P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Hindu jatha returns from Pak
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 22
It was a busy day at Wagah today after several delegations arrived here today. The 133-member Hindu jatha that had gone to Pakistan to pay obeisance at temples on the occasion of Mahashivratri arrived in batches via the Indo-Pak joint check point at Wagah.

BJP vice-president and jatha member, Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, said Katasraj Temple located in Chakwal district of Pakistan was nearly in ruins. She said Rs 1 crore was sanctioned by the Pakistan Punjab governor to the wakf board for the development of the temple. She said the “amar kund” was not functional but the water was clear and was being supplied to surrounding villages.

Appreciating Pakistani hospitality and security for the Hindu jatha that went there after five years, she said although the temple was notified under the Archaeological Board of Pakistan in 1956, its development started only in 2002. A sum of Rs 5 lakh was also sanctioned to Krishna Temple in Lahore for a hall by the wakf board.

The BJP leader said future Hindu jathas needed to be more organised. The government must plan the jathas to Pakistani temples and extend help to them on the pattern of Haj pilgrims.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani Health Secretary, Dr Farzana Nasir, headed a 13-member delegation of doctors that arrived here.

A nine-member delegation of students from Lahore University Management Science also arrived here to attend a conference in New Delhi. They would return to Pakistan on March 2.

Another delegation of Indo-Pak Peace Forum for Peace and Democracy (Pakistan chapter) also reached were today.


Pak official administers drops at Wagah
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 22

Dr Sarzana Nazir Parliamentary Secretary, Health, today crossed over to India and administered polio drops to Indian children at the Wagah joint checkpost, about 30 km from here.

Dr H.S. Gill, Civil Surgeon, said it was the first time that a senior health official from Pakistan had crossed over to India to discuss health problems in both countries.

Dr Nazir will go to Chandigarh before proceeding to New Delhi to participate in a health conference.

A delegation of Pakistani doctors arrive at Wagah on Sunday

A delegation of Pakistani doctors arrive at Wagah on Sunday


India, Pakistan poets melt the ice
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 22
The ice between India and Pakistan seemed to melt as poets from the two countries recited their qalaamas and ghazals during the Indo-Pak mushaira organised by the Sufi Foundation, India, at the local Red Cross Bhavan last night.

Pakistani poet Ahmed Faraaz, coming on the stage, opened his heart with “Mohabbat ke liye jaroori nahin ki hum ek hi ghar mein rahen.” This was followed with an attempt at raising hopes: “Tumhaare desh mein aya hum dosto abke, na shair-o-nagma ki mehfil, na shairi ke liye, agar tumhaari anahi ka hai awaal, to chalo main haath badhaata hoon dosti ke liye.”

Known for his humorous style, Bekal Ustaahi referred to the Indo-Pak relations when he recited, “Teri waadi se harek saal barfeeli hawa aakar, hamaare saath garmi ka mahina kat jaati hai...”, and, “Pahunch jaati hai dushman tak hamari khufiya baatein bhi, batao kaun si kainchiaan lifaafa kaat jaati hain.” He expressed concern about the western style of life in cities with “kuch to hai libaas kimti rakh kar shahar nanga hai, hamare gaon mein mota-mahin kuch to hai.”

Regarding the peace initiatives, Dr Sardar Anjum, observed,” Is nayee koshish ko pehnaao vafaaon kaa libaas, marhala mushkil agar hai, pyar se dekho use.”

Pinning hopes on improving relations between the two countries, Sardar Panchi came up with a ghazal, “Ik bhi patta hai jab tak, koyi kiyoon maayus ho, tehniyion hilti raho, yeh hawa chalti rahe.”

Noted poet-cum-police officer Janab M.F. Farooqui rendered some powerful “shairs”. “Ghar jo bharna ho to rishwat se bhar jaata hai, magar is se duaoon se asar jaata hai.”

Sagar Khayaami was at his humorous best as usual. “Aisa lagta hai ki hamare dil ishque ki ashqui se ub gaye hain, Valentine day ke chal rahe hain jahaaz, heer ranjha nadi mein doob gaye hain,” was followed by “Na laan ke karta hai bas kulli-garaare, sukhe huye dariya hain panni ki kami hai, har raat hi rehta hai ghata top andhera, bil aaye to samajhiye bijli bhi lagi hai.”

On the other hand, Dr Nasim Nikha said, “In charagon ko bhujana itna asaan nahin, haath ko diwar kar lo ye hawa kiya cheez hai.”

Amzad Islaam Amzad from Pakistan said, “Yahi bahut hai ke dil usey dhoondh laaya hai, kisi ke saath sahi, vo nazar to aaya hai.”

Aarifa Shabnam came up with “Tere shahar ki dooriyan gin rahi hoon, tu kab aayega hichkiyaan gin rahi hoon, voh apne khata para pasheman hai shabnam, main usme chuppi khoobiyan gin rahi hoon.”

Prof Aziz Parihar, Gulnar Aafreen from Karachi in Pakistan, Prem Kumar Nazar from Hoshiarpur, Azam Gurvinder Singh from Delhi and Masoom Haidar Naqoosh, also recited their “Qalaams”.

Earlier, the Punjab DGP, Mr A.A. Siddiqui, inaugurated the “mushaira” by lighting a lamp. Others who were present included the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ashok Gupta, Improvement Trust Chairman Tejinder Bittu, SSP Gurpreet Bhullar and Mr Bittu Makkar.


Sukhbir to contest from Faridkot
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 22
“I will contest the Lok Sabha elections from the Faridkot parliamentary constituency,” said Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, general secretary, SAD and son of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, here today. However, he stated that being a senior office-bearer of the party, he could not declare his candidature and only the chief of the party could announce it.

Talking to mediapersons, the SAD general secretary, who was here to address a meeting of district unit leaders and workers, ridiculed the central leadership of the Congress for failing to announce any candidate to contest the poll so far. He said it indicated that Congress leaders were not happy with the style of functioning of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who had failed to keep senior party leaders united for the past two years.

