P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Farmers suspend stir as govt concedes demands
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 28
The Congress government today succeeded in persuading farmers of the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta) and the Kisan Sangharsh Committee to suspend their ongoing agitation.

As part of their agitation, both organisations had been showing black flags for the past few days to Congress leaders engaged in campaigning at various places.

Sources said several mediators helped the government to sort out matters with leaders of farmers. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, himself held talks with representatives of farmers.

The Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta) chief, Mr Joginder Singh Ugrahan, and the Kisan Sangharsh Committee’s convener, Mr Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu, said in a statement that they had suspended the agitation as the Chief Minister had conceded several demands of farmers.

The family of Angrej Singh, a farmer who was killed in police firing at Manawala village a few weeks ago, will be given assistance to the tune of Rs 5 lakh and his widow Mrs Amarjit Kaur, will be given a job by the state government. The six farmers who were injured in the incident will get Rs 50,000 each.

The government will also give Rs 25,000 each to 13 farmers, who were injured at Minian village, near Moga, in a clash with Congress workers last week. All cases registered against farmers regarding these incidents will be withdrawn.

The government has agreed to resolve the dispute regarding farmers' dues of power bills. A committee has been set up under the chairmanship of Mr S.S. Johl to deal with the issue. Mr Jasbir Singh Dimpa, Congress MLA from Beas, and Mr Gurbinder Singh Mamanke, who played a crucial role in talks with farmers' unions, would be members of the committee, which has been told to submit a report by May 28. Power connection of any tubewell will not cut till the resolving of the dispute.

The government will release Rs 14 crore to clear sugarcane dues of farmers next month. The Chief Minister will hold another meeting with farmers' organisations in the last week of next month to resolve remaining issues.

The Chief Minister refused to comment on his meetings with farmers, stating that he Model Code of Conduct was in force.


BKU faction to support Cong

Mr Bhupinder Singh Mann, a top leader of the BKU, today extended his organisation’s support to the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections. Before making an announcement in this regard, Mr Mann held a meeting with Capt Amarinder Singh at his residence in Patiala. Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal was also present on the occasion.


Govt may have to repay Rs 3,772 cr
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 28
Even as diametrically opposite statements made by political leaders about the relief on special-term loans to Punjab have already confused the common man, top economists say the state government will have to re-pay Rs 3,772 crore to the Central Government if it fails to put up a proper case before the 12th Finance Commission.

The release of official correspondence in this context and the claim made by former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral have already confused the issue.

When contacted, Dr R.S. Bawa, a former president of the Indian Economic Association and Registrar, Guru Nanak Dev University, and Dr P.S. Raikhy, a professor at the Punjab School of Economics, said the report of the 11th Finance Commission for 2002-2005 had devoted a special section to relief on special-term loans to Punjab.

According to this report, the Punjab Government had obtained a special-term loan of Rs 5799.22 crore during the period of 1984 to 1994. The repayment of the principal and interest due for 1995-96 to 1999-2000, amounting to Rs 3413.11 crore, was waived by the Government of India .

The outstanding special-term loan as on March 31, 2000, was Rs 3,772 crore and the decision of the Central Government to waive this loan was conveyed to the 11th Finance Commission.

Both economists said Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Jammu and Kashmir had also made requests for giving relief on similar grounds. However, due to lack of exact information the commission left this issue to the Ministry of Home Affairs to reimburse security-related expenditures.

In case of Jammu and Kashmir, the security-related expenditure was regularly reimbursed with effect from 1990-91. Even for the earlier period, the commission had recommended relief to Jammu and Kashmir on security-related expenditures .

However, in case of Punjab as the security-related expenditure incurred by the state was not reimbursed, the commission recommended, “a moratorium on the payments of instalments of debt and interest on the special-term loan due for repayment by the state of Punjab during the period 2000 – 05 so that the state was able to build its economy and be in a better position to repay the loan and the interest accruing thereon in subsequent years”.

Thus the outstanding loan had not been waived, asserted the two economists. Only the repayment of the principal and interest on special-term loans for the state for the period 2000 to 2005, estimating to Rs 3396.15 crore, had merely been postponed . The commission also recommended that after the period of moratorium was over the security-related expenditures be reimbursed to the state after taking into account the waiver already given.

As the report of the 11th Finance Commission was accepted by the Government of India therefore the recommendations of the commission depicted the actual picture, argued Dr Bawa and Dr Raikhy.

However, the economists lamented the side-tracking real issues relating to development in the state.


BJP leader charges CM with leaking official documents
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 28
A former Punjab minister and senior BJP leader, Mr Manoranjan Kalia, said yesterday that leaking of official correspondence between then Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee regarding waiver of Rs 8500 crore loan of Punjab was a violation of oath of office and secrecy.

In a statement here yesterday, Mr Kalia said that Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and his Cabinet colleagues could not escape from the responsibility of the leakage episode. The Chief Minister and his Cabinet colleagues should resign, he demanded.

Mr Kalia also appealed to the Election Commission to take notice of the leak of information and action be taken against the Congress for using official documents for electoral gains.


BJP resents use of official documents in Cong ads

Jalandhar, April 28
The Punjab unit of the BJP today approached the Election Commission against the release of official documents in advertisements issued by the Congress.
In a complaint to the Chief Election Commissioner, a former Punjab minister and senior BJP leader, Mr Manoranjan Kalia, alleged that the disclosure of official correspondence between the then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, about the waiver of term loan of Rs 8,500 crore, which was extended to the state for fighting militancy, was a breach of oath of office and secrecy. — OC


Small issues shadow major ones
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
Come elections and hairsplitting on any issue comes naturally to politicians, irrespective of their party affiliations. The present parliamentary poll is no different.

Take Punjab. The Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) have drifted from contemporary and urgent issues like reforms and development and have raked up emotive issues like Operation Bluestar or anti-Sikh riots or waiver on special term loans. They are engaged in competitive accusations trying to prove which of the two is more corrupt or responsible for all that has happened in the past. This is done either to score a point or vent their spleen on their opponent.

All this and smear ad campaign have only provided vitriolic quotes and bytes to the print and electronic media. These neither effect teflon-coated politicians nor help the state reinvent itself in any way. No wonder, the election campaigns have failed to enthuse voters who will show their true colours only on May 10.

How does the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, view mudslinging, ad campaigns and digging the painful past? He says, ''Ask Miri-Piri (anti-Akali ads appear under the name of this organisation). I enjoy seeing my caricatures. Political battles cannot be fought on history. There are more important, immediate issues to talk about, say farmers' problems, second green revolution, generating more power, setting state's finances in order...''

Given the ad war on corruption, does it mean that the mandate of the people will be for a party which is less corrupt? Capt Amarinder Singh says, ''Corruption is a major issue, it is not the issue. One has to think of development, employment ...''

To the same question, SAD secretary, Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, replies, ''We are against mudslinging and personalised attacks. The ad campaigns must be issue-based. Digging up the painful past is necessary because what followed Operation Bluestar must be retold so that no one repeats such crime. Those who had perpetrated that crime, must be punished as deterrent to others''.

Incidentally, the polling day is only a fortnight away from the Operation Bluestar anniversary. Therefore, fielding of Mr Jagdish Tytler, Mr Sajjan Kumar and Mr R.K. Anand by the Congress has become an emotive issue for the Akalis. They are exploiting this. Such are the turns and twists in politics that if these three have become focus of Akalis' electioneering, one of the most outspoken youth leaders of that time and even later, AISSF president Harminder Singh Gill has ''forgotten and forgiven'' those past happenings that had hurt the Sikh sensibilities and has joined the Congress!

A bird's eyeview of all the 13 constituencies reveals that voters are more concerned about small, yet significant, issues and factors at play in deciding whom to vote for. If they have been robbed of choice of candidates, their concerns too are confined to local, small issues. This is true of all places, across Punjab.

Sample this: the people of Mahal village, near Amritsar, have decided not to vote because no one ever cared to supply them potable, safe, drinking water, despite it being in the knowledge of the administration since 1994. And, 200 km away in Muktsar, banners flutter outside the Dasmesh locality appealing to all candidates not to enter the mohalla to seek votes as no one has ever cared to pave the inner streets or clean open, stinking drains.

