P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Cong in a tearing hurry for coalitions, says PM
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 18
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today launched the SAD-BJP election campaign in Punjab in the home town of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, by unsheathing a “sword” with customary flourish and announcing that alliances were here to stay in the country. He also urged the people to evaluate the NDA government on the basis of the work done by it during the last five years as compared to 50 years of Congress rule.

The Prime Minister was addressing a big rally organised in favour of Capt Kanwaljit Singh, SAD nominee for the Patiala seat, at Polo Ground. Mr Vajpayee, apparently referring to the Congress, said it was strange that those who were against coalitions were now rushing to form coalitions. “This is being done in a tearing hurry, without taking care of basics”, he said.

Mr Vajpayee said the BJP chose to sit in the Opposition for 40 years rather than take a “wrong step”. He said the coalitions formed by the parties, as could be seen in case of Punjab, were not formed with the mere aim to attain power but were a meeting of the hearts.

He said on the other hand the Congress had chosen to share power in Bihar even though it was rejected by the people.

The BJP supremo said the people had the right to choose their governments. However, the Congress had not let the people enjoy this right. “The Congress supported two Prime Ministers and their minority governments before pulling the rug from under their feet. When my government came to power after defeating the Congress, the party did not let me work. We decided to take up the challenge and formed alliances and formed the government again”.

“Today we have changed the face of the country”, said Mr Vajpayee adding that the country had earned a place for itself in the international community. He said the NDA government had smooth ties with all allies. “We also face all internal problems collectively. I remember the time when our gold was sent to London. Today we are getting ready to keep the gold of other countries”, he added.

The Prime Minister while urging the people to decide on their vote by comparing 50 years of Congress rule with the five-year-rule of the NDA government, said the Congress had failed to attend to many of the basic concerns of the country.

Mr Vajpayee said the need for linking of rivers was one such issue which had been ignored and was now being taken up by the NDA. Similarly, the NDA government had taken a decision to improve the road infrastructure which had resulted in the all-round improvement in the economy.

He also disclosed that the government had given a fillip to the agricultural sector by increasing the procurement prices of foodgrains without putting any burden on the consumer. Mr Vajpayee said Rs 2000 crore had been spent on various agricultural schemes in 22 states and Rs 83,000 crore distributed through Krishi Cards. At least 48 Krishi Kendras had been opened in 14 states at a cost of Rs 1,325 crore and free telephone advice facility given to farmers through the 1551 helpline.

SAD President Parkash Singh Badal while speaking on the occasion stressed the need for giving the same concessions for setting up of industry in Punjab as had been granted to Himachal Pradesh.

He said the industry was taking flight to Himachal at the cost of the state. He said steps should also be taken to save the steel industry in Punjab.

Union Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa also referred to this point saying “you (Mr Vajpayee) used to tell us to reunite them (Badal and Tohra). This has now been done”. The SAD Patiala Lok Sabha candidate, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, claimed that Patiala was on the top as far as the unemployment index was concerned.

He said no industry had been set up in the state during the last two years.

BJP state unit President Avinash Rai Khanna also spoke on the occasion.


Cong in tight spot over Punjab revolt
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Hanspal to withdraw papers today

Mr Hanspal has not withdrawn his nomination papers for the Rajya Sabha seat. Asked he said he remained busy today pacifying party leaders and would submit a request tomorrow to withdraw the nomination papers. He said he would abide by the party high command’s decision . “ I am a disciplined soldier of the party”, he added. He said he gave the authority letter as state president of the party, declaring Mr Gill as the official Congress candidate for the Rajya Sabha seat.

Chandigarh, March 18
The Congress high command is finding it difficult to check the revolt in its party ranks in Punjab against the nomination of former Chief Election Commissioner M.S. Gill as its candidate for the Rajya Sabha. In fact, the reaction in the party ranks in the state over the nomination of Mr Gill has virtually rocked the party high command .

What has been troubling the high command is the open opposition of Mr Gill in the party ranks. It is perhaps for the first time that party activists in any state have dared to challenge the high command’s decision in such a hostile and formidable manner. Otherwise, over the years, state leaders have been accepting the high command’s decisions with mild protests or without any murmur.

If the party fails to satisfy its activists, then its election campaign will be hit hard. Party leaders say if the high command can ignore its state President while allotting the ticket for the Rajya Sabha, other leaders should not expect much from it.

Sources said senior leaders, handling the party affairs at the national level today remained in touch with the Congress leadership in Punjab to pacify the party activists, especially district presidents and other officer-bearers of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC). The sources said a number of senior Congress leaders, including some presidents of districts units, had rushed to Delhi to convey their anguish to the high command personally.

Ms Anita Verma, secretary of the All-India Congress Committee (AICC), who was present at of meeting of office-bearers here yesterday, submitted a detailed report to the high command today about the resentment among party leaders against the nomination of Mr Gill.