Denying reports about differences with its ally, the BJP, over seat sharing, he said the SAD supremo had already discussed the issue with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the BJP would be given its due share soon.

Regarding anti-party activities of a senior party leader and former MP, Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, he made it clear that the party was supreme and nobody would be allow to violate its principles for personal gain.

Later, addressing the meeting, he called upon SAD workers to give a crushing defeat to the opponents in the general election not only to strengthen the party but also to bring BJP-led NDA government back to power.

The candidature of Mr Sukhbir Badal from the Faridkot constituency was confirmed by Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, senior vice-president of SAD.

Mr Sukhbir Badal also distributed cheques for over Rs 25 lakh to 65 gram panchayats for various development works from his discretionary quota. After inaugurating the office of the youth wing of the party here, he visited Arainwala village to seek the support of Mr Lakhbir Singh Arainwala, former president of district unit of the SAD, who parted ways following the denial of party ticket in the last assembly elections.


Jagmeet to contest from Faridkot, say leaders
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, February 22
Though the SAD and the Congress are yet to announce their candidates for this politically sensitive parliamentary constituency, a section of Punjab Congress leaders has expressed apprehension that shifting of the sitting Congress MP, Mr Jagmeet Brar, to Ferozepore would affect the party prospects in the state.

“It will send wrong signals to the public and the Congress activists,” said Dr Malti Thapar, a former Congress minister, yesterday.

“Where is the need for Mr Brar to run away from the Faridkot seat when he had succeeded in getting his three confidants nominated as president of Faridkot, Muktsar and Moga districts units of the party and two of his men, including his brother, Mr Ripjit Singh Brar, as chairpersons of government-run agencies,” she asked and added that Mr Brar was the only candidate in the state Congress who could give a tough fight to the Badals.

Mr H.S. Hanspal, President, PPCC, said so far the choice with the leadership regarding the Faridkot seat was Mr Brar. He said the final decision would be taken by the high command.

Mr Surinder Singla, MLA, Bathinda, who is a member of a state election committee, said as per his personal opinion Mr Brar should contest from Faridkot only.

Dr Gurbax Singh, president, All-India Quami Ekta, Punjab, pointed out that if Mr Brar did not contest from Faridkot, it would sent a wrong message to the people that the party had accepted its defeat before the elections.

Mr Tara Singh Sandhu, president, DCC, Moga, however, pointed out that it would be good for the party if seats of sitting MPs were changed.


Badal dares CM to make graft poll issue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
SAD President Parkash Singh Badal today flayed the incident involving the alleged illegal collection of money by an RTA in Bathinda and dared the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to make corruption an issue in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

In a statement released here, he said the Chief Minister owed an answer to allegations from senior colleagues about rampant corruption involving his aides and relatives.

He ridiculed the statement in which Capt Amarinder Singh had threatened to throw the Akali chief in jail again, claiming that this was direct violation of the court orders.

He also described the Chief Minister’s silence on the Bathinda incident as “highly intriguing” and demanded a high-level probe to determine where the huge sum of money so collected was headed for. This, he said, was more necessary amidst reports that the present government had directed government officials to collect money through all means for use by the ruling party.


Punjab Congress launches campaign
Varinder Walia and Balraj Mahajan

Qadian, February 22
The Punjab Congress today launched its formal election campaign from this international head quarters of Ahmadiyya Muslims to mark the 82nd birth anniversary of the late Satnam Singh Bajwa here.

Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, and Mr H.S. Hanspal, President, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee asked people to vote for Congress candidates during the Lok Sabha elections. Flashing the sign of victory, both leaders predicted that the Congress would win the Lok Sabha elections with a thumping majority. Capt Amarinder Singh said though the SAD-BJP had taken the lead in announcing some candidates, yet it would not affect the Congress prospects.

With a view to wooing voters, especially farmers, traders and industrialists, the Chief Minister announced sops to them. He said farmers would start getting round-the-clock electricity by June 30 this year. The state government had chalked out ambitious programmes for the upliftment of traders, industrialists, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

The rally was named “Vikas Rally” by the main organiser, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD Minister.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the government had planned to celebrate historic occasions regarding Guru Angad Dev, Guru Granth Sahib and martyrdom of Sahibzadas in a befitting manner. Mr Hanspal said the Congress government had declared many towns, including Khadoor Sahib, as holy cities.

The Chief Minister said the government would release 25,000 more tubewell connections to farmers by the end of this year. He said panchayats had been delegated. the power to recruit 2,010 teachers on a contract basis under the Sarv Siksha Abhiyan.

Capt Amarinder Singh alleged that Mr Parkash Singh Badal had been misguiding farmers while the Congress government had taken all necessary steps to lift their produce within a stipulated time period.

The Chief Minister blamed the NDA government, in which the Shiromani Akali Dal is a partner, for not accepting genuine demands of Punjab farmers.

He said he had taken up the demands of Punjab farmers, traders and industrialists, but the Centre gave a diplomatic reply’.

Ms Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, who is an aspirant for the ticket from Gurdaspur, was among those who addressed the rally.


Rift among Cong leaders comes to the fore
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 22
Though the Congress high command has not yet released the list of Congress nominees for the parliamentary elections, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, MP from Ropar(R), has started his election campaign. Mr Dullo addressed two public meetings in the Sirhind Assembly constituency and distributed cheques worth Rs 70 lakh as grants to the municipal councils of Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib and Bassi Pathana.

The public meetings were well-attended but the rift among the Congress leaders came to the fore at the Bassi Pathana meeting when Mr Pardeep Malhotra, secretary, PPCC, walked out of the meeting alleging that he had not been allowed to address the meeting.

Earlier eight municipal councillors out of 13 walked out of the meeting alleging that the state government had not given any grant to the Council for carrying out development works. They said Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Local Bodies Minister, during the civic elections had promised to sanction Rs 50 lakh as grant for the town. They alleged that a cheque for Rs 7 lakh given as grant to the council today was actually a part of the income from excise and belonged to the council. Some senior Congress leaders also stayed away from the meeting.

