Tuesday, March 4, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Power reforms imperative
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
The proposed power reforms is a livewire issue in Punjab. For fiscal sustainability and rejuvenating the economy, it is imperative that power reforms are properly plugged in for the sake of other reforms.

Acting with political courage, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh first restored tariff on power supply to pumpsets and imposed user charges on canal water and later, appointed an 11-member expert group, headed by Mr Gajendra Haldea, to suggest power reforms to corporatise, unbundle and privatise the PSEB.

The draft report on power reforms is now ready for discussion, which is likely to take place on March 6, with a presentation to the Chief Minister. Thereafter, its report is to be made open to public for debate before a final decision is taken to break the PSEB, a monopolised monolith.

The broad recommendations of the Haldea expert group are corroborated by the World Bank policy note on ‘’Key reform challenges in Punjab’’ received last week. The recommendations revolve around, 1) A clampdown on theft of power through legislation, 2) higher tariff for consumers 3) regulating power to the agricultural sector through metering to avoid water wastage 4) reduce overstaffing through a voluntary retirement scheme and 5) restructuring high-cost debt profile.

As per the Haldea report, only 52 per cent of the total power supply is billed. Agriculture consumes 23 per cent of the total power, which is unmetered and the PSEB suffers 25.5 per cent losses in transmission and distribution. Out of this the technical losses are 17 per cent and theft 8.5 per cent. But the Punjab Electricity Regulatory Commission says agriculture consumption is 20 per cent and transmission, distribution and theft losses 28 per cent. Now anti-theft draft legislation is ready. It is likely to be tabled in the Budget session of the Vidhan Sabha beginning March 14.

The bottomline of the report is to ensure ‘’reliable power at competitive and affordable tariff to all categories of consumers, rationalisation of tariff, reduction in transmission, distribution, theft loses, curtailing employees’ cost and introducing competition by setting up Powercom, a holding company, one independent transmission company, one generation company each for hydel and thermal power and three or more distribution companies for proper functioning of the PSEB.

The proposed transmission company is expected to ‘’wheel’’ power on payment and not engage in either buying or selling of power. The most radical recommendation, however, is ‘’open access’’ to transmission and distribution on the new telecommunication policy system.

Among several other recommendations, the Haldea group has suggested converting an outstanding government loan, aggregating Rs 4,537 crore, into equity of the like amount. Coupled with existing equity of Rs 2,806 crore, the total would be Rs 7,343 crore. Of this, Rs 5,000 crore may be allocated as equity of successor companies other than Powercom. This can then be serviced in lieu of the current provisions for interest on government loans and return net fixed assets. The balance equity of Rs 2,343 crore cannot be serviced out of consumer tariffs and may be parked in Powercom and recouped subsequently from the proceeds of disinvestment.

That the PSEB is terminally sick is borne out by the fact that its cash losses are estimated around Rs 600 crore, including impact of drought, at the close of 2002-03. Incidentally, it received Rs 950 crore as subsidy from the government in 2002-03, which is about 1.3 per cent of the Gross state domestic product (GSDP) and its fiscal burden is 2 per cent of the GSDP.

The group stresses on ‘’quality’’ power to rural areas and recommends that the supply be raised by 15 per cent per annum, over the next five years. Every additional 100 MW in generation and supply would add to the PSEB losses by Rs 70 crore per annum.

Concerned at the ‘’overstaffed’’ PSEB, it recommends downsizing by 15,000 employees through an attractive voluntary retirement scheme. In fact, consumers in Punjab are paying 70 paise per unit for meeting the board’s establishment costs alone.


Manjit Singh: charges figment of sick mind
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 3
Former Keshgarh Sahib Jathedar Prof Manjit Singh today in an open letter to people released here, said that Sikh Panth must analyse whether the allegations against him were the figment of the imagination of a “sick mind”.

Prof Manjit Singh said he was ready to face Giani Bhagwan Singh and others who supported the allegations levelled against him in case Mr Jasbir Singh Khannawala was made the arbitrator. He said he was ready to reply to any question before Mr Khannawala.

The former Jathedar said that charges of having embezzled crores of rupees against him were false. He said he had only a 160-square yards house in his name and had not acquired any other land or property during this tenure as Jathedar of Keshgarh Sahib. He said he had gone abroad on the invitation of Sikh organisations and most of his foreign trips were sponsored by non-Sikh religious forums for taking part in programmes.

The letter written by the former Jathedar, asks SGPC chief Kirpal Singh Badungar, whether it was not true that former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had come to his (Manjit Singh’s) house to ask him to intercede with Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra before elections to the office of the SGPC President. He asks Badungar whether it was not true that he (Badungar) had not liked the move.

Prof Manjit Singh on the allegation of his being close to Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh said Mr Badungar had rung him up and congratulated him on giving a ‘siropa’ to Capt Amarinder Singh. He said that he had never met the Chief Minister except on this one occasion and that he had not taken any benefit from him either for himself or his family.

Prof Manjit Singh said as far as allegations about the Trust formed by him at Anandpur Sahib were concerned, the Gurmat Sagar Trust was running an Ayurvedic hospital, Drug De-addiction Centre and Meditation Centre, all of which were related with community development.

AMRITSAR: Talking to The Tribune on telephone today, Prof Manjit Singh said that he had at least 12 cassettes apart from some “explosive material” to unmask the “so called Panthic leaders” in the coming days. Prof Manjit Singh said that he might pen his memoirs. He claimed that the persons who had levelled charges of corruption and moral turpitude against him would be exposed by bringing the cassettes before the ‘Sikh Sangat’.

To a question, Prof Manjit Singh said that his fight would continue till the persons who had ‘hatched a conspiracy’ for his ‘unceremonious removal’ were ‘punished’ by the Sikh clergy as per Panthic traditions.

He said he took as Jathedar, Keshgarh Sahib when militancy was at peak and ‘discharged’ his religious duties ‘honestly’.

Prof Manjit Singh said that he had not received any communication from the SGPC regarding his removal or charges against him so far.

He posed 10 questions to Mr Badungar. He asked if it was ‘anti-Panthic’ to honour Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, during his visit to Anandpur Sahib, especially when he had already honoured Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Capt Kanwaljit Singh. He said it was a fact that the Akali government was formed after a rapprochement among the warring Akali factions on his (Prof Manjit Singh) initiative in the past.

