P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab Youth Congress faces crisis
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
With the Lok Sabha elections round the corner, the Punjab Pradesh Youth Congress Committee, a frontal organisation of the Punjab Congress, which has remained leaderless for the past several months, is now heading for yet another organisational crisis.

The provocation this time is the appointment of its new chief, Mr Ravinder Awla. Though the All-India Youth Congress Committee issued a press note on Monday announcing the appointment of Mr Awla of Guru Harsahai, the home town of Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, Political Secretary to the Chief Minister, all four serious contenders for the post, including a grandson of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, have been left high and dry.

The new appointment, say sources in the party, has again gone to Malwa region’s pocket which has been enjoying the lion’s share, both in the government as well as in the party. As of now, the Chief Minister, the Deputy Chief Minister, and the Punjab Congress chief are all from Malwa. Not only that, even the Mahila Congress and the National Students Union of India — the student wing of the Congress — are also headed by people from Malwa. Majha, which has been providing the main strength to the Punjab Congress, continues to be ignored.

The successful conduct of a massive youth rally by Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal at Ludhiana early this month perhaps acted as a catalyst in mobilising the Youth Congress to make the appointment. Instead of bringing the youth force together, the ignored aspirants maintain, it has led to widespread resentment and anguish in the cadre which at present comprises 25 per cent of the total vote bank in the state.

Those upset over the appointment hold that none of the senior leaders of the party high command were taken into confidence in making this appointment in a hush hush manner. They maintain that four candidates shortlisted for the position — Mr Gurkirat Singh (grandson of late Beant Singh) Mr Kuldip Singh Bhullar, son of former Punjab police chief M.S. Bhullar, Mr Sukhpal Singh Bhullar, son of Punjab Irrigation Minister Gurchet Singh Bhullar, and Mr Amardeep Singh Cheema — were kept in dark before the appointment was announced. Immediately after the appointment, both Mr Mukul Wasnik and All-India Youth Congress chief, Mr Randeep Singh Surjewala, left the union Capital.

There were reports that the appointment was subsequently stayed by the party high command but General Secretary in charge of Punjab, Mrs Mohsina Kidwai, refuted such reports holding that Mr Awla has been made Punjab Youth Congress chief. She held that the appointment had been made in consultation with the Punjab leadership.

The post had been lying vacant eversince the previous incumbent, Mr Devinder Singh Babbu, quit after he was named a suspect in a murder case. In fact, the strong aspirants maintain that the new appointee had been once expelled from the Youth Congress by the previous All-India Youth Congress chief, Mr Munish Tewari, for his anti-party activities.

Not only that, they maintain, the new chief comes from a family which owns rice mills and shellers in Ferozepore and is considered close to former Speaker of Lok Sabha, Mr Bal Ram Jakhar. His father was President of the Guru Harsahai Municipal Committee and the family stood by Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi in the last assembly elections.

His opponents, however, allege that the Awla family was accused of misappropriating paddy stocks for which several criminal cases were filed against it. As such it would provide a lever to political opponents of the Congress to blast the party for its failure to project untainted youth leadership.

In fact, search for a new President of the PYCC had started as early as 2001. It was postponed in view of the 2002 Assembly elections. At one stage, Mr Arvind Khanna, now MLA from Sangrur, Mr Jagpal Singh Abulkhurana and Mr Amardeep Singh Cheema were in the run.

But no appointment was made. The shortlisted candidates were supported by seven MPs, including Mr Raghunandan Lal Bhatia, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, Mr Shamsher Singh Dulo and Mrs Santosh Chaudhary.


YC to mobilise support through chetna rally
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, March 1
After the youth Akali Dal rally organised in Ludhiana district by Sukhbir Singh Badal, now it is the turn of the Punjab Youth Congress to hold a state-level chetna rally to mobilise Youth Congress activists and people for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. This was stated by the newly appointed president of the Punjab Youth Congress, Mr Raminder Singh Awla, here today.

He told this correspondent that a state-level youth rally would be held on March 12 at Moga and it would be addressed by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, AIICC leaders Ms Mohsina Kidwai, Ambika Soni, Mukul Vasnik, PPCC president H.S. Hanspal and president of the All-India Youth Congress Randip Singh Surjewala. He said a meeting in this regard will be held at Punjab Bhawan, Chandigarh on March 3.

When asked about some possible changes in the Youth Congress, Mr Awla said, only honest, able and loyal activists would be inducted as office-bearers of the Youth Congress. Mr Awla said PYC would be reconstituted within one month and block and districts units would be reconstituted after this.


Fresh warrants against Babbu
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 1
Even as former Punjab Youth Congress chief Davinder Singh Babbu, one of the accused, in the Amarjit murder case, had been evading arrest since November 7 last year, a Gurgaon court has issued fresh arrest warrants against the former and four other accused.

According to the Gurgaon police chief, Mr Paramjit Singh, the court has recently issued fresh arrest warrants against Babbu, Kuldeep Singh, alias Kali Chacha, Gurwinder Singh and Vijay Sharma, who were allegedly involved in killing of Amarjit Singh, a Jalandhar based junk dealer.

“The raids are being conducted at suspected hide-outs at Jalandhar, Chandigarh, Noida and Delhi to apprehend the accused. There is no political pressure on the police to slow down the investigation into murder case” He said, adding that in case, the accused were not apprehended till the return of warrants to the court, the police would start the process to get them declared proclaimed offenders.

The victim Amarjit Singh had allegedly killed Amaninder Singh during a shootout outside the Army base at Suranassi here on August 29, 2002, following a brawl over auction of Army vehicles. Amarjit along with his brother, Dhotu and father, Joginder Singh was absconding since then.

Family members of Amaninder Singh were on hunt to nab Amarjit Singh, reportedly sneaked into England and remained there for over one year. But when he returned back to India, he was spotted by the rivals and was allegedly killed in a shoot out near LIG flats in Gurgaon on November 7.

Meanwhile, the Gurgaon police, it was learnt, will approach close relatives and friends of Davinder Singh Babbu, to seek their mediation for his surrender.


