P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Bhattal designated Deputy CM
Tribune News Service

CM’s removal not on agenda, says Bhattal

Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who along with her dissident colleagues attended the meeting of Council of Ministers, said the removal of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was not on her agenda now. When asked whether she would make such a demand after the Lok Sabha elections, Mrs Bhattal said she could not predict “I am hopeful that both of us will work collectively for Congress victory in the Lok Sabha elections. Differences between us were a thing of the past. We will go together to Delhi tomorrow to meet the high command regarding expansion of the Council of Ministers”, Mrs Bhattal said.

Chandigarh, January 20
Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal was today designated as the Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab. Following approval by the Governor, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh cleared her file this morning.

Capt Amarinder Singh, however, said there would be no special office for Mrs Bhattal as she would continue to function from the same office as earlier as Minister of Rural Development and Agriculture. Her portfolios would also not be changed.

There was no legal hurdle in the expansion of the Council of Ministers. “I will be in Delhi tomorrow to discuss the issue of expansion with the party high command, but any addition to the Council of Ministers would be kept minimum possible”, the Chief Minister said.

The CM would have to downsize his council of ministers only five months after in conformity with the new law by July 2. “Performance in the Lok Sabha elections would be the criteria for retaining ministers in the Cabinet”, said Capt Amarinder Singh. Capt Amarinder Singh is supposed to bring the number of his council to 18 including the CM by July 2.

None of his Officers on Special Duty would be removed, the Chief Minister said as no one has the right to dictate to me the number of officers I am supposed to keep in my office”.


Upset, Amarinder calls off Pak visit
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 20
Upset over the “negative attitude” regarding the clearance of his foreign visits by the Union Government, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, late this evening dropped his proposed visit to Lahore in the last week of this month. Sources said the Chief Minister discussed the issue with his senior officers and decided to call off the visit to Pakistan.

The sources said the Chief Minister was of the view that as the Union Government had not responded to his request for permission till date, the idea to go to Lahore should be dropped. He was to go there to attend the World Punjabi Conference. “ There would be no time left for preparations to visit Lahore as permission has not yet been granted “, said a senior officer. “ If permission had been granted by now, the Chief Minister would have definitely gone to Pakistan”, said the officer.

Earlier, commenting on the non-clearance of his foreign visit, Capt Amarinder Singh said today that the BJP-led government at the Centre was discriminating against Punjab because it was being governed by the Congress government. He said he had sought permission from the Union Government to visit Pakistan in connection with the Punjabi conference starting in Lahore from January 29 , but the Union Government had not responded till date.

“A few days ago, the Chief Minister of Punjab( Pakistan) contacted me on the phone to extend the invitation to visit Lahore”, said Capt Amarinder Singh. But the Union Government seemed to have pushed my case for permission aside, he added. “ The BJP should keep the country before the party”, he said.

He said the opening of the Wagah border for trade between India and Pakistan would provide a golden opportunity to the state for development. He said if the Union Government had permitted him to go, he would have taken up various issues of trade between the two states with his counterpart in Lahore.

Earlier, the Union Government had not permitted Capt Amarinder Singh to visit China. A large delegation of Industrialists from Punjab was to visit China in October last year in connection with exploring various possibilities of trade and investment. At the last moment, the Union Government asked the state government to reduce the size of the delegation.

While all other Chief Ministers and Union Ministers were being allowed to visit various countries for the promotion of trade ties and to attract investment, the Punjab Chief Minister’s requests were being turned down on one pretext or the other, a cabinet colleague of the Chief Minister said.


Resolve rows, US Sikhs urges Vedanti
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 20
Expressing complete confidence in the authority of Akal Takht, Mr Yadvinder Singh, president, American Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (AGPC), urged Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti to help in resolving disputes of gurdwaras in America through arbitration. With this, he said, prestige of Sikh community could be saved as a number of cases were pending in courts.

Talking to TNS on telephone, Mr Yadvinder Singh said Akal Takht was the supreme temporal authority of the community and no true Sikh would challenge its ‘verdict’ or any directive pronounced by the Sikh clergy. He said at least 12 cases related to various Sikh shrines in America, were still pending in the court.

Gurdwaras were built in America with the arrival of Gadri babas (members of the Ghadar Party) in the beginning of the 20th century. The gurdwara at Stockton was built in the memory of Baba Vaisakha Singh. Gurdwaras have now sprung up in almost every city having a significant Sikh population.

However, surfacing of groupism is a phenomenon which was a result of the introduction of polling system for electing office-bearers for managing the Sikh shrines. It may be mentioned that the Fremont police and other Federal agencies had searched offices of Saffron Express, a trucking company in the Bay Area, and arrested Mr Jasjeet Singh Chela, a partner of the company, and Mr Jai Singh Fauji. However, their supporters alleged that arrest of these Sikh youths was a result of groupism in the gurdwara management. The law enforcement agencies and the prosecution are demanding strict measures, like deportation to India, against the accused.

