P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



20 injured as bus turns turtle
Tribune News Service

Nurpurbedi (Ropar), January 15
Twenty persons were injured, five of them seriously, when a private bus in which they were travelling overturned near Haripur village, Nurpurbedi, about 14 km from Ropar, this morning.

The seriously injured, including Ashok Kumar, Mahender Kaur, Vidya, Ghanshi Ram and Chand Singh, had been admitted to the Civil Hospital, Ropar.

This was the second incident in the past two weeks when a private bus has been involved in a mishap.

Earlier on January 3, 14 girls and a bus driver were killed in a head-on collision of the two private buses near Fatehgarh Sahib.

The mishap took place around 8.30 am when the speeding bus, carrying about 35 passengers, turned turtle and slid about 10 feet off the roadside into a field.

The bus was on its way from Nurpurbedi to Ropar. The cause of the accident was said to be the breakdown of the main leaf spring after which the driver lost the control over the bus.

A few passengers managed to exit through the windows while most of them were rescued by the Army personnel who were camping near the accident site.

The top of the bus was opened by about 15 Army personnel and they took the injured in their ambulance and other vehicles to the hospital. Later, the police and hospital employees came to help.

"I fell down with shock and was unable to move when the bus overturned. The Army personnel admitted me to the hospital," said Ms Mahender Kaur who sustained head injuries.

Another injured, Mr Ashok Kumar, a fruit seller, said, “I boarded the bus from Nurpurbedi at 8.10 am and was going to Ropar to purchase fruits. All of a sudden the bus overturned and hit the tree. I was rendered unconscious and rescued by the Army personnel.”

"I all of a sudden lost control as the main leaf of the bus was damaged and before I could do anything the bus overturned," said Mr Goldi, driver of the bus.

The DSP, Mr Varinder Singh, Nurpurbedi, said so far they had not registered any case against the bus driver as the accident took place because of reasons beyond human control and no negligence was found.

“We have been investigating the case and called the owner of the bus for further investigation,” he added.

The other persons who sustained injures were Santosh Marwah, Chand Singh, Vidyawati, Mohinder Singh, Noor Ahmed, Ghasi Ahmed, Ram Parkash, Parkash Chand, Avtar, Gurdeep Singh, Atma Ram, Parshotam Lal, Babu Ram and Mahinder Kaur, Ashok Kumar.

All injured hail from various villages of Nurpurbedi and most of them belong to poor families.


3-time Canadian MP opposes same sex marriage
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 15
The move of the Liberal government to bring same sex marriage bill before House of Commons may be the reason behind the last-minute cancellation of visit of Canadian Prime Minister, Mr Paul Martin, to Amritsar for paying obeisance at Golden Temple and Durgiana Mandir.

The other reason could be that the Federal Minister, Mr Ujjal Dosanjh, who was to accompany him to Amritsar had made certain “objectionable” comments after Operation Bluestar in the Golden temple complex.

According to the revised plan, Mr Paul Martin will arrive in New Delhi on January 17 and depart the next day. His visits to Amritsar, Agra and Mumbai have been cancelled. “It is because of tsunami,” says Mr Ujjal Dosanjh, Health Minister of Canada, dismissing speculations that same sex marriage bill was the reason behind change in programme.

Mr Dosanjh believes that religion was “something individual and personal” and had nothing to do with the governance or law making.

“We are strongly committed to same sex marriage,” asserted Mr Dosanjh while Mr Gurmant Grewal, three-time member of Canadian Parliament, held that in 1998, the House of Commons had reiterated in retaining the traditional definition of marriage meaning that it was between a man and a woman.

Talking to newsmen here today, Mr Grewal said the issue of same sex marriage had been there for a long time. “It is Parliament which has to debate and decide about the definition of marriage. This is what the Supreme Court of Canada has said,” maintains Mr Grewal holding that once the house of Commons passed the definition to which the present Prime Minister and his Deputy were party, how could they now “vote in favour of change of definition of marriage. If they do, they will prove to be hypocrites.”

He further held that curtailing visit to India may not give the right signals for promoting bilateral relations and trade. In 1998 when the then Liberal government passed sanctions against India and Pakistan, he said, he and his party opposed it stressing the need to ensure peace in South Asia and brining two neighbours together for a dialogue.

Mr Grewal said that while Canada was trying to regulate Immigration business by introducing license system, India would do well to do the same to check both “kabootarbazi” or illegal human smuggling trade.

He said that at least four MPs of the ruling Liberal Party had been blacklisted in immigration cases. “Even the Immigration Minister has been forced to resign by the Opposition because of corruption and favouritism charges against her ,” he said.

Mr Gurmant Grewal accompanied Speaker of House of Commons to Pakistan where important issues like progress of democracy, donning of uniform by President Musharraf and confidence building measures between India and Pakistan were discussed.


Punjab politics in state of flux
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, January 15
At the moment, it appears that Punjab politics is in a state of flux. All political parties, be it the ruling party or the Opposition, find themselves in disarray. Factionalism is rampant. With the Vidhan Sabha elections still two years away, the political leadership does not consider it necessary to stem the rot. The ruling Congress party as ever before is still plagued with factionalism. Captain Amarinder Singh became Chief Minister with a bang.

As soon as he took over the reins of the state, he launched a tirade against corruption. The Punjab Public Service Commission recruitment scam, arrest of Ravinder Paul Singh, Chairman of the PPSC followed by the arrest of Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his family members and launch of criminal proceedings against them and some of the erstwhile officers of the SAD-BJP Government gave an impression that the Chief Minister meant business. But with the passage of time, it seems that it is very difficult to cleanse the system.

Now the rigour of this tirade is not being felt. This may be due to the failings of the state government in the case of recruitment of DSPs under the sports quota and the auction of liquor vends. The high court intervened in both the cases. A feeling is growing among the masses that the state government has failed to check corruption. On the other hand, it is being alleged that the rates of bribery have appreciated.

However, whatever one might say, the bold stand taken by the Chief Minister in the case of sharing of river waters and annulment of all agreements on this issue and his participation in the celebrations of Sikh cenetentariess in a big way has earned him sympathy of the people. In fact, the Chief Minister has operated in the Akali Dal domain successfully. This remains his forte.

The other major achievement of the Amarinder Singh Government has been the efficient handling of the procurement of foodgrains during the past three years as there were no complaints from farmers on this score. Here again, the Chief Minister has beaten and bitten the SAD-BJP Government thus nullifying the claim of Mr Parkash Singh Badal as leader of the farmers.

On the organisational front, barring a fragile rapprochement between Captain Amarinder Singh and Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, the organisation remains divided and dormant.

In the SAD, Mr Badal remains unchallenged. But it has to be accepted that there are rumblings at all levels. The traditional Akalis are the most dissatisfied lot. The urban Sikhs or non-Jat Sikhs who remained the most vocal sections among the Akalis and wielded influence in the party hierarchy find themselves ignored and sometimes treated shabbily. Added to this fact is Mr Badal’s patronisation of such elements which is resented by people and they refer to Bibi Jagir Kaur and Mr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia in this regard. Mr Badal has ignored the devout and the honest and has never allowed the rise of such people who could prove to be an asset to the Panthic hierarchy, allege senior traditional leaders.

A traditional devout Akali on the condition of anonymity observed that Mr Badal patronised only those who are typical sycophants and he said the situation in the Akali Dal is as was prevailing in the Congress during the ascendency of Mrs Indira Gandhi. Mr D.K. Baruah, the then president of the Congress used to say Indira is India and India is Indira. Similarly now Badal is Panth and Panth is Badal is the slogan in the Akali Dal. Within the SAD, there is no dearth of factions, might be that after sometime, these factions will become vocal and effective.


Govt under sugar lobby’s pressure, says Shanta
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 15
Mr Shanta Kumar, former union minister and senior BJP leader, today alleged that reduction of time period of special package from 10 to seven years for Himachal Pradesh was a discrimination with the hill state as it would discourage investors from coming to Himachal Pradesh.

Addressing mediapersons here today, Mr. Shanta Kumar, said a large number of industrialists were attracted to the state for setting up their units after the NDA government extended a special package for the hill state. But, with the reduction of Time period, the investors and industrialists were shying away. He alleged that the Congress-led state government it had not taken up the case with the Central Government properly. “The BJP will initiate an agitation over discrimination with the hill state,” he added.

Mr Shanta Kumar said he had no differences with former Chief Minister, Prof Prem Kumar Dhumal. “All BJP leaders and workers had joined hands and had won the Guler by-election unitedly. On the other hand, Mr Virbhadra Singh had lost the poll despite his 26-day stay in the constituency during the poll,” said Mr Shanta Kumar adding that he would be participating in party’s poll campaign from January 26 to 28 in Haryana.

Criticising the Central Government for the rise in prices of essential commodities and other goods, Mr Shanta Kumar said though Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was an eminent economist, yet, abnormal increase in prices could not be curbed. Accusing the central government for sugar price hike, Mr Shanta Kumar said the central government was under pressure of the sugar lobby. “The country has 240 lakh tones of sugar stock, yet, price hike has not been controlled. Sugar mill owners have earned crores of rupees from this shortage. Though the government can release sugar stocks, but, it is not doing so under the pressure of the sugar lobby,” alleged Mr Shanta Kumar.

Later, he participated in a Rotary Club function along with former Punjab minister Manoranjan Kalia, district BJP chief Shiv Dayal Chugh, and other leaders.


25-yr wait for ‘Jangi Inam’
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Nabha, January 15
A decaying paper which has given away at the folds and has been stuck together with strips, besides being frayed at the edges, is all 75-year-old Joginder Singh has to prove the bravery of his father. The paper was also to be the basis for a comfortable old age to the man but this has not come about.

Joginder Singh has been trying to get the second life pension of the “Jangi Inam” instituted by the British for Indian soldiers who fought for the empire on foreign shores in World War I. The “Jangi Inam”, as the pension is called, was Rs 5 per month in 1919 but has been revised periodically. This pension is unique as it was for two lives. Joginder’s father, Sapper Dewan Singh, who fought in Basra (Iraq) during World War I, received it during his lifetime.

However, after the death of Sapper Dewan Singh in 1976, Joginder Singh has been unable to get this pension despite having taken up the case several times with the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (Pensions), Allahabad, in the past more than two decades. “Though I have no written record, I was given to understand by the Allahabad-based Defence office that my file has been misplaced as a result of which my case has not been processed till now”. With the entire file missing, Joginder is lucky to be still in possession of the original British document which details his father’s service as well as states the award of the “Jangi Inam” to him.

Joginder Singh is a broken man. He is living in a two-room house in the Hira Mahal area in the town along with his two married sons and their families. “Even the ‘veda’ (verandah) of my house is ‘kutcha’ because we have not been able to renovate the house once the family started expanding without any increase in the livelihood of its members,” says Joginder. Both his sons are running a small tyre shop in the Khalsa Gate locality here.

The old man’s sons say they have taken up the case of their father’s pension periodically but without success. Joginder Singh’s nephew, Mr Jatinderpal Singh, who is an Executive Engineer in the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), recently took up his case with the Army authorities in view of his uncle’s poor financial situation. Showing a letter in this regard, he said the Adjutant-General at the Army Headquarters had also sent a note regarding his case to the Allahabad office in June, 2002, but even this did not have any effect. The note clearly states that even the Ministry of Defence has ratified that the “Jangi Inam” for World War II veterans and their legal heirs is for two lives.

Even though all efforts to get the pension have failed till now, Joginder Singh still has not lost hope.


Denied liquor, ASI fires at hotel manager
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 15
An Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) of Punjab Police, accompanied by five others, including SHO, Rampura Phul police station, Devinder Attri, allegedly fired at the manager of a local hotel late last night when they were refused liquor and food by the latter.

The police officer, who fired shots at the manager and in the air, also threatened to implicate the owners of the hotel in false criminal cases to teach them a lesson.

In an application moved to the Chief Minister, DGP, and SSP, Bathinda, Mr Rajinder Kumar Sharma, manager, Hotel Sepal, alleged that an ASI along with five others came to the hotel in a car late in the evening.

After parking the car in the porch of the hotel, they started dancing to music that was being played in the car.

On hearing the rumble, he along with other staff members of the hotel approached them to restore some order.

Instead, the police party started claiming that they were high-ranked police officers and would teach them a lesson for obstructing their merrymaking.

They then asked for liquor and food, but on being refused by the staff on grounds that it too late in the night, the police party got agitated and one of them — the ASI — started firing. He also fired a shot at Mr Sharma but missed him as he moved to one side.

Mr Sharma pointed out that following the incident, the employees and owners of the hotel were scared and apprehended danger to their lives and property.

He said he had requested top officials to register a criminal case against the accused so that justice could be served.

Mr Attri, while denying the allegations levelled by Mr Sharma, said he did not have pistol at the time of the incident.

According to information, another police officer posted in the district was in the hotel at the time of the incident.

SSP Kapil Dev could not be contacted for his comments.


Lohri burns away his penury
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 15
It was an emotional moment for Mr Banwari Lal, with tears rolling down his cheeks, as he hugged his mother Kalawati Devi and broke the happy news of winning the first price of Rs 1.5 crore through the Lohri bumper of the Punjab State Lottery. The draw for the lottery was held in Ludhiana yesterday.

27-year-old Banwari Lal had lost his father Bhagirath Ram about 22 years ago. The carpenters' family had a one-room house near the periphery of Sayeedwala village located near Abohar-Sriganganagar road here.

The family had to spend a lot of money on the treatment of Bhagirath Ram who suffered from some heart ailment.

Mr Banwari Lal studied up to the middle standard at the Government Middle School of the village and went to Sappanwali village for completing matriculation.

Later, he did his ten plus two from the Government Senior Secondary School in Khuyiansarwer village located on the same road. He had been working at a private hospital for the past seven years.

He had purchased the bumper draw ticket of the state lottery twice from another stockist earlier also.

This time he purchased the ticket, through a friend Mr Daya Ram, from the Mihir Lottery stall at the Prem News Agency, who have worked as The Tribune agents for past many years.

He had promised to give some share when his friend asked him jokingly whether he would part with some money if gets the first prize.

He stands by the oral commitment even today. Tears, he said, were not only for getting such news from Mr Pardeep Pasricha, the lottery dealer, but because the family had been able to purchase color TV and a motorcycle recently only through finance schemes.

They had no telephone and other facilities. Even repair of the floor had been an uphill task, he said.

A devotee of Lord Hanuman, Mr Banwari Lal had been regularly visiting the Hanuman temple at Salasar in Rajasthan regularly for the past 15 years.

For about seven times, he covered the 400-km distance on cycle. The family raised "Hanuman Ji Ki Jai" slogans last midnight as crackers were burst and sweets were distributed.

But in the village with a population of Rs 10,000 in 2200 houses many including, Mr Suresh Kumar, secretary of the cooperative society, could know about the news this morning when scribes and TV camera teams thronged which was otherwise an ordinary village.

Divulging the future plans to utilise the money he expected by next month, Mr Banwari Lal said he would get a Gaushala constructed as a memorial to his father.

He was worried over the state of stranded animals in the village. Though Banwari Lal was younger to his brothers and sisters, he wanted to spend much on marriages of his nieces.

He also planned to give money to his brothers for opening a good furniture shop. His sincere effort would be to ensure good education for son Sanjay (7)) and daughter Priyanka (5).

He prefers medical profession for his son. The family could not sleep last night as visitors bothered them till 2 am. Otherwise they were so happy over an end to decades old miseries. Though the 6 ft tall, handsome and a bit bald Banwari Lal had been working hard after completing school education, smiles always made his face brighter.

The family was not at all inclined to waste money on luxuries and was rather inclined to purchase agricultural land to secure their future.


SAD bypoll meeting on Jan 20
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 15
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today announced that in view of the Ajnala byelection to be held on February 23, the political affairs committee of the party will hold a meeting here on January 20 to decide the candidate besides drawing out the election strategy.

Addressing newsmen after paying homage to Bhai Harbhajan Singh Yogi at the Golden temple complex, Mr Badal said the PAC would deliberate on the names of the candidate and a final decision would be announced there after.

Answering the queries of the media persons about the issues that were likely to dominate the by-elections, Mr Badal pointed out that the present Congress government have completely failed on all fronts and the list of failures was so long that it would not be possible for him to give the details here. Lashing out at the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, the SAD chief said the progress of Punjab have retarded as the government have not taken any developmental project during their rule.


Decision on Ajnala seat on Jan 19: CPI
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 15
The Punjab unit of the Communist Party of India (CPI) will take a decision, regarding fielding a Left candidate in the Ajnala Assembly byelection at a meeting of the state executive committee of the party in Chandigarh on January 19.

Stating this here today, Mr Joginder Dayal, secretary of the Punjab unit of the CPI, said the party would try its best to put up a Left candidate in the Ajnala Assembly byelection to be held on February 23. He said the CPI would neither support the Congress candidate nor the SAD candidate.

With regard to the Haryana Assembly elections, Mr Dayal, who is also a member of the national executive of the CPI, said the CPI and the CPM would contest seven seats each as alliance partners in Haryana. He said the Nationalist Congress Party might also join the CPI-CPM alliance in the changing political scenario in the Bihar Assembly elections. He said on the remaining seats in Haryana, the CPI would extend its support on the merit of candidates. However, the CPI would not extend support to the candidates of the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), he added. He said the CPI would launch its election campaign in Haryana after January 17.

Mr Dayal asked the Union Government to announce a national agriculture policy at the earliest in the larger interests of the farming community.

Mr Dayal said with the support of five farmer organisations, the CPI would organise a rally on January 17 in Bathinda to put pressure on the government to reduce the prices of agriculture inputs and write off loans of farmers.


Scheme members protest for refund
Our Correspondent

Barnala, January 15
Around 200 members of a lucky draw scheme held a demonstration seeking refund of around Rs 35 lakh owed by Goyal Autos, a scooter located on the bus stand road, here today.

The protesters, under the leadership of Dr Rajdev Singh, held the demonstration and raised slogans against the owners of the agency.

Goyal Autos, with its main office at Sangrur, had taken over Sangrur Autos around six months back.

Mr Mann Singh, a resident of Barnala and a partner in Sangrur Autos, used to look after the affairs of the agency.

The agency started a lucky draw scheme around two year back. It had 200 members and every member had to pay Rs 1,000 per month towards the scheme.

The scheme continued for one and half a years, but around six months back a dispute arose between the two partners. Mr Mann Singh parted ways with the other partner and left the agency.

Goyal Autos then took over Sangrur Autos and changed its name after the parent agency.

The lucky draw scheme was suspended for six months. The aggrieved members of the scheme approached the new owners for refund of the money, but to no avail.

They then formed a seven-member action committee to get back their money.

Dr Rajdev Singh said all members had deposited 22 installments with them and the total sum worked out to around Rs 35 lakh.

After the demonstration, the branch owners assured to sort out the matter within two days.

Dr Rajdev Singh said if Goyal Autos failed to resolve the mater within the stipulated period, they would approach the SDM for the disciplinary action.


Petrol station ‘fleecing’ customers
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 15
A local petrol station owner has adopted a unique modus operandi of fleecing customers by ‘filling’ more petrol than the actual capacity of the vehicle.

This came to light when employees of Hem Kunt Service Station, located on the busy Sirhind Road, reportedly filled the tank of a Santro car, owned by Amandeep Singh, with 40.81 litres of petrol. Interestingly, the maintenance book of the car reveals that the capacity of the car’s tank is 35 litres which means that petrol station employees charged car owners for an extra 5 litres of fuel. A proper receipt was issued to car owners in which it was clearly stated that the car (PB 11Q 9928) was filled with 40.81 litres of petrol.

When contacted Mr Varinder Singh, Field Officer, Indian Oil, disclosed that this was normal practice and added that even he resorts to such tactics when going on a long drive. He added that more fuel could be filled in vehicles than what was the prescribed capacity of the vehicle, when brought to a petrol station was ‘bone dry’. However, he had no reply when told that Amandeep Singh had himself driven his car to the petrol station which means that the car had some petrol in the tank and was not ‘bone dry’. Moreover, Mr Varinder Singh said the capacity of vehicle’s tank was ‘ideal capacity’ and it could take more petrol than the prescribed limits.

The petrol station owner, Mr J.S. Sahni, said this phenomenon was due to ‘air pressure’ and added that such a practice was normal.

Experts opine that keeping in view ‘air pressure’ and ‘ideal capacity’ factors, the car’s tank can be filled with 37 litres and not a milli litre more against the certified capacity of 35 litres. When asked about this both Mr Varinder Singh and the petrol station refused to respond. However, Mr Varinder Singh maintained that the issue could be taken up with the Weights and Measures Department.

Interestingly, the petrol station is situated on one of the busiest roads of the town and hundreds of vehicles get fuel from it many in the manner Amandeep Singh got it.


471 physically challenged kids to get artificial limbs free of cost
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 15
As many as 471 physically challenged children have been identified in the district in camps organised in the five blocks of the district. These camps were organised to identify physically challenged children in the age group of three to 14 years in the district under the Sarv Sikhiya Abhiyan by the Social Security Department of the state in collaboration with the Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corp. of India (ALIMCO).

According to Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, Fatehgarh Sahib had become the first district in the state where the campaign to identify such children had been launched successfully.

He said the 471 physically challenged children would be provided free of cost.

Ms Vandana Chawla, Co-coordinator of the scheme, said parents of physically challenged children and workers of social organisations took keen interest in the five camps.


Balli president of House press panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 15
Mr Baljit Balli of Ajit was elected the president of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Press Gallery Committee. Mr Ashwani Anand was elected vice-president, while Mr Harish Chander Bhaganwala of Aj Di Awaz was elected general secretary.

The Tribune’s Chief of Bureau, Mr Prabhjot Singh, along with Mr Girish Upadhayay of Amar Ujala and Mr A.S. Prashar of Punjab Kesri were allotted permanent seats in the Vidhan Sabha Gallery. The decisions were taken during a special meeting convened at the Punjab Vidhan Sabha under the presidentship of Vidhan Sabha secretary N.S. Mavi.


Mann supports Pak on Baglihar talks

Takhtpura, January 15
The Indo-Pak talks on the Baglihar water project broke off due to Hindu mindset of some persons involved in the process, alleged Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the SAD (Amritsar), here yesterday.

He said as per a treaty the water of the Indus, the Jhelum and the Chenab went to Pakistan, while India got the water of the Ravi, the Beas, and the Sutlej. He alleged India was drawing water from the Jhelum and diverting it to the Pando project in Himachal Pradesh.

He said both countries were nuclear powers and India had pledged that it would not use its nuclear arsenal first. “But, Pakistan’s statement to use nuclear arms in case of threat to its security or waters poses a serious threat to India,” he said.

He said if Pakistan resorted to the use of nuclear arms, Punjab would have to bear most of the brunt. He supported Pakistan’s stand on the Baglihar issue and demanded peaceful resolution of the matter. He said the resolution of the SYL issue should be as per the riparian law. — TNS


Punjab, SA province ink pact
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 15
For mutual exchange and cooperation in art, culture, science, technology, small and medium scale industry, besides agriculture, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between Kwazulu-Natal Province of South Africa and the Punjab Government.

Director-General of Kwazulu-Natal Provincial Administration R.K. Sizani and Punjab Chief Secretary Jai Singh Gill inked the MoU on behalf of their respective governments. The document was signed in the presence of Provincial Minister for Arts, Cultural and Tourism of Kwazulu-Natal Narend Singh and state Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

The basic objective was to seek mutual cooperation in art and cultural exchange programmes, besides sharing of agriculture information, research, techniques and systems, along with financial and technical support of small, medium scale and traditional forms of agriculture.


Mandal threatens stir over power cuts
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, January 15
The tall claims of leaders of the ruling party regarding development stand belied as residents of Fazilka town and surrounding areas are facing an acute shortage of drinking water and electricity. Frequent prolonged and undeclared power cuts are the order of the day. The worst hit are the students who are preparing for their examinations. The business of industrialists is also affected.

The power cuts also hit the water supply. Since the water table has fallen considerably, the hand pumps are proving no good. Farmers have to spent a lot on diesel pumps for getting water for irrigation through submersible pumps and deep well motors.

Mr Satish Kumar Dhingra, Secretary of the Punjab Beopar Mandal in a statement here today described the power and water supply scenario as miserable. He said if the situation did not improve, the mandal would launch a statewide agitation with support from various social organisations. All political leaders of the ruling party would be boycotted, he added.


CM to tour tsunami-hit areas
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 15
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today presented a cheque for Rs 77,68,835 for tsunami victims after meeting the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, at his residence. A cheque for Rs 10 crore for the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund had already been sent.

Talking to the media the Chief Minister said, “The Prime Minister has asked me to go to the tsunami-hit areas of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and assess damage to settlements of ex-servicemen there.” He added that many ex-servicemen had settled in the islands in the 60s. Punjab’s Rehabilitation Minister would also accompany during this visit, he said.


More relief pours in
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 15
Punjab Agricultural University’s Vice-Chancellor K.S. Aulakh yesterday presented a cheque of Rs 10.35 lakh to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund for tsunami victims. Another cheque of Rs 2.52 lakh was presented by Sikh Educational Society’s president G.S. Brar along with secretary Bharpur Singh.

Another cheque of Rs 1 lakh was presented by Mr Gurmukh Singh Dhillon on behalf of staff and management of Chandigarh Engineering College at Landran. Parliamentary Secretary (Rural Development, Panchayats and Tourism) Harbans Kaur Dullo also handed over a cheque of Rs 1.15 lakh on behalf of Khanna residents. Speaking at the occasion, the Chief Minister appealed to the residents to donate generously towards relief fund for rehabilitation of the victims.


Naiti theatre stages play for tsunami relief
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 15
To highlight the sufferings of tsunami victims , the Naiti Theatre group performed a street play ‘Kudrat Da Tandav’ for the second time at Khalsa College. The play, has been produced by Gurcharan Singh and written by Bunty Waraich.

The artistes tried to replicate the scene of tsunami disaster. Speaking on the occasion Mr Gurcharan Singh said the play was staged to encourage youngsters to join relief operations. The music produced by Mandeep Lucky was the main attraction of the play.

Mr Gurcharan Singh added that they would be staging the play in different colleges to collect funds for tsunami victims and added that the collected amount would be sent to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.


2 injured in blast
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
Two labourers were injured in a blast in a campfire at Giaspura this evening.

Shahraj and Baba were sitting around a campfire along with other labourers near a scrap dealers’ shop when one of the labourers put some scrap in the flames which exploded.

The police reached the site and the injured were admitted to hospital.


Fire claims panchayat officer's life

Moga, January 15
A Block Panchayat Officer posted at Basghapurana in this district was burnt alive when fire broke out in his bedroom in early hours today.

The sons of the victim Angrez Singh (52), who were sleeping in two other bedrooms were saved, the police said. — PTI


Sodhi trust Chairman
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 15
Mr Balbir Kumar Sodhi has been appointed by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh as Chairman of Phagwara’s Improvement Trust. According to a press release issued by the Information and Public Relations Department, Mr Sodhi replaces Mr H.S. Parmar.


Admn to launch anti-encroachment drive from tomorrow
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 14
The district administration will launch a special campaign to remove encroachments from govt land in urban as well as rural Ares from January 17. All executive officers of the councils and BDPOs have been directed to submit the list of encroachers within two days.

The respective SDMs would supervise the anti-encroachment drive and police help would be provided, whenever required, said the Deputy Commissioner, while addressing the monthly meeting of the district officials here yesterday.

He directed the executive officers of all Municipal Councils to file applications in the respective courts to get the stay orders against the encroachments vacated. He urged the municipal officials not to work under any political pressure rather work as per merit.

He directed the PWD officials to hand over the urban roads falling in the territory of Municipal Council to respective Municipal Councils, so that these roads could be re-carpeted at the earliest.

The Deputy Commissioner took the monthly progress report regarding the implementations of various rural development schemes, supply of essential commodities, various schemes of health department, progress report regarding construction and repair of roads, utilisation of grants sanctioned by the District Planning Board, auction of shamlat lands and removal of encroachments on government land.

Mr Devinder Pal Singh Walia, ADC (D), Ms Manisha Trighatia IAS SDM, Mr Harbhajan Singh SP (H), Dr Harkirtanpal Singh Sandhu, Civil Surgeon and the SDMs also spoke on the occasion.


Kharar MC spends 1.03 cr on development

Kharar, January, 15
A sum of Rs 1.03 crore had been spent by the local Municipal Council on various development works in the past year.

The maximum amount of Rs 50 lakh was spent on setting up of new roads and streets while a sum of Rs 16 lakh was spent on the repair of drains and roads. A sum of Rs 12 lakh was spent on the construction of drains while Rs 10 lakh was spent on the development of parks. A sum of Rs 10 lakh was spent on the construction of buildings.

Last year, council retrieved 104 kanal and 18 marlas in Mundi Kharar, Khanpur, and Aujlan villages and a stretch on the Landran road from illegal possession. The market price of the retrieved land is about Rs 10 crore. OC


Batala police hits druggies, bootleggers
Our Correspondent

Batala, January 15
During its anti-drug drive, the Batala police has arrested four persons and recovered 841 capsules and 120 tablets from the accused.

The Batala police has registered cases under the Excise Act and arrested nine accused, recovering 27000 ml of foreign liquor and 69180 ml of home-made liquor.

The police also registered a case under the Gambling Act and arrested three accused, recovering Rs 125 and 52 cards from them.

In this connection, Mr J. K. Jain, Chief of the Batala police, informed mediapersons here today that Senior Inspector, police station, Fatehgarh Churian, Darshan Lal had registered a case under Sections 420, 188 IPC and arrested Jarnail Singh and recovered 522 capsules of Proxivon and 20 tablets.

Mr Jain further said the Senior Inspector, Mr Sucha Singh, Incharge, Anti-Gunda Staff, had registered a case under Sections 420, 188 IPC and 15 IMC at the city police station, Batala, and arrested Pankaj Kumar, son of Janak Raj, resident of Mohalla Chittorgarh. He recovered 144 Capsules of Proxivon from the accused.

Senior Inspector Satwant Singh, incharge, Anti-Drug Cell, registered a case under Sections 420, 188 IPC and 15 IMC at the police station, Civil Line.

Mr Jain added that ASI Jatinder Singh, police station city, Batala, arrested one Gurdip Singh, son of Mohan Singh and recovered from him 100 capsules of Proxivon and 100 Tablets.

Head Constable Ravinder Singh city police station, Batala, had registered a case under Sections 61/1/14 of the Excise Act and arrested Rajiv Bhalla, son of Pawan Bhalla of Batala.

He recovered 27000 ml of foreign liquor from the accused.


Man booked for concealing first marriage
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 15
The police has booked Raghubir Singh and three of his family members for concealing his first marriage from Krishna Kumari of Sherpur Pucca. The accused have been booked under Sections 494, 498 A, 406 and 420, IPC, at the Hariana police station.

In her complaint, Krishan alleged that she learnt about the fact after 14 years of her marriage. Raghubir had solemnised his first marriage on October 1, 1983 with Kamal Saini and had a son and a daughter from her.

She alleged that he and members of his family — father-in-law Santokh Singh, sister-in-law Harwinder Kaur, all of Moti Nagar, New Delhi, and brother-in-law Sohan Singh of Lambra — concealed this fact from her as well as from her family and she got married to him on April 21, 1991.

She said her parents had spent Rs 4 lakh, including dowry, on the marriage. Her husband demanded more dowry and when she failed to oblige, he turned her out of the house.


Two held for selling intoxicants
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, January 14
The District Health authorities in association with the local police has initiated a drive against quack and unscrupulous medical practitioners clinics.

According to Dr Brinderpal Singh, Civil Surgeon here, a team of the local health authorities, including Mr Ajay Singla, Drug Inspector along with a police party conducted raids at few places’ including at some unlicenced medical shops when intoxicating drugs were being sold.

The team arrested Surinder Singh in Sukera Bodha village under Jalalabad subdivision and seized 3,840 intoxicating tablets and 11 injections with syringes.

In another raid, Lakhwinder Singh was arrested from Ghubaya village for selling intoxicating tablets and injections. The team seized 17,18 such tablets from his custody.

FIRs have been filed against the two.


4 hurt in mishaps
Our Correspondent

Kharar, January 15
Four persons were injured in three different accidents during the past 24 hours in and around the town.

Mr Gajjan Singh, a resident of Bhagomajra village, got injured when he was hit by a Maruti car near Mundi Kharar last night. The injured person was going on a motor cycle. He was then taken to the local Civil Hospital.

In another incident Dalip Singh and Budh Kaur, residents of Hussainpur village were injured when a car hit them when they were trying to cross the main road near Quila chungi here today. They were taken to the Civil Hospital here from where they were referred to the PGI, Chandigarh.

Ram Dayal, a resident of Radiala village, who was going to Daonmajra on foot, got injured when he was hit by a motor cycle. He was also taken to the Civil Hospital.


Hunt on for eunuch in boy’s castration case
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 15
Efforts are afoot to arrest Kanta, alias Dharamveer, a eunuch, who allegedly castrated a teenaged boy. A case had been registered against him under Sections 363-A (1//2/3) and 326 of the IPC at the Chheharta police station here.

Police sources said raids were being conducted on various hideouts in the city to arrest Kanta and her accomplice Narma. Ankushpuri, a resident of Guru Harkrishan Nagar, was drugged and castrated.


Governor approached over deptt head controversy
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 15
The Punjab Federation of the University Teachers’ Association (PFUTA) today wrote to the Governor and Chancellor of the Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) seeking an early appointment to clarify about ongoing controversy over the headship of the Department of Sports Medicine and Physiotherapy.

The Governor had issued instructions to amend the university calendar and appoint a person with the physiotherapy background as the head of department.

Dr Davinder Singh, president of the association, alleged that the case was not properly presented by the university to the Chancellor of the university.

He alleged that the students were misguided by the vested interests for continuation of the control over the department.

He said if the instructions were implemented, it would not only go against the university calendar but also discourage the inter-disciplinary courses in the university.

He said the directive had opened a Pandora’s box. He pointed out that the appointment of Dr Kangs as the head of department was not properly represented by the university.

While clarifying, Dr Davinder Singh said Sports Psychology was a necessary component of all the sports-related courses and psychologists were appointed with all teams at the national and international level.

He said Dr Kang was a graduate with medical subjects and not from the arts background as had been made out by the vested interests. 


Lovdeep Singh wins poetry-writing contest
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 15
Lovdeep Singh of the local GGSSTP Model School today won the first prize in Punjabi poem writing in a district-level contest organised by the Punjabi Tribune to promote Punjabi-writing skills among the students. Sangeeta of GMN Senior Secondary School won first prize in story writing while Satvir Kaur was declared winner in the handwriting contest.

In the junior section, Hakiran Kaur of Netaji Model School won the first prize in story writing while Minkashi of GGSSTP Model School stood first in the handwriting competition.

The Editor of Punjabi Tribune, Mr Shingara Singh Bhullar, distributed prizes among the winners. The contests were held in DAV Senior Secondary School here.

Addressing the students, Mr Bhullar said despite a stiff competition and market-driven journalism in the present era, the Punjabi Tribune did not compromise with its principles.

The News Editor of Punjab Tribune, Mr Sham Singh, said the Punjabi Tribune had been organising such competitions to promote writing abilities among students and provide them a platform to express their views. We have also decided to organise such competitions for schoolteachers, he added.


Teachers’ union bays for Principal’s blood
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 15
The college unit of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union had alleged that Shahzada Nand College for girls here was on the verge of closure due to the callous and indifferent attitude of the Principal, Dr Suman Lata Sharma.

In a signed statement by teachers of the college, the president Ms Satwant Kaur, while levelling serious charges of mismanagement, added that the administration and academics have totally collapsed which had led to a financial crisis of the institution.

The statement added that the student strength had declined by more than 50 per cent from 530 in 2000, when she joined the college as Principal, to a mere 200.

The president alleged that the principal had been diverting funds meant for the academics while the teachers’ salaries remained unpaid even as the Principal spent lavishly on furnishing her official residence.

The teachers union had communicated their grievances to the Vice- Chancellor of the Guru Nanak Dev University and DPI colleges and to the managing committee of the college.

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