P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


CM for developing infrastructure
Inaugurates elevated road in Ludhiana
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 25
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today unveiled the two-dimensional development agenda for the state that will ensure equal progress for the rural and urban areas. He said while in the urban areas much attention was being given for infrastructure development, in rural areas the emphasis was being laid on agricultural diversification so that farmers get handsome returns even from smaller land holdings.

Addressing a public function after inaugurating an elevated road here today, the Chief Minister also sought to reply to the Akali charges about the “non-existence” of mega projects in the state. He said the projects take some time to come up. He pointed out: “The mega projects do not come up overnight as there is an average gestation period of two to four years for housing and industrial mega projects.”

He said the results had started showing up like the Trident group of companies had already started production and export. Other projects would start becoming operational within a year or so and in three to four years. All mega projects would be completed, giving a new “modern and model look” to the state.

He reiterated that developing strong infrastructure in the state, that would encourage investments from outside, was the top priority of his government.

Simultaneously, the Chief Minister stated, the focus was on diversifying agriculture. He said, that was why the state encouraged the investments from the private sector like the Reliance, the Bharti, the Godrej and the ITC.

Capt Amarinder said it was high time to persuade farmers to go for high return crops like oil, pulses, fruits and vegetables that were not only remunerative but also less water intensive. He said the main objective of the diversification programme was to increase the income of farmers. He, however, said the over exploitation of water resources for irrigation would virtually convert the fertile cultivable land into a desert within next 25 years.

He said the water table in Punjab on an average was decreasing by 3 feet annually, thereby further aggravating the situation. “Drip irrigation is the only solution to this problem which would not only retain our water level but also prove to be cost-effective,” he asserted. The Chief Minister said he had already taken up the issue with the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and NABARD to sanction this project to provide the facility of drip irrigation to small and marginal farmers, giving them subsidy, who were not in a position to go for either deep drilling tubewells or submersible pumps.

He said that out of 33 per cent of 105 lakh hectares of the total land, 15 per cent was being developed for citrus cultivation, 10 per cent for the corporate sector and 8 per cent for organic farming.

He said the government had enacted the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004, to save the farming community because “had we not passed this legislation, 9 lakh acres of cultivable land of the southern districts of Sangrur, Bathinda, Mansa, Ferozepore and Muktsar would have been rendered barren, thereby affecting more than 16 lakh farming families”. 


Police Gypsy kills student at CM’s rally venue
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, October 25
An over-speeding police Gypsy killed Kamal Kishore, a college student, and injured Vijay Kumar at the venue of the Chief Minister’s rally at Kathlore today.

Sources available here said that deceased Kamal Kishore and injured Vijay Kumar were residents of Udhipur village in Narot Jaimal Singh block. They were going to Pathankot on a motor cycle. On the way they stopped to watch the political rally of the Chief Minister.

After the rally when they were leaving, a white police Gypsy, that allegedly went out of control, hit their motor cycle. Both the students were injured seriously. An ambulance from the Civil Hospital, Gurdaspur, that was on VIP duty at the rally spot, picked up the injured students and took them to district headquarters.

Kamal Kishore succumbed to his injuries in the hospital. The condition of Vijay Kumar who is a student of SD College, Pathankot, is stated to be stable but serious. The higher authorities of the police feigned ignorance about the accident.

The SSP, Mr Paramraj Singh Umranangal, when contacted, said he would inquire into the matter.

However, till the filing of this report no case had been registered and the Gypsy that hit the students could not be traced.


DIG’s cremation today, govt to give state honours
Father demands CBI inquiry
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Dasuya, October 25
The body of deceased DIG Jaswinder Singh was brought here to his native village today. The Punjab Government hired a BSF helicopter to air lift the body from Delhi to Jalandhar. The helicopter landed at Jalandhar- based helipad of the BSF from where the body of the deceased IPS officer was brought by road to his native village, Bodal.

Earlier, the body was brought from Orissa to Delhi this morning. The Punjab Government has decided to accord full state honours to the cremation.

Mr Ramesh Chander Dogra, Minister for Technical Education and local representative, will lay wreath on the body on behalf of the state government. The cremation is likely to take place at about 10 am tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the father of late DIG, Mr Hazara Singh, has demanded a CBI inquiry into the circumstances that led to the death of his son.

