P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SAD, BJP decried for opportunistic politics
Our Correspondent

Hariana, March 14
The Dal Khalsa today appealed to Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra to withdraw their candidate from the Bathinda Lok Sabha seat in favour of Mr Sarbjit Singh Maloya for the sake of Khalsa Panth. It also requested Mr Simranjit Singh Mann to project Sarbjit Singh as Panthic candidate.

This demand was made by a resolution adopted at a convention held here to mark the 221st anniversary of the day when Baba Bhagel Singh unfurled Nishan Sahib at the Red Fort, Delhi.

Dr Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon, said Sikhs were in majority in this region and they should consolidate their energy to capture power and rule according to Sikh trends.

Writer poet Prof Harinder Singh Mehboob and Youth Akali Dal leader Karnail Singh Panjoli also addressed the gathering.

In another resolution the Dal Khalsa criticised the BJP and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) for their opportunistic politics. Leaders of the radical group termed the Bharat Uday Yatra of Mr L.K. Advani a fascist move to terrorise minorities. They also resolved to safeguard Sikh institutions and values.

Attacking Mr Badal and his coterie for corrupting the Sikh polity, working president of the Dal Khalsa, Harcharanjit Singh Dhami said the SAD under Mr Badal had failed to take the community forward. He called upon the Sikhs to jointly field a Panthic candidate from Amritsar as the city had special meaning for the Sikhs. He said that time had come for Sikhs to opt for young alternative leadership that could unite Sikhs on ideological lines.

Pointing a finger at certain high ranking police officials and politicians shielding Poohla in lieu of the extra-judicial killings he indulged in on their instructions at the time of militancy, Dal Khalsa leader said that the sudden arrest and subsequent bail of Poohla has exposed that Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, too lacked will to keep him behind the bars and added that it seemed that the Chief Minister was also captive of so-called powerful lobby of the Punjab Police calling the shots since past two decades.

Kanwar Pal Singh, General Secretary of the Dal Khalsa, said that Mr Advani’s Rath Yatra was meant to consolidate Hindu vote-bank and to exploit Hindu sentiments against minorities.


Tohra releases Nanakshahi calendar, diary
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, March 14
Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president of the SGPC, released the Nanakshahi calendar and diary for the year 2004-2005 today at Khadoor Sahib township, 22 km from here. The 500th birth anniversary celebrations of the second Sikh guru Angad Dev ji are being held at Khadoor Sahib.

Mr Tohra, while addressing mediapersons, said the Union Government had allowed a jatha (group) of 125 Sikh devotees to go to Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan to pay homage. Members of the jatha would join celebrations at Khadoor Sahib after coming back.

Mr Tohra said the SGPC would take all steps to ensure the development of Khadoor Sahib township and all announced projects, including the Minar-e-Sikhi (tower), would be completed.

Talking about the activities of rebel SAD candidates Mr Tohra said they would not have any effect on the poll prospects of SAD candidates in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta special secretary, SGPC, Mr Dilmegh Singh, Mr Harbir Singh Bhanwar were also present on the occasion. Baba Sewa Singh, head of the Kar Sewa Sect, Khadoor Sahib thanked Mr Tohra and others for their co-operation for the development of the township.


Guru Angad Dev’s birthplace to get facelift
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 14
Mr Mohinder Singh Romana, president of the management committee of Takht Patna Sahib, and one of the senior members of the SGPC, has urged the Punjab Government to accord a special status to Serai Naga village in Muktsar district and ensure its overall development. The village is the birthplace of the second Sikh guru, Guru Angad Dev, whose 500th birth celebrations will begin in the state from April 18.

Mr Romana said that Harike Kalan village of the maternal grandparents of the second guru was also located about 8 km from Serai Naga. He said the SGPC had also prepared a blue-print to give a new look to Serai Naga by investing huge funds. Initially, the construction of a gate bearing inscriptions of the holy vani had already been started. It is estimated to cost over Rs 25 lakh and efforts were on to complete the project as early as possible.

He was the only Guru who was born in the Malwa region, Mr Romana said. The second Sikh guru introduced the Punjabi script. He was earlier known as Bhai Lehna and became the second Sikh Guru after rendering devoted services to Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

Keeping in view the tireless and rare services rendered by Guru Angad Dev to the Punjabi community, a sports academy for promoting wrestling, boxing, judo and karate should be set up at the historic village, Mr Romana said, adding that a large number of youths were becoming drug addicts in the Malwa region.


Barnala offers to upgrade IT education
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 14
The Governor of Andhra Pradesh, Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, today offered to share the latest computer technology and infrastructure from his state to upgrade the IT education in Punjab.

Delivering the valedictory address on the concluding day of a two-day national conference on “IT: pathway for transformation of society,” organised by the local DAV College here, he said Andhra Pradesh was role model for advancement in IT and it could help institutions of higher learning, including the DAV institutions, in building up infrastructure.

Mr Barnala said he could help Punjab in signing up MoUs with the top institutions of Andhra Pradesh.

The Governor said Andhra Pradesh had emerged as a leading state in the area of IT and governance was being carried out entirely through e-governance. The Chief Minister, Mr Chandrababu Naidu, was monitoring all development works and issuing directions from his office making effective use of IT.

Mr Barnala said society today must produce motivated computer professionals to meet the global challenge in diverse areas. The explosion of knowledge and the IT revolution had transformed the lifestyles of the people. Referring to IT education he said India would have to resolve the dilemma of commercialisation borrowed from the West and the domestic tradition steeped in spirituality.

Earlier, in resolutions passed at the conference it was recommended that the Internet education should encompass both the school and the college education.

The consensus at the conference was that the government must take steps to bridge the divide between the rural and the urban setups. It was felt that more than 70 per cent of the rural areas had been deprived of the benefits of the IT revolution. Liberal funds should be allocated through the Central and the State governments besides the UGC to formulate policies to give grants to institutions of higher learning IT courses.

The conference recommended the setting up of a national council of IT education for the globalisation of higher studies, especially in the field of IT.

It suggested that Indian universities should recognise the degrees offered by the top IT institutions as was done in foreign countries. The conference also felt the need for designing new courses and curricula in view of the major advancements in the field of IT.

Mr M.L. Aeri, Principal of DAV College, also spoke.


NRIs to upgrade medical, dental colleges in Amritsar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 14
Spearheading the movement to upgrade Government Medical College and Dental College, here, NRI Alumni of these colleges in the UK and the USA have decided to provide state of the art infrastructure and technology in a joint funding programme to both institutes.

Expressing distress at the poor state of educational facilities, outdated equipment, a non-existent library and computerisation facilities in the two institutes that had produced some of best doctors in the world, Dr Satwant Singh, Professor, Medicine, University Cincinnati, USA, and his wife, Dr Kuldip K. Singh, a US based psychiatrist, representing the Amritsar Medical Dental Alumini Association North America, and the ADA (UK) have drawn up an ambitious plan based on a five-day survey.

Talking to The Tribune here, Dr Satwant Singh said the survey pointed towards a distressing state of affairs in the institutes, including disorganised use of funds.

The survey found that medical equipment in college, which was last replaced in 1994, was mostly outdated, broken or non-existent. Its maintenance was poor and library books and journals had not been upgraded since 1991. In addition to this, it found computer facilities expensive and under-utilised and some of the managing staff less knowledgeable than required. The survey found hostels in a deplorable, subhuman and unsafe condition, compared its money paid by students. Common rooms and receptions did not a single chair, broken and a balcony and widow panes and crumbling walls added to the poor condition of the hostels.

Dr P.S. Bedi, Principal, Medical College, said 90 per cent of the hostelers drink alcohol in hostel, while addressing medical and dental faculty, including noted doctors from different specialities today.

The NRIs, however, demanded strict checks and balances, total transparency in usage of funds, an executive committee with representations from the faculty, students and non-faculty members for a limited period. They told students to move in a positive direction.

In the initial phase, the NRIs promised to renovate five lecture theatres and computer networking, including advanced communication faculties.


Two of family charred to death
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 14
Two members of a family were charred to death and five others suffered serious burn injuries when their hut situated in Beant Nagar near Phase-III of Urban Estate caught fire late last night.

Civil hospital sources said the condition of three family members were critical while the other two had been responding to the treatment.

Those who have been charred to death in the fire were identified as Meena and her four year old son, Laloo Ram, Dalip Ram, husband of Meena, their daughter Pooja and son Sushil Kumar (12) are battling for life. Their another son Raj Kumar (3) and daughter Rekha (14) have been responding to treatment at the local civil hospital.

Sources said Dalip Ram and his family members were sleeping in their hut built at 25 square yards plot allotted to him by the Punjab Urban Development Authorities (PUDA) in Beant Nagar. The hut was made of “sarkanda” (dry elephant grass) which caught fire when an earthen lamp fell on it.

By the time family members woke up, the roof of the hut which was in flames, fell on them. Two members of the family, who were sleeping on the door of the hut managed to come out. Dalip Ram upon whom the roof had fallen also managed to come out.

He brought two members of his family out one by one.

