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Storm brewing in BJP
Action sought against Tikshan Sud
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 6
A storm is brewing in the Punjab unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party. The state office-bearers have passed a resolution demanding action against Hoshiarpur MLA, Mr Tikshan Sud. The party’s central leadership is expected to decide on the matter.

Mr Sud was also a minister in the previous Akali-BJP Government led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal. The BJP has just two MLAs in the Assembly, down from 18 in the previous term when it was a major alliance partner of the Akalis.

In the resolution, passed about 10 days ago, the BJP office-bearers have levelled allegations of “anti-party” activities against Mr Sud. The resolution is in the knowledge of central leaders, including BJP Punjab unit in charge in Delhi, Ms Jaskaur Meena, senior BJP leaders confirmed to The Tribune.

Senior BJP leaders confirmed to The Tribune that action had been sought and the signatories to the resolution include the BJP unit’s Punjab chief, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, and the General Secretaries of the party.

In all about 18 alleged instances of “anti- party activities” have been highlighted in the letter sent to BJP’s central leadership. Sources said opponents of Mr Sud were gunning for action against him but the party’s central leadership was busy in tackling the controversy generated by former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Ms Uma Bharati.

Meanwhile Mr Sud, when asked for his reaction, expressed surprise at the resolution saying “ I have not indulged in any anti-party activity and I have no knowledge about any such resolution”. He went on to add that he had never been questioned by the state unit to give any reply to any such allegation.

Sources in the BJP said one of the allegations against Mr Sud was that he had failed to defend the national leadership of the BJP during the debate on terrorism held in the Punjab Assembly last month. Also, the resolution says that he had formed a parallel body at the district level in Hoshiarpur and also a parallel youth wing.

The BJP is on corrective trip in the run up to the elections about 14 months away. A message has been sent to party cadres that no activity that does not help the party would be tolerated. It may be recollected that a few weeks ago the BJP state chief, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, had replaced the district chiefs of Bathinda and Jagraon, reportedly for being ineffective.


Sukhbir not to contest next Assembly poll
Tribune News Service

Badal, December 6
Putting all speculation to rest, the former Chief Minister and SAD president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today categorically stated that his son Sukhbir Badal would not contest the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state.

He said this while interacting with mediapersons on the sidelines of a seminar on globalisation at Dashmesh Girls College of Education here.

Mr Badal said some people were unnecessarily raking up the issue and the party had no plans to field Sukhbir in the electoral arena during Assembly polls.

Scotching rumour that he would contest from two Assembly constituencies and vacate one for Sukhbir after winning both, he made it clear that he would fight from the Lambi constituency only. "Sukhbir would not fight Assembly elections for the next five years," he said.

Regarding the much-hyped Congress rally in Lambi on December 11, he said if the crowd, managed through government machinery, was any surety of an electoral win then Indira Gandhi would have not lost elections after Emergency.

Expressing doubt over a string of development projects being announced by the state government, he alleged that the government had seldom lived up to its promises.

On the state government's plan of special economic zones (SEZs) in various cities, he said it was for the Centre to decide on it and added that there was no progress on the one approved for Amritsar.

Earlier, addressing the seminar, Mr Badal stressed on human resource development and advocated purposeful education to prepare students for competing in the era of globalisation.

Lamenting the "narrow-minded approach" of powers-that-be, he said his village had a 100-bed hospital worth crores and a nursing institute with proper infrastructure, but the former was facing staff crunch and the latter's staff was not being paid salaries.

He said the state's government schools didn't have proper buildings, adequate staff and other basic amenities. Those who attended the seminar included the Principal, Mr S.S. Sangha, Dr Kulwinder Singh, Dr Sagar Sharma, Mr Sutinder Singh Noor and Prof Deepak Manmohan Singh. 


Bird flu threat looms large
Carrier species spotted
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 6
Two more bird species, suspected to be carriers of bird flu virus arrived in the wetland area of Ropar today.

The migratory birds — great black-headed gull and great cormorant — were spotted in clusters at the wetland area.

This completed the list of three migratory species who are suspected carriers of the virus, to arrive here as the forest officials had already recently spotted one species of - bar headed goose.

But with the arrival of these birds, the forest department did not seem to be perturbed rather it was making efforts to attract more migratory birds.

For the first time in the state, on an experimental basis, the Forest Department today floated artificial birds in the Sutlej.

The birds of five different kinds — ruddy shelduck, spot billed, comb duck and bar-headed Goose — were floated in the Sutlej at the boat club this afternoon.

The scheme has been funded by the Centre to increase the strength of migratory birds in the wetland. Each bird cost Rs 1100 to the department.

The birds — great black headed gulls and great cormorants — were spotted during the search for migratory birds at 30 checks points in the wetland area by the Forest Department.

These birds were found in front of the boat club, Dr Salim Ali Ornithologist track and along the headworks, Ropar.

This was disclosed to The Tribune by the District Forest Officer, Mr S.S. Bhatti, while releasing artificial migratory birds in the Sutlej.

The wetland area is a natural habitat of these birds and important for their survival, he added.

“Following the directions of the Ministry of Environment, we have been recording the movement and condition of migratory birds in the wetland area. Now, we have planned to increase surveillance of the areas to keep track of the birds,” added Mr Bhatti.

Manufacturer of the artificial birds, an artist, Mr Abninder Singh Garewal, said “I took it as a challenge as I had been involved in the project of making animals or statues but I had never been into bird-making.

But after much effort we were successful to make five different kind of birds,” he added.


Boy untraced, ransom demanded
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 6
Though the police had started intensive checking and search, in and around the city, to trace six-year-old LKG student, Ronek Rawat, son of Vishvanath Rawat alias Vishal, yesterday and rounded up three kidnapping suspects in this connection, it has not found any clue to recover the child so far.

When a team of mediapersons today visited the house of Vishvanath Rawat, located in the slum area of Sunder Nagar at the backside of Mahavir Spinning Mill on Hoshiarpur-Phagwara road, many of the sympathisers of the victim’s family were seen consoling the weeping Anju Rawat, mother of Ronek, and were praying for the safe return of her son.

The sympathisers told mediapersons that none of the family member of Vishvanath took food after Ronek went missing the evening of December 3, 2005.

Anju Rawat, elder brother and sister of Ronek were in critical condition. They said the kidnapper had again contacted Vishvanath Rawat on his mobilephone.

The details of the conversation between caller and Vishvanath could not be known as the latter was accompanying the police in search of his son.

They said Vishvanath, who had come from Sultanpur (UP) about 7 years ago, was a poor person and was not in a position to pay the demanded ransom.

Ronek Rawat, who was studying in LKG in the Sarswati Public School of the same locality was missing since the evening of December 3, 2005.

He went to play in the street but did not return home at which his father Vishvanath Rawat, who sells spices before meat shops at Phagwara road, informed the Model Town Police Station.

Yesterday morning, a telephone from an unidentified person was received at the clinic of Dr Lal Bahadur located near the house of Vishvanath Rawat. The caller disclosed his name as Tiger and wanted to talk to Rawat.

When Rawat reached the clinic the caller again telephoned him and demanded a ransom of Rs 2 lakh for releasing his son.

The caller also noted the telephone number of Rawat before disconnecting the telephone.

Vishvanath immediately informed the police in this connection and a case under Sections 363 and 364 of IPC was registered.

Mr Lok Nath Angra, SSP, Hoshiarpur, claimed that some positive clues had been found to nab the kidnappers. He hoped that Ronek would be traced out at the earliest.


Mini bus operators plan protest
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 6
Owners of 6,500 mini-buses say they are facing a bad time. Mini-bus permits were given years ago to unemployed youth and ex-servicemen in Punjab.

As no one has tried to resolve their problem, they now have decided to take an extreme step. Mr Harinder Sharma, President of the Punjab Mini Bus Operators Association, told The Tribune today that the Association had decided to burn a mini-bus in Chandigarh on February 1 to express its resentment against the indifferent attitude of the government towards its demands.

The bus, which will be burnt will be taken around all important cities in Punjab in the third week of January. “ We will start the procession with the bus from Amritsar on January 20 after paying obeisance at the Golden Temple. And then we will move from one city to other to tell people how the mini bus operators were facing bad times. On reaching Chandigarh, the bus will be burnt”, Mr Sharma said. The decision in this connection was taken at a meeting of the association held here today. The general secretary of the association, Mr Surjit Singh Sahota and the Vice-President, Mr Tarlok Singh Batala was also present at the meeting.

Mr Sharma said that operating mini buses had become difficult because of the steep rise in the prices of diesel. Nearly 5 per cent of the mini-buses had gone off road because of the increased operational cost. On the other hand, Mr Sharma said, because of the unchecked illegal operation of private buses, taxies etc the availability of passengers to mini buses had gone down significantly. He said that Punjab suffered a monthly loss of Rs 2.5 crore in the form of tax collection because of excess mileage covered by government buses from Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and the Union Territory of Chandigarh in Punjab. Coverage of excess mileage adversely affected the mini bus operators, he added.

