P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab CLP divided over attending Tohra’s bhog
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
Members of the Punjab Congress Legislature Party in general and members of the Council of Ministers in particular are sharply divided over attending the bhog ceremony of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra who died in a New Delhi hospital on April 1.

Members of the CLP and Ministers have been asked to assemble at Circuit House, Patiala, at 11 a.m. before they move together to Tohra village in Patiala district to attend the bhog ceremony.

“I am neither going to the Circuit House nor to the bhog ceremony,” declared the Minister for Higher Education, Mr Harnam Das Johar, maintaining that he had no intimacy with the SGPC chief.

“Yes, I was asked to reach Circuit House on April 11 but I said no,” Mr Johar told The Tribune here this evening.

The sources in the Punjab Government and the Punjab Congress maintain that the decision by a large number of Punjab Ministers and members of the CLP not to attend the bhog ceremony was for personal reasons.

However, there has been an undercurrent of resentment over the manner in which the State Government was trying to win “sympathy of Tohra loyalists”. Senior leaders maintain that while the widow of slain Chief Minister Beant Singh was denied facilities promised to her long time back, the present government was bending backwards to announce special status and facilities to the widow of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

“There are no two opinions that Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra was a clean and honest politician. But that does not mean that our own party should ignore the families of our own leaders who made the supreme sacrifices. And with what face we will travel in our official cars, attend a lunch at Circuit House and then move in an official convoy to Tohra village to attend the bhog ceremony. All this will evoke protests from our opponents and Akalis, who will flood the Chief Election Commissioners’ office with complaints of violation of the model code of conduct,” said a senior leader, maintaining that those who had dealings or intimacy with Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra or his family should attend the bhog in their individual capacity and not as members of the Punjab Government entourage.

“We can understand that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and his wife, Mrs Preneet Kaur, have a lot a stake because the latter is a candidate from Patiala, yet we must not forget that Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Akalis have been our political opponents. Any attempt to appease them may boomerang on us,” said a senior member of the Punjab CLP.

He said that it was one reason that even after a special meeting of the Punjab Council of Ministers was held at Patiala on April 3, many did not attend the funeral of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra that day.


Ravi Inder, Ramoowalia to support Tur
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 9
Mr Tarlochan Singh Tur, former MP and expelled leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), who has been contesting from this constituency as independent candidate today got a shot in arm when Mr Ravi Inder Singh, president SAD (Ravi Inder) and Lok Bhalai Party president Balwant Singh Ramoowalia extended their unconditional support to him.

They made this announcement at a public rally organised by Mr Tur at Dasehra Ground here.

Mr Ravi Inder while speaking on the occasion said Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister and SAD president, was not following the principles of Akali Dal. He said Mr Badal had given ticket to Dr Ratan Singh Ajnala, who was on bail in a corruption case and not to Mr Tur who had served the party and sacrificed for the betterment of the Sikh Panth.

He said Dr Ajnala had not made any contribution for the Panth. He alleged Mr Badal was keeping his family interests above those of the party.

He claimed that his party was getting more and more support from people. He said a reform movement was required for the betterment of Panth. Mr Ravi Inder while talking to mediapersons said his party would release its manifesto before April 16.

Mr Ramoowalia said his party workers would support Mr Tur fully.

The other senior leaders who were present in the rally, included Mr Prem Singh Lalpura, former MP, Mr Mohan Singh Matia, Mr Lehna Singh Tur, former MP, Sucha Singh Chhotepur, MLA and Darshan Singh Isapur, secretary general SAD (Ravi Inder).


Poll duty puts Punjab Police under pressure
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
In less than a fortnight after the Centre turned down the request of the Punjab Police for deploying additional forces for "maintaining law and order situation" in the state during the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, the authorities have decided to divert personnel from different departments.

Though senior officials are silent about it, sources in Punjab Police headquarters reveal that the authorities have resolved to go in for "mass mobilisation of the district police" by gathering forces from numerous units, including the CID, intelligence, security and computers, even from training institutes.

Punjab's Additional Director-General of Police (Operations), Mr Shashi Kant, when contacted, refused to comment on the issue. On the other hand, a senior police officer, on the condition of anonymity, asserted that some of the units had already expressed their inability to spare personnel for election duty, but had no option.

The officer also admitted that the diversion of forces could also lead to "problem" in the day-to-day functioning of the police as personnel would be engrossed in election duty instead of routine work.

Giving details, the officer added that over 57,690 personnel were required for maintaining law and order in the state during the poll, besides providing security to the candidates and other election-related work.

But the shortage of personnel was forcing the police to go in for "area security" instead of assigning "individual duties". He, however, refused to divulge the details of the security plan because of "obvious reasons".

The officer added that there were 15,651 polling booths in the state, including 3,520 sensitive stations. Presently, there were 1,65,68,709 voters in the state, out of which 1,13,80,240 voters had been issued photo identity cards.

The Punjab Police, it may be recalled, had initially requested the Centre to deploy 150 companies during the poll. The request was, however, partly accepted.

