Sunday, April 14, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Low turnout at Cong rally
Our Correspondent

Talwandi Sabo, April 13
The first rally of the Congress here after forming its government in the state failed to attract people in the absence of senior leaders at Baisakhi here today.

The Transport Minister, Mr Tej Parkash Singh, and some present and former MLAs were all that the Congress offered to the people. They were expecting a galaxy of ministers and other senior leaders, besides Capt Amarinder Singh, the Chief Minister.

During the past many years, the gathering had been the maximum. Even the people who were present seemed to have come to listen to Punjabi folk singers.

Opposition parties holding rallies at some distance said as the Congress had lost popularity, the rally was thinly attended.

Some said as Capt Amarinder Singh was not coming because he was busy at the Congress Chief Ministers’ Conference at Guwahati, others also stayed away from the rally.

Some others said as some local leaders had lost popularity and were not in the good books of the high command, ministers and senior leaders remained away from the rally.

Political analysts said the popularity of the Congress would come down and it had lost a chance to speak on its achievements and policies.

Mr Tej Parkash Singh tried to make for the absence of others. He said they had given the people of the state a clean and transparent government. He claimed that the victory of the Congress-CPI candidate at Malout had shown that the people of the state favoured the policies of the Congress.

He added that they would look over the overall development of the state. He promised special attention to backward areas like Talwandi Sabo for starting new development projects.

The minister said the government was trying its best to generate resources so that development projects in the state could be started. He said they would fulfil all promises made during the election campaign.

Mr Harminder Singh Jassi, a former MLA, said the previous government had deprived the area and had discriminated while issuing grants. He said he would request the Punjab Chief Minister to pay special attention to the backward area of the state.


SAD moots ‘campaign’ against Congress
Our Correspondent

Talwandi Sabo, April 13
The speeches of leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal, at the Baisakhi festival here today, indicated that the party was going to launch a massive campaign against the Congress government in the near future as most of them talked of alleged atrocities by the Congress on Akali workers and leaders during its about one-and-a-half-month rule in the state.

A former Punjab Chief Minister and SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, while addressing the gathering at the Diwan Hall near Takht Damdama Sahib here today, said the Capt Amarinder Singh-led government in the state had failed on all fronts.

He said the atrocities of the Congress had forced them to start a campaign in the state so that they could be saved from the high-handedness of the police and other official agencies.

He said the Congress had committed atrocities on its political adversaries during its 40 days of rule. He said it had won the Malout election by using unfair means and misuse of government machinery.

He said the people of the state would have to face heavy taxes after the budget of the state was passed. He said the decision of the Congress government to hold Panchayat and Zila Parishad elections before June 30 indicated that the government wanted to finish with all elections before passing of the budget. He said the aim of the Congress was that it should not have to hold any election after passing of the budget because the budget would be anti-people.

Without naming any member of the other Akali faction, he said some of them were indirectly helping the Congress. He said they should openly help the ruling party.

Others who addressed the rally included Capt Kanwaljeet Singh, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Mr Gurudev Singh Badal, Mr Gura Singh Tungwali and many other senior leaders.


Farmers head South to buy Bt cotton seed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
There is a lot of confusion about the sowing of Bt cotton seed in Punjab. The legal position on its sowing is not clear yet. The Union Government’s authorities concerned have not cleared any variety of Bt cotton for Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

However, a large number of farmers from this part of the region have left for Hyderabad and Ahmedabad to procure Bt cotton seed. In these places, it has been allowed to be sown by the Union Government’s authorities concerned. Three varieties of Bt cotton have been recommended by the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) for Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

When contacted, a top officer of the Punjab Government said the issue was being legally examined at the highest level. He said Bt cotton seed not approved by the authorities concerned should not be sold here by any agency. However, when asked that a large number of farmers from Punjab had gone to certain states in the South to procure Bt cotton, seed he said it had to be examined whether it was legal or not on their part to sow such seed in the state without the approval of the state government.

There are also reports that unscrupulous elements have brought seed in bulk from southern states to sell it to farmers here. The officer said the sale of such seed was certainly illegal. He said when one was not sure of the quality of the seed, how it could be allowed to be sold in the state. He said it was the responsibility of the government to protect the interests of the farming community. Because of the sale of “spurious” or unapproved seed, there could be a heavy loss to farmers in case of failure of cotton crop, he added.


SGPC to discuss “siropa” issue
Our Correspondent

Talwandi Sabo, April 13
Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar of Takht Kesgarh Sahib, today sided with Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar on the issue of not giving a “siropa” to Capt Amarinder Singh, Punjab Chief Minister, saying that there was no illwill behind the move but it was only a communication gap that caused.

Prof Manjit Singh said it could be possible that the officials concerned with the Chief Minister did not take him to the SGPC media centre where“siropas” were generally presented by the SGPC. The issue would, however, be discussed at a proper platform.

Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar of Akal Takht, who was also present at the informal talks, said the tradition of giving a piece of cloth to all and sundry and calling it a “siropa” was against the Sikh traditions. “Siropas” could be given only to highly respected religious persons or learned persons who had done a good job for spreading Sikh religion.


SGPC has failed to ‘motivate’ youths
Our Correspondent

Talwandi Sabo, April 13
“The Sikh youths who have become “patits” (degraded) and fallen prey to drugs are not at fault but it is the organisations like the SGPC which have failed to become a role model for them which could have kept their faith intact towards Sikhism,” Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC President, said here today.

Mr Badungar, while inaugurating a training programme for employees of the SGPC, said persons on responsible posts of religious institutions should themselves become true Sikhs if they wanted that the younger generation should not drift away from Sikhism.

Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti and Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedars of Akal Takht and Takht Kesgarh Sahib, respectively, were also present on the occasion.

Without naming anybody, Mr Badungar said the SGPC had not played the role it was supposed to do during the past many years and the results were in front of everyone. He said the decline of moral values could be seen not only in people but also in sevadars and other gurdwara workers.

He said the behaviour of some sevadars in gurdwaras was so rude and inhuman that it made a bad impression on devotees. He said although they were paid employees of the SGPC, they should not do their job as any other paid employee but rather do it like a missionary.

Giani Vedanti said the employees would be trained in good behaviour and would be told the brief historical background of the gurdwara.

All speakers stressed the need for reforms in working of religious institutions.


107 IAS, PCS officers transferred
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
Continuing its four-week-old practice of ordering transfers around midnight, the Punjab Government at 1 a.m. today ordered the transfer of 107 IAS and PCS officers.

Mr Raj Kumal Chaudhauri has been appointed as ADC, Jalandhar, and Mr V.K. Meena as ADC and ADC( Development) at Muktsar. Mrs Bhawana Garg has been shifted as SDM at Dera Baba Nanak. Mr Megh Raj has been appointed as Secretary, Punjab State Board of Technical Education. Mr Madan Gopal Acharya has been posted as Controller, Printing and Stationery. Mr Bhagwant Singh has been posted as ADC, Kapurthala, and Mr Harkesh Singh Sidhu goes to Faridkot as ADC and ADC (Development). Mr N.K. Wadhawan has been shifted to Public Works Department as its Additional Secretary and Mr Ashok Kumar has been sent to Punjab Warehousing Corporation as its Additional Managing Director.

Mr Dipinder Singh has been posted as Additional Secretary, Education, and Mr Mangat Ram Aggarwal as ADC, Fatehgarh Sahib. Mr Balwinder Singh has been posted as ADC, Sangrur, and Mr Arunjit Singh Miglani as Director, Lotteries, Punjab. Mr Parveen Kumar goes as Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA, Jalandhar, and Mr G.K.Singh ADC (Development), Bathinda. Mr Karamjit Singh Sra has been posted as Joint State Transport Commissioner and Mr Baljit Singh as ADC, Amritsar.

Mr Desh Deepak has been posted as ADC, Mansa, and Mr Paramjit Singh as ADC (Development), Ferozepore. Mr Ajaib Singh Bhatti has been posted as ADC, Hoshiarpur, and Mr Krishan Chand as DTO, Bathinda. Mr Bhupinder Singh has been posted as SDM, Tarn Taran, and Mr Sucha Singh Mast as SDM, Payal. Mr Inder Yash Bhatti has been shifted to Ajnala as SDM and Mr Parneet to Bholath as SDM. Mr Mohinder Pal Arora has been posted as Assistant Commissioner (Grievances) and Mr Ajmer Singh as SDM, Raikot.

Mr Balraj Singh Sekhon has been posted as SDM (Amritsar II) and Mr Zora Singh as SDM, Samana. Mr Chander Gaind has been posted as Assistant Commissioner, Jalandhar, and Mr Rajinder Pal Singh as SDM, Batala. Mr Dharam Pal has been posted as DTO, Patiala, and Mr Darshan Singh as SDM, Mohali. Mr Gagandeep Singh has been posted as Assistant Commissioner, Kapurthala and Mr Tirlok Nath Passey as Assistant Commissioner, Moga. Mr Jaipal Singh is SDM, Mukerian, Mr Amarjit Singh Dhindsa SDM, Dera Bassi, Mr Rakha Singh Jangu SDM, at Bassi Pathana, Mr Nirbhai Singh SDM, Jaitu, and Mr Pritam Singh Johal is DTO, Roopnagar.

Mr Sukhmander Singh has been posted as SDM, Patti, Mr Pritpal Singh as SDM, Muktsar, and Mr Deepak Raj Garg as DTO, Mansa. Mr Gurtej Singh has been posted as SDM, Anandpur Sahib, and Mr Jaswant Singh as SDM, Ferozpore. Mr Sukhwinder Singh Gill has been posted as SDM, Kharar, Mr Harcharan Singh Sandhu as SDM, Rampura Phul and Mr Gurwaryam Singh as SDM, Amritsar-1.

