P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Akalis demonstrate in day, dance at night
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 9
Joyous scenes were witnessed at the Dukhniwaran Gurdwara in the city which is the focal point of the morcha launched by the SAD against the "repression" let loose by the Congress government after word was received that SAD president Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal had been granted bail by a Ropar court.

Meanwhile sources disclosed that the SAD president and his son Sukhbir, who were lodged in the Central Jail here, would be set free tomorrow. The sources said this decision was being taken considering the Z plus security enjoyed by the SAD president as well as the fact that necessary formalities might not be done till late in the night.

Mr Manpreet Singh Badal said the party would continue its present morcha under which 101 party workers had marched to the jail from Dukhniwaran Gurdwara. He said the morcha would continue for another two days as workers who were to take part in it had already arrived at the gurdwara. While Rampura Phul legislator Gurpreet Singh Kangar is scheduled to lead a jatha to the jail tomorrow, Mr Harmeet Singh Sandhu is scheduled to march to the jail the next day.

Mr Manpreet Badal said the party was set to continue its morcha against the state government even after the release of the SAD president and his son. He said the morcha was not limited to the release of the leaders only, adding that the people of the state were also being repressed by the present government. He said these protests could be held in front of offices of the Deputy Commissioners.

Former Finance Minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh said the party would continue its morcha on the issue of economic "repression" being let loose on the people. He said the mode of this protest would be decided afresh by the parliamentary affairs committee of the party.

Meanwhile, Akali workers collected on the premises of the gurdwara when they came to know about the bail order. Besides offering thanksgiving prayers and raising slogans in favour of their leaders, they also burst crackers.

Earlier, the jatha from Raikot today launched the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) morcha in protest against the “repression” let loose the Congress government from Dukhniwaran Gurdwara and marched to the Central Jail and sat outside it in dharna for most of the day. The jatha did not meet with any resistance during its march and dharna. It was provided with tea in plastic cups, bananas, langar and the surety that their “contribution” would be remembered by the party.

The jatha was led by Raikot legislator Ranjit Singh Talwandi, son of freewheeling senior Akali leader Jagdev Singh Talwandi, who has had a love-hate relationship with the SAD President, indicating that the SAD was taking everyone along with it. It was seen off from the gurdwara in the morning after all appropriate photo opportunities were exhausted by Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) President Gurcharan Singh Tohra and other senior leaders.

The jatha members, all of whom had tied a saffron piece of cloth on their turbans, made their way enthusiastically to the Central Jail shouting slogans in favour of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, his son Sukhbir Singh Badal and the SAD. Though the district administration had stationed a water cannon and a riot control vehicle in front of the jail, the SGPC President had himself stressed that the protesters should not inconvenience anyone.


Akalis’ stand vindicated, say leaders
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 9
Elated at the grant of bail to former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh by the Special Court at Ropar this evening, senior leaders of the SAD and the SGPC have decided to get the Badals released from Patiala jail tomorrow morning in a big procession.

The SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, the Union Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, and former Punjab Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, in separate statements held that the orders of the Court had reaffirmed their faith in the judiciary.

Besides, the grant of bail has vindicated the stand of the SAD and the SGPC that cases of disproportionate assets registered against the Badal’s were out of political vendetta, they said.

Meanwhile, Mr Tohra thanked the SAD and SGPC leaders and workers and all Punjabis for their support and appealed to them to assemble at Gurdwara Dukhniwaran in Patiala tomorrow.

He said the first jatha of 101 workers would not go tomorrow as scheduled but the anti-repression agitation would continue unabated. After their release from jail, the Badals would be taken to Gurdwara Dukhniwaran for paying their obeisance before they were brought to Chandigarh in a big procession.


248 SAD, BJP workers freed
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 9
All SAD and BJP workers arrested by the police to prevent them from visiting Ropar on December 1 when Mr Parkash Singh Badal was to appear in a court there were today released from the District Jail here and sub-jails of Malerkotla and Barnala in the district.

