Monday, November 11, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Govt will not allow Central intervention: Hanspal
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, November 10
The Punjab Government will not allow the Centre to intervene in its law and order issues in the state. This was stated by Mr H.S. Hanspal, President of the PPCC while talking to mediapersons at the residence of former Education Minister Avtar Singh Brar here today.

Mr Hanspal, who was on a tour to address district-level party’s conventions, was reacting to a approach made by Shiromani Akali Dal leaders, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Chemical Minister, and Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal who met the Deputy Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, in New Delhi yesterday and sought his help to check the oppressive attitude of the state government against SAD leaders and workers.

Lashing out at Mr Parkash Singh Badal the PPCC President accused him at murdering’ the democratic rights of more than 80 SGPC members by making them “captive” at his farmhouse at Balasar in Haryana for the past one month.

Mr Hanspal said the government would not interfere in the SGPC poll in any way. However, if anyone tried to disturb the peaceful atmosphere the government was bound to maintain law and order.

He alleged that Mr Badal was raising the issue for political gains. Mr Hanspal also accused Mr Badal for behaving irresponsibly. Categorically denying any differences among senior Congress leaders, he said the action against Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Agriculture Minister, would only be taken after awaiting the court decision. He said a new list of 45 PPCC office-bearers had been finalised and was awaiting the approval of the Congress high command. The list is likely to be released before the month-end. He said the party was holding district-level conventions to apprise the workers of the programme and to strengthen it at grassroot level. In this connection he had already covered eight districts and remaining would be taken up by the end of the month.

Later addressing the district-level convention attended by more than 2000 party workers and leaders Mr Hanspal criticised the NDA government for tarnishing the image of the country. He held the Union Government responsible for deteriorating law and order situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

The PPCC president appealed to the party workers to work hard to spread the message of secularism and communal harmony in Punjab. Mr Surinder Iqbal Singh, president of the District Congress Committee, Mr Avtar Singh Brar and Mr Upinder Sharma former ministers also spoke on the occasion.


SGPC: where politics eclipses religion
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 10
The SGPC turned 77 on November 1. Though perceived by the Sikhs as a religious repository, signs abound that over the years it has become a haven for political play games of the Akalis, ever divided into factions. What lends credence to this is the power the SGPC President wields.

With the passage of time, the ‘’secular’’ Congress realised that it can match or weaken its arch political rival in politics, the Akalis, only if it too had an access to the SGPC directly or indirectly. And it is the Akalis who by their competitive political machinations unwittingly showed the path to the SGPC citadel to the Congress. Therefore, the present tumultuous run-up to the presidential election on November 12, though morally incorrect, should not come as surprise to anyone. What Capt. Amarinder Singh’s predecessor Congress Chief Ministers, the late Mr Partap Singh Kairon and the late Giani Zail Singh, did covertly, he is doing so overtly.

Almost similar tactics, in a different form and on a different scale, were adopted by the Akali Chief Ministers SAD Presidents during their tenures when either of them felt uncomfortable with a certain incumbent SGPC President or wanted his own person in that slot. Moreover, so deep is the political ‘’interference’’ of Akali Dal(s) in the SGPC that the SAD President(s) is known to even appoint Head Priests of his choice, particularly, the Jathedar of Akal Takht.

It is precisely for this reason that not only the political chemistry of the Akalis and the Congress has now become more acerbic but the language used by one is incompatible with the grammar used by the other. In such a scenario, turns and twists in the Akali brand of politics or even an anti-climax is neither unexpected nor can be totally ruled out. Such a situation often allows the dormant, splinter militants to rekindle, taking advantage of the political turmoil.

Two developments have taken place in the past 24 hours. One, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, who ruled over the SGPC and Sikh politics for 25 years, has demanded ‘’intervention’’ by Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti. Though the SAD-(Badal) has not reacted to this and what with behind-the-scene activities for a ‘’patch-up’’ between the two warring factions, one obvious interpretation of Mr Tohra’s ‘’appeal’’ is that he is out to compound the prevailing confusion and the second is that he has ‘’recognised’’ Vedanti as the Jathedar of Akal Takht.

Two, the Centre’s concern for Punjab is more out of political exigencies than purely on account of law and order, as it was approached by Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal and Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, who met Deputy prime Minister and Home Minister, L.K. Advani in New Delhi in Saturday, seeking his intervention. Consequently, it is learnt, Union Home Secretary, N. Gopalaswamy telephoned Punjab Chief Secretary, Y.S. Ratra, twice on Saturday to know the ground situation. There is a probability of a Joint Secretary-rank officer from New Delhi being sent to Amritsar to oversee SGPC presidential poll.