Mrs Jaswinder Kaur Sidhu has been posted as Land Acquisition Officer of the PSEB, Patiala, and Mr Gurlovleen Singh as SDM, Khanna. Mr Ashwani Kumar is DTO, Fatehgarh Sahib, Mr Parminder Singh Gill SDM, Sunam, Mr Dilraj Singh SDM, Nihalsingwala, and Mr Tejinder Singh Dhaliwal DTO, Gurdaspur. Mr Pardeep Kumar has been posted as SDM, Malerkotla, and Mr Gurpreet Kaur Sapra as Estate Officer, PUDA, Amritsar. Mr Bhupinder Singh has been posted as SDM, Gidderbaha, and Mr Preetdev Singh Shergill as SDM, Khamano.

Mr Jaskiran Singh has been sent to Ludhiana as Assistant Commissioner (Grievances) and Mr DPS Kharbanda to Sangrur as Assistant Commissioner (Grievances). Mr Vinay Bublani has been posted as DTO, Jalandhar, and Mr Puneet Goyal as SDM, Pathankot.

Mr Upjit Brar has been posted as SDM, Bathinda, Mr Jaspal Mittal as SDM, Garhshankar, Mr Mohan Lal Sharma as SDM, Fatehgarh Sahib, Mr Bhupinder Singh Saharan as SDM, Fazilka, and Mr Ajmer Singh (PCSII) as SDM, Dhuri, Mr Hari Kishan Nagpal has been sent to Irrigation Department as Deputy Secretary and Mr Surinder Singh Sidhu to Moga as DTO. Mr Avtar Chand Sharma is SDM, Sardulgarh, and Mr Jaspal Singh SDM, Samrala.

Mr Mukand Singh Sandhu has been posted as DTO, Ludhiana, and Mr Satish Kumar Singla as Deputy Director, Local Bodies, Ferozepore. Mrs Raghbir Kaur has been posted as SDM, Moga, Mr Navtej Singh as SDM, Budhlada, Mr T.K. Goyal as SDM, Gurdaspur, and Mr APS Sandhu as Assistant Commissioner (Grievances), Mansa. Mr Vimal Kumar Setia has been posted as DTO, Kapurthala.

Mr Devinder Singh has been posted as DTO, Ferozepore, Mr Jasbir Singh as SDM, Zira, Mr Amrit Kaur Gill as SDM, Rajpura, and Mr T.S. Bhatti as SDM, Sultanpur Lodhi, Mr Amarjit Singh Shahi as SDM, Amloh, and Mr Gurmit Singh as SDM, Jagraon. Mr Inderpreet Singh Kahlon has been posted as Executive Magistrate, Amritsar. Mr Narinder Singh has been shifted as Assistant Commissioner (Grievances), Gurdaspur. Mr Om Parkash Verma has been posted as SDM, Faridkot, and Mr Bhupinderjit Singh as Executive Magistrate, Ludhiana.

Mr Parwinder Pal Singh has been posted as Executive Magistrate, Kapurthala, Mr Balraj Kaur as EM, Jalandhar, and Mr Baljit Singh Sandhu as EM, Bathinda. Mr Jaspal Singh goes as Assistant Commissioner, Faridkot, and Mr Jarnail Singh as AC (General), Nawanshahr.

Mr Pritpal Singh Grewal has been posted as EM, Tarn Taran, Mr Bharat Bhushan as EM, Hoshiarpur, Mr Rubinderjit Singh Brar as EM, Faridkot, Mr Sukhpreet Singh Sidhu as EM, Mansa and Mr Sukhwinder Singh Brar as EM, Ferozepore and Mr Amarjit Singh is Assistant Commissioner (General), Fatehgarh Sahib, Mr Gurjit Singh Assistant Commissioner (General), Mansa, and Mr Rajesh Dhiman EM, Patiala. Mr Rupinder Pal Singh has been posted as Assistant Commissioner (General) Ropar, and Mr Jarnail Singh as EM, Batala. Mr Jasbir Singh has been posted as Assistant Commissioner (General), Moga, and Ms Parneet Shergill as Executive Magistrate, Sangrur.


VC loyalist urges Akal Takht to summon CM
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 13
Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia’s loyalist, who heads the World Sikh Intellectual Council, today urged the Akali Takht to summon the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh for insulting the august bodyby turning away from the Amritsar Declaration.

The President of the council, Mr Baldev Singh Balluana, who is a teacher in the Department of Punjabi Development Studies and has been steadfast in his support for the Vice-Chancellor, claimed in a press note that the Chief Minister should be summoned before the Akal Takht because he had disowned the Amritsar Declaration even though he was a member of the six member committee formed on April 1, 1994, to run the affairs of the new party which was formed on the occasion by the name of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar).

