P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Farmer’s widow refuses ex-gratia; Badal gives 1 lakh
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 31
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his predecessor Parkash Singh Badal today tried to take political mileage by wooing the widow of Angrez Singh, allegedly killed in police firing on March 29 by giving her ex-gratia relief and a job.

Ms Amarjit Kaur refused to accept ex-gratia relief and the government job offered. Mr Raminder Singh, Deputy Commissioner, said the widow demanded Rs 10 lakh, a job and registration of a case against the erring police officials.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who initially announced Rs 1 lakh, decided to double the amount when he learnt that Mr Badal had given Rs 1 lakh to the widow. Mr Badal had gone to Bakipur, the native village of the deceased, to express his sympathy with the bereaved family.

Mr Badal sought a judicial inquiry into the police firing. He said the magisterial inquiry ordered by the District Magistrate was an eyewash.

Mr Kanwaljit Singh Pannu, convener of the Kisan Sangharsh Union, alleged that the police had resorted to a crackdown on farmer activists.

He said many raids were conducted on the houses of farmer leaders with a view to prevent them from launching the second phase of the agitation.


CM should quit over liquor vend issue, says Badal
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 31
A Former Chief Minister and SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal today demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on moral grounds following the high court ruling to cancel the auction of liquor vends in three districts.

Addressing a rally in support of party candidate Naresh Gujral here, Mr Badal said the Shiromani Akali Dal had suspected foul play in the auction and its stand was vindicated following the high court judgment. Capt Amarinder Singh should resign as he was the first to give a clean chit to the authorities concerned for holding a fair and transparent auction on March 4, Mr Badal said.

PHAGWARA: Former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal told mediapersons here on Wednesday that a meeting of the NDA would be held in three or four days for working out a common minimum programme. He expressed satisfaction over the Vision Document released by the BJP.

Every party in the NDA would have its own manifesto, but the NDA government would abide by the common minimum programme, he asserted. He condemned Capt Amarinder Singh for sabotaging the Bathinda oil refinery project.

Mr Badal disclosed that he talked to Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Ms Sushma Swaraj about the health of SGPC President Gurcharan Singh Tohra today. He denied that he had any contact with dissident leader and Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

He also addressed a rally for Phillour candidate Charanjit Singh Atwal. He said there was no comparison between a statesman like Mr Vajpayee and a novice like Ms Sonia Gandhi.

NAWANSHAHR: Addressing a rally organised by former SAD MLA from Banga, Choudhary Mohan Lal, at Behram, about 22 km from here, on Wednesday, Mr Parkash Singh Badal indicated that the SAD had geared up to turn the tables on Capt Amarinder Singh. He also raised the issue of irregularities in selection of PCS officers and DSPs.

The former Chief Minister accused Capt Amarinder Singh of creating ‘jungle raj’ in Punjab by committing atrocities on SAD workers and implicating them in false cases. He accused Capt Amarinder Singh of deceiving people by making false promises in the election manifesto.


15 Akali MLAs seek quashing of liquor vends’ auction
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31
In a petition filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, 15 Akali MLAs and two others today sought directions for quashing liquor vends auction in the entire state of Punjab. Directions have also been sought for reauctioning the vends in the state under the supervision of independent observers.

The MLAs — Jagdish Singh Garcha, Manpreet Badal, Balbir Singh Ghuns, Jora Singh Bhagika, Sadhu Singh, Gurdev Singh Badal, Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon, Sukhdarshan Singh, Ranjeet Singh Talwandi, Tota Singh, Surjeet Singh Rakhra, Gobind Singh Longowal, Gurpreet Singh Kanger, Malkiat Singh Ketu and Sukhpal Singh — added that the auctions had been conducted against the Punjab Liquor Licence Rules, besides the auction conditions.

The petitioners asserted that "they were of the firm belief that the state was bent upon encouraging unfair trade practices". These included the formation of cartels and combining of groups in favour of a wine contractor.

"The auctions were conducted as per the programme announced, but surprisingly these proved to be an eye wash. Most of the groups were attached together in violation of Punjab Liquor Licence Rules..." they asserted. This, they added, had resulted in "a loss to the public exchequer amounting to hundreds of crores of rupees".

The petition is likely to come up for hearing before a Division Bench of the High Court on Thursday.


MLAs directed to ensure lead for Tewari from segments
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 31
In an apparent bid to end dissidence and to ensure the victory of its candidate, the Congress high command has put all local leaders to test by linking their political future with the poll outcome. In a mechanism devised to ensure the victory of the party nominee, Mr Manish Tewari, all local MLAs are being told to ensure the lead of the Congress nominee in their Assembly segments. Though so far there has been a mixed response to the candidature of Mr Tewari, this new directive, to be conveyed through the state Congress president, is expected to take the sting out of dissidence.

According to senior party functionaries, all legislators, including ministers, will be rewarded or punished, based on the performance of the Congress in their Assembly segments. All those who manage to secure a lead for Mr Tewari in their segments will be considered to have won their Assembly seat and will be assured of the party ticket in the next Assembly elections, while those who cannot manage a lead will be taken as defeated candidate for the Assembly elections.

As per this directive, conveyed to the state Congress president, Mr H.S. Hanspal, any failure to support and secure the party’s lead in these parliamentary elections will cost the Congress leaders dear. A meeting for the purpose has been summoned at Chandigarh on Thursday, which will be attended by Capt Amarinder Singh. All important leaders from Ludhiana, including those defeated in the last elections and the city Mayor have been invited to the meeting.

The Congress high command will minutely monitor the role of the six Congress legislators whose Assembly segments fall under the Ludhiana parliamentary segment. Four of them are ministers in the Capt Amarinder Singh Cabinet. These are Mr Harnam Dass Johar, Mr Tej Parkash, Mr Rakesh Pandey and Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi. The two legislators whom the party high command expects to go out of their way to help Mr Tewari are Mr Surinder Dawar and Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha.

According to party sources, 20 seats all over the country are being monitored by the party high command closely, Ludhiana being one of them. Mr Oscar Fernandez has been asked to keep a close watch on these 20 seats.

Initially, there were some strong reactions against the nomination of Mr Tewari from the Youth Congress leaders owing their alliance to the Indian Youth Congress President, Mr Randip Singh Surjewala. Local leaders are now using their influence to curb dissidence. One reason being given is that Mr Tewari is a national leader like Mr Rahul Gandhi. If the latter can contest from Amethi, why can Mr Tewari not contest from Ludhiana? Besides, some local leaders say if party President Sonia Gandhi, originally from Italy, can be acceptable and allowed to contest from Rae Breli, there is nothing wrong in Mr Tewari’s candidature.

Mr Tewari, however, does not consider himself an outsider. He has many relatives settled in the city and his maternal grandfather, Mr Tirath Singh Guram, was a freedom fighter. He said remained a minister in all PEPSU and Punjab Governments and contested from Dhuri and Mehal Kalan Assembly segments. His father, Dr Vishwanath Tewari, was a protagonist of Punjabi literature and Punjabiat. “I have my roots in Punjab and a large portion of my childhood was spent in Ludhiana”, says Mr Tewari. Mr Tewari proposes to launch his election campaign on April 3, which is the day when his father, then Head of the Punjabi Department at the Panjab University, was gunned down by militants. “My father gave his life for Punjab and Punjabiat. I will continue to work on the principles imbibed in me by him”, Mr Tewari said.


3 silver bowls missing from Golden Temple
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 31
Even as the controversy over the missing of one gold spade refuses to die down, three silver bowls of the five donated by the Bank of Punjab have also been found missing. Baba Amrik Singh, representative of kar sevaks, said the gold spade and silver bowls would be traced after clearing of all iron bowls.

Instead of handing over five gold-plated spades and as many silver bowls to the SGPC, Mr Darshanjit Singh, chairman of the bank, had handed these over to Baba Jagtar Singh, entrusted with ‘kar seva’. The SGPC had therefore not recorded the entry of gold-plated spades and silver bowls in its books.

An SGPC member was instrumental in bypassing of the SGPC committee. Gold spades and silver bowls used in the ‘kar seva’ of 1973 had been preserved in “Toshakhana” of Golden Temple.


Amarinder writes to PM on Bathinda refinery
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today requested the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, that the Centre should bear the cost of the proposed Guru Gobind Singh refinery project at Bathinda to make it financially viable.

In a letter addressed to Mr Vajpayee in response to his severe criticism of the state government for lack of support in setting up of the refinery during a recent rally at Patiala, Capt Amarinder Singh pointed out that the Centre would be earning substantial amount from this project by way of excise and customs duties.

Revenue to the Centre from central excise and customs duties would be of the order of Rs 1,200 crore per annum. The letter further said that if the refinery needed tax concession, in order to become viable, it would be fair and just that the Centre should forego a part of its earnings rather than expecting Punjab to do so whose its own financial condition was dismal.

The Chief Minister further wrote that Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL), implementing this project, had taken the stand that the refinery was not financially viable without major sales tax relief amounting to deferment of sales tax revenue to the tune of Rs 600 crore per annum for a period of 15 years.

In addition, the state government was also likely to lose some, if not all, of its existing sales tax revenue from POL which is about Rs 800 crore per annum, said the press note.

Besides this, the state government had already discussed the matter in detail with the HPCL which commissioned the National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER) to do a study whether the economic benefits of the refinery would offset the cost. The NCAER study had revealed that the benefits of the Refinery would be spread throughout the country and the share of Punjab in these benefits would be very small.

At the most optimistic estimate, this Refinery would result in the creation of direct employment to 1,000 persons and indirect employment to 50,000. The sales tax deferment alone however, was equivalent to the annual salary of 2,00,000 persons earning Rs 2,500 per month.

Thus the benefits of the refinery did not commensurate the cost the state had to incur.


PAU passes Rs 165.74 cr budget
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 31
The Board of Management of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has passed budget estimates for 2004-2005 to the tune of Rs 165.73 crore.

Stating this here today, Dr K.S. Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor of the university, told this reporter that 51.85 per cent of the budget would be spent on research while 26.72 per cent on teaching and 10.10 per cent on extension education. The Budget had a deficit of Rs 25.92 crore.

The Punjab Government, which is the major contributor of the funds to the PAU, has sanctioned Rs 80 crore and Rs 10 crore in respect of non-plan agriculture and veterinary schemes, respectively. The university had prepared Budget estimates for 2004-2005 in respect of non-plan agriculture and veterinary schemes at Rs 108.97 crore and Rs 15.31 crore, respectively, including the provision of contingencies and other expenses such as gratuity, leave encashment, TA wages and fellowships.

However, the government has kept the budget provisions on a par with the provisions for 2003-2004. The university authorities claim to be making all possible efforts to reduce deficit by exercising economy measures for reduction of expenditure. During the previous financial year the deficit was Rs 16.14 crore. Due to the grant of annual increments, DA installments and other fringe benefits to the employees on the pattern of the state government there has been a deficit of Rs 25.92 crore.

Besides, the state funding, the ICAR will give Rs 24.70 crore, the Central Government under its schemes Rs 2.12 crore, the UGC Rs 73.43 crore, PL480 schemes Rs 7.39 lakh and under miscellaneous schemes Rs 2.49 crore. The university will raise funds worth Rs 7.99 crore from its own sources.

The Board of Management expressed its concern over the financial crisis being faced by the university. It particularly pointed out that the state funding had been static for the past three years — Rs 80 crore for agriculture and Rs 10 crore for veterinary schemes. The assistance of Rs 90 crore from the state government was hardly matching the salary component of the university. The Board called upon the state government and the Chief Minister in particular to enhance the state funding immediately. It said if this was not done it would cause a setback to the activities of the university, which would not be in the interest of the state farmers. It was also decided to apprise the Chief Minister of the situation.

The Board further expressed its concern over the failure of the state government to release arrears worth Rs 24.81 crore for the past four years, which pertained to general provident fund another benefits of the employees.

The university was not able to take up any new research programme in the absence of requisite funds, the Board pointed out. The Vice-Chancellor said the Board also decided to raise the tuition fee by 10 per cent and this enhancement would be constant for new admissions for the undergraduate and postgraduate courses.


Amitabh in company of classmates
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 31
A reunion. After more than 40 years. Amitabh Bachchan was reunited with two of his classmates of the class of 1958 in Sherwood College, Nainital, last night. The actor drove down to the farmhouse residence of his classmate Sqn. Leader Sukhpal Singh Bajwa (retd) at Jhungian village near Zirakpur to partake of a quiet dinner and relive his youth all over again.

Squadron Leader Bajwa besides calling a few members of his family had also called Sohanveer Singh, the second classmate of the actor who also lives near Zirakpur. The classmates remained engrossed for a long time talking about their school — Sherwood College in Nainital.

Talking to TNS Amitabh Bachchan disclosed a little known fact. That it was his experience in Sherwood which inspired him to go in for theatre. “Jennifer Kendall’s theatre group used to visit Sherwood every year during the summers and conduct a workshop during which Sherwoodians produced a play which was showcased at the annual function”, Amitabh disclosed. “I acted in these productions and even won the Kendall Cup which was awarded to the best actor every year in 1957”, he adds.

Amitabh’s classmates, Sqn. Leader Bajwa, and Sohanveer Singh said “we knew he would go places even in school. He had the required talent and it was only a matter of honing it later”. Amitabh himself is not so sure on the subject. “I am at best an average actor”, he says and when asked whether he is not being too pessimistic in assessing himself, he replies “one keeps learning on a day-to-day basis and I cannot say I have excelled in my field”.

