Friday, February 28, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM promises fora for Sikhs, farmers
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, February 27
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today said to provide a common platform to the Sikhs of the world and farmers of the state, the state government would set up the Guru Nanak Vishwa Foundation and the Confederation of Punjab Farmers (CPF).

The Chief Minister also announced that the 500th birth anniversary of Guru Angad and 400th “Parkash Utsav” of Guru Granth Sahib would be celebrated in 2004 at the state level. He also announced a grant of Rs 1 crore for the development of the historic Ram Tirtha temple in Amritsar district.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief, H.S. Hanspal, asked the Chief Minister to tell the people when the state was getting the Rs 5000-crore International Finance Consortium (IFC) aid.

Speaking at the state-level function organised to celebrate the completion of one year of the Congress government here today, Capt Amarinder Singh asserted that his government’s fight against corruption was continuing and there was no question of relenting on the issue.

For the setting up of the Guru Nanak Vishwa Foundation, the Chief Minister announced a grant of Rs 2 crore as the first instalment.

The other proposed organisation — the Confederation of Panjab Farmers (CPF) — would be set up on the lines of the CII for the welfare of the farming community, he said.

He said the state government had released 54 cusecs of water into the Kali Bein in Kapurthala for its purification. He also said his government had granted 30,650 new tubewell connections during the past one year while 50,000 such connections would be granted during this year.

He assured that Punjab would get the IFC aid soon as a programme pertaining to this has already come to the Finance Ministry. The state government was planning to spend Rs 117 crore on development of villages and efforts were being made to get another Rs 242 crore for the same purpose.

He said the priority of the state government was to revamp the crop cycle, to make industry more investment friendly and to introduce IT at the school level to ensure jobs to over 20 lakh youth.

The PPCC chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal, claimed that corruption had increased manifold at the lower level and the development needed more attention.

He said doctors and teachers were still not going to far flung areas, thus, causing inconvenience to people.

Ms Mohsina Kidwai, in charge of Punjab affairs of the Congress, said no effort was being spared to fulfil the promises made by the party at the time of elections.

Rana Gurjit Singh, party MLA from Kapurthala, said the Chief Minister had assured him about the all-around development of the district. Meanwhile, Capt Amarinder Singh honoured five young artistes of the state at the function.

The artistes — Surkhab Shaukin (photography), Abirbhav Verma (tabla), Suganda Mishra (classical vocal) and Gurpinder Kaur (classical instrument) — were given a cheque for Rs 1 lakh each and a certificate. Balwant Naamdhari (classical vocal) was also honoured.


BKU (E) dharna from March 3
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 27
The BKU (E) will start indefinite dharna from March 3 near the Primary Agriculture Development Bank to protest against the alleged arrest of farmers who had not repaid loans taken for agricultural purposes.

BKU (E) leaders held a meeting here on Tuesday to draw up the plan for the dharna. They alleged that warrants were being issued against defaulting farmers, and some of them had been arrested recently.

Mr Jhanda Singh Jethuke, president of the district unit of the BKU (E), said that although the Punjab Government had stated that no defaulting farmer would be arrested, banks were not following the instructions.

Mr Shingara Singh Mann, general secretary of the district unit of the BKU (E), said that cooperative banks should give farmers loans at an interest rate of 4 per cent per annum while the rate for private loans should be 8 per cent. He said arhtiyas should be asked to issue passbooks to farmers like those given by banks.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner said the instructions of the state government regarding defaulting farmers were being followed in letter and in spirit.


Area under paddy, maize to be hiked
Crop diversification in Punjab
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
The immense response to diversification in agriculture has made the authorities concerned to revise upward their estimate of 3 lakh acres of land that was to be earlier covered under the scheme.

Official sources told TNS the area was expected to be increased to 4 lakh acres to accommodate more farmers, especially from the Malwa belt.

As per the initial estimate, the government had planned to diversify about 1 lakh acres of land from traditional paddy crops to best varieties of “basmati”. However, this area will have to be increased to 1.50 lakh acres as more and more farmers from the Malwa belt have been pressing the government to enter into tie up with them for tranplanting “basmati”. The authorities concerned would assure about Rs 1200 per quintal as the price of basmati, besides bonus if it fetched a better price in the market.

The government has nominated the Punjab Agro Foodgrains Corporation for handling the task of diversification. Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said “the response from farmers was beyond our expectations. They wanted to get rid of the traditional crop cycle and go in for new crops for better returns. I have directed the officials concerned of the Corporation to focus mainly on commercial crops which could provide a return of Rs 30,000 to 40,000 per area to farmers.”

Maize is the other crop under which area will have to be increased. The initial estimate was of 20,000 acres but it would go up to 60,000 acres.

The corporation has tied up with various private companies to provide quality seed, technical know-how, agronomic practices etc to the farmers concerned with whom contracts have been signed for sowing crops and to sell the produce back to the parties with which arrangements at the official level have been made.

What has been considered as a major achievement of the Punjab Government is the declaration of the corporation as its procuring agency by Nafed, one of the biggest cooperatives of the Union Government in Asia. Nafed has mandated the corporation to procure on its behalf all sort of oilseeds and pulses from Punjab at the minimum support price announced by the Union Government. Normally, the market prices of oilseeds and pulses remain above the MSP. However, the prices fall below that level, the corporation will be able to enter the market to provide at least the floor price to farmers.

Mr Kirpa Shankar Saroj, Additional Managing Director of the corporation, said the corporation had approached the Union Government to provide it margin money for procurement purposes. There was a big demand for the sowing of “guwara” from which gum was made for export. India was a big exporter of gum. Punjab’s Bathinda belt was suitable for sowing “guwara” which at present was sown mostly in Rajasthan.

There was also a big demand for “Rattan Jot” from which bio-diesel is prepared. Markfed has agreed to prepare “health oils” from certain varieties of mustard popularly known as “hyola” rapeseed. Castor plantation would be taken up in the Malwa belt in a big way as castor beans are in big demand, besides Durum wheat.

Mr Saroj said he had gone through the critical views expressed on the corporation’s agriculture diversification programme by Dr S.S. Johl, Vice-Chairman of the State Planning Commission, and the author of the report on state’s agriculture diversification. “I would write to him in this connection giving full details of the diversification programme launched under the supervision of the corporation. In fact, the corporation was complementing what had been proposed by Dr Johl. Moreover, it was focusing mainly on commercial crops and working as a mediator between farmers and buyers of their produce”, he added.

About the controversy regarding the maize crop sown in certain parts of the state, Mr Saroj said the company concerned had agreed to replace seed maize free of cost.


Jathedar paid price for backing CM?
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 27
Prof Manjit Singh, the sacked Jathedar, had to allegedly pay the price for opposing the move to single out Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, for summoning at Akal Takht for sending the police inside the SGPC complex on the eve of the annual election of SGPC office-bearers.

According to highly placed sources, Prof Manjit Singh had categorically told the SGPC chief and other Sikh high priests that singling out Capt Amarinder Singh on the issue would send a wrong message across the Sikh world as many complaints against Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president, Shiromani Akali Dal, his wife Surinder Kaur Badal, Bibi Karnail Kaur, daughter of Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, and Mr Sucha Singh Langah, former Akali minister, were pending with the Sikh clergy.

The SGPC had passed a unanimous resolution that Capt Amarinder Singh should be summoned at Akal Takht. However, Prof Manjit Singh was charged with having a ‘soft corner’ for Capt Amarinder Singh whom he had already honoured with a siropa which was earlier denied by the SGPC during his visit to the Golden Temple after becoming Chief Minister.

The sources close to the sacked Jathedar pointed out that Prof Manjit Singh had a tiff with Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC chief, and Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar of Akal Takht, many times in the past few months, especially on the issue of the controversial godman Ashutosh. They claimed that while Prof Manjit Singh insisted that Akal Takht must take a clear stand on the alleged blasphemous actions of Ashutosh Maharaj, lest radical Sikh organisations should hijack the issue, it had reportedly annoyed the top leadership of SAD as many of its leaders had visited his ‘dera’ in the past. However, Jathedar Vedanti shifted the entire onus on Prof Manjit Singh for ‘imposing’ his stand on certain issues.

The latest issue which angered the SGPC chief was that Prof Manjit Singh had taken a clear stand on allowing baptised Sikh women to perform any ‘seva’ inside the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple. Despite the SGPC’s hiccups on the issue, Prof Manjit Singh had stated that there was no gender discrimination in Sikhism and, hence, he had already issued directions to the SGPC in February 1996 during his stint as acting Jathedar of Akal Takht in this regard. Prof Manjit Singh had stated that the Sikh high priests (Prof Manjit Singh himself, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Giani Kewal Singh and others, had personally implemented the edict of Akal Takht with regard to allowing Sikh women to perform ‘seva’.

Interestingly, Professor Badungar was nursing a grouse against Prof Manjit Singh as he held many ‘in camera’ meetings with Mr Parkash Singh Badal and other senior leaders of SAD and Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal for bringing about a rapprochement between the warring Akali factions. Prof Manjit Singh also endeavoured to project Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra as SGPC chief replacing Mr Badungar last year. However, the move was scuttled.


Sikh foreign bodies’ plea to SGPC
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 27
International Sikh organisations today made an appeal to the SGPC to enforce Sikh women’s right to do seva at Darbar Sahib.

A fax received by The Tribune from New York, signed by 12 organisations, sought the implementation of ‘principles of gurmat’ in all respects and in particular with regard to provision of equal rights to Sikh women.

The organisations, including the Voices of Freedom, the United Sikhs, the Kaur Foundation, the Fateh Oxford and Cambridge Sikh Alumni Association, the Sikh Secretarial, the Sikh Coalition, the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, the Sikh Media-Watch and Resource Task Force, the Sikh Women’s Association (Delhi) and the Jeevan Arts, in a joint statement said: “There was failure by the SGPC to fully implement gurmat principles which are reiterated in Sikh ‘rehat maryada’ has led to perpetuation of non-Sikh practices at Darbar Sahib.”

Copies of the appeal were sent to the Gurdwara Management Committees in New Delhi, Patna Sahib and Hazoor Sahib.


Hundreds file papers for MC poll
Tribune Reporters

Sangrur, February 27
On the last day for filing nomination papers for 21 wards of the Sangrur Municipal Council, 81 nomination papers were today filed by the candidates of different political parties and Independent candidates. Thus, a total of 115 nomination papers had been filed for the elections to the local Municipal Council to be held on March 9. As many as 61 nomination papers had been filed for 13 wards of the Longowal Municipal Council. The scrutiny of the nomination papers would be held tomorrow while the nominations could be withdrawn till March 1.

PHILLAUR: A total of 51 nomination papers were filed for the elections of the Noormahal Municipal Council under Phillaur subdivision, here on Thursday.

The SDM-cum-Returning Officer, Phillaur, Mr Sandeep Hans, told The Tribune here this evening that the scrutiny of papers would be conducted on Friday, while the candidates could withdraw nominations till March 1. The election symbols would be allotted to the candidates on March 1, the SDM said.

NAWANSHAHR: As many as 79 candidates filed their nomination papers for elections to 15 wards of the Nawanshahr municipal council scheduled for March 9, while 61 and 58 candidates filed their nominations in 13 wards each of Rahon and Banga municipal council, respectively, falling in the district on the last day for the filing of nomination papers here today.

ROPAR: As many as 490 candidates have filed nominations for the elections 71 wards of five municipal councils in the district.

