P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Brick-kiln owners to go on strike from April 30
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
As many as 2,500 brick-kiln units spread across Punjab would stop manufacturing work for an indefinite period from April 30 in protest against the policies and attitude of the Capt Amarinder Singh government towards their demands.

Addressing a joint press conference here today, the Punjab Brickkiln Owners Association highlighted the problems being faced by them with the departments of Food and Supplies, Excise and Taxation, Industries and Pollution. During the past one year, they had given several memorandums to the Chief Minister and the authorities concerned but to no avail. They also expressed resentment over illegal sale of bricks by commission agents and shortage of coal and its black marketing. They were being forced to go in for this indefinite strike when the brick-manufacturing season was at its peak and would affect construction, besides creating unemployment for 5 lakh labourers, including the allied labour associated with this industry also.

The president of the association, Mr Sarabjit Singh Makkar, said the Punjab Pollution Control Board and the Food and Supplies Department had issued notice to the brickkiln owners in the state to compulsorily use 25 per cent of fly ash while manufacturing bricks or face action. This will affect nearly 75 per cent of the total brick kiln owners in the state.

“It is the duty of the power thermal plants to dispose of their waste products. It is not possible for the brick-kiln owners to mix fly ash in the brick earth manually and there is no mixing machine available in the country,” Mr Makkar, joined by association chairman S.P. Bansal and general secretary Ashok Mittal, among others, said here. It is not possible to take the responsibility of transportation of fly-ash from the thermal plants to the brick kilns, falling within a radius of 50 km to 100 km.

He said that the industry department had imposed royalty on the brick earth and it was not imposed on lump sum basis. Mr Makkar alleged renewal of licence by the state government was also done after taking huge money.

A coal mafia was operative in the state which creates an artificial shortage of coal so as to sell the product in black, said Mr Makkar.

Coal India Limited has given the sponsorship to a few coal merchants in the state. This wrong policy resulted in shortage of coal. The recommended coal agents are demanding a very high price of this sponsored coal which is coming to them on the authorisation given by the brick kiln owners for arranging the supply of coal and is sold at a very high price in the open market.’’ He said the coal rate in the state had gone up from Rs 3,400 per ton to Rs 5,500 per ton, even as the railway freight charges had not changed.

Mr Makkar also castigated the state government for imposing Factories Act 1948 on their industry, keeping in view the fact that it was seasonal and labour was employed on contract.


Amarinder Singh, others mourn Tohra’s death
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has expressed grief and sorrow over the demise of the SGPC president, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, who passed away in New Delhi last night.

In his message, the Chief Minister said Mr Tohra had dedicated his entire life to the welfare of the Sikh Panth and worked tirelessly for the upliftment of the weaker sections of the society.

Expressing shock over the demise of Mr Tohra, the Haryana Governor, Babu Parmanand said Mr Tohra’s contribution in religious, social and political fields would be remembered for generations. His demise has created a void in the political and social establishment in North India, he added.

Andhra Pradesh Governor, S.S. Barnala said in Mr Tohra’s death, Punjab had lost a bold and wise leader who had taken a prominent part in shaping present day Punjab.

Describing Mr Tohra as a man with a clean image and high values, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said he would be remembered forever for his unmatched contribution in the field of religion and politics.

Minister of State for Public Health, Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa said Mr Tohra had dedicated his entire life to Sikhism and had played a key role in Sikh affairs for almost six decades. Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Bir Devinder Singh said Mr Tohra was a symbol of simplicity, honesty and high values.

Stating that Mr Tohra’s contribution was unparallel in the history of the SGPC, the President of the Punjab unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, said that he was a pioneer in starting many social and educational institutions.

The former Chief Election Commissioner of India, Mr M.S. Gill, president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr H.S. Hanspal and Senior Punjab BJP leader, Balramji Das Tandon were among those who conveyed their condolences to the bereaved family.


‘Mai Punjab’ status for Tohra’s wife sought

Ropar, April 1
The president of the World Sikh Foundation, Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, today demanded that the Punjab Government confer the status of ‘Mai Punjab’ on Tohra’s wife and give her a pension of Rs 10,000.

Mr Mann said entire chapter of Akali politics had passed away with Tohra. — OC


SAD meeting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
The president of the SAD, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has convened an emergency meeting of the political affairs committee of the party at Fatehgarh Sahib Gurdwara tomorrow at 5 p.m. in the wake of passing away of the SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

The committee is likely to pass a condolence resolution on Mr Tohra.


Responsibility fell on his shoulders early
Jagveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Tohra (Patiala), April 1
At ten, a young “man” of this village with a small land holding took Labh Singh under his patronage. The young man, bereft of a father, worked shoulder to shoulder with Labh Singh on his 22 bighas of land, often taking on hard labour and letting his “servant” do the lighter work.

Labh Singh today has a house bigger than that of his benefaction — Gurcharan Singh Tohra. Both his sons are working — one a clerk in the Mata Gujri College and another a class IV employee in the Fatehgarh Sahib Engineering College — both courtesy Akali patriach whom Labh Singh is mourning today.

“Bapuji” (Tohra) was more like a father to me. He looked after my every need,” disclosed Labh Singh to The Tribune at the residence of the SGPC chief in the village today. “I have worked with Bapuji for 50 years now,” says Labh Singh. Recalling old times, he said Mr Tohra used to do heavy work in fields, including cultivating the fields with bullocks.

Labh Singh related how Mr Tohra had found a match for him, his brother his sister and then his son and daughter. “Tohra Sahab” spent on all marriages from his own pocket. “I never had to take any credit for any of the marriages or money to build my house,” he says pointing out at his house which he says is better in some respects than that of the residence of the SGPC chief.

Labh Singh is not the only “servant” who received Mr Tohra’s benevolence. Raj, who is in charge of the leader’s kitchen since decades, says he has completely changed ever since his interaction with the SGPC leader. Raj, who is not from the state, is presently a baptised Sikh. He says “Tohra Sahib” had given him a place to stay, security and love and affection which he would never be able to forget.

There are more than 250 village boys who were given government jobs solely because of Mr Tohra. “Show us a house which has not benefited,” say villagers adding two to three youngsters are in government jobs in some houses. Most of the youngsters had been recruited in the Punjab and Sind Bank during the Chairmanship of Inderjit Singh. Many youngsters are serving in the police besides other government jobs.

Mr Tohra was not content with just getting government jobs for youngsters of his village. He kept encouraging them to excel and was interested that they pursue higher studies. Barjinder Singh, who presently teaches in Ripudaman College in Nabha disclosed that he had become a Lecturer solely because of encouragement received from the SGPC chief. “Bapuji” wrote to me from Jodhpur jail advising me to pursue a M Phil course after my postgraduate degree which eventually helped me in becoming a Lecturer, he says.


Action on the cards against irrigation officials
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
Action is on the cards against a large number of Sub-Divisional Engineers, Executive Engineers and other officers of Irrigation Department, who allegedly diverted funds, meant for specific purpose, to other works.

Informed sources said today that as many as 69 engineers were being issued charge-sheets in this connection. The action was being taken following the clearance of the file by the Irrigation Minister, Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, it is learnt.

Sources said about Rs 80 crore was provided to various divisions of drainage and other wings of the Irrigation Department to clear various liabilities such as the payment of compensation to farmers, whose land was acquired by the department. The payment was released by the Finance Department to fulfil the commitment given in the court to clear the liabilities in specific period.

However, sources said certain officers allocated the money to other works. When the matter came to the notice of the Finance Department, it ordered a special audit of the payments made by officials of the Irrigation Department from the funds provided by the Finance Department for specific purposes.

Sources said that in the audit report, authorities concerned had named several officers for the diversion of funds. It was a partial audit because at certain places audit parties were not given record for the audit purpose, it is learnt. If the complete audit had been done, more diversion of funds would have come to light, it is learnt.

Meanwhile, certain officers against whom action is to be taken say that top officers should also be issued charge sheets. They should have issued proper guidelines to all concerned regarding the utilisation of funds. Sources said certain officers did not mention for what purpose funds were being released. Officers in the field took advantage of it.


Resentment more discernible in Punjab Congress
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
In Punjab, the Congress and the Akalis in various and varying political permutations and combinations or in alliance with CPI, CPI(M), BJP and BSP have been the main players in all elections from panchayat and state-level to Parliament. This is not intended to undermine the role of minor or lesser known political parties or outfits or Independents.

For the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections to 13 seats, major parties have announced their candidates. The Congress has fielded 11, leaving two seats to its allies, the CPI and CPI (M). The Akali Dal has put up 10 candidates and its ally, the BJP, is contesting three seats. BSP and Akali Dal of Mr Simranjit Singh Mann has also put up four or five candidates each.

More than in any other political party, public display of resentment over the choice of candidates has been more discernible in the Congress, where in varying degrees party men have aired their protests in Ferozepore and Ludhiana, while there are reports of simmering discontent in Faridkot and Hoshiarpur.

In Akali Dal, too, there were voices of protest against the official candidates in Patiala, Sangrur and Tarn Taran. Since the Akali Dal president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, foresaw such developments, he had announced the candidates early to gain time to quell dissent or win over annoyed party workers and colleagues. To an extent, Mr Badal contained dissent in Patiala, where former MP, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, had created a furore but he is still to achieve success in Sangrur, where the family of Mr Surjit Singh Barnala is smarting over the choice of Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa. In Tarn Taran, where the sitting MP, Mr Tarlochan Singh Tur was denied ticket, he expelled Mr Tur from the party for indiscipline. Can the Congress do this? It is a house divided against itself.

Punjab elections have always been a brainteaser. It is difficult to say what will be the turnout or outcome of the elections. These elections are marked by strong politico-religious overtones, demographic pattern, caste, community, socio-cultural and economic status, urban and rural development or discrimination etc.

Successive elections have revealed that it were the local issues that prevailed and played a crucial role in enabling the voters to make up their mind. The local issues like corruption, scrapping of auction of liquor shops by the high court, government’s non-performance, recruitment of DSPs under sports quota, etc. will be contributing factors, besides fractured organisational wing of the parties.

In fact, even the death of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra is likely to be exploited by the Akalis and Congress, as part of their political tactical moves. The two parties are working out strategies to make the best of the death of Mr Tohra to garner votes. If the Akalis are out to seek votes saying the “best tribute’’ to Mr Tohra would be to vote for the party candidates, the decision of the Congress government to observe two holidays, order a state funeral and a five-day state mourning is an obvious pointer of its political intentions.

The line-up of candidates showed that while the Congress supporting CPI in Bathinda was understandable, conceding Hoshiarpur to CPI (M) ostensibly under pressure from Mr Harkishan Singh Surjeet was unpalatable to the state Congress. Similarly, the choice of Mr Munish Tewari for Ludhiana or allowing Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar to shift to Ferozepore from Faridkot was being resented.

Why after relentlessly perusing corruption cases against the Badals and even sending them to jail, the party could still not cash on this “achievement’’ and find a candidate to face the junior Badal—Sukhbir Singh? ask Congress men. Has the Congress already conceded its defeat in Faridkot ?

From the line-up, it was obvious there would be straight as well as triangular contests, involving either SAD or BJP vs Congress or SAD vs CPI or BJP vs CPI (M) or even SAD vs Congress vs SAD-Mann. Wherever the BSP has its candidates, there will be division of votes.

The present line-up also shows that the contests in Malwa will be interesting given not only the love-hate relationship the Congress and Akalis share but also the power of politics of dissidence. Malwa accounts for seven out of 13 Lok Sabha constituencies. The remaining six are in Doaba and Majha, sharing three each.


Senior Cong leaders skip party candidate’s function
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 1
Four senior Congress leaders, including two former MPs, did not attend the function organised to felicitate Rana Gurjit Singh, party candidate from here, who was in the city for the first time. The function was organised at the Rajinder Nagar office of the District Congress Committee.

Those conspicuous by their absence were Mr Balbir Singh, MP of the dissolved Lok Sabha, who was denied ticket by the Congress high command, Mr Umrao Singh, veteran Congress leader and former MP, Baba Rajinder Singh chief of the District Congress Committee (Rural), and Ms Gurkanwal Kaur, MLA from Jalandhar cantonment.

Sources in the Congress said these leaders were not happy over the decision of the party high command to allot the party ticket to an “outsider” like Rana Gurjit Singh, who was an MLA from Kapurthala.

Mr Balbir Singh had even written a letter to the AICC chief Ms Sonia Gandhi much before the allotment of the ticket to Rana Gurjit. He had openly expressed his desire not to contest the Lok Sabha poll on account of alleged “malicious campaign” being carried on against him by some vested interests from within the party.

Mr Umrao Singh was also not happy over the allotment of ticket to Rana Gurjit Singh on the plea that senior party leaders were ignored while taking a decision in this regard.


Cong betrayed national interests, says Fernandes
Chander Parkash and Anirudh Gupta

Guru Har Sahai (Ferozepore), April 1
The Union Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, today accused the Congress of continuously betraying the interests of the country to grab power. He urged the people to vote for the NDA to protect the honour and dignity of the country.

“The Congress is now being ruled by those who do not know about the honour and dignity of a nation and hence they have been trying to make Ms Sonia Gandhi, a foreigner, the Prime Minister of the country.

He was addressing an election rally in support of a SAD-BJP candidate and sitting MP, Mr Zora Singh Mann, at Mandi Ladhuwal here today. In his hour-long speech, he repeatedly attacked the Congress. He went to the extent of saying that the Congress leaders deliberately kept a large section of people of the country poor to get their votes on its false slogans of “Garibi hatao”.

He alleged it was the first Prime Minister of the country, Jawaharlal Nehru, who engineered Partition despite knowing that it would lead to bloodshed. He said Nehru had admitted it before foreign author Lerand Mosley, who had mentioned the same in his book “The Last Days of British Raj in India”. Later, the blame of Partition was shifted on Mahatma Gandhi by the Congress leadership, he alleged.

He alleged that Ms Sonia Gandhi had furnished false details in her bio-data presented in Parliament.

Mr Zora Singh Mann asked the people to compare five years of the rule of NDA government with 50 years rule of the Congress.

Mr Janmeja Singh Sekhon, former minister, Mr Sukhpal Singh, MLA, and Mr Paramjit Singh, ex-MLA, also attended the rally.


It is homecoming for me, says Manish Tewari
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April, 1
“April 3 has a special significance for me. It was on this day that my illustrious father, Prof Vishwa Nath Tewari, made the supreme sacrifice for Punjabiaat, for the unity and integrity of the country. It is why I have chosen this day to launch my electioneering campaign,” says former Indian Youth Congress chief Manish Tewari, Congress candidate for the Ludhiana Lok Sabha seat.

Professor Tewari was assassinated at his Sector 24 residence on this day in 1984.

This 38-year-old corporate affairs specialist lawyer, who has been handpicked by the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, for the Ludhiana seat, says that it has been a “homecoming” for him.

“My father, Professor Tewari, belonged to Doburji village in Payal subdivision. I had my childhood and initial schooling in Ludhiana. My mother, Dr Amrit Tewari, a top dentist, who retired from the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGI), belonged to a family of freedom fighters. My grandfather, Mr Tirath Singh, was a Parja Mandalist and Education Minister in Punjab,” says Manish Tewari.

Before his elevation as President of the Indian Youth Congress in 1998, Manish had been the President of the National Students Union of India (NSUI), the student wing of the All-India Congress Committee. He also remained General Secretary of the IYC for a year (1997-98). He claims that he had been the only Indian to head the International Union of Students between 1988 and 1993.

After doing his law, he did his Masters of Business Administration besides pursuing his interest in politics. “For me, it makes little difference whether I was in the organisational wing or into electoral politics. After 20 years into active politics, I think I am ready for the new battle in life. My purpose of entering the poll fray is to carry forward the message, besides the policies and programmes of the Congress party to the people at the grassroot level.” While talking about the ensuing battle between youth leaders of the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal in Ludhiana, he says that he does not think that his rival is as young as he claims to be in his capacity as President of the Youth Wing of the Shiromani Akali Dal.

“But I want and wish that we both should conduct our campaign with some restraint and dignity to dispel the common impression that youngsters are irresponsible and erratic,” says Manish holding that fight for electoral supremacy would be an “ideological battle”.

“Elections are not an end in themselves. They are rather means of putting yourself across and convince the electors of the values and convictions you stand for. I want to carry forward the message of Punjabiat, universal brotherhood, communal harmony and peace, for which my father made his supreme sacrifice,” says Mr Tewari.

He says that he is aware of most of the problems of people of Ludhiana. “The role of an MP or any other elected representative of the people is to act as an catalyst between the people and the decision makers. He or she has to act as facilitator. My endeavour would be to ensure all round development of Ludhiana which has contributed tremendously in every sphere of economic and social growth of the State and the country.

“By the time I complete my five-year term as Lok Sabha member, I want to ensure that every graduate passing out from Ludhiana gets a job of his liking in his home town. Besides, provision of neat environment and safe drinking water would be other priorities as I aware of the threats being posed by Budha Nullah and its contaminated water,” he added.


5 die in mishaps
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 1
Five persons including two women were killed in three accidents in Hoshiarpur district yesterday evening.

Mr Sukhwinder Singh, his wife Kuldip Kaur and Joginder Kaur residents of the Phagwara road here died on the spot when their car (PBO-72-5575) ram hit a tree near Tanda last evening. They were coming from Amritsar after participating in Kar Seva at the Golden Temple to Hoshiarpur. The driver lost the control of the car and it hit a tree. Joginder Singh another occupant of the car was wounded.

In another accident ASI Surinder Singh of Pasla Noor Mahal police station also died when a vehicle hit Tata Qualis in which he was travelling near Nasrala.

Mr Jarnail Singh of Kot Gobindpur was also crushed to death by a truck No. (HP-37-3387).


Brar banking on anti-corruption drive for votes
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, April 1
Firebrand MP Jagmeet Brar, who is to contest the election from this border constituency, today said he would seek votes on the basis of the anti-corruption campaign launched by the Congress government and his performance in Parliament regarding issues concerning Punjab and farmers.

Mr Brar kicked off his election campaign after paying tributes at the memorial for Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev at Hussainiwala. Addressing a press conference here, he said his main fight would be against the SAD-BJP alliance candidate, Mr Zora Singh Mann, who had been committing “atrocities on the innocent people” and grabbing land. The alleged acts of corruption of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his family members and associates would also be a key issue, Mr Brar added.

The Congress leader, who reached here this morning from Delhi, was received by hundreds of workers from Muktsar, Malout, Ferozepore, Bathinda and Mansa towns. He was taken to the residence of Mr Ravinder Singh Sandhu, local MLA and Parliamentary Secretary, Home, Punjab. No MLA, except Mr Sandhu, was present to welcome Mr Brar.

Claiming that he was nominated for this seat by the party high command and that he was not an outsider, he said all MLAs and Congress workers were with him. While admitting that there was resentment in a section of the party against his nomination, he said he was not concerned much about that as he himself had been an agitator throughout his career.

He said the opening of the Hussainiwala border post for trade and cultural exchange between India and Pakistan would be his top priority.

“I will make people aware of what the economic and social status of Mr Mann was before he became a Member of Parliament. The police was looking for Mr Mann — for reasons known to him — before he became an MP. Also, Mr Mann could not speak in Parliament for the people of Ferozepore,” he alleged.

He said the NDA government had not allocated any funds for the development of the border areas despite the fact that Rs 11,000 crore were earmarked by the Union Finance Minister for the development of desert areas in the interim budget.

Mr Brar criticised the killing of a farmer in the police firing in Amritsar district during the rail roko agitation.


CPI (ML) announces 3 candidates
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 1
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) today declared its list of three candidates, who would be fielded from Sangrur, Phillaur and Gurdaspur Lok Sabha constituencies.

In a press statement issued here today, state secretary of the CPI (ML) Darshan Singh Khatkar, said that Mr Avtar Singh Rasoolpur would contest from Sangrur while Mr Hans Raj Pabwa would be fielded from Phillaur (Reserve) constituency.

He further said that Mr Gurmit Singh would contest as party candidate from Gurdaspur.


Modern education at madrasas, says study
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
Considered as the Muslim community’s link with its tradition, religion and history, the madrasas of Punjab have moved on from focusing on imparting Islamic religious education alone to adding a dash of modernisation to the syllabi taught at these centres of learning.

However, they are in dire need of reforms. With placements and employment of students from madrasas few and far between and government jobs unfeasible for these ‘passouts’, madrasas and mosques are their ultimate job destination.

A study of 11 madrasas in Malerkotla tehsil of Punjab, conducted by Dr Kuldip Kaur and Mr Abdul Hamid, research investigators at the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID), suggests the much-needed reforms which include establishment of madrasas education boards, provision of financial assistance to select madrasas and arranging for providing recognition to these from universities.

“Seven states in our country have government-sponsored madrasa education boards and are entitled to financial assistance for teachers’ salaries. In turn, they are required to abide by norms laid down by the state in matters of curriculum. Since the number of madrasas is very limited in Punjab, such a proposal has not emerged in Punjab,” says Dr Kuldip Kaur.

Adding that the madrasas in Punjab were different from the conventional ones, the study observes that they are imparting modern education along with religious education. “However, the madrasas still have to adopt modern syllabus, keeping in view the needs of the community,” Mr Abdul Hamid, said.

Established between 1961 and 2002, madrasas, though keen on financial help from the government, do not want any interventions. This makes them entirely dependent on public contributions, fee and annual endowments. The study points out that 60 per cent of the madrasas are co-educational at the primary level and separate madrasas for boys and girls exist at the middle and higher level of education.

Giving detailed findings of the running of madrasas, the study explains that they not only impart religious education but prepare children to appear privately in state board examinations. These are also into teaching stitching to girls as well as providing vocational education in computer application. Though holidays of madrasas differ from those in other schools, the madrasas maintain class registers to keep attendance records like any other school. No parent-teacher interactions are held and women teachers are rarely found. The honorarium and salary vary from Rs 1000 to Rs 5000 per month and strength and status of teachers in madrasas vary from other schools.

Usually untrained, these teachers are appointed on the decision of trust members with or without interview and are mostly the products of the madrasas. Since the teacher is required to impart religious education and teach modern subjects, being a Muslim is the need of the madrasas. Interestingly, Urdu and Punjabi are used for teaching in madrasas while English is used in Class X, especially for computer application.

A student can begin studies in a madrasa at the age of four to five years and continue till the age of 20 years though the students have the option of shifting to other institutions for modern education. Most madrasas are residential and have 30 to 40 per cent children residing there. They get free board and lodging.


Sikh Sangat asked to boycott Kala Afghana
Our Correspondent

Amritsar April 1
The SGPC today appealed to the Sikh Sangat to boycott ex-communicated writer Gurbaksh Singh Kala Afghana and Joginder Singh, editor, Spokesman.

The SGPC said no one should participate or attend any function or discourse at any place organised by the two. SGPC Honorary Secretary Manjit Singh Calcutta stated that all persons should come forward to reject anti-Panthic forces.

He questioned as to how was Kala Afghana in India when a short time ago he had expressed his helplessness to appear before Akal Takht on the pretext of pending criminal cases against him. “Then how were the cases solved overnight and he was permitted to enter India,” he asked.


Armoured regiment celebrates Raising Day
Our Correspondent

Somewhere in the Western Sector, April 1
The 53 Armoured Regiment, set up during Operation Parakram after the terrorist attack on Parliament, today celebrated its second raising day.

Lt-Gen. G.D. Singh, first Colonel of the Regiment, took the guard of honour and laid a wreath at the memorial to pay tributes to Sawar Harinder Singh, who had died during training. The jawans also reversed their arms to pay tributes.

Addressing the unit, the General said the second raising day of the unit was a historic occasion.


MiG aircraft not to be phased out
Tribune Reporters

Ferozepore, April 1
To improve India, China relations, governments of both countries have agreed to conduct joint Army exercise in both countries shortly.

Disclosing this here today Union Defence Minister George Fernandes said that a decision to this effect was taken yesterday after he held talks with Chinese Defence Minister, General Cao Gangchuan on visit to India. He added that joint Naval exercise by both countries was conducted in China a few months ago.

He pointed out that first the Chinese Defence Minister accepted his proposal of a joint Army exercise in India and then he accepted General Cao’s offer for similar exercise in China.


Judicial probe in farmer’s killing sought
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 1
The kisan wing of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) today sought a judicial inquiry in the Manawala incident in which agitating farmers were lathicharged and allegedly fired at by the police. A farmer was killed in the incident.

Mr Satnam Singh Behru, president of the wing, demanded the registration of case. He sought a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the deceased’s family.


Octroi contractors ‘tax’ civic body
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 1
Withdrawal of Rs 10 lakh from the municipal funds by octroi contractors has raised a controversy here. The alleged discrepancy was pointed out by the internal auditors of the Local Government Department, sources said.

The contractors were to deposit octroi collection daily along with cash vouchers countersigned by the octroi superintendent, but this was allegedly not done.

As per rules, it was the duty of the contractors to pay interim income tax to the department by March 31. The same was calculated at Rs 5.16 lakh, but the contractors withdrew an amount of Rs 10 lakh from the council funds. They were not able to produce a proof for payment of the tax today, sources said.

A few days ago, some persons had dispatched copies of transit receipts allegedly issued by employees of the octroi contractors to drivers of four-wheelers crossing the town through the bypass. The slips did not have the name of the council, amount of fee or date of receipt. The Local Bodies Department did not take any action on the complaints though the council suffered a loss running in several lakhs due to the malpractice, sources said.

A senior member of the council said the municipal president had sought an explanation from the executive officer how excess payment was made to the contractors.


2 killed 6 hurt in roof collapse

Moga, April 1
At least two persons were killed on the spot and about six others were injured, five of them seriously, when an under construction roof of a house collapsed late last evening at Kishanpura Kalan village, the police said today.

The police with the help of villagers launched rescue operations which lasted about an hour.

Five of the injured had been admitted to a local hospital. The police suspect that the roof collapsed due to week supports.

The dead had been identified as Jagsir Singh nephew of Gurmail Singh, an NRI and Manga Singh. — PTI


High Court
Notice issued in liquor vend auction case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notices on a petition seeking quashing of the entire process of auction of liquor vends in Punjab.

The Bench comprising Mr Chief Justice B.K. Roy and Mr Justice Surya Kant was hearing a petition filed by 15 Shiromani Akali Dal MLAs, including former Punjab minister Jagdish Singh Garcha, and two others.

In their petition the MLAs have sought directions for the re-auction of the vends in Punjab on the plea that the auction process had many irregularities. They have also demanded that the vends be re-auctioned under the supervision of some independent authority. They have also alleged that the auction process was conducted in an illegal and arbitrary manner as the Punjab Liquor Licence Rules as well as the auction conditions were flouted. They also accused the Punjab Government of “being bent upon encouraging unfair trade practices”.

“The auctions were conducted as per the programme announced, but surprisingly these proved to be an eyewash. Most of the groups were attached together in violation of the Punjab Liquor Licence Rules...” the petitioners have alleged.

They have also alleged that this resulted in huge monetary loss to the state exchequer. “In some cases liquor contractors offered much more than what was offered by the successful bidder. But the government in order to help leading contractor Ponty Chadha turned down the higher bids and accepted lower bids,” the petitioners have alleged.

Interestingly, a member of the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana, Mr Harish Rai Dhanda, is among the petitioners.

Taking up the petition, the Bench issued notice for April 15 to the Punjab Government.

CBI probe

Colonel G.S. Sandhu (retd), chairman of the Phoola Eviction Committee, has filed a public interest petition in the High Court, seeking a CBI investigation into the cases registered in various parts of Punjab and Chandigarh against Nihang Ajit Singh Phoola.

Alleging that despite five cases of murder, abduction, and rape, etc, are pending against Phoola and his associates, no action has been taken against Phoola due to his closeness to some senior Punjab Police officers. Col Sandhu, apart from asking the High Court to intervene in the matter, also demanded a CBI investigations into all the cases.

Taking up the petition, a Bench comprising Mr Chief Justice B.K. Roy and Mr Justice Surya Kant issued notices to the various functionaries of the Punjab Government. The case will now come up on April 20.


Judge reinstated
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 1
Ms Ramesh Kumari, Additional Civil Judge, Senior Division, Phagwara, divested of powers on February 20 and suspended on March 5 last year on the direction of Punjab and Haryana High Court, has been reinstated. She is likely to take charge on Monday. Her work had then been allocated to Ms Navjot Kaur Sohal.


Anti-encroachment drive launched
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, April 1
The police started a drive to remove encroachments from the bazar and roads here today.

SP Manminder Singh said he held a meeting with municipal council authorities to seek their cooperation in removing the encroachments. He said the ‘tah bazari’ system had failed to remove the encroachments.


Home Guard jawans held on theft charge
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, April 1
Two Home Guard Jawans were arrested for stealing the cellphone, cash and valuables of an accident victim.

The SP, Mr Manminder Singh, said here yesterday that Home Guard Jawans Surinder Kumar and Som Raj were arrested after the probe indicted them for having stolen the belongings of the accident victim after he complained to the police.

According to the Superintendent of Police , the two accused were suspended and later nabbed when the cellphone, along with other stolen articles were recovered from them. The police has registered a case.


Man booked for taking back complaint!
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 1
Bhola Singh, a resident of Kararwala village of this district, landed himself in police custody after he retracted his statement in court in a corruption case registered on his complaint. He had been awarded a cash prize of Rs 25,000 by the Punjab Government for his complaint.

He said more than two years ago a corruption case had been registered against Mr Raj Kumar Gupta, then Manager of the Food Corporation of India, Rampura Phul, after he was allegedly caught red-handed while accepting a bribe of Rs 3,000 from Bhola Singh.

The man, who had received Rs 25,000 from the government as reward for facilitating the arrest of Mr Gupta, however, retracted his statement in the court, claiming that he did not give any bribe to Mr Gupta. On this statement of Bhola Singh, the court acquitted Mr Gupta.

A criminal case was registered against Bhola Singh today at the Vigilance Bureau police station here.


Approval panel to visit law college tomorrow
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, April 1
A four-member team led by Dr S.P.S. Virk, College Development Council of Punjabi University, Patiala, will visit Baba Farid Law College here on April 3 to grant the final approval to start classes from the forthcoming academic session.

The panel would look into various financial matters to protect the interest of the students as well as monitor the working conditions of the institution on a regular basis.

Disclosing this here today, Mr Inderjit Singh Sekhon, chairman of the management committee of the Gurdwara Godri Sahib Farid Society that has set up the institution, said the society had sufficient funds and regular income for the project. The college campus, covering an area of nearly 8 acres, had been developed at a cost of Rs 60 lakh to fulfil the conditions for approval.

Dr Baldev Singh Nirwan, a former Principal of Law College, Ganganagar, had been appointed in Baba Farid Law College, Mr Sekhon said. Other faculty members would be appointed under the guidance of two delegations of Punjabi University which would visit the college on April 11 and April 18.

Eighty students each in five and three-year degree courses would be admitted initially. The admissions would be on the basis of the Central Entrance Test (CET) being conducted by the university, Mr Sekhon said.


Deputy Commissioner launches annual credit plan
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, April 1
Mr Hussan Lal Deputy Commissioner, launched an annual credit plan (ACP) of Rs 451.92 crore an increase of 21.22 per cent against the last year’s plan of Rs 372.81 crore, here today. The plan is prepared by Punjab and Sind bank. Releasing the plan he said Rs 365.48 crore would be utilised in the agriculture and allied sector. Similarly the small-scale industries sector would be promoted by advancing a loan of 35.86 crore he added.

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