P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Winnability crucial factor, says Mohsina
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 16
AICC General Secretary, Mohsina Kidwai admits that elections to the 14th Lok Sabha are being held at a time when infighting dogged the Punjab Congress.

As the person in charge of the Punjab Congress, she exudes “feel good” signs that the organisational wing of the Congress will eventually rise as one man to ensure the success of the party candidates in all 13 Lok Sabha constituencies. This, despite the Congress having lost precious time in forging poll alliances. Ms Kidwai is skeptical if Ms Mayawati will accept the hand extended by Ms Sonia Gandhi’s while she is confident that the Congress’ traditional allies, the CPI and the CPM, retain the poll ties.

In an interview to The Tribune today, Ms Kidwai answered a wide range of questions. She was here to address a meeting of district and block Congress Presidents and flag off two teams of party workers for a “mass contact programme”.

To a question as to how the unity between Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra will impact the prospects of the Congress candidates, she acknowledged the presence of the Akali Dal as a political party.

She said an election manifesto must be “realistc” and “synthesis” of economic reforms and political populism as the entire fiscal burden fell on the state exchequer when it came to its implementation.

As to the talking points of the Congress for the parliamentary campaign, Ms Kidwai says, “These will be nation-centric and cogent to pin down the BJP-led NDA Government for having failed on all fronts. However, there will be state issues as well. After all, the two-year-old government of Capt Amarinder Singh has not been sitting idle. In fact, it is too short a period to judge a government’s performance, particularly, when it had inherited a critical fiscal situation and a stagnant economy.”

About infighting in the Punjab Congress, Ms Kidwai replied: “This is unfortunate though it is in every party. However, unlike other parties, the Congress is a broad-based political party, where democracy at the grassroots is allowed full freedom of expression. Nevertheless, time has changed and so have attitudes of the party workers and leaders.”

About the allocation of the party ticket, Ms Kidwai said the winnability of a candidate would be a major factor with the central selection committee, besides loyalty to the party. It was not possible to repeat all the sitting MPs or deny the tickets to all of them. Women would also get due representation.

Ms Kidwai criticised the BJP, maintaining that it had failed to give proper direction to the country or provide the promised five crore jobs. On the contrary, it had stuck to its old theme song of “mandir-masjid”. “One feels ashamed of even talking of the numerous scams and scandals, including the infamous Kargil coffingate or defence deals or Tehelka or even the mental torture inflicted on the family of late Rajiv Gandhi in the Bofors case,” the Congress leader said.


Akali candidates lightweights, says Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 16
Getting back at SAD President Parkash Singh Badal, who had been deriving pleasure from the disunity in the ruling party till a little while ago, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today expressed delight at reports of infighting breaking out in the SAD over the party ticket.

Pointing out the differences cropping up in the SAD, Mr Amarinder Singh here said: “Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, who has been declared the candidate from Tarn Taran by Mr Badal, has been facing rough weather because the Kairon family is opposing him. A revolt is also brewing in the party against Capt Kanwaljit Singh.”

“Our party is united while daggers are drawn among the Akalis,” he claimed. Dismissing the Akali candidates whose names were announced by Mr Badal yesterday as lightweights, Capt Amarinder Singh said: “We would have no problem in putting them in their place.”

Asked about the contest between his wife, Ms Preneet Kaur, and the Akali candidate, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, in the Patiala Lok Sabha constituency, the Chief Minister said: “No one recognises Capt Kanwaljit Singh beyond the boundaries of the Banur Assembly constituency. When he campaigns in the Shatrana, Lehragaga and Sunam segments, voters would wonder who he is.”

Talking about the Akali candidate for the Bathinda constituency, Ms Paramjit Kaur, Capt Amarinder Singh said that she was a greenhorn in politics. She had remained in the teaching profession all her life and “would not be able to win the election battle,” he said.

On Mr Naresh Gujral, Akali candidate from Jalandhar, Capt Amarinder Singh said: “Being a son of former Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral does not make the contest a cakewalk. No one has heard the name of Mr Naresh Gujral earlier in Punjab.”

Quizzed about the reports that certain sitting Congress MPs do not want to contest, the Chief Minister said that these reports were “being spread” by vested interests. “There is no truth in this,” he added. It has been reported in a section of the media that Congress MP Jagmeet Singh Brar is interested in the Rajya Sabha and that he wants Mr Maheshinder Singh Badal to be the candidate for Lok Sabha from Faridkot.

Asked about the delay in the announcement of candidates by the Congress as compared to the SAD, Capt Amarinder Singh said that would not make any difference. “We would be able to manage our campaign in 15 days,” he added. “It is the age of electronic media in which not much time is needed to send the message across to the voters,” he added.

The Congress would organise a big rally at Kila Raipur on February 27, the day it completes two years in power Punjab, to highlight its achievements, he said.


Congress mass contact plan launched
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 16
While Mrs Mohsina Kidwai, General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee, today inaugurated the mass contact programme of the party in Punjab, most of the ministers and MLAs stayed away from the function held at Congress Bhavan here this morning. Only a few select senior leaders were present at the time of inauguration of the programme.

As a part of the contact programme, Mrs Kidwai, along with Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, President, Mr H.S. Hanspal, flagged off a bus which would take Congress leaders to various places. Mrs Kidwai was accompanied by Mr Santosh Bagrodia, Chairman of the mass contact programme, launched all over the country by the AICC.

Speaking to media-persons, Mrs Kidwai said the Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee wanted to run the country the way the RSS wanted. The RSS believed in the two-nation theory and is for the removal of the word secularism from the Constitution to make India a theocratic state. The BJP, she asserted, was making a false propaganda on development. The entire basic structure for development was raised by the Congress during its 40-year rule about 40 years.

The BJP was a pro-rich party. Lakhs of youth were without jobs and facing uncertain future. There was a possibility of putting up some new faces in the Lok Sabha elections in Punjab. She declared that the Congress and its allies would form next the Government at the Centre.

Mrs Kidwai said the BJP was so scared of the Congress that it was attacking even Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi. The BJP mentally tortured the Gandhi family for about 15 years on the Bofors issue but the court had found Mr Rajiv Gandhi innocent in this case. The BJP-led Government would be known for scandals and the Congress would highlight these in the election campaign.


Till death do us part, says Badal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 16
Setting to rest all controversy about seat sharing, the SGPC president, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, has said he has no differences with the SAD president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. Mr Badal too has responded by saying that “reports about our differences are a figment of the media’s imagination”. Both leaders made these statements at a “chetna rally” organised by the Youth Akali Dal at Bhanor village, near here.

Mr Tohra who broached the subject first said: “It is not always possible to give a seat to everyone. So I appeal to those who failed to make it to the nomination list to stand firmly behind the party’s official candidate”.

The SGPC president said: “Mr Badal and I are together like a rock and now I appeal to party workers to come together in the interest of the party. If you hold four more rallies like this one, the Congress will get cold feet and flee”. He launched a scathing attack on Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, saying that “if you can count the bricks of someone’s house, very soon the stones at Moti Bagh Palace too would be counted”. He was referring to the recent Vigilance raids on the properties of the Badals.

Mr Badal responded to Mr Tohra’s statement by saying that “the sky may fall or the earth may touch the sky, but we are friends till death and no one can make a dent in our friendship”. He added that the media was wrongly reporting that Mr Tohra was boycotting the SAD functions. “Let me tell you that Mr Tohra does not enjoy a very sound health, so we do not want to bother him with small functions”, he added.

Hitherto toothless, the Youth Akali Dal today stands a rejuvenated force and the rally organised by it has served many purposes, besides the display of strength by the party’s youth. Today’s event will surely make every political contender in the state jittery as it has dispelled the impression about Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, SAD general secretary, and patron of the Youth Akali Dal as being a non entity without the support of his father.

