P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Trouble brewing in Punjab Waqf Board
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 13
In the newly constituted faction-ridden Punjab Waqf Board, it is Ms Razia Sultan, MLA, and wife of Mr Mohammad Mustafa, Inspector-General, vs Mr Mohammed Izhar Alam, Additional Director-General of Police.

In fact, it was the Razia Sultan-Mohd Izhar Alam dispute that overshadowed the ring ceremony of the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal’s son at Zirakpur, near here, this afternoon.

Flaring up of this confrontation may not be in the interests of the ruling party, as it has been in the middle of a byelection in Ajnala, a constituency, which has a fairly large percentage of a minority (Christians). Though the Congress leadership is making an all-out effort to resolve the dispute at the earliest, both groups appear to be adamant on their stands, staking claim to power in the Board.

Though Ms Razia Sultan, who represents Malerkotla in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, is the Chairperson of the Punjab Waqf Board, she exercises no powers in the Board. The other day she lodged a complaint with the Chandigarh Police that the latter had locked her up in her Waqf Board office for three hours at the instance of Mr Mohammed Izhar Alam, official member of the Board.

Ms Razia Sultan not only met the All-India Congress Committee Secretary, Ms Ambika Soni, but also the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal, today to apprise them of the efforts being made by Mr Alam to “throttle and suffocate me and the Board”.

“The Chief Minister assured me that such a behaviour would not be tolerated. He has promised to take action after getting a report,” said Ms Razia Sultan, holding that she would also approach Ms Girija Vyas (All-India Mahila Congress Committee chief), besides the National Commission for Minorities, besides moving the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the “high handedness of the Additional Director-General of Police for being both supervisor as well as the supervised of the Board.”

Alleging that certain senior officials in the Department of Home were behind the trouble in the Waqf Board, she maintained that being the lone Muslim legislator of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, she became a member of the Board.

“Since I have been the seniormost, so I was elected Chairperson of the Waqf Board, members of which had been handpicked by the Home Department at the instance of Mr Mohd Azhar Alam, who had been, till its reconstitution, looking after the Board as an executive officer.

“Since members of the Board were men of Mr Alam, he got himself the powers of Chief Executive Officer, which were later stayed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. He then tried to requisition a meeting of the Board. But instead of sending requisition to the Chairperson, he got me locked and surrounded by the Chandigarh police in my office and organised a meeting of other members to get back all executive powers as a member,” alleges Ms Razia Sultan.

“When I was locked in my office, I called the Inspector-General of the Chandigarh Police, who promised to get back to me in 10 minutes but never returned the call. If they do not convert my Daily Diary Report to a first information report (FIR), I would move the court. This type of high-handedness cannot be tolerated. It is all the more shameful when it is being done by a civil servant in uniform.

“I have given a complete brief of the whole incident and men behind it to the Chief Minister as well as Ms Ambika Soni. I told the Chief Minister though earlier I was a dissident but now was with him and expected that I would be allowed to function as a Chairperson of the Board independently and without interference from either the Home Department or the Additional Director-General of Police,” said Ms Sultana. She maintained that it was unethical, unconstitutional and illegal for members to hold a meeting and vest all powers of Chief Executive Officer in a member in a meeting requisitioned illegally and without the notice or consent of the Chairperson.


Book reveals details of Khalra’s elimination
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 13
Mr Kirpal Singh Randhawa, Deputy Chairman of the Punjab Human Rights Organisation, in his book “Unending Debate on Human Rights Violations" has given details of the sensational abduction and subsequent “elimination” of Jaswant Singh Khalra, a human rights activist.

Jaswant Singh was allegedly ‘eliminated’ for highlighting the secret abductions and subsequent cremations of unclaimed bodies in the days of militancy in Punjab.

In his 270-page book Mr Randhawa, who was also an eyewitness to the abduction of Jaswant Singh, has stated that the Municipal Crematorium, Patti, records revealed “sensational facts” about the cremation as many as 1135 unclaimed bodies.

The book also revealed how a man declared dead was later killed to authenticate the “dead” status.

Giving comprehensive details of the abduction in 1995, the book reveals that Khalra was picked up by a police party that used a car and a gypsy. The car was from a taxi stand while the jeep belonged to a police station. The book identifies the persons who allegedly abducted Khalra, many of whom belonged to the police. In memo to Director CBI published in the book the well wishers and relatives of Khalra then wrote to the central investigative agency about the abduction of Khalra, who was first detained at canal guest house at Rasulpur near Tarn Taran and was later transported from one palce to another including Sarhali, Valtoha, Kapurthala, Sangrur, Chandigarh, Mohali, Mannawala and Jandiala Guru.

Despite orders by the High Court for his recovery after establishing illegal detention of Khalra it was not done. Finally the apex court ordered an inquiry into “disappearance” of Khalra who was later allegedly “eliminated” secretly.


Rights body seeks probe into family suicide case
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 13
Alleging threats and harassment to the witnesses in the sensational family suicide case in which Hardeep Singh and four other members of his family, including two children, had committed suicide on October 31 last year, the Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO) today sought an inquiry by a sitting judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in the alleged negative role played in the case by the then district police chief Mr Kultar Singh.

In a press conference here today the Chairman of PHRO, Justice Ajit Singh Bains alleged inquiry officer was forcing the witnesses to give statements in the presence of Mr Kultar Singh. He said Sonu, a friend of the deceased Hardeep Singh, who had a copy of the suicide note was harassed for a whole day, which clearly revealed the intentions of the authorities concerned.

