P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Aircraft used to shift Tohra ‘lacked life-support system’
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 5
The controversy over the airlifting of Gurcharan Singh Tohra to Escorts Hospital has been compounded with Deputy Commissioner Raminder Singh revealing that the ex-chief of the SGPC could not be taken into the air taxi on a stretcher despite two attempts made by doctors due to the narrow door of the aircraft.

Mr Raminder Singh, who witnessed the shifting of Tohra at the local Rajasansi airport, here today revealed that it was a simple aircraft, which was not equipped with proper life-support system and not an air ambulance.

Dr T.S. Kaler, director (cardiology), Escorts Hospital, who took Tohra to New Delhi in a critical condition, admitted that Tohra’s stretcher could not be taken inside the air taxi due to its length. He said Escorts Hospital had been using the services of air taxis even to ferry patients from Sri Lanka, as air ambulances were not available in any part of the country. He claimed that the air taxi hired by Escorts for airlifting Tohra was bigger than the one used for bringing patients from other parts of the country, including Colombo.

Since Tohra could not be put on stretcher, he was accommodated on the aisle of the aircraft by keeping life-support system on the seats of the aircraft, it is learnt.

Earlier, too, doctors of Escorts Hospital had stated that the airlifting of Tohra to Delhi was a blunder due to his critical condition. This theory was also endorsed by Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, and representatives of various organisations.

Some leaders have also demanded probe into the role of the SGPC officials who failed to take Tohra to Escorts Hospital immediately after he suffered a massive heart attack at the time of the launching of kar seva of Golden Temple’s holy tank on March 25. It is well known that many people had watched Tohra complaining of pain on a television channel, which was giving live coverage of the kar seva. It took more than five hours to take Tohra to Escorts Hospital.


Probe sought into Tohra’s death
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, April 5
The Sikh Jagriti Manch today demanded a probe into the circumstances that led to the death of SGPC president Gurcharan Singh Tohra . In the executive meeting of the manch, headed by Mr Virsa Singh Behla, Manch Chairman, it was announced that a panel of Sikhs should inquire into the death of Tohra, failing which the manch would be forced to conduct its own investigation .

Accusing Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) of pursuing a Hindutva policy, the manch said the group led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal was always opposed to the viewpoint of Tohra, who stood for panthic maryadas, while Mr Badal loyalists chose to share seats and support the Hindu forces led by the BJP.

In such a scenario, mystery shrouds the death of the Akali stalwart whose hospitalisation was also delayed by several hours . alleging it to be a conspiracy, the manch said the truth must be found and made public at the earliest.

WADALA: Accusing that mystery is shrouding the death of Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Akali factions headed by Mr Ravi Inder Singh, Mr Kuldip Singh Wadala, Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode, and Mr Prem Singh Lalpura and the Lok Bhalai Party has jointly demanded a high-level probe into the sudden shifting of ailing Tohra to Delhi after SAD supremo Parkash Singh Badal’s intervention.

Talking to the TNS after a meeting of the Akali Dal, Shiromani Akali Dal (Democratic), and Lok Bhalai Party, Mr Ravi Inder Singh and Mr Kuldip Singh Wadala said the sudden shifting of Tohra to Delhi, after Mr Badal’s phone call to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had raised many questions, which were still unanswered.

“To unravel the mystery in a transparent manner, we demand a high-level probe by a High Court Judge into the episode.

The biggest question is as to what was the need to shift Mr Tohra when the doctors attending upon him had advised against any such step?” questioned Mr Ravi Inder Singh and Mr Wadala.


Punjab Cong looking for star campaigners
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 5
The ruling Congress party in Punjab is looking for star campaigners. However, it is yet to decide whether it should go for trusted political stars or bank upon film stars, many of whom have jumped on to the party’s bandwagon.

Sources said that the there was a demand for seasoned leaders like Dr Manmohan Singh, former Finance Minister, who commands a high respect in all sections of the society in Punjab. Congress candidates also want that Priyanka Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi should also campaign for them to boost the party’s morale. However, Rahul Gandhi will be busy in the Amethi Lok Sabha constituency, which has been selected by the Nehru dynasty to baptise him (Rahul) in politics.

There are a number of Punjabi film stars, who are with the Congress and have some appeal in this part of the region. Among them are Rajesh Khanna, and Sunil Dutt. Though Govinda is a non-Punjabi, he can also serve the campaign purpose. Topping the Congress demand chart is Preity Zinta, the dimple faced pretty dashing film star, who is popular among the younger generation. Preity has earlier campaigned for Mr Arvind Khanna, MLA from Sangrur, during the last Assembly elections. She is a family friend of the Khannas.

But Mr Khanna is now contesting the Lok Sabha elections from Sangrur and he would certainly ask Preity Zinta to seek votes for him as this time he facing a tough battle. Sources said the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, would be requested to talk to Mr Khanna to have the services of Preity Zinta for all main constituencies. The SAD-BJP combine, which has many film and TV stars at its command, would send many of them in this region for campaigning. Obviously, the Congress is preparing its strategy accordingly.

