P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SAD releases manifesto for SGPC poll
Promises to set up Sikh educational secretariat
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 2
The SAD President and former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has alleged that the Congress-ruled government in Punjab has failed to live up to the commitments made by the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to ensure a free and fair SGPC poll. Releasing his party’s agenda for the SGPC poll here today, Mr Badal said the Congress was unnecessarily interfering in the affairs of the Sikh panth by blatantly trying to subvert the electoral process.

He accused the Punjab Government of using arm twisting measures to ensure an electoral advantage for the Panthic Morcha candidates, who he said had been propped up by none other than the Congress. He accused the Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, of getting false cases registered against the SAD workers and also of directing electoral officials of rejecting the nominations of SAD nominees on frivolous grounds.

“Despite all unfair means, SAD nominees will win the poll by a thumping majority”, Mr Badal said while adding that the party had decided to expel all those SAD members who were found opposing the party’s official nominee. Releasing the party’s manifesto, he said a first of its kind sikh educational secretariat would be set up to promote and regulate vibrant educational environs, starting of sikh university and a state-of-the-art TV channel are some of the highlights of the SAD’s Panthic Agenda. The panthic agenda commits itself to the ‘creation of a new, dynamic social order based on the vision and fundamental principles of the Sikhism’ and outlined an ambitious socio-cultural and religious program to realise the goal of a self-propagating Sikh spiritual ethos in the society.

The party’s manifesto that has been described as the ‘panthic Agenda’, says that the party would first of all engage itself and the Sikh world in observing the first anniversary of the Parkash Utsav of holy Sri Guru Granth Sahib on a global scale, involving not only all political parties and governments at the Centre and states and union territories but also taking in its fold government all over the world. The event would be observed as an occasion for spiritual re-awakening through moral rededication to the vision of the great Gurus.

The Panthic Agenda promises to give a new dimensions, scope and meaning to the observance of the occasion taking care that it steps across ritualistic symbolism.

Striking a strong humanitarian chord, the agenda rededicates the SAD to the creation of a socio-political and economic order in which the down-trodden and the weaker section of the society especially the dalits, are given an opportunity to rise above the limitations imposed on their development. The agenda also takes note of the challenges posed by retrogressive and anti-Sikh tendencies such as a deviation from the Rehat Maryada and the growing menace of ‘Patit inclination’.

Further, the agenda promises to guard traditional Sikh values by a preserving adherence to the Rehat Maryada. It also lays emphasis on a enlightened programme of amrit paan (partaking for the holy nectar). The agenda lays focus on the unique and separately definable proud identity of the Khalsa, both in its social and spiritual manifestations. The SAD would place this component of religion-political ideology in the context of the first Parkash Utsav of Guru Granth Sahib in the 12th century. 


Supplementary SGPC voter lists stalled
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 2
Apprehending the enrolment of bogus voters in some of the constituencies, including Bathinda, Ludhiana, Patiala, Ropar, Gurdaspur and Amritsar, for the forthcoming Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) elections, the Gurdwara Election Commission has stalled the publication of supplementary voters’ lists in the areas.

The commission has also summoned the records and application forms submitted for enrolment as voters. In fact, the Deputy Commissioners and Returning Officers have been asked to submit the record by July 3. Subsequent action will be taken after perusing the records, commission members claim.

Addressing a press conference, Secretary of the commission Gurdev Singh said that in Ludhiana 36,500 applications had been submitted to the Deputy Commissioner. In Bathinda, the number was over 18,000, in Patiala 10,800, and in Gurdaspur 18,300.

The number of applications received by the Returning Officers was also high. In Amritsar it was 12,600, Patiala 15,300, Ropar 7,000 and Muktsar 4,000.

Mr Gurdev Singh said the commission would essentially see whether the fee was paid individually or in bulk. This would help the commission determine whether the applications were genuine or not.

Meanwhile, sources in the commission have revealed that Punjab has failed to reply to a request for deputing observers for the elections.

According to the sources, the commission had initially demanded 15 observers for the elections from Punjab. Haryana has already sent the list. As such, officers from Haryana would be deployed as observers in Punjab during the elections.

In the meantime, the Sehajdhari Sikh Federation has written to the Chief Commissioner, Gurdwara Elections, Justice J.S. Sekhon, to arrange medical examination at the booths to identify genuine kesdhari Sikh voters.


Dal Khalsa for amendment to gurdwara Act
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 2
With less than a fortnight to go for the SGPC elections, Dal Khalsa members today claimed they would work towards amending the Sikh Gurdwara Act for enabling the Sikh diaspora to have more say in the board’s affairs. The members also declared that they would be fielding 10 candidates, besides extending support to the Panthic Morcha candidates.

They recognised Pakistan’s SGPC and claimed they would coopt their members in the board. An election manifesto was also released. Addressing a press conference, the members, including working president Harcharan Singh and Mr Kanwar Pal Singh, alleged that Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti was working in tandem with Punjab’s former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

They claimed the Jathedar had deliberately left for the USA soon after the issuance of the code of conduct. This, they added, had been done so as to avoid passing adverse orders on complaints against the Badals. The members also demanded a review of the Act to ensure that Akal Takht was not governed by it.

Claiming that they were in favour of giving representation to the Sikh diaspora in the SGPC, the members said as of now the Act permitted nomination of five Sikhs from Punjab and 10 from the rest of the country. In the process, the Sikhs living abroad were being ignored.

Representation, they assured, would also be given to experts, including economists and doctors. They also promised the creation of a world university for Sikhs, besides Olympics for Sikhs. 