Mr Balluana said the declaration was adopted after the Presidents of six Akali factions had submitted their services to the Akal Takht for bringing about unity and forming a unified Shiromani Akali Dal. The declaration adopted was also clear that if the Central Government failed to restructure Indian polity into a federal structure the SAD (Amritsar) would be left with no alternative but to wage a struggle for a sovereign Sikh state. The other members of the committee include Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, Col Jasmer Singh Bala, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi and Bhai Manjit Singh.

Meanwhile, the Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA) President, Dr Dalbir Singh Dhillon, requested the Inspector-General of Police to take immediate measures in view of the violence threat directly or indirectly by the joint action committee, including teachers and employees, who are agitating for the removal of the Vice-Chancellor. In a letter to the IGP, Dr Dhillon said according to a report in a section of the Press, it was clear that the joint action committee was bent upon instigating violence on the varsity campus on one pretext or the other to regain the momentum of its agitation.


INA veteran may battle Centre
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 13
Capt Laxmi Sehgal, a close associate of Netaji Subhas Chander Bose, after fighting the British relentlessly from the jungles of Rangoon (Burma) as commanding officer of the Rani Jhansi Regiment may fight yet another battle against the Centre to seek justice for freedom fighters.

Captain Sehgal (87), who had come to pay tributes to the martyrs at the Jallianwala Bagh here for the first time, said the Centre had failed to disclose about the ‘treasure trove’ which had been handed over to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru by the then Government of Punjab. The treasure trove contained invaluable jewellery, including the ‘mangal sutras and ornaments donated by women at that time for Bose. She said despite repeated requests, the Centre had not disclosed the whereabouts of the box, which should be displayed at a memorial.

A minister in the provincial government formed by Netaji before Independence, she said this was not the kind of freedom for which she had fought. She said dreams of freedom fighters had been shattered due to the indifferent attitude of all concerned. She added that it was a disgrace to those who had made the supreme sacrifice for India that no suitable memorial had been raised.

She said more than 80 per cent of the fighters of the Indian National Army belonged to Punjab, including west Punjab, now in Pakistan. She said Netaji had never wished Partition, which had claimed the lives of thousands of innocent persons. “We fought for united India”, she quipped. She opined that a memorial should be raised at no man’s land at the Wagah joint checkpost.

A doctor by profession, she said Netaji had wanted to recruit 1000 women in the Rani Jhansi Regiment to wage a war against Britain. However, the number had reached 1,500 as women from Burma, China, Thailand and other countries had offered to become members.

Giving details of the guerrilla warfare waged by the regiment, she said she along with many members had been arrested from the hospital being run in jungle of Burma after an air attack by the British. She said many patients had also died during the air raid.

Replying a question, Captain Sehgal said freedom fighters of Punjab and the rest of the country should come on a single platform to force the present government to take corrective measures to provide better governance. She said Netaji was of the view that economic slavery was worse than political slavery.

She alleged that many pseudo freedom fighters had succeeded in getting awards and rewards from the government. She said the government should go in for a scrutiny of the so-called freedom fighters who were less than 60 years of age. Regarding the controversy over the death of Netaji in an air crash, she said it had been raised by some vested interests.


Municipal Act may be reviewed
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 13
The Punjab Local Bodies Minister, Mr Jagjit Singh, yesterday hinted that the Punjab Municipal Act could be reviewed. He was speaking at a press conference here.

Declaring that the Congress would contest the coming corporation elections on the party symbol, he maintained that redemarcation of wards could not be done till the complete 2001 census report was received. He declared that municipalities, corporations and trusts would be computerised in a phased manner.

The minister announced that the Phagwara Nagar Council elections would be held within six months. He also declared that the corruption charges against the trusts whose political chairmen had been removed would be probed.


Preneet Kaur to call shots in Patiala MC poll
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 13
From being a complete green horn to emerging victorious in the last parliamentary elections and then literally managing her husband Capt Amarinder Singh’s election to the Patiala assembly seat, Mrs Preneet Kaur is likely to witness a further expansion in her political role with she being expected to call the shots in the coming Municipal Corporation elections in the city.

Hectic political activity has started in the city with ticket contenders feeling the presence of Mrs Preneet Kaur and her husband Capt Amarinder Singh. This is likely to boost the party’s chances in the electoral arena. Correspondingly, most ticket seekers are looking up to Mrs Preneet Kaur to distribute the party tickets.

Mrs Preneet Kaur had virtually managed the recent election of Capt Amarinder Singh from this seat. Even during the election and before it, she had concentrated on each and every municipal ward in the city holding functions there to build up a momentum in favour of her husband. The assembly election had seen has commandeering local leaders who will now be looking to her for distribution of tickets.