Asked in this connection, the president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr H.S. Hanspal, told The Tribune that he had asked all party candidates, who were present at the party meeting called to fine tune the party’s election strategy, to give the list of senior party leaders and film stars they wanted for campaigning. “We would take up the matter with the high command to arrange star campaigners. As the elections in Punjab would be held in the last phase, senior leaders would be available for campaigning in this region”, said Mr Hanspal. He made it clear that the party’s campaign would not be any “individual specific”. The party would make non performance of the NDA Government as its main election plank

Mr Hanspal said the party meeting of MLAs and candidates was specifically called today to formulate its election strategy. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also addressed the them. The Chief Minister has assured all the party candidates that he would streamline the payment of pension to the aged and others in their respective constituencies and also ensure uninterrupted supply of power. Most of the candidates had complained that there were problems on the power and pensions front.

The Chief Minister has told candidates that he will play on active role to resolve their differences with other party leaders in various constituencies. Candidates had told the CM that a number of party leaders were playing spoilsport and were not cooperating. Out of 11 party candidates, nine were present at today’s meeting besides a large number of MLAs. Both the Chief Minister and Mr Hanspal urged the MLAs to ensure the victory of party candidates in their respective segments and it would be a measure of their performance in the elections. The party has finally left the Hoshiarpur Lok Sabha seat for the CPM.

Mohsina stays away from meeting

However, today’s meeting was not a smooth affair. Mrs Mohsina Kidwai and Mrs Ambika Soni, both general secretaries of the AICC, who were to address the meeting, failed to turn up. They deputed Mr Hari Parsad Saini, Secretary of the AICC, to the meeting. But informed sources said that he was stopped on the way to the meeting by someone. He was angry over this development and had to be pacified. Perhaps proper arrangement was not made regarding his arrival at the Congress Bhavan.

A number of senior leaders also expressed anger over not calling party general secretaries, vice-presidents and other office-bearers, whore number runs into hundreds, at today’s meeting. “They are the backbone of the party in the field and without their involvement how can the party win elections”, was the question raised at the meeting. Resentment was also expressed over distribution of the party ticket. It was alleged that a few powerful families had cornered the party ticket while common party leaders had been ignored.


Cong leader Balbir Singh joins SAD
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 5
The Punjab Congress today received a major setback when senior party leader and MP of the dissolved Lok Sabha Balbir Singh, accompanied by his confidant, Daljit Sahota, Chairman of the Overseas Congress, joined the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and made a scathing attack on the Congress leadership for “humiliating” him and particularly accused the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, of “threatening” him.

Mr Balbir Singh, who had joined the Congress in 1972 and who had held important positions, including that of a minister and an MP, announced his joining of the SAD in presence of senior SAD leaders, including Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Union Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, SAD candidate from Jalandhar Naresh Gujral, former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal and former Punjab minister Bibi Upinderjit Kaur.

Mr Balbir Singh, who was hurt over the Congress’ denial of ticket to him and its allotment to Kapurthala MLA Rana Gurjit Singh, said there was no democracy left in the Congress which forced him to join the SAD. “I feel there is no place for honest people and disbursal of tickets shows that mafia is dominating and tickets were auctioned. I was humiliated. I will work for the SAD wholeheartedly and we will prove that the SAD is the biggest secular party,” said Mr Balbir Singh.

Mr Balbir Singh, who is president of the governing council of the Lyallpur Khalsa Colleges here, alleged that it was painful for him that the Chief Minister threatened him that he (the CM) would get the colleges locked in case he (Mr Balbir Singh) did not cooperate with the former.

“Perhaps he is dreaming to start casino and dancing halls in place of colleges. During past many years, a number of sincere and dedicated workers have been rendered surplus and have been felling suffocated due to polluted and authoritative atmosphere. His (the CM’s) deputies are taking him to a blind street from where there is no chance of coming back. All this had compelled 37-38 party MLAs and ministers to raise a banner of revolt and camp in Delhi, but they were sent back by the party high command with a bundle of promises that were not fulfiled.

The Chief Minister has become instrumental in disgracing and defaming me even through his junior men. At present , the Maharaja phobia is prevailing in all levels of the Punjab Government,” said Mr Balbir Singh. Mr Daljit Sahota also criticised the prevailing situation within the Congress and announced his leaving the party.

While welcoming Mr Balbir Singh to his party fold, Mr Parkash Singh Badal said it was a historical day for the SAD and the SAD leadership was happy that a person who had a long stint in politics, education and sports was joining the party. “The SAD will give an appropriate position to him. His grandfather Sardar Partap Singh had also served as the president of the SGPC for 10-12 years and during his tenure he had also worked for the development of the Sikhism. With his joining, the SAD will get strengthened and I hope that more graceful people would leave the Congress and join the SAD,” said Mr Badal.

Others who were present included former Improvement Trust Chairman Sarbjit Makkar, Youth Akali Dal leader Baljit Singh Neelamahal and Mr Daljit Cheema, secretary of the SAD.

The unceremonial and sudden exit of Mr Balbir Singh, might upset the apple-cart of the Congress in Jalandhar and intensify groupism in the party, at least in Doaba region of Punjab.

It was not for the first time when Mr Balbir Singh has said goodbye to the Congress, but, in 1985 too, he had left the party after being denied the party ticket and had unsuccessfully contested against the party nominee Indira Narinder Singh. He was, however, elected to the Lok Sabha in 1999 after defeating Ms Prabhjot Kaur, wife of the late Darbara Singh.