He alleged that the internal rivalry between the police department of Orissa might be reason behind the death of his son. Jaswinder Singh was to be promoted to the rank of the Inspector-General very soon. Some of his colleagues who were also vying for the same post were peeved about the likelihood that Jaswinder, due to his good performance, might supersede them.

He further added that the way Orissa police changed its statement within one day had cast aspersions on a fair probe into the killing of his son. Initially, officials of the police claimed that Jaswinder Singh was killed by the Naxalites.

However, a day after it was being said that he died due to an accidental firing from the gun of his bodyguard. The police, instead of taking Jaswinder to the nearest possible hospital, took him to a faraway place.

Orissa police personnel could not be trusted for a fair inquiry into the case, he further alleged. The inquiry into the case should be handed over to the CBI, he said.

The DGP, Punjab, Mr S.S. Virk, is also likely to attend the cremation ceremony...

Meanwhile, people from the area kept visiting the family today at native village of late Jaswinder Singh to pay their condolence.


‘DGP failed to carry out promise on travel agents’
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, October 25
Malta Boat Tragedy Probe Mission Chairman Balwant Singh Khera has alleged that the Punjab (DGP) Director-General of Police had not fulfilled his promise of displaying the lists of alleged bogus travel agents in police stations of the state.

Addressing a news conference here this afternoon, Mr Khera alleged though 170 out of total 300 Indians lost lives in the tragedy, the government could not provide even death certificates to all victim families and compensation of Rs 50,000 to each victim family could also be not provided to all families till now — even after 10 years of the tragedy. He said, the mission has filed a contempt petition against the government which neither provided death certificates nor relief.

Mr Khera demanded Rs 3 lakh compensation for each family of the deceased. He said he would meet Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee President Shamsher Singh Dullo in support of demands of the mission.

He said the mission had filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court seeking directions to the Centre to hire counsel in respective countries.

“In the SLP, admitted in the Supreme Court recently, the petitioner has prayed that the Centre may be directed to hire a legal counsel in Italy and Greece and direct the CBI to hand over all translated documents to the prosecution counsel in the respective countries,” mission chairman Balwant Singh Khera said and hoped that hearing would start next month.

Mr Khera said, the mission provided free legal aid in Italy whereas no help in Greece and Malta. Mr Khera alleged a few employees of Indian embassy in both countries were hand in glove with the conspirators.

During investigations, it was found that most of the would be immigrants were lured by travel agents in violation of the provisions of the emigration Act and transported illegally to some destination in Greece.

Mr Khera claimed despite a recent directive from the Punjab and Haryana High Court to the Punjab administration to issue death certificates to the kin of the victims, still there were families who had not been provided these.

“The mission will file a contempt petition in the high court as the administration in Punjab has failed to comply the court orders,” he said.

He demanded the next of kin of victims be granted an ex gratia amount Rs 50,000.

Mr Khera alleged that Punjab Police chief S.S. Virk declined his request for putting up a list of illegal travel agents in all police stations in the State.

“The documents sent by Greece around nine years back in Greek language are still in the custody of the Ministry of External Affairs,” he claimed adding, “the ministry claims that it will have to spend huge amount of money for getting these translated into English.” 


Son of labourer gets engineering doctorate degree
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Badhai Lonia
Badhai Lonia

Patiala, October 25
When Badhai Lonia came here about 33 years ago to meet his father Tajai Lonia, who was working as a construction labourer and domestic help, little did he know that one day he would be able to make a remarkable achievement, which will set an example for others.

Badhai Lonia was awarded doctorate degree by the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology (TIET) at its 20th convocation held on its campus yesterday. He was one of the 13 students, who were awarded doctorate degree by the TIET yesterday.

Apart from this achievement, which is a distant dream even for those belonging to well-to-do families, Badhai Lonia has made another mark by producing excellent results through his research on the use of agri-waste to produce power and energy. His research has reportedly been widely appreciated.

Badhai Lonia, who came to this town at the age of four from Lucknow to stay with his father, was too small to think about his future.

Today Tajai Lonia's joy knows no bounds, as Badhai Lonia, his only son, has been awarded the doctorate degree.

