P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Congress ‘pillar’ crumbles, Romana joins SAD
Tribune News Service

Jaitu (Faridkot), April 25
In a significant development which could affect the outcome of the elections in this parliamentary constituency, the Romana family, known as the pillar of the Congress in this region, today joined the SAD.

Members of the Romana family led by Mr Ved Romana, a relative of former Akali minister, Chiranji Lal Garg, pledged in front of SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal that they would go to any extent to ensure the victory of the SAD-BJP alliance candidate, Mr Sukbir Badal.

Talking to mediapersons at the house of Mr Romana, Mr Badal condemned the clash among Congress workers and BKU (Ekta) activists at a village in Moga district yesterday. He alleged that the Congress government had been trying to suppress the voice of farmers.

He said the outcome of the elections would be a referendum on the performance of the Amarinder Singh government.

He said the joining of the Congress by former state BJP president Daya Singh Sodhi would not have an adverse impact on the prospects of the SAD-BJP alliance.

On the Ram temple issue, Mr Badal said the issue should be settled through negotiation or judicial intervention.

Meanwhile, Mr Garg has appreciated the move of the Romana family.


Loan waiver is election issue in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
The question whether the special term loan, amounting to about Rs 5,799 crore given to Punjab to combat militancy between 1984-85 and 1993-94, has been waived by the Centre or not has snowballed into an election issue.

Those who have raked up this issue and assert that the special term loan was written off are former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral, SAD President Parkash Singh Badal and former Union minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa.

Contesting this claim is Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, who says, ''They are telling lies.'' The question is, who is right or wrong?

This issue was sought to be clarified by Capt Amarinder Singh at a press conference hosted by his Media Adviser B.I.S. Chahal at his residence here today.

The Chief Minister released photocopies of the relevant record to substantiate his stand that the entire amount was not waived. He also went on record to say that if the Centre did not heed Punjab's request to waive the remaining loan sum as well the state would even take legal steps to seek justice. What is the factual position? Among the photocopies of the official correspondence released to the media today was a letter dated September 6, 2000, written by then Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the subject.

This letter shows the actual relief that Punjab availed of following two meetings between Mr Badal and then Prime Minister I.K. Gujral in New Delhi on July 18 and September 8, 1997.

The letter says that on the recommendation of the Tenth Finance Commission, one-third of the special term loan amounting to Rs 495.21 crore was written off. Apart from this, the Centre had written off unpaid instalments of principal and interest for the years 1995-96, 1997-98, 1998-99 and 1999-2000 amounting to Rs 2,917.89 crore. After having availed of these reliefs/waiver, the outstanding special term loan (principal) as on April 1, 2000, was Rs 3,772 crore.

Regarding the waiver beyond 2000-01, the letter quotes the minutes of the two meetings between Mr Badal and Mr Gujral. The minutes read, ''The decision of the Government of India to waive the special term loans granted to Punjab during the period 1984-85 to 1993-94 for combating militancy be suitably conveyed to the Eleventh Finance Commission for making appropriate recommendations regarding debt relief to Punjab."

There is a single-line reply to this letter from Mr Vajpayee, "I have received your letter of September 6, 2000, regarding the waiver of special term loans. With regards...'' The letter is dated September 20, 2000.

From the letter of Mr Badal, it also emerges that the Eleventh Finance Commission was forwarded the decision of the meetings between Mr Gujral and Mr Badal by the Ministry of Finance, Department of Expenditure, on September 3, 1998. The commission in its report recommended a ''moratorium'' on the payment of instalments of debt and interest on special term loan due for repayment during 2000-05.

The state on July 24, 2000, received a fax message from the Ministry of Finance, saying, ''It has now been decided by the government not to effect recovery of further instalments of loan repayment and interest payable on the above special term loan. The necessary action may be taken in this regard.''

Mr Badal contests this decision terming it as ''entirely contrary to the earlier decision of the Government of India, taken after my meeting with the then Prime Minister on July 18 and September 8, 1997. This would not only put an onerous debt servicing burden after March, 2005, on the already fragile financial position of the state but would also be a complete loss of face, politically, for my government would, therefore, request for your personal intervention for the implementation of the decision already taken by the government for the total waiver of the special term loan and interest thereon in letter and in spirit.'' The import and contention of Capt Amarinder Singh's claim at the press conference was simple — ''the entire amount of special term loan has not been waived and the people are being misled and misinformed by the trio: Mr Gujral, Mr Badal and Mr Dhindsa. They should all come out clean on this in the interest of the state. Why tell lies?''


Badal wants probe by professional agency
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
A former Punjab Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has asked Justice Mr. B. S. Nehra to order an investigation by a professional investigative agency into alleged Punjab Intranet Company scam. Justice Nehra is heading the Nehra Commission of Inquiry into the alleged hawala transactions in the name of the Punjab Intranet Company.

In a letter to Justice Nehra, Mr Badal has said that the public perception is that the commission was constituted only to give a quiet burial to the alleged scam involving Mr Raninder Singh, the son of Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

Saying that only a high level investigation by a professional investigating agency could bring out the truth, Mr Badal has said that without the help of the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence and the Enforcement Directorate, it would be a futile exercise.

Quoting a judgement of the Supreme Court in Sanjiv Kumar versus State of Haryana & others decided on November 11, 2003, Mr Badal has claimed that as per the judgement, the Commission could not have been set up.


Sonia to visit state on May 3
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, April 25
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee President H.S. Hanspal has described the Moga incident as unfortunate and alleged that Akalis hatched a conspiracy to disturb Moga rally of the Congress held yesterday.

Talking to newsmen after inaugurating an election office of Ms Santosh Chaudhary Congress candidate for Phillaur today, Mr Hanspal alleged that the Akalis had wanted to sabotage the Congress campaign as they were now frustrated.

Replying to a question in the presence of the Punjab Medical Education Minister, Ch Santokh Singh, he denied the reports about any infighting in the party and said Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal was actively campaigning for Congress candidates in the state.

When asked about former Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral’s claims of waiving of complete loans of Punjab, Mr Hanspal described the claims as misleading propaganda and said the PPCC had lodged a complaint to Election Commission against false claims of Mr Gujral.

Mr Hanspal said All-India Congress Committee President Sonia Gandhi would visit Punjab on May 3 to accelerate the campaign of the Congress and would address three election rallies in Doaba, Majha and Malwa. He said detail programme of Ms Sonia Gandhi would be finalised soon.

He claimed a landslide victory of the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections. Mr Hanspal condemned former PM I.K. Gujral and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for joining hands with communal parties like the BJP only to give political strength to their own sons. Later an election rally was also organised at the election office which was addressed by Mr Hanspal, Punjab Medical Education Minister Ch Santokh Singh and former PPCC chief Mahinder Singh Gill and Rajya Sabha MP Dharam Pal Sabharwal.


Sanjay Dutt to campaign for Atal, if invited
Tribune Reporters

Pathankot, April 25
The star-studded campaign in the Gurdaspur constituency today gave a boost to electioneering of Vinod Khanna, Minister of State for External Affairs, when Sanjay Dutt organised roadshow for him here.

Talking to The Tribune, Sanjay Dutt said he had no intention to join either the BJP or any other political party. “I am here in capacity of a younger brother … you know Vinod Khanna is like my elder brother and I am morally bound to campaign for him”, he said.

Sanjay Dutt said he wanted to strengthen the foundation of nation and he was ready to campaign for any candidate whom he considered genuine. He said he would be happy to campaign in favour of Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prime Minister, if he invited him.

Vinod Khanna said he never wanted to bank upon the Bollywood glamour . He said this time , he would ask for votes on the basis of his performance .

Sanjay Dutt tried to attract the public by waving hands from an open jeep and shaking hands with them. The roadshow of the cine star started from the national highway outside the Gurdwara Barth Sahib at Pathankot which culminated at Gurdaspur after traversing Dina Nagar, Sarna station and other towns of the constituency.

However, residents of Pathankot said this time voters would weigh the performance of Vinod Khanna and they were no longer interested in the glamour of cine stars. Rajinder Kumar, a fruit seller, said it was too early to say that the roadshow would be converted into votes in favour of Vinod Khanna. Similar views were echoed by Kasturi Lal, a tea stall owner of Dina Nagar.

However, Ms Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, a Congress candidate, told TNS that the glamour of Vinod Khanna was short-lived that was why he had invited his “junior colleague” to rejuvenate his campaign. She said Khanna should ask for votes on the basis of his achievements during his five-year stint as MP rather than befooling the public by organising roadshows by the cine star.

Yesterday, it was a long wait for thousands of people who had gathered here in the sprawling playground of Sant Ashram School to have a glimpse of cine star Sanjay Dutt. He came here to campaign for the BJP candidate from Gurdaspur in “Munna Bhai style only”, repeating the “bhole to” dialogue too frequently.

People in general and Congress workers in particular were taken aback when they came to know that Sanjay Dutt would address a public rally in support of Mr Vinod Khanna. Initially some people were confused as they thought he might come for Congress candidate Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, since his father, Sunil Dutt was also contesting on the Congress ticket in Mumbai. But when it was clear that he was coming in support of Mr Khanna, the Congress supporters felt a little disappointed.

Earlier it was announced that Sanjay Dutt would reach here at around 7 p.m. But he reached the venue at about half past nine. But by that time the crowd had swollen in massive proportions.

He landed in a chartered plane at the recently constructed Civil Airport. Sanjay Dutt was wearing a kesri colour T-shirt and blue trousers. The moment he reached the venue, the crowd turned riotous with everybody trying to reach the stage and shake hands with him.

Despite having got a short notice, the police seemed to have done the homework properly. Although there were not many police personnel, yet they managed to handle the situation well. But at the end they had to ensure that Sanjay Dut left early as the situation seemed to go out of hand.

When Sanjay Dutt, accompanied by Vinod Khanna and some local BJP leaders, reached the stage the organisers had played the popular Hindi number “ghar ki sharab hoye, apna Punjab hoye…”. Nobody could resist the temptation to dance. And except for Sanjay Dut, everybody on the stage whether Khanna or other BJP leaders kept on dancing.

Immediately after Sanjay Dut was handed over the mike by Vinod Khanna said “Namastay, Sat Sri Akal…”. He appealed people to vote for Khanna since he was an honest and hardworking person. Then he tried to humour people with his Munna Bhai MBBS dialogues. He made no qualms about saying that he would seek votes in the Munna Bhai style, saying, “button (meaning the button on electronic voting machine) bhole to Kamal ka phool aur candidate bhole to Vinod Khanna”, sending the entire audience into fits of laughter.

A local BJP leader disclosed that the programme was instant as he had been invited by Khanna and he readily agreed to come here. It was not clear whether Mr Sanjay Dutt would campaign for other BJP candidates also or not. However, the BJP circles maintained that it was more for personal reasons than any political reasons that Sanjay Dutt had come here.


Congress violates SC order, campaigns on air
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 25
CDs containing the campaign of the Congress went on air today in the district. The campaign was telecast on the local City Cable network. Nangal City Cable was the first to relay it. When contacted on the telephone, Nangal City Cable personnel said the CDs had been sent to them through couriers from Ludhiana.

Besides the messages regarding the development in the state during the two-year Congress rule, the CDs also contained controversial pictures of properties of the Badal family.

The messages on the City Cable network lauded the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, for putting behind bars Mr Parkash Singh Badal and other SAD leaders on the charges of corruption. These CDs were released by Congress general secretary Upinder Sharma.

The Supreme Court, in its orders passed recently, had banned the relay of political advertisements on electronic media without the proper screening by the committee constituted by the Election Commission. The committee did not permit the Congress to relay CDs on the electronic media.

Counsel of Mr Badal in the disproportionate assets case had also moved an application in the Special Court, Ropar, alleging that the Congress was using the case for electioneering. They had pleaded for contempt proceedings against Capt Amarinder Singh for using the case.

The Chief Minister, in a press conference later, had denied that the Congress was using the case for electioneering. He had maintained that the Congress was using only that material for electioneering that it had been using even before the Assembly elections.

Leaders of the opposition, including district president of the Youth Akali Dal Gurinder Singh Gogi, alleged that the pictures of Mr Badal’s properties were shot only on the court orders.

So, by using these for election campaign the Congress was committing contempt of court and violating the Code of Conduct.


Voter appears to be indifferent this time
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
Punjab goes to the Lok Sabha polls on May 10 when its financial economy is hostage of political populism, its image of prosperity is dimming and its social sector performance is at ground zero. An overview of all the13 constituencies shows that political parties are not concerned with all this.

As the mercury rises and wheat harvesting gets into top gear, the poll bazar too is getting filled with political sleaze and character assassination through the print and electronic media. The bewildered voter is indifferent but has learnt to see through political gimmickry, understand political opportunism or how politics brings rivals together.

All this has happened during the warm-up exercises of political parties in their election campaigns. There are reports that intense campaign ahead will make some contests interesting or neck and neck, even bordering on frayed tempers. As no political party is free from internal squabbles, this will also result in expected sabotage.

Though the key contenders for power in the state are the Congress and the SAD (Shiromani Akali Dal) along with the BJP, the presence of the BSP, the CPI, the CPM or the Akali Dal of Mr Simranjit Singh Mann or the Lok Bhalai Party of Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia or other fractions, cannot be ignored. If nothing else, in howsoever small percentage these parties will cut into the votes of the main contenders.

The presence of three observers in each parliamentary constituency is understandable. But appointment of a special observer for Punjab indicates the importance the Election Commission has attached to the poll. The focus of the EC's gimlet eye will be Patiala, Faridkot and Sangrur. Even the Congress and the Akalis will be more vigilant in these three constituencies where political prestige is as high as political stakes for survival.

If it is Ms Preneet Kaur, wife of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, in Patiala, facing the Akali Dal's Capt Kanwaljit Singh, it is Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal trying to avenge his 1999 defeat in Faridkot. He is contesting against Ms Karan Brar, daughter-in-law of a former Chief Minister, Mr Harcharan Singh Brar, since his old rival, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, has shifted to Ferozepore. In Sangrur, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann is pitted against Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa of the SAD and the sitting Congress MLA, Mr Arvind Khanna.

Field reports suggest that political campaigns and abuse will get shriller by the day as the election sans an issue or a wave. It is not an election involving ''negative vote''. The BJP-led NDA is seeking mandate on a ''positive vote'' by mirroring its achievements and projecting Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee as its mascot vs Ms Sonia Gandhi.

The outcome of the ''positive vote'' will depend on how many seats the SAD-BJP win. Their performance was dismal in the Lok Sabha elections in 1999, though they were the government! Then a strong anti-incumbency factor, coupled with high-decibel corruption din had led to their ignominious performance. Second, the Akalis were split between Mr Parkash Singh Badal and late Gurcharan Singh Tohra. This time, their factions are together, hearts may not be! The SAD-BJP combine could win just three seats (2:1) in 1999. Interestingly, both the Congress and the Akalis are now trying to evoke emotive response in the name of Tohra to fetch votes, particularly in Patiala and Ropar.

This election is also a litmus test of the Amarinder Singh government's performance during the past two years. This period has been marked by personalised political acrimony that has scarred the image of the government. Its anti-corruption drive has hit a roadblock while development remained stalled. The Congress may blame the SAD-BJP combine for the scorched earth policy, its own contribution to resuscitate Punjab's economy is so far insignificant.

Thus, there is nothing much to write about in this election when politics in Punjab has reached its lowest ebb in ethics, propriety and morality. It is likely to be ''money-cum-muscle power'' show what if the voter is ''frustrated'' or ''hates'' politicians, painting them all with the same brush. A former professor of political science at Panjab University, Mr P.S. Varma, sharing his experiences of some constituencies in Malwa and Doaba observed, ''The way politicians act and people react, democracy is in danger of being uprooted''.

Looking back at all the parliamentary elections held after the reorganisation in 1966 reveals that each election was preceded by some significant event. It is bland 2004!

In the present Lok Sabha elections, besides the smear campaign, what has anguished the voter is the way old horses have changed political loyalties just to remain in power or retain power. Without shame or regret, Congress, Akali and BJP leaders have quit their parent parties, simply because they were denied the ticket, amply demonstrating that they had no political ideology or principles or commitment to the people or any cause. These rank opportunists have further added to the anguish of the voter. Such men may not dent the vote prospects of official candidates, their action certainly is being questioned and condemned.


Talhan residents with Congress

Jalandhar, April 25
Talhan village, which witnessed caste clashes between Dalits and Jat Sikhs last year over the issue of control over the management of a Gurdwara, today declared its support to the Congress nominee from the Jalandhar constituency, Rana Gurjit Singh.

At a political meeting convened by Mayor Surinder Mahey, and MLA Gurkanwal Kaur, Ms Inderjit Kaur, sarpanch of the village, declared that the panchayat had decided to extend its support to the Congress.

She claimed that while the rest of the parties tried to politicise the issue to get mileage, only the Congress and the Mayor, in particular, resolved the issue by interacting with both communities.

On the issue of support to the BSP, she said as the party was not in a position to win the seat, villagers had decided to support the Congress.

The Mayor said all issues of the villagers would be addressed by the state government after the elections.

Rana Gurjit Singh pledged support to the villagers to maintain communal harmony and said if the BJP came to power, there would be a threat to secularism.

Attacking his opponent Naresh Gujral, son of former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral, he alleged that Mr I.K. Gujral was misleading people of the state by saying that a loan worth Rs 8,500 crore during the period of militancy had been waived by him as the Prime Minister. “Not a single penny of the loan was waived. It was only in the tenure of the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao that one instalment of the loan had been waived,” he said. — PTI


Bank employees to campaign for Cong-CPI alliance candidates
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 25
The Punjab Bank Employees Federation, has decided to support the Congress-CPI alliance candidates in Punjab in Lok Sabha elections.
Having over 25000 members, the PBEF has decided that its activists would canvass for Congress-CPI alliance candidates. The PBEF, which has held rallies in five district in favour of Congress-CPI candidates, will hold rallies at Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Sangrur and other places also.

Mr N.K. Gaur, General Secretary, PBEF, said that though on certain issues the PBEF did not agree with the performance of Congress government led by Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh in the past two years, support to Congress-CPI alliance candidates had been extended as both these parties opposed the Bill introduced for the reduction of government stakes in the public sector banks by the NDA government in Parliament. He added that PBEF was fighting against the economic policies of NDA government so that interests of the country and working class people could be protected.

He said that for the past four to five decades, the PBEF did not allow any political party to use its platform. But now the PBEF would have to take support from political parties to oppose privatisation of banks and hence it had decided to support Congress-CPI alliance candidates in elections, added Mr Gaur, at a press conference here today.

