P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Shift Moga DSP, EC tells govt
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 15
Acting on a complaint, the Election Commission (EC) has asked Punjab Government to shift Moga’s Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Surjit Singh Khosa who is posted with the Vigilance Bureau.

Action against “some other Punjab police officers” on the recommendations of the commission was likely within a day or so, sources in the Punjab Police headquarters revealed.

Confirming the information about the DSP’s shifting, sources in the Punjab Home Department revealed that the orders were received by the authorities concerned this evening and forwarded to the office of Punjab’s Director-General of Police (DGP) for necessary action.

The sources said the complainants apprehended support by the DSP to members of a political party during the Lok Sabha poll in the state.

Refusing to give details of the grievance against the officer, they said that action was initiated against the DSP after looking into the complaint against him.

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

He is the seventh officer against whom action has been initiated in the recent past. In less than a month before the elections, the ECI had recommended the transfer of Samana’s DSP Jaspreet Singh.

Acting on other complaints, the Punjab Government had also directed two Deputy Inspectors-General of Police (DIG) to swap positions. The officers were Faridkot Range’s DIG Gurinderpal Singh Grewal and Jalandhar range’s DIG Paramjit Singh Sarao.

The authorities had recommended the transfer of another DSP, while a Station House Officer was placed under suspension.

Ropar’s Senior Superintendent of Police Surinderpal Singh was directed to be posted as Superintendent of Police (Vigilance Bureau). Ferozepore’s SSP H.S. Chahal was ordered to be posted as Superintendent of Police (Chief Minister security).

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


Punjab to set up call centres for voters
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 15
Punjab’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) will establish call centres in all districts of the state to facilitate voters during the coming Lok Sabha elections. Manned by special staff, these call centres will be made operational at least two weeks before the polling date and provide information to callers in response to election related queries.

The computer cell at the CEO’s office in Chandigarh will be the fountainhead of all information and following a tie up with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), telephone numbers for access to the proposed call centres will be assigned to every district. These call centres will either operate from the district electoral offices or calls from all over the state will be forwarded to the head office’s computer cell in Chandigarh.

“The details are yet to be finalised. We might have a single telephone number for the whole state from which calls will be forwarded here at the head office or have separate telephone numbers for the districts,” said Mr Pushminder Singh, manager of the computer cell, CEO, Chandigarh.

Punjab will be one of the few states in the country to make this facility available to its voters. “We have followed Kerala’s example where the call centre facility was provided even during the last elections,” added Mr Pushminder Singh.

Beginning from these elections, the entire voter list of Punjab has been made available on the web site pbelection.gov.in. “Since the entire data has been digitalised and available on the computer, it has also been put on the net. Anyone who wants to locate his or her name on the list of voters can simply access the site and get the requisite information,” said Mr Arush, working at the CEO computer cell. “However, it takes a few minutes before a person can find one’s name on these lists. The search facility that almost every such website has is yet to be added. Once in place, all that the voter has to do is type his name and address and the site will search out his identity card number and the polling booth location,’’ he added.

The herculean task of putting 1.66 crore names and addresses of Punjab voters on computer was made possible by Electronic Systems Punjab Limited (ESPL) Mohali. “ESPL, has been making the voter identity cards and the voters lists for the election commission. A software was created to digitalise the voter lists district wise and put on the computer. Once the basic data was uploaded on the computers, putting it on the net was easy,” said Ms Rekha of ESPL.

ESPL has also provided the electoral office with saleable CDs that contain the entire voters’ list for every district. “These are in a format that cannot be meddled with. These are for open sale but are being provided free of cost to all the registered political parties in Punjab. For the candidates and their supporters, CDs are more handy than the voluminous voter list books,” pointed out Mr Arush.


Stop anti-Badal ads, say 3 MLAs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 15
Reacting to advertisements appearing in newspapers “targeting” Punjab’s former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal, three MLAs have asked the Election Commission to “stop” publication of the advertisements “in line with a Supreme Court ruling”.

In another communication, the Youth Akali Dal has alleged “misuse of office” by Ludhiana’s Municipal Commissioner S.K. Sharma to help Congress candidate Manish Tewari during the Lok Sabha elections.

Describing the allegations in the advertisements as “baseless and scandalous”, MLAs Bibi Jagir Kaur, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder and Mr Hari Singh Zira have demanded that Patiala circle’s Commissioner, Income Tax, should be asked to initiate an inquiry into the release of funds for the advertisements.

These advertisements were being published almost everyday in all “leading” English and vernacular papers for over a month. The daily expenditure on the advertisements could not be less than Rs 5 lakh, their advocate argued.

He said MLAs were of the view that for the advertisement campaign, material and money was being routed through Media Adviser to the Punjab Chief Minister B.I.S. Chahal.

The advertisements were not only false, offensive and slanderous, these were also “sufficient to attract the provisions of the India Penal Code. As such, the Director-General of Police and Chandigarh’s Senior Superintendent of Police should take necessary action and register a case”.

Youth Akali Dal’s General Secretary Harsukhinder Singh Bubby Badal has pointed out that the Municipal Commissioner belongs to the family of Maharaja of Patiala’s priest, and he and his brothers given plum posts due to their allegiance to the Chief Minister.


Chandumajra not likely to campaign for Kanwaljit
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 15
Akali leader and former Patiala MP Prem Singh Chandumajra might not campaign for SAD candidate Kanwaljit Singh who has replaced him in the constituency. He is at least not likely to campaign for Capt Kanwaljit for the next 10 days or so. He said he would be campaigning for party candidates in Sangrur, Bathinda and Faridkot from April 20 to 23 and does not have a programme to campaign for the SAD candidate in Patiala before April 20.