However, the supporters alleged that their implication in the cases, related to drug trafficking, was a part of “deeper conspiracy” to defame certain Sikhs in America.

Mr Jasjeet Singh Chela has contacted the Akal Takht secretariat and claimed that the Sikh Sangat in America would accept any directive, pronounced by the Sikh clergy, to resolve the “internal crisis” of the Sikhs in foreign countries.


Rights body points at mafia-police nexus
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 20
The Punjab State Human Rights Organisation (PHRO) today released the fact-finding report on the alleged mafia-police and administration nexus.

The organisation Chairman, justice Ajit Singh Bains (retd), has alleged that the liquor contractor operating in the state in connivance with the Department of Excise and Taxation and the police had implicated six persons under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.

According to details provided by the PHRO, Davinder Singh, Rajkumar, Tarlok Singh, Darshan Kumar, Satish Kumar and Kartar Singh, all local residents were falsely implicated and booked for possessing opium. The report alleged that the mother of Devinder Singh had pointed out that he was arrested from a restaurant while as per FIR he was nabbed from the Gumtala bypass for possessing 1.5 kg of opium on August 4 last year. After his release from the jail on September 8 he was again picked up for allegedly possessing 3 kg of opium on September 13.

Citing the case of other persons, justice Ajit Singh stated that they were also booked under similar false cases showing the seizure of opium.

The fact-finding report did not mention the background of the persons against whom the false cases were allegedly registered. But they were reportedly involved in bootlegging earlier but had given up the illegal trade and were engaged in earning their livelihood from other sources.

Surjit Kaur, sister of Devinder, alleged that the liquor mafia felt that they (the victims) could upset their monopoly of liquor sale and had connived with the police to harass them by keeping them behind bars.

However, the spokesman of the liquor contractors, denied these allegations and said that they were never involved in such activities.


Daler case: clean chit to wives likely
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 20
The Patiala police is likely to give a clean chit to the wives of pop star Daler Mehndi and his brother Shamsher Mehndi with district police chief A.S. Rai maintaining that they seemed to be innocent. The SSP also ruled out their arrest today even though non-bailable warrants had been issued against them and they were on the verge of being declared proclaimed offenders in the human trafficking case registered against their husbands.

Both the women had been evading the law since more than one month and were wanted in connection with allegations by complainants in the case that they had received money on behalf of their husbands.

The SSP, while talking to newmen here, said the Patiala police had asked them to stay put in Patiala and be ready to join investigations whenever required. He said the police would be able to verify the documents submitted by them within a few days.

Mr Rai said Rakesh Kaushal, alias Rocky, who was the show organiser, had been in contact with the district police since more than twenty days. He said Rocky had even sent documents of notices of motion secured by him in the USA for clearance of all members of the tour party of Daler Mehndi. The police officer said Rocky had pleaded that his father was in a coma and that he could not come personally to Patiala.

Rocky’s lawyer Brijinder Singh Sodhi in a separate statement disclosed that Rocky had submitted the complete list of the persons who had gone abroad to the USA on four separate occasions with Daler Mehndi. Mr Sodhi said Daler had gone abroad with Shilpa Shetty in 1998, with Raveena Tandon in 1999, with Karisma Kapoor in 2000 and with Raveena again in 2002. He said all the artists and musicians who had gone abroad for the tour programmes had returned back. Meanwhile, the SSP said though they had been issued repeated notices, they were not coming forward to give evidence.


PSEB employees hold demonstrations
Tribune Reporters

Jalandhar, January 20
Hundreds of PSEB employees today blocked traffic on the GT road here for about two hours in protest against the move of the state government to trifurcate the board.

Addressing the agitating employees, a spokesman of the PSEB Employees Joint Forum, Mr M.L. Kapila, said the state government was pursuing anti-employee and anti-farmers policies.

According to some reports, minor scuffles took place between protesting employees and the police at Goraya and Bhogpur. The forum criticised the police for allegedly using force on peacefully agitating employees.

KHARAR: Employees of the Kharar subdivision organised a dharna on the Kharar-Ludhiana road near Bhagomajra village here on Tuesday against the “anti-employee” policy of the government. More than 200 employees sat on the road, blocking traffic.

Mr Mehar Singh, a representative of the Kharar unit of the PSEB Technical Services Union, said the Chief Minister was misleading the public by saying that power would be provided at reduced rates and for 24 hours if the board was made into a corporation.

The protesters said if the board was privatised, a large number of employees would lose jobs and the public compelled to play in to the hands of private companies. They said corporations had been set up in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa but the experiment had not been successful there.

Union leaders said if their demands were not met, they would boycott public rallies of ministers in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

PHAGWARA: The struggle committee of PSEB employees, comprising different unions, today blocked traffic on the Phagwara-Banga road.

The employees also held a rally at the site in which speakers, including Mr Tarsem Lohia, Mr Harjit Singh, Mr Atamjit Asi, and Mr Lal Chand Kaler, called the privatisation move an anti-people and anti-employee step.

The authorities had to divert the traffic to the Phagwara bypass to save public from inconvenience. Traffic was also blocked at Banga and Garhshankar.

ROPAR: PSEB employees along with farmers and representatives of teacher unions blocked traffic today near the 132 kw station at Ropar and Anandpur Sahib.

The employees blocked traffic from 12 noon to 2 pm. The president of the PSEB employees federation, Mr Radhai Shayam, while addressing the dharna at Ropar said the workers would not allow the government to trifurcate the board. The trifurcation was just a step towards privatisation. If the government went ahead with the privatisation, the employees would intensify the agitation.

Employees of Punjab Roadways also held a dharna in front of the depot here today. They alleged that the government was not investing in roadways by inducting new buses to benefit private transport companies owned by influential politicians.

Dera Bassi Following a protest by the employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board, (PSEB), joined by different farmer organisations and residents of the surrounding villagers, traffic on the Kalka-Ambala highway was blocked for one-and-a-half hours here on Tuesday.

The agitators were protesting against the privatisation of PSEB. The protesters raised slogans against the Central Government and the state government besides criticising their anti-employee and anti-farmer policies.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Jagdish Kumar Sharma, president, of the ACUT, Mohali, strongly opposed the bill passed by the Central Government.

The highway blockage put to inconvenience a number of commuters. The most affected were the passengers travelling on long route buses as they remained stranded in the traffic jam for more than two hours.

Vehicles coming from Chandigarh were diverted to the Zirakpur-Rajpura-Ambala road to rejoin the highway in Baldev Nagar, near Ambala. Vehicles coming from Ambala were asked to take the Ambala-Handesra-Barwala link road to rejoin the highway near the railway over bridge here.

The traffic was restored after the leaders handed over a memorandum to the SDM asking the Punjab Chief Minister on the issue.

NAWANSHAHR: The PSEB employees held a protest march, followed by a dharna. They also blocked traffic at the Chandigarh chowk for two hours.

TARN TARAN: PSEB employees, supported by farmers, blocked traffic for more than two hours at the main road in Rasulpur village. They were addressed by Mr Gurdev Singh Pannu, Mr Tara Singh Khehra, Mr Harjinder Singh Chohan, Mr Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu among others.

AMRITSAR: PSEB employees held protests against the privatisation of the board. The agitating employees blocked traffic at the Bhandari bridge due to which traffic remained suspended for nearly two hours. The employees also blocked traffic at the Chheharta bypass, the Verka bypass the Beas road and the Tarn Taran bypass. Leaders of the PSEB employees associations, including PSEB Employees Struggle Committee, Employees Federation PSEB and Council of Junior Engineers PSEB, should slogans against the state government.

JALALABAD: Protesting PSEB employees  blocked traffic on the Ferozepur-Fazilka state highway for two hours.


PSEB employees block traffic
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 20
Members of various employees’ unions of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), under the banner of the PSEB Employees Joint Forum, blocked traffic on the Bathinda-Malout and the Bathinda-Faridkot national highways in protest against the state government’s move to privatise the board, here today.

In a press note, the members alleged that the Punjab Government was trying to give the PSEB, worth Rs 35,000 crore at a throwaway price under its move to privatise the board. They claimed that the board, earlier running into losses, was now out of the red.

They said that in states like Rajasthan, Uttar Pardesh, Orissa, Maharashtra and Delhi, where the electricity boards had been privatised, the situation was very bad and consumers had to pay very high rates for electricity.

They said members of various other organisations, including farmers, had also joined in the protest held today.

However, residents had to face a lot of inconvenience due to the blockade.


Daily lensman beaten up
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 20
Mr Harjap Singh, photographer of Jalandhar- based daily was allegedly beaten up by three PSEB employees when he requested them to make a way for him after talking the photographs of the dharna being staged by the employees at the local Parbhat Chowk here today.

Mr Baljinderpal Singh, in charge of the local daily office said his turban came off during the beating. He alleged that police officials who were present there failed to rescue Harjap Singh.

Meanwhile, the local reporters have condemned the beating up of the photographers and boycotted the news of agitating PSEB employees.

Mr Baljinder Singh has demanded the registeration of a case against culprits and their immediate arrest.


Highlighting agony of Partition in verse
Indo-Pak mushaira today
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, January 20
Their poetry is almost a living testimony to the intense pain of Partition which lacerates their hearts with every breath they take.

“We are Indian Pakistanis”, these poets from Karachi insist.

They are here to take part in an Indo- Pak mushaira to be held tomorrow at the Central State Library Auditorium. Masoom Naqoosh Naqvi, Anwaar Azmi, Shahid Lucknavi and poetess Gulnar Afreen, all echo a similar poignancy in their lyrics. Born in Hindustan but raised across the border after their families chose to migrate to Pakistan, these poets give vent to the agony endured not only by them but also by scores of other refugees who were forced to part with the ‘mitti’ of their ‘watan’.

Gulnar Afreen, grand daughter of the last Nawab of Tonk (Rajasthan), left India when she was eight. However, fond memories tinged with melancholy have haunted her since. “My basic anguish lies in my rootlessness: I was a ‘Muhajir’ (refugee) when I arrived in Pakistan and I am a Pakistani when I come to India”, she said. The dilemma reflects in her five collections of poetry, especially in her best known ‘Shaam Ka tanha sitara’.

Gulnar who has been awarded by the Government of Pakistan during the golden jubilee celebrations of the country, is noted for her strong stance about the ‘julm’ on muhajirs in Karachi which is vocalised through her poems. She also focuses on psychological problems faced by women in Islamic nations.

Masoom Naqoosh Naqvi who hails from Amroha, in Moradabad district in UP is also the editor of the Urdu monthly “Sukhanvar”. “How can I deny what I am ? I am an Indian Pakistani and indeed there is no acceptance for people like me on both sides of the border”, he says ruefully. Being a journalist as well has helped him highlight the torment the Partition of the subcontinent has wrought on the masses. His collection of poems “Chotti si khabar” has been well received in Pakistan.

Anwaar Azmi, who is also the President of the Aligarh University Old Boys Association, migrated to Pakistan in 1948. An alumni of the university, his later poems reflect his pining for the country of his birth. He uses both humour and satire to propagate his message. His collection of poems “Maafi chahta hun” is among the more prominent of his verse.

Shahid Lucknavi who is also a short story writer, traces his ancestry to the family of Meer Anees , a celebrated contemporary of Mirza Ghalib. For, him like the others, the pull of the motherland is very strong, though it has been ages since his family migrated to Pakistan. Hailing from Ettawa, UP, Shahid is longing to visit his ancestral village. However, he cannot. Not only Shahid but all the other poets are helpless in the face of red tapism that has refused them permission to visit more than three cities in India.

The head of the Urdu Department , Punjabi University, Dr Nashir Naqvi, who will also present his verse tomorrow, explains their predicament. He said the mushaira would be a treat for the poetry lovers of the region as a number of stalwarts including Sardar Anjum, Nida Fazli, Azeem Amrohi and Faiyyaz Farooqi were expected to present their lyrics at the event.


NCP leader’s plea to maintain unity
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 20
Mr Amrit Pal Singh Brar, General Secretary and spokesperson of the NCP, Punjab, today appealed to the party leaders, including Mr P.A. Sangma and Mr V.C. Shukla, to avoid taking steps which could cause a split in the party and cause a major setback to the secular front.

In a press note issued here, Mr Brar while disclosing that he had written to these leaders for maintaining unity, pointed out that at the moment the dislodging of saffron forces from power was the only issue and the leaders should make efforts to achieve the purpose.

He pointed out that out of 28 regional units of the NCP spread over in the country, 24 units were solidly behind its President, Mr Sharad Pawar. He added that an alliance with the Congress by the party did not mean that the NCP had accepted AICC chief Ms Sonia Gandhi as Prime Ministerial candidate. The prime ministerial candidate would be elected by the alliance partners after the Lok Sabha elections, he added.

He pointed out that Mr Pawar started talking with the like minded parties for forming a secular front against the BJP after a resolution moved in same connection by Mr Sangma was passed in May 2003 in the party’s meeting. He added that now the leaders should show the same spirit and should make efforts to facilitate the formation of secular front against the BJP.


Dal Khalsa not to contest LS poll

Jalandhar, January 20
The Dal Khalsa has decided not to contest the Lok Sabha Elections. Instead it will concentrate on the Panthic affairs.

However, the party will contest the ensuing elections to the SGPC general house with its full might, party General Secretary Kanwarpal Singh told reporters here.

He said the party might consider supporting candidates on an individual basis, purely on merits, in the Lok Sabha elections but would not field its candidates as at present it wanted to devote its efforts and resources only for the Panthic affairs.

He said the party might also consider entering into an alliance with a like-minded party or a group for the SGPC general elections but no truck was possible with the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) or its leader Parkash Singh Badal. The party also expressed its deep anguish over the silence of the SGPC on the issue of erecting a memorial in memory of those who were killed during the Operation Bluestar.

Harcharanjit Singh Dhami, working president of the organisation, while addressing a press conference here today, lambasted the SGPC for not implementing the resolutions it has adopted on building the memorial.

He said Dal Khalsa leaders met the Jathedar of Akal Takht Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti and SGPC President G.S. Tohra yesterday and submitted a memorandum for implementing the resolution adopted by executive committee of the SGPC two years ago. — UNI, PTI


Punjab BJP creates new party districts

Chandigarh, January 20
To strengthen its base, the Punjab unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has decided to create eight more organisational districts by dividing the existing districts of Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Patiala, Gurdaspur, Sangrur and Bathinda, Prof Rajinder Bhandari, general secretary of the party, said today.

Ludhiana Rural will include Khanna and Jagraon; Jalandhar Rural will include Jalandhar Rural (North) and Jalandhar Rural (South); Amritsar Rural will have Amritsar Rural, Tarn Taran and Taran Taran Rural; Patiala Rural will have Patiala Rural (North) and Patiala Rural (South); Gurdaspur will include Gurdaspur and Pathankot; Sangrur district will comprise Sangrur and Barnala; while Bathinda will mean Bathinda Urban and Bathinda Rural. — TNS


BSM wants merger with BSP
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 20
Mr Satnam Singh Kainth, President, Bahujan Samaj Morcha, said that any proposal regarding the merger of the BSM with the Bahujan Samaj Party would be welcomed.

He was addressing a conference of Dalits at Sham chaurasi 20 km from here yesterday. He said that after consulting senior leaders of the Bahujan Samaj Morcha the merger of BSM with the Bahujan Samaj Party would be done.


CPI workers hold rally
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 20
Members of the Communist Party of India (CPI), led by Mr Vijay Mishra, district unit secretary, held a rally in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner in protest against an increase in the price of wheat flour, here today.

Addressing the rally, Mr Mishra said the price of wheat had been increased by the government, resulting in a rise in the rate of flour. This, he said, was adversely affecting poor people. He urged the government to take steps to control the rate of wheat being supplied to flour mills.


Campaign from Jan 23
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 20
Punjab BJP President Avinash Rai Khanna said today the party was set to launch its campaign for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections on January 23, the birthday of Netaji Subhas Chander Bose. All district units had been asked to organise cycle, scooters and car rallies in the urban areas and bullock cart and tractor rallies in the rural areas of all assembly constituencies.

The launch would be followed by an “atal sandesh yatra”.


Punjab to install 4,595 hand pumps
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 20
The Punjab Government has decided to install 4,595 modern hand pumps in 1,189 villages of the state that are yet to be provided piped water. The project will be completed at a cost of Rs 16 crore by March 31.

Addressing a press conference here today, the Punjab Minister of State for Public Health, Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, said the work had already started. Most of these hand pumps would be installed in Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur and Jalandhar districts, where piped water is yet to be made available.

World Bank had sanctioned another loan for providing safe drinking water in rural areas of the state, but a final approval in this regard was yet to be given, he added.

The minister cited shortage of funds to be the main reason for the delay in implementing various schemes of the department. The department had so far received only Rs 50 crore against the Rs 118.38 crore earmarked for this year for providing potable water in rural areas.

Additional Rs 9.31 crore had been released at the Cabinet meeting today, he said. One-third villages in the state were still deprived of safe drinking water because of the constraint of funds.

As part of the process of devolution of powers to the Panchayati

Raj Institutions in the state, he said 876 Single Village Rural Water Supply Schemes had been handed over to the panchayats in the first phase. The panchayats will be responsible for running the water supply schemes and the collection of user charges.

To ensure community participation at all stages, a Swajaldhara programme under a Central government-aided scheme had been introduced. Under this, 90 per cent cost of the project was borne by the government while the remaining 10 per cent (5 per cent in the case of SC/ST dominated habitations) was paid by the community. A scheme for rejuvenation of village ponds was also in the pipeline, the minister informed mediapersons.

The department was also implementing the fourth phase of the augmentation of the water supply scheme in Chandigarh by laying a pipeline in Punjab territory and installing machinery at headworks at a cost of Rs 36 crore. The Chandigarh Municipal Corporation was yet to release the balance amount of Rs 8 crore in the current financial year for early completion of the project. Meanwhile, financial assistance was being sought from World Bank for a project costing Rs 1819 crore, which would expedite the coverage of 1,600 "not covered" and 4,900 "partially covered" habitations with water supply and sanitation facilities.


Tributes paid to Sewa Singh Thikriwala
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Thikriwala (Barnala), January 20
“Shardhanjli samaroh” held in the memory of Shaheed Sewa Singh Thikriwala, a pioneer of Praja Mandal Movement, and attended by leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal, SAD (A), Akali Dal (Ravi Inder Singh) and the Lok Bhalai Party (LBP), virtually turned into a political function.

The “differences” between the Dhindsa faction and the Barnala faction in this district came to the fore once again as Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Secretary General of the SAD and Union Minister for Fertilisers and Chemicals, and Ms Surjit Kaur Barnala, wife of Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, Governor of Andhra Pradesh, reached the venue separately with their supporters.

Though Mr Dhindsa and Ms Barnala shared the stage at the samaroh. It may be mentioned that both are claimants of the SAD ticket from Sangrur Lok Sabha seat.

After paying tributes to Shaheed Sewa Singh Thikriwala, Mr Dhindsa said he was a prospective candidate of the SAD for Sangrur Parliamentary constituency as Mr Parkash Singh Badal had asked him to make preparations for elections from Sangrur. He said the SAD was ready to hold talks with any party, including the BSP, for defeating the Congress.

Ms Surjit Kaur Barnala also showed her aspiration for the SAD ticket from Sangrur Lok Sabha seat by saying that the Sangrur seat had been contested by Barnala family time and again in the past.

Mr Dhindsa also honoured Ms Gurcharan Kaur, daughter of Shaheed Sewa Singh Thikriwala, and her son, Mr Amarjit Singh, on the occasion.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP from Sangrur and President of the SAD (A), criticised the Congress, the BJP and the SAD for their alleged “anti-Sikh” and “anti-Punjab” approach. He said Mr Parkash Singh Badal was not sincere for unity in the Sikh Panth.

Among others who paid tributes to the martyr included Mr Bhola Singh Virk, national senior vice-president of the Lok Bhalai Party, Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode, former Jathedar of Akal Takht and a senior leader of the Akali Dal (Ravi Inder Singh), Mr Darshan Singh Mand, vice-president of the Akali Dal (Ravi Inder Singh), Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, MLA, Mr Baldev Mann, General Secretary of the SAD, Mr Amarjit Singh Jaijee, a grandson of Shaheed Sewa Singh Thikriwala, Mr Balbir Singh Ghunas, MLA, Mr Rajinder Singh Kanjhla, Baba Tek Singh Dhanaula, and Mr Malkeet Singh Keetu, MLA.


2 cops suspended for beating up student
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 20
Two Punjab Police personnel were suspended for mercilessly beating up a student, who allegedly tried to flee after seeing the former checking documents of passing vehicles.

According to the police, scooterist Vishal of the local Central Town locality entered the Punj Peer chowk area this afternoon where the Police Control Room (PCR) officials Sukhdev Singh and Dalbir Singh were conducting routine checking of vehicles. After seeing the police personnel, he tried to turn around his two-wheeler to avoid checking. However, he was caught by them.

Subsequently, he was severely beaten up which caused resentment among the shopkeepers and passersby. Agitated over the inhuman behaviour of the police, the crowd sat on a dharna and blocked traffic. The SP (City), Mr Rajpal Singh Sandhu pacified the protesting shopkeepers, who alleged that Vishal was unnecessarily beaten up by the cops.

The SP immediately ordered the suspension of the cops and ordered an inquiry into the whole matter. The DSP, Mr Charanjit Singh, was entrusted to conduct inquiry.


Custodial death: body cremated
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 20
Ravinder Singh (25), a resident of Kala Bula village, near Sherpur, who allegedly died in the custody of Sherpur police on January 18, was cremated at Kala Bula village after the assurance from police that the alleged “guilty” policemen will be arrested soon.

Before the cremation of the deceased, a large number of persons staged a demonstration at Sherpur, demanding immediate arrest of the accused. The situation worsened as hundreds of villagers of nearby villages gathered there. Leaders of various political parties also joined them.

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP from Sangrur, and president of Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla, MLA from Sherpur, Mr Tarsem Jodhan, Mr Sukhdev Singh Barri and Comrade Acchra Singh Guara, all Communist leaders, also addressed the gathering and criticised the police brutality.

The Sherpur police had allegedly picked up Ravinder Singh on January 18 afternoon in connection with verification of a car. It is alleged that the policemen “tortured” him to death at police station.

Widespread anger prevails against the police in the Sherpur area over the manner by which the police dealt with Ravinder Singh. The people of the area have reportedly planned to organise a protest demonstration on January 22 at Sherpur if the accused, named in the FIR, were not arrested till then.

The parents of the deceased have alleged that the police had “killed” their son just to grab money from the family.


Need to develop ‘national ethos’
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 20
A panel discussion on “Media and National Integration” was held today at Punjabi University on the second day of the All-India National Integration Camp organised here.

Those who participated in the discussion were Mr Kanwar Sandhu, Resident Editor, Hindustan Times and Mr Gulzar Singh Sandhu, former Editor, Punjabi Tribune besides faculty members of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication. Vice-Chancellor Swaran Singh Boparai was also present.

Emphasising on the need to develop a national ethos, Mr Kanwar Sandhu observed that in the light of globalisation it had become important for media to sensitise itself to international issues, rather than reflecting the aspirations of a limited few.

He opined that the element of subjective reporting sometimes added to misperception of certain issues.

Mr Gulzar Singh Sandhu said the media was the representative of the needs and aspirations of the masses. Dr Narinder Singh Kapoor also spoke. Dr Navjit Singh Johal, Head, Journalism and Mass Communication, explained how urban bias was becoming a stumbling block in adopting a broad approach. The Vice-Chancellor stated that the media was being used by vested interests to gain power.


1 killed in accident
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 20
In separate accidents, a school head teacher, Gurdas Ram, was killed while four others were injured in and around Phagwara during the past 24 hours.

Fiftyseven-year-old Gurdas Ram was returning to Jalandhar from Barna on his scooter when a vehicle hit him on the Palahi road. He was taken to a hospital, where he succumbed to injuries.

Two sisters, Rajwinder Kaur and Balwinder Kaur, were injured on the GT road, near Mehtan village, after a bus hit the scooter they were travelling on. In another accident, Nasib Kaur and her minor son Baljinder Singh were injured when a tanker hit their car. They have been admitted to a hospital.


P.M. Dass

Chandigarh, January 20
Mr P.M. Dass, IG, Indian Reserve Battalion, has been given additional charge of the Government Railway Police (GRP), Punjab.

The posting orders of present incumbent Mohammad Mustafa will be issued later, a Punjab Government order said here this evening. — TNS


Man kills self in police custody
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, January 20
Subeg Singh (27), a resident of Pandori Gola village, committed suicide by hanging himself while in police custody at the local police station this evening.

SHO Balkar Singh said Subeg Singh had on December 12, 2003 absconded from the police custody when he was brought to the court of the District and Sessions Judge, Mansa, in a case registered under the NDPS Act. Police sources said he hanged himself using his pyjamas.


School van overturns, 20 children hurt
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 20
As many as 20 students of a school located in Dabwali town of Sirsa district were injured when the van in which they were travelling overturned after hitting another vehicle due to fog on the Sangat-Gurthari road near Sangat town today.

Injured children were admitted to the Civil Hospital, Sangat, but were discharged after giving them first aid. The driver of the van also suffered injuries. More than 40 children were inside the van when it overturned.

Dr Tarsem Kumar, SMO, Civil Hospital, Sangat, said no children suffered serious injuries and all injured were discharged after they were given first aid.


Freedom fighter’s sister dead
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 20
Mrs Vidyawati, sister of late Seth Ram Nath, who was a prominent freedom fighter and founders of the Parja Mandal movement, died here today.

She was 98. She actively supported those who were struggling for the freedom of country.

She is survived by two sons and four daughters. Her funeral will take place tomorrow.


Sidhu to be out of jail today, claims lawyer
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 20
Ousted PPSC Chairman Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu will step out from the Central Jail tomorrow after being incarcerated there for 22 months with his lawyer saying that sureties to secure his bail would be furnished in the district courts tomorrow.

Sidhu’s lawyer Tirath Singh said he would be coming to Patiala tomorrow afternoon, along with the sureties needed, to secure his client’s bail. The lawyer discounted reports saying that Sidhu was not able to get bail in the case because no one was coming forward to submit sureties on his behalf.

Around two years back, three cases were registered against the former PPSC Chairman. While one case was registered for possessing disproportionate assets, in another he was charged with receiving money for jobs. In the third case, he was charged under the Arms Act.

While he had got bail in two of the cases earlier, he secured bail in the disproportionate properties case on January 12 from the Supreme Court on the condition of furnishing two surety bonds of Rs 5 lakh each. Sidhu’s lawyers have received the Supreme Court order and the delay in furnishing the bonds is certainly intriguing.


Scribe’s release sought
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 20
After finding journalist Baljit Brar “innocent” in its investigation in the much-publicised ‘Kabootri’ case, the Jalandhar police has urged a local court to discharge Mr Brar in its application submitted before the court today. Mr Brar was booked by the Model Town police station on January 3 under Sections 420, 342, 120-B and 34 of the IPC on January 3 along with ‘highly connected’ model Parpreet Brar, her mother and her brother on a complaint lodged by Lakhwinder Singh, a resident of Polar village in Kaithal district of Haryana. Lakhwinder had alleged that the model had taken an amount of Rs 7 lakh from him on the pretext of sending him to the USA, but she not only failed to fulfil the promise, but beat him up with the help of her family members. Mr Brar had been invited to her residence with a promise to “return” his money and passport.

In the application to the court, the SHO, Model Town, sought discharge of Mr Brar on the grounds that the allegation of his involvement in the “money exchange” between the two parties could not be substantiated during an investigation, though he had allegedly beaten up the complainant and another person. The application contended that Mr Brar be discharged as his offence of beating somebody was under Section 323 and was, hence, non-cognisable.


Notice issued
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 20
Taking up a petition filed by Jalandhar-based distributor of Siti cable Sanjeet Singh, seeking protection, Mr Justice Jasbir Singh of the high court on Tuesday issued notice of motion for January 27.

Mr Sanjeet Singh had earlier claimed that he was facing strong business opposition from persons running the operation prior to him. He had added that the accused were getting false cases registered against him, his business associates and employees. In fact, they attacked him on December 20 last year, he asserted.


SSP moots web conferencing in courts, jails
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 20
Taking handcuffed undertrials to courts on a daily basis may become a thing of the past if the Punjab police agrees to the proposal of the Patiala SSP, Mr A. S. Rai, to create web conferencing facilities in courts and jails in the state.

The SSP said at a press conference that he had submitted the proposal to the DGP today. He said the proposal was in line with a similar project initiated by the Ahmedabad and Hyderabad police forces.

He said the Ahmedabad police had calculated that it was spending nearly Rs 2 crore annually on taking undertrials to various courts.

He said besides the cost of fuel, the man power that had been deputed for this duty had also been taken into account.

The Ahmedabad police had set up web conferencing facilities in Central Jails and courts so that needless expenditure could be avoided. The undertrials were taken to court only when it was absolutely necessary in the interest of justice.

The Ahmedabad police had calculated that the cost for the same job had been reduced by nearly two thirds after the installation of the web conferencing facility.

The project was also likely to reduce the risks of escape by the undertrials.

The security risk in taking the undertrials to various courts remained a serious issue. In Patiala district, there was a recent case of an undertrial escaping after taking police personnel to a house of a relative and offering them tea laced with an intoxicant.

Earlier, a few undertrials had escaped from the cell in which they had been lodged in the court complex, he said.


Insurance employee held for cheating
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 20
The police today arrested an employee of an insurance company who concocted story of being robbed of about Rs 85000 in order to sail through his financial crisis. The district police chief, Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, stated here that Tuils Ram, an employee of HDFC life insurance company, in his complaint on December 22 last year alleged that two scooter-borne, youth had snatched away his bag, containing a sum of Rs 85239 near BMC Chowk and sped away. Subsequently, a special investigation team (SIT) was constituted to solve the case.

Tulsi Ram was questioned repeatedly and every time the needle of suspicion pointed towards him as the police found big loopholes in his story. Succumbing to the police pressure, Tulsi Ram admitted cooking up the story.

Tulsi Ram, according to the SSP, revealed that he was in dire financial straits and scores of lenders were pressing him for early payment of loans taken by him. One of his friends, Gobinda also urgently needed money to go abroad. Both of them concocted a plan of Tulsi being robbed of the money belonging to the insurance company. On December 22, Tulsi was deputed to deposit a sum of Rs 85239 in a bank. But, Tulsi handed over the bag to Gobinda and raised the alarm of having been looted. Out of the ill-gotten money, Gobinda was given Rs 54000. Tulsi has been arrested by the police and Rs 20000 have been confiscated from his possession.

Efforts were being made to extradite Gobinda.


DRO held taking bribe

Moga, January 20
Punjab Vigilance Bureau today arrested Mukhtiar Singh, District Revenue Officer, Moga, while allegedly accepting illegal gratification of Rs 10,000 from a resident of Khalsa Kotla village in this district.

Moga Vigilance Bureau chief Surjit Singh Khosa himself nabbed the revenue officer from the Punjab Roadways bus stand and recovered the bribed money from his pocket, a Vigilance Bureau spokesman said here.

The revenue official had demanded Rs 30,000 from the complainant for favouring early disposal of the family dispute case pending with the revenue officer.

The revenue officer allegedly asked the complainant to handover Rs 10,000 in advance and that too at the roadways bus Stand as he was a daily commuter to Ludhiana and the remaining amount after the final disposal of the dispute. Complainant Malkiat Singh informed the Vigilance Bureau Moga chief and the offer was trapped. — PTI


Robbery case solved, 5 lakh recovered
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 20
A police party searched two youths carrying a gunny bag here last night and found it stacked with Rs 5 lakh currency notes. The money belonged to a local resident from whose house Rs 10 lakh in cash and gold ornaments had been stolen in a robbery an hour earlier.

Stating this here today, Senior Superintendent of Police A.S. Rai said the robbers, including a domestic help, had struck at the house of Mr Maneet Kumar Goyal in New Lal Bagh Colony here last night. He said the house owners contacted the night patrolling party of the Civil Lines Police in the area, which immediately informed area SHO Paramjit Singh and ASP (City - 2) Dr K. Sharma.

He said PCR motorcycles were informed about the robbery. He said police personnel on a PCR motorcylce got suspicious of two youths carrying a gunny bag and stopped them for checking. The bag was stacked with currency notes. The youths were taken to the Kotwali police station, where they admitted that they had looted the money.

The SSP said the SHO of Civil Lines police station went to the bus stand and its surrounding areas where two other youths were nabbed carrying jewellery. This jewellery was also part of the loot. He said five other persons were rounded up for questioning during night-long raids.

Mr Rai said the four arrested youths had admitted that they were the only ones involved in the robbery. He said the conspiracy had been hatched at the instance of Ramu, who had been recently employed as a servant in the house without any police verification.

The SSP said all four persons reached the house with weapons around 8 p.m. and waited outside. Sleeping pills were mixed in the food of the family members by the servants. The robbers entered the house at 1 am and hit Mr Goyal and his wife who were asleep with a bat.


Strike by college teachers today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 20
After holding two meetings with the Punjab Chief Minister over the issue of restoring 95 per cent grant-in-aid and other demands of the teachers of non-government aided colleges of Punjab and Chandigarh, the Punjab and Chandigarh Teachers’ Union (PCCTU) today said it would observed a one-day strike tomorrow.

The President of the union, Mr H.S. Hundal, said as per the programme seven office-bearers of the union would court arrest at Matka Chowk tomorrow. Before that the teachers would hold a rally in front of the office of the DPI ( Colleges), Punjab, Sector 17 here.

Mr Hundal said the deliberations with the Chief Minister would continue. But the union had decided not to withdraw the strike.

On the other hand, the Punjab Public Relations Department in a press release said a meeting of the Office-bearers of the union was held with the Chief Minister and the Education Minister. The government had agreed to restore the 95 per cent grant-in-aid and another meeting was scheduled to be held next month to discuss other demands of the teachers, said the press release.

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