He alleged that he had to pay price for bringing a rapprochement between Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra which was not liked by him (Mr Badungar). Mr Badal visited his residence for requesting him to initiate ‘unity talks’ with Mr Tohra, he added.

Prof Manjit Singh asked why additional charge of Jathedar Damdama Sahib given to him when he was ‘corrupt’ or faced charges of moral turpitude? Prof Manjit Singh said whether ‘non-implementation’ of the directive of Sikh clergy for allowing baptised Sikh women to perform seva by the SGPC was not ‘anti-maryada’? He said though the Religious Advisory Committee of the SGPC had recommended that Sikh women be allowed to perform ‘kirtan’ inside the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple but no decision was taken.


“Have charges probed by neutral Sikhs”
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 3
Former Jathedar Keshgarh Sahib Prof Manjit Singh seems to have lost faith in the present set-up of ‘Sikh high priests’ and he has urged Bhai Jasbir Singh Khannewale to hold a meeting of five other ‘neutral Sikhs’ in the presence of holy Guru Granth Sahib to probe the charges levelled against him.

Prof Manjit Singh, who himself remained Jathedar, Takht Keshgarh Sahib for 13 years apart from having been acting Jathedar, Akal Takht, chose to get the charges investigated by neutral Sikhs and not by designated ‘high priests’.


SHSAD mobilising people on farmers’ issues
Tribune News Service

Dhanaula (Sangrur), March 3
The Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) today launched “jantak laambandi” (mobilisation of people) campaign seeking Rs 700 per quintal as minimum support price (MSP) for wheat and rollback of fertiliser and diesel prices and against the alleged “wrong” and “anti-people” policies of the Central and state governments at a religious function here. It called upon the people to join the stir to be called by the SHSAD soon.

The function was held to observe the seventh death anniversary of Sant Baba Jagat Singh ji at Gurdwara Gursar Patshahi Nauvin here, managed by Sant Baba Tek Singh Dhanaula who is also district president of the SHSAD.

Launching the campaign, Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, General Secretary of the SHSAD, said a deputation of the SHSAD would meet the Punjab Governor tomorrow at Chandigarh to brief him on the demands of the farmers and persuade the government to accept the demands of the farmers and Punjabis, including Rs 700 per quintal as MSP of wheat and withdrew the increase in the prices of diesel and fertiliser.

Prof Chandumajra said another deputation, led by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president of the SHSAD, would meet next week Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Finance Minister Jaswant Singh to accept the demands of the farmers and Punjabis. He said the deputation would also demand Rs 700 per quintal as MSP of wheat and withdrawal of price hike, Rs 105 per quintal as MSP of fertiliser and diesel of sugarcane crop, exemption to Sikh women from the wearing of helmet and removal of anti trader provisions from the value added tax (VAT) etc.

Prof Chandumajra also said if the demands were not accepted in 15 days by the government the SHSAD with the help of farmer organisations and like-minded parties would prepare for a “rail roko” agitation after the Hola Mohalla celebrations. He said talks with farmer organisations were on. He added a big demonstration would also be held at Chandigarh.

Prof Chandumajra also demanded the withdrawal of toll tax and entry tax in Punjab. He urged the Union Government to hold SGPC elections immediately. He termed the new Excise policy, announced by the Punjab Government, as “dangerous” for Punjab. He appreciated the industrial policy of the state.

Prof Chandumajra lauded Sant Harchand Singh Longowal for his sacrifice. He criticised Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the SAD(A), by saying that Mr Mann “abused” Sikh leaders but himself did nothing worthwhile.

Prof Chandumajra criticised the Amarinder Government allegedly for “misusing” official machinery in the on-going Municipal elections.

Sant Baba Tek Singh, Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhalwan and Mr Sita Singh Munshiwala, both SGPC members, Mr Randhir Singh Rakhra, Acting president of the youth wing of the SHSAD, Mr Nirmal Singh Nimma, ex-MLA, Mr Rajinder Singh Tohra, president of Patiala district unit of the SHSAD, and Mr Chand Singh Chatha, a senior leader of the SHSAD, were also present.


Farmers resent recoveries by bank
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo (Bathinda), March 3
Hundreds of farmers of this subdivision, led by the local MLA, Mr Jeet Mohinder Singh, staged a dharna in front of the Primary Agriculture Development Bank (PADB) here today in protest against the “harassment” of farmers by bank officials on the pretext of recovery of loans.

Mr Sadhu said some bank officials had been harassing the debt ridden farmers, though the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had promised people that no farmer would be arrested for failing to repay loans. He said bank officials had also started troubling kin of the debt-ridden for recovering loans.

He also said the state government was not carrying out any development work in this town and the Centre had ignored the interests of farmers in the Budget.

Later, in various resolutions passed by the gathering, the Centre was urged to increase the minimum support price (MSP) of wheat, reduce the prices of diesel and fertilisers, write off loans of farmers, stop the contribution of farmers in the PADB loans, reduce the rate of interest to 7 per cent on the PADB loans, introduce a crop-insurance scheme, give financial help to farmers, fix crop price before sowing and check the menace of stray animals.

Meanwhile, hundreds of activists of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta) staged a dharna in front of the office of the PADB in Bathinda today to press for the release of farmers who have been arrested for not paying loan installments.


11 elected unopposed to Batala MC
Tribune Reporters

Gurdaspur, March 3
With the unopposed election of 11 municipal councillors of Batala Municipal Committee for which elections will be held on March 9 the chances of the Congress taking over the reins of Batala Municipal Committee, have brightened.

Those who have been elected, include Ms Reva Soni from ward no 13, Subhash Sekhri from ward no 17, Sukhdeep Singh from ward no 21, Ms Sunita from ward no 22, Pardeep Luthra from ward no 26, Ms Manorma Khullar from ward no 28, Anil Sekhri from ward no 29, Tarlochan Chanda from ward no 30, Ms Pinki from ward no 31, Charan Das Chan from ward no 32, and Mukesh Sannan from ward no 33.

The Batala Municipal Committee has a total of 33 wards and elections to the remaining 22 wards will be held on March 9. The Congress sources said Subhash Sekhri who was earlier the president of the Municipal Committee was likely to be the party choice for the post this time also.

With the Congress gaining majority in Himachal Pradesh and unopposed elections of one third of the members of the Batala Municipal Committee, the morale of the Congress workers has been boosted and the party workers feel certain to gain more than two thirds majority in the municipal committee.