The sources said Mrs Mohsina Kidwai, general secretary of the AICC and in charge of Punjab, contacted Mr Hanspal a number of times today to know about the goings-on in the party. She also sought photocopies of all reports which appeared in the print media in the region regarding the nomination of Mr Gill and related developments in the Congress.

The sources said clippings of the reports had been faxed to Mrs Kidwai, adding that Congress leaders from Punjab today met Mrs Kidwai, Mr Ahmad Patel and Mrs Ambika Soni to lodge their protest and to urge them to field Mr Hanspal as a candidate in place of Mr Gill.

What has surprised Congress leaders here is Mr Gill’s access to Mrs Sonia Gandhi. Many Congress leaders were not aware of the fact that Mr Gill has been advising Mrs Gandhi and was invited by her to tea and a number of times in recent months. The sources said Mr Gill was first sounded by Mrs Gandhi to contest from any Lok Sabha constituency of his choice in Delhi and later this offer was extended to him.


Curb indiscipline, Umrao asks Sonia
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
Former Punjab minister and a candidate for the Jalandhar Lok Sabha ticket, Mr Umrao Singh, wants Congress President Sonia Gandhi to curb the growing tendency among Congressmen to defy the party high command, saying that “revolt against the nomination of Mr Manohar Singh Gill for a Rajya Sabha seat was unfortunate and a severe breach of the party discipline”.

Mr Umrao Singh, who had been a Cabinet minister in both Giani Zail Singh and Mr Darbara Singh-led Congress Governments in the state, also represented Jalandhar in the Lok Sabha. His siding with Mr M.S. Gill notwithstanding, delegations of Punjab Congressmen left for New Delhi this morning to urge the party high command and Mrs Sonia Gandhi to reconsider the decision.

Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said that as a “loyal soldier of the party, I would honour the decision of Congress President Sonia Gandhi”.

The Punjab Congress chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal, who represented Punjab in the Rajya Sabha for two terms and filed his papers as a covering candidate, has already indicated that he would withdraw his papers tomorrow to pave the way for the unanimous election of Mr Manohar Singh Gill, Mr Ashwani Kumar and Mr Dharam Pal Sabharwal, all of the Congress.

Mr Gill, Mr Umrao Singh said, had been an outstanding civil servant who always championed the cause of Punjab farmers. “If the Congress President and the party high command thought of sending him to the Rajya Sabha, it is unfortunate that all those who had been appointed office-bearers of district and block Congress committees by the present Punjab Congress chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal, should threaten to defy it.”

Talking to The Tribune over the telephone, Mr Umrao Singh said that it did not behove the state leadership to “engineer such revolts at a time when the Lok Sabha elections are just nine weeks away”.

Pointing a finger at the Punjab Congress chief, Mr Umrao Singh said that Mr Hanspal should not forget that when he was nominated for the Rajya Sabha, the then Congress Government in the state had managed to get him enlisted as a voter in Punjab at the last moment.

“Why people at the top should have double standards. On the one hand they are describing one of the outstanding bureaucrats of the country, a son of the soil, as an outsider, on the other the same leadership had approached and recommended the name of a serving government employee, a police officer, for the Jalandhar Lok Sabha seat.

“It does not behove the leader of a party or a government to have two yard sticks for different people,” said Mr Umrao Singh, holding that his views were shared by several other senior Congressmen who were pained at “vulgar defiance of the party high command in the presence of the state leadership at Punjab Congress Bhavan in Chandigarh yesterday.”


Scuffle between cops, protesters
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 18
Unruly scenes were witnessed here today as the city police tried to whisk away as Mr Chiman Lal, his wife and others who had staged a dharna outside the house of DSP Narenderpal Singh Waring.

Mr Chiman Lal had given notice through some newspapers that he along with some members of his family would sit in dharna outside the DSP’s house here on Thursday. He alleged that the DSP had not taken “suitable” action against the police personnel responsible for siding with a former municipal councillor in a long-pending dispute between him and the councillor. The dispute pertained to payment of labour charges. He had already sat in dharna thrice during the past six months.

While Mr Chiman Lal, accompanied by his wife, Mrs Raj Rani, a son and other relatives was sitting in dharna outside the DSP’s house, some policemen, led by SHO Jagrup Singh, asked him to leave the place, but he refused. Sources said Mr Chiman Lal and Mr Jagrup Singh had a heated exchange and entered into a scuffle. Other policemen allegedly used force to pull Mr Chiman Lal and his wife inside the DSP’s house. Mrs Raj Rani resisted this and raised slogans against the police.

As some journalists, who were trying to catch every moment on their cameras, tried to force their entry into the DSP’s house, the police resisted it and pushed back one of them. The journalists later met the DSP to lodge a protest. Meanwhile, the protesters, led by Mr Chiman Lal, were allowed to leave for their homes.

Mr Chiman Lal has demanded action against the SHO, it is learnt. His complaint against six former police officers of the city police station is already under investigation, the sources said. The Punjab State Human Rights Commission had referred his previous complaint to the SSP, Ferozepore, for action.

