P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Jaitley reiterates stand on foreign-origin issue
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 6
The BJP today reiterated its stand to enact a law to ban a person of foreign origin from holding the high constitutional post of Prime Minister.

Addressing a press conference here today, senior BJP leader and Union Law Minister Arun Jaitley in an apparent attack on the Congress president, Ms Sonia Gandhi, revealed that the BJP was committed to enact a law to ensure that a person of foreign origin should be debarred from holding the post of Prime Minister.

He said a country of 100 crore people had competent people to lead the country and it was the people of the country who should decide whether they wanted to be led by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee or a person who had no previous experience of governance. He alleged that the Congress-led secular front was, infact, a “leaderless entity.”

Mr Jaitley posed a question to the Congress leadership as to what were the issues on the basis of which it was contesting the Lok Sabha poll. “The Congress is a lost horse and it is left with no public issues relating to the sentiments of the electorate to ultimately convert into votes. He pleaded that the NDA should be given another chance to complete the unfinished tasks.

Commenting upon the construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya, Mr Jaietly said the temple would only be constructed after resolving the issue through negotiations or judicial process. “We are going to release the manifesto of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on April 8,” Mr Jaietly said, while choosing to skirt issues like ban on exit poll and personal attack on leaders through TV adverstisements.

Making a scathing attack on the Congress government in the state, he said the Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had failed to initiate developmental works during the past more than two years and only political opponents were made targets by registering fake cases against them, which was highly deplorable.

NANGAL: The communists openly sided with the British in the Quit India Movement. No communist went to jail in the movement. In fact their leaders conspired with the British and got the freedom fighters arrested. In 1962 war also the communist declared India to be an aggressor against China. In view of the above said facts the CPM did not have any right to talk on patriotism.

Mr Arun Jaitely, who was here to address a rally in favour of the BJP candidate from Hoshiarpur, Mr Avinash Khanna, said this while talking to mediapersons this evening. He was reacting to the allegations leveled against the Prime Minister Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee by the CPM.

He said the BJP candidate for the Amritsar parliamentary seat would be announced within two days. Later, Mr Jaitely addressed the rally along with Mr Avinash Khanna, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, former Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Punjab, Mr Vijay Sampla, vice-president of the state BJP, and Mr Vijay Puri, district president of the BJP.


Channi quits Congress, joins BSP
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 6
Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, one of the top leaders of the Saini community in Punjab, quit the Congress today and announced his decision to contest the Hoshiarpur Lok Sabha seat as a Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate.

The announcement regarding Mr Channi was made today at Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh by Ms Mayawati, who had come there to address a party rally. Ms Mayawati declared that Mr Channi would be the party candidate for the Lok Sabha from Hoshiarpur. Mr Channi was a sitting member of the dissolved Lok Sabha, having won the Hoshiarpur seat on a Congress ticket.

In fact, this is the second major blow to the ruling Congress in the past 48 hours. Mr Balbir Singh, a ruling party MP in the dissolved Lok Sabha, had quit the party to join the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal yesterday.

Mr Channi was not renominated as candidate by the Congress from Hoshiarpur as the party had preferred to leave this seat to the CPM. Mr Balbir Singh was denied the party ticket from Jalandhar. He was replaced by Mr Rana Gurmeet Singh, Congress MLA from Kapurthala.

Obviously, the entry of Mr Channi in the election arena at Hoshiarpur as the BSP candidate would make the SAD-BJP candidate, Mr Avinash Khanna, there to have sleepless nights. Now it would be a triangular fight in Hoshiarpur. The Congress has extended support to the CPM candidate, Mr Darshan Singh Mattu. Mr Khanna, who is President of the Punjab unit of the BJP, has been earlier taking the contest lightly.

But now the electoral fight in Hoshiarpur constituency is likely to become one of the toughest in state. The Saini community has a sizeable vote bank in this constituency. And it has the tendency of voting for its community candidate, regardless of the party he or she is contesting from.

No other major party has nominated a candidate from the Saini community from Hoshiarpur. Moreover, the BSP has a strong presence in this constituency. The BSP supremo, Mr Kanshi Ram, once represented this constituency in the Lok Sabha.

Talking to The Tribune on the phone from Hamirpur, Mr Channi said he had told his supporters to start preparing for the election campaign. He said the Congress had been ignoring him on all issues. “I was not consulted while leaving the Hoshiarpur seat for the CPM”, he added. “Under a well-planned conspiracy, the Hoshiarpur seat, one of the stongholds of the Congress since 1952, was given to the CPM”, he added. “I don’t know what was the agenda of the Congress in Punjab. It has been treating all its senior leaders shabbily. Even those families who had been with the Congress since Independence are being dumped”, added Mr Channi.