Two sisters Satwinder Kaur Sidhu and Surinder Kaur Sidhu, in whose house here, Tajai Lonia along with his son Badhai Lonia was residing, started helping the small child by making arrangements for him in one of the leading schools. The talent in the small boy was spotted by the two sisters, who have been instrumental in his success.

Both sisters worked hard to help the young boy in studies. He was given all types of support after the sisters treated him as a family member. He got education in the local Mohindra College and then at the TIET.

He even got private tuition and used to do private jobs to arrange enough money so that financial burden on the two sisters could be reduced.

Dr Lonia, who topped in eighth and 10th classes, got admission in the Bachelor of Engineering (BE), Mechanical, in the TIET due to his intelligence and hardwork. He got himself admitted as a student of BE (Mechanical) course in TIET in 1985. He completed his doctorate degree in June 2005. His main subject of research was Techno Economic Aspects Of Power Generation From Agri Waste In India.

Dr Lonia, who kept a bicycle as his companion till he did his doctorate degree, said the Sidhu sisters had done a commendable job, and now his mission of life would be to spread that movement. He said he had adopted two boys belonging to poor families and had been fully helping them in their education.

Presently working as teacher in an engineering college, Dr Lonia has also been fighting against the alleged injustice done to him by the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) in 1992, as he was not considered despite the fact that he was one of the selected candidates for appointment in the PCS (civil).


“India on explosive IT growth curve”
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
Days are not far when one will be able to get all sorts of information regarding Amritsar, Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Shimla, Ambala, Jaipur, Jodhpur by using the Guruji, an India specific search engine developed by a Punjabi computer engineer in collaboration with his friend.

“As India has emerged as one of the hottest destinations in the use of information technology and a service provider to the developed nation, it immediately needs to update all the tools which can be helpful to stimulate that IT related growth further”, says Mr Anurag Dod, Chief Executive Officer of the Guruji that was launched at Bangalore on October 12. “Guruji will prove one on the biggest tool for such development, he adds.

Mr Dod, whose elders belonged to Garhimanswel village, near Nawanshahr, says that the Guruji has the capacity to provide all sorts of city specific information. During a visit to The Tribune office, he said “It is the purely a technology driven search engine being operated by a highly qualified team of 12 computer engineers based at Bangalore”.

“One can find all sorts of information, including telephone numbers of schools, colleges, universities, other government and private institutions, pizza huts, hotels, restaurants located in all metropolitan cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata by using the Guruji search engine”, he said. And step by step, such information with regard to other cities such as Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Chandigarh will be available.

After graduating from IIT, Delhi and doing masters in computer science from Michigan University in the US, Mr Dod held senior positions in famed companies like EBay, Synopsis and Delsoft there. He also remained on a senior position in Wisenut Search Engine.

“India is on a very explosive IT growth curve and as many as 3.8 crore people have internet connections”, he adds. “We have 30 million web pages and these would be increased to 50 million by the end of this year”, adds Mr Dod. “ We are just focusing to cater to the needs of Indians in every sphere of life. He said that Guruji search engine would be launched in a number of vernacular languages, including Tamil and national language Hindi in a two months from now.

Foreigners visiting India would be able to get all sorts of required information by using Guruji. “ For instance any one from the USA or Canada and UK desirous of getting operated in any of the major super speciality hospital in India, he would be able to get telephone number by using the Guruji search engine”, he asserted.

“ Guruji, will play the role of a guide. As in Indian tradition, Guruji (teacher) has a special place, our team named it as such”, he said adding that his co-founder, Mr Gaurav Mishra, has also served in Microsoft, Pillar Data Systems and other big companies.

He said China had its own “ Baidee” search engine and South Korea has its own “Daum” search engine. Asked whether he had any idea that India would become such sought after country by the developed world, Mr Dod replied “ When I left India for higher studies to the USA, I was skeptical with regard to the development of information technology in India. However, the way change is taking place in the country, it is amazing”.

Concept of e-governance has been introduced in many departments.

At present, there are 4 billion web pages. It is a huge task to crawl through such huge number of web pages. “An efficient search engine makes the task possible of all those who wanted to collect information by the click of mouse”, he said.


CM selling state to private companies, says SAD
gen secy
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, October 25
Another scam of Rs 1500 crore to illegal land deal at Mohali would be unearthed soon, said Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, MP, general secretary SAD, here today. He was here to attend a wedding this morning.

