Sunday, April 20, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Chemists bitter, tea  traders simmer
Day 5 of truckers’ strike
Jaswinder Paul Singh

Bathinda, April 19
The prices of fruits, oils and pulses are soaring, vegetables are in short supply, chemists have asked drug companies to send medicines through courier and tea traders are planning to launch an agitation because their business has been hit. This is the scenario in the city and around on the fifth day today of the nationwide agitation of truckers.

Though the strike has affected all traders, those who import items from other states have suffered more. Traders dealing in goods available in Punjab are transporting these using small trucks and canters.

Tea merchants here are planning to launch an agitation, if the government fails to find some solution to the truckers’ problems. The supply of tea cartons has gone down to negligible now. Small carriers cannot be used for transporting as it is brought from Kolkata and the North-East.

Mr Dev Raj Bansal, president of the Bathinda Tea Traders Association, said the strike had left tea traders with no other option, but to wait for the outcome of talks between the Centre and truck operators.

“If the strike continues, for some more days, tea traders will launch an agitation and shut down their business to show resentment against the government. Tea traders support some of the truckers’ demands,” he said.

However, Mr Mangat Ram Bansal, president of the Bathinda Karyana Traders Association, said the business of general merchants had not been hit much as they had a month’s stock with them. “All traders selling pulses, sugar, cereals, edible oils and such items have sufficient stocks for 10 days. The prices of edible oils and pulses have increased, but it’s a routine thing and even if there was no strike, these prices would have increased,” he said.

Chemists are finding it difficult to deal with the growing demand for medicines, as supplies have decreased. Mr R.D. Gupta president of the Chemists Association, said the association had requested medicine manufacturers to send lightweight consignments through courier.

He said chemists were finding it difficult to sustain the supply of life-saving medicines. If the situation prevailed, they would have to down shutters. What else we can do, if there is no supply,” he said.

The prices of fruits transported from other states are sky-high and fruitsellers are minting money. Even the fruits available locally are being sold at exorbitant prices. Grapes from Gujarat have become a luxury item. However, there has been only a slight increase in the prices of vegetables, as some of these are produced at nearby villages and the rest are brought here from other districts by canters.


Gujral lauds PM’s offer to Pak
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 19
Former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral today welcomed Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s offer of friendship to Pakistan and dialogue with people of Jammu and Kashmir to settle “internal and external issues” for peace.

“I must compliment the Prime Minister for going to Kashmir to address a rally and to offer peace talks with Pakistan and the people of Jammu and Kashmir, he told reporters here today.

Firstly, the holding of peaceful Assembly elections in the state and then the Prime Minister’s visit to J&K to address a rally indicate that the situation in the state is fast changing towards peace,” Gujral said, congratulating the people of Kashmir for attending the rally in large numbers despite the Hurriyat’s call to boycott the rally.

Asked whether the Union Government had taken a “U-turn” from its earlier stand that no talks could be held with Pakistan unless it stopped abetting cross-border terrorism, he said: although it was a deviation from the earlier statement of the Prime Minister, I still welcome it”.

Justifying India’s stand on the US attack on Iraq, he said although India had not openly opposed the USA on this issue, it had always opposed the attack on Iraq and advocate a dialogue as the solution.

India was of the firm opinion that if Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, they should be destroyed, he added.

Mr Gujral admitted that the US aggression on Iraq had undermined the dignity of the Security Council and now that the war was over, a popular government in Iraq should be restored at the earliest.

He ruled out that he would contest parliamentary elections from Jalandhar.

KAPURTHALA: Mr Gujral said neither he nor his son would contest from Jalandhar in the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

Talking to newspersons in the local rest house, he said he supported talks between India and Pakistan.

Commenting on the US invasion of Iraq, Mr Gujral said India was not against the USA but only against the war.

He, along with some others, visited the Virsa Vihar Centre built in memory of Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia.


CM’s claim on ST false: Badungar
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 19
The SGPC President, Jathedar Kirpal Singh Badungar, today said Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had lied when he had claimed that sales tax had been exempted on all items being purchased for langar of Darbar Sahib by the SGPC.

Talking to newspersons here, he said even though the Chief Minister had announced on Hola Mohalla that Darbar Sahib had been exempted from sales tax, the tax was still being levied on items being purchased for langar.

He showed receipts of sales tax paid in lakhs since March 19 when the announcement had been made.

Mr Badungar claimed that the Chief Minister was resorting to a publicity stunt. He said the Chief Minister and the Congress should explain their stand on the destruction of Akal Takht during Operation Bluestar.

Speaking on Nanakshahi calendar, Mr Badungar said the calendar would be sent to the state government shortly. Asked whether the government would abide by the calendar, he said the calendar reflected the religious sentiments of the Sikhs and the government was constitutionally bound to respect their sentiments. He said a needless controversy was being generated on the issue of giving respect to Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. He said the 11-member team which was instrumental in the making of the calendar would be honoured on May 10.


A political paradox
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 19
There is a strange paradox in the political and the social relationship between the firebrand Akali leader, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, and leaders of Communist parties.

While Mr Mann is virtually treated as “ untouchable” by Communist parties in Punjab, it is not so in New Delhi, the nerve centre of the Indian politics. In Delhi, he has a functional relationship with all top Communist leaders whereas in Punjab the leaders of main Communist parties- the CPI and the CPM- avoid him politically as well as socially.

In fact, the leadership of Left parties in Punjab considers Mr Mann, a Khalistani, an anti-national element and a communal politician. Because of the clash of political ideologies between, Mr Mann and the Communists in the state, the latter do not even invite him to even social functions. Dr Joginder Dayal, Secretary of the state unit of the CPI, invited the leaders of almost all political parties, including Akalis of all hues, at a marriage of his close relation in Patiala on April 16 except Mr Mann.

Even Dr Dayal did not call Mr Mann to attend all party meetings that were convened by him to discuss the issue of SYL canal and other related matters a few months ago. When asked in this connection, Dr Dayal said that his party was not interested to maintain any sort of relationship with Mr Mann because of his political actions as well as views.

Dr Dayal, perhaps, does not know that Mr Mann has established a very good rapport with top Communist leaders in Delhi. In fact, Mr Mann has become one of the important strategists of opposition parties against the BJP-led Union Government. On the initiative taken by Mr Mann, the top leader of the CPM, Mr Som Nath Chatterjee, has started a regular meeting of “ like minded” MPs at his ( CPM) party office in the Parliament building.

“ We meet every Tuesday to discuss various issues to be taken up in the Parliament and devise the strategy in that connection”, revealed Mr Mann. He said that the Tuesday meetings had started following a letter, he wrote to Mr Somnath Chatterjee. “ In the letter, I told Mr Chatterjee that neither I could be close to the Congress and nor to the BJP led alliance. Like Left parties, I am maintaining a policy of equi-distance from both the parties- the Congress and the BJP-led alliance. I feel that I am more close to the Left parties as far as politics is concerned and strongly opposed to the Hindutva brand of politics being practiced by the communal forces led by the BJP”, said Mr Mann.

Mr Chatterjee not only responded to my letter but also decided to set up a forum to hold meetings on regular intervals, said Mr Mann. Such meetings were attended by Mr Chandra Shekhar, and Mr Deve Gowda, both former Prime Ministers, leaders of the CPI, and other Independent MPs from various states.

When asked whether he had taken up any issue collectively with MPs of Left parties in Parliament, Mr Mann quipped “ yes, I raised the issue of Mr A.Kutti, a CPM MP from Kerala, who was roughed up a number of times by the Kerala police. “ I also participated in a dharna-cum- demonstration organised by Communist parties in Delhi on an important issue pertaining to West Bengal”, Mr Mann said. “ More over, I have good personal relations with veteran Communist leader, Mr Joyti Basu. I never forget to call on Mr Basu in Kolkata whenever I visit that city”, Mr Mann said.

When asked why the Left parties have not been maintaining any sort of relation with him in Punjab, Mr Mann said that Communist movement had become disoriented in Punjab. Left parties in the state have no formidable agenda to fight for. Most of the Communist leaders in the state were following a beaten path, he added.


Tug-of-war between PPCC factions
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 19
Unabated tug-of-war between two major factions of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee for supremacy in zila parishads, panchayat samitis and municipal committees of the state has not only led to frequent postponement of the election of the chiefs of these grassroots level civic bodies but has also put loyalists of the two factions on a confrontational course leading to complaints of “coercion” and “kidnapping”.

The latest in this series is the case of the election of the Chairman of the Zila Parishad of Sangrur, the home district of Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, where seven elected Parishad members, including two women members, have been “missing for the past five days.” After a couple of postponements, the election is now fixed for April 23.

The faction owing allegiance to Mrs Bhattal has alleged that all “missing” seven members, including Mr Subash Chand Mehal Kalan, Mr Harinder (Tota) Dass, Mr Atma Singh Dhilwan, Mr Gulab Singh Bhagatpura, Mr Gurcharan Singh Dhaliwal of Shehna and Mrs Amarjit Kaur have been kidnapped by the rival camp in active connivance with the police.

Of the 23 parishad members owing allegiance to the Congress, a majority are supporting the candidature of Mr Sarabjit Singh, a trusted lieutenant of Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, while the ruling faction within the Congress wants Mr Sham Singh, a relative of the Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh, to be elected Chairman of the Zila Parishad. Interestingly, the Akalis have only seven members in the parishad.

“The problem is not Akalis,” says Mr Bachan Singh Pakho, an ex-MLA and a former office-bearer of the Sangrur District Congress Committee,” but our own party. Seven of our parishad members have been kidnapped and kept in ‘custody’. They are being forced to support Mr Sham Singh, who is already a key man in the District Planning Board. Even the party guidelines are that those holding planning board positions should not be considered for other civic body positions”.

“The families of these members have been complaining against both official and police high-handedness. These ‘kidnapped’ members are not being allowed even to contact their family members. Even their mobile phones are disconnected. They are kept in a house at an unknown place. It is guarded by a strong posse of police,” he said, alleging that “this is no way of promoting democracy at the grassroots level”. Accompanying him was Mr Jagjit Singh, who had contested the last assembly elections as a party candidate.

Members of the families of these “missing parishad members” have already submitted affidavits to the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development), Mr Kuldip Singh Chandi.

When contacted, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal admitted that complaints had been coming to her and that she had ordered an inquiry into the whole “episode”.


Kamaljit’s sister grilled about ring ceremony
Our Correspondent and UNI

Patiala, April 19
In the much publicised murder case of Harpreet Kaur, teenaged daughter of former SGPC President Bibi Jagir Kaur, the video cassette of the ring ceremony of Harpreet Kaur, was played in the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge S.P. Bangar today. The defence asked Manjit Kaur, the sister of Kamaljit Singh who had allegedly married Harpreet, to explain the absence of her father at the ceremony.

Manjit claimed that her father had some important work on the day the ring ceremony was held at the Oasis Motel in Chandigarh on September 6, 1999. When the defence lawyer asked her why the ceremony itself was not postponed, she said her father had asked them to go ahead with the ceremony.

Bibi Jagir Kaur’s lawyer also asked Manjit to explain why Kamaljit’s mother had put nail polish in place of ‘sindoor’ on the forehead of Harpreet at the ring ceremony. This contention was, however, refuted by Manjit who claimed that Kamaljit had put sindoor and not nail polish. The next hearing in the case has been fixed for May 23-24.

Bibi Jagir Kaur is facing a criminal case along with Ms Dalwinder Kaur Dhesi, Sanjiv Kumar, Satya Paramjit Raipur, Harwinder Singh and Nishan Singh, registered by the CBI under Sections 120B, 302,313,344,365 and 201 of the IPC for hatching a conspiracy to kill Harpreet Kaur, after she had “married” Kamaljit Singh.

Ms Dalwinder Kaur Dhesi was exempted from personal appearance in the court for today after she fainted during the yesterday’s hearing.


No move to ban ACs, says PSEB
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 19
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) today claimed that there was no proposal to ban the use of air conditioners in the State thus refuting the statement of the Chief Engineer, Systems Operation, Mr Padamjit Singh, in this regard.

A section of the press had quoted Mr Padamjit Singh as saying that the board had decided to impose a ban on the use of air conditioners. The Chief Engineer had reportedly said the ban would be implemented in stages and it will be enforced in the offices of the board first, then in government offices and in the domestic sector also, if need be.

A press note issued by the board, without referring to the statement of the Chief Engineer, said there was no proposal to ban air conditioners. It said load regulatory measures to be taken during the coming paddy season would be decided from time to time depending upon the availability of power from various hydro, thermal and central sector generating stations.

According to the press note, in order to meet with the expected shortfall, efforts were being made to buy extra power which would depend on government support and sanction from the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC). It said in any case eight hour three phase uninterrupted power supply would be ensured to the agricultural sector from June onwards during the paddy season.

Sources said the PSEB was likely to face a deficit of around 300 to 400 lakh units per day during the summer months. They said in order to cover up the deficit the PSEB would have to purchase power after taking the permission of the PSERC. Mr Padamjit Singh had expressed the view that the Regulatory Commission might not give permission to the board to purchase the deficit quantity as it would want to balance expenditure with income. The sources said as the board was yet to decide on how to tackle the situation because of which it had issued a press note claiming there was no proposal to ban the use of air conditioners for any section in the that state.


PAC meeting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 19
A meeting of the Political Affairs Committee of the Shiromani Akali Dal ( SAD) will be held here on April 26, according to Dr D.S. Cheema, press secretary of the party. Current political situation in the state would be discussed at the meeting, he said.


Hailstorm damages wheat crop
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 19
Heavy downpour and hailstorm that lashed the district today partially damaged wheat crop. The condition was worse at grain markets with unpaved flooring after rainwater accumulated there. Farmers continued to look anxiously at the overcast sky.

The yield this year has already been hit due to the inclement weather that prevailed last winter. Another form of nature’s fury has, now, left them devastated.

A visit to the villages after the downpour showed that farmers of villages around Jagraon were the worst hit. They were making their own make-shift arrangements to cover the wheat lying in open markets, as the market authorities did not have much to offer.

Farmers said they were worried about the increasing moisture content in the grain and the delay in harvesting due to the accumulation of water in fields. The produce already in mandis was getting damaged due to the heavy downpour.

The rain water was being drained out manually as well as mechanically. Some farmers were carrying their produce home in tractor-trailers.

Mr Jaswant Singh, a farmer, said: “every year, the government promises that the floors of mandis would be bricklaid and plinth levels raised, but nothing happens. I have to take my produce back home, as it will take me another one week to dry it out.”

Another farmer, Mr Baldev Singh of Jagraon, said he had brought his produce to the mandi yesterday, but the rain 20 had damaged per cent of it. The rest would be rejected by procurement agencies.

In Jagraon block, while the hailstorm was mild, farmers say that it was enough to do considerable damage to the crop and shedding of the grain. Barseem crop had also been damaged the same way.

It was because of the warm weather over the last few days that the hailstones melted, otherwise, the damage would have been more. Mr Gurpreet Singh, a farmer of Mandiani village, said farmers were all set to face problems in selling wheat. The rain would affect the grain quality and cause a delay in harvesting. Harvesting would be delayed because fields would go wet after absorbing rainwater, making it impossible for farmers to operate combined harvesters.


Untimely rain gives shivers to farmers
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Purchase of wheat

Market           Quantity in quintal

Kharar                  48,411

Chunni Kalan          43,500

Sohana                 4000

Dau Majra              2000

Kharar, April 19
Shukar hai rab da ke garhe ghatt pae ate minh vi chheti ruk gea hai. Nahin taan iss vaar saadi kanak di fasal mandi vich pai tabah ho jani si (Thank God, hailstorm was not severe. Rain stopped after a little while. Otherwise, our wheat crop lying in the market would have been damaged) .

These were the remarks of Sukhdev Singh, a middle-aged farmer of Sohana village, 10 km from the city, in a customary touch of rural Punjabi tongue. Chandigarh and its surrounding areas, witnessed rain and hailstorm today. However, there were no reports of any damage to the ripened wheat crop, till this evening.

Meanwhile, the arrival of wheat in the grain markets of Chandigarh, Kharar, Panchkula, Dera Bassi, Sohana, Chunni Kalan and Dau Majra, resumed soon after the rain stopped.

When a Chandigarh Tribune team reached Sohana grain market, just after the rain stopped, farmers were seen uncovering the wheat grains lying in the market and Ranbir Singh, a commission agent was checking the quality of the crop.

He said the rain and hailstorm did not spoil the crop lying in the grain market. Stacks of wheat packed in sacks and heaps of wheat awaiting purchase were covered with polythene sheets to avoid from being drenched.

Ajaib Singh of Lakhnaur village said the standing crop dried up in the afternoon after the rain stopped. “But we are still worried, as the rain may start again later in the day”, he said.

A visit to the villages of Sohana, Lakhnaur, Manak Majra, Sohara, Landaran, Gadana, Saneta and Kharar in the afternoon revealed that there was no loss to the wheat crop. However, the farmers were still doubtful about the prevailing weather conditions. “We are praying that

hailstorm and rain do not strike in the next couple of days”, said Sadhu Singh, a marginal farmer of Manak Majra village.

There were reports of hailstorm and rain in Chandigarh and surrounding areas. However, the possible loss to the standing wheat crop could not be ascertained.

It may be mentioned that the grain markets of Dera Bassi, Sohana, Chunni Kalan and Dau Majra do not have the facility of sheds. “There is a possibility of loss to the wheat crop lying in the markets, awaiting purchase”, said Ranbir Singh.


Fire destroys three ‘birs’
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 19
Three Birs of Guru Granth Sahib were destroyed in a fire allegedly caused by short-circuit in Shahi Gurdwara near power colony here. Damage to birs was noticed today morning by the gurdwara granthi. He said that he came to the gurdwara at 5 am and found that the room in which the birs were kept was filled with smoke. The birs were almost destroyed by the fire. The SDM Ropar, Mr Daljit Singh, ADC (General) Vikas Garg and SGPC members from Ropar and Anandpur Sahib reached the gurdwara today morning and took stock of the situation. The SDM told reporters that from the circumstances indicated that the fire was caused by electric short-circuit. The district administration also informed Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib authorities of the incident.


SHSAD flays SGPC chief over calendar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 19
The Working Committee of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) has given powers to its President Gurcharan Singh Tohra with regard to forging unity with any Akali Dal.

This was disclosed by Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, senior vice-president of the party, while addressing a press conference here today. He, however, refused to divulge the details of the probability of the unity between the SHSAD and SAD.

He criticised Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC chief, for releasing the Nanakshahi calendar from a political stage on Baisakhi instead of Akal Takht.

Mr Bhaur who is also executive member of the SGPC said the releasing of the calendar in a haste manner had sent a signal across the Sikh Panth that it belonged to a particular section of the Akali Dal as it was released from the political stage organised by the SAD (Badal).

Since the calendar belonged to the entire Sikh Panth as it was approved by the Jathedar, it should have been released from Akal Takht. Then Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, and other critics would not have objected to the same.


MLA returns bribe money taken by PA
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, April 19
Local MLA Razia Sultana today evening returned Rs 5 lakh taken as bribe by her PA and ex-sarpanch of Bodhai village near Malerkotla from a person of the same village.
According to information Harpal Singh PA to the MLA, in connivance with Jarnail Singh, sarpanch of Bodhai had taken Rs five lakh from Chand Singh of the village Bodhai for getting some work of his son done. Ms Razia also informed that three policemen including an SI were also involved in the case.

On receiving the information the MLA returned the money to the person concerned in the presence of prominent reporters and prominent residents of the city. She also suspended her PA.

The SHO of Ahmedgarh police station had already been sent to the police lines in this case.


Modern’ colonies with ‘primitive’ facilities
Our Correspondent

Bhatinda, April 19
Bharat Nagar and Patel Nagar, two of the main “modern colonies” being developed by the local Improvement Trust, lack basic facilities of drinking water and sewarage due to which a section of residents are not able to shift to their houses in these areas, the Punjab Contractors’ Aassociation today said, here.

Mr J.S. Brar, president of the association, said in a written statement that not even a drop of potable piped water was being provided to the residents of the area. He said the residents were being forced to consume sub-soil water, which had already been declared unfit for human consumption due to high flouride content. He said if the owners of the plots did not complete the construction work within the time limit set up by the trust, then non-construction charges were imposed on them even as the authorities had failed to provide water and sewerage facilities.

He said in most parts of the colonies, the sewer pipes had not been laid and wherever there had been laid, no proper outlet channels had been provided. He said in streets where pipes had been laid, the department concerned had failed to fill the pits properly and tractor-trailers carrrying bricks, cement or other load get stuck in these frequently. He said the condition of the roads also hampered the smooth flow of traffic.

Mr Brar said the working of the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) was in contrast to that of the local Improvement Trust, as PUDA sells its plots after laying the water supply and sewerage pipes.

He said even electricity poles had not been installed in these colonies and the residents were being supplied electricity from a single transformer and even the power cables were being arranged for by the residents. He said due to excessive load and unscientific distribution of power, the problem of low voltage was also prevalent in these areas.

He claimed that a section of plots in these areas had been sold at Rs 2,000 per sq m and posh houses had come up on these plots, but these remain unoccupied due to the lack of basic facilities. He pointed out that all this was not due to the lack of funds, but due to the lack of will, on the part of the authorities concerned, as the Bathinda Improvement Trust was among the cash-rich local bodies of the state. He urged the authorities to look into the problems being faced by the residents of the areas. 


Workers threaten gherao 
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 19
Mr Karora Singh, city president, Technical Services Union, (TSU), Mr Mahesh Chander, president, Employees Federation (AITUC), and Mr Wazir Singh, president, Employees Federation, Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) have threatened to gherao members of the PSEB, according to a press note.

They said the management of the PSEB was trying to implement the privatisation policy of the state government. They alleged that PSEB property worth crores would be sold at a throwaway price to the near and dear ones of ruling party politicians.

They claimed that the officials of the PSEB had been ordering mass transfers of junior and field officials to divide workers. They alleged that more than 500 employees working in the field had been transferred during the past few days, which indicated the vindictive attitude of PSEB officials and management.

They said the policy of privatisation, the recommendation of the Haldia Committee and the reduction in employee strength would be opposed by the unions. The activists would burn effigies of the board management at the subdivision level, they added.


Protest rally by cooperative bank staff
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 19
Employees of Bathinda Central Cooperative Bank (BCCB) today held a rally against the decision of the government to bring their salaries on a par with government employees.

They said the employees of the BCCB got their salary from the profit earned by the bank and it did not put any burden on the state exchequer.

Mr Parampal Singh, president of the employees' union said there would be no economic benefit to the government by reducing their pay and perks.

The Registrar of the Cooperative Societies had said cooperative banks in Punjab did not fall in the definition of public sector units, Mr Parampal said.

He said cooperative banks, like commercial banks, were run by the rules of the Reserve Bank of India and were different from government departments. He added that the cooperative bank employees worked for 300 days in a year unlike the government employees who worked for only 220 days. 


Cultural deterioration: leaders, writers blame each other
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar April 19
Writers and politicians kept blaming each other for the deterioration in the cultural, linguistic and literary fields at a state-level convention organised by the Sabhyacharak Talmel Committee here today.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, former Finance Minister and general secretary of the SAD, regretted that the literary world was not able to create ripples in the society. Social changes, in various countries, had been brought about by philosophers and intellectuals.

It was very disapponting that writers and intellectuals here were not providing the right direction to the society and as such ideology had vanished from politics. Political parties could be of help but they could not play the role of a genius. The society had suffered due to lack of originally, creative ability and proper direction. He urged the writers, intellectuals and artistes to create an atmosphere where the government was compelled to bring about positive changes.

Mr Balwant Singh Ramuwalia of the Lok Bhalai Party said the two main political parties of Punjab had never worked for promoting the culture or the language of the state. He said when he was in power at the Centre, he made many efforts to give Punjabi language its due status. Ms Jayalalithaa had played a major role in getting Tamil language popularised being part of the NDA government. But Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister, had failed on this front.

Mr Mangat Ram Pasla of the CPM said there was a need to create mass awareness as governments could not do much on this front. There could be no common culture as it differed from community to community. Certain issues were related to certain communities and one’s attitude towards a particular language was again linked to a certain community. No country had progressed by studying a foreign language.

Reacting to programmes telecast on certain TV channels which were against the Punjabi culture, Mr Lakhwinder Singh, general secretary, PPCC, said political parties should set up a censor board for giving the necessary directions.

Mr Santokh Singh Dhir, a prominent writer, said the Punjabi language was not being recognised by Punjabis themselves.

A lot of discrimination was being done against the language. He said certain writers had asked Parkash Singh Badal to open libraries in every village where good books in Punjabi language were made available. But unfortunately nothing had happened. He demanded that government should open shops where books in Punjabi language were provided at subsidised rates.

Dr Tejwant Singh Mann, general secretary, Kendri Punjabi Lekhak Sabha (Sekhon), said there had to be a clear language policy. He said speakers were allowed to use any language in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha which was wrong. There were some flaws in the Act related to language which should be amended.

Mr Ajit Salani, Chairman of the organising committee, said the Western culture was invading the Indian culture and there was a need to check this.


Vidhan Sabha to host conference
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 19
The Punjab Vidhan Sabha will host a regional conference of presiding officers of legislative assemblies of northern states in May and Chief Ministers, Speakers, Deputy Speakers, Parliamentary Affairs Ministers, chief whips and leaders of Oppositions will attend this conference, said Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Speaker, while talking to mediapersons at Bassi Pathana today. He had come to attend a function organised by residents of the town in his honor for assuming the office of Deputy Speaker.

He said the conference would deliberate upon various faults of parliamentary system of governance as well as the means to improving the working of the state legislatures. He added that a delegation of Punjab MLAs would be sent under the aegis of “Commonwealth Parliamentary Association” to Commonwealth countries to study the working of parliamentary system of governance in the countries.

He said a bureau of parliamentary studies on the pattern of Parliament would also be set up to improve the working of MLAs in Punjab Vidhan Sabha. He opined that the parliamentary system of governance was still the best, but there was scope for amendments.

Reacting to the decision of the state government to open casinos, he said there was no harm if gambling was legalised in the state. He added that it was part of the state government’s tourism policy.


VB in search of Badal’s PA
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, April 19
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau today pasted a notice outside the residence of Mr Hardeep Singh, PA to the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.
According to the notice, Mr Hardeep Singh, has been asked to report to the SP, Vigilance Bureau, on April 21 at 11 a.m.

According to sources, Mr Hardeep Singh has not been cooperating with the Vigilance Department regarding a case for which he was booked on August 29, 2002. He was booked under Section 13(1) (E) R/W 13(2) 88 of the PC Act on charges of having assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.

Mr Hardeep Singh, is currently on bail from the High Court. The department has now been forced to paste the notice outside his house in Phase 3-B1 since he is not traceable.


Modernise railway station: PGA
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 19
The Public Grievances Association (PGA) has urged the Union Railway Minister, Mr Nitish Kumar, to include the name of the local railway station in the list of stations to be modernised in Punjab.

The association claims that the Minister had promised to make efforts to provide modern facilities at the railway station during his visit to the city some time ago. The PGA said that despite the promise the station was not included among five stations of Punjab to be modernised soon.

Mr Dharamvir Walia, president of the association, said the station catered to the needs of thousands of residents of this and nearby town. Passengers from neighbouring states like Haryana and Rajasthan also boarded trains from here.

He said the facilities at the railway stations were not up to the mark. 


BSNL told to pay compensation
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 19
The District Consumer Forum, Ropar, has directed the BSNL to pay Rs 5,000 as compensation to Mr Jagteshwar Prashad Singh of Mundi complex, SAS Nagar.
The complainant said he had been regularly paying his telephone bills. He added that on the receipt of a disputed bill of Rs 7,594, he had visited the office of the officials concerned but they did not redress his grievance.

He said the officials did not provide details of the local calls made and disconnected his telephone. The complainant demanded Rs 15,000 as compensation for the harassment.

In their reply, BSNL officials maintained that the disputed bill had been issued on the basis of the meter reading. The local call printout was not available as there was no provision for details of local calls in the computerised system, they added.


Contaminated water bothers residents
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 19
Residents of Baba Deep Singh Nagar in a statement here today said they had to fetch drinking water from Housefed Colony as the ground water in their colony was unfit for consumption.

They said due to lack of sewerage, they had constructed “well-type toilets” which had led to water pollution.

The residents said their appeals to the municipal authorities had borne no fruit. They added that the condition of the roads in their colony was pitiable.


Choked minors have farmers worried
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 19
Resentment prevails among farmers of this district as the government has not undertaken repair and desilting of minors and distributaries for the past several years.

The Punjab Government had launched a Central-sponsored scheme to remodel the UBD canal in this district during the SAD-BJP rule. Most of the money, however, was spent on projects which were not needed.

The situation has gone worse with the Indian Meteorological Department predicting less than normal rain this monsoon.

Sources said the remodelling of the canal system could not be achieved. As a result, most of the distributaries, including Awankha, Nanonangal, Gazikot, Aming, Fateh Nangal, Rania, and Bhimpur, had not been repaired and desilted for the past two years. Weeds had now choked the distributaries, preventing the smooth flow of water for irrigation.

The sources said minors, including Faridabad, Haveli, Gahlari, Raipur, Gulpur and Gujarat, had neither been repaired nor desilted for the past six years due to the non-allocation of funds.

In spite of repeated requests by the department to allocate funds, the government has directed the department to collect arrears of revenue against irrigation water supplied to farmers and undertake maintenance of minors.


Panchayats to monitor water supply schemes
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 19
Public Health Minister Jasjeet Singh Randhawa today inaugurated a revamped water supply project at Haripur Juggian village in the Ghanaur block wherein a 1000-feet-deep tubewell has been installed at a cost of nearly Rs 24 lakh to ensure clean drinking water for villages around the Katlahar, Zirakpur and Rasulpur areas.

While addressing the gathering Mr Randhawa said that from now onwards all new water supply schemes would be monitored and controlled by panchayats.

He also said of the total 183 villages in the Ghanour block almost 112 had shortage of drinking water. He said a project at a cost of nearly Rs 18 crore was under way which would ensure the supply of drinking water to all villages in Ghanaur by the end of March next year.


5 of family sentenced to life

Faridkot, April 19
A court here sentenced five persons — four brothers and a son of one of them — to life for the murder of an advocate, their fifth brother, two years ago.
The court on Thursday also ordered the accused to pay Rs 10,000 each, failing which they would undergo further imprisonment for a year.

According to the prosecution, advocate Jasminder Singh was attacked by the convicts in Rameana village near Jaitu town of the district and done to death with sharp-edged weapons.

The dispute over a water course led to the crime. PTI


3 quintals of poppy husk seized, 2 held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 19
The district police today seized nine bags of poppy husk and arrested two persons in this connection.
In a press note issued here today, the police said a police party going from Bhukhian Wali village to Mall Walla village had stopped a canter on suspicion and seized 3.24 quintals of poppy husk packed in nine bags of 36 kg each. Those arrested were identified as Gurjant Singh and Resham Singh. A case under Sections 15, 25, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act was registered.

In a separate case, the Sadar police stopped a car and seized 80 kg of poppy husk at a naka at Jodhpur Romana village. The accused — Jeet Singh, Ashok Kumar and Harish Kumar, were arrested and booked under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act.

The Dayalapura police arrested six persons — Makhan Singh, Ajmer Singh, Harnek Singh, Raghbir Singh, Pargat Singh and Jeet Singh, and booked them under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act. The accused were found to be in possession of 80 kg of poppy husk, which they were carrying in a canter.

The Nathana police arrested Karam Singh and Jeet Singh of Giddar village while they were smuggling 35 kg of poppy husk on their scooter. A case under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act was registered.

The district police also arrested five persons and seized 270 kg of ‘lahan’ from their possession. It arrested three persons under the Prevention of Gambling Act and seized Rs 890 from their possession.


Narcotic smuggling on the rise
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 19
Narcotic smuggling has witnessed an upward trend following a rise in the demand for poppy husk and other drugs.
Peddlers have now started supplying poppy husk and other narcotics on the doorstep in villages. The demand for narcotics has increased manifold as farmers reportedly give tea mixed with poppy husk to labourers to “extract” more work from them.

Most of the smugglers have been getting the drugs in large quantity from Rajasthan, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. They pack the drugs in small packets and supply them to the customers .

The smugglers have increased the rates of poppy husk and other drugs. They charge extra for supplying the drugs on the doorstep.

The Talwandi Sabo police today arrested two smugglers identified as Resham Dass and Karamjit Singh and belonging to Bhodipura village of this district. A case has been registered.

Police sources said in the past about a month, several smugglers had been arrested.

Some farmers have been visiting Rajasthan to buy poppy husk as it is relatively cheaper there. 


Bid to ‘grab’ husband’s house, 4 arrested
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 19
The wife of a resident of the city today allegedly tried to “grab” the house of his husband, against whom she is fighting a case of divorce.
Sources said that Mr Kewal Krishan had filed a case for divorce against his wife and an appeal in this connection is also pending in the women call of the police. The sources said that since the past few months the wife of Mr Krishan has been living with her parents in a nearby village and their relations are strained.

The sources said that today the women cell of the police called up both the parties to record their statements and Mr Krishan was also present there. The sources said that after the proceedings at the cell, Mr Krishan, who has been taking care of his daughter, noticed that his wife and in-law had taken his daughter away. He brought it to the notice of the officials and after some time one of his frieds called him up to tell that some miscreants had broken into his house at the North Estate locality of the city and the police authorities were also informed of it.

The sources said that a police party reached the spot and rounded up four persons and recovered iron rods and other instruments, which they had used to break locks of the house of Mr Krishan. At least two of these ‘miscreants’ were the brothers-in-law of Mr Krishan and were accompanied by his wife and mother in law. The sources said that senior police officials were informed the incident and the claim of the wife of Mr Krishan, that a police officer of the women-cell had suggested them to break the locks of the house and take possession of the same was found to be false after verification by the said officer.

Police officials when contracted said that four persons had been taken into custody and a case would be registered.


Two women crushed to death by truck
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 19
Two young women were crushed to death when the moped that they were riding on was hit by a truck at Rama Mandi Chowk near here today.
According to the police, the victims were identified as Rupinder Kaur (22), a computer engineer and Kamaljit Kaur (18), an employee of Connect Telecom.

The accident occurred in the afternoon when the two women were returning to their homes. Their vehicle was hit by a truck and they were crushed under the rear wheels of the truck. Both died on the spot.

Some local residents overpowered the driver of the truck and handed him over to the cantonment police station officials. A case under Sections 304/427, IPC, has been registered against the truck driver.

Meanwhile, the role of the local health authorities came under the scanner due to the indifferent attitude of doctors at the local civil hospital towards the family members of the victims. No doctor was available to conduct post-mortem examination for about four hours even as the family members of the deceased tried to contact doctors and senior health officials.

Mr Sham Singh, an uncle of Rupinder Kaur, alleged that the bodies kept on lying in the hospital for about four hours as doctors were not available to conduct the post-mortem examination. “The attempts to contact the Civil Surgeon have also proved futile. We will submit a complaint to the Punjab Health Minister and the Chief Minister to suspend the erring doctors, who had failed to perform their duty,” he added. 


Case registered against petrol station
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 19
The Food and Civil Supplies Department has registered a case against Sarao Service Station situated at Korian village in Dirba constituency of Sangrur district for hoarding petrol and diesel and selling these at rates in excess of regulations.

Disclosing this here today, the department Director (Field), Mr Bhupinderjit Singh, said during a surprise check at the petrol station it was found that fuel (both diesel and petrol) of the old stock was being sold at an increased rate of Re 1 per litre. He said it was also found that the petrol station had diesel and petrol in stock, but was not supplying the same to the people.

He said the checking also revealed a disparity between the quantity of fuel purported to be in the stock, as per the petrol station register, and that was actually present in the tanks. He said the diesel stock was short by 9,922 litre, while petrol stock was short by 742 litre. He said this could have been done to facilitate adulteration of the fuels.

He said a case had been registered in this regard at the Dirba police station under the Motor Spirit and HSD Malpractice and Distribution Act, 1988.

He said the department was also carrying out a drive to ensure that domestic gas and kerosene meant for the Public Distribution System were not misused.

He said recently cases had been registered in Mandi Gobindgarh following some surprise checks. He said it was found that steel rolling mills were using domestic gas purchased from various agencies for cutting steel as the same was available at a much lesser cost than commercial gas.

He said a gang engaged in changing the colour of PDS kerosene for using it for commercial purposes had also been busted.


Computers stolen from college
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 19
Robbers stole computers worth about Rs 3 lakh from the Shivalik College of Pharmacy, Naya Nangal, last evening. According to the information available, the robbers entered the college building, opened the locks of the computer room and fled with four HP computers, including a server and two printers.

The college is located on the campus of the Government Shivalik College. Four watchmen three at the government college and one at the pharmacy college — were deputed. A contract employee of the pharmacy college used to stay in the animal room of the college. However, none of them reported spotting anyone on the college campus when the theft occurred. The theft was discovered by a college teacher at about 8 am today.

The police suspects the hand of some college insider in the theft. The thieves knew that the door of the girl’s toilet was broken and could be used for entry and the keys of the college rooms were in the principal’s room, it added. A case has been registered. 


10-year jail for 2 smugglers

Moga, April 19
A court here has sentenced two poppy husk smugglers to 10-year rigorous imprisonment and also fined them Rs one lakh each. According to the prosecution, both smugglers — Ajit Singh of Jwahar Singhwala and Mewa Singh of Daudhar village, were arrested by the Mehna police of Moga district when the police raided the house of Mewa Singh at Daudhar village on December 15, 1991 and recovered 14 quintals of poppy husk.

The court on Thursday held both guilty. UNI


Change of varsity entrance exam date sought
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 19
A number of candidates for the postgraduate medical entrance examination have urged the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, to change the date of examination as it clashes with the entrance examination date of the Manipal Academy of Higher Education Karnataka.

The students, while talking to The Tribune here yesterday, said the date of the Manipal examination had been announced about two months ago while that of the university had been announced a few days ago. They said as the seats in MD and MS courses were a few, almost all aspirants had applied for a number of competitive examinations.

Dr Darshan Goyal, one of the candidates said both institutes had announced May 25 as the date for the entrance test and this would be a disadvantage of students from Punjab. He said more than 50 per cent of students from the state had applied for the Manipal test.

One of the clauses added by the university authorities would also work against a section of the students. Sources said that only those students would be allowed to appear in the entrance examination who had completed their rotating internship by December 31, 2002. The sources said this provision would exclude many eligible students from competing in the entrance examination of the university.

The sources said that due to the fixing of December 31 last, as the cut-off date for eligibility, a section of students belonging to Punjab, who had been pursuing medical degrees in other states, would be rendered ineligible. The sources said the postgraduate medical entrance examination of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, was held in January, while the cut-off date was fixed at March 31.

Dr P.S. Sandhu, Registrar of university, could not be contacted. Sources in the university said representations regarding the change of date had been received, but a decision in this regard would be taken by the state government.


Khalsa College scam: forum to seek probe
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 19
The Sikh Forum Punjab has decided to take the issue of dismissal of two teachers from the local Khalsa College and bungling in the provident fund account of the college to the notice of the Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh. The president of the forum, Capt Chanan Singh Sidhu, said the forum would seek vigilance inquiry into the matter.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday, Captain Sidhu said two professors — Baljinder Singh and Sukhwant Singh Kaura — had lost their jobs as they had exposed financial irregularities in the provident fund account of employees.

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