P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Effigies of Sushma, Govindacharya burnt
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, May 18
Activists of the SC/ST Cell of the All-India Congress Committee today burnt the effigies of former Union Minister Sushma Swaraj and senior BJP and RSS leader Govindacharya outside Hall Gate here in protest against their proposed movement against the candidature of Ms Sonia Gandhi as Prime Minister of India.

The activists led by Mr Balbir Singh Babbi, state president of the unit, criticised Ms Swaraj and Mr Govindacharya and raised slogans against them.

Mr Babbi alleged that some leaders of the Opposition due to their vested interests were raising a baseless issue. He said the people of India had given their decision by ousting the NDA government and favouring a Congress-led alliance. He said all parties of the alliance had given their full support to Ms Gandhi for becoming Prime Minister.

Mr Babbi alleged that the two leaders were insulting the Constitution of India. He said the party would stand with Ms Gandhi like a rock.

JALANDHAR: Criticising the BJP for raising the issue of foreign origin of the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, after losing the General Election, hundreds of Punjab Youth Congress workers today burnt the effigy of RSS ideologue and BJP leader Govindacharya for trying to mislead the country.

The Congress workers gathered at the Tanda road and raised anti-BJP slogans. Senior Youth Congress leader Rajinder Raja, addressing the workers, alleged that Govindacharya, in connivance with the RSS and the BJP, was trying to a propaganda to undermine the dignity of the Congress President, which could not be tolerated. He said the BJP was making attacks on the Congress following its recent drubbing in the elections.


Market crash manipulated, says Congress

Jalandhar, May 18
Alleging that yesterday’s crash in the stock market was an attempt by the BJP to manipulate the markets in order to create problems for the incoming Congress-led government, party leader and former MP Umrao Singh today said that the current situation would be tackled as soon as the next government was formed. “As the Congress was already committed to continue with liberalisation policies, which were initiated by former Finance Minister Manmohan Singh in 1991, investors should not get panicky,” he told reporters here.

Since the BJP got frustrated after going out of power, it was trying to create unrest in the stock market to put hurdles before the next government even well before its installation,” he alleged.

As far the Left parties’ reservations against disinvestments, he clarified that the Congress had cleared its stand that unlike the NDA government, no disinvestments would be proposed for those public sector undertakings which were yielding profits. — PTI


Accept mandate with grace, says Sidhu
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 18
The newly elected BJP MP, Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, addressing his first press conference after winning the elections from the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat, said it was important to give due regard to the mandate received by the Congress. He, however, said these were his personal views and he would stand by the guidelines of the party high command.

Asked to comment on the remarks of Mrs Sushma Swaraj and her husband that they would give up their Rajya Sabha membership if Mrs Sonia Gandhi was made the Prime Minister, Mr Sidhu said Mrs Swaraj was a senior leader and he would not like to join issue with her.

Mr Sidhu said he would give priority to the revival of industry. He said he would also try for a special economic package for this area on the basis of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.

He welcomed the decision of the Congress to continue a dialogue with Pakistan as Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee had already set the ball rolling. He said he would work towards shifting the present sabji mandi to the new site at Vallah.


Teachers want Sonia as PM
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 18
The All-India Federation of University and College Teachers Organisations, representing 3.5 lakh teachers, today urged Mrs Sonia Gandhi to take over the reins of the country.

In a representation faxed to her this afternoon, a copy of which was released to the media here, Dr V.K. Tewari, national secretary, AIFUCTO, said Mrs Gandhi and her party had got the mandate and she should take over as the Prime Minister.


Sikh priests decry seva dal advertisement
Ask Malaysian gurdwaras to stop non-veg in langar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 18
The five Sikh high priests while taking a serious note of an advertisement denigrating Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh Guru, by Miri Piri Seva Dal head Gurinderpal Singh Dhanola, issued directions to the Sikh sangat not to drag the name of Sikh gurus in any type of campaigning and warned that such advertisements should not be repeated in the SGPC elections scheduled for July 11.

In another significant decision, the head priests denied permission to Malaysian gurdwaras for serving non-vegetarian food in the langar.

Both matters assume significance as this is the first time that such issues were deliberated upon at a meeting held at the Akal Takht secretariat today. Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti said they had received a communication from Kishan Singh, secretary, Kalang Gurdwara in Malaysia, who stated that a kind of meat was being served in many gurdwaras there and sought permission for its continuance which was denied to them.

