P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab postpones 4 matric exams
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 17
As a damage-control exercise, the Punjab School Education Board today postponed four of its remaining matriculation examinations following the leakage of certain question papers. The board has also cancelled the mathematics paper held on March 15.

The examinations that have been postponed include Social Studies to be held on March 18; Punjab B/Punjab History and Culture-B to be held on March 19, Health and Physical Education to be held on March 20 and Hindi/Urdu to be held on March 22.

However, the elective subject examination to be held on March 24 and the practical examinations will take place as scheduled. According to the Controller of Examinations, Mrs Narinder Kaur, the board will issue fresh dates for these examinations and inform the candidates accordingly.

Giving details of the paper leakage, she said that she had received a telephone call from an unidentified person who read out to her on the phone, the contents of the social studies question paper that was to be distributed tomorrow. Following which it was decided by the Chairman, Dr Kehar Singh, that the examinations be postponed till fresh question papers are prepared.

Sources, however, pointed out that a packet containing a complete set of questions papers of all subjects meant for Gurdaspur district had gone missing even before the examinations began and that could have been the source of this leakage. However, the board officials maintained that the theory of the missing packet was yet to be verified.

‘‘We do have a packet unaccounted for but whether it is actually a case of a missing packet or a flaw in counting is yet to be ascertained. Secondly, if a packet did get smuggled into the wrong hands, we still have to find out whether it happened at the level of the board at the press or during transit,’’ said Mrs Narinder Kaur.

As many as 364901 candidates across Punjab are appearing in the examination that started on March 10.


Rights’ body probe holds two invigilators guilty
Stripping of Class XII student
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 17
The Lawyers for Human Rights International, a non-governmental human rights organisation, in its inquiry report conducted into the incident pertaining to the stripping of a student in an examination centre, held two members of invigilating staff guilty.

In the inquiry report copies of which were circulated to mediapersons today, the organisation alleged that the clothes of the student were removed forcibly and the matter was hushed up by the authorities concerned with the help of the administration.

On March 9, a student of Plus Two class, Amit Gupta, who was taking his annual examination in a centre set up at in the local SSD Senior Secondary School, was allegedly stripped when he refused to give his answersheet to one of the invigilator to facilitate the copying to a ward of a VVIP, who was also appearing for the examination in the same centre.

Mr K.A.P. Sinha, District Magistrate, had directed Mr S.K. Singla, SDM, to conduct a magisterial probe into it.

Mr S.K. Sharma and Mr Jagvinder Singh Gill, vice-president and general secretary, respectively, of the Lawyers for Human Rights International here who conducted the inquiry into the incident, pointed out that on March 9 when Amit Gupta, was taking his mathematics examination in the evening session, his answer sheet was taken away by an invigilators at about 4 p.m. and given to a ward of the VVIP. However, Amit managed to take back his answer sheet after some time.

An invigilator tried to implicate Amit in an unfair mean case (UMC) by “planting” a paper slip. After that two members of the invigilating staff caught hold of him and started searching him. Later he was stripped in the presence of other students.

It was also found during the inquiry that nearly 12 students, who also took Plus Two class examination in that centre, were wards of VVIPs. They were allowed of copying and given relevant material by a section of staff members with the help of the authorities concerned. Answer sheets of certain brilliant students were passed on to wards of VVIP candidates for copying.

Certain teachers of special subjects were put on examination duty on the day of the examination of the subject to help the wards of VVIPs.

The rights organisation has demanded that severe action should be taken against the guilty so that recurrence of such incidents could be prevented.


BSP list diminishes chances of pact with Congress
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
The Congress hopes of a possible tie-up with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Punjab vanquished today after Ms Mayawati named her party candidates for five of 13 the seats in the state.

The BSP supremo also announced names of candidates for nine of 10 Haryana Lok Sabha seats besides the lone Chandigarh seat to reiterate her earlier announcements that her party would go it alone in the elections.

In Punjab, the BSP wields good influence in Hoshiarpur, Phillaur and Ferozepore parliamentary seats. These are the seats which have been won at least once by the BSP candidates in the recent past.

Now the BSP has decided to contest from Ropar, Phillaur, Ferozepore, Jalandhar and Sangrur. The first two of these are reserved constituencies while Sangrur is already set for a multi-cornered contest with Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, the sitting MP, facing challenge from the Union Chemical and Fertilizers Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, besides the Congress candidate, whose name is likely to be announced in a day or two.

Interestingly, the BSP has not named its candidate for Hoshiarpur, the seat which was once held by Mr Kanshi Ram.

In Haryana, the BSP has decided to contest from Ambala (Mr Chandra Pal), Karnal (Mr Ashok Kashyap), Bhiwani (Mr Ramanand Jagra), Faridabad (Mr Abdul Mallik), Sirsa (Mr Ramesh Bhukkal), Hisar (Sant Ram Parkash), Rohtak (Mr Lokendra Singh), Sonepat (Ms Suman Gupta) and Kuruskehtra (Mr Balwan Singh). Only Ambala is reserved seat.

The BSP has decided to field Mr Hemraj Kashyap from Chandigarh.

Though the Congress is still open for an alliance with the BSP as it is ready to offer Ferozepore and one more seat, the latter has decided in trying its own strength in the five constituencies where it is convinced it has strong vote banks.

The BSP’s decision to contest independently may have brought cheers to the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) alliance in Punjab. The BSP has been traditionally weaning away Dalit vote from the Congress camp.

The BSP has named Mr Mohan Singh Phallianwala, who had been to Lok Sabha before, as its candidate from Ferozepore. Mr Mohan Singh wields influence in the constituency as in the past three elections he had contested from there, he had always finished among the top three, winning the seat once. Strong presence of the Rai Sikh community in the constituency, considered avid supporter of the BSP, will make the going tough for both Shriomani Akali Dal candidate, Mr Zora Singh Mann, and the likely Congress nominee, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar. Last time Mr Mann had defeated Congress nominee, Mr Hans Raj Joshan, with BSP candidate pushed to the third position.

Interestingly, the BSP has decided to field Mr Devi Dass Nahar from Jalandhar. After the Talhan episode, the BSP has consolidated its position in Jalandhar. It was here that Ms Mayawati addressed a major rally of the Dalits a couple of weeks ago.

Mr Pawan Kumar tinu will be the BSP candidate from Phillaur where both Congress (Mrs Santosh Chaudhary) and Shiromani Akali Dal (Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal) have already announced their candidates. The only time the BSP wrested this seat was when Mr Harbhajan Lakha won from here in 1995. Mrs santosh Chaudhary is the sitting MP from the constituency.

In Sangrur, the party has named Mr Mangat Rai Bansal. In Ropar, Mr Man Singh Manhera has been given the party ticket. While the Congress has named its sitting member, Mr Shamsher Singh Dhulo from here, the Akali Dal has put up Mr Sukhdev Singh Libra.


Coal-starved plants force PSEB to impose power cuts
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 17
A coal crisis is looming large over the state with the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) imposing power cuts in rural and urban areas even as the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has approached the Union Coal Ministry and the Railway Ministry to speed up coal delivery to the state’s thermal plants.

The board today imposed five-and-a-half hour power cuts in rural areas and one-and-a-half hour cut in urban areas. Important cities in the state, including Patiala, Mohali, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Bathinda, will be subject to a 30-minute power cut.

Board sources said these cuts would be increased in case the thermal plants in the state did not register an increase in coal supplies. The Chief Minister has written to Coal Minister Mamata Banerjee and Railway Minister Nitish Kumar in this regard yesterday evening.

Both the ministries have been urged to speed up the delivery of coal to Punjab. While the Coal Ministry has been asked to increase Punjab’s allocation, the Railways has been requested to depute more wagons to transport coal to the state’s thermal plants. PSEB sources said at present only a three-day supply was available at the Ropar thermal plant which had 59,306 metric tonnes of coal in its stock. They said the Bathinda thermal plant had 26,066 metric tonnes of stock which could last for four days and the Lehra Mohabbat plant had 51,767 metric tonnes of stock sufficient for eight days.

According to sources the consumption of power was more than the supply at present. They said while 10 rakes were consumed yesterday with the Ropar plant consuming 5.5 rakes and the Bathinda and Lehra Mohabbat plants two each, only nine rakes had been received by the board.

This is the second time that the board has witnessed a crisis due to coal shortage. Earlier also following the intervention of Board Chairman Y.S. Ratra and Member, Technical, H.S. Sahai, the Railways had transported an additional one lakh metric tonnes to help the PSEB tide over the crisis. The sources said nearly all state electricity boards were facing coal shortage but the effect was more in the Northern region.

This, they said, was because the Railways had not replenished wagons which had been condemned by it over the last five years. They said out of a total of 19,000 wagons, as many as 10 per cent were condemned every year but these were not replaced with new ones.

Meanwhile, power consumption in the state had increased over the past few days which is also responsible for the coal crisis. 


Chandumajra assured of diplomatic assignment
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News service

Ludhiana, March 17
Dissident Akali leader and former MP from Patiala, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, has reportedly been assured that he would be appointed the High Commissioner to Canada in case the National Democratic Alliance government is returned to power after the elections. The Vice President, Mr Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, the master trouble shooter of the BJP, is learnt to have brokered the peace between Mr Chandumajra and Mr Parkash Singh Badal, that led to Mr Chandumajra declaring his support for the Akali candidate from Patiala, Capt Kanwaljit Singh.

Well-placed sources revealed that Mr Chandumajra is likely to get an assurance in this regard by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee tomorrow, when he formally launches the election campaign of the SAD-BJP alliance in the state. Mr Chandumajra has already announced that he would be campaigning for Capt Kanwaljit and will not contest as an Independent candidate. Mr Shekhawat had arranged a meeting between Mr Badal and Mr Chandumajra at Sunam recently.

Mr Badal was annoyed with Mr Chandumajra for his “anti-party activities” after the SAD gave the Patiala ticket to Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Mr Chandumajra had staked his claim for the ticket.

Mr Chandumajra has been promised that he would be made the Indian High Commissioner to Canada if the BJP-led NDA government came back to power. It is now common knowledge that Mr Chandumajra was all set to join the BJP, but the party refused to make him the state BJP president, even though conceded to his demand of nominating him to the Rajya Sabha.

Mr Chandumajra had turned rebellious after none of the probable from the erstwhile Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) owing their allegiance to Mr Tohra found a nomination by the SAD for the forthcoming parliamentary poll. It is now hoped that the SAD will make serious attempts to win over rebellious candidates in other parts of the state to improve the chances of the SAD-BJP candidates.

The Congress has again fielded Mrs Praneet Kaur, the sitting MP and wife of Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh from Patiala, while the Akali Dal-BJP alliance has already announced that former Punjab Finance Minister, Captain Kanwaljit Singh, is their candidate. Both the parties are trying to make the contest on this seat as a mini referendum, forcing Mr Badal to enter into a compromise.


Punjabi immigrants face identity crisis, says expert
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
Immigrants of the Punjabi community suffering pangs of emotional bankruptcy in the UK are longing for an identity they can call their own. Lost in the country they have chosen as their home, they are still in search of their roots 30 years hence.