Another important issue that merits attention is the blatant mis(use) of state machinery, including the ‘police in the SGPC elections. Sources told TNS today that what had happened in Punjab in the past two days (crackdown on Akali workers) was ‘’overdone’’. But then the Akali Chief Ministers too had used the same tools though to a lesser degree.

Despite the recommendations of the National Police Commission report, no steps have been taken to ‘’depoliticise’’ the police or overhaul it. And every ruling party uses the police for its own political means and ends. This is slowly but surely leading to a situation where people-police distance is increasing. Rather than a people-police interface, it is a people-police standoff. The present role of the police in the SGPC elections is a certainly a step closer to growing alienation between the police and the people. Why not a state security committee to oversee police role and functions, as recommended by the commission?


Tussle over road dividing temple, SGPC complex
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 10
The road dividing the SGPC complex (the venue of the annual election of the SGPC executive) and the Golden Temple has again become a bone of contention between the state government and the SGPC after issuing of orders by the District Magistrate to vacate all serais till November 12. While the SGPC authorities claim that the dividing road is a part of the Darbar Sahib complex, the district administration says the road belongs to the municipal corporation. In case the administration succeeds in establishing that the road actually belongs to the corporation, the police could then get a legitimate right to enter and search the serais.

However, the SGPC authorities claim that the road has been used as a part of the complex for many decades and, hence, it is no more a thoroughfare. Incidentally, Capt Amarinder Singh had resigned as Agriculture Minister in protest when the police had entered the SGPC serais on April 30, 1986, during the Barnala regime.

Since 1925, when the Sikh Gurdwara Act was enacted, no District Magistrate has ever issued orders to vacate the SGPC serais even during British rule.

Owing to unprecedented security around the SGPC complex, the number of devotees visiting the Golden Temple reduced drastically today.

Mr Iqbal Singh Sidhu, who once enjoyed the confidence of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was appointed Deputy Commissioner a few days ago. In his orders, he stated that hotels, guest houses and serais within the 500 metres periphery of Darbar Sahib were to be kept vacant till November 12 to ensure “free and fair” election. His order reads that there is an apprehension that some “miscreants” could create trouble on the even of the SGPC election.


Jail overflowing with SAD workers
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 10
With the police arresting an increasing number of Akali Dal workers, the jail authorities here are facing a tough time to accommodate them in the already overcrowded jail.

Sources said against the sanctioned capacity of 500 in eight barracks, more than 1,350 inmates had been adjusted in the local central jail. The jail authorities cite the absence of a central jail in Mansa district as the reason.

Jail sources said about two years ago they had to hire tents to accommodate inmates, which included undertrials and convicts. The sources said the authorities concerned had failed to increase the accommodation capacity of the jail. With temperatures dropping during nights, the inmates had been facing troubles to keep themselves warm, besides using toilets and bathrooms.

The sources said SAD workers had been arrested under Sections 107 and 151, CrPC, and had been on remand till November 13 ‘to ensure that’ law and order was maintained. The sources added that the even jail compounds had been used to accommodate SAD leaders and they had been provided with blankets.

The sources said at least 55 leaders of the Akali Dal had been lodged in the local central jail and the number could rise any time. While a majority of those arrested are of the ranks of sarpanch, circle jathedar and some of those had enjoyed appointments during the SAD-BJP government, including Mr Hardev Singh Bahoyatri, Mr Bhagwan Singh Khemuana, Mr Darshan Singh, all former chairmen of market committees of Bathinda, Goniana and Nehianwala, respectively, had also been sent to the district central jail under “preventive arrest”.

The sources said the Sub-Divisional Magistrate was competent to grant bail to those arrested under these sections and the jail authorities could not release the inmates on the verbal orders of the government after the SGPC elections were over. Every arrested person would have to furnish a personal bail bond before the SDM for getting bail, the sources added.

Mr Swaran Singh, Jail Superintendent, could not be contacted despite repeated efforts. Highly placed sources confirmed that they had been asked to keep the jail ready to accommodate more SAD leaders in the coming few days. They confirmed that more than 50 SAD leaders had been lodged at the local central jail.


Warrant for Bibi’s arrest issued
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, November 10
The Bholath police today procured the arrest warrant for a former President of the SGPC, Bibi Jagir Kaur, in a criminal case registered against her under Section 379 of the IPC and Section 39 of the Indian Electricity Act on the charge of stealing power at her Dera Sant Prem Singh Muralewale at Begowal village, 28 km from here, on Friday. Mr R.N. Dhoke, SSP told The Tribune that Mr S.S. Dhaliwal Chief Judicial Magistrate, issued a non-bailable warrant against Bibi Jagir Kaur on an application of the police for her arrest.