The sources added that the Centre agreed to deploy only 45 companies. Five companies, already stationed in the state, were taking care of VIP security.

As many as 30 companies of the Punjab armed police, consisting of about 5,000 personnel, were already in Chattisgarh on election duty on April 3 and were expected to return on April 25.


Centrifuge machines can further distort sex ratio,
say experts
Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
Despite the pre-conception part coming under the ambit of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique (PNDT) Act, the use of latest centrifuge machines by various infertility centres all over Punjab, guaranteeing a male child, has become a serious cause of concern for those seeking to correct the highly distorted sex ratio.

"This is an extremely disturbing fact, as in this case the need for eliminating the female foetus does not remain. With the use of the latest technology, the chromosomes are separated out, ensuring a male child," says Dr Deepak Grover from the Population Research Centre, Panjab University. He added that though this technology is still limited to a few places and is expensive, but with the two-child norm catching up, more people are likely to go in for this in the near future.

Another disturbing trend has been higher decline in the child sex ratio in rural Punjab compared the urban centres, thereby establishing preference for a son, which has percolated down to the villages.

"Though the situation has been going from bad to worse despite concerted efforts by the government and voluntary organisations, the fact that the decline in the rural areas is sharper than in towns is a very disturbing indicator," remarked Dr Reena Singh from the Population Research Centre.

She informed that while in urban areas the decline was 80 in the age group of 0 to 6, the figure was 83 in rural areas, where mobile ultrasound machines have made inroads, offering abortions at cheapest possible rates. "The fact remains that you cannot beat technology as very sophisticated methods are being introduced. Ultimately the solution lies in changing the mindset and attitude of the people," she emphasised.

Dr Grover feels that contrary to the belief that the child sex ratio will start improving, it is likely to worsen with stress on the two-child norm. "By making the two child norm mandatory, the government will commit the biggest blunder, as even China has now realised that following the one-child norm was disastrous," he says.

Ms Veena Sharma from the Human Rights Law Network feels that with absolute connivance between service providers (doctors) and service seekers (families), it is extremely difficult to punish the guilty.

Unfortunately, during the last decade, not even a single Punjab district has registered child sex ratio favouring the girl child. "There has been a decline of 82 points from 875 in 1991 to 793 in 2001 According to the 2001 census, out of the total 17 districts in Punjab, 16 have registered a decline of more than 50 points. Four districts of Fatehgarh Sahib (-120), Kapurthala (-104), Gurdaspur (-103) and Patiala (-101) have shown a decline of more than 100 points.

With Fatehgarh Sahib having the lowest child sex ratio in the country at 766, 42 of the 72 tehsils in Punjab have child sex ratio below 800.


Pak girl sad to part from Indian friends

Jalandhar, April 9
If innocent Farha’s broad smile shows that after a year and two months’ of separation, she has forgiven her strict mother and is ready to reconcile with her, the occasional appearance of bleak frowns indicates that she is a bit sad over the thought that she will have to leave Harijinder and Kammo, the two young inmates of the Gandhi-Vanita Ashram, whom she had made friends with during her stay at the institution.

Sixteen-year-old Farha is a resident of Kotli Bore Khan village in Narwala district of Pakistan. She mistakenly entered Indian territory in February last year and would be deported to Pakistan and handed over to her parents following orders of the Juvenile Board yesterday.

“It was just like home for me. I have made a lot of merry-making here for over a year. I spent my time watching Hindi films and television and playing games like “ludo” and celebrated festivals like Holi and Divali which are not celebrated in Pakistan,” Farha said during a conversation with The Tribune. She smiled as she tried to converse in chaste Punjabi, “Sat Sri Akal!”

“Homesickness was almost not there as all girls, particularly, Harjinder and Kammo, had become good friends. They never allowed me to feel that I was in alien land. I am very happy to know that I would be able to meet my parents again. But at the same time, I, will undoubtedly miss Harjinder, Kammo and other fellow inmates,” said Farha. She said she did not even know what the border was.

“That evening, I got enraged when my mother allowed one of my five sisters to study and desisted me from doing so. Rather she ordered me to wash a heap of utensils. When I refused to do that, she beat me up with a stick during the night, which, led to my resolve to leave home. I did not know that I had crossed over to India in my fit of rage till I was detained by BSF officials. I was so angry that I refused to go back despite having been persuaded by the BSF officials,” said Farha.

“In my heart, I have forgiven my mother. Now I am anxious to meet my family, who, may have been waiting for me for long. I would not have taken the extreme step had my mother not maltreated me like this,” said a cheerful Farha.


PSEB member quits to campaign for Preneet
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 9
Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) member Sheelam Sohi has resigned from the Board after “realising” that the campaign of Congress candidate Preneet Kaur was not picking up in the Banur Assembly segment.

Ms Sohi had contested the last assembly election from Banur and was defeated by a narrow margin by Capt Kanwaljit Singh of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). Capt Kanwaljit is contesting against Ms Preneet Kaur for the Patiala parliamentary seat.