Addressing the public meetings at Bassi Pathana and Sirhind, Mr Dullo lashed out at the NDA government and the SAD. He ridiculed the “feel good” slogan of the BJP and the Badal-Tohra “unity”. He said the feel good-factor was only for the rich and not for the poor. He said the rates of petrol, diesel and kerosene had increased whereas the rates of the farmers’ produce had not gone up. He said the NDA government was responsible for the escape of the killers of Beant Singh from Burail jail and the killer of Phoolan Devi from the Tihar jail.

Lashing out at the Akalis, he said the Badal-Tohra unity was an instance of opportunism. He said the Congress would expose their unholy alliance.

Dr Harbans Lal, MLA, said the state government had declared this year as a development year and grants, pensions and ‘shaguns’ were being given to the people on a war footing.

Vaid Hari Krishan, president, DCC, Mr R.N. Sharma, secretary, DCC and Mr Gurinder Singh also spoke.


Bhattal’s rider for contesting poll
Tribune News Service

Moonak (Sangrur), February 22
Though it is well-known that Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, is in no mood to contest from the Sangrur Parliamentary constituency, yet in view of the pressure on her to contest, today she stated that she had no problem in contesting from Sangrur if all senior leaders of the party contested in the elections.

She added that if all these leaders contested, then she would demand the toughest seat for herself and the easiest for Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

Ms Bhattal was here on her first visit to this village, which is an important part of her Lehragaga assembly constituency, after becoming the Deputy Chief Minister.

She said the names of the Congress candidates of Punjab would be finalised by the party high command as Capt Amarinder Singh or she could not decide at their level. The Punjab Congress election committee had recommended the renomination of the sitting MPs, except in Hoshiarpur as that seat could be left to Ms Ambika Soni.

Ms Bhattal also said the Punjab Congress would invite Ms Priyanka Gandhi and Mr Rahul Gandhi for campaigning in the state. She also stated that talks were on for alliance with the CPI, CPM and the BSP.


Punjab BJP to propose nominees by March 5
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, February 22
The election committee of the Punjab BJP will recommend names of party candidates for the Lok Sabha elections by March 5 and the recommendations will be considered by the BJP Central Parliamentary Board at its meeting scheduled to be held from March 5 to 10.

This was stated by the Punjab BJP president, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, here today. Mr Khanna claimed that the BJP national President, Mr Venkaiah Naidu had laid to rest the rumours about Hema Malini and Dara Singh contesting from Punjab. He said film stars were being drawn to the party due to its ideology and it was not committed to giving them the party ticket.

Denying reports about differences between the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Punjab BJP on seat sharing, Mr Khanna claimed that the party had a strong alliance with the SAD. He said some joint meetings of both parties had been conducted and a few more were likely to be held in the next few days to settle the issue.

When asked whether he would contest the Lok Sabha elections, Mr Khanna said he would abide by the decision of the party high command.

He said Mr Naidu would address a rally at Amritsar tomorrow, adding that Union Law Minister Arun Jaitley would launch the election campaign of the party from Phagwara.

Laghu Udyog Bharti national president Balwant Rai Gupta and Punjab BJP vice-president Avinash Jaiswal were also present on the occasion.


Akal Council not to contest LS poll
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
The Akal Council has decided not to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Akal Takht Jathedar and Chairman of the council, said here today. The council would also not contest the Assembly elections and support only genuinely baptised Sikhs in the SGPC elections.

Addressing mediapersons here Bhai Ranjit Singh said the council had also passed a unanimous resolution that Akal Takht should be taken out of the purview of the Gurdwara Act and that it should be a sovereign body.

He also cautioned the Sikh Panth about the challenges posed by the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat (RSS) at a seminar on “Khalsa identity and RSS’’. He held SAD chief, Parkash Singh Badal responsible for the sangat activities by defying Akal Takht. He alleged that sangat was chalking out strategies to damage the Panth by distorting Sikh history and traditions.

The former Akal Takht Jathedar said that the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat had succeeded in capturing the control of a few gurdwaras in cities and ‘ardas’ was also being performed there in its name.

The council would hold similar seminars at Tarn Taran and Fatehgarh Churian next month and at Gurdaspur in April.

Sikh scholar, Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon also blamed Mr Badal for the negative trends in Sikh politics and said a solution to the problem lay in ensuring defeat of the SAD in the forthcoming elections. Elaborating on the strategy being planned by the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat to damage the independent identity of Sikhs, he said the sangat was trying what the Mughals had done to suppress the community. But the Sikhs had the history of fighting such forces of resistance.

Among others who spoke on the occasion were Justice Ajit Singh Bains, Mr Jasjit Singh Samundri, Principal Baldev Singh, Giani Harinder Singh, Mr Rajinder Singh, Mr Kulwant Singh Kanwal, Mr Sarbjit Singh Sohal and Mr Angrez Singh.


CM again fails to open administrative complex
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 22
Even as the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, once again failed to inaugurate the local District Administrative Complex today, a large number of Congress workers became bitterly disappointed over this development.

Earlier, the Chief Minister could not inaugurate the complex on February 9 and 11. The district administration and the Congress leadership had to postpone the programme for today. The Chief Minister was to inaugurate the complex which was built at the cost of Rs 19 crore.

A large section of party workers pointed out that they were feeling demoralised, as it was for the third time that the Chief Minister had postponed the programme despite the fact that they had made full arrangements for holding a rally on the occasion.

Mr G. Ramesh Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, confirmed that today’s function in connection with the inauguration of the complex had been postponed.

“ It is true that the postponement of Capt Amarinder Singh’s programme at the moment when the Lok Sabha elections are round the corner sends wrong signals to the people and demoralise the workers. But the Chief Minister is pre-occupied with meetings in connection with the finalisation of names of the Lok Sabha candidates at Delhi today. Thus the Chief Minister could not make himself available for the inauguration of the complex,” pointed out Mr Jagmohan Singh Gill, Chairman, Improvement Trust, Moga.

