Area Development Fund Account from Mr Channi to oppose them.

When asked why Mr Channi was against them they said he wanted party ticket to be allotted to his men but could not succeed. All of them got Congress ticket on the instance of Ms Ambika Soni, General Secretary, AICC, against the wishes of Mr Channi following which he became annoyed with them.

They said they had already provided copies of these tapes to Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, Ms Ambika Soni and Mr Moti Lal Vohra, Treasurer, AICC, who had promised them to take strict action against Mr Channi after an inquiry. They would meet Mrs Sonia Gandhi, President, AICC, within two/three days to apprise her of this episode they said.

All leaders demanded the immediate expulsion of Mr Channi and Mr Saini from the party.

Mr Naresh Thakur already wrote to the party high command against Mr Saini, Mr Ram Rattan against Mr Gurmail Singh, former minister, and Mr Adia against Mr Dharampal Sabharwal, former minister, about opposition by these leaders.


Unauthorised buildings mushroom
Tribune News Service

The city seems to have become a haven for encroachers as a number of unauthorised buildings, including a shopping complex, have come up in various pockets in the past few days.

A year ago, a shopping complex was built on land belonging to an institution on one side of the Bathinda-Mansa road. Though it took more than a month for the construction of the complex, the authorities concerned did not take any action even though no site plan had been sanctioned for the building.

Another unauthorised shopping complex has come up on land belonging to an institution on the Bathinda-Goniana main road. However, the authorities concerned have again not taken any action.

The city has earned the dubious distinction of being a paradise for land grabbers in the past few years. The matter pertaining to encroachments and unauthorised construction has been raised a number of times by a section of municipal councillors but without any success. Several municipal councillors have even alleged that some MC officials are minting money by encouraging unauthorised construction and encroachments.

Even as the district administration has recently filed and affidavit in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, stating that no encroachments will be allowed on government land, public property, roads etc, the city has been witnessing the opposite, thanks to the alleged nexus between municipal council officials and encroachers.

The municipal council has allegedly adopted a unique method to cover up its misdeeds. First it allows encroachments and unauthorised construction and after the building is completed, it issues notice to the suspects under the relevant provision of the Punjab Municipal Law to demolish the same, leading to a long-drawn litigation.

In the past many years, the municipal council or other authorities have failed to demolish any building constructed illegally or on encroached land, barring a few cases in which walls and other minor constructions have been pulled down.

In the past month or so, a number of buildings have come up on a site where a big flourmill is located. Most of these buildings have been built without any sanctioned site plan. If at all the plan has been sanctioned, major deviations from it have been made.

The width of most of the main roads of the city has got reduced due to encroachments. The Bibi Wala road, Powerhouse road, Bhagu road and the Bathinda-Goniana road bear testimony to the malpractice. Encroachers have also constructed rooms on the roadside. Most of the buildings in the main bazaars of the city have protruding balconies, which extend beyond four feet in certain cases.

Mr Shiv Kumar Mittal, Executive Officer, municipal council, said he had given instructions to the MC wing concerned to take legal action against encroachers and those indulging in unauthorised construction. He claimed that the municipal council had demolished all encroachments made by shopkeepers in the corridors of a shopping complex near the old bus stand. Other encroachments would be removed after the results of the Assembly elections, he said.

Mr Chhabbra, Municipal Engineer, said the site plan for the shopping complex had been submitted and it was yet to be sanctioned. He said as the complex was being built on Wakf board land, a no-objection certificate had been taken from them. He said notices had been issued to those who had raised the shopping complex in an unauthorised manner and it would be demolished after the completion of formalities.


No new car for Vedanti: SGPC
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 4
The SGPC executive had reportedly rejected the demand of Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, for the allocation of brand-new luxury car.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, secretary-general, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, and SGPC executive member, said he had raised an objection to the demand sent by Jathedar Vedanti as the car already allocated to him was only three years’ old. The proposal sent by the Akal Takht secretariat that the old car be auctioned could not be accepted as replacing the car would put financial burden on the SGPC, he said.

Mr Bhaur criticised inquiry committees for not completing the inquiries against Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar Kesgarh Sahib, and Giani Kewal Singh, a former Jathedar, Damdama Sahib. He said such committees should be given a time frame to complete the inquiries.

Mr Bhaur said he had raised a point in the executive that Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, Mr Sucha Singh Langah and others should deposit the pending amount with the Guru Ram Dass Hospital as their wards had got admission under the NRI quota. He said it was unfortunate that the pending amount was not being deposited despite reminders. He said a sum of about Rs 2 crore was outstanding against the students who got admission under the NRI quota.


Patiala on path of progress
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 4
The recent bureaucratic changes have been made just as suddenly as the last ones with Deputy Commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir making place for another officer keeping in view the changed political atmosphere in the state. But for the people of the city, Mr Bir’s stay has been the most rewarding in recent years.

The face of the city has been changed during the last three years, mainly due to Mr Bir’s initiative, which has resulted in better traffic management, more greenery, development of a tourism facility in the form of the Rajindra tank and above all the tremendous improvements made in the Baradari gardens, for which Mr Bir will be remembered most by the people of the city.

Besides this other achievements to the Deputy Commissioner’s credit is the upcoming Mini Secretariat Complex on the Jail Road, besides sanctioning of the much-needed overbridge over the railway crossing number 22.

“Where Patiala looked more like a small time town some years back, it has now incorporated features associated with a well planned city”, says Amarjit Singh of Sheranwala gate. He said among the first things done by the Deputy Commissioner was brining in traffic sense into the city. As a first step he said the Mall Road and part of the lower Mall as well as the Bhupindra road had been broadened and dividers installed in them. He said though there had been much hue and cry over the decision from affected shopkeepers, with due time everyone had realised the necessity of the decision and it had reduced the number of accidents on these roads.

Another resident, Sohan Singh, said citizens had also been benefited by the restoration of the Rajindra tank and the massive improvement done to the Baradari gardens.

The Baradari gardens have also seen tremendous improvement. A part of the garden has been landscaped and developed keeping in mind the need of the people of the city to enjoy it at dusk. Lights have been installed, concrete paths created, light music facilities have also been installed, besides creation of a fountain and a children’s play corner where swings and other facilities have been created. Toilets have also been constructed in the gardens besides a canteen and a water cooler, all of whom have been constructed in such a manner that they do not spoil the ethics of the gardens. The other part of the garden has been largely left untouched keeping in mind the sensitivity of people who want to be alone with nature.

On the addition of new infrastructure to the city, residents said after the construction of the overbridge near the bus stand during the tenure of former Deputy Commissioner T.C. Gupta, another major infrastructure was being added in the form of the Mini Secretariat. Besides this the sanctioning of an overbridge at Railway Crossing Number 22 was also a herculean task which, people feel, may again be left in limbo if it is not taken up seriously by the government.

Besides, Patiala has also become a more greener city with a host of voluntary organisations being involved in a tree plantation drive which seems to be bearing fruit.


PCMSA office-bearers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 4
Dr Jaswant Singh has been elected as the president of Punjab Civil Medical Services Association (PCMSA), Ropar. While Dr H.N. Sharma was elected the Senior vice-president, Dr Sukhwinder Singh was elected junior vice-president.

Dr J.P.S. Sangha has become the general secretary while Dr Ramnik Kaur will be the joint secretary. Dr Manjit Singh has been elected as the press secretary and Dr Navtej Pal Singh will be the treasurer. Dr Tejinder Singh will be the convener, while Dr Jaiwant Singh Cheema, Dr Anupreet Gill, Dr Sarbjit Singh Dhindsa, Dr Rajeev Bhalla, Dr Sandeep Singh Gill, Dr Darshan Singh and Dr Jaspal Singh will be the executive members.



AITUC to oppose ‘anti-people’ Union Budget
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 4
The Punjab State Committee of the All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) has decided to organise gate rallies, public meetings and conventions between March 6 and March 12 across the state to oppose the “anti-people” Union Budget and communalism.

The union also decided to call a joint convention of several organisations on March 14 in Jalandhar to oppose the Budget, its president, Mr Nirmal Singh, said in a statement here today.


Gujarat violence pre-planned: union
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 4
The local unit of the Technical Services Union has condemned the communal violence that claimed 450 lives in Gujarat and termed it as a pre-planned move to divert the attention of the people from problems arising due to proposals of the Railway and General Budget.

In a press note issued here today, the union alleged that the breakout of riots at the time of the presentation of the Budget could not be a coincidence.

The union alleged that it had been the policy of the respective governments to divert the attention of people from real problems of people.

The union said it would start a programme to sensitise people about the tactics of the government.


Canal breach submerges 300 acres of wheat crop
Tribune News Service

Kalalwala (Bathinda), March 4
Standing wheat crop in 300 acres was submerged after a big breach occurred in the Bhakra Main Branch (BMB) near this village, bordering Haryana, late last night.

Official sources said the breach occurred when the canal overflowed its banks. The portion of BMB in the Punjab territory was not brick-lined while the portion in the Haryana territory was bricklined and Kutoha portion had to carry water to full capacity to Haryana.

The sources added that Irrigation Department authorities rushed manpower and material to plug the 25-foot-wide breach on receiving the information.