Later the city police booked 12 persons in connection with the unruly scenes witnessed during the dharna.

Sources said a case under Sections 353, 452, 341, 186, 147, 148 and 149 of the IPC had been registered. Seven persons, Mr Chiman Lal, his wife, Mrs Raj Rani, Mr Gurcharan Singh, Ms Manjit Kaur, Ms Santosh Rani, Ms Gurjit Kaur and Ms Balbir Kaur were later arrested. They were locked up in the old city police station here this evening and would be produced in a judicial court tomorrow.


Army airstrip: DGP orders probe into bitumen scam
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 18
The Director-General Police, Mr A.A. Siddiqui, has ordered a high level inquiry after receiving a complaint into the alleged pilferage of a large quantity of bitumen from state government stores for reportedly laying an Army air strip somewhere in the Western sector. This was one of the five airstrips being constructed in the country.

Mr J.P. Birdi, Inspector General (Border Range) while confirming ordering of the inquiry, told The Tribune that Assistant Superintendent Police (City) had been asked to complete the inquiry at the earliest.

However, Mr Satish Aggarwal and Pawan Verma who are running a hotmix plant near Ramtirath, few kilometres from here, refuted the allegations that the bitumen was pilfered from any government department. Mr Aggarwal also said the bitumen used for the airstrip was as per requirements. He said that the work was being completed strictly under the supervision of senior Army officials and hence nobody could think of compromising on quality and specimen of the bitumen.

However, the complaint received by the DGP claimed that since the Aggarwal company was engaged in laying roads for various departments like PWD, Mandi Board, Municipal Corporation and various other government and non government organisations so instead of using crumb bitumen grade 60 (required for airstrips) to be purchased from a refinery, the company procured the crumb bitumen grade 55 from stores of various government departments like PWD and Mandi Board. This bitumen was meant for laying roads. It was also alleged that the company had used 200 MT of bitumen worth Rs 34 lakh from the state government departments. The complaint further said that “bitumen is a petroleum product coming under essential commodities Act and ‘pilferage’ of large quantity of such a product was a matter of great concern.”

Mr Pawan Verma, however, said that the complaint was lodged by his professional rival as he (the rival) could not get the supply order. He said no state department had come forward to lodge any complaint regarding pilferage of the birumen stock. He said that only a small portion of the airstrip had been laid and only a small quantity of bitumen was used so far. Moreover, no civilian was allowed to visit the site of the airstrip which was under construction these days.


Paper-leak case registered
Tribune News Service

Dehlon, March 18
The Dehlon police today finally registered a case against unknown persons regarding the leakage of Class X mathematics paper three days ago. The police had announced yesterday that the case had been referred to the Sangrur police.

The case was registered on the directions of the SSP Jagraon, Mr Harcharan Singh Bhullar, today. The Dehlon police officials had refused to take cognizance of the complaint of District Education Officer (DEO) Secondary, Ludhiana, Mr Avinash Chander Sethi. Confirming the registration of the case, Mr Bhullar told Ludhiana Tribune that the Dehlon police officials were told to register the FIR on the basis of the complaint.

The Dehlon police had claimed to have conducted the investigation before filing an FIR. The police had stated that no question paper was faxed from the town as alleged by the DEO-Secondary.

The DSP (Detective), Mr Gurmukh Singh Cheema, has started investigation into the case. 


Students protest against exam cancellation
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 18
A large number of students, who were appearing in the class X examinations of the Punjab School Education Board, today raised slogans against the Board for cancelling the examination. The students, including private candidates and some from regular schools in Chandigarh’s periphery, collected outside The Tribune office this morning to protest against the Board.

The candidates demanded that the Board should reconsider its decision to cancel the mathematics examination, as there was no paper leak in their centres. ‘‘Why should we be punished for others fault?’’ they questioned.

Meanwhile, confusion prevailed at local examination centres of the Punjab School Education Board where students were appearing for the Class XII political science paper. While at some centres information that the examination had been cancelled reached in time to inform the waiting students, at many centres the examination was conducted amidst confusion about the authenticity of the information.


PU to send roll numbers by courier in cities
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
Unlike previous years, Panjab University will not witness the usual hue and cry over non-delivery of examination admit cards by students this year. In a series of student-friendly measures, the Examination Branch will despatch roll numbers only through registered post or courier.

Departing from the tradition of sending roll numbers by regular post which usually failed to reach private candidates as well as those appearing through the Correspondence Studies on time, the university authorities have decided to send these by courier in cities and through registered post in the rest of the areas.

Also, for the first time, the university has delivered admit cards through its personnel to all affiliated colleges in the city and Punjab. This demand was raised in the Senate and Syndicate a number of times and the Examination Branch was directed to implement the same over a year ago.

“In the past, there have been numerous complaints of non-delivery of admit cards. The Vice-Chancellor, Prof K.N. Pathak, was in favour of addressing this problem on priority. This time we have worked out the system in a way that candidates would not be put to any inconvenience. Though expensive, it has been implemented without any extra charges levied from the students,” the Controller of Examination, Dr Sodhi Ram, said.