Mr Dhoke said police parties had been sent to arrest Bibi Jagir Kaur to various places.

According to Akali circles, the arrest warrant has been obtained to restrain Bibi Jagir Kaur from participating in the SGPC elections for the post of President.

Bibi Jagir Kaur is the sitting SAD MLA and member of the SGPC from the Bholath segment.

Meanwhile, the police has arrested 38 prominent Akali workers in the district as a preventive measure.


Nine Akali leaders held
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 10
The crackdown on Akali leaders continued today with the arrest of nine persons, including four councillors, here today. They were later produced before the SDM who remanded them to judicial custody.

Those arrested include district unit senior vice-presidents Baba Ajit Singh and Ujagar Sigh Chhapa, vice-president Tirath Singh, general secretary K.S. Khalsa besides councillors Swaran Singh, Kashmira Singh, J S Bhola and H S Golwaria. Vice-president of the Gaughat gurdwara Teja Singh was also taken into custody.

The group was arrested from the local bus stand as they were about to board an Amritsar-bound bus. They were informed that were being arrested under the prohibitory orders in force in the town on the eve of the SGPC elections.


Arrest of Akali workers continues
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, November 10
The arrest of Akali workers belonging to the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) continued for the third day today. The district police arrested Mr Mohan Singh Kot Dhandal, former Chairman, Market Committee Khanuwan, Mr Santokh Singh, former Sarpanch, Balagram, Mr Amarjeeet Singh, Sarpanch, Jogi Cheema, and three other activists, Baba Sant Singh Waraich, Subedar Tara Singh, and Mr Heera Singh Jogi Cheema. They were coming in a tractor trolley alongwith 40 persons.

They were presented to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate here under Section 107/151, IPC who sent them to judicial custody in Central Jail here.


BJYM ex-member arrested
Our Correspondent

Bhuchu Mandi, November 10
Mohit Gupta, a former national executive member of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), was arrested in an early morning operation carried out today. Sources said Mr Gupta was picked up by the police from his residence at about 7 a.m. and produced before the SDM, who sent him to remand till November 13. He has been lodged at the Bathinda Central Jail.

The sources said he had been arrested as he had claimed that he would lead a jatha to Amritsar on the day of the SGPC elections to support the SAD (B).


Raids continue in Mohali
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, November 10
The police here conducted raids on residences of Akali leaders located in the township. According to sources, the houses of Mr Kiranbir Singh Kang, Mr Paramjit Singh Kahlon and Mr Harsukhinder Singh Badal were raided this morning. Mr Kahlon and Mr Kang have been missing since November 8 when a large number of Akali leaders were arrested from the state.

According to sources, the residence of former Minister of Stationery and Printing and MLA from Chamkaur Sahib Satwant Kaur Sandhu in Phase V was also placed under surveillance this morning.


SAD men undeterred, says Manpreet Badal
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, November 10
As many as 105 SGPC members aligned with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) will reach Amritsar tomorrow to participate in the SGPC elections to elect the President of the body. Stating this on the telephone today, Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, MLA, Gidderbaha, and spokesperson of the SAD, made clear that if the government agencies interfered or tried to stop the entry of members into the Teja Singh Samundri Hall in the Golden Temple complex on November 12, the party members would not take it lying down. He said the party had prepared a plan to take the matter to the streets.

Mr Manpreet Badal said senior party leaders, including Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister and Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, member Rajya Sabha, met the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, at New Delhi yesterday and apprised him of the prevailing conditions in Punjab. Both leaders also gave details about the “oppressive tactics” adopted by the state government. Mr Advani had assured support for the cause of the SAD, he claimed.

Mr Manpreet Badal assailed the Faridkot district police for “severely beating” up Mr Sandeep and Mr Vikramjit, sons of Mrs Gurdev Kaur, member of the SGPC after detaining them at the local police station here three days back.


CM, Badal urged to keep away from SGPC
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 10
The Punjab unit of the Dalit Sena today said by interfering in the affairs of the SGPC, Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had been following the footsteps of the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

The Sena said Mr Badal and Capt Amarinder Singh should keep themselves away from SGPC presidential elections. It said the SGPC was a religious body and no political person should interfere in its affairs.

Mr Kiranjeet Singh Gehri, state President of the party, presiding over a meeting of the office-bearers of the district unit here, said the politicians belonging to the Akali Dals or the Congress should not consider the SGPC as their personal property, rather they should allow it to work independently.

Mr Gehri alleged that instead of preaching Sikhism, the SGPC had started fulfilling the aspirations of certain politicians. He said due to the apathetic behaviour of those controlling the SGPC, the Dalits had been feeling neglected.

