P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Multi-billion dollar Internet racket busted
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 4
The police here has busted multi-billion $ Internet fraud also known as the Nigerian scam or plain “419” fraud controlled from Nigeria with agents all over world.

The police nabbed two persons in Mumbai whose five accounts revealed transactions of Rs 40 lakh in past three months.

The police is not certain about the amount made by the Internet users as the alleged gang members had made many fake bank accounts.

The gang would attract credulous Internet users by offering money laundering or announcing cash reward or announcing the user as a lottery winner.

Later, he used to be told the award amount was blocked in customs for which amount ranging from $ 30 onwards was demanded to be deposited in a given bank account.

Apart from the Interpol, special investigating agencies of various banks worldwide apart from Indian banks were also after the persons involved in the Nigerian fraud.

Sources send SP City-I Rakesh Aggarwal nabbed two persons identified as M. Akbar Badshah and Liaqat Khan from Mumbai, who were running the illegal operation in the country from that city. Both have been brought here.

Earlier, cops had nabbed two Nigerian residents Prince Ben alias Anderson and David who had duped several city residents in the same way. Local businessman Vinay Malik had helped the police in unearthing the racket.

The worldwide alert about the Nigerian scam tell the scam was run since the early 1980’s under successive governments of Nigeria. It is also referred to as Advance Fee Fraud’, ‘419 Fraud” (Four-One after the relevant section of the Criminal Code of Nigeria, and “The Nigerian Connection” (mostly in Europe). However, it is usually called “419” even by the Nigerians.

The scam operates with the target Internet user getting an unsolicited fax, email, or letter often concerning Nigeria or another African nation containing either a money laundering or other illegal proposal or a legal and legitimate business proposal by normal means. Common variations on scam include ‘overinvoiced’ or ‘double invoiced’ oil or other supply and service contracts; crude oil and other commodity deals; a “bequest” left you in a will; money cleaning” where bad guy has a lot of currency that needs to be “chemically cleaned” before it can be used and he needs the cost of the chemicals; “spoof banks” where there is supposedly money in your name already on deposit; “paying” for a purchase with a cheque larger than the amount required and asking for change to be advanced; fake lottery 419; and ordering items and commodities off “trading” sites on the web and then cheating the seller.

Variations of Advance Fee Fraud (419) are very imaginative. At some point, the victim is asked to pay up front an Advance Fee of some sort, as it an “Advance Fee”, “Transfer Tax’, “Performance Bond, or to extend credit, grant COD privileges, send back “change” on an overage cashier’s cheque or money order, whatever. If the victim pays the fee, there are often many “complications” which require still more advance payments tell the victim either quits, runs out of money, or both. If the victim extends credit on a given transaction etc. he may also pay such fees (“nerfund” etc.), and for the goods or service with No Effective Recourse.

The Nigerian Scam, according to published reports, is third to fifth largest industry in Nigeria. It is the 419 Coalition view that, in effect, the elites from which successive governments of Nigeria have been drawn are the Scammers, therefore, victims have little recourse in this matter. Monies stolen by 419 operations are almost never recovered from Nigeria.

Most 419 letters and emails originate from or are traceable back to Nigeria. However, some originate from other nations, mostly also West African nations such as Ghana, Togo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast (Cote D’Ivoire) etc. In most cases 419 emails from other nations are also Nigerian in that the “Home Office” of the 419 involved is Nigeria regardless of the source of the contact materials.


Punjab categorises works that can be taken up
New approach to code of conduct
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
Not wanting to create the wrong impression about the functioning of the government after the imposition of the model code of conduct, the Punjab Government has devised a new approach.

All development works, schemes and promises made by the regime are being categorised under three broad parameters. Officials will now not make “needless” references seeking clarifications from the Election Commission of India (EC).

Sources in the bureaucracy said a group of senior IAS officers, well-acquainted with the functioning of the EC, has been asked by the Chief Secretary, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, to evaluate all projects and schemes and categorise these. The first category will comprise work that can be carried out during the period till the Assembly elections without violating the code of conduct. The second category is of works, promises or schemes that cannot be carried out during the period. The third relates to cases which are ambiguous in which a reference may be sent to the EC, if required.

Forming such categories will mean there will be clarity in the minds of officials, elected representatives and members of the public about work which can be done or which will be stopped. All development works for which tenders have been awarded or all continuing schemes like free power to farmers will go on unhindered, said a senior official. All schemes under the Punjab Nirman plan where work has started on the ground will also continue. Cheques for work related to ongoing projects will be released and cleared.

No work for which a tender has not been awarded will go ahead. Any scheme for which a policy has not been laid down or guidelines issued will be stalled. No promise that is not backed by a proper decision of the government will be implemented.

Notably, under this category, the government will not change school hours and nor will it allow an additional day off for teachers every month. The Education Minister had wanted this. However, it was not backed by a decision of the government. Similarly, the scheme for providing insurance to poor families and also pensions for aided school teachers will not be implemented. Earlier, the impression was that these schemes had been implemented.