Talking to TNS this evening, Mr Gurinder Singh Dhillon, SSP, Sangrur, said more than 248 SAD-BJP workers were released from the District Jail here today as there was no law and order problem for which they were arrested. Mr Joga Singh, Deputy Superintendent, District Jail, said prominent among those released included Mr Balbir Singh Ghunas, MLA, Bhadaur, Mr Guran Singh Tungwali, MLA from Nathana, Mr Sanmukh Singh Mokha, SGPC member, Mr Paramjit Singh Sandhu, former MLA from Guru Har Sahai, and two women.

Mr Narinder Bhargava, SSP, Barnala police district, said this evening that 83 SAD leaders and workers, including Mr Sadhu Singh Ragi and Mr Mohinder Singh Diwana, both SGPC members, and two women were released from Barnala sub-jail. He said 43 SAD men were released the previous day, while 40 persons, including two women, were released today.

Mr J.K. Sharma, Deputy Superintendent, sub-jail, Malerkotla, said 69 SAD leaders and workers, including Master Nachhatar Singh Jahangir, Mr Gurmail Kuthala, both senior leaders of the SAD, and Mr Megh Singh Guara, Director, IFFCO, were released from the sub-jail today.


NABARD to fund lining of canals
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 9
The Punjab Irrigation Department has successfully explored Nabard, which has agreed to finance irrigation systems and the lining of canals. It has sanctioned Rs 30 crore. Earlier, Nabard used to give money for only drainage and anti-waterlogging projects. Though with the taming of rivers, anti-flood measures have scaled down, the threat of flashfloods persists from the Tangri, Ghaghar and “choes” in Hoshiarpur, Ropar and parts of Gurdaspur. Nabard has sanctioned Rs 150 crore to tame the Tangri and the Ghaghar. Similarly, the Command Area Development Authority has received Rs 17 crore for the lining of watercourses. The state’s share of Rs 9 crore is though awaited.

Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, Principal Secretary, Irrigation, said the Irrigation Management Act was to be replaced.

Likewise, new technology and techniques of human resource development were to be introduced in the department.

Mr Lakhanpal said the aim was not retrenchment but optimum use of available manpower, equipment and machinery. “We propose to reduce costs, raise revenue and improve the quality of service.” The department was also working on community participation in the operation, maintenance, management and contract systems. It was also keen to enhance the income from irrigation water. The cess has been restored from the kharif-2003 crore season. It is Re 1 per unit of water to the kandi areas and Rs 1.50 paise per unit of water to the non-kandi areas.

The Irrigation Department was engaged in revamping the irrigation network, particularly the Shahapur Kandi project. A group of officers had been constituted to draw up a roadmap for the Rs 1,700-crore Shahapur Kandi project.

Work was to start in April next year. Funds were available for it from the Rural Electrification Corporation and the Power Finance Corporation. From the Thein Dam, Rs 125 crore was available for this project. On its completion, Jammu and Kashmir would get its share of 36 million acre feet of water, besides 168 MW of power.

While the Shahanahar canal would carry water to Himachal Pradesh, the kandi canal (phase II) would irrigate additional 36,000 hectares. Water is scarce in the kandi area and underground water is 500 ft deep. The Punjab State Tubewell Corporation (PSTC) has drilled 1,600 tubewells there. Their operation and maintenance cost is high — the power bill alone is Rs 30 crore per year. This is because the PSTC is paying the highest power tariff of Rs 3.85 per unit as a consumer. There is a proposal to reduce this cost and entrust these tubewells to gram panchayats.

In the absence of any action on the inquiry report on the Upper Bari Doab Canal project submitted 10 months ago, its remodelling is held up.

The UBDC system, on completion would have an additional water-carrying capacity. In the “Khara Majha” belt of Amritsar, water supply would be enhanced from 3.5 cusecs to 5.5 cusecs and elsewhere from 3.5 cusecs to 4.5 cusecs.

Punjab has a network of seven canal systems, which measures 14,500 km. In addition there are 100,000-km field channels and a watercourses irrigating command area of 31 lakh hectares. The available water is 39.75 million acre feet.


Takht panel to get Dewan charge
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 9
The Deputy Commissioner here will hand over the charge of the Chief Khalsa Dewan to the representatives of the five-member committee constituted by Akal Takht to diffuse the tension between the two factions of the premier non-political Sikh organisation.

The Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), Mr Tarlochan Singh, had deputed a senior IAS officer and secretary of the commission, Mrs Sarita Dass, who met the representatives of both factions today to resolve the controversy. Talking to reporters after listening to the views of both groups, Ms Dass said she would present the report to the Chairman of the NCM tomorrow. She, however, added that it was the Deputy Commissioner who had to take a final decision in view of the law and order situation.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Raminder Singh, has confirmed the orders to revoke his earlier decision to appoint an administrator to look after the routine affairs of the Chief Khalsa Dewan. He would hand over the charge to the representatives of the five-member committee headed by Justice Kuldip Singh. He said the administration would bow to the directives of the holy Akal Takht.

Giving details of the action about taking over the administration of the Chief Khalsa Dewan, Mr Raminder Singh said he felt that the expulsion of 284 members by the ruling executive committee was not in accordance with the law and there was general fear that both factions may come to blows and create a law and order situation which forced him to take an unpleasant step. He, however, pointed out that the revocation order would mention that the members would not take the law into their hands and maintain complete restraint till the election process was over.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the NCM, Mr Tarlochan Singh, while talking to The Tribune on telephone today, expressed satisfaction over the development whereby the administration had decided to hand over the charge of the Chief Khalsa Dewan to the five-member committee. He added that the committee constituted by Akal Takht would meet on December 12 in Chandigarh to hear the views of both groups and would decide about the election process to elect the new office-bearers of the Chief Khalsa Dewan.

Earlier, the Charanjit Singh Chadha faction, led by Dr Santokh Singh along with more than 10 members, presented a memorandum containing its grievances against Mr Ankhi to Ms Dass. The other group headed by Mr Ankhi also gave their views.

Later talking to newsmen, Dr Santokh Singh said they had full faith in Akal Takht and honoured the directives issued by Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti. He, however, felt that his group would oppose the alleged covert efforts being made by the honorary secretary of the SGPC to take over the management of the Chief Khalsa Dewan. He said the group had expressed its anguish over the presence of Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta along with Mr Ankhi to influence Ms Dass in this matter.

On the other hand, Mr Ankhi pointed out that his group would accept the decision of the five-member committee appointed by Akal Takht. He also complimented the NCM for its intervention to resolve the dispute.



Petition infructuous

A petition filed by Chief Khalsa Diwan, an Amritsar-based society registered since 1904, challenging the orders passed by Amritsar’s District Magistrate appointing a Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) as an administrator for looking after the society’s affairs, was on Tuesday rendered infructuous.

At the very onset, Additional Advocate-General appearing on behalf of Punjab state Ashok Aggarwal informed a Division Bench of the High Court, headed by Mr Justice J.S. Khehar, that the District Magistrate had agreed to withdraw the order.

The petitioner had earlier contended that the society was surprised to receive an ex-parte order dated December 2 intimating that the District Magistrate had appointed an SDM as the administrator to look after the society’s affairs and to hold the elections as per law.

Challenging the orders, the petitioner had sought directions for declaring the same arbitrary, illegal, malafide and politically motivated before quashing it. Directions for restraining the state of Punjab and other respondents from interfering in their affairs were also sought. Counsel had added that the elections were scheduled to be held on January 4 next year.


Pre-Partition village coming up on varsity campus
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 9
Bullock-carts ploughing in the fields of Guru Nanak Dev University’s proposed pre-Partition heritage village will be a treat for tourists. Mudhouses of ‘lohars’, ‘ghumiars’, ‘jolahas’ (blacksmiths, potters and weavers, respectively) and other artisans like cobblers working with their traditional tools and handlooms will be constructed in five acres of the university land.

The village will be re-created by carving out the land in the rear portion of the sprawling 500-acre university campus with an initial outlay of Rs 25 lakh. The proposed village will also be of attraction for the visitors coming from West Punjab (Pakistan) as it will be on the Amritsar-Wagah bypass.

Dr Ranjit Singh Bajwa, Head of the Department of Punjabi, Dr Gurmit Singh, Reader of the department, and Dr Sukhdev Singh, state convener of INTAC, and their colleagues took months to find bullock-carts as they have all but disappeared from the state with the advent of modern techniques for agriculture.

Dr Gurmit Singh said the bullock-carts could be spotted only across the Ravi which flows between India and Pakistan or in certain remote areas.

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, said the village would be developed in a phased manner. He said the Punjabis had forgotten their art motifs and traditional wells, village ponds and it would be the endeavour of university to re-create a typical Punjabi village which symbolised the erstwhile folk culture. He said the students of Punjabi School of Studies would be taken to the village so that they could understand the robust Punjabi rural life which finds mention in the rich Punjabi literature.

The Vice-Chancellor said Mr Ashwani Sekhri, Minister of Culture and Tourism, had assured the university that adequate funds would be sanctioned for the proposed village.

The university has decided to make the proposed village a self-sustainable unit by charging a nominal entry fee. The visitors would be given a feeling of the countryside of the pre-Partition era.

The second segment of the village would be of the post-Green Revolution period which had changed the geographical face of rural Punjab with harvesting by tractors and harvesters.

The visitors would also enjoy the delicacies of Punjabi food at the ‘Punjabi dhaba’ where they would be served ‘chati di lassi’, ‘sarson da saag’, and ‘makki di roti’. The ‘gharats’ (traditional flour mills) which have virtually disappeared from the Punjab village scene would also be re-created and fresh flour grinded for ‘rotis’ to be cooked on traditional ‘chullahs’.

The team formed by the university visited many heritage villages and museums, including City Palace Museum Albert Hall, Chokhi Dhani, Apna Gaon and National Museum, New Delhi, before preparing the project report.


Rs 5 crore promised for unsafe school buildings
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 9
With the Punjab Government undertaking to sanction Rs 5 crore for unsafe school buildings, the condition of dilapidated school buildings is likely to improve.

This undertaking was given in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on behalf of the Chief Minister yesterday.

Sources in the Education Department said there were 623 unsafe buildings in the state. These include 209 in category A, which are in very bad shape and need urgent attention and 414 in category B and C that can be taken care of subsequently.

In Patiala district alone, 71 per cent of the school buildings are in a dilapidated condition while in Muktsar and Moga districts, 61 per cent and 59 per cent school buildings have been declared unsafe. In certain cases, but for a few rooms that are functional, the buildings are not more than a heap of debris and teachers take even up to five classes in one room or in the open.

Patiala district has 14 per cent unsafe buildings in category A also, endangering the lives of students and teachers. While Bathinda district has 34 per cent unsafe buildings in this category, Fatehgarh and Patiala each have about 14 per cent such buildings.

DPI (Schools) Sohan Lal said this amount would be spent on the maintenance of 209-odd buildings in various districts. “We had sought Rs 8 crore for the maintenance of buildings in category A and Rs 11 crore for those in category B and C. However, we shall start renovating some of the most unsafe school buildings with Rs 5 crore.’’ 


Globalisation has ‘harmed’ Dalits’ interests
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 9
The Dalits are worst affected by globalisation, privatisation and liberalisation being pursued by the Government of India. This was stated by activists of the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), a non-political forum led by Dalit human rights activists committed to the protection and promotion of Dalit human rights and elimination of discrimination based on caste. The activists informed mediapersons about a Dalit swadhikar rally being organised by it at a press conference here today.

Mr Paul Divakar, national convener of the NCDHR, said the present scenario of liberalisation of economy was damaging the interests of the Dalit community. He said this trend had curtailed job opportunities for their community as the government had also imposed a ban on new recruitments. Besides there were no reservations for them in the private sector.

Dr Vimal Thorat, national co-convener of the NCDHR, favoured the launching of a national campaign to eradicate the social evils of casteism and communalism. She said there were more than 20 crore Dalits in the world of whom about 17 crore were in India who were suffering due to casteism.

Giving details about the Dalit swadhikar rally, Dr Chakarpani, coordinator of the national campaign, said the rally aimed to create awareness and expose the impact of the consequences of globalisation, privatisation and liberalisation proposed by the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation. He said the rally started from December 6 from four places Jammu, New Delhi, Kolkata and Kanyakumari and would reach Mumbai by January 15 to participate in the fourth World Social Forum to be held from January 16 to 24.


Plan to oppose move to empower panchayats
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 9
The Punjab Mulazam Sangharsh Committee today chalked out its seven-stage plan of action to oppose government’s move to give more powers to panchayats and to press for its other demands. A decision to hold a state-level convention at Jalandhar on December 25 was also taken during a meeting held today at Sector 35 Kisan Bhavan.

Giving details, Mr Sukhdarshan Nat, general secretary of the Democratic Employees Front, said meetings of district-level sangharsh committees would be held till December 20, following which four regional-level conventions would be held in the state after the convention. It has also been decided to gherao the Vidhan Sabha during the forthcoming Budget Session to impress upon the government to consider its genuine demands.

The representatives of various employees federations also decided to participate in the national-level rally to be held on February 11, 2004. They will also protest against the apex court’s decision banning employees from organising strikes in support of their demands.

Among their main demands are opposing government’s move to strengthen the panchayats by handing them over the charge of 29 departments, stopping the privatisation of few other departments and also putting an end to contractual appointments.

Those who attended the meeting were Mr Datar Singh, president of the front, besides conveners of other federations namely Mr Sukhdev Barri, Mr Ranbir Dhillon, Mr Charanjit Singh Walia, Mr Maha Singh Rohri and Mr Hari Singh Tohra.


Public service award for ghazal writer
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 9
Mr Shamsher of Denmark,a renowned litterateur today announced that the famous ghazal writer Deepak Jotoie, would be given public service award patronised by ‘Vishav Lok Sewa Trust’ and a fellowship for two years.

This award carries a shawl, a plaque and an amount of Rs 11,000 . He announced this award while presiding over an Urdu function here today. Speaking on the occasion Director State Languages Department, Dr Madan Lal Hasiza said that it was painful to see such a writer struggle and suffer due to lack of finds.


Cheques given to persons hurt in Operation Prakaram
Our Correspondent

Tarn taran, December 9
The Army today distributed cheques as compensation to eight civilians or thier next of kin who suffered injuries during Operation Prakaram in the aftermath of Parliament attack at Khemkaran in Tarn Taran.

The cheques were distributed by the Commander of Infantry Brigade. Earlier, an inerim relief amounting to 25 per cent of the total amount of compensation had already been paid to them. The Army had also provided free artificial limbs to the injured.

The function was attended by Brig S.P.S. Bhalla, Commander 29 Infantry Brigade, and Col Y.K. Katoch, Commanding Officer 21 Sikh Regiment.


Bajrang Dal seeks gaushalas

Phagwara, December 9
The state convener of the Bajrang Dal, Mr Vijay Chhabra has alleged that Pakistan’s ISI was pushing Bangladeshis into Punjab under the garb of migrant workers in order to create its sources and a belt of terrorists much to the peril of the security of our country and its citizens. Talking to newspersons at the residence of Mr Chhavi Bhaskar, district convener of the Bajrang Dal, here last evening, Mr Chhabra declared that an “Abhiyas Varg” (workshop) of Bajrang Dal activists would be held in Ludhiana on February 15 next year to discuss ways and means of identifying and checking the infiltrators. Services of the experts would be availed of in this regard, he said. District and block-level workshops would follow,he informed.

He demanded that “gauchar bhoomi” i.e. land for grazing cows should be handed over for the construction of gaushalas in villages so that the cows moving stray and unattended could be taken care of properly. —OC


Farmers, administration stalemate continues
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, December 9
Stalemate continued between the farmers and the administration as the meeting between the two which lasted for two-and-half hours failed. The meeting was presided over by Mr Raminder Singh, Deputy Commissioner, at Rasulpur village.

The farmers, under the banner of the Kisan Sangharsh Committee, sought payment on the pending amount of the sugarcane of the last year and to restoration of the connection of the tubewells of the farmers who had failed to pay their bills.

Mr Gurkirpal Singh SSP, Mr Bakhtawar Singh SDM, representatives of the PSEB and other officials represented the government while Mr Kanwalpreet Pannu convener of the committee represented the farmers. Meanwhile the farmers have decided to continue their agitation. The dharna being staged on the main road at Piddi village entered in its seventh day yesterday.

Mr Pannu said the administration had failed to accept the genuine demands of the agitating farmers and even no assurance was given to them on their demands so they had decided to continue to go on agitational path.

On the other hand, the Deputy Commissioner said the district administration had brought the demands of the farmers to the notice of the department concerned. He said the attitude of the agitating farmers had remained stiff so no compromise could be reached. He said the administration could not bear the disturbance being faced to lakhs of farmers at the cost of a few agitating farmers. He further added that every possible step would be taken to bring normalcy in the area.


Vigilance SP shifted for raids
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 9
The political controversy caused by the alleged Vigilance raids on the premises of Congress MLAs have landed the SP, Vigilance, Mr T.P.S. Sandhu, in trouble as he was transferred to Chandigarh and was asked to hand over the charge to the SP, Vigilance, Jalandhar, Mr Dilbagh Singh.

Denials of any such raids by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Minister for Food and Civil Supplies, Mr Avtar Henry, have not helped assuage the hurt feelings of Mr Swinder Singh Kathunangal, MLA from Majitha, and Dr Rajkumar, MLA from Verka, whose premises were allegedly raided by the officers of the Vigilance Bureau. Earlier the Vigilance Bureau had given a clean chit to Mr Kathunangal in the illegal residential colony case.

It may be recalled that the Chief Minister, under pressure from his dissident MLAs, who had complained against the arbitrary functioning of the Civil Surgeon, Dr Yashpal Singla, had given verbal transfer orders during an open darbar held by the Chief Minister on December 3. But the Civil Surgeon still continues to function till date.

According to information available here, Mr Kathunangal was allegedly involved in selling plots of about 80 acres on Ajnala road for an illegal colony in total violation of the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) rules. The business premises of a gas agency owned by another MLA was also raided by the officials of the Department of Food and Civil Supplies.


DC bans leave

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 9
Keeping in view the coming Saheedi Jor Mela held in the memory of two younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh, being held from December 24 to 27, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, in a circular issued today has banned leave of all employees in the district.

He has directed the officers not to leave their headquarter without the prior permission. They have been asked not to allow their subordinates to leave the headquarter. He has also directed all the department heads to sent the daily attendance report of all the employees working in their offices to his office. OC



Boy’s death: two minors arrested
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 9
The district police has succeeded in solving the mystery shrouding the death of a five-year-old boy, whose body was found in a tank in the Abadpura locality here on Monday morning.

The district police chief, Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, addressing a press conference here today said that Mukul Thapar went missing on Sunday evening. The police along with family members of the boy conducted search operations in Abadpura and adjoining localities. They traced his body lying in a small water tank built in a park.

The hands of the victim were tied with a leather belt and there were no signs of injury on his body. During the course of investigation, it was found that the deceased had been playing with one Honey, a 10-year-old boy of Abadpura and Sawan, a six-year-old boy of Ludhiana in a ground near their relatives’ house. The children were reportedly playing “thieve and police” game. The hands of Mukul were tied with the belt and during the play, he was thrown into the tank resulting in his death due to drowning. Both the minors were taken into police custody.


1 hurt in firing at Kharar reception
Our Correspondent

Kharar, December 9
One person sustained gunshot injuries when a senior Congress leader allegedly fired at a wedding reception at a farmhouse near here late last night.

The victim, Mr Balraj Singh (22), a resident of the Randhawa road area, was admitted to the local Civil Hospital, with an injury in the leg.

It is learnt that Mr Balraj Singh told the police that Mr Balbir Singh Sidhu, general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, fired from a pistol while people were dancing at the reception and a bullet hit him.

The incident allegedly took place at the reception celebrations of Mr Mandip Singh, a resident of Mohali, at a farmhouse located on the Kharar-Landran road. However, this has been denied by Mr Sidhu.

Sources at the hospital said the injury was at one point at the back of the leg of Mr Balraj Singh and appeared to have been caused by a bullet. An X-ray had been taken to determine whether the bone had been affected.

The trousers and socks worn by Mr Balraj Singh have been sent for chemical examination by the police.

However, Mr Sidhu told Chandigarh Tribune that he did not resort to any firing at the function. According to him, Mr Balraj Singh had given an affidavit later in the court stating that Mr Sidhu was innocent and had not committed the alleged crime. The victim said that he did not want any action to be taken in the matter.

A case has been registered under Section 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others), IPC, and the Arms Act.



Human trafficking racket  busted, one held
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 9
The district police has unearthed a racket of fake travel agents with the arrest of Mr Karan Arora, a resident of Panchkula, who along with his brother Gaurav Arora used to send people abroad by taking huge sums of money. The police presented him in the court and he has been sent to judicial custody up to December 20.

Mr Shiv Kumar, SSP, while talking to The Tribune said Mr Malkiat Singh, a resident of Dashmesh Nagar, Sirhind, complained to the police that Mr Karan Arora has taken Rs 24 Lakh from him allegedly for sending his son Amrinder Singh to Canada. Interestingly the accused also arranged his engagement ceremony with one Miss Martina of Canada and took Rs 4 Lakh on that day and rest was to be paid after visa clearance. The SSP said that on February 17, 2002, he rang up Malkiat Singh and said that visa papers had been cleared and called them to Delhi with the remaining amount and passport. As per the telephonic conversation, Mr Malkiat Singh along with his son reached Delhi and the accused arranged their stay in a hotel in the Paharganj area.

He said the accused also informed Malkiat Singh that there was some discrepancies in the papers and it might take one or two days to clear the papers. In the meantime he also arranged interview of Amrinder Singh with the embassy officials. He said the accused continued to postpone flight on one or the other pretext. On being pressurised by Malkiat Singh, he told him that Miss Martina was demanding more money than the earlier settlement. He also informed Malkiat Singh to wait for more days, as he had to make another arrangement. The SSP said after getting engagement ceremonies completed Miss Martina also disappeared and till today nothing was known about her whereabouts.

The SSP said after investigations Karan Arora was called for interrogation and arrested. He said the kingpin was still at large and the police was making allout efforts to nab him and the Canadian girl.



Two held for demanding ransom
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 9
The Patiala police has arrested two youths for demanding a ransom of Rs 20 lakh from a reputed cardiologist who runs a private hospital in the city.

Superintendent of Police (Detective) Inder Mohan Singh told press conference here today that Dr Sudhir Verma had recently approached district police chief A.S. Rai, complaining that he was receiving anonymous phone calls from some persons, who were demanding a ransom of Rs 20 lakh, failing which they had threatened him and his family members with dire consequences.

The police officer said following this the ransom-seekers again approached the doctor on his mobile, asking him to deliver Rs 20 lakh to them immediately. He said when the doctor pleaded that he could not arrange for such a big amount immediately, the ransom-seekers asked him to deliver as much money as he could to them.

Dr Verma informed the police that the persons who had been threatening him had asked him to place the money in a black bag in a hole in the trunk of a large tree in the Barandari gardens. The SP (D) said according to plan the doctor placed a black bag in the trunk of the tree and left the spot. The police officer said police personnel had been deputed all around the gardens in plain clothes and that two youths came under suspicion when they started walking towards the tree where the money was placed after entering the gardens from the Yadwindra Colony side.

Mr Inder Mohan said the two youths first passed the tree following which they came back after some time and picked the bag and tried to flee. He said they were, however, caught by the police personnel. He said the youths were Tarsem Kumar, a resident of Gharama Patti in Samana subdivision, and Sham Lal, a resident of Motiya Bazar in Samana town. He said the mobile phone from which the youths had phoned Dr Verma was also seized from them. The police officer said Sham Lal had earlier done some carpentry work in the hospital of Dr Verma, during the course of which he came to know about the doctor’s mobile number.



Youths loot money changer
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, December 9
Three unidentified youths looted Rs 84,375 from the shop of Sharma, money changer, situated on the railway road at around 5.15 p.m. here yesterday.

According to Mr Rajesh Sharma, two youths entered his shop after his father Mr K.L. Sharma left the shop at 5 p.m. and started enquiring about the rates of dollars and pounds and suddenly one of them hit him on the head with the back of a pistol and opened the drawer of the counter and took away the cash from it.

The miscreants put down the shutter of the shop and fled on the scooter which was kept started by their accomplice.

A case has been registered.


College, school students hold traffic awareness rally
Our Correspondent

Barnala, December 9
College and school students of the district today held a traffic awareness rally, which started from the New Grain Market Complex and passed through the Civil Hospital Road, Sadar Bazar, College Road and Grain Market Road. The rally was flagged off by Dr Narinder Bhargava, SSP, Barnala police district.

The main feature of the rally was that thousands of students from various colleges and schools participated students carried placards having mottos “Observe traffic rules, save precious lives”, “Do not drive under the spell of intoxicants like liquor” and “Keep to the left” etc.

Dr Bhargava led the rally from the vary starting point covering about 4 km on feet along with his deputies, Mr Mohinder Singh Teji, SP (Headquarters), Mr Gurmail Singh, SP (Decetive), and Mr Kuldip Sharma, DSP (City). Mr Makhan Sharma, Municipal Council chief, Barnala, Mr Krishan Miglani, Director, National Science Research Institute (NSRI) for teenagers, and Mr Krishan Bhargava, Project Chairman of the drive, and Mr Ram Swarup Goyal, Municipal Councillor, accompanied the SSP.

The traffic policemen were seen distributing pamphlets stressing on observing the various traffic rules to avoid accidents.

Earlier, the SSP, while addressing the students, called upon them to first understand the traffic rules themselves and then spread the message. He said this would certainly go a long way in checking fatal accidents.

Giving details of this fortnight-long traffic rules awareness drive in Barnala region, Dr Bhargava informed that in association with the NSRI for teenagers, the district police would organise seminars in various educational institutions and impart training to the college and students to educate public about various traffic rules.


Recruitment of regular teachers sought
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 9
The unemployed Teachers Front, Punjab, today urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to learn a lesson from the debacle of the Congress party in the Assembly elections of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Narottam Singh Pathrala, president of the front, said the state government had not been recruiting regular teachers in schools and it had been causing a huge loss to unemployed teachers.

He said the condemnable attitude of the state government in connection with the non-recruitment of regular teachers would prove fatal for it. He said district-level committees of the front were being set up to launch a struggle against the policies of the state government.


Rotary Club gives sweaters to students
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 9
The Rotary Club, Sirhind, distributed sweaters to students of Government High School, Madhopur, at a function presided over by Mr Daya Singh, District Education Officer Secondary, Fatehgarh Sahib. The DEO appreciated the the Rotary Club, Sirhind, for helping those in need. He said if teachers worked with sincerity and commitment, there was no reason why students of village schools could not come out with flying colours. He said he would ask all school heads to submit a list of needy students so that they could he helped.

Dr Dharminder Singh Ubha, secretary of the club, said that club was always eager to reach out to the needy. He said the activities of the club not only included rendering financial and material help but awakening people about various social evils also.


Malout students win first prize
Our Correspondent

Malout, December 9
Shranav Katyal and Aviral Chhabra, students of 10th standard at DAV Edward Ganj Public School, Malout, have won the first prize in a state-level science fair organised by the SCERT, Punjab, Chandigarh, at Fatehgarh Sahib from December 3 to December 6, Mr G.C. Sharma, Principal of the school, said in a press note. About 20 teams from various districts of Punjab participated in the contest.

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