He said those controlling the affairs of the SGPC had started fulfilling their political aims by using the money collected in the SGPC-run gurdwaras. He alleged that those who had been working for the upliftment of the Sikh Panth were being ignored, loyal to political bigwigs, had been installed at key posts of the SGPC.

He condemned Capt Amarinder Singh, for allegedly using the SGPC for settling his political score with Mr Badal.


Arrests not justified, says Mann
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 10
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP and president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (A), said the Congress government had been arresting workers of the SAD (Badal) to divert the attention of the people from the failures of the government in fulfilling poll promises.

While talking to the Press at Ballianwali, village near here, today, he said while arresting the corrupt was justified, no justification could be given for arresting an army of workers. He said the government had failed to keep the poll promises made with the people. He alleged that the government was interfering in the SGPC poll with malafide intentions.

Mr Mann said his party was yet to decide to support the candidature of any of the candidates of the SAD (Badal) or those being fielded by the Tohra group. He said his party would support any candidate only on the basis of his credentials.

He said the government should allow Sikh jathas to visit Pakistan and make adequate arrangements for the same.


MCPI flays govt interference in SGPC poll
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 10
The Marxist Communist Party of India (MCPI) has strongly criticised the “open interference of the Congress government” in the SGPC elections. Mr Prem Singh Bhangu, a senior leader of the party, said today that the government’s interference in religious affairs of Sikhs amounted to hurting the “religious sentiments of Sikhs” and it could prove dangerous for the hard-earned peace in the state.

Releasing the statement on behalf of party general secretary Jagjit Singh Layalpuri, Mr Bhangu said the large-scale arrests of leaders and workers of the Akali Dal and the registration of fake cases against them was utter violation of civil liberties and could lead to a situation of confrontation in the state.

“The undemocratic and authoritarian steps of the state government could also affect democratic movements in general and kisan and trade union agitations in particular”, he added.


Tohra flays Badal
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 10
“Because of his obstinate attitude, Mr Badal has lost power in the state and is bent upon loosing control over the SGPC also”, alleged Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President, SHSAD, while talking to The Tribune here today. He flayed Mr Badal, for seeking help from Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and the Central Government. He alleged that Mr Charmandi, a member of the seven-member Mal Singh Ghuman Committee, defected to the Badal camp on the threat of Mr Om Prakash Chautala, Chief Minister of Haryana.

Justifying the action of the government in connection with the SGPC elections, he said the Government had filed an affidavit in the high court to provide security to SGPC members and to ensure a free and fair poll on a writ petition filed by the 61 SGPC members belonging to Badal camp. He said now it was the duty of the government to maintain law and order.

He condemned the arrests of Akali workers, stating that the police had also arrested workers belonging to his party. He said if the police tried to stop any member from entering the meeting hall, he would be the first one to object to it.

Mr Tohra said he was not a candidate for the post, but urged the members to vote as per their conscience and maintain peace.


Govt ‘out to sabotage’ BJP’s rally
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 10
The Punjab BJP today conveyed to the high command that the Amarinder Singh Government was creating hurdles in the party’s proposed rally at Tarn Taran on November 13. The rally is to be addressed by Mr Venkaiah Naidu, President of the BJP. The thrust of the rally will be against the state government.

The BJP contacted Mr Sangh Priya Gautam, a senior BJP leader, who is in charge of the Punjab affairs, to convey the government’s interference in the rally. Mr Gautam has been requested to take up the matter with Union Home Minister L.K. Advani. Earlier, the Akalis had approached Mr Advani with regard to the state government’s alleged interference in the SGPC presidential election.

Mr Avinash Jaiswal, general secretary of the Punjab BJP, told TNS today that the government machinery had started creating problems to impede the rally. One of the most active yuva morcha workers, Mr Mohit Gupta, who was active in mobilising party workers for the rally, had been arrested by the Bathinda police, Mr Jaiswal said. The state government’s “reign of terror was not only confined to SAD workers and leaders but also to the BJP”, added Mr Jaiswal.

“We have definite reports that government officials had become active to sabotage the rally”, said Mr Jaiswal. Transporters had been directed indirectly not to provide buses and trucks for taking BJP activists to the rally.

“Our party leaders from Amirtsar, Bathinda, Gurdaspur, Muktsar and other parts of the state have conveyed that the owners of buses and trucks, who had earlier agreed to provide their vehicles on a payment basis for transporting party activists to the rally have now started backing out”, said Mr Jaiswal.


Now MEA objects to Sikh jatha
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 10
The visit of Sikh jathas to Pakistan on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev later this month has been once again caught in bureaucratic red tape. After the Union Home Ministry cleared a “symbolic 51-member Sikh jatha to visit Pakistan”, the Ministry of External Affairs has reportedly raised technical objections while denying “go-ahead” to the jatha.

