P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Alliance with BSP possible at state level, says Hanspal
Amarinder Singh skips rally at Hola Mohalla
Lalit Mohan

Anandpur Sahib (Ropar), March 6
Political rallies by various political parties today remained the mainstay of the fifth day of Hola Mohalla here today. Leaders of major political parties, as usual, levelled allegations against one another at these rallies rather than giving any concrete programme for the people of the state.

With the police concentrating on providing security to the VIPs the pilgrims had to face problems due to traffic jams and diversions. The residents of the power colony in Anandpur Sahib suffered the most due to the security arrangements for the Chief Minister and their movement remained restricted till evening.

The Congress rally here today lost its sheen with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, both skipping the event. Party leaders present at the rally, including the President of the PPCC, Mr H.S. Hanspal, tried to hold the audience till about 3 pm by announcing that the Chief Minister was on his way to the rally. However, the Chief Minister failed to turn up and Mr Hanspal had to close the rally.

Mr Hanspal, while talking to reporters, said even if the BSP and the Congress failed to strike an alliance at the national level, efforts were on to form an alliance at the state level. He said the screening committee of the state would soon propose the names of the probable Lok Sabha candidates to the Central Election Committee headed by the party President, Ms Sonia Gandhi.

When asked if the Congress would consider the candidature of a SAD dissident, Mr Tarlochan Singh Tur, from the Taran Taran parliamentary constituency, Mr Hanspal said the issue was open to discussion. He declined that any decision regarding an alliance with the CPM or leaving the Hoshiarpur parliamentary seat to the CPM nominee, Mr Darshan Singh Mattu, had yet been taken.

Responding to queries from reporters Mr Hanspal added that new faces would be fielded by the Congress in Punjab during the Lok Sabha elections. He also declined the possibility of a former Congress MP, Mr Kamal Chaudhary, joining the Congress.

Mr Avtar Henry, Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Mr Tej Prakash, Transport Minister, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang. Minister for Animal Husbandry, Sports and Youth Affairs, Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, State Minister for Transport, Grievances and Cooperation and Mr KPS Rana, Chairman of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), were among the prominent Congress men who participated in today’s rally of the party. The rally of the SAD was, however, attended by both veteran leaders, Mr Prakash Singh Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President of the SGPC.

It was the turn of Mr Badal, who has been on the receiving end in terms of corruption charges, to turn the heat on the issue against the Congress. Speaking at the rally, he alleged that there was no difference between Capt Amarinder Singh and the tainted former Chairman of the PPSC, Mr Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu. While the latter used to take money for appointing people, the former was filling posts through ‘sipharish’ (approach). Later while talking to reporters Mr Badal also alleged that the Congress was openly committing corruption in allotting liquor vends by favouring Ponty Chadha. The SAD had already sent a complaint regarding the matter to the Election Commission.

When asked about the statement of the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, regarding the regional parties, Mr Badal said there was a misunderstanding. He, however, added that the regional parties were a compulsion of the NDA and not a liability. Since interests of the states were overlooked during the centralised rule of the Congress, the people had switched loyalties to regional parties, he said.

While responding to a query, Mr Badal maintained that the SAD would participate in the proposed “Bharat Uday Yatra” of Mr L.K. Advani.

On decision of a former SAD MP from Tarn Taran, Mr Tarlochan Singh Tur, to contest as an Independent, a peeved Mr Badal said Mr Tur did not have a hereditary right to the Lok Sabha seat. The people would vote for the party and not for the person and so Mr Tur posed no danger to the SAD candidate.

He also said that in the Lok Sabha elections, the SAD would seek votes on both the Centre and state issues. The party would project Mr Vajpayee as the Prime Minister against the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, who had no experience of governance. In terms of state issues, the party would project the misdeeds and misgovernance of the Congress, he said.

Besides Mr Badal, the SAD rally was attended, among others, by the president of the Punjab BJP, Mr Avinash Rai Khana, former Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, former President of the SGPC, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, the SAD general secretary, Mr Baldev Singh Bhundar, and two former ministers, Mr Tara Singh Ladal and Bibi Satwant Kaur Sandhu.
Simranjit Singh Mann
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann of the Akali Dal (Amritsar) attends a party conference at Anandpur Sahib on Saturday.

The other major political rally held here today was of the SAD (A) that was presided over by the party President, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann.

Mr Mann accused both the Congress and SAD-BJP combine for ignoring the main issues confronting Punjab. He alleged that both groups had failed to redress the grievances of the Sikhs. The NDA government at the Centre had failed to take up the turban issue of the Sikhs with the French Government “diplomatically”. Due to inaction by the government, the French Senate had now passed the controversial Bill.

Due to the apathy of the SAD-BJP combine and the Congress the Union Government was now planning to shift the Rs 16,000 crore oil refinery proposed for Punjab to Rajasthan. Accusing Mr Parkash Singh Badal of selling off the interests of the SAD, Mr Mann alleged that while the SAD had given the BJP three seats in Punjab, the BJP had not left any seat for the SAD in any other state.

Lok Bhalai Party chief Balwant Singh Ramoowalia listens to grievances of a victim of an NRI bridegroom
Lok Bhalai Party chief Balwant Singh Ramoowalia listens to grievances of a victim of an NRI bridegroom in a conference at Anandpur Sahib on Saturday.