The association wanted that the minimum fare for mini bus passengers should be fixed at Rs 5. Mini buses should be exempted from bus stand fee and the hike in various taxes applicable on plying of buses should be taken back. All powers to challan mini buses should be taken back from the traffic police and a policy should be made with regard to the grant of mini bus permits. He said that in the past permits had been granted in bulk.


Stress on use of computers in Punjabi language
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 6
The second day of the Punjabi Saptah-2005 was marked by an elaborate discussion on the use of computer technology for the uplift of the Punjabi language throughout the world.

Presiding over the discussions, Patiala SSP Amardeep Singh Rai said computer was one such tool that enabled people to share their views with each other and appealed to writers and others assembled there to make optimum use of computer to spread Punjab, Punjabi and Punjabiat across the globe.

Mr M.R. Banga, Director, State Languages Department, while speaking on the occasion, said the use of the Queen’s language by Punjabis working in various fields was not a good signal for those who were endeavouring to take Punjabi to new heights.

Mr Roopinder Singh, Assistant Editor, The Tribune, while deliberating on the use of the Internet, said the lack of Unicode-compatible Punjabi font was proving to be an impediment in spreading the language. He added that some technological advances had been made in this field but these were not enough for the Punjabi language to be freely used in the medium of the Internet.


Headmistress, clerk suspended for bungling
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 6
The Punjab Education Department has suspended the Headmistress and a clerk of Government High School, Garbagha, in Nurpur Bedi block of Ropar district. The suspension order has been issued by Dr Sadhu Singh Randhawa, DPI (Secondary Schools), Punjab.

Mr Randhawa said the both had been suspended because of alleged administrative and financial irregularities. The Headmistress, Ms Kamlesh Bhalla, has been asked to report to the office of the District Education Officer, Patiala, during the suspension period and Mrs Amarjit Kaur, clerk, has been asked to report at the office of the District Education Officer, Fatehgarh Sahib.

The science teacher, Ms Paramjit Kaur, has been given a show-cause notice for being absent from school at the time of inspection made by Mr Randhawa on December 3. One other teacher, Ms Balwinder Kaur, has also been issued a show-cause notice for not handling the task of school administration properly.

Dr Randhawa said though the science teacher was absent, efforts were made by another teacher to show her on leave in the attendance register. However, her leave application was not made available to the inspecting team.

Meanwhile, the District Education Officer of Ropar had been directed by Mr Randhawa to inspect the school records thoroughly and submit a report in this regard within a week.

The two posts — one of physical training instructor (PTI) and the other of social studies mistress — were surplus and these would be shifted to another school.

Dr Randhawa also made a surprise inspection of Government Girls Senior Secondary School and found one teacher absent. She has been issued a show-cause notice.


Bank staff stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 6
Employees of the State Bank of Patiala from the Bathinda zone staged a day- long dharna in front of the State Bank of Patiala, head office, here on a call given by the All-India State Bank of Patiala Employees’ Federation. More than 200 employees participated in the dharna.

Addressing the rally, N.K. Gaur, general secretary of the All-India State Bank of Patiala Employees’ Federation said the management was trying in a revengeful manner against the agitating employees instead of paying heed to their demands. Wages of employees were being reduced in an unlawful manner, he alleged.

The federation was ready to discuss all issues while the management was proceeding in a dictatorial and unilateral manner. The employees would observe another state-wide strike from December 16 to 23, said Mr Gaur.


CMO denies polio report

Mansa, December 6
Reacting to a news report on a “Kid suffering from polio despite drops” carried in a section of the media, Civil Surgeon, Dr Rakesh Gupta today termed the same as totally incorrect and far from facts.

In a statement here today, he said the three-year-old child from Mandran village was examined by a specialist of the local Civil Hospital on November 24.

He said the child had weak lower limbs and was diagnosed as a case of acute flaccid paralysis. — TNS


Protest by tempo union
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, December 6
Members of the Janta Tempo Union here today protested against the decision of the administration for not allowing the entry of tempos during peak hours. They also held a rally near Simbal Chowk here.

President of the union Des Raj alleged that the decision had effected the work of more than 70 tempos plying from various places to the town. The protesters said they should be allowed to ply the tempos according to the route permits.

