P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Cong MLA asks people to vote against CM’s wife
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Rajpura (Patiala), April 12
Rajpura Congress legislator Raj Khurana today instigating people against the candidature of his party’s Patiala parliamentary seat candidate Preneet Kaur, who is also wife of State’s Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

Mrs Preneet Kaur is already facing problems in Lehra Ghagga Assembly segment of the constituency from where Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has yet to start campaigning in her (Preneet Kaur) favour.

Mr Raj Khurana, a supporter of Mrs Bhattal, today gave a call to the Bahawalpur ‘baradari’ to which he belongs and which has strong presence in Rajpura to take revenge of the manner in which members of the ‘baradari’ were beaten “recently”. He was referring to the alleged beating up of Congress workers and leaders loyal to him by fellow Congressmen loyal to Mrs Preneet Kaur to ensure the victory of Congress candidates against whom he had put up his own candidates. Mr Khurana made this announcement at the shradhanjali samaroh organised in the Panchranga chowk area in memory of late Rajinder Lal Gosain, a former leader of the community.

The Congress legislator made provocative statements in front of Mrs Preneet Kaur who had also come to attend the ‘shradhanjali samaroh’ and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate Capt Kanwaljit Singh. When asked to pay his tributes to the late leader before Mrs Preneet Kaur, the Congress leader gave vent to his anger without mincing his words, saying the ‘rajvarashahi’ (feudal set-up) had always ignored the Bahawalpur community.

Mr Khurana reminded the people that the ‘Bahawalpuris’ were very self-respecting people who could not ignore a slight. He said the people should not forget that ‘lathis’ were rained on their mothers and daughters and that the city recently saw the worst ever form of goondaism. “Now is the time to take revenge for these acts”, he said adding that by doing so the people would be paying the real tribute to the late community leader Rajinder Lal Gosain.

Mrs Preneet Kaur paid her tributes to the late leader after Mr Khurana but did not touch upon any of the issues raised by Mr Khurana. Immediately after the function, she proceeded to the house of Mr Khurana in the town itself. She was accompanied by 36 supporters, including Rajpura Block President Narinder Shastri and advocate Chiranjeev Khurana. However they could not meet Mr Khurana despite a 25-minute wait as they were told that the legislator” was not at home”.

Mrs Preneet Kaur however had a one-to-one private chat for a few minutes with the Congress legislator’s wife and son in the house before taking her leave from them at around 4.30 p.m. The Congress legislator when questioned on this issue later said he was at Chandigarh and did not know about Mrs Preneet Kaur’s visit to his house. He said similarly he did not know what talks the Congress parliamentary candidate had held with his wife and son.

When questioned, he said he had not received any message for any kind of rapprochement from Mrs Preneet Kaur till now. When asked further whether he was guilty of asking the people not to vote for the Congress, he said “she (Preneet Kaur) may know about herself, we want to see Sonia Gandhi as the Prime Minister of the country”.


BJP wants Navjot Sidhu from Amritsar
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
After failing to find a local consensus candidate for the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat, the BJP high command seems to be finally preparing to make former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu as the candidate for the constituency.

If everything goes well, Mr Sidhu’s candidature is expected to be announced on April 15. Mr Sidhu, who is currently in Pakistan, is likely to return to India on April 18.

Informed sources in the BJP said today that the party high command had sounded the Punjab unit to be ready to accept Mr Sidhu as the candidate for the Amritsar constituency. In fact, a senior leader of the party said that the high command had directed the state unit to find a house and make other arrangements for Mr Sidhu’s stay in Amritsar during the election campaign. Mr Sidhu belongs to Patiala and recently joined the BJP.

The sources said that during his recent visit to Lahore to watch a one-day cricket match, the Union Law Minister, Mr Arun Jaitley, had met Mr Sidhu. Mr Jaitley had made an offer to Mr Sidhu to contest the election. However, Mr Sidhu, sources said, had refused to jump in the election arena at this stage. Sources said that then Mr Jaitley discussed the matter with the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, and requested him to speak to Mr Sidhu to contest the election.

Mr Advani, sources said, conveyed Mr Sidhu through his confidant that the party wanted him to be a candidate.

The BJP insiders say that Mr Parkash Singh Badal has been insisting that Mr Jaitley should contest from Amritsar. However, the party is not ready to spare Mr Jaitley as he has been made in charge of elections in Karnataka where the BJP is trying hard to dethrone the Congress by winning the assembly elections. Mr Jaitley, as his replacement, proposed the name of Mr Sidhu, it is learnt.

But it is certain that the BJP leaders in Amritsar as well as of the state unit will strongly oppose Mr Sidhu’s nomination as a candidate. Sources said that last night the high command conveyed the name of Mr Sidhu for Amritsar and since then a lot of activity has been going on in the state unit of the BJP to oppose Mr Sidhu. “The Gurdaspur seat has been monopalised by film star, Vinod Khanna and Hoshiarpur has gone to state president of the party Avinash Khanna and the Amritsar seat is expected to go to a sportsman, Mr Sidhu. That means the BJP has nothing to offer to its other leaders,” said a senior leader.