A feeling that they don’t belong to India any more has crept in and it is tearing them apart. They have failed to adapt to the fast-changing culture of the UK, completely different from that of India. They are virtually nobody’s children.

“India, their cities and villages have undergone a sea change in the years since they moved out to settle abroad. The images of ‘their village’ on ground are divorced from reality. They are unable to find their bearings in the new set up which is alien to them,” says Dr Steve Taylor, a sociologist from the University of Teesside, UK, to India.

While his research on Punjabis in the UK has thrown up these facts and more, Dr Taylor is on a three-week visit to India, primarily Punjab, to expand his project to include the impact migration has had on the villages of these immigrants.

“I have studied the Punjabis, their responses and their feelings at length in my country. I am here to study the Indian viewpoint on this and will be visiting various villages of Punjab starting tomorrow. The idea is to have an overall view of the situation,” he said while speaking to The Tribune at Panjab University, here today.

Adding that these families in the UK are facing a major family crisis, Dr Taylor elaborates that “generation gap” is taking a toll on the family unit. “The older generation is wedded to the Indian culture and follows traditions religiously. The new generation, born and brought up in the UK, is on a different wavelength altogether. They are resisting the move to be ‘Indianised’ like their parents. This is giving rise to conflicts within the home which is manifesting itself in an identity crisis among the Punjabis,” he maintains.

However, he holds that Indians, especially Punjabis, given their spirit of competitiveness, have left behind immigrants in the UK from around the world. “They have successfully overtaken other immigrants in terms of economic development but have excelled in education as well. They have outperformed the Whites also in these two areas and continue to strive for improving their own standards. This, sadly, has come at the cost of emotional starvation and there seems no reprieve,” he opines.


Anti-outsourcing Act no threat to India: Shourie
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 17
Mr Arun Shourie, Union Minister for Disinvestment and Communications, today, asserted that the Anti-outsourcing Act passed by the US administration was nothing but “a certificate of India’s achievement” and there was nothing to worry about it.

Addressing a gathering of intellectuals, organise by the district unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Mr Shourie, said there was no need to worry about the Act as it was a certificate of India’s achievements in the IT sector. “The US is turning protective as elections are round the corner there. This will not affect our people and I think its impact will slow down automatically after the elections there.

Moreover, I feel that our people should look beyond call centre jobs”.

To a question by Mr Surinder Kapoor, advocate, as to whether the Act was a sign of US flexing its muscles against India, Mr Shourie, who was accompanied by the SAD nominee from Jalandhar, Mr Naresh Gujral, and the state BJP chief, Mr Avinash Khanna, said, “What will they do with the Act. What is important is that India has become a major knowledge generator today. This is proved by the presence of research and development bases of 110 of the 500 top companies of the world in India. Against this number, there are R&D centres of only 32 such companies in China. This is only due to the vision of Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee”. He said the availability of more facilities in India had attracted 24,000 software engineers back home during the past two years.

Lashing out at the Congress, Mr Shourie said the rival party had no independent thought and its policies had been causing loss to the country in more ways than one, particularly on the foreign affairs front. “They are so much scared that they are not commenting on bigger issues relating to the country. You can see their confusion”, said Mr Shourie, adding that their only major issue was to elect a Prime Minister.

On Punjab, Mr Shourie said he was stunned to see the bad condition of roads. “I kept wondering whether we were travelling in Bihar or Punjab. How has this happened?” he quipped. Referring to the extension of the mobile roaming facility in certain parts of Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Shourie said the issue would be discussed and reviewed after June 15 on the basis of Army intelligence inputs. Defending the disinvestment process, Mr Shourie said if the current economic growth sustained itself, then disinvestment could result in mopping up Rs 1 lakh crore annually.

Mr Naresh Gujral was all praise for Mr Shourie and his ability to initiate the disinvestment process without inviting “any criticism”. Mr Avinash Khanna also spoke about the achievements of the Vajpayee government.

Meanwhile, Mr Shourie today released a book on journalism, “Vyavharik Patrakarita”, authored by Jalandhar-based journalist Arjun Sharma at a function here.

LUDHIANA: Mr Shourie said on Wednesday that improvement in the Indo-Pak relations would depend on the attitude of Pakistan.

The minister was in the city to address an intellectuals’ meet. He was accompanied by Mr Avinash Rai Khanna.

Addressing mediapersons, he said Pakistan had become a reaction state. There had been no initiative from the neighbour for normalisation of ties in the past and each time it was up to India to extend a hand of friendship. As in the past, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had once again taken the peace initiative. Now, everything depended on Pakistan. It was up to them to shore up confidence-building measures, he pointed out.

To a query, he said, “If our relations do not improve, only Pakistan will be at a loss. India can become the best and cheapest market for Pakistan, whereas we have many more markets in the region.”

Landing Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee for his astute statesmanship, he said the Prime Minister has strengthened the country during the past six years.

Under his leadership, the country had transformed into a leading nation of the world with a growth rate of 8 per cent, he pointed out.

To a question, Mr Shourie said he had collected Rs 15,400 crore against a target of Rs 14,500 crore this year from disinvestment.


Modernisation of Bathinda power plant begins
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 17
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has started modernisation of Bathinda thermal plant with the upgradation of a Hydrogen gas plant and a dry fly ash collection system.

An official press note yesterday said that all four units of the plant had logged more than 1,80,000 operating hours and outlived maximum operating levels. To restore these units and enhance life of the plant for another 15 or 20 years. Reports for modernising units 1 and 2 at a cost of Rs 229 crore and Rs 290 crore respectively had been finalised by the Central Electricity Authority.

Major works to be executed include replacement of boilers and their auxiliaries, replacement of control and instrumentation system in Digital Distributed Control System. Besides this, a new effluent treatment plant has also been finalised at a cost of Rs 7.50 crore to treat the water for re-use in the plant. The fire fighting system and electromagnetic protective relays for generators and motors are also being upgraded.

With new fly ash collection system, 80 per cent of the fly ash generated by the plant would be supplied to Gujarat Ambuja Cements who will finance the system costing Rs 9 crore.


News Analysis
Brief sessions are the in thing
by P.P.S. Gill

Chandigarh, March 17
The two-day Punjab Vidhan Sabha session which concluded on Tuesday saw Deputy Speaker Bir Devinder Singh espouse the cause of the Opposition calling for convening the House for a longer period. The Deputy Speaker had to intervene when he saw that Mr Parkash Singh Badal was unable to convince the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, who would not allow any of the issues the SAD leader wanted to raise.

This was not the first time that the House was meeting for just two days. The first day was consumed by the Governor’s Address and obituary references. This was the sixth session of the present 12th Vidhan Sabha, convened solely for the purposed of presenting a vote-on-account.

The first session of the present Vidhan Sabha held on March 21, 2002, lasted only four days. The second was for 11 days in June, 2002. There was a special one-day session in October, 2002, followed by a 12-day session in March, 2003. Again a two-day session was held in September, 2003. It was a two-day affair on March 15, 16.

During the five-year tenure of the SAD-BJP Government from 1997 to 2002, there were 13 sessions in all, beginning from March 1997. The last was on January 2, 2002. There were seven sessions out of 13, when the House met for only two or four days. On three occasions, the House met for just two days each in December, 1998; September, 1999; and August, 2001. It met for three days each in December, 1997, and December, 2001-02, and twice for four days each in March, 1998 and September, 2000. The longest session lasted 16 days in March, 2000, followed by two sessions for 13 days each in June, 1998, and March, 1999. It met again for 12 days each in June, 1997, and March, 2001.

A cross-section of the members said that the issue of concern should not be the number of days for which the House should meet but the kind of business it should conduct.


Face to face
Ropar Lok Sabha Seat
by Chitleen K. Sethi

Poor condition of Dalits major issue

THIS is not be the first time that Mr Sukhdev Singh Libra and Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo are face to face in a political battle. In 1985 Mr Libra had defeated Mr Dullo in the assembly elections. And it is this victory that is the driving force of Mr Libra’s election campaign. Having recently completed his tenure in the Rajya Sabha, 72-year-old Mr Libra is not new to the political scene in Punjab.

Belonging to Libra village in Ludhiana, Mr Libra matriculated from Shri Guru Govind Singh High School, Khanna, and gave up a government job in 1971 as Reader of the magistrate to join politics.

He was chosen member of the Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee in 1979 from Khanna. He was elected an MLA from Khanna in 1985 as an Akali candidate. In 1991, he was given the ticket to contest assembly election from Amloh by the Akali Dal, but the elections were first postponed and then boycotted by his party.

He served as chairman of the Scheduled Castes Welfare Corporation from 1997 to 1998 when he was nominated to the Rajya Sabha. Mr Libra has also remained the senior vice-president of the SGPC for one year and member of the committee on the welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Q. What are the issues you think need to be focused on?

A. The largest issue remains the condition of the Dalits in the area. The problems of Dalits include pensions, social security and jobs. These issues need to be highlighted at the Centre. Other than this, the problem of unemployment among youth has reached alarming proportions. And it has more to do with the quality of education being imparted in our schools and colleges. The condition of government schools is abysmal and needs to be improved on priority.

Q. And what have you been able to achieve as Rajya Sabha member?

A. As Rajya Sabha member, I have given grants worth Rs 10 crore to Punjab, most of which were for this area. I have ensured that not even a single rupee lapses. Other than this, I had taken up the case of the Bathinda Oil Refinery when it was facing closure. My focus also had been to get overbridges on railway tracks constructed. The ones at Khanna, Sirhind, Dhuri are were constructed due to my efforts while another two at Kurali and Morinda are in the pipeline.

Q. Do you think that the infighting in the SAD is going to affect your campaign?

A. I am not competent enough to comment on the matter. But to my knowledge, there is no rift within the SAD and even if there is any, election time is for everyone to come together against the opposing force.

Q. What do you think is going to be your biggest asset in the elections?

A. I have risen from poverty and know the mind of a poor man. I know his problem. What he wants, he will get from me. I have worked at the grassroot level and promise to continue my work among the people.


Development is my priority area

MR Shamsher Singh Dullo of the Congress had won the last Lok Sabha elections fetching 3,26,651 votes by defeating his nearest rival, Ms Satvinder Kaur Dhaliwal of the Shiromani Akali Dal, by 77,341 votes.

This year, the SAD has fielded a former MLA and Rajya Sabha member, Mr Sukhdev Singh Libra, against Mr Dullo, who remains the choice of the Congress.

Born in December, 1947, at Khanna in Ludhiana, Mr Dullo graduated from A.S. College, Khanna, and later studied at Law College, Panjab University, Chandigarh. An advocate by profession, Mr Dullo’s political career began with being president of the Metropolitan Council, Khanna, in the 1970s followed by two terms as MLA — 1980-85 and 1992-97. He remained the Minister for Excise and Taxation during his second term. He was elected to the 13th Lok Sabha in 1999. He remained a member of the committee on agriculture for one year and since 2000 he has been on the consultative committee of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India.