He added the PUDA authorities had not consulted the district Congress leadership before fixing the today’s programme.

Dr Malti Thapar, a former minister and senior leader of the region, questioned why should the Chief Minister come to inaugurate the complex when the sitting MP, Mr Jagmeet Brar, had been shying away from contesting the next Lok Sabha election from this area.

Mr Tara Singh Sandhu, President, District Congress Committee, Moga, when contacted, said the Punjab Government was sending a minister in place of the Chief Minister to inaugurate the complex but the minister declined to accept the proposal. He added that today’s meeting at Delhi with the party’s central leadership was more important than the inauguration of the complex.


Faujis oppose new excise policy
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
It is now the turn of army men to protest against the Punjab excise policy, 2004-05. Under the new policy, the price of a bottle of rum is likely to increase because the state excise duty has been raised from Rs 25 to Rs 39 per proof litre.

The sentiments of ‘faujis’ have been conveyed to the Chief Minister, who wants a way out of this.

The feedback on the new excise policy is that unless appropriate amendments are made, it may see out of business nearly 3,000 small licensees, who are also up in arms against the policy.

It is now proposed to hold the auction of liquor shops in the first week of March. It would mean direct help to big liquor barons, who are believed to have had a major say in the framing of the policy. In fact, some senior officers admitted on the condition of anonymity, that such a policy could not be the brainchild of the department.

Sources in the department said the new policy would encourage monopoly liquor trade and push out of business a large number of small-time liquor contractors because the minimum group size for clustering of liquor shops has been enhanced from Rs 8 crore to Rs 15 crore.

It is learnt that the Department of Finance had pegged the excise revenue at Rs 1,510 crore for 2004-05. But when the Council of Ministers approved this policy on February 17, no one had read the details of it. Though the department claims to earn Rs 20 crore more, how it would be done the policy does not spell out.

Under the policy, 15 per cent additional Punjab medium liquor (PML) quota has been abolished and also 5 lakh proof litres of basic quota has been reduced in respect of Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL). On the other hand, the excise duty has been clubbed at Rs 39 per proof litre. This would mean that lower brands of liquor, consumed in rural Punjab would be costlier by Rs 14 to Rs 15, per proof litre while premium scotch whisky will be cheaper by about Rs 9 per proof litre.

The major consumption of premium IMFL is in big cities like Patiala, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar. The liquor shops of these cities are controlled by big barons. As a result of clubbing of excise duty, substantial benefits have been assured to these liquor barons. The estimated consumption of premium brands of whisky in these big cities is at least one-fourth of the total annual sale of 12 crore bottles.


There is no ‘feel good’, says General Samaj Party
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 22
Mr Rajbir Singh Sidhu, general secretary, General Samaj Party, said here yesterday that people would ‘feel good’ only if merit and ability were recognised. He alleged that merit and ability were being ignored under the present set of rules drafted to subserve a vote bank interests.

Mr Sidhu said that the BJP was trying to get political mileage by issuing advertisements worth crores of money. He claimed that even some senior leaders of the BJP had admitted that there was no ‘feel good’ factor for the farming majority of the country. The only ‘feel good’ was for the BJP leaders who were wasting public money for their own good.

He alleged that even national parties like the Congress had no plan for the development of the country and were busy forging ‘unholy’ and ‘un-principled’ alliances. He alleged that the Congress was feeling helpless and had run short of leaders and ideas.

Mr Sidhu said that development of all sections of society would be possible only by giving ability and merit their due and discrimination against some castes was done away with. Fighting corruption, imposition of tax on all goods at first stage only and subsidising education would be pressed for, he claimed.

Mr Suresh Goyal, organising secretary of the party, said that they were hopeful of an encouraging response. He claimed that employees, students, unemployed youth, villagers and traders had been coming to the party in large numbers.


Mann presents siropas to party men
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 22
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the Akali Dal (Amritsar), said people of the state would end the “rajwarashahi” era of “new rajwaras” like Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal.

This was stated by Mr Mann while addressing a conference of his party organised at Amargarh, near Malerkotla, in connection with the campaign of its candidate from the Ropar parliamentary constituency, Mr Bhag Singh Surtapur.

He said the party had geared up its cadre to defeat the SAD-BJP alliance and the Congress. He said the party would field its candidates from all 13 Lok Sabha seats.

He called Mr Parkash Singh Badal the “enemy” of Punjab and Sikhs.

He presented siropas to Mr Jeet Singh Alloarkh, district president of the party, Mr Bhag Singh Surtapur, Mr Satnam Singh Behru, president of the kisan wing of the party, Mr Chamkaur Singh Chak, Mr Bahadur Singh Bhasaur and Master Pargat Singh of the party.


New party launched
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 22
The state BSP today suffered a jolt when the senior leaders of the Bahujan Samaj Morcha (BSM), which had recently been merged with the BSP, announced to form a new party — the Bharti Lok Lehar Party.

Addressing a press conference here, senior Dalit leader Manohar Lal Mahey said the party would field its candidates from Jalandhar and Phillaur parliamentary constituencies during the coming elections.

He said the BSP had failed to work for safeguarding the interests of Dalit community and was instead supporting the cause of the ruling party in the state.


Institute pulls out of Pulse Polio campaign
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, February 22
The Pulse Polio programme was affected in the city today following the last-minute withdrawal of the SGPC-run Guru Ram Dass Institute of Research and Medical Sciences from the campaign, bringing to the fore the rivalry between the Health Department and the institute.

A total of 65 booths in the walled city were to be managed by the institute while 70 in the same area were under the Government Medical College.

Due to the withdrawal by the institute, the entire exercise of immunisation had to be undertaken by the medical college in the allotted area.

Taking a serious view of the institute’s stance, the Civil Surgeon, Dr H.S. Gill, reported the matter to the Deputy Commissioner and asked him to bring it to the notice of the Central Government.