Mr Mann also said that the SAD (A) would oppose the proposed rally of Mr Advani when it would pass through Punjab as the move was aimed at dividing the people communally.

The Lok Bhalai Party, headed by former Union Minister Ramoowalia, the Dal Khalsa, the new Akali Dal headed by Mr Ravi Inder Singh, and the International Sikh Council were the other political parties that held their political rallies in the mela today.

Mr Ramoowalia in his speech accused the other political parties of ignoring the basic problems of the people like unemployment, decline in per capita income and social ills such as dowry.

Mr Ravi Inder Singh and Mr Sucha Singh Chottepur at the Akali Dal conference.
Mr Ravi Inder Singh and Mr Sucha Singh Chottepur at the Akali Dal conference. —  Tribune photos by Manoj Mahajan

The President of the Dal Khalsa, Mr Harcharanjit Singh Dhami, termed the proposed “Bharat Udhay Yatra” of Mr Advani as a fascist move.

He also accused Mr Badal and Mr Tohra of sacrificing the interests of Punjab for their benefit.

Mr Ravi Inder Singh also targeted Mr Badal for committing “corruption”. He said his party would contest all seats in the Lok Sabha elections. The new Akali Dal would also oppose the proposed rally of Mr L. K. Advani, he said.


Dhindsa, Tota Singh meet Baldev Mann
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 6
In an attempt to win over the confidence of the Barnala faction, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Secretary-General, SAD and candidate from the Sangrur parliamentary constituency, along with Jathedar Tota Singh, a former minister today visited the residence of Mr Baldev Singh Mann, General Secretary, SAD, and close confidant of Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, Governor, Andhra Pradesh, at Sulargharat, near Dirba. The closed-door meeting lasted for about an hour.

When TNS contacted Mr Mann on the phone, he confirmed the meeting but declined to give the details of the meeting.

Sources said after the meeting when Mr Dhindsa, Mr Mann and Jathedar Tota Singh came out of the room, supporters of Mr Mann, including members of a 31-member committee formed on March 1 to organise an agitation for ousting Mr Gurbachan Singh Bachi, a former administrative member of the PSEB, and the supporters from the SAD, raised voice against Mr Dhindsa, but Mr Mann exhorted his supporters to remain calm.

Mr Ajaib Singh Khetla, a senior vice-president of the district unit of the SAD, said all workers of the Dirba area were with Mr Mann. If Mr Dhindsa succeeded in convincing Mr Mann for campaigning for him in the elections, then they could think over it. He said Mr Dhindsa had committed several “mistakes” in the past to let down the Barnala group. He also reportedly demanded a Rajya Sahba seat for Mr Baldev Singh Mann.

Mr Gurtej Singh Karrial, Jathedar of the Dirba circle of the SAD, said if Mr Dhindsa promised to keep Mr Bachi away from his campaign in the Dirba area, they could work for him in the elections. He also emphasised on the ousting of Mr Bachi and his supporters from the SAD.

Other leaders of the Barnala faction also asked Mr Dhindsa to oust Mr Bachi from the SAD if he really wanted their support in the elections. They also promised that if Mr Dhindsa got Mr Bachi ousted from the SAD, then they would certainly campaign for the victory of Mr Dhindsa in the Dirba Assembly Constituency.

Jathedar Tota Singh also urged the workers to forget the past and asked them to work for the victory of the SAD candidate. He said this was the time that all Akali workers should unite.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa also admitted that he and Mr Mann both had committed some “mistakes” in the past. So at this juncture, they should bury the past and join hands to win the Sangrur seat. He also reportedly assured the Dirba circle activists of the SAD that his campaign would be run as per their wishes and Mr Bachi would not interfere in the functioning in the Dirba in any way.

Mr Baldev Singh Mann reportedly left his decision on the 31-member committee. He said he would accept the decision of the committee, if Mr Dhindsa redressed grievances of the Dirba SAD workers.

It was learnt that members of the 31-member committee would meet Mr Parkash Singh Badal on March 8 at an “anti-repression” rally of the SAD at Lehragaga to get Mr Bachi ousted from the SAD.


Sikh bodies to resist Advani’s yatra
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 6
Seven Sikh organisations in a joint press conference here today have threatened to resist ‘Bharat Udai Yatra’ from entering in Punjab. The yatra headed by Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani will start from Kanyakumari and scheduled to reach Amritsar on March 26 where Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee would welcome the yatra.

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), has also announced not to allow the yatra from entering in the state.

Those who addressed the conference include Mr Harmandip Singh, chairman of the Khalra Mission Committee, Mr Dalbir Singh, patron, Sikh Jagriti Morcha, Lakhwinder Singh Gora of the Sikh Students Federation, Gurdip Singh of the Ashutosh Virodhi Morcha, Joginder Singh Fouji, general secretary, Gurmat Prachar Sabha, Mr Pal Singh, general secretary, Wahiguru Sewa Simran Society, and Jasbir Singh Padri, general secretary of the Jagriti Morcha.

They appealed to Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister not to allow the yatra to enter in Punjab.


