P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Dalits hold the key in Kapurthala, Garhshankar
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 11
If Mazhbi-Balmiki hold the key to victory in Kapurthala, it is the dominating force of the Adharmi and Ramdasia communities of Dalit vote mass which can affect the poll outcome of the Garshankar Assembly constituency, even as both the constituencies are heading for a neck-and-neck poll battle on October 13.

In Kapurthala of the total about 1.21 lakh voters, almost one-third belong to the Dalit segment which has been affecting the poll prospects of different political parties in a big way even as their choice has largely remained between either the Bahujan Samaj Party or the Congress. Mazhbis and Balmikis dominate the all-important Dalit segment as combined together both the communities have a solid vote bank of about 35,000 votes in the constituency.

Similarly, against a total of about 1.20 lakh voters, the number of Dalits is around 35,000, which again is a sizeable chunk and holds the key to victory in the constituency which has been represented by the BSP twice. Here about 26,000 voters of the about 35,000 belong to the Adharmi-Ramdasia communities, approximately 6,000 to Balmikis and the rest of about 2,000 to 3,000 to the Dalit communities like Bazigars and Bhanjars. Since the Dalit votes, if considered enmasse, constitute a big chunk, would affect the poll results for any or all the parties in the fray.

In Kapurthala, the BSP has fielded Mr Tarsem Thapar, a former sarpanch of Dhaliwal Dona village and in Garhshankar it is Mr Rachpal Singh Raju, who is holding the flag of the BSP, which has been a force to reckon with in both the constituencies as far as Dalit voters are concerned.

But, at the same time, a section of the BSP leadership apprehends that if one goes by its past experience, by-elections have largely been not a cup of tea of any of third force and that by-elections in the state have been witnessing a direct fight between the ruling party and the opposition.

A section of the Dalit leaders has been of the view that though Dalits have been a vote bank traditionally known for preferring either the BSP or the Congress during general elections, but in the by-elections they have been getting swayed towards the ruling party with some exceptions. To authenticate their view, they give the example of the Nawanshahr and Adampur by-elections where the BSP’s generally intact vote bank of about 26,000 and 21,000 votes shrunk to just 11,000 and 8,500 votes, respectively.


Amarinder assures free power to farmers
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 11
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said today that his government was committed to give free power to farmers in the state. “As and when the financial position of the Punjab State Electricity Board improved, farmers would get free power as promised by my party in its election manifesto released before the last Assembly elections”, the CM said here today.

Asked about any time-frame regarding free power, the Chief Minister said that he would do so before the completion of his five-year tenure. “The board has already started stabilising financially. Its operational profit is around Rs 240 crore this year. From operational loss of Rs 1800 crore in the past two years,to be in a profit over Rs 200 crore was a big achievement, he added.

Will the World Bank, which is about to sanction a loan of Rs 2500 crore to Punjab, not object to free power to farmers? Answering the question, the CM said: “While the World Bank was expecting all sorts of reforms from us, it (WB) was taking too long to sanction loans. We have made it clear to the WB that it would not be possible for the state to continue the process of reforms in absence of financial support (loan) from it (WB)”, the CM said. “For how long could we continue the process of reforms without starting the development process”, he added.

He said that Punjab was expecting a big relief from the Union Government in lieu of the money spent by it on security forces when terrorism was at its peak in the state. Punjab has already submitted a report to the 12th Finance Commission in this connection. “If we got the money from the Centre as promised, it would go a long way to improve the financial position of the state”, said Capt Amarinder Singh.

Punjab has already got funds to built Shahpur Kandi hydel power project for Lehra Mohabbat thermal plant stage-11 and also negotiating at various levels to set up 1000 MW gas based thermal plant at Doraha. The Gas Authority of India says that it could not complete the laying of gas pipeline up to Doraha till 2007. But it would be too late and Punjab could not wait till then to set up the gas based thermal plant. “We would invite either Ambanis or some other party interested to set up such a plant in the private sector”, said the CM.

Coming to the two byelections, he said that his party would win both the seats. “While campaigning, I highlighted the development made by the State during the Congress rule”, he said. Asked about his government’s achivements, the CM said that all rural link roads, which were not repaired till 1999, had been repaired. Farmers were provided adequate power supply during the drought period though government spent Rs 22 crore and suffered a loss of Rs 7 crore daily to supply power to the farming sector. Farmers faced no problem at the time of procurement of their paddy and wheat crops in the past three years.

“We took clear stand on river waters in the state Assembly”, he added. A number of power projects had been brought to the state. Programme had been finalised to spend about Rs 2500 crore to provide safe and adequate drinking water to the needy village and to provide basic amenities such as sewer to urban areas. Tenders were being floated to provide 18 corridors to improve the main roads in the state. Funds have also been earmarked to improve the lot of all remaining rural roads. “I have been emphasising all these points during the campaign for two byelections”, he added. 


Badal offers sops to all
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, October 11
In his final effort to woo the farmers, Dalits, youth as well as the elderly for the Kapurthala byelection, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, Shiromani Akali Dal, today promised free power and water for the agricultural sector, revival of the shagun and pension schemes and job opportunities to the unemployed.

The SAD supremo was addressing a huge gathering at Shalimar Bagh on the penultimate day of the assembly elections here today. Mr Badal said that farmers, PSEB employees, ETT youth, Dalits and pensioners were all dissatisfied with the government for the “anti-people” approach being followed by Captain Amarinder Singh.

The SAD chief blamed the Congress for “putting the farm community into losses of Rs 1,000 crore annually due to inflated bills of power and water dispatched to them and low prices on which they were forced to sell their produce”.

Mr Badal said he wondered how the government was bankrupt even though it was saving as much as Rs 100 crore annually by stopping the shagun scheme. He blamed Mr Gurjit Singh Rana, MP, for using government funds in setting up his sugarcane factories.