Dr U.S. Dhaliwal, Director-cum-Principal of institute, could not be contacted despite several attempts. Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, SGPC secretary, expressed ignorance about the matter. He said the institute was doing yeoman’s service in the field of health services.

Dr Gill admitted that earlier, too, the institute and the Health Department had differences during the weeklong health mela over a financial matter. He said the institute’s decision smacked of a highly irresponsible behaviour, besides affecting a national-level campaign.

PHILLAUR: Thousands of children were administered polio drops at various camps organised by the Health Department and social organisations here on Sunday. The Punjab Medical Education Minister, Chaudhry Santokh Singh, inaugurated the polio eradication campaign in the town.

Fazilka: In the second phase of the Pulse Polio campaign, over 27,000 children up to the age of five years were administered polio vaccine drops in the town and 102 surrounding villages. Dr D.P. Godara, Senior Medical Officer, and Mr Inder Mohan Challana, in charge of the project, said over 8,200 children were given polio vaccine at 35 booths in the town by teams of the Health Department, assisted by volunteers from schools. Four booths were set up in clinics of Dr Ajay Dhawan, Dr Ashwani Loona, Dr Rajan Kakkar and Dr V.B. Madaan.

Dr V.M. Chugh, Nodal Officer, Primary Health Centre, Dabwala Kalan village, said 104 booths were set up in 102 villages and 19,858 children administered polio drops.

FARIDKOT: More than 60,000 children were administered polio drops in the district on Sunday. Inaugurating the programme in a slum area, Bazigar Basti, Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, said 321 health teams, including 23 mobile ones, had been deployed for the purpose.


Over 2 lakh children vaccinated
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 22
The second round of three-day Pulse Polio programme in the district started here today. Against a target of 26,4933 more than 23,9703 children were immunised on the first day.

From tomorrow, health personnel will go from house to house to vaccinate the children who have been left out. A special stress has been laid on approaching slums, isolated areas, construction sites and farm houses.

For the purpose, nearly 1000 booths and mobile teams have been deployed. The booths have been provided with IEC information like banners, posters and pamphlets. Speaking on the occasion, Patiala Civil Surgeon, Dr (Capt) Hardev Singh ,informed that this time special stress was being laid on supervising and monitoring the programme. Besides this, special camps have been organised at Railway Station, Bus Stand, religious places and other places where there were large gatherings.

Meanwhile, a district -level Pulse Polio camp was held at Banur today. The Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Mr D.S Guru, inaugurated the camp. The Civil Surgeon, Dr (Capt) Hardev Singh ,all efforts would be made for 100 per cent immunisation with special stress on high risk area. Similarly a camp at Civil Dispensary, Dheeru Ki Majri, was inaugurated by Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh. Mr Tejveer appreciated the efforts made by the local health authorities Besides this, the Patiala Social Welfare Society also organised a pulse polio camp near bus stand here today. The camp was inaugurated by PRTC Chairman Ved Parkash Gupta. Speaking on the occasion, President of the Patiala Social Welfare Society Vijay Kumar Goyal said that there was a need to spread awareness among people about this disease.


Employee bodies’ chetna march on February 24
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 22
Twenty-five members of different employee organisations of the PRTC, the PSEB, LIC, Banks headed by Mr Pawan Preet Singh, General Secretary District unit of the CPI launched three-day chetna march on scooters and motorcycles from here yesterday to make people aware Faridkot district about economic policies of the central government which had harmed country’s interests, They will visit more than 50 villages and urban areas to mobilise people for the rally being organised by the trade unionists here on February 24 to protest against the policies. CPI general secretary decried the BJP-led NDA government for false propaganda of feel good factor and shining India.

He alleged that more than 76 lakh people of various categories including Graduates, Doctors, Scientists, Engineers and Agriculture experts had their names registered with Employment Exchanges at national level but still without jobs.

Nearly 84 lakh employees were relieved under the VRS during the past two years and 570 farmers of 1000 were poverty-like conditions and five per cent of them had left farming under prevailing conditions in the country, he said. Ridiculing both the Feel Good and Shining India factors the CPI leaders said the Union government had earmarked only a rupees 80 crore to fight tuberculosis compared to rupees 100 crore for advertising feel good factor and shining India for political gains in elections in the country.

He has appealed to all secular forces to unite to check evil designs of BJP leaders.


A day of foundation stones
Our Correspondent

Ropar, February 22
With Lok Sabha elections approaching and the code of conduct for the elections not far away, ministers have gone on a foundation stone-laying spree in the district. Yesterday was a busy day, with ministers laying foundation stones of projects worth about Rs 2 crore.

The Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, along with the Congress MP from Hoshiarpur, Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, the Minister for Animal Husbandry and Sports, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, and the Minister of State for Grievances and Transport, Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, laid foundation stones in various parts of the district yesterday.

Ms Bhattal first laid the foundation stone for a parking place near the Bhatha Sahib gurdwara here to be brought up at a cost of Rs 8 lakh.

Then she attended a function organised by the Ropar Bar Association. Here she laid the foundation stone of a Bar room-cum-library and announced a grant of Rs 11 lakh for the purpose.

Ms Bhattal presented cheques for a total of Rs 11 lakh to the Ropar council president, Mr Ashok Vahi, for development purposes.

In Nurpur Bedi, Ms Bhattal laid the foundation stone of a water supply scheme at Simbal village.

The scheme will cost Rs 58 lakh. The foundation stones of a community centre, to be constructed at a cost of Rs 29 lakh, a veterinary hospital, to be built at a cost of Rs 6 lakh, and a BPO, to come up at a cost of Rs 6 lakh, were also laid by Ms Bhattal.

Later, at Ghanola village in the Nurpur Bedi area, Ms Bhattal laid the foundation stone for the Adarsh Gram Scheme.

Besides Ms Bhattal and ministers of her camp, foundation stones of development projects were laid at Nangal by the Chairman of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), Mr K.P.S. Rana.

