P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



VB to send teams to probe Badals’ properties abroad
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 14
The Director of the Vigilance Bureau, Mr Mohd Azhar Alam, today said special teams of the bureau would be sent abroad to investigate into the issue of properties allegedly possessed by former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his family.

“We are in the process of completing the requisite formalities for sending the bureau’s teams abroad to collect evidences against Mr Badal and his family for possessing properties even as we are in constant touch with the agencies of foreign land for the task,” Mr Alam told reporters here today.

Terming the probe into Badals’ property as a “Himalayan task”, Mr Alam said, “We have already prepared a list of properties of Mr Badal, but as for as timing of filling separate challans against him for his foreign properties is concerned, it will be difficult to predict time framework at this juncture of investigation.”

Regarding the charge sheet already filed in a Ropar court, he said the bureau has sufficient evidences to take the case to its logical conclusion and if some more evidences were collected in the case, these would also be submitted in the court.

Asked whether there was lack of evidence against Ravi Sidhu, former Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) in “job for money” scam, as the former was granted bail by the court, Mr Alam denied the same and said in a corruption case the maximum punishment was for seven years only and Sidhu had already spent almost two years behind bars.

Regarding the setting up of two fast-track courts to deal with the corruption cases, he said the High Court had already accepted the request of state government and process was on to set up these courts at Jalandhar and Patiala.

On the issue of alleged Vigilance Bureau “raid” on the residence of Punjab Technical Education Minister, Mohinder Singh Kay Pee, Mr Alam reiterated that no VB official went to the minister’s house and the matter has already brought in the notice of the district police.


Rana Sodhi eyes Ferozepore LS seat
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
As politicians have started warming up for the general election, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s Political Secretary, Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, has shown inclination to contest the Ferozepore Lok Sabha seat.

Sources said Mr Sodhi had discussed the issue with the Chief Minister. Rana Sodhi, Congress MLA from Guru Harsahai (Ferozepore), has take up the matter with other senior leaders. However, sources said Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, who had last time defeated Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal to enter the Lok Sabha from Faridkot, is also keen to shift to Ferozepore. He has also reportedly discussed the issue with the Chief Minister and other leaders.

But the Congress high command wants Mr Brar to contest from Faridkot. As Mr Brar was the most tried and tested opponent of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son, Mr Sukhbir Badal, the Congress would like him to have another election bout with the Badal family from Faridkot. “Moreover, the shifting of Mr Brar to Ferozepore would send a wrong political signal. It would be difficult for the party to defend his moving out from Faridkot. And then other sitting MPs may also like to shift to other safe constituencies,” a senior Congress leader said.

There are reports that the party high command would like to change certain candidates. Old faces are likely to be replaced with young ones in certain constituencies.

Capt Amarinder Singh is expected to give his assessment of the party’s prospects in the Lok Sabha elections tomorrow to Mrs Sonia Gandhi, who will visit Bathinda to address a conference of panches and sarpanches being held to announce the empowerment of panchayati Raj Institutions.

Sources said the Chief Minister would assure victory in at least 10 Lok Sabha constituencies of the party had a political tie-up with political outfits such as the BSP. The Left parties are natural allies of the Congress as has been declared at the national level.

However, the tie-up with the BSP in Punjab would also be a risky affair for the Congress. The BSP would ask for the Phillaur, Ropar, Hoshiarpur and Ferozepore Lok Sabha seats. Both Ropar and Phillaur are reserved seats. There is a strong Scheduled Caste lobby in the Congress and they would not like to give reserved seats to the BSP.

Hoshiarpur is also known as a Congress stronghold. Congress leaders from the Hoshiarpur belt would strongly oppose the handing over of this seat to the BSP and the same would be true in the case of Ferozepore.


INLD to remain in NDA, says Chautala
Workers to decide on alliance with BJP
Tribune News Service

Mr Om Parkash Chautala, Chief Minister, Haryana; Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Punjab Chief Minister; and Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, former Punjab Cabinet minister
Mr Om Parkash Chautala, Chief Minister, Haryana; Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Punjab Chief Minister; and Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, former Punjab Cabinet minister, address a press conference at Bathinda on Wednesday.
— Tribune photo by Kulbir Beera.

