Thursday, April 11, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



BJP leaders blame Badal govt for defeat
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
At a high-level meeting of the Punjab unit of the BJP, a number of leaders blamed the government led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal for the SAD-BJP alliance’s defeat in the recently held Assembly elections.

The meeting was held today under the chairmanship of Prof Brij Lal Rinwa, president of the state unit of the party.

The general secretary of the party, Mr Shakti Sharma, said the anti-urban area policies pursued by the Badal government were, by and large, responsible for the party’s poll defeat in the big cities. He said the Badal government fulfilled the promise to give free power to farmers within a short period while it jacked up the power tariff up to 30 per cent for the urban areas. However, it was slashed to 15 per cent on the insistence of the BJP.

Mr Anil Sareen, secretary of the BJP, said that Mr Badal was repeatedly requested to further cut the power tariff for the urban areas but he increased it. The issue of pension and gratuity for teachers of private colleges was kept pending for four years and 11 months.

Instead of doing away with “inspector raj”, the government remained busy in “humiliating and punishing” the common man. The police force harassed the owners of cars, scooters and motorcycles by recklessly challaning them.

The government had no grip over the administration. It was a common feeling among urbanites that the SAD-BJP government was against the urban areas. Mr Sukhwant Singh Dhanula, vice-president of the BJP, said that the Congress remained successful in keeping apart a former SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh, and Mr Badal.

The treasurer of the party, Mr Sohan Lal Gupta, said that because of the indifferent behaviour of certain corrupt Ministers, most of the BJP activists remained inert at the time of the Assembly elections. He said this was one of the principal reasons for the party’s defeat.

Mr Avinash Jaiswal, general secretary of the party, referring to the observations made by Mr Rinwa on preparing a report, which would be presented at the meeting of the Executive of the BJP in Goa on April 12, said that the electronic and print media played a one-sided role and worked for the victory of the Congress.


Myth broken at seminar: ‘Ranjit Singh was
never coronated’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
“Maharaja Ranjit Singh brought eminent persons from all over the globe to train his military, a formidable force that even the British envied,” Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister of Punjab, said after inaugurating a seminar on Maharaja Ranjit Singh organised by the Centre for Defence and National Security Studies in Panjab University here today.

He said, “The Maharaja was a soldier statesman. He was not educated, but he satisfied his need for information in long discussions with scholars from various fields. His quest for such education gave him a vision that helped him consolidate his rule and territory.”

Capt Amarinder Singh said the subject under discussion was close to his heart. Besides having written two books on military games, he has done research work on Anglo-Sikh wars which he would use for his next book. Capt Amarinder has been in the Sikh Regiment.

He said there was a lack of information on the history of the Indian Army, particularly its after-Independence adventures, which had inspired him to follow the subject.

Prof J.S. Grewal, a former Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, said: “Research on Maharaja Ranjit Singh had begun in his lifetime, as the British wanted to know what were his material and human resources. Important research on this subject includes works like Fauja Singh’s ‘Military System’ and Prof Indu Banga’s ‘Agrarian System of the Sikhs’. Professor Banga’s work deals with not only revenue administration, but also the polity, vassalage, jagirdari system, peasantry and state patronage in the 18th and the early 19th centuries.”

“Maharaja Ranjit Singh reduced all chiefs to the status of vassals and jagirdars. He created new rajas and conferred titles on them. The Maharaja exercised power without any institutional check or constraint and was responsible only to the Gurus and the God. He was neither the first Sikh sovereign nor the first Sikh autocrat. His coronation in 1801 is historically superfluous and empirically groundless, a myth created through misconception and perpetuated because of the intellectual inertia, indifference of historians and nostalgia of innocent people,” said Professor Grewal.

Prof K.N. Pathak, Vice-Chancellor of the PU, said: “In spite of financial constraints, the university has been given the status of a university with potential for excellence.” He talked about new courses to be introduced.

Prof T.R. Sharma, coordinator of the Centre for Defence and National Security Studies, introduced the subject. Some important papers that were discussed included ‘Legacy of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’ by Dr Kirpal Singh, Maj-Gen Jaswant Singh on ‘The Organisation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s Army’, Maj-Gen Rajinder Nath on ‘Maharaja Ranjit Singh: Military Genius of India’ and the works of Prof Balraj Puri, Prof P.S. Verma and Prof Kamlesh Mohan.

The seminar concludes tomorrow.


Cut in grants

“The Education Minister of Punjab will be asked to look into the issue of cut in grants to Panjab University which has affected the functioning of the university in a big way,” said Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister of Punjab, in the PU here today.

He also said the government was firm on its commitment towards the education sector.


Amarinder may unveil restructuring plan
Conclave of Congress Chief Ministers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
The map showing the corrective steps the Punjab Government intends to take to revive the economy is to be unfolded in the Budget. As a precursor to that a White Paper has already been released. Its focus is on the need to eschew retrograde economic policies by taking bold measures for all-round socio-economic development.

But even before the Budget, Capt Amarinder Singh is likely to present the broad contours of his economic restructuring plan during the conclave of Congress Chief Ministers, scheduled at Guwahati on April 12 and 13.