There are presently two main groups in the city with Mr Vishnu Sharma and Mr K K Sharma being the hot contenders for the post of the Mayor. While Mr Vishnu Sharma is perceived to be close to Finance and Food and Civil Supplies Minister Lal Singh, Mr K K Sharma is perceived to be close to Mr K P Pandove, who has earlier functioned as legal adviser to the Chief Minister.

If Mr Lal Singh has his way and the popularity of Mr Vishnu Sharma in the walled city, particularly Jaurian Bhattian is taken into consideration, he may well get the top post. He had also organised an impressive function during elections at Jaurian Bhattian. However it is still to be seen if the ‘’palace’’ (read the Chief Minister and his wife) want to encourage Mr K K Sharma because of his animosity to former Minister Brahm Mohindra. Mr K K Sharma had stood as an independent candidate against Mr Mohindra in the 1992 elections. Sources said there may be a feeling of further sidelining Mr Mohindra, who lost the recent assembly election from Samana after he was denied his traditional Patiala seat, by putting up Mr K K Sharma to the top spot.

There is a possibility that District Congress (Urban) President, Mr Ved Prakash Gupta, may also be considered for the post even though he is averse to it. Mr Gupta, who has been instrumental in the running of Urban unit during the past some years and has overseen electoral victories for the party, has earlier served as Chairman of the local Improvement Trust and may again be appointed to the same post.

This, however, is not expected very soon, with the urban unit president being saddled with the responsibility of overseeing the Municipal elections also. According to norms, he will be responsible for short listing the candidates and sending them to the Pradesh Committee for finalisation. There are a total of 50 wards in Corporation area with 17 of them being reserved for general woman candidates, two for women from the Scheduled Castes and five being reserved for backward classes and Scheduled Caste candidates.


Baisakhi celebrated with fervour
Tribune Reporters

Anandpur Sahib, April 13
Lakhs of pilgrims thronged Anandpur Sahib on the occasion of Baisakhi today. The three-day Baisakhi celebrations at Anandpur Sahib, the birth place of the Khalsa, began yesterday.

Every devotee coming here paid obeisance at the Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, which was specially decorated for the occasion. Thousands of devotees also took a dip in the holy sarovar.

The SGPC organised various religious ceremonies to mark the occasion. The Panj Piaras baptised thousands of devotees at the Takht to convert them into pious Sikhs. The baptisation started early in the morning and would continue till late in the evening.

The holy weapons of Guru Gobind Singh were put on display in the mornings and evenings. Two precious swords gifted at the Takht by the Nishkam Sewa Jatha of England and American Sikhs, led by Harbhajan Singh Yogi, during the tercentenary celebrations, were also put on display.

Langars or community kitchens organised by the SGPC and the villagers were also a distinct feature of the celebrations. The celebrations here would continue till April 14.

BATALA: Baisakhi was celebrated with great enthusiasm here on Saturday. Thousands of pilgrims visited Achleshwar Temple, five km from here, on the Batala-Jalandhar road and took a holy dip in the sacred tank. They offered their prayers at the temple and the nearby gurdwara for fulfilment of their wishes.

Villagers also took a holy dip in the Alival Canals, six km from here, on the Batala - Fatehgarh Churian road. All temples were cleaned and decorated and thousands of devotees visited the temples.

PHAGWARA: A Baisakhi mela was held at the historic Gurdwara Sukhchainana Sahib here on Saturday. A big congregation was held at the Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Model Town. The annual ceremony of changing the robe of Nishan Sahib, was also performed.

AMRITSAR: Baisakhi was celebrated with much fervour in the urban areas of the district with many schools holding special functions to commemorate the occasion. Meanwhile, a convention against communalism was held under the aegis of the Association for Democratic Rights on the day of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre marked the day here today.

Rich tributes were paid to the Jallianwala Bagh martyrs by the Deputy Commissioner Mr S.S. Puri, and other officials of the police and administration here today. Mr Mahinder Singh Sidhu, general secretary of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front paid homage to the martyrs of the Jallianwala Bagh. Mr Sanjay Kumar, District President of the Youth Congress also accompanied them.


Bees run riot at Baisakhi mela
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 13
Baisakhi celebrations were marred at Gandwan village today when over 50 devotees attending the Baisakhi mela inside a grove were stung by bees after a hive was stirred accidentally.

Two persons, including Joginder Singh Gindi, the owner of the shrine, and Gangi, an aged woman, fell unconscious. The former was rushed to Phagwara and hospitalised, while the latter was admitted to a private clinic.

The congregation was being attended by devotees of other villages and the number of those stung by the bees could be more, said an eyewitness. Many persons, mostly women and children, fled from the shrine to their villages and the bees were seen hounding them.

It could not be confirmed as to whether the hive had been disturbed accidentally or deliberately. Producers of honey were annoyed as their hive had been stirred.