In fact, the BJP has been dithering in naming the candidate for the Amritsar seat for the past two weeks. Two other candidates for Punjab seats were announced about two weeks ago by the BJP, which is to contest three seats as an ally of the SAD. There have been differences between the state’s RSS and BJP leaderships over the nomination of the candidate for the Amritsar seat. The RSS, the sources said, was backing the name of Mr Daya Singh Sodhi and Dr Baldev Raj Chawla. However, the state unit of the BJP favoured Mr Harjit Inder Singh Grewal. Because of differences the announcement for the Amritsar candidate was delayed.


EC finalises observers for Faridkot
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, April 12
The Election Commission has appointed three observers for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections in the Faridkot parliamentary constituency, comprising nine Assembly segments of three districts, Moga, Muktsar and Faridkot. They are Mr V.N. Garg from Uttar Pradesh, Mr Bimal Kritak Singh from Jharkhand and Mr Kumar Sanjay from Maharashtra. They will assume their charge on April 18, said Mr Hussan Lal, District Returning Officer, while presiding over the first meeting of senior election officers and representatives of different political parties, convened here today to review the election process in the constituency.

In a press note issued here, he said nomination papers would be accepted for eight days from April 16 onwards and security and withdrawal of papers be done on April 24 and April 26, respectively. Moreover, while filing nomination papers, each candidate would submit a copy of his or her assets, which would be displayed in front of the office of the district returning officer.

In addition to this, each candidate would manage an expenses register and get it verified from the District Returning Officer thrice during poll process. The complete account would have to be submitted after one month of the elections, said Mr Lal.

Publicity material published by contestants would also have the complete address of the publisher. Giving details, he said 50 per cent of the polling staff would be deployed from outside the constituency. A plan regarding the procuring of inter-district polling staff would be finalised at a meeting of senior returning officers at Ferozepore, he added.

As many as 12,63,148 voters, besides 1,777 service voters, would exercise their franchise at 1,207 booths in the constituency. However, the detail of the supersensitive or the sensitive polling stations would be finalised after reviewing the matter with the central observers, he said.


EC directs Punjab to shift Samana DSP
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
In less than a month before the Lok Sabha poll, the Election Commission of India (EC) has directed Punjab to transfer Samana's Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Jaspreet Singh. Action against some other officers is likely to follow within "a day or so".

Confirming the information, sources in the Punjab Home Department revealed that the transfer orders were received by the authorities concerned this evening. The orders, they added, had been forwarded to the office of the Director-General of Police (DGP).

The sources added that the EC had directed the shifting of the DSP on the basis of an election-related complaint. They added that his fresh posting orders would be issued soon.

Punjab's Additional Director General of Police (Operations) Shashi Kant, in charge of the election cell, was not available for comments. The DSP could also not be contacted for his version.

DSP Jaspreet Singh is the sixth officer against whom action has been initiated in the recent past. Acting on election-related complaints, the Punjab Government had directed the Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG), Faridkot Range, Mr Gurinderpal Singh Grewal, to swap positions with the DIG, Jalandhar Range, Mr Paramjit Singh Sarao.

Another DSP's transfer was also recommended by the authorities concerned, while a Station House Officer (SHO) was placed under suspension. Ropar's Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Surinderpal Singh was directed to be posted as Superintendent of Police (Vigilance Bureau). Meanwhile, Ferozepore's SSP H.S. Chahal was ordered to be posted as Superintendent of Police (Chief Minister's Security).

The action against the two was reportedly initiated on the basis of complaints filed by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). The members had alleged violation of election code in the state.

The sources also revealed that the names of six officers had been recommended by the Home Department to Punjab's Chief Election Officer for posting as SSPs of Ropar and Ferozepore. The officers were Mr Gautam Cheema, Mr Rakesh Ahir, Mr Siva Kumar Verma, Mr Kumar Vijay Partap, Mr Rakesh Aggarwal and Mr Nelabh Kishore.


SAD moves EC over power connections
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 12
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has appealed to the Election Commission (EC) to issue directions to the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) not to issue any domestic or agricultural connections on a priority basis in the state in view of parliamentary elections.

A complaint filed by the party’s Patiala district president Kashmir Singh Mavi alleges that Major H. S. Bhullar (retd), Officer on Special Duty to the Chief Minister, who was looking after the Lehra Ghaggar area for Congress candidate Preneet Kaur, was trying to influence voters by using his clout to get out-of-turn power connections released to voters.

The complaint alleged that at the instance of Major Bhullar, Subdivisional Officers of the PSEB posted at Lehra, Khanauri and Moonak were exercising undue influence over voters. It said domestic and agricultural power connections were being released to residents of the Lehra Ghaggar Assembly segment.

Giving an example, the complaint said Jaspal Singh from Lehal Khurd had been given an agricultural connection on a priority basis.

It said similarly in Kudal Kalan village, an agricultural connection had been issued on a priority basis. The complaint said the model code of conduct clearly stated that no undue favour could be granted to anybody for votes.

In another complaint, the SAD Patiala district president has complained to the Election Commission that Sunam Municipal Council executive officer Amarjit Singh Sodhi was actively supporting and canvassing for the Congress candidate. It said the officer had been posted at Sunam only five days back at the behest of the Chief Minister.

The complaint alleged that the transfer of Mr Sodhi to Sunam only five days back was in contravention of the instructions of the Election Commission and model code of conduct, which prohibited any transfer to a post of public dealing after the announcement of the poll schedule. It urged the Election Commission to cancel the transfer orders of Mr Sodhi and ensure he was posted out of the Patiala parliamentary constituency.


