P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


BJP leader Yagya Dutt’s son joins Congress
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
Mr Prem Dutt Sharma, son of late Yagya Dutt Sharma, a BJP leader, and Mr Sarabjit Singh, son of late Mohinder Singh Brar, an Akali MLA from Kotkapura, today joined the Congress and were welcomed by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the PPCC President, Mr H.S. Hanspal.

While Mr Sharma described the government's anti-corruption drive as the motivating force for him to join the Congress, besides meekly admitting that the BJP had been unkind to him and had repeatedly denied him the party ticket in any election, including the present Lok Sabha poll, Mr Sarbjit Singh sat quietly at the press conference where the two were introduced to the media.

Mr Sharma was an aspirant for the BJP ticket from Hoshiarpur which once was represented by his father who later became Governor of Orissa.

A BJP spokesman, quoting state President Avinash Rai Khanna, later said that Mr Sharma was not even a primary member of the party and his joining the Congress was inconsequential.

At one stage Mr Sharma fumbled for words while explaining reasons of his defection or to substantiate that there was corruption in the BJP. Sensing trouble for him, Capt Amarinder Singh came to his rescue and saved him from further embarrassment.

Capt Amarinder Singh reiterated that investigation was on into the conduct of BJP ministers who were in the Parkash Singh Badal ministry and action would be taken against them at an appropriate time.

To the open affront to his wife, Preneet Kaur, contesting the Patiala seat by Rajpura MLA Raj Kumar Khurana, the Chief Minister dismissed that as ''teething troubles and an emotional reaction over some past incident''. Mr Hanspal said he would talk it over with him. Both said no disciplinary action was required against the MLA. The Chief Minister also stressed that there was no opposition to his wife from any quarters from within the Congress. ''I anticipate no problem for her or other Congress candidates anywhere''.

Capt Amarinder Singh today again challenged Mr Badal to an open debate on all issues at any place, anywhere and any time. He wondered what Mr Badal meant by saying that he would not debate with a ''junior''. After a pause he added, ''I am the Chief Minister, who else does he want to debate with? I think he is wobbling and woolly-headed.''

On the question of advertisements appearing in the print media that showed the Akalis and the Congress in ''bad shade'', Capt Amarinder Singh said, ''I enjoy these. At least I know what people think about me.'' He denied the Congress was funding these advertisements. ''The elections are still warming up. Once we begin our campaign, we will go hammer and tongs in the visual and print media with advertisements. In fact, even Mr Sukhbir Badal will find it tough in Faridkot''.

Referring to his talks with the employees' representatives on Monday, Capt Amarinder Singh clarified that no decisions had been taken on any of the demands or issues involved. Both sides only discussed these and a decision would be taken only after the elections. Since a date had been fixed for the meeting earlier, it was held to exchange views on the employees' issues.

The assembly election manifesto of 2002 was relevant till 2007 and it would be updated and linked to the party's national agenda or manifesto, he added.


Preneet opens election office
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 13
Ms Preneet Kaur, Congress nominee from this parliamentary constituency while inaugurating her election office at Chhoti Baradari yesterday warned SAD nominee Capt Kanwaljit Singh against malpractices indulged in by the Akali-BJP combine to win the Banur Assembly elections.

Addressing party functionaries here after inaugurating her election office, she said she was confident that the voters would not let her down.

The organisation heads of the Mahila Congress, the Youth Congress district presidents, the ex-servicemen cell, the NSUI, the INTUC and the CPM leaders and party workers gave a warm response to Ms Preneet Kaur. They promised to mobilise all support to ensure her win in the Lok Sabha elections.

Senior Congress leader and former MP Sant Ram Singla, who is in charge of the central election office of the party reminded the voters that projects to improve the civic amenities of this constituency, including the embankment of the Ghaggar were initiated by her. He said the successful procurement policies of the state government had come as major relief to the farming community of the state and the farmers had also been given prompt payment of their produce.

The campaign of the Congress nominee is getting a boost with foes turning into supporters Harry Mann from Samana in his speech lashed at Capt Kanwaljit Singh. Ms Preneet Kaur will open offices in all nine Assembly segments in this constituency from tomorrow.

She will file her nomination papers on April 22. Prominent among those who spoke were Satpal Kapoor, former MP, Mr Ved Gupta, Mr Hardial Kamboj, Mr Vishnu Sharma, Mr L.L. Sharma and Mr Rajinder Singh Tohra.


Cong leaders yet to start canvassing for Mattu
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 13
Though leaders of various factions of the District Congress Committee here have assured Mr Harkrishen Singh Surjeet, Secretary of the CPM their support to his party candidate Darshan Singh Mattu in Lok Sabha elections, but none of them has come forward to campaign in his favour so far. The Congress high command has left Hoshiarpur seat for the CPM this time. Leaders of various factions of the Congress arranged separate meetings of their supporters with Mr Surjeet during his recent visit to Hoshiarpur to assure their support to the CPM candidate. No joint meeting of the DCC has been convened with Mr Surjeet. However the Distt Congress organised a meeting to draw up election strategy before the arrival of Mr Surjeet, no member of Mr Naresh Thakur’s faction including some of the office-bearers of the DCC participated.

Many senior leaders of the District Congress Committee said here yesterday that the party workers were frustrated following the decision of the AICC for leaving the Hoshiarpur seat for the CPM.

They said that the CPM had no hold in this constituency. The infighting between Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, former Congress MP from this seat and Mr Ramesh Chander Dogra, Health and Family Welfare Minister, Punjab, had resulted in leaving this seat to the CPM.

On the denial of party ticket to him, Mr Charanjit Singh Channi joined the BSP and secured ticket for his seat. There were three main contenders viz Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna BJP and Mr Darshan Singh Mattu, who were contesting election from this seat.

They said that in the absence of Congress nominee and non-seriousness of the Congress leaders for campaigning in favour of the CPM candidate majority of the Congress workers would either join Mr Channi or would indirectly support him.

Some would also indirectly support Mr Avinash Rai Khanna BJP nominee, small number of workers would only support Mr Darshan Singh Mattu. This would hit the Congress in future. They said some of the DCC leaders were approaching the AICC now to depute them in those constituencies of Punjab where Congress candidates were contesting to save their skin.


Badal sides with INLD in Haryana, Chandigarh
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Parkash Singh Badal today made it clear that his political sympathy with regard to the Lok Sabha elections in Haryana and Chandigarh lay with Mr Om Prakash Chautala's party, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD).

"We have an electoral alliance with the BJP in Punjab. But my party is yet to decide that to which party it should extend support in Haryana and Chandigarh," said Mr Badal when asked a question. "An appropriate decision would be taken soon in this connection,"
he added.

But with the same breath, he said, "I personally and my party in general are so much indebted politically to Mr Chautala that it would be difficult to ignore him while taking any decision with regard to the support in elections." Mr Badal said, "I would have been finished by now if Mr Chautala had not extended support to me and the SAD during the last annual election of the SGPC president. Then the Punjab Government had planned to kidnap most of the members of the SGPC to establish its control over it and to humiliate me. But Mr Chautala proved a saviour for us. SGPC members were shifted to his state," said Mr Badal. "How could I forget all this," he added.

At the time of last SGPC elections, Mr Badal did not get adequate response from top BJP leaders when he sought help from them. A few BJP leaders expressed lip sympathy with Mr Badal by issuing statements in his support. Mr Badal had to turn to Mr Inder Kumar Gujral, former Prime Minister, who is a long-time friend of Mr Badal, for help. Mr Gujral took up the matter with Mrs Sonia Gandhi, President of the AICC, who directed the Punjab Government not to interfere in the SGPC elections in any manner. Because of the help extended by Mr Gujral then, Mr Badal has now repaid him by making his son, Naresh Kumar, the candidate for the Jalandhar Lok Sabha constituency.

Mr Badal said that people wanted to see Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee as Prime Minister for the next term also. "The masses are with Mr Vajpayee who is miles ahead of Mrs Sonia Gandhi in the race for Prime Ministership," said Mr Badal. Mrs Gandhi's major drawback was that she had no experience to govern the country. "She is no match to Mr Vajpayee in this regard," he added.

He refused to share any platform with Capt Amarinder Singh for a political debate on various issues. "Capt Amarinder Singh was too junior to me in politics. I am ready for a debate if the Congress agreed to field any senior leader of the All-India Congress Committee," he said. He said that the SAD had not changed its agenda, but as it was part of the National Democratic Alliance, it had to go by the common minimum programme of the NDA.

Asked about the "nasty" advertisements appearing in the print media about him and the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Badal said that he was opposed to such advertisement campaign. "In fact I hate all this," he added.

He blamed Capt Amarinder Singh for making such advertisements part of the state's political culture. He said that he was consulting legal experts to file a case against Mr Gurinderpal Singh Dhanula who is spearheading the advertisement campaign against the Badal family. "It should be probed as to who was funding the advertisement campaign being run in the name of Mr Dhanula," he said.

He said that the Congress would suffer a big defeat in Punjab as all sections of society wanted to "teach it a lesson". When asked about Mr Tohra's absence from political scene, Mr Badal said that though Mr Tohra was not physically with the SAD now but his soul was with the party.


CM wants to shelve refinery project: Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
The SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said today that the Bathinda Oil Refinery would have proved a golden goose for Punjab. “But unfortunately the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, was out to kill that goose to deny the Punjabis golden eggs,” he added. The project was got sanctioned with the personal intervention of the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a few years ago. He said that the Chief Minster was trying hard to get this project shelved by advancing unconvincing reasons.


Badal woos Tohra loyalists
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 13
Shiromani Akali Dal President and former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today held a meeting with Tohra loyalists at a farmhouse in Sahnewal, near here. The meeting lasted over three hours.

It is learnt that Mr Badal tried to assure the loyalists of Mr Tohra that their interest within the party and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee would be watched at all costs.

Sources said that after the death of Gurcharan Singh Tohra, his loyalists were feeling ignored and marginalised and feared an uncertain future. They had started staying away from party affairs, causing concern in the Badal camp.

Today’s meeting is said to have been prompted by reports within the SAD that Tohra loyalists were not backing the election campaign of the party, as they were not being taken into confidence in matters concerning the party or the SGPC. The Tohra camp has considerable influence in at least three parliamentary constituencies, Ludhiana, Patiala and Ropar.

Today’s meeting was attended among others by Baba Tek Singh, Bhai Manjit Singh, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, Mr Hira Singh Gabria and Mr Harminder Singh Gill.


Tohra’s widow to open Kanwaljit’s poll office
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 13
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) will seek votes in the name of late Shiromani Committee President Gurcharan Singh Tohra with the party today announcing that the late leader’s widow Joginder Kaur would inaugurate the election office of party’s candidate from Patiala - Capt Kanwaljit Singh and also accompany the party candidate when he files nomination papers on April 23.

Announcement on the involvement of Mrs Joginder Kaur a few days after the ‘bhog’ ceremony of the late leader indicates that the SAD is likely to try to create a sympathy wave in favour of the party in Tohra’s name. Capt Kanwaljit Singh had during the ‘bhog’ ceremony projected himself as a protege of the late SGPC President besides claiming that voting for him would be the real tribute to the late leader. A constituency-level meeting was called by Capt Kanwaljit at the Rakhra Palace in the city today in which the party’s poll strategy was drawn up. Sources said party leaders felt that getting the party candidate’s election office inaugurated by Mrs Joginder Kaur and ensuring her presence during the filing of nomination papers by Capt Kanwaljit would send right signal to the electorate.

The meeting was attended by Mr Harmel Singh Tohra, the late SGPC President’s son-in-law, who gave his assent to the proposal. It was decided that the party’s central election office would be inaugurated by Mrs Tohra on April 23 following which she would accompany Capt Kanwaljit Singh for the filing of the latter’s nomination papers.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh when questioned on the issue, said he would talk to ‘bibiji’ and request her to campaign in his favour also. He said this, however, would be possible only if Mrs Tohra’s health allowed her to campaign. The Akali leader said there was a lot of enthusiasm among Akali workers after they came to know that Mrs Tohra would be associated with the campaign, adding the move would give a boost to the SAD.

Meanwhile around 500 office-bearers of the party attended today’s meeting which was represented by leaders from all Assembly segments. These included Samana legislator Surjit Singh Rakhra, Shatrana legislator Nirmal Singh Shatrana, former Minister Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur, former legislator Jagtar Singh Rajla, former MP Charanjit Singh Walia, Tejinder Singh Sandhu, Kashmir Singh Mavi and Indermohan Singh Bazaz.

All party workers have been directed to work in their own Assembly constituency only and not attend meetings held in other constituencies even if important leaders are slated to attend them. It was also announced that SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal would campaign for the party at Devigarh, Dakala and Samana on April 26.


Jagmeet shouldn’t have shifted from Faridkot: Brar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
Former Punjab Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Harcharan Singh Brar said yesterday that Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar should not have shifted from Faridkot to Ferozepore. He also said that he and his family were not opposed to the candidature of his daughter-in-law, Ms Karan Brar, from Faridkot.

“After Mr Jagmeet Singh refused to contest from Faridkot, the party sought our help. Ms Karan’s candidature was finalised by all of us. Reports that we are opposed to Ms Karan are baseless and misleading. She wouldn’t have agreed to contest had we not told her to do so,” Mr Brar told mediapersons here.

Asked why so far no member of the family had been seen canvassing in Faridkot for Ms Karan, Mr Brar said that due to his illness neither he nor his wife had been able to go to Faridkot after the announcement of the poll. “Bubli (his daughter) will go to Faridkot tomorrow, while I and my wife will be able to go only after I am alright,” he said.

Mr Brar asserted that Mr Jagmeet Singh shifted to avoid any negative impact on the prospects of his daughter-in-law. “It would have been better had Mr Jagmeet Singh contested from Faridkot as he has been representing this constituency since 1999. It was his duty to do so. But, we continue to be on strong footing in Faridkot despite this,” he said.

Asked if the family had applied for the Congress ticket for its member, Mr Brar replied in the negative, adding that the Congress leadership wanted somebody from his family to contest. “Since we are true soldiers of the party, we could not refuse,” he added.

He also said that it did not matter that Ms Karan is fighting an election for the first time. “Everybody has to begin some time,” he added.


BSP announces candidates for 3 seats

Hoshiarpur, April 13
Bahujan Samaj Party General Secretary Narinder Kashyap, today said the party had fielded its candidates for all 13 seats of Punjab for the Lok Sabha elections.

Talking to reporters here, he said that candidates for 10 seats had already been announced.

The candidates of Ludhiana, Patiala and Bathinda had been finalised today, he said.

Mr Ravinder Singh Sohal will be the BSP candidate in Ludhiana, Mr H.C. Paul Kashyap in Patiala and Mr Gurnam Singh will be from Bathinda. — PTI


BSP woos ex-soldiers with one rank, one pension
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 13
Col Partap Inder Singh Phulka (Retd), General Secretary, Bahujan Samaj Party, Punjab, criticised the NDA Government headed by the BJP for not granting “One rank one pension” to ex-servicemen who retired from the Indian Army as Junior Commissioned Officers and sepoys despite promises. It had not even included this long-pending demand of ex-servicemen in its election manifesto which had compelled him to resign presidentship of the Sainik Morcha Wing of the BJP Punjab. He recently joined the BSP which nominated him general secretary of party’s state unit.

At a press conference here today, Col Phulka said that in 1999 Mr George Fernandes, Defence Minister of India, announced at Hola Mohalla at Anandpur Sahib that one rank one pension would be granted to ex-servicemen within a month or so. Five years had passed but the announcement had remained a promise. He said that there were 50 lakh ex-servicemen in the country of which 7 lakh were in Punjab and several thousand in Hoshiarpur parliamentary constituency. If a soldier retired in 1970 he gets pension of second pay commission as compared to pension of a soldier retiring today. The difference is considerable. At today’s prices it is very difficult for a retired soldier to make both ends meet. He is starving and forced to do menial jobs after defending borders of the country.

He said that Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, who is contesting from Hoshiarpur seat as BSP candidate and Mr Avtar Singh Karimpuri, President BSP, Punjab, had promised him to raise this issue in the first session of the 14th Lok Sabha and if the BSP joined government at the Centre, it would demand implementation of one rank one pension before joining the government at the Centre. He appealed to ex-servicemen to vote for BSP candidates so that they could raise their issue of one rank one pension in Parliament.


3 observers for Faridkot constituency

Faridkot, April 13
The Election Commission has appointed three observers for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections in the Faridkot Lok Sabha constituency.

The constituency consist of nine Assembly segments, including Moga, Baghapurana, Panjgrain, Faridkot, Kotkapura, Muktsar, Gidderbaha, Malout and Lambi of three districts of Moga, Faridkot and Muktsar.

This was announced by Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner-cum-Electoral Officer, of the Faridkot Lok Sabha constituency here yesterday.

The observers include V.N. Garg, an IAS officer from Uttar Pradesh, Bimal Kritik, also an IAS officer from Jharkhand, and Kumar Sanjay of the Indian Revenue Service from Maharashtra.

All three observers will reach the Faridkot Lok Sabha constituency headquarters on April 18. He said nomination papers would be accepted for eight days from April 16 and the scrutiny of nomination papers would be on April 24, and withdrawal by April 26.

Each candidate would have to submit his or her assets, which would be displayed in front of the office of the District Electoral Officer as per the instructions of the Election Commission of India. He said it was for the first time that 50 per cent of the polling staff would be deployed from outside the constituency.


Zora Singh Mann’s plea to EC
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, April 13
Keeping in view the Election Commission’s directives regarding 50 per cent of the polling staff to be deputed from outside the parliamentary constituency concerned the SAD-BJP nominee from Ferozepore Mr Zora Singh Mann, has urged the commission not to post any polling staff from the Faridkot parliamentary constituency, which comprises Muktsar, Moga and Faridkot districts.

In a statement issued here yesterday Mr Mann said as the Congress nominee from Ferozepore, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar had contested the previous election from the Faridkot constituency. He being a permanent resident of Muktsar district had a sizeable following in the area. If any staff was posted from his old constituency, he might influence the electoral process. He added that the directives of the ECs should be implemented in toto.

Apart from it, Mr Mann also urged the EC to shift SHO of Khui Khera, Mr Khera and Mr Ram Singh, SHO, CIA staff Zira. Mr Khera is a brother of the personal assistant of the Congress candidate and Mr Ram Singh is living at Zira for the past 12 years and there he had his own house. Both has been accused by Mr Mann, for influencing the electoral in their area of influence.


Advani to visit Punjab on May 2
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
SAD President Parkash Singh Badal said today that Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani would campaign in Punjab on May 2. The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, would also visit the state in the first week of May but no exact date had been finalised for his visit yet. The Chief Ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, besides Mr Arun Jaitley, would also visit the state to campaign in support of the SAD-BJP candidates, he added.

When asked what was his objective to host a lunch to journalists today, Mr Badal, in a lighter vein said, “I have no fear of Capt Amarinder Singh’s fury, but I cann’t afford to annoy you (journalists)”.


Ludhiana has maximum number of voters
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
In Punjab, Ludhiana has the maximum number of electors. The constituency tops the list with 15,60,629 voters. Hoshiarpur with 11,36,921 electors enjoys the distinction of having the least number of voters.

The total number of electors, expected to exercise their franchise in the state, is 1,66,12,344. The total population of the state is 2,43,58,999. The number of Scheduled Caste in the state is 70,28,723. As many as 1,13,80,240 voters have been issued photo identity cards.

A senior officer in the Punjab Election Department reveals that Tarn Taran with 11,73,056 electors has the lowest number of polling booths in the state. Just 1,068 booths have been set up in the constituency. Ludhiana has the highest number of polling stations. There are 1,446 booths in the constituency. The total number of booths is 15,623.

The officer discloses that out of the total electors, there are 86,21,802 men and 79,46,907 women. Ludhiana again has the maximum number of male and female voters. As many as 8,25,138 men and 7,34,453 women are expected to exercise their franchise.


500 Sikhs from Pakistan arrive
Tribune News Service

Wagah (Amritsar), April 13
A Jatha of 500 Pakistani Sikhs, including Sehajdhari Sikhs from Sindh and Peshawar arrived here to participate in the 500th birth anniversary of second Sikh Guru, Guru Angad Dev on the eve of Baisakhi here today, The auspicious occasion has helped re-union of families separated during the partition of the country.

Members and senior functionaries of the SGPC showered rose petals when Pakistani Sikhs who brought 36 old ‘Birs’ of Guru Granth Sahib on their heads for cremation as per Sikh traditions in India crossed the Radcliff Line.

It was emotional occasion for family members of Harbans Singh, a resident of Amritsar who had come here to receive his sister Harnam Kaur, Bishan Singh (brother) and other relatives who had reached here for the first time after the Partition. Ms Harnam Kaur said that her wish to meet her relatives in India and paying obeisance at the Golden Temple stood fulfilled. “Now I can die a comfortable death”, she said.

Baba Sewa Singh of Khadoor Sahib Wale told the deputy leader of the Pakistani Jatha, Mr Hari Singh, that his institution was ready to undertake ‘kar seva’ to renovate Sikh shrines in Pakistan with cooperation of the SGPC.

Most of the devotees from Pakistan came here to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple for the first time. The Jatha is led by Mr Mahesh Singh, a Member of the National Assembly (MNA) of Pakistan. The Jatha was received by Mr Alwinder Singh Pakhoke, working president of the SGPC and other senior functionaries of the SGPC.

Talking to the Press at Wagah Joint check-post here, Mr Mahesh Singh said that Pakistani Sikhs held both the SGPC and the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee in high esteem. Both the Sikh organisations should cooperate with each other for maintaining of ‘Sikh maryada’ in shrines of Pakistan.

Mr Dalip Singh and Mr Ravinder Singh said that they were feeling delighted to visit the holy city of Amritsar. They said apart from Khadoor Sahib, they wanted to visit Anandpur Sahib and other Sikh shrines in Punjab. They said border should be opened permanently at least for pilgrimage’s purpose.


FCI Dist Manager, 2 assistant managers held by CBI
Involved in bribery, rice scam
Chander Parkash and Aniurudh Gupta
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, April 13
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested officials from Chandigarh last night. Food Corporation of India District Manager (DM), V.M. Subramanian and Mr Subhash Satija and Mr Ashok Khosla, both Assistant Managers (quality control and depot for their alleged involvement in various scams.

Official sources said that Mr Subramaniam was caught when he accepted a bribe of Rs 20,000 from Mr Prem Bajaj. AG-II, Fazilka (Ferozepore) for cancelling his transfer, Mr Satija and Mr Khosla were arrested for involvement in corruption in the department.

Sources added that Mr Khosla took Rs 20000 from Mr Bajaj and went to the house of Mr Subramaniam to hand over the amount to him through Mr Satija, who allegedly acted as “tout” of Mr Subramaniam. All three accused were taken to Chandigarh today morning. They were later produced in a court at Patiala, sources said that Mr Bajaj, who was harassed by Mr Subramaniam for a bribe, was transferred to Fazilka few months ago from Jalalabad. Mr Bajaj was also pressurised by his superior for becoming a party to their alleged acts of misconduct in the functioning of the FCI in this district.

After getting fed up at the hands of his superior, Mr Bajaj complained to the CBI which arrested the three accused. Yesterday evening, he gave Rs 20,000 to Mr Subramaniam for his transfer back to Jalalabad.

Sources said that Mr Bajaj, in his complaint, had given account of misdeeds of these officials in the purchase of paddy during last procurement season, their involvement in the acceptance of substandard rice from rice mill owners in place quality paddy given to them by accepting money from them, awarding of contracts of loading and unloading of paddy and rice. Mr Bajaj also gave details of the loss caused by these officials to the FCI by accepting substandard rice from certain rice mill owners.

Mr Bajaj also told the CBI that these officials allowed purchase of substandard rice from other states at cheaper rates in this district and later accepted the same from certain rice mill owners in place of paddy given to them for shelling.

No CBI official could be contacted at Chandigarh for comments but it is learnt that CBI officials have started collecting evidence in connection with allegations of Mr Bajaj. It could not be known if CBI officials had seized any record from the offices of the DM and two AMs. It could also not be known how much cash amount was recovered from the houses of these three FCI officials by the CBI.


Reimburse excess money charged from medical students: CPI
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 13
The CPI has demanded the reimbursement of excess or wrongfully charged amounts from students of Government Medical College here.

Demanding a thorough probe into the utilisation of the large amounts shown to be spent by the college authorities, Mr Satya Pal Dang, veteran CPI leader, urged Mr Satish Chander, Secretary, Medical Education and Research, to conduct an in-depth check into the state of affairs in all hostels of the medical college here.

In a letter to the Secretary, he stated that encouraged by a notification issued by Secretary (Medical Education and Research) for refund of Rs 80,000 to each of the six students from whom private medical institutions were charging “any amount as miscellaneous or development fund” as reported in the April 8 issue of “The Tribune”, he stated that the needful should be done as regards the amounts charged by medical college here .

Citing a case in which a doctor of Malout had drawn attention to the exorbitant charges and poor facilities and maintenance by medical college authorities, he demanded an assessment of all amounts that were “not payable” but charged from students in medical hostels, which should be promptly refunded .

Girls in the medical hostel were being charged Rs 14,000 yearly while they paid “mess” charges separately. After paying this sum, a single room was being shared by four hostel residents. They pooled in money for white-washing and had to bring their own personal basic furniture, including bed, chair table etc and even arrange for minor repairs of electricity, plumbing etc. Mr Dang demanded that those responsible for such a state of affairs should be exposed and action taken at the earliest.


Police file on CBSE paper leak scam gathers dust
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 13
Even as the New Delhi police busted a gang involved in question paper leak of the All-India Pre-Medical Test organised by the CBSE and arrested two persons, the file pertaining to the unearthing of first CBSE paper leak scam has been gathering dust as the police failed to make any headway in the racket.

The police here was the first to unearth the paper leak in which an Akali leader and rice miller of Sirhind Devinder Singh alias Pappu allegedly involved in the scam was arrested by the police from a hotel here. Devinder Singh was allegedly linked with CBSE officials and bargained with candidates for PMT entrance test in hotels.

Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, then SP City-I (now SP, Mohali), here had busted this scam. He had approached the rice miller (Devinder Singh) as a decoy after a tip-off and struck the deal for getting the CBSE paper leaked a day before the entrance test for a payment of Rs 11 lakh. The accused after his arrest made several revelations. He had allegedly been duping the candidates for the entrance test for the past two years and used to get list of aspirants of PMT test from senior officials of the CBSE.

A highly-placed source in the Police Department revealed that the transfer of the investigating officer in the case affected the investigation in which many CBSE officials, police officials and politicians were involved. The sources pointed out that names of police officials, doctors and politicians were found mentioned in the diaries recovered from Devinder Singh in the hotel room. The police had also recovered registers and personal diaries where he had mentioned the names of candidates with whom he had struck deals.

The case which was to be investigated in stages had to put on the back burner after the transfer of Mr Vijay Partap. In the first stage the police arrested Akali leader (Devinder) and presented his challan in a court.

The police had also arrested Amrik Singh, an agent of Devinder Singh. One Dr S.K. Bawa, running a PMT-CET academy under the name of BRC institute was also nabbed.


14 agitating farmers rounded up
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 13
Nearly 14 farmers members of the Lok Morcha Punjab, including state general secretary Amolak Singh and district general secretary Gurbachan Singh, who were agitating against the state government by wearing black robes and holding black flags, were rounded up today by the district police from Jallianwala Bagh here. They were going to pay tributes to martyrs at Jallianwala Bagh memorial on Baisakhi. Mr Lakhwinder Singh and Mr Heera Singh, both leaders of the BKU (Ekta) were also rounded up.

The farmers held a rally from Manawala Railway Station, where Angrej Singh, a young farmer was allegedly killed in police firing during a protest on March 29, to Jallianwala Bagh here.

Mr Sukhdev Singh, general secretary Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta) said that the police stopped them when they were going to pay tributes to nation’s martyrs in the historic garden.

Mr Satnam Singh Pannu, leader of the Kisan Sangarash Committee told on the phone that the police continued raids to nab farmers in Amritsar, Majitha and Tarn Taran villages. He said the farmers would continue their protest against the state government.


Demand to scrap reservation
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, April 13
The General Categories Welfare Federation, Punjab, has urged the President, the Union Government, the Election Commission and Parliamentarians to work for abolishing reservation in the Lok Sabha and various state Assemblies as the Constitution had provided reservation only for 10 years. The reservation was continuing due to selfish attitude of different parties, it said.

Stating this, the president of the federation, Mr Shyam Lal Sharma, and the general secretary, Mr Nirmal Singh, told newsmen here yesterday that 120 out of 543 Lok Sabha seats and 1,081 out of 4,091 Assembly seats of different states belonged to reserve categories and no candidate from the general category could contest from these seats while candidates from reserve category could contest elections from all seats including the general category.

They said people were being deprived of their rights, so that 2 per cent of Dalits in the country could be appeased.


Jathedar against placing of Bir on conference stage
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, April 13
Bhai Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, has decided not to allow the SAD (Badal) leadership to place Bir of Guru Granth Sahib on its stage while holding its political conference in the Bhai Dal Singh Divan Hall here tomorrow on Baisakhi, being celebrated as per the Nanakshahi calendar.

Talking to TNS, he pointed out that in the conference, a number of people enter “pandal” with shoes on and without covering their heads, which was an insult to Guru Granth Sahib. This was the main reason that he would not allow the SAD (B) leadership to place Bir of Guru Granth Sahib on its stage while holding its conference.

He pointed out that at present, the religious diwans were going on in the Diwan Hall with the Bir of Guru Granth Sahib lying on stage. Tomorrow, before 9 a.m. the Bir of Guru Granth Sahib would be taken to Durbar Sahib of Takht Damdama Sahib.

Meanwhile, he said that the SAD (B) would hold its political conference in the Diwan Hall despite the fact that the district administration had been objecting to it. He said that Diwan Hall was not a religious place itself and it was part of a complex, and hence there was no violation of model code of conduct. He added that the SGPC, which managed the affairs of Diwan Hall, did not fall under the jurisdiction of the district administration.

Mr Gurkirat Kirpal Singh, SDM-cum-Assistant Returning Officer (ARO) of Talwandi Sabo, when contacted, pointed out that if the SAD (B) holds its political conference in Diwan Hall, he would report the matter to the District Election Officer for necessary action.

Meanwhile, this small town has been witnessing a great rush of devotees, as more than 10 lakh of them have reached here in the past two days to pay their obeisance at various gurdwaras and to take a dip in the holy sarovar on Baisakhi.

Mr Singh pointed out that arrangements for temporary latrines, potable water, help counters, medical care centres and inquiry counters had been made for the convenience of devotees, who had been reaching here for the past two days. Special divers and boats had also been arranged for the safety of those devotees, who had been taking dip in the holy sarovar.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, said adequate arrangements had been made for security during the mela days.


Construction works to be probed
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 13
The Deputy Commissioner here, Ms Seema Jain, today ordered an inquiry into the construction of Bela (part-II) colony by the local Improvement Trust. The inquiry was ordered after a team of officers led by the Deputy Commissioner conducted a surprise checking of the colony. It found that the recently laid concrete flooring in the colony had developed cracks.

The Deputy commissioner ordered the ADC (General) Ropar to conduct an inquiry into the laying of the concrete flooring and submit the report within 15 days.

This is not for the first time that Bela colony is in controversy. Earlier, also flats and houses constructed by the improvement trust had developed cracks. Inquiries were ordered on the complaints but these have not reached any conclusion. The complainants also moved the consumer forum against the poor construction of the Bela colony and they were awarded compensation.


Nandita Das to play a different role
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, April 13
The world may know of her as an actress par excellence, film critics may have hailed her as the reincarnation of Smita Patil but for Nandita Das acting remains more of an interest than a profession. Her vocation in life remains what it was years ago after she completed her MSc in Social Work and went on to work actively for various NGOs committed to the cause of children.

And it is to espouse the same very cause that she is all set to organise a cricket match in Pakistan which will be played by under- privileged children from India and Pakistan. As the message to be relayed is one of love the teams will not be compartmentalised and children from the two countries will come together in each team to play the match. “ Cricket fever is in the air and what a better way to promote harmony and goodwill than to engage in a sport which has almost become a religion in the subcontinent,” explains Nandita, adding that the idea came up during her recent visit to Pakistan.

Nandita Das who is in the city to shoot for Junoon guitarist Salman Ahmed`s new album — Ghoom Taana — admits that she is very excited about the match which will materialise as soon as the visas come about. “ The match is not going to be about one country versus the other as the focus is to highlight issues regarding children which are common to both countries. The matches which are going to be funded by various organisations from both India and Pakistan will be held in various cities across the border,” says Nandita. “ I never wanted to be an actress but being one has been very helpful. Now I can act as a catalyst to bring into limelight and also carry forward the work being done by hundreds of dedicated social activists across the country,” she professes.

Talking about her recent Pakistan visit, she said “ I met a cross section of people there and every person I interacted with was oozing with love and goodwill and I am determined to exploit the recent thaw to the maximum”. She said that featuring in Salman’s video was also part of the same design. “ You see I cut short my trip to the film festival being held in China to be a part of Salman’s shoot,” admits the actress who is convinced that increased interaction between people of the two countries is the only way to attain lasting peace in the region. Nandita, however, is candid about being very enthusiastic about the shoot for another reason too — this is her first music video.

She does not restrict herself to working for underprivileged children, women related issues are also important to her. “ You may even call me a feminist by default though I do not care for the tag,” she says, adding that she is a ‘humanist’.


When hosts vacate house for visitors
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 13
This is one instance where a family is actually agog with excitement at being literally barred from entering their house. Policemen stationed at the entrance to their house anxiously scan the street for potential gatecrashers, children flit inside and out of the quaint little house situated at the end of the Naamdaar Khan Road in the inner part of Patiala after being shooed away by the adults.

The Sandha family, which occupies the house, has been told to forget the fact that they own the place till about 11 pm every night, after which they are permitted to return and sleep inside. And are they complaining? Of course not. Who would, if celebrities like Nandita Das and Salman Ahmed were to descend upon your house to shoot their music video inside the house. Jasdeep Singh Sandha grins from ear to ear as he tells you how happy he is that Salman Ahmed (of pop group “Junoon” from Pakistan) is shooting here for the video of his latest album Ghoom Taana.

The house, which was once occupied by Salman’s mother and maternal grandfather who left the country after partition, was bought by the Sandhas from the Wakf Board. The small “haveli”, though now dilapidated, still retains an old world charm reminiscent of the British period with the potency to transport one into the past. “In fact a period scene is being shot here currently as the video is all about a young man who comes to India to trace his roots,” gushes a beaming Jasdeep who stays in the house along with his family and that of his younger brother, Sandeep Singh Sandha.

Sounding almost autobiographical, we ask Salman about this, who unabashedly admits that it is so. “It was destiny which led me here. I am a long-lost son of Patiala and in fact the whole town treats me so. Ever since I landed in the city during the heritage festival held here in February this year, I have been itching to come back for more. Since I was a child my mother would tell me stories about the time she and her family spent in Patiala, about the “quila” here and also about this Naamdaar Road, which was named after my great grandfather Naamdaar Khan who was a courtier at Maharaja Bhupindra Singh’s court.”

The entire music video for “Ghoom Taana” is being shot exclusively at various locations in Patiala. Explains Salman: “You see the video is a labour of love for my mother. Through it I am trying to capture the memories of my mother as faithfully as I can. Different parts of the subcontinent resonate within us and this is my attempt at bringing them together as a whole. I can never forget how my mother cried when she saw through video tape my first visit to the house where she was born and brought up.”

Salman is going to be back here soon, this time with his mother who, he says, is simply biding time till the beginning of winter when she can travel conveniently. “The love and affection showered upon me is overwhelming and I aim to return the same through the camera. I shall let my video speak for itself and as I leave you all celebrating Baisakhi I shall carry impressions with me rich and warm enough to last a lifetime,” avers an emotional Salman as he bids goodbye. The Sandhas, meanwhile, nod wholeheartedly in agreement.


Akal Purakh di Fauj observes Turban Day
Our Correspondent

Amritsar April 13
Devotees had dip in the holy sarovar that was half filled here today on the eve of Baisakhi. According to Nanakshahi calendar Baisakhi is to be celebrated in the golden temple tomorrow.

Meanwhile international turban day was observed in the temple premises by the SGPC and the Akal Purakh di Fauj.

This is for the first time that devotees in the Golden Temple took a dip in filtered waters. The kar seva of the temple was started on March 25 and completed overnight following which a Rs 5-crore filtration plant was set up by Tut Brothers of America. Meanwhile, a special stage was set up by the SGPC and all devotees of the Fauj who sported turban strips with words “dastar Sikhi di shaan hai” and “saabat surat dastar sira”in a show of strength to counter the threat being faced by the ‘turban’ internationally.


SGPC executive meets on April 19
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 13
A meeting of the SGPC executive has been convened in Ludhiana on April 19. The meeting is likely to ask Mr Alwinder Singh Pakhoke, senior vice-president, to continue as Working President till the completion of the Lok Sabha elections.


District foundation day: celebrations begin
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 13
Mr Justice O.P. Verma Governor, Punjab, today inaugurated a week-long celebrations by lighting a candle at an impressive function held at BBSB Engineering College. These have been organised by the district administration in collaboration with the District Cultural Society and North Zone Cultural Centre.

Folk dancers and artistes belonging to 11 different states performed at the function and regaled the audience. The celebrations are being held to mark the 13th birth anniversary of the district.

Justice Verma did not made any speech nor talked to mediapersons. Gaurav Arora, a tiny tot, stale the show by performing bhangra.

Addressing the function, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, said the aim of organising such functions was not only to entertain, but to apprise people about our rich heritage and culture as well as to strengthen national integration and communal harmony. The supreme sacrifice of Sahibjadas of Guru Gobind Singh was also being commemorated. He said similar functions would also be organised at Amloh, Khamano and Bassi Pathana towns, where Pammi Bai and his troupe along with folk dancers of the North Zone Cultural Centre, comedian Bhagwant Mann and other artistes would perform.

Last evening renowned artiste Pammi Bai and his troupe regaled the audience at a function held at the Regional Institute of Management and Training at Mandi Gobindgarh. The function was organised by the District Cultural Society in collaboration with the RIMT. Mr Mohinder Pal, District Session Judge, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, and Mr Shiv Kumar SSP, presided over the function.


Charges against doctor withdrawn
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 13
A complainant, on whose plea a case of negligence was registered against a Sirhind-based doctor following the death of his brother, has now filed an affidavit asking the police not to pursue the case.

The complainant, Ram Singh, had lodged the complaint against Dr Mahesh Kumar of Mahesh Hospital on April 7 alleging that his brother had died due to the negligence of the doctor. He had claimed that his brother had died two hours after he was admitted at Mahesh Hospital.

According to the affidavit submitted to the police by Ram Singh, Dr Mahesh Kumar had given medicine for the benefit of the patient. But the complainant got a case registered against the doctor due to a “misunderstanding”. It said the “misunderstanding” had been cleared now.

Dr Mahesh Kumar said the patient, Avtar Singh, had been brought to the hospital after he complained of acute pain in the head. He said after administering immediate aid he had requested the relatives of the patient to take the patient to a referral hospital. He claimed that the patient had died while being shifted from the hospital.


Ex-militants to form party
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 13
Former militants and some radical Sikhs will float the Shiromani Khalsa Dal (SKD), headed by Daljit Singh Bittu, a former president of the Sikh Students Federation, who is currently lodged in Nabha jail in connection with the sensational Ludhiana bank dacoity and certain other cases, after performing ‘ardas’ at Akal Takht here tomorrow.

The SKD will “endeavour to establish a Sikh sovereign nation through democratic and peaceful means”. The new party will contest the forthcoming SGPC general elections, proposed to be held this year.


English language newspaper launched

Patiala, April 13
A Patiala-based English language publication, Patiala Buzz, was launched amidst fanfare by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh, at a simple, but impressive, ceremony held at a hotel here today. The formal launch was attended among others by the SSP, Mr Amarjit Singh Rai, academicians and Army officers. The magazine carries articles and features relating to Patiala’s history and culture. The publication is the brainchild of a retired Army officer, Lt Col J.S Bakshi. E-mail ID: Patialabuzz@yahoo.com. — TNS


Thousands take holy dip
Tribune Reporters

Jalandhar, April 13
Thousands of devotees from all over India today took a dip in the holy pond of the historic Devi Talaab Temple here. Holy water of the Ganga was specially transported and mixed in the pond by the Devi Talaab Temple Management Committee.

A large number of tankers were pressed into service to bring the holy water. Special safety arrangements were made by the Punjab Armed Police authorities, which had deputed its divers to prevent any untoward incident. A pedal boat was also pressed into service. Religious activities started with the performance of a “pooja” by Mr Shital Vij, president of the committee, and its other members.

BATALA: Devotees took a dip in a canal at Aliwal village, 8 km from here, and in the Achleshwar sarovar, 6 km from here.


Phone services hit at Khadoor Sahib
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 13
Phone services collapsed today at Khadoor Sahib where the 500th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Anged Dev will be celebrated.

Though the celebrations started today, the main function will be held on April 18.


Tributes paid to martyrs
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 13
A function was organised here today by the Jan Kalyan Morcha to honour the families of 16 martyrs. Among those present on the occasion were Mr R.L. Bhatia, MP, and the city mayor.

Martyrs were paid floral tributes by different political parties, associations and societies at the Jallianwalla Bagh Memorial.

Five artists paid a tribute to martyrs through their canvas paintings. The artists included Mala Chawla, Atul Mehra, Dharmendra Sharma, Kulwant Gill and Bhupinder Nanda.



Ban on obscene dance shows
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 13
Mr K.A.P. Sinha, District Magistrate, Bathinda, has banned the presentation of obscene songs, double-meaning songs and live-dance orchestra programmes at cultural programme, public places and melas in Bathinda district.

This order will remain in force from April 13 to April 15.


Protesting lawyers to meet Election Commissioner
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, April 13
The District Bar Association has decided to lodge a complaint with the Punjab Election Commission in Chandigarh against the alleged inaction of police officials in taking action against the culprits in a case of theft in the house of Mr Harjit Singh Sandhu, an advocate.

Mr Ashok Kumar Sabharwal, president of the District Bar Association, in a press note issued yesterday, said a memorandum would be submitted to the Punjab Election Commissioner and the circumstances leading to the implication of Mr Sandhu in a false criminal case due to political pressure would be brought to his notice.


Two brothers held for smuggling opium
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 13
The police arrested two brothers Didar Singh and Saheb Singh, allegedly associated with Sarabjit Singh Chachowalia, a Babbar Khalsa militant allegedly for possessing 500 grams of opium.

Mr Kultar Singh, SSP said here yesterday that residents of Baba Bakala, the accused were involved in the smuggling Narcotics. Cases of lootings and under the Arms Act were registered against them at Gharinda, Beas and Verowal police stations. The police had also recovered five kg of RDX from the accused in 1997. Didar Singh also worked as a Granthi.

They revealed that they wanted to purchase weapons by selling opium. A case under Sections 18/61/85 the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act has been registered against them at Islamabad police station.


Old man found murdered
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 13
The police found the body of Sarabjit Singh, 60, resident of Kamla Nehru Colony from his house on Sunday evening. Sources said the deceased, who lived alone in a rented accommodation, had been “murdered” with a sharp-edged weapon, which was found near his body.

Some packs of playing cards, a liquor bottle and soda water bottles were also found.


Two girls killed in accident
Our Correspondent

Batala, April 13
Two girls, Sushma (14) and Shalli (12), both residents of Daya Nand Nagar, were killed and 13 injured in an accident here today.

The girls along with others were travelling on a horse-cart. They were on the way to gurdwara near Udhoke village. As they reached Bode-de-khui village, a truck coming from the opposite side hit the cart. They died on the spot.


Poppy husk seized

Moga, April 13
The Punjab police today claimed to have seized 42 bags of poppy husk from two smugglers in the district. The accused have been identified as Gurcharan Singh. — PTI


Needy students given uniforms
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 13
The Helping Hands Society, an NGO, organised its annual function at the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology (TIET). The Director, TIET, Mr S.C. Saxena, was the chief guest on the occasion.

The president of the society, Mr Vijay Gupta, highlighted the achievements made by the society. He also urged the citizens to contribute to the development of society by helping the needy and the poor.

A free medical check-up was also organised on the occasion. In addition to this, books, notebooks and uniforms were also distributed among 50 poor and needy students of the city. Addressing the gathering, Mr Saxena appreciated the efforts made by the society and said such organisations provided a new direction to the nation. He emphasised the importance of education in one’s life and urged people to render help to such organisations who were serving society.

Earlier, Chairman, PRTC, Mr Ved Parkash Gupta, said there was a need to spread awareness among people about the importance of education, especially of girls. He further appealed to the citizens to join hands with the organisation and contribute in making the world a better place to live.


Scholars for preserving cultural heritage
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 13
“With the changing scenario of modern global technology, there is a need to preserve the cultural heritage,” said eminent Sikh scholar Giani Gurdit Singh after performing the clod-breaking ceremony of the Heritage Village project on the campus of Guru Nanak Dev University today.

The Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh, praised Giani Gurdit Singh for his book “Mera Pind” that depicts a village life.

The project will be spread in six acres. The first phase will start with an initial investment of Rs 50 lakh, earmarked in the university budget. The project is aimed to establish, preserve and promote cultural heritage among youngsters .

The Vice-Chancellor said the village would depict various units of a typical village in Punjab around 1950s. It would house a museum, an open-air theatre and have sites for “teeian”, “peeng” and “akhara”. In addition, medicinal plants and shrubs would be planted. A dhaba would also be established where traditional food would be served to tourists and visitors.

A traditional “sath” (common place) would also be a part of the village where folk-artistes from the state would perform. Mud statutes depicting celebrations during birth, marriage and death ceremonies would be erected.

In the museum, traditional Punjabi dresses, “jutees” (footwear), utensils, folk instruments, “baag”, “daris”, bed covers and other commonly used articles related to farming and household would be exhibited. The project is being established on the pattern of Rajasthan and South Indian model village projects.

Dr Harjit Singh Gill, Emeritus professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, in his address emphasised the importance of making the heritage village a combination of modern and ancient architectural techniques.

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