Baisakhi rally by Lok Bhalai Party
Our Correspondent

Talwandi Sabo, April 13
Leaders of the Lok Bhalai Party including Mr Paramjeet Singh Sidhwan, Mr Bhola Singh Virk, Mr Jodha Singh Mann, said at a rally of the party on the occasion of Baisakhi that there was no difference between the government of Akali Dal and Congress.

They said earlier the Akalis had looted people of the state and now the turn of the Congress had come to follow the same path. Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, national President of the party, was conspicuous by his absence at the rally.


CPM’s effort to preserve Punjabiat
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
Mr Harkishen Singh Surjeet, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPM today inaugurated a Freedom Movement Heritage Preservation and Propaganda Centre here. The centre will highlight Punjab’s contribution to the freedom movement. It has built in Sector 29, it has two auditoriums, one big library hall, seminar rooms and big gallery displaying heroes portraits of freedom fighters from Punjab and events associated with the freedom struggle.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Surjeet said that the centre would be developed into a major institution for research on Punjab’s and Indian history. The centre would not be associated with any political party and ideology. “It was my dream to build a big symbol of Punjabiat and it has been fulfilled with the setting up this centre”, he added.

He called upon the audience which had a large number of intellectuals, professors from various universities and writers from Punjab to make it a most happening place by organising seminars etc.

Earlier, Dr Joginder Singh Puar, former Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, who was entrusted with the responsibility of setting up this centre by Mr Surjeet, said that cultural invasion from the west via electronic media had become a big threat to Punjabi culture.

There was need to start a “counter campaign” to neutralise the impact of invasion.

He said that the man was feeling alienated and individualism was becoming dominant. There was need to form societies and voluntary organisations to get rid of alienation and individualism, he added. Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, former Union Minister, Prof Balwant Singh, Secretary of the Punjab unit of the CPM, Mr Bawa Singh, former member of the National Commission for Minorities, and Mr Harbhajan Singh Deol, a former Chairman of the National Linguistics Commission and Harbhajan Mann, Punjabi folk singer, who has contributed for certain facilities in the centre were also present on the occasion.


He baptised two lakh persons
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, April 13
Jathedar Fauja Singh, who died on April 7 and whose bhog will be held here tomorrow, served twice as the Jathedar of Takht Kesgarh Sahib and was also in charge of the Punjabi Suba Morcha.

Born on August 15, 1912, at Chhette village in Amritsar district, he joined Sikh Missionary School along with the late President of India, Giani Zail Singh, and was associated with many organisations. He was the founder of the Bir Khalsa Dal. He was also the Principal of the All-India Sikh Missions in India and during his career is reported to have baptised about two lakh persons in India, including Sikhs from Maharashtra, during his stay at Hazoor Sahib, Nanded.

Jathedar Fauja Singh was imprisoned 17 times, a total of about seven years, in connection with the Punjabi Suba Morcha. He was also close to Master Tara Singh and served as a counsellor to him.

At the time of the creation of Bangladesh in 1971, he was appointed Chief Jathedar to honour Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rehman and Lt-Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora. He accordingly presented a sword to the Shiekh and a siropa to the General at Dhaka.

His life history finds mention in a book, “Panthic Heerey,” which can be found in Sikh Library, Amritsar.

He leaves behind two sons, Mr Jagjit Singh Chahal and Dr Ranjit Singh Chahal, and two daughters.

The bhog will be at the family home, 484, Phase III A, SAS Nagar, tomorrow at 11 a.m. The kirtan and ardas will be at Grudwara Ramgarhia Sabha, Phase III BI, here from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.


Sikh intellectuals’ panel to be set up
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 13
To retain the independent identity of the Sikh Panth and to restore its glory, the Panthic Morcha will set up a committee of Sikh intellectuals. The committee will formulate a programme to achieve the desired goal.

This was stated here today by Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, convener of the Panthic Morcha.

Baba Bedi said the constituents of the Panthic Morcha had agreed to have one programme, one constitution and one Shiromani Akali Dal at a meeting held in this regard. But still there were some differences on a few issues, admitted Baba Bedi. He said the constituent were also agreeable that there was a need to have new programmes according to changing situations. For this purpose, he said, a five member committee would be set up soon comprising representatives of all constituents. This committee would submit its report within three months, he added.


Rally by Punjab bank employees
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 13
On a call given by the United Forum of Bank Unions, about 500 employees of banks held a rally in front of the head office of the State Bank of Patiala here to protest against the sale disinvestment of public sector units and the tax imposed on the working class.

Addressing the rally, the general secretary of Punjab Bank Employees Federation, Mr N.K. Gaur, criticised the government for non-recovery of the NPAs in banks which, he said, was adversely affecting the financial health of the banks. Demanding immediate recruitment of staff in all cadres, Mr Gaur also said that bank employees around the country would go on strike on April 16.