Mr Balbir Singh’s exit, this time, might disturb the Congress’ poll prospects, not only for his being a seasoned politician, who, has been active since 1972 in the Jalandhar politics and for his personal rapport with a section of urban Congress voters, but, for Congress nominee Rana Gurjit’s being a comparatively new face for voters of the Jalandhar parliamentary constituency.

Though Mr Balbir Singh was denied the ticket despite being a sitting MP, his clout in the sports and education fields and among members of the Jat Sikh community could still affect the poll prospects of the Congress, which, has already been a divided house in Doaba region.

An important remark by Mr Balbir Singh today that he was congratulated by two Punjab ministers after he had decided to leave the Congress could be an indicator that more such people, who are feeling “suffocated” within the party, could follow.


Badal lashes out at CM over ads
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 5
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President SAD, while talking to mediapersons at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib today expressed disgust, alleging that Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, had started playing the dirty game of character assassination by giving useless advertisements in papers regarding his relations with Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

On being asked that an organisation backed by the SAD had got advertisement against Capt Amarinder Singh published Mr Badal completely disassociating himself from the organisation and the advertisement. He said politics and personal fight were two separate issues.

Mr Badal had come here to preside over the meetings of the executive of the SGPC followed by that of the manifesto committee. He also finalised the poll strategy of Mr Sukhdev Singh Libra, SAD candidate from Ropar constituency. He made Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, the co-coordinator for the Ropar seat.

Mr Badal said a delegation of SAD comprising Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta and Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar would call on the Election Commission in Delhi to lodge protest against such advertisements, to get permanent observers deputed in the state and to ensure free and fair poll. He said the delegation would also meet the Election Commission during his visit to Chandigarh.

He did not disclose the main feature of the SAD manifesto and said after finalising it at the meeting it would be released at the appropriate time.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, Mr Dilmegh Singh were also present.


Sukhbir sees collapse of Cong after elections

Jalandhar, April 5
The general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Mr Sukhbir Badal, today apprehended that after the parliamentary elections, the Congress would totally collapse.

Terming the Congress as a leaderless party, Mr Sukhbir Badal, while talking to mediapersons on the occasion of former Congress MP Balbir Singh joining the SAD, said the Congress was full of frustration, which could be evident that it had not announced the prime ministerial candidate and in selection of the candidates also there was a lot of confusion.

“There will be a total collapse of the Congress before or after the Lok Sabha election”, Mr Sukhbir Badal predicted, adding that the Congress even could not start its campaign in the state and on the other hand the SAD had already covered more than 80 per cent of the constituencies.

Making a sarcastic remark on former MP Jagmeet Brar, who has changed his constituency from Faridkot to Ferozepore, Mr Sukhbir Badal who is SAD candidate from the Faridkot seat, claimed that the Congress had already accepted the defeat from Faridkot as its candidate had already fled from the scene.

On Mr Jagmeet’s assurance to the people of Ferozepore on development, Mr Sukhbir Badal asked, “Why he did not do the development in Faridkot, from where he won the last election”.

Terming the state government’s announcement of some benefits to kin of Tohra, as “crocodile tears”, Mr Sukhbir Badal alleged that the state government’s move was to take political mileage. People know the reality of the Congress, which was responsible for 1984 riots and would give befitting reply to it in the ensuing Lok Sabha election. — PTI


BJP, allies threat to nation’s unity, says CPM
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 5
Though a joint front against NDA constituents has yet to be formed by leftists, the Congress, the Samajwadi Janata Party , the Rashtriya Janata Dal and other like-minded parties will make every effort to stop the BJP from getting majority as a single largest party in the ensuing Lok Sabha poll.

This was stated by Mr Harkishan Singh Surjit, Secretary, Communist Party of India (Marxist), while talking to mediapersons at the district CPM office here today.

He said the BJP and its allies posed a threat to the unity of the country. This was evident from the provocative slogans and speeches of leaders.

Mr Harkishan Singh said the CPM would contest 60 Lok Sabha seats in the country. It had an alliance with the Congress in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. It would support nominees of other like-minded parties.

To a question, he said the CPM had its own manifesto but a minimum joint programme with like-minded parties would be prepared after the elections.

To another question, Mr Harkishan Singh said the Election Commissioner of India was impartial and would make every possible effort to hold fair and free elections.

ROPAR: The CPM can become a part of the Congress-led government after the Lok Sabha elections. However, the decision regarding the participation in the Congress-led government at the Centre could only be taken after the election. Mr Harkrishan Singh Surjeet, senior leader of the CPM, gave this information while talking to newsmen here today. He was here to hold a meeting of the Congress and CPM workers in favour of the party nominee from the Hoshiarpur parliamentary constituency Mr Darshan Singh Mattu.

He further said that the “feel good factor” of the BJP was diminishing as the campaign for the elections was progressing. The personal attacks being made by the BJP leaders against the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, were exposing their communal approach.

The statements issued by the BJP leaders that they would make a law barring any one having foreign origins from contesting elections as unconstitutional were uncalled for. As per the Constitution, Ms Sonia Gandhi had become the citizen of the country after marriage. She has all rights that the Constitution provides for an Indian citizen. By issuing statements regarding her foreign origin, the BJP leaders were showing disrespect towards the Indian Constitution.