Three more members of the family, were rescued by the people residing in the nearby huts.

Civil hospital sources said while Laloo Ram was brought dead in the hospital, his mother, Meena, succumbed to her injuries minutes after she was admitted to the hospital.

Mr S.K. Singla, SDM, who is monitoring the treatment of the injured said Deputy Commissioner, K.A.P. Sinha would construct a house for Dalip Ram if it was proved that he owned the 25 square yards plot on which his hut was located.


Deathknell for PSIEC housing scheme
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 14
In what could be the end of the industrial housing schemes of the Punjab government, the Punjab Small Scale Industries and Exports Corporation (PSIEC) has been asked not to allot any part of its estate in Mohali, for housing purposes. Recommendations to this effect were made by the high-powered Allotment Committee chaired by the Chief Secretary, Punjab, that met on February 5, 2004. The minutes of the meeting were recently circulated to the members.

The first scheme to be affected by the decision is the one advertised by the PSIEC on December 20, 2003 for 280 freehold residential plots in Phase VIII A Industrial Area, here. When the scheme closed on January 7, 2004, over 3500 applications across Punjab had been received by the PSIEC in response to the advertisement. These applicants are still waiting for the draw of lots for allotment of the promised plots. The PSIEC has reportedly collected Rs 40 crore as earnest money from these applicants.

Sources in PSIEC informed that even though the recommendation of the Allotment Committee had sounded the deathknell of the PSIEC’s Industrial Housing Scheme, there was a possibility of getting this scheme through since it had been announced three months ago. The initial problem in the form of the demand of the same piece of land by Ponty Chadha’s company for an industrial park, too, had been cleared by the same committee by deciding not to give him the land, the sources added.

The committee has recommended that in view of the limited availability of land with the PSIEC, the land should be utilised for setting up industrial units or industrial parks which can generate more revenue and employment for the state instead of housing activity which neither generates employment nor revenue for the state exchequer.

The members further suggested that the financial needs of the PSIEC could be met by allotting land for such projects since the allotment price for land to industrial parks and multiplexes is more than that for houses.


Liquor auctions cheer none
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 14
The controversy over the recent auction of liquor shops in Punjab refuses to die. Some liquor traders have even gone to the High Court.

The focus of the ‘’instant auctions’’ this year has been more on liquor baron Ponty Chadha than on the state revenue or consumer interests. This controversial man from UP has been in Punjab since the time of late Beant Singh, who had sold the Dasuya sugar mill to Ponty Chadha. Later, Ponty Chadha was effectively used in liquor shop auctions by Mr Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, who wanted to settle scores with Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal.

The present Congress Government has once again reportedly exploited Ponty Chadha for maximum political benefits with the Lok Sabha elections round the corner.

Excise department officials, requesting anonymity, said Ponty Chadha, who had share in every peg only in Ludhiana, Amritsar and Jalandhar last year has now spread his liquor empire to Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala, Nawanshahar and Sangrur, doubling his business.

If the liquor shop auctions had fetched the state Rs 100 crore more in 2002-03 — when the excise auction money was up from Rs 1,100 crore to Rs 1,200 crore, the increase was only Rs 20 crore in 2003-04 when the auction money went up to Rs 1,220 crore. This year, the auctions have fetched an increase of Rs 21 crore against an expected increase of Rs 60 crore if the reserve price had been 5 per cent higher than last year.

This did not happen because the auctions, said the officials, were neither transparent nor professionally conducted. Practically, there were no auctions, except for in Bhatinda, which saw an increase of around 6 per cent.

Different allegations have been made with Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal raising a bogey of loss of Rs 350 crore and the Garcha brothers, who have been ousted from liquor business, crying foul for loss of Rs 100 crore. Sources in the department said with a substantial increase in 2002-03, liquor barons had incurred heavy losses that year, resulting in low auction money in 2003-04. Most of these traders, including Ponty Chadha, demanded that the business should have been auctioned at Rs 1,180 crore as against Rs 1,220 crore, it fetched last year.

With low auctions and price correction in 2003-04, major liquor groups made good profits. The department had estimated that the auction money should increase by a minimum of 5 per cent in the current year, than last year. And a minimum rise of Rs 60 crore was anticipated. However, this did not happen.

The ‘’unprofessional and non-transparent’’ manner in which the Excise Department conducted itself had left neither the licensees happy nor manufacturers nor consumers and not even the government treasury.


Face to face
Bathinda Lok Sabha Seat
Husband’s performance got me nomination
by Chander Parkash

Bathinda, March 14
Mrs Kushal Bhora, widow of CPI MP from the Bathinda (Reserve) parliamentary constituency Bhan Singh Bhora, claims her nomination for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections by the CPI leadership is due to the work done by her husband in rural and urban areas.