The PHRO had lodged a complaint with the Chief Minister that certain relatives of Mr Kultar Singh were making threatening calls to the witnesses. They were allegedly threatening them of dire consequences if they (the eyewitnesses) revealed the truth. A suicide note of the deceased written to one of his close friends, in which the SSP’s name figured was allegedly tampered with by the police. This letter has been sent to Forensic Laboratory in Chandigarh.

Earlier, the DGP ordered the DIG (border range), Mr Paramjit Singh Gill, to conduct an inquiry into the allegations. However, later on the enquiry was transferred to Mr Paramjit Singh Sarao, DIG, Jalandhar Range, without assigning any reason, said Justice Bains. He said this was clearly an attempt to save the skin of the SSP.

The investigating officer of the rank of SP had written to higher authorities to depute a senior officer (of the rank of IG) to re-investigate the matter as the name of the former SSP had clearly figured in the third suicide note , found from Sonu , a local friend of the deceased.

The investigating officer (SP) had expressed his helplessness to summon his then senior officer to join the investigation. He was deputed as Investigation Officer by the Inspector General, Jalandhar Range, Mr S.K.Sharma. The earlier two handwritten notes of the deceased were tampered with and the name of the senior officer had been omitted.


Rights body to demand probe into death
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 13
The post-mortem report from the PGI, Chandigarh, confirmed that Rajinderjit Singh had died due to internal injuries he had sustained in the custody of the Ludhiana police, said the Lawyers for Human Rights International (LHRI), here today. Rajinderjit Singh had died three days ago at the PGI after allegedly sustaining serious injuries in police custody, in Ludhiana.

The body of the deceased was received from the PGI after three days of his death, and brought to his native village, Phool Khurd, in this district. Members of the LHRI were here to attend the last rites.

A large number of residents of Chamkaur Sahib town and leader of various political parties attended the cremation. Randeep Singh, brother of the deceased, alleged that Rajinderjit Singh was picked up by the police on February 2, and was subjected to torture for three days. As a result, his condition deteriorated to such an extent that when he was hospitalised in Patiala, he was not in a position to move or speak, he added. 


Ajnala Byelection
Akalis seek CEC’s intervention in bogus votes case
131 booths declared sensitive
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Ajnala, February 13
Almost all polling booths (131 out of a total of 143) in Ajnala Assembly constituency, which remained hub of militancy in the past, have been declared ‘very sensitive’ and ‘sensitive’. Heavy security would be provided at these booths during the polling scheduled to be held on February 23.

While as many as 87 polling booths have been declared ‘very sensitive’, 44 booths have been declared ‘sensitive’. According to Mr Narinder Singh Bath, Returning Officer, the administration would set up 123 polling stations all over the constituency for conducting free and fair elections.

Meanwhile, the Shiromani Akali Dal has detected lists carrying over a 1000 fake votes, allegedly prepared at the behest of the ruling Congress party.

Quick to react to the development, the SAD today sought immediate intervention of the Chief Election Commission (CEC). The SAD alleged that the disclosure could be just the tip of an icerberg of electoral malpractices indulged in by the ruling party in punjab on a massive scale.

The disclosure in this politically sensitive constituency could well pave the way for a direct intervention by the Election Commission even as the SAD Secretary, Dr Daljeet Singh Cheema, shot off a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner, with details.

According to the details contained in the SAD communication, the total number of voters in the Tera Khurd village of the constituency had risen from 909 to a staggering 1,905. The communication alleges that this act was not a mere routine procedural lapse on the part of the high ranking state government officials in charge of the preparation of the voters’ lists but was a deliberate ploy as the list containing the illegally inflated figure had been allowed to stay.

As per the details provided by the SAD to the Election Commission, not only did the total number of voters register an unbelievable increase but the total number of polling booths also illegally went up from one to two, the second carrying a fictitious number. “This village used to have 909 total votes as per the voter list of 1999 and there was only one polling station (No.  56 at that time) in this village. But suddenly it was found that  in the voter list of 2003 the total  number of votes published by the election department of Punjab  Government in the village (Tera Khurd) rose up to 1905, which was  almost  double of that of the previous voters list. Out of this 1,008 votes are in polling station No. 45 and 897 votes are in the polling station No. 46. So instead of one now there became two polling stations,” the SAD complaint to the CEC pointed out.

The SAD had first got the wind of the ‘goings on in this regard’ and had brought the matter to the notice of the SDM, Ajnala, as far back as August 2, 2004, demanding an inquiry. The very next day, the SDM marked this complaint to the local Tehsildar who further marked it down for the area patwari vide letter no. 411 on August 4.

The SAD complaint mentions that, a house-to-house inquiry by the patwari concerned found the SAD complaint to be ‘correct’ and sent a report to the local Tehsildar vide letter (number 2042 dated September 29, 2004,) confirming the veracity of the SAD complaint. The Tehsildar too agreed with the findings of the report and sent it for necessary correction of the rolls to the SDM. To put the issue beyond any shade of doubt, the SDM also affixed his agreement with the findings and forwarded the same to the District Election Officer, Amritsar on October 1, 2004, with recommendation for further necessary action.

That is where the matter hit a road block with the government coming in with its act of political management of electoral rolls. Despite repeated requests, the District Election Officer refused to take any action on the report of his subordinates and allowed the fake voters to stay on the list, in clear violation of his obligations under the people’s representation act, SAD alleged.


100 dismissed cops under surveillance
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 13
Activities of about 100 dismissed cops of Amritsar, Gurdaspur and adjoining districts have been put under a strict surveillance by the Punjab police even as the police is still groping in the dark and is sans any important headway in the sensational Prabir kidnapping case.