As per the information available from the district administration, 127 candidates have filed nomination papers in 15 wards of the Kharar Municipal Council, 87 in the 13 wards of the Kurali Municipal Council, 81 in 13 wards of the Anandpur Sahib Municipal Council, 93 in 13 wards of the Morinda Municipal Council and 102 in 17 wards of the Ropar MC. The scrutiny of the filed nomination papers would be conducted tomorrow and the last date for withdrawing nomination papers had been fixed for March 1.

PATHANKOT: An ugly scene was created by a majority of the municipal council members on the last day for filing nomination papers for the municipal elections scheduled for March 9.

A record number of 270 candidates filed their nominations in 33 wards of the local municipal council. Interestingly, Congress and BJP leaders could not decide their lists of candidates till today.

Aspirants in groups started reaching the SDM court complex here, the SDM is also the Returning Officer, and allegedly raised slogans and used abusive language against each other.

Despite high security arrangements, a large number of candidates forcibly entered the court of SDM, Mr Puneet Goyal, and created an uproar inside the court complex. According to reports reaching here, 93 candidates filed nominations from Sujanpur.

NABHA: As many as 91 candidates filed nomination papers in 21 wards of the town. Among these, 21 candidates are from the ruling Congress, 18 from the BJP, SAD and NCP morcha and 49 are Independents.

The candidates could withdraw their nominations on March 1 after the scrutiny of applications on February 28. The elections would be held on March 9.

HOSHIARPUR: As many as 122 candidates filed nomination papers for the municipal elections in 31 wards of Hoshiarpur city on Thursday. The total number of candidates has increased to 165.

Candidates of various political parties along with their supporters moving in a procession, arrived at the SDM’S office to file nomination papers. According to official sources there are 28 candidates in Shamchaurasi, 50 in Mukerian, 78 in Dasuya, 73 in Garhshankar, 70 in Tanda, 65 in Hariana and 48 in Gardiwala towns of Hoshiarpur district, who have filed nomination papers for the municipal council elections to be held on March 12.

MALERKOTLA: As many as 206 nomination papers were filed on Thursday by the candidates belonging to various political parties and Independents for the elections to 27 wards of the Malerkotla Municipal Council. While the Congress had fielded its candidates in 27 wards, the SAD (Amritsar) candidates had filed nomination papers in six wards.

TARN TARAN: As many as 121candidates filed nomination papers for the elections of 19-member local municipal council to be held on March 9, 2003. Mr, Bhupinder Singh, local SDM-cum-Returning Officer, told this correspondent that the papers would be scrutinised till Friday and the withdrawal of the papers could be done on March 1. Mr Jatinder Kumar Sood, president of the council, was among those who filed nomination papers today.


MC poll: Cong delays list of candidates
Our Correspondent

Rampura Phul, February 27
Due to factionalism and infighting, the Congress has not announced the names of its candidates for the local municipal elections though a large number of senior Congress leaders filed their nomination papers today, hoping to get the ticket.

Meanwhile, the SAD adopted a wait and watch policy. Highly placed sources in the Congress said the announcement of candidates was to be done this afternoon but the same had to be cancelled due to pressure from within the party. The sources said many senior Congress leaders of the area had started alleging favouritism in the process of distribution of ticket.

The sources added, till yesterday only 43 nomination papers were filed while 104 papers were filed today.

Some of the Congress candidates threatened to contest the elections as Independents if they were denied the ticket.

A senior Congress leader, reportedly close to Capt Amarinder Singh Chief Minister, was today seen actively camping with former Punjab Power Minister, Mr Sikander Singh. His wife also filed nomination paper today and sources said they had been seeking the support of SAD activists. Many senior leaders of the SAD had also been camping here to muster support.

Official sources said 150 candidates were in the fray for 17 seats and added that the scrutiny of the nomination papers would take place tomorrow and names could be withdrawn on March 1.

MANSA: A total of 339 candidates have filed their nominations for the elections of three municipal councils and one nagar panchayat of the district. As many as 124 candidates have filed their nominations in 21 wards of the Mansa Municipal Council, while Ms Paramjit Kaur, alias Rimpy, an Independent candidate, is the only nominee from Ward No. 8.

The prominent among who have filed their nominations for the Mansa Municipal Council elections are Mr Narotam Singh Chahal and Mr Karnail Singh Aulakh, both former presidents of the council, Mr Parkash Chand Badal, former vice-president of the DCC, who was expelled by the PPCC during the last Vidhan Sabha elections for supporting an Independent candidate, Mr Sher Singh Gagowal. About 10 former Municipal Councillors have filed their nominations for the local council. As many as 54 candidates have filed their nominations in 13 wards of the Budhlada council whereas 65 candidates have filed their nominations in 13 wards of the Bareta Council. As many as 96 candidates have filed their nominations in 13 wards of the Sardulgarh Nagar Panchayat in the district.


Filing of papers ends amid protest
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, February 27
Protest marked the last day of filing of nomination papers for the forthcoming municipal council elections here today.

Irate supporters of Mr Ram Kumar, an Independent candidate from Ward No. 6, today alleged that SDM’s security personnel prevented their leader from entering the office of the returning officer for filing his paper.

Mr Ram Kumar claimed that though he along with his supporters had reached the office of the returning officer (RO) at 2.55 p.m., he was restrained from filing his nominations.

He alleged that Mr Amarjit Singh Dhindsa, the returning officer, had played, was playing into the hands of Mr Amrit Pal Singh, president of the Block Congress Committee, and Mr Prem Singh, city Congress president, following which his candidature was not accepted. He alleged that the Congress leaders, who were present at the ROs office, had hatched a conspiracy along with the RO and restrained him from filing his paper.

