P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Dissidents don’t want Kidwai on panel
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
Piqued at the leak of information they had furnished during their previous meeting with three-member committee, most of dissident legislators have reportedly requested the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, to keep Mrs Mohsina Kidwai out of the new central committee, which will start meeting each of them from tomorrow onwards.

Sources reveal that before leaving for the union Capital, the dissidents sent a fax message to Mrs Sonia Gandhi, conveying their anguish over how the information they had shared with the committee last time was conveyed to their Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader, Capt Amarinder Singh.

"I have no information of any such message," said a senior leader of the dissidents revealing that "there has been some resentment over the role of certain AICC leaders, who instead of trying to resolve the crisis, were acting in a biased manner."

After attending the bhog ceremony of the death anniversary of Chaudhary Jagat Ram, father of dissident MLA Tarlochan Singh Sund, the dissidents were on their way to New Delhi . They were expected to be in the union capital for next couple of days.

"Even if each MLA takes 10 to 15 minutes, it will take a minimum of 15 to 20 hours for the committee to listen to all. It may mean that interaction may continue till Tuesday or even Wednesday," remarked a Congress leader holding that action will once again shift back to the union Capital for the first half of the new week.

The Chief Minister camp was already in the union Capital. Some of the dissidents had reached there only last night while others were expected there tonight.

Though there is only one change in the committee that met MLAs individually in the first round -- Mr Pranab Mukherjee coming in for Mr Ahmed Patel, the Political Secretary to Mrs Sonia Gandhi -- the dissidents feel that the new committee may not be that sympathetic to them as was the earlier one.

The Chief Minister camp, however, is exuding with confidence and has been maintaining that it may succeed in wooing back some more dissidents. Replacing of Mr Ahmed Patel, whom the Chief Minister had reportedly antagonised in the Punjab DGP case, the loyalists claim it to be a positive development.

The focus will be how the legislators present their individual cases, including their grievances and support their demand against or for change of leadership of the CLP as well as the Punjab Congress Committee.

A strong section of dissidents is still adamant on its demand for the change of the CLP leader holding that the central leadership can either save the present Chief Minister or the party in the State.

"Both cannot be saved as the present crisis has already generated enough of bitterness. The message has gone down to masses and the damage it has caused cannot be undone," said another dissident holding that there has been no change in the functioning of the Punjab government. "Those who were earlier wielding power openly are now doing so clandestinely," they add.


Shradhanjli samaroh turns into show of strength
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, January 4
The ‘shradhanjli samaroh’ organised to mark the death anniversary of former minister Chaudhary Jagat Ram, who was gunned down by militants in 1988, at his native village Soond, about 20 km from here, today by his son and dissident Congress MLA from Banga, Mr Tarlochan Singh Soond, virtually turned out to be a ‘show of solidarity’ by the dissident Congress ministers and MLAs.

The samaroh was attended by a large number of ministers, former ministers, MLAs, MPs and former MLAs, including Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, Mr Tej Parkash Singh, Dr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, Mr Rakesh Pandey, Mr Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Ms Santosh Chaudhary, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, Mr Ram Lubhaya, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Mr Sadhu Singh Amloh, Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, Mr Lakhmir Singh Randhawa, Mr Santokh Singh Randhawa, Mr Harbans Lal, Mr Parkash Bhatti, Mr Raj Khurana, Mr Rumal Chand, Mr Gurvinder Singh Atwal.

While paying tributes to Chaudhary Jagat Ram, Congress leaders said the party had made a lot of sacrifices for the sake of peace in the state and the present generation of Congress leaders belonged to the families of ‘martyrs’ who had made sacrifices for the sake of peace, prosperity, unity and integrity of the nation as well as of the state.

They tried to ‘interpret’ their dissidence as the struggle for the poor and Dalits.

The message of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, was read on the stage by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Harjit Inder Singh Grewal amid murmurs of dissent by the dissidents.

Mr Harnam Dass Johar, inadvertently addressed Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal as former minister in his address but ‘rectified’ his mistake by addressing her as Chief Minister and even asked the gathering to endorse his ‘ratification’. The leaders present on the stage applauded Mr Johar. Later, talking to mediapersons, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said they would leave for New Delhi. When asked about the possibilities of change of leadership, Ms Bhattal said the dissidents being ‘true Congressmen’ had brought their grievances against the functioning of the Chief Minister to the notice of the AICC President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, and now the ball was in the court of the party high command.

However, she tried to evade the question when asked about her future strategy if the Congress High Command refused to accept her demand of changing the Chief Minister. The grievances of the dissidents were being endorsed even by the Chief Minister himself as he had openly admitted that he had committed mistakes”, she said adding that the Chief Minister had not ‘improved’ his style of functioning practically. Even now, Mr Bharat Inder Singh Chahal, his media adviser, was ‘enjoying’ the same powers. She attributed the present crisis in the Punjab Congress to the ‘conspiracy’ by some bureaucrats and non-MLAs who had been enjoying extra constitutional powers. She said these “mischievous elements” had been conspiring to defame the Congress leaders by ‘manipulating’ fake corruption cases and planting ‘fabricated’ stories against them. When asked who was responsible for the present crisis, Ms Bhattal said diplomatically “all of you know it very well”.

When asked to comment over the demand of CBI inquiry into the allegations of hawala transactions against Mr Raninder Singh, son of Capt Amarinder Singh, Ms Bhattal said she fully supported the views expressed by the Congress MP, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar.

Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar expressed hope that the present crisis in the party would be resolved by Maghi mela.


Security tightened at Amritsar, Delhi airports
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 4
A red alert has been sounded at Amritsar and New Delhi international airports following the seizure of fake Indian currency worth Rs 4.72 lakh in denomination of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 by Jalandhar police here on Saturday. Moreover, the way in which Jagtar Singh, kingpin of the racket, had managed to bring fake currency worth Rs 49 lakh in three consignments from Dubai through Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, has put a question mark on the functioning of security and Intelligence authorities concerned.

Sources revealed that it was for the first time that fake currency worth Rs 1.1 lakh in denomination of Rs1,000 had been seized in Punjab, thus, ringing alarm bells among the police and Intelligence agencies. These agencies are gearing up to nab some more “identified” agents, who are instrumental in circulating fake currency in Punjab and the adjoining states allegedly at the behest of Pakistan’s ISI.

Meanwhile, the district police has reportedly informed the ADGP (Intelligence) office about the seizure of fake currency and revelations made by the arrested persons about the involvement of Dubai-based ISI agent Sheikh Mohammad in the racket.

Subsequently, the ADGP (Intelligence) office informed the authorities concerned at Amritsar and New Delhi international airports to further intensify the scanning of baggage of passengers, particularly, of those returning from Dubai.

The kinpin of the racket, Jagtar Singh revealed during preliminary interrogation, revealed that he had brought three consignments of fake Indian currency worth Rs 49 lakh during the past six months from Dubai via air route. Intelligence agencies at Delhi were also keeping a tab on the officials involved in the racket, sources added.

The police here was further interrogating the arrested persons to expose the chain of such agents, who were behind the circulation of fake currency in the region. Meanwhile, Jagtar Singh, Buta Singh, Makhan Singh and Nirmal Singh, were produced in local court, which sent them to police custody till January 11.


42 parboiled rice mills face closure
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, January 4
Due to delay in finalising the list of approved consultants by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB),  42 parboiled rice mills of the state are facing the threat of closure. The power connections to these mills were once disconnected after their treated waste water  samples failed to achieve the parameters prescribed by the PPCB. Later, the connections were temporarily restored on the condition that six demo plants designed by different consultants would be set up by millers and  the board would  subsequently approve their names after studying the performance of each unit.

Sources in the industry said according to board’s earlier policy, almost all 450 parboiled rice mills in the state were issued ‘consent to operate’ for 15 years after studying the efficacy effluent treatment plant (ETP ) installed by the respective unit.

Last year, the board in a study, in collaboration with the Science and Technology Department, found that these plants did not meet the prescribed standards.

Notices were issued to all parboiled rice mills of the state under the Water Act revoking the ‘consent to operate’. But later, in a meeting between millers and  the board on August 14, 2003, it was decided that at first six demo ETPs, designed by different private consultants, would be set up. Remaining were to be upgraded keeping in view the performance of these units. The power connection to all 42 plants were restored up to December 31, 2003.

Although all demo ETPs have been commissioned, but neither any study to evaluate their efficacy has been conducted till date, nor the  restoration period of connections has been extended.

Mr Rajesh Nagpal,  a rice miller, said in the absence of any clear-cut directions, the millers were at the mercy of field staff, who interpreted the situation according to their  convenience giving a chance to manipulations.

When contacted, Mr Malwinder Singh, Member Secretary, PPCB,  said the study of  newly set up treatment plants was under process. Framing a uniform policy for the whole state would take some more time, he added.


Suppressed turnover worth Rs 6 cr unearthed
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 4
In an attempt to plug the pilferage of tax, the Excise and Taxation Department, during a week long special drive, has unearthed a suppressed turnover worth Rs 6 crore by conducting raids on the premises of 17 business establishments in the state. The department has also issued notices to 12 “dhaba” owners in the state to get registered as their annual turnover was over Rs 5 lakh.

Sources in the department revealed that raids were conducted on 17 registered dealers in jewellery, marble, hardware, oil mills and cotton mills and suppressed turnover worth Rs 6 crore was detected while the documentary and other material records were confiscated.

In Jalandhar, the officials concerned inspected the sale records of four jewellery shops — Babu Ram and Sons, Dault Ram Faqir Chand at Appra village and Chaman Lal Subash Chand and Subash Chand and Brothers at Noormahal and found that gold ornaments and other articles worth Rs 3 crore had been sold to customers either without issuing any bills or the bill value had been supressed to evade tax. Besides, the raiding team found variation in stocks of gold while these four dealers deposited a sum of Rs 3.25 lakh as penalty.

When contacted, the Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Mr Avtar Singh, said during the inspection of records at hotel Regent Park in Jalandhar, it was found that tax on a sum of Rs 5 lakh had been evaded by suppressing the value of bills.

He further said irregularities were found in the sales records of four dealers in Mohali, three in Bathinda and five in Patiala. “We have detected Rs 30 lakh of sale without bills during checking of records of Sri Ram Cotton Industry, Bathinda. Besides, three marble shops were also found to be evading tax. The defaulters have been issued notices to deposit the tax immediately,” he said, adding that the department was planning to further tighten the noose around tax evaders.

He said during a state-level survey, it was found that 12 “dhabas”, whose annual turnover was over Rs 5 lakh, were doing business without getting registered with the department.

Out of 12 “dhabas”, four each were located in Jalandhar, Mohali and Patiala.

These dhaba owners have been issued notices to get the mandatory taxation number and to deposit requisite tax to avoid any penal action against them.


Spokesman editor not to appear before Takht
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
Mr Joginder Singh, Chief Editor of Spokesman magazine, affirmed today that he would not appear before the Akal Takht Jathedar till the Sikh clergy is able to convince him of being guilty of any wrongdoing. He was summoned by the Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti to clarify his position before the Sikh clergy on January 7 for his alleged blasphemous acts.

Addressing a Press conference here, the Editor while releasing copies of the letter of his reply to the Jathedar has not only raised certain issues concerning the Sikh community but also sought withdrawal of the same till high priests were able to explain the grounds on which he was being summoned.

“Entrust the entire issue to a committee of independent Panthic thinkers and ask them to suggest how the entire Panth can remain ideologically united. And if they are able to satisfy me where I have gone wrong, I have no hassles in appearing before the Takht,” he states.

“Badal and the Sikh clergy (Vedanti) are blackmailing Sikhs,” he said, alleging that he was summoned at the instance of Mr Badal.

“I am committed to offering clarifications about each and every complaint sent by you. But we need to see the details of arguments advanced by the complainant and copies of the same should be made available...,” Mr Joginder Singh said. He said he did not find anything wrong in the articles written by him on the Sikh religious issues.

“Spokesman”, a weekly magazine published in Punjabi and English, is believed to be a “mouthpiece of the panth”. After Barjinder Singh Hamdard, Managing Editor of a vernacular daily, Mr Joginder Singh is the second Editor to be summoned at Akal Takht.


CM’s next book is on post-1947 military
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
To unwind, Capt Amarinder Singh, picks up the pen. It is writing that helps the Chief Minister to relax. He does most of the writing at night before going off to sleep.

However, of late, he has not been able to concentrate on writing due to the intensity of the evolving crisis in his party. All he is able to do is some reading before the lights are switched off.

In a talk with The Tribune today, he said after his two books, ‘Lest We Forget’ and ‘A Ridge Too Far—War in the Kargil Heights, 1999’, he is all set to write another book, continuation of ‘Lest We Forget’. “I have collected a lot of material. It is about the story of the Indian military after Independence.’’

Another book he is working on is on the Anglo-Sikh wars. “All we have is the political story, how the Sikhs got embroiled. The military aspect is missing. I have been able to get material from British sources as well. Finding details of the Khalsa regiments is not easy.”

The Captain who has not had the time to see LOC, Kargil’ a movie on the Kargil war, has one big satisfaction. “My son, Raninder, is a good friend of Saif, son of Pataudi, who acts in the film. One day, Ran was visiting Saif and saw my book, ‘A Ridge Too Far’, on his coffee table. He asked him how come he had his Dad’s book. To this Saif said J.P. Dutta, who has made the movie, had given a copy each to all principal actors to read and get acquainted with what had exactly happened in the Kargil war. Now that is something to feel good about. I will see the movie at the first opportunity.”

The Chief Minister was in the Army. He was ADC to the GOC-in-C, Western Command, during the 1965 Indo-Pak war. Military history is his favourite subject and reading biographies and autobiographies of military heroes his first love.


NCP not averse to joining NDA
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 4
Mr Amritpal Singh Brar, spokesperson and general secretary, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Punjab, today said his party was not averse to the idea of joining the NDA and that the party chief, Mr Sharad Pawar, had been meeting with various prominent political figures of the country to work out an electoral alliance in view of the Lok Sabha elections.

He said Mr Pawar had met with former Prime Ministers Chander Shekhar and H.D. Deve Gowda, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh and former Chief Minister of Punjab Parkash Singh Badal to discuss the current political situation in the country.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Brar said no political party was untouchable for the NCP and it had three options for having an electoral alliance i.e. with the Congress, the Left parties and others, and the NDA.

He said party leaders belonging to various states had urged Mr Pawar to keep in view the anti-Congress sentiment prevailing among the party rank and file and workers in various states, including Manipur, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and Meghalaya, before making any strategy for having an electoral alliance with the Congress.

He said to decide the issue pertaining to electoral alliance, the meeting of national executive of the NCP would be held on January 25 in Delhi. Apart from discussions on the issue of electoral alliance, the NCP leadership would also work out party’s strategy for the Lok Sabha election during the meeting.


BJP, SAD harming anti-graft drive, claims union
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 4
The Unemployed Youth Union, Punjab, today alleged that a section of the BJP, SAD and some Congressmen had ganged up against the state Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to harm the anti-corruption campaign launched by him. In a press note issued here today, Mr Dharminder Singh and Mr Raghbir Singh, president and adviser of the union, respectively, said Captain Amarinder’s war against corruption had started to show good results. However, a certain section of politicians, including those of the BJP and the Akali Dal, and bureaucrats were playing foul to cause a setback to the campaign.

To harm the anti-corruption drive, these politicians and bureaucrats had formed an “unholy” alliance and started distributing the political stability in the state.

They said Capt Amarinder Singh’s unflinching commitment towards the anti-corruption drive was reflected when he constituted an inquiry by a retired judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court into the alleged involvement of his son Raninder Singh in a Hawala deal.


BJP will get two-thirds majority: Minister
Our Correspondent

Barnala, January 4
The Bharatiya Janata Party will get two-thirds majority in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, claimed Mr Sangh Priya Gautam, Minister of State for Agro-Rural Industries, here today. He said the BJP would field around 375 candidates out of 543, leaving the rest for its allies.

Mr Gautam, said this, while addressing  a press conference in Shaheed Natha Singh Memorial Gurdwara Complex, Dhanaula, about 15 km. from here, where he had gone to attend the birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Gobind Singh along with Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, Punjab BJP general secretary.

Mr Gautam asserted that the prospects of the BJP getting two-thirds majority in the coming Lok Sabha poll had brightened because of the faster pace of  all-round development  during the five-year tenure of  Vajpayee-led  NDA government. He said decades long Congress rule at the Centre had failed to achieve rapid results of development.

He said the foreign exchange reserves in India had risen from $ 32 billion in 1998 to $ 102 billion during the NDA rule. He added that the GDP too had touched the 8.4 per cent figure during the NDA regime. He said during the NDA rule India had done remarkably well in food grain and milk production. He claimed that the country was currently number one in milk production in the world and it was now exporting wheat, sugar and paddy to 26 nations.

Mr Gautam said India had also made advancements in the field of science and technology. During the NDA rule at the Centre, 4.5 crore telephone connections had been provided in the country whereas only 3 crore telephone connections were there during the Congress regimes.

On being asked whether the BJP would continue to share power at the Centre with its allies, he replied in the affirmative.


Thousands administered Pulse Polio drops
Tribune Reporters

Bathinda, January 4
Thousands of children up to the age of 5 years were administered anti-polio vaccine under the ongoing pulse polio vaccination drive launched by the Health Department.

Vaccination booths were set up at various places in the city including schools, religious places, slum areas and even bus stops. Volunteers of various NGOs, social service organisations helped the authorities in the task.

Dr H.S. Dhillon, officiating Civil Surgeon, said 721 booths were set up in the district for immunising more than 1.6 lakh children. He said the district was divided into six blocks and 528 posts were set up in villages, while 193 posts were set up in urban areas.

He said the campaign was launched by officiating Deputy Commissioner, Ms K.P. Brar, by administering polio drops to children at a slum area near Model Town. He said while more than 90 per cent children in the target group had been administered polio drops, the remaining would be covered under the two-day house-to-house campaign on Monday and Tuesday.

Volunteers of various NGOs and social service organisations were also seen administering polio drops to children travelling in buses, trains and other vehicles in the city.

PHAGWARA: Polio drops were administered to 25,514 children up to the age of 5 years in Phagwara subdivision here on Sunday. The Punjab Social Welfare Minister, Mr Joginder Singh Mann, inaugurated the drive. In all, 143 teams were engaged in the project.

SANGRUR: Polio drops were administered to about 2.48 lakh children at 1,060 booths in Sangrur district on Sunday. Forgy-four mobile teams also joined the effort.

Dr J.R. Bansal, Civil Surgeon, Sangrur, said Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, inaugurated two polio camps in the town, while Dr G.L. Goyal, Director, Family Welfare, Punjab, inaugurated three camps at Sangrur, Sunam and Bigarrwal village.

The local Osho Youth Club also organised a camp at the local Police Lines Hospital. It was inaugurated by Mr Gurinder Singh Dhillon, SSP, Sangrur.

HOSHIARPUR: The pulse polio campaign was inaugurated by Mr Romesh Chander Dogra, Health and Family Welfare Minister, Punjab, at a function held at the Guru Ram Dass Institute of Nursing here on Sunday. He administered polio drops to children there.

He said about 16,000 teams, consisting of more than 70,000 employees, had been constituted in the state to administer polio drops to about 37 lakh children up to five years of age. He said in 1988, polio was existing in 125 countries of the world. The number of such countries had reduced to seven now and India was one of them. There were 1,600 polio patients in the country in 2002. The number came down to 188 in October, 2003. There was only one polio patient in Punjab during the aforesaid month.

Dr Y.C. Markan, Civil Surgeon, Hoshiarpur, said 995 teams would administer polio drops to about 1.9 lakh children in the district.

BATALA: Pulse polio camps were organised here on Sunday with the help of non-government organisations. Polio drops were administered children up to the age of 5 years.

The camps were held at the Civil Hospital, bus stand, railway station, Gandhi camp and slum areas.

PHILLAUR: Thousands of children were administered polio drops here on Sunday at camps organised by the Health Department. Various social organisations also assisted the department in organising these camps. Mobile teams went door to door. Arrangements were made to administer polio drops to small children at bus stands and railway station.

AMRITSAR: Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti and Deputy Commissioner Raminder Singh inaugurated the pulse polio campaign here on Sunday.

The Deputy Commissioner said 1,786 pulse polio booths had been set up in the city besides 122 mobile centres.

He said there were 4.76 lakh children in the district who were below five years of age. He said, 7,616 persons would administer polio drops to children.

Dr H.S. Gill, Civil Surgeon, said a camp was also held at Rajasansi International Airport to administer drops to children coming from outside.

ROPAR: The pulse polio campaign in the district was launched by the Principal Secretary (Health), Mr D.S. Guru, here on Sunday. Mr Guru said the state had been divided into three zones for the campaign. Each zone was being monitored by the Director (Health). About 16,000 booths were set up in the entire state.

He said the case reported from Nangal was the solitary case of polio infection in the state. Five hundred children, who could have come in contact with the infected child, were also administered polio vaccine, he added.


2.22 lakh children get polio drops
Tribune Reporters

Patiala, January 4
With the help of nearly 939 booths and 42 mobile teams, nearly 2.22 lakh children of Patiala district were given polio drops.

Ms Satwant Kaur Boparai inaugurated the camp at SHC Theri, near Punjabi University, by giving drops, while the Chairman Warehousing Corporation, Mr Hardyal Singh Kamboj, the Chairman Improvement Trust, Mr K.K. Sharma, the Chairman PRTC, Mr Ved Parkesh Gupta, the president, IMA, Mr O.P.S. Kandey, and the ADC Mr Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon, inaugurated the camps at SHC Sular, City Branch Dispensary, CHC Model Town and Sikligarh Basti, New Yadvindera Colony Dispensary and Arya Samaj Dispensary, respectively.

Dr Hardev Singh, Civil surgeon, said the drive would continue on January 5 and 6.

The Shiv Mandir Dharmshalla Committee also organised a camp at Shiv Mandir. As many as 400 children were given drops. Speaking on the occasion, the president of the committee Mr Janak Rai Garg, said there was a need to create awareness among people about the importance of polio drops.

The Health Awareness Club of the Government College of Education organised camps at bus stand, railway station, PRTC workshop and Kali Devi Mandir.

PEPSU Roadways in collaboration with the Patiala Social Welfare Society organised a camp at bus stand. The Chairman of the PRTC, Mr Ved Parkesh Gupta, was the chief guest on the occasion. As many as, 1725 children were given drops. The president of the society, Mr Vijay Kumar Goel, and the PRTC General Manager, Mr Pardeep Kumar, were also present.

Ambala: Nearly 1 lakh kids were given polio drops in Ambala district.

The Health Department had set up 625 booths. As many as 14 mobile teams were also constituted to provide drops to the children od slum areas. Sixteen centres were also set up at railway stations and bus stands. Some of the social organisation, including the Rotary Club, also offered their cooperation in the campaign.

The Station Health Organisation, Ambala Cantonment, conducted the campaign in Army areas. Nearly 3,550 children were given drops. The president of the Army Wives association, Ms Meena G.D. Singh, said the Army had planned to offer polio drops to 100 per cent children residing in Army areas. Brig Pruthwi Raj and Lieut-Col Rajat Shrivastava were also present on this occasion.

Dera Bassi: The Health Department in association with the local units of the Bharat Vikas Parisad, and the Rotary Club administered drops to 30,156 children.

According to Dr Ram Kumar, SMO, 135 teams, including eight mobile teams, 10 for urban areas and 114 for rural areas, were pressed into service.

FATEHGARH SAHIB: Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, inaugurated the pulse polio campaign in the district by administering polio drops to children at Civil Hospital here. It was for the first time that the District police joined hands with the civil administration to root out polio from the district. Mr Shiv Kumar, SSP, administered the polio drops to children at a camp organised by the Lions Club Sirhind at GT Road, Sirhind. The traffic police was deputed in large numbers to stop all the vehicles on GT Road and voluanteers gave polio drops to children travelling in buses and cars. The police arranged a polio drops camp at Sirhind railway station and the Police Lines, Fatehgarh Sahib.

Dr Inderjit Kaur Walia, Civil Surgeon, said that to make this campaign a success the Health Department had organised 535 special polio sewa camps to administer polio drops to the children between the age group of 0 to 5 years. Besides, five mobile teams administered polio drops in remote rural and slum areas.


Gadar Party founder remembered
Our Correspondent

Bhakhana, (Amritsar), January 4
The 134th birth anniversary of Baba Sohan Singh Bhakhana, founder of the Gadar Party, was celebrated at his ancestral village Bhakhana Kalan, around 18 km from here, today.

The annual get-together of villagers to remember the revolutionary, who vigorously took part in the freedom movement of the country and founded the Gadar Party in 1913 in the USA, has turned into a fair. A large number of persons from all over the district thronged his “samadh”, where the Communist Party of India (CPI) had organised a function.

Mr Dhyan Singh (74), a freedom fighter who took part in the Harsha Cheena Mogha Morcha in 1946 at the age of 16, presided over the proceedings.

The grandson of Baba Bhakhana, Mr Hajara Singh Gill, who is also sarpanch of Malluwal village, said like every year his family organised Akhand Path in the morning. However, he rued the apathy of the government towards the promises made on the occasion of birth anniversary celebrations of Baba Bhakhana earlier, which were yet to be fulfilled. He said in 1993, the then Chief Minister of Punjab, Beant Singh, had promised to give Rs 1 lakh for the construction of a library in the name of Baba Bhakhana at the village. But only Rs 40,000 had been paid so far, he added. Mr Gill said the building of the library was constructed with the help of an NRI but it was without even a single book.

“The other unfulfilled promises include the construction of a bust at Chheharta bypass and the naming of the road from Khasa to Bhakhana village after Baba Bhakhana”, stated Mr Gill.

A cultural troupe from Beas presented three plays depicting the problems being faced by rural folks. Leaders of the CPI later addressed the gathering.


Bhaura’s death mourned
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 4
The death of senior CPI leader Mr Bhan Singh Bhaura, sitting MP from this constituency, was mourned by a large number of employee unions, political leaders and social activists.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Mohan Verma, general secretary, Guru Milk Plant Employees Union, said Bhaura devoted his entire life for the betterment of the workers. He said that the deceased leader had raised the voice of the labour class in the Parliament.

In separate statements Mr Jagjit Singh Gill Patti, chief organiser, District Congress Seva Dal, said volunteers had convened a meeting to mourn the death of the MP today. Mr Jagjit Singh Joga, CPI leader, said a meeting would be organised to mourn the death of Bhaura at the Government School for Girls on the Mall Road January 8.

Mr Gulzar Singh, District Secretary, Punjab Khet Mazdoor Sabha, said Bhaura had played a vital role in alleviating pain and suffering from the lives of farm hands. He expressed sympathy with the family of the deceased leader.


Fish seed farm officer alleges frame-up
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 4
The Chief Executive Officer fish seed farm Katli, Ropar, Mr S.M. Dogra, yesterday gave his version on the charges of cheating levelled against him. Talking to The Tribune on phone Mr Dogra alleged that he had been framed in the case.

Complainant Sohan Singh had been duped by some other persons. The complainant earlier filed a complaint against him before the Deputy Commissioner Ropar, Ms Seema Jain. The Deputy Commissioner had marked the inquiry to the ADC who did not find any truth in the charges against him, Mr Dogra said.

He also clarified that he had not issued any cheque to the complainant as alleged by the complaint. The information of the fact was given to the police.

The police without verifing have filed an FIR against him, he said.

He had also filed a case against the complainant and his accomplice for threatening him in his office, he maintained.

The Ropar police has registered a case of cheating under Sections 420 and 406 of the IPC against Mr Dogra on the complaint of Sohan Singh of Fatehgarh Sahib.


One killed as shell explodes
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 4
One person was killed when a shell from which he was trying to extract iron exploded in a gas-welding shop at Sewak Colony here this afternoon.

Ravinderpal Singh, alias Dimple (32), who dealt in junk, died on the spot. He is survived by his wife and three children, all of whom are below five years old. Ravinder’s shop was opposite his house in Sewak Colony. Another person, identified as Lalli, who runs a tea stall in the neighbourhood, was injured on being hit by splinters following the blast.

According to Dimple’s family members, some children had delivered some scrap to him in the morning which, they said, had been collected from the Army area. They said Ravinder was extracting iron from this heap of scrap when the explosion took place.

Residents said the explosion was so powerful that it broke windowpanes of nearby houses. The residents also expressed resentment over permission to run such shops in residential areas.

Superintendent of Police (City) R.L. Monga reached the spot. The body of the deceased has been sent to the Government Rajindra Hospital for a post-mortem examination. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has announced an ex gratia relief of Rs 50,000 to the family of the deceased from his discretionary fund."


Residents for lighting flyover
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 4
Residents of trans railway colonies of the city have expressed unhappiness over the non-installation of streetlights on the newly constructed over-bridge at the Khooni Phatak.

In a press note issued here today, Mr M.M. Behal, convener, Gadar Sena, alleged that no department was taking the responsibility of installing the streetlights on the new flyover. He said thousands of commuters used the flyover every night and there was fear of serious mishaps. He added that the flyover had sharp curves at places and visibility was very poor due to fog and absence of lightings.

He said the District Magistrate should fix the responsibility of a department that would be asked to install streetlights on the bridge. He claimed that if the work to install the streetlights was not initiated by the authorities, they would start a relay hunger strike to press their demands.


Amarinder greets people on Gurpurb
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today greeted the people on the 337th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh and called upon them to follow the teachings of the great spiritual ambassador.

In a message on the eve of the birth anniversary of the 10th Guru, the Chief Minister said Guru Gobind Singh preached and practised the gospels of love, oneness of mankind and universal brotherhood throughout his life.


Lakhs attend Sarhalikalan fair
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, January 4
Lakhs of persons attended the annual three-day fair organised in memory of Baba Tara Singh and Baba Charan Singh of Sarhaliwale. The fair concluded at Sarhalikalan yesterday.

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, SAD (A), Mr Sukhdev Singh Shahbazpuri, general secretary, PPCC, and heads of different kar sewa deras addressed the gathering.


Road in memory of Ranjodh Singh

Patiala, January 4
The bhog ceremony of Sergeant Ranjodh Singh, who died following a gun battle in the Kashmir valley on December 24 at the Ghalori gate was held at Gurdwara Singh Sabha here today.

Municipal Corporation Mayor Vishnu Sharma announced that a road in the memory of martyr Ranjodh Singh would be constructed from NIS to Ragho Majra.

The Deputy Director of the Sainik Welfare Department Mr Surmukh Singh, presented a relief cheque to the father of the martyr, Mr Randhir Singh. Mr Surmukh Singh also presented a “Siropa” and “Gutka” to Mr Randhir Singh. A condolence note on the behalf of the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and MP, Preneet Kaur, was also read. OC


Class IV staff to hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 4
The Class IV Government Employees Union, Punjab, organised a meeting at its district office here today. The meeting was presided over by the union leader Jagmohan Singh.

The union members announced that a state-level dharna would be organised in front of the office of State Director of Food and Supply to protest against the 'anti-employee' policies of the state government on January 7. The members of the union further demanded that the remaining salary of the employees who died in service should be given immediately.

The district general secretary, Mr Rub Lal, further said that a state level dharna would also organised in front of the official residence of Chief Minister and Finance Minister on January 22.


Patwari held for fraud
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 4
The district police claimed to have unearthed a racket of selling government, private and SGPC properties by making bogus documents in connivance with revenue officials and a flesh trade racket with the arrest of a patwari.

Interestingly, the patwari had sold Canal Rest House at Adampur having 19.5 acres of land to five different parties, including an office-bearer of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC). The accused was arrested on the complaint of Mr Pardeep Kanwal, an owner of Aggarwal Steel Rolling Mills, Mandi Gobindgarh.

Addressing mediapersons here today, Mr Shiv Kumar, SSP, said the police had got a complaint from Mr Kanwal against the patwari, Gurpal Singh, alias Raja, who is presently posted at Mulepur. The complainant stated that he had paid Rs 18.5 lakh to the patwari for the purchase and transfer of a piece of land. The accused made bogus documents of the land belonging to the SGPC at Mahadian village. The SSP said, acting on his complaint, the police arrested the patwari from Bassi Pathana.

The SSP said the patwari admitted that he had taken Rs 18.5 lakh and out of this Rs 15 lakh was given to higher revenue officials of the district. He stated that he had sold the rest house first to Bittu Attwal of Ludhiana for Rs 12.5 lakh, then to Sukhwinder Singh of Balhari for Rs 15 lakh, then to Pardeep Malhotra of Bassi Pathana, who is secretary of the PPCC, for Rs 18.5 lakh, then to Harpreet Singh of Ludhiana for Rs 10 lakh, and then to Bhagh Singh and Labh Singh for Rs 5 lakh by making bogus documents. The SSP said the accused also admitted that he was also running the flesh trade racket.

A case under Sections 420, 506, 120-B of the IPC has been registered.

Meanwhile, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, said orders had been issued to suspend the patwari.


Petrol pump looted

Phagwara, January 4
Some unidentified armed robbers looted a petrol pump near Bundala village on the Goraya-Zandiala road and injured one of its employees last night.

According to the information, the injured employee, Vinod Kumar, was admitted to the Civil Hospital.

The robbers fled on a scooter from the petrol pump after snatching Rs 19,000 from the employee.

The police has registered a case and is investigating. — UNI


Traffic constable held for taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 4
The police has registered a case against Jagdev Singh, a constable with the local traffic police, for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 50 from a truck driver.

Mr Nilabh Kishore, SP (City), when contacted today, said the case under Sections 13 (2), 88 of the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered yesterday at the city kotwali. He added that the constable had been sent to jail.


4-year-old boy sodomised

Tarn Taran, January 4
In a bizarre incident, a four-year-old boy was sodomised by Suresh Kumar in the Bhikhiwind area here on the eve of New Year. However, the case under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was registered at the Bhikhiwind police station only today.

Brajesh Kumar, a sepoy in the Border Security Force (BSF), in his complaint alleged that the accused, who was the son of another BSF sepoy Shiv Narayan and lived in BSF quarters, has sodomised his son. However, no arrest has been made so far. The accused was absconding after the incident. — TNS


Varsity to focus on Punjabi research
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 4
Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai held a year-ender press conference here which focused on the development works in the university. He, however, refused to reply “controversial” questions, particularly those regarding the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Dr R.N. Pal.

Even though development was in focus at the Press conference, the fact that all top officials of the university were present on the occasion except for the Pro Vice-Chancellor highlighted how far the two top administrators have drifted and how much Dr Pal has been sidelined.

Mr Boparai was, however, willing to take on one question. This was regarding the demand made by the Pro Vice-Chancellor that he should declare his properties after he had joined government service. The Pro Vice-Chancellor had made this demand after he has been accused of financial impropriety by the university authorities on a complaint to the Chancellor. Mr Boparai said he had been filing the complete list of the properties during his service and that he had not added to that property after taking over as Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University.

Meanwhile, a special Centre for the Development of Punjabi Language is in the offing which will put Punjabi research, including the famous Encyclopaedia of the Sikhs, on the internet. The other priorities of the university are the development of the engineering college set up on the campus and completion of the Kala Bhavan which is expected to give a fillip to performing arts on the campus.

Pbi varsity sans teachers’ association

The university, which was known for its teacher politics, has been without a Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA) since the past one-and-half year. The genesis of the problem lies with a decision taken by the former Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia to allow teachers of the Bathinda and Talwandi Sabo Centres of the university, to cast their votes in the PUTA poll. After the departure of Ahluwalia, the university ruled that these teachers were not competent to cast their votes in PUTA elections. The teachers whose votes were cancelled approached the court which allowed the election but put a stay on its counting. With no PUTA since then the university teachers have been denied any platform to air their grievances, even though some are appreciating the quietitude enforced on the campus by the stay on counting.

Honour for two teachers

Two teachers of the university have achieved distinction in their different fields. Dr Chaman Lal of the Hindi department was invited to Kolkata to present a paper on “Communalism, Partition and Jhoota Sach”. The seminar was held to mark the centenary celebrations of litterateur Yashpal who wrote the magna opus “Jhoota Sach”.

The university will organise a seminar on the writings of Yashpal soon. Besides, Dr Janak Raj Gupta of the Economics Department has achieved the distinction of having his paper on “Emerging Scenario of Federal Financial Relations in India” published in the Prof J.K. Mehta Centenary Number of the Indian Journal of Economics.


Ex-APRO complains against VC
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 4
Former Punjabi University Assistant Public Relations Officer (APRO) Harminder Singh Khokhar, whose services were dispensed with following a decision of the Synidcate to abolish his post, today appealed to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to order the varsity Vice- Chancellor to restore him to his job.

In a representation to the Commission today, the former APRO claimed that the Vice- Chancellor had violated the reservation policy by abolishing his post. The representation also claimed that the VC had earlier triggered off a controversy by abolishing reservation in recruitment to jobs in the varsity. Mr Khokhar has claimed that he was discriminated against because he belonged to Scheduled Caste. He urged the Commission to intervene in the matter.


Bikram alumni meet
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 4
The first annual meeting of Bikram Alumni (Global) Association of the local Government Bikram College of Commerce was held in the college campus here yesterday.

The association has nearly 56 life members and 290 annual members. The Secretary of the association, Prof Manjeet Lata, highlighted the activities of the association.

The Principal of the local Mohindra College, Dr R.K Sharma, an old Bikramite and Prof K.K Seksena, former Principal of the college, exhorted the gathering to contribute their best for the association. The President of the association, Mr Harbans Lal Bansal, presented a vote of thanks.


HDFC launches insurance, pension plans
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 4
HDFC Standard Life launched its unit-linked insurance and pension plans here today. The company has launched two products on the unit-linked platform — the HDFC unit-linked endowment plan and the HDFC unit-linked pension plan.

Through their flexible features, the plans can be structured according to an individual’s specific needs. Speaking on the occasion, branch Manager Maninder Sood said this would help an individual to increase his savings in the long run while providing risk cover.

He said the HDFC unit-linked pension plan would help in accumulating a corpus for the post-retirement period. These plans are targeted at individuals who want to make their own investment choice while choosing their insurance and pension plans.

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