Amitabh says his days spent in Sherwood were the happiest of his life. “The experience gained in school comes in handy even now”, he said adding “whatever I did not like then I miss now”. His classmates besides showing him old school photographs also revived “painful” memories. These included the canings given by then Principal R.C. Lwellyn. Sqn Leader Bajwa revived memories of the manner in which the canings were conducted. “The Principal used to call an ‘errant’ student to his office. The boy was made to wait for a good few minutes, given a stare and then told to move to the Study. The Principal used to come to the Study, inspect the canes, choose one, test it in the air and then make sure it came swooshing down on the buttocks. Lwellyn was a master, he left only one mark, the Squardon Leader disclosed.

Besides his school, Amitabh, dressed in an immaculate zari embroidered shirt and black trousers, also talked about other subjects during his interaction with TNS. He said his father Harivansh Rai Bachchan encouraged him to choose the field of his choice. “I had the usual ups and downs after joining the industry in 1969. My first break was ‘Saat Hindustani’ but the first hit was definitely ‘Zanzeer’.

Amitabh maintains that Dilip Kumar and Moti Lal have been his ideals. When questioned about debacles in the 90s, he says “such things happen in life”. To the inevitable question about ‘Kaun Banega Karorpati’, he maintains it was his personal decision to perform on television. “None advised me on this”. At the same time he maintained he would not enter politics even if he was closely linked with Amar Singh of the Samajwadi Party. “I know 20 other politicians other than Amar Singh”, he added.


No smooth sailing for Karan Brar
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 31
Ms Karan Brar, daughter-in-law of former Chief Minister, Mr Harcharan Singh Brar, and Congress nominee from Faridkot Parliamentary constituency, is likely to face stiff opposition from the people of three Assembly segments of Faridkot, Kotkapura and Panjgrain in this district.

There is resentment over the indifferent attitude of Harcharan Singh Brar who had trifurcated the Faridkot district into Moga and Muktsar in 1995 when he was the Chief Minister of the state. This step had not only caused a great financial loss to all sections of the society but had also shattered the economy of the district. Moreover, Mr Brar, who had made tall promises regarding taking corrective measures to strengthen the district by attaching at least 100 adjoining villages falling in both Ferozepore and Bathinda district, failed to fulfil his commitment thus making Faridkot the second smallest district in the country.

Reacting to the nomination of Ms Karan Brar, the District Bar Association president, Mr Bikramjit Singh Brar, claimed here today that almost all members of the association would oppose her in the elections. He said they would tour the rural and urban areas in the three Assembly constituencies to campaign against the Congress candidate. To give a final touch to the programme a meeting of the lawyers would be held shortly, he said. Mr Shebaz Singh Sekhon, former vice-president of the District Congress Committee, Faridkot and chairman of the Sangharsh Committee, who had launched a two-month-long stir with the cooperation of the people against the trifurcation of the district made it clear that he would hold demonstrations to express resentment during Mr Karan Brar’s visit to the town or the other areas falling in the district.

He alleged that the people had lost confidence in the Brar family. Terming the decision of the Congress as a blow to the inhabitants who were still reeling under the effects of unfair treatment meted out by the former Chief Minister, Mr Bimal Gupta, patron Punjab Beopar Mandal and close associate of former President Giani Zail Singh, expressed hope that the voters of the area would give a suitable reply to him this time.

Mr Joginder Singh Brar, advocate and member of the national executive of Janata Dal, called it a direct victory of Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, a SAD candidate, who was contesting the poll from this constituency.

Describing the decision of trifurcation of the district by Mr Brar as unfortunate, Mr Pawan Preet Singh, secretary, CPI, said Mr Brar should have announced a special package for the development of this district before taking the decision in haste.

Hailing the decision of the central Congress body to field Ms Brar as a step in the right direction, Mr Avtar Singh Brar, vice-president, PPCC, and ex-MLA, Faridkot, Mr Surinder Iqbal Singh Brar, president, DCC said it would not only prove helpful in containing bickering and groupism among the senior party leaders in all three districts but also give a boost to them to work together to ensure the victory of the party nominee Ms Karan Brar, a young, energetic, loyal and sincere leading worker of the party.


Congress NRI Sabha leader quits
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 31
The Punjab Congress today further suffered a setback when a former Lok Sabha member from Jalandhar, Mr Balbir Singh, resigned from the post of vice-patron of the NRI Sabha, Punjab, for being ignored by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

In a hurriedly convened press conference here this afternoon, Mr Balbir Singh said he had sent the resignation to the patron of the sabha and Capt Amarinder Singh since he felt ignored by the state Congress leadership.

Congress sources, however, maintained that the decision to quit the sabha was taken by Mr Balbir Singh as he was sidelined by senior Congress leaders, including the in charge of the Punjab Congress Affairs, Ms Mohsina Kidwai, and Capt Amarinder Singh for the allotment of party ticket for Jalandhar Lok Sabha seat.

The state Congress leadership, which was yet to resolve revolt of sorts in its Ferozepore unit, wherein, prominent party members and supporters of Mr Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, MLA, had resigned from their posts against the nomination of Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar as party candidate yesterday, may find it difficult to persuade Mr Balbir Singh from taking any drastic step, including quitting the party, which could result in further embarrassment to the party before the elections.

A one page resignation addressed to the Chief Minister, copies of which were distributed to mediapersons, states “the turn of political events makes one to believe that you have lost confidence in me. I, therefore, think it is appropriate to resign voluntarily from the post of vice-patron of the NRI Sabha, Punjab, with immediate effect.”

While Mr Balbir Singh was evasive to the media queries whether he would quit the party or not on the pretext that he would disclose future line of action in coming days. He maintained that the decision to support the party candidate from Jalandhar Lok Sabha seat, Rana Gurjit Singh, sitting MLA from Kapurthala constituency, would be taken after discussing the issue with his supporters.

Reminding the state Congress leadership that he had worked dedicatedly for the party and for the welfare of the NRIs during his stint as an MP, Mr Balbir Singh alleged that he was ignored without any valid reason.


Congress not to tolerate dissidence
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31
The President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr H.S. Hanspal, today said that he would not tolerate dissidence in the party at any level in the state.

Commenting on the reservations expressed by certain party functionaries about the selection of certain candidates to contest the Lok Sabha elections in the state, Mr Hanspal said the party high command had fielded the best available candidates by taking into consideration the winnability as the criteria.

He said that all aspirants could not be allotted the party ticket. One had to chose the candidates keeping various factors in view, he added. He said the Congress party was united and would fight against the communal and separatist forces of the National Democratic Alliance led by the BJP. He said that the BJP-SAD alliance would be defeated decisively in the elections.