The irate supporters of Mr Ram Kumar protested outside the RO’s office and gheraoed the SDM for over two hours. The agitators were later pacified by the local station house officer.

Meanwhile, Mr Amrit Pal Singh and Mr Prem Singh denied the allegations saying that some Congress leaders from their rival group had instigated Mr Ram Kumar and his supporters to create nuisance.

When contacted, Mr Amarjit Singh Dhindsa clarified that Mr Ram Kumar had reached the office after the time for filing the nomination papers was over. He, however, denied any conspiracy with any other leader to keep Mr Ram Kumar at bay.

As many as 107 candidates filed their nomination papers to contest the election scheduled for March 6.

All three Congress groups — belonging to Deepinder Singh Dhillon, additional advocate general, Punjab; Mr Sheelam Sohi, member of Punjab Pradesh Congress; and Mr Amrit Pal Singh, president of Block Congress Committee — have fielded their candidates.

While 13 candidates of Amrit Pal group had filed their nominations yesterday, nine candidates of Sohi and seven of Dhillon group filed their nominations today.

Besides some Independent candidates, 13 candidates of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) filed their papers under the leadership on Capt Kanwaljit Singh.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Mr Deepinder Singh Dhillon and Ms Sheelam Sohi reached the RO office and helped their respective candidates file their nomination papers.

27 file papers

The process of filing of the nomination papers for the election to the local municipal council concluded here today as 27 candidates filed their nomination papers in the office of Mr S.S. Gill, SDM on the last day of filing papers.

The total number of candidates who have filed their nomination papers for all 15 wards of the local municipal council has gone up to 108. The scrutiny of these papers would be done at 11 am tomorrow.

Several candidates marched in processions along with their supporters.

Similarly, a total 87 of nomination papers has been received for the Kurali Municipal Council till today which was the last day for filing the papers. The Kurali council has total 13 wards.

According to information as per the orders of the State Election Commission, 168 votes were deleted from the voters’ list of Ward number 8 of the Kurali Municipal Council. New 11 votes were added to the list.


Bank’s novel way to make defaulters pay
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, Feb 27
The officers and staff of Punjab National Bank (PNB), Sirhind branch, has devised a noble method to extract money from the defaulters and to intensify its war against the defaulting units to decrease its non-performing assets( NPA) portfolio. Under this method, the staff sat on a peaceful dharna in front of the premises of the defaulting unit holding banners and placards in their hands appealing to the defaulter to return the public money.

While talking to The Tribune on the dharna site, Mr B.S. Sarhadi, Manager of the PNB said they had organised these dharna in front of the defaulting unit with a view to force the defaulter to pay back the loan.

He said they had adopted the method to expose the defaulters, so that due to moral and social pressures they might be compelled to pay back the bank money or reach a settlement with the bank.

He said they were educating the public that actually the money with the banks was of public and no one had the right to grab the public money. He said the defaulters, who enjoyed all facilities of life and good social status on public expenses, would be exposed socially.

He said the bank was also providing all chances and opportunities to the defaulters to reach a settlement. He said as per the directions of Mr N. C. Jain, SRM of the bank, and guidelines of the RBI for compromise settlement of chronic NPAs up to Rs 10 crore in all sectors, which had become doubtful on 31.3.2000, will be covered and accounts which were sub-standard as on 31.3.2000 and subsequently were classified as “bad” and “doubtful” or “ loss” assets would be covered under settlement.

He said in cases in which bank had initiated action under Scrutinisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act 2002 and cases pending under courts, DRTs, and BIFR, subject to consent decree being obtained from the courts, would be settled. He said the last date for the receipt of applications from borrowers was April 31 and the processing under the revised guidelines would be completed by October 31. He urged the defaulters to pay back the loan to avoid any inconvenience.


Budget session

Chandigarh, February 27
The Budget session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha has been convened by the Governor for March 14, according to Mr Nachhattar Singh Mavi, Secretary of the Vidhan Sabha Secretariat.

Meanwhile, in a letter written to all members of the Press Gallery Committee of the Vidhan Sabha Mr Mavi has requested that the proceedings of the meetings of various Committees of the Vidhan Sabha should not be reported before their presentation in the House. TNS


Capt’s rule full of shocks: BJP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
Punjab BJP President Brij Lal Rinwa and General Secretary, Avinash Jaiswal today termed the one-year rule of Captain Amarinder Singh as full of “shocks for the people, be they farmers, traders, Dalits, urban or rural.”

In a joint statement the two leaders charged the government with “back-tracking” by not fulfilling even one pre-poll promise made in the Congress election manifesto in the February, 2002, elections. On the contrary, the Amarinder Government had taken anti-people decisions and withdrawn socio-economic benefits given to the poor, old and destitutes by the SAD-BJP Government.

Prof Rinwa and Mr Jaiswal accused Capt Amarinder Singh of pursuing a one-point programme of launching a tirade against Mr Parkash Singh Badal and defaming him.

The statement also recalled the Gujarat incident involving certain Congress ministers.


10 lakh sought for bereaved teacher
Our Correspondent

Narri Megha (Tarn Taran), February 27
Prof Laxmi Kanta Chawla, BJP leader and the former MLA, has alleged that politicians in connivance with some other influential persons were behind the alleged rampant copying in exams being conducted by the Punjab School Education Board in the border belt.

Ms Chawla was here today to visit a teacher, Mr Kirpal Singh, whose son was allegedly shot dead by some miscreants on February 9 when he checked them for copying.

Sharnjit Singh, the son of Mr Kirpal Singh, was shot dead on the school premises. The Bhikhiwind police has registered a case under Section 302, IPC, and Sections 25, 27, 54, 59 of the Arms Act against the accused, sources said here today.

Ms Chawla demanded a grant of Rs 10 lakh for the bereaved family from the Punjab Government. She said he had to pay a heavy price for performing his duty sincerely and demanded Mr Kirpal Singh should be given a national award.