The head priests also took objection to the name of ‘onkar’ (religious symbol of Sikhs) used as the name by a TV channel.

In another decision, the head priests directed the demolition of steps constructed for the handicapped in Sacha Dhan Gurdwara at Mohali and demanded a report on the construction near the parkash of Guru Granth Sahib there.

Satnam Singh, a nihang who had presented himself here for placing kalgi on controversial Baba Bhaniarawale, was awarded ‘tankhah’.

The meeting also took a serious note of book ‘Guru Garib Niwaz’, written by five persons eulogising a self-styled guru of Padhri Kalan. The head priests also discussed taking Guru Granth Sahib to a ‘mazaar’ in Sansara village near Rajasansi and another instance of taking the holy book to a marriage palace by Gurjant Singh in Raikot.


4 held for torturing daughter-in-law
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 18
Four members of a family were arrested on the allegations of torturing their daughter-in-law for dowry.

According to the police, Pinki of Hazara village, near here, in her complaint, said she was married to Sukhbir Singh of Mehra village (Phagwara), who was now settled in the US. She alleged that her father-in-law Harbans Singh, mother-in-law Surjit Kaur, sister-in-law Ranjit Kaur and an aunt Jaswinder Kaur, in connivance with her husband, used to torture her for bringing inadequate dowry.

She said she was asked to arrange for a luxury car from her parents. She was thrown out of the home when she refused to do so.

The police has registered a case under Sections 406 and 498-A, IPC, and the accused have been arrested. They were produced in a local court which remanded Harbans Singh and Surjit Kaur in police custody while sending the others to judicial custody.


Biotechnology board set up in Punjab
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 18
Punjab has established a biotechnology promotion board under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

Ms Romila Dubey, Principal Secretary, Science, Technology, Environment and Non-Conventional Energy, said the board would create public awareness about diverse uses of biotechnology, establish BT parks and promote cultivation and processing of herbs and aromatic plants. It would also work for procurement of instruments, equipment for biotechnological research and have the power to direct activities under various departments and agencies of the state on biotechnology.

The official board members are the Chief Secretary and the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister and the administrative Secretaries concerned, besides the PAU Vice-Chancellor and the Executive Director of the Punjab State council for science and technology.

The non-official members are: Dr M.S Swaminathan, Prof Y.S. Rajan, a former PTU Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.S. Johl, Vice-Chairman, State Planning Board; Dr D.S. Brar, CEO, Ranbaxy Labs Ltd; Mr Rajesh Jain (Panacea Biotech), Dr G.S. Khush, Professor of Eminence at University of California, USA, and Dr Inder Verma, Professor, Salk Institute, USA. Both Dr Khush and Prof Verma are special invitees.

The board is expected to prove crucial for allowing use of transgenic biotechnology in agriculture. Punjab had played a big role in solving food scarcity in the country first with the “wheat” revolution through the cultivation of high-yielding varieties followed by the “rice” revolution. Even the present “surplus” foodstocks can vanish in the case of a natural calamity. The continuing rapid growth of population would require stepping up foodgrains production and productivity. Biotechnology would fasten the process of achieving this objective.

In fact, permission to cultivate BT cotton by the Centre — despite lobbying against it by certain individuals and organisations — was widely welcomed, including by Nobel Laureate, Norman Borlaug, whose Mexican wheat varieties ushered in the Green Revolution in Punjab in the mid-sixties.

Both economists and agriculture research workers at the PAU agree that if necessary funding was assured, biotechnology, would speed up development of improved cultivars with a higher genetic potential. PAU Director of Research G.S. Nanda says that biotechnology, bioinformatics are among the focus areas at the PAU.

PAU Vice-Chancellor K.S. Aulakh said the use of biotechnology would certainly increase resistance to diseases and insects and bring about greater tolerance to drought, heat, cold and soil toxicity.


BSP leader resigns
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 18
Mr Mangat Rai Bansal, a senior leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Punjab, who unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha elections as its candidate, today resigned from the primary membership of the party.

Mr Bansal said he would continue to make efforts for the uplift of the poor. He said he quit the party as it was exploiting the sentiments of its rank and file.

He said the party President, Ms Mayawati, had been ignoring the interests of workers. He added that she had even ignored the founder of party, Mr Kanshi Ram.