If this mirrors the frustration of the people, it also shows ''chalta hai'' attitude of the governments. It is ironic that only during elections development tops the agenda of promises the politicians make.

Away from the din of electioneering in cities, this correspondent caught up with the Congress candidate, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, addressing a small meeting in Patti Billa in the Ferozepore constituency. On his way to Dalmir Khehra village, he tried to justify his decision to shift to Ferozepore from Faridkot where he had trounced Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal in 1999.

His reasoning was that the border districts were neglected and that he would raise people's problems and needs in Parliament, something his Akali rival, Mr Zora Singh Mann, had failed to do. He was also promising the Rai Sikhs to get them the status of Scheduled Castes to enable them get all socio-economic benefits.

Among the other small issues and factors that will add to the intensity of the election campaigns and generate both heat and light in the next fortnight, is the significant presence of deras, sants and babas who command good following in all three regions — Malwa, Doaba and Majha. Politicians pussyfoot around these ''holy'' cows. It, nevertheless, goes to the credit of several of them who have ventured out into the socio-economic domain as well while continuing with their religious pursuits.

Several of them are credited with providing roads, bridges and opening hospitals, educational institutions and introducing information technology and engineering courses. These individuals have carved a niche for themselves in society and in the corridors of power. Since they have influence over voters, they are poised to play a role in the poll.

A disturbing factor, however, is the news that poppy husk or drugs, intoxicants and alcohol playing part to win over voters, particularly in the three Lok Sabha constituencies in Doaba. Malwa, of course, is known for such practices as smugglers contribute their share in Majha.

The role of the BKU and its a half-a-dozen factions will also be crucial. The Chief Minister has talked over their problems and explained to them the import of the prevailing situation. Yet, several irritants remain, including exorbitant power bills. Though there is some improvement in power supply, unscheduled power cuts cause much resentment among villagers.


Rahul, Priyanka to campaign in Punjab
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 28
Besides the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, Mr Rahul Gandhi and Ms Priyanka Gandhi would also campaign in Punjab in the coming days. Ms Anita Verma, AICC Secretary and in charge of Punjab affairs, gave this information while addressing a press conference here today.

While responding to the queries from mediapersons regarding factionalism in the Congress, Ms Verma said that the PPCC had been directed to make a report regarding alleged dissident activities and send it to the Congress President. Stern action would be taken against Congress leaders and office-bearers who were found to be indulging in the dissident activities, she said.

A report comparing votes polled to the Congress during the previous Assembly elections and the current Lok Sabha would also be made after the poll. It would be used to assess the performance of the Congress MLAs in their respective areas. Accountability would also be fixed on leaders in whose areas the Congress vote decreases.

She said the Congress was for the first time getting a good response from farmers in Punjab in the current elections. During the two-year Congress rule, the farmers had got better facilities and their crops been lifted without any hurdle.

Meanwhile, the state secretary of the CPM, Mr Balwant Singh, at a separate press conference, held at the residence of the Congress president Mr Amarjit Singh Saini, said the SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had been exposed on the issue of corruption and loan waiver to the state.


Sonia supporter campaigns barefoot
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 28
He is wealthy and settled in California, USA, but campaigns for the Congress barefoot and all alone. The 50-year-old Birbal Gandhi, who otherwise belongs to Phagwara, has come specially from the USA to campaign for the Congress.

He today hired a band and 16 rickshaws with Congress flags fluttering atop and a huge portrait of Mrs Sonia Gandhi perched on one of these. The diehard Sonia supporter walked ahead of the cavalcade, without any party activist. However, he made sure that his cavalcade did not disturb the traffic or passers-by. Posters of the Congress candidate from the Phillaur Parliamentary constituency, Mrs Santosh Chowdhary, were also displayed on the rickshaws.

Talking to this correspondent, Mr Gandhi said he had vowed to campaign barefoot so that Mrs Sonia Gandhi could form the government at the Centre. “I have paid for the rickshaws and the band from my own pocket. This is my fourth round of campaigning in the town today,” he said.

Mr Manmohan Sharma, Block Congress Committee (Urban) president, said Mr Gandhi was honoured at the party’s election office but he had insisted to pay for the cold drink served to him.


Who will sail through the Ghaggar, Preneet or Captain?
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 28
Politicians have been fighting electoral battles on the Ghaggar issue in the local constituency. The current battle for ballot is no different from the earlier ones.

The Ghaggar has been bringing misery to lakhs of people through floods almost every rainy season in the region.

In the 1998 parliamentary elections, the SAD candidate, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, gave the slogan: “tusi Congress chuk dheo, te main Ghaggar chuk duon" (you remove the Congress and I will remove Ghaggar). The slogan clicked and Mr Chandumajra won. But the problem is still there.

Now Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s wife Preneet Kaur, Congress candidate, here has brought the Ghaggar issue again into the limelight. Mrs Preneet Kaur, who was elected last time from this constituency, claims that with her efforts a project worth Rs 148 crore had been approved by the Nabard and the Central Water Commission to tame the Ghaggar. The Nabard has released the first instalment of Rs 33 crore in this regard. Besides it, Momian, Jharumajra and Bhagna link drains, which flow into the Ghaggar, are also being streamlined.

She says “no Akali MP or minister in the Centre extended her support when I was moving about in various offices in Delhi to seek funds for the project.”

However, her opponent Kanwaljit Singh, SAD candidate, is not ready to give her any credit.

Knowing well that the Ghaggar issue has witnessed the rise and fall of several political leaders, he says that Mrs Preneet Kaur was misleading people on the Ghaggar issue. “ She has done nothing ”, he adds.

Even a poster war has started on this issue. The Ghaggar Control Committee, who is supporting Capt Kanwaljit, has published a big size poster in this connection. The committee claims that the Drainage Department had prepared the Ghaggar streamlining project on the direction of the Punjab and Haryana High Court while deciding a writ petition filed by it ( committee) on March 18, 1998.

It added that it had filed a contempt of court case on March 20, 2000, to get the court order implemented regarding the Ghaggar.

Leave claims and counter claims aside. Whether Capt Kanwaljit Singh or Mrs Preneet Kaur will sail through the Ghaggar? This is the big question.

On the other hand in Banur, Derabassi, Rajpura belt no provision of canal water for irrigation is the big issue. This belt has been dependent on tubewells. The last SAD-BJP government had prepared a project to dig a canal to provide water to people of this belt but that project did not make much headway. “ While all other parts of the state have the canal water facility, we lack it,” says Mr Jagir Singh, nambardar of Jangpura village. People also want the removal of a distillery, that has become a nuisance for villagers near Banur.

The problem of drinking water has also become acute in this area as the sub-soil water level has gone down and consequently handpumps have been rendered redundant.

The condition of roads in certain rural belts is also an issue. Other issues being highlighted by Akalis are old-age pensions, shagun scheme, power-bill scheme for tubewells.

The Congress defends itself by claiming that it has been providing highly subsidised power to the farming sector and ensuring regular power supply in the countryside.


Orbit Resorts ran on hawala money: Capt
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 28
The Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, today said the state government had submitted various documents related to Mr Sukhbir Badal's hawala transactions to the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) today. Claiming that Sukhbir used to pump hawala money into Orbit Resorts through K. S. Sidhu, the owner of Wimpy's food chain, the Chief Minister said crores of rupees were routed out of India by the latter at Sukhbir's instance.

Claiming complete transparency in his son Raninder Singh's alleged hawala transactions involving Punjab Intranet Company, the Chief Minister said all papers related to the company had been sent to the DRI by the state government. Referring to Mr Parkash Singh Badal's demand for a CBI inquiry into the case involving Raninder, he said Union Law Minister Arun Jaitley had clarified to the SAD president that the competent authority to hold an inquiry into the case would be the DRI as the case related to deals in foreign currency.

Talking to newsmen at the Motibagh Palace here today Capt Amarinder Singh related Mr Jaitley's allegation that the Nehra Commission appointed by the state government to investigate into Raninder ‘s alleged hawala scam was a mere eyewash and that the state government did not approach the High Court before appointing the commission. He said Mr Jaitley, being a legal luminary himself, should know that no permission is required from the High Court if a Commission is being headed by a retired judge.