Candidate’s symbol changed thrice

Gurdaspur, July 2
A candidate for the July 11 SGPC election has been asked to move high court by the Gurdwara Election Commission when he complained that his election symbol had been changed thrice since June 21.

Dr Amarjit Singh, contesting as an Independent from the Pathankot constituency, said yesterday he was allotted the symbol of truck by Returning Officer (RO) Ashok Bhatia on June 21, adding he started campaigning on it and got the publicity material printed.

He said on June 29 he received a letter from the RO, stating his symbol had been changed to scooter. Dr Singh said in accordingly he got fresh campaign material printed.

An exasperated Dr Singh said he received another letter from the RO, informing him that his symbol had again been changed “finally” to an oil tanker.

He said when he met deputy commissioner Harjit Singh, seeking his intervention in his capacity as the District Election Officer, he put him off saying, “I should get back to the RO.”

He said since the RO declined to entertain his plea, he communicated his distress to the commission where a functionary advised him to move the Punjab and Haryana High Court. — UNI


International call racket busted
J.S. Malhotra

Jalandhar, July 2
Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL) has unearthed a multi-crore international call racket operating in different parts of the city by misusing the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) for automatic switching of international calls received through Internet leased lines with the confiscation of equipment of two illegal telephone exchanges here.

The district police along with VSNL officials raided Lotus Towers and the World Trade Centre here, from where, these illegal telephone exchanges were functioning in two locked shops. The police broke open the door of the shops after getting search warrants from the court to find hyper sensitive telecom equipment and gadgets working as mini exchanges. The equipment worth Rs 15 lakh was confiscated while a detailed record of telephone lines engaged in the racket was also decoded to ascertain the identity of the illegal users.

While 16 telephone connections of Reliance Telecom and Connect were found operational in Lotus Towers, the exact number of telephones at the World Trade Centre was being worked out. The police also found some incriminating documents from the World Trade Centre, which established that both exchanges were being run by the same group.

Though the experts were of the opinion that during the past four months of operation of these exchanges, the VSNL had suffered loss running into crores, the police was also probing whether any terrorist outfit was using this network to avoid detection during monitoring of international calls by the VSNL through its gateway. The prima facie it was established that international calls to different countries were being made and received through this illegal channel, Mr Sandhu said.

The Vigilance wing of the VSNL in Delhi during the monitoring of the international calls had found that the ISDN no 181-5002802 was being misused by auto switching of the international calls bypassing authorised gateway of the ILD operator. Subsequently, the detailed records of this ISDN line from June 26 to 28 were obtained from Connect Telecom to find that hundreds of international calls were made through it. The matter was referred to the district police, which registered a case under various sections of the Telegraph Act on June 30.

Mr G.S. Sharma, Manager (Vigilance) of the VSNL, revealed that since these telephone exchanges were running independently, it was beyond the scope of legal monitoring. “It is also capable of causing threat to the security of the nation,” he said.

Mr Sandhu, however, maintained that they were probing the possibility of the involvement of some city-based PCO holders in the racket. “During the preliminary investigation, we found that though the customers are being charged actual tariff as per TRAI guidelines, but international calls cost them very less since they are not paying any revenue to the authorised service provider for the facility. Besides, there are reports that a gang, which is behind the racket, had also sold cash cards worth lakhs of rupees in western countries to the customers, who can dial a particular number to get automatically connected through these ISDN lines here in India while sitting abroad,” he said. The accused was identified as Parminder Singh of Harsi village in Hoshiarpur district, he added.

Parminder Singh had taken a shop in Lotus Towers from its owner Mr Malkiat Singh on lease on March 3 for running a computer business even as he had regularly paid lease money of Rs 3250 per month. Mr Malkiat Singh was away to England and could not be contacted. The police, however, maintained that Mr Malkiat Singh was being served notice under Section 188 of the IPC to join the investigation since he had failed to inform the police about his tenant as per the orders of the District Magistrate.

“The raids are being conducted at suspected hideouts and residences of the accused,” Mr Sandhu added.


7 former improvement trust officials charge-sheeted
Lalit Mohan and Ravi Bhushan Puri
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, July 2
The Department of Local Government has charge-sheeted seven officials of the Pathankot Improvement Trust, including a former Administrator and IAS officer. The other officers include two former executive officers and other junior officials, including draftsmen and the trust engineer.

Highly placed sources told The Tribune that the said officers had been charge-sheeted on the directive of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The court had ordered the Department of Local Government to take action against the officials, who allowed construction on the acquired land falling within the revenue limits of Siali and Anandpur villages within the municipal limits of Pathankot.

The trust had acquired about 222 acres through a resolution for the expansion of development scheme named “Timber Market and Truck Stand”. Notices were served to the landowners in 1971. However, despite the land being under the acquisition of the trust certain private developers developed super structures on the land. The improvement trust authorities failed to take action against the illegal colonisers.

The Land Acquisition Collector ignoring the fact that super structures on the land had come up after the acquisition process was initiated awarded enhanced compensation for the land and the super-structures raised on it was paid for by the trust in 1976 causing alleged heavy loss to the state exchequer.

A whopping sum of Rs 82,31,000 was spent later by the trust on the implementation of the scheme under which streets, roads and lighting facilities were provided.

Some affected persons filed a civil writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. While disposing of the petition, the high court on October, 31, 2002, directed the Punjab State and the trust to re-consider the entire matter with regard to the implementation of its amended scheme.

The court also observed that discrimination and inequities should be avoided by the state in its decision and actions.

The court directed the state and others to take appropriate action against all the erring officers and officials. It observed that action should be taken against all officers, who by their conduct or otherwise, permitted the unauthorised colonies to come up during all this period.


