P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Congress suffers major setback
Patiala leaders join SAD
Tribune News service

Patiala, January 5
The ruling Congress suffered a major setback in this home town of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, when a section of its district leadership, including Ms Amarbir Kaur Bedi, Councillor, Municipal Corporation, joined the SAD in the presence of its supremo Mr Parkash Singh Badal here today.

Not only this, the SAD got a shot into its arm when the Punjab Rice Millers Association announced its unconditional support to Mr Badal in the forthcoming assembly elections. Mr Badal also assured that the problems being faced by the rice millers of the state on account of apathetic attitude of the ruling party would be solved.

As per the list supplied to the TNS, those who joined the SAD today included Mr Balwinder Singh Bedi, Mr Vijay Pandit, General Secretaries, District Congress Committee (DCC), Mr Paramjit Singh Chaudhary, Chairman, INTUC, Patiala district and DCC Secretary, and Mr Pushpinder Singh Lote, Vice-President, Punjab Youth Congress.

Capt Amarinder Singh has already been facing challenge from two freedom fighters Mr Rawel Singh and Dr I. S. Chawla, who have moved their applications to the Punjab Congress chief, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, for seeking party ticket from this segment for the coming assembly elections.

Mr Balwinder Singh Bedi pointed out that all these leaders had left the party because Capt Amarinder Singh had promoted corruption like anything and they were treated like beggars whenever they sought an appointment with him or his wife, Ms Preneet Kaur, who represented Patiala in the Lok Sabha.

He added that all Congressmen, who had left the party and joined the SAD after accepting its policies in toto and unconditionally, had taken a pledge that they would work hard to defeat Capt Amarinder Singh from this assembly segment.

Meanwhile, Mr Badal talking to selective journalists while claiming that all issues connected with the distribution of ticket between the BJP and SAD candidates had been solved, said second list of party candidates would be released by the end of this week.

He said the party might allot ticket to sons of a section of its leaders, including Capt Kanwaljit Singh, as the matter was being considered. He, however, claimed that this was not being done to pave the way for Mr Sukhvir Badal to become the Chief Minister. He said he would become the Chief Minister if the party leadership would give him that opportunity again.

While disclosing that presently the main focus of the party was to defeat the Congress for saving Punjab, which had suffered worst in the past five years due to the misrule of Capt Amarinder Singh and his associates, Mr Badal said the party was open enough to welcome any individual or organisation, which carried the same sentiments. He added that party was also open for a poll alliance with the BSP.

He claimed that everywhere in Punjab, the Congressmen had been coming into the fold of the SAD after getting fed up with the misrule and corruption ridden rule of Capt Amarinder Singh and hence it was a strong indication that people were going to form their own government by making the SAD-BJP alliance victorious with massive mandate.

To a question, he said every party faced dissident movement but it was insignificant in the SAD. He claimed that those, who were raising objections against those party leaders, whose names had been cleared for contesting the assembly elections slated for February 13, would be pacified.


CM's brother keen on contesting from Samana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
Mr Malwinder Singh, younger brother of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today said he was keen on contesting the Assembly elections from the Samana constituency.

He said he would be submitting an application in this regard to the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC).

"I have been managing the election campaign of my brother, Capt Amarinder Singh, in the Samana and Shatrana constituencies for the past two and a half decades. I know these constituencies well. I would like to contest if allotted the ticket by the party", he said. He did talk to Capt Amarinder Singh in this regard also.

Mr Vijay Inder Singla, president of the Indian Youth Congress in Punjab, is also keen on contesting from Samana.


Badal promises to amend river waters Act
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
Visibly in the election mode, the President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today raised an emotional issue for Punjab - sharing of the river waters with Haryana and Rajasthan.

Mr Badal said if his party was voted to power, it would amend the Act that terminated the river-water sharing agreements in 2004.

Mr Badal was talking to mediapersons where two senior leaders were inducted into the SAD. He said: “ I will amend Section 5 of the Punjab Termination of Agreement Act, 2004”. For Haryana and Rajasthan this is bad news. A demand had been raised several times in the state Assembly by the SAD that Section 5 should be abolished. Most of the canals in question were built before 1966 when the reorganisation of states took place.

Section 5 of the Act allows all existing flow of water in the canals that go to Haryana and Rajasthan to continue and hence the Act is only applicable to future agreements and the SYL canal. Punjab has long been claiming before the Eradi Tribunal - that is to decide the sharing of water - that the flow of water in the Ravi and the Beas has dropped. Also, it has “no surplus water to share” and no part of Haryana or Rajasthan falls in the basin of the Ravi and the Beas. Punjab has claimed that realities have undergone a sweeping change since the agreement was originally signed. In 1981, the total amount of water available in the river basins was assumed to be 17.17 million acre feet annually. But now, as per the flow series of 1981-2002, it has dropped to 14.37 maf. Therefore, the diversion of water will have a “permanent adverse impact” on the state’s irrigation.

Meanwhile, Mr Gurcharan Singh Dadahoor, a member of the Working Committee of the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), joined the SAD. Notably, Mr Dadahoor was the MP from Sangrur when the Congress was voted to power in 1991 at the Centre. He was considered close to the late Beant Singh, who proposed his name for Sangrur ahead of industrialist Kewal Dhillon. He later joined the NCP. Mr Dadahoor said today :“ I have joined the party on my own”.

Another senior leader to join the SAD was Mr Prem Gupta of the Congress, who is at present the Chairman, Pepsu Township Development Board. Mr Gupta has been MLA thrice. Originally, Mr Gupta started his political journey in the Congress and moved to the SAD and went on to become a minister in the S.S Barnala government in 1985. He then again switched back to the Congress and today rejoined the SAD.

Batting to save his alliance partner, the BJP, from criticism, Mr Badal said: “The BJP will win more seats than people are expecting”. He also said if his party was voted to power, "there will be no witch-hunt, no victimisation, no needless arrests and the law will take its own course”.

Mr Badal said Mr Kiran Bir Singh Kang had declined to contest from Kharar (which also covers Mohali) and no name had been finalised so far. The names of the son of Capt Kanwaljit Singh and Mr Bubby Badal, a confidant of Mr Sukhbir Badal, were under consideration.


EC team to have its hands full
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
The full Bench of the Election Commission, headed by the Chief Election Commissioner(CEC), Mr N. Gopalaswami, will come on a two-day visit to Chandigarh from January 8.

The main issues before the commission will be the transfer of the Punjab DGP, Mr S.S.Virk, deployment of central forces in key constituencies and the imposition of the model code of conduct to rein in the Congress.

The Leader of the Opposition and the President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today said: "If Virk is around as the DGP, holding free and fair elections will not be possible”.

The SAD would complain to the CEC against Mr Virk on Monday, said Mr Badal.

Meanwhile, defending the DGP, Capt Amarinder Singh told reporters that the police chief was not being transferred as reported in a section of the Press.

Already, the Punjab Police has sought about 400 companies of the paramilitary forces for the poll.

The SAD claimed that the Chief Minister was close to militants and could go to any extent to keep the SAD out of power. The Chief Minister, on the other hand, said all gangs of militants had been busted and nobody would be allowed to create any trouble in the state.

The commission will be talking to political parties on Monday and seeking their opinions. Then it will meet the Deputy Commissioners and the SSPs of all districts. The team will also meet the Chief Secretary on Tuesday and is expected to brief the media. On the police front, Punjab may ask the commission to allow some senior police officers to continue at their present places of posting.


Over 100 cops in 3 districts shifted
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, January 5
Keeping in view the guidelines of the Election Commission of India, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Ferozepore Range, Mr Ishwar Chander has transferred over 100 police officials belonging to the districts of Ferozepore, Moga and Muktsar.

According to the police sources, these officials, most of them in the rank of Inspector, Sub-Inspector and Assistant Sub-Inspector were shifted as per the instructions issued by the EC.

When contacted, Mr Ishwar Chander said only those officials posted in their home districts or those involved in criminal cases in the past or were facing trial had been transferred.

The DIG said officials who had been posted in a particular district for more than three years during the past four years have also been replaced.


Transfer of 3 engineers: Has PSEB violated code?
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 5
Has not the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) authorities violated the election code of conduct by ordering transfer of three engineers. According to the orders issued by the board under the signatures of Joint Secretary (Services), the Board has shifted Mr Jarnail Singh, Additional Superintendent Engineer (SE) from Bhagta Bhai Ka to Rmapura Phul while Mr Jaspal Singh, Additional SE at Rampura Phul takes Mr Jarnail Singh’s place. The third official transferred is Assistant Engineer Sukhwant Singh, who has been shifted from Sehna to Dirba.