Mr Sukhbir Badal, general secretary of the party, too, echoed his father’s words by saying that his party would abolish octroi and farmers would get free power and water. The shagun scheme would also be reintroduced, he added.

As chief patron of the youth wing of the SAD (Badal), he offered the party Rs 21 lakh collected from the youth leaders of the state. He claimed to have learnt that five SSPs of Punjab had been told to arrange 1000 bogus voters, who would poll against the names of NRIs settled abroad in the first hour of polling on October 13.

Mr Sahib Singh Verma, former Chief Minister, of Delhi, Mr Ashok Pardhan, former Cabinet minister, and Mr Navjot Sidhu, MP, were also present to campaign the BJP-SAD alliance. All three condemned the policies of Punjab Chief Minister, blaming him for putting an end to all developmental projects in the state in the last three years.


Badal roping in musclemen, alleges Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 11
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said here today that president of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was issuing threats to senior police officers associated with the conduct of byelections at Kapurthala and Garhshankar constituencies. " Mr Badal was trying to subdue police officers to use muscle power in byelections", the CM added.

"Mr Badal was out to engineer violence in Kapurthala constituency but I would not allow this to happen there", the Chief Minister said.

"I have urged the Election Commission of India and police authorities concerned to remove all outsiders from the Kapurthala Assembly constituency to ensure free and fair poll there", he added. " I have confirmed reports that Mr Badal and his son, Mr Sukhbir Badal, have brought musclemen and other people in large number to resort to violence in Kapurthala constituency.

Musclemen have been kept in four marriage places at Kapurthala by the SAD president. All such people should be removed from that constituency", the Chief Minister added.

"The issuance of threats to police officer was a clear sign of frustration among Akali ranks, especially Mr Badal and his son. It was unbecoming of a leader like Mr Badal to ring up senior leaders to issue threats", the CM said." I would myself be camping in Kapurthala to stop Mr Badal and his son from playing any foul play during the elections", the CM asserted.

As many as 550 cases of liquor were seized in the Kapurthala constituency from supporters of the Akali candidate, he added.


Campaign comes to abrupt end as rain plays spoilsport
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Garhshankar, October 11
The unprecedented spell of inclement weather not only thwarted the plans of campaign managers of various political parties and their candidates of the last hour onslaught, but also brought to a wet end campaigning here and in Kapurthala this afternoon.

Though the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, travelled by road to keep his engagement with electors at six different venues in the constituency, intermittent showers virtually forced him and other Congress leaders to shorten the proposed rallies on the last day of the campaign here.

The Shiromani Akali Dal chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was somewhat lucky as he addressed his scheduled “show of strength” rally a Kapurthala before it started raining.

Both Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Parkash Singh Badal were exuding with confidence at the end of the campaign period. Polling in both constituencies will be held on Wednesday.

While Capt Amarinder Singh turned out to the star campaigner for the Congress, both here and in Garhshankar, the SAD-BJP relied mainly on Mr Parkash Singh Badal for spearheading the campaign.

Others who came to address the rallies in support of the Congress candidates here were Ms Ambika Soni, Mr Sachin Pilot and Mr H.S. Hanspal.Today.

The Communist Party (Marxist) supermo, Mr Harkishen Singh Surjeet, also came to address rallies in support of his nominee.

Though the Congress played up relations of Badal family with the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr O.P. Chautala, the SAD-BJP tried to play on the anti-Sikh riots card in Kapurthala, besides blaming the Congress for poor water and power supply and rising prices here.


BJP seeks suspension of Hoshiarpur SSP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 11
Seeking the suspension of the Senior Superintendent of Police of Hoshiarpur, the president of the Punjab unit of the BJP, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, has said that the Hoshiarpur police had arrested two BJP leaders on flimsy grounds. He said that these arrests were directly related the Garhshankar byelection where the Congress was facing rough weather.

In a signed statement released to the media here, Mr Khanna said that the Hoshiarpur police had arrested Mr Hans Raj Nakra and Mr Satpal Sarin, both members of the executive of the state unit of the party. He said that the frustration had started setting in the ruling Congress because it was not getting any response from voters for the Garhshankar byelection which was a part of Hoshiapur district. The Congress had started using police against the BJP activists, he added.

Mr Khanna said that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, was getting no response during the elections rallies addressed by him in the Garhshankar areas. On the other hand the BJP was getting a big response. In frustration, the ruling party had directed the SSP to arrest the BJP's main activists.


Khanna refutes Cong charges against Modi
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 11
Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, MP and state BJP chief, today condemned Congress leaders for making false propaganda against Mr Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat, regarding his alleged anti-Sikh remarks, which had hurt the sentiments of the Sikh community.

In a press note, Mr Khanna said this propaganda was a conspiracy of the Congress to provoke Sikhs against the BJP in the Garhshankar byelection and to create a gulf between the SAD and the BJP.

He said he had had a telephonic talk with Mr Modi with respect to the alleged comments by him about Mr Manmohan Singh being a Sikh, as reported by one newspaper.

Mr Modi had stated that he had been hurt after learning about this news item.

Mr Modi had stated that he had all respect for the Sikh community.

Mr Khanna appealed to the electorate not to be misled by the false propaganda of Congress leaders.


IGP Sharma to supervise byelections
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 11
Inspector-General of Punjab Police (IGP) S.M Sharma has taken over the charge of supervising byelections of the Kapurthala and Garhshankar Assembly constituencies, in accordance with the direction issued by the Election Commission of India (ECI).

The ECI has also asserted that electors, without voter identity cards, would be allowed to exercise their franchise after producing “some documentary evidence” for establishing their identity.

In another election-related development, Punjab’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) G.S. Cheema on Monday declared that no one would convene, hold, attend, join or address public meeting or procession in connection with the elections after 5 this evening.