In a move to check impersonation, the students have been asked to fill two admit cards, one of which would be handed over to the Centre Superintendent of the examination centre while the other would go to the candidate. Moreover, the photograph would bear a laminated hologram of the university which would be tamper-resistant and give away impersonation.

While Panjab University introduced a four-digit code system on answer-books a few years ago to maintain secrecy of the candidate, it proved to be unsatisfactory. With 15 lakh sheets to be coded, one code had a number of answer-books to its credit. This meant sifting through all the answer-books with the same code when a student applied for revaluation.

Replacing this, a new code system would come into effect from the forthcoming examinations wherein one code would be assigned to only one answer-book, speeding up the revaluation of answer books. In addition, the cover page of each stream and class would be distinguished by the colour assigned to it. This, too, is aimed at locating answer-books from tied up bundles in the university store and making identification easier.

Interestingly, this year the university has combined date sheets of all three years in humanities, science and commerce to check confusion caused by despatch of wrong datesheets to candidates.


Spain train blast: two Punjabi youths freed
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 18
After finding them to be innocent during an initial investigation, the Spanish police has released Mr Suresh Kumar (31) and his brother-in-law, Mr Vinay Kohli (24), belonging to Hoshiarpur and Jamsher village in Jalandhar district, respectively. They were running a store in Madrid and were detained for questioning in connection with the three Madrid rail blasts on March 13.

Powerful explosions had rocked three railway stations in Madrid on March 12, resulting in the deaths of 173 passengers and causing injuries to more than 400 of them. The blasts were suspected to be an act of a Basque separatist group, ETA, which has allegedly been waging an armed war of independence for three decades in that country.

The Spanish police had detained Mr Kumar and Mr Kohli on the basis of the recovery of a mobile phone set and its bill from the blast site, which had revealed that the gadget was purchased from a store run by these two Indians, who were said to be subjected to stiff investigation, during which they had pleaded that they were innocent and had nothing to do with the blasts, sources said. Subsequently, the Spanish police had urged the Indian Embassy to provide the addresses and other details about the detained youths.

This had made officials of the Intelligence Bureau question Mr Sham Lal and Mrs Kanta Devi, parents of Mr Kumar and residents of the Yamuna Vihar locality in Hoshiarpur city.


Chandumajra skips SAD-BJP rally
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 18
Former Patiala MP and senior Akali leader Prem Singh Chandumajra, who had only recently expressed full faith in the leadership of SAD President Parkash Singh Badal after a bout of dissidence when he was denied the party ticket from Patiala, remained absent from today’s SAD-BJP rally.

The rally, which was held in the Polo Ground here, was also not attended by Mr Chandumajra’s supporters. Sources said Mr Chandumajra absented himself from the rally because there was no move to give him any “importance” at this juncture.

Akali sources said foolproof protocol arrangements had been made to ensure that only SAD President Parkash Singh Badal, SGPC President Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Union Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, state BJP president Avinash Rai Khanna and Patiala Lok Sabha candidate Capt Kanwaljit Singh would sit on the dais. The sources said as there was no chance of Mr Chandumajra being accommodated on the dais or even being presented a “siropa” on the occasion, he had opted out of the rally.

The sources said Mr Chandumajra was likely to join the party campaign in favour of Capt Kanwaljit Singh in a few days following an “appropriate” function which would “assauge” his hurt feelings at being overlooked for renomination.

Surprise attender

There was a surprise attender in former Congress legislator Ramesh Singla. The former Congress man, who had joined the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) before the last Assembly elections, seems now to have joined the SAD bandwagon.

Sources said Mr Singla had already joined the SAD and only a formal declaration was to be made in this regard at a rally which was likely to be held on March 24. Mr Singla had resigned from the Congress to join the NCP when he was denied party ticket from the Nabha Assembly seat in the last elections. The ticket had gone to Mr Randeep Singh, who had subsequently emerged victorious. Surprisingly, Mr Singla was today seated next to former SAD minister Raja Narinder Singh, who has consistently represented Nabha.

Vehicle towed away

The Aaj Tak crew, which came to cover the rally, was in for a ugly surprise with the city police towing away two of their vehicles. Sources said the vehicles were also damaged in the process.

Aaj Tak reporter Pradeep Chauhan said the damage seemed to be done intentionally. He said he had filed a complaint at the Civil Lines police station.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh has condemned the incident. He alleged that this action had been taken because the channel had been showing live telecast of the “massive” rally which was being held in the hometown of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

Captain vs Captain

The battle for the Patiala Lok Sabha seat was today described as a “political Kargil” by SAD President Parkash Singh Badal. The party candidate, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, using the adage that only iron can cut iron, said only a “Captain” could get the better of another “Captain”. 


CPI (ML) leaders pay tributes to Padda
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, March 18
The CPI (ML) organised a Shaheedi conference in memory of its prominent Naxalite leader Jaimal Singh Padda in connection with his 16th “Martyrdom day’ at Lakhan ke Padde village 12 km from here today.

Mr Padda was gunned down by militants at his native village, Lakhan Kee padde, in 1988.

Mr Ajmer Singh, a member of the state committee of the CPI (ML) unfurled the party Flag at the samadhi of Mr Padda.

Mr Darshan Singh Khatkar, state secretary, announced that the party would contest three Lok Sahba seats in Punjab.

He said the fielding of film actors and sportspersons by ruling parties in the Lok Sabha elections indicated the moral degeneration of political parties.

Mr Khatkar, Mr Sardara Singh Mahal, Mr Ajmer Singh, Mr Ealwinder Singh Bhullar, Mr Tek Singh and Mr Gurdev Singh paid rich tributes to Mr Padda.


Admn favoured Cong in panchayat poll, says MLA
Tribune News Service

Mansa, March 18
Mr Jagdeep Singh Nakai, MLA, Joga, today alleged that the district administration had acted partially to facilitate the victory of Congress candidate as sarpanch of Jhabbar village of this district, the elections for which were held on March 16.

In a memorandum submitted to the governor, Punjab, Mr Nakai alleged that the district administration helped in deliberately defeating the SAD (B) candidate Mr Beant Singh. He alleged that the seals and locks of ballot boxes were found broken before counting began. He added that though these bunglings were brought into the notice of the authorities concerned the Congress candidate was declared elected.

He alleged that about 35 votes, which were polled in favour of Mr Beant Singh, were rejected after a section of polling staff put double stamps on the same.

While demanding an independent probe into this incident he said that his party had also approached the Governor Punjab for the transfer of Deputy Commissioner, Mansa.


Meeting on RRD manifesto today
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 18
The Rashtriaya Raksha Dal (RRD) would stress on setting up a federal government after the constitution of the next Lok Sabha to weed out the political corruption in the country. In addition to it the RRD would also emphasise need for corrective steps to eradicte unemployment, population, poverty, promotion of education, uplift of women and weaker sections of the society.

A meeting of the senior members would be held at Chandigarh tomorrow to give final touches to this poll manifesto of RRD, said Col, H.J. Singh (retd) state vice-president of the dal said here today. He said even after over 50 years of Independence all successive governments had protected their own interests or established dynastic rule encouraging nepotism and corruption.

Describing the ‘India Shining’ and feel-good factor as a political drama by the NDA government to achieve political gains in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections he said this was dividing the countrymen on communal lines.

Deploring the Deputy Prime Minister for launching rath yatra, he cautioned the people about such political tactics. He said that the RRD was contesting the elections from 12 parliamentary constituencies in the state. A list of four nominees had already been declared and the names of the others be announced within a day or so, he added.


BJP demands removal of hoardings
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 18
Mr Sunil Bitta, district general secretary (rural), BJP, today said hoardings projecting development works initiated by the late MP of the constituency, Bhan Singh Bhaura, should be removed immediately by the authorities as per the Model Code of Conduct.

Mr Bitta alleged that the hoardings, which carry details of development works initiated by the late MP, could influence minds of the electorate.

He said the widow of the late MP had jumped into the election arena and would be contesting this Parliamentary seat on a CPI ticket.


Christian Front cautions voters against BJP
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 18
Mr Kanwal Bakshi, president, United Christian Front, Punjab, and member Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board, lauding the secular agenda of the Congress yesterday cautioned the Christian voters against the BJP.

He said there were sizeable Christian votes in five Lok Sabha constituencies and warned Christians about supporting the BJP or the Akali Dal, the latter as allies of the BJP.


Army seeks action against encroachers
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, March 18
The Army authorities are reported to have written to the local police to register FIRs against 18 violators, including a son of a senior Punjab Congress leader, who had carried out construction within 1,000 yards of the Ammunition Sub Depot, Mamun (2 ASD), by flouting rules.

According to sources, more than 10,000 families are residing within the prohibited areas. In April 2001, a huge fire broke out in the 2ASD in which ammunition worth crores was destroyed. A court of inquiry was also set up to inquire into the incident.

Army sources said taking a serious note of the construction activities going on in the prohibited area, the Army authorities had asked the local administration and the police to stop the illegal construction with immediate effect in Lamini Seonti, Manwal and Mamun villages.

The sources also said that the police authorities had been asked to register FIRs against the defaulters.

Investigations made by this reporter show that revenue officials had already counted 2,301 houses, 317 bungalows, 842 shops, 18 religious buildings, six schools, 47 tubewells and wells within the restricted area but the Army authorities had acquired a list of only 18 defaulters.

Apprehending eviction and registration of criminal cases, people residing in the prohibited areas are a worried lot.

The Army authorities have already put up various signboards prohibiting construction within the restricted area but construction work is going on unabated.

A large number of people apprehending arrests and evictions yesterday met Mr Vinod Khanna, Minister of State for External Affairs, and sought his intervention in the matter.

Mr Manminder Singh, local Superintendent of Police, said, “The law will take its own course”.

Meanwhile, the affected villagers have threatened the administration that in case orders regarding registration of criminal cases against them were not withdrawn, they would block the traffic and stage dharnas.


150 companies sought during LS elections
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 18
Arrangements have been made to hold Lok Sabha polls in Punjab. As many as 150 companies of paramilitary forces have been demanded from the Central Government for this purpose, said Mr A.A. Siddiqui, Director General, Punjab Police, today while talking to mediapersons at JCT Rest House Chohal, 8 km from here. He said more than 65,000 policemen would be deployed on election duty.

About 3000 polling stations had been identified as sensitive in state where special arrangements would be done to avoid any untoward incident. None of the polling booths had been identified as most sensitive in state. He said that 30 companies of PAP and 2 of Home Guards would be sent to other states for poll duty prior to holding of Lok Sabha polls in Punjab.

Replying to a question Mr Siddiqui said that a case for proposed amendments in Police Act 1861 was pending with the state government for final approval.

Referring to the Bharat Uday Yatra of Mr L.K. Advani, which would enter in Punjab on March 24, Mr Siddiqui said that a special task force headed by Mr D.R. Bhatti, Additional Director General PAP, had been constituted, which would monitor the yatra while its passed through the state.


Rights body seeks probe into immigration racket
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 18
The Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO) has demanded investigation into a fake bails, surety bonds and immigration racket.

In a communication to the Inspector-General of Police, the PHRO Chairman, Justice Ajit Singh Bains, said the inquiry conducted by them gave proof about the racket. The probe said the immigration laxity was deliberate.

The probe cited a case of a British couple of Bangladeshi origin, Nasafar Ali Sheikh and his wife Hasina Sheikh, who had entered India in their Toyota car from Wagah on July 19. They were arrested four hours later on allegations of fleeing. Investigations by the PHRO revealed that they were implicated ‘deliberately’.

In another case, Mohammed Yasin Mallik, a resident of Baramula, was apprehended at the Attari railway station by immigration officials due to his namesake being a leader of militants. On knowing the facts, the PHRO alleged, officials demanded money from him. Since he was unable to pay the money, the officials torn pages of his passport and registered an FIR against him.

The investigations revealed that immigration, customs and police officials had formed a gang with an advocate who later helped the accused in getting bail.


Conference on Punjab history begins
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 18
A three-day 36th session of the Punjab History Conference on the theme of ‘Guru Granth Sahib: as a source of Punjab History and Culture’ was inaugurated at Punjabi University campus here today. The former Vice-Chancellor, of V.M. Open University, Kota (Rajasthan), Prof G.S.L. Devra, was the chief guest.

While welcoming scholars and delegates the Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Mr Swarn Singh Boparai, said Punjabi University had been organising academic programmes for celebrating the 400th year of the Parkash Utsav of Guru Granth Sahib. He reiterated the importance of the sacred scriptures of the Sikhs for reconstructing the socio-cultural and economic life of the people.

Speaking on the occasion Prof G.S.L. Devra, a renowned historian, said the growth of historical science like any other science, demands continuous adoption and adaptations of new ideas and approaches after these had been listed according to the methods of each discipline. In his presidential address Dr J.S. Grewal, a noted historian, said the ‘bani’ of Guru Ram Dass provides important insight into Sikhism and the history of Sikhs, especially in terms of ideology, institutions and identity.

Earlier, Dr Sukhdial Singh, seminar Director and Head of the Punjab Historical Studies Department, while introducing the theme of the conference said Guru Granth Sahib was a sacred treatise, the historical importance of which was indispensable. Dr Param Bakhshish Singh, Registrar, Punjabi University, said Guru Granth Sahib throws useful light on the historical, social and cultural condition of that time.

On the occasion Mr Boparai released a book ‘Khalsa Raj da Bani: Banda Singh Bahadur’ written by Dr Sukhdial Singh. Besides this, Dr Amar Singh from Rohtak, sectional president, ancient session, Prof Gurbax Singh, sectional president, medieval session, Prof Harish Sharma, sectional president, modern session and Prof Jaswinder Kaur Dhillon, sectional president, Punjabi session also presented their papers.


Pharmacists threaten stir
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 18
Mr Baldev Sharma, press secretary, Punjab State Pharmacists’ Association, today said that due to the non-acceptance of their long-pending demands their association has decided to stage dharnas in front of the residences of Punjab Chief Minister and the state Health Minister.

In a press statement issued here Mr Sharma, said that their association had been demanding that the nomenclature of their post should be changed to pharmacy officer from the present name of pharmacist. He said that the government had not increased their initial pay scales even after an upward revision in their entry-level qualifications.


Research Centre to honour Tejwant Mann
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 18
The Malwa Research Centre in association with Bathinda Grace Book, a publishing house, have decided to honour eminent personalities with Punjab Rattan Award and Shamsheer-e-Punjab Award for outstanding performance in their respective fields.

The president of the centre, Mr Jagdeep Singh said Dr Tejwant Singh Mann, a noted Punjabi writer, and Dr Yoginder Mohan, Principal Correspondent of Indian Express, would be honoured with Punjab Rattan and Shamsheer-e-Punjab Awards, respectively.


8-yr-old dies after surgery
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 18
Kuldeep Singh, a resident of Purani Basti Tripuri, has alleged that his son Tinku (8) had died due to negligence of a doctor here today.

Tinku had undergone a minor operation of the nose at the Model Town dispensary this afternoon. After the operation, the doctors said his condition was serious and referred him to the local Rajindra Hospital where he was admitted to the ICU, but he could not survive . The body has been sent for a post-mortem.


CBI given three months in panchayat secretaries’ case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was today granted three months time by a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in the panchayat secretaries case.

At the very onset, a status report in a sealed cover was produced by CBI’s standing counsel Rajan Gupta before the Bench, comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy and Mr Justice Surya Kant Sharma.

The secretaries, in their petition, had initially alleged that the action was being initiated against them in a mala fide manner due to political vendetta. Claiming to have been appointed by the previous government in October, 2001, Raminder Singh of Ferozepore and six others, in one such petition, had added that the government had proceeded against them by issuing a blanket order without giving them an opportunity of hearing.

Liquor auction

Taking up a petition filed by a liquor contractor against the clubbing of Hoshiarpur and Nawanshahr circles, a Division Bench of the high court today fixed March 22 as the next date of hearing.

Appearing before the Bench, comprising Mr Justice N.K. Sud and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta, Mr Mohan Jain argued on petitioner Sanjeev Bhandari’s behalf that the clubbing was against the auction rules.

In his petition, Mr Bhandari had alleged that liquor vends in Nawanshahr were allotted to Mr Chadha’s firm for Rs 37 crore against an available bid of Rs 40 crore.

He had added that the auction for vends in Hoshiarpur was closed at Rs 70 crore despite the fact that the petitioner and his associates had offered Rs 72 crore.


And now organic mushroom
Gurbax Puri

Daniel B. Das at his mushroom farm.
Daniel B. Das at his mushroom farm.

TARN TARAN: The Socio-Economic Development Programme (SEDP), an organisation run by the Diocese of Amritsar, has successfully grown organic mushroom in vermicompost. The experiment can be called the first of its kind in the region.

According to Mr Daniel B. Das, coordinator of the SEDP, under the entrepreneurship development programme, the SEDP has succeeded in growing mushroom without the use of fertiliser, chemicals and pesticides. He claims that the mushroom grown in vermicompost is bigger in size, richer in food value and much better in taste. Besides, it is free from all kinds of poisons even.

Mr Das says that the idea behind this project is to popularise organic farming. This kind of mushroom will fetch better price for the growers. Mr Das says that the SEDP has identified 100 border area villages where unemployed youth and women would be imparted training in the cultivation of mushroom through the vermicompost method. Already about 100 women and youths have been given training under the scheme during the past 10 months. They will start vermiculture and prepare their own compost to grow mushroom.

Mr Das reveals that he has contacted the Indian Council for Agriculture Research (ICAR), Chambaghat, Solan, to undertake a scientific study on organic mushroom cultivation and has decided to establish contact with Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, for further guidance.

Mr Das says by using vermicompost fertility of land can be restored. This will also help in checking watertable. Moreover, there is no marketing problem for this kind of mushroom.


Traffic education week begins
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, March 18
The district police launched a special traffic education week by organising an awareness camp here yesterday.

Inaugurating the camp, the district police chief, Mr Narindra Bhargava, urged drivers and truck operators to stick to traffic rules. He said the traffic education week was aimed at spreading awareness about traffic rules. He said the drivers should not use cell phones and avoid driving under the influence of liquor.

Mr Bhargava said the truck operators should get their drivers medically examined at least twice a year. He said those who violate the traffic rules would be dealt with severely.


SDM told to carry out orders on land possession
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 18
The Ropar Deputy Commissioner has directed the local SDM to carry out the operation for handing over possession of encroached land, worth Rs 1.50 crore, to the Municipal Council on a priority basis.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mrs Seema Jain, told Chandigarh Tribune that she had directed the SDM that the orders of the court stating that the illegally occupied land was to be handed over to the civic body had to be complied with immediately. “I will be asking for a compliance report in this regard later,” she added.

She said all arrangements for carrying out the operation had been made. The council could not take possession of the land yesterday due “negligence” of a lower official.

About eight acres of land in Khanpur and Aaujlan villages falling under the municipal limits had been illegally occupied by Mr Charan Singh for the past more than 30 years.


2 rice sheller owners in Vigilance net

Moga, March 18
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau here today arrested two rice sheller owners while another to escaped during raids today in connection with an alleged fraud of Rs 1.18 crore with Markfed in 2001-02.