The rally was also addressed by the general secretary of All-India Oriental Bank Employees Federation, Mr Yog Raj Gupta, and the general secretary of the State Bank of Patiala Employees Union, Mr S.K. Gautam.


Saini honoured
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 13
Judicial officers of the Patiala Sessions Division have honoured Mr N.S. Saini, Secretary General, All India Judges Association, for his selfless fight for the cause of judicial officers.

Mr Saini was honoured at a function organised here on Thursday. Speaking at the function District and Sessions Judge S.N. Aggarwal said Mr Saini was the main person who pleaded the case of judicial officers before the Shetty Commission and after its recommendations Mr Saini pursued the matter in the Supreme Court.

Mr Aggarwal said the Supreme Court in its judgement this year in the case All India Judges Association versus the Union of India, accepted the recommendations of the first National Judicial Pay Commission which had resulted in better pay scales and service conditions for Judicial Officers.


Evasion of stamp duty detected
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, April 13
Mr Rakesh Kumar Verma, Deputy Commissioner, has issued a charge sheet to Surinder Singh, a Revenue patwari and show cause notices to Mrs Daljit Kaur and Gurdip Pal Verma, both registration clerks in the local Tehsildar’s office for the evasion of stamp duty and for a tampering the jamabandi of the land and showing the same to be situated out of the municipal limit.

Mr Verma has also issued show cause notice to Jatinder Kumar, a deed writer of the local tehsil, for cancelling his deed writer’s licence.

In press note issued yesterday, Mr Verma said land measuring more than 2 kanals was sold by Jagtar Singh of Kapurthala for Rs 1.64 lakh on February 23, 2002.

On the basis of a written complaint, an official was deputed to visit the site and report about the nature of land. The official reported that the land was not for agricultural purpose. A school was functioning over the land and the same was situated within the city limits.

Mr Verma said patwari’s note on jamabandi stated that the land was situated beyond the municipal limits whereas the seller had mentioned in the sale deed that land was situated on the Kapurthala-Amritsar-Kanjli road. But, in fact, it was situated near the octroi post at Churhwal within the town.

Mr Verma directed the police to register a case of forgery and tampering of revenue record and ordered proper valuation under Section 47-A of the Indian Stamp Act. Mr Verma directed all sub-registrars of the district to exercise utmost vigil while registering urban properties to ensure that there was no evasion of stamp duty.


5 detained in UCO Bank robbery case
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 13
As the daylight bank robbery generated a sense of insecurity among local residents, entire police administration virtually chose to be tight-lipped about the incident and remained out of reach today.

Meanwhile, the police detained five persons, including Sushil Kumar who is owner of the Maruti car, which was found abandoned at Mohalla Karar Khan here yesterday and suspected to have been used in the robbery. Sushil Kumar maintained during the investigation that the car was hired by Gurdev Singh Deva.

Even as it was yet to be established that the recovered car was used in the robbery, the police raided the residence of Gurdev Singh Deva, who according to his family members, was away to Chintpurni in Himachal Pradesh. The police parties were dispatched to nab him and a red alert had been sounded in the city and adjoining districts.

According to sources, the district police is working on various theories, including the mysterious leave of the lone security guard, Bhajan Singh, and in charge of the UCO Bank extension counter Tilak Raj on that particular day. Besides, it is also scrutinising the antecedents of all bank employees.

According to bank staff, there was no alternative security arrangement in case the lone security guard avails the leave. Moreover, there was no alarm system on the bank premises. The police, putting the blame on the bank authorities, said the bank authorities should have requested for the deployment of a police party at the bank in case their security guard was on leave.

As the crime graph of the city has been shooting up during the past fortnight, the robbery, preceded by a similar unsuccessful attempt to loot a bank in the Basti Adda locality last week, has put a question mark on the efficiency of the district police.


Coop bank MD held on graft charges
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 13
The vigilance team has arrested Surinder Paul Singh Chhina, Managing Director, Central Cooperative Bank, Amritsar, on corruption charges.

Chhina was arrested from Chandigarh by a vigilance team last evening. Chhina was once a confidant of Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, the then Cooperative Minister, who later established links with the Congress high command.

According to Mr Ajaib Singh, inspector, Vigilance Bureau, Chhina has been arrested under Sections 409, 420, 468, 471, 13 (1) D/E (13) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Chhina was arrested on a tip-off.

Giving details of the FIR (number 20) lodged with the Vigilance Bureau, Mr Ajaib Singh said that Mr Chhina was accused of amassing huge property disproportionate to his known sources of income. Chhina had deposited unaccounted money in various banks at Chandigarh, Amritsar (ICICI, Bank of Punjab, Cooperative Bank etc). Mr Ajaib Singh said one locker at Bank of Punjab (number 1083) could not be opened as Mr Chhina had not yet provided its keys.

Although Mr Tejinder Paul Singh Sandhu, SP, refused to divulge the details of the case, sources revealed that Mr Chhina had indulged in misappropriation of funds and misuse of official vehicles.

Duty Magistrate Tejinderbir Singh has remanded Chhina in police custody till April 16. He was, however, allowed to undergo medical examination.

However, Chhina claimed that he was a victim of political vendetta. He alleged he was implicated at the behest of his political rivals. Chhina alleged that earlier too he was implicated on charges of misuse of Kargil funds. The two inquiries conducted by two SPs had given him a “clean chit”, Chhina claimed.


Rs 50 lakh fraud played on coop bank

Badhni Kalan (Moga), April 13
The police has registered a case against Daudhar Agriculture Cooperative Society president, vice-president, secretary and 23 others for allegedly playing a fraud of Rs 50 lakh with the Central Cooperative Bank branch, Daudhar.

The police has arrested president of the society Jugraj Singh, who is also a former sarpanch and closely related to former Punjab Education Minister, and Malkiat Singh, secretary of the society. The remaining 23 have absconded.

A complaint was made to the police on April 4 that a fraud was committed by the accused by allegedly preparing fake credit cards, fake jambandis and other revenue records and fake limits on the names of cooperative agriculture credit society in “connivance” with the bank employees and Rs 50 lakh was taken as loan. PTI


Gang of cheats busted, 5 held
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, April 13
The Faridkot police has busted a gang of five swindlers who had defrauded persons in various parts of the state of over Rs 10 lakh during the past two years and half. They have been identified as Bhola Singh, Resham Singh, Major Singh, Lakhwinder Singh and Kirpal Singh, all local residents. A case under Sections 406 and 420 of the IPC has been registered against them.

In a press statement, Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, SSP, the police had received a complaint from Mr Vijay Kumar Arora of Dharamkot in Moga district that the five visited his business premises on April 8 and introduced themselves as employees of the PWD. They had defrauded him of Rs 30,000, he had added.

The district police chief said a police party laid a naka on canal bridge near Machaki Kalan village yesterday and nabbed three of them while the remaining two escaped. An amount of Rs 40,000 was recovered from their car.

During interrogation, the three confessed that they had cheated the residents of a number of districts. Further interrogation of the three accused was on.

In another cheating case, the Jaitu police had arrested two residents of Chandbhan. Two pistols, a number of cartridges and a stolen car had been recovered from them.


Focal point industrialists seek Amarinder’s help
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, April 13
Entrepreneurs who had taken up plots at the local Focal Point developed in 1995 have now appealed to the Chief Minister, Mr Amarinder Singh, to intervene on the issue of high land prices charged by PSIEC from the industrialists, much after the plots had been given to them, which had led to surrendering of plots by about a 100 allottees and was the main reason why the Focal Point had not developed till now.

The entrepreneurs, who have appealed to the chief minister, have also taken the help of a mediator, the District Congress Committee (Urban) President, Ved Prakash Gupta, who has also separately urged Mr Amarinder Singh to form a high-powered committee at the level of a departmental Secretary to sort out the problem immediately.

The industrialists claim that a new Focal Point was developed at Patiala in 1994-95. Plots were allotted to applicants at a cost of Rs 225 per square yard, whereas the land was acquired against a normal price of Rs 54 per square yard. They said this difference had been maintained from the very beginning with the development and other incidental charges being kept on the higher side, keeping in view the possible further increase in cost and enhancement by courts in due course of time.

Focal Point Industries Association Secretary Bharat Teja, said due to the higher price factor, coupled with the fact that Patiala was already under-developed industrially, the Corporation could not dispose of all plots. He said the situation turned for the worse when about 100 allottees surrendered their plots due to the bleak business prospects in the region.

In the meantime, the industrialists said the Civil Court granted Rs 78,000 per acre as enhancement in the land price. They said after adding the interest paid on the amount and other incidental charges, this enhanced amount could be calculated to a maximum of Rs 28.50 per square yard, which should have been recovered from the allottees. They said surprisingly, the PSIEC, against all norms and provisions, raised a demand of Rs 105 per square yard, which needed a thorough review at the highest level.

The industrialists have also alleged that despite the fact that Rs 1.25 crore had been kept in reserve to meet the demand, the amount was not deposited in time by the PSIEC, resulting in extra losses and embarassment. They also alleged that the Corporation missed an opportunity to go in for an appeal, which was perhaps an absolute necessity in the corporation’s interest. They also claimed the Corporation had deposited a large wrongly calculated amount against the award and also failed to adopt legal remedies to recover the amount deposited wrongly.

The Industries Association has also demanded that the PSIEC should be directed not to demand any further amount till the calculation sheet submitted by it was finalised as per the decision reached with PSIEC officers. They have also urged that a sympathetic view be taken of the entire issue due to the prevailing position of the industry in general and in Patiala in particular.

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