CM, Bhattal to campaign jointly
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 1
The coordination committee of the Punjab Congress, which met at the AICC today, has decided to hold a meeting of all MLAs to take their suggestions regarding the party’s preparations for the Lok Sabha poll.

Sources said that the AICC leaders, including party General Secretary Mohsina Kidwai, emphasised on collective campaigning by senior leaders to present a picture of unity.

Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and PCC chief H.S. Hanspal have been asked to chalk out joint public interaction programmes to boost the party’s prospects in the Lok Sabha poll.

The meeting discussed the schedule of Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s road tour in the state which is likely to take place in the third week of March.

The meeting also decided to organise rallies and meetings in all the districts of the state.


Cong for alliance with BSP in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 1
The Congress in Punjab is keen on poll alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party. The BSP in Punjab, particularly in the Doaba region has firm base. BSP support can mean a lot to the Congress, particularly in Hoshiarpur, Phillaur, Jalandhar and also Gurdaspur.

Party sources said that All- India Congress Committee (AICC), general secretary Ms Ambika Soni was taking keen interest for an alliance with the BSP in Punjab. She made it clear that the Congress had not closed the option of an alliance with the BSP despite Ms Maywawati is statements that there was no chance of alliance with the Congress or the National Democratic Alliance.

Ms Soni is said to be interested in contesting from Hoshiarpur constituency. Former MP Charanjit Singh Channi has already started lobbying with the high command to ensure that he is not evicted. His supporters are said to have threatened that they would force him to join the BJP if he was not fielded again from Hoshiarpur.

Ms Soni when asked whether she was interested to contest from Hoshiarpur as was reported in the media, she said, it was up to the party leadership. Later to a question on alliance with the BSP, she remarked jokingly that BSP vote counted much in Hoshiarpur.

Party sources maintained leadership in the state had desired an alliance with the BSP. The party has learnt lessons in the Doaba region where it lost several seats primarily due to the BSP factor. If an alliance is formed between the Congress and the BSP, the party leaders feel, it will help improve prospects of candidates in some constituencies, including Hoshiarpur.

Congress leaders appear to be optimistic as there are no chances of the BSP aligning with the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janta Party alliance in the state. The SAD has already announced 10 candidates, leaving three seats for the BJP. The Congress leaders feel, the BSP may not be able to win any seat but spoil chances of the Congress.


Congress-CPM poll alliance chances recede
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 1
Punjab Congress’ attempt for a pre-poll alliance with the Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPM ran into rough weather with the CPM declaring to contest the Hoshiarpur seat for which the state Congress had forwarded the name of AICC general secretary Ms Ambika Soni in its panel of candidates.

At a press conference here, a member of the central committee of the CPM, Mr Sunit Chopra, said that his party would contest Hoshiarpur Lok Sabha seat for which it had announced the candidature of Mr Darshan Singh Mattu.

He denied reports that the CPM would contest elections in alliance with the Congress in the state. He added that there could be tactical adjustment with the Congress for certain seats to defeat the SAD-BJP candidates.

“Anti-BJP front has already been formulated in states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pardesh and Bihar and efforts are on to have a common platform for secular parties in UP, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana.”


Ludhiana a battlefield of political parties
K.S. Chawla

LUDHIANA: Ludhiana district has become the battleground for the political parties. This is evident from the fact that this politically active and agriculturally and industrially advanced district has witnessed three major political rallies within a period of 15 days. The youth wing of the Shiromani Akali Dal was the first to organise a rally at Bhanaur village on February 16, followed by a rally by the Punjab Lok Bhalai Party on February 24.

The Punjab Congress organised a rally to mark the completion of its two years in office at Latala village on February 27. The rally by the youth wing of the SAD attracted a huge crowd and was able to muster the support of the Sikh youth and Akali workers for the Lok Sabha poll. The SAD general secretary, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, had worked hard for the success of the rally. He managed to emerge as the youth leader of the Akali Dal. He was supported by Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, president of the youth wing in mobilising the youth for the rally.

Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal had reportedly promised that he would ensure Mr Dhillon the Akali ticket for the Ludhiana Lok Sabha seat if the rally was successful. Finally Mr Badal succeeded in getting the ticket for Mr Dhillon despite strong opposition from the Tohra faction and the Badal faction as well. Leaders of the Badal and Tohra factions have tried to pressurise Mr Badal to change the nominee but the latter refused to budge. A meeting in this regard was held on Saturday at the residence of Jathedar Surjan Singh Thekedar.

The Congress rally at Latala village also drew a good crowd from all over the state despite the fact that the venue of the rally was in the interior of the district.

The crowd was according to expectations of the organisers so they were feeling happy at the success of the same. Added advantage of the rally was the support of the state government for the same as the district authorities all over the state had been directed to provide vehicles to carry workers to the rally.

Mr Balwant Singh Rammoowalia was also successful in mobilising his supporters for the rally of the Lok Bhalai Party at Ghanaur village. Mr Rammoowalia has already announced his candidature for the Ludhiana Lok Sabha seat and has started his election campaign in right earnest.

Ludhiana district has always been the battleground of the political parties. In December, 1996, just before the 1997 Vidhan Sabha elections the Shiromani Akali Dal organised its rally in the PUDA ground on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh road. Here again the rally was followed by the Congress rally in January, 1997, which was addressed by Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, the then Chief Minister of Punjab, and Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, general secretary, All-India Congress Committee.

The Bahujan Samaj Party also organised a rally in the same ground in January which was addressed by Mr Kanshi Ram, the then president of the party.

In 1997, the BSP was considered a force to reckon with in Punjab although it did not fare well in the Vidhan Sabha election. It was only in the 1992 Vidhan Sabha elections that the BSP had won nine assembly seats.

Ludhiana has also witnessed the anti-Partap Singh Kairon campaign in 1963. All major rallies against Mr Kairon were held in Daresi Ground and addressed, among others, by Master Tara Singh, Maulvi Abdul Gani Dar, Mr Virender Pratap, Mr Durga Das Khanna, late chairman, Punjab Legislative Council, and Lala Jagat Narain.