Reiterating his demand for a CBI inquiry into City Centre scam, Mr Badal threatened to move court in this regard.

He said the SAD-BJP government had made efforts towards improvement of power generation in the state by launching projects like Ranjit Sagar dam, Lehra Mohabbat and Shahpur Kandi projects.

Mr Badal said the CM was selling interests of Punjabis to private companies like Reliance, Chadha Group and others.

He said due to anti-poor policies of the Congress, wealthy were becoming more affluent whereas poor people, farmers and Dalits were becoming poorer.

On rise in MSP, Mr Badal said agriculture was the mainstay of the state’s economy and the farmers backbone of the state, but they had been neglected by the Congress regime in the state as well as at the Centre which had led to desperation and distrust.

On custodial deaths of Dalits, Mr Badal reiterated there was nothing like democracy in the state as Punjabis especially Dalits were reeling from repression. Mr Badal said today all segments of society, may it be government employees, farmers, traders, teachers, doctors or Dalits, everyone was fed up from the policies of the Congress government which was pushing the state to dark days of violence.

Mr Badal said only a few henchmen of the Amarinder Singh comprising liquor and land mafia were making money whereas the common man had no say in the government hierarchy. Adding that Congress was creating false propaganda of huge investments so that land prices may go further high to suit interests of their people.


Youth Congress leader Sodhi joins BJP
Tribune News service

Patiala, October 25
Mr Jagdip Singh Sodhi, a former general secretary of the Punjab Youth Congress, announced his joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at a function here today.

Mr Sodhi, who commands considerable clout in certain pockets of this region, joined in the presence of Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, state President of the BJP, Mr R.P. Singh, co-convener, BJP, Punjab, Mr R.L. Kataria, former MP, and other regional leaders of the party.

Talking to media persons, Mr Sodhi said he was hurt to see that the Congress was going away from its election manifesto. He added the Congress had not made any positive effort towards eradication of unemployment. Rather it had added to the vows of unemployed youths by thrashing them like anything and mishandling the situation.

He said Punjab politics was being run from “palaces” that did not suit a party like the Congress. He said that those who were at the helm of affairs were inaccessible to the commoners.

Mr Sodhi criticised the government for not helping the debt-ridden farmers, whereas debt-ridden industrial houses were being extended help by the banks and other financial institutions.

Mr Khanna, while talking to media persons, said there was no dispute with the SAD over the sharing of seats for the coming Assembly elections. He said that a meeting in this connection would be held with the SAD leadership and all the things would be worked out.

A number of local BJP and Akali leaders participated in the function.


Singla’s remarks on ads irrelevant, says Kanwaljit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
The general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, today dismissed the Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla’s remarks justifying the use of public funds on advertisements as “ridiculous and irrelevant”.

Mr Singla was neither the Chief Minister nor the Minister in charge of the department issuing the controversial advertisements. Instead of engaging in debate on matters with which he had no direct connection, he should have confined himself to explaining why the government had failed to perform the promised “miracle” on the employment, trade, industrial and agricultural fronts, said the Akali leader.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh said the Chief Minister, who was in charge of the Department of Information and Public Relations, had failed to respond to the SAD’s onslaught on this issue. Besides, he said, even Mr Singla had failed to address the primary question of how a government department was issuing political advertisements with the pictures of Congress leaders who were not in the government.


Mann for right to speak on SGPC religious functions
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 25
The SGPC should declare the functions organised by it as political functions organised by SAD if it does not want to allow others to join the religious functions.

Stating this to the Press here today after the unsavoury incident at Kathunangal, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, SAD (A), said they were fighting to seek the right to speak on the religious functions organised by the SGPC. He said the SGPC was not the personal property of any political leader or party. He said history repeats itself, and this was proved by today’s incident, which showed that the second Gurdwara Sudhar Lehar had started.

Mr Mann said the SAD (B) was hand in glove with the BJP and the Congress for not allowing the third front to emerge. He said the police, which remained a mute spectator in the incident, was an indication to this effect. He said they would also attend the third centenary of the Zafarnama to be held soon and were not afraid of such covert actions of the SAD (B).

On the question of writing to Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, the SAD (A) president said it would be a useless exercise, as the Sikh clergy had failed to take any decision on the several representations submitted to him during the past month. He said it was for the Sikh Panth to decide the future course of action in this regard.

Later, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, MLA, and member, SGPC, said that today’s incident would prove to be the political death knell for the SAD (B). He said while on the one hand it was not allowing the true Sikhs to pay obeisance at the religious functions, on the other, it had invited leaders of political parties who had worked against the Sikh interests.

Lashing out at Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, SAD (B), for making SGPC “bankrupt”, Mr Calcutta said the SAD (B) had been misusing the “Guru ki Goluk” funds of the committee to fulfil their political aspirations. He alleged that Mr Badal had appointed youths who indulged in smuggling of smack and poppy husk. He said it was ironical that the police had not registered case against the culprits, who attacked Mr Mann and his activists and remained mute spectators. He said they would organise a dharna at the SSP Majitha’s office if it failed to register case against the culprits.


Akali politics SGPC centric as poll draws near
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, October 25
For a while, Akali activities in the state have become SGPC centric. This is because of reasons. Firstly, the election of the several SGPC chief is due to be held next month. Speculations are rife about the possibility of the present incumbent continuing in office. Secondly, names are being floated as to who could replace him or who could be better suited to the politics of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, particularly on the eve of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections due in February 2007. Thirdly, the Akali high command has become serious about the affairs of the SGPC which had assumed anarchistic state. The rebellion of Mr Raghbir Singh, one of the secretaries of the SGPC, his suspension and the developments that followed have taken their toll.

The frequent transfers of managers and the secretaries have also given an impression that the present incumbent does not have the control over the affairs. The dissident Panthic groups have also levelled serious charges about the misuse of SGPC funds and large chunk being diverted to the organisation of the Akali election rallies and distribution of aid in the name of gurdwaras by the prospective candidates in the various constituencies. So much so that a whisper remained afloat for quite sometime that the SGPC funds were being allocated for all the constituencies, the Akali Dal (Badal) will be contesting. It is yet to be known how these funds were to be utilized for wooing the voters or for some developmental schemes which Mr Badal had committed to various villages, but did not honour his commitment during his tenure as Chief Minister. Some people have gone to the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission on such issues.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal is now weighing the situation as to how the affairs in the SGPC are going to affect his prospects in the SGPC and also his proximity to the committed Sikh voters of the Akali Dal. Some of the Akali leaders are discussing that the old guard of the committed Akali Dal has already passed into history. Their progeny is not that loyal to the Akali Dal. The younger generation that has emerged as a big vote force has still not committed itself to any of the parties. They hold their own interests supreme and they waver between the Akali Dal and the Congress. It is they who have development, better quality of life and full employment as their ideals. They look towards the Akali Dal leadership as also the Congress with skeptical eyes. Such considerations will weigh with Mr Parkash Singh Badal when the PAC of the Akali Dal meets in Chandigarh on November 2. It is learnt that most of the SGPC members are not in favour of the present incumbent because of his acts of omission and commission.


Chandumajra plans third front in state
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 25
The president of the Akali Dal ( Longowal), Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, said yesterday that he along with like-minded people would soon form a third front to contest the coming Assembly elections against the Akali-BJP and the Congress. Mr Chandumajra said both Akalis and Congress leaders were exposed for their involvement in scams. Now a third front was needed to form the government for the betterment of the state.

While addressing a press conference, Mr Chandumajra said he, along with party workers, would start a parivartan yatra from November 1 to 15 to meet people of the state and make them aware of the need for a third front.

He also said the state government would name the bridge to be built over the Sutlej near Bunga Sahib in the memory of the founder of the BSP, Kanshi Ram, as he belonged to Khawaspura village here.


Tohra loyalists warn Badal
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 25
The huge turnout of SAD(B) workers, known as Tohra loyalists, at a meeting called by the so-called Tohra faction at Sirhind town yesterday, is a clear indication that all is not well in the SAD(B). There was resentment, unrest and disappointment among them and they were highly critical of the SAD(B) leadership.

The SAD(B) workers, belonging to the Tohra faction, came in large numbers to attend the meeting and the organisers were over enthusiastic by the response. Speaker after speaker lashed out at the SAD(B) leadership and said they were being treated as second-rank workers. They said they were not assigned any important work, given a party post or called to important functions and meetings. Rather they were fully ignored and seen with doubtful eyes. They warned SAD (B) president Parkash Singh Badal and other leadership that if their grievances were not redressed and they were not adjusted in the party rank and file and given due respect, it could cost dearly to the party in the coming elections.

While talking to The Tribune, advocate Narinder Singh Tiwana, convener of the meeting, said that Panth Rattan Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra, throughout his life, always stood and guarded the principles of Sikhism. He taught honesty, dedication, faithfulness and loyalty towards Sikhism to all his workers. Unfortunately, the SAD (B) leadership had denigrated the principles of Sikhism and deserted Tohra’s principles.

Moreover, the party workers and leaders, who believed in his philosophy, were being ignored and targeted only because they were known as Tohra loyalists in the party.

He said one by one all “Taksali Akali” leaders and workers had been shown the door and expelled from the party.

He also lashed out at those leaders, who used to call themselves the sons of Jathedar Tohra, but immediately after his death transferred their loyalties and started weakening Tohra faction.


Youth to ‘play key role’ in Assembly elections
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 25
The votes of the youth will be a deciding factor in the coming Assembly elections. This was stated by Mr Jasjit Singh, general secretary of the All-India Youth Akali Dal and son of Capt Kanwaljit Singh, former Finance Minister, at a press conference here on Monday.

Mr Jasjit Singh said the SAD, under the leadership of Mr Sukhbir Badal, had chalked out a plan to involve the youth in the formation of the SAD government. Besides, the party had decided to start various plans for the welfare of the youth and create avenues for them.

The youth Akali Dal leader had come to the district to inaugurate a sports tournament at Suhagheri village. He said in the changed scenario, the politics of the SAD had also changed and its leadership had now realised the power of the youth, who would be given due share in the allotment of party ticket.

The youth Akali Dal would demand at least 25 per cent ticket to contest the Assembly elections, he said, adding that the present Congress regime had failed to provide even a single job to any youth.

He lauded the role of Mr Sukhbir Badal in bringing the youth to one platform, which was crucial in organising a massive rally of the SAD at Chandigarh recently. He urged the youth to join the party for their bright future.

Later, addressing the rural folk after inaugurating the tournament, he lashed out at the Congress and urged the voters to strengthen the hands of Mr Badal. He urged the youth to come forward in waging a war against social evils like drug abuse, dowry and female feticide.

Mr Tejinder Singh Salana, former president of the District Bar Association, and Mr Paramjit Singh Kahlon Councillor, Mohali, also addressed the gathering.


Effigies of Badal, Makkar burnt
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 25
Members and activists of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) today burnt the effigies of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), and Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, president of the SGPC, at the traffic light chowk, near main bus stand, here.

The protesters burnt the effigies of Mr Badal and Mr Makkar in protest against the alleged manhandling of Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the SAD (A), and his followers at Kathunangal today.

Those who participated in the protest here today included Mr Gurnaib Singh, district president of the youth wing of the SAD (A), Mr Harinder Pal Singh, district press secretary of the party, Mr Wazir Khan, district president of the Muslim wing of the party, Mr Gurpreet Singh Mangwal and Mr Kulwant Singh Laddi, both youth leaders of the party.

Meanwhile, the local unit of the SAD (A) held a meeting and condemned the SAD for its excesses against the SAD (A) president, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, and other leaders of the party at Kathunangal today. The meeting also demanded the registration of a case against Mr Parkash Singh Badal, other SAD leaders and workers in this regard. 


Extend Aashirwaad scheme to Hindus, Sikhs: BJP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
The Punjab unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party has termed the extension of the Aashirwaad scheme to economically poor Muslims as appeasement of the minorities.

The Congress regime in Punjab was dividing Punjabis and the BJP questioned the logic in extending facilities to only the minorities.

The Amarinder Singh government is appeasing minorities at the expense of the state exchequer. Millions of underprivileged persons among the Hindus and the Sikhs should also be included in the scheme, demanded state BJP president, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna.

Meanwhile, the United Progressive Muslim Front, a body of Muslims of the region, has welcomed the announcement made by the Chief Minister to extend the Aashirwaad scheme to Muslim girls.

The need for this policy to be extended to Muslim girls was first mooted by the front, Mr Arshad Khan, spokesperson of the front said.


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