P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



5 Lashkar men held for Goraya blast
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 30
The police has arrested five members of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, said to be behind the January 5 blast on the Jalandhar-Ludhiana section near Goraya and has seized 1,250 gm of RDX from their possession.

Two of those arrested had been to Pakistan and had received an ISI-sponsored crash course in arms. They were also instrumental in attacking Army trucks in Doda district, the police claimed.

The police had recovered a large cache of arms and ammunition, including 290 cartridges and five grenades, from a field near Atta village after the blast.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Paramjit Singh Sarao, DIG, and Mr G.S. Bhullar, SSP, said the recovery had provided sensitive information which led to the arrest of the five persons from near Masandha village. Those arrested have been identified as Alaf Deen, Mohammed Safi, Ghulam Hussain, Farokh Ahmed and Ali Mohammed, all residents of Akhran village of Doda district.

The police said the search of Alaf Deen and Mohammed Safi had yielded the seizure of a detonator and 750 gm and 500 gm of RDX, respectively.

Preliminary investigation had revealed that Alaf Deen’s sister Roshni, was married to Ghulam Hussain, a rickshaw puller of Goraya, but had developed a relationship with Abdul Mazid, a Pakistan national and an alleged area Commander of the Lashker-e-Toiba. According to the police, he was active in the Doda area along with Roshni and her son Safi. She had left Ghulam Hussain and was also sheltering terrorists.

Alaf Deen and others had tried to cross over to Pakistan in 2002 but were unsuccessful. He and Arshad returned to their homes. In 2003, Alaf and his cousin Safi sneaked into Pakistan where they were allegedly trained in handling deadly weapons.

Alaf Deen and the others came to Punjab and started living as woodcutters at Behram village. Abdul Mazid, Roshni and Safi, followed them. They allegedly plotted to blowing up the rail track on January 5.


CM, Bhattal differ on probe into Manawala firing
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 30
While the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today indicated that there would be no probe into the Manawala incident, where one of the agitating farmers had been killed during police firing, the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, has termed the incident as unfortunate and demanded a high-level probe into the police firing and the subsequent death of the farmer.

Talking to mediapersons, Capt Amarinder Singh, who had come to participate in two functions held on the occasion of Ram Navmi at Hindu Samachar Ground and the Devi Talab Temple here today, indicated that there was no need for an inquiry into the incident. He said the police and the district administration had performed its duty.

“Farmers should first leave the track and only then a dialogue is possible with them. We had already discussed the matter with farmers at Patiala a few days back and it had been mutually decided that since there was no possibility of any announcement till the election process was over, there would not be any protest by them. But, we think they staged the dharna due to their internal differences,” asserted Capt Amarinder Singh. He was accompanied by Mr Vijay Chopra, Editor-in-Chief of the Hind Samachar Group of Newspapers and president of the Ram Navmi Utsav Committee, the PPCC chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal, and his ministerial colleagues.

Talking about AICC chief Sonia Gandhi’s proposed visit to Punjab, he said she would visit the state in the second week of April if the programme was cleared by the SPG. “She is expected to hold rallies between May 4 and 8. Elimination of corruption would be our major poll plank”, said Capt Amarinder Singh.

On the other hand, while talking to mediapersons at Circuit House, Mr Bhattal said the death of a farmer at Manawala was unfortunate and should be probed at a high level. She said the guilty officials should be punished.

“As Agriculture Minister I have full sympathy for the family of the deceased,” said Ms Bhattal adding that the financial state of farmers was pitiable.


Nominations trigger revolt
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
The names of Rana Gurjit Singh, MLA from Kapurthala, and Mr Arvind Khanna, MLA from Sangrur, as party candidates for the Jalandhar and Sangrur Lok Sabha seats were reportedly cleared at the instance of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, who along with the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal, reached the Union Capital late this afternoon.

A number of Congress MLAs camping in New Delhi, opposed the recommendations by the Chief Minister, maintaining that this was against the interests of the Punjab Congress as well as the Indian National Congress.

These MLAs held that by allotting the party ticket to two MLAs denying the same to two other party legislators, the Punjab Congress had not only antagonised one of its alliance partners in the secular front, but also sent a wrong signal within the party.

Mr Harkishen Singh Surjeet, who can assure the support of a minimum of 40 MPs to the secular front, has been shown the door. He has been accommodated only for one seat in Punjab. His candidate, Mr Darshan Singh Mattu, will be supported by the Congress in Hoshiarpur. Mr Surjeet wanted the Congress to give the ticket to Pargat Singh from Jalandhar.

In a facsimile message sent to The Tribune late tonight, these legislators held that either all four MLAs or none should have been given the ticket.

“There is an ongoing battle between Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and CPM leader, Harkishen Singh Surjeet over the grant of the Congress ticket to sitting MLAs of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha. The final decision of the party high command will clearly indicate which side the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, goes.

“To us it appeared that the pendulum would swing in favour of the CPM leader but the decision of the party high command has not only surprised us but left us guessing. Also, it is a mystery as to why Capt Amarinder Singh is breaking the rules of denying the party ticket to some sitting MLAs while lobbying for other MLAs to get it,” they added.


