P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM contradicts himself
Chander Parkash and Anirudh Gupta
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, March 23
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, seems to have adopted “double standard” for selecting Congress candidates for the coming Lok Sabha elections.

Though he continues to reiterate his stand that no party MLA should be fielded for the Lok Sabha elections, he has strongly favoured the nomination of Deputy Chief Minister and MLA from Lehragagga, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, from the Sangrur Lok Sabha constituency. His close kin and sitting MP, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President, SAD (Amritsar), is also contesting the elections from this seat.

“According to my personal opinion, no party MLA should be given ticket for the Lok Sabha elections. I have given the name of Ms Bhattal for the Sangrur Lok Sabha constituency because she is the most suitable and winnable candidate”, he said, adding that the party high command would take the final decision in this regard.

Talking to mediapersons after laying wreaths at the Samadhi of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev at National Martyrs Memorial, Hussainiwala, the Chief Minister said the names of party candidates for the remaining Lok Sabha seats would be announced on March 25 by the high command. When asked about his reaction to the fact that how Mr Jagmeet Brar, MP, Faridkot, has started his campaign from the Ferozepore Lok Sabha seat despite he has not been allotted party ticket yet, the Chief Minister said if Mr Brar was doing so without the approval of the party high command then it was bad. He said sentiments of party workers had been conveyed to the high command in connection with the choice of candidate for this border Lok Sabha seat.

He said a mass contact programme of Mrs Gandhi would be held in April. Mrs Gandhi would address at least three rallies, one each in Majha, Malwa and Doaba regions during the election campaign of party candidates. When asked about the possibility of an alliance with the BSP in Punjab only for the coming Lok Sabha elections, he said at the moment there was no such thing. To another question, he said the rath yatra of Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, would not make any impact on the election scene in Punjab.

He denied that he was having any links with the Miri Piri Akali Dal as alleged by SGPC Chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra.


Martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh observed
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 23
Slogans of “Inqlab Zindabad, Vande Matram and Jab tak suraj chand rahega Bhagat Singh tera naam rahega” were raised as the Punjabi Sabhyachar Manch organised a march to observe the martyrdom day of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev here this morning.

Representatives of various organisations assembled at Shaheed Bhagat Singh Chowk, near the old Subdivisional Complex here, to garland the statue of great martyr Bhagat Singh. Those present on the occasion included Mr Gurcharan Singh Gill and Bhaiya Ajay Kumar Gilhotra, president and chairman of the Manch, respectively, Mr B.L. Sikka, president, Khatri Sabha, Col (retd.) Ajit Singh, president, Rotary Club, Mr Sita Ram Sharma, state secretary, Rashtriya Suraksha Samiti, Mr Bhupinder Snehi, city president, BJP, Mr Hanuman Dass Goyal of the Aggarwal Sabha, Ms Vidya Chaudhry, president, Mahila Suraksha Samiti, Ms Jamna Devi Chawla, president, Arya Mahila Propkarini Sabha, and Mr Ramesh Bajaj, president, Fellows Club.

The procession was headed by a flower-bedecked jeep with portraits of the martyrs. The chief of the scouting movement in the region, Mr Darshan Lal Chugh, Mr K.K. Sidana, a social activist, and Mr Parwinder Singh, a lecturer, addressed the gatherings during the 5-km route of the procession. On the way, participants garlanded statues of Punjab Kesari Lala Lajpat Rai, Maharaja Aggarsain, Shaheed Udham Singh, Maj Surender Parsad, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and Veer Haqiqat Rai. Students of a local school also accompanied the procession, carrying banners and placards.

The Technical Services Union organised a rally inside the Subdivisional Complex of the PSEB near the railway crossing. Another rally was held at Gandhi Chowk by Kissan Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti in collaboration with other organisations. The Shaheed Bhagat Singh Market Association and the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Sabhyacharak Manch organised another function at Shaheed Bhagat Singh chowk, where senior government officers and eminent citizens offered floral tributes to the martyrs. A cultural programme was also organised.

All main roads were cleaned by sanitation workers of the municipal council today to ensure smooth movement of the procession.


CM pays tributes to Bhagat Singh
Mocks at ‘India Shining’ slogan of BJP
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Khatkar Kalan (Nawanshahr), March 23
Subjecting the “India Shining” slogan of the BJP to satire, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today said India was shining for just two per cent of top and influential BJP leaders and not for over 30 crore countrymen, who were still living below the poverty line.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister said the anti-corruption drive launched by the state government would stay in any case and without caring about its criticism by the opposition parties, particularly the SAD-BJP combine.

The Chief Minister was here to participate in a function organised on the occasion of 73rd martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

Listing the Central Government’s discriminatory attitude towards people of Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh alleged that absence of any tax relief to the industry in Punjab, stockpiling of sugar worth Rs 5,500 crore in different mills of the state and the recent dilly-dallying of the Central Government to allow Pakistan Punajb’s Chief Minister to visit Patiala for a cricket match were examples of such an attitude.

The Chief Minister further alleged that the Centre was not allowing movement of sugar worth Rs 5,500 crore from Punjab to other states, which forced him to take some harsh measures.

The Chief Minister was accompanied by Punjab ministers Chaudhary Santokh Singh, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Avtaar Henry, Amarjit Samra, Dr Kewal Krishan, and Ms Santosh Chaudhary.

Paying tributes to Shaheed Bhagat Singh, the Chief Minister said it were sacrifices of such great people which had secured freedom for the country and its people. “Punjabis had a great contribution in country’s freedom struggle. We are planning to set up a huge memorial for all great people who had sacrificed their lives for the motherland, said the Chief Minister.

Other who paid tributes to Shaheed Bhagat Singh included his sister Parkash Kaur, PPCC chief H.S. Hanspal, Ms Gurkanwal Kaur, Tarlochan Singh Soondh, and Mr Parkash Singh, all MLAs.


Install Bhagat Singh’s portrait in Parliament,
says AIFDY
Tribune Reporters

Sangrur, March 23
The district unit of the All-India Federation of Democratic Youth (AIFDY) paid tributes to Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev at a function organised at the Panchyat Bhavan here today and asked the Union Government to install portraits of these martyrs in Parliament.

Mr Kiranjit Singh Sekhon, national secretary of the AIFDY, flayed the Union Government for not recognising Komagatamaru and Kuka movements as movements of the freedom struggle. He also condemned the government for distorting facts in history books about the freedom movements.

The AIFDY called upon the youth to unite at a platform for disseminating the thoughts of progressive ideologies in the state and urged the government to take stern action against the use of intoxicants like opium and poppy husk, especially in rural areas.

Another shardhanjali samaroh to pay tributes to the martyrs was organised by the Rikshaw Chalak-Malik Union, Sangrur, near bus stand here today. Mr Jasbir Singh, Chairman, Punjab Agro Industries, Mr Subhash Grover, district president of the Congress committee, Mr Harbans Singh Garcha, president of the Sangrur Municipal Council, Prof Udey Partap Singh, a social worker, and Mr Buta Singh and Mr Hans Raj Chauhan, leaders of Rikshawa Chalak-Malik Union, paid tributes to the martyrs.

Hoshiarpur: A function was organised by the Rashtriya Vikas Party at Lalwati Chowk here today. Mr Bharat Bhushan Verma, president and Mr Deepak Sabharwal, general secretary, of the Rashtriya Vikas Party, respectively, and many others garlanded the statue of Shaheed Bhagat Singh and paid tributes to the great martyr who laid down his life during the freedom struggle.

Kapurthala: The local Jan Jagran Manch and the Jai Jawan Welfare Society today organised a function at local Little Angle Public School to pay tributes to the martyrs.

A declamation contest was also organised in which students of various schools participated. Students of the school presented a play depicting life of martyrs.

PHAGWARA: Activists of the Punjab Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha today took out a Shaheed Chetna Car Rally from local Hargobind Nagar to Khatkar Kalan, native village of Shaheed Bhagat Singh to awaken the youths about the value of their supreme sacrifice made for the motherland.

It was flagged off by Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, president, Punjab unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Mr Ashwani Sharma, and Mr Arun Khosla, state president and vice-president of the morcha, respectively, were in the rally among others.


Inspired by Shaheed Bhagat Singh
Scholar writes book on martyr
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 23
The legend of Bhagat Singh took Dr Chaman Lal by storm early in life. Studying in a school in the small town of Rampura Phul in Bathinda district in the late fifties, Chaman Lal came in contact with Bhagat Singh through a book in the school library ‘Bharat ke Krantikari’.

The book, which was written by a compatriot of the martyr who had lived in jail with him, had articles on 18 Indian revolutionaries. Bhagat Singh appealed most to the then 18-year-old boy Chaman because of the raw courage, planning and sacrifice committed by the martyr for the freedom movement. This same boy has now written a detailed book ‘Bhagat Singh ke Sampuran Dastavej’ in Hindi which is the first book in any Indian language to incorporate all documents related with the martyr in a single volume. Dr Chaman Lal is the head of the Hindi Department in the Punjabi University presently.

“After reading the book on Indian revolutionaries while in school I was attracted to the role of martyrs in the freedom movement”, says Dr Chaman Lal while talking to TNS. Chaman has since carried his passion with him all through his life. “The first thing I did was translate the articles into Punjabi when I became a school teacher myself in 1967”, says the scholar. “These articles were brought out under the title ‘Desh Bhagat Yaadan’ by the Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall, Jalandhar”, he disclosed.

The scholar continued to keep Bhagat Singh close to his heart and got more interested in him after he learned about the socialist philosophy propounded by the martyr during his stint in Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi in 1977. Chaman Lal states that he started collecting documents related with Bhagat Singh from this period onwards.

The effort was a book about Bhagat Singh and his associates in Hindi. Not resting on this laurels, the Hindi scholar says he felt the need to encompass the entire documents related with Bhagat Singh in a single volume. This gave birth to the book ‘Bhagat Singh ke Sampuran Dastavej”. Chaman Lal claims that this is the first time the entire documents have been brought together in a single volume in any Indian language.

Dr Chaman Lal’s book provides interesting facts, some of which are not well known. This includes the fact that Bhagat Singh translated Irish revolutionary Den Brien’s autobiography into Hindi. The ‘Jail Notebook’ of Bhagat Singh has also been rendered in detail. The scholar has also himself translated Bhagat Singh’s writings in Punjabi into Hindi.

Speaking about the issues covered in the book, Dr Chaman Lal says the volume has the letters written by Bhagat Singh besides articles ‘Why I am an Atheist’, ‘Introduction to ‘Dreamland’, Untouchability Question’ and ‘Communal Clashes and its Resolution’ besides others. The preface of the book has been written by Kultar Singh, the only surviving brother of the martyr. The author has also given a detailed analysis of Bhagat Singh’s role in the freedom movement in his introduction to the book. It was formally released by noted writer Dr Manager Pandey during the World Book Fair in Delhi recently. The first copy has been signed in red by Bangladesh author Taslima Nasreen besides others.


College remembers martyr
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 23
The Punjab Chief Minister has taken a serious note of the paper leak and has ordered an inquiry into the matter, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Speaker, addressing media persons, said here today. He was presiding over a function of MG College to commemorate Shaheedi Divas of Bhagat Singh.

Hundreds of old students attended the function. Hans Raj Hans, Hardeep Singh, Labh Janjua and other folk singers regaled the audience

He said the alumni association of the college had been formed to help needy students and contribute to the institution.

He said the Chief Minister had recommended to the Central Government to give the status of a deemed university to the institution.

Mr Paramjit Singh Sarao, DIG, Jalandhar Range, and president of the Alumni Association, lauded the achievements of the college and efforts to introduce professional courses.

Lt Gen H. R. S. Mann, whose mother had started the institution in 1947 at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib, Mrs Inderjit Kaur Ghuman, the oldest student of the college, and Hans Raj Hans were honoured on the occasion.


BJP pays tributes
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 23
The district BJP (Urban) organised a meeting to pay tributes to martyrs Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Singh and Rajguru here today. The meeting was presided over by the president of the district unit, Mr Radhe Shyam.

Speaking on the occasion, general secretary (district unit) Tribhawan Kumar Gupta thanked the party workers for making the Prime Minister’s rally in the city a big success.

Meanwhile, the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Vichaar Forum organised a convocation at the local Trade Union Centre to pay tributes to the martyr today.

The president of the association, Mr Anupum Sharma, traced the life history of Bhagat Singh.

Students of Smart and Blooming Kids School also organised a function to pay tributes to Bhagat Singh. Principal of the school Veena Bharti said there was a need to make children aware of how our freedom fighters laid down their lives for the sake of the country.


Play highlights sacrifices
Our Correspondent

A scene from a play, "Inqelab Zindabad", held at the Baradari garden in Patiala on Tuesday.
A scene from a play, “Inqelab Zindabad”, held at the Baradari garden in Patiala on Tuesday. — Photo by Rajesh Sachar 

Patiala, March 23
The local Naatakwala Group organised a play “Inqelab Zindabad” to pay tributes to Shaheed Bhagat Singh at the Baradari garden here today. The play was written by Gursharan Singh, a renowned Punjabi writer.

The whole play revolved around the dreams and aspirations of Bhagat Singh. It was a powerful satire on the present political scenario which seemed to be contrary to the dreams of the martyr. The basic objective of the play was to make the general public aware about the sacrifices made by Bhagat Singh.

The play was directed by Rajesh Sharma. The artistes included Rajesh Sharma, Anil Sanauri, Ajay Kumar, Sukhwinder Sohi, Prabhas Pandit, Sanjiv Rai, Sandeep Kaile and Chandan Bhoj.


Blood donated
Our Correspondents

Ropar, March 23
The Department of Youth Affairs today organised a blood donation camp at the Youth Hostel here to mark the martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

The SDM, Mr Daljit Singh, inaugurated the camp.

NSS volunteers of the district also participated.

A function was also organised at the local Shivalik School to mark the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh. Students of Netaji Model School took out a torch march on the occasion.

Mohali: A blood donation camp was held in memory of Shaheed Bhagat Singh by Baba Sheikh Farid Blood Donors Council at Jagatpura village here today.


Army issues notices to residents of prohibited area
Ravi Bhushan Puri

Pathankot, March 23
More than 40 years after residential colonies came up in the area within 1,000 yards from the periphery of the Ammunition Sub Depot (2 ASD), Mamun, the Army authorities have served notices, asking people to stop construction with immediate effect.

The area comes under the prohibited zone. Notices served to residents of the area have quoted provisions of the Works of Defence Act, 1903, incorporated in the Government of India Gazette Notification No A\61491|LW (North)\ 539V\1319 US(C) Lands 2003, dated November 14, 2003.

The notices stated that residents had been verbally warned by Army representatives to stop construction but the people did not heed to their advice.

More than one sixth of the population of the town resides within the restricted area. After receiving the notices, the affected persons are a worried lot and holding meetings to chalk out future programme.

Almost a year back, the authorities had removed encroachments on the Chakki-Dalhousie road, which falls within the Army area.

Sources said though the Army had expressed seriousness to tackle the issue of illegal occupation, it had taken too much time to react.

Residents of the colonies in the area had taken electricity connections and got meters installed in their homes. Mr Avtar Singh Kaler, Sarpanch of Lamini village said , ‘‘ Why were sale deeds pertaining to restricted area not stopped in time . Now when the people have invested in crores, the authorities are issuing such notices.’’

Mr Jatinder Dev Sharma, a resident of Lamini village, said telephones had been installed and the civil authorities laid sewerage in the area. ‘‘The government had spent money on laying brick roads,’’ said Mr Akshya Kumar, a municipal councillor, who owns land in the restricted area.

Jathedar Hardeep Singh, said they were living in the area since Independence and the 2ASD had come into existence after the Indo-China war in 1962.

Earlier there were very few people residing in the area, however, the number of the houses had been increasing since the past five years.

According to sources, the people who had built houses after 1960 could be targeted in the near future.

In view of the coming Lok Sabha elections, this could become a major issue.


Cricket fans prefer road route
Only 95 travel by special train
Rashmi Talwar

Attari, March 23
A long waiting period proved a major drawback for the special train to Lahore for cricket fans as less than 100 passengers arrived here from Delhi today to watch the final of the one-day international (ODI) cricket series to be played in Lahore tomorrow.

Merely 95 cricket lovers, including two women, arrived in 17 boggies while only about seven passengers boarded the train from here. However, the long journey and waiting period could in no way dampen spirits as full-throated slogan of “India—jeetey ga bai jeete ga” rented the air before the train left for Wagah onwards to Lahore at about 2 pm. The cricket lovers waved flags, placards and carried even paints and hair coloured in hues of the Tricolour for the big day tomorrow.

However, a large number of cricket fans preferred to go to Lahore by road due to convenience of shorter waiting hours. Till reports last came in as many as 800 fans had crossed over to Pakistan who arrived in 62 buses from the MK Hotel venue today.

About 200 Indian fans, who returned via the land route from Pakistan today, said they were provided with free bus service from Wagah to Lahore.

Despite an arm fracture, Satinder Singh (Delhi), was in no mood to listen to friends as he waved the Indian flag. Many of the senior citizens who travelled in the special train said they would get a chance to visit their ancestral homes in Pakistan. Mr A.L. Arora (70), a university-level footballer, had managed to get 12-day visa to visit his home in Montgomery, renamed as Sahiwal, in Pakistan. Mr T.K. Wali and his wife Shashi Wali, Kashmiris residing in Delhi, complained lack of information about road, rail and air routes and alleged harassment at the hands of visa staff. Mr V.N. Chopra was denied visa to visit his home in Gujranwala.

While N.K. Sood (72) would revive childhood memories in ‘Chunia’, near Lahore, his friend A.K. Gulati (70), former chairman, Coal India, would try to find his ‘haveli’ in Lahore while K.B. Nanda, former Deputy Chief Engineer, Coal India, whose father had owned the only soap stone mines in Appottabad, would visit the frontier in district Hazare and visit his school in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Bashir Ahmed, son of Abdur Manan, a Bangladeshi national from Pandegar in district Fani, who boarded the special train from Amritsar was arrested at Attari by immigration staff for travelling without passport. A case under Sections 3, 34 and 20 of the Indian Passport Act and 14 of the Foreigners Act was registered against him.


Mann gets French reply on turban issue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann has received a reply from French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin on the turban issue that he had raised with him. Mr Villepin informed that the “law project on turban will not be in effect until the following school season in September and hence this time should be used in removing all kinds of misunderstanding”.

Inter alia, the letter also acknowledges that “officers of my country as well as all the French cannot forget the numerous Sikhs who died in the battlefields while defending France during the two world wars. They also understand that the Sikhs are enthusiastic about getting integrated in the French mainstream and they are conscious of the attachment of your community toward wearing the turban which is seen as a constitutive sign of your identity and dignity''.

Mr Mann is his letter had drawn the attention of the French Government toward the question of the Sikh community toward modifications made during the French legislative session about the wearing of the religious symbols in schools.

The reply seeks to remove “misunderstandings” on the crucial issue and Mr Villepin states that “secularism is one of the founding principles of the French republic. It is not guided by an attitude of indifference or contempt vis-a-vis other beliefs or religions but on the contrary rests on the complimentary principles of tolerance and non-discrimination.”

The letter also states that the law relates to the regulations that shall be applicable in the public educational institutions in order to get rid of ostensible religious symbols which could create an environment of contempt and to encourage the spirit of toleration. Like I emphasised during my recent trip to India, it is exactly this kind of exposure and respect that guides and shall guide the French authorities vis-a-vis the Sikh community.


8 leave BSNL holding bills worth 80 lakh
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 23
In a massive fraud, eight men took BSNL Cell One mobile connections simultaneously, ran up bills amounting to Rs 80 lakh in February and disappeared. BSNL has been left high and dry as the men had given fake addresses in their application forms.

The eight defrauded BSNL after taking connections under the "corporate" head. The connections were applied for and given in January. All of them paid bills in the range of Rs 500 for that month.

In March, however, the BSNL authorities got a nasty shock when they realised that the eight subscribers had ran up bills in the range of Rs 8 to 12 lakh each in February. The huge bills were on account of a huge number of ISD calls made by them. When the bills were sent to the addresses mentioned in the application forms, the authorities realised that the addresses were fake.

After trying to find the youngsters by clamping down on its own officials, including those who responsible for giving the connections, telecommunication authorities have registered a case at the City police station here. A case of fraud and cheating has been registered against eight persons who are listed as "unidentified" under sections 420, 465, 467, 648 and 471 of the IPC yesterday.

Rajpura Deputy Superintendent of Police P.P.S. Thind, when contacted, said the police had started investigation into the case. He said prima facie it appeared that a few BSNL officials also might be involved in the case, as all eight were able to get connections after giving fake addresses. He said it was the responsibility of the mobile company to verify the places of residence.

The police officer said raids to nab the culprits would start today. He said none of the men lived near the colonies in which they had listed their addresses. At this point he could not say whether STD-PCO owners also might be involved in the racket.

Telecom department sources said the absconding men could have incurred the huge bills by extending the conferencing facility on computers to friends and local residents. The police is already pursuing this lead and computer call centres are likely to be investigated.

Meanwhile, BSNL authorities have adopted complete silence on the issue. Rajpura Divisional Engineer, Telecom, C.P. Singh could not be contacted despite repeated attempts. Calls at his residence revealed that he had gone to attend a meeting in Patiala.


Akalis, secular forces should join hands
against Badal: Zira
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 23
A former Punjab minister, Mr Inderjit Singh Zira, who has revived the Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal) in the recent past, said yesterday that he was of the opinion that all Akali Dals and other secular forces should join hands to field common candidates against the SAD-BJP alliance and Congress candidates in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday, he said a suitable Akali leader would be made president of the SAD (Longowal) and after that talks would be started with SAD (Amritsar), Akali Dal led by Mr Kuldip Singh Wadala and Mr Ravi Inder Singh, the BSP and Lok Bhalai Party, for fielding candidates from the 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

He said Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who had become Chief Minister thrice and was heading the SAD for a long time, had converted the party into a family trust. He said Mr Badal was the only Chief Minister of the state, whose whole family was facing corruption cases.

He said instead of resigning from the post of president after the registration of corruption case against him, Mr Badal had started clipping the wings of all other senior leaders of the party. Mr Badal had also committed “political murder” of Mr Tirlochan Singh Tur by denying him party ticket from Tarn Taran. He alleged that Mr Badal had also denied tickets to a number of other senior party leaders to pave the way for his son Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal.

He alleged that Mr Badal had also set up a statue of late Deputy Prime Minister, Devi Lal in Punjab despite the fact that Punjab was having a long standing dispute with Haryana over the transfer of Chandigarh and Punjabi speaking areas of Punjab and the distribution of river water.

He said he had been making efforts to make SAD (Longowal) equal to the SAD which was formed in 1920. District level meetings would be held in the state for this purpose.


Barnala supporters join Dhindsa’s poll campaign
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 23
The election campaign of Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate for the Sangrur parliamentary constituency, today got a shot in the arm with leaders of the Barnala faction starting campaign in favour of Mr Dhindsa. Mr Baldev Singh Mann, general secretary of the SAD and a close confidant of Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, kicked off the campaign from Mehlan village.

Mr Baldev Singh Mann along with other leaders of the Barnala faction, including Mr Gurtej Singh Karrial, Jathedar of the Dirba circle of the SAD, Mr Kashmir Singh, general secretary, district unit of the SAD, Mr Maghar Singh Nagri, former senior leader of the Youth Akali Dal, accompanied Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa in his election campaign in 16 villages of the Dirba Assembly constituency and sought votes for Mr Dhindsa from residents of these villages. Mr Mann and his supporters sought votes for Mr Dhindsa in Mehlan, Bigarwal, Khadial, Chathe Nanhera, Chhahar, Kohrian, Ubhian, Lad Banjara Kalan, Lad Banjaran Khurd, Nihalgarh, Shadihari, Dhandial, Khetla, Sindran, Karrial and Chhana villages.

Addressing the gatherings, Mr Baldev Singh Mann urged upon people to vote for Mr Dhindsa and told them that there were no differences between Mr Dhindsa and him.

Talking to mediapersons, Mr Baldev Singh Mann claimed that he and other members of his group were now helping Mr Dhindsa in the election campaign. He said both sides had also forgotten their differences. Answering a question, Mr Baldev Mann described the members of newly revived SAD (Longowal) group as “disgruntled persons”, and clarified that he would not attend the SAD (Longowal) conference to be held at Longowal on March 30.


Don’t carry derogatory ads, urges Badal
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 23
Former Chief Minister and President, SAD, Parkash Singh Badal has appealed to publishers of various newspapers to not carry any derogatory advertisements against him and his family members without verifying facts.

Accusing Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and President, SAD (A), Simranjit Singh Mann of indulging in character assassination, he said his party had approached the Election Commission for taking cognizance of advertisements being published in various newspapers against his family.

Mr Badal, who addressed a party conference in connection with the election campaign of SAD candidate from the Bathinda seat Paramjit Kaur Gulshan, while taking to mediapersons, pointed out that Capt Amarinder Singh had also indulged in a similar type of campaign during the last Assembly elections.

He said the SAD had always fought for the freedom of press. He urged the press to not publish anything without verifying the facts. Some advertisements, inserted by a party at the instance of his political opponents, had crossed all limits of decency, he claimed.

He claimed that the Chief Minister and Mr Mann were indulging in such activities as they had failed to bring down his popularity among people.

He said Capt Amarinder Singh was keeping quite about allegations of corruption levelled against him by Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and the hawala scam involving his son Raninder Singh.

The former Chief Minister alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh had scuttled the Punjab oil refinery project, which had the potential of giving employments to thousands of youths, under the pressure of an industrial house. In the past two years, the Congress government in the state did not bother to increase power generation despite its demand increasing by the day.


Cong leader decries BJP’s attack on Sonia
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 23
Dr Malti Thapar a former Congress minister, while accusing BJP leadership, including the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, of indulging in personal attack on Ms Sonia Gandhi and her family members in their election campaign, yesterday claimed that only a selected few, who had unaccounted wealth, were “feeling good” under the rule of the BJP-led NDA government.

In a press note issued here, Dr Thapar said the BJP leadership had criticised the fielding of Mr Rahul Gandhi from the Amethi Parliamentary constituency for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections due to frustration and apprehension that the party would be ousted from power.

While the BJP leadership was criticising the fielding of Mr Rahul Gandhi, on the other it was trying to cash in on the presence of Mr Varun Gandhi in their party. The BJP was using him for its election campaign showing the hollowness its leaders claims that the party was principled, she said.

She said Ms Gandhi deserved congratulations as she had fielded her son from Amethi and honoured sentiments of crores of Congress workers.


Shiv Sena not to enter into alliance
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, March 23
Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray), Punjab, vice-president Pawan Parbhakar and its chief spokesman Jagdish Kataria have claimed that the Shiv Sena will not make any poll alliance with any political party.

Talking to newspersons here today, both leaders said the Shiv-Sena would contest the Lok Sabha elections only on the Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Hoshiarpur, Faridkot, and Sangrur seats on its own, and support in remaining seats those candidates of various parties which had pledged to work for safeguarding the interests of the Hindus. They denied media reports that the Shiv Sena would support the SAD-BJP alliance in Punjab. They described these reports as mischievous and totally baseless.. Both Mr Parbhakar and Mr Kataria alleged that the Congress, the Akali Dal and the BJP only worked for their own party interests. Mr Parbhakar said the party would hold a rally on April 4 at Pathankot and on April 11 at Moga.


Hanspal not to contest poll
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, March 23
The Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee (PPCC) President, Mr H.S. Hanspal, today sprang a surprise when he declared that he was not willing to contest the coming Lok Sabha elections from any seat in Punjab.

Mr Hanspal, who had been an active aspirant for the Ludhiana Lok Sabha seat and was making relentless efforts to get the party ticket for same, told this to mediapersons in the presence of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.


NFL, PACL may buy power from other states
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 23
Owing to high cost of power industrial units in Punjab are exploring the possibilities of buying cheap power from other states due to the opportunities available after the passing of the electricity Bill, 2003.

National Fertilisers Ltd (NFL) and Punjab Alkalies and Chemicals Ltd (PACL) are the major plants in the district which are actively pursuing the idea of buying cheap power from other states.

Highly placed sources in the NFL stated that the company management had already approached the Power Trading Corporation in this regard. The case regarding buying cheap power from eastern states has already been moved by the company before the Punjab Electricity Regulatory Authority.

The NFL has two plants at Nangal and Bathinda in Punjab. As per the Bhakra agreement signed between Punjab and Rajasthan in 1959 the Nangal-based NFL plant was kept as common pool consumer of the BBMB.

The BBMB was to directly supply power to the common pool consumers and distribute the rest to partner states as per their respective shares.

The BBMB supplied power directly to the NFL plant at Nangal at subsidised rates fro about two decades. The BBMB than withdrew the subsidised power for the new plants in the factory. This has led to a reduction in the actual consumption of subsidized power in the NFL from 164 MW to just 21 MW now. The NFL was not even in a position to utilise the 21 MW of subsidised power as its old plants are hardly functional. It is buying power from PSEB at the rate of Rs 4 per unit to run its plants.

Sources in the PSEB, however said the companies planning to buy power from other states might have to wait a little move. Though the Bill facilitating the open trade had been passed by the Parliament, the rules and regulations in this regard had still not been framed.


Exploit potential of Punjab rivers: experts
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 23
Town planners participating in the national seminar on “Challanges and priorities in urban and regional planning” were of the unanimous opinion that geographical advantages like gas pipeline from Iran to Punjab should be exploited to make the economy of the country strong.

The two-day seminar, which was organised by the Guru Ramdas School of Planning in collaboration with the Chandigarh Regional Chapter (Punjab) of the Institute of Town Planners India (ITPI), concluded here today.

Scholars said international links such as super express link from Europe to Asia could bring prosperity to the country. They also recommended for the optimum share and usage of international river waters and development of super information highways which would boost trade and commerce activities at the international level. They also opined that the natural potential of Punjab rivers should be exploited to boost international tourism by developing theme parks at river sides depicting Punjab’s history and culture.

Scholars recommended that a post-Green Revolution policy to augment agriculture and agro-based industry and markets to benefit Punjab’s economy should be created. They were of the view that old historical and religious towns like Goindwal and Anandpur Sahib should be integrated into the mainstream development by restoring their cultural heritage. They recommended that a long-term strategy to control pollution and enhance livability conditions in urban and rural centres of Punjab be devised. Satellites towns for major metropolitan cities be developed and rail and road links through less developed areas to generate growth avenues should also be developed, they added.


Library holds book exhibition
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 23
The local public library today held a book exhibition which was inaugurated by Mr D.P.S. Kharbanda, Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development).

Mr Kharbanda said reading was a good habit. Reading books was like chatting with intelligent people. He appreciated the efforts of the library in inculcating reading habits in the residents of the city.

Mr Jagdish Singh Ghai, secretary of the library, said the library had received a large collection of books donated by The Tribune Trust, Chandigarh. He said these books would be listed in the stock register of the library and issued to the public soon. He urged the people to donate books and money to the library.

Mr Jagmohan Kaushal, chairman, Teachers Home, Brig Bant Singh, Mr Kewal Krishan Sharma, secretary, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, and many other distinguished guests addressed the gathering.

The library has got books worth approximately Rs 60,000 from The Tribune Trust. The Ram Krishan Mission and The Hind Samachar Group, Jalandhar, have also donated some books to the library.

The readers of the library appreciated the gesture of The Tribune Trust and other houses in donating books to the library. The public of the city is one of the oldest in the region and was established in 1938.


Special plane to take 150 holy books to Canada
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 23
The Sacha Sauda Society, Canada, will take 150 volumes of Guru Granth Sahib in a chartered plane to Canada on April 3. These holy books will be presented to various Sikh shrines in Canada.

The society will pay Rs 25 lakh for the chartered plane which will be bedecked with ‘beautiful Chandoas’. As per the Sikh maryada, ‘Panj Piaras’ will also board the special plane.

Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, secretary, SGPC, said the holy books will be taken to the airport in special buses from Gurdwara Ram Sar here in a procession.


Pensions not paid for two years, alleges BJP
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 23
Belying government claims thousands of the old age, widows, handicapped, helpless persons had not been paid pension for the past more than two years, said Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, vice-president of the BJP, here yesterday.

Ms Chawla said even as the high court ordered the Chief Secretary, Punjab, and the Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar, when a public interest litigation by her to distribute pensions but nothing had been done so far.

She alleged under the pretext of investigations, the government was delaying pension payment. She said the government had promised to increase the amount of pension. She said she had given more than 350 names to authorities concerned of persons who needed pensions and were not getting it for more than two years. She threatened to launch an agitation against the government in Patiala if the government did not act in the matter.


7 of family sick after taking tea
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, March 23
Seven members of a family, including two women fell ill after taking tea at their home in nearby Bajuha Kalan village last evening.

All members Sukhwinder Kaur, Gurmeil Singh. Resham Singh, Pushpa, Leader Singh, Amandeep Singh and Amardeep were admitted to civil hospital of Zandiala Manzaki in Phillaur subdivision. It was suspected that a lizard fell into the tea which the members had. All are stated to be out of danger.


Gurdwara panel seeks report from SGPC
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 23
The Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission yesterday, sought detailed report from the SGPC on employment to relatives of Shiromani Committee members in violation of the Gurdwara Act.

In a communication to the SGPC Chief, Mr Manmohan Singh Brar, president of the Judicial Commission, also sought a report about the employees above the age of 60 years. Many employees have crossed the age of 60 years.


Arrangements complete for Maiserkhana mela
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, March 23
Mr Gurkirat Kirpal Singh, SDM, yesterday said all arrangements had been made for the historical and religious Maiserkhana mela to be held on March 27 in Maiserkhana village of Bathinda district.

In a press note issued here yesterday, he said arrangements for streetlights, potable water, toilets and special buses had been made for the convenience of the people, who would visit the Maiserkhana temple to pay obeisance.

Heavy security arrangements would be made during the mela days. Policemen in plain clothes would be put on duty to keep a watch on miscreants, he said. 


NRIs appealed to improve villages’ condition
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 23
Dr Swarn Singh Commissioner Jalandhar division and president, NRI Sabha Punjab appealed to NRIs to invest in their villages to improve life.

The Commissioner claimed that the NRIs had succeeded in getting the acts relating to urban and rural properties including agricultural land amended to ensure eviction of unauthorised possessions on their properties through summary trials.


High Court
Mann’s case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
Taking up a petition filed by Member of Parliament Simranjit Singh Mann seeking directions for shifting Prime Minister’s residence from Race Course Road to any other “safer place” will come up for hearing on April 6. The petition was filed in less than a fortnight after Punjab Chief Minister’s aircraft hovered over the Prime Minister’s residence,

In his petition filed against the Union of India and other respondents, Mr Mann had suggested that the residence could be shifted to Teen Murti house. Directions for the adoption of other safety measures were also sought.

Industrial area

If allegations in a petition filed before the High Court are to be believed, then the state of Haryana was acquiring land with factories already functioning for developing an industrial area.

In its petition, a Jhajjar district firm alleged that 253 acres, four kanals and two marlas were sought to be acquired in the revenue estate of Bahadurgarh for developing the industrial area even though several units had already been set up.

Order stayed

Issuing notice of motion for March 26 on a petition filed by Sarpanch of Tohra village in Patiala district and four others against the appointment of an administrator for spending grants on different works, a Division Bench of the High Court on Monday stayed the operation of the order. The orders were passed by Mr Justice Amar Dutt and Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall.

In their petition, Sarpanch Satwinder Singh and others had earlier alleged that the order had been passed due to political reasons. The petitioners, they had added, were elected with active support of the Shiromani Akali Dal. 


Gang of robbers busted
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 23
The Jalandhar police has busted a six-member inter-district gang of bank robbers and kidnappers by arresting all its members and recovering firearms, cash and vehicles used in crime from their possession.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr S.K. Sharma, IG, Jalandhar Zone, Mr Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, SSP, Jalandhar, and Mr Opinderjeet Singh Ghumman, SP (D), said the arrest of six members of the gang was a major success for the police as the gang had committed a number of robberies in Sangrur and Moga districts and Barnala.

Those arrested have been identified as Ram Singh, a resident of Fatehabad, Haryana, Nirmal Singh, a resident of Ratta Khera, near Lehra Gaga, Sukhwinder Singh, a resident of Kamalpura near Jagraon, Darshan Singh, a resident of Manki village near Malerkotla, Baldev Singh, a resident of Jandiali Ahmednagar, near Sangrur and Gurdass Singh, a resident of Lande, near Baghapurana township. The gang was headed by Jagtar Singh Raju of Dehluwana in Mansa district, who was still at large, and was responsible for a number of kidnappings for ransom and bank robberies.


Woman strangled
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 23
The Sadar police has booked Sheokaran, a resident of Kula village in this subdivision, for allegedly strangling his wife to death, official sources said this evening.

Mr Daulat Ram a resident of Sherewala village, in his complaint said his daughter Wasso Devi was married to Sheokaran in 1998. Since then her in-laws had been allegedly torturing her for bringing inadequate dowry.

During the past few days, their demands had increased. According to the complaint, Wasso Devi was strangled to death at her in-law’s house yesterday evening. Her body was brought to the Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital here today for a post-mortem examination. After preliminary investigation, the police has registered a case against the husband of the victim under Sections 304 and 498-A of the IPC.

Sheokaran was absconding, the sources added.


Singla nominated to Senate
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 23
Senior Congress leader and Punjab Mandi Board Chairman Sant Ram Singla has been appointed a member of the Punjabi University Senate.

Sources here disclosed that Mr Singla’s nomination was recently cleared by university Chancellor and state Governor Justice (retd) O.P. Verma.

Mr Singla, when contacted on the issue, said he was hopeful of the university becoming an even bigger centre for research in English with the institution deciding to take up more research projects. He said there was need to provide more research material to Punjabi readers and scholars the world over.


Bank of Punjab ties up with Glaxo
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 23
The Bank of Punjab has tied up with Glaxo Smithkline for facilitating finance on attractive terms to milk suppliers of the company here.

The tie-up will be beneficial for farmers who are customer of the bank and loans will be given to them at low interest and through attractive schemes. Dairy farmers will be issued kisan credit cards under the scheme.

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