“He (Capt Kanwaljit) has not kept any programme before April 20”, he said, adding that “probably he is only organising ‘nukkad’ meetings”. When told that regular meetings were being organised by Mr Chandumajra, he said: “I was not extended any invitation to attend them”.

Mr Chandumajra said he would campaign in all seats in Punjab and would also be campaigning in Haryana. Asked if the party high command had asked him to campaign for the SAD candidate in the Patiala constituency, he said the party had asked him to campaign in all constituencies.

Akali sources said even though SAD supremo Parkash Singh Badal had visited the residence of Mr Chandumajra when the latter had revolted against the candidature of Capt Kanwaljit, Capt Kanwaljit had not approached Mr Chandumajra to solicit his help. They said this was because of groupism in the SAD’s Patiala unit.


PTU to conduct CET on June 1
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 15
Punjab Technical University (PTU) will conduct Common Entrance Test (CET)-2004 on June 1 even as seats in different engineering colleges have been increased to 15,350 as compared to 9,430 during 2003-2004.

The Vice-Chancellor of the PTU, Dr S.K. Salwan, told TNS that the seats for the 2004-2005 session had been increased with the introduction of new branches in several colleges and setting up of 10 new engineering colleges in the state.

Application forms for the CET-2004 would be available from April 25 and the last date of submission of the forms would be May 15, he said, adding that the roll numbers to the candidates would be issued immediately after the receipt of application in this regard.

Scores of candidates could not get roll numbers last year due to postal delays.

“Keeping in view, the hardships faced by the candidates last year, we have decided to issue admit card bearing roll number and other details of a candidate soon after the receipt of the application. Besides, we have set up four nodal centres in Ludhiana, Patiala, Jalandhar and Chandigarh, wherein, any applicant, who will not receive his or her admit card by May 27, can approach the authorities” he said.

Dr Salwan said a three-member committee headed by the Associate Dean, Dr R.P. Singh, would ensure that cards should reach the candidates in advance. For convenience of the outside candidates, we have decided to list all admit cards on our website www.ptu.ac.in. The candidate can download his card by entering application number and it will be valid for entry to the examination centre, Dr M. S. Grewal, Registrar of the university, maintained.

Dr Grewal said more than 50 examination centres would be set up in different parts of Punjab, while five centres in Delhi and two centres in Jammu would also be set up.


Three LeT militants in police custody
Tribune News Service.

Ludhiana, April 15
Three suspected militants, including a woman, belonging to the Lashkar-e-Toiba, arrested by the Jalandhar police in connection with the Goraya rail blast among other cases, were brought here on production remand by the GRP this evening.

Railways sources said the three were remanded in police custody for two days by a Jalandhar court for interrogation regarding the rail blast.

The suspected militants are Alafdin, alias Alfa, Ghulam Husan and his wife Roshni. The woman is a sister of Alafdin.

The sources said the had admitted their involvement in the blast case before the Jalandhar police. The police would now concentrate on finding out the identity of their accomplices.


Sikh jatha returns from Pak
Our Correspondent

Attari (Amritsar), April 15
A Sikh jatha, comprising of 3,100 persons, arrived at the international railway station here today from Pakistan in two special trains after celebrating Baisakhi in various historical gurdwaras in Pakistan.

Talking to newspersons, Mr Sanmukh Singh Mokha, SGPC member and jatha head, and Mr Satpal Singh Talwandi, deputy head, disclosed that Dal Khalsa activist Manmohan Singh Khalsa from the UK gave a speech at a gurdwara stage there in which he raised the demand for Khalistan by giving a provocative speech claiming that if Muslims could have Pakistan, Hindus a Hindustan then Sikhs must also get Khalistan.

However, the jatha leader said not many persons paid any attention to it. Mr Satpal said they were honoured with ‘siropas’ by Panja Sahib Head Granthi Ranjit Singh. He said Mr Sham Singh, Co-chairperson, Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC), honored radical leaders Manmohan Singh Khalsa and Prithipal Singh, Sikh human rights leader in Switzerland.

Avtar Singh Sanghera of the Babbar Khalsa also gave a speech there. All three reportedly attended dinners hosted by Pakistan’s top leadership. Mr Mokha said they had attended a dinner hosted by Punjab Chief Minister Mr Parvez Elahi on April 10.

Most of the jatha members complained of acute shortage of accommodation and langar, especially in two gurdwaras in Pakistan. They complained of mismanagement at Wagah railway station in Pakistan today where three persons fell unconscious due to heat and congestion.

They said the Pakistan authorities asked them to unload their entire luggage from the train for checking and took the train to the other platform. Thereafter no checking was done and instead jatha members were forced to pay trolley charges to re-load their luggage. Most pilgrims alleged that leaders of the jathas did little to help them.

Mr Mokha said the entire preparation for the jathas were given to 12-member committee formed by the PSGPC. A memorandum was given to Mr Illahi by him. The memorandum urged for ensuring a “maryada” in a number of historical gurdwaras which still remains ignored by the Pakistan authorities.

It demanded improvement in arrangements for Sikh pilgrims proposed to arrive in 2006 on the occasion of the 500th Shaheedi Divas of Guru Arjun Dev at the Lahore gurdwara.


Engineers up in arms over chargesheets
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 15
A confrontation is brewing between irrigation engineers and the Punjab Irrigation Department over the issuance of charge-sheets to certain engineers.

In all, 168 engineers, including Executive Engineers, Sub-Divisional Engineers, and junior engineers are to be charge-sheeted for “diversion of funds given for specific purpose on the directions of courts”.

Engineers today threatened to resort to work to rule in case action against them was not stalled. Those who have already been chargesheeted have decided to wear black badges for 15 days.

They want the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to intervene and to set up a committee under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill, to look into the matter afresh.

Action should not be taken on the basis of mere by an audit report, they feel. Some apprehend that their promotions will be stalled.

When contacted, the Irrigation Minister, Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, said today that the chargesheeted engineers, had been asked to explain their position with regard to diversion of funds. “No action will be taken against those whose replies are satisfactory. But those who fail to explain their position will be taken to task”, he said.

In 2001-02, the Finance Department had released funds worth 100 crore to various wings such as canals, drainage and lining wings of the Irrigation Department for making payment of liabilities for which undertakings were given to various courts by the Finance Department. However, when it came to light that payments had not been made as per the orders, a special audit was got conducted by the Finance Department. It was found that a large part of the funds was diverted to other works and liabilities admitted in courts were not cleared.

Engineers say that the then Principal Secretary, Mr Rajesh Chhabra, had got the audit report examined from heads of various wings of the Irrigation Department and had decided to initiate action against only a few officers of the Drainage Department who were prima facie found guilty for diversion of funds. Engineers posted in canals, kandi and lining wings of the department were not found guilty.

However, when Mr K.R. Lakhanpal took over as Principal Secretary, Irrigation, he included engineers of canals and others wings for action against them with the approval of the minister concerned.

On a representation by the engineers to the Principal Secretary, a committee under Special Secretary was set up that found only eight officers guilty for diversion of funds out of the 45 cases it examined at random. Action against them was ordered accordingly.

In the meantime, the minister passed an order holding the action in abeyance regarding the issuance of charge sheets. However, the department decided to go ahead.

While engineers say that they were being victimised, the authorities concerned say that they are not telling the whole truth.


US Ambassador visits farmhouse
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 15
“Wonderful, amazing!” replied Dr David C. Mulford, US Ambassador to India, when he was asked to comment on how he was feeling about his visit to the farm house here. “Indian farmers, particularly of Punjab, are very hardworking”, he remarked, when Dr Ajmer Singh, Director, Agriculture, Punjab, explained to him about the Green Revolution. The US Ambassador, along with his wife and by a team of agriculture experts, had come to visit the farmhouse of a progressive farmer, Mr Tara Singh of Jalbehra village in the district today.

The Ambassador was welcomed by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia and other officials.

Dr Ajmer Singh explained the activities and scenario of agriculture in the state. The US Ambassador inspected the fields and to have first-hand information. He also inspected the equipment being used for agriculture purpose. He made special queries about the working of a diesel engine installed there. He later interacted with the farmers present there and asked them about their agriculture practices and about marketing of their produce. The main emphasis was on resource conservation technology such as zero tillage technology in wheat crop, bed planning and other techniques to save water. The Ambassador was very much impressed to see the progress made by the farmers. He was told how Tara Singh adopted new techniques. He has adopted zero tillage in wheat crop for last five years. He has also gone in for the diversification of crops such as onion, tomato, mustard, lettuce, pulses and fodder crops. He has also adopted bed planting techniques and inter-cropping. The US Ambassador and his wife were presented a picture of the Golden Temple and a Phulkari by the farmer’s family. The wife of the Ambassador took a keen interest in the growing onions and told the women that she also belonged to a farmer’s family. She sought onions as gift from the family and was very much pleased to receive these.

Mr Tara Singh requested the Ambassador to sanction visa to his family members so that they could study the cropping pattern in the USA. The Ambassador said Indian farmers were more prosperous than US farmers and very advanced. He said in the USA the crop appeared good one day and were destroyed the very next day due to rain. He said he did not think that there was a need to visit the USA.

Mr Raj Kumar Gupta, Regional Facilitator, Rice-Wheat Consortium, Mr B.S. Sidhu, Joint Director Agriculture and Dr Tarsem Singh, Chief Agriculture Officer, also briefed the Ambassador.


US Ambassador visits farm
Tribune News Service

Kanganwal (Ludhiana), April 15
The US Ambassador to India, Mr David C. Mulford said today that he would look into the prospects of reviving the farmer-to-farmer contact programme between the USA and India. Mr Mulford was here to visit the farm of Padmashri Jagjit Singh Hara.

The visit was kept a secret. Even journalists were not allowed to talk to him. The security arrangements had been made by the US Embassy itself.

Mr Hara stated that he had received communication from the US Embassy sometime back about the visit.

Mr Mulford spent about four hours at the farm. He had lunch with Mr Hara’s family. He was accompanied by a delegation of five officials from the US Embassy, besides the security staff. He later held a meeting with the Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University and other scientists. The meeting continued till late in the evening. He will be visiting the Khanna grain market tomorrow. After this he will leave for Chandigarh, where he will meet the Chief Minister and senior officers of the government.


Navjot Sidhu to decide today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 15
Cricket commentator and former opener Navjot Singh Sidhu has yet to make up his mind to fight from the Amritsar constituency on the BJP ticket against Congress leader R.L. Bhatia.

Talking to this correspondent this evening on the phone from Rawalpindi, where he is at presently on a TV assignment for expert comments on the Indo-Pak cricket series, Mr Sidhu said he would take the final decision on joining the electoral battle tomorrow.

However, he clarified that he would abide by whatever the decision of the party high command is. Mr Sidhu who recently joined the BJP, said he had a strong mental buildup to take on his rivals both in cricket and politics.

Meanwhile, a joint meeting of local BJP and Akali leaders was held here today to plan the strategy for the elections. The general secretary of the district BJP, Mr Harish Taneja, told this correspondent that the party had welcomed the proposal to give the ticket to Mr Sidhu.

He said the party would provide Mr Sidhu all required support to fight the elections.


Karan Brar not forced to contest: Cong leader
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, April 15
Mr S.K. Gupta, chairman of the local Improvement Trust and close associate of the former President Giani Zail Singh has challenged the statement of former Punjab Chief Minister Harcharan Singh Brar published in some newspapers yesterday. The statement blamed the Congress high command for forcibly allocating the party ticket to Brar’s daughter-in-law, Ms Karan Brar, from Faridkot.

Describing the statement of Mr Brar politically motivated, Mr Gupta, who was also an aspirant for the ticket, said the Central Election Committee (CEC) of the Congress nominated Ms Brar with her consent, who had requested the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, to approach the party high command for her nomination.

After getting the ticket she complimented the high command and the state Chief Minister. Even she had said in a press conference four days back at the residence of Mr Avtar Singh Brar, vice-president of the PPCC and ex-MLA, to redress the grievances of the people of this district with the help of the state Chief Minister as they were feeling annoyed due to the trifurcation of this district into Moga, Muktsar and Faridkot in 1995, he said.

He said Mr Brar should have taken her daughter-in-law into confidence before making the statement.

Expressing concern over another statement of Mr Brar regarding the shifting of sitting MP Jagmeet Singh Brar from Faridkot to Ferozepore, Mr Gupta said it was the prerogative of the party or the CEC to decide. The constituencies of senior leaders like Mr Balram Jakhar from Sikar to Churu, Ms Selja from Sirsa to Ambala and even AICC president Sonia Gandhi from Amethi to Rai Bareily had been changed keeping in view the party interests.

Mr Gupta urged Mr Brar not to indulge in such petty matters and come in the field with an open mind to defeat the communal forces in the interests of the Congress.

Criticising senior party leaders for changing their loyalities to achieve their political gains, he appealed to Ms Sonia Gandhi to take a serious action against such opportunists.


SAD (A) shifts Jakhu to Hoshiarpur
Our Correspondent

Ropar April 15
SAD (A) today announced Mr Harjinder Jakhu as its candidate from Hoshiarpur. In a press conference held at Anandpur Sahib today, Mr Charan Singh Lohara, general-secretary of the party, said that the candidature of Mr Jakhu was earlier announced by the party from Phillaur constituency.

However, keeping in view the relevance of Anandpur Sahib to the Sikhs, he had now been shifted to the Hoshiarpur constituency. In the Phillaur constituency, SAD (A) had decided to support Mr Harbhajan Lakha, former MP, who was contesting as a candidate of the Samata Samaj Party.

Mr Lohara said the Hoshiarpur and Amritsar seats held special relevance for the Sikhs as Anandpur Sahib and Harminder Sahib fell under these constituencies. By surrendering both seats to the BJP, Mr Parkash Singh Badal hurt the sentiments of the Sikhs.

SAD (A) had decided to field Sikh candidates from the seats to defeat the BJP nominees. The candidates from the Amritsar and Gurdaspur would also be announced very shortly by the party, Mr Lohara said.

Mr Harjinder Jakhu, who was also present on the occasion, said he would strive to bring Anandpur Sahib on the world map. He also distributed among newsmen copies of the letter written to Mr Simranjit Singh Mann by the Defense Secretary stating that the proposal to set up National Defence Academy (NDA) at Anandpur Sahib was under the consideration of the Defence Ministry.

He said only Mr Mann was striving for the development of Punjab. He had been lobbying for NDA at Anandpur Sahib whereas Mr Parkash Singh Badal failed to do anything in the matter.

Mr Harbhajan Lakha said the Samata Samaj and the Lok Jan Shakti parties would extend support to Mr Hajinder Jakhu.

However, after the conference differences appeared in the proposed alliance with Mr Harmesh Azad, the already announced candidate of the Lok Jan Shakti from Hoshiarpur, telling the newsmen that he had not been consulted before the announcement of Mr Jakhu’s candidature. He said he would still contest as a candidate of the party from Hoshiarpur.


BSP nominee opens poll office
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 15
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate Hargopal Singh Kashyap, whose candidature was announced from this parliamentary seat yesterday, today opened election office near Sainik Rest House in the city. Mr Kashyap is an industrialist who manufactures cranes at his factory in Mohali. He is an outsider for Patiala though he says his in-laws are from Patiala and that he has been coming to the city frequently.

BSP state unit President Avtar Singh Karimpuri, who was present on the occasion, said the party had fielded a candidate from Patiala so that ‘Dalits’ could give an answer to the treatment meted out to them at Talhan in Jalandhar district and other places during the Congress rule of Capt Amarinder Singh. He said the party had gone in for a social alliance in the state rather than a political alliance by fielding three Hindu candidates, four from the Backward Castes and other candidates from the Scheduled Castes.

The BSP President said the party would launch a vigorous campaign in the constituency and important party leaders would come here to campaign for its party candidate. He claimed that the Kashyap Sabha also had a strong presence in the constituency.


Pawan Garg AICC observer for Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 15
The All-India Congress Committee (AICC) has appointed Mr Pawan Garg of Delhi as the observer for the Lok Sabha elections in Punjab.

He has been asked by Mr Oscar Fernandes, general secretary of the AICC, to coordinate with various Congress leaders to oversee the election campaign in the state. He has also been asked to contact, Mr H.S. Hanspal, president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, for this purpose.


Kidwai to meet Surjewala today
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, April 15
The Congress general-secretary, Ms Mohsina Kidwai, has said an era of alliance government was the need of the hour and like-minded secular parties should come together.

Talking to this correspondent during her visit to the Phillaur parliamentary constituency in support of Congress candidates Santosh Chaudhry today, she alleged that though the Congress wanted to make poll alliance with the BSP, the NDA saw to it that it didn’t work.

She refused to comment on the resignation of Youth Congress president Randeep Singh Surjewala but said they would meet him tomorrow.


AISAD manifesto this week
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 15
The newly-formed All-India Shiromani Akali Dal (AISAD) has decided to release its constitution and policy programme during this week. Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, president of the AISAD, in a press statement issued here yesterday, revealed that his party would maintain equal distance from the SAD-BJP alliance and the Congress since these parties had failed to provide clean and transparent governance in the past and had betrayed the confidence of the people during the past four decades.

The AISAD would adhere to the ideology of the Khalsa Panth to provide a new direction to the people of the state. Elaborating further, Mr Mann said, the newly formed party would lead the third front as an alternative to the SAD-BJP combine and the Congress to enable people to get rid of these indifferent parties.

He said the coming Lok Sabha elections followed by the SGPC and the Assembly elections would be a watershed in restoration of value-based politics.


Three coaches derail after bull-hit
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 15
At least three (two according to official sources) coaches of the Sriganganagar-Hardwar Inter-city Express derailed near Rampura after a stray bull hit it this morning.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that except a few passengers, who sustained minor injuries, all other commuters came out safe. A disaster was averted as the speed of the train was slow as it was nearing Rampura town.

Information revealed that after the stray bull hit the train, it further hit with an iron bar, which was lying close to the railway line. The iron bar hit the train with a bang. After the bang, the driver of the train applied the emergency brake and the train derailed. After the train derailed, the passengers came out from their coaches and ran helter skelter for safety.

Official sources said after a few coaches of the Sriganganagar-Hardwar train derailed, the rail traffic was suspended immediately on the Bathinda-Ambala rail section. Some passengers and goods trains were also cancelled. The traffic was restored this afternoon.

Though Mr D.K. Singh, Station Superintendent, Bathinda, claimed that he had dispatched medical van and accident relief van immediately after getting the information of derailment, the people, who gathered at the site of derailment, alleged that neither senior officials of the Railway Department nor officials of the district administration reached the site for hours together.

About 161 passengers, who could not complete their journey by this train, were brought to the Rampura railway station and were returned the fare for their remaining journey.

Whether the railway authorities had instituted an inquiry into this incident or not could not be known.


RCF to produce high-speed coaches
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, April 15
The Indian Railways is entering into a new era of speed like European countries. A new Delhi-Bhopal Shatabdi Express to be run at a speed of 150 km per hour, highest ever in the country, will be introduced in June this year.

Hussainpur Rail Coach Factory (RCF) General Manager M. Sirajuddin, addressing a press conference here today in connection with Railway Week celebrations, disclosed that the Railway Board had asked RCF to manufacture the new LHB German-design high-speed coaches for this Shatabdi train.

He said these coaches were under manufacture and the first rake would be rolled out by June 15. The high-speed Shatabdi train would run on the New Delhi-Bhopal section by June 30.

RCF, which had designed and developed India’s first fire-proof coach a few months ago, had introduced some of these features in its coaches.

He said glass wool had been replaced with rock wool, which could withstand temperatures up to 800°C as against the 300°C limit for glass wool. — PTI


Shun self-styled gurus, Vedanti urges Sikhs
Tribune News Service

Sarai Naga (Muktsar), April 15
Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, today urged the Sikhs to follow Guru Granth Sahib and shun the self-styled gurus.

The Jathedar was here to attend a function in connection with the 500th birth anniversary of Guru Angad Dev, who was born here. Addressing the congregation, he said the Sikh community had been riddled with a number of social evils due to the fact that a section of the Sikhs had turned away from the preaching of the Sikh gurus.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister, said his party, the SAD, would go all out to celebrate the important occasion connected with the religion, as conceived by the late President of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

A nagar kirtan led by Panj Piaras set out from here for Khadoor Sahib, where Guru Angad Dev had worked for the promotion of Sikhism. The procession would reach Khadoor Sahib tomorrow after a night halt at Mudki village in Ferozepore district.

A number of prominent personalities, students, representatives of various Sikh organisations and thousands of other devotees participated the nagar kirtan.

A seminar on “Guru Angad Dev’s views and his contribution to Sikhism” was also organised today in which a number of scholars read their papers. A Punjabi drama was staged by youths of Talwandi Sabo.

A five-day state-level function in connection with the birth anniversary of Guru Angad Dev started in this village yesterday. An exhibition on the Guru’s life was also organised yesterday. The celebrations would conclude on April 18.

In today’s function, Bhai Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, also participated.


Sikh women asked to bring youth into Panthic fold
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 15
All Sikh women were called upon to follow the path shown by the Gurus and acquaint the new generation with the glorious heritage today at the Sikh Women’s Conference held at Khadoor Sahib, about 40 km from here, on the first day of the 500th birth anniversary celebrations of second Sikh Guru Angad Dev.

Significant contributions and sacrifices made by Sikh women were recalled at the conference. Dedicated to the memory of Mata Kheevi, the conference honoured Dr Inderjit Kaur, chairperson of Pingalwara, with the first Mata Kheevi award in recognition of her services to the suffering humanity.

In her presidential address, Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, a member of the SGPC and convener of the conference, recounted the services of women in the role of daughter, sister, mother, guide and preacher in Sikh history.

She said when she invited the late Gurcharan Singh Tohra on March 25, just before the launch of kar seva of Amrit sarovar, to attend this conference, he had said that despite his ill health he would attend the conference as “only Sikh women could bring the younger generation back into the Panthic fold”.

The conference was addressed among others by Dr Inderjit Kaur Yogi (USA), Principal Manjinder Kaur, Dr Rajinderjit Kaur, Ms Harjinder Kaur, former Mayor of Chandigarh, Principal Harjinder Kaur, Dr Kulwant Kaur and Dr Darshanjot Kaur.