In the case of the third category there will be very few references to the EC and these will be backed by strong logic. Otherwise, all references to the EC are publicised and in many cases the EC has to more or less decline. This creates the wrong opinion about the government. The new system will ensure a check on a officer who wants to stall genuine work by just sending a reference to the EC.


CM’s Rajasthan trip sparks row
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
While in a joint statement issued here today certain Punjab Ministers described the allegation levelled yesterday by a former SAD Minister that the Chief Minister,Capt Amarinder Singh, had taken Pakistani nationals, who were allegedly without valid visas, to various places in Rajasthan as misleading and politically motivated, the SAD asked the Chief Minister to make the antecedents of the foreigners public.

A former SAD Minister, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, had raised questions about certain Pakistani nationals who had travelled with the Chief Minister to Rajasthan.

Rejecting the allegations of Mr Gurdev Singh, the Congress Ministers, including Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Mr Lal Singh, Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa and Mr Surinder Singla said the utterances of the former Akali Minister were irresponsible and callous.

However, certain senior leaders of the SAD today said that the antecedents of the foreign nationals and the motive behind the Chief Minister taking them illegally in his official helicopter on a secret trip to Rajsthan should be probed by the CBI.

The SAD leaders said the Chief Minister should answer the charges “ in the interest of the public and national security.” They said it was “a shocking episode with grave implications for national security”. SAD general secretary Balwinder Singh Bhunder and former minister Tota Singh demanded that the list of passengers accompanying the Chief Minister should be revealed. They also demanded that details of the activities of the Chief Minister during the trip to Rajasthan should be placed before the people of the state and the country. “Capt Amarinder Singh must also disclose his compulsions in carrying private foreign nationals in his official chopper, and that too when they did not have valid visas to go beyond Amritsar. This amounts to not only brazen misuse of official machinery but, more alarmingly, to allowing foreigners direct access to vantage sites near airports and defence installations,” said the SAD leaders.

Referring to the Chief Minister’s claim in a section of the Press today that the Pakistan nationals had valid visas for Ajmer, the Akali leaders dared him to make details of the visas public.

However, rejecting the charges,the Ministers described these as a figment of the imagination to gain cheap popularity in the media as the SAD was in utter shock and frustrated due to the increasing popularity of the Chief Minister especially after the Punjab Vikas Yatra.

On the visa issue, these Ministers said the Chief Minister in a communication to the Union Foreign Secretary, Mr Shiv Shankar Menon, on November 30 last year had strongly recommended to him to urge the Indian High Commission in Islamabad to grant visas to some of his friends who intended to visit various parts of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, including Agra and Ajmer, and Delhi after visiting him to foster mutual goodwill and further strengthen Indo-Pak ties.

"Stupendous efforts on the part of Capt Amarinder Singh and his counterpart, Chaudhary Pervaiz Elahi, proved to be a cornerstone in improving Indo-Pak relations and giving a fillip to the Confidence Building Measures initiated by the Governments of India and Pakistan," observed the Ministers.

They also gave the names of members of the visiting delegation: Mr Arshad Sami and his wife, Mrs Naureen Sami, Lt- Col Munir Ahmed(retd) and his wife, Mrs Ghazala Munir, Mr Muhammad Ejaz Ahmed Ali Khan and his wife, Mrs Naeema Ejaz, Lt-Col Eqbal Saeed(retd) and his wife, Mrs Farah Eqbal Saeed, and their two sons,Mohaymin Eqbal and Momin Eqbal, Mr Zafar Ahmed and his wife, Mrs Nabila Zafar, Mr Ghulam Sarwar Bari and his wife, Mrs Farzano Parveen Bari, and Mr Ifzal Qadir and his wife, Mrs Ghazala Qadir. They all had visas issued by the competent authority, said the Ministers.

The Ministers also said that all the members of the visiting delegation were highly placed people in the Pakistani society. The Ministers further mentioned that such statements would not serve any cause.Thee political gimmicks would certainly boomerang thereby jeopardizing their electoral prospects in the coming elections.


Capt to address media today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, will come to Chandigarh tomorrow and also meet the media in the morning.

The Chief Minister will be back in the state for the first time since the announcement of the Assembly elections.

Since then several things have happened. The Shiromani Akali Dal has been alleging that the whereabouts of the Chief Minister are not known and that he has taken a few Pakistanis to Ajmer in an unauthorised manner.

Mr Sukhdarshan Singh Marar, an Independent MLA who had joined the Congress, has rejoined the SAD. Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra has also joined the SAD.

The Congress has invited applications for claimants to the party ticket. The bureaucracy is abuzz with talk that the DGP, Mr S.S. Virk, is likely to go away from the state as the DG, CRPF.


Sidhu blasts govt on private builders
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
Cricketer-turned-politician, Navjot Singh Sidhu, today alleged that by allowing private builders and colonisers to construct residential complexes at Mohali the Punjab Government had caused a loss of a whopping Rs 1.32 lakh crore to the state exchequer.