Q. What are the issues you think need to be focused on?

A. Development of the area comes first to the mind, both in terms of infrastructure and improvement. These issues will include matters relating to unemployment amongst the youth, the condition of the Dalits in the area and good governance. Also important is the need to raise the problem of the industrial workers and traders.

Q. You have been the sitting MP of the area. What have been your main contributions to the people of your constituency?

A. My major contribution has been the improvement of school and college buildings in my area. I have donated liberally towards the construction of new buildings for children, especially in rural areas. I have also contributed towards construction of community centres, especially for the weaker sections of society. I have managed to get constructed overbridges at Dhuri, Khanna and Sirhind. I have spent close to Rs 11 crore from the MPLAD fund.

Q. Do you think that the anti-incumbency wave will affect you?

A. No, in fact Congress rule in the state has been so positive that it will go in our favour. The farmers of Punjab are a happy lot today, thanks to Capt Amarinder Singh who ensured that the farmers get their money within a week of selling his produce to the government. The farmers will vote for us.


SAD (A) to oppose entry of Advani’s rath yatra
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 17
Equating the rath yatra of Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani with the attacks of Muslim invaders — Nadirshah and Ahmed Shah Abdaali — the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) today threatened that thousands of Sikhs, Muslims, Dalits and Christians of the state would oppose the entry of Mr Advani’s rath yatra in Punjab on March 25.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Anoop Singh Minhas, Mr Charan Singh Lohara and Prof Jagmohan Singh, general secretaries of the SAD, dubbed the “rath yatra” of Mr Advani as a “step aimed at creating a communal divide and creating law and order problem”. They alleged that it was unfortunate that the SAD headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal was supporting the venture of Mr Advani, without bothering to go into its long-term ill effects. “Mr Advani’s speech shows that this is nothing but an effort to give a practical shape to the hidden agenda of the BJP and to coerce the minorities,” said the SAD (A) leaders. They also hailed the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr O.P. Chautala for expressing concern over Mr Advani’s venture.

“We also appeal to the President and chiefs of the three forces to take stock of the situation as the development can pose a danger to security of the country. We also appeal to the Chief Election Commissioner to review his decision over the rath yatra of Mr Advani,” said the SAD (A) leaders.


Amarinder flays “rath yatra”
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today condemned the “Rath Yatra — Babri Masjid politics” of the BJP, saying that the country could not progress by fuelling fundamentalism.

Addressing a conference of ex-servicemen held here to discuss their problems and general apathy towards the families of martyrs, the Chief Minister castigated communal politics.


Punjab violating poll code: SAD
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
The SAD has once again alleged violation of the election code by the Punjab Government. In a letter written to the Chief Election Commissioner, SAD Secretary, D.S. Cheema has alleged that the Congress Government in Punjab was working overtime to enrol pension beneficiaries.

Despite an earlier complaint, the Punjab government had not stopped this practice, the letter stated, claiming that pensions were being given in cash in back dates, besides sanctioning fresh cases. Such reports pertain to the grant of pensions in the Patiala constituency from where Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s wife, Preneet Kaur, is contesting the Lok Sabha elections.

The letter alleged that various Punjab Government officials were still issuing fresh tender notices worth crores of rupees. The Food and Supply Department conducted interviews for the two posts of President of the District Consumer Redressal Forums of Bathinda and Fatehgarh Sahib yesterday. The government had still not removed hoardings highlighting achievements of the government.


Panthic Board releases manifesto
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 17
The Panthic Board was trying to form the Third Front as an alternative to the SAD BJP and the Congress in Punjab. Efforts were on to bring the SAD (A), the SAD (Longowal), the New Akali Dal of Mr Ravi Inder Singh and the BSP bring on a single platform to create a Third Front in the state. The consultations are in progress to nominate common candidates.

The Secretary-General of the Panthic Parliamentary Board, Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, gave this information while addressing press conference here today. Releasing the manifesto board Mr Mann said the Panthic Parliamentary Board would strive for the unified India, including the Pakistan and Bangladesh.

As first step towards unification, a federation of the three countries should be formed. Later a corridor to Pakistan and Bangladesh should be given through Kartarpur in Punjab and Beruberi in West Bengal before effecting the unification of the country. The Panthic Parliamentary board will organise a seminar on “Global vision and Sikh placement” on march 27th at Shahpur gurdwara in Sector 38 for intellectual exchange on the above issues, Mr Mann said.


Papers of Tohra, Gill in order
Tribune News Service

I am kid in politics: Gill

Mr M.S. Gill, said he was just a kid in the world of politics. Mr Gill refused comment on the remarks made by former Chief Election Commissioner. J.M. Lyngdoh, describing politicians as-cancer. He said he would withdraw from the contest for a Rajya Sabha seat if asked to do so by the Congress high command.

Chandigarh, March 17
The nomination papers of two SAD candidates — Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Mr Varinder Singh Bajwa — and three Congress candidates — Mr Dharampal Sabharwal, Mr Ashwani Kumar and Mr M.S. Gill — were found in order during scrutiny by the Returning Officer, Mr Nachhattar Singh Mavi, today. All five are certain to be elected to the Rajya Sabha.

The nomination papers of Mr H.S. Hanspal, President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee( PPCC) have also been found in order. Mr Hanspal said he would withdraw from the contest as he was only a covering candidate for M.S. Gill.

Mr Jarnail Singh, who was a covering candidate for Mr Bajwa, will also withdraw for the contest by March 19.


SAD (Longowal) may field candidates

Bathinda, March 17
A senior Akali leader and former Health Minister, Mr Inderjit Singh Zira, said today that the SAD (Longowal) would either field its candidates or give support to candidates of like-minded parties in the Lok Sabha elections.