CM to take up bypass project issue with Pranab
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 2
The southern bypass project, which was conceived in 1985 by the Army to smoothen traffic on the Chandi Mandir — Bathinda section but was lying unimplemented despite acquisition of the land, may get a fresh lease of life with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, willing to approach the Defence Minister on the issue.

The construction of the bypass is not only important for the Army authorities but also for the civil administration. Its completion will remove the traffic bottlenecks from the city as vehicles going towards Sangrur will not have to enter it. Presently going towards Sangrur the entry of vehicles puts immense pressure on the Fountain Chowk.

The project visualises the construction of a 20-km long road at a cost of Rs 45 crore by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO). The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh, when communique disclosed that the civil administration had recently received a communique from the Western Command authorities stating that the project could not be passed by the Ministry of Defence due to the paucity of funds.

He said though the Western Command authorities had again requested the Defence Ministry to release the funds for the project, Capt Amarinder Singh had decided to take up the issue with the Defence Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee.

According to sources, the project was conceived in 1985 because the Army faced problems in moving its heavy traffic through the city. They said there were at least three sharp turns which slowed down the Army movement. Moving the heavy traffic through the city was also time consuming.

Though the project started quickly with the original land acquisition taking place in 1986, the Army authorities felt they needed more land. The acquisition of land was completed in 2002. Since then there has been no movement on the project.

The district administration is keen to take quick decision on the project as it feels that farmers may start ploughing on the acquired land if it remains vacant. The administration also feels that completion of the project is the only way to decongest the city. Besides ensuring that traffic going towards Malwa region does not enter the city, it will also lead to urban development along the entire route of the new highway.

The administration hopes that the Army will take up the project as it does not want to handle the project. The prospect of a toll road on the bypass don’t look bright as there are other options to pass through the city. The project is also very costly because it envisages the construction of as many as four small bridges.

Citizens, however, feel that the government should take up the work in its own hands in case the Army authorities continue to dither. “Establishing the bypass could become an income generating source for the government in the long run as the area along it could be exploited for both commercial as will as residential purposes”, said Gurbhag Singh, a real estate dealer. Others feel the project is a social responsibility necessary to decongest the Mall road.


Villagers ransack grid; 2 PSEB employees assaulted
Tribune Reporters

Moga, July 2
Angry over the unscheduled power cuts, residents of Mari Mustafa village ransacked the 66 kv grid and also assaulted two Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) employees in the village on Wednesday night.

Sources said 150 villagers gathered at the grid and broke open its door. They also manhandled the watchman and broke its windowpanes. When another PSEB employee told them that these cuts were due to the power crisis in the state. The villagers assaulted him and came out raising slogans against the electricity board. Mr Ran Singh, Xen, and Mr Tarsem Lal Sharma, SDO, reached the spot. According to Mr Sharma, those leading the mob were sons of a Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader. A complaint has been lodged against the six persons. The SDO claimed they were defaulters and the power supply to their homes was cut due to the non-payment of the bills. The Baghapurana ASI is investigating into the matter.

The sources said the grid was constructed on the land gifted by villagers and in turn the electricity board had promised 24-hour power supply to them. But presently they were getting power for 5 to 6 hours daily.

In a similar incident, farmers of Kokri Kalan village gheraoed a Junior Engineer of the PSEB when he came to the village to cut the connection of the state general secretary of the BKU (Ekta), Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan. The district president of the union, Mr Tarlok Singh Himmatpura, led the farmers. Mr Kokrikalan said the Amarinder government had promised free power and water to farmers, which was not fulfilled, and now this was being done to demoralise the farmers’ leadership.

MUKTSAR: Over 200 agitated villagers of Sotha village of the district attacked Rupana substation on Thursday night over irregular power supply. They pelted stones at the substation due to which several windowpanes were broken, said a PSEB employee posted at the substation on the condition of anonymity.

However, undermining the attack, the acting Muktsar PSEB SE, Mr J.S. Behl, said villagers were agitated, as the power could not be supplied to their village for several hours as a jumper had got burnt and it required sufficient time to be replaced.

The DSP, Muktsar, Mr Gurmeet Singh, said no FIR had been registered in this regard. However, PSEB officers did not lodge any formal complaint with the police reportedly due to pressure of some influential persons, it is learnt.

The residents of Muktsar district have been facing power cuts for several hours a day for past several days. Mr Behl said the department was trying hard to provide uninterrupted power supply to the people but it would only be possible after adequate rain.


Board losing Rs 75 lakh daily due to power cuts
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 2
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) is losing revenue of Rs 75 lakh per day due to power cuts imposed on the industrial and domestic sectors in the state.


Engineers’ arrest motivated, say PWD staff
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 2
Employees of the Public Works Department (Building and Roads) today organised a dharna and blocked the road in front of the Mini-Secretariat alleging that engineers of its department had been arrested by the state vigilance bureau as part of a conspiracy aimed at tarnishing the image of certain senior ministers prior to the reconstitution of the state Cabinet.

The protest saw a large number of officers and employees gathering in the Mini-Secretariat. Representatives of the Senior Engineers Forum, the Sub Divisional Engineers Association, the Diploma Engineers Association, the Ministerial Services Association and the Class Four Government Employees Union were present at the dharna. The Punjab State Karamchari Dal and the Punjab State Employees and UT Employees Joint Action Committee also lent its support to the protest.

