Sunday, March 9, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Polling for civic body elections today
Tribune Reporters and Agencies

Chandigarh, March 8
As many as 75 more municipal councils and three Nagar Panchyats in Punjab will go to the polls tomorrow in the second phase of civic polls in the state.

Polling will be held from 8 am to 4 pm.

The Punjab State Election Commission here confirmed the deployment of CRPF personnel at sensitive stations in Ferozepore district, while the state administration has already suspended 18 officials and charge-sheeted 88 others for tampering with the voters’ list.

The BJP apprehend misuse of official machinery by the Congress government in the state in tomorrow’s civic polls as they alleged rigging in the March 3 polls to the 11 Municipal Councils and two Nagar Panchayats.

The Congress has so far expelled eight local leaders from the party in Pathankot district on the charges of conspiring against the official party candidates.

HOSHIARPUR: Of 180 polling stations in eight Municipal Councils in Hoshiarpur district 51 have been identified sensitive for the Municipal elections. Mr Kirandeep Singh Bhullar, Deputy Commissioner cum District Election Officer Hoshiarpur stated this here today. He said that in Hoshiarpur Municipal Council seven polling stations and 18 booths were identified as sensitive. Special arrangements had been made for polling in all sensitive polling stations. Extra police force had been deployed at all sensitive polling stations and booths. Besides, mobile patrol had been set up to meet emergencies. A police officer for the rank of DSP with mobile telephone service had been deputed to watch the situation.

Polling would be held from 8 am to 4 pm on March 9. Counting of votes would be started soon after polling. Returning officers of the respective Municipal Council would declare the result, he added.

Keeping in view the Municipal Elections all liquor shops within the radius of 6 km of boundaries of all Municipal Councils have been ordered to be closed on Sunday in the district.

Sale and serving of liquor in restaurants, clubs, ahatas and hotels etc. and its storing without licence on the same day have also been banned.

TARN TARAN: A senior Congress leader has demanded of the party to clarify in respect of wards no. 5, 9, 11, 12, 18 and 19 the candidates of the of the party.

The Congress failed to put candidates from these wards. There are total 19 wards for this Municipal Council and the Congress has put only 13 candidates for this. The senior party leader alleged in certain wards the party was hand-in-glove with the SAD candidates. The party said to be divided here and different groups are supporting different candidates in the town.

PATHANKOT: Less than 24 hours are left for the polls. The Congress may improve performance in Pathankot and Sujanpur compared to last Municipal elections, in which the Congress was defeated.

The Congress and the BJP appear to have a close fight in eight Wards out of 32. One Congress candidate Neelam Bedi has been declared elected unopposed.

Rebals of the Congress and the BJP contesting as independents are among the front runners in six wards and are in a position to tip the scales in some others.

Romesh Tola, Seema Mahajan, Joginder Pehalwan, Panna Lal Bhatia, Vijay Kumar all Congress rebels and Maan Singh are BJP rebels.

In Sujanpur, Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, Punjab Minister has been canvassing for his son Mr Naresh Puri, Secretary, Punjab Youth Congress and other 12 Congress candidates.

The BJP has fielded candidates in all 13 wards but main contest is between the Puri group and the Viney Mahajan group.

Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, on Friday held five rallies in Sujanpur and exhorted people to vote for the Congress.

Thirty-two wards of the Pathankot and 13 wards of Sujanpur Municipal Council would go to polls tomorrow.

Mr Puneet Goel, SDM-cum-Returning Officer said 88 polling booths have been set up at 32 wards of Pathankot and 20 booths at Sujanpur at various places.

According to police sources 19 booths of Pathankot and eight booths of Sujanpur have been declared hyper-sensitive.

MALOUT/GIDDERBAHA: Congress candidates in the Malwa region are finding it difficult to make an impact in campaign due to the absence of senior party leaders. Former Chief Minister and SAD president, Parkash Singh Badal, former Union Minister Sukhbir Badal and MLA, Manpreet Singh Badal along with them family members have been campaigning for party candidates.

A tour of towns of the Malwa region, revealed that infighting in the Congress and the absence of senior party functionaries were affecting Congress campaign.

Presence of Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Sukbir Badal has boosted morale of the SAD-BJP alliance candidates. Congress candidates contesting on the party symbol had been depending upon the police and government machinery for wooing the voters.

Mr Manpreet Singh Badal has been concentrating on the Gidderbaha Municipal Council elections alone.

Official Congress candidates have been facing rebels in this town. Congress unit in this town is divided into groups and subgroups. Differences between DCC, Muktsar president, Avtar Singh Sidhu and former Congress MLA of Gidderbaha, Raghubir Singh have come to the surface again in Municipal Council elections.

Congress candidates have been trying to meet all voters of their wards for seeking votes, Mr Badal has been blaming the Congress government for halting development in the state. He has also been alleging the use of the police and government agencies to intimidate voters. Local issues like lack of amenities in towns is being used by candidates for seeking vote. Money and liquor are also used to woo the voters.

The police has made elaborate security arrangements for polling to be held tomorrow. The state Election Department has appointed senior IAS officers as election observers for different towns.

KAPURTHALA: The Deputy Commissioner her today clarified some of the reports regarding discrepancies in the voter lists for the local Municipal Council.

He said the discrepancy is occurred as Sub-Divisional Magistrate-cum-Electoral Registration Officer, Kapurthala made modification in the electoral roll after final publication on November 29, 2002 as per the schedule stipulated by the Commission.

He added that the SDM, Kapurthala failed to clarify whether these modifications after the stipulated date have been effected under Section 31 or 32 of the Punjab State Election Commission Act, 1994 or in pursuance of the enquiries into complaints arising out of final publication of electoral roll.


Border towns tense, CRPF yet to arrive
Tribune News Service

Jalalabad (Ferozepore), March 8
Tension has been building up in border towns of Abohar, Fazilka and Jalalabad of Ferozepore district, where polling for Municipal Council elections will take place tomorrow. The government as yet has not started the deployment of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in these areas as per the order of State Election Commissioner (SEC), C.L. Bains, issued yesterday.

The government has so far has not posted an SP-rank officer of the Punjab Police from outside the Ferozepore district to maintain law and order in these towns as ordered by the SEC.

“The ball now is in the state government’s court. Let us see what action the government takes on my order issued in connection with the deployment of the CRPF in these towns as the situation is volatile there,” said Mr C.L. Bains today.

The State Election Commission, following the situation in these three towns has also appointed an observer in the Ferozepore district. Mr D.S. Guru, an IAS officer has been appointed observer for Abohar and Fazilka Municipal Council elections while Mr P.S. Aujla, another IAS officer, has been appointed observer for Jalalabad and Guru Harsahai Municipal Council elections.

On a complaint from a few candidates of Jalalabad town, supported by the BJP and the SAD, on the gunmen provided to Congress and Congress-supported candidates, the SEC had ordered the District Electoral Officer-cum-Deputy Commissioner, Mr Raminder Singh and SSP, Parveen Sinha to provide gunmen to non-Congress candidates and told them not to discriminate against any candidate on the basis of the party.

Official sources said that in the seven towns of Ferozepore districts, including Abohar, Jalalabad and Fazilka, where the Municipal Council elections would be held tomorrow, about 124 non-gazetted officers and 1709 of other ranks of the Punjab police have been deployed. The deployment of Punjab Police personnel on sensitive booths had been made in adequate strength. There are 53 sensitive polling stations in these seven towns.

Commandos of the Punjab Police have also been deployed in almost all pockets where the polling would take place. The police has seized more than 180 licenced weapons.

Mr Raminder Singh, Deputy Commissioner, added that there was no tension in any of the towns where the elections were going to be held. He said that deployment of the CRPF in three towns was the job of state government and he had so far not received intimation from his superiors that the CRPF was going to be deployed.

He pointed out that the administration had received information that a few miscreants from Haryana and Rajasthan states could infiltrate for supporting various contestants and could vitiate the atmosphere. For this, the administration had set up special ‘nakas’ in different pockets.


All set for Dera Bassi MC poll
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, March 8
Though the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the state government not to count votes of the Dera Bassi Municipal Council elections without permission, candidates in fray were seen leaving no stone unturned to ensure their victory.

After the last date of the election campaign, candidates from various political parties along with their supporters today conducted a door-to-door campaign.

They organised meetings. In some wards, where the contest is triangular, monetary sound candidates were reportedly offering money to rivals seeking favour of their vote banks. They were indulging in various kinds of unfair means and throwing dinner and cocktail parties for the voters.

On the other hand, the local administration had claimed that elaborated security arrangements had been made for the elections.

Mr Amrjit Singh Dhindsa, returning officer-cum-SDM, Dera Bassi, said security cover at all 13 polling booths had been tightened. Additional three companies of Punjab Police Commandos had been deployed in the township to avoid any untoward incident.

He said polling staff had been given necessary stationary and directed to conduct polling process unbiased and peacefully.

A strong room had been set up in Community Centre for the safe custody of ballot boxes.

To avoid any untoward incident during polling process for the Dera Bassi Municipal Council and counting of votes polled for the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat, liquor shops and vends in the vicinity had been closed.

Mr Dhindsa warned that stringent action would be taken against those persons who would try to create nuisance during the polling, and counting processes.


MC poll schedule announced
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 8
Though five Congress councillors have challenged the notification issued by the Local Self-Government Department regarding the new delimitation of wards of the Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib Municipal Council in the High Court and the latter has issued notice of motion to the state government for March 28, the State Election Commission, in a communication to the district administration, today issued the schedule for the council elections.

Elections to the Municipal Councils of Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib, Khanna and Doraha will be held on April 5. Giving details of the poll schedule, the District Electoral Officer, Mr Vikas Pratap, said the notification for the elections would be issued on March 24. The last date for filing nominations will be March 27.

Scrutiny of the papers will be done on March 28. The last date of withdrawal of candidature will be March 29. The elections, if necessary, will take place on April 5, and the poll process will be completed by April 7. He said polling would take place from 8 am to 4 pm. The results would be declared on the same day.

The councillors had challenged the delimitation on the grounds that the wards where SC and BC population was on the high side had not been reserved for them as per government guidelines, whereas the wards reserved for these categories had maximum general category population, alleging that the delimitation had been done under political pressure.


Firing incident on poll eve
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, March 8
There is tension in the Fateh Chak locality falling under ward no 10 after the firing incident last night. Both candidates are seeking election to the Municipal Council. The police here has registered a case under Section 336 of the IPC but Mr Narinder Bhargav SSP said that firing was yet to be confirmed.

According to information a few miscreants fired two shots into the air last night when supporters of Mr Manjit Singh Dhillon, independent candidate, and Mr Ranjit Singh Sandhu of the Congress Party contesting election from the ward no. 10 of the municipality were passing side by side. Supporters of both candidates are blaming each other for the firing. No arrest has been made so far.


SAD candidate picked up, released
Tribune News Service

Malout, March 8
Tension gripped the town late in the evening today when the police picked up the SAD candidate for ward number 3 for the municipal council elections to be held tomorrow.

The situation took an ugly turn when hundreds of Akali workers gheraoed the local police station and forced the police to release the candidate.

Meanwhile, many SAD workers went underground late in the evening when the police allegedly started arresting them on flimsy grounds.

Mr Sukhbir Badal, former Union Minister, alleged that a section of Congress leaders had been openly threatening the Akalis against seeking votes for their party candidates.

He added that the sales Tax Department officials had also been pressed into service to force traders to vote for the Congress candidate.


Sharma gets judicial custody
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 8
A local court today turned down the request of the Punjab Vigilance Department to extend the police remand of the Punjab Chief Warden (Zoos) Dr Vinod Sharma and three others and instead remanded all of them in judicial custody till March 22.

Besides Dr Sharma, the Vigilance Department had arrested Deputy Director Gurpal Singh, Inspector Sukhdev Singh and former ticket booking clerk Rajinder Kumar on March 4 on charges of committing irregularities on the purchase of meat and fodder besides recycling entry tickets to the Chhatbir Zoological Park.

Dr Sharma was produced before Duty Magistrate Mewa Singh. The Vigilance Department claimed that it needed further 10-day remand of Dr Sharma to investigate the issue of felling of some trees in Chhatbir Zoo besides investigating the cause of death of some animals who had died due to various reasons. The department claimed that it needed time to dig up carcasses of the animals to investigate the case.

Earlier, the Vigilance Department while first producing Dr Sharma in court after his arrest, claimed that it needed to operate the locker of Dr Sharma besides investigating the meat contract for the supply of buffalo meat to the zoo at very steep rates by a Saharanpur-based firm. It had also claimed, that it wanted to approach the banks to verify fixed deposits in Dr Sharma’s name.

The Chief Warden’s counsel, Mr Vijay Sharma, claimed that the new points raised by the Vigilance Department were frivolous and aimed at harassing Dr Sharma. He said his client had been cooperating with the Vigilance Department since August, 2000 when an inquiry was initiated by the department against Dr Sharma. He said the Vigilance Department could not substantiate any of the charges levelled against Dr Sharma following which the inquiry was shifted to the Forest Department for departmental inquiry. He said the Forest Department had inquired into the case and subsequently filed the case when the allegations could not be substantiated.

The counsel said after the change in government in the state, the old case was reopened by the Vigilance Department. He said Dr Sharma had been cooperating with the inquiry and had also produced all documents required from him. He said due to these circumstances no case was made out for granting further police remand.


Sikh scholars divided on Nanakshahi calendar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 8
The Nanakshahi calendar is unlikely to be implemented by the coming Baisakhi as announced by the SGPC chief as Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, in a volte-face, announced that he would take all Panthic organisations and Sikh scholars into confidence before its implementation after finding Sikh scholars divided over the issue, at a seminar organised here today.

Earlier, Jathedar Vedanti announced on January 16 this year that Nanakshani calendar had been accepted by Akal Takht keeping in view the aspirations of the Sikh panth. He had also announced that the anniversaries of Gurus would be fixed as per Nanakshahi calendar while the festivals (Bandi Chhor Divas — Divali etc) would continue to be celebrated per previous dates till the consensus was evolved.

The next meeting of the 11-member committee constituted by Akal Takht has already been fixed for March 10.

At the seminar on ‘Nanakshahi calendar’, presided over by Jathedar Vedanti, the Sikh scholars failed to reach a consensus. The Canada-based Sikh scholar who is the author of the calendar also attended the seminar and gave details of the ‘Jantri’.

Mr Purewal claimed that his calendar was part of Sikhs’ religious identity. Many alleged that its implementation would create confusion leading to unsavoury situation. However, Mr Purewal claimed that since Gurpurbs celebrated according to lunar dates of the Bikrami calendar, these occur on different dates of the Common Era calendar from year to year. Since the Bikrami Calendar is based on the length of sidereal year, its months wander in seasons — the relation of the months with seasons as given in Gurbani is changing. He claimed that both these problems had been resolved in the Nanakshahi calendar as its year is based on the length of the tropical (solar) year. Mr Purewal also claimed that Nanakshahi calendar was not copied from Common Era as alleged by his opponents.

Dr Anurag Singh, a Sikh intellectual said that the Sikhs should continue to follow the lunar calendar and they should not become a laughing stock in the eyes of the world by adopting the ‘Christian calendar’. He was of the opinion that Akal Takht must mobilise public opinion on this significant subject. He dismissed the theory of Mr Purewal that Sikhs had been following the ‘Bikrami calendar’ in toto. He said that Gurus themselves had brought desirable changes in the Bikrami calendar as the new year started from the month of ‘Chetra’ instead of traditional month ‘Jetha’.

Principal Santokh Singh, a Sikh scholar expressed apprehensions that implementation of Nanakshahi calendar was not being accepted by many Sikh organisations including two Takhts — Patna Sahib and Hazoor Sahib. He said the 11-member committee constituted by Akal Takht on Nanakshahi calendar was not competent to take a final decision on behalf of the entire Panth. Some of the Sikh intellectuals said that Nanakshahi calendar had already led to the removal of Giani Puran Singh as Jathedar of Akal Takht who was against its implementation. As a fallout of the implementation of this calendar, the then SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur was excommunicated from the Sikh Panth through an edict issued by the then Jathedar Akal Takht, Giani Puran Singh. However, Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, a former SGPC secretary, spoke in favour of Nanakshahi calendar. He said Nanakshahi calendar was based on scientific basis which should be implemented without delay.

Comparison between Nanakshahi and Bikrami calendars


1. This calendar is named after Guru Nanak Sahib, and its year one starts in 1469 CE — the year of the birth of Guru Sahib. The year 533 Nanakshahi (current) begins on 1 Chet Nanakshahi, 14 March, 2001.

2. Based on the length of Tropical year 365d 5h 48m 45s.

3. Days in months 31 or 30; first five months contain 31 days each, and last seven 30 days each — a very simple rule to remember.

4. Fixed leap year rule — last month to have 1 extra day every four years.

5. Fixed dates of Sangrands in Common Era.

6. Permanent relation between seasons and months; will stay according to Gurbani.

7. Gurpurbs fall on fixed dates according to both Nanakshahi and Common Era calendars.

8. All Gurpurbs occur once in every year, according to both NS and CE calendars.

9. Gurpurbs fixed according to solar dates eg 23 Poh for Parkash of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib, and 23 Poh will always occur on January 5.


1. This Samvat is named after Maharaja Bikramajit who is said to have ruled over Ujjain more than 2000 years ago. The year 2058 Bikrami (completed) begins on Chet Sudi 1, 26 March 2001CE.

2. Based on Sidereal year 365d 6h 9m 10s, but some panchang editors still use Surya Siddhanta length of the year — 365d 6h 12m 36s. This erroneous length (Surya Siddhanta) was the one prevalent in the Guru period.

3. Gurpurb dates based on lunar tithis change from year to year in CE calendar.

4. In some years no Parkash Gurpurb of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib, falls while in others it occurs twice in one year of the CE calendar. In 1999 CE there was no Parkash Gurpurb of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib.

5. Gurpurbs fixed according to lunar dates eg Poh Sudi 7, therefore, keep changing from year to year in CE calendar. The lunar year contains 354/355 days while solar year 365/366 days. When ‘Mal Mas’ is added the lunar year becomes 383/384 days long.


Insaaf threatens to move court
Inauguration of ‘unauthorised’ building by CM
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 8
Inauguration of a badminton hall of a local club which is allegedly constructed on encroached land, by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, could snowbull into a major controversy as a social organisation is planning to file a writ petition against the Chief Minister.

The organisation Insaaf International, today alleged that the inauguration of the hall by Capt Amarinder Singh would set a wrong trend. It alleged that the office-bearers of the club and the civil authorities were also responsible for inaugurating an illegal building.

The others who could face rough weather in case the writ petition was filed included the district administration, the municipal council authorities, office bearers of the club and Congress leaders whose names were written on the foundation stone. The Insaaf alleged that all of them were responsible for “patronising” the encroachers.

Capt Amarinder Singh has inaugurated newly constructed Badminton Hall of the local club on March 5. Even the municipal council authorities had sent a notice to the club raising objection about the construction of the hall. What action the authorities would take after issuing the notice is still not known. The Chief Minister has also reportedly announced to give Rs 10 lakh for the club. Various political parties and social organisations had raised objections to it. Dr Vineeta Gupta, General Secretary of the Insaaf International said today the writ petition against the Chief Minister and others would be filed. She said while the slum dwellers had to face wrath of authorities for encroaching on public land, the elite club was being given funds for its development.

She said though a notice was issued to the club by authorities, but after the inauguration of the hall by the Chief Minister, no official of the municipal council would dare to take any action against the illegal construction.


Kiran Bedi, Sunil Dutt awarded degrees
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 8
Guru Nanak Dev University honoured four eminent personalities — Dr Arun Nigavekar, Chairman, University Grants Commission, Dr Anil Kakodkar, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, Mr Sunil Dutt, MP and Dr Kiran Bedi, IPS, with honorary degrees and Pargat Singh, hockey star and Gurpreet Singh “Ghugi” with gold medals in recognition of their commendable contribution in their respective fields at the 29th Annual Convocation held here today.

Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), Governor of Punjab and Chancellor of the university, presided over this convocation while Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, welcomed the guests and degree recipients. Dr Nigavekar, who was the chief guest on the occasion, delivered the convocation address. Prof Arun Nigavekar and Dr Anil Kakodkar were awarded the degrees of Doctor of Science (honoris causa) under the Faculty of Sciences. Sunil Dutt, MP and film star was conferred the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (honoris causa) under Faculty of Music and Fine Arts while Dr Kiran Bedi, IPS, was awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (honoris causa) under the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

While delivering the convocation address, Prof Nigavekar, Chairman, UGC, said higher education system in India was not organised. He said the system had to accept the challenge as demanded by the progressive economy, respond to increasing number of students and had to adjust to limited financial resources.

The UGC Chairman said the UGC Information Network was connecting all universities of the country and was also providing connectivity to the colleges through unlimited hours of BSNL Internet connectivity. Guru Nanak Dev University and its affiliated colleges would be getting this facility under this scheme. He said teachers working in the higher education institutions must have skills to use Internet connectivity. He said the UGC would train the teachers in this through Academic Staff Colleges and specially run programes in various universities.

Congratulating the degree and medal recipients, the UGC Chairman said if they become the masters of their time with a professional work culture, then they would succeed in their lives.

After receiving the Doctorate Degree Dr Kiran Bedi said the institutions should not be judged from infrastructure but from the persons they produce. She advised the young graduates and post-graduates to be honest, courageous and wise to project the true value-based education.

Later, MP and film star, Sunil Dutt said education was the key to eradicate poverty and illiteracy from the country. Decreeing the tendencies of the political parties to divide the society on the basis of religion and caste for the sake of votes, he said the country can become strong if we believe in politics based on values and issues.

Earlier, Dr Anil Kakodkar after receiving the degree said science and technology should be used for improving the standard of life and he assured that the young generation should devote its energies for making the country proud.

Earlier, the university awarded 450 degrees, including Ph.D, M.Phil, M.Tech, LL.M., M.Sc (Hons) and 120 gold medals.


14 N-power stations to be set up: Kakodkar
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, March 8
“Let there be no doubt that India has got strong nuclear deterrents and country is fully capable to protect itself from any adversary,” asserted the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, Dr Anil Kakodkar, here today after being awarded the degree of Doctor of Sciences (honoris causa) at the 29th annual convocation of Guru Nanak Dev University.

He said the country was indeed proud that its nuclear technology had been rated amongst best in the world and comparable to the most advanced nations.

Dr Kakodkar pointed out that the country had managed to build the nuclear deterrents through the use of indigenous technology. He complimented Indian scientists for making the country proud by developing its own nuclear technology. He said this had been achieved in spite of the embargo imposed by advanced countries for the transfer of latest nuclear technology to India.

Talking at length about the advancement in generating nuclear power energy to meet our growing power demand, the Chairman said at present the nuclear power was contributing only three per cent of the power demand by producing 2,720 MW from its eight units. He said by the year 2007-08 the nuclear power corporation would add 14 new stations to meet additional 5 per cent power demand and would generate additional 6,800 MW to supplement the growing needs of the country.

The Chairman said India was indeed proud of its talented nuclear scientists who had been able to develop reactor technology and its nuclear power stations at Kakrapar had been rated for its best performance in the world. Although the similar technology had been used by Canada and Korea but the performance of Indian nuclear power reactors had been adjudged best in the world.

Answering queries about the availability of nuclear fuel, he said there was no shortage of nuclear fuel as the technology, which is based on used uranium, provided adequate fuel to meet the growing demand in the country.

Dr Kakodkar said the commission had received requests from the Punjab Government and other states for setting up nuclear power plants and added that after proper study the final decision would be taken. He said the Central Government had fully supported the nuclear power generation and there was no shortage of funds for adding additional capacity.


Cong expels 3 DCC leaders
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 8
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) has expelled three district Congress leaders, including Mr Joginder Singh, General Secretary Punjab State SC Cell, Mr Surjit Singh Vice President, District Congress Committee, Member PPCC and a relative of Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar MP and Mr Gurcharan Bhandari former President, Local Nagar Council from the party for six years following their anti-party “activities on the eve of Municipal Council elections at Faridkot.

This was stated by Mr Surinder Iqbal Singh, President, District Congress Committee at a press conference here today. In a telephonic message received from Mr H.S. Hanspal President PPCC, Mr Brar said that the Congress high command received several complaints from local Congress candidates that the above three Congress leaders had been working against them and supporting Independent candidates.

Taking serious note of it the PPCC president has also terminated their primary membership of the party. Mr Avtar Singh Brar Vice-President PPCC and Ex-MLA was also present at the press conference. The Congress party has been contesting from 20 out of 21 wards from here. The other Independent candidate Mr Narinder Singh supported by Congress has already been declared elected unopposed.


Plea to make Razia Sultana minister
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 8
Representatives of the Punjab State Muslim Welfare Association and the Punjab Muslim Welfare Council held a meeting at Rajpura yesterday. Mr Noormohammad, president, Punjab State Muslim Welfare Association, presided over the meeting.

This was stated in a press note issued by Mr Rafiq Mohammad, general secretary of the Punjab Muslim Welfare council.

It was decided at the meeting that an appeal should be made to the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, that Ms Razia Sultana should be made a Cabinet minister as a representative of Muslims in the next Cabinet expansion.


Prachar panel to study Jathedar’s letter
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 8
Good news for Sikh women on International Women Day. The SGPC chief today announced that the letter of Jathedar, Akal Takht on the subject of allowing baptised Sikh women to perform seva inside the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple, would be discussed at length at the meeting of the Dharm Prachar committee slated for March 11 at Chandigarh.

In a written statement, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, claimed that the SGPC had never opposed any move allowing women to perform ‘kirtan’ or any “seva” inside the Golden Temple. He, however, said that sincere efforts were on to evolve consensus among the Panthic organisations keeping in view the age-old traditions, Mr Badungar said that the decision to end gender discrimination had to be taken cautiously so that it did not lead to new controversy.

The Sikh High priests including Jathedar Vedanti (he was Priest of the Golden Temple at that time) Prof Manjit Singh, the then Acting Jathedar, Akal Takht and Giani Kewal Singh, the then Jathedar Damdama Sahib were signatories to the edict issued in February 1996 to allow women to perform any seva. The Sikh clerics had ensured the implementation of the edict at that time. On the other hand, the Dharam Prachar committee of the SGPC had also passed a unanimous resolution to allow baptised Sikh women to perform ‘kirtan’ in the year 1940.

However, Jathedar Vedanti was reportedly forced to write a letter to the SGPC to re-open the matter already sorted out much earlier.

Meanwhile about 3500 Sikh foreign-based Sikh women, in a faxed message to Jathedar Akal Takht urged to end gender discrimination.


Border Retreat no longer cordial
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, March 8
Indo-Pak hostilities seem to have affected the once cordial relations between the BSF and the Pakistani Rangers.

If the Retreat ceremony held here daily at the joint check-post (JCP), Hussainiwala, is any indication, the guards participating in the parade exchange hostile gestures during the flag-lowering ceremony almost every evening.

The emblazoned feelings of astute patriotism juxtaposed with the recent development engulf the heart of one and all who visit the JCP these days. The BSF guards and Pakistani Rangers match every step, every motion just to prove they are an edge above their rivals. The raised eyebrows, the stretched shoulders and the daring glances are there to be seen. With the spirit of sacrifice and hatred for the man on the other side largely written on their faces, these sentinels of the nation set the entire neighbourhood ablaze with the thunderous tapping of their feet. Not to be left behind, the civilians who come to witness the electrifying drill also get virtually locked in a slogan war with things really taking an ugly turn sometimes, as it happened last Sunday when crowds on both sides hurled abuses and pelted each other with stones. The incident has come as a surprise even to the BSF, which has augmented the number of guards at the JCP to avoid any unsavoury incident in future.

BSF officials claim that the practice was started by the Pakistani Rangers who instigated their people to raise anti-India slogans and in retaliation, the crowd on the Indian side unable to take it, also began chanting slogans like “Bharat Mata ki Jai, Hindustan zinbadad etc”. Sources in the BSF feel the Rangers may have initiated the practice to attract big crowds on their side as on any given day, the Indian crowd outnumbers the Pakistanis at the Retreat ceremony, but Sunday’s action was more out of desperation and disgust as Pakistan had suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of India in the World Cup in South Africa.

Old-timers fondly remember that until the 1965 Indo-Pak conflict, the frontier areas were manned by the Punjab Armed Police who had good social interaction with the force on the other side. The sentries from the two sides often played kabaddi, volleyball, and cards. At times, the officials used to barge into enemy territory for fun, remembers a veteran official. But now with the situation becoming more and more explosive, in case even an animal or a civilian accidentally strays into enemy territory, there is little room for compassion. Even until the 1971 war when the Hussainiwala border was open for trade and transit, the jawans frequently used to barter gifts. While the Pakistanis loved Indian liquor, films and music, the Indian sentries mostly wanted electronics goods from Pakistan. Greetings were also exchanged during festivals on either side, which has become only a formality now. Joint patrolling was a common sight and getting back a civilian straying into enemy territory through persuasion or official channels was not difficult.

With the emergence of terrorism during the early ’80s, the atmosphere of hatred had set in and now after the Kargil conflict and the attack on the Indian Parliament, the aggression seems to have reached a flashpoint between the two hostile nations.


‘Eschew Pak-centric approach in foreign policy’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
An exercise to bring together doubting minds of China and the USA and Cold War foes Russia and the USA formally began here today between Indian and American intellectuals.

Prof Authur Waldron, Director of Asian Studies of American Enterprise Institute, began the exercise of interaction with Indian experts, drawn from different fields at the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Research (CRRID).

Professor Waldron, who is also chairman of the US-China Security Review Commission and has been engaged in studies on China for three decades, while addressing intellectuals said such interactions with Russia and China by US intellectuals had been able to generate tremendous understanding. He said the institute, funded by small enterprises, was beginning this exercise with India.

Mr Waldron said China had destroyed its culture in a utopian bid of modernity, while India maintained it and was comfortable with its colonial past. He said intellectuals in CRRID and other institutions would lay a foundation for a understanding between the people of two countries.

Former Foreign Secretary Salman Hyder informed the gathering that he had initiated an interaction between the people of Pakistan, Kashmir and India through a non-official channel but got a setback with the heightening of tension between the two neighbours.

The Tribune Editor, Mr Hari Jaisingh, said the USA and its institutions had failed to understand and respond to the sensitivities of the Indian people and advised the USA to think beyond market interests while dealing with India. A rapport between institutions of the USA and India was missing, and there was a need to sustain the dialogue and eschew Pakistan-centric approach of the foreign policy, he added.

A former Chief of the Army, Gen V. P. Malik, (retd) said human security had taken precedence over military security and competition and at the same time cooperation between the people across the globe had created a need for such an interaction.

Prof S.S. Johal said the agriculture and rural economy of Punjab was in disarray and stressed the need for evolving institutions for change and economically empowering the people requiring such an interaction. Former Telecom Regulatory Commission Chairman Justice S.S. Sodhi said the country had failed to educate people on the issues of common interests for democracy.

Maj-Gen Rajinder Nath (retd) said the people of India looked up to the USA as a source of inspiration immediately after Independence but then relationship worsened as the USA focussed on China and Russia.

The Regional Director of Confederation of India Industry, Mr S.K. Bijlani, said the economic structure of the country was changing from Centre-focussed to state-focussed and interaction was required with state governments to help second generation of economic reforms to take off.

CRRID Director Rashpal Malhotra said despite India having more Muslims than Pakistan, there was no institution for the community to help it change.


Canadian group for Bhullar’s help
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
A five-member delegation of the South Asian Human Rights Group of Canada led by Mr Jay Minhas has been lobbying here for the past one week to get the death sentence of Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar revoked.

The Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence of Bhullar in a bomb blast case.

Mr Minhas, who held a press conference here today, said that the delegation had got tremendous response from all concerned. It had met the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Mr Joginder Singh Vedanti, senior Akali leaders, MPs and others who matter in the political and government circles in the country. Mr Minhas said that the delegation would also meet the Union Law Minister late this evening in Delhi.

He said that the issue of death sentence of Bhullar had been raised in the House of Commons in Canada and Parliament of the UK. Even Germany had taken up the cause of Bhullar with the Indian Government, he claimed. He said that Bhullar’s wife was a Canadian citizen and because of this reason, it had become a big issue in that country where capital punishment was done away with several years ago.

He said that it was the first time that the group, an apolitical organisation, had taken up such a case of capital punishment. He said that his group was against all sort of terrorism and had raised its voice against terrorism from time to time. While answering questions raised by certain members in the House of Commons, Mr David Kilgour, Secretary of State (Asia Pacific), assured “We are taking the issue and we will do our best to do what is proper and what are correct reasons for Bhullar’s wife, who is a Canadian citizen”.

Besides Mr Minhas, the other members of the delegation are Mr Adam Bux, Mr Sudarashan, Mr Gurinder Johl and Mr Joseph Lewis. When asked on what grounds, the group claimed that Bhullar was innocent and he should be acquitted,Mr Minhas said that it was a split judgment of the Supreme Court against Bhullar.

The presiding judge in this case, Mr Justice M.B. Shah, differed with his two other colleagues and found Bhullar not guilty and asked for his acquittal while delivering the judgment. Bhullar had been sentenced to death only on the basis of his confessional statement made in police custody. As many as 133 witnesses, who appeared in the Court, did not corroborate the charges leveled against Bhullar.


Coop societies to build cops’ houses
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, March 8
The Punjab Police has taken serious note of the housing problem for police officials and has decided to form co-operative societies in the state. One such society has started functioning in Amritsar. Such societies will be formed in the four big towns of the state in the first stage and then in the rest of the state. This was disclosed here on Thursday by Mr P. Lal, Additional DGP, Punjab, and Chairman, Punjab Police Housing Corporation, who was here to inaugurate a complex of 120 houses constructed by the corporation at the local Police Lines.

Mr Lal said a total amount of Rs 4.11 crore was allotted for the construction of these houses, but the houses had been constructed at a cost of Rs 3.82 crore and an amount of Rs 30 lakh had been saved. This amount would be spent on the development of the local Police Lines. The ADGP further said the Punjab Police in all needed 28,000 houses, out of which 10,000 houses had been constructed and 700 houses were constructed every year.

Mr Lal also addressed a joint meeting of policemen and civilians. It was also addressed among others by Mr Chander Shekhar, IG, Border Zone, Amritsar, Mr G.S. Sahota, DIG, Border Zone, Amritsar, Mr Harmit Singh, local MLA. Mr Narinder Bhargav, local SSP, thanked the chief guest and the civilians.


Statewide rally against govt policies
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 8
The policies of the government during the last decade in the name of economic reforms have affected all sections of society.

These views were expressed by speakers at a protest rally held by the Joint Platform of Mass Organisations (JPMO). Workers, farmers, agricultural labourers, employees, youth and students from all over the state converged at the local grain market.

Mr Chander Shekhar, general secretary of CITU, highlighting the demands of the JPMO, said the labour laws were being violated and discrimination against Dalits and women existed. He opposed globalisation and privatisation and said a broad-based mass mobilisation was the need of the hour.

Several speakers, including Ms Surjit Kumari, president of the Janwadi Istri Sabha, Mr Kulwant Singh Sandhu, general secretary of the Jamhuri Kisan Sabha, Mr Gurnam Singh Daud, general secretary of the Dihati Mazdoor Sabha, Mr Sukhdev Singh, president of the PSSF, Mr Pargat Singh Jamarai, general secretary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Naujwan Sabha, and Mr Tarsem Jodhan, general secretary of Lal Jhanda Bhatha Mazdoor Union, addressed the rally.

It was decided that martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh on March 23, would be observed as “pledge day” by holding meetings and rallies throughout the state.


Rajput Hospital raided
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 8
Following the directions of Dr Harinder Rana, Civil Surgeon, Ropar, the Appropriate Authority of Kharar, under the PNDT Act, Dr S.S. Dhanoa, SMO, Kharar, along with others raided the premises of Rajput Hospital, Kharar.

According to a press note issued here yesterday, Dr Daler Singh, acting as a decoy patient, visited Rajput Hospital yesterday and requested Dr Zail Singh for consultation and medicine for a male child after paying Rs 50 to the receptionist. Dr Zail Singh demanded Rs 5,000 for medicine. Meanwhile, when the consultation was going on the team members entered the hospital premises and collected the required documents. Dr Dhanoa said legal proceedings would be launched against Dr Zail Singh.


Hansraj Hans bereaved

Jalandhar, March 8
Mr Arjan Singh, father of Punjabi singer Hansraj Hans died today. He was 70. He leaves a wife and four sons and two daughters.

Funeral would take place tomorrow at Shafipur village. A number of citizens and singers mourned the death of Mr Arjan Singh. UNI


Dacoits loot villagers, injure six
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 8
Nearly 24 dacoits, armed with sharp-edged weapons, struck at four houses in Jagpalpur and Sikri villages, near here, looted valuables and injured six persons, including two NRIs.

Wearing black uniforms and muffled faces, the dacoits first stormed into the house of Mr Kulwinder Singh at Jagpalpur around 11.30 pm. They decamped with gold ornaments and cash. Then they targeted a labour colony at Sikri village and robbed migrant farm workers of four watches, three radio sets and Rs 6,500 cash. Then they barged into the house of Mr Gurmukh Singh and his brothers and told them that they were policemen and wanted to search the house. Gold ornaments, five watches and Rs 11,000 cash were looted along with silver jewellery and other items. The last target was the house of Mr Hukan Singh at Sikri village. When his NRI brother Gurmej Singh resisted, he was attacked with a sword. Four other family members were beaten up. Cash and household items were taken away.


Another NRI booked for marriage fraud

Jalandhar, March 8
After booking a Canada-based NRI on the charge of bigamy yesterday, the city police today booked another NRI on charges of polygamy and cheating.

Giving details, district police chief Varinder Kumar said a case was registered at police Division Number four here under Sections 406, 420 and 494 of the IPC on the complaint of Kranjit Kaur, a resident of Kanpur village, near Raipur Rasulpur, in the district. It was alleged by the complainant that an NRI Ravinder Kumar of Gandwan village in Kapurthala district, who had visited India in September last year, had told the family of the complainant that he was a bachelor and wanted to marry an Indian girl whom he would take abroad after marriage. The marriage of the NRI to Kiranjit Kaur was solemnised at Sukhchain Tourist Complex here in September last year.

However, when Ravinder did not return to India even after a considerable period the complainant got suspicious and made enquiries and it came to light that Ravinder Kumar had already been married to three women before his marriage to Kiranjit Kaur.

The SSP said investigation was being conducted and efforts would be made to arrest the accused through the Indian Foreign Office. UNI


13 POs arrested
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 8
The district police has arrested 13 proclaimed offenders (POs) who had been evading arrest.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, in a press note issued here said the police had arrested 13 absconders, who had been declared POs, for evading arrest even as they were booked for their alleged involvement in heinous crimes.

He said Amrik Singh of Salarpur village in Nawanshahr district, against whom a case was registered under Section 409, IPC, on November 5, 1973, in Phillaur police station, was arrested after 30 years, while Chaman Lal of Buta Mandi locality, who was booked under Section 326, IPC, on December 12, 1989, was arrested after a gap of about 13 years.

Others who had been arrested were identified as Gurjinder of Rauwali village, Dalwinder Singh of Jandusingha village, Subeg Singh of Raunta village, Bhupinder Singh of New Model House locality, Avtar Singh of Kishanpura locality, Sukhwinder Singh of Sarai Khas village, Ravinderpal Singh of Maqsoodan village, Sukhvinder Singh of Boparai Kalan village, Harvir Singh of Maqsoodan village (Jalandhar), Resham Singh of Bal Kalan in Amritsar and Dev Anand of Jaimal village in Bihar.


Woman held for husband’s murder
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, March 8
Mr Shiv Kumar Sharma, SSP, in a press note issued here today said the police had solved the mysterious disappearance of a resident of Killian Walli village with the arrest of his wife.

Amarjit Singh, a resident of Dabwali, had filed a complaint with the police authorities that his brother, Kuldeep Singh, had been missing for the past two months and he feared that his brother had been killed. The complainant had alleged that the wife of his brother, Paramjit Kaur, had illicit relations with a resident of Shamat Khera (Killian Walli) and they both were missing.

Mr Sharma said during investigations it was found that Paramjit Kaur had eloped with her lover Major Singh, after her husband went missing. Major Singh was a friend of her husband. Kuldeep Singh was a drug addict. When Kuldeep came to know about the relationship he started beating his wife frequently.

Paramjit Kaur who was arrested yesterday, had confessed that she had run away with Major Singh. She also admitted to killing Kuldeep Singh by hitting him on his head using a blunt weapon. Major Singh later dumped the body of the deceased at a secluded place. Major Singh was yet to be arrested. A case has been registered.


Gang of robbers busted, 5 held
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, March 8
The police has busted an inter-state gang of robbers and arrested five of them.

The SSP talking to newspersons here today said two pistols, a rifle and 17 cartridges had been seized from their possession. A stolen truck, and tyres, among other things had also been recovered.

The police had intercepted a truck and arrested its occupants on specific information. A case had been registered under Sections 379, 411, 420, 467, 468 and 471, IPC and Sections 25, 54 and of the 59 Arms Act.


Two held at Raja Sansi airport

Amritsar, March 8
Immigration officials today detained two persons at Raja Sansi International Airport here today on charges of possessing fake travel documents.

An immigration official here said Daljit Singh, a British citizen was detained when his visa was found to be forged. He had alighted at the airport from the Uzbekistan Airlines flight.

The other person arrested was Kashmir Singh of Hoshiarpur district. On scrutiny his passport was found to be forged. He was to board the connecting Turkmenistan airlines flight for Tashkent for his onward journey to London. UNI


2 held, hawala money seized

Jalandhar, March 8
The police today claimed to have busted a hawala racket with the arrest of two and recovery of Rs 8.55 lakh from their possession.

The SSP, Mr Varinder Kumar, stated here today that acting on a tip-off a naka was laid at the Sutlej bridge. During checking an Indica car was intercepted and search of the vehicle led to the recovery of a bag containing Rs 8.55 lakh.

Both the occupants of the vehicle, Om Prakash and Sushma Rani, were arrested. A case has been registered. PTI

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