Born in Himachal Pradesh and married to late Bhan Singh Bhora in Punjab, Mrs Bhora has seen elections closely as she has worked in the assembly as well as parliamentary elections contested by her husband from the Dhuri, Bhadaur and Bathinda areas. He has also got enough knowledge in politics from her husband and learnt organisational skills while working in the Punjab Istri Sabha and the Bharatiya Khet Mazdoor Union.

Not new to residents of Bathinda and Mansa areas, which are part of the Bathinda Lok Sabha seat, Mrs Bhora has started her election campaign after she was officially nominated by the CPI. However, the Congress leadership is yet to announce it formally that Mrs Bhora is a Congress-CPI alliance candidate.

Mrs Bhora, who did her graduation after marriage and has been working with various social and women organisations of this area, says that her top priority will be to complete all the development works which remained uncompleted due to the death of her husband. Late Bhora had represented this constituency in the Lok Sabha twice. She adds that she would work hard to get the Punjab oil refinery project at Phulo Kheri village completed to generate enough employment for the youths of Punjab.

Mrs Bhora, who has also worked as lady health visitor in various hospitals, says, “The other priority will be to fight effectively against the corruption prevailing at all levels, to ensure justice to the people belonging to all sections of society in all the matters, to provide basic amenities to the people so that they can lead a dignified life and to intensify the spread of education in rural and urban areas”.

Pointing out that through she will be finding it difficult to arrange enough funds to contest the Lok Sabha elections, she claims that work done by her late husband during his two terms as MP will fetch her votes.


I want to keep father’s legacy alive

Bathinda, March 14
For Mrs Paramjit Kaur, the SAD-BJP alliance candidate from the Bathinda (Reserve) parliamentary constituency, politics and elections are not new as she along with other family members has done intensive campaigning for her father, late Dhana Singh Gulshan, who was elected MP twice from here as the Akali candidate and became the only MP from of Bathinda to become Union Education Minister.

Belonging to a well-to-do family, Mrs Paramjit Kaur has jumped into the election arena after quitting her teaching job. Born and brought up in this district, Mrs Paramjit Kaur, who has got her school and college education in the Rampura area, has done master's degrees in sociology and economics.

Teacher-turned-politician, Mrs Paramjit Kaur ways that she has volunteered to contest the Lok Sabha election as she wants to keep the political legacy of her father alive. "My father has done a lot for the development of rural and urban areas of Bathinda and Mansa districts and now I want to keep that going. I have joined politics as I always feel that I should work for the uplift of women through education in the backward areas of Bathinda and Mansa districts," she says.

Wife of Mr Nirmal Singh a judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mrs Paramjit Kaur, who has been covering about 12 villages daily for her election campaign, says that completion of the Punjab oil refinery project at Phulo Khari village will be among her top priorities. She will try to set up a government higher secondary school in each village in Bathinda parliamentary constituency.

"I have been holding corner meetings, village-level meetings and personal contact programme in the constituency to reach out the maximum number of people with my election agenda, which also include fight against female foeticide and improvement of economic conditions of farmers and traders. I am out of my house from 7 am to 11 pm daily," she adds.


SAD (Longowal) to support Tur, says Zira
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, March 14
Mr Tarlochan Singh Tur, rebel SAD candidate, will not get the support of the Akali Dal (Longowal) if he gets support from the Congress.

This was disclosed here today by Mr Inderjit Singh Zira, the man behind the revival of the SAD (Longowal). Mr Zira was in town in connection with a meet-the-Press programme to brief mediapersons about the revival of SAD (Longowal).

Mr Zira, former Minister of Health, Punjab, said Mr Tur had been ignored by the SAD leadership only to pave the way for Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is being projected as the next Chief Minister of the state.

Mr Zira, however, refused to divulge the name of the president of Akali Dal (Longowal) that will be revived at a meeting of workers to be held tomorrow at Zira. He said he was still a member of the SAD led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal and had served a notice to Mr Badal till March 15 to reconsider the names of SAD candidates to be fielded from Tarn Taran, Patiala, Ferozepore, Jalandhar and Ludhiana constituencies.

He said the new Akali Dal would have an electoral alliance with other like-minded parties, including the SAD (Amritsar), SAD (Ravi Inder), Lok Bhalai Party, BSP and others. The party will field candidates for the 13 seats in the state.


PM to address rallies at Amritsar, Patiala
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 14
To further intensify the SAD-BJP joint election campaign in the state, the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, will address two political rallies at Amritsar and Patiala during this month. In a press statement issued here today, the secretary of the SAD, Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, said the Prime Minister would address rallies at Patiala on March 18 and at Amritsar on March 26.


Panthic board manifesto released
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 14
The Panthic Parliamentary Board Secretary-General, Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, today released the party manifesto and announced its candidates for the Lok Sabha elections.

The manifesto calls for creating a third front, ouster of the Akali-BJP alliance, the Congress and its allies and revival of the Shiromani Akali Dal, distinct from the one headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Mr Mann said the board would support Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, in Sangrur, Mr Sarabjit Singh Khalsa in Bathinda, Mr Tarlochan Singh Tur in Tarn Taran.

The board announced the following candidates for the Lok Sabha elections: Capt Vikram Singh (Gurdaspur), Mr Daljit Singh Bittu (Amritsar), Inderjit Singh Zira or Mr Dhyan Singh Mand (Ferozepur), Kamal Chaudhary or Ms Rashpal Kaur Bains (Hoshiarpur), Mr Darshan Lal Deosanjh (Phillaur) and Mr Shamsher Singh Maloya (Ropar).


Shiv Sena (H) may contest three LS seats
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 14
The Shiv Sena (Hindustan) is planning to contest elections from three Lok Sabha seats of Ludhiana, Gurdaspur and Sangrur in Punjab as well as for some other seats in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and the Union Territory of Chandigarh as well.

This was announced by the national president of the party, Mr Pawan Gupta, while addressing a party meeting here today. Mr Pawan Sharma, general secretary, Mr Vijay Jalandhari, Senior Vice-President, and presidents and office-bearers of 13 districts in the state, attended the meeting.

He said the candidates for Lok Sabha seats in Punjab and elsewhere would be announced in next few days.


AICC web portal launched
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 14
The All-India Congress Committee (AICC) has launched a web portal, www.aiccwarroom.com, to inter-connect 600 offices of district Congress committees across the country to reach the electorate directly during the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Talking to mediapersons here today, the vice-president of the district unit of the Punjab Congress, Mr Sanjay Sehgal, revealed that the portal would act as a catalyst to intensify the poll campaign as it would provide complete history of the Congress and information about the party to voters throughout the country.

Mr Sehgal said the next step in high-tech electioneering was to send SMS regarding the Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s appeals to the voters on their cellphones for which a formal tie-up was being worked out with the authorities concerned.


Amarinder govt failed to keep promises
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 14
The executive committee of the Punjab BJP at a meeting in Datarpur village (Hoshiarpur) yesterday charged the Amarinder Government with not fulfilling its promises made during the February, 2002, Assembly elections.

The political resolution released to the media today lists the failures of the Congress government and its hollow anti-corruption campaign which targeted only the Akalis.

It also mentioned about the recent selection of DSPs under the sports quota and re-induction of PCS officers.


Bairagis may withdraw support to Cong
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 14
The Punjab Bairagi Mahamandal today hinted at withdrawing support to the Congress and fielding its candidates against Congress nominees in the Lok Sabha elections, claiming that the Bairagi community had got a raw deal from the party leadership over the years.

A state-level meeting of the body was held at Community Centre in Aggar Nagar here under the presidentship of Dr Rajinder Pal Singh Bairagi, chairman, political affairs committee of the body. It was attended, among others, by Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa, president, All-India Bairagi Mahamandal and a former chief of the District Congress Committee (Urban).

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Bawa claimed that successive Congress governments in Punjab and at the Centre had not recognised the support given by the Bairagi community.


Girl spurns dowry-seeker
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, March 14
Defying all social stigmas and other pressures, Neha (name changed), a girl of Nodholi Village of the subdivision, has refused to marry a boy of Kathua (Jammu and Kashmir) in protest against his hunger for dowry.

Neha, who was engaged to Uttam Chand about two years ago and was dreaming about her future with her husband, was disappointed when the family members of Uttam Chand started demanding dowry despite the fact that her family planned to spend a handsome amount on her marriage.

Neha’s family had already spent more than Rs 40,000 on her engagement ceremony.

Neha said she knew it was difficult to live in a male-dominated society after taking such an extreme step, but she preferred to uphold her dignity rather than marrying a greedy man.

She said after her engagement, the family members of the boy had been postponing the marriage on one pretext or the other and they and the boy were pressuring her family that the dowry articles, particularly a car, should be given to them prior to the marriage.

“When all this happened, I thought it would be difficult for me to spend my whole life with a boy to whom money meant everything,” said Neha.

Last evening, with the intervention of the police, Rs 20,000 spent by Neha’s family and gold ornaments given to the boy’s family at the time of the engagement were returned to the family members of the girl.


Improvement Trust Chairman resigns
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 14
The anti-corruption movement launched by Capt Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in the state suffered a major jolt today when Mr Ashok Garcha, Chairman, Improvement Trust, here announced his resignation over the continuing corruption in the system.

Mr Garcha, in his resignation letter sent to the state government this evening, announced that he would file his papers on June 23 on the completion of one year of his two-year term due to the widespread organised corruption in the system.

The immediate provocation for his step is stated to be the controversy over the Rs 200 crore City Centre Project, in which Mr Garcha had claimed that he had scrapped the project after some person from Chandigarh had asked him on the phone to give Rs 100 crore as party fund to the All-India Congress Committee.

This revelation was made by Mr Garcha in reply to queries by members of the Improvement Trust, a copy of which was sent to the state government and mediapersons yesterday. Mr Garcha, interestingly, had said that he did not know the identity of the caller and Mr H.S. Hanspal, President, Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee (PPCC), had denied that there was any such demand by the Congress.

Some news reports today published the demand of Rs 100 crore, terming it as the City Project Scam. This eventually led to further tension between Mr Garcha and Trustees as well as the state government. Sources said the media reports had not gone well with Congress leaders in the state as well as the Centre for bringing a bad name to the party at the crucial time of Lok Sabha elections.


MLA accuses DTO of corruption
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, March 14
Controversy between local MLA Parkash Singh and District Transport Officer Manmohan Luthra seems to have acquired political colour. The DTO, in a complaint to the SSP has accused the MLA, and president, Municipal Council, Lalit Mohan Pathak (Ballu) of threatening to kill him. The DTO even sent messages to a number of persons in the city including political leaders of Opposition parties.

Mr Harprabh Mahil Singh, general secretary, All-India Youth Akali Dal, Mr Mohinder Singh Hussainpur, SGPC member, Mr Makhan Singh Grewal and Ms Jinderjit Kaur, SAD Councillors, at a press meeting here on Saturday accused the MLA and Mr Lalit Mohan Pathak (Ballu), of interfering in work of officials. Public representatives should not behave like this, said the SAD leaders adding that not even bureaucracy was ‘fed up’ with the functioning of the Congress government. They demanded action against the MLA and the council president and threatened a stir if the administration failed to do it in 15 days.

On the other-hand Congress leaders including MLA, Parkash Singh, Mr Kuldip Rana, district Congress president, Mr Lalit Mohan Pathak, Council president, have started raising the issue of ‘corruption’ allegedly being done by the DTO by issuing ‘cards’ through some dhabha owners to truckers in the district.

Mr M.F. Farooqi, SSP, said that he had ordered an inquiry into the matter.


Demand to declare Shaheed Sukhdev’s house national monument
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 14
The Punjab Khatri Sabha has urged the state government to get the ancestral house of Shaheed Sukhdep Thapar, who attained martyrdom along with Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Rajguru while fighting against the British regime at Ludhiana declared a “national memorial”.

In a letter to the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, copies of which were distributed among reporters here today, sabha president Jatinder Mehra said though Sukhdev made the supreme sacrifice for the country, his ancestral house at Noghara mohalla in Ludhiana was in a neglected state for the past more than 50 years. 


Jaycees to donate 1 lakh bottles of blood
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 14
The national president of the Indian Jaycees, Mr Rajesh Chandak, said here yesterday that as many as one lakh bottles of blood would be donated by the Jaycees in country this year under the “Need Blood Call Jaycees” programme. As many as 10 lakh saplings would be planted in the country to promote eco-friendly environment, he said at a news conference.

Giving details of other projects, Mr Chandak said the Jaycees would coordinate the provision of 50 ambulances to those chapters which volunteered to bear 50 per cent of the cost of each ambulance to avail of the matching 50 per cent grant by the government. Over 2 lakh students from 2800 schools would be imparted training under the ‘leadership 21 century’ programme, he said. A leadership training camp would be held at Ooty, he continued. A book on leadership would also be brought out by incorporating in it the ‘Vision-2020’ of President Abdul Kalam, he said.

Three hundred delegates from India would take part in the Asean Pacific Conference being held in Malaysia from May 22 to May 25, he informed.

The Indian Jaycees would also bid to host the World Jaycees Congress in 2008, said Mr Chandak.


Theatre artistes back from Pak
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 14
As many as 60 persons, including two ministers, arrived from Pakistan via the Indo-Pakistan joint check post at Wagah today. These included artistes and directors who had performed for the first time in Pakistan. Mr Ashwani Sekhri, Minister for Culture and Tourism, and Mr Mahinder Singh, Minister for Technical Education arrived separately.

Recounting their experiences, Mr Hardeep Singh who performed the role of Raja Salwan in the play “Loona” said they performed twice on the popular demand. Besides this Neelam Mansingh’s “Kitchen Katha” also got a good response as well as the play ‘Chhali Kidar Javey”. The plays performed at Al-Hamra were inaugurated by Governor of Punjab Pakistan and attended by Mr Shiv Shankar Menon, Indian High Commission.


Kala Manch’s tribute to Mukesh
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 14
The Sangeet Kala Manch organised a musical “Ek Sham-Mukesh Ke Naam” on the premises of the DAV Institute of Engineering and Technology here on Saturday.

Ravikant Verma started the evening with “Aansoo bhari hai ye jeevan ki rahen, koi un se keh do hamein bhool jaye”, which took music lovers down the memory laner.

Dr Joginder Bawra, a noted vocalist, regaled the audience with his performance on “sitar” by creating beats of “Chand si mehbooba ho meri, kab, aisa maine socha tha, haan tum bilkul waisi ho, jaisa maine socha tha” and “Yeh mera diwanapan hai, ya mohaabat ka kasoor.”

The Commissioner, Jalandhar Division, Dr Sawaran Singh, addressing the gathering praised the manchs effort for organising the evening. Others who performed included Prof B.S. Narang Prof Tejinder Singh Shaminderpal Singh, Susheel Chawla, Pt Ramkant, Jai Dev and Maninder Pal Singh.


Residents stop train for 5 hrs
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 14
Residents of the local Majithia Enclave today stopped a passenger train (Bathinda- Delhi inter- city) for nearly five hours (7: 45 am to 12 noon) to protest against the railway authorities keeping the level crossing gate closed for a long duration.

The residents said the gate of level crossing 24 was kept closed for longer periods than was necessary, which caused inconvenience to the public. The president of the Majithia Enclave Development and Sanitation Committee, Mr K.K. Sharma, said they had written to the Chairman, Railway Board, New Delhi, in this regard last month.


Assembly session opens today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 14
The Punjab Vidhan Sabha meet here tomorrow afternoon when the Governor, Justice O.P. Verma, will address the members. This will be followed by obituary references to eminent persons, who have passed away since the last session.

There will be a vote-on-account on March 16. Six ordinances will be placed on the table of the House as Bills, said sources.

It is likely to be a two-day session only.


Safeguard our interests: Muslims
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, March 14
The Muslim community, including Gujars of the state, have said they would support those candidates who promised to safeguard their interests. This was stated by Sayeed Nazir Ahmed, the president of the Anjuman Dawete Islamia Committee, Punjab, while talking with newsmen here yesterday.



Lawyers to hold protest
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, March 14
Resentment prevails among the lawyers over the abolition of the court of Additional Civil Judge, (Senior Division), here and as a mark of protest the lawyers’ body has decided to observe “no work day” till March 16.

The Bar Association chief, Mr Surjit Singh Rana, said here today that more than 6,000 civil, criminal and other cases were pending in the courts here. He said with the abolition of the court of Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division), the litigants and the lawyers would suffer inconvenience.

Mr Rana said a deputation of the lawyers would meet the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court in this connection.


Use latest farm techniques, say experts
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 14
The Indian agriculture is facing many problems like deterioration of soil health and depletion of ground-water.

This was stated by the Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University, Dr Kirpal Singh Aulakh, while inaugurating a kisan mela at Rauni here. Dr Aulakh said the farmers should make judicious use of fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides in order to curtail expenditure on agriculture. He added that Punjab is under the grip of drug addiction and should get rid of it.

He suggested farmers to decrease the area under paddy cultivation and use that for more profitable crops with less expenditure. Addressing the gathering, the Director Extension Education, Dr Amrik Singh Sandhu, urged the farmers to keep themselves updated about the latest farm techniques.

The Director Research, PAU, Dr Govinder Singh Nanda, explained the new technologies evolved by the PAU for the forthcoming kharif season. He informed that the new paddy variety, PR-118 released by the PAU as a substitute for Pusa-44, is resistant to bacterial leaf blight.

He said that the new basmati variety Super Basmati gives more yield than the existing variety. Similarly, new moong variety SML-668 is better than the existing ones.

In addition, technical knowledge was imparted on various subjects, including new varieties of kharif crops, agronomic practices, efficient use of fertilizers and livestock management, by experts of various subjects.


Farmers told to increase area under floriculture
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 14
The Director, Horticulture Department, Dr Kulbir Singh, today said the state was making steady progress in floriculture with 225 quintals of seed being exported to various countries and more than 30,000 quintals of flowers being sold annually in markets across the country.

Speaking at the 10th state-level flower show at Barandari Gardens here, Dr Kulbir Singh appealed to farmers to give a further fillip to floriculture by increasing the area under flowers.

He said every farmer should adopt floriculture on one-tenth of his land holding. Besides encouraging diversification, this would also supplement their earnings, he said.

The Director said as much as 600 hectares was under floriculture in the state. He said while 225 quintals of the seed was being exported from the cultivation of 300 hectares, another 300 hectares was yielding 30,000 quintals of flowers.

He said the state government was speeding up the process of diversification by providing diverse seeds at its government seed nurseries in Doraha and Patiala.

Earlier, agricultural experts Dr Ramesh Kumar and Dr Paramjit Singh from Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, gave advise to the farmers regarding techniques needed to be followed to ensure quality production.


Kisan mela on March 22
Tribune News Service

Patiala March 14
A Kisan Mela will be held at Rakhra, 15 km from Patiala, on March 22 under the aegis of the Punjab Young Farmers Association. The participating members of the association will be given foundation seeds of Pusa-44 variety of paddy to enable them to prepare their own seeds for future.

Foundation seeds of the high-yielding Pusa Sugandh-2, Pusa Sugandh-3 and Pusa-1121 varieties of Basmati types will also be distributed.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh will inaugurate the festival.


One arrested for fraud
Our Correspondent

Barnala, March 14
The police has arrested a “swindler” Inderjit Singh, a resident of Jhaloor village, and recovered Kisan Vikas Pattras worth Rs 18.5 lakh from his possession.

Mr Amit Prasad Tripathi, SSP, Barnala, said here today that the accused tried to get a loan from the local branch of the State Bank of Patiala by pledging the stolen Kisan Vikas Pattras. The Kisan Vikas Pattras belonged to Mr Sarabjit Singh, who is staying in Belgium.

On the complaint of the Manager of the bank, the police has registered a case against Inderjit Singh under Sections 420, 511and 379 of the IPC.


Student’s father seeks probe by IAS officer
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 14
Even as the district unit of the Government School Lecturers’ Union, Punjab, today condemned the alleged defamatory article in a newspaper in which teachers were dubbed as criminals, Mr Ashok Gupta, whose son was allegedly stripped in a local examination centre on March 9 has demanded that an IAS officer should conduct an inquiry into the incident instead of the SDM, Mr S.K. Singla, who has been holding a magisterial probe.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Mahesh Kumar, district unit president of the union, said dubbing teachers as criminals was injustice to the teaching community. He said the daily did not mention anything about the fact that how the teachers were being forced to facilitate copying to the wards of VVIPs.

Mr K.A.P. Sinha, District Magistrate, ordered a magisterial probe into the incident pertaining to the stripping of a plus two student in the examination room in a local school on March 9 when he refused to give his answersheet to the invigilator concerned who was making efforts to facilitate copying to a ward of VVIP.

While Mr Mahesh Kumar claimed that the inquiry conducted by a committee set up by the union found that no stripping incident took place. Mr Ashok Gupta, father of victim, alleged that statements of some students, who were also taking examination in the same centre where his son was appearing, were recorded by the authorities concerned under pressure.

He alleged that efforts were on to hush up the matter. He added that so far, no member of the invigilating staff, against whom the allegations were levelled, was removed from examination duty.


Unfair means cases against three students
Tribune News Service

Mansa, March 14
A flying squad team of the Punjab School Education Board, led by Mrs Rakshawati, Principal of the local Government Senior Secondary Girls School, has registered unfair means cases (UMCs) against three students. They were caught copying at three examination centres of the district in the annual plus two examination.

Talking to TNS over the phone today, Mrs Rakshawati pointed out that UMC proceeding were launched against the three students who were found copying while appearing in the English paper last evening in the examination centres set up at Government Senior Secondary School, Bahini Bagha, and the local Gandhi Senior Secondary School.

The Principal said that earlier one case of copying was detected by her on March 11 at the examination centre in the local Gandhi Senior Secondary School when the students appearing in the Punjabi examination. She added that she had asked the Superintendent concerned of one of the two examination centres to relieve the invigilator when two cases of copying had been detected while he was supervising.

Mr Ashok Kumar Bhalla, District Education Officer (DEO), Mansa, said efforts were being made to curb the menace of copying.

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