P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



PM plays Pak card at wrap-up rally
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 8
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today said if the people gave the NDA a two-third majority in the Lok Sabha, he would undertake inter-linking of rivers so that the problems of drought and floods at various places in the country was solved forever.

In his brief address to a gathering in favour of the SAD-BJP candidate from Ludhiana, Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, the Prime Minister said Punjab had a special place in his heart and he had started campaigning from Patiala and was ending it today in Ludhiana.

“The borders are silent and there is peace and love among the people. We are willing to talk to our neighbhour on all issues and want that both developing nations live in peace and compliment each other in peace and development,” he said. Citing an instance, he said his government had conveyed to Pakistan that it should not have procured wheat from Australia recently when India had excess stocks right next door.

Coming down heavily on his opponents, Mr Vajpayee said they were levelling baseless allegations and thought that only they could lead the nation. “Now, they are talking of forming a third front. But which third front and what would be its agenda and priorities, and who would lead it. This is nothing but an attempt to mislead the people and stop the NDA from storming back to power.”

Expressing satisfaction over the progress of the quadrilateral highway scheme, he said the next great task awaiting the nation was doing away with the perennial problem of drought and floods. Every year, the country lost precious life and property because of these calamities and the taming of the rivers was the only way out.

He said building roads conforming to international standards was among his top priorities since the progress of any nation was synonymous with accessible and all-weather roads. More foreign as well as domestic investors would like to invest in infrastructure and in setting up more industries. In fact, roads were linked to the prosperity of any country, he stressed.

On the achievements of the NDA government, he said the five-year rule had not only silenced their critics but had also taken the country on the road to progress and greater respect in the comity of nations. He pointed out that there had been no starvation deaths, the country had ample foreign exchange reserves and had made great strides in the sphere of education. It was also a matter of pride that the percentage of families below the poverty line had fallen by 7 per cent.

He advocated that accountability was a paramount prerequisite for any democracy to function. Sadly, this aspect was lacking and he would see to it that every paisa of the exchequer was spent wisely and those misusing it were brought to book.

Earlier, former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said Mr Vajpayee had the interests of Punjab in mind and that was why he had sanctioned the setting up of the Bathinda Refinery, laying of the Ludhiana-Chandigarh rail line and opening of an international airport at Amritsar.

Mr Badal urged the Prime Minister, to do something about the rising steel prices, which had crippled the state industry.


Amarinder vows to sue Matharu
Our Correspondent

Ropar, May 8
The Congress would file a defamation suit against SAD spokesperson Gurmeet Singh Matharu for levelling baseless allegations against Congress leaders and his OSD, said the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, while talking to mediapersons here today. He was here to hold the concluding rally of the Congress in favour of the CPM candidate from Hoshiarpur, Mr Darshan Singh Mattu.

The Chief Minister vented his ire against Mr Gurmeet Singh Matharu and said, “After elections I would teach him such a lesson that nobody would dare level such baseless allegations in future.” The former president of the Youth Congress, Mr Manish Tiwari, and Mr Harchand Singh Barsat, CM’s political secretary, has already filed a defamation case against Mr Matharu, he said.

Earlier while addressing the rally, the CM accused the NDA government of protecting the interests of just the capitalists. The capitalists were funding the campaign of the BJP. The party has been ignoring the interests of the poor and labour classes. During the rule of the NDA government, the difference between rich and poor has increased and the number of regular salaried-class persons has decreased dramatically, he alleged.

Meanwhile, the infighting in the Ropar Congress came in the fore. Before the arrival of the CM, the State Minister for Grievances, Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, and the District Congress president, Mr Amarjit Singh Saini, exchanged hot words.

Soon after the supporter of Mr Saini stopped block Congress president Sawtantar Kaushal, a trusted aide of Mr Ramesh Dutt, from addressing the meeting. They were maintaining that the later has been expelled from the Congress by the district Congress president.

When Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma addressed the rally in the presence of the CM, he again announced Mr Sawtantar Kaushal as block Congress president. This evoked reaction from a section of the supporters of the district president.

Mr K.P.S. Rana, Chairman of the Punjab Pollution Control Board, Mr Darshan Singh Mattu, CPM candidate from Hoshiarpur, and Mr Balwant Singh, state secretary of the CPM, were among other leaders who addressed the rally.

HOSHIARPUR: Addressing a rally of Mr Darshan Singh Mattu at Tanda, 32 km from here today, Capt Amarinder Singh, said a secular government headed by the Congress at the Centre was the need of the hour. Highlighting achievements of his government, Capt Amarinder Singh said the government had provided various facilities to all sections of society. It had made tremendous efforts to procure wheat and paddy in time without any inconvenience to farmers at the procurement centres.

The Chief Minister said suitable land had been allotted to a US-based firm at Mohali for setting up a spare parts industry there.


I am fighting Amarinder’s dictatorship, says Kanwaljit
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, May 8
“I am not fighting elections against Ms Preneet Kaur, Congress candidate from the Patiala parliamentary constituency, but against the dictatorship of Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh in the state and to strengthen the hands of Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, for a stable government at the Centre,” this was claimed by Capt. Kanwaljit Singh, a SAD-BJP candidate from Patiala parliamentary constituency, while addressing a rally on the last day of his election campaign at Lalru village near here, today.

He alleged that during the two-and-a-half years of Congress rule in the state several youths, traders, farmers and members of the weaker sections of society had suffered in one way or the other.

He said the NDA government had fulfilled the expectations of the people and Vajpayee government deserved one more chance to lead the country in a new direction.

Earlier, scores of SAD supporters, carrying flags and banners reached Lalru. The supporters holding saffron-coloured flags reached Banur to receive their leader.

They organised a ‘Roadshow’ that started from Banur and Lalru village, the biggest village of Patiala district.

The cavalcade of vehicles which passed villages including Chhat, Zirakpur, Dera Bassi and Dappar was welcomed by supporters of the candidate.

Capt. Kanwaljit Singh also started door-to-door election campaign and visited a number of houses in the village. He was also weighed against ‘laddoos’ and coins by his supporters. The villagers also donated money as election funds for their leader on the occasion.


Sachin Pilot peps up Congress campaign
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 8
In an effort to boost its election campaign in the constituency, the Congress today brought in Sachin Pilot, son of the late Congress leader Rajesh Pilot, as its star speaker during a rally held at Devigarh, 30 km from here.

Sachin’s father had pockets of influence in this Gujjar-dominated area and Congress candidate Preneet Kaur’s poll managers did well to bring in the prodigal son to woo the voters ahead of the general election.

Interestingly, Ms Preneet Kaur, in whose support Sachin Pilot came all the way from Rajasthan, absented herself. Even yesterday, at the rally held at Sanaur, which was addressed by the Chief Minister and others, she was conspicuous by her absence.

Sachin’s 15-minute extempore speech was delivered in chaste Hindi, much to the discomfiture of the rural audience.

Local middle-rung Congress leaders created a commotion when Sachin arrived at the venue. The confusion that followed ensured that there was a virtual free-for-all when the star speaker made his way up the dais.

Sachin’s took potshots at Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s health by saying that the premier had become “weak kneed” because both Mr L.K. Advani and his allies were pulling his legs in different directions.

The junior Pilot may not be well versed with the topographical details of this Lok Sabha constituency but it seemed that Ms Preneet Kaur’s campaign managers had briefed the youngster in advance about the election-time value of the Ghaggar river- on which flow the fortunes of candidates of almost all political parties in this parliamentary constituency

Sachin Pilot, who himself is a contestant from the Dausa constituency in Rajasthan, said it was “only due to the untiring efforts of Ms Preneet Kaur that the Ghaggar was tamed”. He went on to add the price tag of Rs 148 crore “as the cost of controlling floods.”

He said the NDA government had done nothing substantial, except for launching various yatras like Bharat Udhay and Parivartan yatras.

Terming himself as a “true soldier of the Congress”, Sachin Pilot suddenly turned his attention towards the Punjab Government and lauded the achievements of the Capt Amarinder Singh government. He spoke about the CM’s “war against corruption” and said the state under the SAD rule had been marganalised.

Prominent among others who spoke on the occasion were the Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh, the Chairman of the Punjab Mandi Board, Mr S.R Singla, a former Chairman of the local Improvement Trust, Mr Nirmal Bhatian, and the Political Secretary to the CM, Mr H.S Barsat.


Days of Cong govt numbered, says Jaitley
Our Correspondent

Ropar, May 8
If the NDA government is voted to power in the Centre, the Congress government in Punjab will fall under its own weight within 24 hours. The Union Law Minister, Mr Arun Jaitley, stated this while addressing a rally in Old Anaj Mandi here today in favour of the party candidate from Hoshiarpur, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna.

He said the days of the Congress government in the state were numbered as 35 Congress MLAs had already expressed non-confidence in the leadership of Capt Amarinder Singh.

The Congress Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, was working autocratically. He was using rough and abusive language against national and state leaders. The language of the Punjab Chief Minister was such that he had even surpassed Mr Laloo Prashad Yadav.

In Congress rules, fabricated cases had been made against former SAD ministers and workers. A special department had been formed to just victimise workers of opposition parties. It was a chance for the people of Punjab to give a mandate against the autocratic rule in the state. Once the mandate was given, the Congress government would fall just after the results of the Lok Sabha elections, Mr Jaitley said.

In the rally of Mr Jaitley, two former Congressmen from the district, Mr Satwant Singh Gill and Mr Amarjit Walia, joined the BJP.

Mr Avinash Jaiswal, general secretary of the state BJP, and Mr Vijay Puri, district president of the BJP, were among the other leaders present in the rally.


Special observers for counting in Punjab
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
For the first time, perhaps, in Punjab's election history the Government of India is sending at least 39 special observers to the state for counting purposes. The observers are expected to reach Punjab on May 11, a day after the polling, and stay there till the declaration of the results on May 13.

In a related development, the Punjab police has decided to deploy one extra company at Moga, Amritsar and Jalandhar. Twenty companies will now be stationed at Faridkot and Ferozepore. Eleven companies will be stationed at Patiala and five at Amritsar.

In all, 60 companies of paramilitary forces, including the Border Security Force (BSF), are being deployed for maintaining the law and order situation in the state.

Although the authorities in the office of Punjab's Chief Electoral Officer are maintaining silence over the issue of appointment of additional observers, sources at Punjab Police Headquarters here reveal that the number of observers in the state will go up to 73. About 85,946 civil employees are otherwise going to be on duty.

The development, the sources assert, is significant as, according to normal practice, additional observers are not called in just for counting purposes. “The observers deployed during the elections further monitor the counting,” they claim.

Giving details, the sources say that the special observers are being sent to the state for ensuring fairness even after the casting of votes. “The observers will simply ensure that nothing goes haywire even after the election day,” they say.

Punjab's Additional Director-General of Police Shashi Kant, in charge of the election cell set up by the Punjab police, refuses to comment on the issue. He, however, says that the police in any case is working round the clock to ensure not only a free and fair poll but also to prevent any untoward incident during the counting of votes. “Nothing will go wrong, I can assure you of this,” he asserts.

The ADGP adds, “Just to be on the safer side, all the main roads of the state have been secured by 24-hour deployment of mobile patrols. Preventive arrests of anti-social elements have also being carried out.”

Meanwhile, members of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) have welcomed the appointment of special observers in the state for counting purposes.

“We are apprehending rigging during the elections. As such, we have demanded the stationing of more observers during the elections also,” says SAD secretary Daljit Singh Cheema.


Sanjay Dutt woos Faridkot voters
Tribune News Service

Malout, May 8
The road show of Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt organised today in favour of SAD-BJP candidate for the Faridkot parliamentary constituency Sukhbir Singh Badal attracted a huge crowd and the police had a tough time in controlling the crowd and regulating the traffic.

This was, perhaps, for the first time that a Bollywood star was touring this part of the Malwa region in an open vehicle. People threw flowers and garlands on Sanjay Dutt and Mr Badal.

However, the people were disappointed as film stars Dharmendra and Hema Malini, who were also expected to join the road show, did not turn up. The crowd was carried away by the “star campaigner” and the slogan, “Mohar Takri Te Lawan Ge”. Some of supporters said, “Munna Bhai Jitawange”.

The SAD organised the road show of Bollywood star for the first time. Earlier, the party used to bank upon on the Dhadis (Ballad singers) for attracting the crowd at its election rallies.

Sanjay Dutt demanded votes for Mr Badal playing the development card. He pointed out that he had come to seek votes for his friend. Occasionally, he enthralled the crowd with his gestures and dialogues and slogans of “Bole So Nihal”.

The road show started from the Bhisiana air base of Bathinda district and passed thorough Gidderbaha, Malout, Muktsar and Kotkapura before concluding at Faridkot. Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, who continued to shake hands with the crowd along side the roads was happy at the turnout.

Meanwhile, some Congress leaders said they would urge the party contestant from Faridkot to take up the matter with the party high command as Mr Sunil Dutt, the sitting Congress MP and candidate from Maharashtra, was father of Sanjay Dutt. Interestingly, Mr Sunil Dutt had sought votes for Congress candidate from Amritsar R.L. Bhatia yesterday.


Gurdwaras used for campaign: Singla
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 8
Mr Sant Ram Singla, election in charge of Ms Preneet Kaur, Congress candidate from here, complained to the Election Observer, Mr C. Chandran, today that the SAD candidate, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, was using religious places, such as gurdwaras, for election campaign.

Mr Singla alleged that Capt Kanwaljit Singh was seeking votes in the name of religion. Apprehending that a large number of activists of the Indian National Lok Dal( INLD) may infiltrate into the Patiala constituency to intimidate Congress workers, Mr Singla said a watch should be kept in the constituency.

He stated that the chief of the INLD, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, had good rapport with the SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and both could disturb the polling process by infiltrating musclemen into the Patiala constituency.

He asked the observer to take all necessary steps to avoid any such mischief by Mr Badal and his associates.


SAD-BJP punters’ favourite
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 8
While crores of rupees are at stake in the betting market for the Lok Sabha elections in Punjab scheduled for May 10, punters are avoiding putting money on Congress candidates.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that out of 13 Lok Sabha seats, the punters were quoting Akali-BJP candidates as favourites in 10 seats.

On the remaining three seats they considered the fight was neck and neck.

“Zore da ki bhaa hai?” (What is the prevailing rate of Zora)? Mr Zora Singh Mann is the joint candidate of the SAD-BJP from Ferozepore. His price is quoted at 70 paise and he is the favourite for winning the Ferozepore seat.

This means that anybody putting money on the victory of Mr Mann will get 70 paise against the investment of Re 1. Similarly, the price on the victory of Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal is quoted at 7 paise against the investment of Re 1. Ms Preneet Kaur, Congress candidate from Patiala, is also a favourite candidate for the bookies, as they will pay only 40 paise against every rupee put on her victory.

Sources revealed that rates all of main contestants had been reduced and a large number of punters had put crores of rupees on the poll results.

Political observers pointed out that the bookies always indulged in guesswork for opening the rates of different contestants. They added that the prediction of the “Satta” market was not always right.


Notice to MLA for working against Preneet
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
A show-cause notice was issued today to Mr Raj Khurana, Congress MLA from Rajpura, for allegedly working against Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s wife Preneet Kaur, party nominee for the Patiala Lok Sabha seat.

The Chairman of the state Congress disciplinary action committee, Mr Naseeb Singh Gill, issued the notice to Mr Raj Khurana asking him to explain by May 12 his “anti-party activities and attempts to sabotage the party campaign” or face disciplinary action, a spokesman of the party said.

Mr Khurana allegedly asked people to vote against Ms Preneet Kaur. He is considered a close associate of Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who had recently spearheaded a revolt against the Chief Minister.

Mr Gill has charged Mr Khurana of not to replying to the party’s earlier communication asking him to clarify his position with regard to reports in the media wherein he was reported to have “asked people to vote against the CM’s wife”.

In the wake of Mr Khurana’s refusal to clarify his position as also other reports regularly pouring into the Congress office, “it is strongly felt that you are deliberately indulging continuously in anti-party activities and sabotaging the party campaign by your activities to defeat the candidates put in by the Party President,” the notice says.


Ex-servicemen pledge support to Congress
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 8
The Indian Exservices League (Punjab and Chandigarh) has decided to support Congress candidates from Patiala, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Ferozepore, Faridkot and Bathinda constituencies. This was stated by the president of the league, Lieut Col Chanan Singh Dhillon, here today.

Lieut-Col Dhillon said the league held membership of nearly five lakh veterans and constituted a vote bank of nearly 2.5 million. He added that the league had been fighting for their social and political rights for a long time. He further said their demands including “one rank, one pension”, removal of 33 years service condition for full pension, separate pay and pension commission for armed forces, eligibility of two pension for widows, removal of discrimination against JCO and OR for purchase of cars and other electronic goods from CSD and lateral induction of all armed force retires into paramilitary forces had not been implemented by the Central Government.

The general secretary, Mr Prabhjot Singh, added that the present government, despite its promises made in Parliament, had not cared to implement even single demand so far.

He further said if the BJP continued to head the affairs of the country it would shake secular balance in the state. He appealed veterans and their families to vote in favour of the Congress.


Candidate allegedly threatened by DSP
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 8
Independent candidate Rajinder Raikhy from Tarn Taran alleged that he was threatened on the telephone by a DSP of Baba Bakala to withdraw in favour of Congress candidate Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria. He said he had been getting telephonic threats since yesterday.

He further alleged that two days ago on a door-to-door campaigning in Tarn Taran, some unidentified persons threw stones on his supporters.

Meanwhile, Mr Manjinder Singh Kang, senior vice-president, SAD (B), alleged that a relative of the local MLA of Tarn Taran, who was a senior police officer, and another senior officer were campaigning for the Congress candidate. They were ordered to be transferred from Amritsar but given no alternate posting.

The SAD leader alleged that more than 70 police personnel of the Majitha police district were being forced to ask their family members and themselves to support the ruling party candidate. He claimed that ballot papers from serial number 00901 to 00962 were given to them on some pretext.

He also alleged that some selected persons were placed in strategic polling booths to facilitate the ruling party. He demanded that CRPF personnel should be deployed on poll duty to ensure free and fair elections.


All parties receive funds from NRIs, says Mann
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 8
On the last day of campaigning, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the Akali Dal (Amritsar), came here to address an election rally in support of Mr Bhagh Singh Surtapur, party candidate from the Ropar (Reserved) parliamentary seat. Dr Harbans Lal, MLA from Sirhind, organised a rally at Sirhind town in support of Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, Congress candidate.

Addressing the election rally in front of Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib, Mr Mann lashed out at the SAD and Congress. Reacting to an advertisement appearing in a section of Press levelling allegations of misuse of funds collected from NRIs in the name of “shaheed parivars” and shaking hand with Rajiv Gandhi, Mr Mann termed those who had got published these advertisement as “Masands”.

He said he admitted that like all other political parties he had also received funds from NRIs and from that funds he had been running the offices of his party in Delhi and various towns of the state and there was nothing wrong in it.

He said the entire record of money coming from foreign countries was with the Central Government and he had never indulged in “hawala”. He said as far as shaking of hands with Rajiv Gandhi was concerned, after the concluding of a meeting in Delhi Rajiv Gandhi came to him and shook hands. He said Rajiv Gandhi apologised for making atrocities on him as well as on Sikh Panth.

He said at that time Akal Takht Jathedar Kaunke had also objected to that and he was given religious punishment, which he accepted.

Mr Iman Singh Mann, Mr Bhagh Singh Surtapur, Mr Satnam Singh Behru, Mr Jaswinder Singh Dhillon, also addressed.

Dr Harbans Lal organised a rally in support of Mr Samsher Singh Dullo, Congress candidate, at Sirhind town. He addressed more than 24 election meetings in rural areas. He said all villages would be provided 24-hour power supply by the end of June, and 20,000 km of roads would be recarpetted.

On the occasion, the Rehri Union assured full support to Mr Dullo. Mr Hari Krishan, president DCC, Mr Pardeep Malhotra, Secretary of the PPCC, Mr R.N. Sharma, Mr Subhash Sood, Mr Mohinder Singh Mittar, Mr Gursatinder Singh Jallah, Mr Naresh Sharma, former president, MC, Sirhind, also addressed the gathering.


Awla authorised to form YC panels
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, May 8
Giving a clean chit to Punjab Youth Congress President Raminder Singh Awla, All-India Youth Congress President Randip Singh Surjewala has given Awla a free hand to reconstitute block, district, and state executive committees of the Punjab Youth Congress, to be taken up after Lok Sabha elections.

This was stated by Mr Surjewala here today, he said that ability, honesty, and performance during Lok Sabha polls would be the criteria for appointment. Awla said that Youth Congress activists would be deputed at booths for free and fair polling.

Replying to a query, Mr Surjewala claimed complete coordination between the Congress and the Youth Congress and said both organisations were working to ensure victory. He said that the Congress government at the Centre was the need of the hour for stability and prosperity of the country. He alleged that the Vajpayee-led Union Government had done nothing concrete for the development of the country but had only inspired communal forces.


Names of 500 voters not in list
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 8
There is resentment among voters names of whom have allegedly been deleted from voters lists of Hoshiarpur city.

Mr B.R. Jaswal, President of the Indira Colony Residents Welfare Society, in a press note here said today that after going through voters’ list No. 52 of Indira Colony Mohalla (47 Assembly segment), 500 names of voters were found deleted.

Only 21 names appeared in the present list out of 550 voters of the Mohalla.

All residents of this Mohalla had been voting since 1990 and all were permanent residents.

Almost all have voter identity cards but can not vote this time.

He stated it is not understood why and how so many names had been deleted from the list.


Bairagis non-committal to any party
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 8
The International Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Bairagi Adarsh Mahamandal has contested the claim of Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa, president of Bairagi Mahamandal, who had appealed to all Bairagis to vote for the Congress in Lok Sabha elections.

Mr Som Nath Rattan, national president of the Adarsh Mahamandal said, the appeal was issued without authority from the Bairagi community. It was immoral for Mr Bawa to issue an appeal without a meeting of the community. The mandal is a religio-social organization and has no political affiliations or ambitions he said.

He alleged that Mr Bawa had been misleading the Bairagis for his interests. They had seen through his game and had disassociated themselves from him and had formed an independent body of the community with its headquarters at Amritsar.

Mr Rattan said, the Bairagis had respect for Baba Banda Singh Bairagi who had renounced the world and later became a saint soldier under the influence of Sri Guru Gobind Singh. No one can compare oneself with him and should not try to take mileage from his sacrifices, for political gains. Nobody has the right to mislead and exploit the Bairagis.

He also appealed to all Bairagis that they were free to exercise their franchise, according to their preferences. It is the right time to contribute in the nation building, he appealed.


Badungar fears booth-capturing
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 8
Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, a former SGPC President and senior Akali leader, who had led a five-member party delegation to the CEC in New Delhi on May 5, yesterday told newspersons that paramilitary forces had not yet been deployed at polling booths in the Patiala, Sangrur and Faridkot constituencies from where relatives of the Punjab Chief Minister were contesting.

He said central forces, deployed following orders from the Election Commission, were patrolling roads. “We apprehend booth-capturing and misuse of official machinery on the day of polling on May 10 at the behest of the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, and adequate para-military forces should be deployed at sensitive booths”, he demanded.

He demanded more powers for the Election Commission. The commission should be free from government control, he said.


Gujjars to support Gujral
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 8
The Gujjar Association, Punjab, yesterday announced its support to the Shiromani Akali Dal candidate, Mr Naresh Gujral from Jalandhar Lok Sabha seat.

The Chairman of the association, Mr Mohammad Ahmed, and the President, Mr Kamal Deen, addressed a gathering of the community at Ashok Nagar appealed to the members of the community to vote for Mr Gujral.

Former Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral, said that his son Mr Naresh Gujral would work for the betterment of the downtrodden and priority would be given to resolve problems of the Gujjar community.


BSP candidate retires from contest
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 8
Mr Mangat Rai Bansal, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate from the Sangrur Lok Sabha seat, today announced his retirement from the contest.

He alleged that some leaders of his party had “connived” with other political parties to ensure his defeat. He said he had brought this matter, about a week ago, to the notice of the BSP high command.


5 YC block chiefs join SAD

Patiala, May 8
Congress candidate Preneet Kaur suffered a jolt when five Youth Congress (YC) block presidents joined the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). Those who joined the SAD in the presence of Capt Kanwaljit Singh were Mr Sukhwinder Singh, Mr Charandeep Singh, Mr Lakhwinder Singh, Mr Rajbir Singh and Mr Harvinder Singh. OC


Accused released on mistaken identity
Three jail officials suspended
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, May 8
In a gross negligence, jail staff released Rashpal Singh (22), a murder accused, instead of Manjit Singh (20), against whom bail warrants were received by the jail authorities yesterday evening, due to alleged mistaken identity.

The Jail Superintendent, Mr Kuldip Singh, immediately suspended three jail employees, including Assistant Superintendent of the jail Preetam Singh, chief head warden Gulbadan Singh and head warden Naseeb Singh, who were prima facie involved in the dramatic escape of the murder accused, who was facing trial for last two and a half years. He said the case of Deputy Superintendent Sardul Singh, who was responsible for releasing the prisoners on bail has been referred to the government for strict action.

Mr Kuldip Singh said jail staff came to know that Rashpal Singh has managed to hoodwink the authorities by identifying himself as Manjit Singh, who was in jail for the last two days under the Excise Act. The authorities came to know about this incident within few hours and immediately informed the police about the get away convict Rashpal Singh in place of Manjit Singh.

Mr Kuldip Singh, however, did not ruled out the conspiracy hatched by Rashpal Singh and Manjit Singh for allowing the former to flee on his bail papers.

The police has registered a case against Rashpal Singh and Manjit Singh.

Meanwhile, the DIG (jails) Mr S.K. Datta, will be visiting the jail tomorrow to probe into the escape of Rashpal Singh and review the entire system of releasing the prisoners on bail bond.


A dream come true for them
J.S. Malhotra

Jalandhar, May 8
From playing in dusty streets of Shalapur Bet village in Kapurthala in his early childhood to becoming an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) in Delhi and now securing the third rank in the civil services exams, has been a journey full of hard work for Mr Arshdeep Singh.

“I am delighted to achieve the goal, I set in my college days. I used to dream about clearing the civil services exams, when I was in the final year of Bachelor of Electronics and Electrical Communications at Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh, about five years back. Thank God! Finally, I did it,” this was the first expression of Mr Arshdeep.

While attributing the success to his grandmother, Ms Harjeet Kaur, Mr Arshdeep recalls: “She had been the main guiding force behind me as she used to encourage me to concentrate more on studies from my childhood.” Mr Arshdeep is the first to clear the exams from Sahalapur Bet village in Sultanpur Lodhi since Independence.

While his parents, Mr Amarjit Singh and Ms Surinder Kaur, were elated over their ward’s success, villagers, too, felt proud of his performance. “He quit his job with DCM Technologies, Gurgaon, to concentrate on the studies as he was committed to becoming an IAS officer.

Though Mr Arshdeep is at present undergoing training as ACP, Delhi Police, he was not fully satisfied with his performance and want to prove his worth. Now, I am proud father of an IAS son,” Mr Amarjit Singh, a farmer by profession, said.

Mr Arshdeep’s friend Shoorveer Singh Dhillon of the local Model Town secured fourth rank in his second attempt. A son of Brig Gurdial Singh (retd), Shoorveer exclaims, “Its celebration time as relatives and friends are here to join me to share the success, which I attribute to my parents. Though I failed to clear interview in my first attempt, I had come to know about my shortcomings, which I easily overcame to be a successful man this time.”

“I am happy as Mr Arshdeep and I finally succeeded in our mission,” says Shoorveer, a 27-year old engineering graduate, who left his Mumbai-based job with Siemens Limited to realise his dream to become a civil servant more than two years ago.

Brig Gurdial Singh (retd), expressing happiness over his son’s performance, said he knew that Shoorveer would join the IAS cadre as a mission to give society his best. “I hope he will work par excellence for the welfare of the people,” he added.