Asserting that loan against the state stands, the Chief Minister said though three instalments of the loan had been repaid the basic amount remains nearly the same, owing to the accumulation of interest on the amount. He reiterated that the Punjab Government had been granted a five-year moratorium on the loan in September, 2000.

Accusing the Central Government of discriminating against the Congress-led Punjab Government the Chief Minister asserted that the state government, which was facing a severe financial crunch, was not in a position to pay back the loan which totals around Rs 3,772 crore. “ I will not pay the loan”, asserted the Chief Minister.

Talking about the issue of free power and water to farmers, the Chief Minister said the PSEB could not afford to do so in view of the fact that the board incurs an annual loss of Rs 1,700 crore. However, he claimed that a regular power supply of 8 to 10 hours at the old tariff rate had been provided to the farmers during his regime and the farmers of Punjab would get uninterrupted power supply during the forthcoming paddy season.


Royal charmers at work
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, April 28
Women usually have a way with words and when the words are enthused by the Royal charisma, the awe-struck listeners cannot help but pay attention. With campaigning on in full swing throughout the constituency, women from the Royal family have descended upon the city to help support the poll campaign of Congress candidate Preneet Kaur who is better known as “Maharani”.

Despite the Akalis taking potshots at the true blue stature of their rival candidate as opposed to their “sons of the soil” image, there is no doubting the fact that Congress female juggernaut comprising Preneet’s daughter Jai Inder, daughter-in-law Reshma, sisters-in -law Roopinder Kaur, Harpriya and Sukriti Kaur, besides a number of distant female cousins are making their presence felt, and with élan.

Jai Inder has no less than three functions to attend today. Every “nukkad” meeting she attends witnesses packed crowds anxious to hear what she has to say. Dressed simply and with a “dupatta” covering her head, Jai Inder greets voters with the easy grace that comes from years of good breeding.

Requesting them for their support she quietly yet firmly lists her family’s achievements for the past two years. The effect on the listeners is marked, especially the women attending the rally.

And this is no mean achievement either as the female vote in the Patiala constituency, around 6,75,000, is almost as large as the male which accounts for 7,50,000 voters. The Samana segment has the largest concentration of women voters. The Congress has, therefore, marked out some Assembly segments of the constituency for its women campaigners. While Harpriya, wife of Malvinder Singh (Capt Amarinder Singh’s brother) is looking after canvassing in the Samana segment, the Chief Minister’s elder sister, Ms Roopinder Kaur, is looking after the Ghanour segment and his cousin from Nalagarh, Sukriti Kaur has been on the move, supporting Reshma as well as Jai Inder, who are looking after the Patiala segment of the constituency.

Gurpreet Kaur, an aunt of the Chief Minister, besides some cousins, are also going around the city and around seeking votes for the Congress. Amarjeet Kaur, a resident of Tripuri, was awestruck after she attended a rally addressed by Reshma. “She is dressed simply and I liked the way she spoke and then she has spoken the truth. The mini township of Tripuri came into being at the behest of the former Maharaja and thousands of refugees from across the border were allowed a chance to rehabilitate themselves respectably here”, she says while referring to Reshma’s reminder about the largesse of the royal heart.

The same sentiment resound among the women in the Kashmiri Mohalla, the venue of the next door to door campaign.

The royal charmers are careful to stash away their expensive sunglasses and other accessories while addressing the gathering and also try to make the crowd feel that they are one of them by partaking of “ladoos” or other refreshments offered to them.

If this women charge is capable of swaying the voters in their favour or not remains to be seen but the warmth the royal aura is exuding is certainly undeniable.


Complaint against Cong on pension issue
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 28
Mr Kashmir Singh Mavi, president of the Patiala district Akali Jatha, has complained to the Election Commission that the Congress party is using official machinery to restart pension to those whose pension was discontinued earlier in the Patiala Lok Sabha constituency. He said that this was being done to help Ms Preneet Kaur, a Congress candidate from the Patiala constituency.

Mr Mavi today said that a senior officer posted in the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s office had collected pension books to restart the payment of pension to certain persons in Dhindsa, Ranewas and Sekhowas villages. He said that promise had been made to such persons to give payment of pension in cash.

Mr Mavi said that it amounted to purchasing of votes. He has demanded appropriate action in this regard reminding the Chief Election Commissioner, of the earlier complaints in this matter.


CM visits Dera Roomiwala
Tribune News Service

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, accepts applications from people after visiting Dera Roomiwala in Bathinda on Wednesday.
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, accepts applications from people after visiting Dera Roomiwala in Bathinda on Wednesday. — Photo by Kulbir Beera

Bathinda, April 28
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who disappointed two CPI-Congress candidates and workers of both parties by absenting himself from election rallies and other functions organised by them, visited Dera Roomiwala, near Bhucho town, in the district today.

Capt Amarinder Singh did not attend the functions organised in connection with the filing of nomination papers of Ms Kushal Bhora, the CPI-Congress candidate from the Bathinda (reserved) seat, and Ms Karan Brar, the alliance candidate from the Faridkot seat.

Earlier, the Chief Minister visited Dera Sacha Sauda in Sirsa district of Haryana yesterday, Capt Amarinder Singh, who landed in a helicopter on the dera premises, sought blessings from its head, Baba Gurmeet Ram Raheem Singh. After staying for few minutes in the dera, Capt Amarinder Singh left for his next destination.

Sources said the baba told the Chief Minister that he had come to the dera after a long time. Capt Amarinder Singh had not attended the marriage of the baba’s son with the daughter of Mr Harminder Singh, Jassi, Chairman, Markfed, Punjab, a few months ago.

Today, Capt Amarinder Singh visited Dera Roomiwala and sought the blessings of its mukh sevadar, Baba Khem Singh. The Chief Minister arrived in a helicopter and partook of langar at the dera.

Mr Bharat Inder Singh Chahal, media adviser, who accompanied Capt Amarinder Singh to Dera Roomiwala said the Chief Minister had visited the dera as a devotee and not for any political purpose.


Cong govt at Centre can bail out Punjab: Sodhi
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 28
Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, Political Secretary of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, said today that the Punjab Government would move court to get the special-term loan of Rs 3,772 crore waived even if after the elections a Congress-led Central Government did not do so on its own.

In reply to a question, Mr Sodhi said the Union Government had advanced special-term loan to Punjab for the protection of the state during militancy. He said protection of any state was the duty of the Central Government.

Earlier, Capt Amarinder Singh had declared that he would not repay this loan even after April 2005 as the Union Government had granted a moratorium in 2000 up to 2005 on the repayment of the principal amount and the interest. He claimed that SAD top leaders were not letting the truth to the people about the waiving of this loan.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Sodhi said a Congress-led Central Government would certainly waive this special-term loan to protect interests of people of Punjab.

Mr Sodhi, who is also the election agent of Mr Arvind Khanna, Congress candidate from the Sangrur Parliamentary constituency. Claimed that the Congress candidate would get 50 per cent Jat Sikh votes as they were unhappy with Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, SAD candidate, and Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, SAD (Mann) candidate.


Former Akali MLA to back Congress
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 28
Seven SAD functionaries, including former MLA from Gardhiwala (Hoshiarpur) Sohan Singh Bodal, today announced their unconditional support to the Congress.

Talking to newspersons here at a joint press conference held by the Chief Minister and the SAD functionaries, Mr Badal lashed out at the “wrong” policies followed by the SAD. He claimed that a state of “near monarchy” existed in the Shiromani Akali Dal.

Stating that he had no personal grudge against the party, he accused Mr Badal of turning the SAD into a family set-up.

The others who decided to support the Congress were former Director, Mandi Board, Mr Gurinderjit Singh, senior vice-president, Youth Akali Dal (Sarb Hind) Satnam Singh Cheema, vice-president, BJP, Gardiwal circle, Mr Kulwant Singh, Mr Amar Singh and Col Harbhajan Singh Mallhi.

The BKU (Rajewal) president, Mr Bhupinder Singh, a former MP, also announced support to the Congress, along with the president of the Samajwadi Janta Party (Punjab unit) Mr Darshan Singh Jeeda.