Giving details of the developments, a spokesman said IGP Sharma would particularly supervise the rounding up of anti-social elements, besides the collection of arms and deployment of Central para-military forces at sensitive and hypersensitive polling stations. He would also look into complaints received regarding the conduct of election in the constituencies.

Regarding the right of voters not possessing identity cards, the spokesman said such electors would have to establish their identity to the satisfaction of the presiding officer.

The spokesman said alternative documents for establishing identity included passports, driving licenses, Pan cards and service identity cards issued to employees by state and Central Government public sector undertaking, local bodies or other private industrial houses. Bank and post office pass books, students identity cards issued by recognised educational institutions, property documents, registered deeds and ration cards issued on or before September 1 were included in the list.


Kaypee supporters burn effigies of Jagjit, Mayor
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 11
The simmering differences between Punjab Transport Minister Mohinder Singh Kaypee and Punjab Local Bodies Minister Jagjit Singh came to the fore today, when a group of Congress councillors and their supporters, owing allegiance to the former, burnt effigies of the latter and Mayor Surinder Mahey at the municipal corporation complex here to protest against the alleged discrimination meted out to them while carrying out development works in their respective wards.

On the other hand, Mr Mahey termed the dharna as an act of indiscipline and demanded that the state Congress initiate disciplinary action against those who had attempted to bring a bad name to the party through their irresponsible acts.

Congress workers took out a demonstration and a march from the Buta Mandi area and to the corporation complex. They raised slogans against Mr Jagjit Singh and the Mayor while carrying placards and black flags to express their resentment.

Later, addressing the gathering, three-time councillor Sradari Lal alleged that Mr Mahey had betrayed the party on several occasions and had been expelled from the party for opposing the official candidate during the Assembly elections in 1997.

“Mr Mahey is a BSP man and is discriminating against the Congress councillors by not initiating development projects in our wards during the past more than two years of his stint. The Mayor is involved in corrupt practices and wasteful expenditure, as he had got passed a controversial Rs 18 crore project to construct an administrative complex for favouring a particular group of contractors,” he alleged, adding that they would not allow city residents suffer more on account policies of the Mayor.

They alleged that Mr Jagjit Singh was hand in glove with Mr Mahey in ignoring development works in their wards. Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee secretary Manoj Arora demanded that the Mayor should be immediately removed from the post as the latter’s continuation had tarnished the image of the Congress among voters.

“We have decided to meet Chief Minister Amarinder Singh here tomorrow to apprise him of the acts of omission and commission of the Mayor and the minister,” Mr Arora added.

Other councillors who participated in the dharna included Mr Balbir Singh Chohan, Mr Balbir Kumar Mahey, Ms Surinder Kaur, Ms Narinder Kaur, Mr Hans Raj Dhall, Mr Harkishan Singh Bawa, Mr Balraj Thakur and Mr Ram Lal.

Later, they burnt effigies of Mr Jagjit Singh and Mr Mahey in front of the office of the Mayor. When contacted, Mr Mahey refuted the allegations and said he was ready to face any inquiry into allegations of corruption. “They are indulging in indiscipline and I will meet senior party functionaries, seeking action against them,” Mr Mahey added.


PSEB unable to transport fly ash to brick-kilns
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 11
Utilisation of fly ash produced by the three thermal power stations in the state has come unstuck with the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) conveying to the government that it is not in a position to transport fly ash to brick-kilns within 100 km of its plants.

This is presently the major hurdle for the implementation of the orders of the Delhi High Court which has directed the State Pollution Control Board not to allow operation of brick-kilns if they do not use fly ash for mixing with clay.

Earlier the Ministry of Environment and Forests had issued a notification in 1999 directing that all brick-kilns within 50 km of thermal plants were required to manufacture bricks by mixing at least 25 per cent ash in clay.

Subsequently the notification was amended in 2003 to cover the brick-kilns within 100 km of a thermal plant.

In the wake of a stiff opposition from brick-kiln owners who are also presently on strike on the issue, a meeting was held to implement the notification under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

It was suggested that the PSEB bore part of the transportation cost keeping in view the fact that the brick-kiln owners would make some savings on account of usage of fly ash.

PSEB Member (Generation) H.M. Jain said transporting fly ash to the brick-kilns would involve a cost up to Rs 120 crore per annum and the the board was not in a position to transport the fly ash to the brick-kilns.

Punjab State Council for Science and Technology Executive Director N.S. Tiwana also made a point of studying the entire issue at the meeting. He said the the soil in Punjab had a large quantity of sand which may not be conducive for the manufacture of fly ash bricks. He said, moreover, the fly ash utilisation was already exceeding the target fixed by the Union Government.

Mr Tiwana said it was also possible that enough quality of pond ash may not be available for all the brick-kilns for a sustainable period.

Following the meeting, a committee headed by Food and Supplies Minister Avtar Henry and including Pollution Control Board Chairman Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Mr Kanwaljit Singh Lalli, president, Brick-Kilns Association of Punjab, and other officers has been constituted.

The committee is to give its report on the implementation of the notification within eight weeks.

The government is in a bind over the implementation of the orders of the High Court due to a stiff resistance from the brick-kiln owners. It has been decided that the committee and the Brick-Kiln Association visit southern states to get first-hand information about the manufacture of clay-fly ash bricks.

Earlier attempts by the Pollution Control Board to "educate" the brick-kiln owners in the state on the technique to be employed to make clay-fly ash bricks have been a non-cropper.

Board Member-Secretary Malwinder Singh said Dr Vimal Kumar, Adviser of the Fly Ash Utilisation Wing of the Ministry of Science and Technology, had visited a brick-kiln in Nawanshahr on April 15 but brick-kiln owners prevented a demonstration of the technique.