Mr Harwinder Singh, Executive Engineer, Irrigation Branch, when contacted, said the breach had been plugged and water released into the canal. The water, from the fields would be drained off in a day or two. He added that earlier, breach which occurred in the BMB two weeks ago too was plugged yesterday.


BKU restarts stir to press demands
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 4
After keeping quiet for some time the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta) BKU (E) has restarted agitation for the acceptance of its demands and as part of it, it would hold a rally at Chandigarh on March 25, after small rallies at district and sub-division level.

The farmers led by the BKU have been holding rallies, dharnas for a long time in support of their ‘demands like waiving of loans, compensation for those farmers whose cotton crop was destroyed by American bollworm, increase in the prices of sugarcane and milk.

The BKU leaders want that the new government of the Congress should make arrangements for paying bonus for the paddy procured in the previous kharif season as was promised by it before elections. They said they would persuade the government of Capt Amarinder Singh to redeem the promises made to farmers.

The Congress had promised that if it came to power it would give Rs 30 per quintal as bonus for the paddy procured by the state agencies in kharif season. The promise was made through advertisements in print media and the farmers were asked to keep the receipts of sale of paddy for a claim for the bonus.

Mr Pishora Singh Sidhupur while presiding over a meeting of farmers here today said that for motivating farmers to attend the rally at Chandigarh meetings in every village would be held. He added that the problems of farmers had not been solved during the regime of SAD-BJP alliance.

He said it was not possible to say anything about the attitude of Capt Amarinder Singh, Punjab Chief Minister on their demands.

Mr Shingara Singh, district general secretary of the union said that they would urge the new government to cancel false FIRs registered against BKU leaders during agitation. He said that many of their leaders were facing cases registered against them to curb the agitation.


Chahal for new PR thrust
Tribune news service

Chandigarh, March 4
Mr Bharat Inder Singh Chahal, Adviser to the Punjab Chief Minister, today held a meeting with senior officers of the Public Relations Department. He urged them to give a new thrust and realistic touch to their approach while propagating the programmes and policies of the new government.

Mr Chahal told officers that publicity without credibility was an exercise in futility. Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Director, Public Relations, assured Mr Chahal that the Public Relations Department would rise to the expectations of the state government. 


Akali worker shot dead
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 4
An Akali worker was shot dead in the Valtoha Vidhan Sabha constituency on Saturday night allegedly by three persons owing to political rivalry. The victim, Mahabir Singh, was shot in the neck, stomach and chest.

Mr Gurdial Singh Sidhu, an Akali leader, has alleged that the suspects are a former Sarpanch of Radhlake village and Congress worker Joginder Singh, alias Kala, his brother Chhinder Singh and another Congress worker Gurtej Singh against whom an FIR has been lodged.

Akali workers have threatened to gherao the SDM and the DSP of the area and block rail and road traffic in case the suspects are not arrested by March 6.


7-yr RI for raping minor
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, March 4
Mr Jagroop Singh Mahal, Additional Sessions Judge, today convicted Anwar Raja of Alludipur village under the kotwali police station under Section 376 of the IPC on the charge of raping Kamaljit Kaur (15) of the same village.

The Judge sentenced him to rigorous imprisonment for seven years and a fine of Rs 1,000. In default of the fine the Judge ordered him to further undergo rigorous imprisonment for six months.

According to prosecution on July 5, 2001, the accused forced Kanwaljit Kaur to accompany him in the absence of her father and mother. He threatened to kill her if she did not accompany him. Kamaljit Kaur alleged that the accused first took her to Kapurthala town from where he took her to a house in Malsian village. He raped her there for two nights.


Criminologist Sohal dies in road mishap
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 4
Noted criminologist and Interpol officer Balwinder Singh Sohal died and about 24 passengers were injured when a Haryana Roadways bus collided head-on with a Tata Sumo, in which Balwinder Singh Sohal was travelling, at the local Kapurthala chowk today.

Balwinder Singh Sohal, who hailed from the nearby Desalpur village, was husband of Punjabi actress Ravinder Maan and posted in the Interpol at Leon. The injured were released after first aid.

Mr Sohal was going to Railway station to see off his foreigner friend John Karel, who, however, escaped unhurt. Lalit Kumar, driver of Tata Sumo, was admitted to the local Civil Hospital. The bus driver fled the scene after the accident. A case has been registered under Sections 304A, 279, 337, 338 and 427, IPC. 


UK varsity to sign MoU with Rayat Institute
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 4
The United Kingdom’s Bradford University and the Rayat Institute of Engineering and Information Technology Rail Majra, near here, have agreed to collaborate in various activities.