Talking to TNS, Ms Sohi said she had taken the step as she was not satisfied with the poll campaign in the Banur segment. She said she wanted to actively participate in the election campaign and had resigned as it was not possible to do so while remaining a member of the PSEB.

The Congress leader said after “realising the necessity to campaign for the party” she had disclosed her decision to the state Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and Ms Preneet Kaur. She said following this, she submitted her resignation to PSEB Chairman Y.S. Ratra two days ago, which had since been accepted.

“I have assured her (Preneet Kaur) that even if she does not come to the constituency I will ensure that she leads from this segment”, she maintained.

However, sources said a virtual revolt in the Banur Congress leadership and a major threat to her own position had forced Ms Sohi to take this step. They said a number of Congress leaders had protested against the “unjust” reward given to Ms Sohi, alleging that she had not maintained any rapport with the people after her loss in the last Assembly election.

The sources said the former PSEB member was also not happy with the powers given to her. They said though Ms Sohi had been appointed a member of the board, she had been given only a section of the powers enjoyed by the Member, Administration.

While PSEB Member, Administration Raman Bhalla had been given the power to transfer Junior Engineers and Sub-Divisional Officers (SDOs), she had been given powers to transfer clerical staff only. However, Ms Sohi refuted this allegation.


Channi’s election campaign launched
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April, 9
Mr Avtar Singh Karimpuri, president of the state unit of the Bahujan Samaj Party, launched the election campaign of Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, BSP candidate from Hoshiarpur Parliamentary constituency, here today. BSP workers from all over the constituency and state leaders were present on the occasion.

Addressing the gathering Mr Karimpuri criticised Capt Amarinder Singh’s government for its anti-people policies. He said the state government had miserably failed on all fronts and atrocities on Dalits had been increasing day by day and the poor were suffering due to rising prices. While comparing the popularity graph of the BSP with SAD (B), BJP and Congress, he said none of these parties had fielded candidates in all 13 Lok Sabha seats and BSP was the only party that was contesting from all seats in Punjab.

While referring to the recent entry of Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, former MP, the BSP he said Mr Channi had done commendable work for the development of almost all villages in the Hoshiarpur Parliamentary constituency by providing adequate grants from his MP Local Area Development Scheme Fund during his tenure. But the AICC had not recognised his sincere work and had denied him party ticket. The BSP on the other hand had fully recognised his services for this backward district and Ms Mayawati had granted him party ticket from Hoshiarpur. He said due representation had been given to all sections of society in the party.

Mr Channi said he would seek votes only on the development issue and added that Kandi was the only backward area of Punjab where there were no proper roads there was shortage of safe drinking water, lack of health and education facilities. He criticised PPCC leaders for promoting their henchmen who had no base among the masses. He said the Congress would be wiped out completely after the Lok Sabha election in Punjab.

Maulvi Azhar Hassan president of the National Muslim Front, Hoshiarpur also announced full support to Mr Channi.

Mr Pawan Kumar Tinnu, BSP candidate from Phillaur, Mr Shingara Singh Sahungra, Mr Hargopal Singh both former MLAs Mr Satnam Singh Kainth former MP, Mr Bhagwan Singh Chohan, general secretary BSP Punjab and several other leaders also spoke on the occasion.

Later, Mr Karimpuri inaugurated the election offices of Mr Channi for Hoshiarpur Lok Sabha seat and of Mr Tinnu for Phillaur seat.

Meanwhile, according to a UNI report Senior BSP leader Brij Mohan Julka will be party candidate from Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat. This was announced by Mr Narinder Kashyap, national general secretary of the party, here today.

The BSP has announced its candidates for 10 of the total 13 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state including Jalandhar and Phillaur from where Mr Devi Dass Nahar and Mr Pawan Teenu have been fielded.


Surjeet asks Cong workers to vote for CPM candidate
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 9
Mr Harkishen Singh Surjeet, secretary of the CPM, today campaigned for party’s candidate, Mr Darshan Singh Mattu, in the Ropar areas. Mr Surjeet held a meeting with Congress workers at Ropar. Speaking on the occasion he urged upon the Congress workers to help the CPM candidate, Mr Mattu, to defeat the SAD/BJP alliance. The BJP was bereft of ideas and just concentrating on the foreign origin of Congress president Ms Sonia Gandhi in its election campaign. By making personal comments against the Congress president the BJP leaders were also violating the model code of conduct for the election, he said.

Criticising the foreign policy proposed in the manifesto of the NDA, Mr Surjeet alleged that it was doctored by the USA. The BJP was blindly following the capitalist policies of the USA though in fact it was widening gap between the rich and the poor in the country.

By including Ram Mandir in the agenda of the NDA the BJP once again has declared its communal intentions. The communal policies of the BJP could lead to the division of the country.