Mr Rana laid the foundation stones for a picnic spot project to be brought on the banks of the Sutlej in Nangal at a cost of about Rs 40 lakh and a sub-tehsil complex opposite the Nangal bus stand, which will cost about Rs 30 lakh.


DAV committee to adopt 50 villages
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 22
In its endeavour to support the cause of the ongoing community development programme, the DAV College Managing Committee has decided to adopt 50 villages and slums in Punjab for which a sum of about Rs 1 crore will be spent during the next financial year. The committee will work for the upliftment of the downtrodden in the adopted villages by imparting free education to students belonging to poor families and by teaching old illiterate people to make them self-reliant.

Talking to reporters here today, the president of the committee, Mr Gian Parkash Chopra, said it had been decided in principle to involve all its educational institutions in the state under the community development programme.

Later, he flagged off 15 trucks of relief material for displaced Kashmiri Pandits during the Vedic Chetna Virat Arya Sammelan held at DAV College, Dasuya, Hoshiarpur.

The relief material, according to Mr Chopra, was voluntarily collected by students and teachers of its educational institutions from across the state as a small gesture towards the affected families in Jammu and Kashmir.

Students of Hans Raj Mahila Mahavidyalaya, the DAV Institute of Engineering and Technology and DAV College, Dasuya, participated in a cultural programme during the sammelan


Pensioners to meet Jaswant
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 22
Members of the All-India Central Government Pensioners Association will be meeting the Union Finance Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, in New Delhi next week to prevail upon him to implement the Central Government order regarding the lowering of age limit from 65 years to 60 years for the grant of senior citizen status.

In a press note here today, the general secretary of the association, Mr V.S. Jolly, said though in the national policy announced by the Central Government in January 1999, those who were 60 years old had been considered as senior citizens, the policy was never implemented in toto by the authorities concerned at the grassroots so far.

A delegation of the association would meet Mr Jaswant Singh in this regard.

The association also hailed the decision of the Union Cabinet to merge 50 per cent of DA with the basic pay.


Union’s plea on families
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 22
The Punjab Employees Rights Protection and Welfare Union has urged the government to mitigate the sufferings of families of employees after their death.

The union general secretary, Mr B.R. Preenja, highlighted the case of Sonia Chadha, widow of a veterinary doctor, Rajesh Chadha, who died in harness in July, 2002. However, his wife has been running from pillar to post to get the insurance amount.

In another case, the family of Raj Mal, who was a Deputy Education Officer, was denied house rent allowance, which as per rules should have been paid for one year.


Jat conference on Feb 28-29
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 22
The All-India Jat Maha Sabha (AIJMS), led by Rajya Sabha member and actor Dara Singh, would hold a two-day national-level conference here from February 28.

This was said by Mr Dara Singh while talking to TNS on telephone today. He, however, said he was not an aspirant for the BJP ticket for this Lok Sabha constituency.

Mr Harpal Singh Harpura, state president of the AIJMS, said the conference would demand 6 per cent reservation for the economically backward Jats as per the recommendations on the Mandal Commission. He said the Jats had such benefits in Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh.


Calcutta releases special cover
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 22
Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, honorary secretary, SGPC, today released special cover to commemorate 400 years’ celebrations of Guru Granth Sahib at a function organised by the Department of Posts at Thakur Singh Art Gallery, here.

The Senior Superintendent of post offices, Mr V.M. Mahindru, said a district-level philatelic exhibition was inaugurated by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Raminder Singh. He said the department would soon open philatelic deposit account for Rs 200 and it would supply postal stamps free of charge to every account holder.


SGPC complaint against BSNL
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 22
Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, secretary, SGPC has written to Mar Arun Shourie, Union Minister of Disinvestment and Information Technology and Communications complaining that BSNL which projected Sikhs in a bad light in jokes.

The letter which was released to the press here yesterday stated that BSNL had provided a service ‘Joke Line’ at Ludhiana in which jokes in ‘Sardar ji” were humiliation for the Sikh community.

He demanded an apology from the BSNL and punishment to persons responsible for ‘ridiculing’ the Sikhs.


Workshop on AIDS by NSS
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 22
The NSS unit of the local Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College organised an AIDS awareness workshop and participated in the Pulse Polio campaign in collaboration with the District Family Welfare Department. The Principal, Dr D.S. Hira, inaugurated the workshop and said that non-government organisations, public representatives, social workers and educational institutes would extend their cooperation to the government in health awareness. Dr Hira said that students must educate the downtrodden about health problems and make them aware of disease like HIV, AIDS and cancer. Dr Jaspal Singh, District Family Welfare Officer, praised the role of the NSS unit for organising the programme.

Poster-making and declamation contests on AIDS were organised in which college students participated. Vivek Aggrawal won the poster-making and in the declamation contest Harkamal Singh of the Computer Department bagged the first position.


Ration sent to militancy victims
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 22
Students of the local Mohan Lal Uppal DAV College yesterday sent 400 packets of ration worth Rs 2 lakh to victims of militancy living in refugee camps in Srinagar. This was stated by the Principal, Mr Y.D. Jigyasu. The truck loaded with the ration was flagged off by the Social Welfare Minister, Mr Joginder Singh Mann. The SDM, Mr Pritam Singh, the DSP, Mr Jaspal Singh, and the nagar council president, Aur Mr Malkiat Singh Ragbotra, were present, among others.


2 brothers killed in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, February 22
Two brothers — Lakshman Dass and Bhaghan Lal — were killed on the spot when the motor cycle they were riding was hit by a truck near Dosanjh Kalan village in Phillaur sub-division late last night.

The brothers were returning to their village Bariam from Muthadda village when the mishap occurred. The police has arrested the truck driver Pritam Singh and impounded the truck.


Power shutdown
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 22
The Punjab State Electricity Board on Saturday announced that power would remain suspended on February 23 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the area fed by 11 KVA feeders at Sultanwind road, East Mohan Nagar and Survarpura.


I am black sheep of family, says Taz
Our Correspondent

Tarsem SinghPatiala, February 22
He chose to chase a dream. When Tarsem Singh or Taz as he is popularly called decided to give up a course in industrial design to pursue a musical career, the only thing that buoyed him up was his own belief in himself. Thus came about Stereo Nation, a melodious entity that has carved a distinct niche for itself the world over.

Here to perform in a pop concert to be held on the concluding day of the Heritage Festival, Taz shakes his head ruefully as he recalls how his father did not speak to him for four years after he announced his decision. “ You see, I am the black sheep of the family. My father and four siblings are engaged in business and real estate while my youngest brother is an aero space engineer. And here was I engaged in “loafergiri”. However God’s grace and my determination saw me through.

The unconditional success of his very first album “Hit the Deck” in Britain where he resides catapulted him into the world of fame. Fourteen years down the line and the trend continues, his latest album ‘Apna Sangeet’ released last month has been proclaimed a success. His forte remains multilingual fusion music. Though he sings predominantly in Punjabi, Hindi and English, his albums are dotted with a liberal splattering of Spanish, French and even Swahili.

“My upbringing being strict, we were never allowed to talk in any other language but Punjabi at home. Living in Coventry, England, my family was very particular that we do not loose touch with our mother tongue and culture. The fusion that you see in my music is the confluence of both western and desi culture. I was greatly influenced by jazz, rhythm and blues and there has been a song on my lips for as long as I can remember”, he smiles.

And the one turning point in his life when he decided to pursue his passion single mindedly came when a singer from the western Band “Specials” invited him over to the recording studio after listening to him crooning away in his father’s shop. “I decided to give my music a hybrid face and 15 of my friends came together to form Stereo Nation. Together we have given our music a distinct identity by incorporating elements from jazz, soul, rhythm and blues, African, Latin American and even Arabic music”, states Taz.

Stereo Nation’s first release in India “Don’t Break My heart” in 1997 was a big success and others followed suit. About parting ways with Kendeoo, the African rapper who was spotted in his first music video he says “I try to move on with my music as the same style tends to become stale after sometime “. Talking about his latest album he says, “this is more of a mellow contemporary dance music which is played with a different style primarily jazz and soul”.

Switching over to the Heritage Festival, Taz declares that he is simply delighted to be a part of something so grand and meaningful. “I belong to Jalandhar district and everytime I come to Punjab it feels like coming home, back to my roots” says the singer smilingly as he gets ready to leave for the venue of the concert.


Rail reservation to be computerised
Tribune News Service

Mansa, February 22
Mr Jatinder Agra, former Vice-President, Municipal Council, here said yesterday that, General Manager, Northern Railway, R.R. Jahugar announced that the facility of computerised reservation at the local Railway station would be started from the next year.

In a press note on Friday, Mr Agra said that, “Mr Jahugar made this announcement when a group of citizens met him yesterday at the Railway station while he was inspecting it.” He added that, “Mr Jahugar had also promised that a computerised inquiry counter would also be set up at the Railway station.”

Property of smugglers forfeited
Tribune News Service

Mansa, February 22
Under the NDPS Act, the police authorities have forfeited properties worth more than Rs 57 lakh belonging to the smugglers of this district.

Ms Neerja Voruvoru district police chief said on Friday said that smugglers whose properties had been forfeited included Jugraj Singh, Ram Sarup, Chanan Singh, Darshan Singh, Albel Singh and Gurmel Singh.


Eight held for robbery
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 22
Mr Lok Nath Angra, SSP Hoshiarpur, said here yesterday that the police arrested eight persons. They were identified as Jasvir Singh alias Manna, Sukh Raj Singh alias Sukha and Kulwant Singh alias Sahabi, all of Todarpur, Sodhi Ram and Harbans Singh, both of Suhani, Bhupinder Singh alias Bhinda of Phagwara presently residing at Jangnlwala, Kuldip Ram and Sarwan Singh, both of Rawalpindi.

He said that one .32 bore revolver alongwith two cartridges from Sodhi Ram and one .12 bore pistol and 2 live cartridges from Jasvir Singh had been recovered. Besides one sword, one sickle four wooden rods, one Hero Honda and two Vespa Scooters were also recovered from them.

The gang allegedly looted six liquor vends in Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr, Kapurthala and Jalandhar districts and also looted Rs 1.40 lakh in Chichrari village Goraya PS.

The SSP said that recommendations had been made for providing Class I certificates and cash prize to Mr Daljit Singh Khakh, Mr Hazara Ram, ASI and other staff members of Sadar Police Station Hoshiarpur.


4 booked under Prevention of Atrocities Act
Our Correspondent

Phagwara February 22
The police has booked four persons under Section 3(1) of the Prevention of Atrocities Act and Sections 323 and 34 of the IPC on charges of rouging up and using “casteist language” against Surjit Kumar, Sarpanch of Khera village.

It was learnt on Friday that the Sarpanch was getting the village pond desilted and cleaned when Mangal Singh and his sons — Gurdip Singh, Amarjit Singh and Preeta — opposed it and threw grass and silt into the pond, besides allegedly abusing and manhandling the Sarpanch.

The Sarpanch, who is a Dalit, lodged a complaint following which a case was registered.


Attacks by robbers: one succumbs to injuries
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 22
Ravinder Kaur, who had sustained a serious head injury during an attack by a gang of robbers at a farmhouse in Sawara village on Friday, has died in a hospital in Chandigarh, the police said here today.

Ten persons were injured in two attacks by the robbers’ gang in Sawara and Landran villages, near here. Ravinder Kaur was a daughter of Mr M.S. Gill, a retired judge, who was also injured along with other members of the family during the robbery.

The police has constituted a special team of four members to nab the gang. Raids have been conducted at various places. Police sources said that 15 to 20 persons have been rounded up and questioned in connection with the attacks. The sources said that the modus operandi of the robbers was akin to that adopted by Bawaria, Padhri or Bangala gangs.


414 pirated CDs seized
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 22
The police seized 414 pirated CDs from two shops and arrested two persons in Mundi Kharar today.