The Dean, Engineering Studies and Professor of Electronics of Bradford University, Dr John G. Gardiner, stated this while talking to newsmen at the institute campus today. He is on a visit to the institute to inspect the working of the institute and explore the possibility of a collaboration.

Dr Gardiner further said the university would shortly sign a memorandum of understanding with the institute. Under it, the collaboration, which would begin from the next academic session, would continue for at least three years.

Under the collaboration, the teaching staff of the university would visit the institute regularly to impart education in various disciplines of engineering and information technology to the students. They would further be allowed admission in the university for higher studies, he added.

He also expressed satisfaction over various facilities being provided in the institute. Later Dr Gardiner addressed the students.

Meanwhile, the Chairman, Mr Narinder Singh, who is an NRI, said he was making efforts to make the institute one of the premier engineering and technology institutions of the region.


Efforts on to save research material
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 4
Research material worth crores, pertaining to theleria vaccine for tick- borne cattle diseases, at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) here is in danger of going to waste due to a tussle between the university authorities and an immunologist. Dr Amarjit Grewal, the immunologist, was removed from his post in the Immunology Department of the university in November last year on the plea that the scheme under which he was appointed had expired and his services were no longer required. He is fighting the orders by making representations to the government and the Chancellor. However, despite being shown the door, he continues to spend from his pocket to save the research material.

The material needs to be preserved at a temperature much below room temperature. For the purpose a coolant gas — liquid nitrogen — is required but the university has allegedly failed to provide it despite repeated requests by Dr Grewal.

Dr Grewal was specially invited in 1986 by the then Vice-Chancellor of PAU to work on theleria vaccine and set up a department in the PAU.

According to information available with The Tribune, Dr Grewal has even lodged a complaint with the police regarding the threat to the material and the harassment caused to him.

Police sources, however, said the police could not do much as the complaints were not cognizable. Dr Grewal, when contacted, said he was shocked at the university’s callous attitude towards the research material. Vice-Chancellor K S Aulakh was not available for comment despite repeated attempts. The main cause of concern is that along with the research material related to the master-seed cell culture of theleria vaccine, the hard work of a research team of scientistsand laboratory staff might be wasted.


5th flower show held
Our Correspondent

Mansa, March 4
The fifth flower show was organised by the local Environment Society on the premises of the Government Senior Secondary School for Girls here today. On the occasion, a cultural programme was presented by children.

Dr Vijay Singla, president of the society, said the flower show was a regular feature of the society and organized every year. The following participants won prizes in different events:

Baby Show (Junior): Surbhi (1) and Divanshu Sachdeva (2); Baby Show (Senior): Navpreet Kaur (1) and Chahat (2); Fancy Dress (Junior): Rupinder Midha (1), Neha Sharma and Chander (2); Fancy Dress (Senior): Sachin Gupta (1) and Atul (2); Group Dance (Junior): Saint Xavier School (1) and SDKL DAV Centenary Public High School (2); Group Dance (Senior): Happy and Party (1) and Aneet and Party (2); Mono-Acting (Junior): Chetan Singla (1) and Sherlin (2); Mono-Acting (Senior): Subash (1) and Gurinder Singh (2); Rangoli: Asha Jindal (1) and Lakhwinder Kaur (2); Dastarbandi: Gurjeet Singh (1), Jasbir Singh (2) and Inderpal (3); Mehndi: Monika Bansal (1) and Heena Pal (2); and Flower Arrangements: Lakhwinder (1) and Asha Jindal (2).

The Superintendent of Police (D), Mr Rupinder Singh Bhullar, presided over the function.


Students back Fine Arts head
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, March 4
Students of the Fine Arts Department of Punjabi University have come out in support of their In charge, Dr Saroj Rani, who has been accused along with the VC of mental torture and harassment in a criminal case registered against them by a student of the department.

Claiming that they were being used as a medium for the removal of the Vice-Chancellor by “vested interests”, the students said there was more to the “political issue” than what appeared to be. They further stated that they did not want to take a pro-VC or anti-VC stance in the present row and only wanted to affirm that their head was not guilty of the charges framed against her.

Commenting on the allegation that two girl students of Fine Arts had left the department after returning from a tour to Dehradun, the students said the two had obtained admission to Arena Multimedia course. They had left the Department of Fine Arts after a fortnight of their admission to the course.

The students, while asserting that they were feeling disturbed by the allegations levelled against the department and their in charge, maintained that they only wanted to complete their studies in peace. The students said that the department enjoyed a high academic reputation as 15 out of the 50 students from the department had passed the National Eligibility Test (NET) conducted by the UGC.

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