Later talking to newsmen Mr Surjeet said that the quitting of former Congress MP from Hoshiarpur Charanjit Singh Channi from the party would not have any effect on the electoral prospects of the CPM candidate. The people vote for the parties and not the individuals. The Congress men now would not vote for Mr Channi as he had joined the BSP, Mr Surjeet hoped. In the afternoon Mr Surjeet also held a meeting of the Congress workers at the residence of Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, the Punjab Minister for Cooperation and Transport at his residence in Nurpur Bedi. Mr Dutt also urged the Congress workers to help the CPM candidate to defeat the SAD/BJP alliance.


Temple no poll issue: Surjeet
Our Correspondent

Kharar, April 9
Certain political parties were mixing religion with politics for the sake of vested interests, said Mr Harkishen Singh Surjeet, CPM General Secretary, while addressing members of the Bar Association here today.

Launching an attack on the BJP-led NDA, Mr Surjeet said the Ram temple issue was part of the NDA’s poll manifesto. Making the construction of the temple a poll issue was objectionable, he said, adding that the BJP was trying to break the nation by taking such a step.

He said religion should be kept away from politics as the two had no relationship with each other. Mr Surjit appealed to all secular forces to join hands to defeat the NDA in the coming Lok Sabha elections.


Umeed foundation not helping me, says MLA
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 9
Mr Arvind Khanna, local MLA and chairman of a local social organisation, Umeed Khanna Foundation (UKF), who is also a Congress candidate from Sangrur parliamentary constituency in the Lok Sabha elections, today clarified that the foundation was not helping him financially, rather he was helping it.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Khanna said he had made this clarification as Akalis had reportedly made a complaint to the Election Commission that the foundation was helping him financially in the elections. He said since its setting up in 1998 about 99 per cent funds had been provided to it by his family or friends.

Mr Khanna also stated that a former president of a local truck union was propagating against him by saying that he had given Rs 1 lakh to Mr Khanna during the Assembly elections in February, 2002, but he (Khanna) had not helped the truck union when the administration got the possession of the truck union’s premises as the land belonged to the local Municipal Council.

Mr Khanna also claimed that Mr Amarinder Singh, Punjab Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, would support him in the election.


Factionalism in Cong surfaces in Phillaur

Phagwara, April 9
Factionalism in the Congress surfaced here today at an election meeting called by party candidate Santosh Choudhary, seeking re-election from Phillaur (reserve).

Seven of the 16 municipal councillors of the party did not attend the meeting which was convened to accelerate the campaign. Improvement Trust chairman Harjit Singh Parmar and block Youth Congress president Ashok Wadhawa were conspicuous by their absence.

While Punjab Social Welfare Minister Joginder Singh Mann attended the meeting, Mr Balbir Singh Raja, whose ticket was given to Mr Mann at the last minute in the 2002 Assembly election, was also absent.

Mrs Choudhary, when asked about the absentees, declined to comment, adding that AICC President Sonia Gandhi would address a rally each in Doaba, Majha and Malwa region of Punjab.

She said her election office here would be inaugurated by party’s state unit president on April 15 . — UNI


RRD promises 33 per cent reservation to women
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, April 9
The Rashtriya Raksha Dal has praised Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh for shifting two Senior Superintendents of police on the orders of the Election Commission.

Col H.J. Singh (retd) vice-president of the RRD said here today the organisation was contesting from 12 Lok Sabha constituencies and would work for the uplift of women by giving them 33 per cent reservation.

He promised that if voted to power the RRD would check corruption, nepotism, provide security to law-abiding citizens, check booth-capturing during poll etc.

The RRD would also make efforts to bridge the gap between upper and lower castes.

Expressing concern over the criminalisation of politics mixing of religion and politics. Col H.J. Singh said the RRD would steer clear of these malpractices in the national interest.


Liquor contractor’s men harass people
Lalit Mohan

Nangal (Ropar), April 9
Liquor price war on at the borders of the district yesterday evening witnessed people and henchmen of the liquor contractors of Punjab and Himachal clashing.

Sources here said that the trouble started when henchmen of Rana and others, the company running liquor trade in Punjab area started checking vehicles of the people coming from Himachal. They allegedly broke liquor bottles in the possession of some people coming from Himachal. This led to hot exchanges between rival liquor contractors and common people.

When a newsman of a vernacular daily objected to the checking of his vehicle by henchmen of liquor contractors of Punjab, he was allegedly trashed by them. He was later admitted to a hospital. He filed a police complaint against liquor workers and officials of the Rana and company.

Due to tense situation on the borders of the district, the police now has been deployed to maintain law and order. SHO Nangal, Sarbjit Singh said the police had been deployed at the border to stop henchmen of liquor contractors from checking common people. Only officials of the Excise Department would be allowed to check illicit flow of liquor, he said.

Liquor contractors of Himachal including Mr Rakesh Nayar and Mr Kehar Singh at a press conference here condemned harassment of people at the hands of henchmen of liquor contractors of Punjab.