Unfortunate, says Cong
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 6
Mr Parminder Singh, General Secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, said today that it was unfortunate that Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, senior Congress leader from the Doaba region, had quit the party. Requesting Mr Channi to review his decision, Mr Parminder Singh said that the Congress had given enough to Mr Channi’s family for the past several decades.


Rana Gurmit bows to high command decision
Supporters surprised at his volte face
Tribune Reporters

Ferozepore, April 6
Congress workers came in for a rude shock when Rana Gurmit Sodhi, MLA, Guruharsahai, who was a hot contender for party ticket for this seat, bowed to the party high command decision by declaring his support for party candidate Jagmeet Brar at a rally organised by his supporters to lodge their protest against his (Mr Brar’s) nomination from Ferozepore seat.

Most of the workers returned disappointed and did not make any promise to support Mr Brar in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections with Mr Sodhi when the latter, who was looking visibly upset, urged them to abide by the decision of the party high command and sought their support for Mr Brar during his address.

A large section of the workers, while expressing displeasure over the volteface made by Mr Sodhi, asked him that how an outsider could be tolerated by them when the Congress had been tasting defeat from this border constituency for the past 20 years. Most of the leaders ridiculed the decision of the party high command on Mr Brar.

Even a large number of leaders, including members of the district and state Congress units, who addressed the well-attended rally at a local banquet hall, dubbed Mr Brar as a traitor and questioned his pro-Khalistani stance. They asked the party high command that why it did not select a candidate from the panel of names sent by the district Congress committee, state unit Congress and the party observer for the seat.

Mr Sodhi, while admitting that Mr Brar was an outsider, said in the largest interest of the party he along with his supporters and party workers would work hard to ensure the latter’s victory. He added that he would ask Mr Brar to remove the apprehensions of the people of Ferozepore that he (Mr Brar) would not betray them after returning to the Lok Sabha.

The others who addressed the rally included Ms Veena Sharma, vice-president, Punjab Mahila Congress, Mr Sewa Singh Chauhan, Mr Surinder Singh Jaura, Mr Ratinder Singh Saiyanwala, Mr Baldev Singh Kang, Mr Gurdip Singh Dhillon, Mr Hira Sodhi and Mr Ravi Sharma (all senior Congress leaders). A large section of Congressmen from the Faridkot parliamentary constituency also came to express their solidarity with those who held the protest.

Later, while talking to mediapersons Mr Sodhi categorically stated that he had not pledged his support to Mr Brar under pressure.

When asked whether he had announced his support to Mr Brar after he was warned that he would be stripped of the post of Political Secretary to CM if he continued with his protest, he said this was not true. He added that today’s rally was organised by the workers of this district on their own. However, his son Hira Sodhi interrupted and pointed out that the Congress high command had asked them to wait till April 8 for the reconsideration of Mr Brar’s nomination.

When asked that his confidants were claiming that he (Mr Sodhi) and his supporters would submit resignations en masse in protest against the nomination of Mr Brar at today’s rally and the same did not happen, he kept mum. He added that Mr Brar would hold a meeting with him at Abohar tonight.


SAD condemns disfiguring incident
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 6
The SAD (Badal) today condemned the incident, in which some miscreants, alleged to be supported by the Congress, have blackened the pictures of former MP Balbir Singh, on some hoardings erected in various parts of the city.

While Mr Balbir Singh termed it as the handiwork of the supporters of Rana Gurjit Singh, Congress candidate from the Jalandhar seat, Union Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur termed it as a glaring example of Congress goondaism to threaten Balbir Singh, who had quit the Congress for being sidelined by the party leadership.

Some miscreants in a silver Ford car (CH 23- 1682) reached outside Lyallpur Khalsa College and blackened my picture on the college hoarding, which is a clear attempt to dishearten me. I have concrete reports that the Congress government is instrumental in dislodging the governing council of the college even as I will fight against the present regime till my last breath, Mr Balbir Singh said, adding that the college principal was told to get a case registered.

Meanwhile, Mr Dhindsa and Bibi Jagir Kaur said the Congress leaders were using henchmen to settle scores with its political opponents, which was a wrong trend. The rank and file of the Akali Dal is with Mr Balbir Singh and any future attempts to threaten Mr Balbir Singh will be dealt with sternly, they said.

The SAD (Badal) demanded that the district administration should take prompt action in this regard and an impartial inquiry should be conducted and those found guilty should be dealt with strongly.