Engineers and employee association leaders, including JAC convener N.K. Aggarwal and Hari Singh Tohra of the Karamchari Dal said the Vigilance department had conducted raids against officers of its department without verifying the facts of the case. They also alleged that the timing of the raids smacked of a political conspiracy to tarnish the image of some senior ministers who were in the race to get some important portfolios following the reconstitution of the state Cabinet.

JAC members said an income tax raid was carried out on the premises of a carriage contractor in November, 2003. They alleged that during the past eight months not a single record such as stock register, indent book related to stores of the department were summoned or checked by the Vigilance officials. They said it was strange that the press note of the Vigilance Bureau mentioned the diversion of bitumen but did not mention a single complaint regarding the quality of works in the department.

While the Vigilance Department was alleging that a bribe of Rs 4 crore had been paid as a bribe to certain engineers by the carriage contractor whereas the order to the contractor for ferrying the bitumen was much less.

The Joint Action Committee while “condemning the high handed action” demanded that the FIR be cancelled within 24 hours and the inquiry of the case be entrusted to an independent agency in order to avoid political bias. The JAC also decided that PWD (B and R) employees will go on mass casual leave and sit on dharna at district headquarters from today.

Amritsar: As many as 150 employees of the Public Works Department (PWD) staged a dharna at department’s circle office and observed a one-day mass leave here on Friday. Led by joint action committee co-convener Avtar Singh Dhillon and district convener Manjinder Singh, they alleged that there was a move to defame a particular minister.

Hoshiarpur: Members of the Joint Action Committee PWD (B&R) staged a dharna and rally in protest against the recent arrests of departmental employees including superintending engineer, executive engineers, sub divisional engineers and junior engineers by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau in the bitumen scam while they were sleeping in their houses.

Mr Harbans Singh, President Diploma Engineers Association and other speakers while addressing the rally condemned this action of the Vigilance Bureau. They demanded the withdrawal of the case and immediate release of all arrested employees.

A meeting of the Joint Action Committee would be held in Chandigarh on July 4 to plan a strategy to intensify their agitation if the cases were not withdrawn.


Bitumen scam: remand of accused extended
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 2
A Kharar court today extended the police remand of the 28 persons arrested for their alleged involvement in the Bitumen scam by another three days.

As many as 27 engineers including Superintending Engineer, Mr M.S. Kanjla and a Ludhiana based trader Mr Satnam Arora, were arrested by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau on June 29 in a major operation across the state. Announcing the remand orders late in the evening, Duty Magistrate, Poonam Ratti, asked the Vigilance to produce the accused on July 5.

According to a press note, engineers across the state went on mass casual leave today and sat on dharna at various district headquarters.


Rally against arrests in bitumen scam
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 2
A rally was organised by employees of the PWD (B&R) at the Civil Rest House here today in protest against the raids conducted by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau in which officials were arrested in connection with the bitumen scam.

The protesters raised slogans against the Director of the Vigilance Bureau. They said false cases had been registered against employees of the PWD and demanded that the Vigilance Bureau should withdraw all such cases. They said the raids were part of a deep-rooted political conspiracy to sideline Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Public Works Minister, Punjab.

They demanded that justice should be given to the affected officials, failing which the agitation would be intensified. 


Bitumen scam: Badal for CBI probe
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 2
SAD President Parkash Singh Badal has demanded a CBI probe into the multicrore bitumen scam. In a statement issued here yesterday, Mr Badal, said it had been reported by the media that the Chief Minister’s Office had played a dubious role in the entire episode. In the light of these reports, it would be appropriate to order a CBI inquiry.

Questioning the professional competence and impartiality of the Vigilance Bureau, Mr Badal said the bureau had been priding itself on functioning as the “ political arm of the CM”. Therefore, the bureau could not be relied upon to handle such a sensitive case.

The Akali leader also asked the Punjab Chief Minister to come clean on reports that a lobby was at work in the CMO to use the Vigilance Bureau for “fixing” his political opponents. In a separate statement, Mr Badal, said the Congress Government at the Centre was fully in league with the Amarinder Singh Government in what he described as “mounting aggression against the Khalsa Panth on the emotional and volatile issue of the management of the Sikh shrines”.

He warned the Congress leaders in Punjab and at the Centre against playing “ with fire through their open attempts to influence the outcome of the forthcoming SGPC elections”.

Moga: Demanding a CBI probe into the bitumen scam in the state, former Punjab Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal President Parkash Singh Badal yesterday termed the recent crackdown on several engineers in connection with the same as “politically motivated.” “If Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is sincere about punishing the guilty he must refer the scam for a CBI probe,” the Akali leader told reporters here.

Mr Badal demanded the deployment of central forces to conduct the July 11 SGPC elections in Punjab. — PTI


Embezzlement of Rs 28.65 lakh detected
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 2
An audit team of the office of Accountant General Punjab recently detected embezzlement of Rs 28.65 lakh in the Kandi Watershed Drainage Division here.

According to official sources Amrik Singh, an official of the division allegedly in connivance with some senior officers of the department and District Treasury Office here embezzled Rs 28.65 lakh. Sources said that he had withdrawn the said amount against 50 vacant posts of naib-tehsildars, Kanungos, patwaris and canal patwaris of the Land Acquisition Officer of the Kandi Watershed Drainage Division here. A scrutiny by the audit party revealed the embezzlement.

Amrik Singh has disappeared and does not attend duty. The matter has been reported to the SSP here to trace Amrik Singh.

Mr T.L. Bangay, Superintending Engineer Dholbaha Dam Construction Circle here, has informed the Chief Engineer Kandi Area Development (KAD) Punjab. He has deputed Mr Balbir Singh Sidhu, Superintending Engineer, Kandi Canal Construction Circle, to probe the case.