Old rivals Bhinder, Ashwani share dais
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, April 5
A Congress workers’ rally was held here yesterday at Gulmohar Tourist Complex where Mrs Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, former Union Minister and Congress candidate, the from the Gurdaspur parliamentary constituency, and her archrival, Mr Ashwani Kumar, member, Rajya Sabha, were seen together at the dais.

Perhaps, it was their first election meeting together. Mr Ashwani Kumar had contested the 1993 Lok Sabha elections as a Congress (Tiwari) nominee against Mrs Bhinder. The latter had won by a huge margin.

Interestingly, Mr Ashok Sharma, local MLA and Chairman of the Punjab Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) and a staunch loyalist of Mr Ashwani Kumar, on February 30 had boycotted all functions in which Mrs Bhinder was the chief guest.

A five-time winner from Gurdaspur, Mrs Bhinder was among the aspirants for Rajya Sabha nomination.

Mr H.S. Hanspal, President, PPCC, Mr Khushal Behal, Punjab minister, and Mr Gurbachan Singh Babehali, president, DCC, were among those who addressed the meeting yesterday.


Democratic samaj party to contest five LS seats

Jalandhar, April 5
The Democratic Bharatiya Samaj Party (DBSP) has announced its candidates in five of the 13 Lok Sabha seats from Punjab in the forthcoming elections.

A party spokesman said here today that party president Vijay Hans would contest the Jalandhar seat, while Dr Dharam Chand was being fielded from Ferozepore, Ravinder Kumar Rana from Phillaur (SC), Parminder Singh from Bathinda and Raj Kumar from Ludhiana.

Besides, party nominee Geeta Chaudhary would contest the Chandigarh seat, he added. — UNI


Rs 148-cr flood protection works for Patiala, Sangrur
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 5
The Patiala Congress parliamentary candidate Preneet Kaur today said that the Rs 148-crore flood protection works, which had been sanctioned by NABARD, would cover both Patiala and Sangrur districts, and that no proposed flood protection work for Sangrur district had been stopped.

Talking to TNS here, Ms Preneet Kaur said work in Sangrur district, particularly the Lehra Ghagga segment represented by Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, had not even started, so there was no question of putting a stop to it. She was replying to a question regarding a statement made by Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal in this context.

Ms Preneet Kaur said a spill drain was to be constructed in Phase IV of the NABARD scheme. She said this spillway, which was known as Batisdara, was situated in Khanauri district. Presently water headed up and made a lake during the monsoon and the Ghaggar passed beneath the Bhakra canal through an aquaduct. She said the acquaduct could only deal with 22,000 cusecs of water.

The Congress candidate said bundhs had been constructed on the Ghaggar upstream, which resulted in breaches upstream of the river. She said earlier when the bundhs had not been constructed, the increase in the discharge of flood waters used to pass through the spillway at RD 455. She said as the capacity at RD 455 was 35,000 cusecs, which resulted in easy passage of water downstream.

Ms Preneet Kaur said the spill drain was sanctioned in Phase IV of NABARD but had not been constructed because the proposal of constructing bundhs was not cleared by the Ghaggar Standing Committee. She said the spill drain at Batisdara would be constructed when funds were arranged for the project of construction of bundhs downstream of the Ghaggar.

The Congress leader said work on the spillway and the bundhs downstream of the Ghaggar would be started simultaneously in October this year. She said she would brief Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal on this issue and there was no question of anyone being apprehensive on this issue.

Presently NABARD had cleared flood protection works of Rs 33 crore in the first phase of the project. Work has started on several of the works, including digging up of the Tangri and other rivulets, besides flood protection work in Ghanaur and Dakala Assembly segments of the Patiala constituency.


Journalist threatens self-immolation
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 5
A Malerkotla-based scribe has threatened self-immolation in front of the CM’s residence if the police fails to arrest the accused involved in the murderous assault on him and his younger brother on March 20. The main accused — Youth Congress chief Shakil — was reportedly nabbed the next day but was “let off on instructions from the top.”

Mohammad Anwar Mehboob, who works for a vernacular daily, said despite efforts to get the enquiry expedited, nothing has been done so far.

Two enquiry officers have been changed since both gave conflicting findings. The department was stonewalling all moves to arrest the accused who enjoys political as well as official patronage.

He said he and his younger brother, Mohammad Dilshad, were sitting at their shop in Mohalla Loharan, Maler Market, Malerkotla.

They had just finished their lunch when a group consisting of Shakil, Munir, Khalid, Ruldu, Nadeem and some unknown persons armed with lathis, knives and other sharp edged weapons entered the shop and started bashing them up.

Anwar alleged that Shakil kicked him about mercilessly all the while swearing him to write against the local MLA and her police officer husband.

He then wound a rope around his neck and dragged him outside the shop. The other assailants ransacked the shop and threw all the goods on the road.

“When my younger brother tried to rescue me, Khalid, attacked him with knives. He suffered two deep cuts on his left forearm. Not content with the assault they rained lathi blows on us and left us for the dead”. They also broke all the furniture and showcases besides making away with some cash.

“Other shopkeepers who came out to rescue us were warned to stay away or face the same consequences. When the accused left the spot we were rushed to the Civil Hospital where we were medically examined by the Medical Officer,” he added.