Police sources said Jaswant Singh of J.S. Electronics and Surinder Singh of Raja Video were arrested on the charge of violating the Copyright Act. A complaint in this regard was made by a Ludhiana-based company, North India Copyright Protection.

A case under Sections 51, 52-A, 63 and 68-A of the Copyright Act was registered.


CTU bus driver beaten up
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 22
A Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) bus driver was beaten up on the Landran road, near here, today.

According to the police, the driver, Mr Satnam Singh of Clod village, sustained injuries and was admitted to the Civil Hospital here.

It is reported that a cyclist, who was almost hit by the bus, got into a heated argument with the driver. He was soon joined by two more persons and the group allegedly beat up the driver.

A case under Sections 186, 332 and 353 of the Indian Penal Code has been registered in this connection.


Varsity sacks sports official
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 22
Punjabi University has terminated the services of its Joint Director, Sports, Mr Bhupinder Singh, who had been suspended last year on charges of instigating students of the Physical Education Department to go on strike during the agitation against fee hike.

According to sources, Mr Bhupinder Singh’s services were terminated yesterday. Earlier he had been accused of indiscipline and now another charge had been added. The university maintained that his appointment was “illegal”.

University spokesman Baldev Singh Sandhu said Mr Bhupinder Singh had been appointed by former Vice-Chancellor Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia. He claimed that the appointment itself “was a classic case of violations of all rules and regulations”. Initially the post was to be a teaching one and candidates were to be selected keeping UGC guidelines in view. The interview for the post was, however, called off when it was learnt that Mr Bhupinder Singh had graduated with a third division, he said.

Following this, the post was re-advertised as a non-teaching one even though a teaching post had been transferred to the Physical Education Department to create this post. He said due to this, Mr Bhupinder Singh became eligible for selection and was subsequently appointed Joint Director. Mr Sandhu claimed besides this, the university had received complaints from students that Mr Bhupinder Singh was indulging in factionalism on the field. He said the students also claimed that the Joint Director had instigated them to take part in the agitation launched by a section of the students against the fee hike.

The university had claimed that two inquiry reports were held against Mr Bhupinder Singh by former IAS officers Surjit Singh and G.S. Bains, both of whom had given similar reports. He said the reports had been presented to the Syndicate at its last meeting which had asked the Vice-Chancellor to take an appropriate decision on the issue.

Meanwhile, Mr Bhupinder Singh said he had been appointed in November 2000 and there was no question of him still being on probation. He claimed that the head of department had filed satisfactory reports regarding him on the completion of his one year of service. He said when Mr Swarn Singh Boparai took over as the Vice-Chancellor, he was shocked to receive a communication stating that his probation period had been extended. “Extending my probation period after one year’s of service was an illegal act”, he claimed.

As far as the issue of his qualifications was concerned, the same had been approved by the Syndicate, he said. The Syndicate had also ratified his appointment and a change of guard in the university dispensation could not make earlier decisions of the Syndicate invalid. He also claimed that the university had earlier suspended him on the basis of a complaint received from three students that did not have any date or time written on it. He said another application was “cooked up” which stated that he had made an objectionable speech in the class. “Later records showed that no class was held on that day”, he added.


PTU not keen on implementing 24-credit rule
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 22
Notwithstanding the approval of the state Council of Ministers of the proposal to implement the 24-credit rule for engineering students of the 2001 batch of different engineering colleges affiliated to Punjab Technical University (PTU), the latter has expressed its reservations to implement the order.

The PTU has said that it will set a “wrong” precedent, despite protests by students who have been sitting on a relay fast for the past four days.

Meanwhile, the condition of two students who participated in the relay fast in front of the university office here today to lodge their protest against the “indifferent” attitude of the university authorities towards their demands, was stated to be serious. Though the health authorities had sent an ambulance to shift them to the local Civil Hospital, the students refused to avail any medical aid and repeated their resolve not to dilute their stand on the issue.

The Principal Secretary, Technical Education and Industrial Training, Punjab, in a communique to Vice-Chancellor of the PTU Y.S. Rajan on February 5, pointed out that the matter regarding the implementation of the 24-credit rule was discussed at the meeting of the Council of Ministers on February 2.

“It was decided that the implementation of the 24-credit rule shall remain applicable to the students of the 2001 batch of the PTU,” the communique said, adding that the decision of the Council of Ministers be implemented in toto and a compliance report be sent immediately.

However, the university authorities had written back to the state government that by implementing the decision, the quality of education would be further reduced, which would not be in the interest of the state. “There are about 500 affected students by allowing them to pass in the examination under the 24-credit rule, the image of the university will be lowered, “the letter said, urging the government to reconsider its decision.

The Registrar of the PTU, Dr M.S. Grewal, maintained that a decision pertaining to affect the change in the examination rules was to be taken by the board of governors (BoG) and the Academic Council. “We have asked the agitating students to withdraw their strike first, and then only the meeting of the BoG will be convened to decide about their representation. We are still awaiting the response of the students, who are adamant for immediate implementation of the 24-credit rule,” Dr Grewal added.


More time sought to submit report
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
Punjab’s Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Mr D.S. Guru, who is re-inquiring into the admission of six MBBS students to DMC, Ludhiana, is reported to have sought one week extension from the government to submit his report.

The said admissions were held as “illegal and fraudulent” by the Secretary, Medical Education and Research, Mr Satish Chandra, who had earlier conducted an inquiry and had ordered cancellation of the same on January 14.

However, under political and administrative pressure, the Chief Minister had stayed the termination of admission of six MBBS students, including daughter of a Punjab IAS officer, and had ordered a fresh inquiry by Mr Guru on January 20.


Dhillon is Principal of Khalsa College
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 22
Mr Jaswinder Singh Dhillon has been appointed Principal of Khalsa College here. Earlier, he was Principal of B.Ed College of the same institution. According to Mr Charnjit Singh Chadda, honorary secretary of the Khalsa College Society, Mr Dhillon took the charge on Friday.

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