He said another attempt was made in Sangrur district two days afterwards but here, too, the brick-kiln owners did not cooperate even though a sample was prepared on the spot.

He said a third demonstration was in the offing in Ropar for which the help of the civil administration would be taken. 


Rights panel orders payment of compensation
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 11
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has ordered payments of Rs 20,000 as interim compensation to a complainant in a case of police harassment. In its order, the Commission also directed that the money be recovered from Inspector Paramjit Singh Buttar, one of the main accused in the complaint.

It also ordered that disciplinary action be initiated against the police officer in the light of the strictures passed against him by the Additional Sessions Judge, Amritsar.

The order was passed in a complaint filed by Mr Pritam Singh, alleging that his son, Dr Sanjay Kalsi, was being harassed by the police on one pretext or the other.

Advocate Ranjan Lakhanpal represented the complainant before the Commission.

Dr Kalsi was allegedly taken away by the police many times. Inspector Buttar, the complainant alleged, demanded money from the complainant's wife in order to let go of Dr Kalsi.

The family had also approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court through a habeas corpus petition to get the complainant and his son released.

Following the complaint, the Commission sought a report from the Home Department, after which the Amritsar Senior Superintendent of Police filed a report. The report claimed that there had not been any instance of the complainant or any of this family members having been illegally detained or harassed by the police.

Not satisfied with the report of the SSP, the complainant filed objections to it and a fresh inquiry was marked.

During the proceedings, the complainant submitted copy of the judgement of Additional Session Judge, Amritsar, whereby he had acquitted Dr Kalsi. In his order, the Judge noted that in the case, the investigating officer remained unfair throughout the case due to his vengeful attitude.

The Judge also said that Inspector Paramjit Singh is found to be answerable and it was for the police authorities to consider this aspect of the case.

In his reply to the notice sent by the Commission, Inspector Buttar claimed that Dr Kalsi was involved in many illegal acts and his arrest was part of the move to stop him from committing more acts.

However, the Commission, while noting that the police had a duty to prevent criminal activities, said that police officials taking law into their own hands could not be tolerated.

The Commission also asked the Punjab Home Department Principal Secretary to inform the Commission about the action taken against the officer.


Water samples from 31 schools found contaminated
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 11
Hundreds of schoolchildren in over 31 government and privates schools in the district continue to drink water found unfit for human consumption. The Health Department collected water samples from 31 schools, a majority of which get water supply from hand pumps. Laboratory tests confirmed that the samples taken during the month of September were not fit for consumption.

On a visit to many of the schools, it was found that drinking water was stored in tanks which were not cleaned periodically. Besides, one of the major causes for subsoil impurities in the water was depth of the hand pumps, which was 80 ft whereas, it should be 120 ft. The level of bacterial infection was found to be very high.

It is a fact that consumption of contaminated water is the major cause of water-borne disease.

Neither the Education Department nor the district authorities seldom paid attention to getting the tanks cleaned or ensuring that the water being consumed by students was of good quality. None bothered to undertake chlorination of the stored water as precautionary measure.

It is reliable learnt that the Health Department has brought the matter to the notice of the Deputy Commissioner and the District Education Officer.

The primary, high and senior secondary schools whose water samples failed are at Kurali, Kharar, Lakhnaour, Sahora, Singpura, Barauli, Husainpura, Rorkeepukhta, Pagomajra, Daun, Nawnasahar, Badali, Madanheri, Dehnkala, Malikpur, Punia Rangia, Paupna, Nyanmiyna and Dharakkala.

When contacted, the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Rana Harinder, said the Health Department had tested 40 samples out of which 31 samples were found faulty. Reports had been sent to the Deputy Commissioner, DEO (Primary schools) and DEO (Secondary Schools) for necessary action. She said since contaminated water was the root cause of the spread of diseases among children, it was necessary that all schools seriously looked into the problem.


Man kills wife to get remarried in lust of son
Attempts to poison two daughters too
Rajbir Sekhon

Mansa, October 11
To fulfil his lust to get a son by getting remarried, Jaswinder Singh, a resident of Hariaao village of Sangrur district, today murdered his wife Sarbjit Kaur in Kot Dharmu village of this district and made an attempt to kill his two daughters by poisoning them.

The two girls, Chamanpreet Kaur and Harmanpreet Kaur, aged five and three respectively, whom their father tried to administer poison, were saved by their mother who died after she was stabbed repeatedly by the accused.

Police sources said the girls had suffered minor injuries and had been admitted to the local Civil Hospital. The deceased, Sarbjit Kaur, was brought dead at the hospital. The accused escaped from the house of his in-laws, where his wife had come along with her daughters few days ago.

The kin Sarbjit Kaur alleged that Jaswinder Singh was insisting that he should be allowed to get himself remarried so that he could get a son from his second wife. As the accused was not getting encouraging response to his proposal from his wife and his in-laws, the accused had been harassing her for the past about seven years.

When the parents of the deceased got fed up with the repeated harassment of their daughter by their son-in-law, they asked him to divorce their daughter first and then get himself remarried, but the accused did not agree to it.

Though the deceased remained with her parents for a significant time after her husband kept on harassing her, she was persuaded to go to the house of her husband by the elderly and the panchayat of Kot Dharmu village.

About eight days ago, Sarbjit Kaur came to her parent’s house. Late last evening, Jaswinder Singh also came to her in-laws village. Today he started moving in the village along with his both daughters.

After some time, the parents of the deceased heard some shrieks and when they saw they were told by both the girls that their father had been forcing them to drink some thing. In the meantime, Sarbjit Kaur came on the scene and tried to save her both daughters. She was attacked with a knife and she died on the spot. The accused ran away after committing the crime.

The police said a case had been registered at the Jaurkian police station under Sections 302, 307 and 324 of the IPC.


Duped by travel agents, harried youth returns from Malaysia
Our Correspondent

Verka (Amritsar), October 11
Lure of dollars and green pastures made Ranjit Singh, a resident of Verka, endure inhuman conditions in Malaysia. He has recently returned after going through a nightmarish experience during his stay in Malaysia, where he along with some other Punjabis landed in jail and lived in camps.

He had gone to Malaysia on May 13, 2003, but could only return after his family arranged for the air tickets. He was defrauded by a travel agent, Gurmit Singh and his father Surinder Singh, who had promised him a lucrative job with a valid visa for going abroad.

He said Gurmit Singh took him and his friend Devinder Singh to Kolkata from where they went to Thailand with his father Surinder Singh.

To their shock they found that they had a tourist visa, which would expire within a month. He said in Thailand, about eight more Punjabi youth were waiting for them. He said Surinder Singh took all the money from them on pretext of converting it into Malaysian currency.

Ranjit Singh said after keeping them in a hotel in Thailand, where a Bangladeshi national kept a watch on them, for about 20 days, Surinder asked them (he and eight others) to cross over to Malaysia.

He said that in Malaysia they were taken to a small wooden room and were not allowed to talk to each other. They were also kept hungry for hours.

He said Jobanjit, a relative of Gurmit, facilitated a labour job for them in a Chinese electronic factory, but used to take all the salary from them forcibly after every month. He said to earn more money he secretly took up another job in a packaging shop. He said on August 28, they were nabbed from a hotel along with 12 other persons, including Punjabis, by the Malaysian police.

Balbir Kaur and Rashpal Singh, mother and uncle of the Ranjit, respectively, said they somehow contacted the relatives of one Raghubir Singh, a permanent resident of Malaysian, who helped them secure his release and arranged for return tickets.

Meanwhile, the police has registered a case against Gurmit Singh and his father under Section 420 of the IPC.


Resource crunch threatens Khalsa Heritage Complex
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, October 11
The prestigious Khalsa Heritage Memorial Complex (KHMC) at Anandpur Sahib is in serious jeopardy. Almost all three agencies implementing the project have threatened to withdraw from the project due to paucity of funds.

The National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, was given the contract for interior designing of the KHMC at a cost of Rs 70 crore. The institute had constituted a team of highly skilled interior designers from across the country for the project. However, now in a letter to the Anandpur Sahib Foundation, the authorities of the institute have threatened to disband the team as the funds have not been flowing and they were being forced to pay the special team constituted for the purpose.

The Larsen and Tuobro (L&T) company that was executing the construction work has shifted its entire staff from the construction site of the KHMC to other places. Only one engineer now represents the company at the site. The L&T has also raised a claim of Rs 10 crore for the work it has already completed on the project.

The contract of Moshe Safdie who was hired at a cost of $ 1 million for the project has also lapsed. According to the contract, he was hired for three years — that included six months of planning and 30 months of construction period. He had written to the Punjab Chief Minister in March this year regarding the damage being caused to the basic infrastructure of the building. With other agencies threatening to withdraw from the project, speculation was also rife that since his contract period had lapsed, he may also disassociate himself from the project.

Till date Rs 79 crore has been spent on the project. For the past two years, the state and Union Governments have failed to provide funds for the construction of the project. Now the 100-crore loan sought from the Punjab National Bank (PNB) by the Anandpur Sahib Foundation seems to be the only hope for further progress of the project.

Sources told The Tribune that the Rs 100-crore loan had been sanctioned in principle by the consortium of banks headed by the PNB. However, they have demanded a state guarantee for the loan. The case for state guarantee for the loan is now lying with the Chief Minister Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh. He is yet to take a decision on the matter.

The KHMC was planned at Anandpur Sahib by the SAD-BJP government to mark the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of the Khalsa. The US-based Israeli architect, Moshe Safdie, conceptualised the complex in a 100 acre scenic location in the foothills of Shivalik ranges at Anandpur Sahib. The Panj Piaras laid its foundation stone on November 22, 1998.

The construction work of the KHMC was expected to be complete within 3 years. Till date Rs 79 crore has been spent on the project. With this amount, the basic structure spread across 23,225 square meter has been constructed. The constructed structure of the complex comprises a 400-seat auditorium, a double-storyed library, galleries where exhibition can be put up and a series of water bodies to collect reflection of the concept at night.

Many of the state and national leaders, including the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, the Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh, and the former Union Tourism Minister, Mr Jagmohan, have visited the site of the complex and promised financial aid for the project. However, none of the promises made by these leaders have realised as yet.

With donations for the project also not coming through, the loan from the PNB seems to be the only hope for reviving the stalled work of the project.


Pak General ‘blames’ India for blasts
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Wagah, October 11
The outburst of Major-Gen Hassan Mehdi, Director-General, Pakistan Rangers, Punjab (Western), virtually blaming India for a series of bomb blasts in Multan, Sialkot, Lahore and other parts of Pakistan today set the tone and tenor of the coming high level bi-annual meeting with the BSF, proposed to be held in Chandigarh tomorrow.

Immediately after crossing over the Radcliff line, Major-Gen Javed Zia, Director-General, Pakistani Rangers (Sindh), claimed that not even an inch of Pakistan’s land had ever been used for smuggling of narcotics, fake currency or firearms, nor it would be used in future. General Mehdi alleged that chemical heroin was being produced in India.

It was practically difficult for Pakistan to play any mischief since all 18 border gates and LOC was properly guarded by India, with sufficient flood lights, he said, claimed that the entire international border had been fenced by India, leaving hardly any scope for playing mischief by Pakistan. The thaw in the region would help in reducing mutual mistrust between both countries and coordinated efforts were needed to curb the international crime, he added.

This is for the first time that the India-Pakistan biannual meeting between directors-general of Pakistani Rangers and the BSF is being held in Chandigarh. Earlier, the meeting used to be held either at the Wagah post or Jalandhar.

Earlier, the 15-member Pakistani delegation, headed by General Zia, was received by senior BSF officers at the joint check post here.


Over 1.5 lakh given polio drops
Tribune Reporters

Faridkot, October 11
Around 80,000 children were administered polio drops during the first phase of Pulse Polio drive in the district today. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Alok Shekhar, launched the drive at Government Harindra Elementary School, Ambedkar Nagar.

The district administration had formed 207 teams for rural areas, while 111 teams were constituted for urban areas, including 18 mobile teams.

A door-to-door campaign would be held on Monday and Tuesday.

The SDM, Mr Mohan Lal, and the CMO, Dr Rajinder Singh, were also present on the occasion.

In Moga, the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr Neelkant Ahvad, launched the drive by administering polio drops to children in slum areas situated on Zira Road. The CMO, Dr S.K. Bansal, said 1,39,000 children in the age group of 0-5 were to be given polio drops, out of which around 77,000 children were covered on the first day.

He said 487 teams were formed for the purpose.

SANGRUR: On the second day of the three-day Pulse Polio campaign, 2,095 children upto five years of age were covered here today.

Officials of the health and education departments, along with members of the social bodies and various NGOs, visited door to door to administer polio drops to children.

Dr Anup Kad, SMO, Civil Hospital, said on the first day of the campaign, polio drops had been administered to 7,361 children at 34 booths and by five mobile teams.

He said polio drops would be administered to leftout children tomorrow in a door-to-door campaign.


Singers promoting addiction, violence
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, October 11
Bhai Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib, today urged the people to avoid calling those Punjabi singers in the social functions who had been indulging in the promotion of addiction and violence through their songs.

Bhai Nandgarh, who has been undertaking an extensive tour of this region for the promotion of Sikhism and its values, in a press note issued here, pointed out that some Punjabi singers had been justifying the killing of a brother by another brother for possessing a piece of land and initiating the youths into the world of addiction by praising those who had already been taking the same.

He added that these Punjabi singers had been promoting violence and had been destroying the lives of youths. They had also been desisting the Sikh youths to keep hair.

He said that it was unfortunate that a large section of people used to engage such singers for social functions, including marriage ceremonies despite the fact that they knew that these singers would preach whatever was unethical and against Sikhism.

He said that members of the Sikh community in case of a marriage the “anand karaj” should be performed in a gurdwara.


Poohla dined at his dera in police custody
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 11
Col G.S.Sandhu (retd), president Poohla Eviction Committee, has alleged that Nihang chief Baba Ajit Singh Poohla, who has been facing numerous criminal charges, was allowed to dine and meet his men at his dera at Baba Bakala by the police party instead of taking him straight to Ludhiana jail after appearing in the court of the Judicial Magistrate, Patti, on October 9.

Col Sandhu claimed that he had reported the matter to the SSP, Ludhiana, Mr Narinderpal Singh, who had assured him to take action against the ASI .

In yet another accusation, Col Sandhu alleged that he had received a report from the family of a Nihang, who was allegedly beaten to death at the behest of Baba Poohla. He said Resham Singh, an aide of the controversial Nihang chief was allegedly beaten to death when he ridiculed Ajit Singh Poohla for raising “Ghora Dal”.


Tihar trainees pass out from jail school
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 11
The Additional Inspector-General of Prisons (Delhi), Mr Gyanendra Srivastava, today presided over the passing-out parade of a batch of trainees from the Tihar jail at the Punjab Jail Training School here.

Two Assistant Superintendents, two Matrons and 29 Wardens participated in the passing-out parade.

Mr Manoj Kumar was declared the best cadet of the course and Ms Asha Rani and Mr Sanjeev Rana received commendations.

The Principal of the Jail Training School, Mr Jeewan Kumar Garg said the batch was given training in physical exercises, drill, PT parade, rifle handling and yoga exercises. He said the cadets were also imparted education on reading the mind of criminals and exercises on criminology were undertaken during the course.

Mr Garg added that the information about the jail manual and accounting practices was also given to the trainees. 


Mediapersons hold protest march
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, October 11
On a call of the local Press Club over 100 mediapersons of the Fazilka, Abohar, Jalalabad, Guruharsahai, Ladhuka and Ghubaya areas held a procession in protest against the arrest of Surinder Chugh, chairman of the club, allegedly on a false FIR.

The agitators, carrying placards and wearing black badges, marched to the office of the SDM. Mrs Renu Chugh, told mediapersons that the police picked up her husband on Saturday morning from his house and treated him like a hardened criminal.

He was paraded in the town and kept in the lock-up. Nobody was allowed to meet him. Later, the agitators submitted a memorandum to the SDM demanding immediate transfer of the DSP and the withdrawal of the case. They also demanded an effective curb on the sale of narcotics, satta, and gambling continuing unabated in the region.

A meeting of the agitating mediapersons was held in the local recreation club. It was resolved to boycott all news regarding the police in district, highlight its misdeeds.

They said if their demands were not met, these would hold another protest march, along with social organisations and traders, on October 14 and block traffic from 10 a.m. at Malout Chowk.

It was also decided that if the representatives of the ruling party did not lend their support to the mediapersons on the issue within one week, they would also be boycotted.

A joint action committee of press reporters of Fazilka, Abohar and Jalalabad and adjoining areas was constituted in this connection.


Protest against newspaper
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 11
Hundreds of members of the Hindu Dharam Suraksha Samiti today held a demonstration in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office here to protest against a local Hindi daily which had published some defamatory feature against Devi Chinpurni.

The protesters, including saints led by the general secretary of the samiti, Mr Subash Sharma, raised slogans against the publication. They alleged that the security personnel attached with the owners of the publication had allegedly manhandled some members of a religious body who were sitting on a peaceful dharna near Nehru Garden Chowk on September 30.