Bathinda, January 14
Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala said today that the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) would remain in the NDA but party workers would decide whether to enter an alliance with the BJP or not in the state for the next Lok Sabha elections.

Mr Chautala was here to inaugurate a showroom of Maruti.

While talking to mediapersons at the house of former Akali minister Chiranji Lal Garg, the Haryana CM said a meeting of the core committee of the INLD would be held at Delhi tomorrow in which some issues pertaining to entering into alliance with the BJP would be discussed. After that he would hold district-level meetings of the party workers to know their opinion, he added.

He said the state BJP leadership was politically novice and hence making some statements against him in the press. He, however, said by and large he was having cordial relations with the BJP leadership. He said the INLD would also put up its candidates in Rajasthan and UP.

On SYL canal, he said the canal was must for Haryana and the Union Government had already submitted in the Supreme Court that one of its agencies would complete the same if directed to do so.

However, former Chief Minister and President, SAD, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who also reached at the House of Mr Garg while Mr Chautala was addressing the press conference, said as the Punjab had no surplus water for other states, the SAD would make any sacrifice to stop the completion of SYL canal. He alleged that all inter-state issues pertaining to transfer of Chandigarh, Punjabi-speaking areas to Punjab and SYL canal were creation of previous Congress government, which always meted out stepmotherly treatment to Punjab.

Mr Badal said foundation stone laying ceremonies and inauguration ceremonies of government and private projects by the politicians should be banned complete in the country as it was wastage of time and money.

To bring the political corruption to an end, the Supreme Court should set up one-man judicial commission equipped with all the necessary staff in each state to deal with such cases.

He said as per his information, the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had sought a legal opinion for launching an investigation into the alleged “hawala” transactions of Mr Raninder Singh, son of Chief Minister, Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, by sleuths of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI).


Bathinda gets facelift for Sonia’s visit
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 14
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is not taking any chances during Ms Sonia Gandhi’s visit to the city tomorrow to formally initiate the process for the devolution of powers to the panchayats.

Apart from ensuring a facelift to a part of the city he pressed an aircraft into service today for dropping leaflets in this regard.

Though the Punjab Government is facing an acute shortage of funds and has imposed cuts on various facilities which were being given to its employees in the past, the state will be left poorer by crores of rupees on account of the arrangements.

Roundabouts, road dividers, electricity poles and walls of government buildings have been given a fresh coat of paint. Even some roads have been relaid.

Showing little concern for environment, about 36 trees have been cut on the Bathinda-Goniana road.

Welcome gates are being erected on the roads from where the cavalcade of Ms Gandhi will pass.

Buses and trucks from various districts have been impounded to bring party workers from far-off places. The area in and around the venue has been virtually converted into a police cantonment.

Ministers, party office-bearers, MLAs and officials of some government departments have been asked to bring people to the rally.

Mr Surinder Singla, Chairman, High-Powered Finance Committee, Punjab, said Ms Gandhi would announce certain projects for Bathinda. She would also inaugurate a water treatment plant.

To oversee the arrangements Congress leaders, including Deputy Chief Minister designate Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Chairman, Markfed, Punjab, Harminder Singh Jassi, and PPCC president H.S. Hanspal have been camping in the city.


Govt staff plan protest rallies
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 14
The Punjab Subordinate Services Federation (PSSF) has decided to hold protest rallies at all district headquarters, including Bathinda, the venue of the Congress rally to be presided by AICC President Sonia Gandhi, on January 15.

The rallies, according to the general secretary of the federation, Mr Ramesh Chander Sharma, would be aimed at highlighting the “anti-people” policies of the Congress government. “We have decided to burn an effigy of the Punjab Government in Bathinda tomorrow to impress upon Congress President Sonia Gandhi that wrong policies were being pursued by the state government. The decision to empower panchayats to regulate government departments is nothing but an attempt on the part of the government to shirk its social responsibilities,” he said.

He said the federation would hold protest dharnas at Hoshiarpur on January 23, Faridkot on January 30, Gurdaspur on February 5 and Patiala on February 12. The dharnas would be held in front of the offices of the Deputy Commissioners. He demanded that the state government should immediately implement the already accepted demands of the employees.