She alleged that during a day-long visit to the border belt today, she had found large-scale copying in exams aided by certain influential persons having links with politicians.

Talking to this correspondent here, the BJP leader said a large number of border area schools did not have adequate staff and the government had failed to provide even minimum staff for the government schools. As a result, students of the area were forced to copy in the exams.


Eunuchs seek quota in politics

Jalandhar, February 27
Eunuchs from all over the country, Gathered here to celebrate the death of one of their community, Janaki, demanded reservation in politics as well as in the employment like the provision made for women and for the persons from different castes.

“We have been deprived from our own family for no fault of ours, so at least the government should not deprive us from our right and come forward with the reservation for us in politics as well as in employment, which has been given for other human beings also” said Shoba, president of North Zone Eunuchs’ association.

“We have already entered the political arena on own without the basis of caste or religion from a number of states. Even in Punjab three of our community had successfully contested municipal elections and were fairly popular among the public” Shobha added.

Eunuchs have gathered here from all over the country to celebrate the death of one of their community, Janaki, who died in Jalandhar recently. “celebration, yes. This is the spirit because we see death as liberation from the curse of having been born a eunuch,” said Shobha.

Of late this community has been making a foothold for themselves in the political life. Parveen Bawa contested as councillor from Dinanagar in Gurdaspur district. “Now all political parties are willing to give me a the ticket. We prefer the Congress. It is a secular party,” said Praveen.

The other councillors from this community are Santosh Kumari from Bhucho Mandi, near Bathinda, and Gulabo from Bathinda. Parveen said, “It is unfortunate that Kamla who successfully contested election for Mayor in MP was rejected as she had contested election from a seat reserved for women”. Parveen said adding that as she was neither a woman or man, she should have been given a chance to get elected from any of the seats.

Especially in Punjab, there is a facility to eunuchs that if they want to contest municipal election, they can write either man or woman in the column regarding six of the candidate”, Shobha said.

Here too where the 10th Sikh Guru had given equal status to men, women and ‘napunsak’ in his writings. We can serve the people best as we have no skeletons in our cupboards. The present-day leaders are corrupt and have propagated dynastic rule to promote their own sons and daughters. What can be worse than that. ‘Putr-moh’ is said to have been the cause for Mahabharat,” Shobha added.

In Punjab there are almost 2000 deras of eunuchs and a total population of over 40,000. Parveen, Municipal Councillor from Punjab studied up to BA second year in Delhi University. They are not educated, they say, because of the bias against them right from school level. Everyone makes fun of them but now their conquests in the political field may lead to a change in their identity.

When you have a eunuch as your MLA and he is doing well others will have accept them as equals, they argue. Raveena from Kanpur said “My Guru Ramkali had contested MLA’s election from Kalyanpur constituency in the last UP poll. Though she lost the Samajwadi party led by Mulayam Singh Yadav, has assured her a ticket in the next elections.

“In Hindi films our image is not properly projected. We are painted in a distorted manner. We are victims of a very backward kind of racism, worst even than castism. We are not handicapped. We can think normally and work as much as many human being. It is nature that gave as this birth. Anyone can be born a eunuch, then why are we discriminated against. Just like men and women we should be treated as a third category,” said Shobha.

“We want political reservation just as the one proposed for Women. People bring to us children who are born eunuchs in families who ostracise them. We even adopt healthy non-eunuch orphans and get them married only to experience the joy of parenthood. Let it be clear that a large number of normal people are these days giving a bad name to our community by begging in trains. They try to copy our dress style and mannerisms,” said Shobha. PTI


Felling trees with impunity
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 27
Throwing environmental norms to wind, old shady trees around the local railway station are being felled, much to the chagrin of environmentalists. As many as four trees, were felled yesterday. A sprawling peepal tree at the back of the railway station is also planned to be chopped. It is said to be over 100-year-old. Though trees along the railway track are to be felled due to the ongoing electrification work, the propriety of felling the trees in front of the railway station could not be known. However, the contractors engaged in the work have due permit to fell the trees. There are 87 trees in the vicinity of the station but it could not be confirmed as to whether all would be felled.

When contracted, the Station Superintendent, Mr Bhushan Nadwani, said the felling was being done because the trees caused problem to the track. But when confronted that what problem the trees at the front could have caused to the track which was quiet far away, Mr Nadwani said the matter did not concern him, asserting it concerned the Section Engineer Works. But when the office of the department concerned here was visited, it was found locked.

Meanwhile, the local Environment Association and those engaged in three plantation for greening and making Phagwara eco-friendly flayed the indiscriminate felling of trees around the railway station. Dr A.K. Chausar, Mr Gurmit Palahi and Mr T.D. Chawla, all office-bearers of the association called it a cruel act of the Railways.


Negligence charge against doctor
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 27
Mr Tarsem Chand Singla, a local resident, has alleged that his son, Yashpal Singla, who was admitted to a local hospital had died due to doctor’s negligence some days ago.

Mr Tarsem has urged the police authorities to register a criminal case against the doctor for his negligence. He has written a letter to the district police chief in this regard.

Meanwhile, Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, has asked the DSP (D) to conduct an inquiry into the matter. He said the police would consult the Civil Surgeon to get medical experts’ views about the cause of the death.

Yashpal Singla (21) was admitted to the hospital of Dr Ashok Kumar Goyal on February 16 when he complained of uneasiness due to continuous vomiting and loose motions. Mr Tarsem alleged that when the condition of his son started deteriorating, his attendants asked the doctor to take care of him, but the doctor did not bother to pay attention. He said that his son died after about three hours in the hospital.