The orders shifting all three officials were signed on January 2 while the Election Code of conduct came into force from December 29.

A senior official, preferring anonymity, said the transfers could be effected only with the consent of the Election Commission. However, in promotion cases the board could transfer officials irrespective of the code of conduct, he added.


Student battling for life; police yet to file challan
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 5
The police has been delaying the presenting of the challan in the attack on an MBBS student, Pawaneet Singh, who is battling for life as he suffered paralysis on the right side of the body due to a head injury. This was alleged by Dr Avtar Singh Riar, father of the victim.

He charged the police with delaying the presenting of the challan in the court so that accused Simardeep Singh, son of an IAS officer, along with his accomplice Varinder Singh, could get bail. He said less than two weeks remained for the filing of the challan and still there were no efforts on part of the police to do the same.

He alleged that the IAS officer was playing an active role in influencing the investigations. Pawaneet, third-year MBBS student at Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, was attacked in the canteen of the institute on September 29. The police had registered a case under Sections 307, 148, 149 and 506, IPC, in this regard.

Dr Riar has filed a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the Home Secretary, DGP, ADGP (crime), DIG, SSP, SP (crime) and SHO (B-division) in this regard. He has also written to Chief Minister. He alleged that the witnesses were being threatened to withdraw from the case.

Dr Riar said the matter was already enquired into by a senior IPS officer, but it was again marked to SP (Crime) just to shield the accused.

While Mr S.S. Srivastava, SSP, could not be contacted as his mobile was switched off, Mr R.K. Sharda, SP (Crime) was out of station. Mr Kaustubh Sharma, SP (City), who had earlier investigated the case said as soon as the crime branch completes the inquiry the charge sheet would be presented in the court.


Student found dead in hostel room
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, January 5
A 21-year-old engineering student of Adarsh College of Engineering and Technology, Surjit Singh, was found dead in his hostel room on the college campus.

Surjit, a resident of Khumania village in Amritsar district, was stated to normal and his friends denied that he could have committed suicide. Surjit’s friends said he was an extremely friendly person.

His body was found from a room of the senior boy’s hostel. The matter was reported to the college authorities and subsequently to the police.

After preliminary investigation the police suspected that Surjit had consumed some intoxicant in excess that proved fatal for him. The police ruled out any possibility of a murder as there was no sign of a scuffle at the scene where Surjit’s body was found. It appeared to be an accident, according to the police.

Meanwhile, the body has been sent to GGS Medical College for an autopsy.


Cong leaders scramble for ticket
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar/Kharar, January 5
Scramble among the Congress leaders of Anandpur Sahib, Chamkaur Sahib and Kharar Assembly constituencies came to fore on the last day of filing claims for party ticket. Many claimant-leaders of the district after filing documents in the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) office in Chandigarh, even left for Delhi to prove their credentials to the Congress high command for ticket.

Besides the Congress MLAs claim for ticket from Nangal and Morinda Assembly constituency, a few others have staked claim for ticket in these two constituencies.

District Congress committee president and MLA, Anandpur Sahib, Ramesh Dutt Sharma, and others include former District Congress president Amarjit Singh Saini, former state youth Congress president Bhupesh Sharma, AICC member Ramesh Goyal and Bant Singh are in the race for ticket from Anandpur Sahib.

Hot contender for Shiromani Akali Dal ticket for Anandpur Sahib turned out to be former minister, Tara Singh Ladal, SGPC member from Anandpur Sahib, Gurinder Singh Gogi and Dr R.S. Parmar. Patron of the SAD (Badal) Sant Ajit Singh, who also belongs to this area will play vital role in deciding the party ticket, said party sources.

For Chamkaur Sahib former MLA Bhag Singh, former MLA Shamsher Singh Rai, a brother of the IG (Bathinda), Punjab and OSD to Chairman IET Bhaddal, Mr Surinder Singh, president of the Municipal Council, Kharar, Charanjit Singh Channi, and Madan Singh Bains are in the race for the Congress ticket.