“It is a very serious development,” says Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), maintaining that in case the MEA does not clear the visit by tomorrow, the Political Affairs Committee of his party, which meets at Amritsar on November 12, may be forced to give a call to “jam Indian Embassies/High Commissions/Consulates worldwide for one day to register our protest. Besides, our party workers would be forced to jam the Regional Passport Office, Jalandhar, also.”

Talking to The Tribune over the telephone, Mr Mann said he had been regularly monitoring the movement of the file after he took up the cudgels on behalf of the Sikh community to “allow Sikh jathas to visit Pakistan on four occasions every year as was stated in the Liyaqat-Nehru pact before the Partition of the country”. The visits of Sikh jathas to Pakistan, however, have remained suspended for more than a year now because of the escalation of tension on the Indo-Pak border.

“The denial of permission this time would create serious problems,” says Mr Mann, alleging that “equating the case of Sikhs visiting their historic gurdwaras, including the birth place of the founder of their religion on his birth anniversary, with a group of foreigners wishing to cross over to Pakistan by the Wagah land route is ridiculous”

“I am told that the Ministry of External Affairs has held back permission to the Sikh jatha on the plea that as many as 51 foreigners who want to cross over to Pakistan from the Wagah land route are on a wait list. First they have to be cleared before permission is granted to the jatha.”

“Those sitting in the MEA perhaps do not realise the sanctity of the Liyaqat Ali-Nehru pact. Certain promises were made before the Sikhs decided to go with India. And these promises made by founders of the Indian Constitution are reflected in the statute. The denial of permission to the jatha would not only constitute a major violation of the Liyaqat Ali-Nehru pact but also the provisions as enshrined in the Indian Constitution. The denial of permission would have very serious socio-religio-politico consequences,” warned Mr Mann.

“We will raise the issue at all possible international forums, besides organising a day-long jam of Indian Missions in abroad in protest before November 19, the birth anniversary of the founder of Sikh religion,” Mr Mann added.

Advani overrules MEA, file to be sent to PMO

Meanwhile, Home Minister, L.K. Advani has overruled the objections raised by the Ministry of External Affairs over allowing a Sikh jatha to cross over to Pakistan through the Wagah land route.

Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman, National Commission for Minorities, who was present at the meeting attended by officials of the Home and External Affairs Ministries, explained that since the rail —— Samjauta Express — and road — Delhi-Lahore bus — routes were closed, the jatha should be allowed to use the Wagah land route.

Mr Advani supported his viewpoint and rejected the objections raised by the MEA which held that only “foreigners can be permitted to use the land route to enter Pakistan from India”. He directed the Union Home Secretary to send the file directly to the Prime Minister’s Office for “one-time special clearance” as he reportedly held that the clearing of a Sikh jatha on religious grounds could not be equated with an unknown foreigner travelling to Pakistan via the Wagah land route.

The final clearance to the jatha from the PMO is expected shortly as it is scheduled to leave for Pakistan on November 16.


Review petition against SC order soon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 10
The Punjab Government should challenge the authority of the Supreme Court to listen to the issue of the SYL canal as it has no right to judge a highly polticised issue. It can not settle a issue by just giving directions to the state government. The state government should immediately file a review petition against the judgement of the Divisional Bench of the Supreme Court, which had directed the government to complete the construction of the canal by January 15, 2002.

These views were expressed by various speakers at a seminar ‘Punjab Waters — SYL Canal’ organised by the Institute of Sikh Studies here today. Addressing the seminar, Dr S.S. Boparai, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala, claimed that the Punjab was already sharing much higher percentage of its river waters with Haryana and Rajasthan though they had no right over its waters as per the riparian rule.

He said about 68 per cent of the Punjab agricultural land was dependent on tubewells and the rest on river waters. Punjab would have to further lose its river waters in case the SYL canal was constructed. The water table would further fall in the state, especially in the Malwa belt. The state should challenge the intervention of the Supreme Court on the basis of another fact that the Centre had failed to implement other clauses of the Rajiv-Longowal agreement, and was just forcing the state to implement the clause pertaining to the construction of the canal.

Mr Gurdev Singh, president of the institute, argued that the state should try to emphasise the point that as per the riparian rule, it could not share its waters with other states. He said the state was not bound to implement a particular clause of the Rajiv-Longowal agreement, that was against the interests of the state.

The speakers pointed out that the issue could not be isolated from the issues of transfer of Chandigarh and Punjabi speaking areas of Haryana to Punjab. The Supreme Court should not try to force the state to construct the canal against its own interests, the issue had been settled constitutionally.

Even if the Haryana argued about its share as per the Punjab Reorganisation Act, it was already getting more share than what was due as per the 60:40 ratio of Punjab and Haryana shares over waters of the undivided Punjab.

Dr S.S. Johal, Vice-Chairman, Punjab Planning Commission, said the state government was preparing its review petition against the decision of the Divisional Bench.

It would be filed in a few days. The recommendations of the seminar would be included in the review petition. He admitted that there was no surplus water in the state.

The speakers passed a resolution that the state government should file a petition with the Supreme Court challenging the provisions of Sections 78, 79 and 80 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act. The Sutlej, Beas and Ravi were clearly Punjab rivers, and the Constitution had a provision regarding states’ rights over its rivers.


Weavco’s action in graft case raises eyebrows
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 10
The Managing Director of the Punjab State Handloom Weavers Apex Cooperative Society (Weavco), Ms Suman Rani Bansal’s decision to take a lenient view of the large-scale embezzlement amounting to Rs 16 lakh by Tilak Raj, a weaving technician, as per a re-audit report, has raised eyebrows. Ms Bansal has ordered a small recovery against the huge embezzlement.

A report regarding the embezzlement and the re-audit report on the financial irregularities was published in The Tribune on October 14. The audit report has indicted Tilak Raj while the management is allegedly trying to shield the culprit.

An order issued on October 16 stated that the charges levelled against Tilak Raj, including possessing property disproportionate to his known sources of income and providing subsidy to Purnima Sabha, owned by his family members, while giving it large orders, have been proved beyond doubt in an inquiry conducted by the department. Mr Shyam Sharma, Assistant Manager, and Mr Hazara Singh, the then General Manager of Weavco, respectively, had been appointed as inquiry officers to probe the charges. The report also went into the causes of heavy losses incurred by the local unit of Weavco managed by Tilak Raj.

Even after the submission of the inquiry report, intriguingly, Ms Bansal has only ordered the cancellation of his three promotions as punishment on “sympathetic grounds”, under the service rules of the Weavco. She has also ordered Tilak Raj to reimburse the recoveries made against him.

However, Mr Ashwani Kumar, district secretary of the CPI, alleged that even though the charges levelled against Tilak Raj had been proved, senior Weavco officials, including Ms Bansal, were showing leniency to the accused. The CPI also alleged that the re-audit report had been ignored by the management. The report was an indictment of the functioning of Weavco.

The CPI has demanded that the report against Tilak Raj should be taken to its logical conclusion and his services should be terminated and recoveries should be made from him for the huge loss suffered by Weavco.


Govt pleasing USA: CITU
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, November 10
The 11th state delegate session of CITU concluded today at Shahpur Kandi. At least 400 delegates from all over the state participated.

Mr Chander Shekhar, General Secretary, presented a report on the closure of industrial units in Punjab. The delegates criticised the BJP-led government at the Centre and the Congress government in Punjab for trying to please the USA as a result of which large stocks of foreign goods had glutted the market and several thousand workers had been rendered jobless.

The delegates said the state Labour Department was not taking any step for the welfare of workers, but was “collaborating” with industrialists to pursue anti-workers policies. They said a campaign should be launched to expose working economic policies of the Centre and the state government.

They alleged that Mr Harkishan Singh Surjeet and Mr Balwant Singh, CPM leaders, in connivance with mill owners were trying to violate various labour unions.

Mr Tarson Jodha, former MLA and Mr Inderjit Singh Garewal, senior CITU leader, moved resolution against increasing communalism and privatisation of PSUs.

The delegates demanded the scrapping of new industrial policy and sought mobilisation of workers against the police alleged repression.


Will Domoria project be scrapped?
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

The ambitious Rs 26.11-crore Domoria overbridge project, aimed at easing out traffic bottle-necks in about 20 major localities which remain virtually cut off due to the submergence of the bridge during rains, has been hanging fire. It is on the verge of being scrapped on account of the nearing of the expiry of the stipulated time-frame fixed for the initiation of work on the project following the alleged failure of the railway authorities to transfer its part of the land to the local municipal corporation.

The sanctioning of the project, which was inaugurated by the then Union Surface Transport Minister amid much fanfare last year, had spelled some relief for about five lakh residents of the city who have been suffering on account of the frequent accumulation of water under the bridge during rains for past about three decades. So much so, the contract for the construction of the bridge has also been awarded to a UP-based company.

But hope has virtually belied them as the railway authorities have allegedly failed to transfer the 1284 marlas of its share of the land to the local municipal corporation authorities even after a lapse of about one year after the project’s inauguration. The residents fear that the project might not take off following a provision in the sanction letter issued by the Ministry of Surface and Road Transport that the project could be cancelled in case work on it was not started within the stipulated period of 15 months.