Mann wants to end Badal, Brar dominance in Faridkot
Tribune News Service

Gidderbaha, April 6
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President, SAD (Amritsar), today urged the centre not to conduct joint Indo-French naval exercises as the Government of France had imposed a ban on turbans.

Addressing a well-attended election rally of Mr Gurlal Singh Danewalia, party candidate for the Faridkot Lok Sabha seat here today, he asked former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and the chairman, Minority Commission, Mr Tirlochan Singh, as to why they had been mum over this issue.

He pointed out that the SAD (A) had nominated Mr Danewalia from Faridkot bid to break the Badal Harcharan Singh Barar nexus. He alleged that both these leaders had “monopolised” politics in the area by employing various methods.

Accusing Mr Badal and Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, of destroying the economy of the state by selling economic interests to their favourities and playing with the sentiments of Sikh community, Mr Mann pointed out that the state had witnessed no development under both.

He said the anti-Panth attitude of Mr Badal had been exposed as he had brought Mr Balbir Singh, a staunch Congress man into the SAD fold.

The NDA government, while increasing the MSP of wheat by Rs 10, had withdrawn the bonus of Rs 10 being given on per quintal wheat. This way, the NDA government had denied any benefit to the farmers, he said.

Others who attended the rally were Mr Iqbal Singh Bariwala, Mr Baldev Singh and Mr Chanan Singh, all senior party leaders.


Hanspal convenes party meeting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 6
Mr H.S. Hanspal, president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, has called a meeting of party’s vice-presidents, general secretaries and other office-bearers here at Punjab Congress Bhavan on April 8.

Mr Raj Pal Singh, a spokesperson of the party, said today that those party candidates, who contested the last Assembly elections but lost, had also been called for the meeting. He said the meeting had been called to discuss election duties.

The quitting of the party by two senior leaders, Mr Balbir Singh and Mr Chanranjit Singh Channi- is also expected to come up for discussion.


Amarinder supporters condemn Balbir Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 6
Apparently stung by the bitter criticism of the party leadership by Mr Balbir Singh, MP of the dissolved Lok Sabha, supporters of the Punjab Chief Minister today launched a counter-attack on Mr Balbir Singh.

Addressing a press conference here today, a number of Congress leaders, including the Congress candidate Rana Gurjit Singh, the PPPC vice-president, Mr Anil Dutta, veteran Congress leader, Dr Lekh Raj, Baba Rajinder Singh Johal, the president of the District Congress Committee (rural) and Youth Congress leader, Mr Sanjay Sehgal, alleged that Mr Balbir Singh had no right to criticise the Congress leadership, as he had enjoyed a number of coveted positions due to the blessings of the party.

Referring to the denial of the Congress ticket to Mr Balbir Singh, Rana Gurjit Singh said it was Balbir Singh who had written to the party high command that he did not want to contest on the party ticket. “I sought the ticket only when Mr Balbir Singh had backtracked and had refused to contest as a party candidate. He has got confused and I think confused people cannot do anything. His exist does not serve any purpose except for some publicity for the SAD for two three days,’ said Rana Gurjit Singh.

Mr Anil Dutta, who was in the race for the party ticket before it was allotted to Rana Gurjit Singh, said “Mr Balbir Singh should do a little bit of introspection before criticising the Chief Minister and his style of functioning.”


City lacks basic amenities, says Chiranji Lal
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 6
Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, a former minister, today said the city had been denied basic facilities by the present Congress government. He alleged that although the city had been without drinking water for the past about one week, yet no steps had been taken to restore the supply.

In a statement issued here today, Mr Garg said even as the city had been elevated to the corporation status, no improvement in the civic amenities had taken place.

He said the government had even failed to provide basic amenities like drinking water, sewerage connections and clean and motorable roads free from stray animals.

Mr Garg said all major roads of the city were in a bad shape and the Bathinda-Goniana had been turned into a ‘cancer’ for the city.

He alleged the Congress government had done nothing to improve the basic amenities for the residents of the city.

The suspended particulate matter (SPM) in the air of the city was a thousand times more than the maximum limit claimed Mr Garg.


3,520 polling stations ‘sensitive’
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 6
Just over a month before the Lok Sabha elections, the Punjab Police has identified as many as 3520 “sensitive” polling stations all over the state. The police has also decided to depute extra force for “maintaining law and order situation” at these stations during the elections. In all 10,267 polling stations are being set up in Punjab.

Confirming the information, Punjab’s Additional Director General of Police (Operations) Shashi Kant asserted that the deployment of additional force would depend on the prevailing circumstances.

Mr Kant — also in charge of the election cell set up by the Punjab Police —claimed: “We would be closely monitoring the situation. In case of any untoward incident, reserve force would be moved in”.

The sources in the Punjab Police headquarters added that besides routine arrangement, one head constable, along with two constables, would also be deployed at the “sensitive” polling stations.

They added that the stations had been placed in the “sensitive category” because of the “local conditions”. Giving details, sources added that “caste conflict” had led to tension in some of these booths during earlier elections. This was not all. “Group rivalry” had also threatened the law and order situation in the booths.

A senior officer, on the condition of anonymity, claimed that dealing with the situation would have been “lot easier” had the Centre accepted their demand for 150 companies. He added that the Centre had agreed to deploy only 45 companies in the state. Five companies, already stationed in the state, were taking care of the VIP security.

He added that the shortage of personnel for election duty was likely to be taken up with the members of the Election Commission of India during their visit to the city on Wednesday. A meeting of Senior Superintendents of Police and Deputy Inspectors-General of Police had also been called to discuss the issue beforehand, he asserted.

The Commission, he claimed, would be reviewing the election arrangement in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh. It would also hold a meeting with leaders of political parties and senior officers in the state.


Colour code for procured grains
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 6
Foodgrains procured for the central pool will now be identified by their colour code. The Ministry of Food Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, for example, has chosen black as the coding colour for the wheat stocks to be procured this year.

In the new policy guidelines, circulated to all States and Union Territories, the Ministry has made it mandatory that the colour of the stencil to be printed on the bag shall be black and either the mouth of the bag shall have a black mark or the bag shall be stitched with black thread.

This decision comes following large number of cases of misappropriation of foodgrain stocks in the godowns of various procurement agencies, including those of the Centre and the state.

There is some panic among state procurement agencies who had in the absence of any advance guidelines on colour coding had their stocks of gunny bags printed in other colours.

“It is necessary to identify each crop year,” says a spokesman of the Food Supplies Department, holding that the new policy circulated only a few days may affect lifting of procured stocks as some of the procuring agencies had got the gunny bags printed with other colours.

Traditionally, green or light purple colour stencils are used for printing on the bags. But from this procurement season, each crop year would be given a colour coding so as to distinguish old stocks from the new.

Because of unprecedented high temperature witnessed during the month of March, rabi crop has started arriving in the grain markets of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh. While the state agencies have advanced their entry into grain markets, the central agency —the Food Corporation of India — was yet to enter the markets.

The state agencies had already planned their procurement operations by raising sufficient stocks of gunny bags and had them ready. But the colour coding decision taken on April 1 was conveyed to State agencies only two days ago after procurement operations had already started.

A spokesman maintained that all problems relating to colour coding have been settled and procurement will not be affected anywhere on this account. But all subsequent procurement will be in accordance with the new colour coding and all stocks procured this time will carry black ink printing on bags with black mark at the neck or the stitching done with the black thread.

The spokesman held that this colour coding would minimise the manipulation of existing stocks. The new guidelines have already been circulated to Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Uttaranchal, Chandigarh, Delhi, Pondicherry and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.


Division in Panth won’t be allowed, says Calcutta
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 6
The SGPC Secretary, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, today alleged that certain forces having vested interests were trying to create division in the Sikh Panth after the demise of Gurcharn Singh Tohra. He said the Sikh Panth won’t allow such forces to succeed in their nefarious designs.

Expressing full faith in the leadership of Mr Parkash Singh, Mr Calcutta said that the agreement reached between Mr Badal and late Gurcharn Singh Tohra would continue even after the latter’s death.

Mr Calcutta said that Mr Badal was committed to give due place to ‘‘Tohra loyalists’’.

Earlier, Mr Calcutta had snubbed Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, a former SGPC chief, during an informal meeting of the SGPC executive members , belonging to the Badal faction for creating unsavoury controversy at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib yesterday . Apart from justifying the presenting of ‘siropa’ to Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Mr Calcutta had criticised certain office-bearers and senior functionaries for creating hurdles in the smooth functioning of the Shiromani Committee during the meeting, presided over by Mr Badal at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib.

Though Mr Calcutta had threatened to step down as the SGPC secretary in the presence of Mr Badal, he attended his office and flagged off a jatha of Sikh pilgrims to Pakistan.


Tohra was austere, Badungar, Bibi not
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 6
Gurcharan Singh Tohra had not claimed any car/petrol or telephone bills from the SGPC during his present stint as its president from July 27, 2003, till his death as part of austerity measures.

Comparison of expenses made by Tohra and his predecessor on petrol and telephones makes an interesting study. The car, escort and telephone bills of Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, former SGPC chief from July 27, 2002, to March 31, 2003 were whopping Rs 810,175 and 66,039 respectively, Mr Tohra did not claim even a single penny on these items during his fresh stint. The telephone and car expenses of Mr Badungar’s P.A. was Rs 1,024,04 and Rs 53,323 respectively, while Tohra’s PA spent Rs 58,923 and Rs 11,092 on car and telephone respectively, from July 2002 to March 31, 2003.

Interestingly, Mr Alwinder Pal Singh Pakhoke , senior vice-president spent Rs 1.26 lakh on car in one year .

While Mr Badungar and Mr Pakhoke were accused of recruiting surplus staff during their brief stints as the SGPC chiefs, the surplus staff was sacked by Tohra a few days after taking over as the SGPC chief.

Mr Badungar had also sanctioned prime land of the SGPC to employees at throwaway price, a few days before stepping down as SGPC chief. However, the decision was not implemented as Tohra did not favour it.

The expenses of Bibi Jagir Kaur on the official car and telephone bills were also whopping.


Docs took care of Tohra, says Escorts Director
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 6
Dr T.S. Kaler, Director, Escorts Hospital, today refuted the charges that doctors had shown any negligence during the treatment of Mr Gurcharn Singh Tohra.

Talking to TNS on telephone today, Dr Kaler denied that he went to Pakistan after admission of Mr Tohra to the hospital.

Dr Kaler said there was sufficient staff in the local hospital and he was satisfied with the treatment.


Punjabi varsity rejects govt notification
Appointment of lecturers
Monica Ahluwalia

Patiala, April 6
Punjabi University has for the second time rejected the government's notification providing guidelines for the recruitment of lecturers in various departments of the varsity. Hence the coming appointment for more than 50 posts of lecturer will be done according to the guidelines modified by the varsity authorities.

The authorities says the government guidelines lay 'over-emphasis' on extra curricular activities and give less weightage to the subject itself. The guidelines lay less emphasis on academic and research work and concentrate on 'less important factors', they alleged.

The government has decided that academic institutions should also concentrate on sports, NSS and NCC activities.

Sources said the guidelines were modified and revised after a discussion among deans, professors and experts. However, government and aided colleges affiliated to the Punjabi University are allowed to follow guidelines issued by the government. The university could reject the guidelines as it was an autonomous body, the sources added.

The government guidelines allotted 30 marks for basic qualification, 15 marks for higher education, 15 marks for extracurricular activities, 15 marks for published work and only 5 marks were given for experience. The guidelines further say that the applicants will be asked to deliver a lecture on a specific topic for five or eight minutes and carry out activities like writing one's resume during the interview.

The Director Public Relation Officer, Prof B.S. Sandhu, said in the revised guidelines academic merit had been given more weightage than suggested in the government notification as varsity was more academic and research-oriented. When experts from various universities visited Punjabi University for selection in various discipline they agreed and appreciated the criteria prepared by the varsity, he added.

He said even the Principal Secretary, Higher Education and Director Public Instructions (Colleges) pointed out during a Syndicate meeting that the criteria laid down by the government needed to undergo a lot of changes and modification.


District Credit Plan launched
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 6
The District Credit Plan prepared by the lead bank office of State Bank of Patiala with the active participation of all banks, NABARD and government agencies was launched today by Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh.

The plan aimed at distribution of Rs 1,387 crore under the priority sector during 2004 -05 and envisaged a growth of Rs 219 crore.

Patiala Lead District Manager J.K. Jain said that the plan envisaged a target of Rs 1,387 crore comprising Rs 968 crore for agriculture and allied activities, Rs 134 crore for small scale units and Rs 284 crore for other priority sector. While reviewing the progress of the banks’, the Deputy Commissioner said that up to December, 2003 the banks had disbursed Rs 1061 crore against the target of Rs 917 crore.

Mr Tejveer Singh also exhorted the banks and government agencies to make concerted efforts to form and finance at least 1,000 self-help groups with more than 80 per cent credit link. He also exhorted the banks to implement the District Rural Industries Project. Mr B.M. Batra, Assistant General Manager, NABARD, highlighted the efforts taken by the lead bank office for inhouse computerisation of the entire planning process.

Mr P.K. Bansal of the State Bank of Patiala said efforts would be made to surpass the target set in the District Credit Plan for rapid growth of economy.


Jail inmate escapes

Jalandhar, April 6
An inmate of the local Central Jail managed to escape from the police custody after appearing in a local court today.

According to the police, as many as 25 undertrials were handed over to the district police for their scheduled appearance before the court this morning. Subsequently, all of them were reportedly packed in to the police vehicle for taking them to the jail after completing the formalities of the court.

The incident came to light when the police handed over the inmates to the jail authorities and during counting it was found that Harvinder Singh was missing. — OC


UN intervention sought on turban issue
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 6
While demonstrating in front of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) complex, the Sikh Nation Organisation today sought the intervention of the United Nations (UN) on the turban issue in France. The organisation gave a global call to Sikhs to observe Baisakhi and every Thursday as “dastar days”.

Dr Manjit Singh Randhawa, president of the organisation and convener of the Culture and Heritage Conservation Initiative, called upon the Sikh community to wear turban of golden yellow colour on “dastar days” to lodge a protest against the ban on turban by the French Government and hate crimes against Sikhs due to mistaken identity.

The organisation had also filed a petition with the UN against the Government of France for human right violations which were against UN conventions, said Dr Randhawa. He said in the petition the organisation had described the resolution imposed by the French Government on schoolchildren as unreasonable and not as per exigencies of the situation and violation of various UN conventions of human rights.

He said by supporting turban of a particular colour on a particular day Sikhs would be able to lodge an effective and organised protest against the ban. He said golden yellow colour had been chosen as the colour was traditionally adopted by khalsa and not worn by Muslims.

He said the organisation had launched a website www.sikhnation.org and opened an e-mail account sikhnationorg@yahoo.co.in to address any problem related to Sikh identity.

The organisation distributed turbans of golden yellow colour to pilgrims and devotees.


Sikh jatha leaves for Pak
Our Correspondent

Attari (Amritsar), April 6
The largest Sikh jatha, comprising about 2800 pilgrims today left in two special trains from the international railway station here to Pakistan to celebrate Baisakhi . While the first train left at about 12.30 pm with 1,205 passengers, the second train left at 3.45 pm with 1595 passengers.

The second train carried more passengers than the seats it had. Earlier, reports of three trains to take pilgrims to Pakistan received in view of visas to a large number of Sikhs for the first time after the 2001 Parliament attack.

SGPC members Sanmukh Singh Mokha and Satpal Singh were leading the jatha. The majority of persons in the jatha are in the age group of 70-80. Gurcharan Singh (72), a Delhi-based jeweller, yearns to see his Gobingarh Pacca Dalla village in Sheikhupura. Nishan Singh (75), Phula Singh (80) and Gurdial Singh (70) are childhood friends from Jheri village, Khural Manerewala, in Sheikhupura. All are neighbours in Karnal and made a programme to visit Pakistan.

Langar was served at the international railway station for nearly five hours as many as 1,717 pilgrims were sponsored by SGPC and 1,000 by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) and the rest were from other parts of the country.

Sources from Pakistan said pilgrims were served langar at Wagah Bhanu Chak on the Pakistan side. The jatha was received by Mr Sham Singh, co-chairperson of the PSGPC, and Auqf Board general secretary Ishar-ul-Hassan and Raiz Mehmood in Pakistan. The pilgrims would proceed to Nankana Sahib form Lahore and visit Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Gurdwara Panja Sahib and Gurdwara Sacha Sauda. Baisakhi mela would commence at Gurdwara Panja Sahib on April 11.


Common land data to be computerised
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 6
The entire data regarding the village common lands in the district will be computerised by April 15.

Besides, the reserves price of the common lands would also be fixed to help boost the income of the panchayats.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, gave this information while speaking at an agriculture camp organised here today.

She stated that a number of cases in which sarpanches had abused their powers to sell the common lands had come to light. Computerisation would check this practice, she added.

The Deputy Commissioner also urged the farmers to go in for diversification by adopting modern techniques of agriculture being offered by experts from Punjab Agricultural University.

The District Agriculture Officer, Mr Jaswir Singh Parmar, warned the farmers against going for advanced sowing of paddy. If paddy was sown in advance then farmers would incur extra expenditure on irrigation, he added. Mr Parmer asked the farmers to switch over to crops that required less water for irrigation.


Residents seek better facilities from PSEB
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 6
A section of residents of the city have alleged that the state electricity board authorities were not providing adequate facilities for them at the cash counter where the electricity bills were deposited.

In a complaint sent to the Executive Engineer (city), Punjab State Electricity Board, a section of the residents of the Model Town area of the city demanded that better facilities should be provided at the Civil Lines office of the PSEB for the consumers. The complaint, which was signed by a number of residents of the area, alleged that the cash counter, where the power bills were deposited was short of manpower. They claimed that requests to increase the manpower had fallen on deaf ears. No senior PSEB official could be contacted for comments.