Khanna violated poll code: Bhinder
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, April 28
The Congress today charged Mr Vinod Khanna, Minister of State for External Affairs and SAD BJP candidate from Gurdaspur constituency with violating the election code of conduct. Congress election agent and husband of Congress nominee, Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, Pritam Singh Bhinder had complained to the Deputy Commissioner cum District Election in charge that Mr Vinod Khanna went in procession of more than 20 vehicles to inaugurate his election office at 

On Monday the Deputy Commissioner Gurdaspur along with Central Observers S.L. Meena, Vijay Kumar Dutt and Parthasen Sharma at a meeting of all political parties apprised them about the model code of conduct.

On receiving the complaint of Mr Bhinder, Deputy Commissioner Harjeet Singh reportedly deputed Mr Jagdeep Singh Hundal, DSP Gurdaspur to inquire into the matter.


Disinvestment core issue in Hoshiarpur constituency
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, April 28
Disinvestment has become the core issue in the Hoshiarpur parliamentary constituency with all contesting candidates vowing to fight against privatisation of the public Sector units (PSUs).

Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, the BJP candidate from Hoshiarpur, who campaigned in the district today, vowed to struggle against the disinvestment in NFL. While addressing small rallies in the district, Mr Khanna said if voted to power as a BJP MP, he would lobby to against the disinvestment of government state in NFL. He criticised former Congress MP Charanjit Singh Channi for failing to say even a single word in the Lok Sabha against the NFL disinvestment.

Mr Khanna was accompanied by former Punjab Food and Civil Supplies Minister Madan Mohan Mittal.

Mr K.P.S. Rana, the chairman of the Punjab Pollution Control Board, who was also here today, also chose make disinvestment a major issue in their speeches. Mr Rana, while addressing public rallies in several villages around Nangal, vowed to fight against disinvestment in NFL.

Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, the BSP candidate, had also claimed that if voted to power, he would fight against disinvestment of the PSUs.


‘India shining’ a flop, says Bhatia
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 28
Former Minister of State for External Affairs and Lok Sabha candidate from Congress R.L. Bhatia today lashed out at the NDA for its economic policies and said the alarming increase in the unemployment had made its slogan of India shining a big flop.

Addressing six rallies in Duburji, Sohian Kalan, Shekhupura, Sarupwali, Ramdas and Qadian. Mr Bhatia said the BJP was continuing to pursue its communal agenda and misleading people of the country by making out false promises. Now the people were aware of its motive to grab the power by using all means, he added.

Mr Bhatia criticised the NDA government, led by Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, for totally ignoring the poor and the agriculture sector, which was the mainstay of the country’s economic growth.

He said the Congress is the only party which had provided cohesive social fabric without any bias. He said there was a pro-Congress wave in the state and the party would win all seats in Punjab.

Mr Bhatia was accompanied by state minister Mr Tripat Bajwa, MLA from Majitha, Mr Sawinder Singh Kathunangal and former MLA Ranjit Singh.


Atwal flays anti-farmer policy of CM
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 28
Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, President, the Bhartiya Kisan Union, and Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, former Speaker of Punjab Assembly and SAD-BJP-BKU candidate from Phillaur, today alleged that the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had failed to lobby for the minimum support price of wheat this year.

In a joint statement issued from the central election office here, both leaders said without following the proper channel, the CM had gone ahead to stage a dharna outside Jantar Mantar in New Delhi and his act was condemned by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Mr Vajpayee had ridiculed the act stating that if it was not possible for the CM to come to him to seek MSP, he had no difficulty in going to Punjab to sort out farmers’ problem.

Even during the drought in Punjab as well as other parts of the country last year, Captain Amarinder Singh had failed to appear at the meeting at the Centre where other CMs obtained major relief for their states and Punjab remained without it due to the wrong approach of the CM, alleged Mr Lakhowal. On the other hand, the MSP of wheat was increased manifold during the tenure of Mr Parkash Singh Badal as CM, he claimed.

Mr Atwal flayed the anti-farmers policy of Capt Amarinder Singh. Even as the Mannawala incident, where farmers were lathicharged and one farmer was killed in police firing, was yet boiling, the ruling Congress men again clashed with farmers at Moga this week, he alleged.

Despite such despicable acts, the Congress claimed to be concerned for the farmers and calls the SAD-BJP-BKU anti farmers, ridiculed Mr Atwal. The Congress had backtracked on its promises in manifesto, he said. The promise of free power and water for the Punjab farmers had long been forgotten, said Mr Atwal. 


Corruption not poll issue, says Sukhbir

Moga, April 28
Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, SAD nominee from the Faridkot, Lok Sabha constituency, has alleged that the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, alone wanted to tarnish the image of the Badal family with corruption charges. But this has had no effect on the electorate and people are laughing over such charges,” he said.

Talking to reporters last night at the residence of Mr Jasbir Singh Gill, a Moga advocate, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal claimed even Congressmen were admitting in private that the corruption charges had failed to make a dent in the SAD campaign in the constituency.

Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is general secretary of the SAD, when asked for his comments over Mr Harminder Singh Gill, a member of the All India Sikh Students Federation joining the Congress, he said the party knew his anti-SAD activities and it was not a surprise for him. — PTI


SAD (Rural) chief summoned
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 28
The President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Rural), Patiala, Mr Kashmir Singh Mavi, was today summoned by Election Observer Sunaina Tomar for an inquiry being held against the SP.

Mr Mavi had filed a complaint with the Election Commission against the conduct of Mr Gurnam Singh Mehra, Superintendent of Police, Commandant, Commando Training Centre, Bahadurgarh, alleging that he had organised a conference at his official residence and canvassed for Ms Preneet Kaur, Congress nominee from the Patiala constituency.


Bicycle rally in favour of Mann
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 28
Mr Jeet Singh Alloarkh, district president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), today flagged off a bicycle rally in Badrukhan village, near here, to campaign in favour of Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the SAD (A) and candidate from Sangrur in the current Lok Sabha elections.

A large number of youth workers of the SAD (A) took part in this rally which passed through various villages, including Lidran, Mastuana Sahib, Changal, Hareri, Sangrur, Thalesan, Balian, Bhindran, Ghabban, Sakrodi and Kakra, before reaching Bhawanigarh.

Among others, who participated in the bicycle rally included Mr Bikar Singh, sarpanch, Badrukhan village Mr Hardev Singh Gaggarpur, circle president, Mr Ravinder Singh Roopatherri, a youth leader, and Mr Balbir Singh Nanakpura, a leader of the party.


Ex-minister’s brother joins SAD (A)
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, April 28
Mr Kale Khan, brother of former Akali Minister Nusrat Ali Khan Bagga, joined the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) in the presence of Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President of the SAD (A), at a meeting organised at 786 Chowk here last night.

Mr Illyas Abdali, district in charge of the Muslim wing the SAD, told mediapersons today that Mr Kale Khan was not a member of the SAD. So joining the SAD (A) by him would not affect the SAD candidate, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, in any way.


Papers of General Samaj Party  nominee accepted
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 28
The returning officer here today accepted the candidature of the General Samaj Party nominee from the Patiala constituency Kartar Singh.

On the orders issued by the Election Commission, the returning officer conducted a re-scrutiny of the nomination papers of Kartar Singh, whose papers had earlier been rejected on the grounds of infirmities in the elector numbers of the two of the candidate’s proposers.

The candidate produced documentary evidence to show that his proposers were bonafide voters of the constituency.

The returning officer Tejveer Singh stated that there were now 14 candidates left in the fray.


PU college teachers relieved of poll duty
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 28
Chief Secretary Jai Singh Gill is reported to have come to the rescue of non-government college teachers of Panjab University, Chandigarh, from election duties. Reliable sources said today Prof S.S. Hundal, President, Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union, had taken up the issue with the Vice-Chancellor of PU, Dr K.N. Pathak, that deputing college teachers on election duties would disrupt the ongoing annual university exams. Prof Hundal pleaded that the college teachers should be immediately relieved of election duties. Dr Pathak took up the matter with the Chief Secretary who asked the authorities to relieve the college teachers of poll duties.

It was further learnt that orders for relieving the college teachers of Panjab University colleges of election duties had reached the districts and the process of their relieving of the poll duties had already started.

Meanwhile, PCCTU general secretary V.K. Tewari urged the Chief Secretary to relieve college teachers of GNDU, Amritsar and Punjabi University, Patiala. He also asked the Vice-Chancellors of these two universities to take up the matter with the Chief Secretary in the interests of students and teachers.


Docs protest against poll duties
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, April 28
All five medical officers, and eight para-medical staff at the local Civil Hospital have been assigned poll duties in the coming elections. This is likely to disrupt the emergency services in the hospital during the elections. The staff assigned poll duties include Dr D.K. Bhukal, a medical specialist, Dr Lal Chand, a surgical specialist, Dr Hans Raj, a Paediatricians, Dr P.R. Bhadu, Dr I.M. Challana, a medical officer, pharmacists Dharm Chand, Shashi Kant, Sunil Sethi and Rajinder Watts, laboratory technicians Balbir Singh and radiographer Ashok Mohan, and ophthalmic officer Surinder Mohan. It may be mentioned that in entire Ferozepore district, only the doctors and para-medical staff of the Civil Hospital, Fazilka have been put on poll duties.

A meeting of the Para-medical and Health Employees Co-ordination Committee, Ferozepore was held under presidentship of Mr Reminder Luthra, chairman of the committee to review the matter. Mr Shashi Kant, president, Punjab State Pharmacists Association, Ferozepore, Mohinder Singh Pistol and Harikrishana Singh presidents of the multipurpose Health workers and the Radiographers Union of Ferozepore district, respectively, Mr Jai Naresh Pankaj, Mr Sachveer Singh, Mr Rajinder Passi, Mr Sham Lal, Mr Pardeep Rana, Mr Ashok Sachdeva, Mr Naresh Narang, Mr Brij Mohan and Mr Sandeep Sukhija, representatives of different blocks of Ferozepore district, participated in the meeting and criticised the government decisions to put Health Department officers and employees on poll duties.

They said the administration expected better emergency services during the elections. But by putting the entire staff of the Civil Hospital on election duties, the emergency services would be hit hard during the poll. Mr Luthra and Mr Kant said the Director Health Services, Punjab, had written a letter to the Punjab Government that employees of the Health Department should not be assigned poll duties. In view of this, no officer or para-medical staff of the department was assigned poll duty. Dr Hans Raj Malethia and Mr P.R. Bhadu, representatives of the PCMS Association, also called for remission of poll duties of medical officials concerned.

Dr D.P. Godara, Senior Medical Officer of the Civil Hospital, Fazilka, in fax to the Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore, demanded exemption of poll duties of the medical officers and para-medical officials. He has expressed apprehension that it would not be possible to maintain emergency services in the hospital during the elections without the emergency-duty staff. He has also taken up the issue with Dr J.S. Kahlon, Civil Surgeon, Ferozepore, and Mr Upjit Singh, SDM, Fazilka.


EC appoints expenditure observers
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 28
To monitor the expenditures of contestants, the Election Commission has appointed expenditure observers for Amritsar and Tarn Taran constituencies.

Mr Raminder Singh, Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Election Officer, stated in a press note issued here today that these observers would give the report of all expenditures incurred by the contestants within 30 days of announcement of election results to the Election Commission.

He said all contestants would have to get their accounts checked from these observers thrice during the election process.

For Amritsar, Mr Rakesh Gupta, IRS, has been appointed expenditure observer Mr Harpreet Singh and Ms Varinder Pannu, both ETO, will assist him. For Tarn Taran constituency, two officers have been appointed.


50 take part in poll rehearsal
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 28
Fifty persons here today participated in the election rehearsal for 78-Amloh and 79-Sirhind Assembly segments of the Ropar parliamentary constituency.

The Deputy Commissioner said strict action would be taken against the employees for dereliction of poll duties, including the registration of case under the People of Representation Act 1951.

He said the next rehearsal for 78-Amloh had been scheduled for May 4 at Indoor Stadium, Mandi Gobindgarh, and for 79-Sirhind on May 3 at ITI, Bassi Pathana.


Pollution board asked to keep check on effluent water
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 28
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission has asked the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) to keep a check on discharge of effluent water by industrial units pollutants into the open land.

Taking suo motu notice of a report - Distillery Effluents Polluting Drinking Water - published in the January 12 edition of The Tribune, the PSHRC had sought a report from the Industries and Health Departments.

The PPCB informed the commission that Jagatjit Distillery, Hamira, was found to be committing some violations, following which it was issued notice. It was also asked to carry out environment reconstruction work in the area.

However, another inquiry found that the steps taken by the company were inadequate after which it was again issued a notice. It was asked to prepare a long-term action plan for zero discharge of the spent wash.

However, not satisfied with the reply of the PPCB, the commission has asked to be informed in the next date of the hearing if the problem highlighted in newspaper report has been rectified. The matter will now come up on July 6.


BSF jawans rescue Rangers from fire
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, April 28
BSF jawans rescued some Pakistani Rangers who got trapped in a fire that had broken out in the Pakistan territory on the zero line in the Fazilka sector yesterday evening.

According to details, at a flag meeting between BSF officers and Pak Rangers, Mohammad Farid Khan, Commandant, the BSF noticed wildfire spreading in the Pakistan territory. He immediately informed the Rangers and officers present there. He also informed the fire brigade at Fazilka.

Sensing the intensity of fire, fire tenders of from Abohar and Muktsar were also requisitioned. BSF jawans, assisted by some villagers, used their water tankers, stationed along the border, to douse the fire. After about six hours the fire was brought under control.


Kar seva to desilt sarovar ends
Water treatment plant inaugurated
Our Correspondent

The four US-based Tut brothers, along with their mother, Ms Amrit Kaur, who were honoured by the SGPC at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on Wednesday.
The four US-based Tut brothers, along with their mother, Ms Amrit Kaur, who were honoured by the SGPC at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on Wednesday. — Photo by Rajiv Sharma

Amritsar, April 28
The kar seva for desilting the Golden Temple sarovar concluded today with the inauguration of a water treatment plant. The kar seva was launched amid much fanfare on March 25.

The plant was inaugurated by Baba Jagtar Singh Tarn Taran Wale, Baba Sewa Singh Khadoor Sahib Wale, Baba Daya Singh Sur Singh Wale, representatives of Baba Harbans Singh Delhi and acting president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), Mr Alwinderpal Singh Pakhoke. Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, honorary secretary, SGPC, was also present on the occasion.

The US-based Tut brothers, a family of farmers and transporters from Punjab, bore the entire cost amounting to Rs 5 crore of installing the plant.

The fourth kar seva received overwhelming public response, with more than two lakh persons participating in it on the opening day. The kar seva was inaugurated by former SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra. The Chairman, Bank of Punjab, donated gold five spades and silver bowls for launching the kar seva.

Earlier, an akhand path was organised in the Manji Sahib Diwan Hall on the Golden Temple premises today. Shabad kirtan was also organised.

Mr Pakhoke honoured the Tut brothers, namely Mr Surjit Singh, Mr Amarjit Singh, Mr Pritam Singh and Mr Ranjit Singh Rana, along with their mother, Ms Amrit Kaur with “siropas” and a model of the Golden Temple. Mr Jatinderpal Singh Uppal, a resident of Australia, who had completed the pipe installation work of the water treatment plant, was also honoured, along with NRI engineers who participated in the kar seva.


Narcotics smuggling shoots up in district
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 28
With Sabha elections round the corner, the smuggling of narcotics and illicit distillation of liquor in the district has shot up.

The police, which has been keeping a close watch on activities of unscrupulous elements, managed to seize 4.220kg of opium in the past 60 days while only 9.400 kg was seized last year.

Similarly, the police has seized 1464 kg of poppy husk during the past 60 days from February 29, 2004, to April 28 2004’ against 13,630.950 kg seized in 2003, 670mg of smack against 855 mg seized last year and 34.750 litres of synthetic drugs against 116.700 litres seized last year.

Owing to its proximity with Rajasthan and Haryana, the district has been witnessing large-scale smuggling of narcotics and on an average a case under the NDPS Act is being registered every 36 hours. The jump in the menace of smuggling of narcotics during the elections can be judged from the fact that on an average now a case under the NDPS Act is registered after every 27 hours.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that apart from the elections, harvesting of wheat had also contributed to the increase in narcotic smuggling as most of the land owners gave poppy husk to agriculture labourers to extract more work. A major quantity of poppy husk, being smuggled to this district, was from various districts in Rajasthan, where it was legally available at vends.

The trends revealed that during the elections, the demand of poppy husk, opium and liquor shot up significantly as a majority rural and urban electorate were addicts and most of the contestants leave no stone unturned to woo them.

During the elections, most of the smugglers changed their modus operandi to evade detection by the police. A section of smugglers were supplying narcotics at the doors of addicts and used coded language.

The data supplied by Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, revealed that in the past two months the police also seized 987 intoxicating tablets. Five cars’ being used in the smuggling of narcotics, had also been impounding during this period.

Under the Excise Act, the police had arrested 65 accused after registering 64 cases during this period. Seven working stills, 465 kg lahan, more than 292 litres of illicit distilled liquor and more than 100 litres of country liquor were seized from the accused.

Mr Dev said information was being cultivated about activities of those elements, suspected to be involved in smuggling of narcotics to curb the menace.


2 undertrials held for drug smuggling
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 28
The local Central Jail authorities managed to unearth a unique mode of smuggling of intoxicant tablets into the jail by its inmates and arrested two undertrials, along with a brother of an accused, today.

The accused, Devinder alias Dolly and Devid Chopra, both lodged in the jail in a murder case, had been supplied intoxicant tablets by their “contacts” outside the jail through capsicums. They were selling these to other inmates at exorbitant prices.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, said the accused had been supplying the tablets to about 125 or 150 inmates at Rs 2.50 per tablet. The third accused, who had supplied them about intoxicant tablets like diazepam to these two inmates, was also arrested, he had been identified as Amarinder Singh, brother of Devinder Singh.

Police sources said Devinder and Devid Chopra started smuggling of intoxicants into jail to collect money to hire an advocate to get bail in the murder case. A number of cases pertaining to smuggling of narcotics into the local Central Jail by its inmates and their kin, including women, had also come to light earlier.

The jail authorities pointed out that the accused had been smuggling the intoxicant tablets by packing these in the capsicums. They were arrested when Mr Gurnam Singh chief warden and Mr Jasvir Singh, warden carried out the search of capsicums being taken into jail by these two inmates. Mr Dev said a case in this connection had been registered.


Jammu-Udhampur rail line gets green light
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, April 28
Much awaited 53-km long Jammu-Udhampur Railway line has been laid. It will be inaugurated in the middle of May, Chief Railway Safety Commissioner G.P. Garg has completed inspection of this section and gave clearance certificate yesterday. Divisional Railway Manager Dharam Singh stated this here today. He said a goods train of 40 wagons made successful trial run with two engines at a speed of 25/30 km per hour yesterday, but passenger trains will run at 75 km speed. The DRM said that a new train would be introduced between Udhampur and New Delhi and one passenger train would be introduced between Jammu and Udhampur from next month when the section is to be inaugurated.

Mr Dharam Singh said that the 25-km laying of long Udhampur-Katra Railway line would be completed by the end of 2005. Then pilgrims to Sri Vaishno Devi Shrine could travel from New Delhi to Katra by train on security arrangements after the Goraya blast the DRM said that 1200 security personnel including two battalions of the Railway Protection Security Force were deputed on the Udhampur-Jammu Railway section to patrol Railway lines. He said that though the Railways was ready to increase the speed of Shatabdi Express running between Amritsar and New Delhi, but the Research Designs and Standard Organisation, Lucknow was to clear the proposal to increase the speed from present 110 km to 120 km per hour.

The DRM added told that Railways would increase the speed of Shatabdi Express from 130 km to 150 km on the New Delhi-Agra section from next month, to another question Mr Dharam Singh said the Railways had sought 1200 more security men for security on the Pathankot-Jammu-Udhampur rail section as the Jammu-Udhampur Railway section was more sensitive section than the Pathankot-Jammu section. He said meetings between the Railway police and the Jammu police authorities were on in this regard.

The DRM said that Ferozepore Division had won trophy for best safety. He added that all Railway stations were told to use Hindi in official work.


DC refutes allegations on lowest sex ratio
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 28
Taking strong exception to the allegations levelled by certain organisations that the district had the lowest sex ratio in the country, Mr S. K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, refuted these allegations.

Addressing a seminar here, Mr Ahluwalia claimed that the district being a religious land, with God-fearing people living here, the people did not indulge in the heinous act of female foeticide, so the allegation of the lowest sex ratio did not arise. He said the district administration would introduce multi-service card for the residents of the district from June 1, which would have information regarding the members of the family. This would establish the number of male and female children in the district. The work on this project was underway and Fatehgarh Sahib would become the first district in the country for issuing such identity cards.

The seminar was organised by volunteer health organisations of Punjab. He further said other factors which attributed to such allegations were the non-registration of the girl child in rural areas. To substantiate his claim, he said when a male child was born in a family, the staff responsible for the registration mechanism visited the family on their own to register the name of a male child and get treat. However, the case was different in case of the birth of a girl child as nobody visited the family. He called upon the people to get registered the birth of girl child. He said the administration had initiated various steps to mobilise social organisations as well as the medical fraternity to educate the people about the registration of girl child also.

Addressing the seminar, internationally-renowned writer Anees Jung said women should not consider themselves weak and should come forward to fight for the cause of womanhood. She also called upon social organisations think in wider prospective for the welfare of society. She said we should introspect and find the cause of fall in the birth rate of the girl child. Appreciating the work done by various social organisations of the district, she said such organisations could play a vital role in eradicating female foeticide. She also called upon religious organisations to take initiatives and educate the people against this evil.

Mrs Charanjit Kaur Walia, Civil Surgeon, Dr Baldev Singh Sidhu, Mr Manmohan Sharma, Baljinder Kaur Sidhu, Prof Charan Singh Gill were among those who also spoke. An exhibition on female foeticide, two books written by Dr. N. S. Bawa "Save the Girl Child" in Punjabi and Hindi were also released.


3 firms selling same drug at different rates
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 28
Can any drug manufactured by a company be sold at different rates by different pharmaceutical marketing companies? The answer is “Yes”, as is clear from the facts gathered by Dr Surinder Singla, a member of the Central Working Committee of the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Sale of the same drug at different rates by different pharmaceutical marketing companies is the story of a life-saving drug Tranexamic acid, used to treat various bleeding disorders ranging from tooth extraction to cardiac surgeries.

The retail price of an intravenous injection “Tranexamic Acid B.P. 500 mg” has been printed on the label as Rs 70 per ampoule by the marketing company Ozone Pharmaceuticals Ltd, New Delhi. Interestingly, another marketing company Ochoa Laboratories Pvt Ltd, New Delhi sells the same product at Rs 29 per ampoule while one more marketing company, Emcure Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Pune, has printed the retail price on the label of same product as Rs 47 per ampoule.

Thus, all these marketing companies are selling the same drug, manufactured by the same company, Windlas Biotech Limited, Dehra Dun, at different rates.

The aforesaid drug is being marketed by Ozone Pharmaceuticals Ltd under the brand name of Tranostat injection, while Emcure Pharmaceuticals and Ochoa Laboratories are marketing the drug under the brand names of Pause injection and TX-500 injection, respectively.

Dr Singla said he had brought the matter to the notice of Ozone and Emcure companies. He said Ozone company had justified the rate of Rs 70 per injection, stating that “pricing strategy differs from company to company”.

Dr Singla urged the Union Government to order a probe into the case. He asked the government to enact a law to check the price and quality of drugs and save the patients from being fleeced by drug companies, that they could get medicines at reasonable rates.


Tubewell borehole drilled without approval
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 28
Work of drilling for a tubewell in grain market Dhab Wasti Ram area without tenders has created a controversy. Tenders for this work and 132 other works worth Rs six crore by the operation and maintenance (O&M) cell of the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board were cancelled on February 16, 20 and 23 by Municipal Commissioner K.S. Kang.

Following the cancellation of the tenders, the Commissioner had also written to the Local Government about the involvement of Councillor Rajinder Bhalla.

The model code of conduct came into force on February 29 so tenders could be re-allotted. Mr Kang said yesterday he would get the matter investigated.

No one in the department was prepared to acknowledge the presence of the ‘bore’ that was under the corporation’s tender worth Rs 7.50 lakh. A visit of area confirmed the ‘bore’ in the area.

According to information 133 tenders worth Rs six crore were allegedly allotted to relatives of a Councillor who was also chairman of the Water Supply and Sewerage Works of the corporation and who had ‘illegally’ signed and issued the tenders.

The commissioner in his observation to the Director, Local Bodies on March 4, stated that the said Councillor had violated rules. The corporation lost lakhs due to advertisements in regional and national dailies inviting tenders.


PSEB staff protest against privatisation
Our Correspondent

Barnala, April 28
Activists of the local Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Technical Services Union (urban and rural) staged a protest flag march at Sanghera yesterday to make power board employees and others aware of “adverse effects of the implementation of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) policies.” The march was organised in response to a call given by the Punjab Technical Services Union.

After the march Mr Malkiat Singh and Mr Gurjant Singh, president and secretary, respectively, of the PSEB Technical Services of the Barnala urban division, addressing the audience, regretted that the Capt Amarinder Singh-led Punjab Government was bent upon selling the PSEB at a throwaway price on the instance of the Union Government under WTO policies.

He said the Union Government’ s decision to abolish power boards in India by passing the Electricity Bill, 2003, would have an adverse effect on people all over the country. He said on the one hand new power connections were being offered and work load consequently increasing and on the other, after abolishing posts, power boards were being converted into corporations.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Manjit Singh Dhaner, president, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta), Sangrur district, and Mr Narain Dutt, a Punjab Technical Services Union leader, warned that privatisation of power boards would not be allowed.


4 hurt as car, scooter collide near Kharar
Our Correspondent

Kharar, April 28
Four persons were injured when a car and a scooter collided near Mundi Kharar today.

The car, which was going towards Chandigarh, went out of control after the collision and hit a bus. It was badly damaged.

The injured persons were identified as Sohan Singh, driver of the scooter, Bittu Khan, who were riding pillion, both residents of Bhagomajra village, car driver Bhupinder Singh and Nirmala Devi, another person travelling in the car. The victims in the car belonged to Chandigarh.

The injured were taken to the Kharar Civil Hospital from where they were referred to Chandigarh’s Government Medical College Hospital in Sector 32.


Three injured as trucks collide
Our Correspondent

Kharar, April 28
Three persons were injured when two trucks collided head-on on the Kharar-Kurali road today. The injured persons were brought to the Civil Hospital here from where they were referred to the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, Chandigarh.

It is learnt that the accident took place when one of the trucks tried to overtake a vehicle and collided head-on with the truck coming from the opposite side.


10 hurt in road mishap

Abohar, April 28
Ten persons, including six women and two children, were injured when an Indica car reportedly hit a jeep on the Seeto Road bypass near here on Monday. Those injured, included Swaran Kaur, Mandeep Kaur, Kuldeep Kaur, Amarjit Kaur, Rajinder Kaur and Pritam Kaur. They told the police in the emergency ward of the Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital here that they were going to mourn the death of a relative at Kabul Shah Khubban village. Their jeep overturned when a car hit it. The police has registered a case against the driver of the car. — OC


Substandard FCI rice: probe ordered

Bareta (Mansa), April 27
Mr R.K. Chaudhary, Deputy Commissioner, has ordered a probe into allegations pertaining to the acceptance of substandard rice from mill owners by officials of the FCI. — TNS


Undertrial dies at Civil Hospital
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 28
Baljit Singh (30), an inmate of the local Central Jail, died late last night at the Civil Hospital, where he was admitted yesterday morning after he fell seriously ill.

Official sources said Baljit Singh, who was lodged in the jail on April 9, 2004, was a drug addict and had been undergoing treatment for various ailments in the jail hospital.

Yesterday, when his condition deteriorated, he was taken to the Civil Hospital, where he died.


High Court
Notice issued
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 28
Taking up a petition filed by Kuldip Singh and some other Junior Engineers (JE) of the Irrigation Department, Punjab, seeking directions to the government to give them benefits in lieu of services rendered by them on work-charge basis, the High Court issued notice of motion for July 20.

In their petition, the JEs have claimed that despite standing instructions as well as judicial pronouncements, the department has not granted benefits to them in lieu of the services rendered without break in the work-charge period.

After hearing counsel for the petitioners, a Division Bench comprising Mr Justice H.S. Bedi and Mr Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel issued notice of motion to the Secretary, Irrigation Department, and others for July 20.


Breach in sub-canal hits cotton sowing
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 28
A breach in the Malookpura sub-canal today affected cotton sowing in 35 villages of the subdivision. Hundreds of acres were flooded due to the 65-ft-wide breach. Fortunately, farmers had already taken harvested wheat crop to the purchasing centres. Only a 10-acre cultivation of “narma” cotton was damaged. More than 60 labourers were deployed by officials of the Irrigation Department and 1,500 bags of sand used to plug the breach by this evening.

Mr Vinod Chaudhry, SE, rushed here from Ferozepore to conduct an inquiry as junior engineers alleged that some farmers had made mischief to avail of excess water for irrigation by illegally widening water outlets in the sub-canal. The farmers, however, blamed the Irrigation Department for poor maintenance.

Sources said this was the second breach at the same spot during the past three years. Affected farmers would be compensated by providing additional irrigation facility on Wednesday and Thursday next week.


Sainik Welfare Board official suspended

Faridkot, April 28
The Punjab Government has suspended Mr Dalit Singh Brar, Deputy Director, Sainik Welfare Board, Mansa, for allegedly committing irregularities during his posting here. Some of them include mismanagement and misuse of PRD and PTA funds, fabrication of documents in connection with the issuing of contract to stenography and computer instructor, unauthorised purchase of furniture for the District Sainik Welfare Board at Muktsar, non-entry of visitors in the local office entry book, wilful absence from duty for 16 days in April, last year, and payment of private telephone bills from the office account.

He has been attached with the Deputy Director, District Sainik Board, at Gurdaspur till further orders. According to official sources, the state government, after receiving various complaints against him, had transferred him from Faridkot to Mansa on April 22, last year and later issued a chargesheet to him on October 29 and demanded a reply at the earliest.

However, after failing to give a satisfactory reply, Mr Brar was placed under suspension on April 16 and a copy of his suspension order sent to district board three days ago. It is further learnt that a court of inquiry had also been ordered against him. — OC


Surprise raid on circus

Moga, April 28
Mr Sandeep Kumar Jain, an executive member of the Animal Welfare Board, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, today conducted a surprise raid at a show of Raj Kamal Circus here and found various irregularities and violations under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act and the Performing Animal Registration Rules.

Mr Jain, while talking to mediapersons, said circus did not have a veterinary doctor on its permanent payrole. The circus management did not have any vaccination record of animals, he said, adding that it was surprising that the management had not taken fitness certificates for them.

Moreover, the management had not even provided report required as per Section 12 of the Performing Animal Registration Rules, 2001, regarding health of the animals to the Animal Welfare Board which was mandatory.

Mr Jain also alleged that birds had been kept in small enclosure and wings of a rare parrot specie were found to be clipped. Drinking water facilities were also inadequate and cleanliness not up to the mark, he said.

He expressed concern over the cruel treatment meted out to the circus animals during performance. He said he had received complaints, following which he had conducted a surprise raid on the circus today. — PTI


Ban imposed on sale of uncovered eatables
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 28
The district administration has directed the health authorities to impose a ban on the sale of uncovered eatables to prevent the spread of any epidemic in the district.

In an order issued by Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh, a ban has been imposed on the sale of uncovered eatables, ice and water besides bakery products being sold in the open. The orders have been issued to medical officers, food inspectors, health supervisors, block health officers, hospitals and dispensaries, municipal councils and the magistrates.


Vini Mahajan goes to Centre

Chandigarh, April 28
The services of Punjab’s Director-cum-Secretary, Directorate of Disinvestment, Ms Vini Mahajan, have been placed at the disposal of the Government of India for appointment as Director of Economic Affairs at New Delhi. — TNS


Fake currency racket unearthed
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 28
The district police claimed to have unearthed a racket of fake currency with the arrest of one Dr Arjan Singh, the kingpin of the racket, along with his two partners, who used to sell fake currency notes by bringing these from other states. The main accused, who supplied the fake currency in the entire state, is at large. The police has recovered fake currency notes worth Rs 66,000 from them.

Addressing a press conference, Mr Shiv Kumar, SSP, said the police got information that a gang selling fake currency notes was active in the district. On a tip-off, the police sent a decoy customer to one Jeet Singh, a resident of Jalota village in Hoshiarpur district. As soon as he delivered the fake currency, he was arrested. He said that during interrogation, he revealed the modus operandi of the gang, and on his interrogation another accused, Vinod Kumar, alias Kaka, was arrested.

The SSP said that Vinod Kumar further revealed the name of the kingpin, Dr Arjun Singh, who was arrested from Loharmajra Chowk in the district. During interrogation, Dr Arjun Singh revealed that they used to get the fake currency notes from one Gurdev Singh, a resident of Gilzian in the Tanda police Station. The police has conducted raids to nab Gurdev Singh but he is still at large. A case has been registered.


Fake currency seized, four held

Tarn Taran, April 28
The Valtoha police today claimed to have busted a gang involved in supplying fake currency with the arrest of its four members. The police also seized four fake currency notes of Rs 500 denomination. A case has been registered.

The gang members have been identified as Mukhtiar Singh of Mari-nau-abad, Didar Singh of Rajoke, Sukhchain Singh of Basarke and Gurbax Singh of Adda Amarkot. — OC


Minor Dalit girl raped
Tribune News Service

Chowk Mehta, April 28
The rape of a minor Dalit girl (14) by two youths yesterday, one of them a close relative of the Shiromani Akali Dal’s circle president, took a political turn when senior leaders of the Congress and representatives of many social organisations today decided to show "black flags" to the SAD-BJP candidate during electioneering.

Mr R.P.S. Bajwa, Senior Superintendent of Police, Majitha, said today the alleged accused, Sukhwinder Singh and Manjit Singh, had been arrested under Sections 376, 506, 342, 323 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code on the basis of the FIR lodged by the victim.

Mr Jasbir Singh Dimpa, a Congress MLA from Beas, alleged that the victim, a resident of Maluk Singh village was working as a maid in a teacher's house. While returning to her house, she was allegedly kidnapped and then raped by the accused.


Ayurvedic college struggles for existence
Monica Ahluwalia

Patiala, April 28
The local Government Ayurvedic College, affiliated to Baba Farid University, Faridkot, the only state-owned ayurvedic college in Punjab, is struggling for existence. As many as 35 out 61 sanctioned teaching posts have been lying vacant for the past 20 years.

The sources said despite several requests, the state government had not taken any concrete steps to fill these posts. As a result, the college was not offering any post-graduation course to its students. Adding to the tale of woes, the Governing Service Rules of the college had allegedly not been revised since 1963. Moreover, these rules were contradictory to the instructions issued by the Central Council of Indian Medicine and the university.

Pleading anonymity, a teacher of the college, said the faculty members had filed a case in this regard under a public interest litigation but the state government had refused to revise the rules saying no amendments were needed. He further said due to contradictory governing rules, almost all teachers had cases pending in various courts. He demanded that the state government should constitute a committee which could resolve these cases through negotiations so that the teachers could concrete on research and teaching.

The sources further said the Central Council of Indian Medicine also recommended pay scale for ayurvedic teachers as per the UGC pay pattern in arts colleges. The employees were still to get the new scale which was to be implemented from 1996.

Besides, the students and teachers of the college have been demanding a separate directorate for ayurvedic colleges wherein they could put forward their demands.

Meanwhile, the teachers alleged that the Punjab Government was violating norms.


College announces scholarships in Tohra’s name
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 28
Mata Gujri College, Fatehgarh Sahib organised the bhog of Akhand Path in the memory of late Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra. Dr Gurmohan Singh Walia, Principal of the college, while paying a tribute to him, lauded the contributions made by the Jathedar in the field of education and more particularly in the development of Mata Gujri College here.

Dr Walia said Jathedar Tohra was a great visionary. It was because of his untiring efforts that Fatehgarh Sahib had become an excellent educational centre. He said it would have been impossible for Mata Gujri College to attain the present heights in the field of education without his unstinted support.

He announced that the college would start 10 scholarships for intelligent students in his name. A separate Sikh studies section in the library would be established in his name.

He further said the college would celebrate the birthday of Tohra on September 24 every year by holding religious functions, seminars and symposiums etc. Prof Gurparkash Singh Sandhu narrated the life history of Jathedar Tohra. Mr Ranjit Singh Libra, honorary secretary of the college management, also spoke.


3 job-oriented courses for Mata Gujri College
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 28
Mata Gujri College, Fatehgarh Sahib, has been sanctioned three career-oriented courses by the University Grants Commission (UGC) from the academic session 2004-05 under the scheme of vocationalisation of education.

Dr Gurmohan Singh Walia, Principal of the college, said these courses included mass communication, food science and quality control and seed technology. He said the courses would be started at the first degree level for which the syllabus would be framed by Punjabi University, Patiala. The courses would be in addition to the traditional B.Sc. course and a student attending the course for one year would be awarded a certificate, for two years a diploma and for three years an advance diploma. The job oriented-courses would benefit students in getting jobs and make them market relevant. He also said the college had excellent infrastructure facilities, including state of art science laboratories, fully equipped computer labs and well stocked library.

Dr Walia stated that the UGC had sanctioned Rs 7 lakh as one-time grant for starting the job-oriented courses at the first degree level. He said college had been making untiring efforts to make the education market relevant and up to date. He said the college also intended to start M.Com. from the coming academic session.


District scouts honoured
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 28
Seven scouts of the local Mata Sundri Public School have brought laurels not only to the district but also to the country by giving an excellent performance during the 13th International Scouts Jamboree being held at Islamabad from April 16 to 23 organised by the Pakistan Boy Scouts Association.

Mr S. K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner gave a warm reception to the scouts and honoured them at a function today. Due to the excellent their performance their performance was specially covered by Pakistan daily Dawn. About 500 scouts from Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Sri Lanka and Blauchistan took part. The theme of the jamboree was "World peace through scouting".

Addressing the function Mr S. K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner said it was a privilege for the school and the district that the Indian delegation consisting of 121 scouts, there were only 16 scouts from Punjab and out of these seven belonged to this school. He appreciated the efforts of Mr Nirmal Singh Ghuman, director of the school and the staff. He announced that the district administration would honour the director as well the scouts. He stressed that the scout movement should be introduced in every school.

Talking to the Tribune, Mr Gagandeep Singh, a student of Class VIII, leader of the group, said they were impressed by the hospitality of the Pakistanis. He said special food was prepared for the Indian delegation and the team was provided good accommodation.

He said whereas the scouts of other countries were allowed to visit bazaars freely, the Indian team was not allowed to do so due to security reasons. He said their cultural activities like bhangra, skit and choreography were highly appreciated. He said their photos and news items were published daily in newspapers. He said even the Federal Minister for Education of Pakistan Madam Zobaida Jalal appreciated the performance given by Punjabi scouts.


Award for GND varsity lecturer
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 28
Dr Hardeep Singh Gujral, senior lecturer, Department of Food Science and Technology Guru Nanak Dev University, has been selected for an award this year by the Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi.

A university press release issued here today said this award had been conferred upon him for his outstanding research work on “utilization of cereals for improved baked, extruded and traditional products”. The award carries a bronze medal, a cash prize of Rs 25,000 and a research grant of Rs 5 lakh. It will be presented to him in Chennai, in December, 2004.


GND University vacation schedule
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 28
The authorities of Guru Nanak Dev University here today announced the vacation schedule to be observed by the colleges affiliated to the university during the 2004-2005 session.

Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar said the summer vacation would be observed from May 3 to June 30, 2004, while colleges would remain closed from October 4 to 9, 2004 on account of autumn break. The winter holidays would be observed from December 24 till January 5 next year.

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