Tuesday, March 11, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Sikh judicial panel decision today
Manjit Singh’s removal
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 10
Opinion is divided whether the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGPC) could adjudicate on matters relating to Jathedars or not. The commission is to hear the application, challenging the removal of Prof Manjit Singh as Jathedar, Keshgarh Sahib tomorrow.

Sikh intellectuals including lawyers are of the view that the SGPC has no jurisdiction in the case of jathedars as they are not governed by the service rules of the SGPC, another section says the SGPC has already set precedent by serving charge sheet on the then Jathedar Akal Takht, Bhai Ranjit Singh later removed by the SGPC. Senior advocate L.S. Sehmi claimed that the jathedars were above the services rules as they did not receive salary from the SGPC.

However, Panthic leaders have been keeping a close watch on the proposed decision to be taken by the SGJC tomorrow.

Capt Channan Singh of the Sikh Forum Punjab had moved the commission challenging the removal of Prof Manjit Singh as Jathedar, Kesgarh Sahib. The counsel of the SGPC alleged that Prof Manjit Singh wanted relief in the shape of stay, by proxy which had no precedent.

After admitting the petition, the two-member bench of the SGPC, headed by Mr Kashmir Singh Patti and Mr Raghbir Singh have kept the case for passing an order tomorrow. If the commission maintains status quo or passes a stay order then the SGPC won’t be able to appoint a permanent Jathedar of Takht Kesgarh Sahib in place of Prof Manjit Singh. If the commission rejects the petition then the petitioner may move the Punjab and Haryana High Court.


Will Bhai Ranjit Singh be reinstalled?
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 10
Even as Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, have opened channels of communication with the help of mediators, it is to be seen how would both sort out the pre-conditions laid down by the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (headed by Tohra) for Akali unity.

Despite attempts for unity in the past, both factions could not do so as SHSAD pre-conditions including re-installation of Bhai Ranjit Singh as Jathedar and Mr Badal’s appearance at Akal Takht allegedly for denigrating Takhts became hurdles. However, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, a former SGPC secretary and close to Mr Tohra said that a start had already been made with one to one meeting between Mr Tohra and Mr Badal twice in the recent past. “Now both leaders could meet any time without the help of even mediators” he said.

Though Mr Tohra and Mr Badal claimed that they did not discuss the proposal of the unity but it is reliably learnt that both of them had agreed to sort out the matter amicably. It is also clear that during the election to the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee last year the relations between Bhai Ranjit Singh and Jathedar Tohra became strained. Bhai Ranjit Singh had levelled serious charges against Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, president DSGMC, a confidant of Mr Tohra during the elections. After the DSGMC elections there was hardly any communication between Bhai Ranjit Singh and Mr Tohra (except for one meeting).

Efforts are afoot that Mr Badal and Mr Tohra should unite at the fag end of active political life. Moreover the history of the Akali Dal may be repeated as many splits were witnessed in the last about half a century. However, they (the different factions) would forge unity ultimately. Though Mr Tohra and Mr Badal had lambasted each other yet they have realised that both of them had suffered much after parting company since December 1998.

Apart from senior SHSAD leaders like Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Mr Maheshinder Singh Grewal and Mr Tarlochan Singh chairman, National Commission for Minorities, the BJP leadership had also played a major role for bridging the communication gap between Mr Badal and Mr Tohra. When Mr Tohra and Mr Badal had met Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani in connection with condoning the death sentence of Prof Davinderpal Singh Bhullar, Mr Advani had remarked that he was very happy to see them together. The BJP leadership wanted unity between the SAD and the SHSAD so that the Akali Dal could win all Lok Sabha elections in the parliamentary elections.

However, the rank and file of the SHSAD is of the view that if at all Mr Tohra and Mr Badal forge a unity it should be on equal footing so that both factions should be treated on a par in respect of ticket during the Lok Sabha elections.


Sikh panel for status quo on festivals
Amritsar to be CIS for Nanakshahi calendar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 10
The common festivals of Hindus and Sikhs, including Divali “Bandi Chhor Divas” and Baisakhi will continue to be celebrated as earlier till the final decision is taken on the Nanakshahi calendar.

However, to clear any confusion, all calculations of the Nanakshahi calendar would be based on the latitude and longitude of Amritsar instead of Ujjain.

This was the consensus among the 11-member committee who held a meeting here today at the Akal Takht Secretariat under the presidentship of Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht.

Earlier the calculations of various calendars have been prepared on the basis of Ujjain’s longitude and latitude. Sikh scholars have agreed in principal to consider Amritsar as central as Station of India (CIS) while making calculations of the Nanakshahi calendar, authored by the Canada-based Sikh scholar, Mr Pal Singh Purewal.

Dr Darshan Singh, convener of the 11-member committee, announced that Amritsar would be centre of all calculations so far as Nanakshahi calendar is concerned.

However, members were of the firm opinion that the Nanakshahi calendar, based on solar system should be adopted at the earliest. The members clarified that the implementation of the Nanakshahi calendar should not be viewed as any step taken to antagonise any other religion.