Capt Amarinder Singh will pick up key points from the experience of other Chief Ministers and present what he proposes to do and how. He is keen that Punjab take the lead in setting up an apolitical chamber of agri-business, involving other states, to build an effective ‘’pressure group’’ to lobby in the interest of farmers in New Delhi, just as industrial and business houses do, say sources.

The Chief Minister will be required to do a balancing act to accommodate people’s aspirations and honour Congress poll promises, on rollback of retrograde economic policies of the past governments or implement the MoU on fiscal reforms signed by the Chief Secretary with New Delhi on April 9,1999, etc.

Capt Amarinder Singh has been busy constituting committees and initiating consultations with professionals to prepare the map to restructure the economy. As part of that exercise, steps are on the anvil to curtail extravagant expenditure, mop up resources, diminish dependence on borrowings (debt) and assimilate, eliminate or merge administrative departments and public sector undertakings.

To enable the government to improve its housekeeping, the Confederation of Indian Industry is just one of the organisations that has submitted proposals on rejuvenating the economy. The salient features of the CII’s ‘’overarching economic policy’’ are:

— “Good governance” and integration of agriculture, industry, social services and infrastructure and adoption of a “synergetic approach”.

— Target 8 per cent growth rate and aim for 100 per cent literacy and eradication of poverty by 2010

— The government act as a “facilitator” and “provider”, withdraw from the services delivery sector and work for value-addition to agriculture and encourage contract farming

— Private entrepreneurs should be made partners in social transformation in the health delivery system, primary education, clean drinking water, infrastructure and communications

— Setting up of an industry renewal fund for technology upgradation, market access and infrastructure development, besides the decentralisation of governance to the local bodies and panchayati raj institutions

— Kick-starting biotechnology, information technology and IT-enabled industry

The “official” approach paper to industry draws attention to the past and continuing ad hoc policies and mismanagement, which has made the state owe Rs 450 crore to eligible units as capital subsidy. There is also widespread industrial sickness. There are nearly 170 industrial units, involving an investment of nearly Rs 1,100 crore, that are sick.

Industry contributed 24.90 per cent of the state’s gross domestic product. But the time for sops and revenue-sacrificing incentives to industry is over. The paper suggests the setting up of at least two special economic zones to develop industrial clusters.


Punjab pins hopes on US envoy’s visit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
While Punjab is preparing to seek the help of the USA to resolve the crises it is facing on the agricultural, industrial and new technology fronts, it also hopes to step into the global market by starting the export of various goods with the help of that country.

Informed sources said today that the US Ambassador, Mr J. Blackwell , would visit Punjab on April 17. He would call on the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

The state has high hopes from the Ambassador’s visit. The USA can provide genetically modified seeds of various crops for the diversification of agriculture in a big way. For instance, the cotton crop has failed in the state for the fourth successive time because of the attack of the American bollworm. Texas state in the USA faced a similar problem in the early 1980s. The state government can ask the USA how it tackled the problem.

Though several experts in the state have worked for years on the diversification of crops, they have not come out with suitable proposals for the farming community to shift to the new crops and cropping pattern. On the advice of experts farmers shifted to oilseeds and sugarcane in the past few years. However, most of the farmers have abandoned these crops because of marketing problems.

The USA has been using the most advanced techniques in horticulture. With the transfer of advanced technology in this field from that country, farmers in Punjab could be motivated to shift to horticulture. In fact, farmers in the Malwa and Hoshiarpur belts have already started growing citrus fruits and grapes. But by and large horticulturists are feeling disappointed as they have been facing marketing difficulties.

Punjab has a big potential for dairy farming and the processing of milk. However, it does not have quality milch cattle and has been depending on decades old dairy techniques. There is vast scope for entering into technical collaboration with the USA in several areas. PAU, Ludhiana, can tie up with its counterpart in the USA to import new genes for the improvement of various crops.

Punjab has been left behind in the field of information technology. The USA can help the state to be a frontrunner in this field.

As a large number of Punjabis are settled in the USA, they can be motivated through the official US channels to make investments in Punjab. Already, the Punjab Government has decided to set up an exclusive department for NRIs to look after their safety and other interests in the state.

There is also a proposal to make a request to the Ambassador to open a US Consulate in either Chandigarh or Jalandhar, as has been done by the Canadian Government. While Canada has set up its Consulate in Chandigarh, the UK is preparing to set up its Consulate in Jalandhar. This will go a long way in providing facilities to visa seekers and others concerned.


Election of CM, 10 others contested
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
On the last day of submitting poll pleas, at least 11 more petitions challenging the elections of Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amrinder Singh, former Finance Minister and Planning Minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh, besides other successful candidates, were filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, raising the number to 26. After the previous elections in 1997, 19 petitions were filed.

Seeking directions for setting aside the election of the Chief Minister from the Patiala assembly constituency, Mr Harkirat Singh, a voter, claimed that the help of a Deputy Director, along with the police, was taken for the furtherance of his prospects. He added that more money than the amount permitted was spent during the elections.

Congress candidate Sheelam Sohi, in her petition for declaring void the election of former Finance Minister Capt Kamaljit Singh from Banur assembly constituency, alleged that certain wrong statements were made in public rallies which amounted to character assassination.

Ms Harchand Kaur of Congress party claimed that former Cabinet Minister Gobind Singh was declared elected from Sherpur assembly constituency after he misused his official position by obtaining the assistance of government officials.