A gathering, unprecedented in recent times has launched Mr Sukhbir Badal into a higher political orbit in the state politics. It is a different matter that many of those present at the rally were non-Sikhs, giving the impression of the Akali Dal turning into a Punjabi party rather than a party of jathedars.

However, the absence of Mr Maheshinder Singh Grewal, a Tohra loyalist from the rally, and the failure to announce the candidature of any candidate for the Ludhiana seat on the occasion blunts the claims of both Mr Badal and Mr Tohra. Mr Badal is in no situation to ignore the recommendation of Mr Tohra in favour of Mr Grewal, who enjoys a spotless legislative career, besides the BJP support in the city. But Mr Sukhbir Badal is believed to be pressing for the candidature of his loyalist, Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon.


Badal fears rigging at Congress behest
To approach EC on security
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 16
Fearing large-scale rigging in the General Election allegedly at the behest of the Congress government, the SAD has decided to approach the Election Commission to deploy adequate paramilitary forces to ensure a free and fair poll.

Addressing a press conference here today, the SAD chief and former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, alleged that keeping in view the experience during the Malout Assembly byelection and the panchayats elections, “we fear that the ruling party will indulge in large-scale malpractices and rigging during the Lok Sabha poll.”

He claimed that the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had already received intelligence reports that the Congress would face defeat at the hands of the SAD. “We will approach the Chief Election Commissioner for deployment of paramilitary troops to ensure fair elections in the state,” he said.

Asked whether he had no faith in the Punjab police, he clarified that though the state police was disciplined, yet it could be used as a tool to support rigging as was done earlier during elections held under the Congress regime.

“We are in touch with the BSP for a pre-poll alliance,” he said, adding that the remaining candidates for the Lok Sabha poll would be announced after discussing the issue with the BJP”. Making a scathing attack on the Congress government, he said an all-party meeting convened recently by the government to discuss the SYL issue was a mere eyewash and was an attempt to divert the attention of the people from its failure to protect the rights of farmers. Earlier, Mr Kewal Singh Hazara, a former chairman of the Block Samiti, along with his supporters, joined the SAD after resigning from the Congress.


Tur, too, raises banner of revolt
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 16
After Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, Mr Tarlochan Singh Tur, a sitting Akali MP, today raised a banner of revolt against the decision of the SAD to field Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections from Tarn Taran.

Describing Dr Ajnala as an “outsider” for the Tarn Taran Lok Sabha constituency, Mr Tur said he would force Mr Parkash Singh Badal to reverse his decision.

Mr Tur said he would call a meeting of his supporters to decide the next course of action as it was for the first time that a sitting MP had been denied the party ticket. He said he would approach the BJP high command as the seat won by him would go into the kitty of the NDA. He said his family had remained staunch supporter of the Akali Dal and never ditched the party even during crisis. Hence the decision of the SAD to replace him was ‘unfortunate’.

The Tarn Taran seat was won by ‘Tur family’ many a time in the past. Tarn Taran had sent Mr Mohan Singh Tur and Mr Lehna Singh Tur, father and brother, respectively, of Mr Tarlochan Singh Tur, to the Lok Sabha.

The party will have to face byelection from the Ajnala constituency in case Dr Rattan Singh wins the elections.


Surjit sees post-poll tie-up

Jalandhar, February 16
Admitting that there were some hurdles to forming a complete secular front before the parliamentary elections, Mr Harkishen Singh Surjit, General Secretary of the CPM, said today that a secular government under a post-poll alliance would be formed at the Centre.

“We have tried our best to form a secular front to protect the unity and diversity of the nation, but could not get success as many secular parties have their own compulsions for opting out from the proposed joint front,” Mr Surjit told reporters here today.

Making a scathing attack on the BJP, he said “the BJP is using religion to divide people and cannot maintain the unity and diversity of the country”. It was the responsibility of all secular parties to stop the BJP from coming to power, he added.

Asked whether his party would support Mrs Sonia Gandhi to become Prime Minister, Mr Surjit evaded a direct reply and said “ the issue of Prime Ministership will be discussed and sorted out only after winning the elections”.

He said his party would contest the Hoshiarpur constituency under an alliance with the Congress while in the rest of the seats in Punjab, it would support the Congress and Left Parties. — PTI


Sikh Missionary College students to meet Vedanti
Our Correspondent

Anandpur Sahib, February 16
Students of Anandpur Sahib-based Sikh Missionary College today decided to approach the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti.

Talking to mediapersons at Dera Guru Nanak here, the students alleged that the principal, Mr Surinder Singh, had beaten up student Kuldeep Singh in front of Guru Granth Sahib.

They said this incident would be taken up with the Jathedar. “The Jathedar will be urged to take action against the Principal for violating maryada”, said the students.

The Principal, however, denied that he had beaten up any student. “We teach the students to follow maryada, then how I can commit such a sacrilegious act”, he maintained.

Sticking to their stand of not returning to the college till their demands are accepted, the students demanded that they should also be given some share from the amount they collected by performing rituals. They maintained that pressure was being exerted on them to give up their demands.

Meanwhile, the Principal said their demands would not be accepted till they returned back to the college.

He said the management could also be requested to reconsider the rustication of 10 students.

However, if the students failed to join the college till February 18, the management could take legal action against them.


Income Insurance Scheme for farmers: Rajnath
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Bhanor (Ludhiana), February 16
The Union Government has decided to introduce the Income Insurance Scheme for farmers at the national level, replacing the existing Agriculture Insurance Scheme. Initially 100 districts from different states will be brought under this scheme on an experimental basis and later the entire farming community of the country will be put under the protective cover of this scheme.

Disclosing this at a mammoth gathering of Youth Akali Dal workers at the “inqlab rally” here, the Union Minister for Agriculture, Mr Rajnath Singh, said, “This scheme will bring farmers out of the debt trap and ensure a regular income based on the minimum support price”.

He said the scheme would ensure that there were no fluctuations in the income of the farmers and they were assured of returns based on the average produce during the past seven years.

Lashing out at the Congress government in Punjab, the Union Minister said the Central Government was willing to extend the scheme to Punjab from day one itself, but the state government had not responded to its proposal yet. “It appears that the interests of the farmers are of no concern to the state government. However, if farmers of Punjab can persuade the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to participate in the scheme, I offer to cover 15 districts from Punjab in the 100 proposed districts to be covered countrywide”.

Giving details of the Krishi Zila Bima Yojana, Mr Rajnath Singh said 75 per cent of the premium would be paid to the insurance company by the Union Government, while the remaining would have to be generated by the farmers themselves, unless the state government wanted to help.

He said, “The average produce form a given crop will be taken over a period of seven years and multiplied by the minimum support price of that crop to determine the value of the insured income.”

He said even for the grain that a farmer stores for personal consumption, he would be paid the difference of cost in holding versus the market value of the grain by the insurance company. The scheme, he said, would go a long way in reducing agriculture loans and stabilising fluctuation in income of the farming community. He said the NDA government had already set up a phone service for farmers, where any information on agriculture and related topics could be procured free of cost by dialling 1551.

The Union Minister said the Vajpayee government had brought down the interest rate on agricultural loans from 18 per cent to 8.5 per cent after consultations with the Finance Ministry. He announced that the NDA would further bring down the interest rate on agricultural loans to 7 per cent if voted to power.

Highlighting the achievements of the NDA government, Mr Rajnath Singh said Mr Vajpayee had done more for the farmers in the past five years than the Congress did since Independence. He promised several sops to the farmers if the NDA formed the next government under the leadership of Mr Vajpayee.


Controversy mars recruitment of sportspersons
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 16
The Punjab Police is all set to create a record of sorts when it fills seven posts of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSPs) from amongst outstanding sportsmen and women here tomorrow.