Keeping in view the involvement of a uniformed, carbine-yielding person in alleged kidnapping, the police has also started counting the number of dismissed cops, particularly those who have been involved in some crime in the past. Lists of missing cops were also being made so as to zero in on the person who was spotted wearing police uniform and whose sketches have already been released by the police.

Though there were a large number of lower-rung police officials such as constables and headconstables who were dismissed during and after militancy for their alleged involvement in different crimes, the police, sources revealed, was watching activities of about 100 such cops who have been involved in heinous crimes like kidnapping, snatching of vehicles and attempt to murder in different parts of the state in the past.

“The presence of a carbine in the hand of a typical blue-red police turban wearing man indicate that he might be a former cop. Though hardened criminals can do everything from faking turban style to having carbines, normally a carbine is a police weapon and it is very difficult for a common person to tie the typical blue-black turban usually worn by constables or head constables. We are looking into this angle also,” said a senior police officer, adding that suspected former cops were under surveillance.

Interestingly, a senior Congress leader and Kerala Governor, Mr R.L. Bhatia, was also attacked by two police officials in uniform in 1985.

When contacted, Mr J.P. Virdi, ADGP (Law and Order), said though no headway had been made so far in the case, the police was working on various theories and leads. “We have launched a statewide multi-dimensional search to apprehend kidnappers. We are also going to focus on inter-state and local gangs of criminals, and enquiries were being made to find out whether some former cops were missing or not? We are looking into every aspect to solve the crime,” said Mr Virdi, who has also directed the IGPs and DIGs at Jalandhar to enhance surveillance to crack the kidnapping case as early as possible.


Panic grips staff, pupils of Sandhuan school
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Sandhuan (Chamkaur Sahib), February 13
Panic has gripped teachers and students of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya in Sandhuan after the house of a Hindi teacher in the school campus was ransacked and an attempt was made to kill him and his family members.

Neither has the police registered an FIR in the case, nor the inquiry committee set up by the school submitted its finding, even after a week of the incident.

A total of 427 students, including girls, and 42 staff members and their families reside in the school campus. This is not the first time that the school is in news due to security lapses. Two years ago, 29 students had run away accusing the authorities of harassment.

When The Tribune team visited the school, a frightened Hindi teacher, Mr Ratheesh Kumar, informed that he along with his wife, a music teacher in the school, and daughter Shruti were away to Chandigarh to attend a wedding on February 2. When they returned the following day, a student pointed out to them that a foul smell emanated from the house which seemed like gas leakage.

“As we entered the house, we found the culprits, after stealing valuable items, had left the gas knob open in the kitchen. It was God’s grace that we did not switch on the lights, otherwise we would have been burnt alive,” he explained.

“I informed the matter to the Principal who then got a complaint lodged with the police,” he said.

Possibility of an insider cannot be ruled out. The house was ransacked when two securitymen were on night patrol.

When contacted, the Principal, Mr Gurdial Singh, said a five-member inquiry committee has been set up. “The incident had shocked us and we want the culprits to be punished,” he said.

When contacted, the SHO, Chamkaur Sahib, Mr Sukhjit Singh, said the complaint was lodged on February 8. The police was investigating the matter.


Amarinder announces another Rs 2 cr for Quila Mubarak
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 13
The Punjab Government seems set to take up the restoration of the Quila Mubarak, the fort-palace complex of the forefathers of the present Chief Minister, on a priority basis, besides ensuring a quick start of work with Capt Amarinder Singh announcing another Rs 2 crore for the monument today.

The Chief Minister, while reacting to a Tribune feature on how the lack of restoration work on the quila for the past three years was given a setback to its heritage conversion plans, said the delay was not because of the government but the World Monument Fund (WMF).

“The World Monument Fund promised us Rs 1 crore, and even made an announcement in this regard, but they have been unable to transfer the money till now”. He said the delay in the transfer of the money had occurred because of repeated clarifications being demanded by the organisation. He said on the other hand the government had already shown its determination to restore the quila by transferring Rs 2 crore to the Patiala Development Authority (PDA).

“I gave my share of the promised Rs 2 crore two years back, but we are still awaiting the money from the WMF”, he said adding, “We will now ask the fund to expedite the case or withdraw the funding”. He said the state government could not wait endlessly for the WMF to release the money promised by it because it wanted to start work on the action plan being initiated for the Quila Mubarak.

The Punjab Government has already initiated a process of documentation of the Quila Mubarak, but this process also could not be completed because of the lack of any maps of the quila which have to be made. Besides this, it is still in the process of identifying problem areas and prioritising restoration work which is to be done.

Meanwhile, INTACH Chairman S.K. Misra while speaking to TNS said the state government need not be bound by the WMF in case it wanted to initiate restoration work on the quila immediately. “There have been examples of this kind earlier also with former Tourism Minister Jagmohan refusing foreign help which was getting too late in coming”.


Kidnapping: police claims to have found vital clue
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 13
The Amritsar police claims to have found important clues in connection with the kidnapping of Prabir Singh, alias Guddu, a student of DAV Public School on the seventh day of the crime.

The police has prepared computer sketches of two other culprits who are involved in the kidnapping of the student, which are likely to be released to the Press shortly. Earlier, three computer sketches of a kidnapper in uniform were released.

Mr Parmjit Singh Gill, DIG, Border Range, said that a lot of information was pouring in from the general public and police officials about the identity of the kidnapper in uniform as per the descriptions given in the computer sketches.