While the Akali Dal (Badal) has already announced MLA Satwant Kaur Sandhu, from Chamkaur Sahib and the BSP has announced Charanjit Singh Ghai as their candidates.

Besides Parliamentary Secretary Industry and Commerce, K.P.S. Rana, two other local leaders are in the race of party ticket from Nangal. Similarly for Morinda Assembly constituency besides Cabinet Minister and MLA, Morinda, Jagmohan Singh Kang other aspirants for party ticket include Mr Bal Bhushan Sharma. The Akali Dal has announced Ujjagar Singh Wadali as their candidate from Morinda constituency.

As per the Akali Dal-BJP alliance, the Nangal seat has been allotted to the BJP. The BJP is looking for a strong candidate to contest from Nangal. Former Food and Supplies Minister Madan Mohan Mittal, district president of the BJP and Vijay Puri are claimants of party ticket here.

Kharar MLA, Bir Devinder Singh and Mohali District Congress president Balbir Sidhu, and CM’s OSD Lakhwinder Kaur Garcha are strong contenders for party ticket from Kharar. Meanwhile Mr Jasjit Singh, son of general secretary of the Akali Dal former Finance Minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh today confirmed to The Tribune that he had been allotted SAD ticket while Akali Dal was yet make an announcement to this effect.


Revolt in Gurdaspur against Raghunath Sahai
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, January 5
In a setback to Transport Minister Raghunath Sahai Puri, around 35 Congress leaders from his constituency have appealed to the party high command against re-nominating him from the area.

These Congress leaders, led by former president of the Sujanpur municipal council Vinay Mahajan, president of the Rajpur Mahasabha Davinder Darshi, Harish Pathania and three municipal councillors from Sujanpur, Suresh Kumar, Shila Rani and Babli, held a press conference in this regard at Pathankot today.

Mr Vinay Mahajan said all leaders, sarpanches and panches present there requested the party high command to name a new candidate from the Sujanpur constituency. Despite being loyal workers of the Congress, these leaders were allegedly ignored and victimised by the minister during his five-year term.

The minister got false cases registered against party workers and ignored development projects in their areas. Due to these reasons, the party workers from the constituency 
were in no mood to support the minister in the forthcoming elections, they added.

If the party still decided to field Ranghunath Sahay Puri from Sujanpur, it would surely lose the contest, they added. When asked to whom the rebel candidates supported, they said they just wanted to change the minister. The party could give the ticket to any candidate and all Congress leaders would support him without any prejudice, they added.

When asked if still Raghunath Sahai Puri was nominated, the leaders said then they would prefer to sit in their houses rather than canvassing for the party.

These leaders had held a rally at Sujanpur recently which was presided over by Union Minister of State for Industry Ashwani Kumar. Raghunath Sahai Puri did not participate in the rally despite being present in the town.

Sources said Ashwani Kumar was supporting Rajbir Chaudhary, president of the Pathankot Improvement Trust, from the Sujanpur constituency.

With such a large number of Congress leaders openly opposing the minister, the going is likely to get tough for him in the forthcoming elections.

The minister, however, said the people opposing him were not Congressmen. Vinay Mahajan had contested as an Independent candidate against the Congress. Moreover, some of them had applied for the party ticket. In their applications, they had given affidavits that they would not oppose the party in the coming elections, he added.

The candidature form Sujanpur was to be decided by the party high command. By resorting to such tactics, these leaders were harming the interests of the party. The party would take note of these activities, he added.


Randhawa gives jolt to AISAD
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 5
The All-India Shiromani Akali Dal (AISAD) led by Mr Jaswant Singh Mann suffered a jolt when Mr Kuljit Singh Randhawa, member of the Zila Parishad, president of the Dera Bassi truck union and a staunch Congress leader, today said he had never applied for the ticket of the AISAD.

Reacting to the second list of 33 candidates issued by Mr Mann, in which he was shown as a candidate of the AISAD, he said this seemed to be a part of a conspiracy hatched by his opponents to defame him in the eyes of the Congress leadership.

He said he had not met Mr Mann even once.

He expressed surprise over the inclusion of his name in the AISAD list. He said he was a member of the All-India Panchayat Parishad Delhi and had been working for the victory of the Congress.