Demanding a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee, Sidhu alleged that this loss was caused as the profits of the builders should have normally accrued to the Punjab Urban Development Authority, a body of the government .

The Congress government had "sold" the state's interests even as this money earned by PUDA could have easily been used for development and also to wipe out the debt of farmers and the over debt against the state, said Sidhu while claiming that this is the biggest ever scam in the country. Going into some serious number crunching, Sidhu said the total debt of the state increased from Rs 34,966 crore in 2002 to Rs 53,391 crore.

He was addressing a news conference here. The per capita debt of Punjab is highest, right now at Rs 13,029 compared to Haryana's Rs 7,000, Maharashtra and Bihar's Rs 4,000. “I think the state government should be directly held accountable for this," he said.

Sidhu alleged the government, under the guise of "mega projects programme" had completely handed over development of Mohali's 38 new sectors (from 80 to 117 including two-sub sectors involving 12,000 acres of prime land) to private developers. This has caused a massive loss of Rs 1.32 lakh crore to the state exchequer going by 2003 property rates. “I have not taken into consideration places like Ludhiana or Jalandhar.” However, he claimed if we calculate the loss at Mohali alone at present rates, it works out to astronomical sum of Rs 2.41 lakh crore," he alleged. After side-stepping at least five direct questions on what will be the SAD-BJP response if its voted to power after the February 13 poll, Sidhu said “ we would order a probe into the scam as it had directly hit the common man”. Actually he spoke about the probe only when media persons asked “does it mean the SAD-BJP will not take any action if it is voted to power”.

On how he had calculated the loss, Sidhu said, in 2003 while developing sectors 70 to 80 at Mohali, the land was acquired from the farmers at Rs 10 lakh per acre. Expenditure ranging between Rs 15-20 lakh per acre, was incurred on development and was subsequently sold for Rs 11.00 crore. These figures are based on the deposition of the district town planner, accounts officer and SDO of PUDA before the Additional District and Sessions Judge, Ropar, in a case for enhancement of compensation.

Apart from the knowledge city project not an inch is being developed by PUDA or any government agency at Mohali. Major national level and international players have been allotted projects by the Empowered Committee, which is headed by the Chief Minister himself. Under the guise of facilitating ‘‘development and investment’’ the committee has actually empowered the rich and made paupers out of poor. It seems the Chief Minister wants to ensure that ‘‘affordable’’ housing will remain beyond the reach of the common man’’, Sidhu said while adding as to why was PUDA not being allowed to develop anything. Had PUDA been doing it, the revenue would have come to the state and secondly the buyers would have got competitive rates. On the other hand, in neighboring Haryana, HUDA was developing 95 per cent of the state.

The decision of the government to ‘‘gift’’ away this major revenue potential raised suspicions, especially when the state has a debt burden of Rs 53,000 crore, the farmers owe another Rs 24,000 crore, the education and health facilities as well as the social welfare and relief mechanisms have crumbled due to lack of funds. The state annual budget is around Rs 25,000 crore. For this both the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister owe an explanation to the people, he added.


My wife may contest, says Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
Former BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu today said his wife "may contest" the byelection for the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat vacated by him.

The party high command would be taking a decision on the issue on January 15 and Mr Sidhu was hopeful as "they have given indications".

On being asked if he had spoken to his wife, Dr Navjot Kaur, Mr Sidhu said “she seems to be open to the idea though I have not had a serious discussion on the issue with her ”.


Farmers booked for occupying DC’s office
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 4
The police today registered a case against farmers on the charges of impersonating as ‘Deputy Commissioner’, obstructing public servant in the discharging of official duty and violation of ban orders.

The case against the ‘mob of farmers’ was registered on the complaint of tehsildar who alleged that some farmers barged into the office of Deputy Commissioner and occupied his chair by pushing gunmen of a trainee IAS officer and peons of the DC’s office .

They have been booked under Sections 353, 186, 188, 170 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code .

Though no name was mentioned in FIR yet S.P. (City), Chaman Lal Sharma said the accused were already identified as reported in the press. It would include Mr Jagir Singh Jallewal, a farmer who worked as ‘Deputy Commissioner’ by occupying his DC’s chair in his absence. The DC was away for a meeting in connection with Assembly elections.

Farmers led by Mr Satnam Singh Pannu gathered outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office to court arrest as part of protest against the non acceptance of their demands by the government.

Meanwhile, the Kisan Sangharash Committee (KSC) today decided farmers with their family members would court arrest on January 8 to intensify struggle. The KSC, led by Mr Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu, blocked the Amritsar, Delhi Railway line for over two hours.

The farmers assembled at the Shivala Bhaian level crossing at 1 pm and blocked the railway line affecting the rail traffic on the Amritsar-New Delhi and Pathankot sections. With the result, many trains, including the Shatabdi Express, Dehra and Qadian trains were delayed inconveniencing passengers.

The district administration had made security arrangement today. The blockade by farmers was peaceful and they dispersed raising slogans against the government.