Challenging the election of independent candidate Gurpreet Singh Kangar from Rampura Phul constituency, another voter, Mr Surinder Pal, alleged that the retuned candidate informed the voters about his desire to sign blank cheques for voters if he was elected.

Alleging the adoption of corrupt practices, the Congress candidate from Lohian assembly constituency, Mr Brij Bhupinder Singh, alleged that the Shiromani Akali Dal candidate, Mr Ajit Singh Kohar, made appeals in the name of religion and took the help of gazetted officers.

SAD candidate Baldev Singh Mann claimed that an independent candidate from Dirba assembly constituency, Mr Surjit Singh Dhiman, obtained the assistance of certain gazetted officers in the election.

In another petition, the Congress candidate from Bhadaur assembly constituency, Ms Surinder Kaur, alleged that that SAD candidate Balvir Singh was not eligible to contest the elections from a reserved constituency and as such his nomination papers were wrongly accepted.

Pay 1 lakh to kin of missing man

Nearly 10 years after a Gurdaspur resident, picked up by the police, was allegedly killed, Mr Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered the payment of Rs 1 lakh compensation to the victim’s mother.

Delivering the verdict, Mr Justice Goel also asked Punjab’s Additional Director-General of Police to look into the matter. In her petition, Harbans Kaur had claimed that her son, Baldev Singh, was picked up from their residence by a police party in broad daylight in the presence of the villagers on November 2, 1990.

Her counsel had added that the victim was shown to have been killed in an encounter the next day. No action was taken even though representations were addressed to the Director-General of Police, besides the Senior Superintendent of Police.


Mann ready to court arrest on jatha issue
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 10
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and MP from Sangrur, today said he was ready to get himself arrested under POTA if the government forcibly stopped his 11-member jatha from crossing the Wagah border on foot to participate in the Baisakhi celebrations at Nankana Sahib in Pakistan.

He said he was going to do so as part of a “symbolic protest” on April 11 as the Union Government had virtually imposed a blockade on the entry of Sikh devotees into Pakistan by not sending Sikh jathas to Nankana Sahib on the occasion of Baisakhi.

Talking to mediapersons here, Mr Mann said he would cross the Wagah border along with Prof Jagmohan Singh, Mr Satnam Singh Behru, Mr Jeet Singh Alloarkh, Mr Surinder Goyal “Babbi”, and others. He also criticised Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Surjit Singh Barnala for not opposing the ban on Sikh jathas to Pakistan.

Mr Mann criticised the Prime Minister for offering a judge to Cambodia to serve on a tribunal for the trial of Khmer Rouge leaders.

He asked the Prime Minister how he could send a judge to Cambodia when India had not even signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to deal with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

He alleged that Mr Vajpayee had been adopting “double standards” by offering a judge to Cambodia and by not providing a Supreme Court judge to probe the riots in Gujarat.

Mr Mann stated that there was peace in Punjab and so the sentiments of Sikhs should not be hurt by hanging Devinder Pal Singh, an accused in the bomb blast case outside the Youth Congress office in Delhi in 1993.

He added that his party would raise this issue at the international level, besides filing a review petition in the Supreme Court.

Appreciating the Congress campaign against corruption in Punjab, Mr Mann said there was lack of transparency and accountability in this campaign as “tainted” persons had got a berth in the state government. He said Capt Amarinder Singh should give a reply to the people in this connection.

He also demanded Rs 760 per quintal as the minimum support price for wheat and criticised Mr Badal, Mr Om Prakash Chautala and Mr Ajit Singh for doing nothing for the welfare of farmers.

Mr Mann stated that the decision with regard to contesting the SGPC elections by the Panthic Morcha would be taken by holding talks with Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, convener of the morcha.


Sangat darshan programme to be discontinued
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, April 10
The Congress government has decided to discontinue the much publicised sangat darshan programme of the previous government. The Minister for Grievances, Mr Ramesh Dutt, said this while talking to The Tribune today.

He was here with the Minister for Animal Husbandry, Sports and Youth Affairs, Mr Jagmohan Kang, to inaugurate a district-level agriculture awareness camp organised by the Agriculture Department.

He said sangat darshan programmes had failed to deliver the goods. Officials remained busy in moving from one part of the district to another conducting sangat darshans. This inconvenienced the public coming for routine jobs. Even complaints were not redressed as they kept piling up.

The government had now decided to revive grievances committees at various levels. These committees would comprise panchayat members and other prominent members of the local areas and would be formed soon.

Mr Dutt said after the removal of the heads of improvement trusts, the government was now thinking of disbanding marketing committees. Mr Kang, addressing a press conference at the Canal Rest House later, accused the previous government of neglecting sports in the state.

Under a new programme to raise the standard of sports, tournaments would be organised at the village block, district and state levels. The budget for sports would also be increased.

The scheme formulated by the late Chief Minister Beant Singh to bring up stadiums at block levels would also be revived. Under this scheme, Rs 25 lakh would be spent on each stadium. Besides this, more funds would also be allocated to youth services schemes, he added.