Poll: MC removes hoardings
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 5
Complying with the orders passed by representatives of the Election Commission, officials of the panchayat samiti and the municipal council today removed the hoardings displaying the photographs of political leaders and their supporters. Action was taken after receiving complaints that such hoardings have been erected at all important crossings and highways.

However, people regretted that commercial hoardings and banners continued to flout the restrictions imposed by the apex court. Those who have got such boards and banners erected had not paid advertisement tax even. The authorities had not cared to remove such hoardings.

The management of a cowshed had widened the killer crossing opposite Sahitya Sadan some time ago after several mishaps took place. Many scooterists have met with accidents while negotiating the turn. Now, businessmen have erected huge hoardings on the premises of this cowshed. Passers-by are forced to have a glimpse of these hoardings and thus tend to loose control over their vehicles. Same situation prevails in the Aggarsein Chowk, Bhagat Singh Chowk, Ghantaghar Chowk and crossings on the national as well as state highways. The business houses were even using poles of the Punjab State Electricity Board and BSNL for displaying their products without paying the tax. Defacing of walls, including the government property, was also very common here.

Sources said Mr R.K. Bhattacharya, Deputy Election Commissioner, and Mr Sundram Krishnan, Chief Election Officer, at a meeting held at Ferozepore yesterday had reportedly expressed concern over the failure of the administration in removing political banners and hoardings.


Tension over election offices in shop
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 5
Tension gripped Dirba town today as supporters of Mr Baldev Singh Mann, SAD candidate from the Dirba Assembly constituency, and supporters of Mr Surjit Singh Dhiman, MLA from Dirba, clashed with each other on the issue of opening of election offices in a shop in the New Grain Market.

They supporters allegedly “manhandled” one another. When the situation took an ugly turn, the police intervened and tried to pacify both groups. Despite this, the supporters continued to raise slogans.

The incident took place when supporters of Mr Mann were putting up a tent in front of a shop in Dirba’s grain market to open their election office. At the same time, supporters of Mr Dhiman came to the site and also putting up a tent near the tent of Mr Mann. An altercation between both groups started with supporters of both leaders claiming that they had taken the shop on rent for opening election office there.

As more supporters of the leaders started gathering there, the police had to intervene to maintain law and order.

When The Tribune contacted Mr Shamsher Singh Boparai, DSP, Sunam, over the phone, he said both parties had reached a compromise and had removed their tents etc from the disputed site. He said now the situation was “normal”.


Chandumajra’s loss may be Bhattal’s gain
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 5
The announcement by senior Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Naranjan Singh Bhutal to contest as an Independent candidate from the Lehra Assembly constituency against official SAD candidate Prem Singh Chandumajra may benefit Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, prospective Congress candidate from Lehra, in the Assembly elections to be held on February 13.

The announcement to this effect was made by Naranjan Singh Bhutal in the presence of his hundreds of supporters at his residence at Moonak village, a part of the Lehra Assembly constituency. Bhutal and his supporters had already expressed their sentiments to the SAD high command by saying that they would not tolerate any “outsider” as the party candidate.

In the February, 2002, elections, Naranjan Singh Bhutal had lost to Rajinder Kaur Bhattal by 15,508 votes. Bhattal had won from Lehra in 1992, 1997 and 2002. In February, 1997, she defeated Garja Singh Khandebad, another senior SAD leader from the constituency, who has reportedly extended support to Prof Chandumajra in the elections.

Sources say Rajinder Kaur Bhattal may contest from Lehra this time also. She has been saying nowadays that the nomination of Chandumajra as the SAD candidate for Lehra will not affect her winning prospects. On the other hand, there are also rumours that with the arrival of Chandumajra on the election scene, she may opt for some other seat.

Talking to The Tribune on phone, Naranjan Singh Bhutal said he had announced his candidature as an Independent candidate from the Lehra constituency on the request of the people of the area, who today thronged his house at Moonak in thousands. He said he could win even as an Independent candidate.

After announcing his decision to contest as an Independent candidate, he and his supporters took out a march at Moonak and Lehra against the nomination of Chandumajra.