The recruitment has already generated a controversy as even the Sports Minister is reported to have written to the Chief Minister seeking his intervention saying that while some outstanding sportsmen like Jugraj Singh, Kanwalpreet Singh and Tejbir Singh were facing demotions, no fresh appointments should be made till previous cases are settled.

The issue may come up for a debate when the Council of Ministers holds its meeting here tomorrow.

A public interest litigation was filed in Punjab and Haryana High Court to get the recruitment of DSPs stalled. It will come up for hearing later this month.

The entire recruitment process will be gone through tomorrow at Punjab Bhavan where the aspirants will be required to submit their applications, get their physical measurements done and their credentials checked before they are formally interviewed by a three-member Departmental Selection Committee headed by the Home Secretary.

Other members of the Selection Committee are the Sports Secretary and the Director-General of Police. The appointments are being made against newly created 431 ex-cadre posts for outstanding sportsmen and women.

Intriguingly, these ex-cadre posts are meant for outstanding sportsmen and women who are already serving the Punjab Police but face demotion following a direction of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The court had upheld that all those who were promoted in excess of 10 per cent quota reserved for promotion from C-1 to C-11 group, making Constable eligible for promotion as Head Constable, be demoted.

Interestingly, there are only four Deputy Superintendents who as per Council of Ministers’ meeting are to be demoted to their substantive rank to meet a legal requirement before they are elevated back to their present ranks.

But in this case, the government decided to advertise seven ex-cadre posts. The advertisement was not only vague but also did not specify the eligibility criteria, including age, besides equating Olympic, World Cup, Commonwealth, Asian Games, SAARC and SAF Games medalists with senior or junior national medalists.

The advertisement, reveal sources, were to adjust certain sportsmen and women against these ex-cadre posts reserved for those already in Punjab Police service.

Never before recruitment of class I officers in the Police Department has been made in such a haste. “It is unprecedented,” remarked a retired officer of the Punjab Police holding that normally the entire process should have taken several months.

In fact, the entire process will have been completed on February 13, the original date for submission of applications, physical measurements, verifications of certificates and other credentials and interview. But since the Chairman of the Selection Committee was held up somewhere and the Committee realised that a six-day notice it had given to aspirants was perhaps not adequate, it was decided to reschedule the entire process for February 20.

Sportsmen were surprised to read another advertisement in newspapers on February 14 saying that the interview has been rescheduled for February 17 and not 20 .

Though no other reason was advanced for completing the entire recruitment process in an express manner, the impending model code of conduct because of the coming Lok Sabha elections may be the only reason forcing the government to clear the appointments at the earliest.

On February 13, 47 candidates had turned up. Of these, a couple of them are already Arjuna awardees. A couple of candidates are close to the powers in the state. One of the candidates is a son of a member of the Chief Ministers’ Secretariat, while the other is son of another influential political activist. “The selection of these two candidates is a foregone conclusion,” quip the remaining aspirants holding that entire process was an “eyewash”. One of the candidates who submitted his application was a 55-year-old athlete saying that since the advertisement did not specify any upper age limit, he was ready to serve police for three years before he attains superannuation.

After the controversy over demotion of sportsmen and women in Punjab Police erupted, the Punjab Council of Ministers decided to create 431 ex-cadre posts to adjust all for the Non-Gazetted positions — Inspectors (35), Sub Inspectors (57),Assistant Sub Inspectors (85), Head Constables (184) and Constables (59).

Though the newspaper advertisements, both of February 7 and 14, were silent about the upper age limit for candidates, the Home Department has shortlisted only those candidates who are born on after 1976 thus eliminating some of the outstanding sportsmen and women who had applied in person on February 13.

According to sources, of 22 candidates shortlisted, one is son of serving Senior Superintendent of Police in Punjab and represents a sport of which Punjab Police does not have a team.

Wrestler Palwinder Singh Cheema and shooter Manavjit Singh Sandhu, who qualified for the coming Olympic Games, are also among the shortlisted.

All three hockey players — Ramandeep Singh Grewal, Sukhbir Singh Gill and Devinder Kumar — all Olympians and medalists in the Asian Games do not figure in the shortlist.


3 doctors, 3 cops found guilty in foeticide case
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Rampura, February 16
A few doctors of civil hospital here including senior medical officer (SMO), Dr Shamsher Singh and certain policemen of the police station here including Investigation officer, Malkeet Singh, have been found guilty of helping Dr Laxmi Garg. Dr Garg was arrested for involvement in illegal abortion and subsequently throwing the foetus into a garbage dump here a few days ago.

Official sources said that five doctors and four policemen were found guilty of helping the accused to shift to Faridkot hospital despite the fact she was referred to Patiala hospital after she complained of pain in chest after arrest following an inquiry by SP (D), Ajay Maluja.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, said that all policemen had been sent to the Police Lines and departmental inquiry started. The Deputy Commissioner too had been asked to take action in this connection. He said that he had also written to the Civil Surgeon, Bathinda to take appropriate action against indicted doctors.

The policemen who found guilty of helping the accused, included Mr Malkeet Singh, investigating the case against Dr Laxmi Garg, head constable, Avtar Singh, woman constable Ms Amarjit Kaur and constable Pawan Kumar. The doctors found guilty are Dr B.D. Gupta, Dr Dalip Singh, Dr D.P. Bansal (all members of board constituted by the SMO for medical examination of Dr Garg). Dr Krishan Gopal (husband of accused Dr Laxmi Garg) and SMO Dr Shamsher Singh. Police sources said that the doctors and the policemen worked under influence took the accused to Faridkot hospital while she was referred to Patiala hospital, Dr B.D. Gupta, who was EMO in the local civil hospital when Dr Garg was shifted did not mention the name of any city on the reference slip given to the policemen who were on duty. The policemen also failed ascertain the city to which the accused was supposed to be shifted before taking her to Faridkot.

Dr Laxmi Garg, who was arrested on February 7 for her illegal abortion and throwing the foetus into garbage at Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital, Faridkot on February 8, where the foetus had also been sent for forensic examination.

Residents of the town, who also held a demonstration in front of Dr Garg’s maternity centre on February 7 protesting against her involvement in illegal abortion and demanding legal action against her pointed out that now they suspected Dr Garg was allowed her to go to Faridkot hospital under “pressure”.

A foetus, which was 14 weeks-old and was allegedly thrown by Dr Garg after an illegal abortion, was recovered by the police and civil hospital officials from a garbage dump near level crossing on the Bathinda-Ambala rail section passing through this town on February 7.

Following the recovery of the foetus, a case against Dr Laxmi Garg along with one class IV employee identified as Champa was registered under Sections 315, 318 and 34 of the IPC. Both accused were arrested on the same day.


Accomplice of Burail jail escapees arrested
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 16
The district police claimed to have unearthed some information about the financing of the fugitives of Burail jail, with the arrest of Gurminder Singh Goldy, alias Soni, a resident of Barnala. At present, he is residing in Chandigarh.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Shiv Kumar, SSP, said the police during patrolling arrested a suspicious man near the Ropar bus stand, Sirhind. An English .32 bore pistol and live cartridges were seized from his custody.

After interrogation, he was found to be involved in several cases of thefts, robbery, kidnappings, hawala racket and for preparing bogus documents. He revealed that he was active in Chandigarh, Ludhiana and in Fatehgarh Sahib region. He had close links with Sewa Singh Norway and Sohan Singh Germany a son-in-law of Wadhawa Singh. He was associated with the Burail Jail incident as he had allegedly organised meetings and hatched conspiracies with Jagtar Hawara, Narain Singh Chaura and Baljit Kaur. He informed that he received Rs 70,000 from Sohan Singh in August, Rs 50,000 in September and Rs 50,000 in October, which were handed over to Hawara in jail.