Woman dies of diarrhoea, 100 ill
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 8
One woman died of diarrhoea and about 100 persons were suffering from the disease after consuming contaminated water in three localities, Sukhchainpura, Himmatpura and Balmiki bastis, in Jaito in this district during the past three days. The deceased has been identified Durga Devi (75) of Sukhchainpura.

According to reports 12 persons have been admitted to the Civil Hospital and others have been getting medical aid in private clinics. However, official sources disclosed that the figure of the affected persons was 60.

Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot, accompanied by Dr Rajinder Singh, District Health Officer, and other staff of the Health Department rushed to Jaito today and reviewed the situation. Taking serious note about the lapses on the part of the Health Department, failing to give him timely information about the disease, he also directed it to constitute at least five medical teams headed by an expert to conduct a survey of the three bastis to find out any more patients, besides providing medicines at the doorsteps of the patients.

While asking Health Department officials to immediately take the sample of the drinking water being supplied in the bastis he also issued directions to Mr Mahesh Sharma, Executive Officer of the Nagar Council, to arrange the supply of drinking water through tankers.


Patients assaulted; staff observe strike
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 8
Staff members, including doctors of the Civil Hospital, Hoshiarpur, observed a strike from 8.00 a.m. to 10.00 a.m. today in protest against an attack by some anti-social elements on two patients and their attendants in the emergency ward of the hospital and their misbehaviour towards the staff, including a doctor, last night. The strike paralysed the functioning of the hospital, especially the OPD, due to which patients had to suffer

The staff, under the banner of the Employee Struggle Samiti, staged a rally in front of the emergency ward. Addressing the rally, Dr Ajay Bagga and Dr M. L. Puri condemned the attack on the patients and the misbehaviour with the staff. They demanded a permanent police post in the hospital complex.

Dr Yogesh Chander Markan, Civil Surgeon, Hoshiarpur, after listening to the agitated employees and inspecting the emergency ward, met Mr Romesh Chander Dogra, Health and Family Welfare Minister, Punjab, and apprised him of the situation. On an assurance of Mr Dogra regarding fulfilling their demands, the strike was called off. A spokesman for the samiti said in case their demands were not accepted by May 13, the staff would go on an indefinite strike

Mr G. P S. Bedi, Senior Medical Officer, said Jarnail Singh of Dagana and Ajaib Singh of the local Mohalla Dashmesh Nagar came to the emergency ward at about 7.15 p.m. yesterday in an injured condition following a clash over lifting of sand from a choe bed. They were accompanied by relatives and friends. At about 8.15 p.m., more than 10 youths, armed with sharp-edged weapons, came to the hospital and assaulted Jarnail Singh, Ajaib Singh and their attendants.

Dr Bedi said they also damaged government property and smashed windowpanes of the emergency ward. Mr Ram Parkash, Deputy Superintendent of Police, alongwith police force, reached the hospital. Two assailants, Rajinder Singh of Khanaura and Raju of the local Mohalla Gokal Nagar came to the hospital in an injured condition.

The police has arrested them along with Taranjit Singh of Tanauli village. A case has been registered.


16 SGPC employees beaten up
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 8
As many as 16 SGPC employees were beaten up in full public view in the Shiromani Committee Complex by relatives of a former SGPC chief following theft in their room in the Guru Arjun Dev Niwas here yesterday.

Fourteen relatives of the former SGPC chief had arrived from England to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple. When they returned, they found their bags stolen.

However, their bags were recovered without cash and jewellery. Mr Major Singh, Manager, Golden Temple, said the SGPC fixed the responsibility of the employees who were on duty. Each employee had to cough up Rs 5,000 that was given as compensation to the NRIs.


120 donate blood
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 8
As many as 20 persons donated blood at a camp today to mark World Thalassaemia Day organised by the Thalassaemia Welfare Forum at the Guru Nanak Dev Hospital blood bank here.

The forum here has 52 children suffering from thalassaemic disorders registered with them, who need 400 units of blood annually.


SAD leader dies of heart attack
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, May 8
Mr Avtar Singh Madevi, district general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal, died here today at his residence due to a massive heart attack. He was a former chairman of the Market Committee, Malerkotla.

His body was cremated at his native Madevi village today. The cremation was largely attended by Akali leaders and workers.


Man commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 8
Karam Singh (38), a resident of Bakhshiwala village, allegedly committed suicide by jumping before a train on the Sunam-Lahragaga railway track near Sunam yesterday.

The local railway police said it had recovered a suicide note from Karam Singh on the basis of which a case had been registered against five persons under Sections 306 and 34 of the IPC.


Poaching case: serious allegations against SDM
Maneesh Chhibber
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 8
The letter about the involvement of Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), Pathankot, in the shooting of six birds, which the Punjab and Haryana High Court treated as public interest litigation (PIL), contains serious allegations against the officer.

In his letter addressed to the Chief Justice, Pathankot-resident Rajinder Singh Grewal had sought free and impartial investigation of the charges against Puneet Goel, SDM, Pathankot, whose involvement in the crime came to light a few months ago.

Mr Grewal has claimed that after the arrest of Mr Goel and his accomplices, many senior Punjab Government functionaries, including the Chief Minister, intervened in the matter and tried to get the officer off-the-hook.

He has pointed out that the accused officer was granted bail by the Duty Magistrate, Hoshiarpur, on the same day, Sunday, at around 8 pm. Mr Grewal has also claimed that the bail proceedings left a lot to be desired as no notice was given to the government.

He has also written that the bail was granted in such a hurry only to protect the service of the accused-officer as it would have become necessary to suspend him, had he remained in jail for over 48 hours. Mr Grewal has also accused the SDM of interfering with the investigation in the case

He has also claimed that Mr Goel is notorious for his womanising and corrupt acts.

He has also pointed out the "friendship" of the accused with Pathankot Superintendent of Police Manminder Singh.

The petitioner has also sought inquiry into the circumstances into which bail was granted to the accused.

It may be recalled that a Division Bench of the High Court had issued notice to various functionaries of the Punjab Government, including the Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary (Forest), Deputy Commission, Gurdaspur, and SSP, Gurdaspur, on the issue.

The Bench had also directed the authorities to ensure proper protection of the letter-writer.


Cable scandal case dismissed
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 8
A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today dismissed as withdrawn the petition filed by one of the accused in the Amritsar cable-cum-sex scandal. During the resumed hearing in the writ filed by Sanjiv Kumar, an accused in the case, to quash the FIR registered against him by the Amritsar Police in the case a Bench allowed him to withdraw the writ and dismissed it as withdrawn.

The court had earlier ordered that Sanjiv Kumar or any his family members could be summoned for questioning by the police only during the day. Today, a Bench headed by Mr Chief Justice BK Roy also withdrew this protective cover.

It also added that any petition filed by the petitioner's father or any other relative be listed before this Bench only.

It may be remembered that the matter, which was earlier listed before Mr Justice S.S. Grewal, was subsequently transferred to this Bench.

The matter had been brought before the High Court by the Punjab Human Rights Organisation, through its chief, Justice Ajit Singh Bains, a former Judge of this High Court. The court had ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate the matter.


SHO booked on corruption charge
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 8
Jarnail Singh Malhi, SHO, Sadar Police Station, here has been booked under Sections 13(2) and 88 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 342 of the Indian Penal Code.

According to information, Vinod Kumar, a farmer of Sardarpura village in this subdivision, had lodged a complaint with SSP Kunwer Vijay Pratap Singh alleging that Jarnail Singh Malhi had extorted Rs 1 lakh from him.

The complainant said he had a dispute with his tenant Pappu Ram over contract money for farming. The SHO summoned the complainant and harassed him under the pretext that Pappu Ram had filed a complaint alleging that landlord Vinod Kumar and attempted to outrage modesty of Pappu’s wife. Under threat of registering an FIR on this ground, the SHO allegedly forced Vinod Kumar and his brother to pay Rs 1 lakh, which he said was paid.

Later, the landlord and the tenant amicably sorted out the dispute. Then Vinod Kumar dared to bring the matter to the notice of the SSP. He asked Mr Munish Chawla, SP(D), to investigate into the matter.

The SHO could not be contacted.


Students make their mothers feel special

Patiala, May 8
Students of Bhupindra International Public School, an ISO-certified school, organised a function to commemorate Mother’s Day today. More than 150 students and their mothers participated in the daylong festivities, which took place at the school itself.

The function began with each student presenting a gift and a greeting card to his/her mother. Events like musical chairs and one-minute games were organised for the mothers on their day. Other events, such as “well-dressed mother” and “mother of substance” saw the mothers walk the ramp and speak on “Role of a mother in a child’s life”. A “Best mother” award was given to the mother of a student from each class. Ms Rupali Philip, Principal, said, “Today was a special day for children as it gave them an opportunity to thank their mothers.” TNS


6 students fined for misbehaviour

Patiala, May 8
Sukhbir Singh, student of MA Part I (physical education), Dharminder Singh, student of LL.M. Part I, Jasbir Singh and Sarabjit Singh, both students of LL.B Part III, Kulwinder Singh, student of MCA Part II, and Gurbhej Singh, student of Honours School Course(Punjabi), were allegedly found involved in an incident of hooliganism and misbehaviour with a fellow student.

Giving this information, the Dean, Students Welfare, said these students had assured the university authorities in writing that they would not indulge in any such indisciplinary or unlawful activity in future.

Since the academic session is almost over and examinations have already started, Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai, taking a lenient view, had ordered these students to deposit a fine of Rs 1,000 each in the welfare fund of their respective halls, he said. OC

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