Baby girls’ death worries crusaders
Vishal Gulati
Tribune News Service

Nawanshahr, January 4
The mysterious deaths of 13 new-born girls in the past two months in this district have created apprehension among crusaders against female infanticide. Concerned over the deaths, the district administration issued an order on December 22 making it mandatory for parents to report the incident to it.

The order, passed under Section 144 of the CrPC, made it compulsory for the parents to report to the Civil Surgeon, Nawanshahr, about the death if the child is below the age of two. The last rites will not be performed without the permission of the authorities.

"During the past few months, the number of deaths of the newly born girls is much more than the deaths of baby boys so the apprehension of malafide intention behind the death of girls is not ruled out. “The order has been issued to know the reasons of the death. We have been monitoring pregnancies and births in the district under a programme, Social auditing of pregnancies and births. The recent deaths have triggered alarm bells. So, we have decided to monitor it for a longer period," the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Krishan Kumar, said today. Under the programme, the administration is recording the data of every pregnant woman, including her expected date of delivery, previous children, age, address and telephone number.

However, the Deputy Commissioner ruled out that infanticide could be the reason for the deaths. "The recent deaths can be due to negligence. Now, we would like to know the reason.

It is only with the cooperation of the public that we will come to know the reason.

In case the administration is not informed about the death, the person will be booked under Section 188 of the IPC," added Mr Kumar.


Where crime is the only way of life
Manish Sirhindi
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 4
With almost 80 per cent of the local population facing criminal cases or undergoing imprisonment in various jails, Daulewala village in the district has long established itself as the “crime capital” of the region where drug peddling and trade of illicit liquor is the mainstay of the residents.

The dusty roads lead to a cluster of houses where every household has at least one member facing one or more criminal cases. Though, there are some households which stick to limits prescribed by the law, but most of the villagers earn their living by selling narcotics or illicit liquor.

No doubts Daulewala is now known as a narcotic and illicit liquor hub and a den for addicts and peddlers in the area.

With the elections not far from commencement, the village is again going to hog limelight, as political parties would be making a beeline for this village in order to get poppy husk and opium, to be distributed among the voters to entice them for voting in their favour.

Unperturbed by the legal action being faced by many, the residents of this village continue with the prohibited trades unabated. There are around 50 men serving varying terms in Moga sub-jail, around 30 are in the Ferozepore jail and more than 50 are lodged in other jails across the state for criminal offences. Seven peddlers hailing from the village have already been declared proclaimed offenders by various courts.

It is not just that the people here are involved in unlawful businesses, but aggression has also led to crime in the village. At least 50 men are facing cases pertaining to attempt to murder or for having attacked others with utmost vengeance. With crime so prevalent, even the nine members of the panchayat, including the sarpanch, are facing criminal charges.

In the past few months, at least 25 persons from this village have been booked for drug peddling and more than two dozen were convicted on drug or violence charges.

The unrelenting villagers blame poverty for inducing criminal traits among the locals. Majority of the families have less than one acre of land and are unable to sustain their living. They have taken up crime as an easy way out. However, some observe that poverty alone is not the reason behind the criminal character of the villagers. It is the aggressive culture and a push to display machismo that people go all-out to prove themselves superior to others.

Minor disputes here have often led to fatal scuffles resulting in someone’s death or grievous injuries. While the villagers admit their indulgence in crime, they claim that at times the police also register false cases against them.

Easy availability of drugs and liquor has promoted its use among the youths, who can be spotted taking drugs even along the roadsides in the village.

The criminal nexus in Daulewala is posing to be a tough challenge for the police, which persistently has been trying to crack it, but in a village where crime is the way of life, it appears to be a hard task.


No campaign in sight for BJP
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, January 4
While Congress and SAD candidates have started their election campaign in full swing, the BJP is lagging behind in the district. The Congress and SAD have already finalised their candidates from many constituencies in the district.

Their candidates have started door-to-door campaigning. However, since the BJP has not finalised its candidates as yet, the campaign of the party is yet to start.

The aspirant BJP candidates are busy lobbying for party ticket instead of carrying out the campaign.

SAD has left four Assembly constituencies for the BJP in the district. These include Pathankot, Sujanpur, Narot and Batala. Batala is the only constituency where former minister Jagdish Sahni was given a go- ahead by party president Rajnath Singh in a political rally organised about a month ago.

In all other constituencies, candidates are fighting a pitched battle to secure party tickets. At Pathankot, former minister Mohan Lal and state president of the Bhartiya Yuva Morcha Ashwani Sharma are front-runners for the party ticket.

At Sujanpur, former minister Satpal Saini, Swaran Thakur, Raj Kumar Gupta and Dinesh Baboo are front-runners. From the Narot constituency, B.D. Dupar, Bishambar Dass and Ram Lal, former MLA, are front-runners. While fighting for BJP tickets being so intense, the Bhartiya Jan Shakti Party of Uma Bharti is trying to poach the dissatisfied and rebel candidates of the BJP.