Parties using plastic publicity material
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 12
Plastic publicity material is being used blatantly despite the Election Commission banning its use in the forthcoming Lok Sabha poll.

During rallies of national leaders held in the district recently, plastic flags and other publicity material were extensively used by party workers.

BJP workers of the district filled almost the entire Nangal town with plastic flags of the party, defacing public and private property just before the election rally of the Union Law Minister, Mr Arun Jaitley. Similarly, the BSP and the Congress are also using such material for its rallies.

Plastic material is being used in violation of the Mode Code of Conduct, as prescribed by the Election Commission. As per the code of conduct, besides the ban on use of plastic, no political party can deface public or private property by pasting posters or other material without prior permission of the person or authority concerned. However, the political parties are defacing the public and private properties without any prior permission.

Sources said plastic material was favourite among the political parties as it was inexpensive. Most of the plastic being used for making the publicity material was recycled, which was already banned in the state.

Moreover, after the rallies, the material was not removed, adding to the litter in towns. Since the plastic material was not biodegradable, it was likely to become a major source of pollution in urban areas.

Several NGOs and other social organisations in the district have demanded that the Election Commission and the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) step in to curb the use of such material. If not curbed, the state was likely to face the crises of handling tonnes of solid waste that could not be destroyed.

The District Election Officer-cum-Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, said the direction of the commission regarding the ban on use of plastic material was issued recently. The directive had been conveyed to all political parties, she said.

Since the political parties were still using the plastic material, SDM-cum-assistant returning officers would be asked to prepare a report regarding the issue in their respective areas. The report would be forwarded to the Election Commission for a suitable action against those violating the code.


Sony’s entry may tip the scales in Amritsar
Tribune news service

Amritsar, April 12
Mr Om Parkash Sony, former Mayor of the local Municipal Corporation, who had won the Amritsar (west) Assembly seat as an independent candidate and became the chairman Punjab Foodgrain Corporation Ltd after joining the Congress as an associate member at the behest of Capt Amarinder Singh, is contemplating to contest as an Independent candidate from Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency.

Earlier, in a triangular contest, Mr Sony had created history in the Amritsar Assembly by defeating both the joint candidates of Congress-CPI and SAD-BJP with a convincing margin of more than 24,000 votes. Interestingly, rebel Congress candidate Capt Rajinder was placed at number two while the security deposit of the SAD-BJP candidate was forfeited. Mr Sony had also won as an Independent candidate in 1997 by defeating joint candidates of CPI and Cong and SAD-BJP candidates, respectively.

The supporters of Mr Sony had already told him that he must contest the parliamentary election against his bete noire, Mr R.L.Bhatia who is contesting as Congress candidate for the record seventh time.

The election scene in Amritsar would become interesting in case Mr Sony decides to contest the election. Earlier, the Amritsar seat was considered to be an easy one for the congress with the BJP having failed to announce its candidate so far. The delay on the part of the BJP had already sent a wrong signal to the voters here,

Mr Sony enjoys close proximity not only with Capt. Amarinder Singh but also with Shiromani Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal and hence he could get Sikh votes too in good number.

During his stint as Mayor of the corporation from 1991 to 1996, he remained chairman of All India Mayors Corporation for two-and-a-half-years and had worked for the overall development of the city.

However, it is learnt that the BJP might announce its candidate soon. Sources attribute delay in the announcement of the name of BJP candidate to the recommendation of the panel of candidates instead of evolving consensus on one candidate. While the SAD and RSS had been lobbying for candidature of Dr Baldev Parkash Chawla, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon and Mr Daya Singh Sodhi, a section of party high command has reportedly zeroed on former cricket star, Navjot Sidhu and former Deputy Commissioner Mr Sarbjit Singh.


Babu Ram Chawla joins Shiromani Akali Dal
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 12
Mr Babu Ram Chawla, a former Minister of State in the Cabinet headed by Beant Singh, was today inducted in the SAD by the party supremo Parkash Singh Badal here.

The timing was chosen specially as the Congress candidate, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, was to take up the first phase of the daylong campaign in Balluana (R) Assembly constituency represented by Mr Chawla from 1992-97. Mr Brar had made a dent in Khuyiansarwer block last week, the SAD-BJP leaders feel.

Mr Chawla, like Mr Vijay Nagpal who had defected to the SAD along with Mr Chawla’s younger brother Sriram Chawla last month, had been a close associate of the former Rajya Sabha member and PPCC president Virendra Kataria. However, they had no political equation since 2002. Mr Babu Ram Chawla was defeated by the SAD candidate, Mr Gurtej Singh Ghuriana, in Balluana (R) constituency with a huge margin. He was denied Congress ticket in 2002 and his successor Mr Parkash Singh Bhatti, an employee of the PSEB, was able to give Mr Ghuriana a crushing defeat in the last Assembly elections.

Sources said Mr Chawla’s defection to the SAD was delayed by a month as he reportedly wanted the former Chief Minister to come to his residence in Sidhu Nagri here and assure him that he would be considered for SAD ticket in the next Assembly election. However, for Mr Badal it was an uphill task to sacrifice the interests of Mr Ghuriana as he was considered to be close to Mr Gurdas Singh Badal. Mr Gurdas Singh Badal had yesterday inaugurated SAD candidate Zora Singh Mann’s election office for the Balluana segment here. He avoided replying to the allegations levelled by Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar against Mr Mann but attacked the Congress candidate for allegedly amassing benami property.