He further revealed that he held a meeting with “so-called” terrorists in the Bassi Pathana area where it was decided to eliminate top politicians and officials. The police has registered two FIRs, one at Sirhind under Sections 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act and second at Bassi Pathana under Sections 124A, 153A, IPC, 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act.


Khadoor Sahib to be made ‘white town’
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Khadoor Sahib, February 16
After Anandpur Sahib, another town of Punjab, Khadoor Sahib, is being converted into a ‘white city’ to mark fifth centennial of Guru Angad Dev.

A decision to this effect was taken at a joint meeting, attended by representatives of the SGPC, residents of more than 100 surrounding villages, representatives from the USA, Canada, the UK and Baba Sewa Singh of ‘Kar seva wale’ and Dr Raghbir Singh Bains, in charge multi-media centre.

According to Baba Sewa Singh, the district administration had agreed to paint all government buildings of the town white. He claimed that residents of the town today started painting their houses and offices white. The two major buildings of the town — Baba Uttam Singh and Gurmukh Singh school and Guru Angad Dev degree college had been painted white.

After Jerusalem, Jaipur and Anandpur Sahib, Khadoor Sahib would be the fourth town with same colour.

The meeting constituted 21 subcommittees for separate assignments before the actual celebrations. Dr Raghbir Singh Bains said that round the clock live video coverage would be relayed on the Internet (line 256 kbps) from April 13 to April 18. Free lease line has been given by BSNL for this purpose.

It was also decided to build ‘Nishan-e-Sikh’ Research Centre on Gurmukhi script and Sikh history in Khadoor Sahib. Besides, ‘multi-media talking Sikh museum’ is being set up in which latest technology of LCD Touch screens and services Robot will be used which is being imported from the USA. Mini auditorium will be built for showing documentaries.

Mr Bains said that ‘Guru Angad Dev Marg’, is under consideration by the Punjab government. He said, gold and silver coins (fifth centennial) in memory of second Sikh master would be minted.

Mr Roop Singh, Assistant Secretary, SGPC said that many books on the history of Khadoor Sahib and Guru Angad Dev were being published.


BJP seeks 6 seats
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 16
The BJP has staked claim for six Lok Sabha seats and will discuss seat-sharing with the SAD. The party last time fielded three persons out of which Gurdaspur seat was won by actor Vinod Khanna.

According to party sources, a meeting of the BJP’s Coordination Committee and the Election Core Committee was held here today where it decided to stake claim for six seats.

The party had been allotted Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Hoshiarpur seat last time but now the party has decided to ask its alliance partner to consider their candidates for Phillaur, Jalandhar and Ferozepore in addition to earlier seats.

The SAD has announced candidates for Ferozepore and Jalandhar. Insiders pointed out that the party would not complain if these are denied to it.

Sources claimed that state BJP chief Avinash Rai Khanna, accompanied by Mr Madan Mohan Mittal and Mr Balramji Dass Tandon — are scheduled to meet SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal tonight to discuss the issue with him.

Mr Naresh Gujral who is the alliance candidate from Jalandhar addressed a rally organised by the youth wing of the SAD at Bhanor village this afternoon. He was introduced before to the people by Mr Badal himself.

Sources said that political atmosphere in the state was conducive for the victory of more BJP-backed candidates and Akalis should give the BJP more seats.

While Ms Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder of the Congress lost to Mr Vinod Khanna, Mr Daya Singh Sodhi was defeated Mr by R.L. Bhatia of the Congress in Amritsar. Similarly, Mr Kamal Chaudhary lost to Mr C.S. Channi of the Congress in Hoshiarpur. The Phillaur LS seat is being contested by Mr C.S. Atwal of the SAD after almost 15 years.


BSP rules out alliance with Cong, SAD

Jalandhar, February 16
National general secretary of the BSP Narender Kashyap today ruled out that any talks for an alliance with the Congress of the SAD was going on and declared that the party would contest on all 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

Categorically ruling out any possibility of alliance with the Congress or the SAD in the state, Mr Kashyap said “the party has decided to contest all 13 Lok Sabha seats and the lists of candidates will be announced after consulting party President Mayawati”.

Earlier, while addressing the rally organised at Noormahal for paying tributes to the nine martyrs, who laid down their lives during election campaign in 1992, when terrorism in the state was at its peak, Mr Kashyap urged the party workers to be prepared for the challenge of the Lok Sabha election.

State President Avtar Singh Karimpuri condemned the feel-good slogan of the BJP and said “The ordinary and poor citizens of the country have still not found any reason to feel good. Feel-good factor applies only on the flourishing class of the society and the NDA government has always ignored the Dalits”. — PTI


BBMB to collect data on water inflow
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, February 16
The Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) will collect real-time data of water inflow into the Sutlej and the Beas. Centres will be set up in the catchment areas of the basins of the rivers to monitor the inflow of water. The data from these centres will be sent round the clock to the control room at Nangal, where it will be processed.

Mr Rakesh Nath, Chairman of the BBMB, gave this information while talking to this correspondent at Nangal today.

He said the real-time data of water inflow into the Sutlej and the Beas would help in flood control and planning regarding using water in hydro projects on these rivers. The BBMB would also be able to share data on river waters with other hydro projects on these rivers coming up in Himachal.

Besides, the gauge control on the canals emerging from the BBMB was also being upgraded to take corrective action on time and save generation losses.

The case regarding the project had been sent to the Union Ministry for Water Resources. Finances for the project were being arranged from World Bank, he said.

Asked about micro-hydel projects planned by the BBMB, the Chairman said the Himachal and Rajasthan governments had given their nod to the projects. However, the major partner states, Punjab and Haryana, had asked the BBMB to judge the financial viability of these projects.

The BBMB had planned micro-hydel projects on the Nirwana branch of the Bhakra canal and downstream Bhakra near Nehla village.

The low operation and maintenance costs and 10 per cent return of equity were the major strengths of the BBMB. Being a government organisation, the BBMB would also have to pay secondary energy tariff. So if the partners states allowed it to take up the micro-hydel projects, it would be beneficial to it vis-a-vis giving these to private companies.

Pre-feasibility studies have indicated that the micro-hydel projects planned by the BBMB will have a first-year generation cost as low as Rs 2.20 per unit. Soon a report regarding the financial viability of the micro-hydel projects planned by the BBMB will be presented before the Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana.

Mr Rakesh Nath said after renovation and upgradation, the generation capacity of the Pong Dam had been increased from 360 MW to 390 MW. Tenders had been floated for the renovation and upgradation of the left hand power houses of Bhakra. The renovation would be completed by the end of 2005.

Engineers of the BBMB had reduced their maintenance time period from 40 to 20 days. On the Bhakra left bank, it had further been reduced from 30 to 13 days. This had helped in saving peak-hour generation, he said.


Politicians creating problems, say Pak advocates
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 16
“The administrative system of India and Pakistan have become corrupt. In Pakistan it has almost collapsed as the posts of deputy commissioner have been dissolved and replaced with zila nazar, an elected representative,” said Chaudhry Mohammad din Ansari, Advocate, high court and Mirza Masood Sadak, Advocate, Supreme Court of Pakistan, while interacting with the members of the District Bar Association today. A delegation of lawyers had come to pay obeisance at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib and Roza Sharif, they were welcomed entertained by Mr Mohinder Pal, District Sessions Judge.

They said feudal lords and capitalists had dominated the Government as well as society in both the countries and their writ prevailed in the administration and even in judiciary in Pakistan. He said in Pakistan the judiciary had become corrupt and the salaries of judicial officers were very less. He said that politicians were responsible for creating problems between the two countries, where as the people wanted to live peacefully. They said that the present initiatives of creating cordial atmosphere have been widely appreciated by both the countries. They said that the Governments of the two countries had to take these step as America and the people of both the countries forced the governments to start a dialogue.

Talking about the development in Pakistani Punjab and Indian Punjab, they said development was almost equal and the villages in both the Punjabi are linked with roads and have other basic civic facilities. Like Indian Punjab Pakisatni Punjab is also feeding the country. They said they feel quite at home here. They highly appreciated the affection and hospitality extended to them by the Indians.

Mr Mohinder Pal, District Sessions Judge, Mr H.S. Gill Additional Sessions Judge, Mr A.S. Cheema, president, District Bar Association, Mr N.S. Tiwana, advocate, also addressed, the gathering.


Installation of cell phone tower opposed
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, February 16
The erection of a mobile phone tower in the thickly populated Jaspalan Street-Bania Bazar locality here has become a bone of contention between the phone company and residents of the area. The residents protested against that installation of the tower this evening. They said it could be a health hazard due to the high level of radiations.

The Executive Officer of the local Municipal Council, Mr B.M. Jhamb, said the council had not granted permission to any mobile company to install such tower in residential are of the city during the past eight months.

An official of Airtel, the mobile phone company, refuted the allegations. The residents, however, have also lodged complaints with the National Human Rights Commission, the Punjab Human Rights Commission and the Union Ministry for Forests and Environment in this regard.

A group of residents, led by Mr G.S. Jaspal of Jaspalan street, alleged that their pleas to the company management had fallen on deaf ears and it was still going ahead with the installation process.

Mr Parvinder Singh, the Site Acquisition Manager of Airtel, however, claimed that the residents in general were not against the installation of the tower and the objection was being raised by “just one man”, who wanted that tower should have been installed on his building.


Stray dogs maul boy to death
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, February 16
Stray dogs today mauled to death a 10-year-old boy of Mehar Singhwala village while he was going to a school. According to an eye-witness, Balwinder Singh, 10, son of Gurbachan Singh of the village left his house at 8 a.m. for the Government School. He had hardly covered a few yards when three stray dogs pounced upon him and bit him on his neck and other parts of the body.

As Deepo Bai, mother of Balwinder Singh, heard his cries she and Bahal Singh, another resident of the village, rushed to his rescue but the boy had died. Bahal Singh wielding a stick, however, saved Deepo Bai and her three year-old son, Puran.

Mr Sukhminder Singh, SDM, Jalalabad, directed the Senior Medical Officer, Civil Hospital, Jalalabad, to arrange for post-mortem examination of the body.

It was conducted by Dr D.K. Bhukal, Medical Officer.


Dharna by doctors, paramedical staff
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 16
Doctors, members of Para-Medical staff and clerks of the Civil Hospital here today sat on long dharna for three hours in the Civil Hospital here in protest against the non-payment of salaries to them for January.

Dr Makhan Singh, general secretary of the district unit of the PCMSA; Mr Sat Pal Dhaliwal, President of local unit of the PSSF (INTUC); Mr Sat Pal Maur, a leader of the Class Four Government Employees Union; and Mr Manmohan Singh, District President of the Laboratory Technicians Association, addressed the protesters. All leaders condemned the Punjab Government for not releasing the salary. The protesters also raised slogans against the Punjab Government.

Later dharna was suspended by the leaders of various unions till tomorrow morning on the assurance of Dr M.K. Bhalla, District Immunisation Officer, who said the Sangrur Civil Surgeon had today gone to Chandigarh for bringing the sanction for the salaries. He also assured that salaries would be paid in two or three days.

The Dharna hit, health services in the Civil Hospital and patients faced difficulty. 


‘Harmony-2004’ organised
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 16
A two-day cultural consumer fate programme “Harmony-2004”, organised by the Bhai Gurdas College of Management and Technology (BGCMT), concluded on the college complex yesterday. About 40 stalls were put by different commercial organisation.

In this two-day programme, students of the Bhai Gurdas Institute of Management and Technology, and “the Bhai Gurdas Institute of Engineering and Technology presented bhangra, mono-acting, songs, skits etc. Noted Punjabi Singer Gursewak Mann presented in a live show.

Mr H.S. Jawanda, Chairman, Bhai Gurdas College of Management and Technology, Sangrur, said the students also learnt technical points of advertising and marketing during the programme. The programme was inaugurated by Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur.


Narrow escape for rail passengers
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, February 16
Hundreds of rail passengers travelling on the Indore-bound 9368 Dn Malwa Express had a narrow escape when it hit an iron rod-laden truck near the Nurmahal railway crossing last evening.

Railway officials said the train was moving at a low speed since repair work was going on near the railway crossing when the mishap occurred.

The truck was severely damaged and the train engine developed a fault. The train left for its destination after one and a half hours.

An inquiry has been ordered into the matter by the railway authorities.


Cycle expedition by 17 Army men for peace
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 16
A cycle expedition by 17 Army officials of 20 Sikh regiment spreading message army countrymen, including Punjabis for peace, harmony and national integration passed through this city today. The expeditionists also aim at meeting ex-servicemen and widows of the units residing in Punjab and their participation in the raising day function of the unit to be held at Ferozepore on February 28 besides to making people aware of its (20 Sikh Regiments) achievements since its inception on March 1, 1976. The rallyists were accorded warm reception here. Talking to mediapersons, Lieutinant Vivek Sabharwal, leader of the party said that the expeditionists who started on February 7 from Ferozepore had covered over 1400 km and visited places like Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Sangrur and Bathinda and union territory of Chandigarh.

After visiting Ludhiana and Jalandhar the team will go back to Ferozepore on February 20. Lt Sabharwal disclosed that it had received more than 1400 awards for bravery in different sectors.

The unit also dealt with 85 militants and nabbed five hardcore. Fifteen senior and junior officials of the unit sacrificed their lives during insurgency.


PF scam comes to light
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 16
A scam pertaining to the withdrawal of provident fund amount belonging to employees of the District Excise and Taxation Office here has come to light.

Official sources said a cashier, Lal Chand, had allegedly pocketed lakhs of rupees after withdrawing the amount from the provident fund accounts. The scam came to light when the withdrawal vouchers of the treasury office did not tally with the withdrawal vouchers of the Excise and Taxation Office.

Though the scam unearthed about a month ago, the excise and taxation authorities had not started proceedings against the accused.

Mr M.S. Kundlas, Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Bathinda, said Lal Chand had been asked to deposit the money and he had been shifted. He said for the moment there was no need of registering an FIR against Lal Chand, who had allegedly embezzled Rs 3.71 lakh.


Shobha yatra by Shiv Sena
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 16
Activists of the Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) led by District Vice-President Inderjit Karwal with bigsized snakes coiled round their necks and dancing marked Shobha yatra here this afternoon in respect of Mahashivaratri. The snakes were worn around necks by the activists as Lord Shiva always had a snake coiled round His neck. Tableaux depicting life and message of Lord Shiva, bhangra, bands, trishuls also marked the yatra.

Traffic in the town had to be diverted due to the yatra. It started from the Moni Baba da Mandir in old grain market and passed through decorated bazars before ending at the same mandir which houses the office of Shiv Sena. Leaders of various political parties along with devotees took part in it.


Cong backs Sikhs on turban issue
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 16
The Congress yesterday took up the case of the Sikhs on the turban issue imposed by the French Government.

Prof Darbari Lal, Education Minister, in a four-page press release decried the French Government terming the turban as an inseparable and indisputable part of a person professing the Sikh religion.

He said it seemed that to curtail fanaticism amongst Muslims post 9/11 the French Government had decided on the controversial legislation.


Sitar maestro bemoans commercialisation of art
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, February 16
The man responsible for putting the lesser-known surbahar on the world’s music map besides giving the ‘Imrat guitar’ is all but disillusioned with the present artistic scenario in the country. Son of the legendary Imdad Khan, Ustaad Imrat Khan accompanied by son Wajahat Khan is in the city today to perform on the third day of the Patiala Heritage Festival.

“The kind of music that is dominant in the country today is but a bad caricature of a mixture of Afro-American sounds, the younger generation here does not know about the richness of our cultural legacy. Isn’t it ironic that the West today stands awed by the magnificence of Indian classical music whereas talented artists in the country are rotting in oblivion due to the complete apathy of the both the authorities and the masses. Have we truly become so poor that we cannot cherish even our artistes? See what has happened to Ustaad Bismillah Khan”, he remarks.

The maestro who is famous the world over for his mastery in the sitar and surbahar alike rues that with the advent of democracy, the performing artist’s umbrella was snatched from him only to be given to the politicians who neither appreciate nor understand the arts. He adds, “Here despite your talent you cannot hope to succeed unless you are clever enough to manage the media and project yourself as saleable.”

Regarding the dedication of the present generation towards learning music, the maestro lashes out at the emergence of fusion music, saying that it has harmed the cause of traditional classical music more than anything else. “Disciples have lost the patience to put in years of arduous training required to chisel their talent. As soon as they master a little skill, they stop training further and seek out avenues where they can earn a quick buck coupled with instant fame through fusion music,” Imrat Khan states .

However, he brushes away the sombre mood with a huge smile when he tells you how delighted and honoured he is at the opportunity of performing in Patiala and that too at the site of the erstwhile royal durbar. His maternal grandfather Ustad Bande Hussein Khan was a singer in the service of the Maharaja of Patiala. His son Wajahat Khan, a celebrity in his own right is based in Kolkata and London. Wajahat is one of the best known sarod players in the world. He has lent his musical might to the Academy of World Music that he has set up in London.

“I try to present intact to the audience all the values of the Ettawa gharana passed onto me by my forefathers, which is also known as the ‘Imdadkhani’ or the ‘sitaria-surbaria’ gharana as no other gharana plays both the sitar and the Surbahar whereas with us this tradition dates back to many generations.


Inspired, Chaurasia plays on
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 16
Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia was loath to put aside his flute last evening. Performing on the second day of the Patiala Heritage Festival here, Panditji delighted his listeners by declaring himself carried away by the ambience of the Qila Mubarak at the scheduled end of his performance and went on to present yet another melodious offering from his rich repertoire.

“The atmosphere here is divine. It feels as if I am performing in a temple or a gurdwara. I shall play on,” stated the maestro. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh who was proceeding to the stage to honour the musician smilingly turned back and settled down again to enjoy the lilting ‘pahari dhun’ with which the flautist ended his performance.

The ‘bansuri samrat’ commenced the recital with an evening raag meant to welcome the moon — raag yaman kalyaan. He then went on to present the shingaar ras through ‘jog’. The emotions that he was able to evoke with his unassuming flute perhaps cannot be described through words. The audience sat transfixed as the maestro cast his spell. His accompanist on the tabla Roshad Mustafa Thirakwa also came in for applause for his masterful performance.

Vocalists of the Banaras Gharana Pt Rajan — Sajan Misra who took over the stage from the flautist more than made up for the delay in their arrival with their exhilarating recital which lasted for more than two hours. Right at the onset of their performance, both the brothers echoed sentiments similar to those expressed by Hari Prasad Chaurasia and said that so inspired were they with the venue which had transported them to a journey through time that their music could flow on for the whole night.

The recital commenced with ‘Peer Naa Jaani Balma’ in raag maalkos which was followed by a devotional composition ‘Ya Rabba Meri Beri Nu paar Lagaa’. Their rendition of raag durga was a feat in itself as their rich baritones blended with effortless ease to bring forth a spontaneity that is usually the hallmark of a solo performance.

The duo which are considered the best known exponent of khayal gayaki ended the performance with a tribute to the legendary Fateh Ali Khan by the rendition of an original bandish of the Patiala gharana ‘Taan Kaptaan, kit gayo jag mein Fateh Ali Khan’. The piece all but lifted the audience into dizzying heights of ecstasy.

The duo was provided vocal support by Rajan Misra’s sons Ritesh and Rajneesh with Pt Sohan Lal Mishra on the tabla.


Patiala gharana Khan legends in city
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 16
The sur mandal which was invented by the legend of the Patiala gharana — Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan — and his grandsons Mazhar and Jawaad Ali Khan are making a comeback in the city which once occupied a pride of place in the music tradition of the country.

“Our grandfather Bade Ghulam Ali Khan invented the sur mandal when he bought the strings of a piano set in wood for a then princely sum of Rs one from a junk shop in Delhi in 1933,” says Jawaad Ali Khan who was here to perform at the Heritage Festival in the city this evening. Jawaad says Bada Ghulam Ali Khan invented a harp-like instrument after stringing together the strings of the piano on small wooden frame. “This came to be known as the sur mandal,” he added.

Mazhar and Jawaad, on whose shoulders rest the past glory of the Patiala gharana, say their forefathers came to Patiala from Kasur. “Patiala was known for its robust form of rendition and a fusion of sorts took place with our haunting music lending further grace to the amalgamation.” Jawaad says both his forefathers Ali Baksh Khan and Ustad Kale Khan lived in Patiala and provided the setting for the emergence and legendary fame of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan who was Ali Baksh Khan’s son.

Jawaad says it was unfortunate that there were no patrons for classical arts in Punjab with people even now being aware of the Patiala gharana. He said government or private patronage was necessary if more classical arts were to take root in the state. “We live in Delhi but would love to come to Punjab if the state government is serious about setting up some academy or institution for imparting training in classical singing,” he added.

The duo say they are maintaining the traditions of the Patiala gharana and make innovations wherever necessary. They said people had more expectations from them because they were directly responsible for keeping up the traditions of the gharana. They added that the gharana was still attracting disciples because of its robust but varying emotional rendition.

The artistes are expected to sing ‘thumris’ (light classical items) today. “We will try to give a distinct flavour to them by going in for different emotions while rendering the same thing”, they add. Ustad Zameer Ahmed is accompanying them on the harmonium and Idris Ahmed Khan on the tabla.


Paintings display quest for modernisation
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 16
The National Gallery of Modern Art is exhibiting a collection of paintings reflecting the quest for modernisation in the 19th century and the use of abstract language in the 20th at the Patiala Heritage festival at Banaser Art Gallery here. The exhibition was inaugurated today by INTACH Vice-Chairman S.K. Misra.

The paintings have been curated by Prof Rajeev Lochan, Director of the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, these displays a period from 1872 when painters followed the Academic School prevalent during British times. It takes one across representative pieces of art of the schools that later followed to make the viewer understand the journey of the art.

The oldest painting in the collection is of M F Pithiwala titled “Malan” which shows a female gardener in a posed manner with immaculate attention given to her drapery, jewellery and other assortments, including the flower pot. This set of piece continues in the painting of J P Gangular painted slightly later although a feeling of abandon creeps in. The painting has dark rocks in the foreground, colourful figures in the middle and polished sand and sea in the background. However, the progress can be seen from the movement depicted in the treatment of the fisher women in the painting.

Paintings from the Bengal School of Artists are also revealing as far the artist struggle to retain some of their cultural roots even as they imbibe western influences. Two paintings of M.A.R. Chugtai, who had migrated to Pakistan, after independence reflect this best. The paintings are influenced by miniatures of the Mughul courts Chugtai’s forefathers had served in these courts. Similarly the water colour of Madhava K Menon depicting a lotus pond has been painted in the style of the Ajanta paintings.

Indian painters reflecting on social realism as well as showing the heroic dignity of ordinary human lives is also portrayed in some of the paintings. Two forceful works of Ramkinkar Baij echo this. The paintings are of a Santhal family in which the earthy personality of the family is exhibited. The painting “Maternity” displays the passion of motherhood in thick coats giving a monumental feel to the event.

The works of the Progressive Artists Group of Mumbai has also been displayed. This grouping includes the works of M.F. Husain and H.A. Gade. Husain’s painting, “Cage -7”, compares the status of womanhood to a caged bird. H.A. Gade’s painting “The Houses” displays the style of creating fractured planes of colour with strong jagged lines.

Works of artists who were influenced by the Progressive Artists Group are also displayed. These include Ram Kumar and Krishen Khanna. While Ram Kumar’s painting shows the change in him following his stay in Paris, Krishen Kumar has used thick brush strokes to create larger than life paintings showing a practise session of two band players and in another painting “Captain Pesikaka Awaiting Clients”.


High Court
Pirzada granted bail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 16
IAS officer Gurnihal Singh Pirzada was today granted bail by Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in an alleged corruption case after the state of Punjab did not contest the plea on merits.

He was arrested on January 22 and was functioning as the Chairman of Punjab State Electronics Development and Production Corporation before being booked by the Vigilance Bureau.

Arguing before the court, state counsel asserted that the plea was not being opposed after taking into consideration Mr Pirzada’s physical condition. Earlier during proceedings, Mr Dinesh Goyal, appearing on behalf of the IAS officer, informed the court that the petitioner was being administered medicines for hypertension, angina and low-back pain.

He also informed the court that the officer was admitted to Sector 16 General Hospital on January 25. Seeking the grant of bail, counsel added that the petitioner was being implicated in the case.

After hearing the arguments and going through the medical record placed before the court, Mr Justice Gill ruled: “The state has not contested the petition on merits. Counsel for the state has added that the bail order should be conditional.... The petitioner should be directed to co-operate with the investigating agency”.

Disposing of his plea, Mr Justice Gill concluded: “Bail is granted to the petitioner to the satisfaction of the trial court with the condition that the petitioner shall make available before the investigating agency as and when called.”

Voting rights

Acting on a petition filed in public interest by the Sehajdhari Sikh Federation challenging a notification issued by the Union of India whereby the voting rights of the Sehajdhari Sikhs had been taken away, a Division Bench of the high court on Monday fixed February 16 as the next date of hearing.

In its petition, the federation, through national President Dr Paramjit Singh Ranu of Raikot, had earlier contended that Sehajdhari Sikhs, constituting the majority of Sikh population, had been exercising their franchise in a peaceful and democratic manner for past 59 years. But their rights were curtailed vide notification dated October 8 last year.

Arguing before the Bench, counsel had asserted that the Union of India had no legal or legislative competence to issue the notification by amending the Sikh Gurdwara Act — which was a Central Act.

Probe sought

In a petition filed before the high court, city resident Gurmukh Singh on Monday sought directions to the state of Punjab and other respondents for ordering a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the allotment of tenders for raising the height of Tangri bundh in Patiala.

Claiming that the process was being carried out in a totally illegal manner for extraneous considerations and illegal gratification, the petitioner added that the writ filed by him pointed towards “an organised scam going on in the Department of Irrigation and Drainage in the state of Punjab”.

He added that public money was embezzled by “showing the execution of new flood control works worth crores even though minor repair is actually carried out”.


Farmers hold dharna against arhtiya
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 16
Members of the district unit of the Kirti Kisan Union, led by Mr Dhanna Singh, district president of the union, today staged a dharna near the shop of an arhtiya, Mr Kimat Rai, outside the New Grain Market, here alleging that the arhtiya had not returned Rs 5 lakh to a farmer of Chathe Sekhwan village, Mr Ajaib Singh. They alleged that this amount included about Rs 3.75 lakh, which had been given to the arhtiya by Mr Ajaib Singh after selling 8 bighas some years ago.

However, Mr Kimat Rai refuted the allegations and said he and Mr Ajaib Singh had cleared all accounts in November, 2002. He claimed that Mr Ajaib Singh had given him in writing in this regard.

Mr Bhim Sain, president of local Arhtiya Association, said the farmer and the union had levelled false allegations against Mr Kimar Rai. He said if the harassment of the arhtiya was not stopped, they would hold a strike in the New Grain Market.


Multiplex auction cancelled
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 16
The auction by the local Improvement Trust of the proposed multiplex in the holy city could not materialise, as required number of bidders failed to turn up. Only two bidders deposited the earnest money of Rs 21 lakh each for the prime site located at Ranjit Avenue following which the auction was declared cancelled today.

However, the bidders Mr Vijay Sharma of National Motors and a liquor baron, Mr Charanjit Singh Chadda, alleged that the trust was not clear about the floor-area-ratio and the proposed height of the complex.

Ms Ratna, Chairperson of the Improvement Trust, said the failure of requisite bidders had forced the trust to cancel the auction. The two bidders, however, said a third bidder was present to deposit the earnest money and the quorum of minimum three bidders could have been completed but the trust’s guidelines did not find much favour with them and also with other prospective bidders.

They urged the trust to increase the height celling and the floor-area-ratio of the complex from the proposed 63 feet and 1:1.25, respectively. However, Ms Ratna said the Air Force and the Airport Authority would object to such a move.

According to sources, the height and floor coverage were likely to be increased from 63 to 70 feet and from 1:1.25 to 1:1.75, respectively.

According to proposed guidelines, a total number of three cinemas were to be constructed with a total capacity of 450 seats with minimum and a maximum permissible use for cinema not exceeding 50 per cent of the ground area.

The multiplex was to house restaurants, fast food joints, cyber cafes, video game parlours, pubs, bowling alleys and health spas.

The multiplex would be allowed to use 50 per cent of total floor-area ratio and the rest for commercial activities.

Meanwhile, the proposal for constructions another multiplex on the mall road near the ‘thandi khui’ was still lying in the cold storage.


Notice served on Improvement Trust
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 16
The Ranjit Avenue C-Block Welfare Association has served a notice on the Amritsar Improvement Trust regarding bifurcation of residential plots, conversion of land use from residential plots to commercial plots and alleged encroachment on Trust property.

At a press conference here today, Mr Avtar Singh, president of the association, alleged that in violation of the bylaws of the Trust, some allottees had started using their plots for purposes other than residential. Some allottees had sub-divided their plots. The notice said even though a number of representations were given to the Trust in this regard, yet no action was taken by it.

However, Ms Ratna, chairperson of the Trust, refuted the allegations. She said the Trust had got the notice a few days ago.

Mr Avtar Singh revealed that plot No. 2339 (500 yards) had been converted into a hospital in violation of the sanctioned plan of the Trust. He alleged that inhabitants of the area adjoining the C-Block Ranjit Avenue were gradually encroaching upon the Trust land. He claimed that 43 plots of 250 square yards had already been encroached upon in addition to two-thirds portion of a primary school, resulting in a loss of about Rs 16 crore to the Trust.

Ms Ratna said bifurcation of plots were allowed as per government A rules at the rate of Rs 250 per square yard for residential plots and Rs 500 per square yard for commercial plots. She said the Trust had served a notice on the defaulting hospital. However, the hospital had taken a stay and the next date of hearing was February 23.


Gurdaspur gets 3 cr for development
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 16
The president of the municipal committee, Gurdaspur, Mr Raman Behl, said here today that a sum of Rs 3 crore had been received for the development of the district. The amount would be used to augment the sewerage and water supply in the district.

Under the first phase of the scheme one tubewell each would be installed at Behrampur-Hordochani road, Prem Nagar, Islamabad, Arya Nagar, Nari Darbar, Hayer Vihar, Kahnuvan road, Mohammedpura village, and railway station areas. There was a proposal to install sodium vapor lights, to construct a fish park and water fall at the cost of Rs 3 lakh.


SHO sent to police lines

Bathinda, February 16
Mr Harinder Pal Singh Sodhi, SHO, Cantonment, police station, here was sent to police lines today by the district police chief, Mr Kapil Dev, after he was found guilty of beating up two milk vendors of Gobind Pura village on February 14.

Mr Kapil Dev said action was taken following an inquiry conducted by the DSP, Phul. — TNS


ENT specialist arrested
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 16
Dr Kamal Kishore, an ENT Specialist of Civil Hospital here was today caught by a Vigilance team while accepting rupees 1500 from the husband of a patient. The team comprised Rajwant Kumar DSP, Mr Satpal Inspector and Rajinder Singh SI of the Vigilance Department. A case was registered, the doctor nabbed, his record sealed and the bribe amount recovered.

Bakhsho wife of Ram Saroop was hospitalised here on February 13. She belonged to Kotrani village and was injured in a clash. The doctor demanded rupees 1500 for preparing the Medico-legal Report (MLR). Ram Saroop, husband of Bakhsho informed the Vigilance which laid a trap and caught the doctor while receiving bribe from Ram Saroop.

The raid was conducted and the action taken in the presence of two gazetted officers, it was further learnt.


Cellphones seized from jail inmates

Jalandhar, February 16
The jail authorities have recovered mobile phones from the two murder accused lodged in Central Jail here and reported the matter to the district police for taking action against the outsiders who allegedly supplied the phone sets to them.

“During a routine checking, mobile phones were recovered from the murder accused, Mohinder Singh Titu and Amarjit Bugga, the known history sheeters, who were lodged in the jail”, said Satpal Singh, DSP, Central Jail.

Apart from the phones, cash worth Rs 1,200 was also recovered from their bags, he said.

“The local police has also been informed about the incident so that appropriate action could be taken against the outsiders who had provided the instruments to the accused,” he added. — PTI


Obscene dance at marriage leads to clash

Abohar, February 16
Obscenity during marriage ceremonies led to a bloody clash at a marriage palace near the Bhagat Singh Chowk here on today.

A barat arrived here from Jalalabad (West) and after the Anand Karaj the people were enjoying provocative dances by semi-dressed girls hired by a local orchestra group. Some of them reportedly went to the stage and insisted on dancing with the girls.

Suddenly a dancer started shouting that two members of the marriage party had tried to outrage her modesty. The orchestra group winded the cultural show.

When the baratis were having their meals, about 12 persons allegedly armed with swords and lathies rushed in and started beating up people indiscriminately. At least four persons were injured. — OC


Girl abducted, 4 booked

Amritsar, February 16
The Chheharta police has booked four persons for abducting a 16-year-old girl here last evening. Mr Wasan Singh, of Manjiawali village in Gurdaspur district said Bhinda of Vadda Naag village, Harprabh Singh of Shiv Nagar, Karanbir Singh of Krishna Square and Pardeep Kumar along with others, abducted his daughter to forcibly marry here to Bhinda. — OC


Govt senior secondary school for Kharar from April 1
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 16
A Government Model Senior Secondary School will start functioning in the town from April 1. Initially it will be housed in the building being vacated by State Institute of Health and Family Welfare.

This was stated by Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, while addressing mediapersons after laying the foundation stone of a boundary wall of the civil rest house here today. The construction of the wall is being done by the Municipal Council.

He said the civic body had donated a 5 acre plot for setting up a senior secondary school. Funds for the building were being arranged and it was going to be a community project. He said he would give a grant of Rs 1 lakh for the school out of his discretionary quota and Rs 1.5 lakh out of the united funds of the district planning board. He said the state Education Minister had also promised to help in this regard.

He said the school would also have an NRI block, which would be constructed out of donations made by NRIs. He said that his brother-in-law, Mr Parshotam Singh Dhanoa, had already made the first offer in this regard and announced to donate Rs 10 lakh. This amount would be used to construct a science block of the school in the memory of Mr Dhanoa’s mother, Ms Jaswant Kaur. He appealed to other NRIs of the area to make donations for the school.

He said that he wanted to make the institution into a residential school and provide quality education to students. A number of vocational courses would also be introduced in the school. He said he wanted the construction of the school building to be completed in a year, though the building of the Health Department had been borrowed for two years.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh said that since Kharar was facing acute shortage of drinking water, it should get 3 mgd of canal water from the pipeline that was being laid from Kajauli waterworks to Mohali. A resolution to this effect had already been cleared by the local Municipal Council. He said he had requested the Punjab Chief Minister to sympathetically consider the demand and take immediate action in this regard.

He said the building of the civil rest house was in shambles which was now being repaired by the council. The civic body was also constructing its boundary wall at a cost of Rs 3.37 lakh. He said that a grant of Rs 6 lakh would be released to the council out of the excise duty of this quarter. He said he would be giving an additional Rs 1 lakh out of his discretionary funds for the funeral van being purchased by the council for the residents of the town.

He said the Chandigarh-Kiratpur road would also be widened as it had become a part of the priority project.

The Deputy Speaker said that he was going to UK to attend the 53rd seminar on Parliamentary Practises and Procedures being organised by Commonwealth Parliamentary Association from March 4 to 15.


Aided schools staff resent govt move
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, February 16
Mr Raj Kishore Kalra, president, Punjab Government Pensioners’ Association, Fazilka, has revealed that the Punjab Government notification of January 6, 2004 had hit the teachers and employees working in 484 government-aided schools. These teachers who retired after June, 2003, had been denied the benefit of pension. A total of about 10,000 teachers and other employees were working in these schools, he added.

Mr Kalra said after a protracted struggle teachers and employees working in government-aided schools had got the right of pension in May, 1992 when the managements of the aided schools and the Education Department, Punjab, entered into an agreement under which the contributory provident fund of the employees of the schools was deposited in the Government Treasury. In lieu, these employees were promised pension from February 5, 1987. Since then the employees had been getting the benefit till May 31, 2003.

Expressing similar views, Avirash Chander, a teacher of D.A.V. Senior School, Fazilka, who retired on June 30, 2003, said it was grave injustice to him. He lamented that having dedicated the entire career towards education he had been left high and dry at the end of his career. Bihari Lal, a clerk of the same school who retired on July 31, 2003, rued that due to government decision on not to pay pension he was finding it difficult to make both ends meet.

Mr Kalra said if the government did not review its anti-employee decision then about 8000 teachers and employees of the government-aided schools who would retire by the end of 2005 would be affected.


Punjabi University has full-time Registrar

Patiala, February 16
Officiating Punjabi University Registrar Dr Param Bakshish Singh was selected today full-time Registrar of the varsity by a Committee headed by Guru Nanak Dev University Vice-Chancellor Dr S.P. Singh.

Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai, who was to chair the Committee meeting, opted out of it. Dr Param Bakshish Singh is a relative of the Vice-Chancellor.

Varsity Spokesman Dr Baldev Singh Sandhu said the Vice-Chancellor had opted out of the selection process to ensure objectivity and transparency. — TNS


Students advised to accept challenges
Our Correspondent

Nabha, February 16
Dr P.M. Das, Inspector-General, India Reserve Battalion, Punjab, delivering the fourth Gen. Gurbachan Singh Buch Memorial lecture at Punjab Public School, Nabha on “An appreciation of adventure in Carriers”. He advised the students to accept challenges of life. Dr Das said that adventurous activities built self-confidence.

Praising the students he said that habit of “free thinking” should be inculcated in them.

He showed some slides of his Lampak Peaks expedition of 2003.


400 winners given prizes

Mohali, February 16
Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Punjab Minister for Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Dairy Development, on Saturday gave away prizes to more than 400 winners of the various competitions organised by the Centre for Rural Environment Education, Nadiali.

The competitions included on-the-spot painting, fancy dress, turban tying, group dance, group singing and shabad-gayan. The maximum prizes were won by AC National Public School, Zirakpur.

Mr Kang announced a grant of Rs 25,000 to the centre. TNS

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