SAD govt ignored farmers, says Preneet
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, March 31
Charging the previous Akali-BJP government with bringing the state on the verge of bankruptcy, a Congress candidate from the Patiala Parliamentary constituency, Ms Preneet Kaur, alleged that the government has been paying Rs 10 crore per day as interest of the loan amount borrowed by the previous government.

She also criticised the previous Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP government for ignoring the farmers in providing them necessary facilities and benefits.

Ms Preneet Kaur predicted a dark future for the SAD and other parties in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections while addressing public rallies in Lalru, Mubarikpur and Chhat villages during her election campaign in this subdivision.

She also alleged that Capt Kanwaljit Singh, general secretary of the SAD who is also her political rival for the Patiala constituency, won the Assembly elections with a narrow margin even though he indulged in rigging.

Addressing the public, Mr Deepinder Singh Dhillon, a former Advocate-General of Punjab, alleged that during five years of rule, the SAD-BJP government hardly raised any voice in favour of the farmers.


Dhindsa supporters finalise campaign
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 31
After the green signal to the group led of Mr Parkash Chand Garg, a working committee member of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), by Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, SAD candidate from Sangrur, to campaign for him independently, supporters of Mr Garg gathered at Gurdwara Jyoti Sarup here this evening and finalised an aggressive plan to campaign for Mr Dhindsa.

The meeting was attended by Ms Harjit Kaur Dhindsa, wife of Mr Dhindsa, Mr Parkash Chand Garg, Mr Baldev Singh Dhillon, Jathedar of Bhawanigarh circle of the SAD, Mr Khushpal Singh Birkalan, district president of the SAD youth wing, and Mr Jaswinder Singh Akoi, district press secretary of the SAD, among others.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Garg said it had been decided to divide Sangrur into three zones and to constitute committees in all villages and towns of the Assembly segment.

Mr Garg said he would seek the election tour programme from Mr Dhindsa to get the election rallies addressed by Mr Dhindsa, Mr Parminder Singh Dhindsa, Sunam MLA, and Ms Harjit Kaur Dhindsa. He said his faction would not leave any stone unturned to ensure the victory of Mr Dhindsa.

Ms Harjit Kaur Dhindsa asked the workers to work in the election campaign of Mr Dhindsa by forgetting all petty differences. She said the workers should start campaigning for Mr Dhindsa from today.


Brar faces stiff opposition from within party
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, March 31
The Congress candidate from Ferozepore, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, is facing a tough challenge not only from opposition candidates but from within the party also as protest against his candidature continues.

Hundreds of senior party functionaries from this border district who went all the way to New Delhi to make the party High Command reconsider its decision regarding the allotment of party ticket to Mr Brar, today met senior Congress leaders Oscar Fernandes, Mohsina Kidwai, Ahmed Patel and Ambika Soni. Mr Gurdip Dhillon, general secretary, DCC, said the senior party leaders had assured them that they would look into the matter.

Mr Hira Sodhi (son of Rana Gurmit Sodhi, MLA, and an aspirant for the ticket) said Ms Ambika Soni had assured the delegation that their sentiments would be conveyed to Ms Sonia Gandhi.

Scores of party leaders from the border district had threatened to tender their resignation from party posts if Mr Brar, who is being considered an outsider, contested from Ferozepore.

However, when contacted Mr Anoop Singh president, DCC, said the decision of the party High Command to field Mr Brar from Ferozepore was final and the DCC would extend all support to Mr Brar. He said Mr Brar would kick off his election campaign from National Martyrs Memorial soon.


Jogi elected vice-president of Bassi Pathana MC
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 31
Mr Bharat Bhushan Jogi, a councillor from newly-formed Bassi Vikas Manch, was elected vice-president of the Municipal Council, Bassi Pathana, in the elections held today.

He defeated Mr Om Parkash Mukhija, the Congress candidate backed by Dr Harbans Lal, MLA, by two votes. Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, presided over the meeting which was attended by all 13 councillors and Dr Harbans Lal.

Mr Ramesh Gupta, convener of the Bassi Vikas Manch and supporter of Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Speaker, said the victory was of the public and verdict against the policies of the president of the council, who had been working in an arbitrary manner as well as a moral defeat for the local MLA.

He said the Bassi Vikas Manch would continue to work for the development of the town and would not allow any anti-people policy of the president.


SAD members reiterate stand on BJP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31
Members of the local unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal (B) in a press note here today “openly resolved to reiterate their earlier stand to support its alliance partner, the BJP as per the instructions of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, party President”.

“We do not feel there is any necessity for the SAD high command to clarify the stand on the alliance partnership”, Mrs Harjinder Kaur, councillor, said. Mr N. S. Minhas, president of the local unit, said the high command had already announced its alliance with the BJP.

Mr Gurpratap Singh Riar, president of the local SAD, at a press conference yesterday had said neither the Parliamentary Affairs Committee of the SAD nor Mr Badal had given any instructions on the issue.


Jolt to SAD rebel Tur

Tarn Taran, March 31
Mr Tarlochan Singh Tur, rebel SAD candidate from this constituency, received a jolt today when Mr Sampooran Singh Bakipur, former zila parishad member, expressed his faith in the leadership of Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Mr Bakipur offered his services to the SAD when Mr Badal came to express his sympathy to members of the family of Angrez Singh, who died in police firing at Manawali village on Monday. — OC


No-trust motion against MC chief passed
Tribune News Service

Rampura Phul, March 31
In a significant development, a no-confidence motion was passed against the president of local Municipal Council, Mr Suresh Bahia, at a meeting held here today. Mr Bahia was elected president of the council as a Congress candidate by 15 out of total 17 municipal councillors.

As per the Punjab Municipal Rules, Mr Bahia is deemed to be suspended from the presidentship of the municipal council the moment the resolution was passed against him.

On the other hand, Mr Bahia, who was once a confidant of a former Akali minister, Mr Sikander Singh, and had later shifted loyalty to the Congress after Mr Malooka was defeated by Akali rebel candidate Gurpreet Singh Kangar in the last Assembly elections, claimed that the no-confidence motion passed against him by 15 councillors lacked legal sanctity as he had resigned much before the motion was passed.

“ I submitted my resignation at 9. 35 am today and the no-confidence motion was passed against me after 3 pm. Hence it carries no weight,” claimed Mr Bahia and alleged that a section of vested interests, who had allegedly taken huge money from his opponents, had been playing an active role against him. He said about 80 per cent of population of this town was with him because of huge development works carried out by him.

Official sources said about 15 councillors had given a representation on March 2 for calling a meeting today citing reason that they had lost confidence in Mr Bahia and hence wanted to remove him from the presidentship. On their request, the Executive Officer called a meeting of the councillors today. Except Mr Bahia and one other councillor, all other 15 councillors were present at the meeting.

At the meeting all 15 councillors unanimously passed the motion against Mr Bahia in presence of the SDM, Mr Bhupinder Singh, who was acting as an observer.

Mr Bhupinder Singh, said now the Municipal Council authorities would send the no-confidence motion proceedings to the state government and then a notification would be issued in connection with the removal of Mr Bahia from the presidentship of the council. After that a fresh meeting of the councillors would be called to elect the new president.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the contenders for the post of presidentship included Mr Parmod Kala, Mr Swaran Singh Kuku and Mr Satbir Singh.


Move to resolve Chief Khalsa Diwan row fails
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 31
The Chairman of the National Minorities Commission, Mr Tarlochan Singh, who had specially flown down to Amritsar today failed to resolve the Chief Khalsa Diwan (CKD) row as both the warring groups continued to stick to their respective stands.

Mr Tarlochan Singh camped in the holy city for two days had even skipped the kar seva of the sarovar of the Golden Temple. The Chairman of the Minorities Commission had called representatives of both the groups to Circuit House and suggested various formulas. Even a representative of Akal Takht was called by Mr Tarlochan Singh to broker amicable solution. The parleys continued for two days.

However, one group, which has been holding power for a long time till the intervention of Deputy Commissioner and the Minorities Commission, refused to revoke the suspension of 284 members of CKD. On this, the representatives of the rival group virtually boycotted the joint meeting.

With this, the position of Sikh clergy has become sticky as the matter had been pending with Akal Takht for a long time.


Chetna marches to mark quincentennial celebrations
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 31
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee would organise two Khalsa Chetna marches in connection with the 500th birth anniversary of Guru Angad Dev. These will culminate at Khadoor Sahib on April 16.

Stating this the SGPC general secretary, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, said symbolic Khalsa Chetna March would commence from Kartarpur Sahib (Pakistan) on Baisakhi Day (April 14) in the morning and would reach Dera Baba Nanak the same day at about noon and Batala by evening. After night stay at Guru Nanak academy in Batala the march would proceed towards Baba Bakala the next day (April 15) via Achal Sahib and Chowk Mehta. The march would reach Khadoor Sahib the next day on (April 16) evening after passing through Raya Mode Khalchian and Nagoke.

Mr Bhaur said the second Khalsa March would start from Sarai Naga (Matte Ki Sarai) in Muktsar district on April 15 morning and would pass through Kotkapura and Faridkot before reaching Mudki. The march would proceed to Talwandi Bhai, Zira, Makhu, Harike, Sarhali, Tarn Taran, Baath, Kang and Sanghar the next day before reaching Khadoor Sahib on April 16.

He appealed to the sangat to participate in respective the marches, welcome the members of jathas and organise langar in various area.


Guru Granth Sahib path to expose corruption
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, March 31
Congress leader and sarpanch of Nadala village (under Bholath subdivision) Jarnail Singh has planned path of Guru Granth Sahib in Bholath tehsil office to expose corruption there.

Mr Jarnail Singh, who remained chairman of the Market Committee, Bholath, has invited the Deputy Commissioner to hold open darbar in Bholath tehsil employees of while allegedly indulged in corruption.

He alleged corrupt practices by employees in the registration of documents.

Mr Jarnail Singh asked the district administration to transfer the ‘tainted’ employees from the tehsil in a week. Otherwise he threatened to hold an agitation.

Mr Jarnail Singh levelled serious allegations against tehsil employees of Bholath subdivision.

Mr Rakesh Kumar Verma, Deputy Commissioner, said that he had already ordered the transfer of one registration clerk in the Bholath tehsil office following a report from the SDM, Bholath.


Suvidha Kendra inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 31
Under the Punjab Government plan to provide various services related with different revenue department in the district at one window Mr B. Sarkar, Commissioner, Faridkot Division, inaugurated a Suvidha Kendra at the Mini Secretariat here today.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Sarkar said initially this centre would ensure to provide all kinds of documents of Miscellaneous Administrative (MA) Passports at revenue branches at a minimal fee by the person concerned. However, persons belonging to the weaker sections of society would be given the facility free of cost, he said.

To make the procedure effective five computers had been installed to speed up work and curtail paper work. Moreover, the centre would submit its daily report to the Deputy-Commissioner to check any type of lapse anywhere in dealing with the cases promptly. Services relating to other departments would also be brought under one window shortly, assured the Commissioner.

Mr Sarkar said two such centres were already functioning at Moga and Bhatinda and other districts, including Ferozepore, Mansa and Muktsar would also be brought under the scheme shortly. Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy-Commissioner, also spoke on the occasion.


Updated telephone directory released
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 31
The Telecom Department will soon establish Dot-Soft equipment at district headquarters of Amritsar, Pathankot, Hoshiarpur and Ropar for facilitating billing, commercial, directory enquiry and fault complaint at a single platform.

This was revealed by Mr G.S. Bhatia, Chief General Manager (Telecom circle Punjab) on the occasion of releasing of new telephone directory for Amritsar here today.

Mr Bhatia said at present this facility was available at Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Patiala.

He said these districts would be interconnected which would help the customers to access billing and other details whenever required.

Mr Bhatia embarked upon an ambitious project of adding about 40 lakh lines for mobile services in the North out of which 5 to 10 lakh lines would be given to Punjab.

The CGM said the mobile services would be expanded to 4.75 lakh from present level of 2.43 lakh customers within the next few months.

He said the BSNL was providing excellent service and more customers were contacting them for new connection.

In order to improve the mobile range in Punjab, BSNL was adding 130 towers to the existing 230 towers, he added.

Mr G.S. Daria, General Manager (Telecom), Amritsar, while speaking on the occasion said telephone directory district issue 2003 corrected up to December 31, 2003 contained vital information about commercial rulings, new services like centrex, ISDN, Internet, mobile services and tariffs besides the details of telephones working in Amritsar.


Sikh gurus heralded golden era, says Osho’s brother
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 31
If there is secularism in the country, it is only due to the sacrifices made by the Sikh Gurus from time to time for one, enabling us to live a harmonious life. The period of 1506 to 1708 is termed as the golden era in the history as during this period 10 enlightened Sikh masters taught spiritualism, said Swami Shalendra, younger brother of Osho Rajneesh and head of the Osho Dhara organisation, while talking to The Tribune here today.

He had come here along with his wife Ma Osho Priya, and hundreds of Osho disciples to pay obeisance to younger sahibjadas of Guru Gobind Singh at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib. This is a part of his thanksgiving mission. He has planned to pay obeisance at the places of all 10 Sikh gurus.

He stressed the need to revamp the education system of the country, if we wanted to produce balanced human beings. He said that the coming generation should be taught in such a manner that they must become strong enough to deal with the in outer world but also the inner world.

Answering a query why OSHO was widely criticised during life time and now his teachings are considered more meaningful, he replied that it had happened with all saints in past. He said all enlightened masters are ahead of their time and it was very difficult to bear the truth.

He said at present there are four centres working for Osho Dhara, known as living movement propagating OSHO’s vision. He lashed out at authorities running Osho’s commune in Pune. They have started following the materialistic aspect at the cost of the spiritual aspect, he said. The main focus of OSHO Dhara is on promoting spiritualism.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, welcomed Swami Shalendra and his disciples at his residence and hosted a party in their reception.


Bill to separate politics from religion sought
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 31
The Federation of Indian Rationalist Association (FIRA) today demanded that a Bill be enacted to separate politics from religion and implement of uniform civil code, as envisaged in Article 44 of the Constitution.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr U. Kalanathan, national secretary of FIRA, said FIRA had also demanded that religion should be declared a private affair and all religious and communal public actions be prohibited to ensure true socialism in the country. The government, judiciary and educational wings should be separated from religion, he added.

He said FIRA had also proposed that a ban be imposed on the collection of funds from foreign bodies by religious and communal organisations as by collecting huge amounts, a section of such organisations used to purchase dangerous weapons to be used for riots and religious conflicts.

He said to pressurise the authorities to check communalism in the country, FIRA had appealed to all secular and humanistic forces to unite to wipe out pseudo-secularism and communalism from India. He added that FIRA would organise a campaign for this and would stage a dharna before Parliament.


Commandos leave for Chhattisgarh today
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 31
Additional Director-General of Police D.R. Bhatti today addressed Punjab Police commandos, who will leave for election duty to Chhattisgarh tomorrow, at a function organised at the Commando Complex at Bahadurgarh, near here, today.

Talking to newsmen on the occasion, Mr Bhatti said nearly 2,000 commandos would leave for sensitive constituencies in Chhattisgarh tomorrow. He said as many as three Commandants and 19 Deputy Superintendent of Police would accompany the force.

The force would leave Patiala tomorrow on three different trains and was expected back on April 27. It would be doing duty in areas where the Peoples War Group (PWG) was active in Chhattisgarh.


Sikh jatha to leave for Pakistan on April 6
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 31
A jatha of 3,000 Sikh pilgrims to be led by Jathedar Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, general secretary of the SGPC, will visit Pakistan from April 6 on the occasion of Baisakhi.

According to a press note here yesterday, the pilgrims would visit Gurdwara Panja Sahib, Gurdwara Nankana Sahib, Gurdwara Sacha Sauda, Dera Sahib Lahore and Gurdwaras at Emnabad.


50 complaints received daily: Vigilance chief
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 31
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau receives 50 complaints daily relating to corruption charges and about 20 cases are registered every month, Mr A.P. Pandey, Chief Director of the bureau, said here yesterday.

As many as 40 cases were being registered under various sections of the anti-corruption Act against officers of various government departments for preliminary inquiries, he told mediapersons.

Referring to the corruption cases of Ravi Sidhu, former Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission, he said the evidence of the prosecution side was likely to be completed soon.

The next hearing in the case against Mr Parkash Singh Badal had been fixed for April 3, he said, adding that the case had reached the stage where charges could be framed against Mr Badal.

He said the government had decided to constitute two special courts to speed up the disposal of corruption cases at Jalandhar and Patiala.


Vulgar posters irk forum

Amritsar, March 31
Pasting of vulgar posters continues here even as the administration has turned a blind eye to the menace.

Mr Brij Bedi, president of the Citizens Forum, in a press note, stated that senior citizens like him and others were ashamed to see that the walls of sessions courts and the main crossing of Mall Road had been pasted with posters of the film “Hawas”. — OC


Fire in oil factory boiler
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 31
A boiler in a vegetable and refined oil factory here caught fire last night. As the fire tenders of the local municipal council were unable to control the fire even after an hour, help was sought from neighbouring towns and ultimately the fire was brought under control by mid-night.

There was no official word on the extent of loss. The affected unit claimed that it had been allotted International Standardisation Certificate on quality and management. This was the third such incident in the past three months; earlier another unit had faced such fire incidents twice in the recent past but the details of these were kept secret.


Remand of human trafficking accused extended
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 31
Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate P.S. Dhanoa today extended the police remand of Dhian Singh, alias Harchand Singh, till April 2 in the human trafficking case in which he is one of the main accused along with pop star Daler Mehndi and the latter’s brother Shamsher Mehndi.

The prosecution claimed that questioning of Dhian Singh was still going on and that he was to be taken to a few places in connection with the case. Dhian Singh was earlier a proclaimed offender in the case and had surrendered to Patiala Police last week.


Punjab's sugar scene bitter
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31
The Punjab Government again pleaded with the Centre today to release adequate free and levy sale sugar quota for the state, failing which it would be constrained to sell sugar in the open market.

In a letter addressed to the Union Minister for Food, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has requested that the principle of contiguity in the allotment of levy sugar from cooperative sugar mills of Punjab by the Food Corporation of India and Army purchase organisation to adjoining states like J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan should be maintained.

The Chief Minister also disclosed the present scenario on account of less releases of levy and free-sale sugar quota to cooperative sugar mills, the cooperative sugar industry and the sugar mills were in dire straits. However, serious consequences of the situation were being faced by the farmers, who had not been able to get their dues for sugarcane for over a period of one year.

On January 31, 2004, the average national stock holding of sugar to the production was at 57 per cent, whereas, for Punjab the average sugar stock holding against sugar produced was 80.30 per cent, said a press note.

Meanwhile, the state government had decided to gradually make the payments of sugarcane arrears for which the first instalment of Rs 4.30 crore had been released.


Rs 472 cr annual credit plan launched
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, March 31
Mr B.R. Banga, Deputy Commissioner, Muktsar, today launched an annual credit plan worth Rs 472 crore, prepared by the lead branch of the State Bank of Patiala (SBOP), in this district.

Mr Banga pointed out that a sum of Rs 333 crore would be advanced in agriculture and its allied activities sector and Rs 34 crore would be advanced to the non-farm sector. The annual plan for the coming financial year was Rs 92.79 crore more than the amount of annual plan for the current financial year.

He said apart from this a sum of Rs 61.38 crore would be distributed in the priority sector and Rs 43.28 crore would be advanced in the non-priority sector. He said special thrust would be given to link as many as 400 self-help groups with the banks.

The function was attended by Mr D. J. Mankad, DGM, SBOP, Bathinda, Mr B. S. Sandhu, Regional Manager, Punjab and Sind Bank and Dr M. Biswas, Assistant General manager (AGM), Nabard.


Rs 20 crore council budget passed
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, March 31
A Rs 20.22 crore budget of the local Municipal Council was passed today even as the Opposition BJP members staged a walkout.

As the 33-member council met in the Swimming Complex Hall to pass the budget for 2004-2005, the BJP members demanded a statement from Mr Sharwan Kumar, president, on alleged irregularities in the council. Mr Ramesh Tola, senior vice-president, belonging to the Congress group, tendered his resignation to Mr Birbal Dass, Executive Officer of the council.

After pandemonium in the House, the BJP members staged a walkout. The House was adjoined for lack of quorum for two hours.

Later the special budget session was converted into a general house meeting.

The president told mediapersons later that the budget was passed under special provisions of the law.


Red Cross shop: fresh probe ordered
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 31
Inquiry has been ordered again into the alleged renting out of a Red Cross medical store on the premises of the Civil Hospital here.

The shop had been sealed last week by the Tehsildar after a probe showed that it was running in violation of the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the subsequent orders of the state government.

The inquiry was ordered as the party running the medical store was dissatisfied with the report of the first probe. The Commissioner of the Patiala Division, therefore, directed the Ropar Deputy Commissioner to get an inquiry done again.

The fresh probe will be conducted by the SDM who has been asked to submit the report within a month.


Nurse booked for conception that wasn’t!
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 31
The police has booked Ramesh Rani, a nurse, for defrauding a childless couple of Patti village. She had been arrested last year for changing new born babies.

The nurse and her daughter were taken into custody after villagers handed them over to it. She had assured Daljit Singh and his wife Parkinder Kaur, that the woman had conceived after taking some medicines. The nurse had later tried to convince the couple for a Caesarian operation.

On the scheduled day for delivery, the nurse connived with another woman to supply a stolen baby to the couple. The woman got suspicious when the unidentified woman tried to keep a baby near her during her semi-consciousness.

She started to shout after seeing this, due to which the unidentified woman tried to flee with the baby. An altercation between Paramjit Kaur, sister of Parkinder Kaur, and the woman followed, but the latter escaped with the baby.


SMO held on bribe charge
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 31
The Vigilance Bureau today arrested Dr Gurmit Singh, Senior Medical Officer, Civil Hospital, Ajnala, for allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 5,000. Mr Dilbagh Singh, SSP, Vigilance, in a press note issued here today, revealed that Mr Ranjit Singh, a resident of Ajnala, complained that Dr Gurmit Singh was demanding Rs 5000 to issue MLRs of his brother and mother, Davinder Singh and Balbir Kaur, respectively who were injured in a clash in the village. He said Raminder Singh, a radiographer, had sent the X-ray report to the SMO for his opinion.

The complainant said when he approached Dr Gurmit Singh for opinion, he demanded Rs 10,000 as bribe for this. However, the deal was struck at Rs 5,000.

The SSP said a raiding party headed by DSP Kashmir Singh arrested Dr Gurmit Singh while taking money. A case under Sections 7 and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act has been registered.

Mr Dilbagh Singh further informed that the bureau had also conducted 16 separate raids in which three gazetted officers, 12 Class III employees were arrested. Besides, the vigilance had also registered three cases of possessing properties disproportionate to known sources of income and misuse of government funds, he added.


Cyclist killed in road mishap

Ludhiana, March 31
The police has registered a case under Sections 279 and 304-A of the IPC on a complaint of Mr Sukhdev Singh, a resident of Mohalla Uttam Colony that falls in Ward Number 17 at Khanna against Heera Lal, who hails from UP.

The complainant has alleged that the accused while driving his Tata Tempo hit an unidentified cyclist near the petrol station at Bhagwan Chowk killing him on the spot. No arrest has been made so far. — OC


Punjab school board officials relieved
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 31
The news of the arrest of eight persons, allegedly responsible for the leakage of question papers leakage of the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) has come as a relief to the board officials. Talking to The Tribune, the Board Chairman Dr Kehar Singh said: “The arrest of those responsible should send a loud and clear message that any one trying to jeopardize the examination process of the Board will be dealt with severely.”

Visibly relieved and full of praise for the effort put in by the Ludhiana SSP, Mr Narinder Pal Singh, and the Jagroan SSP, Mr H.S. Bhullar, in zeroing in on the culprits, Dr Kehar Singh said this showed that there was no involvement of a board employee in the leakage. “Once the question paper packets are sent to the district education officers (DEOs), the board’s responsibility as well as control over the happenings in the field ends,” he said.

Sources in the board also pointed out that though the Punjab Education Minister, Mr Khushal Behal, had publicly vowed to revamp the board in the wake of the paper leakage, the involvement of a school principal at Ludhiana in the leakage pointed out clearly that the Minister needed to put his own house in order first. “The Education department should revamp its examination conduct system before pointing fingers at an autonomous body,” said a source.

Meanwhile stringent preparations are in place for the re-conduct of the cancelled and postponed Class X and XII examinations beginning tomorrow. Dr Kehar Singh said that the Board had sent special teams to deal with instances of question paper packet seals being broken during handling. “The problem happened at certain distribution offices but it was taken care of. We told the DEOs concerned to seal the torn packing with cellotape and sign on it,’’ he said adding that question paper packets had been distributed successfully. Dr Kehar Singh informed that special arrangements had been made for the conduct of the examination at sensitive centres. “Question papers will be delivered at the centre minutes before the examination at these centres. Moreover special observers chosen from among senior school teachers will be placed on all the 3000 centres across the state for these examinations. ’’he said.

The board Chairman also stated that the final report of the commission set up by the Board to inquire into the paper leakage would be placed before the chairman within the next two days. The time-bound inquiry being done by the Director-General, School Education, Mr. Anurag Agarwal, is also due to finish by the end of next week.


NSUI to take up students’ poll issue with CM
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 31
The state unit of the National Students Union of India (NSUI), today said the ban on students elections in universities should be lifted.

Mr Aman Prashar, newly-elected state president of the NSUI, said in a press conference here that the student’s union would take up the matter with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, after the elections. He said barring Panjab University, Chandigarh, the elections were banned in rest of the universities in the state. These included Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, Punjabi University, Patiala, Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana and Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar. The elections had been banned in all universities of the state in 1984 due to terrorism, he revealed.

Mr Prashar said the ban on student’s election had been lifted in Himachal Pradesh about seven years ago and the state unit of NSUI would urge the Chief Minister to lift this ban in Punjab.

While addressing the press conference he said the truth was just opposite to the ‘India Shining’ propaganda of the BJP-led NDA government. He alleged that the condition of educated youth in the country was pitiable. He said last five years had seen a large scale reduction in job opportunities in public sector and the private sector too was not showing a corresponding increase. He said the ability to generate jobs had decreased from .52 per cent in the late 1980’s to .16 at present. He said the NDA government had failed to keep its promise of generating one crore jobs a year.

On the issue of fee hike Mr Prashar said the model Act for the universities of the 21st century in India as proposed by UGC/Ministry of Human Resource Development had commercialised education due to which education had become out of reach of common man.

Mr Prashar said the NSUI would participate in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections and would support the Congress.


DC postpones Khalsa College Council poll
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 31
The Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Election Officer, Mr Raminder Singh, today gave directions to postpone the election of the local Khalsa College Council immediately. This hit the prospects of Mr Satyajit Singh Majithia, father-in-law of Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, a former Union Minister, to becoming the president of the college council.

As per a verbal agreement, a pledge to this effect was given in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib, two groups in the management, which runs four colleges and as many schools, had agreed to share power on rotation basis ( a term of two-and-a-half years each). The term of the first group, led by Akali Dal’s Rajya Sabha member Mr Rajmohinder Singh Majithia expired today and the opposition group of Mr Satyjit Singh Majithia was supposed to take over today itself.

The Deputy Commissioner said he had to take this step on a specific complaint that the change in the council would have a direct reflection on the forthcoming Lok Sabha election. When asked whether he was competent to intervene in the election of a private management, he said administration could initiate action against the managements which were getting 95 per cent aid from the government.

Earlier, Mr Charjit Singh Chadha, secretary of Khalsa College Society, had written to the Deputy Commissioner to postpone the election.


Ludhiana institute wins top honours in carnival
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 31
Students of Gujranwala Guru Nanak Institute of Management, Ludhiana, dominated the proceedings on the third day of the state level Lovely Carnival — 2004, which concluded on the premises of Lovely Educational Trust Complex near here today.

While Gujranwala Guru Nanak Institute of Management won first position in advertisement and turn coat competitions, the Apeejay Institute of Management, Jalandhar, bagged first position in the mock press conference.

The college of Engineering and Management, Kapurthala, was adjudged best in Paper presentation event while the Ryat Institute of Engineering and Technology, Ropar, and Apeejay Institute of Management were declared second and third, respectively.

In individual category, Kamal Dev of Lovely Institute of Education bagged the first position in painting (still life) competition while Paramjit Singh of BCM College of Education, Ludhiana, won the second prize.

In teaching skills, Roopa of Dev Samaj College of Education won the first position in English and Shareta Mehta of Lovely Institute of Education was adjudged second.

Similarly in Punjabi, Gurwinder Singh of the host institute bagged the first position while Paramjit Singh of BCM College of Education won the second position.

Later, the IG Jalandhar, Mr S.K. Sharma, gave away prizes to the winners. The Director of Lovely Educational Trust Mr Ashok Mittal, said the state level carnival had been organised to inculcate the spirit of competitiveness among the students.


Varsity toppers awarded
Our Correspondent

Moga, March 31
The annual function of Lala Lajpat Rai Institute of Engineering and Technology was celebrated here on Monday. Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Minister for Technical Education and Industrial Training, Punjab, presided over the function and gave away the prizes to university toppers and other students.

The chief guest highlighted the importance of technical education and said Punjab had been a fore runner in various revolutions like the green and white revolutions.

Students presented a cultural programme on the occasion.


11 students get roll of honour
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 31
Six students of the local Government Rajindra College, who bad figured in the merit list of Punjabi University, Patiala, were awarded roll of honour by Prof Nisha Sarda, DPI (Colleges), Punjab, at the annual prize distribution function of the college here today.

In a press note, Ms Gurmeet Kaur Bhattal, Principal of the college, said Ms Sarda also gave the roll of honour to five other students who had excelled in sports.

Ms Sarda also gave away college colours to 26 students who were university merit holders and 35 other students, who had made a mark in university and inter-university sports championships. Twenty-one students were given college colours for achievements in extra-curricular activities.


80,000 appear in GND varsity exams

Amritsar, March 31
The undergraduate examinations of Guru Nanak Dev University commenced here today. More than 80,000 candidates appeared at 300 examination centre in five districts of Jalandhar, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr. As many as 3,500 teaching and non-teaching staff members of university and affiliated colleges were on supervisory duty, while principals of colleges have been appointed local Controllers of Examinations. Senior faculty members and officers of university were appointed members of flying squads. — OC


Punishment sought in copying incident
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 31
Mr Satya Pal Dang, CPI leader, has demanded punishment for those senior officials whose wards were helped in the SSD senior secondary school examination at Bathinda, where a student was allegedly stripped certain teachers for objecting to cheating.

In a letter to Education Minister Khushal Behl, Mr Dang stated that wards of civil servants of the Deputy Commissioner’s office, sons and daughters of revenue officials and judicial officers and wards of senior officials of the PSEB were present in the examination hall that day. He alleged that copying was organised by invigilators in the said school at the behest of some VIPs to help these wards.

He sought punishment for the VIPs who had forced invigilators to organise copying and deterrent punishment for the invigilators involved in the stripping incident. He also said the student who stood up such pressure be honoured.


Varsity holiday

Amritsar, March 31
Guru Nanak Dev University will remain closed on the eve of the birth anniversary of Guru Nabha Das on April 8. This was stated in a press note of the university here yesterday. — OC


Punjab to introduce monthly lottery
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31
The Punjab State Lotteries will be introducing its monthly lottery ticket on the occasion of Baisakhi. While the price of the ticket will be Rs 20, the first prize will be for Rs 11 lakh. This was stated by the Director of Punjab Lotteries, Mr Sher Singh Sidhu, while speaking at a function organised here today to honour the winners of the Lohri bumper draw.

Claiming to have the number one position in the country, he said they had sold a total of 33 lakh tickets during the current financial year as against 15 lakhs last year. The profits from the sale of tickets this year has been Rs 87.86 crore. He said the sale of monthly lottery would provide regular business to the lottery sellers. The sale of tickets would start on April 13 and the first draw would be held on May 14, he added.

Mr Gulab Gill, a hosiery worker from Ludhiana could not believe his luck when he was awarded a cheque of Rs 75 lakh for being the first prize winner of the Lohri bumper draw held in January. “I have five daughters and this will come in handy while organising their marriages,” he said while talking to mediapersons later. Gulab, who keeps trying his luck off and on said his mother, Naiti, had asked him to try his luck and had predicted that he would get the prize. Though the prize money is Rs 1 crore, but following deductions he got a little over Rs 75 lakh. He will use a part of this money for starting some project. Mr Gill became the 33rd crorepati.

The other prize winners who got their cheques were Mr Madan Lal of Jalandhar, Ms Sheila Devi and Mr Buta Singh of Bathinda.

Mr Gill said tenders for starting online lottery in the state would be invited after the Lok Sabha poll. He said there was a proposal to reduce taxes on the prize winning lotteries so that the winners could get more prize money. The target for selling the Baisakhi bumper tickets is around 10 lakhs and nearly 4, 64,000 tickets had already been sold.

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