Sonia to hold roadshows in Punjab

Jalandhar, March 6
The state Congress chief H.S. Hanspal today said the party President Sonia Gandhi would visit the state for roadshows in the third week of March.

Mr Hanspal told PTI by phone that exact dates and places for the roadshows would be finalised soon.

The meeting of the central election committee of the party would be held next week after which candidates for the Lok Sabha seats in the state would be announced. The meeting was planned for today, but due to Hola Mohalla at Anandpur Sahib, the meeting was postponed,” he added.

Regarding the political alliance with the BSP in the state, he said talks were underway at the national level and final decision in this regard would be taken.

Asked whether the central election committee of the party has taken any policy decision for fielding sitting MLAs in the ensuing parliamentary election, the state Congress chief said no such decision had taken yet. — PTI


Sonia urged to ask Bhattal to resign
Our Correspondent

Barnala, March 6
Mrs, Sonia Gandhi, President of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) should direct Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister Punjab to quit as minister to uphold the Gandhian values. This was stated by Mr Ved Parkash Tallewalia, a Congress activist and President, Arhtiya Association here in a letter of February 28 in a request to Mrs Sonia Gandhi was made available to this reporter, a copy of which released to the press on Friday. Copies of the letter have been sent to Mrs Mohsina Kidwai AICC, General Secretary-cum- Incharge, Punjab Congress Affairs and Mrs Ambika Soni, AICC, General Secretary and the Chief Minister Punjab. Mr Tallewalia in his letter said after being chargesheeted by a court Mrs Bhattal should not cling to the Cabinet post.

He said poll prospects of the Congress would affect if she continued to remain a minister. Mrs Bhattal’s diatribe against the Punjab Chief Minister did weaken Mr Amarinder Singh’s crusade against corruption and had animated the Shiromani Akali Dal.


Party will not force anyone to contest: Bhattal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 6
The Congress high command will not force any reluctant party leader to contest the Lok Sabha elections. The ticket will be allotted on the winnability capability of the candidate. Besides, the high command has made it clear that political and personal strength of potential candidates will be taken into account before announcing their names as the candidate.”

This was stated by the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, participating in “Kharian Kharian” programme to be aired on Lashkara Channel tomorrow. She was reacting to the demand being raised by her intra-party opponents, including Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, that she must contest from the Sangrur parliamentary seat. Describing it as her opponent’s scheme to push her out of the reckoning from becoming an alternative to the present Chief Minister, she argued: “How can I contest the elections when a corruption case planted against me is pending in the court. Moreover, my Assembly constituency falls in Patiala district and not in Sangrur district”.


Memorial to mark 500th birth anniversary of
Guru Angad Dev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 6
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has decided to raise a minaret-type “Gurmukhi Smark”, a memorial at Khadur Sahib to mark the 500th birth anniversary of Guru Angad Dev on April 18. The history of Gurmukhi script would be inscribed on it.

This decision was taken at the joint meeting of SGPC authorities and Shatabdi sub-committee held at Fatehgarh Sahib under the presidentship of Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra today. Since the Gurmukhi alphabet has 35 words, this memorial moulded in metal, will be 35 feet high and all 35 words would be engraved on it. The services of metal experts, engineers and architects engaged in moulding statues in metal at Delhi and Jaipur would be sought to raise this memorial. Guru Angad Dev gave present shape to Gurmukhi script and popularised it.

It was also decided to construct a memorial gate in honour of the Guru at his birth-place, Mattey Ki Serai in Muktsar district on the pattern of the gates constructed at Anandpur Sahib during the tercentenary celebrations of Khalsa in 1999. The meeting also finalised minute-to-minute programme to observe the 500th birth anniversary of Guru Angad Dev at Khadur Sahib from April 15 to 18. The nagar kirtan processions would be taken out from Muttey Ki Serai and Dera Baba Nanak on April 14, which would culminate at Khadur Sahib on April 16. If allowed by both the governments of India and Pakistan, a jatha of 101 Sikhs would launch a “Khalsa March” from Kartarpur Sahib (Pakistan) after paying obeisance and offering “ardas” at the gurdwara there on April 14 or 15. Day -long religious programmes would be organised at Khadur Sahib during these four days. A women convention will be held on April 15, while World Punjabi Conference would be organised on April 16.

The main function would be addressed by Jathedars of five Takhts and Presidents of the SGPC and DSGPC and other religious personalities.

The meeting decided to form district-wise sub-committees comprising all SGPC members, Sikh leaders and intellectuals belonging to the respective district to observe three centenaries during the current year. The meeting of Ludhiana district sub-committee would be held here on March 13.

The meeting was attended among others by the SGPC secretary, Mr Dilmegh Singh, honorary secretary, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, all five members of the Shatabdi sub-committee including Prof Prithipal Singh Kapur, Dr Balkar Singh, Dr Kharak Singh, Harbir Singh Bhanwer and Mr Gurdarshan Singh Bahia, and the additional secretary of Dharam Parchar Committee, Mr Waryam Singh, and the assistant secretary, Mr Roop Singh.


SGPC wants stamps on  3 centenaries
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 6
The SGPC President, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, has urged the Union Government to issue commemorative stamps on three centenaries which marked the important events of the Sikh history and religion. The SGPC has decided to celebrate the centenaries of the 500th “Parkash Utsav” of Guru Angad Dev, 400th “Parkash Utsav” of Guru Granth Sahib and 300th year of martyrdom of the four sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh, this year.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Mr Tohra has stated that the SGPC had chalked out a programme to spread the message of Guru Granth Sahib to all corners of the world. Mr Tohra has expressed satisfaction at the setting up of a committee by the Centre to commemorate these centenaries as a respect to the sentiments of the Sikhs. He appealed to the Prime Minister to direct the Department of Posts to bring out the stamps.


FDO’s circular creates ruckus in GND varsity
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 6
Trouble is fomenting in Guru Nanak Dev University here as the Finance and Development Officer (FDO) and various associations of the university crossed swords over certain ‘purchases’ in alleged violation of statutes of the university.

The FDO, Mr Varinder Pal Sharma, earned the wrath of different associations of the university when he sent a circular to all members of the Guru Nanak Dev University Teachers Association (GNDUTA), levelling serious charges of obliging a particular private manufacturer at the cost of the university against the GNDUTA president, Dr Narpinder Singh, who is incidentally head of the Food Science and Technology Department. The FDO used harsh words like “nefarious mind-set, ill-designed and dubious pressures” against Dr Narpinder Singh.

However, the GNDU Teaching and Non-Teaching Officers Association, a forum of three association, and the Department of Food Science and Technology condemned the FDO for using defamatory language against Dr Narpinder Singh and sought immediate action against Mr Sharma for allegedly transcending his official position.

The executive body of the GNDUTA, at a meeting condemned the unsubstantiated charges against Dr Narpinder Singh. The executive body urged the Vice-Chancellor to initiate disciplinary action against the FDO to the satisfaction of the entire teaching community.

However, Mr Varinder Pal Sharma claimed that the Accounts Department had raised objections on the file of Dr Narpinder Singh as per statute of the university. He said it was the duty of the Accounts Department to see the files irrespective of the positions the person was holding.

Dr Narpinder Singh said the objections raised by the FDO on the proposed purchases were ‘baseless’ as head of the department had never made payments to the manufacturers directly. He said either the FDO or his nominee had been members of all high-level committees which place orders for the purchases.


Father’s fight for memorial to Uphaar tragedy hero
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, march 6
Capt Vardeep Singh Bhinder of Amritsar is fighting a different battle. Armed with an order of the Delhi High Court declaring that his son Capt Manjinder Singh Bhinder’s death in Uphaar cinema tragedy was attributable to military service, he is struggling to get a memorial constructed in his only child’s memory.

In a notice of demand, Capt Vardeep Singh has asked the Punjab Chief Secretary and other authorities to vacate stay orders, restraining them from setting up the memorial, in view of the Delhi High Court judgement. The orders, he has asserted, were passed without assigning reasons.

Six years ago, Capt Manjinder Singh Bhinder died along with his wife and son while saving the lives of movie buffs enjoying “Border” at Uphaar cinema in New Delhi.

He had gone to watch the movie along with his wife and son on June 13, 1997, when a dense smoke rising from a blazing inferno caused complete chaos in the hall. Showing exemplary courage and presence of mind, Capt Bhinder had done “a wonderful job in controlling and guiding the cine-goers”.

Ignoring his own safety and that of his family, the Captain saved over 150 lives after breaking open the exit door and asking his companion to muster help from the Army authorities. In the end he along with his wife and four-year-old son perished in the fire.

In Amritsar to console the bereaved family, the then Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had announced construction of the memorial, including a life-size statue, a gate and stadium, to Captain Bhinder.

Though two kanals were handed over for the purpose, the construction of the gate was reportedly stayed by the authorities. Representations were addressed to the “present government, but nothing was done”.

“In fact all the promises made by the politicians and high-ranking officers were forgotten with the passage of time”, says chairman of the All-India Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association Bhim Sen Sehgal. The association is helping the Brave Captain Manjinder Singh Bhinder Memorial Society at Chowk Mehta in Amritsar to fight the case.

The association had issued a legal notice to the Chief Secretary and other authorities earlier also, claiming that “action was not taken by the state government to fulfil the promises made by the then Chief Minister”.

Going into the background, Mr Sehgal asserted that the plight of Capt Vardeep Singh Bhinder “was highlighted in The Tribune in 1999. In response, the Punjab Government had announced release of Rs 25 lakh through Markfed. The stadium was constructed and two kanals of village common land was allotted to the society for the gate. The land was handed over to the society after due approval, but then the authorities restrained the society from taking up further construction work without assigning any reason”.


Mai Roop Kaur — a profile
PPSC to rebuild confidence in selection process

P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 6
The prefix ''Mai'' intrigued the select gathering at Raj Bhavan on Friday when the Governor administered the oath to Roop Kaur as a member of the Punjab Public Service Commission. Polite enquiries did not reveal much, except that just as ''Bhai'' is a prefix in the case of men, ''Mai'' in the case of women who belong to a particular Bagrian family whose ancestors are traced to Raja Bhagtu in Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. Bagrian is a village 15 km from Nabha in Patiala.

The Bagrian family has been blessed by Guru Hargobind, the sixth Sikh Guru, and its ancestors had served the subsequent Gurus in various capacities. Bagrians were specially asked to preach in the Malwa region and do social service. An ancestor even performed the marriage ceremony of Guru Gobind Singh. And the head of the family would perform all major functions, including crowning, for the rulers of the erstwhile Phulkian states.

Mai Roop Kaur is married into this particular Bagrian family, hence the prefix ''Mai''. Her husband, Bhai Jujhar Singh, is a descendent of Raja Bhagtu. The Bagrians have in their possession a large collection of articles of faith bestowed on the family by the Gurus.

In the drawing room, among other artifacts, are displayed paintings of the ancestors of the Bagrian family, a copy of the six-volume History of the Sikhs written by Maculif, carved furniture, mace and spears, hand-held large fans, etc.

Mai Roop Kaur had her initial schooling at Ferozepore and graduated from the Government College for Women, Chandigarh, in 1981. She completed her studies after marriage and has two sons, one studying law at Gurgaon and the other is in a convent school at Shimla.

Primarily a housewife, she had absorbed herself in social work in and around Bagrian. Who initiated her into politics? Reacting quickly, she said, ''Not politics but social work.'' All that she has imbibed in her political and social life is from the women in the family. Basically, the family believed in the ''purdah'' system. Once she stepped out in 1995 to contest the elections for the Zila Parishad, Sangrur, ''it dawned as much on me as the family how much respect the people had for us. I won that election. Even the Akalis had supported me. Since then there has been no looking back for me.''

From the membership of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee and its various subcommittees, she has travelled a long way to become chairperson of the Punjab Backward Classes and Land Development and Finance Corporation (Backfinco). The last appointment was eight months ago. Even in this short span, she ensured Backfinco recovered dues worth Rs 1.5 crore.

On her appointment as member of the PPSC, Mai Roop Kaur said, ''This came as a surprise. I swear. Our family tradition is rooted in honesty, humility and compassion. Irrespective of the political background of the members, we have to work cohesively as one unit since great responsibility rests on us. Transparent working will rebuild confidence in the selection process of the commission.'' She, however, could not comment on the news in today's The Tribune, ''Tainted'' officers get PCS posts'', as she had not yet read the paper.

Punjab's socio-economic situation worries her and so does the future of school dropouts and unskilled youths who hanker after small jobs. But she regrets that rural youths were shy of working on the farms or opting for self-employment.

Mai Roop Kaur said that girls in Malwa were very keen on pursuing higher studies but, for want of opportunities and colleges, their parents were reluctant to send them to distant places. Her family now proposed to set up a girls' college at Bagrian. Girls could also be encouraged to take up vocations while remaining at home and still earn. And there were government schemes for the youth willing to be self-employed in the absence of remunerative jobs.


Holy revellers violate traffic rules
Tribune Reporters

Jalandhar, March 6
While young Holi revellers violated traffic rules in all parts of the city with impunity, residents here celebrated Holi with traditional fervour in their homes and at public places in the city.

It was a free for all as Holi revellers on two-wheelers or in cars, created a nuisance by throwing colour at unsuspecting people, most of them girls. Such scenes were witnessed in all markets and in front of various colleges.

Except for the Model Town market circuit, where the violation of traffic rules was most visible, the BMC chowk and New Jawahar Nagar, there was almost no police presence at other important and congested points of the city.

KAPURTHALA: The festival of colours, Holi, was celebrated here with enthusiasm today.

The youth, riding scooters, motor cycles and jeeps were seen, throwing colour on passers-by.

Congregations were held at religious places and community langars were also organised in the town.

HOSHIARPUR: Holi was celebrated with great enthusiasm here today. Young boys and girls were roaming about in groups on foot, on scooters and motor cycles and on jeeps and threw ‘gulal’ on one another and passers-by. Some of them were beating drums and ‘dhols’ and were dancing at crossings. No untoward incident was reported during the celebrations.

Meanwhile, thousands of pilgrims on tractor-trailers, scooters, motor cycles, cars and buses passed through the city on their way to Dera Gur Bar Bhag Singh, Miari (HP), to participate in the annual fair of Hola Mohalla.

BATALA: Holi was celebrated here today with enthusiasm and gaiety. Hindus and Sikhs celebrated it with gay abandon. Revellers threw red, yellow and green colours on one another and passers-by. Even girl students of the local college celebrated Holi, though with restraint.


Yash Chopra winds up shooting
Rashmi Talwar

Attari (Amritsar, March 6
The film unit of Yash Chopra today wound up the shooting schedule at the Attari railway station, a day ahead of the schedule. According to information, a communication in this regard has been forwarded to the in charge of the railway station in this regard.

The hit pair of Shahrukh Khan and Priety Zinta would also check out tomorrow from MK Hotel, cutting short their visit to the city. Mr Sanjay Galhotra, owner, MK hotel group, said the stars were booked till March 11 but having finished their schedule earlier they would leave by tomorrow. The rest of the shooting would be completed in June.

Today’s shooting saw the star pair suffering the pangs of separation in the backdrop of the song “Do char din key yeh silsiley, phir tu kahan mein kahan”.

The story is about a Pakistani girl (Priety) who comes in India to immerse the ashes of her forefathers. She meets with an accident and is rescued by Shahrukh Khan who then takes her on a whirlwind tour of Punjab. She has to eventually return with her fiancee, Manoj Bajpai, to Pakistan.

The cine stars will dine tonight at the dinner hosted by the IG Border, Mr J.P. Virdi, at the GO mess.

The immigration counter at Attari was not opened to allow the shooting of a scene in which Priety was to undergo immigration clearance for her trip to Pakistan. Sources in the immigration said the film unit had not sought permission from the headquarters in Delhi and they were not allowed to open the counters on days other than those in which the Samjhauta Express arrives here.

Interestingly, Mr Yash Chopra has been given Prime Minister’s suite in the hotel while Preity was putting up at the suite allotted to Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani. Shahrukh occupied the one used by Jana Krishnamurthy, former BJP national president.

While Shahrukh chose to have diet chicken and fresh fruit juices in his meals, Priety gleefully ate “phirni” “jalabees”, mutton curry and Amritsari fish.


Gurdwara poll panel to meet parties
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 6
The Chief Commissioner of Gurdwara Elections has called a meeting of various political parties to discuss the issue of elections of the SGPC on March 16. The Union Government had announced May 21 as the tentative date to hold the general election of the SGPC. The commission has made all preparations to hold the elections.

But as the Lok Sabha elections have almost coincided with the SGPC poll in the region, the commissioner wants to know the opinion of the political parties in this connection. The SGPC elections may be postponed by two months to provide enough time to the political parties to prepare for these elections.


Mann to seek transfer of judge
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 6
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President, SAD (Amritsar), along with his party workers will stage a dharna in front of the district courts complex here on March 16 to press the authorities concerned to transfer Mr Justice Nirmal Singh, Judge, Punjab and Haryana High Court, whose wife Mrs Paramjit Kaur is the SAD nominee from the Bathinda seat for the Lok Sabha elections, to some other high court.

Mr Toga Singh, Vice-President, SAD (A), in a press note issued here today, Mr Mann would also meet the Chief Election Commissioner of India soon to get Mr Justice Nirmal Singh transferred to some other high court.

He added that the party had been feeling that if Mr Justice Nirmal Singh remained posted in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the poll process would not be free and fair, as Mr Justice Nirmal Singh’s wife was contesting the elections.


Health Dept team serves notices on eateries
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 6
A team of the Health Department, headed by District Health Officer, Dr DS Gill, today inspected Metro Food Super Market on Palahi road, Hot Stuff Restaurant, opposite the Bus stand on GT Road and rehris in the eating joint of the local Hargobind Nagar.

It was learnt that the team was not satisfied with the cleanliness in certain eateries and served notices under the Food Adulteration Act warning them of issuing challans and taking samples in case they did not maintain standards of cleanliness. The team also issued a warning that continuous checking would be done at various food joints, restaurants and on rehris and strict action would be taken against those   found wanting in maintaining cleanliness.

The checking was done on a direction of the Civil Surgeon in the wake of reports that five members of a family had fallen sick here a few days ago after consuming a fast food item at a local restaurant.

A junior employee in the local Metro Food Super Market admitted that a notice had been served on them but denied that the standard of cleanliness was not up to the mark.


Sardool clarifies on liquor vends’ auction

Jalandhar, March 6
Reacting over the allegations levelled by the opposition parties that the Congress has taken Rs 20 crore from liquor baron Ponty Chadha in lieu of awarding him liquor vends in the state, Mr Sardool Singh, Minister for Excise and Taxation, today refuted the allegations and said that not even a single penny was taken from him.

“The fact is that the liquor auctions were conducted in a transparent manner by adopting all norms”, the minister told mediapersons here today.

Justifying clubbing the three districts of Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar and Nawanshahr for the auction, he said it was done to generate more revenue for the state. Total revenue of over Rs 1,470 crore was expected through the auction in the state, he added. — PTI


Lottery sellers block traffic
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, March 6
Irked over the alleged “high-handedness” of the Sujanpur police, lottery sellers today blocked the traffic on the Pathankot-Jammu national highway near bridge number five.

A spokesman for the lottery-sellers, Mr Mohinder Singh Walia, alleged that the police today raided their stalls and took away their lotteries and some cash.


PUDA move irks residents
Our Correspondent

Barnala, March 6
The Anti-Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority( PUDA) Action Committee will block vehicular traffic on March 13 following the committee’s decision to revive its stir protest against a proposed PUDA move to develop an urban estate on 270.24 acres land of Courts Chowk- ITI Chowk (Barnala-Sangrur Bypass Road) here.

The committee activists and upset residents of the colonies staged a protest march-cum-demonstration here yesterday against the PUDA move.

The residents were upset over local administration’s decision not to allow registered sale deeds of plots.


Indo-Pak women theatre show at Lahore

Amritsar, March 6
The Indo-Pak women theatre group will organise the first ever theatre fiesta at Lahore to coincide with the International Women’s Day on March 8.

A group of around 100 women theatre personalities and technicians will leave for Lahore tomorrow morning at the invitation of a Lahore woman director Ms Madeeha Gohar and her Ajoka theatre group. OC


Two women killed in mishap
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 6
Two women, including a clerk in a school at Bhindra village, were today killed in a road accident on Sangrur Patiala road near Ghabdan village about 10 km from here.

Mr Gurinder Singh Dhillon, SSP, Sangrur, said both deceased, Navneet Kaur, a clerk in a Bhindra school, and Shashi, a friend of Navneet were going to Bhindra village on a two-wheeler when their vehicle and a Canter collided. He said both women died on the spot. The driver of the Canter fled from the scene. The police had impounded the Canter.


Three killed, 2 hurt in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, March 6
Three persons were killed and two injured in a head-on collision between a scooter and a motor cycle at Chhabal last evening. The Chhabal police has registered a complaint under Section 174 Cr PC. The deceased have been identified as Sukhdev Singh (38) of Basarke Bhaini village, and Sahib Singh (25) and Fateh Singh (24), both residents of Chhabal Kalan village, who were riding the scooter.

Police sources said Sukhdev Singh, along with his wife Balwinder Kaur (36) and sister-in-law Sawinder Kaur (30) was going from Tarn Taran to Chhabal on his motor cycle. Near the township of Chhabal they collided with a scooter. Sukhdev Singh, who seriously injured died on way to the hospital, while Sahib Singh and Fateh Singh succumbed to their injuries at Beer Baba Budha Hospital.


Couple hurt as truck hits car
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 6
Ms Kulwant Devi, Block Education Officer (Primary), and her husband, Mr Jagir Chand, were injured yesterday in an accident. Sources said the car by which they were travelling was hit by a truck near Qabarwala village on the National Highway 10 between Abohar and Malout.

The truck speeded away without leaving any clue, the sources said. The injured couple was referred to Amritsar after receiving first aid.


Local Self Dept to adjust surplus staff
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 6
It is matter of concern that all municipal councils and corporations except for the Mandi Gobindgarh Municipal Corporation in the state are spending more than 50 per cent of their budget on salary and wages and the rest on other expenses and minimum amount is left for the development of projects, whereas only 35 per cent of the budget as per norms laid down is allowed to be spent on salary and wages and minimum 58 per cent on the development, said Mr R.L. Kalsia, Director-cum-Secretary Local Self Government, while talking to Chandigarh Tribune after presiding over the Development Review meeting of EO’s and Deputy Director held at the Deputy Commissioner office here today.

He said the Local Self Department had initiated action in this regard and had directed all the executive officers, deputy directors and commissioners of the corporations to restructure and rationalise the staffing pattern, so that the surplus staff could be adjusted wherever it was required in the urban bodies. He said the Punjab Government was committed for the urban development and all basic civic amenities would be ensured by the civic bodies

He said in 1998 the government had introduced transit passes scheme and the total income was expected to Rs 6 crore annually but during the recent review meeting a big gap between the required deposit and the receipt of the income was noticed. He said sensing some evasion in collection, the department started looking into the possible leakages and consequently it came to the notice of the government that certain private octroi contractors in connivance with the staff of civic bodies were issuing bogus transit passes and pocketing the money. He said the Vigilance Department of the Local Self Government had detected such a fraudulent case of bogus transit passes at the Sirhind Municipal Council and the case had been registered with the police and the EO and two octroi inspectors had been suspended. He said more such cases were likely to be detected. He said all commissioners of municipal corporations, EO’s and deputy directors had been directed to unearth such fraudulent cases in the state and to take further remedial measures.

He said as the collection of octroi work had been given to private contractors in the state, they did not took interest in collecting transit passes as they get only a little share from collection but they prefer “rah dari” as the entire amount goes to them. He said the government was going to impose check and balances on the private contractors, so that they might not harass the traders and cheat the government.

Addressing the meeting Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner brought to the notice of the director that 1,193 acres of municipal land had been illegally encroached upon by the influential people and if this land was made available for open auction amount worth Rs 150 crore could be collected and that amount could be spent on the development of Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib. He also brought to the notice that similarly 40 acres of prime land worth crores of rupees in Mandi Gobindgarh had been encroached upon by influential persons since 1986 and the council had not taken any step to get it vacated. He also highlighted how the councillors reinstated the court clerk of the Sirhind Municipal Council, who was suspended by him for conniving with encroachers.

Director assured the Deputy Commissioner that such resolution would not be passed by the Deputy Director and the department would take immediate steps to recover the encroached lands.


Water supply tenders cancelled
Our Correspondent

Amritsar March 6
Tenders worth crores dealing with the operation and maintenance (O&M) cell of the Municipal Corporation have been cancelled by the Commissioner, MC Mr KS Kang, on allegations that a councillor, who was also chairman of the department of Water Supply and Sewerage Works of the corporation, had signed and issued the tenders.

As many as 133 tenders worth about Rs 5 crore were given out to near and dear ones of the councillor in the water and sewerage department. The Mayor, Mr Sunil Datti, said that the councillor in question was Mr Rajinder Bhalla.

The commissioner in a written statement to the Director Local Bodies, on Thursday had stated that the said councillor had violated the rules. Mr SS Sharma, a social activist, had brought the matter to the notice of Commissioner.

He had demanded an inquiry into the fact that the councillor had allotted tenders to his kin even as a number of advertisements worth lakhs of rupees had been inserted in the regional and national dailies inviting applications for tenders, this causing sizeable loss to the corporation, the commissioner could not be contacted for his comments.


Man booked for forging warrants against VIPs
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 6
A case has been registered against Boota Singh of Bhagsar village in the border tehsil of Anoopgarh under Sections 465, 466, 467, 468 of the IPC for allegedly forging warrants of attachment of immovable property against a dozen persons, including the Presidents of India and Pakistan.

Official sources said Mr Ram Avtar Raghuvanshi, District Magistrate of Sriganganagar, 40 km from here, taking suo motu notice of a report published by a regional vernacular, had directed the SDM, Mr H.S. Goyal, to investigate into the matter.

It was found in the preliminary investigations that Mr Boota Singh had shown the warrants, copies of which had no official seal of the Tehsildar of Anoopgarh. The Tehsildar had already been transferred. Officials, however, conceded that there had been a practice of providing pre-signed blank documents to revenue patwaris by Tehsildars and Naib Tehsildars.

The patwaris, armed with such warrants, had the discretion of using these if the defaulters failed to make the payment. It appears that Mr Boota Singh may have managed to collect such pre-signed warrants and filled the names of VVIPs.

Officials, who tried to contact Boota Singh at his house in Bhagsar village, were told by his mother that he had left for an unknown destination. Later the officiating Tehsildar, Mr Sahab Ram, lodged an FIR against him under various sections of the Indian Penal Code. Sources also claimed that there was no entry of the aforementioned warrants in the dispatch register of the tehsil office at Anoopgarh.

Boota Singh, son of Mr Labh Singh, a former Sarpanch of Bhagsar village, had sent a complaint to the Chief Justice of the Rajasthan High Court requesting that it be treated as a public interest litigation (PIL). He had enclosed 13 warrants of attachment of property claiming that these were issued by a Naib Tehsildar and a Tehsildar allegedly against a gratification of Rs 500 each.

He claimed that Revenue Officials had ordered that the property of 11 persons, including the Presidents of India and Pakistan, be attached as they had failed to comply with the previous orders of the revenue courts.

The photocopies of the orders implicated President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, President APJ Abdul Kalam and Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat also. Their immovable property is to be attached for realising payments of Rs 19, Rs 50 and Rs 15 lakh, respectively. Other VIPs who had reportedly been declared defaulters included Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prime Minister (20 lakh), Mr Ram Niwas Mirdha, former Union Home Minister (2.5 lakh), Ms Sonia Gandhi, President, AICC (18 lakh), Mr Ashok Gehlot, former Chief Minister (10 lakh) Ms Maneka Gandhi (4 lakh), Ms Kiran Soni Gupta, former District Collector of Sriganganagar and half a dozen former ministers in the Rajasthan Cabinet.

Mr Boota Singh was quoted as alleging that corruption was rampant from the top to the grassroots level notwithstanding the slogan of “feel good” and corruption-free governance. The ‘disclosures’ had created a storm in government offices in Sriganganagar.


One held on abduction charge
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 6
The district police today arrested Sandeep Kumar, who had allegedly abducted a minor girl of the city on February 23. The police claimed that the girl was recovered from his possession.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, in a press note issued here this evening said Sandeep Kumar had run away with Priyanka, a resident of Namdev Nagar of the city. He said the father of the girl, Mr Sohan Lal Aggrawal, had lodged a complaint with the police that Sandeep had abducted his daughter. He said that an FIR under various sections of the IPC had been registered.

Mr Dev said during investigations it came to light that the family of Priyanka had been living near the house of Sandeep in Jogi Nagar area of the city. He further said Sandeep had admitted that they liked each other and the girl’s parents came to know this. The family of the girl changed their residence but the boy and the girl continued to meet each other.

The two came back after they exhausted Rs 5,000 they had with them.


Body of youth found, 3 held
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, March 6
The body of a youngman was found lying on a bench at the local bus stand last evening. It was identified by the police as that of Charanjit Singh of Dhilwan village of the district.

The police took into custody three companions of the deceased who were allegedly seen roaming about with the deceased at the bus stand. A case has been registered.


Plaint against Principal admitted
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 6
Taking a prima facie notice, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has admitted a complaint against Dr B.S. Bedi, Principal Government Medical College here, in the case of admissions of students to the MBBS course who were lower in merit.

The commission has sent a copy of the complaint to the Secretary, Medical Education and Research, and asked him to submit his report with in eight weeks.

These students were among the six students whose admissions were held as “illegal and fraudulent” by the Secretary, Medical Education and Research, Mr Satish Chandra who had conducted an inquiry and had ordered cancellation of the admission on January 14. However, later on the Chief Minister had stayed the termination and admission of six MBBS students and had ordered a fresh inquiry by Mr D.S. Guru, Secretary of the Health and Family Welfare.

When contacted, Dr Bedi said he had requested the DMC authorities to withhold the admissions of the candidates in a faxed message next morning.

The complainant, Mr Ravinder Kumar Sultan-wind, President, All-India Youth Association, had alleged that the Dr P.S. Bedi, admitted the students although they were lower in merit. The PSHRC felt that it seems to be a good prima facie case for taking cognisance under the protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. The next date of hearing the case in commission is May 19.

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