The Akali Dal’s anti-Indira Gandhi rally was held on Pakhowal Road in October, 1974, which was addressed by Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan. The venue of the rally now has huge commercial and residential complexes.

The latest rallies have witnessed a new trend. Instead of organising the rallies in the urban areas, the political parties are now holding their rallies in the rural areas as all the three rallies were held in the rural areas.

This is primarily due to the fact that the end result of the election comes from the polling in the rural areas.

The urbanites are now becoming unpredictable and the polling is also less in urban areas compared to the rural areas.

The Congress has not yet decided on its nominee from Ludhiana and reports suggest that the party leadership wants to bring a new face.

The SAD has started its election campaign but the nominee of the party is facing opposition from the local leaders. Mr Dhillon is visiting the houses of the local leaders in a bid to bring them round.

During the preparations for the youth wing rally, Mr Dhillon annoyed some of the senior party leaders and did not invite them for the rally or did not take them into confidence for the rally which had resulted into strong animosity for him. These leaders have expressed strong resentment to Mr Badal who has advised them to work for the party candidate.


Barnala faction wants Bachi out of SAD
Tribune News Service

Dirba (Sangrur), March 1
In a resolution adopted under the leadership of Mr Baldev Singh Mann, General Secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and confidant of Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, here today, party workers asked the SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to oust Mr Gurbachan Singh Bachi, a former administrative member of the PSEB, and his associates from the SAD within 10 days. They also asked Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Secretary-General, SAD, to tender a public apology for getting Mr Bachi and his associates reinducted into the party though they had been expelled by Mr Badal forever for opposing Mr Mann, official candidate to the SAD, in the February 2002 Assembly elections.

They also recognised a 31-member committee, constituted under the leadership of Mr Ajaib Singh Khetla, senior vice-president of the district unit of the SAD, for taking decisions to run the agitation for ousting Mr Bachi and his supporters from SAD.

The gathering was dominated by leaders and supporters of the Barnala faction of the party in the district. Mr Surinder Singh Dhuri, a former Punjab minister, Mr Rupinder Singh Sandhu, ex-chairman of the Barnala Improvement Trust, Mr Ajaib Singh Khetla, senior vice-president of the district unit of the SAD, Mr Darshan Singh, president of the Dirba Nagar Panchayat, Mr Gurtej Singh Karrial, jathedar of the Dirba Circle of the SAD, and Mr Kashmir Singh Karrial, general secretary of the district unit of the SAD were also present.

Mr Badal and Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa were the main targets of almost all speakers for reinducting Mr Bachi and his associates into the party. Even Bhagwant Mann, a noted comedian, did not spare Mr Dhindsa in his presentation.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Baldev Singh Mann warned Mr Badal that he and his supporters would not support Mr Dhindsa and SAD in the Lok Sabha elections till “traitors” remained in the party.

He said Mr Badal had “betrayed” Akali workers though he himself had announced the expulsion of Mr Bachi two years back.

Mr Dhuri held Mr Badal responsible for “violating” the party’s discipline by reinducting Mr Bachi.

Among others who also addressed the gathering included Mr Ajaib Singh Khetla, Mr Darshan Singh, president, Dirba Nagar Panchayat, Mr Dara Mohhamad and Mr Iqhlak Khan, Muslim leaders from Malerkotla, Mr Kashmir Singh Karrial, Mr Jaswinder Singh Bitoo, vice-president of the district unit of the SAD Youth Wing, and Mr Gurtej Singh Karrial.


NSUI leaders threaten to resign
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 1
The office-bearers of the National Students Union of India (NSUI), district unit, today threatened to resign if, Prof Gurwinder Singh Mamanke was not given ticket.

After an emergency meeting, Mr Gurdev Singh Jhita, district president of NSUI claimed that Prof Mamanke had worked hard during the previous Assembly, Zila Parishad, Municipal Committee and panchayat elections.


Fewer polling booths this time
Code blocks promotions, appointments
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
The number of polling booths, to be set up for the Lok Sabha poll on May 10 in Punjab, will be less than that of the previous election. According to sources, 15,623 polling booths would be set up for 1.65 voters enlisted, following the revision of electoral rolls till January 20 this year.

Last time, the number of polling booths was nearly 18,000. Under the special provisions of the relevant Act, new voters could be enlisted at this stage also but on valid reasons.

Sources said because of the induction of electronic voting machines, the number of polling booths had come down. Earlier, ballot boxes could accommodate only 400 to 500 ballot papers and there was one booth for every 1,000 voters. Now there is one booth for every 1,500 voters.

However, while setting up booths, distance and other factors would be taken care of, sources added. Voters have to spend less time at the polling booth while voting through EVMs. The earlier system of ballot papers was more time consuming.

Meanwhile, the Chief Electoral Officer has directed all deputy commissioners, who are also District Election Officers till the end of the election process, to enforce the code of conduct in letter and sprit. The deputy commissioners and other staff associated with the poll process is now on deputation with the Election Commission of India, which could initiate action against any member of the staff if they are found lax in enforcing the code, it is learnt.

The Chief Electoral Officers’ staff has already started monitoring statements of political parties and advertisements.

The commission has stopped all appointments, transfers etc. Prior permission of the commission is mandatory in case appointments or transfers are to be made. Also, no promotion of any employee would be allowed without the permission of the commission.

ETT teachers await appointment letters

Certain leaders of the ETT teachers Union today approached the School Education Minister, Mr Khushhal Bahl, asking him to issue appointment letters to them. As many as 1,846 ETT teachers were selected by the Punjab Education Department for appointment in elementary schools on a consolidated pay of Rs 5,000 per month. But with the election code of conduct coming into effect, they have not been issued appointment letters, though their selection was made early last week. Certain leaders of the union told The Tribune that they had come to meet the DPI (Schools) to request him to seek permission from the commission to issue appointment letters to them. The new academic session of elementary schools begins on March 15 and in case no letters are issued now, the selected teachers will have to wait till May 15.