The sources here said Bhartiya Jan Shakti leaders were contacting the BJP leaders who are not likely to get party tickets. The party has already announced that it would contest 35 seats from the state.

The SAD has finalised the candidature of former ministers Sucha Singh Langah from Dhariwal, Sewa Singh Sekhwan from Kanuwan and Nirmal Singh Kahlon from Fatehgarh Churian. The candidature of sitting MLA Balbir Singh Badh from Shri Hargobindpur and Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal from Qadian has also been finalised by the party. The only seat from where SAD is yet to declare its candidate is Gurdaspur. Gurmeet Singh Para, Pritam Singh Kaunta, former chairman of Sugarfed, Manuwar Masseih, Sawroop Singh Saini and Inderjeet Singh Bagi, former Chairman of PTDC are the front-runners.

The Congress has 10 sitting MLAs from the district. Most of them are likely to be renominated. Speculation is rife regarding the change of candidates at some constituencies. At Gurdaspur, Khushal Behl, present MLA, is trying for the ticket for his son Raman Behl.

For Pathankot constituency, former minister Raman Bhalla and Chairman of PUNCOM Sukhdev Wadhera are trying to replace present MLA Ashok Sharma.

Speculation is also rife regarding the change of candidate in the Narot reserved constituency where Ashwani Kumar is supporting district Congress president Kishan Chand against sitting MLA Rumal Chand.


‘Revolt’ against allotment of SAD ticket to
Gaganjit Barnala

Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 4
After the announcement of party ticket to many by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) for the Assembly elections and merger of the SAD (Longowal) with it, several aspirants of the party, who could not get the ticket in various Assembly constituencies, including Dhuri, Lehra and Dirba of this district, have risen in revolt against the party high command’s decisions but the SAD at present is not in a mood of any disciplinary action against such “rebels” hoping the “rebels” will understand the party’s compulsions and not initiate any action which may harm prospects of SAD candidates.

First of all in the Dhuri Assembly constituency of this district Mr Iqbal Singh Jhundan, a senior SAD leader, raised a banner of revolt a couple of days ago against the nomination of Mr Gaganjit Singh Barnala, sitting SAD MLA from Dhuri, by the SAD high command. Mr Jhundan had even announced that he would contest from Dhuri against the SAD candidate as an independent.

After the merger of SAD (Longowal) with the SAD and announcement by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD president, to allot party ticket from Lehra and Dirba to Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra and Mr Baldev Singh Mann, respectively, aspirants of ticket and their supporters have also raised voices against Prof Chandumajra and Mr Mann’s candidatures from Lehra and Dirba, respectively.

In Lehra Assembly constituency an aspirant of SAD ticket Giani Naranjan Singh Bhutal, who had lost to Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal in February 2002, and his supporters have given a clear signal to the party high command that they will not tolerate any outsider as SAD candidate from Lehra. They even are of the view that due to allotment of party ticket to Prof Chandumajra there was also a great resentment among Akali voters of the constituency.

In Dirba Assembly constituency Mr Gurbachan Singh Bachi, president of the Cooperation wing of the SAD, and Mr Teja Singh Kamalpur, a senior vice-president, of the district unit of the SAD, have also raised a banner of revolt against party ticket to Mr Baldev Singh Mann. They organised a meeting of their supporters in this regard at Dirba yesterday. It is well known that Mr Bachi and Mr Baldev Singh Mann have long political enmity over the issue of the SAD ticket to Mr Mann in the previous Assembly elections.

When The Tribune today contacted Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, secretary-general of the SAD, regarding any action against the party workers and those aspirants, who could not get party ticket and were now opposing the ticket to Mr Barnala, Prof Chandumajra and Mr Mann from Dhuri, Lehra and Dirba respectively, he said the party would try to settle the issue in the days to come. He further said the party would also make efforts to remove their (who could not get the tickets) discontentment for giving up the opposition of the party candidates but in case they continued their opposition or fielded themselves as “rebel” (independent) candidates the party would be compelled to take action, including suspension or expulsion from the party.


BJP chief shown black flags by Bajrang Dal men
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 4
Activists of the Bajrang Dal showed black flags to state president of the BJP Avinash Rai Khanna who was here today to address a party rally.

Mr Khanna, who was accompanied by senior leaders of the party, were shown black flags by the activists of the Bajrang Dal led by Mr Ravi Kant in protest against the announcement by the SAD-BJP leadership that Christians would be given reservation in state government jobs if voted to power.

The activists said reservation on the basis of religion would encourage conversions.

Addressing the press conference, Mr Khanna said the SAD had announced that reservation would be given to Christians but the BJP was against reservation on the basis of religion. The issue would be sorted out by preparing a common minimum programme (CMP).

He said the party high command would announce the names of candidates for 23 Assembly segments for the coming elections in Punjab. Talks with the SAD leadership on the seat of Garhshankar were on.

The list of names of candidates would be prepared by January 6 and sent to the party's parliamentary board. There were at least two aspirants for the party ticket in every Assembly segment where the BJP was to field its candidates.

Asked whether the wife of cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Sidhu would be fielded from the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat byelection, he said till the court verdict in the Sidhu case, nothing could be decided.

On January 9, the SAD-BJP alliance would organise a conference connected with the trading community. All the problems of the community would be discussed and suggested solutions incorporated in the party manifesto.

The BJP chief said the SAD-BJP alliance after coming to power would end unemployment in Punjab.


SAD misusing panel funds: Cong
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, January 4
District Congress leaders have collected data alleging that the SAD has been misusing Dharam Parchar Committee funds of the SGPC for electioneering.

Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, and Mr Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Chairman of the Punjab Pollution Control Board, told TNS they had collected data regarding the misuse of such funds by the SAD.

From the data collected from the SGPC budget copies, it became clear the allotment of the Dharam Parchar Committee funds increased in the election year. This year, the SGPC had kept Rs 15 crore from the surplus funds in the expenditure budget of the committee. The budget of the committee had been increased from about Rs 20 crore last year to about Rs 35 crore this year.

The funds of the Dharam Parchar Committee were being used to arrange vehicles for mobilising people for the rallies of the SAD. Besides, the langar from the gurudwara was used in the rallies of the SAD, the Congress leaders alleged.

They also alleged that fixed deposits of the Golden Temple were used for organising the Kathunangal programme of the SAD that witnessed a bloody clash between the warring Akali groups.


SAD(A) releases first list of candidates
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 4
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) today announced its first list of candidates for the forthcoming assembly elections in the state. Releasing the list, the party general secretary and spokesman, Prof Jagmohan, said: “Our party is committed to forge a united front to defeat the Congress and the SAD-BJP”.

He said to ensure a three-cornered contest in all the 117 constituencies of Punjab, the SAD(A) will enter into an alliance with all like-minded parties. “Our negotiations with these parties are in the final stage and we will make all the necessary seat adjustments to establish a people’s government of the Third Front”, he said.

The list of candidates is as follows: Batala—Gurmeet Singh, Amritsar (West)—Sawinder Singh Kot Khalsa, Amritsar (South)—Balwinder Singh Kala, Ajnala — Baldev Singh Sirsa, Naushera Panuan—Karam Singh Bhoian, Jalandhar Cantt — Rajinder Singh Fauji, Banga—Makhan Singh Tarpuri, Bholath — Mohan Singh Bal, Balachaur — Mandhir Singh, Tanda — Jaspal Singh Manjhpur, Gardhiwal — Gurdeep Singh Payal —Amrik Singh Isrru, Khanna — Sandeep Singh Rupalon, Anandpur Sahib —Harwinder Singh, Chamkaur Sahib — Surinder Singh Kishanpura, Morinda — Kuldeep Singh Bhagowal, Ghannaur—Paramjit Singh Mandoli, Patiala—Jagdish Singh, Samana—Prof Mohinder Pal Singh, Amloh — Bhag Singh, Sirhind — Emaan Singh Mann, Dhuri — Master Karnail Singh Narike, Sherpur — Baba Amarjit Singh Kila Harkima, Bhadaur — Bhai Sarabjit Singh Khalsa (son of Bhai Beant Singh Khalsa), Sunam — Shahbaj Singh Daska, Lehragaga — Gurnam Singh Aulakh, Guru Har Sahai—Dhian Singh Mand, Ferozepore Cantt — Jasbir Singh, Dharamkot — Baldev Singh Gaggrra, Bagha Purana — Manjit Singh Mallah, Gidderbaha —Mahain Singh, Joga —Harcharan Singh Burjhari, Member SGPC, Mansa — Gursewak Singh Jawaharke.

He said the Malerkotla seat would be contested by alliance partner, the Indian Union Muslim League, led by veteran parliamentarian Mr G. M. Banatwala. The IUML will announce their candidate shortly.


AISAD to contest all Assembly seats
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 4
The All-India Shiromani Akali Dal (AISAD) will contest all Assembly seats in the forthcoming elections to be held in the state on February 13.

Releasing the list of its 33 candidates on various Assembly seats, Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, president, AISAD, said they would be fielding 117 candidates in the elections.