Mr Abdul Waheeed Aziz, president of the Malerkotla Working Journalists Union, said they met the SSP following which a case under Sections 307, 452, 324, 323, 427, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC was registered. “If this is the fate of a journalist one can well imagine the fate of the common man,” he pointed out.

Anwar said the main accused — Shakil — was presented to mediapersons the next day but were shocked to know the next day that his arrest had not been entered in the police records and he remains at large till date.


CEO seeks comments on plea against ADGP
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 5
Acting on election-related complaints — including one against an Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP) — Punjab’s Chief Electoral Officer has reportedly sought comments from the Home Department and the Punjab Police.

Though the authorities were tight-lipped about it, sources in the Home Department asserted that a complaint had indeed been forwarded by the members of a political party against ADGP (State Armed Forces) D.R. Bhatti.

The complaints, sources asserted, had expressed apprehension that the ADGP might try to help the members of another political party during the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. The polls are scheduled to be held on May 10.

Giving details of the complaint, sources said the complainants were of the opinion that the ADGP, with as many as 20 battalions under him, had the capacity to influence the voters. As such the ADGP should be posted out during the elections, sources added.

When contacted, ADGP (Operations) Shashi Kant — also in charge of Punjab police’s election cell — refused to comment on the issue. Sources in Punjab Police Headquarters, however, confirmed that a reply would soon be forwarded to the Chief Electoral Officer in this regard. Mr Bhatti could not be contacted for his comments.

Regarding the other complaints, sources in the Police Department added that the members of a social organisation — Resurgence India — were seeking the removal of non-cadre officers from cadre posts in the state during the polls in the interest of fair elections. They added that the posting of non-cadre officers on cadre posts was in violation of the relevant rules. Sources added that the reply to the complaint would also soon be forwarded.

Sources added that in yet another complaint it was alleged that several officers of the rank of Superintendent of Police and above had managed to get their home districts changed to hoodwink the Election Commission.

Sources asserted that a reply was sought from them as soon as a complaint was received. If required, an inquiry was also ordered.

As the model code of conduct was already in force, the probe report, along with other documents, was then sent to the Election Commission for further proceedings.


Slum kids make teachers proud

Amritsar, April 5
All 25 children, some of them ragpickers and beggars, have made their parents and teachers proud by securing good marks in the primary board examination in the first attempt.

These children were adopted under the child labour project by ‘Shakti’, a non-government organisation headed by Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, state vice-president, BJP.

Sapna, delighted over her success, said she used to beg at various places in Amritsar and had never thought of getting education as their family was very poor. “But, now, it is like a dream come true that I am studying.” she adds. She attributed her success to her teachers and added that she wanted to study more.

Talking to the correspondent, Ms Chawla said ‘Shakti’ had adopted the children who were studying in government schools, Gole Bagh and Nawan kot here.

Ms Meena Kumari, one of the teachers of the school, said initially it was very hard to encourage the parents and children in this regard. She said the children were talented and were willing to learn.

Ms Chawla further said that the Ajanta Public School had offered to provide further education from class VI to matric to these children. She said they would provide stationery and other necessary things to the children.

The children were given awards on their success.


Truckers of CM’s village seek justice
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 5
A large section of truck operators belonging to Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s native village, Mehraj, in the district have been running from pillar to post to seek district administration’s help for the removal of their grievances pertaining to alleged maladministration in the Truck Union, Rampura.

The truck operators of Mehraj village, who were earlier members of the Truck Union, Rampura, and later floated their own union under the name of the Bahia Truck Union, Mehraj, have sought the help of district administration in connection with the payment of their dues, which had been denied to them by the president of the Truck Union, Rampura, Mr Gurdev Singh.

In an application to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr K.A.P. Sinha, they alleged that Mr Gurdev Singh became president of the Truck Union, Rampura, forcibly as no election was held for the same. They added that when they demanded their dues, they were threatened by him.

The truck operators alleged that they were not being allowed to carry out the transportation work of a cement factory located near the village. They urged Mr Sinha to make arrangement to ensure justice to them and to prevent any dispute among the truck operators.

Giani Jagjit Singh, a senior member of the Bahia Truck Union, Mehraj, while talking to TNS pointed out that though some residents of the village had met Ms Preneet Kaur, MP, Patiala, in the connection and she had assured that justice would be done to them, they were still making rounds of various offices to get the same.

Mr Sinha, when contacted, said all grievances of the members of the newly floated truck union had been removed by the SDM, Rampura.

Mr Paramjit Singh Sidhu, son of Mr Gurdev Singh, said his father was elected president of the union unanimously. He said baseless allegations were being levelled against his father on the instigation of a former Akali minister. He added that the panchayat of Mehraj village was with his father.


Union-contractor tussle hits wheat procurement
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, April 5
The ongoing tussle between the new labour contractor and the labour union has affected the procurement of wheat in the local mandi. The union has refused to lift the wheat procured at the rate quoted by the contractor.

The contract for handling and transportation of wheat from the local mandi has been revised recently at 10 per cent lower rate than last year’s. The competition between the old contractor and the local truck union sponsored by the labour union is stated to be the reason for the decline in the contract rates this time.