Tension in temple area
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 6
Tension prevailed in the Ram Tirath temple area here today after the mysterious death of fish in the holy tank of the ancient temple yesterday. Over 50 per cent of the fish mysteriously died in the holy tank.

Shiv Sena activists today demonstrated at the temple against the deaths of the fish even as the kar seva continued despite a stay by an Ajnala court. Meanwhile, both parties, representing mahants on one side and the temple committee on the other, blamed each other for the stoning of their respective supporters in which three persons were allegedly injured.

In the meantime, 15 quintals of dead fish was taken out from the sarovar (holy tank) today. Mr Om Parkash Gabbar, Deputy Mayor, said come what may, the kar seva would continue. The SDM, Ajnala, and DSP, Rural-II, reached the spot and mahants lodged their protest to them.


Rs 50,000 for information in murder case
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 6
The local police today announced a cash award of Rs 50,000 for providing information, leading to the solving of the case of blind murder of two persons, including an employees of the octroi contractor, with sharp-edged weapons at an octroi post on the Tunga-Kularan road, near here, on the night of March 4.

Talking to TNS here today, Mr Gurinder Singh Dhillon, SSP, said despite all-out efforts, no clue had been found by the police in connection with the blind murder case. So the police had now decided to announce a cash prize of Rs 50,000 for the persons providing information, leading to the solving of the case.

Mr Dhillon stated that the person’s name would be kept secret. He said information could be provided to the SSP, the local DSP or the local SHO.


Anti-graffiti drive
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 6
A 25-member team of police personnel and their children from the Police Lines today removed graffiti from walls of public toilets and parks here.

The team targeted toilets in the bus stand, Railway station and Model Town besides Rose Garden and Trirpri parks. They also cleaned up the places.

The General Manager of the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) appreciated the move. SP (Headquarters) L. K. Yadav, who conceived the drive, said the drive would be a regular feature. He said the police also wanted to strike a rapport with the people of the city through this move.


Intach member

Amritsar, April 6
Dr Sukhdev Singh of the Department of English, Guru Nanak Dev University, has become member of the governing council of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), New Delhi, for the third consecutive time. — OC


High Court
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 6
Taking up a public interest petition filed by Mr Bhushan Lal Singla of Barnala, in which he has prayed for registration of a case against top officials of the state-owned PUNSUP and inquiry for supplying grossly underweight wheat in bags to the public as well as supplying poor quality wheat, the High Court on Tuesday issued notices to the state government, Punjab DGP and PUNSUP.

In his petition, Mr Singla has alleged that the wheat being supplied by PUNSUP, apart many-a-time being unfit for human consumption, is also grossly underweight. He has also alleged that sometimes the bag contains as much as 15-20 kg less in a 90-kg bag. Saying that despite the fact that he has brought the issue to the notice of the authorities as well as reports that the Punjab Vigilance Bureau was seized of the matter, no action has been taken against the persons responsible.

Taking up the PIL, a Division Bench comprising Mr Chief Justice BK Roy and Mr Justice Surya Kant fixed May 12 as the next date of hearing.


14 found absent from duty
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 6
In a surprise check of the government offices, ordered by the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, 14 employees of the Horticulture, Dairy Development and Panchayati Raj Departments were found absent from duty.

On receiving complaints from general public, the Deputy Commissioner today ordered the SDM, Ropar, Mr Daljit Singh, to check the presence of employees in the said offices.

When the SDM conducted a surprise check of the offices at 9.10 am today, Ms Balwinderjit Kaur, Horticulture Development Officer, Ms Balwinder Kaur, Junior Assistant, Ms Sher Kaur, Laboratory Cleaner, Horticulture Department, Mr Ramesh Kumar, Dairy Field Officer, Mr Darshan Lal, Clerk, Mr Inderpal Singh, Cinema Operator and the Deputy Director of the Dairy Development Department, Mr Subash Gill, Ms Amarjit Kaur, Clerks, Mr Hakumat Rai, Draftsman, Mr Amarjit Singh, Junior Engineer, Mr Avtar Singh, Driver and the Executive Engineer of the Panchayati Raj Department and Ms Jagjit Kaur, Junior Assistant of the Zila Parishad were found to be absent from duty.

The Deputy Commissioner said action would be taken against the absentee employees according to rules.


3 arrested on rape charge
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, April 6
The Sultanpur Lodhi police has arrested Harvinder Singh of Talwandi Bhai village, Dalbir Singh of the local Ajit Nagar Mohalla and Manjit Singh of Manga Rode village under Sections 376 and 306, IPC, on the charge of gang raping a student of Sarai Jattan village.

In a press note issued today Mr S.K. Asthana, SSP, stated that the girl, who was studying in a college, was admitted to the Civil Hospital, Sultanpur Lodhi following the consumption of some poison. Her statement was recorded by Sub-Divisional Magistrate Gurjant Singh at the hospital in which she alleged that someone administered some kind of poison to her when she was going in a bus to her college in Jalandhar. After getting down from the bus she alleged that she was raped. But she did name any one. She died at the hospital on March 13.

Mr Asthana said the investigation of the case was entrusted to an SHO, Sultanpur Lodhi police station. During investigation it came to light that Harwinder Singh, Dalbir Singh and Manjit Singh had raped the girl in the house of Manjit Singh at Hangerode village.

Mr Asthana added that the girl had developed relations with Harwinder Singh, conductor of the bus in which she used to travel. Manjit Singh’s wife has expired while other members of his family are residing abroad.

The accused confessed to the crime during investigation.


Man held for preparing fake certificates
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 6
The police has arrested Gurmail Singh of Manak village on charges of fraud, forgery and making false documents, according to a press note issued here today by local DSP Jaspal Singh. Gurmail Singh was accused of making fake certificates of classes tenth, XI and XII and fake birth and death certificates.

A fake matriculations certificate, nine unprepared matriculation certificates, two certificates of plus two having same serial and same number, four copies of birth certificates and a bottle of ink remover were recovered from him.

The arrest was made by a police party headed by Inspector Satnam Singh, in charge, CIA staff, during a special naka near Hadiabad.


Four persons injured in two accidents
Our Correspondent

Kharar, April 6
Four persons, including two women, were injured in two different accidents here.

In one case two women were injured when they were hit by a mini bus near Santemajra village this afternoon. Satwinder Kaur, who was going on a bicycle was hit from behind by the bus which later injured Narinder Kaur, who was going on foot. Both the women were brought to the local Civil Hospital.

In another case a Lancer car and a Gypsy collided near Daon village last night. The drivers of the both the vehicles, Mr Jaspal Singh and Mr Phul Singh, were injured. The car was going towards Chandigarh when the accident took place.

The police has registered a case against Mr Jaspal Singh, Gypsy driver.


Ex-VC for equal educational opportunities
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, April 6
Dr Joginder Singh Puar, former Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala, has laid stress for establishing one schooling system to provide equal educational opportunities, irrespective of caste and creed, to all children in the country.

Talking to mediapersons, Dr Puar, who arrived here today to inaugurate the two-day 10th multipurpose medical camp, organised by the local Dashmesh Dental Hospital, a sister concern of Dashmesh Institute of Dental Sciences, being run by the Bhai Pheru Sikh Educational Society, praised the role of the managements of DAV institutions in promoting the education in a well-managed system.

Dr Puar emphasised the need for the effective rejuvenating of the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) to check the menace of mass copying.

Earlier, inaugurating the camp he lauded the steps initiated by the management of Dashmesh Dental Hospital for holding such camps. He appealed to other organisations to follow the same.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Karnail Singh Doad, president of the Bhai Pheru Sikh Educational Society, disclosed that during the past nine years more than 50,000 persons had been provided free treatment by holding nine camps. Moreover, the Dashmesh Institute of Dental Sciences was also conducting regular dental check-up camps in rural areas to provide treatment to the needy in the district.

He stated that the society had already finalised its plan to construct a full-fledged complex of the hospital equipped with all multipurpose specialities. The land had already been acquired behind the dental college and the construction of the project was likely to start in the next three months. The project would cost about Rs 6 crore and be completed by the end of the next years.


Brick-kiln owners threaten to close their units
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 6
The District Brick-Kiln Owners Association, at a meeting held here today, decided to go on an indefinite strike from April 30 as per a decision of the Punjab Brick-Kiln Owners Association in protest against policies and indifferent attitude of the government.”

Addressing mediapersons, Mr Parshotam Singla, district president of the association, said Brick-Kiln owners were facing problems from various government departments like Food and Civil Supply, Excise and Taxation and Industries. Shortage of coal and its black marketing, as well as illegal sale of bricks by commission agents, were other problems owners had to face. He said the Congress government in their election manifesto had promised to eradicate Inspector raj from the state and give concessions to industrialists and traders, but after forming the government nothing concrete was done.

He said the association had submitted various memoranda to the government including the Chief Minister, but no action was taken. He said that after getting luke warm response from the government, the association was left with no other alternative but to close their units. He urged the Chief Minister to intervene and save the industry from crisis by resolving its problems at the earliest.

He said if the Chief Minister or any government official concerned did not call them for a dialogue, they would also be forced to boycott the coming Parliament elections.

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