The names of the candidates are Mr Satnam Singh Kands (Amritsar south), Dr Gurbachan Singh Kalsi (Amritsar north), Mr Gurcharanjit Singh Modey (Amritsar west), Mr Malkiat Singh Sodhi (Beas), Mr Ajaib Singh Sangha (Adampur), Mr Iqbal Singh Grewal (Qila Raipur), Mr Talib Singh Sandhu (Payal), Mr Sarup Singh Jodhpuri (Dhariwal), Mr Paramjit Singh (Gurdaspur), Mr Gurcharn Singh Ghasitpur (Qadian), Mr Sukhjinder Singh (Batala), Mr Gurjant Singh Sekhon (Dhuri), Mr Gurinderpal Singh Dhanaula (Barnala), Prof Gurminder Singh Sidhu (Nabha), Mr Shamsher Singh Maloya (Chamkaur Sahib), Mr Gurbax Singh Mardhera (Dirba), Dr Dalbir Singh Mohlan (Balluana), Mr Paramjit Singh Pammi (Fazilka), Mr Kashmir Singh Mahalam (Jalalabad-West), Mr Sukhjinder Singh Phida (Faridkot), Mr Swarn Singh (Panj Garian), Sukhjinder Singh Sukhi (Sardulgarh), Mr Saswinder Singh Deol (Budhlada), Mr Joginder Singh (Amloh), Mr Kuljit Singh Randhawa (Dera Bassi), Mr Amarjit Singh Walia (Anandpur Sahib), Mr Manjit Singh Tarntarni (Tarn Tarni), Mr Jatinder Singh Sandhu (Kharar), Ms Nirdosh Kaur Phoolka (Kahnuwan), Mr Satnam Singh Kahlon (Fatehgarh Churian), Mr Chanan Singh Valah (Dina Nagar) and Principal (Sri Hargobindpur).


SAD district chief joins Zira’s party
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 4
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) Longowal today got a major boost here when Mr Pardeep Singh Walia, former district president of the SAD and his supporters joined the party headed by Mr Inderjeet Singh Zira.

Addressing mediapersons Mr Zira announced the candidature of Mr Walia from the Amritsar South constituency for the coming Assembly elections to be held on February 13.

Coming down heavily on Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra for “betraying” party workers by joining hands with Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president of the SAD. He said party workers had expelled Mr Chandumajra for anti-party activities and elected him as chief in his place.

Mr Zira said his party would contest 20 seats and he would soon announce the candidates for the Lehragaga, Muktsar and Malout Assembly constituencies. Office-bearers and other executive members of the party would also be announced soon.

The SAD (L) would also field its candidate from Attari, Tarn Taran and Verka Assembly seats he said.


Freedom fighter seeks Cong ticket in Capt’s citadel
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 4
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who is being considered as the best bet for Patiala constituency by the Congress leadership for the forthcoming Assembly elections, is facing a challenge of different kind, as a freedom fighter has staked claim to the Congress ticket from the same constituency.

Capt Amarinder Singh is the sitting MLA from the Patiala Assembly segment and so far no Congress leader has come forward to seek party ticket from this place for the forthcoming Assembly elections.

In a letter written to the PPCC chief, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, Mr Rawel Singh, who claimed to be a freedom fighter of the Quit India Movement and have worked for the Congress under the leadership of Col Raghuvir Singh in the erstwhile Pepsu, said in earlier elections he had been instrumental in polling of more than 10,000 Akali Sikh votes in favour of Congress candidates in Patiala and surrounding Assembly segments.

In his letter, Mr Rawel Singh, a resident of the Nabha gate area of the city, added that he had worked with stalwarts like Udham Singh Nagoke, Partap Singh Kairon, Giani Zail Singh, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Santokh Singh Randhawa and other top ranking Congress leaders and fought against the communal forces for the sake of peace and prosperity of the country.

He said he deserved a Congress ticket from the Patiala Assembly segment . He added that earlier too he had applied for a Congress ticket from the Patiala Assembly segment “but was told that due to a large number of Hindu votes it was not possible for the powers to give him a ticket.” 


Political banners to be removed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 4
Mr Rakesh Verma, Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Election Officer, today held a meting with officials of the district administration and gave instructions to various departments to remove hoardings, banners and posters which had come up on government land and were violating the poll code.

Mr Verma said action would be taken against such persons who had put up such banners and hoardings.

A flying squad had been established which would remain mobile in various areas to keep a check on violations.

Officials manning these mobile squad would be answerable to the District Election Officer.

All government officials had asked to be stay away from political functions and officials concerned would face action if any of their official vehicles was seen near these rallies.


Illegal colony coming up on choe bed
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, January 4
An illegal colony is coming up on Aslamabad choe near the Hoshiarpur-Chandigarh state highway. It can be seen from the bridge on the said highway.

The colonisers have already filled the choe bed with earth and placed bricks on the site for starting construction. The choe has been filled almost up to the level of the bridge. However, this has failed to attract the attention of the PUDA or the district administration.

Interestingly, the district town planning authorities feigned ignorance on the issue. Though the District Town Planner was not available for comments, the junior engineer present in the office had no information about it. Citing rules, he said no colony could be brought up without a no-objection certificate (NOC). We issue an NOC only after getting similar certificates from the departments concerned. We haven’t issued any certificate to the colony being brought up on the choe bed.

When asked whether the colonisers were being stopped, he said it was the job of the PUDA to get the case registered against the illegal coloniser. He added that the case had been sent to the government for approval, however, no permission has been granted as yet.

Meanwhile, the Executive Engineer, Drainage Department, Hoshiarpur, Mr Brar, said they had got a case registered with the police against the coloniser in December. A complaint had also been sent to the municipal council against passing any construction plans at the site. However, no action has been taken either by the police or the council in this regard.

Sources available here said the colony was being raised by an influential politician, owing alliance to a splinter Akali Dal group having good relations with the Chief Minister. The colonisers have already started selling plots at the site and were evading stamp duty. 


Polythene bags banned
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 4
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr S. K. Sharma, has imposed a ban on use of polythene bags that do not meet the specifications listed by the authorities in the district. In a notification issued today, the DC prohibited the manufacture and use of polythene bags made of recycled plastic having thickness less than 20 microns and use of carry bags or containers made of recycled plastic for storing, carrying, dispensing or packing of food stuff.

He also directed the wholesale dealers of plastic bags to get their establishments registered with the Punjab pollution Control Board within 10 days.

The DC also asked the MC councillors and sarpanches in all the villages across the district to constitute night vigil groups to check thefts and other crimes during the night.

The order came in the wake of several thefts reported in the district over the last few days.


Doctor sent to judicial custody in foeticide case
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 4
A Talwandi Sabo court today sent a doctor to 14-day judicial custody in connection with a foeticide case.

According to sources, the District Appropriate Authority had lodged a complaint against Dr Kiran Garg under Sections 25 and 26 of the PNDT Act. The court had asked the doctor to appear before it before January 8. She, along with her husband, Dr Pawan Garg, appeared in the court today following which she was sent to judicial custody till January 17.

Meanwhile, the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr Justice V.K Jain, has taken a serious note of various NGOs' memorandum regarding the "dubious role" of the police in female foeticide cases.

Revealing this at a meeting of the PNDT cell here today, Deputy Commissioner Rahul Bhandari said the Chief Justice had sought a report on the matter from the DGP and the Home Department.

The Deputy Commissioner said proceedings in 21 cases relating to female foeticide were on in various courts of the district.

He said the cell was making a list of doctors and midwives in the district. He said they had also come out with a toll free number 1091 on which any individual could give information about an expectant mother, which would help the authorities keep a tab on pregnant women. Civil Surgeon Maninder Singh and representatives of various NGOs attended the meeting. 


Gang of thieves busted
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 4
The police claims to have nabbed a gang involved in various incidents of thefts in the recent past.

Mr Mandeep Singh, SP (City), said the gang members were arrested by a team led by Harinder Singh, ASI in charge Urban Estate, police post.

The police has recovered three scooters CDs, mobile sets and various other household items from the accused. They used to strike during the day. One of the accused, Vijay Kumar, said most of the accused were drug addicts.


No political will to combat terrorism: Kaushik
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 4
Lieut-Gen O.P. Kaushik (retd), former vice-chancellor, MD University, Rohtak, today said though India had the strength, it lacked the requisite political will to combat terrorism.

Speaking at a function organised by the department of encyclopaedia of Sikhism, Punjabi University, in connection with the Col Harpartap Singh Dhillon memorial lecture on terrorism, human rights and national security at the science auditorium of the university here, he said terrorism was deep-rooted in India and had persisted for quite a long time and the longer it persisted, the more the possibility of foreign intervention.

General Kaushik said terrorists in India had so far neither felt defeated nor fatigued and the help provided to terrorists by neighbouring countries kept their morale up and they continued infiltrating into India.

He said a united and concerted effort, which was necessary to maintain the unity and integrity of the country was needed to overcome terrorism.

General Kaushik advised human rights organisations to think of difficulties being faced by armed forces before raising the issue of violation of human rights of militants and called the US intention to fight terrorism half-hearted and self-serving.

Presiding over the lecture, Dr Swaraj Singh, writer and scholar, said there could be other aspects of the problem of terrorism and favoured finding out and uprooting reasons.


Pbi varsity releases holiday calendar
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 4
Punjabi University has released its list of holidays for teaching and non-teaching staff for the 2007 in which there are a total of 24 holidays for non-teaching staff and 10 holidays for teaching staff.

The notice of the list of holidays for non-teaching states that on Raksha Bandhan, which falls on August 28, the university will open at 11 am rather than 9 am. Non teaching employees are allowed to take two restricted holidays out of the total of 27 restricted holidays.

For the non-teaching staff, January will have three holidays — on the occasion of Id-ul-Zuha on January 1, birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh, which falls on January 5 and the Republic Day on January 26.

February will have two holidays — on the occasion of Birth Anniversary of Guru Ram Dass on February 2 and Maha Shivratri on February 16.

March will have three holidays starting with Holi on March 4, Ram Navami on March 27 and Mahavir Jayanti on March 31.

April has three days as holidays — Good Friday on April 6, Baisakhi on April 14 and Birth Anniversary of Dr B.R. Ambedkar on April 14.

May will start with a holiday on May Day while June 16 has been declared a holiday as the Martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev. Independence Day will be the only holiday in August. September 4 will be a holiday for Janamashtami.

October 2, 14, 21 and 26 will be holidays on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, Id-ul-Fitr, Dussehra and Maharishi Valmik Jayanti. November will have four holidays — Diwali on November 9, Vishvkarma Day on November 10, Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev on November 24 and Martyrdom Day of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji on November 24. The last holiday of 2007 will be on Christmas.


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