Interestingly, some persons who had been working for the SAD for last six years, were presented siropas and it was claimed that they had quit the Congress and had joined the SAD.


Badal meets MLAs, ex-ministers
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 12
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), held a meeting with the SAD MLAs, former ministers and former MLAs of the Bathinda Parliamentary Constituency, here last night. The meeting was attended among others by Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, general secretary of the SAD; Mr Sikander Singh Maluka, Bathinda district president of the party; Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, a former minister; Mr Gura Singh Tung Wali, Mr Jagdip Singh Makai and Mr Gurpreet Singh Kangar, all MLAs; and Mr Sukhmand Singh Aulakh, Ex-MLA from Mansa.

At the meeting, it was alleged that the Amarinder Government might create nuisance and troubles at polling booths keeping in view the “defeat” of Congress candidates in the Lok Sabha elections, so the entire SAD cadre should beware of any such incident on the polling day. The meeting also discussed the SAD’s political conference to be held on April 14 at Talwandi Sabo on the occasion of Baisakhi.

Dr Om Parkash Sharma, district press secretary of the SAD, said SAD candidate, Ms Paramjit Kaur Gulshan, from the Bathinda Parliamentary constituency, would file her nomination papers on April 22 and on that day Mr Parkash Singh Badal would remain in Bathinda.

Dr Sharma said on April 22, Mr Badal would address meeting of workers at the Hazi Rattan Gurdwara and would inaugurate the election office of Ms Gulshan.


NDA manifesto anti-Sikh, anti-Dalit and anti-Punjab, says SAD (A)
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 12
SAD (A) general Secretary Jaskaran Singh Kahan Singhwala today ridiculed the statement of Congress leader Jagmeet Singh Brar that he would start his election campaign from Hussainiwala where martyrs Shaheed Bhagat Singh Rajguru and Sukhdev were cremated and where their memorials existed.

Ridiculing the new found love of the Congress for the martyrs, Mr Kahan Singhwala, asked the party to leave Ferozepore Lok Sabha seat for a family member of martyrs especially Shaheed Bhagat Singh. The Congress party, if so enamoured of martyrs, should work for the unopposed election of a family member of the martyr from Ferozepore, he said. Mr Brar is contesting from Ferozepore this time after shifting from Faridkot from where he was an MP in the dissolved House.

Mr Kahan Singhwala mooted the idea that family members of martyrs should have a quota of seats in the Rajya Sabha in recognition of the supreme sacrifices made by the martyrs and their families for the country.

Mr Kahan Singhwala also asserted that SAD (B) President Parkash Singh Badal owed an explanation to national minorities especially Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, as to why he had become a signatory to the NDA poll manifesto that included contentious issues like construction of Ram mandir at Ayodhaya and which was anti-farmer, anti-Dalit and anti-Punjab, he said the manifesto was an alarming bell for national minorities as it aimed at “Hinduisation” of country and saffronisation of the system. The point of interlinking rivers would go against Punjab as it was against the riparian law, he remarked.

The NDA poll manifesto was also anti-Sikh as it did not spell out the issue of ensuring punishment to the killers of Sikhs in the carnage of 1984, said Mr Kahan Singhwala. It also simply ignored the issue of apology for desecration of the Golden Temple Complex in Operation Blue Star that was supported by the BJP, he continued.

The Mann Dal leader informed that he had written a letter to BKU President Ajmer Singh Lakhowal asking the latter to clarify the reasons which had prompted him to declare support for the SAD-BJP combine which had forsaken demands of peasants as well as Punjab.


Akalis misusing religious places, say Cong leaders

Moga, April 12
Deputy Commissioner cum Returning Officer of Faridkot Lok Sabha Constituency Hussan Lal has urged the political parties not to misuse the religious places by holding election meetings as this violated the code of conduct issued by the election commission.

Addressing a meeting of the assistant returning officers of Moga, Muktsar and Faridkot Lok Sabha constituency and representatives of all political parties at Faridkot today, he said Surinder Iqbal Singh, President Faridkot District Congress Committee had brought to his notice that Akalis were “misusing the religious places for holding their election meetings and rallies”. Mr Lal convened this meeting to educate political parties of the model code of conduct for their guidance. — PTI


NRI booked for ditching girl on wedding day
Our correspondent

Jalandhar, April 12
An NRI based in Canada and his three brothers and mother have been booked for cheating following his refusal to marry a Dasuha-based girl on the day of marriage as her parents had reportedly failed to meet their demand of dowry articles, including a car.

In his complaint to the Dasuha police, the father of the girl, Mr Kuldeep Singh Dhindsa of Dugri village, said he was running a grocery shop at his native village. He further said his 22-year-old daughter Satwinder Kaur was engaged to Canada-based NRI Sukhwinder Singh, who hailed from Boparai Kalan village in Nakodar, at Jalandhar on March 2. The parents and relatives of the fiance were given gold ornaments and clothes during the ceremony, he said.

On the persistent demand of the youth, the date of marriage was fixed for April 11, he added. Sukhwinder rang up Kuldeep Singh on Saturday night and demanded a Honda City car in dowry and arrangements to serve liquor to more than 600 persons during the marriage ceremony, he said. When Kuldeep Singh expressed his inability to meet his demands, Sukhwinder allegedly announced to marry another girl.

Sukhwinder married another girl at A.S.Farms on Nakodar road here yesterday while Kuldeep Singh and his family members were waiting at Victoria Gardens for the marriage party to arrive. They got wind about the marriage of Sukhwinder. A case under Section 420 of the IPC was registered. Raids were being conducted to arrest the accused.


10-year revival plan mooted for Punwire
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 12
In what could be the most important first step towards the re-opening of Punjab Wireless Systems Limited (Punwire), a blue chip company lying closed for the past five years in Mohali, members of the Core Group today decided to go ahead with a 10-year revival plan presented before it.

According to the proposed revival plan an immediate investment of at least Rs 25 crore will be required to make the company operational while employing most of its former staff. Majority of the stake holders in the company will, however, have to initially waive off the company’s liabilities, worth over Rs 600 crore, for it to begin afresh. However, once running, the company will be expected to pay back every penny it owes to its creditors within the next 10-years.

A draft rehabilitation scheme for the revival of the company was presented by Mr B.S. Baidwan, a former president of the Mohali Industries Association before the Core Group meeting held today under the Chairmanship of the Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh. Sources stated that the PSIDC which is the main promoter of the company is expected to pay at least Rs 15 crore out of the initial amount required while the rest of Rs 10 crore can be raised by the company by selling some of its assets not being used for production.

The Core Group deployed Mr Malkit Singh, Executive Director, PSIDC, as the OSD, Punwire Rehabilitation Scheme to follow up the report and hold discussions with financial institutions and banks. Mr Baidwan will be associated with Mr Malkit Singh to pursue the report further.

The operations of the company came to a grinding halt in 1999 following the unearthing of a major fraud worth Rs 500 crore by the company’s management. It was locked for liquidation in July 2000 and the final winding up orders were passed in February 2001 by the Punjab and Haryana high Court. The government will now be approaching the court to take the company out of liquidation.

Sources also stated that the company once revived will employ majority of its 1000 employees rendered jobless following its closure. According to Mr Baidwan, revival of the company stands to benefit everyone.

“Liquidation will get the creditors less than 10 per cent of what the company owes them but a successful revival will mean the creditors getting 60 to 100 per cent of their money back,” he said.

The meeting of the Core Group was attended by Deputy Speaker, Vidhan Sabha and MLA Kharar, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, among others, including the Chief Secretary Punjab, Mr Jai Singh Gill, Mr B.R. Bajaj, Principal Secretary, Department of Finance, Mr S.C. Agarwal, Principal Secretary, Department of Industry and Commerce, and Mr Vishvajit Khanna MD, Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC). Mr Bir Devinder Singh appealed to the agitating employees of the company to suspend their agitation and wait patiently for their efforts to show results.

A profit-making company for over 20 years since its establishment in 1975, the company with its expertise in wireless communication technology , had shot into limelight for the establishment of the prestigious communication link between Dakshin Gangotri (Antarctica) and New Delhi. Sources stated that the plant and the machinery in the company are in usable condition and most of the production work being done by the company before its closure, including production of communication systems for police and defence can be revived.

Currently the CBI is investigating the Rs 500 crore Punwire scam. Based on the 37 FIRs registered by the Punjab police in 1999 and 2000 these investigations are likely to seal the fate of the former Managing Director of the company, Gurpal Singh, who is on the run since the scam came to light, along with at least 20 others accused in the scam.


AISSF (Majha) to support Ajnala
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 12
The newly formed All-India Sikh Students Federation (Majha) has announced to extend support to SAD candidate Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala from this Lok Sabha seat. The announcement was made today at a meeting of the Federation workers at Sangha village organised under the presidentship of Mr Kashmir Singh Sangha, president of the federation. Mr Harmeet Singh Sandhu local MLA too was present on the occasion.

The federation presented a siropa to Dr Ajnala who thanked Mr Sangha for extending support to him. Mr Sangha told further that he would declare to extend his unconditional support to all the SAD candidates in the state of Panjab.


Another Akali Dal floated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
Another Akali Dal, All-India Shiromani Akali Dal (AISAD), has been formed. Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, who had earlier floated the Parliamentary Panthic Board, will be president of the new organisation.

Speaking to media persons here today, Mr Mann said that his party would enroll 501 delegates and hold meetings at all district headquarters to set up its units. The first meeting would be held on April 18 at Ferozepore.

Asked about the objective behind floating the new party, Mr Mann said that the Shiromani Akali Dal led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal and other splinter groups had failed to adhere to the original Panthic programmes. The Sikh leadership as a whole owed an explanation to history for betraying the fundamental objectives of the Khalsa Panth.

Mr Bharpur Singh Balbir and Mr Talib Singh Sandhu would be senior vice-president and vice-president, respectively, of the party. Mr Rajbir Singh and Mr Hardeep Singh Bajwa have been made its general secretaries and Mr Gurbachan Singh Kalsi its secretary. Mr Kashmir Sngh, Mrs Keshi Singh Hadiabadi, Mrs Nirdosh Kaur Bhadaur and Mr Harbans Singh Teg will be members of the working committee of the party.


Rana Gurjit to file papers on April 19

Kapurthala, April 12
Rana Gurjit Singh, Congress nominee from Jalandhar, will file his papers on April 19. This was announced by Mr Surinder Maria, general secretary of the district Congress, here today.