He alleged that the NDA government had gone one step further and started making arrangements for increasing the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in banks and tried to open doors for foreign powers to control financial resources of India despite the fact that aim of the foreign companies was to earn profit.

Mr Gaur, who also addressed a rally in the city, pointed out that PBEF, which was affiliated with the AIBEA, had submitted several petitions to the President and Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of India to make arrangements for forcing the candidates, seeking election to declare whether they had defaulted in loan amount of any bank or not. He added that so far, the PBEF could not get any response from these institutions.

The union leader also pointed out that the federation had also been pressing the bank’s managements to increase rate of interests on the small savings of millions of people of the country and which was only mode of survival for them and reduce the rate of interests on loans advanced for agriculture purpose, which remained unchanged despite the fact that rate of interest on the loans advanced for housing activities and industrial activities had been reduced.


Plea to take action against bank staff
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 25
Mr Naveen Singla, Chairman of Shaheed Dr Shyama Parsad Mukherjee Yadgari Manch today urged the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to take action against employees who had been taking part in political activities.

In a press note here today, Mr Singhla alleged that Mr N.K. Gaur, general secretary of the Punjab Bank Employees Federation, had been supporting the Congress-CPI alliance candidates in Punjab and action should be taken against him.


Unemployed youth to support Cong
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 25
The Punjab Youth Unemployed Union organised a function in support of the Congress nominee from the Patiala constituency, Ms Preneet Kaur, here today. More than 1,000 activists of the union participated in the function.

The function was presided over by daughter of Ms Preneet Kaur, Ms Jai Inder Kaur, who assured the union to honour and implement the commitments made in the Congress manifesto. Addressing the gathering, trade union leader Raghbir Singh highlighted problems of the unemployed youth and urged the government to plan and implement comprehensive programmes for creating job opportunities. He alleged that the NDA government had failed to do anything concrete for the uplift of the Indian youth.

Mr Raghbir Singh further alleged that the NDA government was selling India to multi-national companies, profit earning public undertakings to private companies, abolishing job opportunities and introducing contract system.

He said that the Central Government had been creating problems including shifting of proposed industrial projects to other states. He further said that to fail the sugar industry in Punjab, the Central government had refused to lift sugar lying in Punjab.

The president of the union, Dr Dharminder Singh, said there were nearly 45 lakh unemployed youth in Punjab. Members of the union also appreciated the efforts made by Ms Preneet Kaur for raising the issue of unemployment in Parliament and including it in the party manifesto.


Balmiki Sabha extends support to Dullo, Preneet
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 25
The Punjab Pardesh Balmiki Sabha has decided to support Mr Samsher Singh Dullo, Congress candidate from the Ropar (reserved) constituency, as well as Ms Preheet Kaur, Congress candidate from Patiala. In a press note issued here yesterday, Mr Brij Lal, the president of the sabha, said a meeting of the working committee of the sabha would be held on April 25 at Sirhind to decide on supporting the Congress candidates in Punjab.

Meanwhile, Dr Harbans Lal, MLA, Sirhind, has started campaigning for Mr Dullo at Sirhind and Bassi Pathana. Addressing a public meeting at Bassi Pathana town after inaugurating an election office yesterday, he alleged that the Central Government was working against the interests of the farmers, industrialists, traders and youths of the state. He said the Central Government had not increased the MSP even though the prices of agriculture-related items had increased by 14 per cent. He said all villages would be provided round-the-clock power supply by the end of June. He added that 20,000 km of roads would be recarpetted before Divali.

Vaid Hari Krishan, president, DCC, Dr Sikandar Singh, a former president of the DCC, Mr Amarjit Singh Cheema, a former president of the District Bar Association and Mr Pardeep Malhotra, PPCC secretary, also addressed the gathering.


Cong govt committing atrocities, says Kanwaljit
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 25
Capt Kanwaljit Singh, former Finance Minister and SAD nominee from Patiala, today accused Capt Amarinder Singh’s government of committing atrocities on the people of Punjab.

He said the defeat of the Congress in the ensuing Lok Sahba elections would be the starting point of the fall of Amarinder Singh-led government in Punjab. Addressing a number of rallies in the Dakala assembly segment, he said the present Congress government had withdrawn all facilities provided by the previous Akali-BJP government to the people of Punjab.

Mr Harmail Singh Tohra, a senior Akali leader, said the present government had done nothing for the welfare of the people and had instead emptied the pockets of the people. He appealed to the people to pose a united front against the ‘repressive policies’ of the government in the coming elections.

Others who addressed the gathering included Mr Tejinderpal Singh Sandhu, former Chairman of the SSS Board, Mr Amarjot Singh Punia and Mr Pavittar Singh Dakala.


Capt Kanwajit Singh’s comments decried
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 25
Reacting to the SAD candidate, Capt Kanwaljit Singh's speech at a rally held at Patiala yesterday wherein he termed the present election clash in the Patiala constituency as one between “Rajwara Shahi” and the common man, the election-in-charge of the Congress candidate, Ms Preneet Kaur, Mr Sant Ram Singla, said that such comments were a sad reflection on the vision of the SAD-BJP combine.

Mr Singla said that Capt Kanwaljit Singh was making these comments in desperation. Talking of the role played by forefathers of Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Singla said Maharaja Yadvindra Singh was the first ruler of a princely state to merge with the Indian Union after independence and it was due to his efforts that other such states decided to join the Indian Union.

He further stated that during the 1965 Indo-Pak war, Capt Amarinder Singh chose to forego the palatial comforts and joined the Indian Army to defend the nation's borders.

Mr Singla also claimed that had it not been for the efforts of Capt Amarinder Singh, the fertile belt of Abohar and Fazilka would not have been part of the state today.

Asserting that a night-long vigil by Capt Amarinder Singh in Kandoo Khera village was behind the retention of the area with Punjab, he said that the Central Commission, which had been set up to determine boundaries between Punjab and Haryana, had suggested the principle of contiguity with the village as a unit.

The leader counter-questioned the status of common man accorded to the SAD candidates across the state by Capt Kanwaljit by asking how could a “comman man” like the SAD supremo Parkash Singh Badal amass property worth crores.


Valiant soldier plods on
Gurvinder Kaur

Bahadur Chand ‘Jhandewala’
Bahadur Chand ‘Jhandewala’

Patiala, April 25
Even after hours of staring straight ahead, his gaze does not falter, after hours of standing erect, his frame does not droop and after hours of holding aloft the party flag, his hands do not waver. Meet Bahadur Chand ‘Jhandewala’, the 52-year-old committed party worker who has been zealously standing guard and waving the Tricolour at the door of the Congress party’s election office in the city for every poll held during the past 22 years.

Ask Congress supporters about Bahadur Chand and they all shake their heads, but the moment you mention ‘Jhandewala’ their faces start sporting a knowing smile. Come election days and ‘Jhandewala’ can be seen hovering around the election office from morning till night, donning a Tricolour ‘kurta’ and ‘topi’, armed with a smile and the Tricolour that he waves at all and sundry as he marches up and down the corridor. Yes, he is a ‘Congressi’ alright, but first and foremost he claims to be a proud Indian who is inspired by ‘Tiranga’.

“Why does he do this?”, we ask him. Perhaps one of his two sons has been ‘accommodated’ by being given a job or maybe he has at times received financial help for any of his four daughters? “No”, he replies, “I am a daily wage earner and so are my two sons. One plies a rickshaw, while the other works as a labourer like me. I leave everything for about a month at election time and plunge wholetime into being the ‘Jhandewala.’ I do it because I love my country and also because I have an old debt to pay off.”

He belongs to Darukuta mohalla, which in olden days was the site where ‘barood’ (gunpowder) was manufactured for the cannons of the erstwhile Royal Army. “After Partition, the Royal family granted us this place to settle in when many of us trooped into the city battered by the division of the country and I am not the one to forget a favour” says Bahadur Chand. “I work for the party also, because I honestly feel that it is a development-oriented party which has the potential to do the country tremendous good,” he says.

He does not get tired of attending rallies and standing for hours, because it’s just not about politics, it is about patriotism which, unlike most people, arouses a deep sense of pride in him. Smiling, he says, “My sons also pitch in whenever they can take out time. I felt most satisfied when recently my six-year-old grandson threw a tantrum and insisted on getting the same Tricolour kurta stitched for himself. Now, he wears it and sometimes accompanies me here.”

Senior Congress leader and election in charge of the Patiala office Sant Ram Singla beams when ‘Jhandewala’ is mentioned. Admitting that he is an old loyalist,

Singla says, “It can get very hectic during electioneering and sometimes when all of us sitting inside the office can feel the heat of the proceedings, it is Bahadur Chand’s Tricolour which gets us going again.” A sentiment well expressed and also well deserved. Perhaps it’s time for us to salute not just the ‘Tiranga’, but also the ‘Jhandewalas’ around us.


Cong questions common man status of SAD candidates
Our Correspondent

PATIALA: Reacting to the SAD candidate Capt Kanwaljit Singh’s speech, made during a rally held at Patiala on Friday, wherein he termed the present election clash in the Patiala constituency as one between “rajwara shahi” and the common man, former MP and election in-charge of the Congress candidate, Ms Preneet Kaur, Mr Sant Ram Singla, stated that such comments were a sad reflection on the vision of the SAD-BJP combine.

Mr Singla, while reminding the SAD about the positive role played by the forefathers of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who were the erstwhile rulers of Patiala, said, “Capt Kanwaljit Singh is making these comments in desperation”. The leader stated that Maharaja Yadvindra Singh was the first ruler of a princely state to merge with the Indian Union after the Independence and it was due to his efforts that other such states decided to join the Indian Union.

Mr Singla also claimed that had it not been for the efforts of Capt Amarinder Singh, the fertile belt of Abohar and Fazilka would not have been a part of the state today. The leader counter-questioned the status of “comman man” accorded to the SAD candidates across the state by Capt Kanwaljit by asking as to how a common man like SAD supremo Parkash Singh Badal could have amassed property worth crores of rupees.


A ‘paisaless’ candidate
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 25
While Congress nominee Rana Gurjit Singh and SAD nominee Naresh Gujral had declared their assets worth crores of rupees in their affidavits, there is one candidate in the fray from Jalandhar, who has not even a single penny to contest the election.

Mr Vijay Hans, national president of the Democratic Bharatiya Samaj Party and a nominee from Jalandhar, has not a single penny to contest the election. Mr Naresh Gujral had declared his movable and immovable assets worth about Rs 14 crore. His wife owned assets worth more than Rs 7 crore.

Congress nominee Rana Gurjit Singh and his wife had assets worth more than Rs 19 crore. Interestingly, Mr Vijay Hans has no cash, bank balance, jewellery, agricultural or residential property and vehicle. In all columns, where the details of movable and immovable assets to be submitted in the shape of an affidavit, Mr Hans mentioned “no” in the form for all these queries.

Similarly, Manohar Lal, who is contesting as an independent, entered the poll fray with a sum of Rs 30,000 and an old scooter while a nominee of Punjab Christian Movement Hamid Masih have Rs 50,000 in cash and a bank balance of Rs 700.


Naresh Gujral meets RSS leaders
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar April 25
SAD nominee Naresh Gujral today met senior RSS leaders here at its Peeli Kothi office to seek their support.

Mr Gujral, for the first time since announcement of his candidature, participated in a function organised by the district unit of the RSS. The function was part of a series of events being organised in the state to mark the birth centenary celebrations of first parcharak of the RSS Baba Sahib Apte. The RSS is yet to announce its support to SAD-BJP candidate Gujral.

Senior RSS leaders, including state vice-president Hans Raj Dhawan, district parcharak Balbir Sharma and former minister Manoranjan Kalia, former Mayor of local Municipal Corporation Suresh Sehgal, were present during the function.


Mayawati RSS mouthpiece: Lakha
Our Correspondent

Phagwara April 25
Former general secretary of the Punjab BSP and Samata Samaj Party and Lok Jan Shakti candidate from the Phillaur reserved Lok Sabha constituency Harbhajan Lakha today alleged that BSP President Mayawati was a mouthpiece of the RSS and was implementing BJP agenda by selling out the interests of the Bahujan Samaj to the Fascist forces of Hindutava and Mannuwad.

Talking to newsmen after opening his election office here, Mr Lakha, a former MP who had severed links with the BSP, said Mayawati had amassed wealth worth Rs 100 crore. After holding ailing Kanshi Ram in captivity, she had become President of the BSP, he remarked.

Earlier, Jathedar Rajinder Singh Fauji, central working committee member of SAD (A), inaugurated Mr Lakha’s office.


Bhinder refutes charges
Our correspondent

Pathankot, April 25
The Congress candidate from the Gurdaspur parliamentary constituency, Ms Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, has refuted the charges of misuse of official machinery in the election campaign.

Addressing a joint press conference convened here today with Baba Kashmira Singh, a Sikh leader, Ms Bhinder said the BJP leaders had been making false accusations against the Congress in this regard.

Baba Kashmira Singh said he was supporting the Congress candidate on principles as the BJP had no interest in solving the basic problems of the state.


Atwal wants ban on exit poll
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 25
A former Speaker of the Punjab Assembly and SAD-BJP-BKU candidate from the Phillaur (reserved) Lok Sabha constituency, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, and SAD national adviser Jarnail Singh Wahid said at a press conference here today that political mud-slinging through advertisements should be made an electoral offence by amending the Representation of Peoples Act.

Mr Atwal sought a ban on exit polls as these “misled” public.

However, Mr Atwal and Mr Wahid defended making the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 election issue. “This issue should be kept alive so that any other political party does not dare to repeat the blunder in future,” they said. By giving ticket to Mr Jagdish Tytler and Mr Sajjan Kumar, the Congress had rubbed salt on the wounds of the Sikhs, they alleged.

Mr Atwal later addressed election meetings at Model Town, Tibbi and Hadiabad. Mr Sarwan Singh Kular, a former chairman of the Local Market Committee, SAD circle president Gurmukh Singh and BJP block president Tejasvi Bhardwaj were also present.


Atwal opens poll office
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, April 25
Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, former Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha and SAD-BJP nominee for Phillaur Lok Sabha seat, opened his election office here on Saturday.

Addressing the gathering on the occasion Mr Atwal accused the Congress government of halting development process and welfare schemes launched by the Badal government. He also highlighted the failure of Congress government to construct the Rahon - Machhiwara bridge across Sutlej, which was started three years ago.


Akali Dal (A) activists block traffic
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 25
Activists of the Akali Dal (Amritsar), led by Mr Gopal Singh Jawandha, today blocked traffic on the national highway at Dirba village, about 26 km from here, in protest against the alleged attack on farmers by Congressmen at Minia village in Moga district yesterday.

Mr Jawandha termed the Congress as “anti-farmer”. The Ugrahan group of the BKU (Ekta), led by Mr Joginder Singh Ugrahan, state president of the union, also blocked traffic on the Lehra-Sunam road at Lehragaga against the attack.


Gurmit Sodhi is poll agent of Arvind Khanna
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 25
Mr H.S. Hanspal, President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), has appointed Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, Political Secretary to Capt Amarinder Singh, Punjab Chief Minister, as election agent of Mr Arvind Khanna, Congress candidate from Sangrur constituency for Lok Sabha elections.


NTC to support Navjot
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 25
Dr Harbhajan Singh Chhina, president, Nationalist Trinamool Congress (NTC), yesterday extended support to BJP candidate Navjot Sidhu here. Denouncing Mr RL Bhatia, he said, the Congress MP (Mr Bhatia) had watched the interests of his party colleagues, businessmen and his relatives.


Order to despatch postal ballot papers
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, April 25
Mr Hussan Lal, District Returning Officer-cum-Deputy Commissioner, has directed all Assistant Returning Officers of nine Assembly segments, Faridkot, Kotkapura, Panjgrain, Muktsar, Malout, Lambi, Gidderbaha, Moga and Baghapurana falling in the Faridkot parliamentary constituency, to post the postal ballot papers to 1,563 services voters by May 3.

He also asked them to ensure that no polling or presiding officers, besides the other staff members related with the election process be deputed on polling duty in his or her district. However, in case of an emergency, one can be deployed from the reserve staff, he added. The lists of the entire staff should be provided to he Election Tehsildar office by May 8, he added.

Presiding over a meeting of Assistant Returning Officers and other polling officials convened here today to review the poll arrangements, Mr Lal said the first, second and final rehearsals in three Assembly segments, Faridkot, Kotkapura and Panjgrain, would be held on April 27, May 4 and May 9, respectively.

Mr Lal also directed the poll officials to ensure free and fair polling. All three Election Observers, Mr V.N. Garg, Mr Vimal Kirti Singh and Mr Kumar Sanjay, were also present at the meeting.


DC holds meeting with candidates
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 25
Deputy Commissioner-cum-Returning Officer Tejveer Singh today organised a meeting to discuss the norms to be followed by various political parties during the elections.

The meeting was attended by the candidates of the Patiala constituency and their representatives along with the observer of the constituency, including Mr C. Chandran, Ms Sunaina Tomar and Mr V.K. Mangotra.

While informing the candidates about the instructions issued by the Election Commission, Mr Tejveer Singh said the candidates contesting the Lok Sabha poll could spend a total of Rs 25 lakh each.


Statistically speaking

*Number of Lok Sabha constituencies: 13

*Number of Reserved constituencies: 3 (Bathinda, Ropar, Phillaur)

*Number of total voters, general and service: 1,66,14,040

*Number of polling stations: 15,649

(All voting through electronic voting machines, whereas EVMs were used in only three constituencies, Patiala, Faridkot and Tam Taran, in 1999.)


ASI Gurjit reinstated
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, April 25
One month after the attack on a The Tribune team for highlighting the role of the “police-politician” land mafia, the Punjab Police has reinstated the controversial ASI Gurjit Singh. In fact, the ASI has been given a plum posting and appointed as Additional SHO at the Lalru police station.

The ASI was suspended for his alleged collusion with the land mafia that was trying to grab a prime land in Dhakauli village on the night of March 22. Over 25 henchmen of the land mafia, supported by the ASI, had been camping on a piece of land after getting a false case registered against the actual occupant of the disputed land, Mr Kamal Deep Singh.

Highly placed sources revealed that senior police officials had not suspended the ASI in “real manner” in the wake of pressure from certain Congress leader from Patiala. The file relating to the suspension of the ASI was earlier held back by a senior police official at Patiala. In the meantime, instead of reporting at the Patiala Police Lines, the ASI continued to visit the area along with his property dealer friends.

The ASI, a relative of Ms Sheelam Sohi, a Congress leader from the Banu Assembly constituency, reportedly approached Ms Preneet Kaur, the Congress candidate from the Patiala parliamentary constituency, for seeking her intervention in getting the official reinstated.

When contacted, Mr A.S. Rai, Patiala SSP, claimed that after preliminary investigations in The Tribune team assault case, ASI Gurjit Singh was “not found guilty”.

It may be recalled that the ASI had been transferred from the Lohgarh police post many times in the past two years. Due to his connections with some politicians, ASI Gurjit Singh managed to get his transfer orders cancelled every time.

Mr Gurjit Singh was involved in an incident of insubordination with the Station House Officer (SHO), Dera Bassi, in February. Following this, the police registered a daily Diary report (DDR) against him.


‘False’ case: SSP to conduct probe
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 25
Mr Paramjit Singh Gill, DIG, today asked the Senior Superintendent of Police here to conduct an inquiry into an allegedly false case registered against one Avtar Singh Bhalla, a resident of Rup Nagar area, his wife and other family members.

The C-Division police station here had allegedly registered a false case against Mr Bhalla and others on charge attacking Mr Kuldeep Raj Sharma, a resident of same area, his wife Sudesh Kumari and some other relatives. Ms Sudesh Kumari was reportedly injured in the incident.

Mr Bhalla in his complaint to the DIG, had alleged that actually, Mr Sharma and his family members, including his son Vishal Sharma and his son-in-law Suraj, had attacked his son Mandip Singh Bhalla and other family members. He said Sudesh Kumari was injured when her husband attacked his (Bhalla’s) son with a sharp-edged weapon and she tried to stop him.


Plea to back gurdwara corridor plan
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 25
The Sangat langah Kartarpur, an action committee set up for garnering support for a corridor to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib located on the Indo-Pak border, has made an appeal to all candidates to take up the issue if they win the elections.

In a statement here today, committee president Harjinder Singh Randhawa said three tombs of founder Guru Nanak Dev existed there. One was an Islamic grave, another a Hindu samadh and the third a Sikh “angitha” at Dera Baba Nanak.

He said the corridor plan that proposed barbed fencing on both sides of the corridor as suggested by the Pakistan government was reasonable and would not pose a security threat.

Advocating “soft boundaries” between India and Pakistan, he said lakhs of devotees had held a token ardas before the commencement of celebrations at Dera Baba Nanak on the occasion of the 500th birth anniversary of Guru Angad Dev recently.


9 Punjabis in Baluch jail
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 25
Nine families whose boys are lodged at the Mach jail in Baluchistan province of Pakistan, narrated their woes here today. Mr Harpal Singh Bhuller, president, International Bhai Mardana Yadgari Kirtan Darbar Society, in a press note issued here today, said as many as 16 Punjabi boys languishing in the jail were being tortured.

The boys include Nirmal Singh (Gurdaspur); Sohan Singh (Batala); Karnail Sigh (Jalandhar), Amarjit Singh (Jalandhar); another Amarjit Singh (Jalandhar); Hardeep Singh (Ludhiana); Rajbir Singh (Ropar); Tilak Raj (Phagwara) and Jasvir Ram (Hoshiarpur).


Eight ‘Birs’ damaged in fire
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 25
Eight ‘Birs’ of Guru Granth Sahib were burnt in a fire due to short-circuit in Baho Sivian village 15 km from here, today morning.

Bhai Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, has ordered a probe into the matter by constituting a committee of Panj Piaras led by Bhai Man Singh, head Granthi, of Takht Damdama Sahib.

The arrangements were being made for “Antim Sanskar” of the ‘Bir’ as per Sikh traditions.


Multi-speciality camp at Rajpura
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 25
A team of five doctors from Fortis Heart Institute Mohali, organised a free multi speciality health camp at Simrita Nursing Home, Rajpura, today. Nearly 400 patients were examined at the camp which was headed by the institute's senior cardiac consultant, Dr Rakesh Kumar Jaswal.

Dr Jaswal, who was accompanied by cardiologist Dr Arun Kochhar, also handed out tips for the prevention and cure of heart diseases in this Outreach programme organised by the institute. Explaining that the purpose behind such a programme was to reach up patients in far-flung areas at their own doorstep, he said the Outreach OPDs would be held twice a month in Rajpura.


2,41,041 mt of wheat procured
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 25
The process of wheat procurement at different purchase centres of the district is going on smoothly. Till today, at all centres, 2,41,041 metric tonne of wheat had been purchased by various government purchase agencies as well as private traders, said Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner. He said the whole process would be completed within a week. Markfed had purchased 65092 mt, FCI 48943 mt, Punjab Agro 34111 mt, Ware Housing Corporation 27156 mt, PUNSUP 46015 mt, PUNGRAIN 15010 mt and the private traders 4712 mt of wheat.

He said all procurement agencies had sufficient stock of gunny bags to procure wheat and no report of shortage of the bags had been received. He said the payment to farmers on time had been ensured and the process of procurement would conclude within a week. He thanked all officials of procurement agencies, farmers and commission agents for cooperation.


Refused presents, eunuchs abduct child

Abohar, April 25
A police party from Haryana visited different localities here yesterday and questioned some persons who claimed to be eunuchs.
Sources said some “eunuchs” had gone to the residence of Mr Partap Singh in Bhatha Sukhchain village in Sirsa district last week in his absence and demanded Rs 501 from his wife Kailash Rani as she had delivered a child seven months back. When she expressed her inability to accede to the demand saying at present she was not having Rs 501, they reportedly took away the baby with them telling Mr Kailash Rani to visit the Dera of Eunuchs’ Mahant Darshan and pay the money.

According to Mr Partap Singh when he visited the Dera to take his son back by paying the amount the Mahant reportedly said none of their representative had gone to any village to collect “Badhai”. The Mahant reportedly told the affected family that some fake eunuchs were residing at Abohar and other areas and they might have played the mischief.

Mr Partap Singh lodged an FIR with the Sirsa police. Initial inquiries indicated that a baby was seen at the residence of local eunuchs recently. On the tip-off, the police accompanied by the complainant raided some houses here and questioned certain persons. No clue had been found about the baby, the sources said. — OC


Theft at BJP leader’s shop
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 25
Three hundred silver coins and Rs 5,000 were reportedly stolen by some unidentified persons from a commercial establishment owned by BJP leader Satish Narang, Municipal Councillor, in the timber market area here last night.

The locks of a cupboard were found broken. The miscreants entered the shop from the second floor roof top, it appeared in preliminary investigation.

In another incident, cash and jewellery worth Rs 35,000 were stolen from the house of Mr Raj Kumar, a class IV employee of the Punjab National Bank here. He said he was on duty in the bank and his family had gone out when the theft was committed in broad daylight.


Murder suspect held
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 25
The district police has arrested a proclaimed offender. He is a suspect in the murder of a teacher couple in Bhogpur, about three years ago.

According to the police, following a tip-off, a police party conducted a raid near a petrol pump on the Ladowali road here and nabbed the suspect Vinod Kumar.

The police maintains that Vinod Kumar allegedly barged into the house of a teacher Jaswinder Singh at Shitalpur village in Bhogpur on August 29, 2001 night with a motive of robbery.

The suspect attacked Jaswinder and his wife Joginder Kaur with a sharp-edged weapon, killing both of them on the spot. Later, he decamped with the gold ornaments.


Raped minor delivers child
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 25
A minor girl of nearby Khangura village, who allegedly was raped by Harjinder Kumar and Ashok Kumar with the connivance of Kashmir Kaur, is reported to have given birth to a male child at Hoshiarpur yesterday. It was learnt yesterday night. The police had booked the two youths and the woman.


Experts discuss development of Punjabi computer
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, April 25
Amardeep Singh Shergill Memorial College, Mukandpur, organised a seminar on ‘Technical development of Punjabi language in computer’ on the college premises here yesterday.

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, GND University, Amritsar, was the chief guest. Mr Harjit Inder Singh Grewal, Deputy Commissioner, Dr Joginder Singh Puar, Dr Sardara Singh Johal, both former Vice-Chancellors, Mr Rachhpal Singh Gill, Director, Language Department, Punjab, Mr Surjit Patar, and president, Sahitya Academy, Ludhiana, and Mr Janmeja Singh Johal, were among the distinguished guests.

The seminar was attended by principals and teachers of various colleges of Nawanshahr and adjoining districts. Dr Surjit Singh Bhatti, Principal of the host college, welcomed the guests and underlined the objective of organising the seminar.

Mr Kirpal Singh Pannu, a Canada-based NRI, who has done a commendable work in the development of fonts, keyboards and websites in Punjabi language, while presenting his paper on ‘Future of Punjabi computer’ stressed the need to standardise fonts of Punjabi words and computer codes. At present, about 100 fonts in Punjabi language were available, but these all had different types that caused both confusion and inconvenience to users. A Punjabi word processor should also be developed, he said. He said the state government and the SGPC, which had funds at their disposal, should come forward to take immediate steps for the development of Punjabi language for computer use.

Dr Gurpreet Singh Lehal, Director of the Department of CSE, Punjabi University, Patiala, and Dr Harvinder Singh Bhatti, Reader, Department of Sociology, Punjabi University, Patiala, presented their joint paper on ‘Computer, Punjabi language and Punjabi Intellectuals’. They gave a detailed account of the work done by them for developing “Akhar” — a Punjabi word processor. This word processor would solve the problems of Punjabi computer users as it had the facilities like unicode, compatibility with different fonts and keyboards, database for spell-check, Gurbani dictionary, bilingual dictionary, suggestion list, text analyser and change of script etc. Dr Gurpreet Singh Lehal gave a demonstration of Punjabi word processor.

Dr Harvinder Singh Bhatti, in his address, stressed the need of developing standardised type of Punjabi words, their pronunciation and sequence of words in Punjabi grammar and Punjabi dictionaries for developing and promoting Punjabi computer.

Dr J.S. Puar, former Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, emphasised the need of developing basic concepts of Punjabi language. Dr Sardara Singh Johal, former Vice-Chancellor, GND University, Amritsar, said the computer was only a tool and it was the responsibility of Punjabi scholars and intellectuals to develop linguistics.

Dr Rachhpal Singh Gill, Director, Language Department, Punjab, said the department, in collaboration with three universities of the state, would initiate efforts for the development of Punjabi computer. Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, GND University, said the varsity had set up a computer lab for the development of Punjabi computer .

Ms Davinder Kaur Sidhu (GN College for Women, Banga), Principal G.K. Atwal, (Nakodar), Mr Manohar Singh, (Head of the Computer Department, Lyallpur Khalsa College, Jalandhar), Mr Sukhminder Singh (Computer Department, ASSMC, Mukandpur) also participated in the debate. Poet Surjit Patar recited poems on the occasion.


Check number of school drop-outs, says group
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, April 25
The Global Campaign for Education, state Working Group for Global Action week interacted with 450 persons from different sections of society here on Friday to know why 100 crore children in the world (most of them in Asia, Africa and Latin America), were deprived of education.

According to Mr Narinder Singh, Member, State Working Group Global Action week, 61 per cent people said that poverty was behind it while 39 per cent said it was due to lack of proper facilities and employment guarantee.

Mr Gurinder Singh Ahluwalia, state convener of the group, said 100 per cent literacy could be achieved, by bringing all children under school education.

Need of the hour was to understand basic problems of drop-outs and their parents. Besides, active community participation should be mobilized for positive results, he added.

The Global Action aims at creating awareness about basic problems of the school drop-outs and mobilizing community for lobbying for the education of children. All candidates for Lok Sabha elections would be requested to sign a declaration that he or she would strive for proper implementation of 86th Constitution Amendment Bill calling for free and compulsory education to all children up to the age of 14 and to raise the issue of increase in budgetary allocation for primary education.


Dual-degree programme in colleges soon
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 25
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has decided to introduce a dual-degree programme in colleges to make education more job-oriented. This was stated by Prof Rajesh Anand, Joint Secretary, UGC, while presiding over the proceedings of the annual convocation of Hans Raj Mahila Mahavidyalaya here yesterday. He said keeping in view the changing global scenario it was decided to introduce the programme in universities and colleges across the country for which a comprehensive draft was being prepared by experts.

The programme would ensure that any student undergoing a degree course could join a certificate course in some technical stream. The existing infrastructure of the educational institutions would be used for conducting such certificate courses, he maintained.

The Principal of the college Ms P.P. Sharma, in her address said the college was fully prepared to introduce such short duration job-oriented courses.

Later, degrees were conferred upon 346 students of the 2002 the batch. As many as 23 students, were honoured with gold medals and roll of honour.

Others who spoke on the occasion included Dr A.S. Dua, Dean, College Development Council of Guru Nanak Dev University.

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