Mr Gill said like the days of terrorism when many culprits were arrested on the basis of pencil sketches, the police had zeroed in on certain dismissed constables and Special Police Officers (SPOs).

At least seven dismissed police constables and SPOs had been shortlisted who had indulged in different crimes. However, Mr Gill said that nobody had yet approached the family of Prabir Singh for ransom since his kidnapping on February 7. He said the police did not want to bother the family members for further investigations as they were already undergoing utmost trauma.

Mr Gill urged the media persons not to publish speculative news which were bound to hamper the investigations.

The police has been keeping a close watch on the rumour-mongers too.

Mr R.P.S. Brar, district police chief, also confirmed that the police found vital clues which could help nab the culprits.

The DGP, Mr S.S. Virk, is monitoring the case and the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, is being given minute-to-minute report in this regard.


Music in his genes, humility in demeanour
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 13
As the son and disciple of the legendary Ustad Vilayat Khan, Shujaat Hussain Khan could well have worn pride on his sleeve. But he denies arrogance any space in the conversation lest the dignity of his lineage suffers.

He would rather guard with care the musical treasures he has inherited from sitar maestros Ustad Inayat Khan and Ustad Imdad Khan than sound boastful about his own achievements. For record, he has broken many fresh grounds — has been the sole Indian artiste to have been invited by the United Nations for a performance at the prestigious Assembly Hall at Geneva; has earned a Grammy nomination for his superbly composed album ‘Rain”, an Indo-Persian venture he undertook with the Iranian musician Kayhan Kalhor.

But most importantly, Shujaat, who performed at Quila Mubarak on the second day of Patiala Heritage Festival, has mastered the art of reproducing the subtleties of human voice with his gayaki. He has evolved a style most intuitive and interactive. And though he follows his father’s line of musical thought, he can strike such vibrant melodies as can instantly comfort the listener.

A favourite with foreign musicians, Shujaat has also had the privilege of playing as a soloist with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. But that does not give him a reason to relax. “I have always seen myself as an ordinary man living an extraordinary destiny. To be born to Ustad Vilayat Khan has been a privilege. In many ways it has also been a challenge. And though it’s going to be a year since he died, I feel his spiritual presence every moment,’ reflects the son.

One, however, wonders why Shujaat took the flak by not dedicating a single concert to his father’s memory. The disciple reasons, “Everyone in the world is doing that expect me. All my life I have been connected with Ustad Vilayat Khan anyway. Now if I do something to show that I value him, it would appear like a gimmick. I know better ways of honouring my father’s memory.’

Unlike sister Zila Khan who relishes references to Ustad Vilayat Khan, Shujaat detests the idea of selling his lineage. He even goes to the extent of questioning the vocalists who are marketing themselves as Sufi singers. Unsparing, he even challenges Zila with the comment, “It’s easy to flaunt Ustad Vilayat Khan’s name and get concerts. But it is difficult to please music connoisseurs and build on an inherited reputation. Zila says she can sing 20 different styles. That’s fine, but she needs to take her music seriously so that she can evolve as a musician, and grow out of the shadow of legends.’

For his part, Shujaat is documenting all his concerts, and is also giving sound bytes to two writers engrossed in his biography. Also ready for release is a film ‘Khandaan’ on his evolution through the decades. The project has been conceived by a US filmmaker.


Malavika floors audience with fluid grace
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 13
The Patiala Heritage Festival took a classical start yesterday with Malavika Sarukkai unleashing the romance of Bharatnatyam.

What began with a musical celebration of Patiala’s heritage ended on a note of festivity, amidst the roar of crackers which the authorities had chosen well for the occasion. For over 10 minutes, firecrackers kept casting a radiant spell in the sky above Quila Mubarak which looked stunning against a shining backdrop.

On the space of performance, Malavika Sarukkai led the audience through the nuances of Bharatnatyam often misunderstood for its rigidity. After invoking the divine and offering a classic introduction of Bharatnatyam and its basic form, the danseuse went on to exhibit freedom of the form. She mesmerised one and all by presenting a leave taking sequence. The piece called “Aaprachanam”, evoked the deepest emotions of those gathered. And that they responded to the dancer’s call was evident from the applause.

Next in the line came a joyous burst of dance in the form of a lyrical ‘tillana’ composed by V Sitaram Sharma. Even as the gathering was soaking in the joy of the tillana, Malavika concluded her recital by offering a tribute to the motherland. Her presentation of ‘Vande Mataram’ confirmed her class beyond doubt. 


Craft Mela gets off to colourful start
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 13
The former royal pool of the Sheesh Mahal set amidst a floating “Lakshman jhoola” today formed a perfect setting for the Crafts Mela which opened with traditional Patialvi “dhol dhamaka” and full-throttle regional dances from all over the country. External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh also got into the mood on the occasion after cutting the ribbon by trying on a turban and also an embroidered jacket besides going round the more than 150 tastefully decorated stalls.

The Sheesh Mahal was draped in a riot of colours with the Phulkari colours predominant. Besides cut strings in these colours, there was a row of ‘parandis’. This, Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh said, had been done to provide a light-and-shade roof over the venue of the mela.

The mela began with style with the sound of Patiala ‘dhols’ even as Natwar Singh was coming to the venue accompanied by Finance Minister Surinder Singla and MP Preneet Kaur. There was an Assamese dance en route following which the External Affairs Minister cut the inaugural ribbon. Soon after he was trying his hand at a traditional ‘pagri’ denoting the bright yellow colour associated with the Basant festival.