DSP gets life term in fake encounter case
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 1
The Additional Sessions Judge, Mr Inderjit Kaushik has sentenced the DSP posted at Malerkotla-Darshan Singh to undergo rigoruous life imprisonment on account of finding him guilty in a conspiracy to kill a person, Tarvinder Singh, in a fake encounter terming him a militant.

Apart from the DSP, an SPO Sarabjit Singh, was also sentenced to life imprisonment and co-accused, Mehar Singh, was sentenced to undergo six years’ imprisonment. Another co-accused, SPO Basant Singh, had already been declared a proclaimed offender.

Declining the plea of showing leniency by the DSP, Mr Kaushik observed that it had been proved beyond any doubt that the accused indulged in a heinous crime. They did not deserve any leniency.

The accused were booked with the intervention of the Punjab and Haryana High Court at Payal police station under Sections 302 and 120-B of the IPC, following a statement of Mr Hari Singh, father of the deceased. The complainant had alleged that their family had strained relations with one of the accused, namely Mehar Singh. Mehar Singh had falsely implicated Tarvinder Singh in the murder of his son.

Later on, his son got bail and the accused hatched a conspiracy to eliminate him in connivance with the then SHO, Sidhwan Bet police station, Mr Darshan Singh and others. His son was picked up by a police party and killed in a fake encounter near the canal bridge at Jagraon, added the complainant.


SDM, 2 others get bail in poaching case
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 1
Mr Puneet Goyal, Subdivisional Magistrate of Pathankot, who is also holding the dual charge of Dhar Kalan, his driver, Mr Makhan Singh, and a poacher, Mohinder Singh, were produced before Mr K.C. Gupta, Duty Magistrate, at 9.30 pm here yesterday. Mr Gupta granted bail to all of them.

The wildlife protection staff, headed by Mr R.R. Kakkar, Divisional Forest Officer here, arrested Mr Goyal along with his driver and a poacher while they were returning from a forest after hunting two peacocks and four partridges. They were arrested under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, yesterday.

A few bureaucrats tried to hush up the case but the Forest Department authorities did not oblige them.

PATHANKOT: The arrest of Mr Goyal has been condemned by the some sections of society. According to sources, the gram panchayats of various villages of the Hoshiarpur district have passed resolutions and urged the Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur to conduct a separate inquiry into the matter. The Deputy Commissioner has ordered a probe into the matter and the ADC, Hoshiarpur, has been deputed to hold a time-bound inquiry.

Mr Goyal, SDM, said he had been “framed” in the case and he had full faith in the judicial system.


Goyal denies joining Rashtarvadi BJP
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 1
Mr Parminder Goyal, former executive member, BJP, Punjab, today said he had not joined the Rashtarvadi BJP, set up by a former BJP leader, Mr Jagmohan Kaura.

In a press note issued here, he alleged certain vested interests were trying to associate his name with the newly floated party to cause him political damage due to vested interests.

He said he was a member of the BJP led by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee.


Dilmegh Singh new SGPC Secy
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 1
The Executive Committee of the Shiromani Parbandhak Gurdwara Committee (SGPC) today decided in principle to establish dispensaries and schools in each gurdwara, being managed by the SGPC.

An official spokesman of the SGPC told TNS here that the meeting, held at Fatehgarh Sahib, promoted Mr Dilmegh Singh as secretary in place of Mr Harbeant Singh, who was sacked recently for getting the job on the basis of fake certificate. Mr Dilmegh Singh has put in 25 years of service in the SGPC.

Meanwhile, the executive also decided to appoint Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, General Secretary, as the leader of the jatha of Sikh devotees, which would visit Pakistan next month in connection with Baisakhi celebrations.

The meeting, presided over by Mr Gurcharn Singh Tohra, was attended by all executive members.


Development gets priority as elections draw near
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 1
With Lok Sabha elections round the corner, keeping citizens of Patiala happy seems to be the main concern of the Municipal Corporation as well as Congress candidate Preneet Kaur. The corporation has taken up the task of completing development works costing Rs 4.25 crore within two months.

Last week, as many as 170 development works were started in the fifty municipal wards of the city. Mayor Vishnu Sharma and Mrs Preneet Kaur worked overtime to get the works started. The works include concrete, brick and premix flooring in various streets in the city, besides installing streetlights in slums.

The Mayor, when questioned on the issue, said the development works had been planned a long time ago and these were not specifically linked with the Lok Sabha elections. He said all works had been planned following a special meeting during which Mrs Preneet Kaur had invited suggestions from councillors. He said the corporation had decided to complete the works in a time-bound manner.

Meanwhile, sources said the corporation was also focusing on the outer colonies of the city, which form a major part of the neighbouring Samana constituency. During the last elections, Congress candidate and former minister Brahm Mohindra had lost from Samana mainly because his rival and SAD candidate Surjit Singh Rakhra did well in the outer colonies.

To wrest this advantage back from the SAD, the corporation is rushing through with the Rs 126 crore sewerage and drinking water supply project.

Mr Vishnu Sharma said of a total of 134 km of sewerage lines which were to be laid in the city, the corporation had laid 37 km of lines.

He said the corporation had already installed 21 of the 30 new tubewells promised by it in the outer colonies. He said the remaining nine tubewells would also come up by the end of this month.

To deal with the problems caused by the ganda nullah which flows in the city, the corporation has decided to start work on covering it soon. Hume pipes would be installed in the nullah which would then be covered with a concrete flooring.

The corporation will also install a sewage treatment plant to deal with affluents in the nullah as well as the sewerage supply. This plant will come up on the Maine road.


Ban on carrying of arms, sale of liquor
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 1
Hola Mohalla celebrations at Kiratpur Sahib begin tomorrow. The district administration has banned the carrying of arms in the 5-km radius of Kiratpur Sahib and Anandpur Sahib till March 7.

In a press note here today Deputy Commissioner Ropar Seema Jain told that besides arms the sale of liquor within 5-km radius of Kiratpur Sahib from March 2 to March 4 and Anandpur Sahib from March 5 to March 7 had been prohibited

Use of colours has also been banned. The Nihangs have been exempted from the ban on the use of colours.