Talking to mediapersons here, Mr Zira pointed out that the main aim of the party was to safeguard the interests of the Sikhs.

The former minister claimed that the party had been getting good response from the people. — TNS


Tribune impact
Punjab, DC impleaded in potable water case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
Taking suo motu cognizance of a news report appearing in these columns about non availability of potable water to the residents of Jajjal village in Bathinda district, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today impleaded the state of Punjab and Deputy Commissioner concerned as respondents in the matter.

Issuing the directions, a Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy and Mr Justice Surya Kant Sharma, also impleaded Secretary in the Department of Rural Development and Panchayats, besides Gram Panchayat of Jajjal village, as respondents.

The Judges also directed the handing over of documents to Punjab’s Senior Deputy Advocate-General Charu Tuli “so that she could get instructions regarding the facts reported”. The case will now come up for further hearing on March 25.

In their five-page order, the Judges ruled: “We think that the constitutional safeguards provided in the Constitution, prima facie, stand breached by the state of Punjab and its functionaries in relation to the residents of Jajjal village”.

Speaking for the Bench, Mr Justice Roy added: “A note dated March 16 was sent to one of us by Mr Justice Amar Dutt.... The office has registered it as civil writ petition”.

In his note, Mr Justice Dutt had observed: “If the facts brought out in the report are true, then the residents of Jajjal village and adjoining localities may be entitled to suo motu intervention by this court to protect their right to life as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. As such, the papers should be laid before the Chief Justice for such orders as his lordship may deem fit in the fact and circumstances of the case. In the report published on March 14, it was stated that the village residents had been “crying from their rooftops that potable water should be made available to them, but their wails had gone unheard till date”.

It was added that several residents had died in the village during the past few years “with a disease having symptoms identical to cancer”. The village panchayat had offered four acres for setting up water works. It had even deposited Rs 1 lakh as panchayat’s share. But nothing moved, it was further added.


Engine driver averts train fire tragedy

Jalandhar, March 17
An alert engine driver today averted a possible fire tragedy on board the Jammu-bound 9367 Indore-Jammu-Malwa Express, near here, by raising the alarm.

The train was passing through the Chahedu station, about 10 km from here, this afternoon when the driver of a shunting locomotive, which was passing on the adjoining track, noticed flames coming out from the bottom of the general coach No. 97464A of the train.

The driver immediately raised the alarm and alerted the passengers of the speeding train. The passengers pulled the chain to stop the train. Soon the railway staff, assisted by the onlookers and passengers, put out the fire which broke out following a snag in the brake system of the coach.

No one sustained any injury. However, the train was stopped midway for over 20 minutes to assess the situation. — UNI


BSP holds rally against police atrocities
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, March 17
A protest rally was organised here today by the Bahujan Samaj Party (Punjab BSP wing) against the alleged atrocities of the Sujanpur police, on members of a Dalit family.

Hundreds of protesters gathered at the SDM Court complex and organised a rally. The rally was addressed by Vir Singh, Sohan Singh Panthay, both General Secretaries of the party. The protesters also submitted a memorandum to the SDM in this connection.

According to the memorandum, copies of which were sent to the Punjab Governor, the Chief Secretary, the DGP, the Chairman, the SC and ST, the protesters demanded an inquiry into the last year’s December 13 incident. The memorandum said the police officials deputed at police post Basroop had maltreated the Dalit family and a false case was registered against them.

It was alleged in the memorandum that over 500 trees belonging to the Dalit family were axed and the family was ousted from the village at the instance of a Congress leader of the area.


Sabha to back parties favouring ban on obscene songs
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 17
The Kendri Punjabi Lekhak Sabha (Sekhon) today asked the people of Punjab to vote in favour of those political parties in the Lok Sabha elections which would ban the screening of Punjabi songs, picturised with obscene postures and scantily clad girls, on various channels.

Dr Tejwant Mann, general secretary of the sabha, said the screening of such Punjabi songs was “polluting” the Punjabi culture and was adversely affecting the thinking of Punjabis. He said this aspect of the western culture would ruin our culture and heritage in the years to come, corrective steps were not taken immediately.

Dr Mann appealed to Punjabis to vote in favour of only those political parties which would assure them they would get the Punjab State Language Act, 1967, implemented and would make a provision in the Act to punish those who would not work in Punjabi language in their offices. He said the Act could not be implemented till now as no government had framed bye-laws for the purpose.


BBC Radio to make two programmes on
life after Bluestar

Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 17
BBC Radio is making two programmes on the life and other aspects in the holy city 20 years after Operation Bluestar. The programmes will be broadcast in two parts, the dates for which are yet to be decided, said Mark Tully, noted journalist and author while talking to this correspondent. Tully was accompanied by Christina, a journalist from BBC Radio.

The duo was escorted and guided by Ms Kiranjot Kaur, member, SGPC. They visited Sri Guru Harkrishan Senior Secondary School here to gain first-hand knowledge about the feelings of students about Operation Bluestar.

Mr Darshan Singh, Director Education, Mr Dharam Veer Singh, Principal of the school, and Mr Ajit Singh, Undersecretary, Educational Committee, Chief Khalsa Dewan, also interacted with the visitors.


Works of rural women on show in Amritsar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 17
The Arpana Trust, committed to the upliftment of rural women and slum dwellers, will exhibit their products for the first time in Amritsar. Their products are created by nearly 1750 rural women from 13 villages near Karnal in Haryana.

All proceeds from the four-day exhibition, starting on March 18 at M.K. Hotel, will go towards charity said Ms Indu Dayal, Arpana Trust representative from Delhi.