Red Cross flouting norms
Running drugstores without licence
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 10
Even as the district Red Cross Society, which is not a commercial organisation, has been running three drugstores in different state government hospitals in the district without a licence, the authorities concerned have turned a blind eye to the same.

Mr Ajmer Singh Mann, Secretary, Red Cross, when contacted, said he had brought the matter to the notice of Deputy Commissioner-cum-President, Red Cross Society, Mr Anurag Verma. Mr Verma, when contacted, said he was not aware of the fact and he would check the same. Dr H.S. Dhillon, Assistant Civil Surgeon, Bathinda, when contacted, expressing ignorance about the running of drugstores without licence, said he would check up the same.

Official sources said the drugstore at the local Civil Hospital and Rampura Civil Hospital were running without any mandatory licence, issued by the State Drug Controller, Punjab, for the past more than two years while the drugstore being run in the local TB Hospital, was without licence since December 31, 2001.

When asked why the Red Cross Society was carrying out commercial activities when it was supposed to do charitable work, Mr Mann said he was supposed to do whatever his superiors asked him to do so. He added the drugstore had been running for the past many years and required fee had been deposited with State Drug Controller for the renewal of licences.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the drugstore in the local Civil Hospital was being run despite the fact that it had remained in a number of controversies pertaining to the sale of substandard drugs.

A number of senior doctors working in the Civil Hospital on the condition of anonymity alleged that the drugstore was being run by the Red Cross Society by violating various rules and regulation laid down by state government. They added that when an individual could not run the drugstore without any licence then how the Red Cross could run the same without a licence.

Mr Mann said three pharmacists namely Mr Gagandeep Singh, Ms Shivdev Raj and Mr Des Raj had been employed by the Red Cross Society at the salary of Rs 3000 per month and the licence from the State Drug Controller was to be acquired through them as pharmacists were permitted to run a chemist shop.

He declined to comment when asked why the Red Cross Society had been indulging into commercial activities. He said there were some vested interests who were playing foul and delaying the issuance of licence to the drugstores being run by the Red Cross. He claimed that about 12 samples of various medicines from the local drug store had been taken and checked by different authorities. So far the result of nine samples had come. The medicine had been found to be genuine. The result of the remaining three samples was awaited.

Mr Kewal Krishan Aggarwal, General Secretary, DCC, said the authorities concerned should take immediate steps either to acquire licence or to close the drugstores.


Rabies strikes Ferozepore dist
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Khui-Khera (Ferozepore), April 10
Rabies has struck Khui-Khera, Hirewala and adjoining villages in Fazilka subdivision of Ferozepore district, causing viral infection among dozens of milch cattle.

Six buffaloes had died and at least 12 vaccinated at the initial stage. The Animal Husbandry Department had sent Dr Karan, a veterinary officer, to the affected area for an on-the-spot study.

Dr Subash Chandra Trehan, Deputy Director, Animal Husbandry Department, transmitted during this season. The present outbreak of rabies in the Hirewala, Khui-Khera and adjoining villages had been transmitted from rabid dogs

Dr Trehan revealed that at least 12 cattle had been vaccinated following the doubt of rabies. A hunt was on for a mad stray cattle that had bitten other domestic animals.

Dr Banwari Lal Garg, a retired veterinary officer, said rabies was not curable in animals. The most common vaccinations used were Raksharab and HEP Fluiiry.

He revealed that the preventive vaccinations of rabies in animals were not supplied by the state government.

It is worth mentioning that last year also rabies outbreak was reported in Talwandi Bhai area of district.


5-member SAD panel on seat adjustment
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 10
To reach seat adjustment with the BJP, the BSP and other like-minded parties, the Shiromani Akali Dal, headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has constituted a five-member committee.

The committee comprises Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, a Union Minister and Secretary General, SAD, Capt Kanwaljit Singh and Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, both General Secretaries, and Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Vice-President, SAD.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, SAD, said his party was ready to reach seat adjustment with any party which was interested in defeating the Congress in an oblique reference, he said even rival Akali factions were welcome to reach seat adjustment. 


SAD govt ruined Punjab economy’
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, April 10
The Shiromani Akali Dal government has ruined the economy and made the state bankrupt during the past five years. Corruption had touched new heights following which the Congress government has to face a lot of problems to streamline the administrative functioning.

The statements were made by Mr Tej Parkesh Singh Kotali, Transport Minister, while addressing a gathering here today.

The minister said that Capt Kanwaljit Singh, former Finance and Planning Minister, cheated the public and he opted illegal methods to win the Assembly elections with a narrow margin.

He alleged that Capt Kanwaljit Singh treated some sections of society step-motherly.

Earlier, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD Minister, criticised the SAD- BJP alliance for cancelling the names of Congress workers in the voters’ lists and making bogus votes.

He alleged that the SAD government increased the overdraft from Rs 15,000 crores to Rs 55,000 crore which clearly reflected the failure of the government.

While addressing the public, Ms Sheelam Sohi claimed that she had filed a petition against Capt Kanwaljit Singh, sitting MLA from the Banur Assembly constituency, for character assassination.


Jalandhar MC gears up for poll
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 10
Political activity and competition among ticket seekers and sitting councillors has intensified as they have already started poll campaign in various ways like organising early morning nukkad meetings after the announcement of elections to all four municipal corporations scheduled to be held in May.

While the three main political parties, the Congress and the SAD-BJP, have initiated the process of selection of candidates by forming different committees, aspirants have started making beelines to their respective party offices. On the other hand, sitting councillors, seeking re-election have started contacting people of their area.

“All depends upon your contacts in these elections and you have to maintain a rapport with the people on long-term basis if you want to win or seek re-election that’s why I have been catching people of my area in parks or at dairies,” confided a local municipal councillor.

Meanwhile, the district Congress Committee office here was thronged by a large number of ticket aspirants. According to Mr Tejinder Bittu, district Congress chief as many as 300 application forms were distributed by the DCC among the aspirants.


Controversy over erasing of councillor’s name
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 10
A controversy has erupted over the removing of the name of Mr Ashok Sood, president, Municipal Council, Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib, from all five foundation stones of different dharamshalas laid in the town by the Forest Minister, Dr Harbans Lal, yesterday. Interestingly, Mr Ashok Sood belongs to the Akali-BJP alliance and his name along with the name of vice-president, executive officer, was embodied on the foundation stones but the name of the president was erased. The action of the council has been widely criticised not only by certain councillors but also by a majority of the social organisations of the town. The president is widely respected in the town for carrying out development works which had been neglected from the past 20 years. He was also honoured by various social, religious and political organisations for carrying out development works in the town.

The councillors, social organisations and president of the People’s Welfare Association has termed it as an unfortunate incident and said the man who carried out development on a war-footing in the town and had created history by giving a facelift to the town should not have been ignored just for petty political reasons.

Earlier, the minister delayed his visit to the council premises as employees of the council had organised a dharna outside the council in protest against the non-payment of salaries. They were raising slogans against the government. Some of the councillors managed to get the dharna postponed assuring that they would arrange their meeting with the minister and as soon as the dharna was lifted, the minister arrived on the council premises. The council employees presented a memorandum for the early release of their salaries and the minister assured that within a week their problem would be solved.

Addressing a gathering, the minister said the government is committed to fulfil all promises made during the elections. He said his department had made a comprehensive plan for plantations and samriti forestation scheme.


PMO helps poor ailing boy
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 10
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), a former Prime Minister, a local hospital and the management of a school have joined hands to come to the rescue of a Class IV student afflicted with a serious heart disease.

The poverty ridden parents of Arun Kumar of the local A.N. Gujral Memorial High School, got a big shock about six months back when they had realised that their only son was suffering from a perilous heart disease. But fortunately for them, a lot of VVIPs and organisations came forward and arranged for the operation of the child. Thanks to the efforts of the school management and former Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral, the PMO, and the management of the local BBC Heart Care Centre, which did not charge anything from the parents, Arun was treated free of cost.

“We were shocked when we came to know after Arun came back from a karate session that he was having some breathing problems. It turned out to be a severe disease and we were told that death could come any time if the operation was delayed since Arun was suffering from a very serious heart disease (aortic valve stenosis). As we could not arrange the huge money involved, we approached the school Principal, who in turn wrote a letter to Mr Inder Kumar Jujral,” said Neelam Rani, mother of Arun (9), who earns her livelihood by cleaning utensils in homes of a number of people. Mr Gujral further recommended the case to the PMO and sought some financial aid for the ailing boy.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee sanctioned Rs 20,000 for the operation of the boy from the PM’s National Relief Fund. Since this was not enough, the Principal and management collected Rs 10,000, while Dr Charanjit Singh Pruthi, Managing Director of BBC Heart Care Centre, contributed his bit by waiving the operation fee of Rs 20,000. “The valve area had turned so tight that it hardly allowed the blood to pass to the aorta, leading to sudden senselessness and breathlessness,” said Dr Pruthi, adding that Arun was okay after the balloon aortic valvotomy performed on him by two cardiologists of his hospital — Dr Anwar Khan and Dr Manoj Dubey.

“I feel indebted to the Almighty, the school management and doctors, who have saved the life of my child,” said the grateful mother who is a resident of local Abadpural locality.


Delhi-Chandigarh Express train from April 16
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, April 10
The Railways Minister Nitish Kumar has said an express train between Delhi and Chandigarh will be introduced on April 16, which is Railways Raising Day.

Talking to mediapersons at the railway station here this evening, he said the train would be equipped with ultra-modern facilities. He said, Rs 20 crore had been sanctioned for a double railway line between Jalandhar and Jammu.

He said new trains proposed in the Railway Budget would be started from July this year. He said the Railways had launched a drive to get land vacated from unauthorised possession.


Sehajdhari issue figures at Akali meeting
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 10
The Sehajdhari issue dominated the proceedings of the joint committee meeting of the SAD held here today even as Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, a former Akali minister handled that it should be handled properly so that the Congress Government did not exploit the same during the forthcoming general elections of the SGPC.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal president SAD alleged that the Congress Government had succeeded in enrolling ‘non’ Sikhs as voters of the SGPC under the ‘garb of Sehajdharis’. He alleged that the Congress Government wanted to have control of the SGPC indirectly with the help of ‘so called Panthic leaders’. 


Norah, Nanda remembered
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 10
The mother of Punjabi Theatre, Norah Richards, an Irish lady, settled in India and Prof Ishwar Chander Nanda, pioneer of the Punjabi theatre movement were remembered at the 88th world Punjabi Theatre Day programme ‘Raunaq Punjab Di’, organised by City Cable Opera, here under the Baradari Gardens Theatre Campaign.

The chief guest, Mr Rahul Gupta, Assistant Commissioner, Patiala, inaugurated the programme by garlanding the portrait of Professor Nanda whose play ‘Dulhan’ was staged on April 6, 1914, at Lahore by Norah Richards to mark the beginning of the Punjabi theatre movement. Mr Gupta and Mr Naresh Mittal honoured Mr Pran Sabharwal and Mrs Sunita Sabharwal, a noted theatre couple, in recognition of their theatre contribution especially their efforts for promoting Baradari Gardens Theatre movement, in collaboration with the district administration.

Paying glowing tributes to Norah and Nanda, Mr Sabharwal pleaded for institution of awards in the names of Norah and Nanda and issuance of postage stamps in their memory. He hoped that the D.C., Patiala, Mr Tejveer Singh, and Patialvis would come forward to patronise theatre and help spot new talent and nourish it to new heights.

In a three-hour programme ‘Isha Dang’, 30 artistes enthralled the audience. Mr Vikas Sabharwal of NTAS, conducted the programme with ease and a touch of poetry, wit and humour.

The chief guest and Mr Mittal also gave away mementoes to the artistes and honoured prominent personalities, including Mr K.K. Sharma, Mr Ajay Thapar, Mr Vikas Sabharwal, Mr Harinder Dang, Mr Harish Kumar, The Jams Trade Links and B.V. Group Patiala for their contribution and cooperation.


Dhindsa meets Keetu in jail
Our Correspondent

Barnala, April 10
Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister, and Secretary-General, SAD yesterday visited the sub-jail here to call upon Mr Malkiat Singh Keetu, MLA.

He was accompanied by Mr Balbir Singh Ghunas, MLA, Bhadaur, Mr Rajinder Singh Kanjhla, Mr Sadhu Singh Raagi and Mr Mahinder Singh Diwana.

Meanwhile, Mr R.S. Sachdeva, Additional Sessions Judge, said he would pronounce his orders whether Keetu should be granted bail or not tomorrow.


Friends commit suicide
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, April 10
Two youths, Jagmit Singh (23) of Dulman Khurd village and Ranjit Singh (24) of Bhogiwal committed suicide by consuming some poisonous substance near the Adampal drain, about 2 km from here, today. Ranjit Singh was running a chemist shop near Qila Rehmatgarh while Jagmit Singh was working in a dairy. Both were friends.

The police has sent the bodies to the local Civil Hospital for a post-mortem examination and registered a case under Section 174 of the CrPC.


Worker falls from crane, dies
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, April 10
Surinder Singh, employed as a fitter with Hansa Tubes , a factory located on the Dera Bassi-Mubarikpur road, died when he fell from a crane while doing some repair work this noon.

According to sources, the deceased was a resident of Chaunta village in Ropar district and was employed with the factory for some time. He fell on a pucca floor from a height and died on the spot.

The police has sent the body to the Civil Hospital, Rajpura, for postmortem examination. No case has been registered so far.


Plan to boost cotton production
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, April 10
The Punjab Government in collaboration with the Central Government has formulated a comprehensive plan to boost cotton crop production in the state this year. Under the scheme, pesticides, seeds, equipment and various other agricultural items will be provided to the farmers on the no-profit no-loss basis. Demonstrations and exhibitions will also be organised for plant protection. The entire project will cost Rs 8.9 crore out of which 75 per cent funds will be shared by the Union Government.

This was stated by Mr Gurdial Singh Khaira, Joint Director, Agriculture (Cotton and Pulses) while addressing a district-level farmers’ training camp here yesterday. To monitor the plan six lakh hectares will be brought under cultivation to achieve the proposed target of 16 lakh bales of the cotton. A major part of the crop would be sown in seven districts, including Amritsar, Bathinda, Faridkot, Ferozepore, Mansa, Moga, Muktsar and Sangrur.

As many as 12,000 village-level, 138 block-level and 17 district level camps would be held to impart training to the growers to make the scheme a success. Teams of experts led by Agriculture Development Officers had been constituted in each district to visit five to seven villages to give know-how to the farmers. Similarly a three-member surveillance team headed by Chief Agriculture Officer had also been formed to provide guidelines to farmers against attack of different diseases and worms on the crop, said the Joint Director.

He said the government had got a stock of 9,500 quintal certified seed which would be provided to the farmers at a subsidy of Rs 1,000 per quintal. However, their remaining demand would be fulfilled by a number of multinational companies functioning in the state. He sought the cooperation of the farmers to start the sowing of cotton crop from April 15 and complete the entire process by May 15. He stressed that untimely sowing invited different diseases to the cotton crop. He requested the farmers to give priority to sowing of F-1378, LH-1556, F-846, HH-144 and LD-127 (desi) varieties of cotton crop as recommended by Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, to get more yield. Mr Khaira made it clear that the state government had not taken any initiative to sow the becillaes thueriengenisis (BT) cotton crop in Punjab. He appealed the farmers not to follow the same otherwise the government would not be responsible for any loss caused to them by sowing BT cotton crop.

A number of experts from PAU, including Dr Preet Mohinder Singh Sekhon, Chief Agriculture Officer, Faridkot also apprised the farmers about the latest methods to be used for getting maximum yield of cotton and other crops. More than 1000 farmers attended the camp.


51 more police officials shifted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
The Punjab Government today ordered 51 fresh postings in the Police Department in addition to 149 ordered yesterday. Among those shifted today are four IPS officers. Three former district police chiefs and three SPs shifted last month have also been given new postings now.

The following are the new places of posting of the officials shifted today:

Gurdev Singh (4th IRB, Jalandhar), Harbaj Singh (5th IRB, Amritsar), Kanwarjit Singh (2nd Commando, Bahadurgarh), Jarnail Singh Dhaliwal (Ist IRB, Patiala), Sukhdev Singh Brar (CM Security), Dilbag Singh (SP, GRP, Jalandhar), Vijay Partap Singh (SP, City-I, Amritsar), Inderjit Singh Randhawa (SP, Detective, Bathinda), Makhan Singh (SP, Detective, Tarn Taran), Dilbag Singh (SP, Detective, Majitha), Kulshinder Singh (SP, Detective, Jalandhar), Pavan Kumar Rai (SP, Traffic, Jalandhar), Nilabh Kishore (SP, City, Bathinda), Darshan Kumar (SP, Detective, Kapurthala), Gursewak Singh (SP, Detective, Moga), Jaspal Singh (SP, Detective, Barnala), Lakhwinder Singh (SP, Headquarters, Fatehgarh Sahib), Sukhmohinder Singh (SP, City-II, Ludhiana), Naunihal Singh (SP, City-I, Ludhiana), Amarjit Singh (SP, Hq, Jagraon), Gurdev Singh (SP, Detective, Jagraon), P.K. Uppal (SP, RTC, PAP, Jalandhar), Shiv Kumar Verma (SP, Hqs, Mansa), Sukhdev Singh Bhatti (SP, Detective, Muktsar), Bhupinderjit Singh Virk (Crime Wing, Punjab), Rupinder Singh Bhullar (SP, Hq, Moga), Ashok Kumar (75th Bn, PAP), Kuldip Singh (SP, Detective, Amritsar), Darshanjit Singh Dhindsa (SP, Detective, Gurdaspur), Surjit Singh (SP, Detective, Batala), Kewal Kumar (SP, Hq, Tarn Taran), Ajmer Singh (SP, Hq, Ropar), Amrik Singh (75th BN, PAP), Amrik Singh (36th Bn, Bahadurgarh), Tejinder Singh (Ist IRB, Patiala),Surinder Singh (27th Bn, PAP), Mukhtiar Singh (2nd IRB, Ladha Kothi), Mohinder Singh Teji (4th IRB, Jalandhar), Narjinder Singh Sekhon (Ist Commando, Bahadurgarh), Hartej Singh Sekhon (2nd IRB, Ladha Kothi), Gurkirpal Singh (SP, Detective, Khanna), Ramji Lal (SP, Hq, Nawanshahr), Tehal Singh Dhaliwal (AIG, Vigilance Bureau), Rajinder Singh Darbanga (SP, Detective, Mansa), Gurmit Singh (SP, Hq, Hoshiarpur), Vibhu Raj (SP, Special Crime Wing, Chandigarh), Surinder Pal Singh (SP, EOW, Vigilance Bureau), Lok Nath Angra (5th IRB, Amritsar), Balbir Kumar Bawa (Joint Director, Vigilance Bureau), Jaskaran Singh (SP, FS-I, Vigilance Bureau) and Harbhajan Singh (13th Bn, PAP, Chandigarh). 


More employees join MC workers’ strike
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 10
Employees of the sanitation, water supply, sewerage and fire brigade wings of the local Municipal Council today joined the indefinite strike by the clerical staff and sewadars of the council, protesting since April 8 against the non-payment of salaries to them for March and non-depositing of the deducted provident fund amount of Rs 40 lakh into their provident fund accounts.

A large number of employees today took out a protest march from the office of the local Municipal Council to the office of the Deputy Commissioner, raising slogans in favour of release of their salaries and against the Punjab Government. They also wore black badges.

The protesters held a dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner for about 10 minutes. As the Deputy Commissioner was away to Chandigarh, they held a rally in front of the office of the SDM and submitted a memorandum to him. He assured them that he would talk to the Deputy Commissioner in this regard.


PSEB to reconnect defaulting units
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 10
In a significant decision, the cash-strapped Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has decided to reconnect those industrial units whose connections have been permanently disconnected on account of default in arrears, unauthorised extension of load or theft of energy.

Industrial units which have had their connections permanently severed due to non-payment or default will be allowed reconnection, provided these deposit 25 per cent of the total default amount initially. The balance amount can be paid in a maximum of 12 monthly instalments along with an interest at the rate of 1.25 per cent per month on reducing balance.

According to information, the PSEB has also decided to allow a rebate of 10 per cent if the total default amount is paid in one go at the time of restoration. The scheme is available to only those consumers affected on or before March 31.


Priest found dead, disciple injured

Hoshiarpur, April 10
Mahant Shital Das of a dera at Sona village in the district was today found murdered while his disciple Sewa Ram was found wounded and unconscious at the dera, the police said.

When village sarpanch Tirath Singh happened to pass by the dera this morning, he found it ransacked. On finding the priest dead he informed the police which got Sewa Ram admitted to the local Civil Hospital.

The SSP, Mrs Gurpreet Deo, said loss of cash and valuables at the dera would be known only after Sewa Ram recovered consciousness.

The police believe that the incident took place around midnight when the dera inmates apparently resisted looting by a gang of people who were armed with iron rods and lathis as indicated by the wounds of the victims.

A case has been registered under Section 460 of the IPC on the statement of the sarpanch. UNI


3 held for murders
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 10
The district police has solved the mystery of three murders in the area during the past three months by arresting three members of a gang while the main accused Mukha Baba and one of his followers have committed suicide.

Mr Narinder Bhargav, SSP, told newsmen here yesterday that Mukhtar Singh, alias Mukha Baba, had been living at Dera Akarpura headed by Mahant Kulwant Dass. He used to move around in Amritsar district on the pretext of treating patients. He had been gifted three acres by one of his followers, which he had sold off for Rs 18,00,000. His follower Dilbag Singh was demanding his ‘share’ from this amount.

Mukha Baba had given Rs 50,000 to Baljinder Singh, Balwinder Singh and Satbir Singh of Dhira Kot village, who had brought Dilbag Singh to Sur Singh village, where they murdered him on the night of January 15. The matter had been noticed by Mahant Kulwant Dass. After that, Mukha Baba had made a plan and Mahant Kulwant Dass was murdered two days later by the same persons.

The body had been found in the village fields by the police.

Mukha Baba had picked up a person whose physique was similar to his and had got him murdered. The headless body had been found by the Goindwal Sahib police from Vain Poin village in the first week of March.

To evade arrest, Mukha Baba had gone to Ganganagar. On March 30 Mukha Baba and his follower Deva Bhahia committed suicide.

The SSP said Balwinder Singh, Baljinder Singh and Satbir Singh had been arrested and further interrogation had been initiated.


Khalsa college to offer 3 new courses
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 10
Guru Nanak Dev University has given its approval to start new courses during the current academic session at the Layallpur Khalsa College for Women, here.

Talking with mediapersons on the college campus here today, the Principal, Ms Manjeet Grewal, said the courses include bachelor of computer applications (BCA), postgraduate diploma in information technology (PGDIT) and master of commerce (MCom).

According to the university guidelines, the college would be allowed to admit 45 students for the BCA and PGDIT courses each, while 35 seats had been allocated for the MCom, she added.

“Five out of the seats allotted for each new subject were reserved for students belonging to poor families. Such students would be exempted from annual fee of about Rs 20,000 per year,” said Ms Grewal, adding that the college had already exempted brilliant students of poor families from paying the annual fee up to plus two to encourage them to attend regular classes.

She said that to promote hockey among women in the state, the college was in touch with the state Sports Department to get a hockey wing allocated to the college. “We are fully equipped to start special coaching in the this field. Our college has produced international hockey players like Rajbir Kaur, Rajinder and Chanchal, who have earned international fame for the country,” she added.

“We have also approached the Sports Department for setting up a sports academy of kabaddi or wrestling,” Ms Grewal said.


JAC seeks ‘severe’ punishment for VC
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 10
The Joint Action Committee (JAC) comprising teachers, students and non-teaching employees of Punjabi University today demanded that the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, against whom two criminal cases were registered, must be punished severely.

The convener of the committee, Mr U.C. Singh, said due to the controversy the university had received negative publicity in the media. He said there was an urgent need to remove Dr Ahluwalia from his post so that girls in the university do not feel insecure.

Criticisng the present Punjab Government, Mr U.C. Singh said that in spite of repeated statements and high-level meetings no step had been taken in this regard.

The JAC convener also said that the Chancellor of the university, Lieut-Gen (retd) JFR Jacob, had not given any statement in spite of the being repeatedly briefed about the situation.

The JAC has also demanded that a high-level search committee comprising three academicians be appointed to suggest a name for the post of the Vice-Chancellor.

Meanwhile, the president of the Forum for Educational Action and Reform, Dr Amarjit Singh Dhillon, has welcomed the statement made by the Chief Minister that an academician be appointed as the next VC of the university.

Mr Dhillon said the process for selection of the VC should be apolitical. He also blamed that former Chief Minister for appointing Dr Ahluwalia. According him Mr Badal was aware of the Dr Ahluwalia’s “reputation”.


Students make ‘robot 007’
Our Correspondent

Students of Government Polytechnic College with their creation, the walking robot, which they claim is the first of its kind in the country at Bathinda on Sunday.Bathinda, April 10
Students of the local Government Polytechnic College have made a walking robot, “Bharat 007”, which they claim is the first of its kind in the country.

The walking robot is the seventh made by the students in three years. The latest one has been made by Mukesh Kumar, Manav Sharma, Honey Arora and Rajneesh Kumar, all final year students, under the guidance of Mr Kuldeep Singh, a lecturer.

Students of Government Polytechnic College with their creation, the walking robot, which they claim is the first of its kind in the country, at Bathinda on Sunday. — Tribune photo Kulbir Beera

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