Mr Makhan Singh, leader of the Punjab Palledar Union, said the new contractor had never taken them into confidence over the quoting of the rates. He added that the members of the union would not bow to pressure this time to work at lesser rates.

However, Mr Mohinder Paul, the new contractor, accused his opponents who had failed to get the contract, and were sponsored by the ruling party for hindering wheat procurement. He added that he had sufficient number of labourers who were being threatened and prevented from working by the leaders of the truck and labour unions. He added that he had made written complaints to the Deputy Commissioner and the SDM, Jalalabad, in this regard.


Withdraw false cases against labourers, union
asks DC
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 5
Members of the Punjab Pardesh Palledar Majdoor Union today held a rally in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner to lodge protest against the handing over of the contract of loading and unloading of gunny bags by Punsup to a private contractor.

In a memorandum submitted to the Deputy Commissioner they alleged that the private contractor did not make full payment to the labourers. They added that private contractor also did not deposit the provident fund of the labourers in their respective accounts.

They demanded that all false cases registered against the labourers belonging to their union should be withdrawn immediately.

Meanwhile, Mr Kiranjit Geheri, president, Dalit Sena, Punjab, alleged that district the administration was deliberately denying security to the contractor concerned. He alleged that though the workers of the labour cell of the sena were attacked by members of the palledar union in front of the railway police station on April 3 the authorities concerned remained mute spectator to that.

He warned that if the authorities concerned did not take any corrective steps then the agitation launched by the sena could intensify.


Seminar on empowering rural marginalised
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 5
Bosco Institute for Rural Development (BIRD), an NGO, organised a seminar today on ‘Empowering the Rural Marginalised’ to develop partnerships between the institute and various stakeholders here.

The basic objective of the seminar was to develop interface between any NGO and other stakeholders including the government, banks and community for rural upliftment. The panel included speakers from National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development, Khadi and Village Industries Board and Escorts industry.

While addressing the gathering the AGM, NABARD, Mr Brij Mohan Batra, informed about the various financial reforms provided by banks for uplift of rural society. He added that there was a need to spread awareness regarding these schemes available among the rural youth. While the Manager Khadi and Village Industries Board (KVIB), Mr P.K. Deewan briefed about the various government schemes available for developing small scale industries in rural India. He also informed about the requirements for taking a loan, kind of subsidies provided and the type of industries entitled for a loan.

Mr V.K Malhotra, from Human Resources, Goetze India Limited, emphasised on the kind of skills required in industries. Mr Bhupinder Gaire, from Escorts said that the entire education curriculum of all vocational training institutes was directed towards the technical curriculum. He added that there was a need to impart safety and loss prevention (SLP) training to the students.

Mr Gurpreet Singh Dua, programme co-coordinator, urged the sarpanches to motivate the rural unemployed to go in for vocational courses and start their own small scale units.


Non-implementation of decision irks oustees
Our Correspondent

Dalhousie, April 5
The Ranjit Sagar Dam Oustees Association is sore about the non-implementation of a Punjab Government decision to provide jobs to one member of each ousted family belonging to Dalhousie tehsil of Chamba district adjoining Dhar tehsil of Gurdaspur district.

In a press note issued here today, Mr P.C. Oberoy, spokesman of the association, urged the Himachal Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, to get the Punjab Government decision implemented in providing employment to members of ousted families.

Mr Oberoy disclosed that as many as 322 youths were provided jobs.

An understanding was reached between the Chief Secretaries of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh on July 13, 1998, in this regard and the Punjab Government had agreed to provide jobs to one member of each affected family.

The General Manager of Ranjit Sagar Dam was asked to provide jobs to one member of each ousted family in accordance with the list provided by the Deputy Commissioner of Chamba.

Former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal also discussed this issue with former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who had given an assurance in this regard. But nothing much has been done so far.


Few turn up for Saigal’s function
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 5
Only 12 persons were present yesterday to pay tributes to legendary singer K.L. Saigal at the K.L. Saigal Memorial Trust building in the city. It was the singer’s death anniversary.

What was even more disgusting was that instead of the promised music competition, English pop and film songs were played on the occasion. This was stopped on the directions of one of the trustees.

If this was not enough, of a total gathering of 12 persons five were trustees — Mr J.K. Sood, president of the trust, Mr N.S. Kalra, senior vice-president, Dr B.L. Goyal, secretary, Mr S.S. Ajimal, Principal Inderjit Singh and Mr Rajinder Singh. The remaining 22 trustees were absent.

Most of those present vied with one another to be photographed while garlanding the statue of the singer. The statue was unveiled by former Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral on May 14, 1997. It stands on a huge piece of land owned by the trust. Interestingly, in a statement, the trust officials claimed that all its members had ‘‘paid’’ floral tributes to the singer.

Though the trust had claimed that music competitions and sufiana recitals would mark the centenary year of the singer, no such competition or recital was held. Only a few Saigal songs were played on the cassette player.

‘‘We could not get schoolchildren for the competition,’’ was the feeble explanation given by Principal Inderjit Singh. Mr Ajimal admitted that he was upset over the way the function was held.


Pak youth held near border
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 5
A 20-year-old Pakistani, Rana Irfan, was arrested near a border outpost near Rajatal last afternoon. According to reports, the Pakistani youth was seen about 150 yards inside the Indian side near the border fencing. Rana is a resident of Manalwala, Sheikhupura district.

Meanwhile, a 32-member Pakistan delegation of the “ youth initiative for Indo-Pak peace building world assembly” (Pakistan chapter ) arrived on the Samjhauta Express here today. Banners of the association adorned both sides of the coach carrying the delegation and led by Mr Saptaan Raza Lodhi. During their 10-day tour they would visit Delhi , Agra, Jaipur and Allahabad.


SGPC protests deletion of pilgrims’ names
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 5
The SGPC today lodged a protest against the deletion of the names of 118 pilgrims who wanted to visit Pakistan to pay their obeisance in Sikh shrines.

Meanwhile, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur and Mr Gurwinder Singh Shampura, general secretary and executive member of the SGPC, who were to lead a jatha to Pakistan tomorrow, have dropped their proposed visit to Pakistan due to the death of Gurcharn Singh Tohra. Mr Sanmukh Singh Mokha and Mr Satpal Singh Talwandi Bhai would now be leader and deputy leader of the jatha, respectively.


Re-auctioning of liquor vends sought
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 5
The issue of alleged irregularities in the recently conducted liquor vends auctions in Punjab refuses to die down. Today, a division bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court comprising Mr Justice N.K. Sud and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta ordered the production of the entire record of the auction process for the district of Gurdaspur on the next date of hearing.

Taking up a petition filed by liquor contractor Sanjeev Malhan and others, seeking quashing of the process and re-auctioning of the liquor vends for the six circles in Gurdaspur district, the Bench fixed Aril 9 as the next date of hearing.

In his petition, Mr Malhan has alleged that on March 7, when the auction of liquor vends of Gurdaspur was to take place, he and some other contractors were stopped from going to the venue of the action. He has alleged that among the people who stopped them were the Congress candidate for Tarn Taran Lok Sabha constituency, Mr S.S. Sukhsarkaria, Deputy Superintendent of Police Amrik Singh Pawar, and one Laddi Bajwa, whose brother is the Senior Superintendent of Police, Majitha.

In his petition, Mr Malhan has accused the trio of having beaten him and others accompanying him as well as snatching Rs 5 lakh cash, two mobile phone handsets, etc. He has also claimed that his father-in-law, who managed to evade the attackers and reach the venue of the auction, bid Rs 60 crore for running liquor vends in the district. But, the bid was not even registered and the contract was awarded to another contractor at a lower bid.

Claiming that they also complained to the SSP of Gurdaspur as well as sent complaints to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Mr Malhan and the other petitioners have also alleged that no action was taken in this regard.

Referring to The Tribune editorial on the entire controversy, published on March 9, Mr Malhan has said that the exchequer suffered a huge loss due to the irregular auction. He says that if one goes by the liquor policy of the Punjab Government, each circle should have fetched at least Rs 15 lakh.

During the hearing on the petition today, counsel for the petitioners also pointed out that Ponty Chadha had also refused to accept the notice.

The case will now come up on April 9.

Notice issued

Mr Harbans Lal, a close aide of former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, has moved the High Court, requesting that the decision of the Special Jude, Ropar, whereby his prayer for directing prosecution to supply copies of the challan and the other material was turned down, be turned down.

Mr Lal is among those in the dragnet of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau in the case relating to the alleged illegal assets case against Mr Badal and his family members. He was among those arrested for some time by the VB.

In his petition, Mr Lal has alleged that as per Section 207 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the accused have the right to receive the copy of the challan and other related documents. But, there are contradictions galore in the order of the Special Judge, Ropar, the petitioner says.

According to him, while on the one hand the Special Judge has rejected his plea for being provided copies of the documents on the grounds that the documents sought are voluminous, on the other he has ordered that the copies of the documents can be allowed to be supplied to the accused at his own cost. “This is contradiction,” he says, requesting the High Court to set aside the order of the Special Judge and in the meantime stay any further proceedings in the case before the court of Special Judge, Ropar.

Taking up the petition, Mr Justice K.S. Garewal of the High Court issued notice of motion for April 22.


Capt remanded in judicial custody
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, April 5
Capt Parteek Kumar Ghosh and his accomplice Gurpreet Singh, alias Bhinder, were remanded in judicial custody till April 17 by Mr Ranjit Singh, Judicial Magistrate, here today.

The two were arrested on Saturday evening from the Nangal Bhur area, when they were allegedly carrying 4.54 kg of charas in a Maruti car belonging to Capt Parteek.

The Captain is presently serving in the Air Defence Service Regiment Mamoon.

Police sources revealed that the accused had brought the charas from Srinagar and planned to sell it in Jalandhar.


Life term for killing uncle
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 5
Mr Jagroop Singh, Sessions Judge, Sangrur, today awarded life imprisonment to Iqbal Singh of Sheron village in Sunam tehsil for gunning down his relative Sukhjinder Singh on March 18, 2003.

The Sunam police had registered a case against Iqbal Singh under Sections 302 and 307 of the IPC and Section 27 of the Arms Act on March 18, 2003.

Iqbal Singh and Sukhjinder Singh were involved in a land dispute, which resulted in the killing of the latter.

The Sessions Judge in his order sentenced Iqbal Singh to undergo life imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5,000 under Section 302 of the IPC. He has been sentenced to undergo RI for seven years and to pay a fine Rs 1,000 under Section 307 of the IPC also, as he had been convicted under Section 307 of the IPC for attempting to murder two prosecution witnesses. He has been further sentenced under Section 27 of the Arms Act to undergo RI for three years and to pay a fine of Rs 1,000. All substantive sentences shall run concurrently.


Farmers block traffic
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 5
Agitated farmers, under the banner of the Kisan Sangharsh Committee, blocked traffic for nearly three hours on the Amritsar-Ferozepore road near Alladinpur village, Tarn Taran bypass and three other areas today.

More than 1,000 farmers, including women and children, sat on a dharna on the highway from 11 am and burnt effigies of the Congress Government and Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh. Raising anti-government slogans and calling the Congressmen “liars and cheaters”, the farmers gave an ultimatum to the government to give compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the family of farmer Angrez Singh before his bhog on April 7 at his native village, Baghipur, failing which they would intensify their agitation.

Angrez Singh died in a police-firing recently in a rail-roko agitation of farmers at Manawala.

Mr Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu, convener of the Kisan Sangharsh Committee, said they also demanded government job for Angrez Singh’s family, withdrawal of false cases against farmers, a stop to raids on the houses of farmers and their illegal detention in police stations. He demanded the registration of cases against those officials who lathi-charged the farmers and caused death of one in addition to a probe by a retired high court judge into the death of the farmer. Farmers also blocked traffic at Tahley Di Mor, Shehrao-Palasar-Bhikhiwind and the Naushehra Pannuan-Sarhali Kalan road where they sat for hours raising slogans against the government and burnt effigies. They demanded compensation of Rs 50,000 each to five farmers who sustained serious injuries in the lathi-charge.


New PSEB members appointed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 5
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) today elevated two of its senior engineers to the rank of Technical Members to fill the vacancies caused by the retirement of Mr H S Sahai and Mr S.K. Anand as Member, Generation and Member, Distribution, respectively.

Mr H.M. Jain, Engineer-in-Chief, (Operation-North) and Mr H.C. Sood, Engineer-in-Chief, Commercial, today took over as Technical Members following a Punjab Government notification issued here.

Mr H.M. Jain has remained associated with studies regarding the requirement of transmission lines for the entire northern region, stability, short circuit and optimum placement of capacitors.


Youth Akali Dal leader booked on rape charge
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, April 5
The Dhilwan police has registered a case under Sections 376 and 506 of the IPC against Gurinderjit Singh of Bhullar village on the charge of raping a married woman of the village on March 24 at pistol-point at his flour mill in the village.

Gurinderjit Singh is the former sarpanch of Bhullar village and vice-president of the state youth Akali Dal (Badal).

In the complaint lodged with the Senior Superintendent of Police, the victim alleged that on March 24, she along with Manjit Singh, alias Pappu, of her village went to the accused to take his help in getting mutation sanctioned in her favour in respect of her land.

She alleged that Gurinderjit Singh sent Manjit Singh to his tubewell to bring his servant and in his absence, raped her at pistol-point at his flour mill. She further alleged that Gurinderjit Singh later threatened her with dire consequences. Due to fear, she did not disclose the incident to anybody but after two days, lodged a complaint with the SSP.

Mr S.K. Asthana, Senior Superintendent of Police, confirmed the registration of the rape case against Gurinderjit Singh and said that the investigation had been entrusted to the SHO, Dhilwan.

Meanwhile, Mr Raghbir Singh, former transport minister and president of the District Akali Jatha, here today demanded the cancellation of the FIR registered against the youth Akali leader. He alleged that the case had been registered at the instance of the local Congress MLA.

He threatened to gherao the office of the SSP on April 8 if the case against Gurinderjit Singh was not cancelled.

He produced Manjit Singh, alias Pappu, before mediapersons who reportedly accompanied the woman to the village of Gurinder Singh. Manjit Singh said that no such incident took place.

He alleged that after two days, she gave threats to me to become a witness in the rape incident and if he refused to do so, he would also be involved in the matter.

Under duress, he also signed the papers to become a witness, he stated. Mr Raghbir Singh circulated the copies of the affidavit given by Manjit Singh, attested by the Oath Commissioner, in which he denied the incident.


3 held in chain snatching cases
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, April 5
The district police has arrested three youths involved in chain snatching incidents in Kapurthala and Phagwara.

The police has identified those arrested as Kulveer of the local Sukhjit Nagar Mohalla, Jogesh Kumar of the local Preet Nagar and Sandeep Anand of the local Ajit Nagar.


Woman, child abducted

Moga, April 5
Around six armed persons abducted a married woman along with her six-month-old daughter from her house at Mastian village on April 3, the police said today.

After scaling the house of Kuldeep Singh, they committed the crime and also fired some shots in the air.

A case has been registered.

The accused and the family had some dispute over a case pending with the Moga court. — PTI


Demand to release aid for Dalit students
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 5
Mr Hans Singh, Punjab general secretary, All-India Confederation of SC/BC/ST Organisations today said that the state government had failed to release financial aid for Dalit students.

In a press release issued here today, Mr Hans Singh said that after the government failed to release the final grant for the recently concluded academic session, poor students had been hit badly.

He urged the authorities to release the grant immediately.

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