They maintained that any person could buy and carry single bottle of Indian-Made Foreign Liquor from anywhere in the country. Rates across the border were same, however, the people were preferring to buy liquor from Himachal due to better quality.

The Excise rules are for checking the smuggling of liquor not for preventing individuals from consuming liquor across the state.

The Excise officials of Punjab when contacted, refuted claims of the liquor contractors from Himachal. The Excise Inspector at Nangal, Mr Garg, said that they could not allow even a single drop of liquor from Himachal as it would mean revenue loss to Punjab.

The Excise policy of Punjab from 2004-2005 stipulates punishment for illegal carrying of cases of liquor, it was silent about the carrying of single bottle across the state.

The legal experts said that only single bottle with broken seal could be taken across the border and was not punishable under the Excise Act.


Demand to dissolve Ram Tirath Board
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 9
The Ram Tirath controversy over ‘kar seva’ of the ancient temple today took a new turn with the demand for “dissolution” of the “Ram Tirath Development Board”, from the Bharatiya Valmiki Dharm Samaj activists including its national organiser. While the mahants who claim to be descendants of caretakers of the ancient temple since last 500 years had first objected to the development board set up by the government, majority of whose members were from the ruling party (Congress) and representing only Valmikis, most organisations like the Shiv Sena (Bal Thakeray) the Brahman Pratinidhi Sabha and the Akhil Bharatiya Brahman Maha Sangh had also demanded the disbanding of the development board as also the BJP state vice-president Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla.

Mr Virottam Chaderpal Anaraya national organiser of the samaj, Mr Davinder Kumar City president, Ram Parkash Babba, district organiser and other office-bearers of the samaj, declared this at a press conference here today for the dissolution of the board and admitted that several of its members were deriving political mileage from a place of special sanctity for them.

They said a new board should be constituted of non-political members from the Valmiki community. The board consists of 16 members including Mr Sardool Singh Bundala, Minister for Excise and Taxation as chairman, Mr Joginder Mann Minister for Social Welfare, Dr Raj Kumar (all from ruling party) and other ex-officio members.

In another significant development the Sri Durgiana Temple Management Committee working president Surinder Arjun who is also general secretary of district unit of the ruling party also gave a statement to disband the development board and replace it with members and heads of the religious and social organisations.

Meanwhile the samaj announced to form a “Tal-Mel committee “of all Valmiki organisations in a month. The samaj also gave a call to all Valmiki organisations to reach here for kar Seva on April 11. The sabha members said persons would be arriving from 11 states to participate in kar seva.


Punjab Ratna for Tejwant Mann
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 9
The Malwa Research Centre and Grace Books, Bathinda, honoured Punjabi writer Tejwant Singh Mann and Principal Staff Correspondent of Indian Express Yoginder Mohan with the Punjab Ratna and Shamsher-e-Punjab awards, respectively, here today. The function was presided over by Jaswant Singh Kanwal.

The award consisted of a medal, Kirpan and a shawl. The awards have been presented for their outstanding performance in their respective fields. Addressing the gathering, Mr Jaswant Singh said the government should undertake special policies for the propagation of the Punjabi language and culture.

He said people needed to come at a common platform to tackle the problems like migration and intellectual brain drain. As a large number of people from other states were settling in Punjab, it could lead to identity crisis for the people of Punjab, he added.

Mr Tejwant Mann said no political party had taken steps to conserve the Punjabi language and culture. There was a need to create awareness among the youth about the rich cultural and traditional heritage of Punjab. With modernisation and advancement of technology, the traditional art and crafts were also losing their identity, he said.

The Chairman of the Punjab Agro Industry Corporation, Mr Jasbir Singh, was the chief guest. The President of the Malwa Research Centre, Mr Jagdeep Singh, presented a vote of thanks.


IMA support hinges on commitment to health sector
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 9
The Bathinda branch of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has put up certain conditions for extending support to candidates contesting the forthcoming Lok Sabha election as nominees of different political parties.

In a press note issued here today, Dr Amrit Sethi, president, IMA, Bathinda, said the association had also invited all candidates for an interaction and to get a feel of their views and commitments on the conditions laid down by the IMA.

He said the conditions laid down by the IMA, included support for only that candidate who would include health in his or her election manifesto; to make population control, a national emergency; potable water, a civil right; increase in the national and state health budget; creation of patient support system through insurance and medical savings; improving patient-doctor relationship by modifying the Consumer Protection Act and involvement of private sector in the national health programme.

The other conditions, included abolition of quackery, compulsory secondary education for the girl child, creation of All-India Medical Services and a National Health Commission, abolition of Acts and other enactments which were not in the interest of patients, public and professionals and inclusion of IMA in advisory bodies for health related matters. 


No portion of temple demolished,
says MC Commissioner

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 9
Mr D.K. Tiwari, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Bathinda today clarified that during the demolition exercise carried out in the Bhupindra Mill area yesterday, no part of temple building was pulled down by the Municipal Corporation authorities as alleged by Mr Ashok Kumar, president, Mahadev Amarnath Sewa Samiti.

While addressing a press conference, he said some buildings, which were coming up illegally in the area and which had already been declared unauthorised by PUDA, were pulled down after fulfilling all the legal and departmental formalities. He added that prior notices were issued to those carrying out illegal construction.

He pointed out that Mahadev Amarnath Sewa Samiti, in a letter written to the Deputy Commissioner, had categorically mentioned that it had been constructing an office for the samiti and not the temple and hence the allegations levelled against the Municipal Corporation authorities were baseless and false.

However, hundreds of residents of the town blocked traffic, took out a rally and burnt the effigy of Municipal Corporation authorities to lodge their protest against the demolition of a temple. The police had to use force to disperse the protesting mob. Municipal Corporation authorities also did not pay heed to the directions of Mr Surinder Singla, a local MLA, to stop the demolition. Members of the samiti had threatened to launch an agitation against the high handedness of authorities concerned and to lodge protest against the attack on the sentiments of a particular community.

According to reports some members of the samiti were being pressurised by a section of ruling party politicians not to launch an agitation against the demolition as it would harm the interests of Congress candidates in Punjab in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Meanwhile, former Akali minister, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg and Mr Narinder Mittal, former president, BJP, Bathinda Mandal, while condemning the demolition of part of temple, alleged that the state Congress government led by Capt Amarinder Singh was terrorising people by indulging in such acts.

They said if Capt Amarinder Singh wanted to run the affairs of state as per the rules then he should tell the people why he had recruited the son of his media adviser, Mr Bharat Inder Singh Chahal as DSP by throwing all norms to wind and why he had not handed over the case pertaining to Hawala scam involving his son Mr Raninder Singh to the CBI for a fair probe into the same?

They alleged that successive Congress governments in Punjab and Centre had always tried to create communal tension in the state.


Campaigning picks up in Jalalabad
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, April 9
Both the Congress and SAD-BJP candidates have intensified their poll campaign for the forthcoming Lok Sabha poll in this border constituency. The campaign of Mr Zora Singh Maan, SAD candidate, got a shot in the arm when he succeeded in making up with the former SAD MLA Sher Singh Ghubaya, who was at loggerheads with him for some time.

Mr Mann, along with former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, visited the house of Mr Sher Singh Ghubaya, where the latter agreed to campaign wholeheartedly for the SAD candidate. Mr Ghubaya, a Rai Sikh has a sizeable influence in his community in the district.

The SAD candidate also opened his election offices today at Jalalabad and Guruharsahai. Before this he also took out a procession through the bazars of the town and held a workers’ rally at the local Khushal Chand Valecha Community Hall.

Congress candidate Jagmeet Singh Brar who is on a whirlwind tour visited several villages of this segment today. The local MLA and parliamentary secretary, Punjab, Mr Hans Raj Josan, also accompanied him. Mr Brar also addressed a gathering at the native village of Mr Zora Singh Maan. He refuted the allegation levelled on him for being an outsider in the constituency and claimed that he was very much in touch with the Ferozepore voters as he had already contested from there in 1989.

However, Mr Mohan Singh Phalianwala, BSP candidate, is depending on his orthodox style of poll campaigning. Unlike his opponents the twice elected Member Parliament from the same constituency is visiting the villages dominated by Rai Sikh community only.


Dalits hold protest march
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 9
Members of the All-India Confederation of Scheduled Caste, Backward Classes and Scheduled Tribes Organisations, Punjab, today took out a march to protest against the state government for its failure to give scholarships to around 22 lakh Dalit students during the past more than two years.

The march started from Guru Nanak Dev Library and culminated at the Amar Shaheed chowk. They were demanding the implementation of the 85th constitutional amendment, filling up of vacant posts, release of scholarships to Dalit students, resumption of shagun scheme.

Earlier, during a state-level delegate conference it was decided to authorise state president Jasbir Singh Pal to formulate a comprehensive draft regarding which political party to support during the coming General Elections.


15 down with jaundice, SMO denies reports
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, April 9
At least 15 persons, including children, from Ram Nagar, ward No 12 are suffering from jaundice.

Mr Romesh Kumar, a local resident, said due to a leak in the sewerage pipe people have to drink infected water.

Mr Surjeet Kumar(26) stated that despite a filter installed at home, he is suffering from the disease.

Youth Congress leader Surinder Rahi threatened to gherao the local Municipal Council if potable water was not supplied soon.

The MC authorities, stated that they had received a complaint in this regard and soon pipe-lines would be replaced and people would get potable water.

Dr Ravi Dogra, SMO, Civil Hospital, said a team of the health authorities had been dispatched to the locality to take stock of the situation. However, he denied reports on the outbreak of jaundice and disclosed that since April only one patient had been admitted in the hospital.


Conference of cardiologists opens today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 9
The first Indo-Pak heart surgeons conference will open here tomorrow to add a new dimension to the improvement in relations between the two neighbours.

The chairman of the organising committee and chief cardiologist of Escorts Heart Institute, Dr T.S. Kler, while addressing mediapersons here today, said the summit would forge a new bond between leading cardiologists of both countries. He said that it was for the first time that such a high-level conference of the medical fraternity had been planned to improve healthcare facilities in India and Pakistan.


Commandant honoured
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 9
Mr B.S. Tiger, Commandant, border wing, Home Guards, has been honoured with GOC-in-C medal for his distinguished services during Operation Prakaram by Major-Gen B.S. Nagal, GOC, 15 Infantry, here today.

According to the press note issued here, Mr Tiger is the first officer of the Home Guards to be honoured with the medal.


Devotees throng Khadoor Sahib
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 9
Devotees thronged Gurdwara Khadoor Sahib on Guru Angad Dev’s 500th birth anniversary today. Nagar kirtans from Sathali, Sheron and Goindwal Sahib reached the gurdwara on the occasion. Baba Sukha Singh, head of the Kar Seva Sampradaya led the nagar kirtan from Sarhali. Gatka and decorated elephants were the main attraction. Langars were also arranged on the occasion.


Lawyers’ dharna

Kapurthala, April 9
Members of the District Bar Association today staged a dharna in front of the office of the SSP in the court complex to protest against the inaction of the police in a theft case. The crime took place in the house of Mr Harjit Singh Sandhu, an advocate.

The lawyers abstained from work in judicial courts. — OC


Good Friday meeting held
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 9
A Good Friday meeting was held at Assumption Convent School here today. Later, they took out a procession in this regard.

Devotees marched from the school complex to the church to pray for peace, prosperity and welfare of all human beings. Those present included principals and teachers of local schools, men, women and children from all sections of society.


High Court
CIA official told to appear before court
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 9
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the in charge of the CIA staff, Patiala, to appear before it on April 26 in a case relating to the alleged illegal detention of one Amritpal Singh Kohli, whose brother, Maninderpal Singh Kohli, is on the run after having allegedly murdered British schoolgirl Hannah Foster.

Taking a habeas corpus petition filed by Amritpal’s father, Mr Jagjit Singh Kohli, Mr Justice S.S. Grewal ordered CIA, Patiala, in charge, Inspector S.S. Virk, to appear before the court and explain his position.

In his petition, Kohli has alleged that Amritpal was picked by the Patiala Police without any reason and despite his efforts, he could not trace his son. A warrant officer appointed by the High Court also could not find the boy. On being asked, the Patiala Senior Superintendent of Police told him that they had not picked up the boy. Later, it was found that the boy had been picked up by the CIA, Sirhind staff, on the directions of Inspector Gurmeet Singh Pinki. Pinki, the petitioner alleged, brutally tortured the boy, seeking the whereabouts of his brother.

After hearing the petitioner’s lawyer and going through the report of the warrant officer, the judge passed the order, asking Inspector Virk to appear before the court.

Judgment reserved

Mr Justice K.S. Garewal of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today reserved the judgment on the petition of Shiromani Akali Dal leader Gurdev Badal, seeking quashing of the orders of the Special Judge, Ludhiana, in which his plea for being discharged in a disproportionate assets case was turned down.

In his petition, Mr Badal, who is an MLA in Punjab, asserted that the Vigilance Bureau did not take any permission from the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Speaker before booking him in the case under the Anti-Corruption Act.

His application for being discharged in the case, registered on November 25, 2002, on this ground was turned down by the Special Judge, Ludhiana. Badal alleged that the Special Judge did not apply his mind and go into the legal position before dismissing the application.


Standing crop in 30 acres burnt
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, April 9
Standing wheat crop in about 30 acres between Muthianwali and Karnikhera villages of this subdivision was reduced to ashes in a fire caused due to short circuit.

The fire reportedly started after mainline wires touched each other today afternoon. The affected farmers include Mangat Rai Sachdeva, Jagdish Chander and Patt Ram, all residents of Muthianwali village, Raj Chugh and Surinder Chugh of Karnikhera village.


529 polling booths sensitive

Faridkot, April 9
The administrative machinery of Moga, Faridkot and Muktsar districts, falling in Faridkot Lok Sabha constituency, has been geared up for smooth and peaceful conduct of elections, scheduled for May 10.

This was stated today by Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner and returning officer of the constituency, after reviewing the arrangements with district returning electoral officers of the three districts and other officers.

The returning officer said about 529 polling booths in the constituency had been identified as sensitive, where special security forces would be deployed for smooth and peaceful polling. The polling stations would be equipped with electronic voting machines.

The returning officer directed all officers concerned to be vigilant about the politicisation of bureaucracy as it would not be tolerated and action would be initiated against politically biased officers.

He also directed them to take immediate steps for the implementation of the model code of conduct. He said out of the total electorate of 12,61,371, men totalled 6,56,805 and 5,94,566 were women, besides 1,717 service votes.

