P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SAD suspends Chandumajra
Panel to probe his role in poll
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 17
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief, Mr P.S Badal, in an attempt to nip dissidence in the bud, cracked the whip by suspending former Member Parliament Prem Singh Chandumajra from the primary membership of the party.

In a much-awaited reaction, the SAD supremo has constituted a three-member committee to look into the Chandumajra affair. The committee, which comprises newly elected Phillaur MP Charanjit Singh Atwal, former education minister Tota Singh and former agriculture minister Gurdev Singh Badal, will submit a report to Mr Badal within a week on the activities of Mr Chandumajra.

Addressing a press conference here in the presence of SAD leaders, Mr Badal said he had received a written complaint signed by senior partymen, including the SAD candidate for Patiala Lok Sabha seat Kanwaljit Singh, former ministers Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur and H.S. Tohra and Samana MLA S.S. Rakhra. They have charged Mr Chandumajra with playing a negative role in the recent Lok Sabha elections. The SAD chief added if the contents of the report went against Mr Chandumajra, he could even be expelled from the party for six years.

Earlier, the SAD President had indefinitely expelled the party general secretary, Mr Baldev Singh Mann. Mr Mann, it is alleged, had encouraged dissidence against the official party candidate, Mr S.S. Dhindsa, from Sangrur.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh has repeatedly stated in the past few days that the main reason of his losing the election to Mrs Preneet Kaur was that Mr Chandumajra had openly campaigned for the Congress candidate.

However, Mr Chandumajra had denied the allegations and, instead, sought disciplinary action against Capt Kanwaljit Singh.

The former MP from Patiala was peeved over the decision of the SAD Chief to sideline him when ticket for the Lok Sabha elections was being finalised and he had repeatedly expressed his displeasure over the decision.

Congress not secular, says Badal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 17
SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal has said, the Congress was directly responsible for the 1984 Sikh massacre and the party can never be termed secular.

Mr Badal, who was in the city today, interacted with mediapersons. He said, It is a cruel joke that those responsible for the 1984 massacre of Sikhs in Delhi and other parts of the country are today being termed as champions of secularism. Putting Ms Sonia Gandhi at the helm of affairs today amounts to adding insult to injury for the community, he asserted.

“The biggest loser with the Sonia Gandhi-led government would be Punjab, as this family has always been hostile to the interests of the state, particularly to the Sikhs,” he alleged.

Mr Badal said the recent elections in Punjab were a clear mandate against the “anti-people” policies of the Congress government in Punjab.

He said he would to constitute a committee to look into the cases of those SAD workers who had allegedly opposed the official Akali candidates in the recent Lok Sabha elections in Punjab. The committee would be announced in a couple of days, he said.


Will Punjab gain from Cong-led govt at Centre?
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 17
A Congress-led coalition government is coming to power at the Centre at a time when there are just two Congress MPs in the Lok Sabha from Punjab.

As the new government settles down in New Delhi, Punjab has to meet the Planning Commission to get its Annual Plan (2004-05), approved before it can be incorporated in the Budget. Meanwhile, a two-member team of the World Bank is arriving here tomorrow to discuss Rs 1,750-cr road project.

Will Punjab now get the necessary financial reprieve and other subsidiary benefits that Capt. Amarinder Singh had always sought. He had often charged the NDA Government with giving ‘’step-motherly’’ treatment to the state and chided the Akalis for not espousing the cause of Punjab.

There are several issues pertaining to the state pending in New Delhi. MPs from Punjab seldom pursued these in the past years due to factionalism. The main focus of ministers then was the party high command rather than NDA ministries. But now this may not be the case.

Will the Centre now respond positively to these issues ? The issue of waiver of the special term loan is still live. It was raked up during the Lok Sabha elections. Will the Chief Minister raise it now and clear the mist? Capt. Amarinder Singh had charged both former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral and Mr Parkash Singh Badal with telling ‘’lies’’ on loan waiver, maintaining that the entire loan was not waived, as claimed by them. The two had countered this.

With the Congress Governments in New Delhi and Chandigarh, can Punjab expect some help on these pending issues and some demands like waiver on repayment of special term loans, extending the same special incentives to the industry, as available to neighbouring hill states? Will Guru Gobind Singh oil Refinery at Bathinda be revived? Will inter-state issues like sharing of river waters get sorted out?

The Congress has already emphasised on agriculture and employment. As a premier agricultural state, Punjab needs breakthrough in agriculture, which is economically unviable for small, medium and marginal farmers. The Centre has partly accepted the report on the agricultural production pattern adjustment programme submitted by Punjab’s Vice-Chairman of the Planning Board, Dr S.S. Johl.

It is a paradox that the Congress is vacillating on certain policy issues, say to give or not to give free power and irrigation water to farmers or some units of electricity free of cost to the Scheduled Castes because of the state’s scarce finances.

On the one hand, there is the plan resource committee report suggesting the mopping up of Rs 2,555 crore per annum as additional resource mobilisation. On the other hand, Dr Johl today had a meeting with the Chairman of the Punjab State Electricity Board, Mr Y.S. Ratra, on one-time settlement of the pending electricity bills of farmers, who are demanding complete waiver. Barely 7 per cent of the farmers want this exemption as the remaining ones have paid their bills.


Sonia failed to woo Punjab voters
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 17
Mrs Sonia Gandhi, President of the All-India Congress Committee, failed to click as a vote-catcher in Punjab. She addressed election rallies at Pathankot, Phagwara and Sunam but her party candidates from Gurdaspur and Phillaur were defeated.