Mr Bansal was the BSP candidate from the Sangrur parliamentary constituency in the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections. He, however, withdrew his candidature in the Lok Sabha elections in favour of the Congress candidate, Mr Arvind Khanna.


President urged to order re-elections
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 18
In view of no clear mandate to any party or any pre-poll alliance, Mr Baldev Singh Mann, expelled SAD leader and former general secretary of the party, today urged the President to order fresh parliamentary elections.

Mr Mann criticised the CPM, the CPI and the Samajwadi Party, for supporting the proposed Congress-led government. He said these were the same parties that had fought against the Congress in the recently conducted Lok Sabha election, but were now “deceiving” the people.


Open Indo-Pak trade channels: Alam
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 18
Hoping that enhancement of bilateral exchange could bring people of Pakistan and India closer, Mr Imtiaz Alam Secretary of the South Asia Free Media Association, yesterday suggested that the names of Indians who had left their property in Pakistan during the partition, could be engraved on their properties as a goodwill gesture.

Mr Imtiaz Alam was here on an invitation of the Hind-Pak Dosti Manch convened by Mr Satnam Singh Manak. He interacted with people from different walks of life and shared his views with them.

Addressing a gathering, Mr Alam said enhancement of bilateral exchange, particularly the trade, between the two countries could work wonders and could bring people of the two countries more closer to each other. “The possibility of opening of trade channel through the Wagah-Lahore road has already led to hike in prices of properties along the Wagah-Lahore road in Pakistan. To attain big things, we have to remove small differences,” said Mr Alam. He said he had met the Punjab (Pakistan) Chief Minister for improving bilateral relations between the two Punjabs. He said he would meet Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh at Chandigarh tomorrow for the same purpose.

He suggested that the depiction of names of Indian people on their properties, left in Pakistan during the Partition, would create goodwill and improve ties.

Mr Varinder Bajwa, newly elected Rajya Sabha member from Hoshiarpur, also hoped that the relations between the two countries would improve as people of both countries wanted to come closer.


Jaito SMO suspended
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 18
The Punjab Government has suspended Dr Ajit Pal Singh, SMO, Civil Hospital, Jaito, with immediate effect due to his failure to perform his duties in handling diarrhoea cases.

A fax message received at the Deputy Commissioner’s office directed the erring doctor to work at Civil Surgeon’s Office here till his suspension. Dr Romesh Chaudhri, District Family Planning Officer, Faridkot, will discharge the duties of SMO, Jaito.

The state government has initiated the action following a complaint by the Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot, yesterday against Dr Ajit Pal Singh, who not only remained negligent and absent from duty frequently, but also disobeyed the orders of the Deputy Commissioner and Civil Surgeon.

Keeping in view the seriousness of the situation, the Deputy Commissioner himself shifted the headquarter of the doctor here from Jaito yesterday and later apprised the matter in detail to the Health Secretary, Punjab.

Disclosing this here today after reviewing the situation in the affected areas, Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot, not only claimed the situation under control but also stated that as many as five medical teams headed by experts were providing medical treatment to the diarrhoea patients round-the-clock at their doorstep. Each team has also been equipped with an ambulance to meet any emergency. In addition to, it four more experts from the local government Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital had been deployed today to assist the working medical teams. As far as 20 patients out of 30, who were earlier admitted in the Civil Hospital, Jaito, had been discharged and the remaining were likely to be discharged within a day or two, said the Deputy Commissioner.

Supply of clean drinking water has also been ensured by deploying two separate tankers, besides directing the Public Health Department to segregate the water supply of the affected areas from other sources.


Two children drowned
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 18
Two children identified as Arun Kumar and Varinder Singh, both residents of Bathinda military station, were drowned in a pond last evening. Their bodies were recovered last night.

Police sources said both Varinder Singh and Arun Kumar, who were sons of military personnel were playing cricket. One of them went to drink water at the pond. Suddenly his foot slipped from the bank of the pond and he fell into it.

On hearing his cries the other child jumped into the pond to save his friend. But he, too, drowned.

When the children failed to return home, a search was launched . One shoe of the deceased was lying near the pond. Later the bodies were spotted floating in the pond.

The bodies were fished out by the Army personnel from the pond. These were later handed over to the kin after post-mortem examinations.

A case in this connection had been registered.