They said due to the decision of the administration, the passengers had to pay double amount for covering their destination.

The local administration had recently imposed a ban on the entry of heavy vehicles and plying of tempos within the town to streamline traffic.


1 killed, one hurt in mishap

Batala, December 6
Sudarshan Dogra (70) of the local Dharampura Colony was killed on the spot and Ram Dyal (52) injured when the scooter (PB-18A-6711) they were riding was hit by a Traviera vehicle (PB-02AN-7220), on the GT Road here today.

Ram Dyal of Batala, has been admitted to hospital in serious condition. The body of Sudarshan Dogra has been sent for a post-mortem. — OC


2 arrested in murder case

Batala, December 6
A double-murder case of Dhariwal Sohian village under Sri Hargobindpur police station has been solved with the arrest of two persons, Daini of Jhangian village in Patiala district and Najeed of Dehlian village in Hardoi district (UP).

The accused were lodged in jails at Nabha and Gurdaspur, respectively. They have confessed having committed the crime, the police said today.

On the night of May 11, 2004, some unidentified persons had caused the death of Jagtar Singh of Kaler village and Rajwant Singh Sohian village and injured another person in a gurdwara of Dhariwal Sohian village and looted many valuables. — OC


Auditorium may eclipse Khalsa College facade
Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, December 6
The Khalsa College authorities have given a go ahead to the construction of an auditorium near the residence of the Principal of the college, which is likely to obstruct the view of majestic façade of the historic Khalsa College from the direction of the Principal’s residence.

Work has already started with the removal of wild grass from the site even after concern was expressed by residents and experts. Heritage lovers have condemned the step.

Prof Balwinder Singh, professor at Guru Ram Das School of Town Planning, Guru Nanak Dev University, termed the development as unfortunate and added that this would affect Khalsa College’s view, which was designed by famous architecture of British era Ram Singh.

He said additions and alterations in the architectural construction could prove harmful.

The construction of the building would be like a blot on the beautiful facade, said Mr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, former SGPC secretary, who criticised the college management for allowing the construction.

He suggested said the college could use the empty quarters behind the Khalsa College for Women for the same.

Mr Gunbir Singh, financial secretary, Khalsa College management, said though the facilities inside the auditorium would be ultra-modern, the facade would be in congruence with the old building. He said the whole plan had been considered before deciding upon the site for the auditorium.


Schoolteachers end dharna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 6
On the assurance given with regard to its demands by Mr Harchand Singh Barsat, officer on special duty to the Punjab Chief Minister, the Punjab Government Aided School Teachers and Other Employees Union here today lifted its two-week- old dharna.

Mr M.L. Chopra, Adviser of the Union, said that Mr Barsat today visited teachers and employees sitting in dharna at Matka Chowk and assured them on behalf of the Chief Minister that their demands were genuine and these would be accepted soon. Mr Chopra said that Mr Barsat categorically said that the DA would be merged in the salary of employees and pension of eligible retired employees of these schools would be paid according to the rules.

Earlier, Mr Barsat held a meeting with Mr Chopra, Mr Gurcharan Singh Chahal, President of the Union, Mr Ashwani Kumar, President of the Ropar unit of the Union and Mr Mohan Lal, a representatives of managements of aided schools. Mr Chopra said that the Union would meet on December 11 to chalk out its next strategy in case the demands were not implemented by that date.


2 more PTDC complexes leased out
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 6
Continuing with its policy to sell or lease out the tourist complexes which had been suffering losses, the Punjab Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) has leased out two more tourist complexes situated in Hoshiarpur and Phagwara to private parties. All formalities to lease out another three star hotel in Amritsar has also been completed. Earlier, the state Tourism Department had sold tourist complex at Neelon to private party and leased out the another tourist complex located at Nangal.

A senior functionary of the PTDC told The Tribune that the Board of Directors of the PTDC had leased out Lajwanti Tourist Complex in Hoshiarpur which was suffering a loss of Rs 12 lakh per year, while Blue Bell Tourist Complex in Phagwara was losing Rs 11 lakh per annum. The tourist complex at Hoshiarpur has been leased out for Rs 70,000 per month for five years, while the one at Phagwara had been leased out for Rs 80,000 per months for five years.

Meanwhile, the PTDC has directed the managers of all profit-making tourist complexes that the profit earned from these tourists complexes would be used for improving facilities. A team of 20 employees of the PTDC has been sent to undergo training at Gurdaspur to improve the functioning of its tourist complexes, he added.

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