Even though she addressed a rally in support of Mrs Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, Congress candidate from Gurdaspur, Mrs Bhinder lost to BJP candidate Vinod Khanna, by a bigger margin of about 25,000 votes this time as against only 1,400 votes in the last elections.

At Phagwara, Mrs Sonia Gandhi came to support Mrs Santosh Chowdhary, the party candidate from Phillaur. But Mrs Chowdhary lost to Akali candidate Charanjit Singh Atwal with a huge margin of over 98,000 votes.

Mrs Gandhi addressed her last election rally on May 6 at Sunam in support of Mrs Preneet Kaur, wife of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and the Congress candidate from Patiala. Mrs Preneet Kaur just scrapped through defeating Capt Kanwaljit Singh by 23,667 votes. Last time Mrs Preneet Kaur had won the seat by 90,000 votes.

Mrs Sonia Gandhi has been successful in the states where she held roadshows except for UP. Her party performed exceedingly well in Haryana where she held roadshows. Though she had promised to come to Punjab for roadshows, she did not turn up.

It seems corruption has ceased to an issue in the state. The ruling party had focused its entire election campaign on the alleged “corruption by the Badal family”. In all advertisements, former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son were made the prime target by the Congress and other organisations that seemingly had the backing of the ruling party. While Mr Badal’s son, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, won the Faridkot seat with the biggest margin in the state. The SAD candidates performed exceedingly well in other constituencies. And Mr Badal was the only star campaigner for his party. Other senior leaders such as Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Capt Kanwaljit Singh remained confined to their own constituencies.

While the negative advertisement campaign against the Badal proved successful in the Assembly elections, it failed to pay dividends in the Lok Sabha poll.


Official status for panel on poll rout
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 17
A five-member committee, set up by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to look into causes of poor performance by the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections will enjoy official status. The committee, headed by Mrs Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, comprises four ministers of the Punjab Cabinet.

A senior minister of the Cabinet and member of the committee told The Tribune here today that the Chief Secretary would issue a notification for the formation of the committee in a day or two.

According to the minister, the committee would be entitled to call any officer of the state government if there was any complaint regarding the non-implementation of policies of the state government.

Besides, the committee would meet people and Congress workers to ascertain reasons why Congress candidates performed poorly in the Lok Sabha elections.

The committee consists of Mr Santokh Singh, Mr Tripat Singh Bajwa, Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar and Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa.

According to Lok Sabha results, as many as 90 Congress legislators did not fare well in their respective Vidhan Sabha segments compared to the 2002 Assembly elections. They include a number of ministers also.

NDA govt neglected the poor, says Kang
Our Correspondent

Kharar, May 17
The BJP-led NDA government protected the interests of the rich and powerful and neglected the poor masses over the past six years, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Punjab Minister for Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development and Fisheries, said today.

Mr Kang, who was addressing Congress workers and leaders in Jayanti Majri village, near Kurali, said voters in the Morinda segment of the Ropar constituency had voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Congress candidate, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, in the Lok Sabha elections.

Mr Kang said the performance of the Congress in the recent elections was a victory of secularism over communal forces. The people had once again expressed their faith in the Congress. The BJP, instead of going into the reasons for its poor performance in the elections, was resorting to objectionable tactics.

He said the new Sonia Gandhi-led government at the Centre would take all sections of society along in the coming years and protect their interests.


Stop issuing anti-CM remarks, Bhattal told
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 17
A group of Congress leaders today sought a ministerial berth for Ms Praneet Kaur in the union Cabinet. They also threatened Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and other dissident leaders that they would approach the Congress high command and seek action against them, if they did not stop issuing anti-Capt Amarinder Singh statements.

Interestingly, the Congress leaders who criticised Ms Bhattal today included Mr Anil Datta, Secretary of the PPCC who was a one-time staunch Bhattal supporter and had allegedly shifting his loyalty overnight to the Chief Minister. Mr Surinder Mahey and Mr Varinder Sharma, a former PPCC secretary were also in the group.

The Punjab Technical Education Minister, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee and his supporter, Mr Manoj Arora, a secretary of the PPCC, had criticised Mr Surinder Mahey on the grounds that Mr Mahey had failed to secure enough votes at those polling booths in New Guru Teg Bahadur Nagar, where he was residing and at the Nakodar road, where his office was situated. The Kaypee supporters had been claiming that in these areas, BSP candidate had shown better performance.

Mr Mahey, who is considered to be close to Punjab Minister Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, however, has denied this and has asserted that the party had secured a big lead from areas of his influence, particularly, the Jalandhar (South) constituency. Mr Datta was also a strong contender for the Congress ticket from the Jalandhar seat before the party ticket was finally allocated to Rana Gurjit Singh.

Mr Dutta and Mr Mahey said the party would not be allowed to be taken for a ride by Ms Bhattal and other dissident leaders of the Congress. “We have sought time from Ms Sonia Gandhi and we would apprise her about our point of view. We will have no alternative but to seek disciplinary action against Ms Bhattal and other such leaders, who are issuing baseless statements against Capt Amarinder Singh,” said Mr Dutta and Mr Mahey. They said they would urge Ms Sonia Gandhi to give representation to Punjab by inducting Ms Praneet Kaur and Rana Gurjit Singh into the Cabinet.

Mr Datta, Mr Mahey and Varinder Sharma also criticised BJP leaders Ms Sushma Swaraj And Govindacharya for their statements that they would not accept Ms Sonia Gandhi as the Prime Minister. They also welcomed the formation of a committee under the chairmanship of Ms Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder to find out the reasons behind the party debacle in the recent Lok Sabha poll.


Farmers want to sow cotton, meet BSF IG
Chander Parkash and Anirudh Gupta
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, May 17
A delegation of farmers having land holdings across the cobra fencing near the Indo-Pakistan border in the district met the Inspector-General (IG), Border Security Force (BSF), Punjab Frontier, Mr G.S. Gill, seeking to allow them to sow cotton in their fields, the BSF authorities have written the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for its approval.

Though farmers of this district having land holdings situated across the cobra fencing are up in arms as the BSF authorities have imposed a ban on the sowing of cotton and fodder crops in that pockets since 1999, the BSF authorities have been claiming that the decision to allow the farmers to sow cotton and fodder could be taken only by the MHA.

The farmers, who met IG, Gill recently pointed out that due to decline in the level of underground water and scarcity of canal water supply, they had been finding it difficult to sow paddy effectively. Apart from it, as they were allowed to go to fields for limited hours by BSF guards, they had also been finding it difficult to look after paddy crop.

Mr Darshan Singh, a member of the delegation, that met Mr Gill, said that before 1999, the BSF authorities were allowing them to grow cotton crop. He added that no untoward incident took place in the border belt the cotton cultivation was being carried out. He said that BSF authorities suddenly imposed a ban on the cultivation of cotton and fodder crops in 1999 and hence leaving the farmers on the mercy of God.

He said that it was a sheer injustice to the farmers having pieces of land across the cobra fencing. He said that if the BSF authorities did not accept their genuine demands, they would be forced to launch an agitation.

A senior official of the BSF when contacted said that the MHA had been informed the farmers problems and it was expected that the MHA would give approval for the cultivation of cotton and fodder crop. He said that as the matter involved issues pertaining to the security of the country, the views of the Minister of Defence (MOD) would also be taken before allowing the farmers to sow cotton.

He pointed out that a delegation of farmers met Mr Gill with 14 demands and out of it 12 demands were agreed to by the BSF authorities on the spot. The main demand of the farmers to which the BSF authorities agreed was to open the gates on the cobra fencing from 7 a.m. in the morning till 6 p.m. in the evening. He added that he hoped the MHA would decide about the matter pertaining to cultivation of cotton near Indo-Pakistan border at the earliest. 


Guru Nanak varsity may take over varsity text book board
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 17
The 32-year-old prestigious Punjab State University Text Book Board (PSUTBB), established by the government of India at Chandigarh is likely to be taken over by Guru Nanak Dev University . The University today sent a two member team to Chandigarh to check the stock of books and staff available with the PSUTBB.

The Text Book Boards were opened in non- Hindi states by the central government in early seventies for supplying Punjabi version of textbooks to various colleges and universities of the state. However, the PSUTBB could not become nodal agencies for the various universities due to variety of reasons. The main reason for its failure was that all the universities have their own publication departments including printing presses and hence the books published by the Board had little demand in the institutes of higher educations. The bulk stock of books started gathering dust in Board’s godowns . With the result, the PSUTBB became a big financial liability for the central and state governments as well . Earlier, the Board had been in the news due to a number of irregularities , mismanagement and vigilance cases which were hushed up .

Since the central government had stopped releasing budget to the Board for the past five years , the salaries of the staff were being given from different account heads . The central government had to stop the financial assistance as the Board could not provide utilization certificates for the previous budget allocations.

However, when contacted Vice-Chancellor Guru Nanak Varsity, Dr S.P. Singh, said academic interests of the university and financial liabilities would be examined before formal merger of the Board .

The question rises if an autonomous body like PSUTBB could be merged into another autonomous body like University ? The university will have to examine the legal aspects of the proposed merger too . Another problem could be the adjustment of the staff of the Board who are drawing salaries as per old scales . If the merger is effected , the university will have to give huge arrears to the staff of the Board .

Dr Joginder Kairon, a former Director of the PSUTBB, however, welcomed the merger move . He alleged that during his stint as Director of the Board he had pointed out many irregularities which were responsible for the precarious financial situation . He alleged that one of the universities had to purchase huge quantity of surplus paper from the Board as it was rotting.


Over 80 Sangrur students on Class VIII merit list
Chitlen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 17
Over 80 students of Sangrur district figure in Class VIII merit list of the Punjab School Education Board. The merit list consisting of the top 500 positions in the state was released by the board here today. While Henna Gupta of Springdales Public Senior Secondary School, Sangrur, has topped in Punjab, Himika Goel of Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan Senior Secondary School, Shaheed Udham Singh Nagar, Ludhiana, has come second in the state and first in the district. Sonia of Rabvindera Day Boarding Senior Secondary School, Jalandhar, is third in the state and first in the district.

Sonu Kaushal of Maharana Pratap Adarsh Vidyalaya, Pathankot, is fourth in the state and first in Gurdaspur district, while Ravinder Kumar of Government Senior Secondary School, Talwandi Salan, Hoshiarpur, is fifth in the state and first in the district. Anmol Paras of Springdales Public Senior Secondary School, Sangrur, is sixth in the state and second in the district. Tushti of D.C. Model Senior Secondary School, Ferozepore Cantt, is seventh in the state and first in the district. Nirapjit Kaur of Springdales Public Senior Secondary School, Sangrur, is eighth in the state and third in the district, Tavisha Gupta of Springdales Public Senior Secondary School, Sangrur, is ninth and Manisha Verma of DAV Senior Secondary School, Kurali, is 10th in the state and first in Ropar district.

Atula Jain of Toddlers Home Study Hall, Hoshiarpur, has bagged the 12th position in the state and is second in the district. Priya Mahajan of S.D. Sarvhitkari Vidya Mandir, Talwara, is 25th in the state and third in Hoshiarpur district.

Lavpreet Kaur of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur High School, Mulianwal, Dhariwal, Gurdaspur, is 13th in the state and second in the district. Maninderjit Kaur of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur High School Mulianwal, Dhariwal, Gurdaspur, is 17th in the state and third in the district.

Nupar Garg of S. Cheten Singh Sarvhitkari Senior Secondary School, Vidya Mandir, Mansa, is 14th in the state and first in the district. Namit Kumar of Arya High School, Mansa, is 24th in the state and second in the district. Mary of S. Cheten Singh Sarvhitkari Senior Secondary School, Vidya Mandir, Mansa, is 27th in the state and third in the district.

Jyoti of Shivalik Public High School, Muktsar, is 30th in the state and first in the district while Sahil Goel of MSD Senior Secondary School is second in the district and Diksha of S.D. Senior Secondary School, Malout, is third in the district.

Sheena Gupta of New Senior Secondary School, Civil Lines, Ludhiana, is 26th in the state and second in the district and Ramandeep Kaur of Anand Isher Senior Secondary School is third in the district. Jasmandeep of Paragon Senior Secondary School, Mohali, is 21st in the state and second in Ropar district. Neeraj Khullar of GGSSTP Model School, Power Colony, Ropar is 30th in the state and third in the district.

Mandeep Kaur of MHR Senior Secondary School, Bathinda, is first in the district while Mandeep Kaur of Government Senior Secondary School, Bathinda, is second in the district and Harmanpreet of Shivalik High School, Bhucho Mandi, is third in Bathinda district. Gagandeep Kaur of DC Model Senior Secondary School, Ferozepore Cantt, is second in the district and Sheenam Dhawan of DC Model Senior Secondary School, Ferozepore Cantt, is third in the district.

Neha Narang of Navyug Shishu Mandir High School, Moga, is 20th in the state and first in the district while Priyanka Agarwal of Navyug Shishu Mandir High School, Moga, second in the district and Mahek Singhal of Navyug Shishu Mandir High School, Moga is third in the district.

Palwinder Kaur, of Sarvhitkari Senior Secondary School, Patiala, is first in the district while Upasana Mittal of SD Model Senior Secondary School, Rajpura, is second and Ishan Gupta of Playways High School, Arya Samaj, Patiala, is third in the district.

Reetika Agarwal of Jagat Jyoti Model High School, Maha Singh Gate, Amritsar, is first in the district while Manish Sharma of Madhav Vidya Niketan, Ranjit Avenue, is second and Jyoti of SGRD Girls senior Secondary school, Amritsar, is third.

Mandeep Kaur of Rishi High School, Kotkapura, is first in Faridkot district while Gurpreet Singh Sara of Guru Nanak Dev Mission High School, Panj Garayi Kalan, is second and Perry Gandhi of Rishi High School, Kotkapura, is third.

Muskan of SNAM Model Senior Secondary School, Mandi Gobindgarh, is 28th in the state and first in Fatehgarh Sahib district, while Sukhpreet Singh of Baba Dayal Puri Senior Secondary School, Sirhind, is second in the district and Rupinder Kaur of Holi Heart Public High School, Bassi Pathana, is third.

Henna of Adarsh Bal Vidyalaya Senior Secondary School, Nawanshahr, is first in the district while Navdeep Kaur of Bhagwan Mahavir Public School, Banga, is second in the district and Gurjit Kaur of Pandit Reetha Ram Adharsh Kanya High School, Banga, is third. Nisha and Pallavi of Sada Sukh Chopra SD Public School are second and third in Jalandhar district, respectively. Amit Dhingra of Arya Model Senior Secondary School, Phagwara (Kapurthala), is first in the district while Navjoti of the same school is second and Jayanti Jain of the same school is third in the district.


Reclamation corporation to merge with Punjab Agro
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 17
The Punjab Government has decided to merge the loss-making Punjab Land Development and Reclamation Corporation (PLDRC) with the Punjab Agro Foodgrains Corporation (PAFC). With this, the future of 199 employees of this sick company will be safe.

As per the orders, the Punjab Agro Foodgrains Corporation will take all the liabilities of the PLDRC along with its employees on an “as is where is” basis and the assets of the latter will also stand transferred. While this gives a new lease of life to the 199 employees who have not received their salaries for the past 17 months, it will also improve the functioning of the PAFC.

In November, 2003, the Punjab Cabinet had ordered winding up of the corporation and retrenchment of 203 employees on its rolls. While the employees were retrenched, they have not been paid any compensation till date.

The decision, government sources say, has been taken after the PLDRC management expressed the desire to merge with the PAFC. According to the sources, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had on May 3 given his consent to the merger proposal. As a result of this, Rs 17 crore which is due to the employees of the PLDRC will also be paid by the PAFC from its own resources since all debts and recoveries also stand transferred.

The decision with regard to the merger was to be implemented by the first week of May, but could not be done in the wake of the model code of conduct during the Lok Sabha elections.

The Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, had also given her consent to the proposal in this regard and sought immediate action.

“We are expecting the order to come to us any day.

The PAFC will be able to utilise over 1,500 acres that is owned by the PLDRC at Ladowal, while the employees of the PLDRC will benefit as they will not be retrenched,” said a senior PAFC officer. Of the total 203 employees, two had died while two others had retired.

Mr Dalip Singh, President, PLDRC employee’s union, while welcoming the decision of the state government says, “The decision will not only benefit the retrenched employees but also the farmers, who were not able to get gypsum at cheap rates following the closure of the Punjab Land Development Corporation.” This will also make available to them 1,500 acres of the prime land at Ladowal to implement the diverisification programme in an optimal manner, he added.


BSP meeting tomorrow
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 17
A state-level meeting of the Punjab BSP would be held at Jalandar on May 19 to take stock of the post-poll position of the party, according to Mr Avtar Singh Karimpuri President of the state unit of the party.Mr Narinder Kashyap General Secretary of the BSP and party’s Punjab affairs In charge would specially attend it, informed Mr Karimpuri here today.

Mr Karimpuri claimed that the base of the BSP in Punjab had been expanded though the party could not get any seat.

The polarisation of the dalits towards the BSP and its acceptance even by the uppercastes were significant developments he said.

Whether the state unit was happy over BSP support to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Mr Karimpuri shot back that we would bow before the decision taken by Miss Mayawati, BSP President, in this regard.


PPCC condemns Sushma’s decision to quit RS

Amritsar, May 17
Mr M.M. Singh Cheema, vice-president, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) strongly objected to the boycott of swearing in ceremony of Ms Sonia Gandhi by the BJP and its NDA partners.

Describing it as unfortunate he said by boycotting the ceremony the NDA and its partners were disrespecting the people’s verdict.

He further condemned derogatory remarks of Ms Sushma Swaraj and her statement and that of her husband Swaraj Kaushal would resign from the Rajya Sabha in protest. The protest by Mr Govindacharya former General Secretary, BJP and Ms Uma Bharati Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh were equally uncalled for as it amounted to disrespect of Indian Constitution which has given equal opportunity to each citizen of India, he added.

Appreciating Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s stand who had dropped his objections on the foreign issue of Ms Sonia Gandhi, he appealed to Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee to restrain BJP leaders to behave responsibly in and outside Parliament. — OC


PCCTU chief’s post: Brar, Hundal poll equal votes
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 17
Declaration of joint winners for the post of president after election of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) has become a bone of contention between the Hundal-Tiwari and the Brar-Jagwant groups of the private college teachers body, control of which has been wrested by the Brar-Jagwant group.

Both candidates — Mr R.S. Brar of (Brar-Jagwant group) and Mr H.S. Hundal of the (Tiwari-Hundal group), for the post of president, were declared joint winners after they secured 232 votes each during a poll at Khalsa College here on Sunday. Asserting that two invalid votes were counted by the Returning Officer, the Tiwari-Hundal group maintained that it would challenge the result. Mr R.S. Brar said that the issue had already been decided with the decision of the Returning Officer, who according to him was appointed by the outgoing group.

Mr Brar has, however, said the ball was in the court of the executive committee and he would bow to any decision taken by the executive committee in this regard.

Dr V.K. Tiwari and Mr S.S Hundal of the Hundal-Tiwari group maintained that they had walked out of the polling centre after two “invalid” votes were declared to be valid by the returning officer.

The Brar group has defeated the rival Tiwari-Hundal group by winning four of total seven posts of office-bearer even as the issue of president was yet to be decided by the executive committee. The post of the General Secretary of the body has also been won by Dr Jagwant Singh of SD College Chandigarh, who defeated Dr. V.K. Tiwari of Jalandhar by 15 votes. Challenging the decision of the returning officer, Mr Hundal questioned, “ How it is possible that there was no invalid vote for presidentship, while there were a number of votes, which were declared to be invalid for other posts?”

Mr Brar, on the other hand, maintained that the constitution was silent in case of declaration of joint winners and in such a situation, the issue could be decided only by the executive committee. “Voting was held according to a set procedure and established norms,” said Mr Brar.


Temple controversy: Valmikis to defy stay order
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, May 17
The controversy surrounding the laying of foundation stone at the ancient Ram Tirath temple has deepened with the Deputy Mayor, Mr Om Parkash Gabbar, saying that the Valmiki community would defy the stay order on the construction of the new temple.

He said members of the community would use all means to acquire the place and start the construction.

It may be recalled that the Deputy Mayor had been recently inducted into the 16-member Ram Tirath Government Development Board after much opposition.

As many as 20 NRIs of the community arrived from the UK, Canada, the USA, France and Italy today and endorsed the announcement made by Deputy Mayor.

They include Mr Fakir Chand Sahota and Mr Gian Chand from the UK, Mr Piara Lal and Mr Jarnail Singh from France and Mr Tarwinder Singh from Canada. The NRIs said they were ready to make as much contribution as required for the construction of the new temple.

However, they did not answer why they had not started any development in the periphery area of the temple, which was not in the purview of the stay order.

To another query, they clarified that contributions would be given to the development board and not to any individual or a private trust.

Earlier, a sum of Rs 1 crore was received by the district administration to be forwarded to the PWD for the facelift of the temple. The Rs 2.50 crore plan include the replacement of worn-out sandstone in parikarma at a cost of Rs 72 lakh, illumination at Rs 16 lakh, a cost of installation of two tubewells for drinking water and filling of holy sarovar at a cost of Rs 20 lakh, construction of concrete parking at a cost of Rs 29 lakh, construction of four toilet blocks at a cost of Rs 27 lakh and improvement of the existing periphery road at a cost of Rs 40 lakh.

Mr Gabbar had claimed in the past that state government had earmarked Rs 7 crore for the construction of the new temple.

A proposal was also mooted previously by the state government for establishing a shrine board on the pattern of Mata Vaishno Devi after a visit by Dr Jagmohan, a former Minister of Tourism, last year.


Heat wave claims three lives in Bathinda
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 17
Heat wave sweeping the region for the past three days, has claimed three lives in the town today.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that those who died due to sunstroke included Balwinder Singh and Sandeep Kumar, both residents of this town and one unidentified Sadhu.

Mr Vijay Goyal, President, Sahara Jan Sewa, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), in a press note here today said that Balwinder Singh was found unconscious near Fauji chowk. He was taken to hospital where he died after some time despite the fact the doctors attending on him made best efforts to save his life.

He added that another deceased Sandeep Kumar fell unconscious near Telianwala mohalla in this town and the volunteers of the Sahara Jan Sewa took him to hospital after getting information in that connection. He also died after some time.

The unidentified Sadhu, who was found lying on the platform number 8 of the local railway station, was also taken to the hospital by the volunteers but he died after battling for life for two hours.

He said that volunteers of the Sewa had been making arrangements for protecting the residents from sunstroke.


Bridge on verge of collapse
Ravi Dhaliwal

Bhadson (Patiala) May 17
Disaster awaits vehicles plying on the bridge that connects the city with Bhadson township, 30 km from here, as one of the main pillars supporting the structure is slowly disintegrating, threatening to bring down the over 50-year-old bridge.

The situation has turned from bad to worse as drivers of heavy vehicles now prefer to take a 20-km-long detour to reach Bhadson. The bridge, constructed over the Bhakra canal, is crying for major repairs despite the fact that the PWD authorities had declared it unsafe nearly two years ago.

People of villages on both sides of the bridge have repeatedly brought to the notice of the authorities the impending danger of the structure caving in any moment, but to no avail. The situation has aggravated so much that villagers are resorting to holding rallies and dharnas regularly. Yesterday was no exception as a dharna, led by former Akali legislator Dilip Singh Pandhi, was held near the bridge.

Despite the fact that the Chief Minister and his MP wife, Ms Preneet Kaur, are claiming to be spending lakhs on the development of the city, the situation is such that even drivers of cars and two-wheelers avoid using the bridge.

Villagers say that they have sent numerous petitions to the CM’s office but little is being done to repair the fractured cemented pillars.

Mr D.S Pandhi says that if the government does not act by next Saturday, the people of Bhadson town will resort to staging a big dharna in front of the CM’s residence.

Bhadson town is a few kilometres away from Tohra village and in an attempt to facilitate flow of traffic on the day of Gurcharan Singh Tohra’s bhog ceremony, the administration had pulled down iron barricades erected on both sides of the bridge. These barricades ensured that heavy vehicles could not ply on the bridge.

Once the bhog ended and the last vehicle, including the CM’s cavalcade, had passed, the barricades were allegedly re-installed. All this was done to ensure that the CM could take the shortest, but certainly not the safest, route to the venue. By removing the barricades, the administrators had exponentially increased the danger of the bridge caving in.


Controversy over drowning of youth in canal
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 17
A controversy has orisen over the drowning of Balwinder Kumar, alias Vicky, 25-year-old resident of Mandi Gobindgarh, while bathing in the Bhakra Canal near Dera Mir Miran village yesterday. Friends of the deceased said he drowned in the canal as he jumped in the canal, but he did not knew swimming. Family members of the deceased alleged that he had been murdered and his body thrown in the canal. The body of the deceased had not been recovered yet. The refusal of the Sirhind police and the Mandi Gobindgarh police to register the case had added to the misery of the family members. They met the Deputy Commissioner today and urged him to direct the police to get the case registered.

According to the wife of the deceased, four persons on scooters came to their house yesterday and one of them, Rajiv Kumar, asked him to accompany them for bathing in the watercourse. She said her husband took his motor cycle and accompanied them. She said he did not turn up till late in the night and his mobile phone was not responding.

Vicky’s wife said the family got suspicious and started a search for him. She said when Sukha, younger brother of the deceased, approached Bittu of Sangatpura, he refused to tell anything, but when he was threatened, he revealed that Vicky had drowned in the canal as he did not know swimming. He said when Vicky drowned in the canal, two of his companions switched off his mobile phone and fled on his motor cycle.

Sukha said Vicky’s friends and relatives were searching for the body, but the police was not cooperating. He alleged that his brother had been murdered. He said they went to the SHO, Mandi Gobindgarh, to register an FIR, but he refused to register a case, saying the Bhakra Canal was under the jurisdiction of the Sirhind police station. He said when they approached the SHO of Sirhind to register a case, he refused to do so, saying incident had occurred in Mandi Gobindgarh.

When contacted, the SHO of Sirhind said the case did not fall under his jurisdiction and should be registered at Mandi Gobindgarh. When contacted, the SHO of Mandi Gobindgarh said the Sirhind SHO did not know his jurisdiction and the Bhakra Canal was under the Sirhind police station.

When contacted, Mr S.K.Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, said the family members had met him. He had directed the DSP (City) to get the case registered at the appropriate place, help the family search the body and arrest the culprits.


SMO shifted over diarrhoea cases
Tribune Reporters

Faridkot, May 17
Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, has shifted Dr Ajit Singh, Senior Medical Officer (SMO), from Civil Hospital, Jaito, to the district today due to his slackness in handling the diarrhoea cases at Jaito. Despite clear directions issued to him by the Deputy Commissioner and the Civil Surgeon to remain present on duty and provide requisite medical aid to the patients, the SMO was “generally found absent from duty.”

A detailed report in this connection has been sent to the Health Secretary, Punjab, to initiate stern action against the SMO, said Mr Lal.

Denying death due to diarrhoea, he said only one death — of a woman — might be due to the disease in Surghoori village two days ago, and even that was yet to be confirmed.

The Deputy Commissioner claimed that of the other six deaths attributed to diarrhoea four women had died due to old age and two children due to some other reason. He said five medical teams had been deployed to provide prompt treatment. As many as 30 patients, who were undergoing treatment in the Civil Hospital, Jaito, were likely to be discharged within a day or so, said Mr Lal.

Two tankers have been deployed to supply drinking water to the affected residents. The Deputy Commissioner appealed to the residents to boil the drinking water and consume only fresh fruit and vegetables.

BATHINDA: The district health officials have noticed that for the past one week, the number of patients suffering from diarrhoea has increased. The district health authorities have started a health awareness programme, apart from checking the sale of cut fruit and vegetables.

Dr S.K. Goyal, Civil Surgeon, said the situation demanded that the people should be given health education to protect them from the disease.

He pointed out that water samples from the slum areas and some other localities were being taken for chemical examination.


Humiliation of Dalit students to be probed
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 17
Taking a serious note of the threat given by 12 girl students of the Dalit families to discontinue their studies in protest against the alleged humiliation meted out to them by a head teacher of a government elementary school in Memuana village in this district recently, Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner here has directed the DEO, Elementary Schools, here to transfer the erring official with immediate effect. He has also deputed SDM Mohan Lal to hold a probe into the matter and submit his report within next two days.

Disclosing this here today, the Deputy Commissioner said strict action would be taken against the erring official if found guilty. The Deputy Commissioner has taken the action after receiving a complaint from the sarpanch of the village alleged that the head teacher had used abusive language with the girl students.


Kharar Lions Club honoured
Our Correspondent

Kharar, May 17
The local Lions Club has been declared the best club of Multiple District 321. A press note released here today by the club said Mr Subhas Aggarwal, president of the club, had been declared the best president of Multiple District, which was spread over North India. In another category, Mr Preet Kanwal was adjudged the best committee chairman while Mr Rajesh Sood was honoured as the best zone chairman.

Awards were given by Mr C. Vadaprased, International Director of Lions Clubs at a multiple convention in Jalandhar.


Man hit by car, seriously injured
Our Correspondent

Kharar, May 17
One person was seriously injured when a car hit him at Daon Majra village, near here, today. Mr Kuldip Singh (27), a resident of Sahora village, sustained serious injuries when a Tata Sierra hit him while he was getting his bicycle repaired on the roadside.

The drive of the car, which was coming towards Kharar from Ropar, took the victim to the local Civil Hospital.

However, the driver later fled from the hospital.

According to a doctor attending on the victim, he sustained fractures in the leg and arm apart from injuries to the teeth.


Selection of DSPs: case adjourned

Chandigarh, May 17
The case relating to irregularities in selections of Deputy Superintendents of Police by the Punjab Government was adjourned for May 20 by a Full Bench of the High Court comprising Mr Chief Justice B.K Roy, Mr Justice Surya Kant and Mr Justice Rajive Bhalla.

Before adjourning the case, the Bench also went through the record pertaining to the selection that was submitted in the court sometime back.

In their separate petitions, Jaskaran Singh Brar and others have alleged that the grave irregularities were committed by the government while making selection under sports quota. Among those selected were the sons of Mr B.I.S. Chahal, Media Adviser to the Punjab Chief Minister, and Senior Superintendent of Police Harinder Singh Chahal. The case will now come up on May 20.

Judgement reserved

A Division Bench of the High Court comprising Mr Chief Justice B.K Roy and Mr Justice Surya Kant on Monday reserved its judgement on a petition moved by a father seeking an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the rape and subsequent murder of his young daughter.

In his petition, Mr Manjeet Singh of a village near Hoshiarpur said that his 23-year-old daughter was gang-raped by some persons last year. But, no action was initiated by the police against the accused.

He claimed that despite repeated representations the local police did not conduct a thorough probe in the matter.

After hearing counsel for the petitioner and the respondents, the Bench reserved the judgement.


Sanatan Dharam Sabha chief refused bail
Our Correspondent

Barnala, May 17
Bail application of Mr Panna Lal, President of the Sanatan Dharam Sabha was rejected here today. The bail pleas of five others Rakesh Kumar, Jeevan Kumar alias JB, Babu Singh, Nirmal Singh and Jagsir Singh too were rejected.

The court dismissed the three bail applications of these six alleged accused when these applications came up for hearing. Six persons were arrested a couple of days ago.

On May, 11 property dispute between the Bharatiya Sanatan Dharam Mahavir Dal and the Sanatan Dharam Sabha resulted into a clash in the Prachin Krishna Panchayati Mandir Complex. Many Mahavir Dal activists got hurt in the clash.


Misbehaviour by ASI alleged
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 17
Rajinder Kumar and Dharminder Kumar, both residents of Kamla Devi Avenue, Fatehgarh Churian Road, today in an affidavit submitted in the office of the DIG, Border Range, Mr Paramjit Singh Gill, alleged that Satinder Kumar, an ASI and duty officer of Fatehgarh Churian police station harassed and abused their family members when they approached them with a complaint.

Mr Dharminder said they had property dispute with Manish Kumar of Gurdaspur and were getting threatening calls from him.

He said he along with his family and prominent persons of the area went to police station for meeting the SHO.

The ASI demanded Rs 5000 as bribe for “helping” them. However, when hey asked him to approach senior official, he unnecessarily harassed and using abusive language against them.

The ASI could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.


2 undertrials escape

Jalandhar, May 17
Two undertrials lodged in Central Jail here, today fled away from Nakodar court complex, where they were sent for a hearing. The incident occurred in the morning when Rajinder Singh and Jasbir Singh, booked in a theft case in the Nakodar area, were sent to the Nakodar court for hearing a case.

They fled away from the toilet of the court premises, police sources said.

A complaint in this connection was registered in Nakodar police station. — PTI


Intruder held
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, May 17
Jawans of 9th Battalion of the BSF have nabbed a Pak intruder last evening. According to sources, BSF jawans saw a person entering the Indian territory in the Fazilka sector and nabbed him.

On interrogation, the intruder was identified as Mohammad Akram (33), a resident of Chack Ganda Singh village in Pakistan. Nothing was recovered from him.

According to sources, BSF officers tried to hand over Mohammad Akram to Pakistan Rangers, but they reportedly refused. A case has been registered by the Sadar police.


PPCC leader, 4 others booked
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 17
The Moga police has booked Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee member Amarjit Singh and three others on the charges of indulging in violence on the election day outside a polling booth near a police station. The accused had reportedly attacked the driver of a vehicle belonging to rival political party.

According to reports received here, a case under Sections 308 and 34, IPC, has been registered against them at Bagapurana police station on the complaint of Tej Singh.

Police sources said the accused, armed with rods and lathis, had allegedly assaulted driver Ram Singh, injuring him seriously. Ram Singh is undergoing treatment in a Ludhiana hospital.


Rs 6 lakh looted
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 17
Two unidentified motorcycle borne persons today looted Rs 6 lakh from Mr Vasdev a ‘munim’ of an arhtiya, at Dirba, 26 km from here. 

The ‘munim’ was returning to the arhtiya’s shop after drawing the amount from a bank when the incident occurred.


SGPC-run medical colleges announce admission dates
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 17
The Punjab Government has failed to set up committees to fix tuition fee and reservation for admission to private unaided medical colleges and other professional colleges in the state, the SGPC-run medical and dental colleges have announced their schedule for admission to undergraduate courses for 2004-2005.

The management of Christian Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana, has moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court for holding entrance test.

The Supreme Court had directed state governments to set up two committees for fixing fee structure and also the quota of seats under various heads, including the management quota and NRI quota. The Supreme Court had observed that private medical institutions which had been conducting their own entrance test could conduct a separate test for admission.

The SGPC-run two institutes — Sri Guru Ramdas Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Amritsar, and Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Dental Sciences and Research — in view of the judgement have announced the fee structure and also the schedule for admission to the two institutes. The state government and Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, to which the two institutes are affiliated, have directed them not to go ahead with the admission.

Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Secretary, SGPC, maintains: “These two institutes have formed a separate group named as the Association of Unaided Sikh Minority Medical and Dental Institutions for conducting admission test for the Sikh minority quota seats in the MBBS and BDS. “This arrangement has been made in accordance with the law laid down by the Supreme Court.”

According to the prospectus of these institutes, the tuition fee for MBBS has been fixed at Rs 2.50 lakh a year and for NRI students $ 75,000 (US) for the whole course.

Similarly, tuition fee for BDS has been fixed at Rs 1.50 lakh and fee for NRI students $ 30,000, respectively.

The Christian Medical College management has moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court for permission to hold an entrance test. Dr Mohan Varghese, Principal of CMCH, said they had been conducting the entrance test since the inception of the institute in 1953.

Dr Varghese said they might raise the tuition fee marginally, which was Rs 70,000 per annum last year. The CMCH admits 50 students to MBBS course.

Dr Daljit Singh, Principal, Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, said they would follow the admission process initiated by the Punjab Government and Baba Farid University of Health Sciences.

The DMCH has also gone to court over the admission to PG courses along with the CMCH.

Mr Santokh Singh, Minister for Medical Education and Research, Punjab, said the notification would be issued in a week.

Dr Livtar Singh Chawla, a member of the Medical Council of India, said the two committees should have been set up six months ago as fixing tuition fee would take time.

Dr Chawla said the last date for admission to MBBS course was September 31.


Prof suspended for sexual harassment
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 17
Punjabi University has suspended Prof Nirmal Singh Azad on the basis of a report submitted by an inquiry committee. A girl research student of the Economic Department of the varsity had more than a month ago complained to the authorities of sexual harassment meted out to her by Prof Azad, her research guide.

On the basis of the complaint made by the students, the vice-chancellor had constituted a three-member committee headed by the Dean, Academic Affairs, Prof S.P.S Virdi. The other two members were Prof
Vandana Sharma of the Psychology Department and Dr Manjit Singh of the Pharmaceutical Department.

The authorities informed that the final decision would be taken by the Syndicate shortly.

Earlier, the complainant had submitted an affidavit to the authorities alleging that she was harassed by her guide.

The student alleged that she had been doing research work under him for the past four years and he had been delaying her thesis for final submission on one pretext or the other.

Despite several efforts, none of the committee members was available for comments.


Five-year MBA course at local college
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 17
Keeping in view growing educational needs and to provide better career opportunity to Plus two students of the Doaba region, Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) has introduced a five-year MBA (integrated course) in the local Guru Nanak Dev University College from the academic session-2004.

In a statement issued here today, Dr Usha Kapoor, Principal of the college, said there would be 30 seats in the course, the admission to which would be based on an entrance test to be conducted by the GNDU on June 9. She said the course had been introduced and designed keeping in view needs of students and industry.


Two teachers suspended for getting jobs on fake certificates
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, May 17
A case of getting jobs in the Education Department by producing bogus certificates has come to light. The police here has registered a case against two teachers in this regard.

Police sources said here today that the accused had been identified as Gur Avtar Singh, teacher at Government High School, Malmohri and Gurdip Singh, a teacher at Government High School, Jawanda Kalan.

The police said these teachers produced bogus NCC and experience certificates before the district-level departmental recruitment committee in 1996.

The Vigilance Bureau (VB) made an inquiry in this regard. The VB noticed in the inquiry that the interviewer awarded them 14 marks out of 15. It was alleged that the interviewer might have taken bribe from the candidates.

No arrest has been made. However, Gur Avtar Singh and Gurdeep Singh, the teachers in question, have been suspended by the Education Department.

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