P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Cong factions assure support to CPM in Hoshiarpur
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 10
Mr Harkishan Singh Surjeet, Secretary CPM, who is touring the Hoshiarpur parliamentary constituency these days in connection with the election campaign of the CPM-Congress candidate, Mr Darshan Singh Mattu, said here today that despite infighting with the party, factions of the Congress has assured him their full support to Mr Mattu.

Mr Surjeet was talking to mediapersons at the residence of Mr Naresh Thakur, a former minister of Punjab, where he interacted with the local Congress workers in connection with the election campaign of the CPM candidate.

When asked to comment on the infighting among leaders of the Congress party, he said it was their internal matter and he had no right to interfere in their personal affairs.

He said he had met Mr Kamal Chaudhry, former MP from Hoshiarpur, and sought his support for the CPM candidate. Mr Chaudhry had assured him his full support to Mr Mattu, he added.

He said the BJP and its allies had no issue to lure voters in these elections, and they had again raised the Bofors issue, which had already been probed, only to divert the attention of the electorate. But the electorate of India was wise and could not be fooled.

Referring to the foreign origin issue of Ms Sonia Gandhi, he said the people of the country were fed up with such types of issues and these had no impact on the public now. Replying to another question, he said there would be a hung Parliament after elections and no party could form the government without support of the CPM.

NANGAL (Ropar): The NDA government was misusing official machinery in violation of the model code of conduct to influence the results of the forthcoming Lok Sabha poll. The reports of the violation of the code by Union Minister Vinod Khanna was an example in this regard. This was stated by Mr Harkishan Singh Surjeet, Secretary of the CPM, at a meeting of the Congress workers here today.

He maintained that in the South all former partners except the party of Mr Chandrababu Naidu, who extended the support to the NDA from outside, had left the NDA. The BJP had now got just the Jayalalithaa-led AIDMK as it partner in the southern states. In the North also, the position of the BJP and its partners was not very good. The “feel good factor” of the BJP was just an euphoria to mislead the voter, he said.

Mr KPS Rana, chairman of the PPCB, while addressing the meeting of the Congress and CPM workers, alleged that just after the elections, there would be big increase in the prices of petrol and diesel.

Though oil companies are making profits of more than Rs 23000 crore, people would be burdened with increase in the prices of basic commodities if the BJP was voted back to power. The policies of the BJP were pro-capitalist and not for the welfare of the common man, he added.


SAD (A) leader stages walkout from DC’s meeting
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 10
Mr Brinder Singh Mann, president, SAD (Amritsar), Bathinda district, today staged a walkout in the meeting of representatives of all political parties convened by the Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Election Officer, Mr K.A.P. Sinha, to lodge protest against the non-acceptance of their demands by the Election Commission.

Mr Mann said his party had submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner and the Election Commission in connection with its demand pertaining to the transfer of Mr Justice Nirmal Singh, Judge, Punjab and Haryana High Court to some other high court as his wife Mrs Paramjit Kaur was contesting the Lok Sabha elections as the SAD-BJP nominee from the Bathinda (reserved) Lok Sabha seat.

He said as all judicial offices and police station in Bathinda and Mansa district of this Lok Sabha seat, fell under the jurisdiction of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the presence of Mr Justice Nirmal Singh in the Punjab and Haryana High Court might influence the election process.

Before staging a walkout, Mr Mann demanded that nobody should be allowed to use religious places for election campaign as per the model code of conduct and the SAD (B) should not be allowed to hold its conference in the diwan hall of Takht Damdama Sahib on Baisakhi. The representatives of the CPI and the Congress also walkout from the meeting.

Meanwhile, Mr Raj Kamal Chaudhary Ms V. Neerja, DC and SSP, Mansa, respectively, and Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, Bathinda and all Assistant Returning Officers (AROs) of different assembly segment attended the meeting, Mr Sinha appealed to the representatives of all political parties to help the authorities concerned to conduct the election in a peaceful and free and fair manner.

He said the main control room would be set up in the office of Bathinda Deputy Commissioner’s office. Apart from it, control rooms would be set up in the offices of SSPs Bathinda and Mansa and DC Mansa.

Representatives of the SAD (B), the CPI, the Congress and the BSP participated in the meeting.


Call for Indo-Pak venture in medical care
Tribune Reporters

Wagah, April 10
The cardiologists attending the first Indo-Pak heart summit which opened here today were unanimous in their view that the medical fraternity must jointly prepare a comprehensive plan for health and heart care for the people of the two countries.

Leading Pakistan cardiovascular surgeon and head of the Punjab Institute of Cardiology Lahore, Dr Jawed Sajid Khan, said heart disease is the most common ailment among the masses living in both countries and added that doctors must work out joint research to alleviate the sufferings of people.

Dr Jawed urged the political leadership in both countries to stop competing on the arms front and encourage cooperation in health and education fields.

Commenting on the euphoria built by the recent Indo-Pak cricket series and the thaw in the relations, Dr Khan urged both countries not to miss this historic opportunity to resolve all differences and live as brothers.

Dr Khan pointed out that doctors in India and Pakistan were among the best in the world. He said the summit would provide an opportunity to establish a joint forum for synergising their research for the benefit of people of the two countries. He said doctors of both countries can work together and exchange their expertise in various disciplines.

A senior cardiologist from Lahore, Dr Abdul Waheed, said four out of 1000 infants born in Pakistan suffered from rheumatic heart disease. He said the eating of red meat containing high cholesterol content, smoking, and sedentary lifestyle were the main causes of growing heart problems.

Inaugurating the summit at Amritsar, Dr J.S. Gujral, Vice-Chancellor of Baba Farid Medical University, lauded the efforts of Escorts heart institute for organising this unique Indo-Pak Heart Summit, which has given opportunity to the medical fraternity of both countries to work together in close coordination.

Delivering the keynote address, renowned cardiac surgeon and chief executive of Escorts Hospital, Dr Naresh Trehan, said a large population in both countries suffers from similar heart problems due to their genetic build-up. He said it was important that doctors should lend their experience to jointly prepare a heart action plan to prevent the upsurge of heart problems in the region.


Pak Sikh jatha fails to arrive
Our Correspondent

Wagah, April 10
The 500-member jatha of Pakistan Sikhs today failed to arrive here even as Mr Alwinder Singh Pakhoke, working president of the SGPC, and other members, who had reached here to receive them, had to return disappointed.

The jatha was scheduled to arrive here today to participate in the “Khalsa chetna march” to be taken out on 500th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Angad Dev. The march was to commence from Gurdwara Kartarpur on April 14 and culminate at Gurdwara Khadoor Sahib on April 16.

The SGPC had made the necessary arrangements for their boarding and lodging at a newly built serai in Amritsar.

Mr Pakhoke and senior functionaries of the SGPC failed to give satisfactory reply as to why the jatha could not reach here.


Poolha changed identity: Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
Chairperson of the Majha Ex-Servicemen Human Rights Front (MEHRF), Col G.S. Sandhu (retd), today claimed that self-proclaimed chief of the Nihang Tarna Dal Ajit Singh Poolha had changed his identity after the Ludhiana police had declared him a proclaimed offender in 1980.

A case of attempt to murder and rioting had been registered against Poolha, who was then known as Jaswinder Singh, alias Good Fighter. He had short hair and was clean-shaven.

Addressing media persons here, Colonel Sandhu added that Jaswinder had changed his identity and had gone underground on the “advice” of the then SSP, Ludhiana. Thereafter he assumed the identity of Ajit Singh and indulged in a series of crimes.

The MEHRF is engaged in getting Poolha evicted from the gurdwaras and other real estate he has “illegally” occupied. The front earlier went by the name of Poolha Eviction Committee.

Colonel Sandhu also flayed the manner in which the police was handling the case. Poolha was arrested on March 8 and sent to the CIA Staff at Tarn Taran, but the next day he was freed. He added that Poolha was in his village from April 1 to 7 where he reportedly fired several shots in the air on March 4 to terrorise people. The matter was reported to the police in writing the next day, but no attempt was made by the police to arrest him or the co-accused, allowing them to escape, he added. Only when the accused had left the village were proclamations under Section 82 of the IPC enforced, he further stated.


Confusion over liquor vends’ reauction
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
Confusion continues to prevail regarding the reauction of liquor vends in Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur and Nawanshahr districts due to different interpretations of a Supreme Court order.

Even though several liquor contractors claim that the existing licencees were allowed to continue running and managing the vends till April 10, senior Punjab Government officers assert that the licencees were allowed to continue “till further orders by the Supreme Court”.

Taking up a petition filed by liquor contractor Sanjeev Bhandari, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on March 31 had directed the setting aside of liquor vends auction in Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur and Nawanshahr districts.

The Bench, comprising Mr Justice N.K. Sud and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta, had also allowed the existing licencees to continue running and managing the vends till April 10 or till the date of reauction, whichever was earlier, on payment of existing fee.

Taking up a special leave to appeal filed by the state of Punjab against the High Court orders, the Supreme Court on April 2 had directed that the “interim arrangement made by the High Court on March 31 shall continue until further orders”.

Defending their stand regarding non-issuance of reauction notice, a senior officer in the Punjab Government says that the authorities are complying with the Supreme Court directions.

Interpreting the order, the officer asserts that the Supreme Court on April 2 had directed the continuation of interim arrangement made by the High Court “until further orders” and not till April 10 as earlier directed by the High Court.

Punjab’s Financial Commissioner (Excise and Taxation) Mukul Joshi refuses to comment on the issue. Excise and Taxation Commissioner Mr D.P. Reddy was also not available for comments.

Counsel for the petitioner Mohan Jain, on the other hand, claims that authorities are deliberately misunderstanding the order. Giving details, he says that the Supreme Court had refused to modify the order.

“By directing the continuation of interim arrangement — allowing the existing licencees to continue till April 10 — the Supreme Court made it very clear that reauction was to be held before that date”.

Meanwhile, reacting to the alleged failure of the authorities to issue the notice, several wine contractors have sent “multiple express telegrams” to the Punjab Governor, the Chief Minister and other authorities, alleging that some officers, mixed up with a liquor baron, were delaying the reauction proceedings.

They have asserted that liquor baron Ponti Chadha was the only gainer. They added that the vends must be reauctioned immediately to minimise the loss to the exchequer. “If the vends are allowed to run at licence fee of the previous year, the cumulative loss would be more than Rs 20 crore,” they have concluded.


Crores gone and still not motorable
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 10
A 5.3 km-long-stretch of the national highway passing through this city has earned the distinction of being called a blot on the face of the “future town of Punjab”.

This stretch of the national highway could not become motorable for the past many decades despite the fact that crores of rupees have been spent for making it traffic worthy.

Moreover the authorities concerned are making little efforts to strengthen it as per specifications.

Interestingly only 19 of the stretch of the national highway is being strengthened per day despite the fact that the work pertaining to its strengthening, which was started in October, 2003, was to be completed by January 31, 2004.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the authorities concerned had extended the deadline to complete the work to May 15 from January 31. In the past more than seven months only 60 per cent of the total length of the stretch had been covered and that too in parts.

During the past many decades the road has been out of bounds after it was digged up and recarpeted time and again as it repeatedly got damaged due to sewerage pipe leaks or during the rains.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the project had been hanging fire for the past many years for want of funds. However, after Rs 2.8 crore were given by the Union Government still the work could not be completed as per schedule.

Officials of the department concerned had been making excuses that due to severe winter work was stopped as it was not feasible technically to carry out strengthening work in those days. But the pace of work did not improve even after the summers set in.

A senior official of the Central Works Division of the PWD pointed out on the condition of anonymity that work could have been completed by pressing more men and machinery into service. He added that work got delayed as traffic was allowed on this stretch.

Mr K.A.K. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, Bathinda, said the authorities concerned had assured him at a meeting held in recent past that work would be completed soon.


Employees resent delay in DA merger
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
How long will it take to merge the dearness allowance of Punjab employees in their basic pay? This question has been repeatedly asked by various employees’ organisations from the authorities concerned.

The Central Government had ordered the merger of 50 per cent DA in the basic salary in March this year. Many states, including Punjab and Haryana, have also opted to follow the Central Government pattern with regard to the DA merger.

While the Haryana Government has sought the permission of the Election Commission of India to extend the benefit to its employees, Punjab has set up a three-member committee to study the matter before its implementation. Employees’ unions say that the committee has been set up with the purpose to delay the implementation of the DA merger.

Union leaders say that the Finance Department was well aware of what would be the additional annual as well as monthly financial burden of the DA merger on the state exchequer. They say that what has surprised them is that the committee has written to all the heads of departments to tabulate the monthly burden of the DA merger and to send the details to it. They say that the expenditure wing of the Finance Department has all the details with it and there was no need to ask for any information from the departments.

The states like Haryana have not issued any such order to the heads of departments and have asked for the permission from the Election Commission to merge the DA. However, the EC has denied permission to Haryana for the merger of the DA till the completion of the parliamentary election process.

Union leaders believe that the heads of departments would take long time to tabulate the information and send it to the Punjab Government. Mr Karnail Singh Saini, joint general secretary of the Punjab Civil Secretariat Employees Association, said that the Chief Minister should ask the committee to submit its report within a week or so. The matter should not be delayed further as the employees have to pay for the admission fees, books, etc of their wards in the months of April and May.

Each employee would get a substantial benefit in case the house rent is also merged along with the DA in the basic pay. Otherwise, the benefit would be in the range of Rs 250 to Rs 600 per month, depending on the pay scales. The annual liability on the state exchequer would be in the range of Rs 267 crore, it is learnt.

Meanwhile, union leaders have criticised the Election Commission of India for not granting permission to the Haryana Government to merge the DA.

Moreover, the Centre has already issued a letter for the merger of DA from this month.


Tohra set for bhog function
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Tohra (Patiala), April 10
Villagers across this district and Fatehgarh Sahib are gearing up to give a people’s farewell to Gurcharan Singh Tohra — their pradhanji for decades. They are raising welcome arches, a huge ‘pandal’, and organising langar for the bhog ceremony of Pradhanji. Many are just standing guard outside Pradhanji’s house.

“Pradhanji may be no more, but it will take us some time to get used to this reality”, say party workers.

Gurdarshan Bahiya, a confidant of Pradhanji is putting up a photo exhibition near the rally site.

The bhog is being held in fields on the outskirts of the village. A huge tent has been put up there. It can accommodate 60,000 people.

The pandal has fans and mats to ensure people can sit through the six-hour-long programme. The bhog of the Akhand Path will take place at 9 a.m. This will be followed by kirtan for three hours. After this “shradhanjalis” (tributes) would be paid to the late leader by prominent leaders for three hours.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, a prominent-SAD leader, Mrs Sushma Swaraj would represent the NDA at the function.

Patiala zone Inspector-General of Police Rajinder Singh personally supervised arrangements at the village. Police personnel from both Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib districts have been detailed for the bhog venue.


Justice after 11 years
Two doctors sentenced to life for colleague’s murder
Jangveer Singh

Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 10
The fact that she has got justice more than 11 years after the murder of her husband by his professional colleagues is still to sink in for Dr Suman Goel. “I had an idea that my life’s mission would be fulfilled today but even after getting justice, I am feeling numb,” says the doctor who has, after an 11-year fight, ensured life sentenced for two fellow doctors who had hired a professional killer to murder her husband.

Dr Suman Goel’s mission was fulfilled at the Special TADA Court in the maximum-security jail in Nabha, which awarded life sentence to Dr S.S. Sandhu of Sandhu Nursing Home in the city and Dr H.S. Sohal, an orthopaedician, for hatching a conspiracy to murder her husband, Dr Megh Raj Goyal.

Dr Goel said it was an uphill task for her. After the death of my husband in July, 1997, I went to the police, but did not get any help. Then, I approached politicians, but in vain. It was then that I decided to go to the court, which helped me get justice”, she said. She said the Punjab and Haryana High Court handed over the case to the CBI in 1996 after a four-year struggle, following which investigations to track the murderers of her husband started.

Dr Goel admits: “Many times I thought whether it was worth it. But there was no way out. I would not have been at peace otherwise, so I could not leave it. Speaking about the accused in the case, she said: “I feel sad for them as now there lives are also going to be destroyed, as was mine. However they are paying for a wrong which they committed deliberately”.

The court of Additional Judge S.P. Banigan accepted the view of CBI prosecutor Y.K. Saxena that Dr Sandhu had a strong motive in eliminating Dr Goel. It claimed that this was done to eliminate a business rival as Dr Goel’s psychiatric hospital was in direct competition with that of the accused, Dr Sandhu.

The CBI had earlier highlighted the fact that the two doctors hired a professional killer, Balwinder Singh, who is absconding to kill Dr M.R. Goel. The agency held that Rs 50,000 were paid to the killer with the promise of another Rs 1.50 lakh after the act.

The prosecution led 47 witnesses to the stand and also presented the extra judicial confession of the killer, Balwinder Singh, before a nurse, Sawinder Kaur.

It also contended that the killer had made a confessional statement before the then Superintendent of Police (Detective), Patiala, under Section 15 of TADA.

Both accused doctors were taken into custody immediately after pronouncement of the order and sent to jail. The court earlier held them guilty of murder and convicted then for life, besides crying a penalty of Rs 3,000. The court has also sentenced the accused to rigorous imprisonment of five years and a fine of Rs 2,000 which, if realised, will be paid to the widow.


Tree ‘speaks’ of Guru’s life
Tribune News Service

Khadoor Sahib, April 10
The 600-year -old ‘speaking tree’, near Darbar Sahib here, relives the childhood memories of the second Sikh master, Guru Angad Dev, apart from narrating the story of invasion by Mughal Emperor Babar, through a unique sound system fitted on it .

It has become a great attraction for the devotees who are thronging this ‘white town’ in a large number in connection with the fifth birth centennial celebrations of Guru Angad Dev. The tree, which is a few yards away from the historical ‘Bibi Amro da Khuh’ (well belonging to daughter of Guru Angad Dev) tells the devotees how Bhai Pheru Mal , father of Lehna (who later became Guru Angad Dev) reached this ancient place. By using the poetry mode, the ‘Bohar tree’ which has been preserved as ‘great Sikh heritage’ tells that it (the tree) was witness to the birth of Bhai Lehna, his childhood and saw numerous autumns and springs in the past 600 years.

Multimedia in charge, Dr Raghbir Singh Bains, said the ‘speaking tree’ presents a 45-minute documentary, written and directed by Canada-based Sikh scholar Inderjit Singh Bains. It also presents the pictorial history of this ancient town and ‘family of the Guru’.

Besides, the ‘speaking tree’ recites ‘kirtan’ (holy hymns’) whenever any devotee approaches it. Mr Bains said the ‘Bohar’ had been converted into a ‘speaking tree’ by using ultra-modern sound system. This would be a permanent feature.

Baba Sewa Singh has also ensured listening of ‘kirtan’ in all 40 well-furnished rooms of the serai in Darbar Sahib. ‘Kirtan’ would also be heard in the parking slots of the serai.

Another great attraction of Khadoor Sahib would be five-storeyed ‘Nishan-e-Sikhi’, being constructed with the donation of Rs 1 crore, given by a anonymous NRI. The tower is being constructed on two acres near Gurdwara Tappiana here, which would be completed within two years.

Baba Sewa Singh said each floor of the proposed tower would be dedicated to the development of ‘gurmukhi script’, Punjabi language, training of preachers and ‘ragis’. The top floor of the tower would be used for placing of Guru Granth Sahib.


No development during Cong rule: Akali MLA
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, April 10
Mr Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal, SAD MLA from Kum Kalan and son of SAD-BJP nominee for the Phillaur parliamentary constituency, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal former Speaker, Punjab, at a public meeting here yesterday asked the voters to compare the performance of Vajpayee government with the 45 years of Congress rule. He urged them to vote in favour of the SAD-BJP nominees.

He said the Amarinder government had brought the development process initiated by the SAD-BJP government in the state to grinding halt in the past two years. Elaborating, the SAD MLA cited the example of the Rohan-Machhiwara bridge, the construction of which was started during the Badal government. It was expected to be completed about two years ago but was still lying incomplete though the funds for the construction work had already been provided by the Badal government. He had raised the issue in the Assembly also.

Chaudhary Mohan Lal, former SAD MLA from Banga exhorted the SAD-BJP workers to work hard to exploit the ‘feel good’ factor for mobilising people.

Mr Jaswinder Singh Anokherwal, former chairman, Market Committee, Banga, Mr Dinesh Chopra, former President, Municipal Council, Rahon, Mr Paramjit Singh Mirpur, Jathedar Mohinder Singh Bajaj, and Bahadur Chand Arora, senior SAD-BJP leaders, also spoke on the occasion.


Karan promises to give tough fight to Sukhbir
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, April 10
Ms Karan Brar, daughter-in-law of former state Chief Minister Harcharan Singh Brar and Congress nominee from the Faridkot parliamentary constituency, has promised to give fight to her opponent candidate, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, general secretary of the SAD and son of former state Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

Criticising the SAD candidate for describing the fight just a friendly match between both candidates, she said it would be a “Mahabharta between corruption (Badal family) and honesty (Brar family)”.

Talking to mediapersons at the residence of Mr Avtar Singh Brar, vice-president, PPCC, and local ex-MLA, Ms Karan Brar, who had arrived here today to kick off her poll campaign, she denied any factionalism in the Congress.

She said she had addressed three public and party workers’ meeting at Muktsar, Malout and Gidderbaha during the past two days and had good response from all sections.

Later, addressing a gathering after opening the election office in the Improvement Trust Shopping complex, she sought the cooperation of the electorate to make her victorious.

Many senior Congress leaders, including Mr Avtar Singh Brar, Mr Surinder Iqbal Singh Brar, president, DCC, Mr Aman, state president NSIU, and Mr Gurtej Singh Gill, former president, local Nagar Council, also spoke on the occasion.


Lok Jan Shakti Party leader to support Mann
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 10
Mr Kuku Gill, a senior leader of the Lok Jan Shakti Party, who contested the Assembly election from Sangrur, but lost, in the recent past, has extended his support to Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, candidate of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Mann) from Sangrur Parliamentary Constituency.

In a press note issued here yesterday by Mr Harpreet Singh Bhandari, district press secretary of the SAD (A), said Mr Kuku Gill had also termed Mr Mann a “messiah” of Dalits while extending his support to Mr Mann in the Lok Sabha elections.


NSUI plans campaign against NDA govt
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, April 10
The Punjab unit of the National Students Union of India (NSUI) plans to launch a campaign ahead of the forthcoming Lok Sabha poll to make people aware about the “misdeeds” of the BJP-led NDA combine in the state.

Under the campaign, nukkad meetings, skits and one-act plays will be presented. The programme is likely to start on April 18. This was stated by Mr Aman Prashar, state president of the body, while talking to mediapersons here today. He said the NDA had failed to deliver the goods in the education field. The rate of unemployment was very high due to the poor economic policies of the Central government.

Ridiculing the “feel good and India shining” factors of the BJP, Mr Prashar said the BJP was not addressing the core issues of the country.


SJP candidate criticises malicious advertisements
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 10
Mr Ajeet Singh Parmar, Samajwadi Janta Party, candidate from the Hoshiarpur Lok Saha seat has criticised the Akali-BJP and the Congress CPM alliances for giving advertisements against each other in newspapers.

In a press release here yesterday, he said this mud-slinging against former Chief Minister and the present Chief Minister by both alliances was against personal ehics and moral values and this was being done to exploit public sentiments.

Mr Parmar appealed to the Chief Election Commissioner and others to unearth the source of money being spent on issuing such advertisements.


Pensioners’ protest on April 20, May 3
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 10
Punjab Government pensioners, under the banner of the Punjab State Pensioners Confederation, will take out protest marches carrying black flags in Patiala, parliamentary constituency of Ms Preneet Kaur, wife of Capt Amarinder Singh, Punjab Chief Minister, and Sunam on April 20 and May 3, respectively, against the Punjab Government for not fulfilling their demands, mentioned in the Congress manifesto of the February 2002 Assembly elections.

Giving this information here today, Mr Rana Raghu Partap, president of the Sangrur Government Pensioners Welfare Association, said the pensioners were “forced” by the state government to take the step as the Punjab Chief Minister did not have even a single meeting with the representatives of the pensioners to redress their grievances.

Mr Partap said the pensioners had decided to take the step to tell Capt Amarinder Singh that if he did not fulfil their demands, then Ms Preneet Kaur would have to pay a heavy price in the Lok Sabha elections.

The demands of the pensioners include the merger of 50 per cent of the Dearness Allowance (DA) in basic pension, Rs 500 crore per month medical allowance to every pensioner, 15 per cent increase in the pension of pensioners above 80 years on the pattern of MLAs, revival of commutation on old pattern for pensioners and introduction of house rent/maintenance allowance.


Junoon star in his ancestors’ city
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 10
The city could not have asked for a better ambassador. Just two months back Junoon group lead member Salman Ahmed had come to the city to participate in the Heritage Festival and also visit the house of his ancestors. A misty eyed Salman had claimed that he would be back but none counted on it being so soon.

Salman, however, was consumed by the desire to return to the city of his roots. “I have been flying between Karachi, Mumbai and London for the past five weeks to make this happen”. What is going to happen over the next few days is the video shoot for his role album.

Salman, who arrived in the city today morning, is going to shoot the title song of the album “Ghoom Taana” here. The song, with the same name, is being sung by him and Shubha Moudgil. Nandita Das is the leading character in the video and Naseeruddin is giving the voice-over.

“It was an emotional moment when I showed Ammi pictures of her house in Bassi Pathana and the house of her in- laws at the Namdar Khan road in Patiala”, says Salman. “Ammi cried. I cried with her. It was then that I told her that I wanted to capture her house on film. So here I am”, he says

“I vowed during my last to the city that I would do something to make a connection with the city of my ancestors and this song is an answer”, he says.

The Pak artist says “Ghoom Taana” is also about rebuilding of trust between the people of both countries. “It is a song of hope which binds the entire subcontinent”, he says adding that it will be shot in the Quila Mubarak, the house of his mother on the Namdar Khan road, named after one of his ancestors. “The album is a labour of love for me as well as others who have putting in their talent. Everyone is donating their services be it the technical staff to the actors Nandita Das and Naseeruddin Shah. “I plan to release the album on August 14 and 15 in Pakistan and India respectively”, he adds.

For person who had asked his Ammi for one year to follow his passion, Salman has come a long way. “Music was my passion during studies at King Edward Medical College where I was pursuing the MBBS degree”, Salman disclosed. He said he came on the national scene in Pak when his band “Vital Signs” won a talent contest while he was still in college. The song by the band “Dil Dil Pakistan” became a rage. “I however, left the band as I wanted to pursue spiritual poetry and also did not look at myself as a pop star”, says Salman. “It took six years to coax people to listen to our songs before Jazba Junoon became a hit. Two years later came “Sayonee” which became a hit in the sub continent”. The man who never wanted to become a star is now geared up to give music to the first directorial venture of Naseeruddin Shah.


Admn fears trouble at temple kar seva
Rashmi Talwar

Ram Tirath (Amritsar), April 10
Anticipating trouble following the call for “large-scale” kar seva tomorrow for the sarovar of the ancient temple here by the Bhartiya Valmiki Dharm Samaj, despite stay orders on any new construction till April 20, heavy police force has been requisitioned.

The district administration would start the deployment of police personnel just after dark tonight in view of the fact that no lighting arrangement is there on temple premises, which could be used by miscreants to cause trouble.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Raminder Singh, said a meeting of district officials and others today planned the security arrangements for tomorrow. However, kar seva would not be stopped, he added.

Tension continues to prevail at the temple premises folowing the stone-pelting incident three days ago in which three persons were injured. This had followed a clash between followers of mahants and Valmiki activists. According to large posters released by Valmiki samaj office-bearers, the proposed kar seva procession to this ancient temple is scheduled to start from the Valmiki temple near Hall Gate tomorrow morning.

Mounted police, riot gear, teargas, plastic bullets, etc, have been readied for tomorrow. A nearby plot has been converted into a parking area and no vehicle is being allowed near the temple entry. The Deputy Commissioner personnel from the police districts of Majitha or Tarn Taran could requisitioned.

ASI Sukhdev Singh, in charge of the Ram Tirath Chowki, was replaced a day ago with Mr Gurbachan Lal, who was monitoring the site today.


Protest against temple ‘demolition’
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 10
Residents in the city, including members of the Mahadev Amarnath Seva Samiti, today took out a march to lodge their protest against the demolition of a temple being constructed in the Bhupindra Mill area without getting its site plan sanctioned by the Municipal Corporation.

The rally was taken out by the residents despite the fact that Mr D.K. Tiwari, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Bathinda, yesterday clarified that no temple was demolished and only those buildings, which were coming up illegally, were pulled down after completing all formalities.


Slump in demand for campaigning material

Jalandhar, April 10
While most of the political parties have announced the names of the candidates for the LS poll, and the latter have been kicked off their campaign, local businessmen dealing in election material including banners, posters, badges, stickers etc are still to get any order.

“It is almost total slump in the demand for election material, as even after the announcement of candidates by most of the political parties, we have not received any order from any of the candidates for banners, stickers, posters or any other material,” said Ashok Kohli, who deals in election material.

“In the last assembly election, we got the orders well in advance and at a specific time we refused some orders due to lack of time,” Kohli said, adding that keeping in mind the earlier experience, we have already purchased the raw material like colours, clothes etc, but still did not get any order.

Citing reasons for slump in the market, he said perhaps latest communication equipment like cell phones, Internet, SMS and advertisement in the print and electronic media had hit their business.

A businessman, Rakesh Sharma, dealing in election material, narrated the same story and cited political reasons like the late announcement of candidates by the ruling party and death of Akali stalwart and SGPC chief G.S. Tohra.

As the Congress has already announced its candidates and after the bhog ceremony of Tohra tomorrow, the demand for election material would definitely be there, he hoped.

Owner of another outlet said the reason behind the slump was stern guidelines by the local municipal corporation.

“Perhaps we will get the orders for banners in the last leg of the campaign due to the fear of candidates for the removal of banners by the local authorities” he hoped.

However, a businessman from Mathura, Vinod Sharma, was quite happy as he got some orders for banners and posters from the SAD and the BSP. — PTI


Extend ‘dastar’ days till April 15, urges Sikh body
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 10
The Sikh Nation Organisation (SNO) today made an appeal to all Sikh saints, religious bodies, Damdami Taksal, SGPC, Gurdwara Management Committees, Chief Khalsa Divan, Singh Sabhas, Sukhmani Sahib Seva Societies, Sikh Student Federations and all religious, social and political organisations to join hands to propagate Sikh identity and ideology on Baisakhi.

In a press note issued here today, Dr Manjit Singh Randhawa, president, SNO, urged the Sikhs to extend ‘dastar’ days from April 13 to 15.

Dr Randhawa said the “dastar” days had been extended to three to end confusion as some Sikh organisations would celebrate Baisakhi on April 13 while the SGPC had given a call to celebrate it on April 14 as per the Nanakshahi calendar.


Safai karamchari commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 10
Sheeshpal (28), a sanitation employee of the Municipal Council died at the civil hospital here last night. He had reportedly consumed insecticide, sources said.

According to information, Sheeshpal had been employed as a safai karamchari on compensatory grounds as his father Puran Chand died of tuberculosis during service at an age of 55 last year. He repeatedly complained that the council had not fully paid allowances and funds on account of Puran Chand’s death.

Sheeshpal, survived by wife and three children, had reportedly borrowed Rs 10,000 from a private finance company last year. The council took some months to employ him.

The sources said Sheeshpal was unable to repay the loan as the Municipal Council had been irregular in paying salary to its staff. The financer had allegedly threatened Sheeshpal of dire consequences as the latter had not paid the instalment. This led to the mishap.

He was taken to a hospital but could not be saved.

The affected family did not lodge a complaint against the financier.


Ad against Ashutosh Maharaj flayed
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 10
The All-India Divya Jyoti Students Federation today criticised the Khalsa Panchayat, Ludhiana, for allegedly inserting advertisements against the Nurmahlia sect chief Ashutosh Maharaj in some Punjabi newspaper.

The state president of the federation, Mr Amar Shrivastva, in a press statement issued here today, alleged that the attempts of the Khalsa Panchayat to tarnish the image of Ashutosh Maharaj would not succeed as the federation would give befitting reply to it.

He urged the newspaper managements not to publish defamatory material given by the Khalsa Panchayat.


Lawyer held for breach of peace
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, April 10
The agitation by members of the District Bar Association today took a new turn when Mr Harjit Singh Sandhu, lawyer, was arrested by the city police last night in a criminal case under various sections of the IPC on the charge of manhandling abusing and threatening Mr Sandeep Oberoi, a correspondent with Punjab Today.

Mr Sandhu was also booked on the charge of breach of peace. He was released on bail today by an Executive Magistrate.

On knowing about the arrest of Mr Sandhu, a meeting of the District Bar Association was held today where the highhandedness of the police in arresting Mr Sandhu was flayed.

The lawyers stayed away from the court in this connection. Mr A.R. Sabharwal, president of the association, claimed that the members of the Phagwara Bar Association also stayed away from courts to express solidarity with them.

On April 9 the police had arrested Ranjit Singh, son of Tarlok Singh, Mr Sandhu’s neighbour, in a theft case that took place in the latter’s house. Mr S.S. Dhaliwal, CJM, had remanded him in police custody till today.

Mr Oberoi alleged that Mr Sandhu allegedly manhandled and abused him in the presence of three reporters who had gone to the house of Ranjit Singh for a press meeting convened by Mr Tarlok Singh yesterday.

Mr Sandhu stated that Mr Oberoi was a friend of Ranjit Singh and was allegedly putting pressure on the police for releasing Ranjit Singh.

He denied the allegations that he manhandled Mr Oberoi.

The police got Mr Sandhu medically examined from the Civil Hospital to ascertain whether he was under the influence of liquor.

Meanwhile, Ranjit Singh was produced in the court today. He was remanded in judicial custody till April 12.


Crop destroyed in fire
Our Correspondent

Batala, April 10
Standing wheat crop in 14 kilas was burnt today at Chahal Kalan village, 10 km from here, on the Batala-Jalandhar road.

The wheat crop belonged to Mr Ghurnam Singh, Mr Bhupinder Singh, Mr Piara Singh and Mr Bua Singh.

Mr Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, state Minister for Forests, reached the spot and assured the farmers that they would be compensated by the Punjab Government at the earliest.

The fire brigade of Municipal Council, Batala, reached the spot but till then the fire had been controlled by the residents of nearby villages who brought buckets of water to extinguish the flames.


Probe against ADC starts

Gurdaspur, April 10
Deputy Commissioner Harjit Singh today confirmed that he was holding an inquiry into a complaint against the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development) Bahadur Singh, accusing him of tardy utilisation of the MP Local Area Development (MPLAD) fund.

The complaint was filed against the ADC (Development) by Minister of State for External Affairs Vinod Khanna, following a media report that Rs 4.56 crore of his fund remained unspent.

In his complaint to the CEC, Mr Khanna said he had submitted projects worth over Rs 5 crore to the ADC (Development) for implementation but the latter did not release the required fund for the purpose.

The CEC referred the complaint to Punjab’s Chief Electoral Officer who sent it to the Deputy Commissioner. — UNI


Power board control room
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 10
The Punjab State Electricity Board has set up a central control room in the office of the Superintending Engineer, Distribution Circle, on the Sohian road here.

Giving this information, Mr O. P. Sharma, Deputy Chief Engineer, Operation Circle, PSEB, Sangrur, said its telephone number was 01672-231537.


3 of family die in road mishap
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 10
Three members of a family of Kal Banjara village, near Lehragaga, about 40 km from here, were killed today when the motor cycle they were riding on collided with a truck near Khai village, a few kilometres away from Lehragaga.

According to an information, four persons, including a child, were going on the motor cycle to Khai village from Kal Banjara to meet their relatives there when the mishap took place.

The Lehragaga police said Mithu Khan, his wife Rani and son Tari had been killed in the accident, while Ms Paramjit, a relative of Mithu Khan, suffered injuries. She was admitted to a hospital.

The truck driver absconded.


Spate of thefts in town
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 10
Jewellery was stolen from the Adarsh Nagar residence of Mr S.K. Sharma today, Thieves broke open the locks of two almirahs and decamped with jewellery and some cash.

The family had gone to work when the theft took place. Interestingly, the locks of the gate were not broken.

The incident came to light when the son of Mr Sharma came to the house in the afternoon.

The house of Ms Beant Kaur was also found ransacked and jewellery and some cash was found.

Meanwhile, the house of Deep Singh of the local Sukhchain Nagar was also burgled and valuables stolen.

Deep Singh had gone to Pansgta village in connection with a function yesterday.


One arrested for armed robberies

Jalandhar, April 10
The district police today claimed to have arrested a criminal wanted in cases of two armed robberies.

District police chief G.P.S. Bhullar stated here today that on a tip-off that the perpetrator of a robbery committed in the area of Uppal Bhupa village, near here, in October last was roaming in the area of Noormahal, the police put up a naka near Mao Sahib village and intercepted the accused.

The arrested person was identified as Gurjit Singh, alias Jeeta. Rs 2000 were recovered from him. The SSP said claiming that Gurjit was part of the gang which had looted Rs 12,000 by showing knife from Inder Pal Singh in February at Noormahal.

A case under Section 382 of the IPC was registered in Bilga police station, he said. — PTI


Journalist held for extortion
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 10
The district police has registered a case against Parminder Bakshi, a Sirhind-based journalist, for allegedly extorting money from CIA Inspector. The police has arrested him.

Mr Shiv Kumar, SSP, alleged that the journalist had been blackmailing the CIA Inspector by demanding Rs 10,000/- and threatened that if he did not oblige him he would write against him by involving him in a flesh trade racket. He said he came to the residence of the CIA Inspector twice and then made calls on his mobile phone for three days. He said the CIA Inspector informed him and he further wrote to the Editor about his activities. He said he got a letter from the Editor in which he had mentioned that action was being initiated against him. He said after the enquiry, the case had been registered.


Red alert to nab Pak smuggler
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 10
A red alert has been sounded in Amritsar and nearby areas to nab a Pakistani smuggler, Abad Ali, who had fled from the court premises here yesterday after intoxicating policemen accompanying him.

The police has arrested and suspended Head Constable Makhan Singh and Constable Joginder Singh in this regard.

Mr R.P.S. Bajwa, SSP Majitha police district, while talking to this correspondent said special police teams were conducting raids to nab the accused. He further said an enquiry was being conducted by SSP Amritsar Kultar Singh. However, Mr Kultar Singh could not be contacted as he was out of station.


Two hurt in clash over land
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, April 10
Two persons were injured in a clash between two groups of residents of Dera Jagadhari village near here today.

Ms Harjit Kaur and Gurmeet Soni, sustained injuries in the clash. They were attacked with sharp-edged weapons and sticks. They were admitted to the Civil Hospital, Dera Bassi, with injuries on their arms and the body.

In her complaint to the police Harjit Kaur stated that some members of the other group attacked her group constructing a boundary wall around a piece of ‘disputed’ land this morning.

The police has booked six persons — Om Prakash, Kaka Ram, Shiv Kumar, Shera, Jaaswant and Gyano Devi — on her complaint. A case under Sections 323, 324, 325, 447, 148 and 149 of the Indian Penal code has been registered against them.


Botanist Vasudeva retires
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 10
Prof S.M. Vasudeva, renowned botanist and academician, was accorded a warm send-off on his superannuation as professor of botany by members of the Botany Teachers Club, Department of Botany, Punjabi University, yesterday. Professor Vasudeva retired on March 31 after putting in over 30 years of service. A farewell party was also organised in his honour by members of the Botanical Society of the Department of Botany and students on Thursday.

During his career, he published over 100 research papers, four research books and guided six research students. He was awarded with Prof S.S. Bir International Medal in Pteridology, was elected Fellow of the Linnean Society of London and nominated active member of the New York Academy of Sciences. He also presented a research paper at an international symposium on pteridophytes held at the Royal Botanical Garden in Kew, England. He is currently the vice-president of the Indian Fern Society and member of the editorial advisory committee of the Eco-Research Journal of Bio-Sciences.


Workshop focuses on industry-institute partnership
Tribune News Service

Malout, April 10
A two-day national-level workshop on industry-institute partnership in training and development began at the local Malout Institute of Management and Information Technology (MIMIT).

Mr Pardeep Aggarwal, an industrialist, who inaugurated the workshop in which a number of representatives of business houses and technical institutes are participating, said that such workshops brought industry and institutes on the same platform.

Mr S.C.S. Cheruvu, Deputy General Manager (Human Resources), National Fertilisers Limited, laid stress on the importance of turnover per employee in the industry.

Dr Gurdip Singh, Principal, MIMIT, while explaining the upcoming changes in globalisation and technology, emphasised that outsourcing would be a compulsion of the system and not a fashion trend.

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