Tuesday, July 1, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Sack Amarinder govt, SAD urges Governor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 30
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today demanded dismissal of the Amarinder Government in Punjab.

“The Government in Punjab functions as if it were a law unto itself and the Constitution of India simply did not exist in this part of the country. The Fundamental Rights have virtually been suspended and administration in the state is no longer being run in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution,” the SAD said in a memorandum submitted to the Punjab Governor, Justice Om Parkash Verma, after a meeting of the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of the dal here this evening. The dal delegation, comprising mainly of legislators, both past and present, was led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal. Also present were Bibi Jagir Kaur and Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, previous and present chief respectively of the SGPC.

The PAC meeting also reviewed the situation arising from the registration of a criminal case against the party chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, his family members and some others. Several senior leaders of the breakway group — Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) — were present at the meeting.

The memorandum said the Chief Minister “has chosen to crush political opposition through methods followed by military dictatorships and it simply does not seem to bother him that by his actions and public utterances, he is undermining all august institutions of our democratic system. He hands down summary verdicts on sensitive issues and cases even before the courts have had the occasion to study these on merit. It is amazing how he has been issuing clean chits to those members of his party and government whose names figure in FIRs for heinous crimes such as murder, molestation, corruption and sleaze. He publicly rubbishes the institution of Lokpal and its judgments simply because those at the receiving end belong to his party.”

Referring to the “phoney anti-corruption drive”, the SAD memorandum said “the so-called campaign is spearheaded by a “tainted trinity”. “He is also the first head of a government in Punjab to be publicly reprimanded by the World Bank for misleading the people of Punjab about a fictitious 5,000-crore development package to the state. His anti-corruption campaign is silent on the role of the Chief Minister’s Office in the disappearance of Rs 2 crore from the bank lockers of former PPSC Chairman Ravi Sidhu an issue on which one of the seniormost officers of the Vigilance Bureau was sent packing because his presence was proving inconvenient to the “clean clan” in the CMO, the memorandum said.

Demanding immediate dismissal of the state government, the memorandum said: “This government must be stopped in its tracks if peace and amity in the state is to be preserved. The continuing existence of such an irresponsible regime is a living affront to the Constitution of India and invitation to civil disorder and a danger to peace and amity in the sensitive border state.”


Badal case: CM for special court
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 30
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, stated today that the vigilance probe against the Badal family would stand ‘’absolute scrutiny’’ in the court. The investigations into the details of his properties and the transactions, including ‘benami’ ones, conducted by the family at home and abroad were under the scanner.

‘’All I can say is that Mr Badal is in serious trouble. He has violated laws of the land. He will have to do a lot of explaining on the mechanism of money laundering and giving details as to where from this money had come and how he acquired so much wealth, worth Rs 3,500 crore,’’ he added.

The Chief Minister disclosed the state would shortly approach the Chief Justice of the high court to seek to setting up of a special ‘’designated’’ court for speedy trial on a day-to-day basis of Mr Badal, his family and other public servants and politicians involved in corruption. That was one reason why the investigations were being handled by the state police and other agencies were kept out.

Addressing a press conference at Punjab Bhavan, Capt Amarinder Singh sought to delink the raids conducted on the private premises of the Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and the timing of the panchayat elections. In fact, the impressive win of Congressmen in these elections was a vote for the government crusade against corruption despite Mr Badal trying to make it look like ‘’political vendetta’’ against him and his family, he added.

Capt Amarinder Singh also sought to underscore that the Akali Dal as such was not being targeted as corrupt. There were no cases against Akalis like Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, who remained the SGPC President for 25 years or for that matter against Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, who has been the Akali Dal President. ‘’It is wrong to attribute motives as Mr Badal sought to do against the government action to nail him down on corruption charges’’.

The state had probed corruption against about nine former Akali ministers and not all of them. ‘’The aim is not to arrest Mr Badal. It is for the court to decide once the vigilance submits its investigation reports. We have spent 16 months on investigating the forward and backward linkages of the Badal family’s money laundering. There is evidence of the Badals owning properties in the USA and Australia’’. On the issue of not touching the BJP ministers, who were in the Badal Cabinet, he said, ‘’Perhaps, they were more clever and had covered up their tracks. In any case, we are not politically or otherwise targeting or victimising anyone’’.

The Chief Minister pointed out that Mr Badal’s wife, Surinder Kaur, and son, Sukhbir, would be treated like any other person.

Capt Amarinder Singh revealed that the state was competent to amend the Cr.PC. and would do so. It would even seek the intervention of the Chief Justice to set up a special court for cases pertaining to crime against women.


Govt against corruption not Badal: Cong
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 30
Congress leaders led by Punjab Mandi Board Chairman Sant Ram Singla said today that the state government was not against Shiromani Akali Dal President Parkash Singh Badal but against corruption.

Mr Singla and city Mayor Vishnu Sharma in separate press note said Mr Badal and his party were trying to project the recent actions against Mr Badal as a case of political vendetta. They said the government had only acted on the court directions.

The Mandi Board Chairman said Mr Badal and SAD could not derail the anti-corruption movement through threats of a statewide stir. He appealed to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to continue with the anti-corruption movement.

Earlier, Mr Singla spoke on the same subject at a function held at Tripri here. He promised development of roads leading to the grain market in the city.

Those present on the occasion included Senior Deputy Mayor Kabir Dass, councillor Tharu Ram and youth leader Vijay Inder Singla.


Narottam remanded in police custody till July 5
Tribune News Service

Malout, June 30
Mr Nirmal Singh Lubana, Judicial Magistrate, today remanded Mr Narottam Singh Dhillon, a nephew of former Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal in police custody till July 5 when he was produced before him in a criminal case registered against him at the Lambi police station on June 11, 2003.

Mr Dhillon, was in judicial custody in a corruption case registered against him at Mohali, was brought here by the Lambi police on production warrant secured on June 28 from this court. A case against Mr Dhillon was registered under sections 489 A and 489 B of the IPC, Sections 18,21,22 of the NDPS Act, Section 4,5 and 6 of the Explosive Substance Act, Section 13 of FEMA and Section 25 of the Arms Act in the Lambi police. The case was registered after Mr Dhillon was arrested in corruption case by the vigilance bureau team.

Mr Lubana after hearing the arguments of the prosecution and the defence directed to the public prosecutor and the police officials that no official of the Vigilance Bureau would interfere in the investigations of the case. He also directed that Mr Dhillon be examined medically by two doctors daily except on July 1. The counsel of Mr Dhillon would be entitled to meet him twice, once in the morning and once in the evening daily. However, the counsel would not interfere in the investigation.

Mr Lubana issued these directions on the request of Mr Dhillon. Mr Dhillon also alleged that he was being questioned by the vigilance bureau officials despite the fact that he was in judicial custody and was admitted in the hospital in the Patiala central jail. He added that he was still being tortured by vigilance bureau officials to extract confession against Mr Badal and his family members. He also requested the judicial magistrate to direct the police officials of the Lambi police station not to ask him any question pertaining to Mr Badal and his family member. Mr Lubana's direction on this request could not be known.

When Mr Dhillon was presented in the court, public prosecutor, Manohar Singh sought his arrest and subsequently police remand for 10 days in the FIR registered against Mr Dhillon. He said that as Mr Manna Singh, Mallawala village of Ferozepore district had alleged in a statement made to the police during the investigation of this case that Mr Dhillon promised him to double his money and to arrange opium and arms for him, the arrest and police remand was required.

Lawyers led by Mr Nardev Singh Dhaliwal, who were present from the defence side, urged that no arrest and no police remand was required in this case as the vigilance bureau officials had already carried out almost search of all premises of Mr Dhillon. Apart from it, the Vigilance Bureau had done custodial interrogation of Mr Dhillon.

Mr Lubana, who pronounced the order late in the evening, agreed to the arguments put forward by the prosecution and allowed the arrest of Mr Dhillon with police remand July 5. He also ordered that Mr Dhillon be produced before judicial magistrate. Gidderbaha on July 5.


Name of witness changed
Tribune News Service

Malout, June 30
In the criminal case registered against Mr Narottam Singh Dhillon, nephew of former Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal, the police changed the witness against him to support the charges against Mr Dhillon in the FIR registered against him at the Lambi police station.

In an application before Ms Harinder Sidhu, Judicial Magistrate, Kharar by Mr Jaspal Singh, Station House Officer (SHO), Lambi police station, on June 18, 2003 to seek arrest of Mr Dhillon in a case registered against him at Lambi police station, it was mentioned that one Mr Sukha Singh Baba, Lambi village had supported the allegation against Mr Dhillon in the FIR by making a statement to the police during investigation. The application was declined by the court then.

In another application by the police before the Judicial Magistrate, Malout, Mr Nirmal Singh Lubana today, it was mentioned that Mr Manna Singh, Mallawala village of Ferozepore district had supported the allegations levelled in the FIR registered against Mr Dhillon.

As per the documents, with The Tribune, Mr Sukha Singh Baba in an affidavit alleged that he never knew Mr Dhillon and he never gave any statement to the police against Mr Dhillon. Mr Sukha Singh also mentioned that he had never known Mr Dhillon in his lifetime and so he had no dealing with him.

In the application moved before Ms Sidhu at Kharar court, Mr Jaspal Singh, SHO claimed that during investigation of the case against Mr Dhillon, the statement of Mr Sukha Singh Baba was recorded which established allegations pertaining to the possession and dealing in fake currency, arms, explosive and narcotics made out in the FIR.

However, the affidavit given by Mr Sukha Singh on June 26, 2003 exposed the style of investigation of criminal case being followed in this particular case and to save its face, the police recorded the statement of another witness identified Mr Manna Singh, alleged Mr Sukhdip Singh Bhinder, an advocate of Mr Dhillon.

He pointed out that this thing was brought to the notice of the Lubana, judicial court at Malout today to establish that the police had registered this case to harass Mr Dhillon and to extract a confession from him against Mr Badal and others. Mr Surinder Pal Singh, SSP, Muktsar, said that he was not aware of fact that police had recorded the statement of Mr Sukha Singh Bawa in connection with the case registered against Mr Dhillon. He added that he would be able to comment on this issue after he would read the case file.


Are results endorsement of Congress policies?
Punjab panchayat elections
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 30
The panchayat elections held on Sunday have opened yet another chapter in Punjab. These elections have been held at a time when the government is identifying the administrative and financial powers and functions that can be devolved upon the panchayati raj institutions.

There are three factors that mark a new beginning. One, there is greater emphasis on rejuvenating the village economy through consolidated rural development programme under which Rs 161.58 crore is proposed in the current year’s Budget. Two, the other is the grants that the government doles out to the panchayats.

Three, the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments. Despite these, there is an in-built resistance to devolution of powers and functions to these institutions. Neither politicians nor bureaucrats are willing to forgo the powers they wield in rural development and over panchayats.

However, in tune with the Guwahati resolution and the Mount Abu decisions taken at the meetings of the Congress Chief Ministers’ Council, Punjab has no choice but to implement the devolution of powers to panchayats.

These elections are not fought on party symbols. Yet, due to groupism in villages, candidates are divided into political factions owing allegiance to either the Congress or the Akali Dal, the two main contenders for power.

Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, has claimed that the Congress Sarpanches held sway over 65 to 70 per cent panchayats, which tantamount to ‘’endorsement’’ of the government policies, particularly its tirade against corruption.

The Congress also claims to have made inroads into the Malwa belt, considered to be the traditional Akali bastion, beating them on their own home turf.

The Akalis dispute such claims and charge the Congress with adopting ‘’armtwisting methods’’ Mr Parkash Singh Badal says: ‘’To win these elections the Congress flouted every rule in the book and even the code of conduct. We have captured 65 per cent panchayats’’.

Given the volume and spread of the elections, the incidents of violence that claimed four lives and left nearly 80 injured, cases of assault on public servants, snatching of ballot papers instances of bogus voting etc. can be described as ‘’sporadic’’.

The State Election Commissioner, Mr C L Bains, attributes the ‘’satisfactory’’ completion of the panchayat poll to the two ‘’reforms’’ the Commission had introduced: one, returning a photocopy of the nomination papers as ‘’receipt’’ to the candidate concerned by the returning officer.

Two, deploying officials and employees from several departments to manage the elections, thereby, breaking the monopoly of the Block Development and Panchayat staff.

This eliminated chances of tempering or bungling or arbitrary rejection of nomination papers and other irregularities and favouritism by officials.


Intoxicants’ use in panchayat poll: DC to report
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 30
The Punjab state human rights commission in a communication to the Deputy Commissioner on the complaint of Charanjit Singh Bakshi has asked Deputy Commissioner Raminder Singh to report on the supply of intoxicants for wooing voters in panchayat polls and action taken by the administration thereon.

The Deputy Commissioner is learnt to have asked for more time to submit a detailed report on the issue. The complaint was moved on a report in The Tribune dated June 24.

Meanwhile, the district administration failed to provide concrete information on the results of the polls, which were to be declared here today. Call to the office of the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development) elicited to response. The District Public Relations Office also failed to give any answer to any poll-related query. According to official press note by the DPRO the new dates for polling in five panchayats would be held on July 13. These are Chabal Khurd in Tarn Taran block, Isapur in Ajnala, Attwal in Majitha, Khasi of Rayya block and Sarai Haan of Tarsikka block.


Akali workers stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 30
Akali workers staged dharna while villagers gheraoed the Deputy Commissioner’s office against alleged irregularities and rigging of panchayat poll that concluded here last evening. All roads leading to the court complex remained blocked for hours as women did siapah (beating of chests.)

Hundreds of Akali workers today gathered outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office around 9.00 am alleging rigging of elections in their respective villages.

Villagers from Borrewal Kang in written statements alleged that the presiding officer (PO) in their village used the police to push them out of the polling booth and later during counting of votes when their candidate was ahead by a margin of five votes, the PO allegedly cancelled some of their votes and announced the opposite candidate as winner. They demanded the recounting of votes.


Villagers stage dharna outside DC’s office
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 30
Supporters of the Akali youth leader and former Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal worker Randhir Singh Rakhra today held a dharna outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office at the Mini Secretariat here alleging the poll process had been rigged in the village at the behest of Samana Akali MLA Surjit Singh Rakhra.

Randhir Singh Rakhra’s wife Harjinder Kaur lost the election at Rakhra village yesterday to Gurmeet Kaur of the same village who was being supported by Mr Surjit Singh Rakhra.

Addressing the dharna, Mr Randhir Singh Rakhra claimed that Sub Inspector Amanpal Singh had rigged the election process to ensure victory for Gurmeet Kaur with a margin of 260 votes. He said even though the matter had been brought to the notice of the district administration no action had been taken. He demanded a repoll in the village claiming the entire village was in his favour. He was accompanied by around 700 villagers.


HC to hear pleas on panchayat poll
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 30
Over 200 petitions, mostly alleging wrongful rejection of nomination papers during the panchayat elections in Punjab, will come up before the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday.

Taking up the petitions, the court had earlier ruled that the fate of the elections would be subject to the final decision of the writ petitions. Refusing to give ad-interim stay in the matter, the court had also ruled that the same could not be granted in view of the fact that the election process had already started in the state.

In the petitions, a considerable number of candidates had cited political reasons behind the rejection of their nomination papers. The candidates had also accused the authorities of functioning in a malafide manner. They had alleged that their nomination papers were rejected as they belonged to Akali faction.


Candidate tears ballot papers, held
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 30
The district police has registered a case against Sadhu Ram, president, Block Congress Committee, Sirhind, on a complaint of polling staff posted at polling booth at Bhatmajra village, allegedly for tearing and destroying ballot papers during the counting of votes yesterday. The police has registered the case under Sections 353, 186, 354 and 34, IPC and 116, 122(1) and 124, State Election Commission Act, 1994. The police arrested Mr Sadhu Ram and produced him in the court of Mr G.S. Dhillon, CJM, who remanded him in police custody for one day to recover the ballot papers.

According to polling staff, Mr Sadhu Ram was contesting the election for the post of sarpanch from Bhatmajra village and after the counting of votes he was trailing by 24 votes. He requested for recounting, which was done twice and the result remained the same. When Mr Sadhu Ram insisted on counting for the third time, they objected and Mr Sadhu Ram got annoyed. He tore and destroyed ballot papers and his brother ran away with certain ballot papers. He also misbehaved with staff and even pushed the lady staff members. The police arrested him on the spot.

Whereas Mr Sadhu Ram has denied their version and said that when he requested for recounting, the staff refused and when he protested, a large number of villagers entered the polling booth and it was free for all and he did not knew who tore the ballot papers. He said that he had been implicated in the case.

Mr B. Chandra Sekhar, SSP, said that on the complaint of the polling staff, a case had been registered against Mr Sadhu Ram and the action would be taken as per law.

A meeting of the Congress leaders of the district was held today and they condemned the registration of a case against Mr Sadhu Ram. They said that the police had acted in a haste and they would apprise the PPCC president and the Chief Minister of the facts. Sources told that Dr Harbans Lal, Minister for Forests, also tried to intervene, but could not succeed.

Meanwhile, Mr G.S. Grewal, Election Observer for Fatehgarh Sahib, has expressed satisfaction over the smooth conduct of elections in the district. Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, said that 84 per cent turnout was reported in the district. He said that no untoward incident, besides this, was reported anywhere in the district. He congratulated the polling staff as well as the people for cooperating the district administration in conducting free and fair poll peacefully.


The polling of panchayat elections in 77 villages in Amloh block on Sunday remained peaceful. In the postpoll violence at Sounti village, 1 km from here, five persons were reported to have been injured. Of them three have been admitted to the local Civil Hospital whereas the two as stated by Mr Karamjit Singh Bhagrana, senior vice-president Panjab State Karamchari Dal, were admitted to the Civil Hospital Mandi Gobindgarh.

The condition of Jasbir Singh (24), son of Netar Singh, was serious and he was referred to the PGI . In the case of Surinder Singh (35), son of Kartar Singh, the SMO, Civil Hospital, reported to the police today that the injured person was still unconscious and recommended his shifting to the PGI, Chandigarh. The both were said to be supporters of the elected sarpanch. The third persons, Kuldeep Singh, who belonged to the Mohinder Singh, faction is also admitted at Mandi Gobindgarh. In yet another case Mohan Singh of Bir Bhamarsi village has also been admitted due to injuries on his body to the Civil Hospital, Amloh.

Mr Nirbhai Singh sitting sarpanch who is the husband of the newly elected sarpanch of Sounti village has alleged that the local SHO has slapped Pavittar Singh, Buta Singh and Jujhar Singh and misbehaved with the women who were the aggrieved party of the Sounti village. The matter was brought to the notice of the higher authorities. They submitted a memorandum, to Mr Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, MLA, Amloh, to demand action.

Out of 95 panchayats which went to the polls yesterday the results of 94 sarpanches were declared from their respective villages whereas the result of Ghulu Majra village, 3 km from here, was withheld due to some clarifications stated Mr Amarjit Singh Shahi, SDM-cum-Subdivisional Electoral Officer, Amloh, here today. He claimed the elections were fare and peaceful. The names included 18 sarpanches who were elected unopposed earlier.


Out of a total of 56 villages of Doraha block, apart from one independent and 12 unanimously elected from the Congress, 24 Congress sarpanches and 19 Akali sarpanches have been declared elected in the panchayat poll held yesterday.

A repoll has, however, been demanded by the Akali candidate at Katana village as the supporters have alleged through a written statement, that they have been cheated. Harjit Singh, the Akali candidate from the village, said that he had been declared victorious by the presiding officer in the initial counting as he had got 166 votes and his opponent, Major Singh of the Congress had got 164 votes. He said that "It was only when an election observer intervened that I got 153 votes and my opponent 154 votes. When the villagers and our party workers raised a voice against injustice, the votes on both sides were equalled."


Poll violence shocking: CPI

Moga, June 30
The state secretary of the Communist Party of India (CPI), Dr Joginder Dayal, today said the deterioration of law and order in the state was a matter of concern, as it was for the first time that violence on such large scale had taken place in the panchayat elections, which had claimed four lives, so far. “Such violence was unheard of even during the worst days of militancy,” he told reporters here today.

Dr Dayal attributed the situation to the SAD-BJP combine as well as the Congress government led by Capt Amarinder Singh. “The Punjab bureaucracy is doing its job on the basis of personal loyalties and not on merit,” he said.

He said all powers should be given over to the Panchayati Raj system and all local bodies should be made autonomous. “The state government should implement the Panchayati Raj system in letter and give this basic institution of democracy powers for the development of the state,” he said.

He alleged that both governments — the previous and the present — had failed to implement the guidelines given by various financial commissions.

Dr Dayal said the state CPI had decided to launch an agitation against the policies of the Amarinder government in the last week of July. — PTI


SGPC leader disobeys Badungar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 30
The acceptance of ‘siropa’ (robe of honour) by SGPC leader Onkar Singh Sharifpura from Mr Sham Singh, co-chairman Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) yesterday evening has come as moral defeat for Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, president of the Shiromani Committee.

At the time of flagging off SGPC jatha on June 26, Mr Badungar had announced that the leaders of the jatha would not accept ‘siropa’ at this time. Mr Talwinder Singh, a noted Punjabi writer who was witness to the exchanging of ‘siropas’ at ‘Samadh Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Dera Sahib Gurdwara (Lahore) talking to The Tribune from Lahore, informed that apart from Mr Sharifpura, leaders of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee and a jatha leader from Jammu, Mr Narinder Singh and Mr Rajinder Singh respectively too accepted ‘siropas’ from Mr Sham Singh.

Though Mr Badungar had been issuing statements that the SGPC would take up the case of getting the PSGPC disbanded with the Government of India yet his confidant Mr Sawinder Singh Sabbharwal, an SGPC member from Patiala also accepted ‘siropa’ at Lahore from the PSGPC chief on the occasion of martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev on June 16.

Mr Sharifpura is close confidant of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, a former SGPC chief who had given recognition to the PSGPC. Mr Tohra had repeatedly stated that being a sovereign country Pakistan had the right to form the PSGPC.


Taksal expels Baba Dharm Singh
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 30
Baba Thakur Singh, acting chief of Damdami Taksal (Jatha Bhinderan), today expelled Baba Dharm Singh, senior functionary of the Taksal and caretaker of Gurdwara Tressy in California.

In a faxed message received here today, Baba Thakur Singh had alleged that this step has to be taken in view of reports that Baba Dharm Singh had got the gurdwara land (about 20 acres) registered in his own name and built this gurdwara by collecting donations from the Sikh sangat.

The press note also says that Baba Dharm Singh had been indulging in “anti-Taksal” activities these days. Baba Thakur Singh said the sangat should get the gurdwara “liberated”.

Bhai Jaswinder Singh Nihang, a relative of Baba Thakur Singh, when contacted in the USA, said the fax indeed mentioned expulsion. A local spokesperson of the Taksal also confirmed the expulsion.


Chinks in Tohra camp
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 30
The Tohra camp in the SAD seems to be facing an internal power struggle with Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra today saying that he had sent a message to the parliamentary affairs committee to take action against party leaders who had opposed candidates supported by the SAD.

The Tohra camp faced revolt from within with former loyalists opposing the candidate of the veteran leader at his native Tohra village and supporting with rival Akali and Congress candidates in some constituencies. Second-rung leaders leading the revolt in at least three prominent panchayats, including Tohra village, are aligned with former MP Prem Singh Chandumajra who was earlier called Mr Tohra’s political heir.

At Tohra village, the candidature of sarpanch Satwinder Singh was challenged by former SAD Patiala district president Rajinder Singh Tohra who is aligned with Mr Chandumajra. Even though attempts were made in the Tohra camp to build a consensus on Mr Satwinder Singh, Mr Rajinder Singh Tohra led a campaign against him. The former SGPC candidate scraped through by a margin of 86 votes partly due to the fact that Mr Tohra visited the village yesterday.

While Mr Chandumajra’s role at Tohra village is open to argument, he adopted a direct role in two other villages. At Rakhra, he supported the candidature of the wife of his confidant Randhir Singh Rakhra against the candidate put up by party Samana legislator Surjit Singh Rakhra. The former MP had dilate put up by party Samana legislator Surjit Singh Rakhra. The former MP had even complained to the Deputy Commissioner against the alleged police help to Mr Surjit Singh Rakhra’s candidate. It Harpalpur, Mr Chandumajra supported the candidature of Congress nominee Baldev Singh Ballu.

Though Mr Chandumajra could not be contacted, he had earlier denied that he had participated in any anti-party activities saying that he had only helped some persons who were aligned with him or related to him. Mr Tohra said Mr Rajinder Singh Tohra had violated party norms and even helped the Congress by putting up his own candidate even as he said the party legislature should have desisted from putting up a candidate against the wife of Mr Randhir Singh Rakhra. Mr Tohra, however refused to say whether action would be contemplated against Mr Chandumajra. He said leaders who had worked against the interests of the party would be targeted.


Tohra backs Sarna
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 30
Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra has reportedly conveyed his displeasure to Mr Parkash Singh Badal for opening a “virtual front” against Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC).

It is learnt that Mr Tohra had told the SAD high command that it was not fair that some senior party leaders had tried to stage a “coup” in the DSGMC when Mr Sarna was away to Dubai. Mr Shamsher Singh Sandhu, senior vice-president of the DSGMC, had announced the election of the committee in the absence of Mr Sarna who is expected to reach New Delhi tomorrow by cutting short his visit.

Mr Harwinder Singh Sarna, general secretary of the DSGMC and younger brother of Mr Sarna, had alleged that Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, secretary-general and Union minister, was behind the move to dislodge them (Sarna brothers) by engineering a rebellion. Talking to TNS on telephone, Mr Sarna said the Delhi unit of the SAD would not be disbanded even as Mr Badal and Mr Tohra had joined hands.


PCC intervenes in Faridkot party muddle
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, June 30
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee has directed Mr Surinder Iqbal Singh Brar, president DCC, to sort out the differences among senior party leaders and workers in the district.

In a directive to the DCC president, Mr H.S. Hanspal, president of the PPCC, said numerous complaints of factionalism and infighting among district leaders and workers had forced the PPCC to intervene. He said the situation was so grim that the 14 party councillors in the Nagar Council and 10 members of the party in the Zila Parishad here had failed to carry out various development works, in spite of having a full majority in both Houses. He has told the DCC president to adopt a flexible approach to resolve the issue, as the AICC president, Ms Sonia Gandhi, wanted differences the party cadre ironed out in view of the coming Lok Sabha elections.

Party sources said the five-member disciplinary action committee led by Mr Nasib Singh Gill, a former Deputy Speaker of Punjab, had deferred the action against Mr Gurtej Singh Gill, a senior municipal councillor of Faridkot, who had disobeyed the high command and elected his own candidate as the Nagar Council chief with the support of the Independents and the Shiromani Akali Dal councillors.

The PPCC president, during his visit to the town on June 7, had held a meeting with 10 municipal councillors of the party and heard their grievances.


Rains disrupt life
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 30
Though summers are hotter in this region dotted with sandy area having little green cover, residents of this town do not welcome rains as the monsoon over the years has become a nightmare for them.

Due to defective sewerage, absence of stormwater drains and with uneven topography of the town developed over the sand dunes having no plinth level, a little rain is enough to throw life out of gear.

Today, few hours’ rains which flooded a major part of this city, also exposed the hollowness of claims of the authorities concerned that rainy water will be drained out within a few hours from the low- lying areas. Due to the accumulation of rainwater on some major roads and streets, the same were closed to vehicular traffic.

The first pre-monsoon rain, which lashed this city for three hours, left a number of areas in knee-deep water apart from creating various problems for reaching offices. Even the Mall road of the city was flooded and the doctors having clinics on it received less number of patients today compared to the number of patients being received by them on normal days.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the localities which were severely affected due to accumulation of rainwater included Jogi Nagar, Paras Ram Nagar, Partap Nagar, Ganesha Basti, Dhibber Colony, Janata Nagar, Gurukul Nagar, Nai Basti, Power House Road, Ajit Road and Veer Colony.

Though a number of pumpsets had been installed in different pockets of the city to drain out the rainwater from low-lying areas by the Municipal Corporation, water remained stagnant in most of these localities till the filing of this report.

The residents alleged that though they had been facing this problem every year during the rainy season in summer and winter, the authorities concerned had failed to find a permanent solution to it. They added that every year, most of the city roads get damaged due to the stagnation of water and it had become a source of road accidents.

Sources said that though in the past four decades hundreds of crores had been spent on sewerage to the city, it failed to materialize. The sewerage in the city had not been functioning properly to drain off the rainwater also.


14th officer to probe murder case
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, June 30
The murder case of Naresh Mahajan, Bank Manager of the Oriental Bank of Commerce, has been shifted to a new officer for the 14th time. Mr A.K. Hargava is the fourth CBI SP to be entrusted with the case. As many as 13 investigation officers had handled the case since the crime occurred in 1998. The murder rocked Parliament more than once when it was raised by MPs Suraj Pal Patel of the BJP and Gurdass Dass Gupta of the CPI.

The murder was in news more than four years ago for allegedly being a case of “parallel banking” and was handled by three CBI SPs, Mr K.P. Singh, Mr P.S. Sandhu and Mr R.S. Bhatti.

Mr Hargava in Chandigarh admitted to having been assigned the inquiry into the case in which the involvement of top businessmen was being alleged and the names of the prime accused and those arrested in the recent Siti cable sleaze scam also figured during investigations.

Family members of the deceased, including father Banarsi Dass Mahajan, and brothers Suresh and Harish Mahajan, had pursued the case and alleged connivance at high levels to scuttle the case due to the involvement of powerful persons. After the family met with the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, the latter wrote to then DGP Sarabjit Singh directing him to shift the inquiry to the crime branch. However, on the directions of Justice V.M. Jain of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the case was handed over to the CBI on July 20, 2001.

The court had ordered the inquiry to be completed within four months in its order dated July 11, 2001. However, the case dragged on and the issue of manipulations in the case had been raised by Mr Satya Pal Dang, CPI leader, and many other leaders.

Despite arrest warrants issued by an earlier SP, Mr Jatinder Kumar Jain, investigating officer in the case, against Onkar Sharma, alias Master Omi, former municipal councillor Inderjit Sharma, Kawaljit Singh, K.K. Bhan and Ravi Dhawan, no arrest had been made till date. No follow-up had also been done.

The affected family alleged that everytime the inquiry was nearing conclusion it was shifted to a new inquiry officer. Unconfirmed reports about a CBI DSP being deputed for inquiry into the case were also received here today.


Plan to strengthen women cells: DIG
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, June 30
Mr Sanjeev Kalra, DIG, Faridkot range, has underlined the need to strengthen the relationship between the police and the public. He admitted that due to some restrictions the police had to take harsh steps to maintain the law and order yet he would try make the police of Faridkot, Bathinda and Mansa district more accessible. Addressing his first press conference here today, Mr Kalra, who had resumed his duties last week, said he was seriously considering to constitute the joint committees with the help of the police, citizens and NGOs to resolve all types of issues. There was also a plan to strengthen women cells.


Beas Divas celebrated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 30
The Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) held the ‘‘Beas Divas’’ celebrations at the Beas dam in Talwara today. It was on this day in 1974 when the dam was completed and the ponding of Beas river commenced. Mr Narinder Sharma, Chief Engineer, presided over the function, according to a press note of the BBMB here today.

The celebrations began with the paying of floral tributes to the martyrs of the project at the martyrs’ memorial. The memorial was set up in the memory of 138 workers and other associates, who sacrificed their lives during the construction of the dam. The BBMB also organised religious prayers for the health of the project and for the well-being of the employees. For the first time, 11 widows of the martyrs of the project were honoured with the help of the Red Cross Society of the project.


PRTC to recruit staff on contract
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 30
The fund starved Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) has decided to remove the shortage of operational staff by recruiting staff on contract basis.

This was decided at a meeting organised by newly appointed corporation Chairman Ved Prakash Gupta with General Managers of the corporation. Mr Gupta said the corporation should go in for outsourcing in key operational jobs, so that the efficiency of the corporation did not suffer.

He said the PRTC would start a computerisation drive, besides making its newly coined slogan “Hamari sawari sabse pyari” a success. Speaking on the topic, he said all PRTC buses would be made spic and span by repainting them, if necessary.

Mr Gupta said in order to ensure efficiency in service under the same scheme, each bus would have to get a non-objection certificate from the depot in charge before leaving it. This, he said, was expected to ensure better maintenance of the buses as well as fix accountability in cases of breakdown. He said besides checks and balances would be made to ensure all buses plied on their scheduled timings.

The Chairman said the corporation was also in the process of taking more

passenger-friendly decisions. This, he said, included providing a “coolie” service on long-distance buses plying to other states. Besides, he said, on certain routes the buses would operate without conductors to save staff, which would be given other work. Earlier Corporation Managing Director Iqbal Singh Sidhu welcomed the Chairman on behalf of the officers of the corporation.


Major attacked, hurt by tipsy youths
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 30
Major K.B. Kapur, posted at Ambala Cantonment, was allegedly attacked and injured by some tipsy youths when he tried to stop them from hooliganism. He had come on leave here. The police has arrested two youths and registered a case under Sections 341, 323, 506, 148, 149 of the IPC at Civil Line police station here.

However, Mr Vaneet Mahajan, vice-president of the All-India Anti-Corruption Morcha, in a letter to the Chief Minister, the Punjab Human Rights Commission and the SSP alleged that the police had allegedly detained the three persons after implicating them in false case. He alleged they were brutally beaten up by Sukhdev Singh, ASI. When their parents reached the police station, the ASI also misbehaved with them. He said the SHO Civil Line police station also thrashed the father and relatives of the youths.

Mr Aditya Kapur, son of the Major, alleged that his father had gone to the market for purchasing something. He added the accused, Vikas Kumar of Basant Avenue, Nitin Tand of Mahindra Colony and three others were drinking in a car parked by the roadside and were indulging in hooliganism. Mr Kapur said when his father tried to stop them the accused attacked him with a stick.

Mr Mahajan alleged that the police official even pressurised Dr Gurchetan Parkash of the Civil Hospital to write the medical report in their favour. However, Mr Kultar Singh SSP, denied that the police pressurised Dr Parkash.


Mystery shrouds death of boy, girl
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, June 30
Mystery shrouds the death of a boy and a girl who were found dead inside a Zen car parked in a garage in a densely populated area of the city yesterday.

The two Rahul and Tina (names changed), both in their early 20s and belonging to well-to-do families of the town were found dead inside the boy’s car parked inside a garrage near Manjit Palace in the Kanshi Nagari area.

According to information, the two had been missing since Friday afternoon. The parents of Rahul found his body along with that of Tina in the car parked in the garage of their godown. The body of Rahul was lying on the driver’s seat while the body of Tina was on the rear seat.

The airconditioner of the car on. One theory is that both of them may have died due to asphyxiation as the shutter of the garage was down.

There are also theories that besides Rahul and Tina someone else might also have involved.

The Kinetic Honda of the girl who was student of B. Com (final) in a local college has been recovered from the parking lot of the railway station.

The attendant said the vehicle was brought there at around 5 p.m. by a boy other than Rahul.

Meanwhile, the police has seized the mobile of Rahul and details of all calls have been sought from the mobile company.

Mr Praveen Sinha SSP told that the police would question friends of the deceased and wait for the post mortem report. The Investigation has been assigned to Mr Munish Chawla SP (Detective), he said.

Dr O.P. Bagri, Dr Renu Singla and Dr M.S. Tina, who conducted the post mortem said the viscera and blood samples had been sent for chemical examination to the Forensic Laboratory and refused to divulge any other details.

Family sources said the parents of the two who were in same business were unaware of any liaison between the two and would not have been averse to the idea of their marriage.


Mentally challenged girl raped
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 30
A 22-year-old mentally challenged girl who is three months pregnant was found at Sanour village near here yesterday. She has been sent into the care of the All-India Pingla Ashram near the village.

According the Ashram head, Balbir Singh, the girl was found by two Sanour residents Jaswant Singh and Lal Singh near the Tibba Sahib gurdwara. He said when none came forward to claim her and the girl could not disclose anything about herself, she was sent to the ashram.

He said an ultrasound test had confirmed that she was three month pregnant. He said the girl was also suffering from jaundice.


Woman commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, June 30
A young woman Raj Rani, allegedly committed suicide by hanging herself with a rope at Ramgarh Nangal village yesterday. The body was sent to Phillaur Civil Hospital for a post-mortem examination.


Patiala girl tops PMT
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 30
Jyotisterna has topped the PMT examination held for admission to medical colleges in the state.

Jyotisterna, unlike most toppers, is a keen sportsperson. She was a gymnast till Class VIII and also represented the state in swimming in the National Championship organised in this city last year.

Jyotisterna, who topped the exam getting 672 of 800 marks, said she wanted to become a cardiologist. She had been doing consistent study for the past few years and had not taken any special training to notch the top position.

Her father, Mr L.R. Mittal, who runs a pharmaceutical factory, said Jyotisterna was a good learner and had scored 100 per cent marks in mathematics in class X. He said being an all-rounder meant better exposure for his daughter, who had also won the Biology Olympiad organised by the Bhabha Atomic Centre and was an NTSE scholarship holder.

Mr Mittal said his daughter had also cleared the AFMC, Pune examination, as well as the National level PMT examination organised by the CBSE. Jyoti’s mother Sunita Mittal, who is a Sanskrit lecturer in Government College for Girls here, said the top position in the state level test was gratifying and it would definitely boost her daughter’s confidence. Jyoti, was earlier a student of Our Lady of Fatima School here.


BBSBE College gets project
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 30
Punjab Technical University (PTU), Jalandhar, has handed over a vital project to Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering (BBSBE) College, Fatehgarh Sahib.

Dr D.S. Hira, Principal of the college, informed mediapersons today that basically this project was of Annamalai University that came to the PTU and the PTU handed it over to the BBSBE College and two other engineering colleges. He said for the project of “digital library” three scanners came to his college from the USA, which were highly sophisticated and each cost around Rs 12 to Rs 15 lakh.

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