Meanwhile, according to a UNI report the SAD and the BJP have decided to boycott the March nine elections in Dera Baba Nanak and Fatehgarh Churian municipal councils in Gurdaspur district alleging favoritism to ruling Congress nominees by election officials.

Stating this here today former minister and senior SAD leader Nirmal Singh Kahlon alleged that five of the seven nomination papers filed by SAD-BJP for these two councils were tampered with by officials on the instructions of the ruling party and were not accepted by them.

The decision to boycott the March nine polls was taken at a meeting of the two alliance partners held at Dera Baba Nanak today.

PATHANKOT: While the presence of rebels of major political parties in the fray has become a common feature during elections, it is for the first time that such a large number of rebels have entered the local municipal council poll arena.

Congress and BJP rebels, contesting as independents are in the fray in 32 out of 33 wards of the local municipal council and they are among the front runners in 12 wards and are in a strong position in some others.

Ms Neelam Bedi, from ward no 26, has been elected unopposed. As many as 131 candidates are in the fray for the municipal council election.

Mr Romesh Tola, Mr Joginder Pehalwan, Mr Sanjay Saini, Mr Billa, Mr Rohit Sayal, Mr Panna Lal Bhatia, Ms Seema Mahajan, Mr Rakesh Babli, Mr Suraj, Mr Maan Singh and some others are among the rebels who were denied party tickets by the Congress and BJP high commands.

AMLOH: The rehearsal of 45 polling parties consisting of five members each, including the Presiding-cum-Assistant Returning Officers was conducted at Indoor Stadium at Mandi Gobindgarh on Monday for the civic poll scheduled for March 9 in 18 out of 19 wards on 38 polling booths, as a candidate from ward no 9 was declared elected unopposed, Mr Amarjeet Singh Shahi, Returning Officer-cum-SDM, Amloh, told the mediapersons.

Mr Shahi further said a meeting of printing press owners has been called at 11AM on Tuesday and of the candidates at 12 noon for guidance to follow the election code strictly, which included permission for mounted and static use of loud speakers, defacement of public or private property and to mention the name of the publisher and printing press on the posters.

The Returning Officer (RO) said 93 candidates were in the fray out of which 18 candidates were contesting on the Congress symbol, while none candidates are contesting on BJP symbol, and the lone candidate Ms Mandhir Kaur is contesting on the SAD (A) symbol of “gadda” from ward no 14. The rest are contesting as independent candidates. It is worth mentioning here that no candidate is contesting on SAD or SHSAD symbol in spite of the fact that the council chief belong to the SAD.

FEROZEPORE: In the Guruharsahai Municipal Committee elections, out of a total of 13 wards, 11 candidates aligning to the ruling Congress have been declared elected unopposed. According to Mr Ravi Sharma, General Secretary, DCC, the Congress party led by the MLA Guruharsahai, Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, has taken up the cudgels for the development of the area due to which the residents of the Guruharsahai were posing a great deal of faith in them. The candidates who have been elected are: Anish Kumar (ward no. 1), Amrita Vohra (ward no. 2), Baldev Sethi (ward no. 3), Vijay Kumar (ward no. 4), Seema Narula (ward no. 5), Neelam Rani (ward no. 6), Niranjan Singh (ward no. 7), Parveen Bala (ward no. 8), Deepak Awala (ward no. 12) and Sukhbir Awala (ward no. 13). The only ward where the ruling party is facing a tough contest is ward no. 10 from where Mr Sham Lal Bitta of the Shiv Sena is giving Congress a tough time.

FAZILKA: As many as 4 Congress candidates have been declared elected unopposed by Bhupinder Singh Saharan, SDM-cum-Assistant Returning Officer, Fazilka for the civic body elections with the withdrawal of nominations on Saturday evening. Those elected, include Gurbakshish Kaur from ward no. 14. Of these Gurbakshish Kaur is the wife of outgoing Congress Municipal Councillor Parmjit Singh who has earlier won the election twice from this ward. Hari Chand is also a former Municipal Councillor. The other two elected unopposed are new faces. Total 140 candidates had filed their nomination papers for 21 wards of which 11 were rejected. As many as 52 sets of nomination papers were withdrawn leaving 77 candidates in poll fray for 17 wards where elections are to be held. There is virtually direct contest between the Congress and BJP candidates in 16 wards while in ward no. 2 the BJP is supporting an independent candidate. There is no candidate of SAD in the fray as they could not produce the authority letter for allocation of symbol in time hence they are contesting elections as independent.


MC poll: withdrawal over, canvassing on
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 3
Hectic political activities have started after the completion of the withdrawal of the nominations for the municipal councils of Bassi Pathana, Mandi Gobindgarh and Khamano towns of the district, where elections will be held on March 9. But the election to the Sirhind and Fatehgarh Sahib municipal council has been deferred due to fresh delimitation of wards. Moreover, certain Congress councilors have challenged the notification issued on February 7 by the Local Self Government regarding the delimitation in the high court,which has issued a notice of motion to the state government for March 28.

There is enthusiasm among the candidates and their supporters as the candidates have started intensive campaigning. The candidates prefer door-to-door canvassing and corner meetings instead of organising public meetings. They are also avoiding the support of any political party or group and rather prefer to call them as Independents.

For Bassi Pathana there are 52 candidates in the fray for 13 wards, for Mandi Gobindgarh there are 93 candidates for 18 wards.

Mr Jagmeet Singh Sahota, state unit president, Anti-Terrorist Front, has been elected unopposed from ward No.9. Mr Gurkirpal Singh Ashk, a leading journalist of the area, is also contesting election from ward No.1 at Mandi Gobindgarh.

For Khamano Nagar Panchyat there are 32 candidates for 11 wards.

Dr Harbans Lal, Minister for Forests ,is taking keen interest and camping in his constituency to ensure the victory of his candidates in Bassi Pathana.Similarly Mr Sadhu Singh, Congress Maxis making all-out efforts to ensure the win of his candidates at Mandi Gobindgarh,the richest municipal council in the state. He has been organising corner meetings and door-to-door meetings. Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon,Congress Maxis camping at Khamano to ensure the victory of his candidates.

Meanwhile, the district administration has made all arrangements for the smooth and peaceful conduct of the civic elections in these towns. Mr Vikas Pratap, Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Electoral Officer, said in all these towns 61,435 voters would exercise their right of franchise. He said 14,40 and11 polling booths had been made for Bassi Pathana, Mandi Gobindgarh and Khamano towns, respectively. The DC said 450 employees had been put on election duty and their first rehearsal had been completed. He said all polling parties would report to the returning officers on March 8 and they would be sent to the polling booths along with polling material in the evening. He said on March 9 polling would start at 8 a.m. and would close by 4p.m. He said as per the directions of the Election Commission the counting of the votes would start after the polling and the result would be announced by the respective returning officer there.

Mr B.Chandra Sekhar, SSP,said all security arrangements had been completed for the peaceful polling. He said most sensitive and sensitive polling booths had been identified at all these towns and additional security arrangements would be made at these polling booths. He said there were two sensitive booths at Bassi Pathana, five at Mandi Gobindgarh and two at Khamano. He urged the candidates to help the administration in maintaining peace. He said no one would be allowed to take law in his hands.


NRI’s death: murder charge added
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 3
The case of an NRI’s death at a marriage function on February 23 has taken a new turn as Section 302, IPC, was added to the case yesterday. It was only after this that body of the NRI, Mohan Singh of Raipur-Rasulpur village was cremated after a week yesterday. Earlier, the case had been registered under Sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others), 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common cause) of the IPC and 25, 27, 54, 59 of the Arms Act.

However, the family members of the 28-year-old Mohan Singh had been insisting on the addition of Section 302 and arrests of the suspects. They had refused to cremate the body till the acceptance of their demands. The body had been kept all these days in the Sacred Heart Hospital, Maqsudan. The family members relented only after three persons were nabbed by the local police and the murder section was added to the case and cremated the body of Mohan Singh at his native village Raipur-Rasulpur in Jalandhar district amid heart-rending scenes yesterday.

UK-based Mohan Singh had come to attend the wedding of Jaswinder Singh of Reru village in Jalandhar district at the local Windsor Palace on February 23. He was killed after gunshots were fired by some baratis. Initially, it was thought to be an accidental death but later it turned out to be otherwise.

The police has already arrested Jagmohan Singh of Raipur-Rasulpur village who was a friend of the deceased, Jatinder Singh, alias Lucky, of Sarabha Nagar, Jalandhar and Avtar Singh, father of Jaswinder Singh, the groom, in this connection. The police is looking for main suspect in the case — Bikramjit Singh Khehra, alias Bikkar, president, Yuva Janata Dal, Punjab, in this connection but he has been evading arrest.

Jagmohan Singh, Jatinder Singh, alias Lucky, and Avtar Singh, who were arrested on charge of murdering Mohan Singh were today remanded into judicial custody till March 17. Meanwhile, it was learnt tonight that the prime suspect in the murder case Bikramjit Singh Khera, alias Bikar, president, Punjab Yuva Janata Dal, had been denied anticipatory bail.


Young lovers killed by girl’s kin
Tribune News Service

Bhodipur (Jalandhar), March 3
Two young lovers belonging to the Dalit community were allegedly done to death with sharp-edged weapons by an uncle and other relatives of the girl at the girl’s house in this sleepy village on the Nakodar-Kapurthala road today.

The incident has shocked Nakodar-Kapurthala belt. It took place around 12.30 a.m. when Jasbir Singh (22) of this village said to be in love with Sunita Rani (22) also of this village, entered her room at night. Noticing Jasbir Singh in her daughter’s room, mother of Sunita Rani, also sleeping in the same room raised the alarm and bolted the door of the room from outside.

Following this Sunita’s father, Mohinder Singh, and uncles Phula Singh and Bagga Singh armed with lethal weapons along with Monu, a cousin of Sunita, entered the room and killed Jasbir Singh and Sunita.

After the incident Phula Singh (45) left the house and concealed himself in a farm house near Noorpur Chatha village from where he was arrested later in the morning. The police also recovered a number of sharp-edge weapons and a nylon rope from the room where they were killed. Later, Giano, mother of Sunita, was also arrested. They admitted that they had killed them after finding Jasbir Singh in Sunita’s room. Three other accused, including Monu, Bagga and Mohinder Singh, who fled after the incident are to be arrested.

Enquiries revealed that Jasbir Singh and Sunita were in love and had planned to marry, which was objected by the parents of Sunita. Jasbir Singh’s younger brother, Balbir Singh said that his brother had been receiving letters from Sunita Rani and they used to meet regularly.

The killings came to light after the parents of Jasbir started a hunt for him. They were told by Sunita’s neighbours that they had heard some “unusual” noise in his neighbourhood early this morning.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, said police team had been sent to nab the accused, booked under Sections 302, 148 and 149 of the IPC.


Corruption voted out in Himachal: PPCC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
Mr Parminder Singh, General Secretary, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, has described the landslide victory of Congress in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections as a categorical rejection of the communalisation of Indian politics by the BJP. The manipulation of ghastly events by the fanatic spitfires in Gujarat to suit the electoral politics of the BJP will always remain a stigma on the face of our glorious democratic traditions. The people of Himachal Pradesh deserve appreciation for not falling into the saffron ‘Hindutva’ election trap of the BJP, Mr Parminder Singh said.

Reacting to the statement of the Prime Minister, Mr Parminder Singh said: “Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee is a very senior and seasoned politician and his statement indicates that the policies of the BJP have caught up with the party not only in Himachal but even the top leadership of the BJP is plagued with factionalism.

“By wiping out the BJP from Himachal, the people have voted against blatant corruption in public life. It is also a vote against inefficiency and non-performance of the BJP government in the state” .

The dubious attempts of the BJP to camouflage the issue of corruption with communal frenzy have fallen flat to prove that secularism has its deep roots in Indian minds. The Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, has earned the blessings of the common man by exposing the corrupt at the highest levels in public life. It is high time to take the torch to Himachal Pradesh to provide a clean and efficient government under the foresighted leadership of Mrs Sonia Gandhi, he concluded.


Lal Singh violated election code: Mittal
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 3
The Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh, has violated the code of conduct for elections by issuing a statement regarding the abolition of octroi in the state from July 1. With a number of municipal councils in the state going to the polls, the statement of Mr Lal Singh is aimed at attracting voters. This was alleged by Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, a BJP leader and former Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Food and Civil Supplies, at a press conference here today.

Mr Mittal further said by making the statement, the minister had also violated the code of the Punjab Assembly as the Budget session for the state had already been announced. As per the code of the House, once the session was announced, a minister could not make any policy statements outside.

The BJP had urged the state Election Commission to take suo moto notice of the statement of the Punjab Finance Minister and take appropriate action against him, he said.

Mr Mittal further alleged that the SAD-BJP suspected a large-scale rigging in the forthcoming municipal council elections in the state at the behest of the Congress. At many places the candidates of the SAD-BJP had reported anomalies in the voter lists.

In Ropar, serious anomalies had been reported in some wards. The party candidates had been asked to make a list of the anomalies in the voter lists in their respective wards. The SAD and BJP leaders would present the anomalies before the state Election Commission and the media, he said.


Overseas Cong chief greets Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
Mr Balwant Kapoor, a freedom fighter and President of the Indian Overseas Congress, London, who is camping in Chandigarh, has congratulated the government of Punjab for completing one year in office by providing the state with a clean and transparent people’s government.

This achievement, he said here today, would not have been possible without the able guidance of Mrs Sonia Gandhi, President, AICC, and the leadership of Capt Amarinder Singh. Mr Balwant Kapoor also mentioned the significant role of Capt Amarinder Singh and his team who had been constantly contributing to the party’s achievements. The recent case was the Congress party’s sweep in HP where a significant role was played by Capt Amarinder Singh.


Justice J.V. Gupta is BVP chief
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, March 3
Justice Jatinder Vir Gupta, retired Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, has been appointed national president of the Bharat Vikas Parishad (BVP) in place of Justice M. Rama Joyaas, who was appointed Governor of Jharkhand by the Union Government.

This was stated by the state general secretary of the BVP, Mr Chander Mohan Sharma Alpna, while talking to newspersons here today. He said Justice Gupta was working as acting president of the parishad. Mr Sharma said a state-level meeting of the BVP, scheduled to be held on March 16 at Gurdaspur, would honour different units of the BVP of the state.


Two kidney trade victims released from jail
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 3
Seven migrant labourers were enticed to donate their kidneys for Rs 1 lakh but instead landed in jail.

Vijay Kumar (25) and Kasim (24) were recently released from prison after having undergone two-and-a-half-year jail term. The two penniless donors were helped by Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, BJP leader, who pooled money to sent them back to their village.

Two of seven donors died merely a week after donating kidneys, these two labourers told this correspondent here today. They have not still come out of trauma. Vijay Kumar and Kasim had left their village in Bihar to earn bread for their families and were working as a helping hand in a marriage place on daily wages. One day they along with five other persons were standing at labour chowk when they were approached by four persons who offered them a job in Amritsar.

The persons whom Vijay recognised later were Rajan Puri, an advocate, Rahul Khanna, Ravi Arora and Rahul Arora. They kept the two in a room, located near the Jalandhar chungi in Amritsar. Kasim said around four men were already in that room. They were paid Rs 100 daily without any work for a fortnight. Later they were told to part with their organs.

They were severely beaten up on refusal and were promised Rs 1 lakh each. Eventually, they decided to part with their kidneys.

Vijay Kumar said he gave his kidney to a resident of Gurgaon. He stayed with the recipient for nearly two months at his place before parting with his kidney. He said Dr Sareen and Dr Jain at Kakkar Hospital operated upon him. However, the promised money was not given to them. Instead touts implicated them in fake cases and they were sent to jail.

Mrs Chawla said she had written to the Human Rights Commission and the state government to grant compensation to the victims of kidney racket.


Driver arrested in kidney scam
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 3
The Special Investigation Team today arrested driver of Kakkar Hospital ambulance Gorakh Ram in the illegal kidney donation scam. The SP, Mr Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, told The Tribune that Gorakh Ram had admitted to have disposed of bodies of some of the kidney donors who had died during operation or later.

The SP said that Gorakh Ram told the SIT that he had on the directions of Mr Hardyal Mehta, manager of hospital, the transplant surgeon and prime accused, Mr Parveen Kumar Sareen, and other doctors, Dr P.K. Jain and Dr Bhupinder Singh Sandhu, that he had been taking the dead bodies of the kidney victims for cremation during the past three years for consideration.

Gorakh Ram was earlier produced in the court and was remanded in police custody till March 6, added Mr Singh.


Blocked sewers: people take to streets
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 3
Residents of Bambay Bazar took to streets to protest against overflowing sewerage in their area here today. The Commissioner, corporation, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir led a team headed by an Executive Engineer to clear the blocked sewerage aggravated by polythene litter. Expressing the helplessness of the corporation in face of severe fund crunch, Mr Jasbir said the disposals were designed to cater to 90 tubewells but now number of tubewells have risen to 224 and hence could not cope with the additional burden.

The situation in holy city remains grim as at least 40 per cent of the area in the corporation jurisdiction does not have any sewerage facility and 35 per cent of the population under the municipal corporation here continue to remain deprived of potable water supply.

An ambitious project for the augmentation of water supply and sewerage schemes formulated in 1998 during the Akali-BJP regime to the tune of Rs 50 crore has failed to take off despite desperate conditions due to alleged mismanagement of corporation funds, by former government.

However, no headway was possible due to tight financial conditions here, as only a fraction of the amount of Rs 8.11 crore was released in two loan instalments in 2000 and 2001 and the corporation has expressed its inability to pool its share for it. While 50 per cent of amount was to be taken as loan from HUDCO, the state and corporation share was 30 to 20 per cent, respectively, towards the projects.

The corporation has informed the local government that it was paying an interest of Rs 28 lakh quarterly for earlier instalments while it has to pay a principal loan of Rs 55 lakh even as schemes remain stalled for want of additional funds. The Commissioner, however, assured that the corporation budget this time would incorporate “special provisions” for these projects for the first time. He said the corporation was trying its best to enhance income to fulfil its responsibilities.

At present the corporation holds pending liabilities of more Rs 19 crore to contractors for works executed, payment of electricity bills to the PSEB, pension contribution, DA, audit fees, election charges while work remains incomplete in many localities. Meanwhile sewerage spillovers and rain water has made life hell for residents of the Sultanwind area where hundreds of houses are surrounded by filthy stinking water.


