P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Sushma has a dig at Sonia
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 4
Lashing out at Sonia Gandhi’s repeated declarations of being an Indian at heart, the Union Health Minister, Ms Sushma Swaraj, said the Congress President had only one home and that too in Italy, as declared by her to the Election Commission at the time of filing her nomination. The Union Minister said this was not her allegation but had been admitted by Sonia Gandhi and “home is where heart is”. So it was clear where Sonia’s heart was, she said.

Ms Sushma Swaraj was speaking at a public rally in favour of Mr Navjot Sidhu, BJP candidate from Amritsar parliamentary seat, near the historic Hathi Gate.

As a daughter-in-law of Indira Gandhi we will shower love, as Rajeev’s wife we give her respect but based on such claims, she desires to become Prime Minister which we will not accept, she said.

Ms Swaraj announced that as they celebrate spirit of democracy, whose pre-requisite was accountability, the NDA was presenting its balancesheet to electorate and was proud of its achievements.

She said in 1999 parliamentary elections, the key issue was stability as the nation had been shaken by fall of one government after another in preceding four years. Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee proved his detractors wrong with the NDA coalition lasting for full term.

Counting achievements of the Vajpayee government, she said ‘PM’s Rural Roads Plan’ had provided nationwide road network.

Similarly ‘Golden Quadrilateral Project’ increased four-laned roads from 536 km in 1999 to 14,846 kilometre and telephone users doubled in five years.

She wondered why Ms Gandhi and her party were unable to appreciate the achievements of the Vajpayee government.

Hailing Mr Navjot Sidhu, she said the BJP has put up a clean and young face. “In cricket terms one who could bowl, bat and field for the NDA.” She predicted 200 seats for BJP and less than 100 for the Congress.

HOSHIARPUR: Ms Sushma Swaraj, while addressing a press conference here, said after touring 15 states she was confident that the NDA government headed by the BJP would certainly get comfortable majority in Parliament and would from the government after Lok Sabha election.

Referring to the results of exit polls conducted by various TV channels, she said there was a great variation among their results. After the first phase of polling one of the channel predicted 75 seats for NDA constituents where as another channel declared 93 seats for it.

Similarly variations were also visible in the results of exit polls of second phase of polling. However, the results of exit polls had geared up BJP workers who were inactive during first and second phases of polling.

Referring to the construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya, she said this issue had now been added in the election manifesto of the NDA. It would be resolved through judicial process or complete understanding between the Hindus and Muslims.

Later, Ms Sushma Swaraj addressed an elector meeting of Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, BJP candidate from Hoshiarpur, and appealed the people to vote for Mr Khanna for strengthening the hands of Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee.


BJP roadshow to neutralise Sonia’s rally
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 4
With a view to neutralising the effect of the AICC President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s election rally here yesterday, the SAD-BJP activists organised a big roadshow here today in support of Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, SAD-BJP-BKU candidate for the Phillaur Lok Sabha seat. It started from Mr Atwal’s election office in Singla market and passed through Cinema road, Katehra chowk, Sarafan bazaar, Bansawala bazaar, Gandhi chowk and Lohamandi. SAD’s national Adviser Jarnail Singh Wahid, state vice-president of BJYM Arun Khosla, Youth Akali Dal general secretaries Gurjit Khalsa, Surinderpal Singh Palahi, Avtar Singh Bhungrani, former market committee chairman Sarwan Singh Kular, BJP councillors Bira Ram Valjot, Rakesh Duggal, Arun Khosla, Akali councillor Iqbal Singh Kundi were among senior Akali and BJP leaders who took part in the roadshow.

These leaders the dubbed the Congress rally addressed by Mrs Sonia Gandhi as a flop show. Even though official machinery was misused with impunity, yet the rally was a fiasco, alleged Mr Jarnail Singh Wahid, SAD national adviser and Mr Arun Khosla state vice-president, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha.


Cong, SAD (A) receive setback in Doaba
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 4
The Congress and the SAD (A) today received a major setback in Doaba region with a senior leader each of the two parties joining the SAD (Badal) along with their supporters.

Mr Paramjit Singh Johal, national general secretary of the SAD (A), and 21 of his supporters joined the SAD (Badal) in the presence of SAD Chief Parkash Singh Badal, and senior Akali leaders Kuldip Singh Wadala, Charanjit Singh Atwal and Gurdip Singh Bhullar.

Meanwhile Mr Sarwan Singh Cheema, a secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, joined the SAD in presence of former Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral, and Mr Balbir Singh, a former MP, and announced his support to SAD candidate Naresh Gujral.

Mr Johl said though the SAD (A) waged a struggle on the basis of political and religious issues, but the people of Punjab had never recognised it as a political force. But the SAD (B) has emerged as a major political force for its effective handling of different issues. Mr Badal said Mr Johl’s entry into the SAD would lead to a big political benefit for the party in the Doaba region.

Apart from Mr Johal, other office-bearers of the SAD (A) who joined the SAD (B) included Balbir Singh Lidhar, Amandip Singh Udhowal, Balwant Singh Dhariwal, Harvinder Singh Natta, Jaswant Singh Johal, Balbir Singh, Tara Singh Natta, Lakhwinder Singh Mithra, Baldev Singh Sheikhan, Amrik Singh Pandori, Parmjit Singh Angakiri, Jagdish Singh, Gurmukh Singh, Parmjit Singh Umarpur, Makhan Singh, Baljit Singh, Kuldip Singh Dhariwal, Jaskaran Singh Sheikha, Hardip Singh and Satwinder Singh Johal.


2 SAD men join Cong
Our Correspondent

Kharar, May 4
The BJP and the SAD use religion as a tool to take political advantage. This was stated by Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, Congress candidate for the Ropar Lok Sabha seat, while addressing a public rally here late last evening. The rally had been organised by Mrs Lakhwinder Kaur Garcha, OSD to the Punjab Chief Minister.

Mr Dullo said it was necessary to bring the Congress to power in order to get rid of these parties. He said villages in Punjab would be getting 24-hour power supply from June 30. The government was getting public toilets constructed at villages for Dalits, he added.


Bollywood stars campaign for Congress
Our Correspondent

Batala/Amritsar, May 4
The Congress today inducted two superstars of yesteryear to provide much-needed momentum to its poll campaign.

Former Miss Asia Zeenat Aman, spearheading the campaign, said Mr R. L. Bhatia, a former Union Minister, had the experience and calibre for his seventh innings in the Lok Sabha.

Ms Aman claims that Mr Bhatia’s credentials had already made him a winning candidate. She said he had converted Amritsar into an international city by upgrading the airport and providing world-class IT eduction by giving funds to various schools and colleges for computerisation.

Talking to newsmen, she said she had joined the Congress because of its secular ideology.

Also campaigning for the party, Bollywood villain Shakti Kapoor said stars with clean image were giving a tough time to politicians tainted with their misdeeds. He said actors like Sunil Dutt had brought a fresh and clean image to the political spectrum of the country.

Mr Kapoor lashed out against the economic policy of the NDA government, which he said, was responsible for ruining the small-scale industry in border districts of Punjab. He said the NDA only favoured the big corporate houses and MNCs and ignored the small-scale industries, which were providing employment to people.

Addressing the rally, Mr Bhatia said a lot of hype had been created by the NDA government about the improvement in relations with Pakistan and added that the ground reality was quite the opposite. Elaborating his stand on Pakistan, the former minister said while India had offered most favoured nation status to Pakistan long time back but it had not yet reciprocated the gesture, which was a matter of serious concern.

Mr Bhatia wondered why the NDA government was not being able to persuade Pakistan to allow India to use its territory for sending goods to Afghanistan. He said Pakistan was even blocking the humanitarian aid sent by road.

He asked the government to explain why hundreds of Indian prisoners of war continued to languish in their jails since 1965.


Shift Moga SSP, directs EC
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
In less than a week before the Lok Sabha polls, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has directed the shifting of Moga’s Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Mukhwinder Singh Chhina with immediate effect.

He was accused by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) members of attending a political meeting organised at the residence of Punjab’s former Chief Minister Harcharan Singh Brar.

Though the authorities were silent over the issue of his transfer, sources in the Punjab Home Department asserted that the orders were received by the authorities this afternoon.

The sources added that ECI’s communique was being forwarded to the office of Punjab’s Director-General of Police for necessary action. Formal orders regarding the station he was being transferred to would be issued within a day or so, the sources claimed.

Punjab’s Additional Director-General of Police Shashi Kant — in charge of the election cell set up by the Punjab Police — was not available for comments despite repeated attempts.

The officer, when contacted, denied the allegations of attending any meeting at the residence of the former CM. He described the complaint as politically motivated.

In their complaint dated April 19 alleging violation of model code of conduct, SAD members had earlier claimed that many senior police officers, including the SSP, were “openly helping the Congress party in the election campaign”.

Quoting a newspaper report, SAD Secretary Dr Daljit Singh Cheema had added that Chhina had attended a meeting at former Chief Minister Brar’s residence. His daughter-in-law was the Congress candidate from Faridkot parliamentary constituency.

Giving details of the meeting, Dr Cheema had added that Punjab’s Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, was also present at the function. He added that the car in which the SSP was travelling had stickers in support of Congress candidate Karan Brar. “How can one expect free and fair elections in these circumstances?” Dr Cheema had questioned.

In the same complaint, Dr Cheema had added that Faridkot’s SSP Kulshinder Singh was also helping Ms Brar. The SSP, he had claimed, was closely related to CPM leader Harkishen Singh Surjeet. As the CPM and the Congress were allies in the elections, the officer was supporting the Congress.


Amarinder seeks votes for Preneet
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, May 4
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today appealed to people to vote in favour of his wife, Ms Preneet Kaur. The Chief Minister was addressing a public rally here.

He asked the public to vote for the Congress party which would strengthen the hands of the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi.

He also warned former Chief Minister of Punjab Parkash Singh Badal and former Finance Minister Kanwaljit Singh against rigging. He cautioned them saying that they would have to face the music if they indulged in rigging.

While coming heavily on the NDA government, especially the BJP, he termed it a party of ‘businessmen and traders’, which ignored the interests of the poor and the common man.

He attacked Capt Kanwaljit Singh, the SAD candidate from the Patiala Lok Sabha seat, claiming that a debt of Rs 72,000 crore during the previous government had made the state bankrupt.

He also listed certain achievements in various fields during his rule and claimed that if the Congress came to power at the Centre, the Wagah border would be opened enabling the state to sell its wheat to Pakistan.

He also held a meeting with Ms Sheelam Sohi, a Congress leader from Banur, at Zirakpur.

Earlier, Mr Venod Sharma, a former union minister, while addressing the rally, appealed to the public to vote for the Congress candidate.


Bhattal’s loyalist told to campaign for Preneet
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, May 4
The All-India Congress Committee’s election observer for Punjab, Mr Lalit Jain, here today warned the local ruling Congress MLA, Mr Raj Khurana, that he would be thrown out of the party if he did not start campaigning in support of the Congress candidate for the Patiala constituency, Ms Preneet Kaur, wife of Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister.

Mr Khurana, who has serious political differences with Capt Amarinder Singh, is not campaigning for Ms Preneet Kaur. Mr Khurana today stayed away from the election rally addressed here by Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Jain and Mr Jagroop Singh Gill. Mr Khurana belongs to the Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal’s group.

Speaking at the rally organised at a short distance from the shop-cum-office of Mr Khurana, Mr Jain said he would ensure the ouster of the MLA from the party if he did not work for the Congress candidates. Before warning, he urged Mr Khurana to join the campaign. He also warned others Congress leaders, who are not working whole-heartedly for the party.

Interestingly, a few minutes earlier, Capt Amarinder Singh, had stated that he would not ask for any action against Mr Khurana. He said that factionalism in the party was not affecting the election campaign in any manner.

Meanwhile Capt Amarinder Singh said only those Ministers would be retained in the Council of Ministers who would ensure impressive win in their respective Assembly segments of the Congress candidates in Lok Sabha elections.

“In a way, Lok Sabha elections are a test of ministers”, he added. As per the new Act passed by the Parliament, Capt Amarinder Singh, is supposed to bring down the size of his council of Ministers to 18 by the first week of next month. There are about 30 ministers and parliamentary secretaries in Punjab.

When asked about “nasty” advertisements, he said he was not bothered by the content of advertisements being published against him. It was a democracy and people have the right to get advertisements published the way they like, he added. He said he had nothing to do with the advertisements being published against the Badals under the name of certain organisations.


NDA govt distorting history, says Preneet
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 4
The Congress nominee for the Patiala parliamentary constituency, Mrs Preneet Kaur, said the NDA regime was distorting history in an attempt to make people believe that the government had ushered in an era of development.

Addressing a political rally in the Shutrana Assembly segment, Mrs Preneet Kaur said the Congress was concerned over the rise in prices during the NDA regime.

Referring to the achievements of the Congress, she said the Punjab Government had released 49,860 tubewell connections while the SAD had sanctioned just 15,600 connections in its tenure.

She claimed that Dharamshalas, schools and sheds for cremation grounds had been constructed in Shutrana from her MP Local Area Development Fund.


SAD not to be part of third front: Badal
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 4
Responding to the media reports about formation of a third front by INLD, SAD and the National Conference in the post-poll scenario, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president of the SAD, today ruled out any such possibility.

Terming the reports based on speculation, Mr Badal said, “Since my party is part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the BJP is our alliance partner in the state. The question of forming the third front does not arise”.

“Though I had family relations with former J&K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and INLD chief Om Parkash Chautala, but in politics, I am with the NDA in general and the BJP in particular,” Mr Badal clarified to reporters here today.


Atwal lists NDA’s achievements
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 4
Senior Akali leaders today confronted the Congress for harping on the refrain that NDA policies had not benefited the common man in the country. Addressing an election rally here, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, SAD-BJP-BKU candidate from the Phillaur reserved Lok Sabha constituency and a former Punjab Speaker, and Jarnail Singh Wahid SAD’s national adviser asked the Congress to define what constituted a common man. Congress top brass including its president were crying themselves hoarse that the common man had not gained anything just to mislead people, they alleged.

They asked the Congress as to whether the facilities of telephone connections, gas connections, milk, ration, drinking water, housing, employment, medi care, MSP for farm produce, subsidies, roads, rail network, schools and education did not benefit the common man. Giving comparative figures to drive home the point, Mr Atwal and Mr Wahid claimed that while the NDA government made 11 km roads per day, the Congress government had done so per year. Under the Indira Aawas Yojna the Congress had provided 35 lakh houses in 12 years while the NDA government had provided 70 lakh houses in just six years, they said. 


Only NDA can give stable govt, says Nilaware
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, May 4
The All India Mahila Morcha president, Ms Kanta Nilaware, has said that the BJP-led NDA only can give a stable government at the Centre.

Talking to mediapersons here yesterday she said, Mr Vajpayee would again become the Prime Minister. She said no one in India liked that a woman of foreign origin should rule over India. 


Khalsa panchayat to back Mann
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
Accusing the BJP of making an attempt to achieve the hidden agenda of Hindutva and the Congress of duping minorities, the Shromani Khalsa Panchayat yesterday declared support for Mr Simranjit Singh Mann from Sangrur and some other candidates “who had agreed to their conditions”.

Addressing a press conference this morning, the members said they would support Mr Sarabjit Singh Khalsa from Bathinda, Mr Tarlochan Singh Toor from Tarn Taran, Mr Gurlal Singh from Faridkot and Mr Balwant Singh from Ludhiana.

They would also support Mr Surjan Singh from Ropar, Mr Mohan Singh from Amritsar, Mr Inderjeet Singh from Ferozepore, Mr Harbhajan Lakha from Phillaur and Mr Surjan Singh Aulakh from Patiala.

Convener Rajinder Singh said they were not supporting any candidate from three constituencies as no contestant had agreed to accept the terms for support to them.

The conditions, he said, were an undertaking against joining either the NDA or the Congress at the Centre, and willingness to stand against POTA and distribution of riverwater outside the state.

“The Sikhs have not forgotten the carnage in June and November, 1984. The Congress has ripped open the wounds by giving the party ticket to persons like Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler”, they added.


Paramilitary personnel hold flag marches
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 4
Paramilitary personnel have started flag marches and exercises to instil “a sense of security and confidence” among voters of this constituency, where electoral battle has started shaping into a “mini-war” of allegations and counterallegations between the SAD and the Congress.

Though no violence incident has been reported from the constituency, there is tension in the air in the city. The SAD has been apprehending large-scale “rigging of poll by the ruling party”. And that is why the SAD has been demanding deployment of paramilitary forces in the constituency.

In the constituency, Ms Preneet Kaur, wife of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, is contesting against Capt Kanwaljit Singh, a former Finance Minster and General Secretary of the SAD. The reason behind the apprehension of “rigging” is that a lot of bad blood has been created between top leaders of both the parties in the past two and a half years.

Top leaders, especially Mr Parkash Singh and Capt Amarinder Singh, have the bitterest possible relations at the moment. It has happened, perhaps, first time in the history of the state that the political fight between the main political leaders of the two principal parties have turned into personal battle.

Agreeing to the request of the SAD, the Election Commission of India has directed the authorities concerned to deploy paramilitary forces in the areas after making the proper assessment of the situation. Police sources said para-military personnel had been asked to start flag marches, area-domination exercises and patrolling of various sensitive parts before the elections. On the polling day paramilitary personnel would be deployed at highly sensitive polling booths, it is learnt.

As many as 117 polling booths have been identified as highly sensitive in the constituency except the Sunam and Lehragaga segments, which fall in the jurisdiction of the Sangrur district.

Patiala is one of the most sensitive ones keeping in view its past history. Besides, there are areas such as Dera Bassi, Shatrana, Banur and Rajpura where sensitive booths have been enlisted.


BSF takes out flag march
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 4
The BSF took out a flag march here last evening. The DSP, Mr Narender Pal Singh Waring, said today that the paramilitary forces were being deployed at important places.

Sources said the Punjab and Rajasthan police had sealed the inter-state borders to check the entry of anti-social elements in view of the polling tomorrow.

The Rajasthan police was especially concerned about members of the Green Brigade of the INLD that had allegedly been creating a law and order problem in Rajasthan in the past.

Hundreds of locals had also got them registered as voters in the adjoining districts of Rajasthan as they owned land there.

Two incidents of election-related violence were, meanwhile, reported to the police yesterday. Jasbir Singh, a former sarpanch, was arrested along with four SAD workers for allegedly trying to assault some Congress workers during an election meeting. They have been remanded in judicial custody.

The caretaker of the Congress election office at Amarpura village said in a complaint that certain SAD-BJP workers attacked his office last evening and damaged furniture and election material. No arrest has been made so far.


Gujral seeks deployment of Central forces

Kapurthala, May 4
Former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral today demanded the deployment of Central forces along with the Punjab police at sensitive polling stations in the Jalandhar parliamentary constituency from where his son Naresh Gujral is contesting on Akali ticket.

Talking to mediapersons here, he alleged that the district authorities and the police had failed to implement the model code of conduct and Akali and BJP workers were complaining about the partisan role of the police in helping the Congress candidate and intimidating voters.

He demanded the deployment of the Central forces for holding free and fair poll in the constituency.


236 booths sensitive in Muktsar district
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, May 4
Mr B.R. Banga, Deputy Commissioner, today said 236 of the 536 polling booths in the district had been declared sensitive.

Mr Banga stated in a press note that the administration had made arrangements for polling and counting for the four Assembly segments namely Muktsar, Lambi, Gidderbaha and Malout. These segments are having 5.25 lakh voters, including 2.52 lakh women. He said Muktsar was the first district of Punjab where more than 80 per cent of the voters had been provided with voter identity cards.

Mr Banga said 590 presiding officers and 1,770 polling officers had been appointed for conducting the elections. He said on the direction of the Election Commission, 247 polling parties, consisting of 1,086 employees, had been sent to Ferozepore, while 1,180 employees from Ferozepore had been deployed in Muktsar.

The counting of votes of the Muktsar Assembly segment would be held at the local DAV Senior Secondary for Girls School, for Lambi at the Government Senior Secondary School for Girls, Malout; for the Malout Assembly segment at the Malout Institute of Management and Information Technology, Malout, and for the Gidderbaha Assembly segment at the Government Senior Secondary School for Boys, Gidderbaha.


Gupta flays move to deploy BSF in Ferozepore, Patiala
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 4
Mr S.K. Gupta, Chairman, local Improvement Trust and close associate of former President Giani Zail Singh, has criticised the Election Commission (EC) for directing the Punjab police to deploy a big contingent of Border Security Force (BSF) particularly in the Ferozepore and Patiala parliamentary constituencies to ensure fair and free elections besides to check any type of rigging or booth capturing in the Lok Sabha elections in Punjab.

Describing it as vindictive attitude towards the Congress-ruled state, Mr Gupta said Punjab was one of those states which had always peaceful elections. The act of the EC had put a question mark on its credibility which was being considered as one of most truthful institution at national level, said Mr Gupta in a press statement here today.

Terming the complaints of senior SAD leaders as false, Mr Gupta said earlier these leaders used to decry the deployment of the security forces when the state was reeling under militancy and hundreds of innocent people were killed by the terrorists.

Mr Gupta charged Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the former state Chief Minister and SAD chief for the criminalisation of politics in the state.

He appealed to the President, Dr Kalam to intervene in the matter.


BSF to be deployed at 17 polling booths
Our Correspondent

Ropar, May 4
The BSF will be deployed at 17 polling booths that have been identified as super sensitive in this district. The SSP, Mr Rajiv Ahir, addressing a press conference with Deputy Commissioner Seema Jain said 25,579 police and BSF personnel had been deployed to ensure law and order. Special nakas were also being set up to check the movement of anti-social elements. Licensed arms were also being taken into custody.

Ms Jain said no major complaint had been received regarding the violation of the poll code so far. She said about 80 per cent of the electorate had been issued voter identity cards. 


Badungar to meet CEC today
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 4
A delegation headed by Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, former SGPC chief, will meet the Chief Election Commissioner at New Delhi tomorrow and seek the deployment of the paramilitary forces in Punjab, for free and fair elections.

This was stated here today by Prof Badungar. “We apprehend rigging and large-scale vandalisation and criminalisation on May 10 in Punjab,” he said.

He welcomed the commission’s directions for the deployment of the BSF on election duty at Patiala and Ferozepore. The whole state should be provided with Central Security Forces, he said.

Commenting upon the language used by the Chief Minister against Akalis like “tunn ke rakh daun” and ‘lamen pa daun”, Prof Badungar said such objectionable language was intentionally used by the Chief Minister to prod police and civil officials to pressurise the electorate to vote for the Congress. 


Caste-based campaign worries Vedanti
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 4
Perturbed after getting reports about caste-based electioneering in Tarn Taran parliamentary constituency, in gross violation of Sikh tenets, Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, has decided to reach India on May 8 by cutting short his visit to the US and Canada .

Talking to TNS from Espanola, New Mexico, Jathedar Vedanti said he was shocked to learn that former SGPC chief, Prem Singh Lalpura had made appeals to the voters of Tarn Taran Lok Sabha constituency to vote for a ‘Jat candidate’ and called for ‘ousting Lobana’ candidate by giving him crushing defeat in the elections. Jathedar Vedanti said Sikhism believed in casteless society and has no place for petty issues like casteism, regionalism and communalism. He said Sikhs believed in ‘Sarbat da bhala’ (welfare of all ).

Earlier, Mr Tarlochan Singh, Chairman, National Commission for Minorities, had spoken to Jathedar Vedanti on telephone seeking his intervention to stop this caste-based electioneering, which is unprecedented in the Sikh history.

Jathedar Vedanti has directed his private secretary, Prithipal Singh Sandhu to send one-point agenda for convening emergency meeting of the Sikh high priests on May 18 to discuss the issue .

Jathedar Vedanti has also appealed to the Sikh sangat to ignore such appeals which aimed at dividing the community on caste and regional basis. He said such appeals, especially made by a former SGPC chief, had pained common devotees.

Taking a serious note of the appeal by Mr Lalpura, SGPC secretary, Manjit Singh Calcutta said it should be widely condemned by the Sikh masses.


Reallocate poll duties: PCCTU
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 4
In a representation sent to the Chief Electoral Officer, Punjab, and the Chief Secretary, the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) today demanded reallocation of election duties of teachers as per court orders in commensuration with their seniority and pay scales.

Releasing copies of the representation to mediapersons here this evening, Dr V.K. Tewari, general secretary, PCCTU, claimed that the Punjab and Haryana High Court on May 3 directed district election officers to 
assign poll duty 
to lecturers/staff of the privately-managed recognised colleges in 
accordance with the seniority, salary and the status of the teacher concerned.


Lawyers to oppose Karan Brar
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 4
Members of the District Bar Association, here, have decided to oppose the Congress candidate, Mrs Karan Brar, in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections from the Faridkot constituency if the government failed to announce any package to restrengthen the district by May 5.

Lawyers are annoyed with Mr Harcharan Singh Brar, father-in-law of Mrs Karan Brar, who was responsible for trifurcating the district into Muktsar, Moga and Faridkot, which they said, had shattered its economy.

To express resentment in this regard, they also spearheaded a two-month long agitation in November, 1995.

Mr Brar had then decided to include about 100 villages by detaching them from Bathinda and Ferozepore districts. To accelerate the process, resolutions from different panchayats of the respective areas were also sought by the state the government.

Expressing concern over the indifferent attitude of the government, Mr Bikramjit Singh Brar, president of the association, said here yesterday that the lawyers had approached the successive government in this connection.

Even Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who visited this town on September 22, 2003, had also given an assurance that the lawyers’ demands would be met. He said a meeting had been convened on May 6 to finalise the strategy.


SJP (R) to back Cong-CPI alliance
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 4
Mr Darshan Singh Jeeda, president of the Samajwadi Janata Party (R), Punjab, today said that the state unit of the party had decided to support the Congress-CPI alliance candidates, except in Hoshiarpur, on the directions of party’s national president, Mr Chandra Shekhar.

Addressing a press conference here today, he said the party had taken this decision to defeat the SAD-BJP alliance.

He claimed that in the past more than five years, the BJP-led NDA government had done nothing except spreading communalism and bring disrepute to the country by way of various scams.

He said the party had extended support to the Congress and the CPI candidates on 12 seats in Punjab except Hoshiarpur where the party was supporting its own candidate.


CPM to back BSP
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 4
The CPM has decided to support the BSP candidates at the Amritsar and Tarn Taran Lok Sabha constituencies. Mr Rattan Singh Randhawa, secretary of the party, said it was decided after a meeting here today.


BJP favoured MNCs: CPI
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 4
The CPI today alleged that the BJP-led NDA government had sold profit-making public sector undertakings (PSUs) to big industrialists and multinational companies for vested interests.

Ms Amarjit Kaur, member of the central executive committee of the CPI, addressing meetings in favour of Ms Kushal Bhaura, said the PSUs like BALCO, which was worth Rs 5000 crore, was sold off for Rs 550 crore.


Bhattal to canvass for Khushal Bhaura
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 4
Punjab Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal will visit Beretta, Mansa, Maur and Rampura Phul tomorrow to canvass in favour of Ms Khushal Bhaura, CPI-Congress and CPM candidate contesting from Bathinda (reserve) constituency in the coming Lok Sabha elections to be held on May 10.

This was stated Mr Gurcharan Gandhi, the press secretary of the party.


Vasundhra Raje to address poll rally
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 4
Mr Om Parkash Sharma, District Press Secretary of the SAD (B), in a press note issued here said that Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Ms Vasundhra Raje Scindia, will visit Bathinda on May 6 to address an election rally in favour of Ms Paramjit Kaur Gulshan, joint candidate of SAD (B) and BJP from Bathinda reserve seat.


Election expenditure reviewed
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 4
Mr Rajat Bansal, expenditure observer for the Ropar parliamentary constituency, today reviewed the expenditure-related issues with the district election officer-cum-Deputy Commissioner. He inquired about the permission given for vehicles and loudspeakers to candidates and took into custody the video tapes of all rallies of the candidates prepared by the district election office.

He also visited certain areas of the Sirhind and Amloh Assembly constituencies in this regard. He discussed the deployment of the polling staff, their stay arrangements and law and order issues. He also visited the polling booths and counting centres.

The district election officer said approximately 2,000 polling staff is being deputed. He said the place of posting of the polling parties would be kept a secret and would be assigned the stations a day before the elections.


SFI to oppose BJP-SAD combine
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 4
The Students Federation of India (SFI) has decided to oppose the BJP-SAD alliance in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

The federation would support the nominees of secular, democratic and Left parties across the country.

State president of SFI Harmandeep Singh said the federation would not share a common stage for campaigning for the Congress nominee from the Patiala constituency, Preneet Kaur, but would vote for her as she was a candidate of a secular party.

He strongly said the federation did not share a common ideology with the congress as it was a “secular- capitalist” party. Mr Singh further informed that the student community associated with the federation would be supporting CPI nominees from the Bathinda constituency and the CPM nominee from the Hoshiarpur constituency.

The federation alleged that the Shiromani Akali Dal had alliances with the BJP only for the sake of power, as the two did not share a common ideology. They further alleged that the slogan given by the BJP-SAD alliance “India Shinning” would bring shine to only 5 to 7 per cent of the population. They further maintained that the BJP was an emotional party which had been ignoring the core issues for a long time.


Councillor to support Libra
Our Correspondent

Mohali, May 4
Mrs Daljit Kaur, a Municipal Councillor from ward No. I, has decided to support Mr Sukhdev Singh Libra, SAD candidate from the Ropar Lok Sabha seat, in the forthcoming elections.

Mrs Daljit Kaur and her husband were earlier supporters of the BSP. The announcement to support Mr Libra was made by the councillor in the presence of certain municipal councillors and SAD leaders.


Warring groups in Khalsa Diwan bury hatchet
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 4
A 21-member committee, constituted by Akal Takht today, succeeded in hammering out a solution by bringing both the warring groups of the Chief Khalsa Diwan, the oldest Sikh institution, on a single platform. Both the groups agreed in principle to bury the hatchet before Guru Granth Sahib here.

The dispute, which had harmed the institution, that runs many educational institutes and orphanages, had got murkier when the then ruling group had expelled as many as 284 members in the run up to its elections last year .

Mr Tarlochan Singh, Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, and Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, who were nominated as advisors by Akal Takht, were also present at the meeting which decided to abide by all the directives of Akal Takht in resolving the vexed problem . The members of both the warring groups vowed to rise above politics to work for the betterment of the Chief Khalsa Diwan.

Equal representation was given to both the groups in the three joint subcommittees. The first committee comprising Mr Charnjit Singh Chadha, Mr Bhag Singh Ankhi, Mr Raj Mohinder Singh Majitha, Member, Rajya Sabha, and Principal Jagdish Singh will look after the administrative and financial matters of the Chief Khalsa Diwan. This committee has been given the power of signing cheques also. The second subcommittee comprising Mr Harminder Singh, former President of the Chief Khalsa Diwan, Mr Chadha, Mr Ankhi and Mr Nirmal Singh will run the educational institutes. The third subcommittee will study the constitution of the Chief Khalsa Diwan so that it can be run in the spirit of its founders.

Talking to TNS, Mr Tarlochan Singh said the members belonging to both the groups had expressed full faith in Akal Takht and had pledged to work for the betterment of the community.

Earlier, the meeting which started after the performance of an ardas, was presided over by Mr Bhag Singh, former general manager of Punjab and Sind Bank.

The meeting unanimously thanked Jathedar, Akal Takht, for his timely intervention to save the institution which was on the brink of a split. The members also expressed their gratitude to the Chairman of the Minorities Commission for his role in resolving the matter.


Prosecution defends court jurisdiction
Badal corruption case
Our Correspondent

Ropar, May 4
The prosecution today defended the jurisdiction of the special court at Ropar to try the disproportionate assets and corruption case registered by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau against the former Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal. Led by the Supreme Court lawyer, Mr Udya Lalit, who has been appointed as the special public prosecutor in the case, the prosecution today countered the arguments of the defence on the issue.

The defence had challenged the jurisdiction of special court on three counts in the proceedings on the last date.

In the proceedings today, the prosecution maintained that under Section 4 of the Prevention of the Corruption Act special courts are formed on two grounds. For the general cases, the area in which the crime was committed was the deciding factor for the jurisdiction of the special court. But in special cases where the crime was committed in many areas, the legislature has to right to confer power on special judge to try the case.

The prosecution also maintained that there was no need for the consultation with the high court before designating power to the special court at Ropar in the present case. The consultation of the high court was needed only at the time of appointment, posting and promotions of the judges. The Additional Sessions Judge, Ropar, was appointed as special judge in consultation with high court in 1990. In the present case, the state had just conferred the power to try the Badal case on special court that already existed. The legislative had the right to confer power on the already existing special court to try any case without consulting the high court, the prosecution maintained.

Meanwhile, the counsels of Mr Badal also moved an application seeking contempt proceeding against the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, for allegedly using the case properties. In application, they demanded directions to Capt Amarinder Singh for explaining his conduct in court and refrain from issuing statements regarding the case facts in public and the Vigilance Bureau for not parting away with the case properties.

The prosecution in its arguments on the application, however, maintained that the charges levelled by the defence have not been substantiated by any proof. The state was also not responsible for political statements of the Chief Minister, they said.

On the said application, the special judge, Ropar, Mr S.K. Goel directed the prosecution to file a reply.

He also fixed May 6 as the next date of hearing in which the arguments on another contentious issue of the sanction from proper authority before prosecuting Mr Sukhbir Badal and Mr Prakash Singh Badal would be exchanged.

Mr Prakash Singh Badal and Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal were once again granted exemption from personal appearance for today’s hearing.


Hostile gestures at Indo-Pak border
Anirudh Gupta

Hussainiwala: The ongoing peace process notwithstanding, the retreat ceremony at the Indo-Pakistan joint checkpost here still portrays a picture of abhorrence and disgust as BSF jawans and the Rangers continue to exchange belligerent gestures.

Although, the BSF authorities at the sector headquarters here claim that the hostile gestures which the BSF men used to exhibit have been toned down considerably, still a visit to the joint checkpost reveals that the BSF sentinels and the Pakistani Rangers continue to exchange intimidating postures which evoke nothing but hatred for the people on both sides the of fence.

The BSF officials allege that though their jawans have by far reduced the aggression shown during the ceremonial drill, yet the Pakistani Rangers have still not reciprocated the same. BSF officials said that during the four-day conclave between the BSF and the Rangers held in Lahore last month, the Pakistani officials had agreed in principle to avoid the hostile gestures during the retreat drill, but the Rangers had not curtailed their belligerent attitude.

The BSF officials maintained that until their counterparts reciprocated, they could not avoid these threatening gestures. Moreover, the charm associated with this ceremony, which people come to witness in great numbers from far-off places, will die down in case brakes are put on these glances, averred a BSF official.

The smartly dressed BSF sentinels and Pakistani Rangers set the entire neighbourhood ablaze by the thunderous tapping of their feet during this drill. Their raised eyebrows, stretched shoulders and daring glances send a wave of chill down the spine as these jawans match every step, every motion with clock-like precision just to outsmart each other.

Not to be left behind, the crowds on both sides get virtually locked in a slogan war as emblazoned feelings of astute patriotism engulfs them all.

The BSF officials said that the jawans, who formed part of the retreat drill, were specially trained and posted here. Although, the BSF officials said that the aggressive postures displayed during the ceremony were well-rehearsed and part of the drill, the kind of hatred it evoked was there for everyone to feel and especially in the present scenario of peace and friendship when the nations had initiated a lot of confidence-building measures, this practice did not seem conducive and, thus, needed to be stopped immediately.

However, at the Wagah joint checkpost, near Amritsar, this practice of exchanging hostile gestures has been stopped.

Before the 1965 Indo-Pakistan conflict when the frontier areas were manned by the Punjab Armed Police, the sentries from both sides often played volleyball, kabbadi and cards. At times, the officials used to barge into enemy territory for fun, but now if even an animal strays into enemy territory, there is little room for compassion.

With the emergence of militancy during the 1980s, the atmosphere of hatred had set in which reached the flashpoint during the Kargil conflict and the attack on the Indian Parliament, but now when not only the two governments but also the people have started sharing peaceful overtures whether or not these hostile gestures should continue to be apart of the drill needs to be corroborated?


Bureaucrats hindering development,
says Bir Devinder
Our Correspondent

Mohali, May 4
Most of the bureaucrats in Punjab are not interested in the development of the state, which is evident from their attitude. They are not people-friendly and keep postponing decisions.

This was stated by Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha and Kharar MLA, while talking to mediapersons at a press conference here today. He said the time had come when Punjab could not afford to remain complacent and everybody should be made accountable. As such, the role of all bureaucrats who had remained in key positions needed to be examined, he added.

He said a number of NRIs wanted to invest in Punjab but they were discouraged by the attitude of bureaucrats in the state who were not taking quick decisions. “We would have to identify friendly bureaucrats who were interested in the development of the state,” he said.

Quoting an example, the Deputy Speaker said Punjabi University was running a library in Mohali, which it wanted to expand. The expenditure to be incurred was to be borne by the university and he, too, had allocated a part of the finance. Books and computers had been purchased.

He said he had written a note to the Secretary, Housing and Urban Development, Punjab, and the Chief Administrator, PUDA, to help the university by allowing a change in the use of land and in other formalities. However, the officials concerned had not even bothered to reply to his communication, he claimed. They had also not responded to a letter from the university authorities.

Similarly, no action had been taken against PUDA officials who had failed to maintain parks and green belts in the town, he said.

He said during his visit to the US he had come across a number of NRIs who wanted to invest in Mohali, but they wanted proper infrastructure and social security. He had assured that a congenial atmosphere would be provided to them in the state, he said.

Giving a specific instance, he said doctors from Punjab who had settled abroad were interested in setting up a hospital for the treatment of cancer in Mohali. They wanted the state government to provide the necessary land. The entire project would be financed by the NRI doctors, but efforts would be made to provide the land for the hospital free of cost. The doctors would be sending a project report on the hospital in about a week.

He said NRI veterinarians had also met him during his 10-day tour. They also wanted to set up a university of animal sciences near Mohali, where latest research could be carried out. Land for this project too would have to be provided by the state government.


Kala Afghana ready to appear before Takht
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
Controversial Sikh author Gurbakhsh Singh Kala Afghana today said he was ready to appear before Akal Takht, but only in the presence of Sikh ‘sangat’ (community). The writer was ex-communicated by Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti.

Addressing a press gathering this morning at the Sector 19 office of news magazine Spokesman, the Canada-based author added that the entire proceeding of his appearance and trial before the Akal Takht Jathedar should be conducted in-camera.

Kala Afghana, ex-communicated on July 10, 2003, told the reporters that the clergy had so far failed to prove that any part of his writings was objectionable in any manner.

Pleading that he had never used a single word wrongly in his books, he said the Sikh clergy was keen to finish him off without knowing his side of the story. “If any of my writing is against Sikh principles, I am ready to accept the punishment, but not before a debate with the Sikh clergy in front of the camera,” he added.

He said confidently: “If the Akal Takht Jathedar and other clergymen desire, they can summon me before the media and the Sikh community for discussions on Sikh tenets.”

The author said he had only objected to certain rituals being conducted at the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple by the clergy which just did not conform to the Sikh tenets.

It may be recalled that the writer had challenged the priests to confront him in full presence of the media earlier also. “I have asked them for right to deliberate on critical issue of authority to issue “hukamnamas”, but they never respond.”


CM promises funds for hospital
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Moonak, May 4
In violation of the model code of conduct, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today said he would get the funds sanctioned for the construction of an SDM’s office complex and a 25-bedded hospital here. He said it was a matter of concern that Moonak had been made a subdivision eight years ago but it did not have a complex for the SDM’s office.

Addressing a rally organised in favour of Ms Preneet Kaur, Congress candidate from the Patiala parliamentary constituency, he invited the president of the Moonak nagar panchayat to Chandigarh after the elections to get the funds sanctioned for the complex and the hospital.

Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, who represents the Lehragaga assembly constituency, was absent. She had campaigned for Mr Arvind Khanna, Congress candidate from the Sangrur Lok Sabha seat, at Dhanaula today. When mediapersons asked Capt Amarinder Singh about her absence, he said Mrs Bhattal had told him that she was busy with her court case so she could not attend the rally.

He gave credit to Ms Preneet Kaur, MP from Patiala, for getting a Rs 144-crore scheme approved to tame the Ghaggar. He said by the end of next year, the Ghaggar would be brought under control by constructing bundhs.


Long wait for reimbursement
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, May 4
He sits in front of you with his head bowed. Worry has etched deep furrows on his forehead which make him appear older than his 55 years. Roshan Lal Kalra who is working as a Senior Lecture Assistant in Government Mohindra College here seems all but defeated at the hands of apathetic officials who have made him run in vain from pillar to post for the last two years in order to receive the reimbursement due to him.

Mr Kalra`s 24-year-old daughter Rally had undergone kidney transplantation at PGI, Chandigarh, in June 2002. The kidney was bought from a donor in Amritsar after securing the approval of a government medical body comprising Chairman, Authorisation Committee and Principal of Medical College, Amritsar, Civil Surgeon, Amritsar and Professor and Head of the Department of Forensic Medicine, Medical College, Amritsar. None of Rally`s three family members were found fit to donate kidney by doctors in PGI as her father suffers from diabetes, her mother from rheumatic arthritis and her elder brother from high blood pressure.

Thereafter, Mr Kalra submitted a bill of Rs 1.3 lakh which he had incurred both on the operation and medicines for reimbursement to the office of Director, Public Instructions (DPI) Colleges, which sent the bill to the Health Department for verification. It was then that countless rounds of the Health Department and the office of DPI (Colleges) became a routine for Mr Kalra.

The Health Department raised an objection indicating that an affidavit regarding the relation of the patient to the donor had not been submitted.

“ When the bill that I have submitted does not include the amount paid to the donor the question of affixing such a document did not arise. I have not tried to claim any amount pertaining to the cost of the kidney. The transplantation was carried out at an authorised centre backed by the approval of an Authorisation Committee and I am being unnecessarily harassed on flimsy grounds,” Mr Kalra says, adding that “nearly a year after I had submitted the bill the office of DPI (Colleges) woke up to the fact that a certificate indicating chronic status of the patient`s disease had also not been submitted”. The certificate was duly submitted nearly a year back.

Mr Kalra adds in a slow voice, “More than half of my salary goes in procuring the monthly medicines needed by my daughter after the transplant. After buying medicines worth around Rs 7,000 every month I barely manage to make both ends meet. The reimbursement would come in very handy right now but that does not seem likely in the near future given the callous attitude of the officials handling the case”.

Meanwhile, his daughter Rally, an M.Sc in Chemistry, is slowly picking up the threads of her life. “ Now that I feel much better I am preparing for the entrance examination for a B.Ed course. The degree will enable me to take up a job and help my family financially given the fact that my father is the sole earning member of the family, at least it will help pay for my medicines,” she says.

Mr Kalra laments that it is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain the monthly expenditure on Rally`s medicines but he is determined not to pay a single paise to any official as bribe because as he puts it, “I am only asking for my due right”. The only ray of hope seems to be an assurance by DPI (Colleges) Nisha Sharad who had assured the family six months back that the reimbursement would be released soon.


Sham-e-Ghazal” organised
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 4
The District Cultural Society organised a colourful cultural programme “Sham-e-Ghazal” at the Giani Dit Singh Auditorium of BBSB Engineering College.

This programme was dedicated to the 300 year of the martyrdom of the younger Sahibjadas of Guru Gobind Singh. Mr Mohinder Pal, District Session Judge was the chief guest, while Dr Dilbagh Singh Heera, Principal, BBSB Engineering College, presided over the function. Renowned Punjabi folk singer Barkat Sidhu and his troop regaled the audience.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Mohinder Pal, appreciated the efforts of the District Cultural Society and called upon upcoming singers to preserve our rich culture. He expressed concern over the vulgarity in songs and dances in the name of westernization and pop singing. Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, who is also chairman of the society said the society had been formed to revive the cultural activities in the district. These programmes would also be organised at the village level so that the coming generations might know about their culture, tradition and to create awareness among the people about their rich heritage and culture.


Surjeet complains of uneasiness
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 4
Mr Harkishan Singh Surjeet, CPM secretary, could not address a press conference here this morning following sudden discomfort in his chest. The Civil Surgeon along with a team of doctors reached the hotel where he was staying and examined him.

Dr Yogesh Chander Markan told mediapersons that Mr Surjeet had complained of mild fever, discomfort in chest and giddiness in the morning.

He was referred to Fortis Hospital at Mohali and he left for Mohali with a cardiac team of the Civil Hospital. However, instead of going to Mohali, he went to a relative’s house at Bihala village.

Mr Gurmesh Singh, district secretary of the CPM, said his condition was stable. Mr B.I. S. Chahal, media adviser to the Chief Minister, visited the village along with a cardiologist.


Sikh warrior remembered
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, May 4
The three-day 286th birth anniversary celebrations of the Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, a Sikh warrior and founder of Kapurthala princely state, concluded at State Gurdwara last night.

Raja Shatrujit Singh, a scion of Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, presided over a function held in this regard and paid tributes. He gave Rs 10,000 to Mr R.S. Chawla for his painting on Jassa Singh Ahluwalia.


High Court
SSP summoned
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 4
The High Court on Tuesday directed Senior Superintendent of Police, Ropar, to be present in the court along with record in a case relating to death by negligence.

Taking up a petition filed by Ms. Ravinder Kaur of Mohali, whose husband was killed in an accident after being hit by a vehicle being driven by a police officer, the Bench of Mr Justice S.S. Grewal fixed July 5 as the next date of hearing.

In her petition, Ms Kaur has said that after her husband died in 1986, no investigation was conducted by the police, following which she moved the court. The court then asked the Superintendent of Police (Crime), Ropar to investigate the case.

Requesting the High Court to direct the police to submit the investigation report, she has said that even after so many years of the incident, no action has been taken.

After hearing counsel for the petitioner, Mr Justice Grewal directed the SSP, Ropar, to be present in court personally on the next date of hearing.


2,477 cases settled at Lok Adalats
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 4
Lok Adalats were held at Fatehgarh Sahib today in which 4,540 cases were put up and of these 2,477 cases were settled amicably and compensation to the beneficiaries was awarded. At the district-level Lok Adalat 3,411 cases were put up and of these 1,749 cases were settled amicably. At a Lok Adalat held at the Amloh Civil Courts 956 cases were referred to and of these 635 cases were settled and compensation awarded to beneficiaries. This was stated by Mr Mohinder Pal, District and Sessions Judge-cum-Chairman, Free Legal Aid Authority, in a press note issued here today after presiding over a meeting of the Free Legal Aid Services Authority. He further stated that on every Saturday a special Lok Adalat would be organised at the judicial complex, Fatehgarh Sahib.

He said the District Free Legal Aid Services Committee had nominated five lawyers on the panel who would provide free legal aid to litigants recommended by the committee. Mr G.S. Gill, Additional District and Sessions Judge, Mr Vijay Nangli, Additional District and Sessions Judge, Mr G.S. Dhillon, CJM, Mrs Neelam Arora, Civil Judge, Senior Division, Mr S.S. Panesar, Mr K.S. Sular, Civil Judge, junior division, also organised Lok Adalats and awarded compensation.


10 vehicles impounded
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 4
The police has booked several persons under various Sections of the Excise, NDPS and Arms Acts.

In the wake of the elections at Jalandhar and Phillaur, the police has taken some measures to check anti-social elements, the district police chief stated here today.

As many as 158 cases under the Excise Act in different police stations had been registered and 169 persons had been arrested.

Fourty four cases under the NDPS Act had been registered and 69 persons held on charges of possessing narcotics.

Ten vehicles had been impounded in connection with the violation of the model code of conduct.

As many as 17 persons were arrested under the Arms Act and country-made pistols, 28 cartridges and five knives had been seized.


Drive to check smuggling
Tribune News Service

Abohar/Lambi, May 4
The police has sealed the border of Punjab in Muktsar and Ferozepore districts in order to check smuggling of narcotics from Haryana and Rajasthan. Punjab, particularly Bathinda, Muktsar and Ferozepore districts, has witnessed an increase in the number of narcotics cases these days.

The sealing of the border was necessitated following reports that “goons” from Haryana and Rajasthan could enter Punjab and disturb law and order situation. Official sources said five special check points had been set up in the Abohar and Lambi areas.


3.83 lakh looted at gunpoint
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 4
Three unidentified persons today looted Rs 3.83 lakh at gunpoint from two employees of the Cooperative Society, Kakra village (near Bhawanigarh), about 23 km from here.

The Bhawanigarh police said Mr Ved Parkash, secretary of the society, along with another employee of the society, had been coming on a motorcycle from Kakra to Bhawanigarh to deposit the society’s cash, worth Rs 3.83 lakh, in a bank at Bhawanigarh. Three unidentified persons, who were in a car, stopped their motorcyle on the Kakra-Bhawanigarh road and looted the cash at gunpoint, and fled from the scene.

The police has registered a case.


Woman succumbs to burns
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 4
A woman, who was allegedly set afire by her husband on April 22 in the Malsian area, today succumbed to her injuries at the Civil Hospital here.

The police has conducted raids on several places to arrest Jasbir, who allegedly under the influence of liquor locked his wife Manjit Kaur in a bathroom before putting kerosene on her and setting afire, police sources said.


3 arrested for screening blue films
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 4
The police today arrested three persons, including an owner of a cyber cafe, for screening blue films.

According to the police, a police party raided the premises of “Mildstone”, a cyber cafe, in the Monika Towers complex here this afternoon and arrested three persons, who were screening blue films on computers.

The arrested persons identified as Hatish Sondhi, owner of the cafe, Rakesh Bhatia and Ajitpal Singh, both employees. A case under Section 294, IPC, has been registered.


SGPC member roughed up; three held
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 4
The Jhabal police today rounded up three persons on charges of roughing up Mr Sukhwinder Singh Jhabal, an SGPC member, who was campaigning door to door along with Akali supporters at Jhabal, about 20 km from here today.

Mr Jhabal alleged that Mr Daljit Singh, Mr Manjit Singh and Mr Balwinder Singh assaulted him when he reached their home to seek votes in favour of Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, an Akali candidate for Tarn Taran parliamentary constituency. However, Mr Jhabal and his supporters also bashed them up later on.

Mr Manjit Singh alleged that Mr Jhabal had got him sacked from police department on the charges of submitting ‘fake certificates’. However, Mr Jhabal refuted the charges.


Copying case: 3 arrested
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 4
Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, here today said that the police had arrested three persons, including one woman, who were helping a candidate to copy during her MA (Hindi) paper. The exam was conducted from 2 pm to 5 pm by Punjabi University, Patiala.

Mr Dev said that Mrs Seema Thakur, wife of Mr Rishi Raj, who was appearing for the MA examination at the local SSD Girls College, was being helped to cheat by her husband and two of his accomplices.

The SHO of city kotwali, who had a tip off about copying, said the candidate was being helped to copy and the question paper had been photocopied. The photocopies of the question paper, along guides and help books were provided to the husband of the candidate and Mr Shinedeep Singh and Ms Gurkaran Kaur.

These three were solving the question paper in the canteen of the college and were arrested red handed after the police party raided the examination centre.

The SSP said that a case had been registered against Rishi Raj, Shinedeep Singh and Gurkaran Kaur.


Man robbed of cash, jewellery
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 4
A retired officer of the Irrigation Department was robbed of a bag containing cash and ornaments worth Rs 1.80 lakh.

According to information, Mr Roop Chand Gupta of New Suraj Nagri was going to a bank in the afternoon when a man intercepted his bicycle and fled with the bag.

Mr Gupta shouted for help. His condition deteriorated and he was taken to a heart specialist. Later, the police was informed.

Mr Gupta said the bag contained Rs 1.20 lakh, a gold coin, some silver ornaments and kissan vikas patras. As the cash transaction time of the bank was over, he thought of depositing the cash and ornaments in his locker as his family was going out of station.

Residents of the locality said some persons were creating a nuisance for women and would often snatch chains and purses. Most of them did not have the registration number on their two-wheelers. During the past few months, several such incidents had taken place but nothing concrete had been done in this regard.


Punjabi varsity to start new vocational courses
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 4
Punjabi University is all set to introduce three new vocational courses in the coming academic session.

Two-year degree courses in M. Pharma (Pharmaceutical Medicine) and M. Pharma (Pharmacology) will be introduced in this session.

There will be 20 seats in each course which would filled through an entrance test.

The university is also starting a postgraduate diploma in sociology of communication and media research.

There will be 10 seats, to be filled on merit. Only students who have done masters in sociology or mass communication and journalism will be eligible for the diploma.

The university has also increased the number of seats in the Department of Psychology from 30 to 50. Along with this the university has also opened admission to MA psychology for students who have done B.Sc (medical, non-medical or home science).

The IAS and Allied Services Training Centre on the campus has introduced coaching classes for LLB and B.Ed. The Director of the Centre, Dr G.S. Bajwa, said the courses would be started from May 11. Forty students would be admitted in each coaching class and will be selected on merit.

The Director, Public Relations, Dr B.S Sandhu, said that since the demand in the job market had changed drastically, where only professionally trained students with applied knowledge were preferred, the university was trying to prepare students for the new situation.

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