Mr Sidhu confirmed the embezzlement and said investigation being done by him. He will complete the investigation in a week and submit a report to the Chief Engineer, KAD.

The wife of Amrik Singh has filed a complaint regarding missing of her husband with Balachaur police station.


Now direct flight to Los Angeles from Amritsar

Jalandhar, July 2
Air travellers from Punjab will now have direct connection to Los Angeles from Amritsar over Frankfurt by Air India flights on every Friday.

An Air India spokesperson said here today with the availability of this option to the travellers with effect from July one, now Los Angeles and other en route destinations-bound passengers were not required to go Mumbai or Delhi to catch the flight.

Now on every Friday, these travellers could take an Air India flight for Frankfurt from Amritsar where they could catch Mumbai-Los Angeles flight and reach Los Angeles and 17 more West Coast destinations via Los Angeles with American Airlines and United Airlines and their partner airlines.

Air India has also introduced extremely low fares as an introductory offer to the people of Punjab for both one side and return journeys. — UNI


SAD(A) divided over backing Malout candidate
Tribune Reporters

Moga, July 2
Launching a scathing attack on the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the SAD(A) President and Panthic Morcha leader, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, said today that Mr Badal and other Akali leaders, who were involved in various criminal and corruption cases, had criminalised the Akali politics. Mr Mann, who was in the city to campaign for the Panthic Morcha candidate, Mr Gurpreetam Singh Cheema, said this while interacting with mediapersons.

He said Mr Badal was the first Akali Dal chief to be imprisoned and his wife, son and son-in-law were also involved in corruption cases. While Mr Adesh Pratap Singh, Mr Badal’s son-in-law, was on the run, senior Akali leader would soon face a CBI probe for misappropriating crores of rupees in fertilisers during his stint in the Union Cabinet.

He said Akali leaders Mr Sucha Singh Lungah, Mr Alwinder Pal Singh Pakhoke, and Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwa, whose nominations were cancelled for defaulting SGPC funds, instead of returning it were approaching the High Court over the issue.

Mr Badal, during his meetings with the Prime Minister, always raised the issue of “interference” with the SGPC poll and never took up issues like Sikhs languishing in Punjab jails for the past 20 years, ban on turbans in France, hate killings of Sikhs in the USA post-9/11 even during the rule of NDA of which the SAD was a part.

He said the Panthic Morcha, if voted to power would break the nexus of criminalisation of Sikh politics.

Mr Mann said the Panthic Morcha was in favour of broad-based representation in the SGPC for which representation would be given to the countries having Sikh diaspora. He said the SGPC had been politicised and SAD had given ticket to candidates who don’t follow Sikh tenets. Challenging Mr Badal, he said if he was so anti-Congress then he should issue a ‘fatwa’ asking pro-Congress Sikhs not to vote for his party in the SGPC poll.

MUKTSAR: Meanwhile, Mr Mann-led SAD(A), a major constituent of Panthic Morcha, is divided over the issue of supporting its Malout candidate Jaswant Singh Ramnagar.

The district unit of the SAD(A) under the presidentship of Gurlal Singh Dhanewalia is entirely against supporting Mr Ramnagar whereas Mr Mann is extending full support to him.

The differences within the SAD(A) over the issue came to fore on Thursday, when Mr Mann himself reached Malout and addressed an election rally in support of Mr Ramnagar during his visit to the Malwa region.

No prominent SAD(A) leader from the district, including Mr Dhanewalia, Mr Harminder Singh Malktora, Mr Iqbal Singh Baruwala and Mr Resham Singh was present in the rally.

Later reacting to queries of mediapersons, Mr Mann accepted the differences within the party over supporting Mr Ramnagar and said a committee would soon be constituted to look into the matter.

However, when contacted on Friday, Mr Dhanewalia took the decision of setting up a committee over the issue non-seriously. He said if it was set up, he would bring the reality to the notice of the committee as why the district unit was not supporting Mr Ramnagar. He said he was with Mr Mann on Thursday, but instead of going to Malout for attending Mr Ramnagar’s election rally, he directly went to Muktsar from Gidderbaha.

Accusing him to be a Congress agent, Mr Dhanewalia said Mr Ramnagar opposed him and supported a Congress candidate from Faridkot seat in the recently concluded parliamentary elections. That’s why, the district unit was against supporting him, he added.

Mr Dhanewalia said the decision of Panthic Morcha leaders regarding giving ticket to Mr Ramnagar was against its principles. Meanwhile, it is also learnt that the Panthic Morcha candidate from the constituency of Sangrur district had also opposed Mr Mann and supported the Congress candidate, Mr Arvind Khanna.

Meanwhile, Mr Dhanewalia said Veer Singh Aulakh was supporting Mr Ramnagar in the name of SAD(A) but he had nothing to do with the party. Mr Aulakh was claiming to be the SAD(A) Muktsar urban president, said Mr Dhanewalia adding that as the district chief of the party he would take legal action against him.

Mr Dhanewalia further said some supporters of Mr Ramnagar also put up a banner on his (Dhanewalia) office at Malout to give an impression to the voters that the SAD(A) district unit was supporting him. However, on learning this he removed the banner, he added.

The district president of SAD(A) reiterated that the district unit would not support Mr Ramnagar at all. At the same time, he said the district unit was extending full support to two other candidates of the Panthic Morcha in Muktsar district. They are Gurdev Singh Lubanowali and Mahan Singh Karaiwala from Muktsar (general) and Gidderbaha seats, respectively.


Badal a Central Govt agent, says Chandumajra
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 2
Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, the President of the SAD (Longowal) and senior leader of the Panthic Morcha, today accused Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the President of the SAD, of inviting Central Government’s direct intervention in the SGPC elections. He alleged that Mr Badal had opened the doors to the Central Government for intervening in the SGPC elections by meeting the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, in this regard.

Professor Chandumajra said Mr Badal had termed leaders of the Panthic Morcha as “agents of the Congress”. However, it was Mr Badal who had met the Prime Minister, who was a Congressman, he added. He also lashed out at Mr Badal for allegedly “pressurising” the Central Government for holding the SGPC elections during the monsoons. He alleged that the SGPC elections in the constituencies of the SAD candidates Mr Alwinder Pal Singh Pakhoke, Mr Sucha Singh Langah and Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan had been cancelled on the directions of Mr Badal.


Residents threaten to sue cable company
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 2
Residents of Model Town and Passi Road had a harrowing time yesterday when Patiala Today cable company officials failed to telecast the Euro Cup football match between Greece and Czechoslovakia.

The cable company was showing the match on Star Sports whose reception was very hazy. “I reported the matter to the cable operator immediately after switching on my set to watch the match,” said Jyoti, a housewife. She said while earlier the cable operator took her call and assured her that he would try to rectify the fault, later when she tried to call again there was no response from the other end.

A similar story was reported by other people of the area. The reception was so bad that we could not watch the match at all, said Mr Gurmeet Singh, another resident. He said the cable company could have easily made amends as the reception was awry right from the beginning and not something which happened midway. He said despite several phone calls, including those made to mobile phones, no official of Patiala Today cable company was available last night.

Some residents said they would approach the Consumer Court along with their phone records and record a complaint against the cable operator. “The cable operator is obliged to give appropriate service and if he fails in his task he can be hauled up by the Consumer Court,” Mr Gurmeet Singh said. He appealed to people to come forward in this regard so that quality service could be assured.


Badungar opposes degree to Sonia
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 2
Former SGPC president Kirpal Singh Badungar today urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to stop Punjabi University from awarding a D Litt degree to Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

In a statement here, Mr Badungar claimed that Mrs Sonia Gandhi had never done anything for Punjab, Punjabis or Punjabiat. He said giving such an honour to Mrs Gandhi would rake up wounds that were still fresh.

He said Mrs Gandhi’s family was responsible for Operation Bluestar which had hurt the sentiments of Sikhs worldwide.

Mr Badungar claimed that the degree was being given for political reasons as the institution had awakened to her greatness only when the Congress came to power.

He said the decision was unethical.

The akali leader urged the Prime Minister to intervene in the matter.


1,900 acres for airport at Phillaur
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 2
The Punjab Government has decided to provide 1,900 acres for setting up Greenfield airport at Phillaur.

Mr Avtar Henry, vice-patron of the NRI Sabha, Punjab, in a press statement issued here today said that the state government had decided to provide 1,900 acres for the proposed airport as 13 per cent share of the total cost of the project.

Mr Henry maintained that while 13 per cent of the cost would be borne by the Central Government, the remaining 74 per cent of the total investment would be collected by inviting global tenders. The project would be accomplished by the end of 2006, he added.


Booklet on traffic safety released
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 2
A booklet on traffic safety entitled “Sarak Surakhiya — Jiwan Rakhia”, complied and edited by Mr Harcharan Singh Arora, was released by the Managing Director of the State Bank of Patiala, Mr A.K. Das, at the concluding function of the Rotary Club’s diamond jubilee year held at the Academy of Sikh Religion and Culture here yesterday.

Mr Das lauded the efforts of the club in rendering outstanding service to the safety in various fields, especially in the field of road safety. He also congratulated club president Didar Singh Basson on winning a number of awards.

While welcoming the guests, Mr Basson, thanked the bank for its cooperation in sponsoring the project and also thanked the members of the club for their unstinted cooperation throughout the year.

He said the club had won 11 awards, including the Rotary International President Citation Award, President Par Excellence Awards, Awards for contributions to Rotary Foundation and Best Secretary’s award. Six members of the club namely Mr S.C. Sharma, Dr Ravi Bhushan, Dr Ashok Gupta, Mr S.H. Arora, Mr Manmeet S.P. Singh and Mr Amarjeet Baweja had won outstanding cooperation awards.

Among others who were present at the function were a former Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Dr Bhagat Singh; Assistant General Manager of the bank, Mr A.S. Bhatia; a former Principal of Mohindra College, Dr Joginder Singh; the president of the Citizens of Social Actions, Col Bhubnesh Sharma; Prof S.C. Sharma; Dr Ashok Gupta; and H.S. Mann.

The programme was concluded with a cultural programme, including a play “Malik Bhagho” based on the life of Guru Nanak Dev presented by artistes of the bank and a gazal by Prem Mathur.


Ahluwalia to attend interfaith conclave
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 2
Sikhism will be represented by a two-man delegation at the International Interfaith Conclave to be held in Barcelona, Spain, from July 7 to 13.

Stating this here today, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, president of the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation (GGSF), said he, along with Mr Joginder Singh Sawhney, would attend the conference being held under the auspices of the Council for Parliament of the World’s Religions, Chicago.

More than 10, 000 delegates from all over the world are expected to attend the conference for “exploring opportunities for shared action towards inter-religious peace”.

Dr Ahluwalia said special sessions devoted to the 400th anniversary this year of the first installation of Guru Granth Sahib in Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar, would also be held.

Dr Ahluwalia would make a presentation on “ideological roadblocks on the pathways to peace (the Sikh perspective).”

The GGSF has also got prepared a video film in English for screening at the Barcelona conference.


Baba Poohla, panel hold parallel melas
Varinder Walia and Gurbaxpuri

Poohla (Tarn Taran), July 2
Amid tight security, parallel “Shaheedi Mela” functions organised in memory of Bhai Taru Singh held by controversial Nihang chief Baba Ajit Singh Poohla and the Poohla Eviction Committee,(PEC) passed off peacefully. Baba Poohla and activists of the committee traded charges and counter charges and vowed to evict each other from the village.

Significantly, Mr Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, MLA from Patti and a son-in-law of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, CPM leader Mr Balwinder Singh Bhikhiwind and senior leaders of the ruling Congress participated in the function and sought the blessings from Baba Poohla.


Roadways workers hold rallies

Moga, July 2
In response to a call by the joint action committee of the Punjab Roadways Emoloyees Union, the employees throughout the state yesterday held protest rallies against alleged anti-employee attitude of the authorities.

Mr Gurmail Singh, convener of the committee, said rallies were held at all the depots yesterday. The Roadways employees were demanding the change of alleged anti-employee policy of the state Transport Commissioner and also the induction of 400 new buses in the present fleet of Punjab Roadways. — PTI


Work on memorial gates to start soon
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 2
The construction work on all four memorial gates, whose foundation stone was laid by the Chief Minister during the Shaheedi Jor Mela last year, will start soon. The Chief Minister has approved the site plan and directed the government agencies concerned to initiate work, said Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, while presiding over a meeting of higher officials of various government departments related with the work here today.

The state government will commemorate the 300th year of the supreme sacrifice of Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh, younger Sahibjadas of Guru Gobind Singh, this year. As a mark of respect to the Sahibjadas, the government has declared to develop Fatehgarh Sahib as a model district.

Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, is taking keen interest in the celebrations as well as in the development of the area. He had laid the foundation stones of four memorial gates to be constructed on all entry points.

Addressing the meeting, Mr Ahluwalia said one gate would be constructed by Markfed, one by the Warehousing Corporation and two by PUDA. He said the construction work would start this month and would be completed before the annual Shaheedi Jor Mela.

He said these gates would be dedicated to Bhai Moti Ram Mehra, who offered milk to Sahibjadas and Mata Gujri by risking his life, Nawab Sher Mohammad Khan of Malerkotla, who objected to the bricking alive of Sahibjadas, Bhai Kanhaya, who served water, and Diwan Todar Mal Jain, who purchased land for the cremation of Sahibjadas by offering gold coins.

He said besides, Rs 5 crore had been demanded for the Municipal Council, Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib, for various developmental activities.


Flood-relief training camp concludes

Mohali, July 2
The district administration organised a four-day camp to provide training regarding flood relief and rescue operations to the officials of the Revenue and Rural Development Departments. According to Seema Jain, DC, Ropar, 64 officials of both the departments, including Kanoongos, Patwaris and Panchayat Secretaries from Ropar, Anandpur Sahib, Kharar and Mohali subdivisions were trained about rescue and relief operations during the four-day camp that concluded here today.

The camp was held under the supervision of Mr Daljit Singh, SDM Ropar. Major M.P.S. Kakra, District Sainik Welfare Officer, Ropar, while Mr Bahadur Lal and Mr Mohan Singh both of Punjab Home Guards, Naik Balwinder Singh and Havildar Balwinder Singh, both ex-servicemen and Mr Didar Singh and Mr Bhupinder Singh, both boatmen of Punjab Sports Department provided training to the officials. TNS


Police warns medical store owners
Tribune News Service

Moga, July 2
The Moga police has warned the owners of the Goyal Medical Stores that if they did not return till tomorrow morning the locks of their shops would be broken open.

A couple of days ago, the police had raided the store and its branches, seizing proscribed drugs and unearthing an illegal drug-manufacturing unit.


‘Girlfriend’ banned
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 2
The District Magistrate Raminder Singh has imposed a ban on the controversial film “Girlfriend”. The ban has been imposed under Section 144 of the CrPC to maintain public tranquility and peace. The film had met with opposition in various parts of the country over its depiction of lesbian behaviour.


High Court
Notices issued on Badal’s plea against Judge
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 2
A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notices to the respondents on petitions filed by former Punjab Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal chief Parkash Singh Badal and others seeking the quashing of the proceedings before the Special Judge, Ropar, under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Mr Badal, his son and Lok Sabha Member Sukhbir Singh Badal and former ministers Tota Singh and Sohan Singh Thandal have challenged the authority of the Special Judge, Mr S.K. Goel, in hearing the disproportionate assets cases involving them.

They have stated that since Mr Goel’s appointment as Special Judge to hear the corruption case against them was not done in consultation with the Punjab and Haryana High Court, he was not legally empowered to hear the cases.

The petitioners have also stated that since no alleged offence had taken place in the jurisdiction of the Ropar court.

Counsel for the petitioners senior advocate Hardev Singh Mattewal said since the appointment of Mr Goel as Special Judge was illegal, all proceedings that had taken place before him so far were also null and void.

The Bench comprising Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar and Mr Justice Amar Dutt issued notices to the respondents for July 8 and also ordered that the case be listed in urgent matters.

The next date of hearing in the cases against Mr Badal and others in the Ropar Special Court is July 10.


AME of Kharar MC suspended
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 2
An Assistant Municipal Engineer (AME) of the Municipal Council here has been suspended on the orders of the Director, Local Government, Punjab.

Mr Mukesh Kumar, AME, was suspended yesterday after the orders to this effect were received by the civic body last evening.