Sources in the MC said the problem started when the railway authorities shot off a letter to the Jalandhar Deputy Commissioner about two months back requesting a fresh assessment of the value of the railway land, which was initially fixed at about Rs 5 crore. Subsequently, since the fresh price was fixed at Rs 16 crore, the railway authorities started demanding the enhanced price even as another price fixation committee constituted by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr K. Siva Prasad, upheld the old price later on. Though the tussle between the railway and the MC authorities seems to have resolved to some extent, it has eaten up a lot of precious time, which according to the residents, could have been utilised towards the completion of the overbridge.

When contacted Mr Jagjit Singh, Commissioner of the local Municipal Corporation-cum-Nodal Officer for the project said the MC was fully geared to initiate work on the project, and it would march ahead with full steam.


Army withdrawal gains momentum
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, November 10
The withdrawal of the Indian Army deployed on forward locations along the border with Pakistan has gained momentum following availability or additionally railway rakes.

Sources in the Army revealed that the Railways had provided the Army extra rakes for transporting troops and even suspended a couple of passenger train for the movement of the Army.

Three trains are departing daily from Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Sri Ganganagar carrying jawans back their peacetime locations. A special train has also been arranged from Ferozepore where four brigades had earlier been deployed in December, last year.

The return of Indian Air Force personnel to peace stations has already been completed in Rajasthan while the Army is busy in cleaning land mines in the Thar desert before it finally completes withdrawal, the sources said.

However, the Army is yet to start the de-mining process in the border areas of Ferozepore and Amritsar districts. However, plans have been chalked out for clearing land mines from the irrigating fields.

Special mine detection equipment is being used to remove anti-tank and anti-personnel mines to make the areas safe for the civilian population.


MC chief among 19 booked
Our Correspondent

Mansa, November 10
On a complaint lodged by Dr Harmanderjit Kaur Joga, daughter-in-law of the late Jangir Singh Joga, CPI leader, the city police has registered a case under Sections 147, 149, 341 and 427 of the IPC against 19 persons, including Mr Pawan Kumar Matti, president of the local municipal council, Mr Harpal Singh Pal, Municipal Councillor, Mr T. R. Sharma, Executive Officer, Mr Suresh Kumar Bansal, Municipal Engineer and Mr Amarjit Singh, junior engineer.

Dr Joga has alleged that on October 19, when she was examining patients in her clinic, some miscreants led by Mr Matti, Mr Sharma and Mr Pali carrying spades and other tools reached there and blocked the passage leading to the clinic.

They started digging earth to lay sewerage line in the land owned by her. She alleged that they did not allow her to come out and she was kept confined in her clinic. She said she had photographed the incident. She said the police arrived immediately on the spot and rescued her.


Man crushed under train
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 10
A youth was killed this morning when he accidentally fell before a fast-moving train near Kotfatta village, about 20 km from here.

The body of the deceased was badly mutilated and he could not be identified. As per official information, he seemed to be migratory labourer. Volunteer of a local NGO Sahara Jan Seva brought the body to the local Civil Hospital where a post-mortem examination was conducted.

The Railway police of Maur Mandi handed over the body to Sahara after necessary formalities as there was no claimant for the body.


Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 10
Dr M.P. Mahajan, Professor and Head, Applied Chemistry, Guru Nanak Dev University, has been elected fellow of the National Academy of Sciences of India in recognition of his contributions in the field of chemistry.


MC to get tough with shop owners
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 10
The Patiala Municipal Corporation has decided to take action against shop keepers who have constructed shops in the past few years on the Bhupindra and Sirhind roads without getting any plans for the same sanctioned from the corporation.

A recent survey conducted by a Flying Squad, constituted specially for the purpose, has revealed that out of 40 new shops which have come up on the Bhupindra Road during the Akali-BJP regime as many as 37 did not even submit plans to the corporation for building the shops. The number of shops on the Sirhind Road which have come up without getting any building plan sanctioned is even more than this.

According to sources this was revealed during checking which concluded today. The Flying Squad considered of two draftsmen, two head draftsmen and one Building Inspector. City Mayor Vishnu Sharma when asked about details of the survey said he was yet to receive the report. He, however, said the Flying Squad had been deputed to survey shops on the Bhupindra and Sirhind roads after reports that a large number of shopkeepers had constructed shops during the past three years without getting any plan sactioned from the corporation.

