P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Slight fall in wheat output likely
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
Punjab has received 90,538 tonnes of wheat in the first three days of the official procurement season, 2004-05.

Going by past experience, wheat arrivals are much early this season with Patiala topping the districts with procurement figures of 68,000 tonnes, followed by Sangrur (12,000 tonnes) and Fatehgarh Sahib (6,000 tonnes).

As usual, the wheat harvesting is in full steam in the south-west districts, where manual and mechanical operations are performed simultaneously.

The Director, Food and Supplies, Mr V.K. Singh, told TNS that the sudden rise in temperature in March had had a negative effect on the golden grains, which though shrivelled are quality wise acceptable. This was more pronounced in the state’s cotton belt. Also, there could be slight fall in yield, say 4 quintals or 5 quintals per hectare.

Procurement arrangements have been made for 102 lakh tonnes, which is slightly higher than the total purchase last year, 2003-04. ‘’Despite being Sunday, 1,500-odd mandis and purchase centres were operational even today’’.

The current wheat crop yield is expected to be around 154 lakh tonnes against 152 lakh tonnes in 2003-04. Interestingly despite allout efforts and propaganda on diversification, the area under wheat in 2004-05 was more as compared to last year. It was 33.90 lakh hectares against 33.75 lakh in 2003-04.

The minimum support price (MSP) for wheat is Rs 630 per quintal, the same as that of the last year, when the MSP was Rs 620 per quintal and in addition the government had announced Rs 10 per quintal as drought relief. So there is no change in the MSP. Secondly, Punjab has wheat stock of 45 lakh tonnes, some of which is unfit for consumption and is believed to be from last year’s procurement.

The Reserve Bank of India has given Rs 4,300 crore for procurement of wheat for the month of April, against a total demand of Rs 5,300 crore made by the state. This money is for the state agencies that are assigned procurement targets. The Food Corporation of India makes its own financial arrangements.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Agricultural University Vice-Chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh, said productivity of wheat had increased over the years. It was 1.2 tonnes per hectare in 1960-61 and 4.2 tonnes per hectare in 2002-03. In fact, it had touched 4.7 tonnes per hectare in 1999-2000.

Dr Aulakh also said PAU was giving all attention to the emerging challenges in agriculture, which is in serious crisis. The shrinking land holdings of farmers and declining economic returns were adding to their woes, particularly of the small and marginal farmers, owning up to two hectares, who constituted 46 per cent of the total peasantry.

When asked what was the most worrisome feature of agriculture, besides the wheat-rice mono-culture, he said, ‘’What is further compounding the problems in agriculture is the declining water table in the central districts. The fall is at the rate of 42 cms per year. The future projections are that by 2010, the entire central Punjab will have water table below 16 metre depth. As compared to 2001, the water table would fall by 14 per cent in 2005, 34 per cent by 2010 and 75 per cent by 2020’’.

Punjab has over 9 lakh tubewells. Over one lakh of these have had to be replaced. Already 3.9 lakh centrifugal pumps have given place to submersible pumps, thereby making farmers poorer by several crores of rupees. “They are already under heavy debt, estimated to be Rs 11,000 crore of which Rs 6,700 crore is institutional debt. One reason for this is over investment in farm machinery, which is now believed to be around Rs 8,000 crore”.


Sonia undisputed leader of Cong,
says Ashwani Kumar
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
“The Congress has an assured future and undeniable relevance to our nation. As long as we in the Congress pursue our path of selfless commitment to the core values of our Republic, our future as India’s premier political party is assured,” says Mr Ashwani Kumar, who has been re-elected to the Rajya Sabha from Punjab.

He will take oath on April 13.

Belonging to a rare breed of professional-cum-intellectual politicians, Mr Ashwani Kumar is also the Chairman of the Vichar Vibhag of the All-India Congress Committee.

“I believe that the Congress was never more democratic in its decision making than today. And this is so only because Mrs Sonia Gandhi encourages and indeed facilitates the widest possible discussion on issues on which political decisions are required to be taken. She is the undisputed leader as she has given a new direction to the way we used to function,” says Mr Ashwani Kumar.

In an interview with The Tribune, Mr Ashwani Kumar said “it is not only the Congress party but the people of Punjab who have placed tremendous faith in me which I must justify by total commitment in the best traditions of parliamentary democracy.”

“There is a lot to be done. Even round the clock work is not enough. I would like to focus on national issues so as to use the highest forum of our democracy to draw the attention of all concerned to causes and issues which will defend the course of our democracy and politics,” he said.

Owing his re-election to the Congress President, Mr Kumar says that “she always has taken decisions on her notwithstanding attempts to pressurize her. My faith in her sense of justice and objectivity stands further reinforced.”

Talking about his work during his previous term in the Upper House, Mr Ashwani Kumar said he had spoken on behalf of the Congress party on every major legislation and subject, whether it was terrorism in Kashmir, the Electricity Bill or other issues.

Mr Kumar said he was the Convener of the parliamentary subcommittee on commerce and power. Besides, he was also a member of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee on Finance.

The Congress recommended his name as a member of the parliamentary delegation to China under the leadership of Speaker Manohar Joshi. Recently he was appointed president of the Indo-French Parliamentary Friendship Group which had been set up for the first time at his instance.

He says elections should be fought on issues as the Congress was committed to a civilised political debate centered around major issues in the ensuing elections. Talking about Punjab, he said winnability and personal standing of the candidate were prime factors that decided grant of the party ticket this time.

“We will do well in the elections,” he said hoping that Mrs Gandhi would visit Punjab next month to address public rallies. 


Modi’s remarks against Sonia Gandhi decried
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, April 4
Mr Ashwani Kumar, chairman, AICC’s Intellectual Cell talking to reporters here today lambasted BJP’s senior leadership including Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for remarks against Congress president Ms Sonia Gandhi. He said it was a matter of shame that remarks were made by Mr Modi against Ms Sonia Gandhi and Mr Rahul Gandhi in the presence of the Prime Minister.

He said the nation had recognised Ms Sonia Gandhi as leader of the Opposition in Parliament. Mr Kumar said people would not subscribe to the BJP’s old agenda of Ram Mandir.


BJP vitiating poll process, says Cong MP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claiming itself to be a party with a difference has shown itself for what it is by debasing and vitiating as never before the electoral process through utterances that would put to shame even those who revel in the politics of the gutter, says Mr Ashwani Kumar, MP and chairman of the Congress Vichar Vibhag.

In a statement here today, Mr Ashwani Kumar said that the utterances of Mr Narendra Modi in Gujarat in the presence of the Deputy Prime Minister have once again demonstrated the Fascist mindset of the Sangh Parivar which is the product of politics of personal vendetta against Ms Sonia Gandhi and her children who are custodians of a legacy of supreme sacrifices in the cause of the nation.

The recent remarks of Mr Narendra Modi will be recorded in the contemporary political history of our country as the most despicable expression of verbal abuse against an esteemed Leader of the Opposition in derogation of all norms of parliamentary democracy. The vicious remarks of the BJP leadership are also a direct affront to the cultural sensitivities and ethos of our nation that has always respected womanhood.

A conscious, deliberate and persistent columinization of Mrs Sonia Gandhi as a centre piece of its electoral campaign shows the political bankruptcy of a party that has miserably failed to deliver on its promises and cannot be trusted any longer with the destiny of our country, Mr Ashwani Kumar said.

He further said the Prime Minister, as the supreme leader of the BJP, cannot absolve himself of the responsibility for utterances of his colleagues which have debauched the political discourse in our country as never before. None in the country is prepared to believe that the Prime Minister is unable, if he so willed, to reign in the leaders of the BJP who have subordinated and prostituted the healthy norms of political discourse to an all consuming obsession with the personal vilification of Mrs Sonia Gandhi.

The Congress party remains committed to a civilised political debate centred around issues in the ensuring elections. However, its commitment to the best traditions of democratic politics should not be construed by the BJP\Sangh Parivar as a sign of weakness. The Congress will not tolerate any longer personal insults heaped on its leader at any level and at any place. The BJP and its leadership should remain prepared for reprisals should it persist in its ways, he added.


Cong workers’ meeting held
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, April 4
A Congress workers’ meeting was held at the Gulmohar Tourist Complex grounds here today as part of the election campaign of Ms Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, former Union Minister and Congress candidate from the Gurdaspur parliamentary constituency

Mr H.S. Hanspal, president of the PPCC, Mr Ashwani Kumar, member of the Rajya Sabha, Mr Khushal Behal, Punjab minister, Mr Gurbachan Singh Babehali, president of the DCC, Gurdaspur, and Chairman, Milkfed Punjab, Mr Sukhdev Wadhera, Chairman, Punjab Tubewell Corporation, Mr Raman Bhalla, AM, PSEB, Mr Pritam Singh Bhinder, former DGP Punjab, Mr Sharwan Kumar, president, local MC, Mr Raman Behal, president, MC, Gurdaspur, and Mr Ashok Sharma, local MLA were present on the occasion.

Mr Hanspal, Mr Behal, Mr Babehali, Ms Bhinder, Mr Ashwani Kumar and Mr Ashok Sharma addressed the meeting.


Amarinder Singh warns Centre

Amritsar, April 4
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh yesterday warned the Centre that if it failed to lift the 40 lakh quintals of sugar, worth Rs 538 crore, from the state within two weeks, his government would sell it.

I have served two weeks notice to the Union Government to lift the stock of 40 lakh quintals sugar rotting in the state and if it is not met, it will be sold publicly,” he told reporters here.

“Punjab Government has asked the Centre time and again to clear the sugarcane dues of farmers, but they never bothered to consider the plea”, he said. — PTI


Tohra’s ashes immersed in canal
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 4
Ashes of late Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) President Gurcharan Singh Tohra were today collected and immersed in the Bhakra Canal, one km from his Tohra village in this district, by relatives and associates.

Mr Tohra did not believe in the tradition of “phul chugna” under which the bones are collected and immersed at Kiratpur Sahib. Accordingly there was no “phul chugna” ceremony and the entire mass of ashes of the late leader were collected and immersed in the nearby canal.

Family sources said as the late leader felt that the practice of collection of bones to be immersed at Kiratpur Sahib was against Sikh tenets, it had been decided not to adopt the practice. However to ensure that the ashes were not “dishonoured” in, it was decided to submerge these in moving water in mass. They said this did not amount to performing the “phul chugna” ceremony.

The ashes were collected today. During the collection of ashes the “mool mantar path" was recited. Following this “ardas” was rendered by Giani Amolak Singh, a confidant of the SGPC chief. The late leader’s wife Joginder Kaur, son in law Harmel Singh Tohra and associates including Prem Singh Chandumajra, Karnail Singh Panjoli, Surjit Singh Kohli, Jagtar Singh Rajla and Tohra village Sarpanch Satwinder Singh Tohra were present on the occasion.


Tohra’s death a setback for SAD
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
It is the second time that the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has suffered a major setback at the time of elections. This time because of the death of the SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra .

Earlier, a few months before the last Assembly elections, the then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was disabled by a major hip fracture. Consequently, he remained bed-ridden for several months at a crucial time and was unable to move around for the election campaign. Though later he was able to move about in a specially prepared vehicle, he virtually lost personal touch with people, and that probably cost him dear in the Assembly elections.

Mr Badal is thought to be one of the best election campaigners in the region as he shows a lot of excitement and continues campaign till late hours, never showing signs of fatigue.

This time the SAD has got a bigger setback because of the Tohra factor. Tohra was a major voice of the party in Ropar-Fatehgarh Sahib and Patiala. Moreover, he was a good speaker and had the capacity to mount a hard-hitting attack on opponents in the elections. He was a good defender of the party from the opposition attack also. Though Tohra was not keeping good health, he had jumped in the election arena and had addressed a number of rallies in support of Capt Kanwaljit Singh and Mr Sukhdev Singh Libra in Patiala and Ropar constituencies, besides Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa in the Sangrur area.

But Tohra’s death has come at a time when the SAD was in the thick of what it describes one of the toughest battles against the ruling Congress party since 1960s. To come out with a good performance in the Lok Sabha elections has become a question of political survival for Mr Parkash Singh Badal. And he is to fight a political battle against Capt Amarinder Singh, who has proved beyond any doubt that he (Chief Minister) is a master tactician and strikes hard against his political opponents.

In the last Assembly elections, Capt Amarinder Singh had completely outwitted Mr Badal by launching a blistering attack against him through a professionally handled advertisement campaign.

The SAD is expecting that there would be big sympathy wave in its support because of Tohra’s death.

However, it has been seen in the past three days that the ruling party has pulled out all stops to check the emergence of such a wave in support of the SAD. Because of this, the ruling party not only declared a two-day holiday as a mark of respect for Mr Tohra, but also a five-day state mourning and a state funeral for the departed soul. Capt Amarinder Singh also ensured the presence of maximum number of his cabinet colleagues and other senior leaders of the Congress at the time of cremation of the SGPC chief.

Meanwhile, the SAD has been watching all these developments carefully. Capt Amarinder Singh has already termed the shifting of Tohra to Delhi as an unwise decision. Very shrewdly, Capt Amarinder Singh, has been hitting against Mr Badal by paying respects to Mr Tohra. “ I am paying tributes to the honesty of Mr Tohra. He never made money and lived a clean, simple political life”, Capt Amarinder Singh stated this repeatedly thus making Mr Badal indirectly a clear target of his attack. In the days to come, the political battle is expected to become fierce between Mr Badal and Capt Amarinder Singh.


Call to preserve Tohra’s house
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
Condoling the passing away of its former President, the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation at a meeting held here today appealed to the Central Government to preserve the house of late Jathedar Gurcharan Singh in his village Tohra, in its present form as a national monument.

In a joint statement issued after the meeting, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, President and Mr Joginder Singh Sawhney, Working President of the foundation, said that additional adjoining synchronizing structure should be constructed for “National Heritage Museum” for exhibition of articles, photographs, letters etc that might be collected from those in possession thereof. The foundation had also decided to publish a commemoration volume in honour of the departed leader, giving a panoramic view of the Sikh polity of the 20th century.

The foundation appreciated that in keeping with the Punjabi tradition, various political parties, rising above partisan considerations, joined the mourning and paid tributes to this great statesman, and hoped that in the same spirit the political parties would persuade Mrs Gurcharan Singh Tohra to enter the Lok Sabha as an unopposed candidate in the coming election.


SAD forgets its morcha martyrs
Tribune News Service

Kup Kalan, April 4
Leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), a party which prides on the history of sacrifices and morchas fought for the redressal of the problems of the masses, were too busy in electioneering to observe the 21st death anniversary of 12 persons, including Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus, killed in the police firing in the state on the eve of the dharam yudh morcha on April 4, 1983. As many as 12 persons were killed and 65 were seriously injured during the rasta roko stir.

No leader of the party, organised a function or even contacted the kin of the deceased. The bereaved families today offered prayers in their homes and village gurdwaras.

Such was the resentment among the people over the incident that the then Congress MLA, Ms Sajda Begum, had to resign on the issue.

Those who died in the firing were Bhag Singh (Jandali Kalan) Inderjit Singh (Dudhal), Gurmit Singh (Manvil), Gurcharna Singh (Kanganwal), Ujjagar Singh (Jogi Majra), Jagir Singh and Aman Kumar (Khanpur), Mohammad Ismail (Ranwa), Mohammad Rafiq (Malerkotla), Amarjit Singh (Madiala), Gurdial Singh (Uppar Kheri) and Maghar Singh (Lasoi).

Mr Hari Singh, President of the Dharam Yudh Morcha Shaheed and Peerat Parivar Committee, who lost his father Bhag Singh in the firing at Kup Kalan Chowk was angry and indignant.

Balbir Kaur of Jogi Majra, alleged her husband, Jagrup Singh, was bayoneted by policemen, during the rasta roko stir when he was trying to carry two injured persons to safety. Her condition is deplorable as the family had to sell their small land holding to meet the costs of the treatment of Jagrup Singh for more than two years. Their infant son, too, due to lack of care, she claimed.

He participated in the morcha out of conviction but did not know that the party would let him down. Though senior party leaders like Mr Badal, Mr S.S. Barnala and late Mr G.S. Tohra used to call on her husband, no one offered any financial assistance even then.

Commenting on the role of Akali leaders, she said: “But for Rs 500 in cash and a couple of siropas from the party, no meaningful assistance has been forthcoming. We used to be called on the stage at the samagams, but lately they have dispensed with this formality too,” she remarked. She manages the household with the meagre income from selling milk.

Mr Hari Singh claims that the stories of the other widows are no different. He said the demands of the committee including round-the-clock power supply, a memorial at Kup da Tota a grant of Rs 3 lakh each for the village panchayats bodies and bus permits for their dependents were accepted by the then Akali government. But these were never implemented.


Jaguars’ crash: Mann wants Fernandes to quit
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 4
SAD (A) president Simranjit Singh Mann, in a statement here today, demanded the resignation of the Union Defence Minister in wake of crashing of two warplanes Jaguars in Sonamarg valley in J&K and an explanation from the Prime Minister about it.

The crashing of our warplanes, including the MiGs and the Jaguars was a disgrace to Indian military muscle and the Defence Minister must own the responsibility and resign, remarked Mr Mann.

Mr Mann said that his party did not rule out the possibility of downing of the Jaguars by the Kashmiri freedom fighters by using Stringer missile. A probe was necessary into this aspect, he asserted.

The disaster also proved that the BJP was incapable of looking after defence of the country as it was a party of the profiteers and shopkeepers, continued Mr Mann.

Even though the country was in elections, yet such a disaster should not escape the notice of politicians, pleaded Mr Mann. He expressed sympathy with the bereaved families of the pilots.


A charitable trust to help widows
Pawan Kumar

Widows receive ration from Mata Kaulan Bhalai Kendra on the Tarn Taran road in Amritsar on Sunday.
Widows receive ration from Mata Kaulan Bhalai Kendra on the Tarn Taran road in Amritsar on Sunday. — Photo by Rajiv Sharma

Amritsar, April 4
Nearly 1,000 widows are getting free ration worth Rs 4 lakh from Mata Kaulan Bhalai Kendra (MKBK) — a charitable trust established with the funds collected from “kirtan darbars”. Bhai Guriqbal Singh of Gurmat Satsang Sabha, who has been organising “kirtan darbars” in India and abroad, established the trust, especially for widows, through the collections during the “kirtan darbars”.

The kendra disburses ration on monthly basis as per the need and quota of widows and their families. The trust also distributes cloths twice a year to them. Not a single member of Bhai Iqbal Singh’s family is its trustee.

Established in 1993 with 170 widows, the MKBK was converted into a trust in 1994. It is being run by the persons who are dedicated to the service of humanity. The trust has maintained all records regarding widows. It distributes stationery to the children of widows studying in schools. For registration, forms are accepted on first 10 days of January and July and every year about 100-150 new members are being added to the list, said Mr Mohan Singh and Mr A.P.S. (Binny) Chatha, ‘sevadars’ of the kendra.

Every Thursday , Bhai Guriqbal Singh, performs “kirtan darbar” in houses of the Civil Line area in which thousands of people participate and money collected during these darbars goes to the trust.

The trust will open Mata Kaulan public school for the children of widows in near future in which about 1,300 children can get education free of cost. The school, which is under-construction, will have the CBSE pattern. School uniforms and stationery will be provided by the trust. Mr Mohan Singh said the school would also have a canteen with eatables sold on minimum prices. He said the school would train students in horse-riding besides teaching them principles of Sikhism. He said the children of poor and needy families could also get education in the school.

There is a computer and three stitching and embroidery centres running under the trust. All courses in these centres are recognised by the government.

The MKBK is also contemplating to open a school for special children. A charitable hospital, Mata Kaulan Bandi Chhor Charitable Hospital; adjoining its main office on the Tarn Taran road, is also under construction.

The trust is making a film “Anokhe Amar Shaheed Baba Deep Singh Ji”. Mr Chatha, who is the in charge of the project said the film was based on life, teachings and sacrifice of Baba Deep Singh for Sikhism.

Mr Chatha said the Dhan-Dhan Sri Guru Granth Sahib Satkar Committee had been constituted by the kendra to take old ‘swarups’ of Guru Granth Sahib in a special van to Goindwal Sahib or Khushalur in Dehra Dun for their cremations as per Sikh rituals. He said the kendra had recently laid the foundation stone for Mata Kaulan Niwas Sarain, near Gurdwara Atal Rai, for visitors.


Jakhu decries BKU for supporting SAD-BJP alliance
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 4
By refusing to accept the Kuka and Kamagatamaru movements as the national freedom struggle movements, the NDA government had conspired to belittle the role of the Sikhs in the freedom struggle.

Alleging this at various election rallies and before newsmen today, Dr Harjinder Jakhu, general secretary, SAD (A), and candidate from Phillaur Lok sabha reserved seat, said former CM and SAD President Parkash Singh Badal, who was an ally of the NDA government must clarify his position regarding the issue.

Dr Jakhu criticised BKU president Ajmer Singh Lakhowal for declaring support to the BJP-SAD combine. Mr Lakhowal should also clarify his position before peasants as to why he had declared support for the BJP when its leaders were harping on nationalisation of river waters through their interlinking, opposing Article 370, giving special status to J&K and the Anandpur Sahib resolution promising autonomy for the Sikhs. It had withdrawn bonus on wheat and done nothing on the turban issue of France, he remarked.

Dr Jakhu demanded election of the SGPC. It was now the most opportune time as these polls which were due three years ago, he said.

The Punjabis were disillusioned both with the Congress and the SAD-BJP combine and were giving good response to Mann Dal in the coming election, added Dr Jakhu. 


Jaitley to campaign for Avinash Khanna
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 4
Union Law Minister Arun Jaitley will start the election campaign from the state president of the BJP, Mr Avinash Khanna from Nangal from April 6. Mr Khanna who is contesting from the Hoshiarpur seat gave this information at Nangal yesterday evening.

Mr Khanna also urged the workers of the BJP to talk to the people the development undertaken by the Vajpayee government during its five year rule. Mr Khanna was also accompanied by former Food and Civil Supplies Minister Madan Mohan Mittal, Mr Vijay Sampla state vice-president of the BJP, the district president of the BJP Mr Vijay Puri and Mr Rakesh Sharma president of the Nangal BJP.


Pak MP for flexible attitude for durable peace
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 4
Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan Rai Aziz Ullah Khan today suggested that both Indian and Pakistan governments should adopt flexible attitude to solve the Kashmir issue to further improve bilateral relations.

Hailing the peace initiatives taken by both the governments Mr Khan said that to achieve stable peace in the region, they should adopt flexible attitude to solve the Kashmir issue on priority basis.

“As far as terrorism is concerned both the countries are facing the danger of it and now the time is ripe to take joint efforts to curb the menace,” Mr Khan told reporters here, where he had come to attend a seminar on the issue of “Local Self governments in India and Pakistan. What we can learn from each other”.

He advocated the need of further relaxation in the issuance of visas to the aspirants by allowing the latter to visit the entire country instead of restricting their movement to a particular city.

“As the visa relaxations from both the countries have given a major boost to people to people exchange in the recent past. I am of the opinion that we should lift the visa restrictions to visit a particular city or place and people from both the countries should be allowed to visit the entire country to know more about each other and that too without facing any problems,” Mr Khan said.

Mr Khan who originally hails from Raikot town of this Punjab in his emotional mood said, “You see, whenever I visit Punjab of Indian side, I feel like at home since the people and their feelings are the same that of people in Punjab (Pakistan). Moreover, Punjabi language is a major tool, which reminds us that we are still part of undivided Punjab.

He categorically appealed to the people of both the countries to ensure defeat of evil design of fundamentalists, who were trying to derail the peace process by vitiating the atmosphere for their own vested interests.

Rao Hassan Nawaz, Mayor of Sahiwall in Pakistan said that after the amendment in local government act in Pakistan, powers to control the police and district administration had been assigned to elected representatives.

“I am holding 37 important portfolios of district administration and even the post of Deputy Commissioner of the district has been abolished to give more powers to Mayor (called Nazim in Pakistan), he said adding that through the seminar we have learned about the system of local government in India and accordingly we would suggest amendments in the Act in Pakistan.

Prominent among others who attended the seminar include Mr Tejinder Singh Bittu, chairman, Jalandhar Improvement Trust and Satnam Manak, Convener of the Hind Pak Dosti Manch.


83 members of Pak judiciary arrive in India

Wagah, April 4
An 83-member group of judges and advocates from Pakistan here today crossed over into India for a week-long visit. The group is led by the vice-chairman of the Lahore Bar Council, Mr Mohmmad Arif Choudhry.

Talking to newsmen Mr Choudhry said that they had come to India on the invitation of Punjab, Haryana and the Chandigarh Bar Council. He said they would discuss various issues relating to the functioning of courts in both countries, besides cementing bonds between the judiciary and their fraternity. He said there were many common issues relating to the dispensation of justice with their Indian counterparts. The group would visit various cities, including Ludhiana, Patiala, Chandigarh and Delhi, before going back to Pakistan on April 11. — OC


Suspended cop running from pillar to post for justice
Ashok Grover

JALALABAD: Mr Raj Kumar Vohra a constable suspended 18 years ago from the Punjab Police, is  running from pillar to post to seek justice. Suffering from acute financial crisis, he has appealed to the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the Human Rights Commission for justice.

Narrating his tale of woe to The Tribune the suspended cop said he was posted at the police lines Ferozepore, on December 20, 1985 and discharged his night duty as quarter guard which ended the following morning. Despite his reluctance due to fatigue, Munshi Surinder Kumar again forced him to accompany certain undertrials to Zira court along with three other constables. When they reached Central Jail, they found that amongst the eight undertrials, there were three hardcore terrorists.

They brought all the accused to the police lines where they requested for additional security but their request was turned down. Then they went to the Zira court, but the judge was away to attend a meeting at Ferozepore. The accused  were produced in court late in the evening because of late arrival of the judge.

While on their way back, the three terrorists managed to flee after a scuffle with the policemen. Consequently all the four constables accompanying the party besides the Munshi and one line officer were suspended and an inquiry was ordered. Meanwhile, all the escaped militants were killed in a police encounter. After some time, except for Mr Raj Kumar Vohra, all other suspended officials were reinstated in service.

Expecting no relief from the department, he engaged a lawyer, Mr Amarjit Singh of Chandigarh and paid Rs 30,000 on account of his fee in advance. Here again he was deceived and the counsel never filed his case in the court. Later on the intervention of the village panchayat, Rs 15,000 was returned by the counsel. He said his savings were spent on the treatment of his wife, who died two years ago. Having no other source of income, he is temporarily employed as watchman with a private firm and draws a meagre salary. Having nothing to spare for his court case, he has sought legal assistance to fight his case.


Woman hit by Chahal’s car dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
Sixty-year-old Gurdial Kaur, who was seriously injured in an accident in which the car of Mr B.I.S. Chahal, Media Adviser to the Punjab Chief Minister, was involved, succumbed to her injuries at the PGI here tonight.

The death followed the Fatehgarh Sahib police booking the minor who was driving the scooter that was hit by the car near Chunni Kalan on Friday, injuring five persons.

While four of the injured were discharged, Gurdial Kaur, riding pillion on the scooter, was critical when she was brought to the hospital. Sources pointed out that in such cases, it was the car driver who was booked and not the scooterist.

The car was being driven by Sarbjit Pandher, a senior journalist, who along with Mr Chahal, were returning to Chandigarh from Patiala after attending the funeral of Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

In a statement, Pandher urged political parties not to make the accident an electoral issue and let the law take its own course. There were only two persons in the car when it met with the accident, he said.


Stress on promotion of scientific temper
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 4
The three-day national conference of rationalists and humanists, which concluded here this evening, stressed the need for cooperation among organisations working for the promotion of rational thought and scientific temper.

Mr U Kalanathan, national general secretary, Federation of Indian Rationalist Association, while initiating a debate on the issue, said that religious fundamentalists were creating bottlenecks in the development of rational temper.

The conference expressed concern over the use of religious symbols in government offices, telecast of religious programmes on state-owned television channels and the increasing belief in supernatural powers in society. The conference said that rather than swearing in the name of religious symbols while joining government and duties, employees should be asked to swear in the name of the Constitution.

Mr S. Subbarao from Hyderabad read the annual report of the Rationalists Forum. Mr Sudhanshu Dada did so for the Rationalists Society, Orissa, while Mr Rajpal Singh listed the achievements of the Tarksheel Society, Punjab. Mr Ramaswami highlighted the achievements of the Rationalists Forum, Tamil Nadu. Mr Ram Nalawade listed programmes of the Andh-Shradhha Nirmulan Samiti, Maharashtra and Mr Rajnath Singh read out the annual report of the Arjuk Sangh, Jharkhand.


New PSEB norms hit MCB suppliers
Our Correspondent

Nabha, April 4
Specifications laid down by the PSEB, Patiala for the purchase of meter cup board (MCB) has raised eyebrows of many suppliers.

Aggrieved over the specifications for procurement of MCB, the present suppliers have made an appeal to the chairman of the PSEB to reconsider the specifications of the tender in the interest of the state as it would cause a loss of Rs. 10 crore to the board and hence to the subscribers without any benefit.

Mr. R.C. Jindal, Managing Director of Jindal Engineers, said the specifications were laid down only to favour a Ghaziabad-based firm. The most controversial pre-bid condition “The tender documents shall be issued to only those firms that furnish a certificate from a chartered accountant that its turnover had at least Rs 2 crore during the last financial year 2002-03 — seems to be intentionally incorporated just to debar the existing small suppliers of MCB. According to Mr Jindal, the clause was sufficient to cause a loss of Rs 6 crore to the board.

The changes in the specifications regarding the packing of MCB in card board box, use of toughened glass instead of ordinary with a 5mm width grill at the back and hut shaped design had been made last year without any feedback from the Office of Operation/ Enforcement Organisation of the PSEB.


Sood, Jain technical members of PSEB
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
Mr H.C. Sood and H.M. Jain are to be the new Members, Technical, on the Punjab State Electricity Board. Their names are believed to have been cleared by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, following retirement of Mr H.S. Sahai, Member, Generation, and Mr S.K. Anand, Member, Distribution, on March 31.


Pulse polio campaign launched
Tribune Reporters

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 4
Dr D.P.S. Sandhu, Director, Health Services, today launched the pulse polio campaign in the state by administering polio drops to a child at Civil Hospital here. Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, inaugurated the campaign in the district by administering polio drops to children at a camp organised by a Citizen’s Club at Bassi Pathana.

It was for the first time that the district police also joined hands with the civil administration to root out polio from the district. The traffic police was deputed to stop all vehicles on the GT Road, Sirhind, and the volunteers used to give polio drops to children travelling in buses and cars.

Dr D.P.S. Sandhu, Director, said in the state 36.4 lakh children would be administered polio drops and all arrangements had been made. He said only one case of polio affected children was noticed in Ropar district and that child was from a migrant family. He said the children of migrant families were causing problem for the children of the entire state. Now it had been decided to initiate five rounds of pulse polio in the entire country at the same dates to solve this problem.

Dr Inderjit Kaur Walia, Civil Surgeon, said to make this campaign a success the Health Department has organised 535 special polio camps for 70,000 children below 5 years. Besides these, five mobile teams administered polio drops in rural and slum areas.

AMRITSAR: More than 70 mobile teams of doctors and paramedical staff were formed to administer polio drops in various parts of the city. Mr Kulwant Singh, Additional Deputy Commissioner and Dr H.S. Gill, Civil Surgeon, inaugurated the camp at Jallianwala Bagh Memorial Civil Hospital here. Dr Gill said more than 20 teams were duped to administer polio drops to children, who had come with their families to participate in the Kar Seva.

PATIALA: The Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh inaugurated the additional round of pulse polio campaign here today by administering two drops of the polio vaccine to the first child which arrived in Daru Kutia, a local slum area dispensary.

Meanwhile, Assistant Superintendent of Police Koshtav Sharma inaugurated a polio camp at Tripuri. He administered drops of polio vaccine to children.

While District President of Congress Committee Ved Parkash Gupta inaugurated a polio camp at bus stand.

PHAGWARA: Polio drops were administered today at 141 booths in the urban and rural areas of Phagwara. The NGO’s gave full cooperation to the Health Department in this regard, according to a press note issued this evening.

PHILLAUR: Thousands of children were administered polio drops at various camps organised by the Health Department and social organisations here on Sunday. Polio camps were also organised at the local bus stand and railway station.

KAPURTHALA: Polio drops were administered to 1.07 lakh children in 687 camps organised in the district in the third phase today, according to Dr S.P. Jagat, Civil Surgeon. He said 30 mobile teams, 13 transit teams and 2,330 employees with the help of NGOs administered the polio drops to children. Dr G.L. Goyal, Director, Health and Family Planning Deptt, Punjab, inaugurated the third phase by giving polio drops to children in camp at Nandu Dian Jhuggian near the town.

BATALA: Polio camps were being organised here today. Dr Jagjit, Senior Medical Officer (SMO), Civil Hospital, Batala, said 42 teams had been conducting these camps. Even the NGO’s like Rotary International Club, Bharat Vikas Parishad, Lions Club and Sukhmani Sahib Sewa Society also gave support for the success of the campaign.

ABOHAR: Polio campaign was organised at Sawan Public School in Thakur Abadi. Mr Nirmal Bishnoi, a former Congress Committee president, presided. Dr Dalip Karwasra CMO and Dr Rakesh Arora, SMO, lauded the media and voluntary organisations for their role in making the campaign a success.

In the third phase of the campaign, launched by the Health Department with co-operation of social organisations, about 8,000 children were administered polio vaccine drops here. Dr J.S. Kahlon Civil Surgeon, Ferozepore, administered polio vaccine drops in the local Civil Hospital. Dr Kahlon revealed that 36 lakh children were administered polio vaccine drops today in Punjab and it costs Rs 400 per child to administer the vaccine. He said that Rs 2500 crore were being spent for the campaign.

Bathinda: Thousands of children in the age group of 0-5 years of this city and its surrounding areas were administered polio drops by the health authorities with the help of various NGOs.

Special booths were set up by the NGOs and the kids moving in the buses and the trains were also given polio drops.


Van of Divya Jagriti sansthan attacked
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, April 4
The van of Swami Achalanand of the Divya Jagriti Sansthan headed by Swami Ashutosh, was attacked by some persons near Mujjafarpur village at 3.45 pm on Saturday. A disciple Sonu was injured and the van was damaged. Swami Achlanand, in his complaint, has held Mr Kashmir Singh and Punjab Singh residents of Sujjowal village (Balachaur) responsible for the incident.

He alleged that both of them created disturbance during the religious discourses delivered by him at the residence of Mr Satpal of Auliapur village (Balachaur).

The SDM and the DSP of Balachaur reached Auliapur and persuaded Swami Achlanand to cut short his discourses and provided police security to him for travelling up to Nawanshahr.

When the van reached near Mujjaferpur village under the Rahon police station, some persons threw stones at the van. Sonu, a disciple of the Swami sitting beside him received minor injuries.

The Rahon police has registered a case against Kashmir Singh and Punjab Singh.


Kala Afgana dares Vedanti
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 4
Ex-communicated cop-turned-Sikh scholar Gurbax Singh Kala Afgana offered to rub his nose before Akal Takht and apologise to the Sikh Panth if the Jathedar, Akal Takht, prove his writings wrong.

In a press conference here today, he said he was ready to hold a public debate in full view of the media at Manji Sahib or any other place to deliberate on his writings with Mr Gurcharanjit Singh Lamba along with the followers of Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht.

Challenging the authority of Jathedar Vedanti of ex-communicating him from the Sikh Panth, the controversial writer, in a note of dissent sent to Akal Takht and the SGPC, stated that Akal Takht, Jathedar, was a seat of seva (service) and not of adhikar (rights) and only the sangat had the authority to take decision or issue hukamnamas.


Eye check-up camp held

Ludhiana, April 4
The Ludhiana Midtown Jaycees organised a free eye check-up and operation camp at Baba Namdev Charitable Hospital, Shastri Nagar, here on Sunday. It was inaugurated by Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, SAD candidate from the Ludhiana parliamentary seat.

Mr Kanwaljit Singh Dua, president, SAD youth wing, Ludhiana city, was also present. Patients were examined and operated upon by Dr Ramesh of Mansooran and Dr Harbhajan Singh Arora. As many as 250 patients were examined and 20 operated upon.

Dr Jasbir Singh Bawa, Mr K.D.S. Walia, Mr Sanjay Gupta, Mr Jaspreet Singh, Mr Sohan Singh, Mr Inderbir Singh Nanda, Mr S.S. Sohal, Mr Gurpreet Singh Dua, Mr Mohinder Singh, Mr Avtar Singh, Mr Inderpal Singh, Mr Balwinder Singh and Mr Rajesh Gandhi, all members of the club, were present. OC


Labourer killed, three hurt
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 4
One labourer identified as Sudama Shah died while three others were injured when a mound of sand caved in while they were digging a pit for laying down the sewerage pipes in Dhobiana road area of this city today. Information gathered by TNS revealed that a large number of labourers deployed by the district administration to save them by extricating them from beneath of the sand, toiled hard for hours together to do the same.

While one labourer Sudama Shah was found dead when he was taken out the other three labourers identified as Arjun Shah, Krishna Parsad and Prevej were saved. All these three labourers are getting treatment in the local civil hospital.

The rescue operation to save the labourers was supervised by the SDM, the DSP (city) and other senior civil and police officials of the district.


One dies, 6 hurt in accident
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 4
One person died and six others, including four members of one family were injured in an accident between a Cielo car and a tractor trailer on the GT road near Chiheru village today. The deceased was identified as Noora Ram (65) of Saholi village near Patiala.

Those injured, included Maluka Ram, Jaji Ram, Sultan Ram, Nooran Devi, all family members of Saholi village, Kale Ram and Manminder Singh drivers of both the vehicles belonging to Saholi and Phillaur.


10-year jail for smuggling

Sangrur, April 4
A court here has sentenced a poppy husk smuggler to 10-year imprisonment and fined him Rs one lakh.

According to information, on November 27, 2001, during patrolling the police nabbed Gurmail Singh, resident of Cheema, and seized two bags of poppy husk from his possession and a case was registered against him. After hearing the arguments of the defence and the prosecution, the judge yesterday pronounced the verdict. — UNI


Probe into recruitment scam begins
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 4
The Mansa police has started investigating into the alleged recruitment scam in the Giani Zail Singh College of Engineering and Technology (GZSCET).

Sources revealed that a senior police official from Mansa had started recording the statements of complainants Mohinder Singh and Lalit Mohan Sharma, president and secretary of the GZSCET Teachers Association of the college. The police official also checked the relevant record of the college, related with the recruitments of some employees made between 1997 and 2002. The association had alleged large-scale corruption into these recruitment.

The sources said the police official enquired about the number and nature of recruitment made during that period.

Mr Sharma said a senior police official of the Mansa police had recorded his statement in connection with the recruitment scam. He alleged that all recruitments made between the period were unfair and that the association had also lodged complaints with the higher authorities for the appropriate action against the then principal for corruption in these recruitment. He alleged that the recruitment committee members during the period had acted in an unfair manner and their role also needed to be probed.


Single-window counter set up
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 4
The district administration has set up the Sukhmani Services counter at the entry of mini-secretariat here. The counter will provide single-window facility.

At the counter applications relating to arms licence, character verification, marriage certificate, surviving family member certificate and passport application will be handled. Each counter will be manned by a clerk and the superintendent of the office will be in charge of the counter.


Three held for blasphemy
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 4
Five persons were booked, three of them arrested, today for allegedly using unsavoury language against a temple and seriously injuring five persons in the 100-feet road area of the temple here last evening.

The police has registered a case under Sections 295, 382, 323, 324, 148 and 149 of the IPC at B-Division police station here.

Earlier, residents of the area gheraoed the police station and resorted to block traffic for about two hours in the morning in protest against the failure of the police to register a case against the accused.

The traffic could only be resumed after Assistant Superintendent of Police Dinesh Partap assured them of the immediate arrest and registration of case against the accused.

Mr S.S. Sharma, a social worker in the area, alleged that Subash Chander Fouji, Rajwinder Singh, Naresh Kumar, Atri and Sonu, all residents of 100-feet road area, in a drunken state used abusive language against the temple, Ram ji Ashram.

However, when Chhotu Ram and others tried to stop them from doing so, they attacked them with iron rods injuring them seriously. The injured include Ramparkash, Varinder Kumar , Amandeep Singh, Keshv Ram and Rajesh Kumar. The injured persons were admitted to Jallianwala Bagh Civil Hospital here.

Mr Dinesh Partap confirmed the arrest of three persons — Subash Fouji, Rajwinder Singh and Naresh Kumar.


Man killed by wife, son
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 4
Woman along with his son allegedly killed her husband in Pathrala village of this district yesterday over some dispute of property.

Police sources said that Balbir Singh, a farmer of Pathrala village was allegedly killed by his son Sukhjit Singh and wife Basant Kaur. The deceased was having a dispute of property.

Sources added that after registering a case under Section 302 of the IPC, the police had arrested Basant Kaur. The other accused Sukhjit Singh was absconding. The case was registered on the complaint of Mr Niranjan Singh, brother of the deceased.


4 held for murder

Khanna, April 4
The police has solved the murder case of Devinder Singh of Dhamot village in Payal subdivision with the arrest of four persons.

Devinder was murdered on March 25 and his body was recovered on March 27. During investigations it was found that Balwinder Singh, elder brother of the victim, his wife, Binder Kaur, and his brother-in-law, Satnam Singh, had hatched a conspiracy to murder Devinder. The trio — Satnam, Malkit and Paramjit — assembled near a gurdwara of the village and called Devinder before murdering him.

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