The raid on Jai Jwala Food Export Limited, Singhanwala, in the suburbs of the town, led to the arrest of its owners, who had been identified as Mr Rajesh Goyal and Mr Naresh Goyal. The third suspect Mr Jiwan Kumar, gave a slip to the raiding party.

Vigilance DSP Surjit Singh Khose, who led the raid, said owners of the shellers failed to deliver rice after custom milling of paddy provided by the Markfed during 2001-02.

He said Markfed had supplied about 660056 quintal paddy for custom milling. The sheller owners delivered only about 21,994 quintals and the balance of more than 26,000 quintals, worth Rs 1.18 crore, was not delivered and it was misappropriated by the owners.

The Markfed, after conducting a departmental inquiry, had reported the matter to the bureau, which in turn registered a case under Sections 420-406 of the IPC and also under the Prevention of Corruption Act. — UNI 


Vehicle thief arrested
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, March 18
The police has busted an inter-state gang of vehicles thieves. A member of the gang has been nabbed while two other members managed to escape from the naka point under cover of darkness.

Three Scorpio vehicles have been recovered from their possession.

The DSP of the local subdivision said here today that the thief had been identified as Harpinder Singh alias Happy, a resident of New Delhi who at present is living at Goindwal. The absconders have been identified as Deepak of Delhi and Gurwinder Singh, alias Vicky of Mohni Park Amritsar. They used to make fake documents to sell the stolen vehicles.

The thieves were nabbed from a naka point put up at Sangha village last night. A case has been registered.


Priest found murdered

Gurdaspur, March 18
A temple priest was today found murdered near Bhulechak village on the outskirts of Gurdaspur, the police said.

Found missing since last night, the body of Surinder Giri, 35, bearing multiple injuries on the head was found by passers-by in fields.

The Sadar police station has registered a case of murder under Section 302 of the IPC. — UNI


Granthi booked on charge of molestation
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, March 18
The Banga police has registered a case against Kuldip Singh, a granthi and a resident of Khankhana village, under Sections 376, 452 and 342 of the IPC for allegedly molesting a minor girl of the village yesterday.

The girl, a student of Class VI, had returned home from her school after taking an examination in the afternoon. Her parents were partaking of a langar near their home.

Kuldip Singh allegedly entered their house bolted the door from inside and molested the girl. When the father of the victim heard some noise, he knocked at the door. Kuldip Singh opened the door and fled by pushing the father of the victim.


Cop held on graft charge
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 18
The Vigilance Bureau yesterday arrested head constable Amrik Singh of Kot Mit Singh Police Chowki under the Islamabad police station here for allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 4500 from Onkar Singh son of Kultar Singh.

Mr Dilbagh Singh Gill, SSP, Vigilance, said that the accused was demanding money to release his car, a mobile phone and a wrist watch. A case has been registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act.


Death in custody case: 6 cops acquitted
Our Correspondent

Barnala, March 18
Inspector Ashok Mohan and five other policemen were acquitted yesterday. Mr Ashok Mohan and five others Mr Daya Singh, Mr Randhir Singh, Mr Jasvir Singh, Mr Jagmail Singh, and Mr Kuldip Singh were booked in death in police custody case on February 2, 2000 under Sections 365, 344, 304A, 201, 148, 149 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code at Tapa Police Station.

They were convicted by a court at Barnala and had appealed against the lower court’s verdict.

Mr Hargobind Singh, of Mattar village had allegedly died in police custody in Tapa Police Station 20 km from here. He had been arrested in a case under the NDPS Act on January 11, 2000. Mr Ashok Mohan was SHO, Tapa Police Station at that time. It had been alleged that Mr Hargobind Singh had died in police custody due to torture and his body had been thrown into a canal by the police.


Row over shifting of exam superintendent
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 18
Mr Daya Singh DEO(S), has denied that the flying staff led by the CEO had detected mass copying at Government Senior Secondary School Boys, Bassi Pathana. He said CEO had inspected the center and only six students were caught copying and they were booked under UMC. He said the Superintendent and four supervisors were shifted and not suspended as reported in papers.

Meanwhile, a controversy has erupted after the CEO’s raid and subsequent shifting of supervisory staff. The teacher union’s leaders have raised doubts over now shifting of two Deputy Superintendents whereas it was their prime duty to check the menace of copying. They alleged that they had become victim of well-planned conspiracy as they refused to fall in line of those, who wanted to do mass copying at the center and had collected huge funds for bribing the supervisory staff. They said that no action against two deputy superintendents had confirmed their belief that CEO was called knowingly and the slips were planted under the tats. They alleged that a lobby in the DEO office was responsible for the appointment of supervisory staff as per the wishes of those who strike deal with the private school managements and students. They demanded thorough probe into the incident.

When asked the DEO, why both the Deputy Superintendents had not been replaced, he said that he was not aware of action as the CEO had raided and taken action on his own, he reached the center late.

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