Revolt in Ferozepore Congress
Chander Parkash & Anirudh Gupta
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, March 30
A revolt of sorts erupted in the District Congress today with a section of its office-bearers, including Youth Congress leaders and other prominent party members, announcing their resignation from their respective posts in protest against the nomination of Mr Jagmeet Brar as party candidate from this parliamentary seat for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

About 3000 Congress workers, who assembled at the local residence of Mr Rana Gurmit Sodhi, MLA, Guru Harsahai and Political Secretary to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, held a protest rally and demanded that the party high command should nominate only a resident of the district and not an outsider as party candidate for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

The Congressmen asked Mr Heera Sodhi, son of Mr Rana Gurmit Sodhi, to declare that he (Mr Heera Sodhi) would contest as an Independent candidate against Mr Brar.

The Congressmen, who attended the rally, which went on till late in the evening, included Dr Satnam Singh, President, Rai Sikh Union, Punjab, Mr Ratinder Singh, General Secretary, Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee (PPCC); Mr Naresh Kataria, member, Punjab State Subordinate Service Selection Board, and former Organising Secretary, PPCC; Mr Anwar Hussian, General Secretary, Punjab Youth Congress (PYC); Mr Shawinder Singh Sidhu, Block President Congress, Guru Harsahai; Mr Amrit Vora and Mr Gurdip Singh Dhillon, Vice-President and General Secretary, District Congress Committee (DCC), respectively, and Mr Sukhbir Awla, President, Municipal Council, Guru Harsahai.

Apart from a protest rally here, a section of Congressmen of this district also held a meeting at Punjab Bhavan in the presence of senior party leaders to evolve a strategy to oppose the candidature of Mr Brar from this Lok Sabha seat.

Mr Hans Raj Joshan, MLA, Jalalabad, while committing his full support to Mr Brar pointed out that if Mr Heera Sodhi contested as an Independent candidate, it would be big challenge for Mr Brar.

On the other hand, Capt. Amarinder Singh while talking to TNS pointed out that every congressmen would have to follow the decision of the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, in connection with the nomination of Mr Brar from this seat. He said no indiscipline in the party would be tolerated and those, who were opposing the nomination of Mr Brar would either have to work for his election campaign or quit the party.

He said the selection of Mr Brar for this seat was final. “Once the nomination of Mr Brar has been cleared by ‘madam’, the matter finishes then and there”, he added.

While Mr Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi could not be contacted despite repeated efforts, his son Mr Heera Sodhi said he had left the matter pertaining to his contesting as an Independent candidate to his father.


NDA leaders to campaign in Punjab after April 25
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 30
Senior leaders of the BJP and its allies will fan out in Punjab after April 25 to campaign for SAD-BJP candidates for the Lok Sabha elections.

Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Mr Lal Krishan Advani, who have addressed election rallies in Punjab, are also likely to address a significant number of rallies in the last week of April and the first week of May. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharti, Union Health Minister Sushma Swaraj, Mr Arun Jaitely, Union Labour Minister Sahib Singh Verma, Union Defence Minister George Fernandes, Samata Party leader Digvijay Singh and Bollywood star Dharamendra will also address a number of rallies.

SAD General Secretary Sukhbir Singh Badal had held meetings with senior leaders of the BJP and its allies in Delhi in this connection.

The main issues in the campaign will be the foreign origin of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, atrocities committed by ruling party politicians in the state in the past two years, development coming to a halt and withdrawal of facilities to different sections of society.

SAD-BJP candidates will benefit if Mr Jagmeet Brar, MP from Faridkot, shifts his constituency, claims Mr Badal.


Dhindsa allows independent campaigns
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 30
Following sharp differences between Mr Ranjit Singh Balian, former Punjab minister, who had recently joined the SAD after his expulsion from the party two years ago, and Mr Parkash Chand Garg, a working committee member of the SAD, the SAD candidate from Sangrur Parliamentary constituency, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, today gave a “green signal” to Mr Garg and his supporters to campaign for him independently.

With this “green signal” by Mr Dhindsa it has become clear now that the two top leaders of the Sangrur Assembly constituency will campaign separately for Mr Dhindsa in their respective strongholds in the constituency. However, Sangrur constituency is not the first Assembly constituency which will see separate election campaigns in favour of Mr Dhindsa by two top leaders of the area. Such a situation had already arisen in the Dirba constituency in which Mr Baldev Singh Mann and Mr Gurbachan Singh Bachi have been running separate election campaigns, in favour of Mr Dhindsa.

Following the raising of a banner of revolt by Mr Garg’s supporters on March 27 against Mr Ranjit Singh Balian for allegedly ignoring Mr Garg during an election rally organised on March 24 at Sangrur, Mr Dhindsa today met the 31-member committee, formed under the convenership of Mr Baldev Singh Dhillon, Jathedar of Bhawanigarh Circle of the SAD and a supporter of Mr Garg, to settle the issue, at his residence here.

Talking to TNS over phone, Mr Garg said this afternoon that Mr Dhindsa had advised the 31-member committee to forget what had happened at the March 24 rally, organised by Mr Balian.