Fake currency: police ‘lays bare network’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 10
Mr Harpreet Singh Sidhu, SSP, Ludhiana today told mediapersons that the police had unearthed a network of trans-border smugglers active for the past 1 to 2 years. Recovery of fake currency and heroin in the state, has been the biggest, he said.

He claimed it on the success of the police. The police suspects the hand of a few bank managers in the state for helping fake currency smugglers. The smugglers were allegedly using labourers and industrialist to sell the fake currency, the SSP said.

Those arrested include owner of a feed manufacturing factory, Roshan Lal of Kapurthala, smugglers Mastan Singh Mana, Paramjit Singh Pamma and Makhan Singh. Others arrested are Ravi Kumar, Shamji, Gurdip Singh, Darshan Singh, Baldev Singh, Tara Singh and Mehar Singh.

Paramjit Singh alias Pamma originally of Madhoke village in Amritsar district and presently residing at Guru Teg Bahadar Nagar, Jalandhar, were the head of the gang. He was in touch with Pakistani smugglers and organised trans-border smuggling and transport of counterfeit currency via Ferozepore sector, claimed the SSP.

Interrogation of arrested person revealed that the counterfeit currency is printed by ISI operators in a South East Asian country and is made available to Pakistani smugglers at 20 per cent of the denomination value. Later it is sold at the value of Rs 60 to 70 per cent by Pamma. This was circulated in the market at its actual denomination i.e. counterfeit currency Rs 1000 note is made available by the ISI to Pakistani smugglers at the rate of Rs 20-25 which is sold to Paramjit Singh at the rate of Rs 50. He sells it at the rate of between Rs 65 to 70. The last person sold it at the rate of Rs 100.

Pamma is said to be in touch with ISI supported smugglers such as Choudhary Akram resident of 39-FCC, Gul Marg Colony, Lahore, Pakistan and Billa resident of Ferozepur Road, Lahore. He has relations with other such ISI supported smugglers also. After establishing contact on telephone with Choudhary Akram and finalising the deal, he used to cross Border into Indian side and hide the consignment in the field of Makhan Singh, a farmer.

Makhan Singh used to cross the border through gate no. 234 with his tractor trailer for tilling land cross the border but used to recover the consignment and conceal in a specially made compartment of his trailer and bring it.

The operation against the smugglers was conducted by a team of Mr Naunihal Singh, former Superintendent of Police, City-II, Ludhiana. Mr Manjit Singh, DSP (Rural), Ludhiana, Mr Snehdeep Sharma, DSP (Industrial Area), Ludhiana SI Waryam Singh, SHO Jodhewal, Ludhiana and SI Gurbaz Singh, SHO Sahenwal.


Civic poll results
Our Correspondents

Sunam, March 10
In this 19-ward municipal council, 11 seats have been won by Congress candidates while eight by Independent candidates.

The elected Congress candidates are: Mr Kishore Chand (Ward No 4), Ms Veena Naru Goyal (Ward No 5), Chand Mahant (Ward No 6), Mr Krishan Lal (Ward No 7), Mr Brij Lal (Ward No 9), Ms Radha Vashist (Ward No 11), Mr Vikram Sharma (Ward No 12), Ms Geeta Sharma (Ward No 13), Mr Surinder Kumar (Ward No 16), Ms Kanta Rani (Ward No 17) and Mr Charanjit Singh (Ward No 19).

The elected Independent candidates are: Mr Amarjit Singh Bhamra (Ward No 1), Ms Charanjit Kaur (Ward No 2), Mr Parminder Singh Jarg (Ward No 3), Ms Sukho (Ward No 8), Mr Jagjit Singh (Ward No 10), Ms Sudesh Rani (Ward No 14), Mr Gurcharan Singh Channa (Ward No 15) and Mr Prabhusharan (Ward No 18).

PATHANKOT: The BJP has won 13, Congress 12 and Independent candidates eight seats in the elections to the 33-Ward municipal council here.

The elected BJP candidates include Suresh Seth (Ward No 3), Naresh Wadhera (Ward No 4), Kamlesh (Ward No 5), Ramesh (Ward No 6), Shobha (Ward No 8), Akshay Mahajan (Ward No 10), Sudhir Bitoo (Ward No 12), Som Raj (Ward No 15), Manjit Singh (Ward No 18), Kamal Kumar (Ward No 21), Joginder Sheel (Ward No 24), Chuni Lal (Ward No 27) and Ram Paul (Ward No 33).

The elected Congress candidates include Sharwan Kumar (Ward No 1), Manju Salaria (Ward No 2), Vinod Kumar (Ward No 7), Darshna Devi (Ward No 11), Vibhuti Sharma (Ward No 13), Manjit Kaur Sandhu (Ward No 14), Rani Devi (Ward No 17), Rajesh Gupta (Ward No 22), Chander Partap Singh (Ward No 25), Neelam Bedi (Ward No 26), Anil Vij (Ward No 31) and Kamlesh Rani (Ward No 32).