Groundwater depletion in Punjab alarming: TERI expert
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
Depleting groundwater resources in Punjab and alarmingly high noise and air pollution levels in Chandigarh have been identified as the gravest environmental concerns for the two regions under the Ministry of Environment’s State of Environment (SoE) Reporting project which entered a vital phase today.

To be completed under the expert guidance of TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute), New Delhi, the coordinating institute for nine states, including Punjab, Delhi and Chandigarh in the north, the project will comprehensively focus on environmental concerns of regions for the first time. Punjab and Chandigarh have been sanctioned Rs 10 lakh to begin with.

In Chandigarh today to introduce the project to officials of respective departments, which have to gather data on environment as required by the Ministry’s guidelines, was Mr P.V. Sridharan, Senior Visiting Fellow with TERI. Coordinator for the project in nine states, Mr Sridharan conceded that the fall in the levels of groundwater in Punjab was alarming. Out of 138 blocks (divided to assess groundwater level situation) in Punjab, 84 have been declared as dark, as they have exploited their groundwater. There are 16 grey blocks where utilisation of groundwater is between 65 to 85 per cent. Only 38 blocks are white, leaving scope for further utilisation of the resource. Chandigarh, reportedly, has astounding air and noise pollution levels.

Admitting that environmental aspects are seldom covered in the statistics gathered by departments in most Indian states, Mr Sridharan said policy planning also hardly addressed environmental concerns. “The compiling of this report is a step in the right direction. For long, only 10 Indian states have bothered to compile reports on environment. But they have hardly been updated. We have sanctioned this project so that we can have data from all states, on a uniform basis. This will make analysis and subsequent recommendations easier,” said Mr Sridharan, who has worked extensively to assess the environmental quality of mining areas. He has also published many research papers on regeneration of lands lost due to mining.

“We have assessed environment quality in the Dhanbad area of Bihar, iron ore mine area of Goa and lignite mine area of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. Besides, I have been involved in environment quality management through regeneration of areas adversely affected by mining. We have implemented schemes for the regeneration of these areas and help displaced people to generate income,” he said.

About SoE Reporting project, for which the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology is the nodal agency in Punjab and Chandigarh, Mr Sridharan said, “Our plans hardly address environmental concerns because our statistics do not incorporate the impact of economic pursuits on environment and human health. Officers of Punjab and Chandigarh Departments have told us that they never collect statistics with the environment angles in mind. This approach has to be corrected.”

Expressing concern over the intensive agricultural practices of Punjab, which have been claiming most of its groundwater base, Mr Sridharan said the cropping pattern needed to be changed. “Let them reduce the growth of rice, which they anyway eat less. They must also start recharging groundwater,” he said.


KCF (Panjwar) may be behind fractured rail track
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 14
The fractured railway track, which was possibly blown up with the help of some explosive device near Goraya on the night of January 5, could be a handiwork of the Khalistan Commando Force (Panjwar) or the J&K militants, preliminary police investigations suggest.

Hundreds of passengers of the Howrah Express had a narrow escape on the night of January 5 as the train had passed on a fractured track, which was, in probability caused by an explosive device at around 9.30 p.m. The theory of use of some explosive device was corroborated by recovery of some articles like a container and smoked parts of cast iron from the site.

The Punjab Police, which has been urged by the railways authorities to assist its investigation team, has pointed a finger of suspicion towards the KCF (Panjwar) and some J&K militants, even as the “anti-social” elements and possibility of a routine “dislocation of track” was not being ruled out at this stage.

The police officials’ suspicion towards possible role of the KCF (Panjwar) activists in the incident was for its strong base in the area during militancy days and the J&K militant angle was being made a part of the ongoing investigation for the type of material found from the site. “The cast iron-type material has never been used in any of such blasts in Punjab.

Moreover, KCF activists, according to our information, could be under pressure from their mentors on the other side of the border to show some results,” maintained Mr Dinkar Gupta, Deputy Inspector General (Jalandhar Range).

For detailed study of the blast patterns in the country, the Delhi-based Bomb Data Centre of the IB has also been consulted by the police.

“Since cast iron articles have never been used in Punjab earlier and for similar pieces were used in a rail bomb blast near Kathua in October last year, our focus is also on the J&K militants. We are in touch with the J&K police, particularly, with the Kathua SSP, so as the issue could be further investigated from that angle also,” said Mr Gupta. 


‘Bomb’ found on school premises
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 14
A crude bomb-like device, which was found on the premises of a primary school today, created panic among the residents  of the heavily populated Badungar Basti area where the school is located.

Police sources disclosed that around 9 a.m., Mr Bhir Bhan, a resident of the Badungar Basti area, spotted the crude iron and aluminum device lying under a tree in the complex of Shanta  Primary School.

He informed the Model Town police post.

A police team led by Mr Rajesh Snehi, in charge of the Model Town police post, rushed to the spot. Senior officials of the Army’s bomb disposal squad and those of the District Administration were informed about it and a team led by ASP, Dr K. Sharma, also reached the spot .

The device was taken into custody by the police who buried it in a crater, dug up specifically for the purpose, inside the Model town police post.


Bomb hoax delays train by 3 hours

Jalandhar, January 14
The Delhi-bound Jammu Mail was detained for about three hours at the Jalandhar city railway station here last night for a security check following a bomb threat.

A Railways spokesman said here that an anonymous person informed the Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) last night over the telephone that a bomb was planted in the fourth coach from the engine which would explode at 10.40 pm.

The railway authorities here were conveyed of the threat around 10.20 pm. They stopped the train at the station and informed the RPF, the police and other district administration officials.

Meanwhile, panicked passengers were evacuated from the coach and authorities started the search for the bomb. The bomb disposal squad and the sniffer dog squad also arrived which took about an hour to search thoroughly but no bomb or explosive was found in the train.

Later, the train was allowed to proceed for Delhi at around 1 am after the clearance from the bomb disposal and dog squad. — UNI 


Governor to unfurl flag at Amritsar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
The Punjab Governor, Justice O.P. Verma, will unfurl the Tricolour on Republic Day at Amritsar while Chief Minister Amarinder Singh will do so at Ropar.

The Speaker, Mr Kewal Krishan, will take the salute at Gurdaspur and Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal at Ludhiana, according to a press note.


Former Cong men return to party fold
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 14
The District Congress Committee (DCC) Bathinda, today got a shot in the arm when Mr Kulwant Rai Aggarwal, its former vice-president, who unsuccessfully contested against Congress MLA Surinder Singla from this segment in the last Vidhan Sabha elections, joined the party here today. The PPCC president, Mr H.S. Hanspal, and the Deputy Chief Minister designate, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, were also present on the occasion.

Twelve other persons, all former Congressmen, also announced their joining the Congress.

Mr Hanspal said all Congress MLAs should work to strengthen the party in their respective constituencies.

When asked what the PPCC was doing as regards the disclosure made by the Deputy Speaker, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, that a senior Congress leader tried to topple the Congress government in the state, he said Mr Bir Devinder should not have spoken to the Press on the issue. The PPCC had been inquiring into the matter, he added. He, however, refused to disclose the mode of inquiry and the name of the person holding it.


Tarlochan for token jatha to Pak
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 14
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has said, if the government is sincere about celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Parkash Utsav of Guru Granth Sahib, it should concentrate on development and providing infrastructure to the cities concerned. Actual festivities and their arrangements should be left to the committee, it has said.

Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Secretary, SGPC, said in a press conference here today that the event could be celebrated in the right spirit and according to Sikh rehat maryada by the SGPC only.

Meanwhile, Mr Tarlochan Singh, Chairman of the National Minority Commission, has urged the Union Home Secretary, Mr N. Gopalaswamy, to allow passage for Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib on the Indo-Pak Border to a token jatha of 101 Sikhs on April 15 on the occasion of 500th birth anniversary of Guru Angad Dev. The gurdwara holds significance as the second Guru Angad Dev was granted ‘gur-gaddi’ at this place by Guru Nanak Dev.