Mr Garg said Mr Dhindsa had allowed his supporters and his group to campaign independently for him. He said Mr Dhindsa had also offered the 31-member committee to take separate programme from him for organising election rallies and meetings.

Mr Garg said after holding a meeting with the 31-member committee, Mr Dhindsa had also 
conveyed his decision to him.

Mr Garg had allegedly not been given time to address the March 24 election rally, organised by Mr Balian here. The rally was attended by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa. Supporters of Mr Garg alleged that it had been done intentionally, while Mr Balian refuted this allegation.


Sonia Gandhi cold shoulders Punjab?
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Has the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, knowingly omitted Punjab from the list of States and Union Territories covered by her during her “Jan Samparak Abhiyan “ - road show - as a part of the run-up for the Lok Sabha elections ?

Though Congressmen maintain that Mrs Gandhi will visit Punjab and address a series of massive election rallies next month, they could not explain why she skipped the state where eight of the 13 members of the dissolved Lok Sabha were Congressmen.

Her skipping Punjab has assumed significance as Congressmen of the state have been expressing strong resentment over grant of party tickets, both for the recently concluded Rajya Sabha elections and the coming Lok Sabha elections, to outsiders.

“These rallies will be a massive show of strength,” remarked a senior Congress leader, holding that Mrs Gandhi was expected to visit Punjab on March 23 — Shaheedi Divas of Bhagat Singh. But the programme was changed because of the tight schedule of Mrs Gandhi.

Differences of the state unit with the party high command over allotment of the party ticket have become obvious. While Congressmen revolted against the grant of party ticket to former Chief Election Commissioner, Mr Manohar Singh Gill, for the Rajya Sabha, they have again objected to the allotment of the Ludhiana ticket to former All-India Youth Congress chief, Mr Manish Tewari, and shifting of Mr Jagmeet Brar from Faridkot to Ferozepore.

Congressmen are unhappy that while on the one hand the party high command does not want to field any sitting MLA in the Lok sabha elections, yet it is contemplating to make an exception or two for the Jalandhar and Sangrur Lok Sabha seats.

There is an undercurrent of resentment over the influence wielded by the Communist Party (Marxist) leader Harkishen Singh Surjeet in deciding Congress candidates in Punjab. The Chief Minister’s lobby, according to sources, wants to field Rana Gurjit Singh, a sitting MLA from Kapurthala, from Jalandhar and Mr Arvind Khanna from Sangrur.

The CPM leader, sources reveal, is pressing Mrs Gandhi hard to give the Jalandhar ticket to Olympian and former international hockey player, Pargat Singh. In case Pargat gets the Jalandhar seat, then chances of industrialist Kewal Dhillon getting the Sangrur ticket will be boosted.

In fact, Mr Surjeet was keen that the Congress should support Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, President, Lok Bhalai party, from Ludhiana. The Chief Minister’s candidate was Mr Surinder Singla, MLA from Bathinda. Now the claims of two sitting MLAs — Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi and Mr Surinder Singla — for the Lok Sabha seats stand rejected, a decision about other two — Mr Arvind Khanna and Rana Gurjit Singh — is expected in a day or two.


Facilities given by SAD withdrawn: Kanwaljit
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, March 30
Allegations and counter-allegations today marked the election rallies held by the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in the subdivision falling under the Patiala parliamentary constituency.

Coming down heavily on the ruling Congress in Punjab, SAD General Secretary and a candidate from the Patiala seat, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, claimed that facilities worth Rs 2,500 crore provided by the SAD to downtrodden, poor, widows, aged and disabled have been withdrawn by the ruling government.

Reacting on a statement of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, Capt Kanwaljit Singh also gave him offer to contest election against him to prove his popularity in the state.

He said, Ms Preneet Kaur, had not done anything for the people of her constituency. He also alleged that the Congress had failed at every front and the development work had come to a standstill in past over two-and-a-half-years.

On this occasion, over 50 Congress workers, including panches and sarpanches of different villagers also joined the SAD and express solidarity with Capt Kanwaljit Singh.

Besides scores of SAD workers, Mr Narinder Sharma, president, Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat, and Mr Jaswinder Singh Jassi, president of the Youth Akali Dal, Patiala, also addressed the rallies.

On the other hand, Mr Chander Mohan, MLA, Kalka, while addressing rallies in Khelan Malhan, Nagla, and some other villages, appealed to the people to vote for Ms Preneet Kaur, a Congress candidate from the Patiala constituency.

Addressing mediapersons here, Mr Chander Mohan also alleged that the SAD had lost its identify among general public which would benefit the Congress in the ensuring Lok Sabha elections.

Those present on the occasion included Ms Sheelam Sohi, a member of the Punjab State Electricity Board, Mr Om Prakash, a former chairman from Panchkula, Mr Jaspal Singh, a municipal councillor from the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat.


SAD(A) manifesto to focus on education: Mann
Our Correspondents

Phagwara, March 30
The election manifesto of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) will lay stress on education, according to Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President of the party.

Addressing a press conference at Hadiabad gurdwara this afternoon, Mr Mann declared that his party would provide free education to SC students upto graduation level. The border with Pakistan should be opened for controlling unemployment through promotion of trade, farm produce and religious-cum-cultural tourism, he said.

The crusade against corruption would be another vital issue in the manifesto, said Mr Mann. The manifesto would be released soon, he said. Other Punjab and Panthic issues like river waters, the Anandpur Sahib resolution, autonomy, and regional aspiration would also form part of the manifesto, he declared.

He said a fact-finding panel had been constituted for an on-the-spot study into yesterday’s firing and lathi-charge on farmers at Manawala, near Amritsar. The panel would be headed by Mr Satnam Singh Behru, president of the kisan wing of the party. The next course of action would be chalked out after the receipt of the report, he declared.

Mr Mann alleged that big industrial houses had paid huge amounts to the NDA government for increasing the prices of steel and cement. He claimed that the ‘rath yatra’ of Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani had evoked a poor response in the state while his party’s opposition to it had got a massive response.

He alleged that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Mr Advani, during their March 26 visit to Punjab, had rubbed salt on Punjabi wounds instead of giving anything to them. On one hand, Mr Vajpayee was singing a chorus for cricket and on the other, he was raking up the issue of foreign origin of Ms Sonia Gandhi, he stated.

Barnala: The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) has decided to field candidates from all seats in Punjab and will not enter into any poll understanding with any party. This was announced by Prof Jagmohan Singh, Mr Paramjit Singh Barnala and Mr Charan Singh Lohara, General Secretaries of the party while addressing a press conference here on Tuesday.

They disclosed that the party would finalise its candidates for six seats — Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur, and Tarn Taran — within a week. They said party chief Simranjit Singh Mann would seek re-election from Sangrur.

An executive committee meeting of the party was held, which was attended by Mr Toga Singh, Vice-president, Prof Jagmohan Singh, Mr Paramjit Singh Barnala, Mr Charan Singh Lohara, General Secretaries, Mr Surinder Goyal Babbi, Press Secretary, Mr Balwinder Singh Bains, president, youth wing, Mr Satnam Singh Behru, president, kisan wing, Mr Dev Raj Sofat, working committee member, Mr Baldev Singh Sehjara, district president, Barnala, Mr Harbans Singh Deodhar, district president, Moga, Mr Kulwant Rai Goyal and Mr Sagar S. Sagar. The executive committee resolved that a probe by a sitting Judge of the high court be conducted into the death of Angrez Singh, a young farmer who was killed in a police-farmer clash on the Amritsar-Delhi rail track on Monday.


World Punjabi conference in Chandigarh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
The World Punjabi conference will be held here from May 28 to 30. Mr Fakhar Zaman, a Pakistan-based chairman of the World Punjabi Congress, said here today that the theme of the conference would be “pen and peace”. Obviously, the theme has been chosen keeping in view the ongoing peace process between India and Pakistan.

Recently, one conference was held in Lahore. The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had participated in that conference along with his counterpart from West Punjab, Mr Parvaiz Elahi.

Mr Fakhar Zaman said that he held a meeting with the Chief Minister last night regarding the conference. Capt Amarinder Singh had assured him to extend all support to the conference, he added. As many as 150 delegates such as writers, doctors, engineers, academician etc will participate in the conference from Pakistan. Mr Zaman also met the Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University in this connection. The VC has offered to hold another conference in Punjabi University in October.

Mr Zaman said that the process of multiple visas should be started between the two countries to facilitate frequent visits of writers, academician, sportspersons, doctors, engineers and other people of two countries. The existing single entry visa system should be abandoned. He has offered linkage of students and teachers with the academic institutions of Pakistan especially of West Punjab.

Mr Zaman, who has written famous Punjabi novels such as Bandiwan, Satt Gauche Lok, Ik Mare Bande Di Kahani and Kamzat said that he would ask the West Punjab Government to introduce Gurmukhi as a subject in MA Punjabi course in Pakistan as Shahmukhi had been introduced by various universities in East Punjab. He said that he was also trying for the induction of works of eminent Punjabi writers of East Punjab in the syllabi of the MA Punjabi course in Pakistan.


Eradi panel delays visit to the region
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
The proposed visit of the Eardi Commission, which has been set up for fixing the share of the river waters between Punjab and Haryana, to this region has been delayed for a few days.

Sources in the Punjab Government said yesterday that all members of the commission were supposed to visit Bhakra Dam, Pandoh and Pong Dam, Ranjit Sagar Dam and certain river headworks such as Harike and Ropar by the end of this month. The members had asked the state governments concerned to make preparation accordingly.

However, now the commission members were expected to visit the region in the second week of April.

“ We have made almost all arrangements for the visit”, said a senior officer of the Punjab Government. However, the timing of the visit was to be decided by Mr V. Balakrishna Eradi, Chairman of the three-member commission, that was set up in April, 1986, to decide the river waters share between Punjab and Haryana.

Mr Eradi and other members of the commission have conveyed to Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan that they would like to visit the various river headworks, dams and sources of water. The members had told the three governments to make preparations accordingly by holding a meeting of the Secretary level officers of the three states.

Sources said today that a meeting would be fixed shortly of the officials concerned of the three states to finalise the dates of the visit of the commission members .

Besides senior officers, legal experts engaged by Punjab and Haryana with regard to the dispute would also accompany the members of the commission. Informed sources said that both Punjab and Haryana officials had been busy in the past days to present the facts and figures regarding the flow of river waters.

Punjab, which has taken the stand that Haryana was not entitled to any share in the river waters, has challenged the jurisdiction of the commission to hear the case. Punjab has now pleaded that neither the issue between Punjab and Haryana was an inter-state river waters dispute nor Haryana was part of the basin of the rivers of which water it (Haryana) has been claiming. However, Haryana claims that it was part of the basin and should be given share accordingly.


PTDC to close down Nangal, Kapurthala tourist complexes
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, March 30
The Punjab Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) has decided to close down its Nangal and Kapurthala based tourist complexes. The decision regarding the closing of the complexes was taken in a meeting of the field officers of the PTDC held on March 16.

Both the said complexes would be closed down from April 1 as per the proceeding of the said meeting. The complexes are being closed due to poor sales. The sales in most of the PTDC complexes in the state have fallen in the year 2003-04.

The employees blame the incomplete disinvestment process as the major reason for the fall in sale of PTDC complexes. They allege that fearing disinvestment almost all the 360 employees have opted for the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) floated by the corporation.

The management has relieved about 50 employees after accepting their VRS plea. Out of the said 50 employees only 25 have been paid the dues. The rest 25 employees despite being relieved from duties in October 2003, have not been paid their dues.

The remaining 300 employees whose VRS applications have been accepted by the management but have not been relieved from duties. They can neither consider them in the category of regular employees not the retrenched. Since the acceptance of their VRS application none of the employees had been given the DA instalment or the increment.

The Managing Director of the PDC, Mr Jagjit Puri, when contacted admitted that the proposal to closing down the Nangal and Kapurthala tourist complexes has been mooted in the meeting of the field officers due to poor sales. However, final decision regarding the matter was yet to be taken.

When asked about the non-payment of dues to the employees who have been relieved from duties, Mr Puri told that the amount to pay the dues was to be received from the Punjab government. The amount is likely to be released very soon and the workers would be paid their dues.


Forest land with encroachers despite eviction orders
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 30
The district forest department authorities have been running from pillar to post for the past three years to get its land, measuring about 50 acres, vacated from illegal occupants, but without success.

The forest authorities have been failing, time and again, to get its land, worth crores, situated in a number of villages, vacated as the same has been allegedly deliberately delayed by the local SDM office and by an official of the forest department.

In 1996, the Supreme Court held that non-forest activity on forest land must cease forthwith. The then Secretary, Department of Forests, had written letters to the then Deputy Commissioner of Bathinda in 2002 to assist the forest department authorities to remove the encroachments.

About 3.5 acres in Teona village could not be vacated though the SDM had ordered the eviction of encroachers about two years ago. Eviction proceedings of 3.5 acres in Jodhpur Romana village had been stayed by the SDM.

Eviction proceedings of 42 acres in various villages of the Rampura forest range could not be launched despite repeated orders by the District Forest Officer.

When forest authorities approached the SDM to implement eviction orders, the SDM office asked the department to file an execution application though it was not required under the P.P. Act.

When forest authorities approached the SDM office again, the SDM claimed that under the Public Premises Act, he was acting as a civil court and forest authorities should come through a lawyer.

SDM S.K. Singla said he was confused as to whether, an SDM acted as a civil court under the Act or not.

Asked why he had not been implementing the order passed by his predecessor in connection with eviction, he said forest authorities should approach the police for implementing the order.

Patwari Sukhwinder Singla pointed our that there was no need of police assistance to get the encroachers evicted as the SDM could issue a warrant of possession to revenue officials to get possession of the land.


Panel’s opinion sought on abolition of post
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 30
The Regional Director of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes which is headquartered in Chandigarh has forwarded the case of abolition of the reserve post of the Punjabi University Assistant Public Relations Officer (APRO) to the National Commission for obtaining legal opinion on the issue.

The varsity Syndicate passed a resolution in November last year to abolish the post of the APRO meant for reserve candidates with a view to curtail expenditure.

The Regional Director, Mr Tanzin Wangyal, said the commission had received a letter from the then varsity APRO, Mr H.S Khokhar, alleging that ever since the Vice-Chancellor, Mr Swarn Singh Boparai, look over he was harassed and victimised in several ways. He also claimed that his termination order was pasted on the wall of his house.

Mr Khokhar further alleged that his ACR for 2002-2003 were shown bad. Further he was asked to work as enquiry clerk in the Examination Branch and dairy despatch clerk in October 2003.

Mr Wangyal added that the university had deliberately ignored the rules regarding the retrenchment of service of Scheduled Caste and scheduled tribes employees. The commission further said the matter needed to be discussed at the level of the Vice-Chancellor to arrive at correct perspective in the case and further the post meant for reserve category is not abolished in such fashion in the varsity without regard for the rules on the subject.


Ram Navmi celebrated
Tribune Reporters

Chandigarh, March 30
Ram Nawni was celebrated with gaiety and religious fervour here today. The Lakshmi Narayan, Bansi Gopal and Kharuda temples were decorated. The Ramayana was recited. There was a great rush of devotees langar was organised.

BATALA: Ram Navmi was celebrated with great enthusiasm, here on Tuesday. A religious procession was taken out. Langars were organised.

RAJPURA: Ram Navmi was celebrated with great enthusiasm here on Tuesday. Thousands of devotees thronged temples and offered prayers. A procession was taken out by the S.D. Sabha.

JALANDHAR: Ram Navmi was celebrated by residents of Jalandhar and adjoining townships with traditional fervour and enthusiasm on Tuesday. Big functions were organised at the Hind Samachar grounds and the Devi Talab Temple.


Radha Soami ‘Treasury of Mystic Terms’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
A set of six volumes of “A Treasury of Mystic Terms” published by the Science of the Soul Research Centre, Radha Soami Satsang, Beas, and presented to the President, Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, at Rashtrapati Bhavan the other day is unique in ways more than one.

The Centre President, Mr Sewa Singh, a retired IAS officer of Punjab cadre, told The Tribune that this colossal work had been undertaken by the Satsang involving 40 scholars, world-wide. All of them have been associated with the spiritual and mystical philosophy for long. These works have been prepared under the guidance of Prof. John Davidson, who wrote the text and edited the volumes. He has been associated with Cambridge University and is deeply absorbed in this philosophy.

In Part-1of the six-volume set, reader is introduced to the universe of spirituality, divine eternity, divine creative power, hierarchy of creation, man and cosmos and soul in exile. The volumes are so written that any one interested in spirituality or mysticism and can open any volume anywhere and yet enjoy the knowledge contained in the blue-coloured volumes.

Browsing through these volumes, one finds that these deal with all major religions of the world and focus on mysticism, proving that the Lord-Creator, is within the human body and ‘unity’ with Him is possible with the help of a perfect Master. These volumes deal with Sumerian and Mesopotamian spirituality, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, the Greek Mystics and philosophers, Islam etc.

Part-2 with an equal number of volumes is due for release, shortly. Mr Sewa Singh said primarily deals with the practice of mysticism on subjects like the eternal soul, human existence and spiritual guidance. “We are setting up a library at Beas, the headquarters of the Radha Soami Satsang, where it s proposed to collect and house about half-a-million books of religion and mysticism”.


1,050 pass out from police academy
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, March 30
Justice O.P. Verma, Governor of Punjab, has stressed the need for better police-public relations which would be useful to improve the law and order situation in the state. He was addressing the annual Passing Out parade of Punjab Police Academy here today.

The Governor took salute from 1,050 trainees of basic and promotional course today.

Punjab Police Director General A.A. Siddiqui presided over the function, while academy Director G.S. Aujla presented the Director’s report.

The investiture ceremony was also performed after the Passing Out parade.


1400 units of blood collected
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 30
As many as 18 voluntary blood donation camps have been organised by the Department of Transfusion Medicine of the local Rajindra Hospital so far. More than 1,400 units of blood have been collected from voluntary donors.

This was stated in a press note issued here today. The Head of the Department of Transfusion Medicine, Dr Kulbir Kaur, said till date voluntary blood donation had increased. She said if this continued at the same place the target of 100 per cent voluntary blood donation as per the National Blood Policy would be achieved shortly.

Dr Kulbir further said this had been made possible with the collaborative efforts of the department with the district administration, the Red Cross Society and other voluntary and social organisations. She said comprehensive campaign for voluntary blood donation would be chalked out for the next year to target the potential donors. She said for the rational use and to reduce the gap between the demand and supply of blood, a blood component separation unit has also become fully operational in the institute.

Highlighting the achievements made by the department, Dr Kulbir said statistics clearly showed that the recruitment of voluntary blood donors and numbers of camps had been increasing year after year. In year 2002, 68 voluntary blood donation camps were organised in which nearly 4000 blood units were collected.


Villagers stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 30
Villagers from Vallah today staged a dharna in front of the house of the Deputy Commissioner against the delay in the shifting of the old mandi to Vallah. Traffic was also disrupted.

The dharna was lifted after the general assistant to the DC, Mr Vikramjit Singh Bajwa, gave an assurance in this regard. The villagers also submitted a memorandum.


Goods destroyed in fire
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 30
About 6,000 audio cassettes and compact discs, four recording decks and furniture worth Rs 40,000 were burnt as fire broke out due to short circuit in a music shop here last night.

Mr Balbir Singh Giri, owner of the shop, said he had suffered a loss of Rs 2 lakh. He said he had lodged a complaint with the police.


Call to gherao SSP withdrawn
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar March 30
The dispute between the District Bar Association (DBA) and the district police over the registration of a case against Ranjit Singh, who had allegedly attacked a lawyer on March 2, was amicably resolved when the latter tendered an unconditional apology during the General House meeting of the DBA here yesterday.

The DBA, which had threatened to gherao the SSP’s office for failure of the district police to register a case against Ranjit Singh for the alleged attack on a senior lawyer and DBA member Sukhbir Singh near Kala Sanghian village on March 2, withdrew the call after the compromise.


Councillors block passage of budget
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 30
Due to ongoing groupism among the councillors of the Municipal Council, Bassi Pathana, the annual budget of Rs 2.60 crore presented by the council president could not be passed as eight out of 12 members present opposed it. The president of the council, Ms Amita Tangri, termed it as unfortunate and alleged that the councillors were creating hurdles in the process of development of the town. However, the councilors said they had opposed the budget as the council president had been working in an arbitrary manner and failed to give the proper account of income and grants received. They also alleged that she had never acted on any resolution passed unanimously.

The council has 13 members and the president, Ms Tangri, whose husband is a close confidant of Dr Harbans Lal, MLA, is in minority and has the support of only five members, whereas eight councillors have joined hands and have formed their separate group, the Bassi Pathana Vikas Manch. These councillors had been urging the MLA to remove the president but the MLA continues to support Ms Tangri. Meanwhile, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, DC, inspected the office of the council and found certain irregularities. He has sought explanation from the EO for the lapses.


30 PAP companies for poll duty in Chhattisgarh
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, March 30
Thirty companies of the Punjab Armed Police, IRB and Commandos will go to Chhattisgarh from Punjab for security during Lok Sabha elections to be held on April 20.

Dr R.N. Dhoke, Commandant 36 Battalion PAP will lead these battalions. This was announced by Mr D.R. Bhatti, Additional Director-General Punjab Armed Police while addressing the jawans and officers who were assigned poll duty at a function here on Monday.


MC to sell its properties
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 30
The local municipal corporation (MC) has decided to sell its properties worth about Rs 32 crore to meet its annual income target of Rs 106 crore during year 2004-2005.

It has convened a meeting of its general house on March 31 to pass the annual budget to the tune of Rs 106 crore for the next financial year. According to sources, the corporation has decided to sell its properties to earn Rs 32.36 crore. It would also sell its land at Salempur village.


1.2 lakh looted from petrol station
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 30
Four or five robbers looted Rs 1.2 lakh from a petrol station at Attari late last night.

According to Amrit Kumar and Karan Singh, employees at the petrol station, the looters struck at about midnight and threatened to kill them if they refused to hand over the keys. They opened the safe and decamped with the cash.


11 booked under NDPS, Excise Acts
Our Correspondent

Barnala, March 30
The police has during raids succeeded in seizing about  150 kg of lahan, 1 kg of opium, 40 kg of poppy husk, and seven bottles of illicit liquor. Eleven anti-social elements have been arrested.

Stating this here yesterday, Mr Amit Prasad Tripathi, SSP, said the campaign against anti-social elements had yielded results.

The police had nabbed Gurcharan Singh of Sauwala of Sirsa district and seized 1 kg of opium from him. While 150 kg lahan was seized from Gurinder Singh, Binder Singh, Mahinderjit Singh, Baldev Singh and Jasvir Singh. Eleven persons had been booked under various Sections of the NDPS Act and the Excise Act.


4 of family among 5 killed in accident
Our Correspondent

Phagwara March 30
An NRI family of four was killed in a road accident which claimed five lives near   Bahr Majara village, eight km from here, late lastnight.

The victims included Lehmber Rahelu, his wife Sukhjinder Kaur, and sons Aman and Karan.

The couple was in the early thirties and , their children were aged six and seven years. The fifth victim was the driver of the car.

The family belonged to Palahi village and the driver belonged to Kot Fatuhi village. The family was settled in Saloh in the UK and had come to attend a   marriage at Kot Fatuhi. It was scheduled to return to the UK tomorrow.

The family was returning to Palahi from Kot Fatuhi via Banga when their   car collided head on with a truck coming from the opposite direction. The car   was dragged for quiet a distance. The vehicles hit a tree on the roadside and the truck turned turtle.

A crane had to be requisitioned to lift the truck and fish out the mangled   bodies from the mauled car. A pall of gloom descended on Palahi. The postmortem of the bodies was conducted at  Banga.


Three killed in accident

Moga, March 30
At least three persons were killed in an accident involving a car, a scooter and a motor cycle on the Moga-Ferozepore road, 15 km from here, this afternoon.

The deceased have been identified as Balbir Singh and Sukhminder Singh of Dagru village and Gurcharan Singh of Talwandibhai, the police said. The accident took place when the motor cycle of Balbir Singh and Sukhmandir Singh collided with the scooter of Milkha Singh and Gurcharan Singh. — PTI


Scooterist dead
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 30
A scooterist, identified as Maghar Singh of Bibi Wala village of this district, was killed on the spot when his scooter was hit by a vehicle belonging to the Army on Bibi Wala Road of this city late last night.

In another case, an unidentified beggar was found dead on the local railway platforms. Kulwinder Singh, a resident of Gopal Nagar of the city, was injured when he was run over by a Fazilka-bound passenger train near the Bathinda branch of the Sirhind canal.


Chief Secy inaugurates hostel
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 30
Mr Jai Singh Gill, Chief Secretary, Punjab, inaugurated a hostel at Bhag Singh Hayer Khalsa College for Women here today. The chairperson of the college, Mrs Harbaksh Kaur, had donated 26 acres, besides Rs 1 crore for the building.

He said the college had progressed tremendously, adding that girls from Rajasthan and Haryana were also studying in the college.

Mr Sunil Jakhar, local MLA, lauded the Bishnoi community and farmers of the Seetogunno area of this subdivision for maintaining the largest wildlife sanctuary of black bucks.

Dr Gurdial Singh Chauhan, a trustee of the college, said Mrs Harbaksh Kaur had offered money and land to the state government and the SGPC for opening a college at Kalatibba village but had got no response.

Some students, including Mohinderpal Kaur, Kulbir Kaur, Kamaldeep and Baljit Kaur, were honoured on the occasion. A cultural programme was presented by the students.

Meanwhile, The road linking the Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital with Major Surender Parsad chowk received the attention of the authorities with the visit of the Chief Secretary.

The Municipal Council renovated the road in 1996 providing it with a divider and footpaths on both sides. The government Girls Senior Secondary School and residence of the Hayer family are located on the same road. The council had got electricity poles shifted to the divider but the streetlights were not fitted to these. Earlier there were three streetlights only on the poles but disappeared after the shifting of the poles. Since then streetlights on the poles in the middle of the road had became an issue between the council and the Punjab State Electricity Board.

The Board officials wanted the Council to file fresh application, get the revised load sanctioned, pay for extension in the service. The council contested this. Even the MLAs here failed to have the matter resolved. The Health Department had paid Rs 2.92 lakh to the PSEB for this hot line but the PSEB later released connections to clinics, medical shops and workshops situated on the road from the same line to supply them power during power-cuts.

Yesterday when the officials learned that Mr Jai Singh Gill was visiting his relatives in the evening and might stay with them all of them became active. After making streetlights outside the SDM’s residence near the chowk operative, they got fitted streetlights on poles quickly using aluminium wire for temporary fittings. The work was in progress when a fleet of Ambassador cars displaying black flags followed by pilot and escort Gypsies arrived there at 5.52 PM.

The sanitation staff of the Municipal Council had forgotten this road for many months. Private nursing homes along the road added the insanitation as waste was thrown ground. Heaps of waste material like broken bricks and sand had been lying near the boundary wall of the girl’s school for six years. The students had tried to clean part of the debris during an NSS camp twice a year but people had been using the place as a urinal.

The authorities yesterday pressed into service a bulldozer to clear the debris and shifted it to the lane that connected Nehru Park with this road almost blocking the low-lying passage. Work was incomplete when district officials inspected the site in the evening. People had many times complained that the road was used for taking emergency patients to the hospital but to no avail.

Yesterday things were different sources pointed out the police looked a little concerned with the presence of the Chief Secretary. Earlier the police had been getting Lottery Satta Market closed during the visit of the district officers but today all shops, allegedly running the illegal business were allowed to function in the Rani Jhansi Market. The shops, allegedly doing satta on the pretext of lottery reopened this morning after three months’ closure due to raids in the past. Reopening of the shops hit the sale of Baisakhi Bumper State Lottery Tickets in Ghantaghar Chowk adjoining Rani Jhansi Market, shopkeepers said.


Exam papers’ seal found broken
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, March 30
The seals of Punjabi papers of Classes X and 10+2 of the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) were reportedly found broken today by examination controllers of various centres in the district.

Sources here said when the controllers of various schools in the district went to collect papers from the office of the Deputy District Education Officer (Secondary) Ropar, Mr Surinder Singh, the seals of various bundles containing mathematics and Punjabi papers for SD Senior Secondary School, Anandpur Sahib, Khalsa Senior Secondary School, Anandpur Sahib, and Government High School, Tajpur, were found broken.

They refused to collect the same. They informed the District Education Officer who took the bundles with broken seals in his custody. One of them, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the bundles were torn.

The Chairman of the board, Mr Kehar Singh, when contacted on the phone, admitted that the seals of certain bundles of Punjabi and mathematics papers were found broken in Ropar. He attributed the same to mishandling during transit. He said the torn bundles were once again sealed in the presence of the Controller Examination. New bundles of papers would now be issued to the centres concerned, he said.

The Chairman declined the possibility of postponement of examinations.


Cultural programme mark annual function
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 30
The annual prize distribution and cultural programme of Diamond Public School, Mundi Kharar, was organised on Sunday. The Deputy Director of the Punjab School Education Board, Mr J.S. Rahi, was the chief guest at the function. The guest of honour, Mr M.S. Sodhi, BPEO, Kharar, presided over the function.

The function started with a shabad. After that, students presented giddha, bhangra, skits, English songs, dance etc. A fancy dress show too was presented by students.

Prizes were distributed to students who excelled in studies, sports, punctuality, cultural activities, drawing and writing competitions and poetry recitation. Mementoes were given to the guests.

The Principal of the school read the annual report.


GND varsity exams begin today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 30
The annual theory examinations for under-graduate classes of Guru Nanak Dev University will commence tomorrow. Stating this here today, Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar, said more than 80,000 candidates were appearing in these examinations. About 300 examination centres have been set up.

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