The Union Minister also visited the INTACH stall and got himself clicked with its Chairman S.K. Misra after donning identically embroidered jackets. He also had time to pat the cheek of Capt Amarinder Singh’s grandson Yaduwinder, who was brought to him by a nanny. Later, he visited the various stalls put up by master craftsmen from all over the country.

The mela on display traditional jewellery — agate, silver, ‘kundan’ or ‘meenakari’, — pottery, paintings, and fine metal work with brass and copper engravings.

Mohammad Husain, who does Kashmiri paper mache, says he is overwhelmed by the reception accorded to the artisans and the ease with which they have been able to establish their stalls. Others like Kireet Bhai Soni from Gujarat look forward to “good money” days.

The mela has an amphitheatre where cultural programmes will be held on all days and where visiting troupes from various parts of the country, including Assam and Karnataka, will perform. Besides this, there is a food court where one can get sumptuous North Indian, South Indian and Chinese fares.


CM threatening SAD workers: Badal
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 13
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, was issuing threats to leaders and workers of the Shiromani Akali Dal in the Ajnala constituency to scare them away.

This was alleged by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal chief while addressing election rallies in support of the SAD-BJP Christian Dalit Front and BKU (Lakhowal) alliance candidate, Mr Amarpal Singh Bonni in the Ajnala constituency here yesterday.

Mr Badal said the CM was aware that his party had nothing to tell the people of Punjab about his government’s achievements. That was why he was resorting to mud-slinging, issuing threats and using abusive language.

The SAD chief said Capt Amarinder Singh was unnerved at the decision of the Chief Election Commissioner to deploy paramilitary forces and additional election observers for the Ajnala byelection. Hence, the threats to SAD activists.

Mr Badal addressed eight rallies in Dayalpur Nasar, Lango-Mahal, Abbused, Nano-Ke, Sudhar, Makowal, Jassar, Kuralia, Kotmugal, Talwandi Bhangwan , Madhu Chhanga and Helar yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Congress has complained to the Chief Election Commissioner alleging that Mr Gopal Singh Jannian, MD, Amritsar Central Cooperative Bank, was misusing office in favour of the Akali candidate.

Mr Jasbir Singh Gill, media in charge, alleged Mr Jannian had issued directions to his subordinate staff to work in favour of the Akali candidate, threatening them with dire consequences if they did not.

He alleged the MD was also misusing the official vehicle of the bank to campaign for Mr Bonni.


MCPI trying to unite Left groups
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, February 13
The Marxist Communist Party of India (MCPI) is trying to unite the Left groups, particularly those who have revolted against the leadership of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). The MCPI which is also a splinter group of the CPM, has already succeeded in securing the support of the Mangat Ram Pasla group in Punjab and V.B. Cherian group in Kerala.

Mr Jagjit Singh Lyallpuri, general secretary, Marxist Communist Party of India (MCPI) who was once a close associate of Mr Harkishen Singh Surjeet, CPM leader, told The Tribune today that the central committee of the MCPI which met in Hyderabad last month invited the leaders of the two breakaway groups of the CPM and held discussions with them regarding their participation in the MCPI. There is another group in Bengal which is headed by Mr Hardan Roy, a trade union leader of CPM, who has also revolted against the leadership of the CPM and was likely to join them soon.

According to Mr Lyallpuri, it emerged in the meeting that the present CPM leadership had betrayed the revolutionary programme of 1964 because of which there was a split in the Communist Party and two parties were formed. It was felt that the CPM had become a tail of the ruling party and was supporting the globalisation.

Mr Lyallpuri disclosed that the MCPI leadership offered responsible positions to leaders of these groups and a seven-member committee was formed to further carry forward this programme. The committee would include two representatives each of Pasla and Cherian groups and three from the MCPI with Mr Lyallpuri as the convener.

Mr Lyallpuri said the MCPI, which was formed 15 years ago was already well established in seven states, including Punjab, Rajasthan, UP, Bengal, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh.

Mr Lyallpuri said they were also having a dialogue with the Naxalite groups. But the Naxalites had not given up the sectarian path and individual terrorism and because of this reason they were divided. However, they would continue the dialogue with the Naxalite groups.

Assailing the CPM leadership, Mr Lyallpuri said the present Congress Government was functioning only because of the support of the CPM. The Congress Government was inviting foreign investments hurriedly and ‘the daily protests by the CPM were just a fraud’.

Mr Tarsem Jodhan of the Pasla faction who attended the meeting in Hyderabad disclosed that the Left groups had formed a national platform of mass organisations (NPMO) at the national level to intensify the class struggle. Similarly a joint platform of mass organisations had been formed in Punjab to mobilise the people against the anti-people policies of the Government. On February 8, they held a mass demonstration at Chandigarh to press the demands of the kisans and the state government employees.

It may be mentioned here that Mr Tarsem Jodhan, who was elected MLA from Kila Raipur on the CPM ticket in 1992 was ousted from the party and then Mr Mangat Ram Pasla, state secretary was thrown out after two years. They have formed a separate party known as CPM, Punjab.


Five parties plan protest rally on Feb 25
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 13
Five parties — CPM, CPI, Lok Bhalai, Akali Dal (Ravi Inder) and Akali Dal (Longowal) — have resolved to jointly hold a protest rally in Ludhiana on February 25 to fight against the heavy toll tax being charged at barriers at Doraha, Shambhu and Karnal. Not allowing the government of Punjab to privatise the state Electricity Board and to oppose the proposal of winding up of FCI operations in Punjab are the other issues for the February 25 rally.

These decisions were taken at a meeting attended by Com Balwant Singh, Dr Joginder Dayal, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, and Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra.

The decision of levying huge toll tax, privatisation of PSEB and ending up of FCI’s role in the purchase and handling of foodgrain in Punjab on the directions of WTO were anti-people and against the interest of the State.

The parties hailed the struggle being carried out by the employees to stop the evil designs of the governments. The parties observed that trucks, taxis, canters, tempoes, buses and sumos were plied largely by the people with agricultural background who opted for this profession as a result of stifled agriculture economy. These small transporters either sold or mortgaged their landed properties to ply these vehicles.

The FCI’s closure will straight way deprive a large number of farmers and landless labourers of livelihood in the state and the same will happen with the PSEB’s privatisation. The worsened economic condition has already pushed farmers to commit suicides. The same can, if not saved, happen with petty transporters and manual labour in the FCI.

The leaders took a serious note of reports that Punjab trucks were not allowed to get load while returning from Himachal Pradesh.

The parties demanded that the toll tax should not only be revised to an affordable level but a time frame for its end also should be spelled out. The tax collector company should made public full details of funds collected so far and expenditure made on the maintenance specifying the places on the road.


Encroachments continue despite court orders
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, February 13
The encroachment and illegal colonisation on the Pathankot improvement trust land is allegedly continuing despite orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The work of cutting fresh colony on the improvement trust land has started despite the fact that the trust authorities recently issued notices threatening illegal encroachers with demolition of the structures. When this correspondent visited the site, angles had been erected, land had been levelled and plots had been demarked on the improvement trust land.

The recent notices of the improvement trust to the existing encroachers on the land seem to be an eyewash in view of the fact that fresh encroachments were coming up on the land. The controversy surrounding the trust land is more than three decades old.

The trust in 1971 had acquired 222 acre land for development of the scheme named ‘Timber Market and truck stand’ in Saili and Anandpur village falling within the municipal limits of Pathankot. Despite the fact that land being under acquisition, certain private developers developed structures on it. The improvement trust authorities failed to take any action against the illegal colonizers.

The land acquisition collector while ignoring the fact that the structures came up on the land after the acquisition process was initiated, awarded enhanced compensation to the encroachers causing heavy loss to the state exchequer. The trust later spent a whopping sum of Rs 82,31,000 on the implementation of the scheme under which streets roads and lighting facilities were provided.

Some affected persons filed a civil writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The court in its order delivered on October 31,2002, directed the Punjab Government to take appropriate action against all erring officials in the case. Following the court order, the government charge-sheeted seven officials including former administrator, an IAS officer, two former executive officers of the trust and other junior officials including draftsmen and trust engineers.

However, the action against the officials seems just to be a formality. Since encroachments were still continuing on the trust land. Though the improvement trust acquired 222 acre land at present it has just about 100 acre in its physical possession. Even that is being grabbed in a nexus between government officials, property dealers and politicians.

The executive officer of the Pathankot Improvement trust when contacted feigned ignorance about the recent encroachments. He, however, assured to look into the matter.


Move to sell land to Chinmya Mission opposed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 13
Residents of E-block colony of Ranjit Avenue locality here are up in arms against the reported Amritsar Improvement Trust proposal of selling the prime land meant for community centre to the Chinmya Mission on reserved price.

Taking a serious view of the reported proposal, the residents, under the banner of Community Centre Bachau Sangharash Committee, today threatened to launch an agitation and to take legal action if the authorities tried to sell the land. They demanded the resignation of Mr Jugal Kishore Sharma, MLA and Chairman of the Amritsar Improvement Trust, for failing to save the rights of the residents.

However, Mr Sharma could not be contacted even after repeated attempts.

Mr Satnam Singh, convener of the committee, in a press conference here alleged that the Trust had passed a resolution to sell prime land of about 4,100 yards to the mission on reserved price of Rs 2,100. He alleged that earlier too in March 2002, the Trust had tried to sell the land. However, protest by the residents had forced the government to withdraw the decision.


Hapless wives hold protest rally
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 13
Holding placards and raising slogans against the police and the administration and seeking justice from the authorities concerned, the hapless wives, who have been defrauded by the non-resident Indian (NRI) husbands, held a protest rally today.

The rally, started from Gole Bagh here, concluded at Batala Road. While talking to mediapersons, they alleged that the police and the administration were not taking any stern action against the culprits. They alleged that the authorities even did not entertain their complaints.

Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, President, Lok Bhalai Party, who was heading the rally, said the authorities should take serious view as the number of such victims was very large. 


Indian labourer dies in Greece
Our Correspondent

Khyali (Barnala), February 13
An Indian labourer, Laxman Singh (35), succumbed to his head injuries in Greece.

Pritam Singh, father of the deceased, is a member of the Khyali panchayat.

The body of Laxman was received by their parents at Delhi airport today. He was cremated at his native village, Khyali, about 30 km from here. He is survived by his wife, 13-year-old son and parents.

Talking to The Tribune Pritam Singh said he received a phone call from the Indian Embassy that his son, Laxman Singh, got serious injuries. Some unidentified persons hit him.

Laxman was hospitalised in Greece for two months. On Februrary 7 he succumbed to his injuries.

Laxman Singh had left for Greece in 1992 and was working there with some shoe making company.


Punjab Today award for Singh Bandhus

Patiala, February 13
Noted classical singer duo, Tejpal Singh and Surinder Singh, known as the Singh Bandhus have been chosen for Punjab Today award 2004 by Punjab Today, a Punjabi magazine published from Patiala.

A panel comprising distinguished intellectuals and public figures from Punjab and Delhi selected the Singh Bandhus for their outstanding contribution in the field of classical music. The world famous singing duo won the nomination for their outstanding contribution to the promotion of classical singing and recitation of Gurbani based on ragas.

Kanwar Manjit Singh, editor, Punjab Today, said the Singh Bandhus had made a remarkable contribution to Gurbani music. They have also directed maestros like Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle in their renderings of the Shabd Gurbani. It may be recalled that noted film star, social activist and Union Sports Minister Sunil Dutt has already been chosen as Punjabi of the year 2003 but the award ceremony has not taken place as yet.

Kanwar Manjit Singh said Mr Dutt would be presented the award along with the Singh Bandhus at a function to be held in March. — UNI


Sarv dharam sammelan organised
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February13
A sarv dharam sammelan was organised by the International Muslim Community (Ahmadiyya) at Brahman Majra in Sirhind town today. Thousands of people from different walks of life and
communities participated in the sammelan.

Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, and Mr Sadhu Singh Dharmsot, Parliamentary Secretary, were the chief guests. Dr Mohamd Arif, national executive secretary of the organisation presided over the function.

Addressing the gathering Dr Lal said such sammelans helped in strengthening communal harmony and also brought different communities closer to one another. He said none of the religion taught us hatred, enmity and disrespect for other religions.

He said the Congress believed in national integration and communal harmony.

Mr Dharmsot in his address said the communal force always tried to create communal clashes for their personal gains. He said people should identify such persons in the society and weed out such elements.

Dr Arif said such sammelans were being organised all over the country and this was part of that drive. He said through these sammelans the organisation aimed at clearing the misconceptions that the Muslims were anti-India or harboured ill- feelings towards other religions.

He said experts from various religions were being invited to deliver lectures in these sammelans. In today’s sammelan Father Anait Sadak, Swami Suraj Parkash, Giani Baldev Singh and Mohamd Hameer Kosar spoke on their respective religions.

On this occasion sewing machines were distributed to the needy and a free medical check-up camp was also organised.


Basant celebrated
Our Correspondent

Batala, February 13
The Basant festival was celebrated in this industrial town with fervour today.

This day has special significance for the people of Batala for its association with Haqiqat Rai who was martyred on this day for his religious convictions by the Mughal rulers of the period.

The function was organised by the Dainik Prarthna Sabha and was presided over by Mr Vijay Chopra, Editor-in-Chief, Hind Samachar group of newspapers.

Mr Chopra said that the youth should take inspiration from the example of Haqiqat Rai and devote themselves to the service of the nation and community.


Beopar Mandal calls for Bharat bandh
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 13
The Punjab State Beopar Mandal headed by Mr Amrit Lal Jain, today challenged Mr Asim Das Gupta, chairman of the high-powered committee on VAT, for an open debate on the electronic media.

In a statement issued here today, the Mandal opined that the VAT’s imposition would hike prices and give a jolt to the cottage and small-scale industry.

He stated that a referendum on the contentious issue was necessary in a democracy that could highlight the opinion of public on it. A call for “Bharat bandh” was given by traders for February 21 to protest against the imposition of the VAT.


15 injured in kite-flying contest

Ropar, February 13
Fifteen persons, including five children, sustained serious injuries when they fell down from the roof of their houses during a kite- flying competition on the occasion of Basant Panchmi today. A three-year-old boy, Bali, has been referred to the PGI. Others have been admitted to the Civil Hospital, Ropar. TNS


Special girdawri ordered
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, February 13
A special girdawri has been ordered to assess the damage caused to crops by hailstorms accompanied by heavy rains which hit this district recently, said Mr B R Banga, Deputy Commissioner, after a tour of the affected villages.

In a press note, Mr Banga said he had visited Kabarwala, Gurusar Jodhan, Dabwali Dhaab, Burjan, Chhapianwali, Abal Khurana, Lambi, Channu, Bedowali, Badal, Tapa Khera, manna, Husnar, Tharajwala, and Dhaula villages.

A five-member committee in each village would be formed to help officials of the Revenue Department to carry out the girdawri. The District Revenue Officer (DRO), had been appointed the nodal officer. Mr Banga said not only the loss related to crops, including wheat, sarson and fodder, would be assessed, but also the damage to cattle, houses and orchards.


Hailstorm destroys crops
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, February 13
Many hundred acres of wheat crop were destroyed around Katani Kalan village on Ludhiana-Chandigarh road by hailstorm in the evening yesterday.

Residents of this village said they had seen such a hailstorm for the first time. Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Mr Satpaul, sarpanch, said the hails were thick in size and had fallen for 20 minutes continuously. When the people came out of their houses, a layer of snow having a height of one foot could be seen all around, he added. Apart from wheat crop, the crops of mustard (sarson), peas and other vegetables had also been damaged.

The effect of this destruction can also be observed in Ghulal, Bijlipur, Kube and some other villages too. The residents of these villages have urged Mr Anurag Verma, DC, Ludhiana, to send special teams for making an assessment of the damage.


Protest rally by farmers
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 13
Hundreds of farmers, along with their families, held a protest rally at Lopoke today. The farmers under the banner of the Kisan Sangharsh Committee raised anti-government slogans. Their demands include restoration of facilities for the agriculture sector, waiving of loans, increase in the MSP and against privatisation of the Punjab State Electricity Board.


4 of family booked in cheating case
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 13
A case against Massa Singh, belonging to the Sangat area of the district and now residing in Malaysia, and his kin, including his mother and father, was registered at Sangat police station for their alleged involvement in committing fraud on a number of youths on the pretext of taking them abroad.