Traffic on the Nangal-Anandpur Sahib and Anandpur-Ropar roads would be diverted through the Nurpur Bedi-Ropar road for the convenience of the pilgrims.


Closure of bus stand causes chaos
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 1
After the closure of the main bus stand, here, the administration has taken little notice of the chaos that has followed due to the haphazard parking of the buses. The area has been closed for the construction of a model bus stand here.

However, the buses have started operating from the main GT Road outside the sau feet road. Hence this road that connects the Sultanwind road to the main GT Road highway has got blocked due to unauthorised parking of buses.

Hence the trucks and buses that ply towards Sultanwind approach small lanes which are congested due to heavy traffic. The possibility of accidents has increased.

Pointing out the lacunae in the city’s bus services, Mr Brij Bedi, president of the Citizens Forum, demanded that the administration should found an open space to deal with the problem and ensured that buses were parked on the main highway or blocked other lanes as this could prove hazardous.


No ‘Dronacharya’ to groom talented archer
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 1
The year 2000. Local lad Vishal Kumar, son of an out-of-work daily labourer, creates sensation by winning the gold medal in the 70-metre Olympic round archery competition in the National Games had in the city.

In 2002 Vishal, now 19, wins a silver medal in the senior nationals held at Hyderabad. The next year he nets nothing.

The story of Vishal is that of a promising sportsman whose talent has been allowed to be frittered away with the state and the sports association not giving the advanced back-up need to make him bloom at the international level. Vishal may have done the state proud by beating strong contenders from Jharkhand and the North-East states which are the power houses in this discipline by claiming a gold in the nationals, but the state failed to measure up to his expectations.

The archer got a job as fireman in the local Municipal Corporation mainly because the president of the State Archery Federation was the Municipal Commissioner at that time. Since then he has not got any sophisticated equipment to train for this event nor does he have the services of any qualified coach.

Vishal is practising with the lone imported bow available to him and other promising archers, which is around seven years old. “I cannot afford the latest bow which would cost nearly Rs 1 lakh,” he says. The archer has only 10 arrows and could do with more new ones. Ironically there are around 30 students between in the age group of 14 to 19 years who come to learn archery at Polo Ground. All of them practise with wooden bows with only a few getting time to practise on the imported bow and arrows.

When questioned about the slump in his form, Vishal says it is mainly because of lack of sophisticated equipment. Besides this, he says he needs the services of a qualified coach which is not available in the city. Presently he trains under a former player and also on his own. Vishal says his form has also suffered because he has been training less. “I have to attend duty as a fireman from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. following which I do a two-hour training”. He admits this is too less but says he cannot do much about it as he cannot leave his job and attend campus out of town.

Punjab Archery Association president K.S. Kang, when contacted, said Vishal’s main problem was that he was not putting in the amount of training needed. He said though the bow being used by the archer was satisfactory, there was a problem regarding arrows. Mr Kang said he had deposited money for the import of equipment worth around Rs 6 lakh more than a year back and it was only recently that the scheme had been cleared.

Mr Kang, meanwhile, does feel archery has been left far behind in Punjab because of lack of equipment as well as proper coaching. “I cannot afford to bring foreign coaches,” he says, adding the National Institute of Sports (NIS) could easily do this job. “They can also host camps so that our boys can get finer tips and their performance can be reviewed periodically”.


Dalit Bhalai Federation organises rally
Tribune Reporters

Patiala, March 1
The Dalit Bhalai Federation, Punjab, today organised a rally to put pressure on the state government to implement the 85th Constitutional Amendment regarding accelerated seniority for Scheduled Castes.

Speaking on the occasion, the president, SC Power Engineers and Officers’ Association, Mr S.K. Paul, alleged that members of the General Category Employees Federation had been distorting and manipulating statistical data in their favour and projecting before the public and the government that the implications of the amendment would result in total occupation of posts by Scheduled Castes.

He said the Constitution clearly provided that the reservation for Scheduled Castes in the state services shall be in proportion to their population, whereas for a population of about 32 per cent in Punjab, Scheduled Castes were getting representation only to the extent of 14 per cent in Class I and II and 20 per cent in Class III and Class 1V posts, respectively.

Addressing the gathering, state president of the SC/BC Teachers Union, Mr Malagar Singh, demanded that reservation in recruitment and promotions should be increased to 32 per cent so that the constitutional provision was implemented.

Members of the federation said they would intensify their agitation if the state government failed to accept their “constitutional” demands immediately.

Meanwhile, members of the General Category Welfare Federation organised a rally to counter the “propaganda” by the Dalit Bhalai Federation regarding the implications of implementing the 85th amendment.

The district president of the General Category Welfare Federation, Mr Amrik Singh, said Scheduled Castes should be given benefit only at the time of appointment and not at the time of promotion. He said this would add to the economic burden of the employees of the general category.

Ropar: The PSEB General Category Engineers Forum has opposed the demand of the PSEB Scheduled Caste Power Engineers and Officers Association for reservation in the elevation of chief engineers to the post of technical member in the board.

In a press note issued here today, the convener of the forum, Mr S.C. Chaba, said Article 335 of the Constitution was being misquoted by those demanding reservation.

He said the members of the board, including technical members, are appointed by the Punjab Government through a rigorous selection process. Moreover, the posts of technical members do not fall within the preview of the reservation policy, he added.


‘Unclaimed’ boy battles for life in hospital
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, March 1
A 15-year-old boy, who met with accident near Floating Restaurant, Sirhind, on January 4 has been battling for life in Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) here. The hospital authorities say that the boy was brought to the hospital by a Jalandhar-based couple. No member of the family of the victim has come forward to meet the boy. The nursing staff of the hospital is taking care of the victim, who is in a coma.

According to hospital authorities, Jalandhar-based advocate, Krishan Kumar Bassi and his wife had admitted the boy in DMCH on January 4. The boy was hit by a car near Floating Restaurant, Sirhind, and the couple knew nothing more about him.

Mr Bassi told The Tribune on the telephone the boy was bleeding profusely on the road after the accident and surrounded by people. “We were coming from Hardwar after performing last rites of my father. A car had hit the boy, who was on a bicycle. My wife and other family members wanted that we should not let the child die on the road. We took him to a hospital at Gobindgarh. Seeing the serious condition of the child, the doctor advised us to take him to DMCH Ludhiana immediately”, said Mr Bassi.

Mr Bassi added that by that time, ASI, Surinder Singh also reached the hospital at Gobindgarh. He asked the couple to take him to DMCH and assured that they would not be troubled by the police. “I deposited Rs 10,000 with the hospital from my pocket so that the treatment could be started”, said Mr Bassi.

Dr R.K. Kaushal, a doctor of the Neurosurgery Department of DMCH said that the condition of the boy was still critical. “He can not talk or move. We are feeding him through a pipe”, said Dr Kaushal.

He added that a few days back, a person, claiming to be the father of the victim had come to the hospital. He stayed for a few hours, enquired after his condition but did not return.

Vikram Bhanot, Chief Officer on Special Duty, DMCH said, “The boy seems to belong to a poor family. We told his father that Rs 50,000 were already spent on the treatment and assured him that if he was not in a position to pay the hospital bills, they would bear it with help from some social organization. But that man never returned”.


“Dance like a Man” weaves magic
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 1
The staging of famous play “Dance Like a Man” Directed by Lillete Dubey and sponsored by The Tribune group of newspapers and Spice Telecom last night at Guru Nanak Bhavan here enthralled theatre lovers of the holy city.

Powerful portrayal by Vijay Crishna, Chief Executive Officer of Godrej, Suchitra Pillai, an MTV veejay and Lillete Dubey weaved a spell on the audience. The story revolves around the family of Jairaj and Raina Parekh who aspire to become dancers. The face problems as Jairaj’s father objects taking up dance as profession while allowing his wife to continue learning dance.

There were many interesting twists of humour and tragedy as they pull along to live in harmony in their ancestral house built by Jairaj’s father, a great freedom fighter of his time. Suchitra Pillai as the daughter gave a refreshing performance as an upcoming classical dancer whom her parents want to groom while she falls in love with Vishwas, son of a sweet shop owner. Their interaction was hilarious and drew a lot of cheer from the crowd

The standing ovation at the end of play brought back memories of the glorious past of the city which was once a culturally happening city.

The background music with shades of classic and South Indian touch has been composed by Lillete Dubey who showed her repertoire of being an complete artiste.

The Director of the Durga Dass Foundation from Chandigarh, Mr Atul Khanna, said this was 110th performance of the play.

Mr Khanna added they had invited Naseerudin Shah to stage his famous play “Ismat apa ke nam” based on life of Ismat Chugtai. The cast will include his wife Ratna Pathak and his daughter. The play in Hindi will be staged at Amritsar on March 21 and would be sponsored by Tribune Group of newspapers.


35 persons stung by bees on court premises
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 1
Panic spread in the courts complex when at least 35 persons were stung by bees here today.

People were seen running here and there, trying to save themselves from being stung. The ordeal, which started around mid day, went on for about two hours. Four persons went to the Civil Hospital for treatment. It is reported that some of them had gone to private doctors as well.

It is learnt that the beehive, on one of the trees in the court complex, was reportedly disturbed by a bird and soon after the bees were swarming all around the court complex, stinging a number of persons. After some time people tried to create smoke in the area by burning dry leaves etc to get rid of the bees.

Mr Nirmal Singh, Mr Harbhajan Singh, Mr Ram Parkash and Mr Nirmal Singh went to the Civil Hospital for treatment. While three of them were discharged after first aid, Mr Harbhajan Singh was admitted at the hospital.

Mr Ram Parkash is an employee at the SDM office. Mr Nirmal Singh, a resident of Bhagat Majra village, and Mr Nirmal Singh, a resident of Chandiala Sudan village, had come to the SDM office for getting a scooter transferred on the name of one of them.

Two peons from the BDPO, Mr Gurmel Singh and Mr Kulwant Singh, who had gone to get cheques from the treasury office, were also stung. Three advocates, Mr Preet Kanwal Singh, Mr Kuldeep Singh and Mr Avtar Singh and their NRI friend from Canada, Mr Khushdil Singh, also fell prey to the wrath of the disturbed bees.

Among others who were stung by bees are Mr Adarsh and Mr Om Parkash, employees of the contractor who looks after the parking of vehicles in the complex, Mr Amrik Singh, Mr Thakur Singh and Mr Karamjit Singh.


PWD workers threaten stir
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 1
The PWD Field and Workshop Workers Union, Punjab, has threatened to observe a strike and a chain fast at Ghanaur from March 9 to 11 to protest against the non-acceptance of their demands.

The workers are demanding the regularisation of temporary employees, pensions for employees of sewerage board besides other demands.

Mr Gurmej Singh, state Chairman, Mr Karnjit Singh Bihla, president and Mr Ved Parkash stated this in a press note here today.


Resentment among Dera Bassi truckers
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, March 1
Resentment prevails among members of the Dera Bassi Truck Union, after a six-member committee, constituted by the Sub Divisional Magistrate, deleted names of about 40 truckers from the voter list.

During the scrutiny of the voter list for the union elections, scheduled to be held on Monday. The committee reportedly found some members fake and their names were deleted.

Mr Kuljit Singh Randhawa, a former president of the union, and his associates claimed that Mr Gurcharan Singh Pappu, another former union president, in connivance with members of the committee, cancelled the names of his men from the voter list. The committee had erased the names of genuine members of the union, he said.

On the other hand, Mr Pawan Kumar Mahendru, another former president of the union, said the cancelation of membership of some truckers as genuine. He said the Randhawa groups often created nuisance during union elections.


Ayurvedic docs to back ‘sympathetic’ party
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 1
The Punjab Ayurvedic Medical Services Association (PAMSA) has decided to vote and support nominees of the political party which would include the development of ayurvedic, yoga, Unani and sidha systems of medicine in its manifesto for the coming Lok Sabha elections.

In a press note issued here today, Dr Harmanjit Singh and Dr S.S. Romana, president and general secretary of the association, respectively, said by developing these systems, the governments could save crores of rupees in treating all sorts of patients, including immunisation programmes hepatitis A and B.

They said though the Centreal Government was taking keen interest, the Punjab Government was not doing much for the development of these systems. The post of the Director, Ayurvedic, had been lying vacant for the past many years. Apart from this, a number of government ayurvedic dispensaries did not have any doctors.

Ayurvedic doctors posted in Punjab were getting less pay than their counterparts serving in the Central Government Services. The ayurvedic doctors were getting less pay than allopathic doctors posted in the same state, they added.

They said the association had decided to vote and support of nominees of the party which would promise to remove problems faced by the ayurvedic doctors in the state.


‘Adopt-a-cow’ campaign launched
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 1
The Lions Club (Bathinda Classic) has started an “adopt-a-cow” campaign to tackle the menace of stray cattle in the city. Stray cattle have become a major source of road accidents and insanitary conditions here.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Kanwal Jindal, president of the club, said as a part of the campaign, people would be urged to adopt stray cows. He added that a cow or a bull, adopted by any resident, would be taken to the local cow shelters and expenditure on them would be borne by that particular person.

He said to make this campaign effective, corner meetings would be held in the city. Besides, pamphlets and posters would also be distributed to spread awareness about the campaign.


Newly-wed woman goes missing

Moga, March 1
Mystery shrouds the disappearance of newly-wed Baljit Kaur, a resident of Ajitwal and wife of Jaspal Singh, an Army jawan of Dhudike in the district.

Both husband and wife left for Amritsar on January 16 to pay obeisance at Golden Temple. The next day Jaspal Singh informed his mother-in-law Surinder Kaur that her daughter had gone missing from Amritsar.

According to an FIR lodged with the Mehna police yesterday, Surinder Kaur said her daughter married Jaspal Singh on November 28, 2003. On January 16, he took her to Amritsar, from where she allegedly disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

The police has started investigation but no arrest has yet been made so far. — PTI


Civic body cautions investors
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, March 1
Taking serious note of false promises being made by property dealers while selling land in Pir Muchhaila village, that the village would be merged with Zirakpur nagar panchayat soon, the civic body authorities have cautioned investors against falling prey to such allurement.

Mr Narinder Sharma, president of the Zirakpur nagar panchayat, made clear that no village was being merged with the civic body. Moreover, he said, the civic body had not passed any resolution for including any village within the Zirakpur nagar panchayat.


Lovers beaten up on court premises

Kharar, March 1
Two lovers, who wanted to go in for a court marriage, were beaten up at the judicial court complex here today.

It is learnt that the two of them, who had eloped sometime ago, reached the Kharar court to get married. But the parents of the girl also reached there and took her away. She was allegedly beaten up by them. The boy was also given a thrashing. Both lovers belong to Fatehgarh Sahib district. OC


Free eye camp on March 23

Kharar, March 1
The 11th free eye camp will be organised by the Citizens Welfare Club at the Civil Hospital premises here on March 23, the martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh.

Mr Subhash Aggarwal, director of the club, said doctors would examine patients on March 23 after which free operations would be performed till March 28. OC


High Court
Discrimination in grant alleged
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
If allegations in a petition filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court are to be believed, then the development fund was not handed over to a panchayat in Ludhiana district as the local Member of Parliament belonged to the Congress, while the sarpanch and panches were supporters of the Shiromani Akali Dal.

In its petition, the panchayat of Gidder Windi asserted that the funds, meant for utilisation by the panchayat, were handed over to the MP "who further released the amount to an Executive Engineer".

Taking up the petition, a Division Bench, comprising Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar and Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall, directed the Executive Engineer, besides a Block Development and Panchayat Officer, "not to disburse or deal with the grant sanctioned to the panchayat for development work".

The judges fixed July 29 as the next date of hearing.


Poultry farmers suffer huge losses
Our Correspondent

Barnala, March 1
Resentment prevails among families of poultry farmer in Punjab, and also among those involved in poultry-related business because of huge losses suffered by them.

Mr Raj Kumar Goyal, president of the Punjab Poultry Farmers Association, in an interview with this reporter here today regretted that poultry farmers and others connected with this business were frustrated and dejected. The poultry farmers in Punjab, he warned, were left with no other option but to resort to agitation because of the state government’s apathy towards the plight of poultry farmers.

Mr Goyal revealed that within a short span of just two months poultry farming business had suffered losses to the tune of Rs 100 crore in the state whereas in North India the estimated loss was of Rs 200 crore.

He blamed the government and authorities for this huge loss because the government did not handle the rumours of bird flu properly and effectively. He said the Punjab Poultry Farmers Association had been impressing upon media to make it categorically clear that there was no such problem in India but all in vain.

Mr Goyal further disclosed that 5,000 poultry farm units had gone in for expansion in the wake of subsidiary incentive but the incentives approved in the year 1995 had not been given to poultry farmers so far, making them defaulters. He informed that poultry farmers had been forced to dispose off their properties to survive.

He said though the government had covered the poultry farming business under small scale industries category yet none of the concessions of small scale industries like the supply of power at concessional rates and fixing of support price of eggs was provided.

Mr Prem Chand Aggarwal, Chairman of the Punjab Beopar Mandal while expressing concern urged the state government to come to the rescue of poultry farmers.


Jagraon Naib Tehsildar held on graft charge

Moga, March 1
The Vigilance Bureau, Moga, today arrested Bhupinder Singh, Naib Tehsildar of Jagraon, for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 1500 for returning back a power of attorney, registered by him as a registrar.

Stating this here, Surjit Singh, DSP Vigilance Bureau, said that a complaint was lodged by Mr Jagdish Singh of Moga that he had got the power of attorney on registered February 20. When he went to the Naib Tehsildar’s office the next day and asked him to return the document, the official demanded Rs 2000 from him. The matter was then settled for Rs 1500.

The complainant informed the bureau, which set up a trap and caught the suspect. — PTI


Woman commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Amritsar March 1
Gurvinder Kaur a young woman of Amritsar allegedly committed suicide by injecting poison at the house of her paramour Gurpawan Singh in Naushera Pannuan village in Tarn Taran police district last evening.

The couple had an affair earlier. The boy reportedly jilted her. Gurvinder went to his house and tried to convince the boy’s mother and brother.

On their rejection she took out an injection and administered it herself. She was taken to a hospital but died on the way. In a suicide note found from her purse she had allegedly blamed her lover for this step.


2 scooterists die in mishap
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 1
Two persons were killed on the spot near Lahra Mohabbat, 22 km from here, yesterday when their scooter was hit by a canter.

The scooterists were reported to be residents of Rampura Phul. However, the two could not be identified.

According to information, the driver of the canter fled the scene.


Woman raped
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 1
A woman (26) having three children, and deserted by her husband was allegedly raped by Jasvir Singh, of Gheri Butter village of this district.

In a press note here today, Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, said that the victim, had been living in the town after leaving her husband. She was allegedly raped by Jasvir Singh on February 28. After the crime, the accused also threatened the victim against complaining.

Police sources said that the victim was got examined and rape was confirmed. A case under sections 376 and 506 of the IPC has been registered.


Woman shot at
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 1
Baljit Kaur, was injured grievously when two scooter-borne persons shot at her when she tried to resist an attempt to loot her at Waliyaa village, under the Tarn Taran police district, in early hours today.

According to reports, she was hit with bullets in the stomach and chest and was admitted to Guru Nanak Hospital in a serious condition. The two assailants managed to escape with her earrings. A case has been registered.


440 students get degrees
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 1
Degrees were conferred upon as many as 440 students of different streams by the Higher Education Minister, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, and the DPI (Colleges), Ms Nisha Sarad, at the annual convocation of the Apeejay College of Fine Arts, here today.

Addressing students, Mr Johar appreciated the contribution of private colleges in imparting quality education. He said efforts were being made to ensure that 100 out of 184 government and private colleges in the state get accredited with the NAAC by March 31.

“We are closely monitoring preparations of colleges with regard to assessment process and hopefully over 100 colleges in the state would get accredited with the NAAC.” He said adding that educational institutions were being provided with requisite help in this regard.

The minister further disclosed a requisition to the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) had been sent to select 550 lecturers in different subjects to fill vacant posts in government colleges. “We have received a list of 61 candidates, selected by the PPSC for appointment as English lecturer.

Their posting orders would be issued soon,” he said, adding that first preference would be given to candidates from rural and semi-urban areas.


NAAC team visits training college
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 1
A three-member team, led by Dr D.N. Sansanwal of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) from Bangalore, has underlined the need for the appointment of five more qualified teachers and a Principal on a regular basis, besides encouraging research aptitude for updating the knowledge among M.Ed. and B.Ed students and teachers at the local Government Training College.

The team also laid stress on promoting computer education, access to Internet and the purchase of statistical packages of social sciences in this regard.

The team, which recently visited the college to examine its functioning under the directions of the University Grants Commission, New Delhi, interacted with students, staff and the Old Students Association to review the exact position of the college.

The team members, who were on a state tour to review the functioning of different government and private colleges with an object to bring excellency and improvement in education, particularly in higher institutes, also visited different schools to have the views of students and teachers regarding the performance of fresh trainees during the their practice in their respective schools.

The team was of the view that with proper attention, the training college could run short-term training programmes. Ms Pritpal Kaur, Principal of Government Brijindra College, who also holds the charge of training college, said here today that she had apprised the state government for the posting senior teaching staff.


Change criteria for listing in stock exchanges: expert
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 1
“There is a need for more vigorous and comprehensive criteria for listing in stock exchanges.” said Dr B.S. Bhatia, Director, APJ Institute of Management and Technology, while delivering his keynote address at the inaugural function of a national seminar on “Capital market reforms in India” at Guru Nanak Dev University here today.

Dr Bhatia said, “A framework to monitor the end use of funds relating to the stock exchanges was imperative.” He stressed on a change in focus from the secondary market to the primary market, which was the actual reason for the existence of secondary markets, he said.

He contended that the change would help in generating and channelising the savings of small investors that could be used for more productive purposes.

The seminar was organised by the Commerce and Business Management Department of the University Grants Commission.

The Vice-Chancellor of the university, DR S.P. Singh, presided over the function. He said the investor had neither the confidence nor was his interest safe.

He said the countless financial scams and the likes of Harshad Mehta and Ketan Parekh were the discredited bulls of the Indian economy that had shaken the system and the structure of reforms.


Rice millers seek Badal’s help
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, March 1
The Punjab Rice Millers Association has urged  Mr Parkash Singh Badal to use his good offices to get settled their demand regarding the cost of unused gunny bags to be retained by the millers after the delivery of custom-milled rice.

At a state-level meeting held at Satayam Palace, Muktsar, yesterday, the association submitted a memorandum to Mr Badal in this regard who was specially invited to hear the millers’ demand.

Mr Badal assured the millers that he would do his utmost to get their demand accepted by the Centre.

Earlier, Mr Harjit Singh Bhulowalia, chairman, Punjab Rice Millers Association, Mr Bal Krishan Bali, senior vice-president, and  Mr Bharat Bhushan Binta, president, District Muktsar Rice Millers Association, addressed the meeting.


Capt hosts dinner for Lahore Chamber
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 1
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh today hosted dinner for the delegation of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which is in the Capital for talks with business chambers in India on ways to boost mutual trade.

Senior officers of the Punjab Government, nearly 40 industrialists and a few ministers were present at the dinner held at Kapurthala House. Capt Amarinder Singh, who visited Lahore about a month back, said Chief Minister of Pakistan Punjab Pervaiz Elahi had been invited for the Punjabi conference in April.

Mian Anjum Nisar, president of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the visiting businessmen were exploring avenues of import and export in their areas of interest.

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