The SGPC secretary said the celebrations of the 500th birth anniversary of Guru Angad Dev would begin in April. These would focus on education and physical fitness. For this, the SGPC has given a call to gurdwaras to open primary schools wherein retired teachers could teach students at nominal fees. The fitness zone includes competitions in ‘gatka’ (Sikh martial art), horse riding etc. A ‘talking museum’ will also be inaugurated on the occasion at Khadoor Sahib,” he said.

Message of Guru Granth Sahib, 64-page booklet, would be released on the occasion. It would be published in a number of languages.

The 300th years of martyrdom of sons of Guru Gobind Singh would be observed in December.


5 deaths in 45 days at mental hospital
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 14
Five deaths have been reported in the past one-and-half-months at the government run Vidhya Sagar Mental Hospital here. Two of the deceased were women.

The spurt in the death rate in the hospital in the recent past has attracted allegations of mismanagement and serving of poor quality food to the inmates.

Mr Kamal Kanoujia, president of the union of Class IV employees of the Health Department, alleged the deaths occurred due to negligence of the hospital authorities. In another statement, Mr Ravinder Kumar Sultanwind, president of the All-India Youth Federation, alleged maltreatment of the patients.

However, the Director of the hospital, Dr B.L. Goel, has refuted all these allegations. He said Ameena (35), who was brought from the Nari Niketan, Chandigarh, collapsed on her arrival here. While Dogar Singh (70) died of a cardiac arrest on December 27, Ved Parkash (89) had been unwell for the past four months. Harpreet Kaur suffered from hypertension and was hospitalised in Guru Nanak Dev Hospital, where she died on January 7.


Jallianwala Bagh hospital to go private
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 14
After toying with an idea of handing over the local Jallianwala Bagh Memorial Civil Hospital in private hands for at least a year, the state government has reportedly decided to offer it to private parties. According to sources, the process is likely to be materialised by the end of February.

Earlier, the state government had refrained from taking a decision due to the mounting pressure from doctors, staff and other employees of the hospital and the Communist Party of India (CPI). The privatisation process is being undertaken by Punjab Infrastructure Development Board, Chandigarh, which has reportedly given the final shape to the recommendations. The department had invited tenders in this regard till January 18.

Several multi-specialty medical centres including Apollo, CMC and Fortis had shown interest for taking over the hospital. The sources said the new management of the hospital would be governed by the set of rules framed by the government. However, the charges of bypass surgery, heart and brain ailments and other costly treatments would be decided by the new management of the institution.

The hospital was constructed by the Punjab Health System Corporation during the Akali-BJP regime at the cost of Rs 40 crore.


Town beautification drive launched
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, January 14
The district administration has embarked on an ambitious plan for the beautification of the town, especially the roundabouts and the main road passing through the town. The Deputy Commissioner Mr Ranjit Singh, who convened a meeting of various officials of the Town Planning Department, Electricity Board, Cantonment Board, Forest Department, Municipal Committee and local NGOs, said the work on the beautification and widening of the Mall had already been started. The DC stated that all institutions and government offices had been instructed to keep their surroundings clean.

The Forest Department officials have been instructed to plant saplings. He said the road divider on the GT Road would be spruced up.

Mr Ranjit Singh said the work on the beautification and development of the National Martyrs Memorial, Hussainiwala, was going on a war footing. He added that he would approach the government to allocate funds for the completion of the Circuit House.

But Shan-e-Hind gate, which was constructed at the Indo-Pakistan JCP. Hussainiwala, at an expenditure of Rs 78 lakh is still awaiting a VIP for its inauguration.


24-hr power supply to villages by June 30
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
The Punjab Government today expedited financial allocations to the social sector, infrastructure building and assured 24-hour supply of electricity to villages.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh ordered regular disbursement of old age and widow pension and released the first instalment of Rs 60 crore for the propose. Under men above 65 years and women over 60 years and widows will get a monthly pension of Rs 200 each.

The Punjab State Electricity Board was asked to complete all infrastructure installations to ensure 24-hour power supply to all villages by June 30. As of now 6,700 villages are getting regular power supply while the remaining ones will be covered by June 30. The first instalment of Rs 260 crore has been released to the PSEB for the propose. The board also energise 25,000 tubewells during the current financial year.

It was also decided to repair 19,820 km of rural link roads at a cost of Rs 1,017 crore by March, 2005.


Farmers refute PSEB claims
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 14
The tall claims of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) regarding 10 hours’ regular power supply to farmers notwithstanding, residents of six villages here have alleged that power was available for only four to five hours daily.

The residents led by senior vice-president of the kisan wing of SAD (A) Amrik Singh today met the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ashok Gupta, at an open darbar and presented a memorandum in this regard.

It stated that despite lodging of several complaints with the PSEB authorities and Chief Agriculture Officer here nothing concrete has been done.

Power is supplied late in the night only for two to three hours and for two hours in the morning. So much so that the power schedules being announced on AIR are never followed, Mr Amrik Singh said, demanding action against the erring officials.

The affected villages include Khichipur, Talwandi, Haripur, Issrowal Nauli, Kapur pind and Badhiana.

Mr Gupta instructed the PSEB officials, who were present during the darbar to immediately restore 10 hours supply and submit a detailed report at the next darbar.


PSEB staff dharna at Jalandhar today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
PSEB employees of Jalandhar zone will stage a dharna outside Shakti Sadan, Jalandhar, tomorrow. It will also hold a protest march before submitting a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner. The call for the dharna has been given by the PSEB Employees Joint Forum.

In a joint press statement issued here today, Mr Amarjit Singh Sodhi and Mr Ranjit Singh, president and general secretary, respectively of the Technical Services Union, PSEB said similar dharnas would be held at Bathinda and Amritsar on January 21 and January 22, respectively.

Dharnas at the divisional-level headquarters would be held on January 20, besides organising `rasta roko’ on that day from 12 noon to 4 pm. On February 4, a joint dharna would be organised at Chandigarh before proceeding towards the Assembly.

The employees have been protesting against the government’s move to privatise the board.


Two killed in fog-related mishap
Tribune News Service and Agencies

Batala, January 14
Two persons were killed and four others injured in a head-on collision between a car and a truck near Ghania ke Banger village, 20 km from here today.

A party was returning to Nausehra Mazza Singh town from Fatehgarh Churian when their car collided with a truck due to thick fog. Victor Masih, driver of the car, and Dhanna Singh died on the spot, while Rajwant Singh, Tarsem Singh, Kashmir Singh and Harjit Singh were injured seriously.

Sangrur: Twenty-five persons were injured when two private buses collided head on the Sangrur-Sunam road near Kanoi village on Wednesday morning. Poor visibility due to fog is said to be the reason behind the accident.

The drivers of both buses suffered serious injuries. Jagroop Singh, one of the drivers, has been shifted to the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana. Eight persons, namely Tarawati, Karam Singh, Gulzar Singh, Dara Singh, Kala Singh, Ram Singh, Krishan Singh and Hardial Singh, are under treatment at the Civil Hospital here.

Chandigarh: Several persons sustained injuries in a collision of vehicles on the Jalandhar-Pathankot Highway on Wednesday morning due to poor visibility caused by fog.

Four vehicles were damaged in the accident. Nobody was seriously injured as all vehicles were travelling at slow speed due to poor visibility, the police said.


CRPF unit gets national prize
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
The Central Reserve Police Forces’ (CRPF) Group Centre at Jalandhar has been adjudged as the best group centre for 2003. According to a statement issued here today, the trophy was received by the centre’s Additional DIG, Mr S.S. Gill, from the Union Minister of State for Home, Mr I.D. Swami, recently.

The Additional Director General, North-West Zone, Mr K.J. Singh, also visited the centre this week and felicitated all officers and men of the group.

The centre provides logistic and administrative support to CRPF battalions deployed elsewhere. Recently, family members of 97 CRPF jawans, who were killed while on duty, have been given employment at the centre.


March to promote world peace
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 14
A five-member group of Rotary Club, Aston, Birmingham, today began a peace march from Phagwara to the Golden Temple, Amritsar, for the promotion of world peace, brotherhood and to help the needy. The group is led by Mr Brian Hardwick, president of the Rotary Club, Aston. Other members of the group are Mr Phinder Talfaire, Mr Steve Dalman, Mr Mark Carter and Mr Collin Harrison.

Before embarking upon the pedestrian odyssey, Mr Hardwick said about £5000 would be donated for the welfare of the poor and the needy in India.

The club had already adopted two visually handicapped children for treatment.

While the treatment of the one was going on at Ludhiana, they would be taken to the UK for further treatment.


Pakistan artistes in India
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 14
More than 100 Pakistani artistes arrived here by road through the Wagah joint checkpost to celebrate Lohri and Maghi with their Hindu and Sikh brethren.

The artistes, who belong to different art and cultural groups of Pakistan, are on the way to Mumbai where they will participate in functions being organised by the World Social Forum. They were invited here by the Indo-Pak Peoples Forum (Punjab chapter).

The artistes enthralled the audience with folk songs and other items.


Tributes paid to Lt Triveni Singh
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, January 14
Shardhanjali Samaroh was organised here today to pay tributes to Lieut Triveni Singh of 5 JK LI, who sacrificed his life to save hundreds of passengers at Jammu railway station during the January 3 terrorist attack. Brig R.K. Sharma, Lieut-Col Sagar Singh Salaria, Major S.S. Gill, SDM Puneet Goyal, SP Manminder Singh, Local MLA Ashok Sharma, former Punjab Minister Master Mohan Lal, and Mr Rajbir Singh, Chairman, Local Improvement Trust, were among the others who were present on the occasion.

His father Capt Janmej Singh (retd) said, Triveni opted for infantary so that he could get a chance to display bravery.


High Court
CM’s election: next hearing on Jan 28
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
The High Court today fixed January 28 as the next date of hearing on a petition challenging the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh’s election from the Patiala Assembly constituency.

Arguing on the issue of maintainability of the petition, the counsel for the Chief Minister had earlier claimed that the same was vague. The counsel had contended that the petitioner had failed to specify how the services of Class I gazetted officer Bharat Inder Singh Chahal were used to help the Chief Minister in his elections. He had added that the meeting, in which Mr Chahal was allegedly present, had nothing to do with the elections from the Patiala assembly constituency.

Petitioner Harkirat Singh, a voter from Patiala, had earlier alleged that Captain had used Mr Chahal’s services. The documentary evidence, appended along with the petition, proved his role beyond any shadow of doubt. The petitioner had added that Mr Chahal was, subsequently, rewarded by the respondent for the services he rendered. Moreover, he had spent more than the prescribed limit during the elections.



Nirapjit gets bail
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 14
The Special Judge Ropar, Mr S.K. Goel, today granted bail to one of the main accused in a corruption case against Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Nirapjit Singh, a sub-inspector in the Chandigarh Police, as the Vigilance Bureau failed to present challan against him within 90 days.

He was granted bail against a bail bond of Rs 2 lakh and two sureties of the like amount. Nirapjit Singh was accused of investing ill-gotten wealth of Sukhbir Badal in Punjabi film ‘Hawaein’.

Meanwhile, the VB also produced a challan against him in the said court. Details of evidence and witnesses to the charges levelled against Nirapjit have been presented before the court. The challan against Nirapjit Singh was presented on the 91st day of his arrest. 


Selection committees to recruit panchayat secys
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
Panchayat secretaries will be recruited through selection committees, to be set up by the Punjab Government.

A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting held under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

The Rural Development and Panchayats Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, was also present at the meeting.

Earlier, Ms Bhattal had announced that 909 panchayats secretaries, who had been removed from service, would be given appointments at the earliest possible.

However, after consulting legal experts, it was decided that proper procedure should be followed to re-appoint the sacked panchayat secretaries.


Rs 2 cr grant to District Welfare Dept: DC
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 14
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh, said today that Rs 16. 5 crore had been spent during the current financial year on various developmental scheme. He added that Rs 8.7 crore had already been granted to departments concerned for the overall development of the district.

He said this while addressing a meeting organised at Red Cross Bhavan here today. Mr Tejveer Singh further said this year nearly Rs 2 crore had been granted to the District Welfare Department to give scholarship to students of Backward Classes. In addition to this, nearly Rs 6 crore had been granted to the Social Security Department in order to provide pension to the aged, widows, orphans and handicapped persons of the district.

Besides this, a grant of Rs 2 crore had been given to promote technical education in the district. He further said for the overall development of various villages of the district a grant of Rs11 crore had been given. Along with this in order to promote fishery a grant of Rs 1.3 crore had been given. A grant of Rs 6.5 crore had been given to implement Bandhan Mukat Scheme in the district. Speaking on the occasion Mr Tejveer Singh urged officials of various departments to inspect the developmental work being carried out so to complete it in time.

While addressing the District Road Committee, Mr Tejveer Singh, said nearly Rs 9 crore would be spent on the repair of 242 km- long link road of the district. He further said that nearly Rs 5.3 crore had already been spent on the project. 


3 fake VB officials booked
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 14
The police has registered a case against three “unidentified” persons for their involvement in an alleged Vigilance Bureau “raid” at the residence of the Punjab Technical Education and Industrial Training Minister, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, on January 5.

An FIR has been registered at the police station No 6 under Sections 171, 120-B and 34 of the IPC against three unidentified persons on the complaint of the local Vigilance Bureau office, which had denied having sent any official to the residence of the minister.

While Mr Kaypee was away to Delhi, three persons, posing as VB officials, reached his Model Town house here on January 5. They interacted with the security guard posted outside the minister’s residence. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had asked the police and VB officials to conduct a probe into the matter. Later, he announced that no Vigilance Bureau raid was conducted at the minister’s residence.

The police took 10 days to register a case in this regard. The police was now preparing sketches of the accused to intensify the investigation.


16 hurt in Lohri clashes
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 14
Sixteen persons were injured in three different group clashes on Lohri night in and around Phagwara.

The first clash started with a tiff between children on the issue of calling Lohri and snowballed into a pitched battle between elders of two warring groups at nearby Khangura village. Brickbats, lathis, sticks and stones were used in the clash.

In the second incident, Manohar Lal and Mohan Lal of Jagat Ram colony were injured in a Lohri skirmish. In another incident Satish Bhanot and Munish Kumar were injured in Lamian mohalla.


1 killed, 6 injured in group clash
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, January 14
One person was killed and six others injured in a clash involving two groups in Baba Laharian village, 20 km from here on Tuesday night.

According to Mr Manminder Singh, SP, many persons had gathered in the open to celebrate Lohri in the village when some youths were under the influence of liquor came there. They attacked others with swords and sharp-edged weapons and killed Balwinder Singh on the spot while six others were injured.

The police has registered a case against 10 persons, Rakesh, Sarbjit, Anil, Surinder, Vikas, Rohit, Tinku, Nirmal, Arjun and Balwant Singh, under Sections 302, 307, 342 and 148-149 of the IPC.


Unemployed ETTs work as shoeshine boys
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, January 14
Activists of the Berojgar ETT Teachers’ Front were prevented to meet the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, by the district administration yesterday, when they tried to lodge a protest by wearing black bandages on their mouths. They were not allowed to go near the pandal of the Congress by the police.

The activists worked as shoeshine boys and polished the shoes of many passers by to lodge their protest. They claimed that by denying them the job, the government had been forcing poverty and starvation on them. The government had turned its back from the promise of filling nearly 2,000 vacancies of the ETT teachers in the state, they alleged.

Mr Gurmukh Singh, president of the union, said the activists of the union would hold protests during the rally of the AICC President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, at Bathinda on Thursday.


PCCTU threatens education bandh
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 14
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) today gave a call for an education bandh in all 172 non-government colleges on January 21 in protest against the failure of the Punjab Government in maintaining grant-in-aid at 95 per cent and implement pension and gratuity, besides other demands.

In a press note here today, Prof S.S. Hundal, president, and Dr V.K. Tewari, general secretary PCCTU, threatened to go on mass casual leave on January21.

A steering committee has also been constituted in this regard.

A mass mobilisation and awareness week will begin from tomorrow and a two-period strike will be observed on January 19 and 20, according to the leaders.

Due to downsizing of grants and delay in their release teachers have not got salaries for the past many months, rued Professor Hundal and Dr Tewari.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | National Capital |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |