P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Mahants to go to court against temple kar seva
Our Correspondent

Ram Tirath (Amritsar), April 11
Mahant Baldev Giri, Mahant Ram Lubaya, Mahant Bhan Dass and Mahant Raj Kumar today decided to file a contempt of court application against the large scale kar seva at the ancient temple here even as hundreds of kar sevaks gathered on the call of various Valmiki organisations for seva amidst tight security here.

Mr Panna Lal Tambe, chairman, National Safai Karamchari Commission, flagged off the procession from Balmiki Temple. On his visit to the temple site Mr Tambe assured Valmiki organisations that he would take up the matter with the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, to hand over the temple reins to the Valmikis.

However, the national office-bearers of the commission also sat with the mahants in their dera on the temple premises even as police personnel were deputed in strength in and around the site. While a senior member of the Bhartiya Valmiki Dharm Samaj openly castigated the government-formed Ram Tirath Development Board in front of Deputy Mayor Om Parkash Gabbar (who claims to be a member). The activist went to the extent of offering representation to Mahant Baldev Giri, who engaged in a legal battle with them, in the new non-political board proposed for the temple. However, the latter promptly declined the offer.

The Deputy Mayor, got angry with a woman devotee, who openly accused him of amassing wealth instead of building a Valmiki temple. A large number of personnel posted on the premises, including Mr Gurbachan Lal, chowki in charge Ram Tirath, silenced the warring sides and prevented the situation from taking an ugly turn.

Meanwhile, Darshana Ratna Ravana, head of the Adi Dharma Samaj, said that the “kar seva is not in good hands” as political persons had joined it and the development board should be disbanded. He said they would hold a national level meet in Amritsar or Jalandhar on April 17 to decide steps to get the control of the tirath to the Valmikis from the mahants and disband the development board. He said a proposal to enact a Valmiki Tirath Act on the pattern of the Sikh Gurdwara Act should be mooted. He also hinted at boycotting elections if their demands were not met.


Poll officer issues notice to Takht manager
Orders cancellation of SAD conference
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, April 11
Resentment prevails among a large section of Sikhs and members of other communities after the Assistant Returning Officer (ARO) of Talwandi Sabo issued a notice to the manager of Takht Damdama Sahib, directing him not to allow the SAD to hold its political conference at Bhai Dal Singh Diwan Hall, situated on the Takht complex, on Baisakhi as it would violate the model code of conduct.

Though Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner-cum-district election officer, said if the Takht management allowed the conference of April 14, the matter would be reported to the Election Commission for action, Bhai Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, said the SAD would hold the conference in the diwan hall.

He said the issuance of a written notice to the Takht manager, Mr Bharpur Singh, by the ARO was a direct interference of the Congress government in the religious affairs of Sikhs.

He said the hall was being looked after by the SGPC and it had passed a resolution about 15 years ago, permitting in SAD to hold its conferences there.

A formal complaint had been lodged with Mr Sinha by the district leadership of the SAD (A) yesterday in which it demanded that the SAD should not be allowed to hold the conference in the diwan hall.

After several years, the Congress and the CPI, which had fielded a candidate from the Bathinda (Reserved) parliamentary constituency, will hold a joint conference on Baisakhi. The other parties which were likely to hold conferences on the same day included the General Samaj Party, the SAD (A) and the BSP. The SAD was also likely to release its manifesto on the occasion.

For the convenience of devotees who are expected to pay their obeisance at the Takht, the district administration has made elaborate arrangements, including security and medicare.


Kala Afghana raps SGPC for award to Tohra
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Gurbaksh Singh Kala AfghanaChandigarh, April 11
Excommunicated Sikh scholars Gurbaksh Singh Kala Afghana and Joginder Singh, Chief Editor of Spokesman today took on the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) for honouring late Gurcharan Singh Tohra with the Panth Ratan Award.

Declaring a war against the SGPC on the occasion of a Sikh conclave called in support of the excommunicated Chief Editor of the Spokesman, Mr Joginder Singh, Kala Afghana said the Sikh Panth was “displeased” by the move of the SGPC. Speaking to The Tribune, the writer, who invited the wrath of the Sikh clergy for his controversial work on the Sixth Guru of the Sikhs, said the SGPC’s decision to honour a late politician was wrong, especially on the day of his “bhog”.

Unsparing in his tone while criticising the Sikh clergy’s authority to summon people on Akal Takht, Kala Afghana said, “This is a wrong way of conferring titles, that too on a politician who expired recently. This is nothing but emotional blackmailing of the mourners”. The gathered Sikhs also resolved that they would resort to legal measures to rid the clergy of its power to summon people and issue edicts against them.

Challenging the SGPC’s decision to honour the former jathedar, Afghana said a proper analysis of a dead person’s contribution to the society can only be guaged five years after his death.

Referring to the Christians who confer the title of sainthood on a person only after 10 years of his/her death, he said, “The same was done in the case of Mother Teresa. Conferring the title of Panth Ratan on a politician 10 days after his death is nothing but a political gesture”, he said.

Kala Afghana also rued that Tohra had been responsible for the demolition of the historical original sites connected with Sikh religion. Calling him a renegade, he said, “Tohra destroyed the heritage of the Sikhs. All the buildings established under the guidance of the Sikh gurus lost their character due to the ornamental alterations made with Tohra’s consent. This is against the tenet of Sikh religion, which takes pride in simplicity and decries ostentation”.

Kala Afghana said the issue should be re examined after the expiry of five years and a decision should be taken on whether or not it was right to confer this title on jathedar Tohra. He also said that the entire Sikh conclave annualed the edict issued against Mr Joginder Singh by the Sikh priests. “The so called edict is violative of the basic tenets of Sikhism and has been issued by those who have not been vested with any powers to do so under the Sikh Gurdwara Act and the Sikh Rehat Maryada.”

Afghana also challenged the priests to confront him on this very issue in full presence of the media. Although in a bad state of health, Kala Afghana made it a point to be there to officially support the resolutions passed against the Sikh clergy by the Sikhs who came from as far as Jammu and Kashmir, Faridabad, Mumbai, even Italy and Germany. It was further resolved that a seminar on the Sikh clergy’s role in context of writers would be soon organised, and it would be attended by Khushwant Singh and Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen.


SAD, Cong pay joint tribute to Tohra
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 11
The Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today came on one platform to pay homage to Akali patriarch Gurcharan Singh Tohra at the “bhog” ceremony of the late leader here.

The Congress continued with its theme of projecting the “honesty” of Tohra and stressing that the “panth” did not belong to one particular group. The SAD maintained a completely subdued mode, only stressing the unique character of the late SGPC leader, with there being no Congress bashing in any form.

The surprise came from the Akali Dal (Amritsar) President Simranjit Singh Mann, who took pot shots at everyone left right and centre, prompting even Mr Parkash Singh Badal to comment afterwards that some people were hell bent on taking political mileage out of any event however much they may be stopped.

CPI leader Joginder Dayal stressed on the socialist thought of the late leader, for which he was snubbed. Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala stressed that the responsibility of following the ideals of Tohra had now fallen on Mr Badal.

PPCC President H.S. Hanspal, and Capt Amarinder Singh spoke on behalf of the Congress, stated that the Sikh ‘panth’ was not the monopoly of a few people. He called for spreading Tohra’s message to people, which he said would be the real tribute to the late leader. Hanspal also took it upon himself to pay tributes to Tohra on behalf of the Namdhari sect, of which he talked about more than the Congress party.

Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh stressed on the “honest life” led by Tohra, a theme on which he has spoken many a time in the past 10 days since the death of the SGPC chief. He said Tohra had left an example for others to follow, asking how many politicians of today could set such an example. The Chief Minister also claimed that he had not announced facilities for Tohra’s widow Joginder Kaur hoping for any political reward. “This was done solely to pay tributes to the great man”, he added. He also highlighted the “parivarik sanjh” of his family with Tohra, saying “politics is not everything. Personal relations also matter”.

The Akali Dal (Amritsar) President S.S. Mann took on the “special relation” of Tohra with the Congress, immediately after starting his lecture. He claimed that Tohra had acted as a shield for the Congress adding the real fight would start now with the shield being no more. He also took on the SAD for ousting Tohra from the SGPC. “We Sikhs bring our leaders on elephants when we are to crown them, but ensure an ignominious exit for them when they are to be dethroned”, he added.

Mann went on to allege that many crocodile tears were being shed on the occasion. “People are professing they will die without Tohra, but friends this is farthest from the truth”. Speaking about his own closeness with the SGPC President, he said during their joint incarceration in the Nidampur guest house in 1992, Tohra had told him that he could never get the top post in the state due to the “landlord” and “feudal” lobbies. “The old feudal set-up has disappeared and a new one has been formed in the state”, he said, asking people how they would fight it when they were part of it. “Only the Amritsar Dal can fight this”, he added.

SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal was all humility on the occasion. He even joined his hands when the Chief Minister and other Congress leaders were walking towards the stage. Later, he thanked all political parties for attending the “Bhog” ceremony. He also said it was unfortunate that politicians acted as politicians even on such occasions. “They are our guests”, he said, adding the people knew about the mission of the late SGPC President.

Those who spoke on the occasion included Deputy Speaker Birdevinder Singh, who was most avidly listened to by the audience, Balwant Singh Ramoowalia of the Lok Bhalai Party, BJP state President Avinash Rai Khanna, Union Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Governor Surjit Singh Barnala and Akali leaders Manjit Singh Calcutta and Bibi Jagir Kaur.

Punjab ministers Gurchet Singh Bhullar, Avtar Henry, Ashwini Sekhri, Choudhary Jagjit Singh, Lal Singh, Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Jagmohan Singh Kang, Malkit Singh Birmi and a few legislators were also present on the occasion.


No laxity in Tohra’s treatment, says doctor
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 11
The chief cardiac surgeon and Director, Escorts Hospital, Dr Naresh Trehan, today brushed aside the controversy generated by the reported statements by some politicians about the lack of medical facilities in the aircraft that flew the ailing Akali stalwart, Gurcharan Singh Tohra, to New Delhi.

Dr Trehan said after Tohra was brought to the Escorts Heart Institute here on the evening of March 25 in a critical condition, a team of senior cardiologists and cardiac surgeons attended on him and gave him the best possible treatment. He said he along with another senior cardiologist were continuously monitoring his condition from Delhi on phone.


Surjeet sees anti-NDA wave
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, April 11
Mr Harkishen Singh Surjeet, General Secretary, CPM, while addressing an election rally in favour of the CPM-Congress nominee for the Hoshiarpur Lok Sabha seat, Mr Darshan Singh Matoo, at Pojewal, about 25 km from here, today called upon people to vote the NDA out of power in the ensuring parliamentary elections.

Accusing the BJP of maintaining double standards and dubbing it as a threat to social and communal harmony, Mr Harkishen Singh Surjeet said though the BJP had been talking of bringing in an constitutional amendment to ensure holding of parliamentary election after the expiry of its full term, but it had put a burden of Rs 1,100 crore on the country by opting for early Lok Sabha poll. Besides, the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, took out a ‘rath yatra’ again to befool people by raising communal issues as he did in 1989, alleged Mr Harkishen Surjeet.

He said it was evident from the poor public response to the ‘rath yatra’ of Mr Advani that people had made up their mind to teach the communal forces a lesson in the elections. He had experienced a strong anti-NDA wave across the country. The secular forces would regain power at the Centre and Left Front would be a formidable force after the poll he claimed.

Besides the CPM-Congress nominee, Mr Darshan Singh Matoo, and senior CPM leaders — Prof Balwant Singh, Mr Raghunath Singh, Mr Ram Singh Nurpuri, Mr Rakesh Nayyar, a number of Congress leaders, including Ms Santosh Kataria, chairperson, Zila Parishad, Mr Bhagat Ram Chauhan, PPCC member Mr Dilbagh Baghi, general secretary, PPCC (Legal Cell), Mr Om Parkash Khepar, chairman, Block Samiti, Mr Harjinder Lally, also addressed the rally. The Congress leaders flayed the sitting Congress MP, Mr Charanjit Singh Channi for deserting the Congress and contesting the Hoshiarpur Lok Sabha seat as a BSP candidate.


Unrest among Cong workers persists
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, April 11
Though all five Congress legislators in the district have pledged support to the party candidate for the Lok Sabha elections. Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, Congress workers do not seem to be in no mood to work for the party and garner support for Mr Brar.

The supporters of Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, MLA and Political Secretary to the Chief Minister, a keen aspirant for the Lok Sabha ticket had openly rebelled against the candidature of Mr Brar earlier, are still raising voices of dissent publicly.

Though Mr Brar and Mr Sodhi publicly buried their differences but insiders reveal that differences still persist. Rana Sodhi group tried hard to get the party ticket for him but the party high command and its way and fielded Mr Brar.

Initially, there were indications that Mr Hira Sodhi, a son of Mr Rana Sodhi, might contest as an Independent candidate.

Mr Zora Singh Mann, sitting MP and SAD-BJP candidate from this constituency is also facing dissidence from within the party. His rivalry with Mr Sher Singh Ghubhaya, ex-MLA from Jalalabad, who has lot of influence among the Rai Sikh community is an open secret but after the intervention of Mr Badal, he has been able to persuade Mr Sher Singh. Likewise, the BJP MLA from Ferozepore, Mr Sukhpal Singh who were at loggerheads with Mr Mann has started canvassing. The rebel Akali leader. Mr Mohan Singh Phalianwala, two time MP is again trying his luck on the BSP ticket. He is likely to get good support from the Rai Sikh community of the border belt but lack of resources and manpower are his weak links. He is likely to affect the prospects of Mr Brar as Rai Sikh voters have been traditionally associated with the Congress.


Rift in Congress comes to fore
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, April 11
Factionalism in the district Congress came to the fore here yesterday when many of the senior Congress leaders abstained from the meeting convened by Mr Avtar Singh Brar, vice-president, PPCC and local ex-MLA, at his residence on the arrival of Mrs Karan Brar daughter-in-law of former state Chief Minister Harcharan Singh Brar, and a Congress nominee from the Faridkot parliamentary constituency who was to launch her poll campaign in the district. Prominent among the absentees include Mr Uppinder Sharma general secretary, PPCC and former minister, Mr Surinder Iqbal Singh Brar, president, DCC, Mr S.K. Gupta, Chairman, Improvement Trust, Farkdkot, and a close associate of former President Giani Zail Singh, Mr Kuldip Singh Chameli, Chairman, Zila Parishad, Mr Gurcharan Singh and Mr Gurtej Singh Gill, president and former president, Nagar Council, Faridkot, respectively. These leaders made it clear that they were not invited to the meeting. However, all of them except Mr Sharma and Mr Gupta not only later attended the function organised by the party to open the poll office of Mrs Brar but also assured all help during the poll campaign.

It was learnt that Mrs Karan Brar accompanied by her husband Mr Kanwaljit Singh Brar ex-MLA, Muktsar, went to the houses of Mr Sharma and Mr Gupta and discussed with them various matters related to the elections. Both Brars sought the support of the senior district Congress leaders in the poll.

Later talking to his reporter denying any kind of infighting among the district party leaders. Mr Karan Brar affirmed that she had received overwhelming support from all workers and the senior leaders for the poll. She said she was also meeting members of the District Bar Association to redress their grievances generated following the trifurcation of Faridkot district into Moga and Muktsar in 1995 by her father-in-law.

Being a close relative of the state Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, she has already discussed the issue in detail with him. The Chief Minister it is learnt has assured to revive the past glory of Faridkot district after the completion of poll process. She said her priorities were to ensure potable water supply, removal of waterlogging etc. She also promised to work for the development of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences here.


Groupism in Cong comes to fore
Our Correspondent

Barnala, April 11
Sharp groupism in the Congress came to the fore during Mr Arvind Khanna, Congress nominee from the Sangrur Lok Sabha constituency, visit here today.

Mr Harinder Singh Seera Dhillon, former vice-president of the Punjab Youth Congress, and Mr Surinderpal Singh Sibia, former Chairman of the Punjab Warehousing Corporation, organised separate functions to display their strength.

Mr Bachan Singh Pakho, Congress leader (Sangrur), Mr Bharat Bhushan Menon, vice-president of the district Sangrur Congress, and Mr Charan Kaushal, member of the local Improvement Trust were not seen at both the functions.

Addressing a press conference, Mr Khanna said the Congress in Punjab was waging a battle against corruption.

He flayed Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP and the Akali Dal (Amritsar) nominee from Sangrur, for playing with the sentiments of voters.


Congress leader backs BSP candidate
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 11
Mr Bram Shanker Jimpa, Congress Municipal Councillor, Hoshiarpur, has announced his support to Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, who is contesting as a BSP candidate from the Hoshiarpur parliamentary constituency.

In a press release here today, he said that the decision of the Congress not to field its candidate from the Hoshiarpur segment was unfortunate.

He said out of 14 elections to Parliament, including one by-election held in Hoshiarpur so far, Congress candidates had emerged victorious 10 times.

Mr Jimpa said he was extending his support to Mr Channi only on the basis of development works undertaken by him during his tenure as MP.

He appealed to the electorate not to vote on the basis of caste, class, race or religion and only vote in the name of development of the area.


Christian Front to support Congress
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 11
The United Christian Front extended support to the Congress in Gurdaspur and said only the Congress could safeguard Christians’ interests. Mr Kanwal Bakshi, front president, at a press conference at Gurdaspur said, the two lakh Christian voters in this parliamentary segment in the past two years of Congress rule had not faced single untoward incident. The same could not be said about the Akali-BJP rule.

He said feel good factor of the BJP was an illusion as far as Punjab farmers were concerned who received nothing while neighbouring states had been given Rs 614 crore package for payment for sugarcane supplied.


Lakha predicts BSP’s rout in LS poll
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 11
Mr Harbhajan Lakha, a former general secretary of the BSP, Punjab, and a former MP, who had now snapped his links with the party, today alleged that BSP President Mayawati had compromised with the interests of the party. Mr Lakha predicted disintegration of the BSP after the Lok Sabha poll.

Talking to newsmen after being nominated as candidate of the state Samta Party and the Lok Janshakti Party from Phillaur reserved Lok Sabha constituency in the presence of the state presidents of both outfits, Mr Darshan Singh Jethumajra and Mr Amar Singh Mehmi, respectively, here, Mr Lakha said the BSP was not finding candidates for the Lok Sabha poll in Punjab.

He alleged that Ms Mayawati was blinded by “satta, sukh and paisa”. She had made BSP supremo Kanshi Ram her captive and nobody knew about this plight, he said. In case something happened to Mr Kanshi Ram then Ms Mayawati would alone be responsible for it.

Earlier, addressing a Bahujan Chetna rally here, both Mr Jethumajra and Mr Mehmi alleged that the interests of the Bahujan Samaj were being ignored by the BSP.


Look into assets declared by candidates: Bitta
Our Correspondent

Amritsar April 11
Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, president, All India Anti-Terrorist Front said inquiries and counter verifications should be made about list of assets, income, tax returns filed and declared by candidates for elections, as a majority of the declarations were allegedly understated.

Addressing a press conference here today, he said those with criminal background and having anti-India stand should be banned from contesting elections.

Mr Bitta said those Congressmen, who were saying that any leader or leaders leaving the party would not affect party’s prospects, need to introspect about the future of the party instead of pursuing personal gains.

The front declared to honour the sole eyewitness and survivor of Jallianwala Bagh massacre, 108-year-old Bapu Shingara Singh at the historical bagh with a model of Jallianwala Bagh near the Amar Jyoti “eternal flame’ tomorrow.

Mr Bitta said he would take up with the President of India the government’s financial promises and other benefits made to Bapu Shingara Singh and his family. He would also present a memorandum to the President on framing a law to counter terrorism and set up special military courts to hold prompt trials against terrorists.


Brar alleges misuse of funds by Zora Singh
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 11
The Congress has launched a scathing attack against Mr Zora Singh Mann, SAD candidate.

The Congress candidate, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, campaigned in most villages falling under the Abohar Assembly constituency represented by Mr Sunil Jakhar yesterday. Other candidates, including former BSP MP Mohan Singh Phalianwala, SAD leader Inderjit Singh Zira and SAD (A) candidate Dhian Singh Mand have been virtually missing from the election scenario so far.

Mr Brar has levelled allegations regarding the amassing of property disproportionate to the known sources of income by Mr Zora Singh Mann. Mr Brar said Mr Mann was a small farmer but had financial interests in godowns and rice milling units valued at crores of rupees. He said Mr Mann had misused his position and funds from the MP Local Area Fund for raising a posh model school at Sohelewala village.

Mr Sajjan Kumar Jakhar, PPCC vice-president, blamed SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal for allegedly depriving farmers of Abohar sub-division of 800 cusecs of canal water by sanctioning special pumping units to his loyalists in Muktsar district when he was the Chief Minister.


Kalia seeks central forces for LS poll
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, April 11
Former Punjab Health Minister Manoranjan Kalia has urged the Chief Election Commissioner to depute central security forces to ensure free, fair and fearless lok Sabha elections in Punjab. Talking with this correspondent here today, Mr Kalia expressed fear that the ruling party would misuse official machinery during the elections in the state.

Mr Kalia claimed that people of the state were fed up with the anti-people policies of the Congress. He said the SAD-BJP alliance would win all 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state. Mr Kalia alleged that the Congress had not fullfilled any of its poll promises. People of the state were experiencing acute power shortage and were having to pay octroi.


Training camp for women
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 11
The BJP is trying to strengthen its base among women by organising training camps on the lines of the Congress Sewa Dal. One such camp concluded here today. The closing ceremony was preceded by a march past by 125 participants. The chief trainer riding on a horse was carrying saffron flag in her hand.

They were dressed in white with a saffron strip on the shirts. Former BJP MLA Dr Ram Kumar Goyal, his wife Mrs Suman Goyal and Mrs Saraswati Rinwa, wife of the former state BJP President, Prof Brij Lal Rinwa, accompanied the silent procession.

Krishna Dahri to enter fray

Patiala, April 11
The former Mahila District Congress President, Ms Krishna Dahri, has announced to contest elections as an Independent candidate from this constituency against Ms Preneet Kaur in the coming Lok Sabha elections. Ms Dahri said she was not satisfied with the functioning of the party. She alleged that state Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the former MP, Ms Preneet Kaur, had not bothered to give her an important post despite her long association with the party. OC


Rebellion bane of Akalis in Sangrur

Sangrur, April 11
The Sangrur Lok Sabha seat, a citadel of the Akalis, will witness a triangular contest this time. SAD nominee and Union Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, SAD (Amritsar) supremo Simranjit Singh Mann, MP in the dissolved House, and Congress nominee Arvind Khanna, MLA and known philanthropist running a voluntary organisation Umeed Khanna Foundation, are the main contestants.

CPM (Punjab) nominee Sukhdev Singh Bari and BSP nominee Mangat Rai Bansal have also started campaigning, though the process of filing of nominations is to commence on April 16.

Mann is working hard to retain the seat while Dhindsa is moving from pillar to post to win the seat again for SAD, led by former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Badal held parleys recently with Dhindsa’s rival Surjit Singh Barnala, Governor of Andhra Pradesh and his wife Surjit Kaur to bury the hatchet.

Surjit Kaur reportedly opposed Dhindsa’s candidature, accusing him for the defeat of Barnala in the 1999 LS elections.

Despite campaigning by Badal, the dissidence against Dhindsa does not seem to have died down. His own lieutenant Parkash Chand Garg, former Chairman Punjab Land Reclamation and Development Corporation (PLRDC), has refused to campaign with the rebel former minister Ranjit Singh Balian who recently rejoined the party.

Similarly, Barnala’s protege Baldev Singh Mann, general secretary of SAD, has refused to campaign with Dhindsa’s supporter former Administrative Member of PSEB Gurbachan Singh Bachi.

Baldev accused Bachi of being instrumental in the defeat of Barnala in 1999 Lok Sabha elections and for his loss in last assembly elections from Dirba seat, a segment of Sangrur seat.

The reinstatement of Bachi, who was expelled by Badal from the party for life time for opposing Mann, was treated by Barnala faction as rubbing of salt on their wounds.

He accuses Dhindsa for his dismal performance as partner in the NDA government to press for long pending demands of Punjab.

Mann also accuses Dhindsa for step motherly treatment in distributing MPLAD grants and his failure to set up any industrial project to create employment avenues.

The sudden announcement of Congress ticket to Khanna despite the Chief Minister’s repeated denials caused flutter in the Akali vote bank.

Khanna’s candidature was welcomed by all the splinter groups of the Congress for his sizeable influence due to his voluntary organisation’s free medical assistance at doorstep in about 500 villages besides work in fields of women empowerment and education and skills development training to the rural poor. — PTI


2 robbers nabbed after encounter
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 11
Two persons — Satnam Singh (23) and Jagtar Singh (28) — residents of Sandalpur and Harpura villages, respectively, were nabbed after an encounter with the police at T-point Sialka village in Majitha police district last night.

They were members of a six-member gang of robbers and were wanted in many criminal cases. A former police constable was also a member of the gang.

While four of their accomplices managed to escape under the cover of darkness, the police recovered two rifles and a number of cartridges besides two motor cycles from them. The police had registered a case under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code and under Section 25 of the Arms Act and was conducting raids at various places to nab the other members of the gang. The four have been identified as Harjot Singh of Bishniwal village, Ajmer Singh of Dabawala village, Ranjit Singh of Udanwal village and Kanwaljit Singh of Duloana village.

Mr R.P.S. Bajwa, SSP, in a press conference here today revealed that the accused had confessed that they had committed three murders and were involved in about 70-80 looting incidents, some of the cases were registered at various police stations in Batala, Majitha and Amritsar police district while some others had gone unreported. Interestingly, both the accused had a large chunks of agriculture land in their names and seemed to be habitual offenders, said the SSP. Satnam Singh has 25 acres of land in his village and in UP while Jagtar Singh has 16 acres of land, he added.

Mr Bajwa said the police laid a naka at T-point near Sialka village after a tip off. At about 10.30 pm the police signalled to six persons on two motor cycles to stop but they started firing. The police retaliated and two persons were arrested while others managed to escape. Mr Bajwa said Satnam Singh had been a close associate of Kewal Singh Kanjala, an extremist-turned-police cat, whose weapons were being used by them.

The SSP said the culprits had committed three murders in the past one year and used to sell jeweller etc to a jeweller in Batala who has also been arrested by the police. The accused Jagtar Singh had also admitted having murdered his grandmother for agriculture land.


Another breakthrough in blast case
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 11
In another breakthrough in the Goraya rail blast case, the district police has seized a huge cache of arms and explosives and arrested a woman belonging to the Lashker-e-Toiba during a joint operation with the Army in Jammu and Kashmir. A terrorist was killed in an encounter during the search operations.

Alaf Deen, a hardcore Lashkar militant who was arrested along with four other terrorists on March 30 for his alleged involvement in the case, has confessed that he was also involved in the Chattisingpura massacre. The Army had earlier claimed that all terrorists involved in massacre were, later, killed in an encounter.

The district police chief Mr G.P.S.Bhullar, addressing a press conference here today said following the interrogation of the five Lashkar terrorists, it had been established that Roshni, sister of Alaf Deen and wife of Ghulam Hussain who was an accomplice in planting the explosive for blowing off the track, was still living in Banihal in Jammu and Kashmir.

Alaf Deen, had revealed that he had received a large consignment of arms and explosives in October 2003 from Abdul Mazid, a Pakistani national and an area commander of the Lashkar. The cache was stored in a forest of Danabi near Banihal. A special police party was dispatched to the place on April 4 and Roshni was arrested from the Banihal bus stand.

The district police team along with 23 Rashtriya Rifles personnel launched a search operation in Danabi on April 7 and a huge cache of explosives was seized from a natural cave. The coach include 4 kg of RDX, a rocket propelling grenade launcher (RPG-7), five rounds of RPG, four booster charger, and two solar RCIED.


Indo-Pak doctors to work for healthcare for all by 2010
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 11
In a joint declaration on the conclusion of two-day Indo-Pak Heart Summit, the delegates today asserted to achieve “Healthcare for all by year 2010” unitedly.

The joint declaration was announced by the Patron Escorts Hospital Dr Naresh Trehan and Prof Javed Sajid Khan, head of Punjab Institute of Cardiology, Lahore, here today.

Talking to mediapersons Dr Trehan said leading cardiologists from both the countries would set up an Indo-Pak group of doctors to work in unison to prepare an action plan to achieve the ambitious “Healthcare for all by 2010”. He said the two-day summit had provided them with the right platform to involve the people of both the countries to work in close coordination to eradicate dreaded diseases and work for the welfare of the masses.

Expressing his delight over the success of conference Prof Khan said it had given Pakistani doctors an opportunity to learn from the experiances of the doctors who had achieved world class standards in the medical health care particularly in the field of cardiology.

Briefing mediapersons at the conclusion of summit, the Chairman of the organising committee and chief cardiologist Dr T. S. Kler said the Indian and Pakistani doctors had decided to strive for world class healthcare centres in both the countries for the benefit of the ailing. He said the cardiologists had decided to pool their medical knowledge to produce highly effective medical care system which would be available to the common man suffering from coronary heart diseases.

Articulating his views about the easing of visa restrictions especially for doctors and patients Dr Kler said the patients should benefit from these formalities. He said heart patients should be given travel documents immediately in order to save precious time. Talking about his personal example of treating two serious patients in Lahore during his visit last week, Dr Kler said he would expect that both the countries would work together to help such patients.

Dr Kler said in view of overwhelming response the Pakistani cardiologist had decided to host a similar heart summit in Lahore in October this year and added that the Indian doctors had accepted their invitation in the second conference. He said Indian and Pakistani doctors had agreed upon a joint protocol on research to be conducted at Escorts for Heart Institute New Delhi and Punjab Institute of Cardiology in Lahore. The work for this project would begin soon as they would exchange their research papers for the joint protocol.

Earlier, Dr Khan gave a detailed talk on the status of Cardiac surgery in Pakistan with a slide presentation. A senior cardiologist from Pakistan, Dr Mahmood Dar, spoke on “Cardiac epidemic — a Pakistani perspective” while Dr Nadeem Hayat Malik spoke about “Primary Percutanious Intervention”.

Dr Kler said more than 375 delegates attended the summit. Last evening the delegates were entertained by Sufi singers Wadali brothers.


Pak couple in Jalandhar for infertility treatment
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 11
A Jalandhar Doordarshan’s health programme has made a Pakistani couple visit Jalandhar for the treatment of infertility that has been plaguing the life of 51-year-old hotelier Mohammed Ahmed Sandhu and his second wife Asia Bibi.

Mohammed Sandhu, a former kabaddi player who remarried in 2001 after his first marriage failed to give him a child, saw a ray of hope after viewing “Doctor Nu Milo,” a health-related programme aired by Jalandhar Doordarshan. A team of doctors led by Dr S.P.S. Virk admitted them to hospital on Saturday. As a goodwill gesture, the board of directors of the hospital has decided to forego the treatment charges, estimated to be around Rs 1 lakh.

“Since, it is the first couple which has been granted visa on infertility grounds and we too want to contribute to the ongoing efforts of peace between the two countries, we have decided to treat the couple free of cost,” Dr Virk said.

“All we can do is to pray. The rest is in the hands of God and doctors here, who have been very helpful. I married again only because I did not have a child,” said Mohammed Sandhu.

Dr Virk, who has put up the couple in his house, said it was for the first time that a couple had been granted visa for treatment in a North India-based hospital.

Asked how they came to know about the availability of treatment facilities at Jalandhar, the couple said: “Actually, it was a long and difficult process.

As the scroll was moving fast, we were unsuccessful in noting down the hospital’s phone numbers. We recorded it on a VCR and played it in slow motion and then contacted Dr Virk who faxed us the requisite papers.

Dr Virk said preliminary reports had revealed that both husband and wife have some problems. “We are awaiting the final results which might take about 10 days,” he said.


‘Yes, I had changed my name after baptism’, says Poohla
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Poohla (Tarn Taran), April 11
Controversial Nihang chief, Baba Ajit Singh Poohla, today admitted that he had changed his name from Jaswinder Singh to Ajit Singh after his baptism in 1975 and not after 1980s after being declared a Proclaimed Offender as was alleged by Col G.S. Sandhu, Chairperson, Majha Ex-servicemen Human Rights Front.

The Nihang chief claimed that his name was ‘Ajit Singh’ when he had met the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi during Emergency along with Baba Kahan Singh, the then Nihang chief. The meeting, he said, had been arranged by Giani Zail Singh. He said it was shocking to read the allegations levelled by Colonel Sandhu that he (Baba Ajit Singh Poohla) was clean shaven before 1980s and had changed his identity at the behest of the then district police chief, Ludhiana, after committing a certain crime. He claimed that he belonged to a family of ‘Gursikhs’ and had never got his hair cut.

He, however, said he would file a defamation case against Colonel Sandhu for levelling ‘baseless charges’ shortly. He said a noted lawyer of Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr Rajan Lakhanpal, had promised him to contest his case without charging any money. He alleged that Colonel Sandhu had indulged in character assassination which could not be tolerated. He said he was ready to face any probe ordered by any agency. The Nihang chief said he would also demand a high level probe against Colonel Sandhu.

Baba Poohla said if he had committed any crime in the past then he would not have enjoyed close proximity with the Chief Minister, including Beant Singh, Surjit Singh Barnala and a number of senior politicians and bureaucrats.


Guru Angad Dev’s village gets facelift
Tribune News Service

Sarai Naga (Muktsar), April 11
The government is giving Sarai Naga village of this district on the Muktsar-Kotkapura road, the birth place of Guru Angad Dev, a facelift to celebrate his 500th birth anniversary.

Guru Angad Dev came in contact with Guru Nanak Dev at Kartarpur and started living with Guru Nanak. He was bestowed with “gurudom” by Guru Nanak when he came to know that his end was coming near.

Mr B.R. Banga, Deputy Commissioner, said the celebrations would start on Baisakhi and would continue till April 18. Religious functions pertaining to the organisation of Dhadhi darbars, kavi darbars, shabad recitation and gatka would be held.

On April 18, a nagar kirtan would be taken out from Gurdwara Tutu Gandi Sahib which would culminate at Sarai Naga village.

Gurdwara Sarai Naga had been linked with the Muktsar-Kotkapura road and the road had been named as Guru Angad Marg. A big gate was also being constructed on the link road by the SGPC at the cost of Rs 25 lakh.

The district administration had made arrangements for drinking water, toilets, security, transportation and medicare for those who wished to visit the village.


Shooting for ‘Ghoom Taana’ starts
Tribune News Service

Actress Nandita Dass and Pakistani Pop star Salmaan Ahmad during the shooting of new album title song "Ghoom Taana" at Qila Mubark in Patiala on Sunday. — PTI photo

Patiala, April 11
The shooting for Salman Ahmed’s (of the ‘Junoon’ group) new album “Ghoom Taana” started today with the arrival of Nandita Das in the city. Nandita was involved in shooting for the album in Quila Mubarak complex in the inner city.

Ahmed drove to Quila Mubarak with Nandita in a grey car and immediately went to the roof of Durbar Hall there. Once up there, a scene was picturised in which Ahmed shows something to Nandita even as he has a video camera in his hand.

A later shot shows the duo shifting attention to Rajasthani dancers who are gathered in the front lawn of Durbar Hall.

Both come down the stairs from the roof following which Salman Ahmed hands over the camera to Nandita and joins the artisans in an impromptu dance. A few scenes involving both actors were shot in Quila Androon, which was earlier the residential quarters of the Patiala royalty also.

During a very brief chat with a few reporters, Nandita said she had decided to do the album after Salman Ahmed made the offer to her as she liked the theme. Salman wants to join hearts across the sub-continent which I feel will only serve to further supplement the peace process which is being conducted at the political level,’ she explained.

Ahmed said he had approached Nandita saying he needed her help for a noble cause and that there was no money in the proposal. “She agreed to it as Naseeruddin Shah is doing the voice-over for the album and other artistes”, he added.


Bangladesh delegation visits RCF
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, April 11
A high-level delegation from the Bangladesh Railways visited the Rail Coach Factory (RCF) here yesterday to explore the possibility of importing new design of high speed coaches from India.

The RCF had already submitted its bids for the export of coaches to Bangladesh and other countries and the coach factory is expected to get export orders from Bangladesh.

The high level delegation consisted of Additional Director-General A.Z.M. Sazzadur Rahman, Additional Director-General Mohammad Abdullah and Chief Mechanical Engineer (West) Abdul Hussain accompanied by General Manager Anil Handa.

They were shown the different stages of coach manufacturing and the delegation took keen interest in the stainless less steel coaches being manufactured by the RCF. RCF General Manager M. Sirajuddin in a presentation highlighted the factory ability to manufacture coaches of different types in broad gauge as well as meter gauge.


PSEB blamed for wheat loss in fire
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 11
The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) yesterday criticised the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) for the fire which burnt wheat crop, in season.

Mr Hans Raj Pabwa, CPI (ML) candidate from Phillaur (Reserve) constituency, addressing a rally near here, alleged that PSEB authorities were indifferent towards the problems of the farmers who had to suffer due to loose joints of high tension wires, particularly those of transformers.

Loose joints frequently lead to fire in fields, causing loss of wheat crop. He demanded that PSEB officials should take steps to avoid loss to the crop.


Bank staff union backs Preneet
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 11
The campaign of the Congress nominee, Ms Preneet Kaur, today got a boost with the All-India Bank Employee’s Union announcing its support to her in the coming lok sahba elections.

The president of the All-India State Bank of Patiala Employee’s Federation, Mr Devinder Singh, and the general secretary, Mr N.K. Gaur in a joint statement said the union would support her as she had opposed the privatisation of banks during her tenure. She had also come out in support of public sector banks when the NDA government had tabled the Bill in Parliament to reduce the government equity in these banks.

Speaking on the occasion Ms Preneet Kaur said the state coffers were empty when the Congress came to power two years ago. She added that the state was paying Rs 10 crore installment of the debt every day. She said her party had delivered what it had promised — be it an anti- corruption drive or the developmental work. She promised that all villages of the state would be provided round-the-clock electricity supply before June 30.

Coming down heavily on the NDA government, she said they had done nothing concrete for the farming community. While the Congress has successfully procured the produce of the farmers for the last two consecutive years. Those who were present included President of the District Congress Committee (Rural) Hardyal Singh Kamboj, Nirmal Singh Dhaliwal of the IITUC and Manohar Lal Sharma of the Telephone Employees’ Union.


District to celebrate foundation day
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 11
Fatehgarh Sahib was given the status of district on the eve of Baisakhi. For the first time its foundation day is being celebrated by the district administration in collaboration with the district cultural society on a large scale. Cultural functions will be organised at subdivision towns of the district. Justice O.P. Verma, Governor, Punjab, will inaugurate the celebrations by presiding over a function at the BBSB Engineering College auditorium. Folk dancers from 11 states belonging to the North-Zone Cultural Centre will perform at all functions.

Mr S.K.Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, said the administration was celebrating the 13th anniversary of the district as at a time when they were commemorating the 300 years of supreme sacrifice of Sahibjadas. A renowned artist, Pammi and his troupe would regale the audience at a function to be held at the Regional Institute of Management and Training at Mandi Gobindgarh tomorrow. Similar functions would also be organised at Amloh, Khamano and Bassi Pathana towns, where Pammi and folk dancers of the North Zone cultural centre, comedian Bhagwant Mann and other artists would perform.


Suspend BDPO, demand sarpanches

Patiala, April 11
Sarpanches of Samana block have appealed to the state Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to take action against Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO) Narpinder Singh Grewal for alleged corrupt practices.

The sarpanches have alleged that the BDPO openly demand bribe and if he is not obliged he takes action against them, implicating them in false cases. They said the BDPO had also booked Sarpanch of Waraichai Patti Palwinder Singh in a false case of misuse of funds granted for developmental work of the village.

Palwinder Singh said when he contacted the BDPO for issuing the utilisation certificate of funds, he demanded Rs 20,000 and later he agreed to take Rs10,000 for issuing the certificate. Even after taking the amount he did not issue the certificate and implicated him in a false case of misuse of funds on April 1, he added. OC


Tributes paid to Shaurya Chakra winner
Our Correspondent

Kharar, April 11
Tributes were paid to Maj H.P. Singh, Shaurya Chakra winner, on his fifth death anniversary today.

A “shrandhanjli samaroh” was organised by the officer’s family at Mundi Kharar.

The officer, who belonged to 18 Grenadiers, was killed in an encounter with militants in Baramula district on April 13, 1999. He was injured in his arm but fought three heavily armed militants. He shot dead two of the militants but was shot through the temple by the third one.

Maj H.P. Singh studied at Khalsa Senior Secondary School, Kharar, and Government College, Mohali. He was commissioned in the Army in 1992.


60 pc north Indians suffer from heart diseases
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, April 11
More than 60 per cent of people in north India are suffering from heart-related diseases, said Dr Sunjeev Dhawan, a cardiologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi, at the camp organised by the Lions Club service here today. He said the cases of heart-related diseases were on the rise. He attributed these to fast food, smoking and pollution.

More than 400 patients were examined at the camp free of cost.


Bar seeks judicial courts at Dera Bassi
Our Correspondent

Lalru, April 11
Member of the Dera Bassi Bar Association have submitted a representation to the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court demanding judicial court at the Dera Bassi Tehsil Complex.

In their representation, submitted through the District and Sessions Judge, Patiala, the Bar members highlighted the inconvenience which litigants and general public face in absence of the judicial courts in Dera Bassi.

Mr Anmol Singh, president of the Dera Bassi Bar Association, said after awarding a status of subdivision to the township, the office of a Subdivisional Magistrate has been created but a court has not come up as yet.


2 drug peddlers held, smack seized
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar April 11
The district police today arrested two drug peddlers, including a woman, and seized 380 gram of smack from their possession in two separate incidents reported here.

According to the police, following a tip-off, a special police party laid a naka near Dhina village on the outskirts of the city. A cyclist was stopped and his belongings were searched. This led to seizure of 250 gram of smack and he was arrested. The arrested person was later identified as Joginder Ram of Wajoohan Kalan village in Nakodar.

Meanwhile, in another incident, the police arrested Krishna also of Wajoohan Kalan in Nakodar for possessing 130 gram of smack at a naka near Johl Bolina village, near here, today. The arrested persons during preliminary interrogation revealed that the smack was being brought from Rajasthan for Rs 200 to Rs 225 per gram and were being sold to customers, most of them youth, for Rs 300 to Rs 400 per gram.


Man poisoned to death, case registered
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 11
Surinder Singh of the Tej Nagar locality in Sultanwind was allegedly poisoned to death by Mangal Singh and his family members on March 26. However, a case was registered only today following an inquiry by the DSP (Rural-I).

Varinder Kaur, wife of the deceased, in a complaint lodged with the police alleged that the accused along with his wife and daughters poisoned her husband to death. She said her husband had lent more than Rs 7 lakh to the accused which he had failed to return. Her husband was demanding the money back, she said.

The inquiry was entrusted to Mr Lakhbir Singh, DSP (Rural-I). The accused reportedly failed to come even after repeated calls, police sources said. A case under Section 302 and 34, IPC, has been registered.


One held for cheating job-seekers
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 11
The police has arrested Manjit Singh of Hadiabad allegedly for cheating people by promising them jobs in the Railway. It was learnt today that he used to get Rs 50,000 to Rs 2.50 lakh from youths by promising them jobs of ticket collectors etc in the Railways. He, so far, allegedly collected Rs 30 lakh from several persons. The police last month registered a case of fraud against him on complaints of the victims. Manjit Singh had gone to Mumbai where also cases of cheating of Rs 30 lakh were registered against him and he was arrested.

On learning about his arrest there, a police party from here obtained his production warrants from a court and brought him here from Mumbai. Manjit Singh was produced here before a court which remanded him in judicial custody.


Petrol station owner, sons booked
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 11
A criminal case has
been registered against Mr Tirlochan Singh, partner-owner of a petrol station, and his two sons for allegedly fabricating documents and becoming the sole proprietor.

Police sources said the accused had been booked under Sections 406, 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B, IPC.

The case was registered against Mr Tirlochan Singh and his sons Birinder Singh and Sarjinder Singh on the complaint of Mr Avtar Singh Sethi, the other partner of the petrol station.

Mr Sethi, who is a kin of the accused, alleged in his complaint that by committing fraud and fabricating documents, Mr Tirlochan Singh became the sole proprietor.

He also alleged that the accused had embezzled funds of the business firm that they had been running jointly.


Academicians backbone of society
Tribune News Service

Malout, April 11
Dr Prem Kumar, Head, University School of Management (USM) Talwandi Sabo, today said that though the society was stronger than academicians, they always came to the rescue of society whenever the need arose.

Speaking on the concluding day of the two-day national-level workshop on industry institute partnership on training and development, which was started in the local Malout Institute of Management and Information Technology (MIMIT) yesterday, said that in today’s society, non-business issues had become insensitive against the business issue, which was an unfortunate trend.

Dr M.S. Grewal, Registrar, Punjab Technical University (PTU), Jalandhar, stress that service industry should be explored to the maximum as it was fast growing and employment generating as compared to the manufacturing industry.

He said there was a strong need for improving the quality of students and teachers as without such improvement, it was difficult to survive in today’s world.

Mr J.S. Hazuria, CMD, Gitanjali Systems also laid stress on the exploration of service industry.

A number of industrialists and academicians for Punjab and neighbouring states also addressed the workshop.

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