The items on display are beautiful hand-embroidered household items besides baby items created by rural women. The trust runs three charity hospitals, including a super speciality hospital in Karnal, and have recently adopted 30,000 slum dwellers in Dehi to help them rehabilitate. The trust runs vocational training centres, including one for embroidery, besides computer training etc and also has a placement service.


Master Jagir Singh dead

Tarn Taran, March 17
Master Jagir Singh, a Congress leader and former minister, died of a heart attack last night at Apollo Hospital, New Delhi. He was cremated at his native village, Khadoor Sahib, 23 km from here, with full state honours today.

Mr Sardool Singh, Minister for Excise and Taxation, Punjab, laid a wreath on behalf of Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister. Prof Darbari Lal, Minister of State for Education, Mr Tej Parkash Singh, Minister for Transport, Mr Tarlochan Singh Tur, rebel SAD candidate from this Lok Sabha seat, and Mr Manmohan Singh Sathiala, a former MLA, and local leaders attended the cremation. Master Jagir Singh is survived by his wife, three sons and two daughters.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Mr H.S. Hanspal, President of the PPCC, expressed sympathies with the family. — OC


A novel protest against stray cattle

Moga, March 17
Activists of the Punjab unit of the BKU today adopted a novel way to protest against the “failure” of the state government to tackle the menace of stray cattle when they brought about 30 stray animals on three tractor-trailers.

When the farmers were not allowed to unload and set free these animals in front of the main gate of the administrative complex, they unloaded these at a camp for stray animals, where about 3,000 stray animals were kept.

The farmers refused to hand over a memorandum to Subdivisional Magistrate Gurnam Singh at the main gate of the complex as they wanted to present it to the Deputy Commissioner.

Earlier, the farmers held a protest rally, demanding steps by the administration to tackle the menace of stray cattle. — PTI


BKU Mahapanchayat on March 21

Moga, March 17
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) will organise a Mahapanchayat at Amritsar on March 21.

Punjab BKU chief Ajmer Singh Lakhowal told reporters here today that the Mahapanchayat take a decision regarding the continuity of procurement of foodgrains under the Minimum Support Price (MSP).

He said that the Mahapanchayat would not allow the Centre to defer procurement under the MSP by the procurement agencies. “It is suicidal for the farming community”, he added.

Mr Lakhowal said that if the Centre was adamant on dicontinuing the MSP procurement system, the farmers community in the country would launch an agitation.

The Punjab state BKU executive committee will also be meeting on the night of March 21 at Amritsar to discuss political situation in view of Lok Sabha elections, he said. — PTI


Chahal is back on duty
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
Mr Bharat Inder Singh Chahal, Media Adviser to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, has reported back on duty. He proceeded on three months leave on December 15 as a part of compromise between the dissidents and the Chief Minister’s camp.

Informed sources said Mr Chahal, who has resumed duty, attended his office in the Civil Secretariat today.


Boy falls from water tank, dies
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 17
Lakhpati, a Class XI student and resident of Basti Danishmandan, died after falling from a Municipal Corporation water tank in his locality this morning.

Relatives of Lakhpat said he had left his house saying that he was going to market for purchasing a book. But, later, they came to know that he had climbed up the water tank along with some boys to enjoy the flight of pigeons. He fell from there and died.

His body was sent for post-mortem examination.


High Court
Karate exponent challenges re-selection of team
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
Acting on a petition filed by karate exponent Charanjit Singh of Amritsar challenging the decision of the Indian Olympic Association to reselect the team for representing the country in the ninth South Asian Federation Games at Islamabad in Pakistan, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion for March 23.

In his petition, taken up by the Bench, comprising Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar and Mr Justice Amar Dutt, the petitioner earlier contended that he was selected as a member of the Indian karate team after trials at state and national levels. But was all of a sudden the authorities decided to reselect the team without any reason.

Poll petition

Arguments on the issue of maintainability of a petition challenging the election of Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh from the Patiala assembly constituency remained inconclusive.

Arguing before the court, his counsel contended that the allegations contained in the petition were vague. It was added that the petitioner had neither given full details nor evidence to support his contentions. The case will now come up for further hearing on March 24.

It may be recalled that Harkirat Singh — a voter from Patiala — had earlier alleged that the Chief Minister had used the services of a senior gazetted officer, Bharat Inder Singh Chahal. Documentary evidence, appended along with the petition, proved his role beyond any shadow of doubt.

He had further alleged that Chahal’s role during the elections included extending hospitality to electronic and print media after contacting the journalist.


Bar panel to seek transfer of SDM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
The Samrala Bar Association has resolved to approach the Punjab Chief Minister and the State Electoral Officer for transfer of Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Jaspal Singh Jassi. They have further resolved to boycott his court till March 23.

The Bar members added that officers appointed in home district were required to be transferred as per instructions issued by the Chief Election Commis-sion. Mr Jassi, they added, had close relatives residing in Samrala sub division. Moreover, he belonged to Bhattian village in Khanna tehsil.

The members added that on February 24 also they had demanded Mr Jassi’s transfer as Samrala was his home district. The copies of the resolution passed in this regard were sent to the Chief Minister and other authorities. But no action was initiated.


21 MC officials transferred
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 17
The Department of the Local Government ordered the transfer of 21 officials of municipal corporation here today concurring with the Chief Election Commission, Punjab.

The orders were signed by the Principal Secretary, Local Government, Mr A.K. Dubey. The officers include 10 assistant engineers AE (civil), four AE of the operation and maintenance (O&M) cell and one AE (electrical) one Xen each from (electrical) and (O&M) cell while one assistant town planner ATP and LA (legal advisor).