The constituency consists of nine Assembly segments — Moga, Baghapurana, Panjgrain, Kothapura, Faridkot, Muktsar, Gidderbaha, Malout and Lambi — having 1,207 polling booths, out of which 892 were in rural areas and 315 in urban areas. — PTI


Admn’s denial on Bhindranwale grant plea
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 9
The district administration has denied having received any applications for the release of grants for setting up memorials Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and Ali Jinah under the MP quota. Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP from the Sangrur constituency, had announced these grants last year and had maintained that it was justified to set up such memorials as both persons were national leaders of Sikhs and Muslims, two communities in minority in India. Candidates of the SAD(B) and Left front contesting elections from this constituency had criticised Mr Mann, alleging that attempt to construct such memorials was anti-national.

Sources reveal that Mr Mann had announced a grant of Rs 3 lakh for the construction of a gymnasium in Baba Attar Singh Khalsa College at Sandaur village last year. While addressing a public gathering there, Mr Mann had asked the management to dedicate the gymnasium in the memory of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. A similar grant of Rs 1 lakh was announced for the construction of an Ali Jinah memorial library at an educational institute at Malerkotla.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Bari, a Left candidate, and Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, an SAD candidate, criticised Mr Mann for allegedly exploiting religious sentiments of Sikhs and Muslims for his meager gains.

Mr Mann, on the other hand maintained that it was justified to set up memorials to the two. “When a status of Mahatma Gandhi can be set up in Africa, what is wrong with setting up a memorial to Jinaah in India. As far as Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale is concerned, he has been a martyr of Sikhs and every Sikh, like me, should strive for the cause of setting up a memorial”, Mr Mann said.

Though the management of educational institute at Malerkotla had declined MP’s offer to set up a library after Jinaah, the management of Baba Attar Singh College at Sandaur village is still awaiting grant. Mr Babu Singh, president of the college, said: “We have not received even a single penny of this grant. The question of dedicating the gymnasium to someone would only arise after we receive the grant and construct it.

Mr Baldev Singh Sidhu, ADC (Development) at Sangrur, said: “Even if we receive such requests, we would not release grants as these funds can only be utilised for construction of memorials to national heroes, and aforesaid persons did not fall under that category.”


BSF seizes 3 kg of heroin, two held
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar April 9
In a drive against narcotic smugglers, the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Narcotics Control Bureau, jointly arrested two persons and confiscated a consignment of three kg of heroin. Mr G.S. Sandhu, Senior Public Relation Officer, BSF, stated here today received information that a group of smugglers were trying to revive smuggling of narcotics in the region. Subsequently, the officials of the Narcotics Control Bureau at Chandigarh were informed and a joint naka was laid at the Attari-Lopoke road in Amritsar on April 7. The naka party flagged down a scooter while the rider attempted to flee, but was later overpowered by BSF personnel.

The search of the scooter led to the recovery of six packets of white material, which, after inspection by the Bureau officials, was found to be 90 per cent heroin of high purity. Two packets covered in white cloth had a round stamp mentioning “8888” with an imprint of tiger, on the remaining four packets word “ITTEFAQ” was written. The rider was arrested and was identified as Dalip Singh of Pandori village in Amritsar. The arrested person revealed that he had received the consignment from one Tasveer Singh of Chheherata in Amritsar. This consignment was to be sent to Delhi. The NCB officials later arrested Tasveer Singh.

Though the BSF officials were silent on involvement of any Pakistan-based agency in the racket, the sources maintained that the consignment was either brought from border areas in Rajasthan.


BA (III) political science paper full of ‘howlers’
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 9
Students of BA (III) of Guru Nanak Dev University who appeared for the political science paper A (Opt) in the evening session today were baffled by a howler in the paper. While the Punjabi version of Section A questions in English was correct, the Hindi version had as many as five questions i.e. Question No 5 to 9, out of a total of 12 questions, missing. Each question carried five marks.

The goof-up in Section B was all the more perturbing. While Punjabi version of six questions set in English was again correct here, the Hindi version had altogether different questions.

The baffled students told this correspondent that the six questions in the Hindi version were set from Paper B instead of Paper A. Thus rather than giving the version of the questions of Section B of the Paper A , the paper setter had set questions from the Paper B thus making Hindi portion of Paper A combination of Papers A and B.


District credit plan for banks released
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 9
The annual district credit plan of Rs 1295 crore for all banks for the financial year 2004-05 which is 26 per cent more than the expected achievements of the last year, was released by Mr Raminder Singh, Deputy Commissioner, here today.

The plan, approved by the District Consultative Committee, will cover 3,40,550 beneficiaries in sectorwise outlay credit flow. The sector-wise breakup, includes 774.60 crore to 3,12,727 beneficiaries in agriculture sector and allied activities, Rs 292.97 crore to 9381 beneficiaries under industrial sector and Rs 227.99 crore to 18,442 beneficiaries in other priority sectors.

Mr S.K. Joshi, lead Bank Manager, Punjab National Bank, said a total of 425 bank branches were there in 16 blocks of the district. He said every branch would adopt one village for the development of the village.

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