The conference demanded free education for girls in Punjab up to the plus two level and the opening of more senior secondary schools for girls in rural areas. Another resolution appealed to the people not to vote for political parties and candidates who distributed narcotics during the elections.


More Sikh bodies join hands against turban ban
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 15
Sikh organisations agitating against the French law that ban turbans in public schools, joined hands with the Sikh Nation Organisation (SNO) yesterday.

Dr Manjit Singh Randhawa, president of the SNO, said Mr Kashmir Singh and Mr Hardip Singh of the Sikh Turban Society (California) and Mr Mota Singh Jeeta of the Sikh Community of Canada offered their support to the SNO. The SNO has given a call to observe Thursday as “turban day” and appealed to Sikhs to wear golden-yellow turbans on that day. 


Home Guards to go hi-tech
Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, April 15
The Punjab Home Guards (PHG) will soon be introduced to e-governance. The department has received Rs 95 lakh for modernisation, which includes computerisation and communications. The work will start in this financial year.

Mr P. Lal, Additional Director-General of Police and Director-General, PHG, and Director, Civil Defence, was here to flag-off 25 companies of home guards to Uttar Pradesh, which would be deployed for the first time on election duty in 19 districts of the state.

Mr Lal, talking to this correspondent, said all headquarters of the PHG, including district, battalion and state headquarters, would be computerised. Wireless sets and new vehicles would also be purchased.

On the regularisation of home guards who have been working for the past several years, he said the department had sent recommendations to the state government for their regularisation as per orders of the high court. The final decision would be taken by the government, he added.

Mr Lal said 25 companies had been deputed for Uttar Pradesh duty. Mr D.S. Mehmi, DIG, Jalandhar division, would be in charge.

Meanwhile, members of the force have expressed resentment over the fact that the government has failed to give border allowance to them as per promised.

One home guard jawan said they had worked with the Army during Operation Prakaram in the aftermath of the attack on Parliament. The government had promised to pay a border allowance to them on a par with Army jawans. However, more than three years had passed and it had not been said.

Mr Lal said the department had taken up the matter with the Central Home Ministry and as soon as the amount was received it would paid.


Good Samaritans save Nepalese dancer
Our Correspondent

Kharar, April 15
Residents of Desu Majra village, near here, saved a Nepalese woman who had been thrown out of a truck in the area last evening.

The driver of the vehicle fled after throwing the woman out. She appeared to be under the influence of liquor, said the residents.

Women of the village took her to Desu Majra and also informed a Kharar Municipal Councillor about the incident. They revived her and looked after her.

The Nepalese woman said she was a dancer and had gone to Chandigarh to attend wedding celebrations. Villagers found out her address and phone number in Ludhiana. When she was all right, the villagers made her board a bus bound for that city.


150 attend Rotary training seminar
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 15
As many as 150 members of the Rotary International belonging to Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan were given tips how to focus on areas like health care, water management and literacy in a training seminar organised here today for the president-elect and secretary-elect of its various units.

Mr Parshottam Bansal, chairman of today’s event, in a press note here said Mr Ramesh Chander, district governor-elect spoke to the participants.


High Court
Review plea
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 15
A Division Bench of the High Court on Thursday dismissed the review petition filed by a relative of liquor baron Ponty Chadha. In his petition, Mr Inderpreet Chadha had sought review of the March 31 order of the High Court by which auctions of liquor vends in some districts of Punjab had been set aside.

Today, the Bench comprising Mr Justice N.K. Sud and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta, which was hearing the review, was informed that the petitioner has also appealed against the judgement in the Supreme Court. Referring to settled law, which says that no court can hear a writ that is pending in a superior court, the Bench dismissed the review.


Gangster remanded in judicial custody
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 15
The police has formally arrested gangster Shinderpal, alias Shinda, alias Baba, of Ghurka village who was today remanded in judicial custody till April 29. Shinda was wanted in dozens of cases of looting, snatching and robbery. He belongs to a dreaded gang of Shital Rana, operating in Doaba. This gang is also involved in supari (contract) killings, it is learnt.

Shinderpal Shinda, along with an accomplice, Sarabjit Singh Shabba, was injured when their car collided with a truck near Khurampur village on the Phagwara-Hoshiarpur road on March 15 when a police party was chasing them. Both were rushed to DMC, Ludhiana.

Shabba succumbed to his injuries a few days later while Shinda was shifted to Phagwara. He was cured of his injuries, he was arrested formally after his injuries were healed.


Additional power supply to farmers
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 15
The Punjab State Electricity Board authorities here have decided to give an additional one-hour power supply to those agricultural consumers who are at present being given supply in three phases at night. Mr U.C. Saroa, Deputy Chief Engineer, said in a press note issued today that the additional power supply would be from 1 pm to 2 pm daily.


Addl DC takes on DC over transfers
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, April 15
In a development that could have serious implications, Mr Sanjay Popli, Additional Deputy Commissioner (General) of this district, has lodged a complaint with the Commissioner, Ferozepore division, that the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ranjit Singh, has violated the model code of conduct for elections by transferring certain employees in the district.

Mr Popli, in a letter to Mr Ranjit Singh, a copy of which was also sent to the Commissioner, Mr B. Sarkar, pointed out that if the transfers were not cancelled he would approach the Election Commission and also seek legal remedy.

The Deputy Commissioner shifted three peons from one department to another on March 10 on administrative grounds. On March 18, he shifted Ms Prem Kumari, a steno-typist, from the office of the Assistant Commissioner (Grievances) who was temporarily working in the court of the Additional Deputy Commissioner (General), to the office of the Secretary, RTA, Ferozepore, who was looking after the work of the Assistant Commissioner (Grievances).

Mr Ranjit Singh again transferred two employees, a clerk and one of the ahalmad cadre, on administrative grounds on March 18, despite the fact that Mr Popli had lodged his protest against the earlier transfers.

Mr Popli in his representation had stated that these transfers were in violation the model code of conduct, which came into force on February 29. The prior approval of the Election Commission was necessary for these transfers, he said.

The Deputy Commissioner, when contacted, claimed that he had not ordered any transfer after the election code came into force. He had only carried out “some adjustments in the seats of a few employees” that were necessary to carry out the work of his office smoothly. He added that Mr Popli had two ahalmads and two stenos in his office, so he had shifted out one each. He said Mr Popli had made a representation because of staff being posted out of his office.

Mr Sarkar, Commissioner, when contacted, said Mr Ranjit Singh had not violated the model code of conduct. Admitting that a representation had been made to him by Mr Popli, he said it did not deserve any inquiry.

However, it was later learnt from official sources that Mr Sarkar asked Mr Ranjit Singh to give his comments on the application-cum-representation moved by Mr Popli after this correspondent talked to him. Mr Sarkar has directed Mr Ranjit Singh to send his comments immediately.


Poll arrangements reviewed
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 15
The Punjab Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Mr G.S. Cheema, today organised a meeting to deliberate upon the arrangements being made for the Lok Sahba election. The meeting was attended by the Returning Officers-cum-Deputy Commissioners of five districts under Patiala division.

Mr Cheema said it would be mandatory for the candidates to submit an affidavit of their moveable and immoveable assets to the Returning Officer of their respective district. They would also be required to give details of their criminal record, if any. Detailed information on all candidates would be available on the website of the Election Commission.

The notification regarding the Lok Sahba election would be issued on April 16 and the last date for filing nominations was April 23.

Mr Cheema instructed the Returning Officers to appoint employees and officials of the Central government on election duty. He said 50 per cent of the election staff should be deputed from neighbouring districts.


Observers for Ferozepore appointed
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, April 15
The Election Commission has appointed Mr G.V. Sharma and Mr K.K. Khandelwal as general observer and Mr Chhatan Rigzin as financial observers for the Ferozepore parliamentary constituency.

The Deputy Commissioner said the process for the filing of nominations would begin from tomorrow and contiunue till April 23. The last date for the withdrawal of nominations would be April 26. The candidates would have to submit an affidavit along with the nomination papers.

He told officials and representatives of various political parties to strictly observe the model code of conduct.


Kharar SDM meets poll supervisors
Our Correspondent

Kharar, April 15
The SDM, Mr Sukhvinder Singh Gill, held a meeting with election supervisors in connection with the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections in his office here today.

He said 18 election supervisors from Morinda 68, the area that fell in his jurisdiction, had come to attend the meeting. Electronic voting machines had been handed over to them so that they could give a live demonstration about the use of machines to the people that fell in the area of each supervisor. The time during which each supervisor would be providing training to voters would be fixed by them at their own level. But one week’s time had been given to complete the training work. As many as 10 polling booths fell under the jurisdiction of each election supervisor.

Mr Gill said a rehearsal in connection with the election work would be carried out on April 26 at Kharar. He said there were 135 polling booths in the area under his jurisdiction and there were 1.35 lakh voters.


Speed up loan recovery, says DC
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 15
In various legal cases heads of certain Government departments are not pursuing cases properly, which resulted in loss to Government. Officers should take personal interest and pursue the cases effectively where stay has been granted by the courts. They should make all-out efforts to get the stay orders vacated in public interest, said Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, while presiding over the meeting of district officials at Bachat Bhavan today. Later the meeting was presided over by Mr Mohinder Pal Arora, Additional Deputy Commissioner.

Addressing the meeting, Mr Mohinder Pal Arora, ADC, directed revenue officials to launch a campaign for the recovery of loans. He urged the revenue officials to achieve their targets and to speed up the recovery. He directed officials of other departments to send their pending recovery cases to the revenue officials concerned and to cooperate with them for recovery. He directed all officials to properly utilise the amount sanctioned under various schemes.


Dera head, follower shot
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 15
Two armed youths shot the head of dera Akal along with his follower here last night. Two other followers were injured in the incident.

On the complaint of Ms Paramjit Kaur, wife of the dera head, Baba Jagtar Singh, the police has registered a case under Sections 302, 307, 452 and 34, IPC, and Sections 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act.

The SSP, Mr Gurkirpal Singh said today that conflict within the dera was said to be the reason behind the incident.

The police said the assailants came to the dera late night and enquired about Baba Jagtar Singh who had gone to Ferozepore. When Baba Jagtar Singh came to the dera at midnight, he was informed about the youths who took him to a room and fired upon him and his followers. Manjit Singh, bodyguard of the Baba, died on the spot, the Baba was referred to an Amritsar hospital where he breathed his last.

The others injured in the firing have been identified as Gurwaryam Singh of Chhehtra and Jai Roop of Alwar, both Army men and followers of the Baba.

The Baba is not that Baba Jagtar Singh, under whose guidance the kar sewa of the sarovar of Sri Darbar Sahib (Amritsar) is being undertaken.


Kharar attack: 7 arrested
Our Correspondent

Kharar, April 15
As many as seven students of a college running at Bhagomajra were arrested by the police today on a charge of injuring two residents of Kharar who were coming back from a mela organised by the Municipal Council. The arrested persons were later released on bail.

Mr Paramvir Singh and Mr Balraj Singh were allegedly attacked and injured with a sword and a hockey stick on the night of April 13. Both of them were later taken to the local Civil Hospital. They were coming back around 11 pm, along with their neighbour, Mr Shiv Kumar, when they were allegedly attacked by Harmandeep Singh and Navjeet Singh, near the Civil Hospital, which fell on the way.