Cops spying for private individuals?
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 3
Has the Jalandhar police been snooping on some journalists, officials and politicians and seeking details of calls made from their mobile telephones during the rule of the previous government? The answer seems to be in the affirmative if some officials and the other sources and instances are to be believed.

The snooping, in most of cases, was done not for security reasons, but some private and influential individuals. These persons had paid a huge money for getting secret information that could be used for defaming their targets.

Politicians, journalists and officials were not the only targets; illegal police help was also sought by some affluent persons to spy on their spouses or partners.

A representative of a mobile-telephone company had said in a local court that the police had sought details of calls made by some journalists, politicians and officials, without disclosing the reasons for doing so. This, in a way, authenticates apprehensions that the police was acting at the behest of some influential persons.

The modus operandi used was to send official request to senior officials of the Intelligence Wing that the details were needed for security reasons. In most cases, the details were, instead, supplied to some influential persons. In one such case a well-connected person had distributed defamatory pamphlets against some journalists, politicians and officials, during the SAD-BJP regime.

Legal experts, when contacted, said the way the police had used this method, it was an open case of violation of the right to privacy.


Police recommends action against SHO
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 3
Perturbed over yesterday’s violent protest by the relatives of Roop Lal, a resident of local Santokhpura locality, following the recovery of his mutilated body from the railway track near Tanda Chowk here on Saturday, the district police has recommended strict departmental action against SHO of Government Railway Police (GRP) for his failure to timely register a murder case.

While the GRP authorities here had earlier conducted an inquiry under Section 174 CrPC following the recovery of mutilated body of Roop Lal (24), who was engaged in light and sound work with a local shopkeeper, the parents and relatives of the victim alleged that the police was trying to hush up the case by not registering a case under Section 302, IPC, even as Roop Lal was murdered with sharp-edged weapons.

Harbans Lal, father of the deceased, said the body of his son had been thrown on railway tracks after the ‘murder’ to make it look like an accident. He alleged that the police was trying to shield the culprits involved in the crime even as the employer of the victim was behind the murder.

Agitated over inaction on the part of the police to book the accused, hundreds of residents of Santokhpura and family members of the victim blocked traffic at Kishanpura Chowk and raised anti-police slogans. The local police reached the spot and tried to pacify the agitating residents, but to no avail.

Later, succumbing to public pressure, the GRP authorities registered a case under Section 302, IPC, even as no arrest has been made in this regard so far.

Meanwhile, the district police chief Mr Varinder Kumar, in a report submitted to the DIG (Jalandhar Range), Mr Rohit Choudhary, has suggested that the ADGP (Railways) should be approached to initiate strict departmental action against the SHO of GRP police station for negligence in discharge of official duty.


Security at Retreat ceremony up
Our Correspondent

Wagah (Amritsar), March 3
The beating Retreat ceremony was observed here amid tight security today after stone pelting incident was reported from the Hussainiwala border in Ferozepore district yesterday.

A number of plain-clothed BSF and intelligence personnel mingled among the crowd who came here to watch the ceremony today to thwart any attempt at mischief.

A fire brigade and ambulance were requisitioned for any emergency services in view of heightened emotions after India-Pakistan cricket match that led to the incident yesterday. BSF personnel had pre-instructed the crowd to raise slogans in praise of India but not against Pakistan. Some Pakistani youths were beaten by Pak-Rangers after they continued to abuse India.

Visitors had to pass through metal detector checks before being allowed to be seated.

No common man was allowed at zero point. A Fiji national Swarn Kumar suffered a heart stroke during the ceremony and was immediately rushed to hospital. Mizorma Governor, Mr A.R. Kohli also visited the retreat ceremony today.


Running from pillar to post
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 3
Mr Gurdip Singh, a company commander with the Punjab Home Guard, has been running from pillar to post for promotion despite orders from the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Talking to this correspondent here yesterday, Mr Singh said the state government had promoted some of his juniors. He said when he approached the high court, it ordered that his case should be cleared as per the rules within two months of the receipt of the orders. But the state government had been sitting on the orders eversince these were issued in May, 2002.

He said despite voluminous correspondence with senior functionaries of the department and the state government he was yet to be promoted while his juniors had been promoted.

The department had told him that his case would be cleared at the next meeting of the Department Promotion Committee. However, it was not being convened on the pretext that the government had banned promotions.

No senior official of the Home Department was available for comments.


DPRO office gets computer, scanner
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 3
A computer system along with a printer and a scanning machine has been installed at the District Public Relations Office here for the convenience of the media as well as government functionaries by philanthropist Vimla Devi Goyal in memory of her late husband V.P. Goel.

The facility was formally inaugurated by Ms Goel at a simple function organised at the DPRO office which was also attended by the Patiala Welfare Society president, Mr Vijay Kumar Goel, and the District Public Relations Officer, Mr Ujjagar Singh.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Ujjagar Singh said the facility would enable the office to ensure quick release of information about government activities to both the print and the electronic media.

He lauded the social works started by late V.P. Goel including holding of medical camps and arranging special aid for deaf and dumb children in the city.

Mr Purshottam Goel, son of Mr V.P. Goel, who is also a patron of the District Red Cross Society, also announced his commitment to donate Rs 70,000 for organising a free eye check-up camp at Government Rajindra hospital.


Bail granted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday granted bail to Punjab MLA Ajit Singh Kohar in an alleged cheating and corruption case. He was earlier booked by the Vigilance Department in a case registered under Sections 420 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code, besides under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. 
According to the prosecution, the petitioner, in 1999, had purchased land by way of benami transaction in Faridkot district and had also obtained five tube- well connection in the names of relatives on priority basis. Seeking the grant of bail, his counsel had contended that the petitioner had been implicated in a false case.


7 get interim bail in benami land deal
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 3
Seven residents of Haryana, including Kulbir Singh, Amir Singh Manjeet Singh, Balwinder Singh, Pardeep Singh, Sandeep Singh and Kanwarjit Singh, who were booked in the benami land deal in Nangali and Kashirpur villages of Ropar, were today granted interim bail till March 6 on furnishing a bond of Rs 20,000 and a surety bond of Rs 20,000 by the special judge Ropar, Mr A.S. Kathuria.

Earlier, the said persons through their counsel had moved an application for anticipatory bail in the said court.

After hearing the plea of the accused the judge besides granting interim bail also directed them to join the investigation till March 6.

Meanwhile, the sources said the parties of the police which raided various hideouts of the accused in Haryana had returned empty handed.

As reported earlier in these columns the said residents of Haryana have been booked on the suspicion of buying 350 acres in Nanglian and Khairpur village of Ropar on behalf of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister, Punjab, and Haryana Chief Minister, Om Prakash Chautala. A few of the accused are also known to be close family friends of Chautala family.


Police helplines launched
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 3
With the launch of helplines by the police the women and children can hope of getting assistance immediately in case of a crisis. These helplines will work round the clock.

The SSP, Mr Ishwar Singh said in a press note today that three new helplines had been established in the city, one each for helping women and children and tackling traffic related problems. He said these helplines had been established in the city so that the problems faced by these members of society are solved immediately.

The women helpline number is 1098. The SSP claimed that after getting information about an incidence of harassment, the incharge of Women Cell, Station House Officer and a gazetted officer would be informed about it and they would be asked to go to the scene of the crime.

The child helpline number is 1091.

The district police chief said the residents stranded in traffic jams could take help from police by dialling telephone number 103.

The information about road accidents could also be given on this number. The information given on the number would be immediately given to traffic police in charge, mobile patrolling police station concerned and a gazetted officer for taking action.

Mr Ishwar Singh said these helplines had been set up at the police control room. He added that special police personnel would be appointed for attending the helpline calls.


City gears up for CM’s visit
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 3
With only two days left for the visit of the Punjab Chief Minister in the city, the district administration has started a war-footing operation to give a “clean” look to the city.

The Chief Minister will attend the third convocation of Giani Zail Singh College of Engineering and Technology and a kisan mela to be organised by Punjab Agricultural University. The PAU VC, Dr Kirpal Singh Aulakh, will also attend the kisan mela.

He will also visit the historic Kila Mubarak and lay the foundation stone for Transport Nagar.

The Bathinda-Goniana road, which had been officially declared “un-motorable” is being repaired. At Transport Nagar, special road rollers have been pressed into service to construct a road.


Mizoram Governor visits Golden Temple

Amritsar, March 3
Mizoram Governor A.R. Kolhi, visited the holy city and paid obeisance in the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple here today.

The head priest of the Golden Temple gave him the robe of honor. Later, he also visited the Durgayana Temple. PTI


Medicines seized in raids on drug firm
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 3
A special team of the Punjab Health department seized medicines and raw material worth Rs 85,000 in a special raid on a local drug-manufacturing company today. The company was, allegedly, involved in unlicenced sale, distribution and manufacturing of drugs.

Mr O.P. Chabra, Civil Surgeon, said officials of the Ayurvedic Wing of the Health Department from Chandigarh and the local drug inspector had raided the premises of Herbalways Nutrition in Mann Nagar here today and seized the medicines and the raw material.

He said the firm was, allegedly, manufacturing drugs without obtaining the mandatory permission from the authorities concerned. “The Punjab Health Minister, Mr Ramesh Chander Dogra, acting on a complaint against the firm, has ordered the special team to probe the allegations. A drug-manufacturing machine has also been confiscated,” he said.

The health authorities have conducted the raid under Section 33 EEC (c) of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1940.

When contacted, the owner of the company, Dr J.S. Mann, refuted the allegations against the company and said no incriminatory substance had been seized from the spot, as he was manufacturing only those food supplements, for which, no licence was required. “My business rivals had asked the health authorities to conduct the inspection,” Dr Mann said.

Meanwhile, the health authorities have decided to hand over the case to the district police.


Two Punjab IRB personnel killed in Tripura
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 3
Two personnel of the Punjab Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) were killed in a road accident, near Barapani, in Meghalaya yesterday while returning after the completion of election duty in Tripura.

Disclosing this here today, IRB Inspector-General of Police, Dr P.M. Das, said the deceased had been identified as Head Constable Satnam Singh of Dakoha village in Jalandhar district and Constable Manjit Singh of Jalalabad village in Tarn Taran police district. He said a few other personnel had also been injured in the accident who had been given first aid at the Civil Hospital in Shillong and had been discharged.

Dr Das said the bodies of the deceased were being brought to Punjab by aircraft and by road. He said the bodies were expected to reach their native places tonight and would be cremated with full State honours tomorrow.

The police officer said the truck which had met with the accident had been provided by the Tripura Government. He said the truck had hit the hill after it got out of control adding that the reason behind the incident, was still to be verified. He said meanwhile the Director-General of Police, Tripura, had telephonically told him that the Punjab battalion had conducted itself as a ‘’shining example of security duty”. He said the Fifth Battalion of the IRB was the only state force in the country which had been deputed for duty in the North-East due to its special training in counter-insurgency operations.


Farmer murdered
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 3
Mr Sukhdev Singh, a farmer of Bagha village was allegedly done to death by two brothers Mewa Singh and Kulbir Singh and their father Ram Singh when the deceased resisted the throwing of soil in his field by the accused.

Police sources said there was a dispute between them over the deepening of common water course. Residents of the village had brought a compromise among them few days ago. However, yesterday, both the parties indulged in heated exchange and the accused murdered Sukhdev Singh. A case under Section 302 and 34 of, IPC, has been registered on the complaint of Mr Kulwant Singh, son of the deceased.

In another case, a widow, who was resident of Gidderbaha town of Muktsar district, was allegedly raped by a ayurvedic practitioner in Abohar town. He allegedly took her in his car on the pretext of arranging a job for her in Punjab Oil Refinery project at Phulokhari village in this district yesterday.


Two die after consuming liquor
Tribune News Service

Bhucho Mandi (Bathinda), March 3
Bhura Singh (60) and Laxman Ram (55), both residents of this town, today died after allegedly consuming liquor in large quantity. Police sources said while Bhura Singh died on the spot, Laxman Ram died in Civil Hospital here.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that Bhura Singh, who was a bachelor, used to consume liquor daily. Today also he and Laxman Ram consumed liquor. Police personnel, who reached the house of Bhura Singh, late evening today, were collecting information about the source from where he had brought the liquor.

Mr Ram Kumar, son-in-law of deceased Laxman Ram, while confirming the fact that his father-in-law had died due to consumption of liquor, said he did not know whether it was country-made or illicit distilled one.

The in charge of local police chowki, said that post-mortem examination of both the dead bodies would be conducted to know the exact reason of death. A case had been registered.


Burglary at two religious places
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, March 3
More than 10 armed persons looted Dera Baba Bhagti Nath and Mandir Brahm Shivala on the Ropar road, here in the early hours of today morning. They looted thousands of rupees.

A person at Dera Baba Bhagti Nath, Baba Shukar Nath, said that the dacoits had asked him to open the doors of the dera, claiming that they were policemen who had come to the dera for a search. As he opened the door, they tied his arms and of his pupil and took away an amount of about Rs 10,000 from the room. The dacoits, then entered the Brahm Shivala Mandir which is next to the dera, after locking the dera from outside.

They knocked at the door of the room of the mandir priest, Mr Vishnu Prasad, but he refused to open the door. Afterwards the dacoits went inside the pooja sathan of the temple and looted thousands of rupees which had been offered on the day of Shivratri.

Many persons gathered at the local police station today, including Mr Anil Sood, President Nagar Panchayat, a former sarpanch Vinod Bhatia, president Durga Shakti Mandir Ashok Sood, Mr Ashok Kumar Hedon Wale, Mr Vijay Kumar Mohindru, a former councillor, and Mr Om Parkash Bahri, who expressed concern over the incident and urged the police to arrest the culprits at the earliest.


Punjab announces eligibility criterion
Admission to technical courses
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
The Punjab Government today announced the general eligibility criterion for admission to various technical courses being run in the State, including graduate, post-graduate and diploma courses in engineering and technology, architecture and pharmacy as well as modules being offered by the industrial training institutes (ITI’s). A formal decision in this regard was taken by the Mr M.S. Kaypee, Technical Education Minister.

The minister said here today that in a move that would impart a strong fillip to “self-study” and “group study” culture, all the students who had passed the qualifying examinations as “private candidates” had also now been declared to be eligible for admission.

The previous restrictive policy of limiting admission only to “regular candidates of recognized institutions” had led to a number of court cases, and it had now been decided to do away with the same.

Giving details, the Secretary, Technical Education, Mr K.B.S. Sidhu said that, as before, 85 per cent of the seats would be reserved for Punjab domicile candidates. However, the children, wards and dependents of employees of Punjab Government departments, and boards or corporations or statutory bodies or companies or co-operative societies set up or owned or controlled by the Punjab Government, including those established by or under an Act of the State of Punjab or a Central Act, by the Punjab Government, shall be eligible against the Punjab quota, even when the employee is posted outside the State of Punjab. Similar exemption would also be available to officers of all-India services borne on Punjab cadre.

Mr Sidhu clarified that Punjab domicile students could also be considered for admission against the 15 per cent all-India seats, reserved for non-Punjab students, if the latter were not available in sufficient numbers. The Punjab candidate, in such eventuality, shall be permitted to take up these seats, strictly as per merit and eligibility.

It was also clarified that a student of non-Punjab domicile would not be able to take benefit of 85 per cent Punjab quota, even if he had passed the qualifying examination from any institute situated in the state of Punjab.

Mr Sidhu reiterated that admission to graduate courses in engineering and technology would be effected only on the basis of the merit list of the common entrance test (CET) to be conducted by Punjab Technical University, on May 23, 2003, and for diploma courses on the basis of the joint entrance test (JET) to be conducted by the Punjab State Board of Technical Education. Passing the qualifying examination would, however, be a pre-requisite.

The Secretary also revealed that the reservation policy would be the same as in the previous year, although some clarifications would be issued shortly.


Teachers put on exam, poll duty simultaneously
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, March 3
Even as the annual examinations of 10th and plus two classes to be conducted by the Punjab School Education Board are to commence from March 5 and annual examinations of sixth, seventh, ninth and plus one classes are to begin from March 6, a large number of teachers have been put on poll duty for municipal council elections to be held on March 9.

Thanks to lack of coordination between the Education Department and the Civil Administration in some cases, the teachers are put on dual duty on same dates.

Mr Raj Kishore Kalra, spokesperson, Government Secondary Teachers’ Union, in a statement here today said thousands of teachers had been assigned supervisory duty for conducting the examination in different centres. Their job has already begun with the receipt of question paper packages from today. Surprisingly, many of them have been put on poll duty on March 9.

Moreover, officers of the PSEB and representatives of the state Election Commissions in their directive have stated that the duties are compulsory and any teacher violating the directive shall face disciplinary action.


Ex-students display works at alma mater
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 3
Five artists practising diverse art forms and dreams but with the same feeling of love and affection for their alma mater have come together to showcase their best at a unique exhibition being organised at the Museum of Fine Arts of the Punjabi University.

The students — all of whom are former students of the Department of Fine Arts — are presently exhibiting their works under the exhibition titled — Rangeet Leni. The works, which include paintings and drawings highlights their growth as fine artists, says Department Head Dr Saroj Chaman.

The works of Subhash Chander, who is presently teaching Art at a local college, stand out for their striking nature, be it the paintings or the installations. In his paintings, Subhash has experimented with bulls. He has used shades of green to arrive at the essence of the activity being pursued by the bulls whether it is in full motion or just a still form. Shapes do not matter to Subhash when he is painting his bulls but the mood does. In his lone treatment of blue oil on bulls, Subhash creates an ethereal atmosphere while bathing his bulls in moon light.

Subhash has also excelled in painting scenes depicting village life which are a set of water colours. He has tried to capture the daily chores of village women along with the traditional motifs.

Amandeep Kaur, another former student, has used symbols of birds and a parrot to convey the real necessity of life in her paintings on display at the exhibition. These include paintings which show a woman’s complete communication with nature as well as another one showing different levels of fulfillment.

Another old student Gurbax lives life through his paintings. In dire straits he has painted his canvas in one colour and scratched it to make figures. These are inspired by the robotic life of the migrants working in industries in Ludhiana. His Macabre paintings show how a worker is forever chained. An interesting painting in this collection includes a study of ocean life which shows that there are some things which cannot be destroyed.

Parveen, a revolutionary, makes his figures fleeting and floating into space without any prohibition. In fact, he tries to explore space within space in an attempt to break all fetters and capture fleeting images as they flow out of reach.

Jaspal, a young person with a creative imagination, tries to weave everything in lines. In his drawings which are on at the exhibition, Jaspal converts the dot into line to make a text of his own.

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