Police sources said that case under Sections 420 and 120-B of the IPC was registered against Massa Singh, his mother Naseeb Kaur, father Balbir Singh and sister-in-law Manjeet Kaur today on a complaint lodged by Mr Gurtej Singh, a resident of Pakka Kalan village.

In his complaint, Mr Gurtej Singh alleged that Massa Singh and his kin had looted lakhs of rupees from a number of youths belonging to this area, including himself, on the pretext of taking them to Malaysia and arranging a lucrative job for them there.

He alleged that Massa Singh had taken Rs 1.25 lakh from each youth for taking them to Malaysia. After taking money from him and other youths, Massa Singh left for Malaysia by promosing that he would arrange everything for them and would meet them in Malaysia.

He added that Massa Singh and his kin would arranged his and 15 other youths’ visit to Malaysia. He said that when they reached Kuala Lumpur airport, they did not find Massa Singh there. However, they came in contact with a woman, who arranged construction job for them.

He said that they worked with that woman for about three months and when they demanded wages, she along with her henchmen, gave them a thrashing and bundled them into a room.

He pointed out that after some days, they escaped from that room and took refuge in a gurdwara in Kuala Lumpur. He added that the granthi of the gurdwara arranged their meeting with officials of the Indian Embassy. After that all the 16 youths managed to reach India.

Police sources said that after coming to India, Mr Gurtej Singh lodged a complaint against Massa Singh and his kin, through whom he (Massa Singh) used to operate his business of illegal immigration. An inquiry was launched into the complaint and subsequently a case was registered against Massa Singh and others.

No arrest has been made in this connection so far.


Abandoned male foetus found
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 13
A four-month-old male foetus was found near the Bathinda canal yesterday. It was lying on a heap of medical waste.

Sources said some volunteers of Sahara Jan Sewa along with the police were called on the spot and the post-mortem of the foetus was conducted at the local Civil Hospital.

A case under Section 218 of the IPC has been registered.

Dr Yashpal Singla, Civil Surgeon, could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.


1 dies in mishap

Ropar, February 13
An employee of the Thermal Plant Ropar, Jagu Parshad, died in a road accident near Bharatgarh this afternoon. The incident took place when Jagu, who was driving a motor cycle, was hit by a truck coming from the opposite direction. TNS


Senators resent PU’s indifference towards Chair
K S Chawla

Ludhiana, February 13
Resentment prevails among senators over the fact that the Guru Nanak Chair at Panjab University has been lying vacant for a long time. No effort has been made to appoint a suitable scholar for this chair. Since the discipline of Sikh studies has attracted the attention of scholars worldwide Sikh scholars are unhappy over the indifference of the Panjab University authorities. Prof Prithipal Singh Kapoor, former Pro-vice Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, and a Senator of Panjab University, in a letter to the vice-Chancellor, Panjab University Dr K N Pathak has observed: “It is a sad state that after the retirement of Professor G S Talib, the university could not find a person eminently qualified to adore this prestigious seat. On at least two occasions, this seat was treated as an extension of the Department of Punjabi. Perhaps, it is because of this, that little contribution could be made by this chair towards the emerging discipline of Sikh studies.

Mr Kapoor has further stated: “Since Panjab University has served as ‘mother university’ of this region, it is incumbent on this university to occasionally produce such scholarly works on Guru Nanak and Sikhism that compare favourably with advanced research on Sikhism being pursued in India and abroad. It is the need of the hour that apart from finding an eminent scholar for this chair we should also arrange a good building to house it.”


Special groups mooted to check drug addiction among school kids
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, February 13
The district police has sought the help of school administrations to check the growing trend of drug addiction among school students. In a meeting held with the school principals from across the district, the SSP, Gurdaspur, Mr Ishwar Singh, urged them to form groups in each school to identify drug addicts in schools.

While talking to The Tribune the SSP said groups would comprise teachers and selected students. They would keep a watch on students. If any of the students was found to be taking drugs of any kind then special counselling would be arranged. The information collected by the groups in schools regarding the persons involved in the sale of drugs to students would also be used by the police in taking action against the culprits.

Though the scheme has presently been started for schools it would also soon be spread to colleges of the district. Recently a drug de-addiction centre being run by the Red Cross in the district had warned that drugs were being openly sold to the students at some dhabas located outside the educational institutes. The centre authorities had collected the information from the students coming to them for treatment.

The SSP also said the move had been started to refurbish the women complaint cell in the district. Earlier, members of the women complaint cell used to sit there for just two days in a week. However, the members would now sit there for four days in a week. Some new members, including a psychologist, were being inducted in the women complaint cell to counsel the couples in matrimonial and other minor disputes.

The community centre was being opened in the office of the SSP. It would be used to help people coming here for non-police works like character verification, passport verification and arms licence etc. The people would be asked to fill a form at the centre to state the kind of work they came for. Once the form was submitted a definite date would be given to them to collect their papers from the community policing centre. The entire work of the community policing centre would be computerised.


Teachers’ protest rally today
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 13
Activists of the Punjab State Aided School Teachers and other employees union would organise a rally tomorrow to lodge their protest against the state government for discontinuing the facility of pension for retired teachers that they had been receiving for the past 18 years.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Parmjit Singh, district secretary of the union, said that the activists would organise protest rallies Bathinda, Mansa, Sangrur, Patiala, Faridkot, Muktsar, Moga and Ferozepore.

Mr Singh said that not only the pension had been discontinued; even 50 per cent dearness allowance (DA) had not been merged in the salary of teachers.

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