The persons who have been arrested are Jasbir Singh (Khanna), Arshdeep Singh (Sahnewal), Harmandeep Singh (Ludhiana), Navjeet Singh (Sangrur), Gurjeet Singh (Ludhiana), Kamalpreet Singh (Amloh) and Tejveer Singh (Ferozepore).


32 bags of poppy husk seized

Moga, April 15
The Punjab Police today claimed to have seized a truck laden with 32 bags of poppy husk and arrested two smugglers.

The alleged smugglers were identified as Ajaib Singh and Tarsem Singh both residents of Kotisekhan in this district.

Besides this, the police also seized a car carrying 22 boxes of whisky and nabbed two smugglers identified as Jasvir Singh of Samrala and Ravinder Singh of Bulara in Ludhiana district.

In another incident, the police on a tip-off raided the house of Sham Lal and seized 12 boxes of wine.

The police said a special drive was launched in view of the coming Lok Sabha elections to maintain peace and check the sale and supply of drugs and narcotics.

On a tip-off, the police laid a naka near Himatpura village on the Moga-Barnala road when a truck laden with poppy husk was signalled to stop. Both occupants tried to give a slip to the police but were overpowered.

On interrogation, they confessed that they had brought the bags of poppy husk from Rajasthan. — PTI


Fake currency seized, 4 held

Patiala, April 15
The police has busted a gang running a counterfeit currency racket by arresting four of its members from the Deep Nagar locality in the city today.

Those arrested have been identified as Ranbir Singh, alias Happy, a resident of Bhattiwal in Sangrur district who was presently living in Deep Nagar, Satpal alias Satta, of Deshmesh Nagar in Sangrur, Sarabjit, alias Deepa, of Khanheri in Sangrur and Vijay Ghei, of Shadhara in Delhi. TNS


Amritsar doc tops PG entrance test
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 15
Dr Shikha Mehta, who passed her MBBS examination from Sri Guru Ramdas Institute of Medical Sciences and Research in 2002, has stood first in the Punjab State Postgraduate Medical Entrance test, the result of which was declared by Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot. This was stated by Dr U.S. Dhaliwal, Director-Principal, in a press note today.

Dr Gurpreet Singh and Dr Dhiraj Makkar secured the sixth and eighth positions, respectively.


Paper outside syllabus, claim students
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 15
First year students of B. Com (Professional) of Lyallpur Khalsa College today alleged that the question paper pertaining to Punjab history and culture, conducted by Guru Nanak Dev University was outside syllabus.

A group of students who visited The Tribune office here said college authorities had recommended the book by Raghunath Rai on Punjab history and culture but the paper was totally outside syllabus. They urged the university authorities to re-conduct the examination.


Deputy Speaker opens tech festival
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 15
A three-day national-level technical festival, Tech Disha-2004, organised by the Computer Science and Engineering Department of Punjabi University, was inaugurated by the Deputy Speaker, Vidhan Sabha, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, here today.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh urged the students to strive for perfection in whichever field they intend to work. He said the zeal of learning new things could only help them in achieving targets.

Mr Vinay Mehta of Quarks Infotech Industries, Mohali, highlighted job potentials and skills requirements in the IT sector.


Heavy rush of students at new govt model school
Our Correspondent

Kharar, April 15
In view of the heavy rush of students seeking admission to the town’s first Government Model Senior Secondary School, admissions were carried out on the basis of a written test for all classes, except nursery. As many as 1311 students appeared for the tests conducted for Classes 1 to X. As the school has recently been opened in a building which earlier housed the workshop of the Punjab Health Department, there is a shortage of accommodation. Till now, the town had only government primary schools in which children of slum-dwellers studied.

There was some criticism that the school authorities had admitted only those students who were performing better academically. However, the Principal of the school, Mrs Balwinder Kaur, said tests had to be conducted in view of the heavy rush of students. This criteria had to be adopted as the school faced shortage of accommodation.

She said only 40 students in each class had to be admitted though the number of students wanting admission in each class was more than 100. The school had only 18 classrooms, including computer room and laboratories. Only students for the nursery and class 1 were divided into sections. There were 91 students in the two sections of the nursery class and 80 in the two sections for class I.

The admission test for class XI will be conducted on April 21 and the school had registered 60 students for different streams. However, no admissions have been made to Class XII as only 20 students appeared for the test and only four of them could clear it.

Some students seeking admission to Class X are facing problems. Even when they have cleared the entrance test they had not been admitted to the school. The authorities concerned said that these students had come from private unaffiliated schools and they did not fulfil the eligibility conditions laid down by the Punjab School Education Board.

It is learnt that students were facing difficulties in getting school leaving certificates from the institutions in which they were studying. The parents had to go to the authorities again and again for getting the relevant certificates as these were required for seeking admission to the newly opened government school.

There are only 19 staff members, including non-teaching employees in the school. Mrs Balwinder Kaur admitted that there was staff shortage in the school. She said the staff had been sent here on deputation because of the model code of conduct prevailing due to the coming Lok Sabha elections.


Pak scouts camp begins today
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 15
Sangrur and Fatehgarh districts are the only districts which will see the participation of their scout boys in the Pakistan Jamboori Scouts Camp commencing on Friday.

Scouts from other districts could not get passports under the Tatkal scheme.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Cheema, state organiser of Bharat Scouts and guides at Chandigarh said only 16 scouts, nine from Sangrur district and seven from Fatehgarh district, reported for participating in the Zamboori camp. As many as 40 scouts had earlier applied for permission. 


Examination rescheduled
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 15
Panjab University will hold the B.Sc (Zoology) Part I examination on May 4 instead of April 17. The examination has been rescheduled since the new date of the all-India pre-medical test, slated for April 17, clashes with the Zoology paper of the undergraduate class.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | National Capital |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |