P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Canadian MP, Vedanti discuss same-sex marriages
Gurbax Singh Malhi denied visa by Iran
Tribune News Service

Amritsar , January 25
The meeting of Canadian parliamentarian Gurbax Singh Malhi with the Jathedar of Akal Takht and senior office-bearers of the SGPC may put those Sikh Canadian MPs in trouble who are supporting same-sex marriages in their country. The meeting was held at Akal Takht secretariat here yesterday. Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti had already directed Sikhs all over the world not to encourage same-sex marriages. The Sikh high priest had dubbed this trend as ‘anti-Maryada’ which had no place in the Sikh Panth.

Among those who attended the meeting were Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, general secretary, SGPC, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, an SGPC member, Mr Tota Singh, former Akali minister, Mr Gian Singh Langeri, president, Shiromani Akali Dal (Canada) and Mr Jagdev Singh Randhawa, spokesman for the SAD (Canada).

Mr Malhi, who was honoured by the SGPC for his stand on this issue, said he would continue to oppose the proposed Bill on same-sex marriages. However, without naming any Canadian parliamentarian, Mr Malhi urged Jathedar Vedanti not to present the ‘Siropa’ (robe of honour) to those visiting MPs from Canada who were supporting same-sex marriages. Apart from Mr Ujjal Dosanj , a Canadian minister, certain MPs of Sikh background had been supporting same-sex marriages .One such MP, who is likely to visit the Golden Temple in the coming days, may not be honoured by the SGPC or Akal Takht. However, Jathedar Vedanti refused to issue any directive to stop Sikh MPs from voting in favour of same-sex marriages on the pretext that it was a political matter.

Mr Malhi said the Government of Iran had refused him visa as he wanted to meet the 59 Punjabis detained in the country. As many as 29 Indians had already been detained by Pakistan who had entered the country from Iran. These youths had been languishing in various jails of Iran and Pakistan. Mr Malhi said he would now go to Dubai to contact the detainees in Iran and would try to help them in every manner.

In yet another significant statement , Mr Malhi supported the formation of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC). He replied in the affirmative when asked whether he had accepted membership of the PSGPC’s advisory committee.

Mr Malhi said the ‘contract arrangement’ for assuring visas for Canada would be launched at Jalandhar and New Delhi from March 1 to help visa seekers. The new system would help reduce the rush. 


Capt has failed on all fronts, says CPM
Tribune News Service

Mansuran (Ludhiana), January 25
Accusing the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, of trying to exploit the religious sentiments of the people of Punjab, the state unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) yesterday claimed that his government had failed on all fronts and had belied the hopes and expectations of the people.

In a strongly worded political resolution, the party observed that corruption had made its way into the state administration and the government had not done anything substantial during the past three years. It observed that had the Capt Amarinder Singh-led government worked on solving various outstanding political issues, the situation would have been different.

The CPM warned that in case the situation was not controlled, fundamentalist and extremist forces led by people like Mr Simranjit Singh Mann and supported by capitalist forces would sabotage the hard-earned peace in the state. The resolution blamed the state government for its failure to address the basic political issues like transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab, settling of water disputes and solving all problems and issues in accordance with the Rajiv-Longowal accord.

The resolution said instead of addressing the basic issues, the Chief Minister, in order to slight down the Akalis, was trying to exploit religion by holding state functions to celebrate 400 years of the ‘parkash of Guru Granth Sahib’ and 300 years of martyrdom of the Sahibzadas. It alleged that the Chief Minister was trying all these things to divert public attention from the basic needs and demands of the people. It also described the abrogation of the Water Treaties Act as diversionary tactics which had no practical benefit for the people of Punjab.

Having a dig at the Chief Minister for pursuing the policy of liberalisation, it said despite a Left-supported people-friendly United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre, the state government was wantonly pursuing the policy of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation. It observed that the anti-farmer moves like stopping of free electricity to farmers, privatisation of some public sector undertakings and the Punjab State Electricity Board were moves aimed at pleasing World Bank for securing loans.

The resolution warned that in case the Chief Minister did not desist from such policies and adopted people-friendly measures, the Akali-BJP alliance was set to exploit these issues. The resolution also condemned the Shiromani Akali Dal leader, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, for trying to foist his son as his successor in the party.

Yesterday was the second day of the conference. As many as 350 delegates, including 11 women and 50 observers, attended yesterday’s session. The party general secretary, Mr Harkishen Singh Surjeet, a Politburo member, Mr Prakash Karat, the state secretary, Prof Balwant Singh, and Mr Rachhpal Singh were present throughout the session.


Threats to CM turn city into police citadel
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 25
In view of threats by some organisations to ‘gherao’ Chief Minister Amarinder Singh during the Republic Day function here tomorrow, the authorities concerned have turned the city into a virtual police cantonment.

All the road routes that will be used by the cavalcade of Mr Amarinder Singh have been sensitised.

The authorities have been working round the clock to leave nothing to chance. All hotels, public places, railway station and bus stand are being checked by teams of police personnel to ensure foolproof security arrangements.

Sources said thousands of policemen, including officials drawn from almost all districts of Punjab, had been deployed in and around the venue where the Chief Minister would unfurl the National Flag.

Apart from it, the policemen had also been put in every nook and corner of the city.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that activists belonging to the Khooni Phatak Sangharsh Committee, ETT Students Union, TSU and some other organisations had held out a threat that they would ‘gherao’ the Chief Minister tomorrow to protest against the apathetic attitude of authorities.

Though the district civil and police authorities had pursuaded a section of these organisations to withdraw their threats, the other section was determined to ‘gherao’ the Chief Minister.

Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, told the Tribune that ETT Students Union had dropped their plan to organise a protest.

He said that he had promised that two representatives of the Khooni Phatak Sangharsh Committee would be allowed to meet the Chief Minister hence their agitation had become irrelevant.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, said a peaceful demonstration would be allowed but if any organisation tried to create disturbance, it would be dealt accordingly.

He added that policemen from various districts had been deployed in this town as about 30 companies of the Punjab Armed Police (PAP), which were usually being used on such functions, were away on poll duty in other states.

Meanwhile, the city has been witnessing a drive for its facelift round the clock for the past three days. Hundreds of labourers have been putting their best to finish the work by tonight braving spine-chilling cold.

The potholes on the roads are being covered. Patchwork has also been going on. A fresh coat of silver paint is being given to the electric poles in this city. 


Last hurdle cleared for Virk’s appointment
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
The last hurdle in the appointment of S.S. Virk as the 31st Director-General of Punjab police has been cleared as the Union Government reportedly extended his inter-state deputation period by two years.

Mr Virk, who belongs to the Maharashtra cadre and is of the 1970 batch, will succeed Dr A.A. Siddiqui, who superannuates on January 31.

Sources reveal that a communication from the Ministry of Home Affairs extending his deputation has been received.

Mr Virk, a recipient of the Padama Shree, has been handpicked for the top cop’s post of the state by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, in recognition of his work in fighting terrorism. Mr Virk was shot in the face by terrorists in Amritsar when he was posted as Senior Superintendent of Police there.

The Chief Minister had taken up the extension in deputation of Mr Virk with the Prime Minister.

On January 31, besides Dr Siddiqui, Mr R.K. Gupta, also a Director-General of Police, would retire on attaining superannuation.

Though the formality of promoting Mr Virk would be gone through on January 31 when the Department Promotion Committee (DPC) headed by the Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill, meets. At present there are six officers of the 1970 batch who are currently Additional Director-Generals of Police. They are Mr Lalit Bhatia, Mr S.C. Jain, Mr D.R. Bhatti, Dr G.S. Aujla and Mr M.P.S. Aulakh.

Of these Mr D.R. Bhatti would retire on superannuation on March 31 this year.

Even after Dr Siddiqui and Mr R.K. Gupta retire on January 31, Punjab will have two more officers of the rank of DGP available. They are Mr S.K. Verma (1967 batch) and Mr Purshottam Lal (1969 batch).


Time for agriculture revolution: Rodrigues
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
Serious efforts are being made by the Punjab Government to accelerate the pace of industrialisation. A total of 27 mega projects involving an investment of Rs 6881 crore have been approved during the current financial year.