Mr Maria said a meeting of the district Congress was held here today, which was presided over by Mr N.S. Cheema, president, DCC. He exhorted the workers to canvass for Rana Gurjit Singh in Sultanpur Lodhi and Kapurthala Assembly segments.


Dhindsa to file nomination on April 22
Our Correspondent

Barnala, April 12
Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Fertilisers Minister and SAD nominee from the Sangrur Lok Sabha constituency, will file nomination papers and hold an election rally on April 22.

This information was given by Mr Dhindsa, while addressing a press conference here yesterday. He was in Barnala to address an election rally.

Mr Malkiat Singh Keetu, MLA, Barnala, Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla, MLA, Sherpur, and Mr Gobind Singh Longowal, MLA, Dhanaula, were also present at the press conference and urged the people to vote and support Mr Dhindsa in the Lok Sabha poll.

Addressing newsmen, Mr Dhindsa asserted that all was well with the SAD in his constituency and activists were working for the success of the party.

Addressing the rally, Mr Dhindsa appealed to voters to vote for him for an all-round development of the area. Spelling out his priorities like construction of railway overbridges at Barnala, Sangrur, Malerkotla and Ahmedgarh, he declared that he would strive for a four-lane national highway from Chandigarh to Bathinda.

He said he would also try to initiate steps to mitigate the problem of unemployment in his constituency.


Bhinder banks on ‘good work’ done by Congress
Our Correspondent

Sujanpur (Pathankot), April 12
Mrs Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, a former Union Minister and Congress nominee from the Gurdaspur Parliamentary constituency, who is contesting the Lok Sabha elections for the eighth time, today claimed that she would win the seat by a huge margin as Mr Vinod Khanna Minister of External Affairs and BJP candidate, had done nothing for the constituency.

She said the Congress had set up a hotel management institute in Gurdaspur and seven ITIs in the constituency. She claimed thousands of unemployed youth were employed during her regime.

Mrs Bhinder, accompanied by Mr H.S Hanspal, PPCC chief, Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, Punjab Housing and Urban Minister, Mr Gurbachan Singh Babbehali, DCC president and Mr Raman Bhalla, AM, PSEB said the Congress would unitedly contest the coming Lok Sabha elections and win all 13 seats from the state with its allies.


Jallianwala Bagh massacre eyewitness honoured
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 12
While successive state and Central governments have failed to provide any aid or facility to 108-year-old Bapu Shangara Singh, the sole surviving eyewitness of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front (AIATF) today honoured him at Jallianwala Bagh.

Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, president of the AIATF along with its activists, today honoured Bapu Shangara Singh with a model of Jallianwala Bagh. He also laid a wreath along with Baba Shangara Singh at the Jallianwala Bagh memorial.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Bitta said he would take up the matter of providing necessary facilities to him with the President, Mr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and state and Central governments. Mr Bitta, along with the AIATF activists, also raised slogans of “Bharat mata ki jai”. They took a pledge at the amar jyoti to fight terrorism. He said he would also take up the matter of developing the historical Jallianwala Bagh with the authorities.

Bapu Shangara Singh had gone to Jallianwala Bagh, along with four friends, on the fateful Baisakhi day to listen to speeches of freedom fighters. While his three friends died in the indiscriminate firing, he managed to escape. He also witnessed people jumping into the well to save themselves from firing. He was injured in the firing.


‘TV channels spoiling Indian culture’
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 12
Ms Asha Sharma, national joint convener of the Rashtriya Sewika Samiti, has cautioned social organisations against satellite TV channels posing a threat to the rich Indian culture and heritage.

Speaking at the annual parivar milan samaroh of the Bharat Vikas Parishad (Shivaji branch) here yesterday, Mrs Sharma said some popular TV serials were spreading violence, obscenity and hatred and painting a wrong picture of our society.

She said commercialisation of print media had increased obscenity and indecency in the society. The parishad, she said, was founded to promote Indian style of living, literature and culture. She urged all to encourage children to read stories of patriots and other great men besides training them in folk culture.

The prosperity of a country could not be adjudged by producing a force of money-earning professionals but by teaching the youth to develop dignity for labour and love for the downtrodden and needy, she added.

Mrs Santosh Baghla and Mrs Madhu Mittal presented a portrait of Swami Vivekanand to Mrs Sharma. Mr Suresh Bansal presided over the function. Mr Narender Goyal and Mr Pardeep Bansal took over as new president and secretary of the organisation along with their team of office-bearers. Social workers of the town were honoured. Mrs Rekha Gupta and Mrs Renu Threja entertained the gathering with songs. State unit representatives, Mr Ram Parkash Mittal and Mr Sandeep Watts, were also among those present.


Truck operators resent collection of illegal entry tax
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, April 12
Members of a gang in the area are reportedly collecting “entry tax” from truck operators in the areas of Madhopur, Sujanpur, Mirthal near here under the alleged political patronage of Congress leaders of the area.

Members of the gang have reportedly erected barricades to stop the trucks coming from Jammu and Pathankot side for collecting the “entry tax”.

The government, however, has not imposed any such tax as was verified by the local administration, the members of the gang have been collecting the illegal tax, ranging between Rs 10 to 100 from each truck passing through the route for the past couple of months and even issue receipts for it.

Mr Sawaran Singh, a spokesman of the Public Truck Union (PTU), here said, “if the truck operators refuse to pay the illegal tax, they were subjected to maltreatment and were even beaten up by the members of gang”.

Mr S.S. Nebi, president of the PTU, stated that when some truck operators refused to pay the illegal tax, their vehicles were impounded on flimsy grounds. He blamed the politicians of the area for shielding the gangsters.

The truck operators today met Ms Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, former Union Minister, and sought her intervention into the matter.


Truck operators stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 12
A section of truck operators from Mehraj and other nearby villages in the Rampura Phul area, who had formed a new truck union under the banner of the Sahia Truck Operators’ Union today held a protest dharna in front of the SDMs office at Rampura Phul, to press for their demands.

Sources said a section of truck operators of the Rampura Phul Truck Operators Union had constituted a new truck union on March 29. Today, these operators took out a protest march in Rampura Phul. Some of the protesters even removed their clothes to express resentment against the administration for not fulfilling their demands which included the appointment of an administrator of the Rampura Phul Truck Operators Union by removing Mr Gurdev Singh from the post of president of the union.

Distribution of areas between the new faction and the old union, and the allotment of the cement factory work to new faction were the other demands. The protesters submitted a memorandum to the Rampura Phul SDM, Mr Bhupinder Singh, listing their demands. They also held a meeting with the SDM and gave him an ultimatum to resolve the issue by April 15 and threatened to intensify their agitation if it was not done.


PSEB employees’ protest on May 5
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 12
The ad hoc committee of the Technical Services Union (TSU) of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has decided to stage a dharna, by wearing black “cholas” (robes), in front of the Head Office of the PSEB at Patiala on May 5 in protest against the alleged “anti-employee” policies of the PSEB. The committee has also decided to take out protest march in the Patiala town on the same day.

In a press note issued here today, a co-convener of the ad hoc committee of the TSU, also stated that before the May 5 programme, the committee had also drawn up a programme to hold flag marches from April 20 to May 3 in all offices of the PSEB to get the demands of the employees accepted.

The Co-convener also stated that there was a resentment among the employees against the introduction of contract labour system in the PSEB. Besides, the PSEB had also stopped the process of promoting workcharged as assistant lineman, he added.

The ad hoc committee has also decided to hold talks with other employees’ organisations, working in the PSEB, on the demand charter of the employees, so that employees’ agitation could be strengthened to get the demands accepted.


Soldier cremated with honours
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, April 12
Lance Naik Jasvir Singh of 2 Sikh (Royals) Regiment who was killed in action in the Srinagar valley on April 10 was cremated with full military honours at his native village Dona Mattar in Mamdot near the Indo-Pakistan international border here today.

Jasvir was posted at Naugham and was a part of quick reaction team of his unit. Mortal remains of the deceased soldier were flown from Srinagar to Jammu yesterday and escorted by a JCO and two NCO’s of the Royal Sikhs Soldiers of the Sikh battalions acted as pall-bearers and Gurkha soldiers sounded the last post and reversed the arms.

Wreaths were laid on behalf of the Chief of the Army Staff, GOC-in-C Western Command, GOC II corps and GOC Golden Arrow Division, Colonel M.S. Mann and Colonel R.D. Sharma supervised by the ceremony attended by thousands of people from various walks of life. The civil administration was represented by the SDM Jalalabad and the Tehsildar, Mamdot.

The soldier is survived by his father two brothers, three sisters.

Relatives and villagers requested that a memorial be raised in the village to motivate the youth of the border area to join the Army. Officers from the nearly BSF posts also paid floral tributes to the fallen soldier.


CM greets people on Baisakhi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has extended his greetings to the people of Punjab on the eve of Baisakhi. Stating that the festival marks love and compassion among mankind, the Chief Minister, in his message, has called upon the people to celebrate it with enthusiasm and traditional gaiety to strengthen the social fabric of the country.


Residents resent stray dog menace
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 12
Residents of the Urban Estate phase-II area here have been facing threat from stray dogs, which roam in the locality. These stray dogs have made life of the residents miserable, two to three persons have been bitten by such dogs.

Mr Shekhar Garg, Secretary of the Residents Welfare Society (150 yards houses), Urban Estate Phase-II, Bathinda, said the matter was brought to the notice of the Municipal Councillor of the area but the local Municipal Corporation had “failed” to take any step against stray dogs. Mr Garg stated that if steps were not taken by the administration to tackle the menace of stray dogs in this locality, a mishap might occur at any time. He also stated that roads of this locality were in the need of immediate repairs.


Overworked judges, harassed litigants
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 12
Even as the Punjab and Haryana High Court is yet to appoint five judicial officers for as many posts, which fell vacant due to termination of services of five judges in the cash-for-jobs scam in August 2002, the situation has taken a bad turn for litigants as the high court has done away with three courts at Jalandhar. There are only two judicial officers in junior division courts as against 10 judicial officers about two years back.

The high court had transferred three presiding officers of junior division courts — Mr H.S. Grewal, Mr H.S. Gill and Mr Kuldeep Singh — last week. The work of Mr H.S. Grewal was transferred to Ms Mandeep Pannu, Civil Judge (Junior Division), and that of Mr H.S. Gill to Mr L.K. Singla. The cases of the court of Mr L.K. Singla were transferred to Mr K.K. Bansal.

“Now, the judicial officers are handling around 6,000 cases in each court as against the prescribed norm of 500 cases. More than 100 being listed daily in these courts, resulting in adjournment in most cases.

The cases are usually being adjourned for months together, leading to harassment of litigants, who have to wait for long to get justice,” said Mr Gurmail Singh Lidder, secretary of the District Bar Association (DBA).

The decision to do away with the three courts was termed as unhealthy by the DBA which on April 8, passed a resolution, demanding that eight courts be set up.

The president of the DBA, Mr Gurnam Singh Pelia, said even cases under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, supposed to be decided within six months, had to be adjourned for months.


Lawyers strike work

Phagwara, April 12
All lawyers of Phagwara abstained from work in judicial courts here today in protest against the implication of a Kapurthala-based advocate H.S. Sandhu, a few days back.

Stating this Bar Association Phagwara president Vijay Sharma told newsmen here today that an emergency meeting of the Bar Association condemned the implication of Mr Sandhu in a ‘fake’ criminal case by the police. — UNI


Couple held on cheating charge
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 12
The police today arrested a travel agent couple on allegations of cheating and criminal breach of trust.

Mr Rakesh Kaushal, SP, in a press note issued here today, said Mr Balkar Singh of local Deep Nagar, in his complaint alleged that Harmesh Kumar of Nalwa Road, Jalandhar Cantonment, and his wife Reena, along with their sons Suresh Kumar and Mahesh Kumar, had been cheating people on the pretext of sending them abroad. They had promised the complainant that his son would be sent abroad by arranging his marriage with an England or USA-based girl. They took Rs 4 lakh on February 5, last year, from Mr Balkar Singh, along with the passpost of his son.

However, neither his son was sent abroad nor the money or the passport returned, despite repeated requests, he added.

During the course of investigation, it was found that these travel agents had taken Rs 50,000 from Mr Bhan Singh, a Punjab police head constable, with the promise to send his nephew Sukhwinder Singh to Italy. But the deal never materialised. 


Five held with fake papers
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 12
With the arrest of five persons, the police today claimed to have listed a gang which used to prepare fake registration certificates, driving licences and route permits. Fake stamps of the District Transport Office, the licensing authority, the Motor Vehicle Department, and Registrar Transport Authority, were recovered.

Those arrested were identified as Rakesh Kumar, Naresh Kumar Sharma, Surinder Singh, Paramjit and Amrik Singh. The police registered a case.

The CIA staff arrested Parminder Singh, alias Bobby, of New Golden Avenue and recovered one stolen motor cycle. The police had recognised the accomplices of the accused.


2 rice mill owners held in case of cheating

Muktsar, April 12
The Muktsar police has booked two persons, partners of the local Guru Nanak Rice Mill, for alleged cheating and embezzlement of paddy worth Rs 74 lakh.

A case in this regard was registered on the complaint of the District Food and Supplies Controller (DFSO). According to a complaint filed by the DFSO with the SSP Muktsar, Guru Nanak Rice Mill was supplied 32,625 quintals of paddy for custom milling during 2002 season. The rice mill was bound to supply rice after milling by August 2002 but later the period of supply was extended at the instance of the millers.

When officials of the Department of Food and Supplies conducted physical verification of the stocks of the rice sheller, it was found that 7.44 quintals of paddy worth Rs 73,85,823 was missing. — PTI


Technical festival from April 15
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 12
The TechSociety of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Punjabi University, here will organise a national-level technical festival, TechDisha-2004 from April 15-17. More than 600 students from engineering and technical institutions from all-over India will participate in various educational, technical and cultural contests.

The secretary-cum-convener of the festival, Ms Kanwalinderjit Kaur, a lecturer in the department, said this festival was organised last year at the Punjab-level, which was a great success and had received an overwhelming response. This time, colleges from all-over India have been invited to participate in it.

TechDisha comprises several events related to various general educational, hardware, software, sports and cultural activities ranging from paper presentation to night cricket, from debugging to DJ dance parties, from robo-wars to tug-of-war, from debates to Romeo-Juliet and from quizzes to tech-tambola.

In the press note issued by the Chairman of the festival, Dr Chandan Singh, who is Head of the Department of Computer Science, said we were making sincere efforts for extending IT relations among students across the country, bringing the entire student community to a common platform where they could work for the betterment of society at large.

At a meeting held today, he announced the list of executive members of the TechSociety for this year, which include Gurpreet Singh Virk, Rajat Bansal, Brahmleen Kaur, Ashwin Kaul, Navendoo Dhir, Parvinder Randev and Meeta Bhatia.

A sound and light show for the participating students will also be held on April 17. This event will comprise dance party, choreography and performances by professional dance troops. He also reminded the students of the rich cultural heritage of the princely Patiala city and assured that the festival would definitely live upto the high standards the university has set for itself.


Results of Class XII science, commerce on May 6
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 12
The results of Class XII science and commerce examinations will be declared by the Punjab School Education Board on May 6.

While the declaration of Class XII science and commerce stream results will be well in time for students who have to apply for admissions into various graduation courses, the Class XII arts results are likely to be delayed following the paper leakage and cancellation of examinations.

Stating this the Board Chairman, Dr Kehar Singh, added that the board would, however, declare these results between June 20 and 25, well before the last date for admissions in Guru Nanak Dev University and Panjab University.

Declaration of Class X results have also been delayed following the cancellation of papers but are expected to be declared by the board before the last week of June.

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