He said the doctor asked them to take the body of his son. He said the doctor did not tell them the reason of the death. Dr Goyal, when contacted, refuted the allegations. He said that Yashpal had died due to sudden cardiac arrest. He said he had given full and proper attention to the patient. When the condition of Yashpal worsened, he was shifted to another hospital where a ventilator was available. He had never played with the life of patients, as was alleged by the parents of Yashpal, said the doctor.


PCS officer’s plea dismissed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
Dismissing a petition filed by PCS officer G.R. Bansal against the state of Punjab and other respondents, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that it was open for the official respondents to take appropriate decision and action on the recommendations of the selection committee.

Pronouncing the orders, the Judges ruled, “It is, however, made clear that the order shall not be construed as an expression of opinion on the merits of the recommendations made by the selection committee.”

In his petition, officer Bansal had earlier sought the quashing of orders passed by the Central Administrative Tribunal dated May 24, 2001, and September 25, 2001, “to the extent it directed the consideration of representations submitted by three PCS officers Jaswant Singh, Ajit Singh Pannu and Khushi Ram”. All four “are eligible for appointment to Indian Administrative Services by promotion”.

Challenging the impugned orders, he had submitted that the Tribunal did not have the jurisdiction to direct the consideration of representations made by the three officers.

Taking up his petition, the Court ruled that the Tribunal had the jurisdiction to entertain the applications filed by the three officers challenging the recommendations made by the Selection Committee.

The Court further ruled the order passed by the CAT on May 24, 2001, directing the consideration of representations submitted by the three PCS officers, did not suffer from any jurisdictional infirmity or error of law warranting interference of the Court.

The Judges added that the “consequential direction given by the Tribunal vide order dated September 25, 2001, for the finalisation of the proceedings of the selection committee too did not suffer from any legal infirmity”.

Probe ordered

Coming down heavily on a District Education officer for his “callous indifference” towards an Amritsar district resident whose husband, working in a school, died three years ago, Mr Justice Amar Dutt and Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall of the Punjab and Haryana High Court have directed Punjab’s Principal Secretary, Education, to “hold an inquiry into the circumstances in which she was forced to approach the Court” for the release of medical reimbursement and other expenses.

Issuing the directions, the Judges also held that the petitioner was entitled to Rs 25,000 costs. The amount, the Judges added, would be paid by the state within three months. During the period, the inquiry against the defaulting officers would also be completed. “The state, in turn, would recover the amount from persons responsible for the delayed payment”.

The Judges also directed the authorities concerned to pay Rs 10,000 within a week and “decide the claim for reimbursement of deductions within four weeks as undertaken by state counsel”.

Speaking for the Bench, Mr Justice Dutt observed: “The grouse of the petitioner was threefold. Firstly, that despite Rs 35, 863 having been sanctioned by the Medical Board on January 31, 2000 on account of medical reimbursement payable to her husband who did not survive illness, the District Education Officer had not reimbursed the amount. Secondly, the refund of Rs 10,000 payable to her husband, sanctioned on account of link insurance scheme was not paid. Lastly, she also claimed that the boarder house rent allowance, paid to her husband, was illegally being deducted from the gratuity”.

Bail plea

Taking up a petition filed by Punjab’s former Agriculture Minister Gurdev Singh Badal seeking the grant of regular bail in an alleged corruption case registered against him, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday fixed March 21 as the next date of hearing in the case. The former minister was booked by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau at Patiala on November 23 last year under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act. As per the first information report, the then minister had misused his official position.


Taking up a petition filed by “once self-styled president of Khalistan” Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan seeking directions to the Union of India and the Regional Passport Officer for deciding his application for the grant of passport, a Division Bench of the High Court today fixed May 15 as the next date of hearing.

In his petition taken up by the Bench, Mr Chohan had earlier contended that the application form was submitted on September 25, 2001, yet no decision had been taken on the same.


Sri Hemkunt Sahib felicitates Panchhi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
Mr D.S. Panchhi, former Chief Fire Officer of the Chandigarh Administration, and Honorary Fire and Security Adviser to the Tribune Trust, was felicitated during the 25th annual day function of Gurdwara Sri Hemkunt Sahib Management Trust held at Rishikesh on February 20.

Mr Panchhi was presented a siropa, a memento and a bouquet by Mr Madan Mohan Singh, Trustee, and Mr Gurbax Singh Bindra, President of the Gurdwara Sri Hemkunt Sahib Management Committee. He was felicitated for making yatra to Sri Hemkunt Sahib for 31 consecutive times.

A special kirtan darbar was organised as a part of the annual samagam in which eminent raghi jathas, including those of the Gurmat Bal Vidyalaya, participated.


MC employees observe strike
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 27
Hundreds of employees of the local Municipal Corporation observed strike and sat on a dharna at the PNB chowk here today in protest against the registration of a case against six employees of the corporation and a former Congress councillor for preventing the Vigilance Bureau officials from discharging their duty yesterday.

They raised anti-government slogans and demanded that the MC employees had been implicated in a false case at the behest of VB officials who, according to them, were allegedly trying to arrest a House tax inspector Amandeep Singh without any proof.

The Mayor, Mr Surinder Mahey, and Ms Sarojini Gautam tried to pacify the agitating employees. The district police had registered a case against Amandeep Singh, Somnath, Ravi Pankaj, Gurdial Singh, K.S. Bhalla and Usha Rani, all MC employees, and a former Congress councillor Rajinder Beri under Sections 353, 332, 186, 148, 149 of the IPC for preventing the VB officials from discharging their duty yesterday.

Mr H.S. Bawa, convenor of the Joint Action Committee, said the state government should order a high-level inquiry into the alleged high-handedness of VB officials.


15 cows found dead on road
Tribune News Service

Maur Mandi (Bathinda), February 27
As many as 15 cows (eight, according to official sources) died today under mysterious circumstances while four were injured seriously on the Maur Mandi-Talwandi Sabo road.