Exports of industrial goods have touched the figure of Rs.8933 crore, said the Governor of Punjab and UT Administrator, Gen S.F. Rodrigues, in his message on the eve of the 56th Republic Day of the country.

  • It is time for a new revolution in agriculture.
  • Focus on conserving water and resources.
  • Information tech to give fillip to the economy.
  • Our human resource pool is the envy of the world.
  • Punjab’s low sex ratio is matter of concern.

Globalisation offers a unique opportunity and a challenge to the industrial sector. Punjab must take the lead in invigorating its well established small scale industry, in particular the textile, hosiery and auto-ancillary sectors, to take full advantage of the WTO regime, said Gen Rodrigues.

It is time for a new ‘revolution’ in agriculture where the focus should be on raising the productivity levels, conserving water resources, value addition, raising quality standards and changing the cropping pattern to meet domestic and world demands of food and food products. Various strategies have been talked about, on how to achieve this, but they have yet to crystallise.

It is a challenge that the state government, the agricultural university, farm and dairy scientists, agronomists and farmers must face with a sense of urgency so that the rural economy can be put back on the path of rapid growth.

Punjab is primarily an agriculture state and its industrious and progressive farmers have emerged as torchbearers of improved and efficient farming. The production in major crops of wheat and paddy has touched an all time high. There are concerns, however, that agricultural growth has reached a plateau and indeed fallen below the national average.

The priority has been in giving a facelift to both the rural and urban sectors, upgrading basic civic amenities of water supply, sewerage and sanitation in both the areas, grass root level bodies.

Spectacular advancement has been witnessed in the field of information technology. Punjab Infotech has developed Mohali as a hub of electronics and information technology industry. Leading IT companies have come forward for setting up their facilities. This will not only give a fillip to the state economy but also generate thousands of jobs for the youth. Similarly, Chandigarh has grown into a leading export center of software of the region. With the commissioning of the Chandigarh Technology Park, many internationally renowned software companies have shown their keenness to invest in the project. The U.T. Administration is also examining the feasibility of setting up a self-contained township, to support IT city.

The unleashing of the human spirit has also meant that “we have now a relatively young, educated, scientifically tempered, human resource pool that is the envy of the world”.

The General regretted that the Republic Day celebrations this year have been dampened by the holocaust of the tsunami tragedy. “Thousands of our countrymen lost their lives and many more are in trauma and severe shock. It is a matter of pride that our whole nation rose to the occasion and launched relief and rehabilitation on a massive scale,” he said.

The government is attempting the provision of quality education through new teaching techniques and equipping our schools with modern tools of IT. Comprehensive health care system is in place, providing need-based health facilities at the doorstep.


Board set up to conserve biodiversity
Vishal Gulati
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
The Punjab Government has recently constituted the Punjab Biodiversity Board to conserve biodiversity, ensure sustainable use of its components and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the use of the biological resources. The 12-member board is headed by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

The board was set up in December, 2004, under the Biological Diversity Act, 2002. Under this Act, the National Biodiversity Authority has been set up in Chennai, which is headed by Dr M.S. Swaminathan, a renowned agriculturalist.

The states have been authorised to establish state-level biodiversity boards to implement the Act. The Punjab Government has taken a lead in this regard by setting up the board. However, no state biodiversity board will be set up for a Union Territory as the National Biodiversity Authority will perform the functions of a state board in their case.

Under the Act, no corporate body or association or a foreigner without the approval of the state biodiversity board or the national authority can obtain any biological sample or knowledge associated thereto for research or for commercial utilisation or for bio-survey and bio-utilisation.

Even the researcher cannot transfer the results of any research relating to any biological resource occurring in or obtained from India for monetary consideration or otherwise to any person who is not a citizen of India or a body corporate or organisation which is not registered or incorporated in India.

However, the transfer does not include publication of research papers or dissemination of knowledge in any seminar.

For commercial utilisation of any biological resource, intimation to the state biodiversity board is a must.

The Punjab Biodiversity Board will advise the state government on matters relating to biodiversity. It can even prohibit or restrict any such activity if it is of the opinion that such an activity is detrimental to the objectives of conservation.

“The aim of the Act is to make inventories of the country’s biodiversity. The setting up of the board is just a beginning towards taking care of bio-resources at the local level,” says Dr Neelima Jerath, Joint Director (Environment), Punjab State Council for Science and Technology. The council is the nodal agency to liaison between the National Biodiversity Authority and the state board.

The state is rich in flora and fauna. The Shivaliks are home to 390 species of birds, 135 species of moths, 74 species of butterflies, 63 species of beetles, 19 species of mammals, 55 species of fish and 27 species of reptiles.


Bairagi community backs Congress
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
The president of the All-India Bairagi Mahan Mandal, Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa, said yesterday that the Bairagi community had extended its support to the Congress in Haryana Assembly elections. He said the Bairagi community had a strong presence in Haryana where the campaign for the Assembly elections is in top gear.

Mr Bawa said that a number of election meetings had been addressed by him and other leaders of the mandal at Rori, Sirsa and other constituencies. He said the Congress had a clear upper hand in Haryana elections. “Corruption by the present government in Haryana had emerged as a big issue there,” he added.

Mr Bawa said that secular forces under the command of Mrs Sonia Gandhi would give a comprehensive defeat to communal forces in Haryana. The Congress had been contesting the elections by raising the issue such as non-development of the state during the Chautala Government, growing unemployment and other social issues. Mr Om Prakash Chautala did nothing for Haryana except promoting the interest of his own family.

In the coming days the mandal leaders would address rallies in support of the Congress leaders in the constituencies where the Bairagi community had a decisive role to play to determine the outcome of the poll. 


SAD leaders to meet President
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 25
A delegation of SAD (B) and JP leaders belonging to Punjab will meet the President and the Prime Minister and seek the registration of a corruption case against the Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Rana Gurmit Singh ,and his removal from the Cabinet .

A SAD (B) leader, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa ,alleged that Rana was involved in the Rs 25-lakh corruption case. Mr Dhindsa was here yester day to preside over the annual prize distribution of the local Guru Nanak Khalsa College for Girls.

He said Capt Amarinder Singh had tried to hush up the hawala case of his son Mr Raninder Singh by getting him a clean chit from the Nehra Commission. He added that the SAD (B) would challenge the report of Nehra Commission in the high court shortly.

Ms Parmjit Kaur Gulshan, MLA, Bathinda ,announced Rs 2 lakhs for Guru Nanak Khalsa Girls College. A former Akali minister, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, was also present.


ZP members resent absence of officials from meetings
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 25
The Patiala Zila Parishad today took up an issue which has been plaguing it for long. The absence of senior officials at its meetings which make them a farce as the problems reported by its members cannot be discussed immediately and resolved.

The absence of officials at the meetings are more annoying considering the fact that the Chairperson of the Parishad is a women — Gurcharan Kaur Randhawa. This has been continuing for some time with none of the two District Education Officers attending an earlier meeting. Today also while the DEO (Secondary) attended the meeting, the DEO (Primary) was not present.

Members of the Zila Parishad, including those heading the Block Samitis, have been taking umbrage to this attitude of officialdom alongwith Ms Randhawa for the last two meetings. Even today they took strong notice of the absence of Child Development Project Officers (CDPOs), none of whom came to attend the meeting of the parishad held at the Red Cross premises today. The members demanded that action should be taken against officials who were deliberately not attending meetings.

Ms Randhawa said the issue was not one of only not attending the meetings of the Parishad. “Members of various Standing Committees complain that officials do not attend meetings of the Committees”. She said this meant that specific problems coming to the notice of the Parishad like some teacher not attending School in a village or a doctor not reporting at a village dispensary, could not be resolved quickly.

Members took up the issue of absence of teachers and doctors from their duties in villages and demanded that a via media should be found to address this problem immediately. Besides this Members also called for prevailing upon the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to provide power in villages for four hours in the morning and evening each so that students could attend to their studies.

Ms Randhawa on her part directed the Social Service officials to carry out a survey in village schools to identify the number of girl students from the Scheduled Caste category so that arrangements could be made for supplying them books free of cost. She also urged officials to take up the Svajaldhara scheme with more vigour in villages as it ensured a 90 per cent grant for panchayats who deposited ten per cent of the cost of the scheme. The meeting was attended by Parishad Vice Chairman Madal Lal and Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development) Jagwant Singh Brar among others.


Beant killers in Pak: Siddiqui

Jalandhar, January 25
The Director- General of Police, Punjab, Dr A.A.Siddiqui, today revealed that the assassins of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, who escaped from high-security Burail jail last year, had taken shelter in Pakistan.

Dr Siddiqui said the reports regarding the assassins being spotted near Ludhiana were not true, as the intelligence agencies had already confirmed that all three absconders, including Jagtar Singh Hawara, had taken shelter in Pakistan.

When asked about action taken report with regard to the multi-crore kidney scam, involving doctors and senior police officials, the DGP maintained that a detailed investigation report had already been submitted to the state government. “The SIT had already submitted a report to the state Home Department. I can not comment on the issue regarding delay in initiating action on the report,” he added. — OC


Medals for a host of police officers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
The Additional Director- General of Police (Internal Vigilance and Human Rights Cell), Mr Chander Shekhar, Punjab, has won the Rashtrapati Police Medal for Distinguished Service on the occasion of Republic Day, 2005. Mr Chander Shekhar had earlier received the President’s Police Medal for Meritorious service in 1999.

Other than Mr Chander Shekhar, a host of Punjab police officers have won the Rashtrapati Police Medal for Meritorious Services. These include Mr Sanjeev Kumar Kalra (DIG, provisioning), Mr Rohit Chaudhary (DIG, economic offence wing), Mr Parag Jain (DIG, Ludhiana Range), Mr Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota (DIG, Patiala Range), Mr Balbir Kumar Bawa (DIG, Crime), Mr Narinder Bhargav and Mr Mander Singh Sandhu (SP, Headquarters, Hoshiarpur).


Northern states planning reforms in transport sector
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
Six northern states —Punjab, Haryana, Himachal, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir — have agreed to introduce sweeping reforms in the transport sector by reaching a consensus on a common tariff for tourist coaches.

Though a formal agreement would be signed by Transport Ministers only after the Assembly elections are held in Haryana, the six states have decided that their tourist coaches would charge 25 per cent above the rate for state carriages. Initially, this agreement would be valid on five routes only.

This landmark agreement was reached voluntarily in New Delhi yesterday. “We will try it for six months,” says Mr D.S. Jaspal, Principal Secretary, Transport, Punjab.

According to Mr. Jaspal, two months from now super deluxe AC buses will be operating from Chandigarh or Mohali to Delhi, Amritsar, Ferozepore and Jammu. The investment for this will come from the private sector. The new service will have a uniform tariff based on the fares charged by state carriages. Till now, each operator had his own tariff for the sectors operated by him.

Interestingly the move for a common transport policy of the region was initiated by Punjab and Haryana, which otherwise do not see eye to eye on several issues. This was helped in part by the personal rapport between Mr D.S. Jaspal and his Haryana counterpart, Mr R.N. Prashar.

Talking to The Tribune here, Mr. Jaspal said the importance was not so much in the substance of the agreement but in the fact that six states have come together for the first time to achieve a consensus on an issue of common interest to give a boost to the transport sector in the region as a whole. Says Mr Jaspal: “This follows the realisation that despite being a region with the highest per capita paying population, the quality of transport services in the region has been substandard and failed to attract private investment . It was why this sector could not realise the full potential of job creation.”

Mr Jaspal also indicated that at the next round of meeting of the Transport Secretaries of partner states, simplification of tax structure vis-à-vis different categories of vehicles and to evolve a uniform taxation policy throughout the northern region would be discussed.


Ban on sale of drugs without prescription
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 25
Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh today banned the sale of a number of medicines, which are commonly used as intoxicants, without prescription by a medical practitioner.

The step has been taken following complaints from the public that a number of cough syrup, tablets and injections are being used as intoxicants.

Mr Tejveer Singh has banned the sale of drugs, including cough syrups Phensedryl and Corex besides Codeine, Lomotil, Lomofen and Sudhinol, tablets Tabrproxy, Proxyvon, Dexovon, Parvon, Corbutyl and injections Morphine, Norphine, Pethidine, Fortwin, Pentwin and Calmpose besides medicines containing dextropropopoxiphene and pentazocin, without prescription. He has also prohibited carriage and storage of the drugs without licence.

The order will come in force immediately and will continue till March 19. 


WB award in memory of Patiala resident
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
Ashes of former a Patiala resident and former Income Tax Commissioner, Jit Bahadur Singh Gill, are being brought here tomorrow by his family from the USA for immersion at the Kiratpur Sahib. The World Bank has instituted an award in his memory.

Jit Gill (51) last was in-charge of the anti-corruption wing of the World Bank, died on March 2004. His last rites have been performed. Ashes are to be immersed, says his Chandigarh-based brother-in-law, Mr T.S. Cheema. Widow of Mr Gill and his children Praneet Gill and Pavit Gill are arriving tomorrow.

To perpetuate his memory the World Bank instituted an award known as “Jeet Gill Award”. First award was posthumously given to Mr Jit Gill and in future the award annually will be given to an officer whose probity and commitment to job would be adjudged outstanding.

He was an Indian Revenue Services (IRS) officer of the 1978 batch. Mr Gill was a BE (Electrical) and LLB and did his schooling from the Yadavindra Public School Patiala. Before joining the IRS he worked as SDO with the Punjab State Electricity Board.



Ex-MLA’s wife manhandles DFSC official

Amritsar, January 25
The wife of a former MLA allegedly manhandled a senior official of the District Food and Supplies Controller here yesterday. She alleged that the official had passed indecent remarks against her on the pretext of conducting a raid on her gas agency.

Mr H.S. Ryhar, Controller, while admitting that an unsavoury situation, said he would probe into the matter He said he had called the woman and Mr Anoop Sharma, an official of the department in connection with the inquiry. However, Mr Anoop Sharma refuted the charges. — TNS


Team with relief leaves for Andamans
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 25
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today said that a team of the state government led by Major-Gen G.S. Randhawa (retd), Chairman, Punjab State Ex-Service Corporation, had been dispatched to Andaman and Nicobar Islands to provide relief to those Punjabi families which had been hit by tsunami disaster on December 26.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who reached here this evening to unfurl the National Flag tomorrow on the occasion of Republic day, said that the state government had made an offer to adopt those Punjabi families which were living on Andaman and Nicobar Islands and had suffered significant losses due to tsunami disaster. He added that the state government would do every thing possible for them.

He said that so far the Punjab Government had contributed Rs 10.7 crore to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund. He added that every one in Punjab, including schoolchildren, government employees and private individuals had been contributing for the relief fund.

To a question, the Chief Minister said that the oil refinery project had been cleared and by revising some terms of this project, the state government had succeeded in saving its revenue to be generated from sales tax on petroleum products in thousands of crores of rupees. He pointed out that the government had been planning to start a ring road project in Bathinda town.


Hand cart union holds protest
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 25
A section of activists of the Hath Rehri (hand cart) Union, who are traditional Congressmen, today took out a march in this city and raised slogans against local MLA and Finance Minister Surinder Singla, his close associate Anil Singla and President, Dalit Sena, Mr Kiranjit Singh Gehri, to lodge their protest against their uprooting from their area of operation.

The activists led by Mr Ram Datta, president of the union, alleged that a section of their members, who had been doing business by putting up their hand carts behind local bus stand for the past 40 years were being pressurised to vacate that area by those elements who had been using religion as a tool for the fulfilment of their vested interests.

He pointed out that the piece of land, which a section of people were trying to get vacated from the owners of hand carts, was allotted to them by the local municipal corporation authorities. The hand cart owners had been paying the required fee to the municipal corporation for using that piece of land in the shape of the bazarri. A section of hand cart owners pointed out that though they were traditional Congressmen, they were being uprooted from their place of business by a section of Congress leaders.

They said if the justice was denied to them, at least 5,000 hand cart owners would launch an agitation.


Sharma installed Rotary Club chief
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 25
The local Rotary Club organised a function here last night to install its president, Prof S.C. Sharma, and his team for the centennial year of the Rotary International. Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla was the chief guest while Mr Rajinder Singh, Inspector-General of Police, was the guest of honour. 

Mrs Preneet Kaur, MP, and Mr S.S.Boparai, Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Mr Vishnu Sharma, Mayor, Municipal Corporation, Mr Ved Parkash Gupta, Chairman, PRTC, and Rotarian Ramesh C.Jain, district governor, R.I.Distt. 3090, were also present.

Mr Boparai and Mr Vishnu Sharma were inducted as honorary members of the club while Dr R.L.Mittal, Mr A.P.Dubey, Manager of State Bank of Patiala, and Col Bhubnesh Sharma were inducted as members.


Cop arrested for demanding ransom
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 25
Satwant Singh, constable of the Punjab police, and Sarbjit Singh, both residents of this city, were arrested when they were about to get ransom money from a local woman near Hanuman Chowk here today.

Satwant Singh and Sarbjit Singh had been demanding a ransom from Ms Gurmeet Kaur, a resident of this town, by repeatedly making phone calls to her.

The accused first demanded Rs 32,000 from her and then they raised the demand to Rs 40,000. After consulting her husband, Mr Bikkar Singh, Ms Gurmeet Kaur asked the accused to come to Hanuman Chowk to to collect the ransom.

When the accused reached the place, they asked Ms Gurmeet Kaur about the money. Before Ms Gurmeet Kaur did any thing, Mr Bikkar Singh, who was accompanied by his two associates, overpowered them.

They were identified as constable Satwant Singh and Sarbjit Singh.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, said at a press conference that a case under Sections 384, 511, 506 and 34 of the IPC had been registered in the local police station.

In another case, Rakesh Kumar, alias Kali, and Krishan Kumar, both residents of this town, were arrested for their alleged attempt to snatch a bag from Mr Gurchet Singh, a resident of Buttar Gehri village, near the local Multania Phatak. A case under Sections 356, 511 and 34 of the IPC had been registered against the accused.


Man strangled to death
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 25
Dilbagh Singh, a resident of Raja Sansi village, was strangled to death by some unidentified looters here late last evening.

According to a case registered at Raja Sansi police station under Section 302, IPC, four persons with their faces covered, barged into the house and decamped with gold jewellery. However, when the family tried to raise the alarm they strangled Dilbagh Singh to death. No arrest has been made so far.


Suicide bid by girl
Our Correspondent

Kharar, January 25
A 16-year-old girl of Mundi Kharar allegedly tried to commit suicide by consuming some poisonous tablets. She was taken to a private hospital by members of her family from where she was referred to the local Civil Hospital. As her condition was serious, doctors of the Civil Hospital referred her to the PGI, Chandigarh.

The girl is a student of Class X and was reportedly upset about her studies.


Students burn effigy of principal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 25
The effigy of the Principal of Akal Degree College, Mastuana Sahib, near here, was today burnt in front of the college by students, led by the Punjab Radical Students Union (PRSU) and the Punjab Students Union (PSU) in protest against the non-fulfilment of their demands by the college management and the principal. They blocked the road as a symbolic protest against the authorities and raised slogans in support of their demands.

The agitating students asked the college authorities to get the rooms of arts block vacated from the pharmacy students, introduce MA classes on the college campus, fill vacant posts of lecturer and refund excess fee deposited by the students last year. They also asked the college authorities to spend the money of student welfare fund to the tune of Rs 35 lakh on the welfare of the students.

The student leaders warned the college authorities that if their demands were not met by February 6, they would get the rooms of arts block vacated from the students of pharmacy on February 7 by initiating a stern action in this regard.


7 teachers, Principal found absent
Our Correspondent

Kharar, January 25
Seven teachers, including the Principal, were found absent during an inspection of Government Model Senior Secondary School carried out by the SDM, Mr Sukhvinder Singh Gill, here today.

Mr Gill inspected the school around 9.07 a.m. and found that two teachers were on leave. Members of the staff said that the Principal of the school was on leave yesterday and today. However, the leave application in this regard could not be produced by them.

The SDM has sent a report to the Ropar Deputy Commissioner in this regard.

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