Mr Sharma demanded that the erring security personnel should be booked for their indulgence in unlawful activities.

Later, they submitted a memorandum to the Additional Deputy Commissioner demanding strict action against the cops and for registration of a case against the publication for hurting the religious sentiments.


One killed in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 11
One person was killed and four others were injured in three separate road accidents during the past 24 hours. Balwinder Singh, a resident of Burj Hari Ke of Faridkot district, died when a speeding car hit him.

Four persons were injured in two separate road accidents, which took place in the Amrik Singh road area. In one accident, a car and a scooter collided head on, injuring two persons.

While in the second accident, a speeding vehicle hit two persons.

All the accident victims are being treated at the local civil hospital.

Meanwhile, volunteers of Sahara Jan Sewa, a NGO, found a person lying unconscious in the parcel van of a passenger train last night. They admitted him to the civil hospital. The man has been identified as Rajinder Pal of Rajpura.


2 minors drowned
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 11
In a sensational incident, two minor sons of a BSF personnel died after drowning in a swimming pool inside the PAP Complex on Sunday.

The incident came to light this morning, when the incharge of the swimming pool found the bodies of the minors floating in the swimming pool. The victims were identified as Vivek Kumar (12) and Aman (8), residents of Rama Mandi areas.

The preliminary investigation revealed that both of them managed to enter the high security PAP complex last evening. Later, they entered the swimming pool after jumping its boundary wall as the main gate was locked.


Market fee, sales tax on cotton being evaded
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 11
Market fee and sales tax worth crores are allegedly being evaded by unscrupulous traders and ginning and pressing mill owners as they have been making huge transactions in cotton purchase by not bringing the same on the official record of different grain markets in the cotton belt of Punjab.

Though the field staff of the mandi board had been put on maximum alert by the higher authorities and Deputy Commissioners and Sub-Divisional Magistrates of the areas in the cotton belt had been asked to curb this malpractice by the Punjab Mandi Board authorities, a large chunk of raw cotton had been landing directly into a section of the ginning and pressing mills, causing a huge loss to the state exchequer.

Official sources said last year, when the mandi board authorities came to know about this practice, they started taking action against the erring traders and recovered Rs 4 crore, which was evaded by them as market fee alone. The revenue generated by the Punjab Mandi Board from the market fee on cotton crop which arrived in various markets last year was Rs 20 crore.

Information revealed that though the arrival of cotton produce in the markets would pick up after Divali, the traders and ginning and pressing mills owners had started evading market fee and sales tax. The Punjab Government had been levying market fee of 4 per cent and sales tax of 4 per cent on the sale price of raw cotton from the first purchaser.

A large number of traders had adopted another method to evade sale tax and market fee. They had purchased raw cotton directly from the growers and had stocked it in the store rooms of farmers. These traders would supply this stock of raw cotton to the ginning and pressing mills owners directly.

A large stock of raw cotton from various villages in Punjab was being sent to grain markets of Rajasthan, where the state government had been charging market fee of 1.6 per cent. Last year, the market fee and sales tax was evaded on thousands of cotton bales weighing five quintals each.

The sources said evasion of market fee and sales tax to the tune of crores had been going on though such incidents had surfaced a number of times in the state and in certain instances, the connivance of officials of the Punjab Mandi Board had come to light.

Mr A. Venu Parsad, Secretary, Punjab Mandi Board, when contacted, while admitting that the state had been facing the evasion of market fee on cotton, said special teams had been constituted to conduct raids on the premises where it was being suspected that market fee had been evaded on cotton crop.

He said field staff had been deputed in ginning and pressing mills so that the stock which was being unloaded in those mills could be brought to the official record of the market concerned so that market fee could be levied on it. The Deputy Commissioners and SDMs had been asked to check this menace.

He said as the production of cotton this year was being estimated at around 15 lakh bales, the mandi board authorities were expecting that the revenue generated from the market fee would be around Rs 25 crore.


3 youths held with pistols
Tribune News Service

Moga, October 11
The CIA staff today arrested three local youths and seized two pistols and a knife. They were arrested near Sem Nullah at Bahona village while planning a criminal activity.

They have been identified as Balwant Singh, Sewak Singh, and Rajinder Singh.

The police said the suspects had bought these pistols from Muzaffarpur for Rs 2,000 each. A case has been registered under the Arms Act.


Principal of Khalsa College sent on leave
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 11
In a bid to buy peace, the management of Khalsa College today sent the Principal, Mr J.S. Dhillon, on three months’ leave. However, Mr Charanjit Singh Chadha, vice-president of the college management, said the governing body of the college had sanctioned three months’ “study leave” to Mr Dhillon after he applied for it. Mr Chadha said the students’ strike against the Principal had been called off.

Mr Dhillon admitted that he had applied for leave but said he was not aware that it had been sanctioned by college management.

Mr S.S. Bawa today took over as officiating Principal of the college. There were strikes against the Principal for the past fortnight.

Meanwhile a decision on the controversial admission of Gurkirat Singh, son of Mr Dhillon, remains pending. The issue was taken up at the Syndicate meeting held at Guru Nanak Dev University presided over by Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, today. Dr S.P. Singh said the matter was still under legal deliberation and the university was seeking the government’s view as demanded by Mr Satya Pal Dang, CPI leader, in the matter.


Probe against school principal begins
Tribune News Service

Kotkapura (Faridkot), October 11
The District Education Officer today started a probe into a case in which the girl hostellers of Chanda Singh Marwah Senior Secondary School were allegedly kept without food by their principal because they had protested against the fee hike.

DEO Sukhmandar Kaur Brar recorded the statements of the hostellers and Principal Surinder Kaur.

The hostellers told the DEO that the principal kept them hungry last Friday when they raised their voice against "sudden" fee hike. They alleged that the behaviour of Ms Surinder Kaur was not good with them ever since she took the charge a month back.

Darshan Singh, a resident of Dabrikhana, said that when his daughter informed him about the incident on Friday night he immediately took her home.

Jaskaran Singh of Mahima Sarkari village alleged that the girls' hostel lacked proper security and many times hostellers were kept alone.

Sources said that the DEO was not convinced with the replies of the principal who said that someone was conspiring against her. When asked to name the person responsible she didn't say anything.

The DEO told mediapersons said that she was investigating into the matter following a complaint from the girls' parents. She said that proper action would be taken against the guilty after the probe.


Union seeks release of teacher’s salaries
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 11
The Government School Lecturers Union, Punjab, today demanded that the salaries of teaching and non-teaching staff working on plan posts in the state should be release at the earliest. They were paid their last salaries in May.

District president of the union Mahesh Kumar said the officials concerned were not serious about problems being caused to these employees due to the non-release of their salaries.

In a large number of cases the drawing and disbursing officers (DDOs) of the schools have been drawing and paying the salaries to their colleagues working on non-plan category posts but are without salaries themselves. He said the delay in releasing salaries of the employees working on plan category posts has become an annual feature, he said.

He resented that the district treasury officials had not been sending the schedules of general provident fund (GPF), after their verification, to the offices of the Director Public Instruction (DPI) and the District Education Office.

Mr Mahesh Kumar said the union would also take up the demand of automatic conformation of employees after the completion of their probation periods with the authorities concerned.


National group song competition
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 11
As many as 13 junior and six senior teams of local schools and colleges participated in a national group song competition organised by the Bharat Vikas Parishad at SSD Girls College.

In the senior group, Government Rajindra College team stood first, and the teams of DAV College and Arya Girls Senior Secondary School stood second and third, respectively.

The RBDAV Senior Secondary School bagged the first position in junior group, while Sri Guru Harkishan Public School and Arya Girls Senior Secondary School stood second and third, respectively. 


DAV-Amritsar win youth fest trophy
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 11
DAV College, Amritsar, bagged the A Zone Overall Trophy while SGAD College, Khadoor Sahib, lifted the B Division Championship at the Zonal Youth Festival of Guru Nanak Dev University, which concluded here today.

In the A Division, Hindu College, Amritsar, were runners-up and Khalsa College, Amritsar, remained third. In the B Division, Sikh National College, Qadian, finished runners-up while Guru Nanak College, Batala, were third. Mr Inderjit Singh Randhawa, Syndicate member of Guru Nanak Dev University, presided over the function .

Following are the final results: bhangra: DAV College, Amritsar, first, Hindu College, Amritsar, second and GND University Campus, Amritsar, and Khalsa College, Amritsar, third; fancy dress: Hindu College, Amritsar, first, DAVC, Amritsar, second and SGAD College, Khadoor Sahib, third; mimicry: Hindu College, Amritsar, first, DAVC, Amritsar, second and Khalsa College, Amritsar, third; histrionics: Hindu College, Amritsar, first, DAVC, Amritsar, second and GND University Campus third; one-act play: Khalsa College, Amritsar, first, SGAD College, Khadoor Sahib, second and DAVC, Amritsar, third; painting (landscape): Hindu College, Amritsar, first, Khalsa, Amritsar, second and BUC, Batala, third; painting (still life): Khalsa, Amritsar, first, DAV, Amritsar, second and Hindu College, Amritsar, third; sketching: DAVC, Amritsar, first, Hindu College, Amritsar, second and Khalsa, Amritsar, third; cartooning: Khalsa Amritsar, first, Hindu College, Amritsar, second and GND University Campus third; poster-making: Hindu College, Amritsar, first, DAV, Amritsar, second and Khalsa, Amritsar, third; collage-making: Hindu College, Amritsar, first, GND University Campus, Amritsar, second and DAV, Amritsar, third; clay modelling: DAV, Amritsar, first, Khalsa, Amritsar, second and Hindu College, Amritsar, third; flower arrangement (fresh and dry both): DAV Amritsar, first, SN College, Qadian, second and Hindu College third; phulkari: DAV Amritsar first, Hindu College, Amritsar, second and SN College, Qadian, third; skit: DAV Amritsar, first, Khalsa Amritsar, second and Hindu Amritsar, third; mime: DAV Amritsar first, Hindu Amritsar second and Khalsa Amritsar third; group shabad/bhajan: Khalsa College, Amritsar, first; group song (Indian): DAV first, Khalsa College second and SGAD, Khadoor Sahib, third; vaar gyan: Hindu College first, DAV second and SGAD, Khadoor Sahib, third; folk orchestra: Khalsa first, DAV second and Hindu third; western song (vocal): DAV first, Khalsa second and Hindu third; western group song: DAV first, Hindu second and GND University Campus third; poetical symposium: Khalsa Amritsar first, Hindu Amritsar second and DAV Amritsar third; elocution: GND University Campus, Amritsar, first, Khalsa second and DAV third; debate: Khalsa first, Hindu second and GND University Campus third; quiz: GND University Campus first, DAV second and Khalsa third; classical instrumental (percussion): Hindu first, DAV second and Guru Nanak College, Batala, third; classical instrumental (non-percussion): Hindu first and DAV second; classical vocal: DAV and Khalsa College, Amritsar, first and Hindu College second; shabad/bhajan: Khalsa first, DAV second and Guru Nanak College, Batala, third; geet/ghazal: Khalsa first, SGAD, Khadoor Sahib, second and DAV third; folk song: Hindu College, Amritsar, first, GND University Campus, Amritsar, and BUC College, Batala, second and DAV College Amritsar, third.

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