2 die as flames engulf shop

Moga, May 18
At least two persons, including the owner of a hardware store, died when a fire broke out in the store after a PSEB transformer installed in front of the store exploded last evening. The store was completely destroyed and the municipal fire engine fought with the flames for more than 90 minutes.

The adjoining shops on the Akalsar road were saved, fire brigade sources said.

According to the police, transformer first started giving sparks, then there was a blast and after that the entire transformer oil leaked on the shop.

Within no time, the entire hardware store was engulfed in fire and its owner Baboo and a customer became the victims of the fire. — PTI


‘Make soil conservation divisions functional’
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 18
The general body of the Punjab State Forest Officers Association at a meeting presided over by Mr R.S. Awasthi viewed with concern that “tainted” officers had been posted at responsible positions in the department. The meeting resolved that no such officer should be posted as in charge of a division, circle, Kandi project and the Forest Corporation in the state.

This was stated in a press note by Mr Paramveer Singh, publicity secretary of the association, here today. He said the meeting also resolved that three soil conservation divisions should be made functional to achieve the targets.

The following have been elected office bearers of the association. president — Mr R.R. Kakkar; vice-president — Mr Krishan Lal; General Secretary; — Mr Karamjit Singh; Finance Secretary — Mr Aseem Sharma; and joint secretary — Mr Tajinder Singh.


Heatwave claims another life
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 18
The heatwave sweeping the region for the past few days has claimed one more life as an unidentified person died of sunstroke near Goniana town, 15 km from here, today. The death toll due to the heatwave has reached four in this town.

In another incident, Devi Dyal, a resident of Narwana (Haryana), was crushed to death by a bus near Hanuman Chowk.

Mr Vijay Goyal, president of Sahara Jan Seva, in a press note here today said a child who had suffered sunstroke was found on the platform of the railway station and had been admitted to the Civil Hospital.


Lekhak Sabha’s office-bearers
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 18
The following have been elected office-bearers of the Kendri Punjabi Lekhak Sabha (Sekhon): president — Mr Jaswant Singh Kanwal, senior vice-president — Dr Pritam Singh Rahi; general secretary — Dr Tejwant Mann; vice-presidents — Dr Dalip Kaur Tiwana, Mr Jagir Singh Jagtar, Dr Joginder Singh Nirala and Dr Satinder Singh Noor; and secretaries — Mr Bhupinder, Mr Gulzar Singh Shaunky, Mr Iqbal Gharu, Ms Bhupinder Preet Kaur and Mr Niranjan Boha.


Pendency of court cases might continue despite appointments
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 18
Even as the posting of eight judges at Jalandhar by the Punjab and Haryana High Court has raised the total strength of judicial officers to 11, an unprecedented high pendency of cases might continue as a source of inconvenience for both judges and litigants for quite some more time.

The high court has recently appointed eight judicial officers of the rank of Judicial Magistrate (Ist Class), out of which six has assumed the charge. While three of the six judges are newly appointed, remaining three are experienced. Two more judges are likely to join this week. Prior to the appointment of eight judges, only three judicial officers namely Mr K.K. Karir, Civil Judge (Senior Division), Ms Mandip Pannu, Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division) and Mr Jagnahar Singh, Chief Judicial Magistrate, were handling the cases.

The appointment of the judges may not bring any immediate relief as the required strength of judges is at least 20. Moreover, five of the judges are fresh appointees and they likely to proceed on training for about two months.

It is estimated that around 5,000 to 6,000 cases are being handled by a judical officer even though the officer should be taking up between 1,000 and 2,000 cases. Lawyers and judicial officers pointed out that going by the existing high pendency of cases, it might take several months to clear the backlog. “Even with the appointment of 20 judicial officers, it would take months to clear the pending cases,” maintained an advocate.


Sale of cut fruits banned
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, May 18
Mr B.R. Banga, Deputy Commissioner, has imposed a ban on the sale of cut fruits and vegetables in this district to prevent the spread of diarrhoea and gastroenteritis.

In a press note here today, he said the sale of mineral water and ice candies would also be regulated and manufacturers would be required to take certificates from the district health authorities to sell the same. The timing of schools had also been changed. The schools would open at 7 am and close at 11 am.


Minor kidnapped, raped; 2 held
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 18
Two persons, including a woman, were arrested here today for allegedly kidnapping, raping and keeping a minor girl in illegal detention. The police has registered a case under Sections 376, 363, 365, 366, 368, 506 and 120-B of IPC at B-division police station.

The 16-year-old, resident of Pandori village in the Sultanwind area, in the complaint lodged alleged that Sarabjit Kaur, her son Paramjit Singh, alias Pamma, Beant Kaur and Ramesh Kumar, husband of Sarabjit Kaur, all residents of Kapur Nagar here kidnapped her when she was going to Mata Kaulan Hospital side on April 19. She alleged they took her to the house of Beant Kaur and kept her in illegal detention for three or four days.

The police has arrested Sarabjit Kaur and her husband in this regard.

The victim alleged that from the house of Beant Kaur, Paramjit Singh took her to another place and raped her regularly for a month. She alleged she was kept in illegal detention for the same period by Paramjit and others who used to threaten her with dire consequences. The accused also took signatures on blank papers, she added.

The girl used to work in the house of the accused as maidservent.

However, due to alleged continuous advances and physical harassment by Paramjit, she left the job about two months back.

The complainant added that yesterday the accused were taking her to court to forcibly marry her. She fled from there, giving a dodge to them.


Clerk booked for embezzlement
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, May 18
Ratinder Singh, a clerk in the office of the SDM, Patti, has been booked under Sections 409 and 201 of the IPC for embezzlement and causing a loss of Rs 2,30,669 to the state exchequer.

Police sources said here today that the clerk used to receive licence fee for vehicles, but did not deposit the amount in the state Treasury. The matter came to light during the audit by the Accountant-General, Punjab, some time ago. The Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar, conducted an inquiry into the matter.

The services of the clerk have been terminated.


Remand for PSEB official

Patiala, May 18
The Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr M.P.S. Pawa has sent Jaspal Singh Sachdeva, Deputy Chief Electrical (Civil) of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) on a one-day police remand here today. He was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau for accepting a bribe of Rs 22,000. He was allegedly demanding 2 per cent commission from a contractor to pass his bill of a 66 KV substation constructed in Muktsar. — OC


Approach HC, PTU tells BCA students
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 18
Even as the affected students of the BCA in different engineering colleges were demanding a mercy chance Punjab Technical University (PTU) today suggested the students to approach the Punjab and Haryana High Court for any such relief.

According to the Registrar of the PTU, Dr M.S. Grewal, the court while dismissing a writ petition filed by the affected students in this regard last year, had observed that a candidate was required to get through a particular semester within a maximum of three chances, including the regular chance. If he failed to do so, he could not be allowed to continue the studies. The court further directed the university to file an affidavit that no mercy chance would ever be given to such students.

Dr Grewal maintained that the agitating students should abandon the path of confrontation.


Reinstate Principal, demand residents
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 18
Residents of Dutaranwal village, including some members of the gram panchayat, today staged a dharna over the suspension of Mr K. L. Baghla, Principal of Government Senior Secondary School, Dutaranwali. The panchayat had reportedly locked the school seven days back to express resentment over the suspension of the Principal.

Mr Baghla’s suspension orders had been issued by the Secretariat after the DEO held an inquiry on some complaints against the Principal. The panchayat said as number of students had increased and working of the school was streamlined during the past few months, so they were demanding that Mr Baghla be reinstated pending final inquiry. The DEO said it was the Secretary (Education) who was competent to reverse the orders.

The DEO met the SDM, Mr Inder Yash Bhatti, along with some teachers of the school who were unable to sign the attendance register as the panchayat had locked the school. The SDM deputed Tehsildar to probe the matter and submit the report in a day.

Sources said some private schools in the neighborhood were instigating the residents to continue the agitation for vested interest.


Punjab advances summer vacations
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 18
The Punjab Government today advanced the summer vacations for schools in the state. The decision in this connection was taken late this evening by a high-level committee of government officials.

Mr Sohan Lal, Director, Public Instruction (Schools), said the vacations would start on May 21 and would continue till July 4. He added that the decision had been taken keeping in view the persisting heat wave in the region.


School timings changed
Tribune Reporters

Patiala, May 18
In view of extreme weather conditions, the district administration has changed the timings of government and private schools. Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh said all schools in the district would now open at 7 am and close at 11 am till May 31.

Fatehgarh Sahib: In view of the scorching heat, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, has rescheduled the timings of schools in the district. The school timings will be 7 am to 11 am till May 31.

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