According to the orders dated June 25, the AME was to be suspended with immediate effect. The orders said that the chargesheet to the employee would be issued later.

Earlier, the Sanitary Inspector of the council, Mr Om Parkash Gupta, was suspended for failing to maintain proper sanitation in the town.

The Deputy Director, Urban Local Bodies, Ludhiana, Mrs Sarojini Gautam Sharda, had visited the town on June 14 and found that the sanitation aspect was in a state of neglect.

She had recommended to the higher authorities action against officials responsible for poor sanitation.


Two shot dead by relatives
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 2
Two persons were shot dead while three, including two women of the same family, sustained injuries when they were attacked by their close relatives at Chatiwind village, near here, today .

After the killings the alleged assailants tried to hack the dead bodies, leaving a trail of terror in the village.

The dead persons are identified as Nirmal Singh (40) and his nephew Amolak Singh (22). The injured include Ranjit Kaur and her husband Dalbir Singh and Ramandip Kaur, an aunt of deceased Amolak Singh .

According to Mr Jaswinder Singh, a close relative of the deceased, five persons including Gurmilap Singh, Santokh Singh, Kartar Singh (paternal uncle of deceased Nirmal Singh) and two more, had resorted to unprovoked firing. A land dispute is said to be the reason behind the crime.

Dr A.K.Sondhi, Senior Medical Superintendent, Civil Hospital, said the three injured had been admitted to the hospital. However, the alleged accused were absconding.


Varsity clerk in fake degree racket

Amritsar, July 2
The name of a clerk of Bundelkhand University has figured in the fake degree racket which was busted by the Majitha police on June 23 in which four persons were arrested, including the owner of private Shivalik Public School here.

Dhirendar Yadav, clerk of the university, allegedly used to take Rs 10,000 to supply fake degree to main accused, Shishpal Sharma, owner of the school.

Mr R.P.S. Bajwa, SSP Majitha police district said the police had seized 10 more fake degrees from those buyers who had become witnesses in the case. During preliminary investigations, Shishpal confessed to selling many degrees since 1998.

The SSP said Shishpal used to take Rs 25,000 to 45,000 as advance and brought fake degrees in connivance with Dhirendar Yadav. He charged Rs 1 lakh from them for giving degrees.

However, many of them who got admission in such a way came to know about his activities and refused to give him money. Janak Sharma, wife of accused, who claimed herself to be a BJP leader reportedly threatened them not to go to the police. — OC


Varsity placement cell helps students
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 2
To facilitate placement of students of professional and job-oriented courses, Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai had established a placement cell in the university last year. So far 35 students from the discipline of computer science and engineering have got placement in companies like Wipro Technologies, Quark, Siemens Information System, HCL etc.

As many as 28 students from MBA and other related courses have been given placement by HCL Infosystems, Surya Pharma, India Bulls, Malwa Industries, Reliance Infocom, Tubro Infotech and 14 students from pharmacy/biotechnology/chemistry disciplines have been given placement in Dr Ready’s Lab, Jubilant Organosys, Zydus Cadila, Torrent Pharma, IPCA Pharma, High Ploymer Labs etc.

Giving this information, Dr A.K. Dham, in charge, placement cell of the university, stated that the process of placements for 2004-05 for B.Tech, MBA, MFC and MBE had started with the visit of Infosys and Quark companies and shall be completed by the end of this month.


Pakhoke in a fix over default in fee payment
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 2
Even as acting SGPC President, Mr Alwinderpal Singh Pakhoke, announced to defy the orders of ‘admission committee’ and admits students to the SGPC run Guru Ram Dass Institute of Medical Sciences and Research on July 21, he was once again in a fix over the alleged default in payment of fees for his ward in the same institute.

Mr Pakhokey’s ward had obtained admission in NRI quota but failed to pay dues worth lakhs of rupees. The acting SGPC President tried to evade any direct answer to this allegations at a press conference here today. However, Dr U.S. Dhaliwal, principal and director of the SGPC-run institute, who was alongside the president admitted that the notice had been sent to the acting SGPC President for clearing the dues and added that the case was pending before the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission.

Meanwhile, Mr Pakhoke while strongly criticising the orders of “admission committee” — formed for deciding on admission and other aspects of the institute — stated that the committee was ‘unfair’ and ‘unjust’.

They declared that they would go ahead with the admission schedule on July 21 after which a report would be submitted to the Medical Council of India (MCI) on July 31. 


Bar Council team visits Farid law college today
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, July 2
A two-member team comprising Mr V.K. Bhardwaj and Mr J.S. Dalal from the Bar Council of India New Delhi will visit here tomorrow to give approval to Baba Farid Law College managed by Baba Farid and Godri Sahib Gurdwara Management Committee here. Punjabi University Patiala and State Government had already granted affiliation and no-objection certificate, respectively, in this regard.

Initially so students in each three-year and five-year degree course will be admitted and strength raised afterwards. Classes will start in the first week of August. Mr Inderjit Sekhon, Chairman of the Management Committee, said that a building complex comprising infrastructure besides a modern library had been completed at the cost of Rs 2.50 crore on the Faridkot-Kotkapura road. Requisite staff approved by the Punjabi University had also been appointed.


Teachers stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, July 2
Members of the Democratic Teachers’ Front staged a dharna in front of the office of the Muktsar Block Primary Education Officer (BPEO) Malkiat Singh today.

Representatives of the front flayed the alleged unhelpful attitude of the BPEO. They alleged that the BPEO was trying to implicate the front members in fake cases. Front District unit President Mohinder Singh Bariwala and its General Secretary Ram Swaran Singh addressed the gathering.

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