Police sources said that the cows were found dead at various places on a 15-km stretch of the Maur Mandi-Talwandi Sabo road. Seven dead cows were found on the outskirts of Sandhoa village of this district.

This is second incident of its kind in this district in the past few weeks. Earlier, four cows were found dead under mysterious circumstances on the road in Rampura Phul subdivision.

The Station House Officer (SHO), local police station, when contacted, said that a case under Section 429 of the IPC had been registered against the unidentified accused for torturing the cows to death. He added that four severely injured cows had been given treatment.

He added that as per the information gathered by the police, some miscreants brought a truckload of cows in this area in the wee hours and then pushed the cows out of the moving vehicle. In this process, eight cows died and four were injured. The dead cows were buried after a post-mortem.


Power panel shown black flags
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 27
Members of the Kisan Sangarsh Committee (KSC) greeted the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission by raising slogans against it and holding black flags outside the Bachat Bhavan here today.

The four-member regulatory commission, headed by Mr R.S. Mann, was at a meeting when the KSC members were protesting. Fifteen members were allowed to present their demands to the commission.

Mr Kulwinder Singh Pannu, convener of the KSC, commented that whereas industrialists and businessmen had been invited to present their views, farmers had been ignored. They demanded resumption of free electricity supply to farmers, non-privatisation of the PSEB and no retrenchment of its employees. He said the cause of losses to the PSEB is rampant corruption, which its officers do in connivance with industrialists.

Mr R.S. Mann said the commission would consider the demands of farmers while presenting its report in April.


Rs 40 lakh grant for villages
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, February 27
The Punjab Government has released a special grant of Rs 40 lakh for the development of villages falling under the Fazilka and Abohar sub divisions which were severely affected by the recent squall and heavy rainfall.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Raminder Singh, said Jandwala Meerasangla village in the Fazilka sub-division would be developed under the rural development programme of the central government and an amount of Rs 1 crore would be spent for the purpose.


Show-cause notice to 4 ultrasound centres
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 27
The Appropriate Authority for Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act-cum-Civil Surgeon, Sangrur, yesterday issued show-cause notices to four ultrasound units for the violation of various provisions of the PNDT Act.

Talking to TNS, Dr J.R. Bansal, Civil Surgeon, said the show-cause notices had been issued to the ultrasound units of Sangrur and Bhawanigarh on the report of a three-member inspection team, comprising Dr M.K. Bhalla, in charge of the team, Dr P.S. Klair, a child specialist and Dr (Mrs) Pritibha Bansal, a gynaecologist, which had been formed by him. He said the team had inspected four ultrasound units at Sangrur and one at Bhawanigarh on February 25.

Dr Bansal said he had issued show-cause notices to Sangrur Scan Centre, Sangrur, Khosla Hospital, Bhawanigarh, City Ultrasound Centre, Sangrur, and Raikhy Nursing Home, Sangrur, for the violation of various provisions of the PNDT Act. He said the owners of the ultrasound centres had been given one week to file their reply, otherwise legal action would be taken against them.


Decision reserved in Sidhu’s case
Our Correspondent

Ropar, February 27
The Special Judge, Ropar, Mr A.S. Kathuria, today reserved the decision on the application of former Chairman of the PPSC, Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, challenging the statement of Jagman Singh, his one-time associate, as public approver for March 4.

In the proceedings held today, the arguments in the case were finished. In another development in the case, Bhupjit Singh on whose complaint the vigilance sleuths caught Sidhu was cross-examined by the counsel of Ravi Sidhu. The next date of hearing in the case has been fixed as March 26.


Thandal’s bail plea rejected
Our Correspondent

Ropar, February 27
The Special Judge, Ropar, Mr A.S. Kathuria, today rejected the bail application of former Minister of State for Food and Civil Supplies Sohan Singh Thandal, who was arrested on charges of corruption. His judicial remand has also been extended till March 3.

The court, however, allowed him to attend the bhog ceremony of his mother-in-law at Tuto Majra village in Hoshiarpur district on March 3.


Godhra carnage condemned
Our Correspondent

Batala, February 27
Activists of the Vishva Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena, Mahadev Samaj Sudhar Sabha and Batala Jagran Manch here today took out a procession and staged a dharna in protest against the Godhra carnage last year. Mr Ramesh Aggarwal, president of the local VHP, urged the gathering and organisations to come forward for the construction of the Ram temple at Ayodhya.


Case against Modi adjourned
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 27
Duty Magistrate Mandeep Pannu today adjourned the hearing of the criminal case filed against Gujarat Chief Minister Narinder Modi by Punjab Ministers Partap Singh Bajwa and A.S. Samra till March 24.

Earlier, counsel for the ministers submitted an application in the court, seeking exemption from the personal appearance of he complainants in the court, which was accepted by the magistrate.


Harassment at naka alleged
Our Correspondent

Jandwala Meerasangla (Abohar), February 27
The police promised the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, during his visit to this border village last Wednesday that 100 constables would join the kar seva to rebuild the houses damaged by the squall.

But when the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Raminder Singh, visited the village yesterday to monitor relief operations, he was told by residents that the police was harassing visitors to the village. They alleged that at the naka put up at the crossing linking Jandwala Meerasangla with the defence road, all vehicles were being stopped and occupants harassed on various pretexts.


Coach dead

Patiala, February 27
Joginder Singh Jogi, basketball coach and sports writer, died yesterday after suffering a heart attack. Mr Jogi, besides coaching several school teams, also imparted sports training to mentally-challenged children.


Man held for raping daughter
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 27
The police arrested a resident of Majitha last evening on a charge of raping his minor daughter. The accused was arrested after it was reported that he forced his daughter to undergo abortion. A nurse was also arrested for conducting the abortion.

According to information, the accused, whose wife had died more than a year ago, had allegedly been raping her daughter for a long time.

A brother of the accused lodged a complaint against him. The police raided the house of the accused and arrested him and his sister involved in the abortion and the nurse. The police has also recovered the aborted foetus.


Attempt-to-murder case for abortion
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, February 27
An attempt-to-murder case has been registered against a nurse who allegedly conducted an illegal abortion. An ultrasound machine has also been seized as it was being run by an unauthorised person in the name of a fictitious doctor.

Civil Surgeon Inderjit Kaur Walia raided the clinic of the nurse, Sudesh, following a complaint that she had conducted an abortion on a patient. The patient, who is a resident of Angad Dev Colony in the city, developed complications and was referred to A.P. Jain Hospital here.

The Civil Surgeon said the patient had to be shifted to Government Rajindra Hospital at Patiala after her condition turned serious. She said medicines meant for the termination of pregnancy were seized from the clinic of the nurse.

An attempt-to-murder case has been registered against the nurse for unauthorisedly conducting the operation for which she was not qualified.

Dr Walia also visited other ultrasound centers in the city today. Senior Medical Officer Amar Singh Azad also accompanied her. She said deficiencies were found at the Shanti Chowdhary Ultrasound Centre being run by Dr Savita Dhawan. It was revealed that there was no doctor by the name of Dr Shanti Chowdhary and that ultrasound tests were being conducted by an unauthorised person. The Civil Surgeon said the ultrasound machine had been seized and was presently in the custody of Senior Medical Officer, Rajpura. She said a legal case was also being initiated in this regard.


Mother, 2 kids commit suicide
Our Correspondent

Ropar, February 27
Harinder Kaur of Dakala village, near Ropar, has allegedly committed suicide along with her two minor children Aman Preet and Raman Deep by consuming a pesticide.

The police has registered a case under Section 174 of the CrPC.


Youth held for rape
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, February 27
A school-going girl of Takhutachak village was raped by a youth of the same village. The police has registered a case under Sections 376 and 506 of the IPC.

Police sources said here today that the accused had been identified as Subheg Singh, who has been arrested.


Warrants against 2 in beating case
Our Correspondent

Mansa, February 27
The Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mansa, Mr Harsh Mehta, today issued arrest warrants, returnable on March 24, 2003, against Jatinder Singh Saggu, a former Tehsildar, Mansa, who was dismissed in the wake of the PPSC recruitment scam, and Jai Chand Parinda, a former Naib Tehsildar Mansa now posted at Talwandi Sabo in Bathinda district, as they failed to appear in the above court despite service of summons upon them by the court.

The arrest warrants were issued by the court against the above officials on the complaint of Mr Satpaul Singla, a local deed writer. The court also issued arrest warrants, returnable on March 24, 2003, against Parinda in an another complaint of defamation filed by a local advocate, Mr Harcharan Singh Mansahia, against him.


Rajan lauds Guru Gobind Singh philosophy
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 27
Students and staff of Mata Gujri College, Fatehgarh Sahib, observed ardas divas yesterday. On this day students performed kirtan after the bhog of Sri “Akhand path”. On this Occasion Dr Y.S. Rajan, VC, Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, and a scientist of international repute, took part in the celebrations as chief guest.

Addressing the gathering Dr Rajan said he learnt the philosophy of Guru Gobind Singh when he was only nine through the writings of Subramanium Swami in Tamil. He said he had been fortunate enough to get the opportunity to serve in Punjab. He said Punjab was on top in infrastruture development. He said the students of Fatehgarh Sahib were more lucky as compared to others, as they got spiritual strength from this great land.

Dr Rajan, while interacting with faculty members of the Management and Commerce Department, said education system should be developed according to the needs of the society. He said it would not be enough to impart just bookish knowledge to the students, rather we should aim at making them fit enough for the market. He said the industrial sector would recognise professionals only when it believed that they were competent enough to solve their problems.

Dr Y.S. Rajan said different institutes might be allowed to have different syllabi, but the condition was that they should make their students relevant for the market. “The market accepts only quality professionals and it is the need of the hour to give quality education to our students if we want to compete with the world,” he said. He cautioned that with the opening of the education sector to the whole world under the WTO regime our survival would be in peril, if we did not improve upon ourselves in the matter of quality education.

Dr Gurmohan Singh Walia, Director-Principal of the college, welcomed the Vice-Chancellor and said they were privilged to have a person of such a high status with them. He spoke about the history of Fatehgarh Sahib. Dr Walia honoured Dr Rajan by presenting a memento and a Siropa to him.


More DAV colleges on cards: Chopra
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 27
The president of the DAV College Managing Committee New Delhi, Mr G.P. Chopra, says that it is the duty of private educational institutions to provide quality education.

Talking to “The Tribune” here today Mr Chopra said it was sad the government was shirking from the responsibility of funding higher education in the country. He said the DAV Committee would not give up its endeavour to educate the masses and would establish more institutions in the country.


Corpn blacklists 850 units
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 27
Massive evasion of house tax to the tune of crores of rupees has spurred the municipal corporation authorities here to take stringent action against erring establishment owners to effect the recovery.

The corporation has blacklisted nearly 850 establishments which have failed to pay house tax dues for years together causing loss of income to the corporation. Interestingly in the first list of 80 establishments released for auction of properties to be held on March 4 and March 5, commercial establishments of atleast five ‘mahants’ top the defaulters list.

Mr D.P. Gupta, Assistant Commissioner, MC, says the corporation was forced to take this stand after all other methods to effect recovery failed. He said the properties of mahants were commercial properties which were being shown as religious properties to get the house tax waived. In addition, political pressure too had been applied on many occasions when officials demanded house tax. A collective sum of Rs 5 crore was recoverable as house tax from these establishments.

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