Mr Sharma said the corporation would issue notices to the errant shopkeepers and that penalities would be imposed for compoundable offences. However, when the matter of construction of shops on the Sirhind Road for which permission would otherwise not have been given as they were far enough from the road berm as demanded by law, was brought to his notice he said the corporation would take a collective decision on the issue. He said the construction of new shops on the Sirhind Road had been stopped but added that a number of shops had already been constructed which could not be regularised under the law.

The Mayor disclosed that the corporation was also targetting encroachments done by shopkeepers in various parts of the city. He said shopkeepers who had covered verandah of corporation shops in Rose Garden Market had already been given a week’s notice to remove the encroachments.

Meanwhile, sources said the corporation was likely to earn a lot of revenue by levying penalties on those who did not go in for getting building plans duly cleared by the corporation earlier. They said after the completion of surveys on the Bhupindra and Sirhind roads, other areas of the city would also be checked for compliance of building laws.

Meanwhile, the corporation has identified 70 buildings that were being used owners for commercial purposes and the owners were not paying any charges to the corporation. Though the drive is still in progress, already 54 building owners have paid fee to the corporation to get the buildings passed as commercial properties. The corporation is likely to earn a few crores through this move.

The Mayor also disclosed that it had been decided to streamline the process of sanctioning of plans of city residents for both residential and commercial properties. He said notices had been pasted in front of the building branch making it clear that all plans for residential buildings would be passed in one week’s time and those for commercial properties within four weeks. He said people were free to report to him or the Corporation Commissioner if this was not done. He said notices had also been pasted asking the people not to pay any money for getting their plans sanctioned and report in case any employee demanded money for passing building plans.


Youths shoot trader
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 10
A 32-year-old trader was shot dead in Haibowal early this morning by two scooter-borne youths. The youths had come to his house after taking appointment. They had a conversation with the trader for 15 minutes and then suddenly shot him dead. Family sources said they did not know the reason behind the murder. 


PCCTU memoranda to ministers
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, November 10
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) today presented memoranda to Punjab ministers, Congress leaders and MPs for mobilising support for the teachers’ cause in view of the ensuing meeting with the Chief Minister at Chandigarh scheduled for November 12.

The memoranda quoted the promises made by the Congress in its poll manifesto and the advertisements by the party on February 11 for steering the colleges and teachers out of despair.

According to Dr V.K. Tewari, general secretary, PCCTU, the memoranda demanded withdrawal of the orders regarding a 10 per cent cut in grant retrospectively updating of the grant-in-aid scheme, implementation of the pension-cum-gratuity scheme, rural area allowance and HRA for rural colleges shelving of the move to shift plus two classes from colleges and implementation of the UGC pay revision, Dr Tewari said.

The general council of the union would meet on November 17 at Ludhiana and in case the issues were not resolved, it would take ‘hard’ decisions, Mr Tewari said.


Jobless teachers to take legal action
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 10
Unemployed teachers who have been agitating for a long time to pressure the government to give them jobs, today said they would take legal help in the matter.

Mr Narotam Singh Pathrala, state vice-president of the Unemployed Teachers’ Union, said here today legal help would be taken as all other means to get jobs had failed.

A meeting of office-bearers of the Union at Teachers Home here today was attended by Mr Baljinder Singh Sra, an advocate of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and legal adviser to the union, Mr Baltej Singh Dhillon, Mr Ranjeet Kumar, Ms Paramjeet Kaur, Ms Harkirat Kaur, Ms Surinder Kaur, Mr Balwinder Singh Maur, Mr Lakhwinder Singh, Mr Ranjeet Singh Riar, and Mr Ranjeet Singh.

Mr Pathrala said the union wanted the government to take action against those teachers who had got jobs with the help of fake degrees. Officials involved in the racket should also be booked. He said the formation of Elementary Directorate under the new education policy was against the interests of teachers and students.

Ms Paramjeet Kaur said the government should fill all vacant posts of teachers due to which students, particularly of rural areas, had to suffer. She said for giving jobs to B.Ed teachers, the Kerala pattern should be adopted.

Mr Riar said posts of DPEs and PTI were lying vacant due to which those interested in sports had to suffer.


Fancy dress competition
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 10
Tiny tots of the local Mac Donald Farm Play School held their parents spell-bound for nearly two hours at a special fancy dress function organised at the Central Library here today.

From Chacha Nehru to Mother India to Bhagat Singh and Charlie Chaplin, the children of Mac Donalds covered a wide landscape sending their parents into raptures. Special care was taken by the teachers of the school in taking the children to the stage separately to ensure they did not suffer from stage fright.

The function was also followed by a number of items by children of the Holy Heart School, Majithia Enclave at the same site. As both schools are sister concerns, the function was organised jointly.

Children of Holy Heart enacted paradies, dance numbers and the traditional bhangra and giddha numbers which were well appreciated by the audience.

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