The elected Independent candidates include Joginder Pehalwan (Ward No 9), Romesh Tola (Ward No 16), Vijay Kumar (Ward No 19), Om Wati (Ward No 20), Ramesh (Ward No 28), Seema Mahajan (Ward No 29), Panna Lal Bhatia (Ward No 30) and Jasbir Kaur (Ward No 23).

SAMANA: In this 17-ward municipal council the elected candidates are: Mr Satpal (Ward No 1), Mr Surinder Kaur Bhan (Ward No 2), Mr Balwinder Singh (Ward No 3), Mr Des Raj (Ward No 4), Ms Sheela Dhawan (Ward No 5), Mr Gian Chand (Ward No 6), Mr Sudarshan Mittal (Ward No 7), Ms Nishi Bala (Ward No 8), Mr Sham Lal Garg (Ward No 9).

HOSHIARPUR: The Congress has won the municipal council elections of Hoshiarpur and Tanda.

Those who won the Hoshiarpur municipal Council elections are: Mr Shiv Sud, (Ward No 1), Ms Parveen (Ward No 2), Mr Ajay Mohan (Ward No 3), Ms Harbhajan Kaur (Ward No 4), Ms Manjit Kaur (Ward No 5), Mr Surinder Kumar (Ward No 6), Mr Harbhajan Dass (Ward No 7), Ms Balwinder Kaur (Ward No 8), Mr Raj Kumar (Ward No 9), Ms Baljeet Kaur (Ward No 10), Ms Sukhwinder Kaur (Ward No 11), Mr Narinder Singh (Ward No 12).

FARIDKOT: In the Kotkapura Municipal Council elections, the Congress won six seats whereas in Jaitu it won only two seats. The remaining seats were bagged by Independent candidates. The elected Congress candidates in Kotkapura include Mr Mohan Singh, Mr Harnek Singh, Ms Dayawanti, Ms Neelam Rani, Ms Sushma Rani and Mr Ujjagar Singh.

The elected Independent candidates include Ms Krishna Devi, Ms Sunita Rani, Mr Darshan Singh, Mr Ranbir Singh, Mr Gurdev Singh, Mr Gursewak Singh, Mr Sutantar Rai, Mr Kanwaldeep Singh, Mr Ravi Raj, Mr Zora Singh, Ms Neeru, Mr Balkaran Singh, Mr Naresh Kumar, Ms Baby Devi, Mr Bhushar Kumar, Mr Darshan Singh and Ms Kanta Devi.

In Jaitu, Mr Mal Singh and Mr Amarjit Singh, both Congress, and Mr Sher Singh, Ms Surinder Kaur, Mr Charanjit Singh, Mr Rakesh Kumar, Ms Baljinder Kaur, Mr Bikkar Singh, Mr Hari Krishan, Ms Balwinder Kaur, Bholi Mahant, Ms Nirmala Devi, Mr Surinder Kumar, Mr Lekh Raj and Ms Murti Devi, all Independent candidates, have been elected.

FAZILKA: Congress candidates won 15 seats while BJP candidates one seat in the local municipal council elections. The result of Ward No 6 has been withheld.

The elected candidates are: Joginder Lal Setia (Ward No 2), Babu Ram (Ward No 3), Madan Lal (Ward No 5), Savita Dhuria (Ward No 7), Sandeep Dhuria (Ward No 8), Dr Raj Kumar Chalana (Ward No 9), Bharti Devi Kataria (Ward No 10), Devinder Kumar Sachdeva (Ward No 12), Asha Rani (Ward No 13), Ashok Kumar Watts (Ward No 15), Rina Rani Garg (Ward No 16), Surinder Kalra (Ward No 17), Adarsh Chalana (Ward No 18), Ramesh Kumari Sharma (Ward No 19), Mehar Chand (Ward No 20), Gulshan Kalra (Ward No 21), Gurbaksheesh Kaur (Ward No 1), Raj Rani (Ward No 4), Lila Dhar (Ward No 11) and Hari Chand (Ward No 14).

MANSA: The candidates who won the local municipal council elections are: Ward No 1 — Mr Ram Paul, Ward No 2 — Ms Mukhtiar Kaur, Ward No 3 — Mr Shamsher Singh, Ward No 4 — Mr Pala Ram Parocha, Ward No 5 — Ms Amarjit Kaur, Ward No 6 — Mr Gurdeep Singh Mann, Ward No 7 — Mr Ram Kumar Turkia, Ward No 8 — Ms Paramjit Kaur, Ward No 9 — Mr Mukhtiar Singh, Ward No 10 — Mr Shivcharan Dass Suchan, Ward No 11 — Ms Asha Devi Goyal, Ward No 12 — Mr Aatamjit Singh Kala, Ward No 13 — Mr Baghirath Lal Danewalia, Ward No 14 — Ms Veena Aggarwal, Ward No 15, Seopal Pala, Ward No 16, Mr Rajinder Paul Bhamma, Ward No 17 — Ms Kamlesh Goyal, Ward No 18 — Mr Narotam Singh Chahal, Ward No 19 — Mr Malkiat Singh Bhapla, Ward No 20 — Ms Manjit Kaur and Ward No 21 — Mr Jaskaran Singh.

The candidates who won the Budhlada Municipal Council elections include Ward No 1 — Mr Raj Kumar, Ward No 3 — Mr Harvinder Singh, Ward No 4 — Mr Angrej Singh, Ward No 5 — Ms Daya Rani, Ward No 6 — Mr Ravinder Kumar, Ward No 7 — Mr Gurwinder Singh, Ward No 8 — Ms Sukhjinder Kaur, Ward No 9 — Mr Bhagwan Singh, Ward No 10 — Mr Subash Singla, Ward No 11 — Ms Savita Yadav, Ward No 12 — Mr Ajay Kumar and Ward No 13 — Seo Ram.

The candidates who won the Bareta Municipal Council elections are: Ward No 1 — Mr Ved Parkash, Ward No 2 — Ms Raj Rani, Ward No 3 — Mr Suresh Kumar, Ward No 4 — Mr Darshan Singh Darshi, Ward No 5 — Ms Charanjit Kaur, Ward No 6 — Mr Baldev Singh, Ward No 7 — Mr Babu Singh, Ward No 8 — Ms Archana Kumari, Ward No 9 — Mr Avtar Singh, Ward No 10 — Mr Joginder Singh, Ward No 11 — Ms Jaswant Kaur, Ward No 12 — Mr Om Parkash Bobby and Ward No 13 — Mr Surinder Kumar Singla.

The candidates who won the Sardulgarh Nagar Panchayat elections are: Ward No 1 — Mr Joravar Singh Sodhi, Ward No 2 — Ms Tej Kaur, Ward No 3 — Mr Darshan Singh, Ward No 4 — Mr Mahasha Singh, Ward No 5 — Ms Palwinder Kaur, Ward No 6 — Mr Bhim Sain, Ward No 7 — Mr Chet Ram, Ward No 8 — Ms Usha Rani, Ward No 9 — Mr Raj Kumar, Ward No 10 — Mr Prince Pal Singh, Ward No 11 — Ms Sushma Rani, Ward No 12 — Mr Surjit Singh and Ward No 13 — Mr Jarnail Singh.


MC poll: Rinwa alleges rigging by Cong
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 10
Punjab BJP chief Brij Lal Rinwa said today that Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had made gross misuse of official machinery to ensure the Congress victory in the municipal elections.

At most places the returning officers worked more as dedicated Congress workers than representatives of the state Election Commissioner. Policemen put on duty to maintain law and order crossed all limits to please ruling party leaders in the municipal elections, he alleged.

The Congress, he said, had made its intentions clear much earlier by getting the names of SAD-BJP supporters deleted from the voters lists. Bogus voters were inducted in huge numbers in the electoral rolls. At many places, the nomination papers of BJP candidates were rejected on flimsy grounds. Polling agents of the SAD-BJP were harassed. Their objections with regard to bogus votes by ruling party supporters were outrightly rejected. Polling was blatantly rigged with police help, he alleged. In Gurdaspur town, the results of certain wards were changed well after the holding of victory processions by the elected BJP candidates.


MLA for repoll to Rajpura MC 
Our Correspondent

Rajpura, March 10
Resenting alleged rigging, booth capturing and mass violence during the Rajpura municipal council elections held yesterday, a delegation of candidates belonging to different parties, including the Congress, SAD and BJP, along with Independent candidates today met the Election Commissioner in Chandigarh.

Led by Mr Raj Khurana, a local MLA from Rajpura, the delegation appealed to the Election Commissioner to cancel the counting process and sought repoll in the township. Giving consideration to the demands of the delegation, the election officer said there were no chance of a repoll, sources said.


Repoll ordered
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 10
Repoll was ordered in Ward No. 3 at Majitha in the municipal council elections following an incident of pouring of acid in a ballot box. The repoll will be held on March 16.


SAD-BJP workers hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, March 10
Nearly 500 SAD-BJP workers led by Mr Bal Krishan Mittal, District President BJP and Mr Kartar Singh Pahra, former MLA, held dharna in Nehru Park here today to protest against the alleged tampering with of the election results of ward No. 8 in favour of the Congress candidate. Mr Vinod Khanna, Union Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr Avinash Jaiswal, general secretary Punjab unit of the BJP and Mr Jagdish Sahni former MLA, BJP also addresses the workers.

The SAD-BJP alliance in the morning appealed to the shopkeepers of Gurdaspur to observe bandh and participate in protest rally being held here in the Nehru park.

The shopkeepers did not observe bandh.

Mr Khanna said the declaration of Congress candidate as elected was violation of election rules since Mr Kewal Krishan BJP candidate from ward No. 8 had been declared elected by the presiding officer. He said in that connection he talked to the Chief Election Commission Punjab and Deputy Commissioner Gurdaspur who endorsed his views. But later the DC said that according to calculations it was Congress candidate who was found successful in the elections and was declared elected as per rules.

Mr Khanna said that declaration of Congress candidate as elected from ward No. 8 was a betrayal of the voters. He said the BJP would approach the Chief Election Commissioner, Punjab and also move court for justice. He said that protest dharna at Gurdaspur would continue till the election result of ward No. 8 was reviewed.

Mr Khanna criticised the lathi-charge and use of tear gas against peaceful protesters of the SAD-BJP last night at 11.30 pm when they were on dharna in front of the residence of the Deputy Commissioner.


Civic poll: HC dismisses petition

Dera Bassi, March 10
In less than 24 hours after the elections to the Dera Bassi Municipal Council were held, hurdles in the way of counting of votes were cleared after a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today dismissed a petition challenging the delimitation of wards.

The Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice S.S. Grewal, on the last date of hearing had directed that the counting would not be done without prior approval.

Challenging the delimitation of wards by the Punjab Government, Dera Bassi MC’s former president, Mr Jagjit Singh, Mr Manjit Singh Bhatia and two others had contended that the provisions of the relevant rules had not been followed.

Mr Tejvir Singh, district electoral officer and DC of Patiala, was not available for comments, however Mr Amarjit Singh Dhindsa, SDM-cum-RO Dera Bassi, said counting of votes would be done soon after receiving directions from higher authorities. OC


MLA’s kin booked for boothcapture
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, March 10
The local police has registered a case against three persons, including the brother of local Congress MLA Razia Sultana.

The police has registered a case under Sections 186, 353 and 34 of the IPC against Arshad Dali brother of the MLA, Kewal Jindal, former acting president of the Municipal Council, and Bhupinder Singh, candidate of ward number 9.

However, Mr Arshad Dalia, claimed that a false case had been registered against him as he was a leader of SAD(A). Mr Dali further said that he had gone there to protect the rights of his party leader who was fighting the MC election and was allegedly kicked out of the polling by a police official.

The police has registered a case against 10 persons, including Mohammed, Ashraf (Bagga), Nashar Ahmed and Mohd Soni (Gabbar), under Sections 186, 353, 380, 148, 149 of IPC and 135 and 136 of the representation of people’s Act. The SDM, Mr Pardeep Kumar Sabharwal has announced re-polling in ward number 19.


Defeated group blocks traffic
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 10
Supporters of an Independent defeated candidate, Mr Jogi Ram, of ward number 13 of local municipal council, led by Mr Jogi Ram, today blocked road for 40 minutes at Valmiki chowk on Sangrur - Patiala road here, alleging rigging in the counting of votes yesterday due to which Jogi Ram suffered “defeat” by a margin of only nine votes. The protesters raised slogans against the government.

Mr Jogi Ram along with his supporters today met the SDM-cum-Returning Officer for Sangrur Municipal Council elections and briefed him on the situation, stating that first he was declared winner by the presiding officer, but after sometime he came to know that Mr Bimal Kumar of the Congress had been declared winner in his place, he added.


Congress expels three leaders
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 10
The infighting in the district Congress came to the fore when Mr Harbir Singh Babloo, Youth Congress state general secretary, Mr Nirpal Singh and Mr Bachan Dass, both former councillors, were expelled from the Congress for six years for their alleged anti-party activities, a day after the municipal council elections.

In a joint press conference held here today, Mr Inderjit Singh Baserke, District Congress Committee president, and Mr Ravi Rajbir Singh Randhawa, senior party leader, alleged that the expelled leaders had worked against the party candidates during the MC poll. Mr Baserke also wrote to Mr H.S. Hanspal, president of the PPCC, about the alleged anti-party activities of Mr Harpartap Singh Ajnala, son of the late Harcharan Ajnala. Mr Harpartap Ajnala was reinstated in the Congress recently after his earlier expulsion.

Mr Gurinder Kairon too came under cloud for his alleged inactive role in the poll. The DCC, in a letter to the party president, has also requested to seek an explanation from Mr Kairon for his “inactivity” and playing neutral in the campaigning for Congress candidates.


3 BJP leaders suspended
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, March 10
Dr Shiv Kumar Tejpal, general secretary of the district unit of the BJP and former vice-president of the local Municipal Council, and Mr Chandi Charan Tejpal and Mr Satish Charan Tejpal, senior BJP leaders, have been suspended from the primary membership of the party for their alleged anti-party activities during the recent municipal poll.

Mr Raj Bhatia, office secretary of the state unit of the BJP in the letter sent to them said they had been suspended for openly ‘supporting’ the Congress in the poll. Dr Shiv Kumar Tejpal has been accused of damaging the image of party by not contesting election from Ward No. 9.

Dr Shiv Kumar Tejpal, when contacted on phone, said that so far he had not received any such letter and denied allegations of helping the Congress nominee. He said that about six months ago, he had conveyed to the party high command that he would not contest election this time.


‘Corruption now on national agenda’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 10
Senior Congress leader and president of the Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal, Mr Ved Parkash Gupta, said today “all credit goes to the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, for putting corruption by politicians on the national agenda.”

In a statement, Mr Gupta said earlier last year, Capt Amarinder Singh, exposed corruption by Akali ministers and others, including those associated with various recruitment bodies in Punjab. And during the recent Himachal Assembly elections, the Chief Minister did the same in case of Himachal Pradesh. He said it was because of a forceful campaign against corruption mounted by Capt Amarinder Singh that the Congress won elections in Himachal Pradesh.

Now corruption by politicians had become a national issue. Mr Gupta said the next Lok Sabha elections would be contested on this issue and corruption by the BJP-led government at the Centre would be exposed by Capt Amarinder Singh and his associates with full vigour.


SAD meeting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 10
SAD President Parkash Singh Badal has convened a meeting of the party MLAs here for March 13 to chalk out a strategy in connection with Budget session of the Punjab Assembly commencing on March 15, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, general secretary, said.


‘Kidnapped’ industrialist returns home
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 10
The case of a missing businessman of the city, whose family alleged that an influential industrialist of the city kidnapped him, took a new turn this evening when the man reappeared mysteriously.

Some persons reportedly admitted that the businessman, Mr Ramesh Kumar to Civil Hospital this morning. The family residing in Gandhi Colony near the Kochar market got a call from Civil Hospital that Ramesh was here.

He had gone missing in the last week of February. The businessman was, however, unavailable to the police or to the mediapersons. His wife, Madhu Sharma declined to give details and said her husband had gone to meet his advocate. She assured the police and mediapersons that her husband would reveal the details tomorrow.

His sudden return has led to the suspicion that the kidnapping drama could have been stage-managed.

The police had been earlier maintaining that it was a drama.His family members, however, had alleged that a leading industrialist of the city had kidnapped him. They had said Ramesh had gone to the industrialist office to collect pending payment and did not return.

Agitated relatives of the missing businessman had staged a dharna outside the residence of the city SSP, Mr H.S. Sidhu. The police had to use lathi charge to disperse the mob.


Farmers’ dharna enters sixth day
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 10
Indefinite dharna by hundreds of farmers supporters of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Rajewal) in front of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) office here entered the sixth day today.

Farmers from around Patiala have come to the help of those on dharna in front of the PSEB office situated on The Mall road here. Though they facing shortage of fresh water with only one Municipal tap for their needs, they are getting necessaries needed on The Mall road.

The farmers are being supplied with around 20 to 25 quintals of milk everyday, more than required by them. In the morning they are served bread and ‘malai’, and for lunch and evening meal paneer dish. Milk drinking competitions are organised among youngsters in the evening and the day ending with all-time favourite — ‘kheer’. Those choosing to remain on the site have been provided with tented accommodation of tarpaulin sheets forming the roof and the walls hay on the ground which has been covered with carpets.

It appears that the dharna will turn into a serious agitation as the farmers are getting restless with the PSEB management for treating the dharna with indifference. Despite being on dharna for six days, they have not been able to talk to or negotiate with any senior officer even though they have been asked to list their demands. The PSEB has conveyed that most of the demands were within the ambit of the State government.

Organisation’s Patiala district President Nek Singh Khokh said the people of the district had risen to the occasion to help the farmers in their stir, adding the strength of people attending the daily four-hour ‘rasta roko’ programme was also increasing. He claimed farmers were using extreme caution in ensuring the surroundings on The Mall road, particularly the Baradari gardens, were not polluted. He said most of the farmers were using local gurdwaras or public places for ablutions adding the district administration should have made arrangements for water and mobile toilets for the situation.

The farmers are disappointed at the lack of response from the PSEB and the State government. BKU President Balbir Singh Rajewal, who is the ‘morcha dictator’ and supervising the stir, has given a call for a ‘Conference’ on March 15 to decide the next course of action. He said farmers would not stage dharna indefinitely and that a more proactive policy, including further intensification of the agitation, could be taken after March 15.

Meanwhile the organisation has asked farmers not to deposit power bills with the Board. It has also asked them to organise themselves in a peaceful manner at the village-level to resist any move by the PSEB to disconnect power connections. The organisation said it was planning to launch a movement against ‘forcible’ collection of power bills by the PSEB in the State.


Plea dismissed

Chandigarh, March 10
In less than 24 hours after elections to the Batala Municipal Council were held, hurdles in the way of counting votes were cleared after a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today dismissed a writ petition challenging the delimitation of wards by the Punjab Government.

The Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice S.S. Grewal, had on the last date of hearing directed that the counting shall not be done without prior approval.

In their petition, Mr Manjit Singh and three other BJP-SAD councillors had earlier contended that the provisions of the relevant rules had not been followed. Giving details, they had submitted that reasonable opportunity for filing objections was not given. Moreover, the objections were decided without the application of mind.

Denying the allegations, the state of Punjab, on the other hand, had contended that the entire process had been carried as per the law. The notification, it was added, was perfectly valid.


A Division Bench of the High Court on Monday directed state counsel to get in touch with the Chairman or the Secretary of the Punjab School Education Board asking them to send an officer conversant with the rules and regulations pertaining to the appearance of private candidates in the matriculation examination.

The directions were issued on a petition filed by Mr Varinder Kumar and other students who had earlier appeared in National Open School examinations. The case will now come up for further hearing tomorrow.


Man missing for 6 months
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 10
Six months after Mr Pramod Kumar Malhotra, an investigating officer with the Diesel Component Works(DCW), disappeared when he had gone to depose as a prosecution witness in a departmental proceeding launched by the railway authorities against another inspector, who is presently stationed in Mumbai, his wife Suman Malhotra is still running from pillar to post to inqure about her husband's well-being.

Mr Malhotra was last seen on August 8,2002, when he left his residence at Phagwara to depose as a witness on a day-to-day basis at Patiala against Mr Vinod Sharma, the inspector. Since then his whereabouts are not known.

According to Mrs Suman Malhotra, her husband appeared before the enquiry officer of the DCW, Mr M. S.Nangal, on August 5 and 6,last year, at Patiala. She said her husband, who was staying with his brother Mr R.K.Malhotra, disclosed to him that he was being harassed by the inquiry officer, who had not even recorded his statement in the case.

She further said her husband was asked to appear before the inquiry officer again on August 8. She said her husband had not been seen since then.

Mrs Malhotra said she had registered an FIR with the city police in this regard. She said even though she had appeared before the police and given them complete details of the case, the police had not been able to trace her husband.

She added that she feared that the persons who her husband might have unmasked them were responsible for his disappearance.

She said she had not been given any relief either from the DCW authorities or the insurance company which had asked her to deposit the premium on her husband's policy for another seven years as per its norms.


PMO refers plea to Chief Secy

Tarn Taran, March 10
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has forwarded the complaint of Mr Chaman Lal, a resident of the town to the Chief Secretary, Punjab, for necessary action. Mr Lal had complained that the police officials responsible for allegedly killing his son in a fake encounter who are facing trial were threatening to eliminate him in case he did not compromise with them.

Mr Lal told this correspondent here today that his son Gulshan Kumar, alias Kala was eliminat- ed in a fake encounter on July 22, 1993 near Palasour village for which he had to approach to the CBI for justice. In the complaint, he has said that accused police officials were sending persons to his residence to pressurise him for reaching a compromise, otherwise they would kill him. OC


Licences of 12 pesticide dealers cancelled
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, March 10
Licences of 12 pesticide dealers, two fertiliser dealers and nine dealers of seed were cancelled as samples taken from their shops failed the tests. The authorities in a special campaign against spurious farm inputs took 200 samples of pesticide, 128 of fertiliser and 196 of seed from different towns in the district.

Mr Ajaib Singh Bhatti, Additional Deputy Commissioner, stated this here today at a meeting of the District Development Committee. He added action would also be initiated against the dealers whose licences were cancelled.

He claimed that the administration would ensure sale of genuine pesticides, fertilisers and seeds before the start of kharif season. He claimed that standards had been set up for sale of these items.

Mr Bhatti said the Panchayats had been told to complete development works in villages utilising the funds properly.

Dr Major Singh Brar, Chief Agriculture Officer said that the farmers were being encouraged to go for diversification. He claimed a large part of the land that was under wheat last year had been brought under other crops this year.

He said last year wheat was sown on 1.93 lakh hecatres while this year it was sown on 1.84 lakh hectares only. He added that mustard was sown on 4000 hectares, and barley on 3000 hectares this year.


Tiwari, Khan regale audience
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 10
The Shri Baba Harballabh Sangeet Mahasabha organised a Vasant Utsav here last night. The classical renditions of vocalist Harish Tiwari, a disciple of Pt Bhim Sen Joshi, and violinist Asgharkhan of the Delhi gharana regaled the audience. Jagan Nath and Akhtar Hussaini played tablas for the two respectively.

Tiwari’s hymns in basant and bhairavi and “teen taal mey chhoti bandish” won applause from the listeners. Khan’s “tall basant rag yog” and a “pahari dhun” kept the audience spellbound.


25 buses gifted to Afghanistan

Jalandhar, March 10
Welcoming the support to his country by India, Deputy Transport Minister of Afghanistan Khadim Mohsin today invited Indian businessmen to invest in Afghanistan.

Mr Mohsin, who was handed over, fleet of 25 buses as a gift by the Indian government at a function here today, said Taliban regime had demolished several places of worship of Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims in Afghanistan. “We will welcome every initiative on the part of religious organisations to re-build their places of worship in our country.” He said peace would prevail in Afghanistan as international efforts were on to achieve this target. OC


Adopt dairy farming, experts tell farmers
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 10
Dr Rajinder Singh Grewal, Deputy Director, Animal Husbandry, Department said today that the participation of rural women in dairy farming be encouraged.

He was speaking at an animal husbandry and awareness camp, organised at Kot Shamir village by the department. He said at women had the experience of handling milch cattle, they could help in dairy farming.

Dr Grewal said to reduce burden on agriculture, daity farming should be adopted. He said the government was making efforts for improving the quality of milch cattle and dairy farmers adopt new methods and follow instructions of the department.

Dr Baljeet Singh Grewal, in charge of the camp, said the participation of women in the camp was a welcome step, as they had experience of taking care of milch cattle.


Rs 60,000 cr set apart for education
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 10
The government had allocated Rs 60,000 crore for education in the 10th Five-Year Plan for giving school education free of cost to all children between the age of 6-14 stated Union Minister of State for Secondary and Higher Education, Dr Vallabbhai Kathiria while addressing the students at the 47th annual prize distribution function of the DAV College here today.

Dr Kathiria said that the government was planning large-scale reforms in school and higher education. He said that the discussions were on for a project for making the country literate by 2020 as envisaged by President of India, Dr APJ Kalam. The ministry is preparing a vision document wherein the science, technical and professional education would be given a major thrust making the country a superpower of knowledge and wisdom.

The minister favoured self-financing by the universities and colleges in the country to encourage the institutions of higher education to become self-reliant and self-supporting. He said that move was on to work out a balance between the fee structure and the cost of establishment to make higher education affordable to all segments of the society. He said that the government would provide funds for research and development in the universities to encourage talent.

Dr Kathiria said the government wanted to reduce the school drop out rate which was around 40 per cent. He said latest vocational courses with updated curriculum from class VIII onward had been introduced so that skilled human resources came from the schools.

He said that the goal of the 10th Five-Year Plan was to bring in 4 per cent more students into higher education by 2010 from 6 per cent till last year. During the current year Rs 4,900 crore have been provided for higher education, almost double than the last year. He said that today India emerged the super IT power in the world and was contributing almost 34 per cent of the world’s IT professional needs.

He exhorted the students to evolve better work culture and to utilise the infrastructure in the colleges and the universities in a best possible way. He emphasised the need for value-based traditional education, the hallmark of Indian civilisation.

Earlier he announced to give a grant of Rs 1 crore to the college to set up an IT and Management Centre.


PCCTU seeks Sonia’s intervention
Our Correspondent

Barnala, March 10
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU), a representative body of more than 5,000 private college teachers of Punjab, has sought the intervention of Mrs Sonia Gandhi, President of the All-India Congress Committee as well as Leader of Opposition, urging her to impress upon the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to honour the Congress party’s poll promises made with Punjab private college teachers during the Punjab Assembly poll campaign in 2002.

In his letter dated March 5, 2003, written to Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Dr V.K. Tewari, General Secretary, PCCTU, has requested the Congress chief to “intervene and help end the impasse”. A copy of the letter was made available to this reporter here today.

In his letter, Dr Tewari made it categorically clear that the Punjab Congress during its electioneering in 2002 had made two poll promises of continuance of 95 per cent grant-in-aid to private college teachers of Punjab and the implementation of the pension-gratuity scheme for the college staff with the PCCTU.

Dr Tewari, in his letter, regretted that instead of honouring its poll promises, the Capt Amarinder Singh-led Punjab Government implemented the decision of the Parkash Singh Badal government to freeze the grand-in-aid at Rs 72 crore (for 139 grant-in-aid colleges) and then imposed 10 per cent annual cut on that grant-in-aid. Dr Tewari alleged that the present government did what the previous government could not dare to which resulted in the denial of basic right to regular salary and contributory provident fund in many colleges.


Tampering with result feared
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, March 10
Mr Ramesh Verma, president of the BJP Mandal Fazilka contesting elections from ward no. 6 against Mr Dharam Pal Gandhi of the Congress, has in two separate faxed complaints to the Election Commissioner Punjab on Sunday night alleged that he was declared the winning candidates, but due to pressure of the ruling party, the officer did not declared the result. He feared that the result might be tempered with.

In the second fax, Mr Verma has alleged that activists of the Congress forcibly snatched a packet of ballot papers from presiding officers in the booth and fled. He has alleged that the police did not take any action. Following this incident, the result of this ward has been withheld.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Saharan, SDM-cum-Returning Officer, admitted that some ballot papers had been snatched and the matter had been brought to the notice of State Election Commissioner.

Mr Swarandeep Singh, DSP, Fazilka, said a case under Section 382 had been registered against unidentified persons on account of snatching ballot papers.


UK Mayor visits old college
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 10
Degrees were awarded to 450 students of D.A.V. College, Hoshiarpur, during the annual convocation yesterday.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Satpal Singh Parmar, Mayor of Slough, Berkshire (UK) and an old student of the college who was the chief guest, said he was amazed to see the transformation in all departments of the college. Mr Parmar had done his masters in political science from the college in 1962.

“Arya Kumar”, the college magazine, was also released by Mr Parmar.


Resume journalism classes: PAUAA

Chandigarh, March 10
The executive committee of the Punjab Agricultural University Alumni Association (PAUAA), which met here yesterday under the chairmanship of Dr B.C. Gupta, expressed concern over the suspension of teaching work in the Department of Journalism at Punjab Agricultural University. The association pleaded that the decision should be reviewed and teaching work resumed the association demanded that the number of seats in the Department of Journalism should be increased as the concept of NRI and paid seats should be introduced to earn more revenue. TNS

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