As many as 26 transfer of officers of the municipal corporations have also taken place from the Ludhiana corporation, eight each from Jalandhar and Patiala and three from Bathinda.


Re-evaluate sale price of property, DC tells officials
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 17
In an effort to curb revenue loss to the state government, Mr Ashok Gupta, Deputy Commissioner, today asked revenue officials to re-evaluate the sale price of urban and rural property.

Addressing a meeting of district heads of different departments here, Mr Gupta said it was observed that some people were indulging in revenue theft, causing huge loss to the state exchequer. He directed the officials to check the details furnished by the buyers in case the property was worth more than Rs 10 lakh.


MC fails to retrieve land
Naib Tehsildar’s role creates doubts
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 17
The Municipal Council failed to take possession of an encroached land worth Rs 1.50 crore despite court orders issued by the SDM-cum-Collector in this regard. There was some delay in the execution of the relevant warrant by the Naib Tehsildar.

The operation for giving possession of about eight acres falling in Khanpur and Aaujlan villages to the civic body was to be carried out today, but had been postponed till March 19 by the Naib Tehsildar, Mr Rupinder Singh Bal.

An appropriate warrant had been issued by the court of the SDM-cum-Councillor, Mr Sukhvinder Singh Gill, on March 12. It was stated that the case of the land occupant, Mr Charan Singh, had been dismissed at various levels. As such the Municipal Council had the right to take possession of the land.

He ordered the Tehsildar to help the Executive Officer of the council, Mr Jagjit Singh Sahi, to take possession of the land.

A copy of the orders was received by the Executive on March 15. Copies of the order were also sent to the DSP for providing police help in taking possession of the land and to the Tehsildar for necessary action.

At a meeting with the DSP yesterday, it was decided to carry out the operation at about 10 a.m. today. The Executive Officer said the Naib Tehsildar had been informed in this regard.

The council President, Mr Charanjit Singh, said he suspected foul play in delaying the operation for handing over the land possession to the civic body. He alleged that time was being given to the illegal occupant of the land to get a stay order from court. He said if this happened, the Naib Tehsildar should be held responsible for the loss to the civic body.

The SDM said he had told the Naib Tehsildar to hand over the land to the council today and the latter had told him that it would be done. But after waiting till about 4.30 p.m., the President and the Executive Officer of the civic body personally approached the Naib Tehsildar to enquire about the delay.

To their shock they were told by him that the possession of the land was not possible today as a notice in this regard had not been sent to the land occupant.

The Naib Tehsildar told Chandigarh Tribune that he had received a copy of the orders of the SDM yesterday. As such he was sending a notice to the occupant of the land today. In the notice he had asked Mr Charan Singh to remove moveable and immoveable property from the area. The SDM, however, felt that there was no need for such a notice.

Asked why he had agreed to carry out the operation today, the Naib Tehsildar had no answer.

Asked whether the non-implementation of his orders by the Naib Tehsildar amounted to contempt of court, the SDM said the action amounted to indiscipline.

He said he could take legal action in this regard, provided the civic body filed a written complaint.

The entire work of the council came to a standstill throughout the day as officials, who had to taken possession of the land, kept waiting for the Naib Tehsildar, who was to accompany the officials as Duty Magistrate during the operation.

The police also reached the council office around 12.30 p.m.

Sanitation work in the town was adversely affected as safai karamcharis, who were to assist during the operation, kept sitting in front of the council office the whole day.


Car thieves’ gang busted
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 17
The police today busted a gang involved in stealing and snatching cars.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, said here today that Gurjeet Singh and Ranjit Singh, both, residents of Burjan village of this district, had been arrested.

The SSP said the accused hired a car from Ludhiana on January 28 and took it away from the driver near Phulokhari village in this district. In another incident, the accused had stolen an Esteem car from Bathinda.

Mr Dev said Surinder and Dhanpat Rai, both local residents, and Baggar Singh, a resident of Burj village in this district, were helping the accused to get fake registration certificates. A case under Sections 382, 411, 419, 420, 465, 467, 468 and 471 of the IPC has been registered at the Talwandi Sabo police station.


Cop held for posing as Vigilance Officer
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, March 17
The Phagwara police has arrested Rajdeep Singh, a Constable of Punjab Armed Police, on the charge of duping Amarjit Singh, owner of Telli Link Private Ltd, Phagwara, by posing as a Vigilance officer.

Talking to mediapersons here today Mr S.K. Asthana, SSP said Rajdeep Singh alongwith an accomplice, had gone to the office of Telli Link and had introduced himself as a Vigilance officer. He reportedly threatened to arrest the owner as he was running the company without a licence.

Rajdeep Singh demanded Rs 25,000 from the owner of the company and took an advance of Rs 5,000 from him. Amarjit Singh promised to pay the remaining amount to Rajdeep on March 16. Amarjit Singh, however, became suspicious and informed Phagwara DSP Jaspal Singh. When Rajdeep came to the shop today the Phagwara police led by Mr Jaspal Singh, nabbed him while accepting Rs 10,000. The police has registered a case.


Midday meal suppliers await dues
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 17
While the state government has ended the midday meal scheme in the government elementary schools, those who have supplied meals to a section of schools in this district have been running from pillar to post to get their payments.

Mr Ravinder Kumar, president, Midday Meal Supplier Association, Bathinda, said in a statement here yesterday that the payments were not released so far.

He said the authorities were deliberately dilly-dallying in making the payments to them despite the fact that the state government had released funds meant for this purpose to the district administration.

Mr S.K. Singla, SDM, pointed out that the dues were not being cleared as he had not received a report verifying that the meals supplied by the contractors were of good quality.

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