Indecision on ticket gives sleepless nights to aspirants
Our Correspondent

Nabha, January 5
With the Assembly elections nearing, the political equations are touching new lows everyday. SAD candidate Raja Narinder Singh’s position is said to be stronger with the entry of three more congress party ticket seekers apart from present MLA Kaka Randip Singh. His brother Jasdeep Singh Nikku, Romesh Singla and Mahant Harvinder Singh Khanaura are main aspirants for congress ticket from Nabha constituency. The Congress’ dilly-dallying over the announcement of its candidate from the constituency is giving sleepless nights to many ticket aspirants and various contenders are left with no choice but to shuttle to Patiala, Chandigarh and Delhi.

Biggest challenge before the congress candidate would be to tackle dissidents of his own party. Sources close to Romesh Singla, a former MLA and All-India Youth Congress president, claim he had rejoined the congress with an assurance of ticket. He has started his campaign silently in the constituency. Mr Singla who has strong base in the constituency is harping on his all time availability in the town and district status to this erstwhile princely state is his agenda.

On the contrary sitting MLA Kaka Randip Singh, who holds the legacy of Late Gurdarshan Singh is not only confident of getting the ticket but winning the seat also. Randip has strong base in urban area, which is evident from the majority of the congress in the municipal council. Randip claims he has brought Rs 200 crore to the constituency for development. His supporters at a meeting convened with DCC president Tarsem Singla appealed him to give Randip a chance to serve the constituency for a second time.

Mr Jasdip Singh Nikku, younger brother of the MLA Randip Singh is also trying to get congress ticket from the constituency. His mother Bibi Satinder Kaur, Vice-President and disciplinary committee member of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, is supporting him. Nikku says that his brother has forgotten the ideology of his late father.

Among other aspirants is Mahant Harvinder Singh Khanaura a former block samiti chairman and a confidant of PPCC president Shamsher Singh Dullo and Hardip Singh Waraich of Karamchari and teachers Union. Congress Councilor and former President of the Nagar Council, Pawan Kumar Garg also has plans to contest coming assembly elections.

While the congress ticket aspirants are busy in capitalizing on their relations in the state and with the centre high command, the SAD leader is reported to have covered half of the villages of the constituency.

The Congress seems to be a divided force, supporters of Raja Narinder Singh are claiming to have pocketed the victory. Raja Narinder Singh’s grandson Maninder Singh is spearheading his campaign with focus on youth.


Political parties briefed on poll code
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 5
Mrs Jaspreet Talwar, Deputy Commissioner-cum-District electoral Officer, yesterday held a meeting with representatives of all political parties to apprise them of the election code. She gave detailed information to them about the poll code and what they can and what they can’t do. She said the elections would be conducted in a free and fair manner per and urged all political leaders to co-operate with the administration. She handed over a copy of the guidelines to the political leaders containing complete information.

She directed election officers of the Amloh and Sirhind constituencies and other officers to complete the election-related work in time. She urged the political leaders not to indulge in character assassination. She directed them not to use religious places for campaigning.

She made it mandatory that all printed election material must contain the name of the printer and publisher and its two copies must be provided to the election officer. She said to enforce the election code a team headed by ADC(G) had been constituted, which keep a close watch on the political parties till elections. She appealed to the people co-operate with district administration in completing the election process peacefully.


2 brothers burnt to death
Our correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 5
Two children were burnt to death and two received serious burn injuries when a fire broke out in the Jhuggi of Raja Ram, a migrant labourer, at village Jahan Khelan, 8 km from here, last night.

The deceased were identified as Suresh Pal (4) and Inderpal (6) and the injured, who were admitted to the Civil Hospital, Hoshiarpur, were identified as Dinesh (10) and Mahesh (8), all sons of Raja Ram.

It is reported that the family members were sleeping in the jhuggi when fire suddenly broke out and engulfed it. Raja Ram, his wife Malwati along with their one-and-a-half-year old daughter rushed out while their four sons were trapped inside. Dinesh and Mahesh are struggling for life in the hospital.

It is suspected that a kerosene lamp in the jhuggi may have fallen on a quilt, resulting in the fire.

Mr D. K. Tiwari, Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur, said an ex-gratia grant of Rs 50,000 had been provided to Raja Ram for each of his dead sons and Rs 10,000 each provided for medical treatment of his injured sons.



Ludhiana to host key conference of surgeons
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
Ludhiana will host the prestigious conference of the Association of Surgeons of India(ASI) in 2008.This was decided at the general body of the ASI at Varanasi recently. Dr Kuldeep Singh, who heads the northern chapter of the ASI, said this conference would be held in northern India after more than 30 years.

Dr Kuldeep Singh said surgeons from the northern region were always in a minority at these national meetings.

“I have been associated with the ASI as a governing council member for six years and now head the northern chapter of the ASI ”,he said.

Ludhiana had been allotted the conference ahead of Coimbatore and Bangalore. This was the biggest achievement for the northern chapter and the biggest-ever for the surgical fraternity, said Dr Singh.


Cracked track disrupts rail traffic
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, January 5
The Saharasa-bound Garib Rath Express had a miraculous escape when it passed through the cracked portion of the track near Jassian between the Phillaur and Ludhiana section this morning. Railway sources said the cracks had also developed in up line tracks between Chiherru and Jalandhar-Cantonment. No passenger was hurt.

The Delhi-bound Shatabadi Express was stopped for more than an hour near the Ladhuwal railway station.


Cotton perishes in fire
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 5
Around 22 quintals of cotton was gutted at the local market today. The fire reportedly broke out due to a short-circuit. This was the second such incident at the cotton market in less than a month.

According to sources, Balwant Singh, a farmer from Gulabgarh, was unloading his produce at the market when the incident occurred. While a part of his produce was gutted, the remaining was spoiled during efforts to douse the fire. However, the tractor-trailer driver somehow managed to save his vehicle from catching fire. The incident came as a jolt for the farmer whose two daughters were to get married on February 5.

In a similar incident last month, cotton worth around Rs 2 lakh was gutted at the same market.


Groundnut, maize stocks gutted in fire
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 5
Huge stocks of groundnuts, maize, etc. were gutted in fire in the wee hours of today, reportedly due to a short circuit.

According to information, Bhagwan Dass of Jammu Basti noticed flames emanating from the room used for frying groundnuts, maize, etc at 3.30 a.m. He and Lajwanti, his mother, tried to control the fire.

Some residents informed the fire brigade but their vehicle could not enter the narrow lanes of the old locality. The residents were able to extinguish it after two hours. The loss was estimated at Rs 80,000.

Meanwhile, Lajwanti received burns while trying to save the stocks. She has been admitted to the Civil Hospital.


Man bludgeons wife to death
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, January 5
A minor feud over a petty matter led to the murder of a 50-year-old woman by her husband at Gholewal village in the district. The husband allegedly bludgeoned his wife to death.

According to the police, Malkiat Singh got into a quarrel with his wife Baljit Kaur, who had been married to him for almost three decades.

She was alleged battered with a stick and several strikes on her head proved fatal.

The police said Malkiat Singh often fought with his wife. A case has been registered against Malkiat Singh under Section 302 of the IPC on a complaint filed by his son Ram Singh.

The body of Baljit Kaur was sent for post-mortem to GGS Medical College. The accused has been absconding.


Rs 158 cr for education of rural students
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 5
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has agreed to provide an outlay of Rs 158 crore to the universities for the education of rural students as requested by Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. Agreeing to the proposal of Ms Bhattal, the Chief Minister said the Finance Department should find ways and means to provide financial assistance, particularly to boys and girls of the rural areas, so they are able to get quality education at affordable cost.

In her request, Ms Bhattal, referring to the survey “Rural students in the Universities of Punjab”, conducted by Punjabi University had urged that the Punjab Government should provide Rs 158 crore for expenditure on university education of rural students from financial year 2007-08. Punjabi University got a survey conducted, which revealed that the presence of ruralites at various university campuses of Punjab comes to only 4 per cent out of the fund set out for the four universities, only Rs 7 crore have spent on the education of rural students.

Earlier, the Vice-Chancellor, Mr Swarn Singh Boparai, in a letter to various political parties had sought outlay of Rs 158 crore for providing technical and professional education of rural students.


NCC camp concludes
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 5
The 12-day training camp organised by 4 Punjab Girls Battalion, NCC, Patiala, concluded at Longowal village, about 20 km from here, yesterday. About 250 girls from all over the state participated in it.

The camp commandant was Lieut-Col Rupinder Singh. Col J.S. Gorwara, who was the chief guest at the concluding function, gave away prizes to cadets securing first, second and third positions in firing, drill and cultural activities.


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |