P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Cong gets jolt in Majha
Babehali joins SAD, Samta Samaj Party merges with Akalis
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
The ruling Congress got a big jolt today as its general secretary Gurbachan Singh Babehali and the president of the Gurdaspur district unit of the Indian Youth Congress, Mr Yogesh Bhandari, today joined the Shiromani Akali Dal in the presence of its president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his son, Mr Sukhbir Singh.

Mr Babehali is expected to be SAD’s candidate from Gurdaspur.

Mr Badal also got another shot in the arm as the Samata Samaj Party headed by Mr Darshan Lal Jethumajara merged his organisation with the SAD.

Mr Babehali, elected Chairman of Milkfed, Punjab, is a son of the late Mohinder Singh Babehali, and is a popular leader in the Gurdaspur belt. He was appointed general secretary of the Congress in Punjab in October this year. Before that, he was president of the Gurdaspur district unit of the Congress.

He was elected Chairman of the Zila Parishad, Gurdaspur, from 1994 to 1997. He is also Director of the National Dairy Development Board, Anand (Gujarat).

Mr Badal said Mr Babehali had Akali blood in his veins as his father was an Akali MLA. He had joined the party without any pre-condition.

Asked what made him join the SAD, Mr Babehali said there was no mass leader like Mr Badal in the state. Mr Badal had a great regard for party workers.

“For me it was very difficult to work for Congress in the elections as it has several corrupt leaders in its ranks,” he added.

Meanwhile, introducing the Samta Samaj Party’s president, Mr Jethumajara, senior vice-president, Mr Attar Singh Dhoor, and vice-president, Master Darshan Singh Dumeli, Mr Badal said that the merger of the party had empowered the SAD.


Amritsar LS seat has a new demographic pattern
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 6
The demographic voting pattern of the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat underwent a change following the migration of a large number of Sikhs to urban area during terrorism days. They said goodbye to farmhouse culture and built houses in urban areas.

Similarly, a large portion of the urban population shifted from the walled city to colonies that mushroomed in the outer areas. With the passage of time, the Central assembly constituency became the smallest one in the state with less than one lakh votes.

The Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency, which included border areas of Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts, had witnessed a series of bomb blasts, police encounters and firing incidents in those days. All this led to demographic changes.

That was why the BJP used to fielded Sikh candidates against R.L. Bhatia, now Governor of Kerala. Bhatia contested 10 times from here, out of which he lost on four occasion. Only once he lost to a Hindu candidate, Baldev Parkash, national vice-president of the BJP, in 1977 during the Janta Party wave. On other three occasions, he lost to Sikh candidates, Kirpal Singh (1989), Daya Singh Sodhi (1998) and Navjot Singh Sidhu (2004).

That was the reason that when R.L. Bhatia announced his retirement from active politics, local MLAs urged Manmohan Singh to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Amritsar. However, he reportedly refused to entertain such requests.

Now BJP’s two-member screening committee has reportedly sent names of H.S. Grewal, Balramji Dass Tondon and Lakshmi Kanta Chawla for the seat. Though Navjot Kaur Sidhu, wife of cricketer-turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, is also one of the hot contenders, Tandon and Grewal are said to be front-runners. While, Tondon, who had fought many electoral battles from Amritsar, wants “home coming”, the name of Grewal was also being considered due to past voting pattern of Sikh voters.

The Congress think tank has also been studying the voting pattern here. Lakhmir Singh Randhawa, Lali Majithia, Surinder Singla and Kashmir Singh Patti, President of the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission, have evinced interest in contesting the Lok Sabha byelection. Though the names of Partap Singh Bajwa and Sukh Sarkaria were also considered, they have reportedly preferred to contest the Assembly elections.


Breach in canal inundates 2,000 acres
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 6
A breach in the Bathinda canal near Dhapali village of Rampura Phul subdivision has submerged crops on hundreds of acres of land in various villages.

The affected villagers allege that the breach measuring 250-300 ft occurred had due to poor quality of sand used in raising the level of the canal for a micro hydel project.

The contractor concerned has absconded and the DC has asked the Irrigation Department to get an FIR registered against him.

According to sources, the breach led to inundation of crop spread over about 2,000 acres. Sources said about 2-5 ft water was standing in fields, while five households in Harnamsinghwala village had been submerged.

No loss of life was reported as the residents and livestock had been evacuated in time.

Though the breach took place near Dhapali village, it affected nearby villages too. Sources said Dhapali, Phul, Harnamsinghwala and Mehraj were among the affected villages.

People utilised the public address system in gurdwaras to warn fellow villagers. Work is on to plug the breaches.

Deputy Commissioner Rahul Bhandari, who visited the site, said he had asked the Rampura Phul SDM to look into allegations regarding the project and submit a report to him. He said the first priority was to plug the breach and drain out water.

He said the damage would be assessed once the water level receded and compensation given accordingly.


Promote Indian cotton as brand, says EICA chief
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 6
Indian cotton now occupies a prominent place in the world and time has come to take effective steps to promote it as a brand in both domestic as well as international markets. This was stated by Mr K.F. Jhunjhunwala, president, East India Cotton Association (EICA), at the All India Cotton Trade Associations' Conference here today.

Mr Jhunjhunwala lamented that despite tremendous export potential for cotton, there was no export promotion council for it. “There is an urgent need to set up a nodal agency which will initiate and co-ordinate all activities to promote cotton export from India,” he added. According to him, EICA, being a premier cotton trade association representing the interests of all segments in the cotton chain for the past several decades, is the most appropriate agency to take this responsibility. Meanwhile, in a major step that would go a long way in boosting cotton export in the region, it was also announced that a cotton school spread over 50 acre of land will be set up near Bathinda. It would sensitise cotton growers and ginners on latest farming and ginning techniques. It was also felt that there should be uniformity in tax imposed on cotton in all states, as there was a huge difference in states like Gujarat that charges half per cent and Punjab where market cess was 5 per cent. “Tax rate should be lowered in state, as it will not only lessen the burden on the farmers but will reduce tax evasion,” the speakers said. The Parliamentary secretary, Mr Sunil Jakhar, who was the chief guest, echoed these sentiments and said while the traders were organised; it was the farmers who always suffer due to higher rate of taxes. The topic of value addition was also raised at the conference. Mr Jhunjhunwala told that under the Technology Mission on Cotton being implemented by the Ministry of Textiles, over 800 ginning and pressing factories were being modernised and over 200 market yards were being developed. Underlining the significance of quality, he said it was a vital component in the cotton economy. He said exports had touched an all-time high of 47 lakh bales last season as compared to 10 lakh bales in 2004-05, which demonstrated that there had been a marked improvement in the quality of Indian cotton over the years. "Indian cotton has achieved far greater acceptability in domestic as well as in international markets," he added.

The North India Cotton Association president, Mr Rakesh Rathi, the EICA vice-president, Mr P.D. Patodia, and the NICA director, Mr Kailash Garg, also addressed the gathering.


5 hurt as engine rams into stationary train
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 6
Five persons were injured when a rail engine rammed into a stationary train, 7LF (Ludhiana-Ferozepore), at platform number 7 at the local railway station this evening.

Railway sources said the engine was being shunted when the accident took place. The passengers suffered a jolt and many were thrown out of their seats causing the injuries.

However, none of the injured, including a train guard, who had fallen off the coach due to the collision, required hospitalisation.


SAD to form excesses commission if voted to power: Capt Kanwaljit
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi, January 6
Vendetta politics is set to stage a comeback in Punjab. Riding on the wave of anti-incumbency, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today announced the setting up of the "excesses commission" headed by a retired judge of the high court if the party was voted to power.

"The proposed commission would probe the repressive policies of the Congress government during the past five years and point out the illegalities in the working of the government, including bureaucracy," SAD general secretary, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, said here today.

When asked whether the proposed decision would set off another round of vendetta politics in Punjab, the Akali leader asserted that law would take its own course. It was the Congress government which resorted to vendetta politics for the past five years, he added.

Saying that Punjab economy was at the "crossroads", the former Finance Minister alleged that the wheat production had fallen by about 20 per cent while the paddy production was stagnant on account of the lopsided policies of the government. While the national growth rate was about 8.5 per cent Punjab's economy was growing only at the rate of about 2.4 per cent.

The next government would have to spend an amount of Rs 50,000 crore per annum to create infrastructure to make Punjab compete with other progressive states, the former minister said, terming unemployment as the major problem plaguing the state.

He also used the occasion to warn the bureaucracy that the Akalis would "force" it to toe the government on various policy decisions.

On alleged dissidence, particularly in his constituency in Banur and the constituency of his son, Mr Jasjeet Singh, in Kharar, the leader tried to play down the differences within the SAD-BJP alliance claiming that the "differences would die down" in the days to come.

To a question whether he used his influence to get the ticket for his son, Capt Kanwaljit Singh maintained that the party president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was authorised to allot tickets by the political affairs committee on December 28.

Earlier, addressing a "lalkaar rally" here, he claimed that the Amarinder Singh government was on the way out in the wake of various acts of omission and commission. The massive turnouts at the SAD-BJP rallies indicated the mood of the people and the alliance would romp home with a two-thirds majority, he added.

It may be recalled that the alliance partner BJP had already announced its candidate from the Banur segment exposing chinks in alliance. The local BJP leadership was conspicuous by its absence at the rally.


Badal fields ex-Tohra men in tough segments
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 6
SAD president Parkash Singh Badal appears to be treading a cautious path while choosing candidates for various Assembly segments. Besides roping in prominent rebel leader Prem Singh Chandumajra, he has also tried to draw a perfect balance by accommodating most loyalists of late Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

At the same time, an impression is being created that they have been made scapegoats as most of them have been allotted the toughest segments.

Mr Badal had already announced the candidature of Harmel Singh, son-in-law of Tohra, from Dakala, Surjeet Singh Kohli from Patiala against Capt Amarinder Singh and Hira Singh Gabria from Ludhiana Rural.

Today he announced the candidature of Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal and Bikramjit Singh Khalsa from Payal and Khanna segments.

Earlier, most of the former Tohra loyalists were quite apprehensive about their future in SAD as an impression had been created that Badal had not forgiven them as they had joined his rival. But he had reportedly been assuring all of them that they had a secure future within the SAD only.

The apprehensions were strengthened after Mr Badal announced the candidature of Harish Rai Dhanda from Ludhiana West, earlier represented by Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal.

This had surprised everyone among the former Tohra loyalists. However, with Mr Grewal now being fielded from Payal while ignoring the claims of Mr Mann Singh Garcha, who has close rapport with Mr Badal and Mr Jagjivanpal Singh Gill, Badal has clarified to everyone that he was sincere towards them.

Badal obviously could not take any chance this time. From Mr Chandumajra, who could spoil the chances of a few candidates had he not rejoined the party, to other Tohra loyalists, Mr Badal has conveyed the categoric and unambiguous impression that he wanted to take everybody along in his march forward to the hustings, which is certainly not an easy one.

Interestingly, all of them are likely to face the toughest contests as Harmel Singh is pitted against Mr Lal Singh, Surjeet Kohli against Capt Amarinder Singh, Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal against Tej Parkash, son of former Chief Minister, Beant Singh, Bikramjit Singh Khalsa against Ms Harbans Kaur Dullo or even Dullo himself. Even Prem Singh Chandumajra will face the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, in Lehra Gaga.


SAD faces revolt as Ballian denied ticket
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 6
After revolt in three Assembly constituencies, Lehra, Dirba and Dhuri, by aspirants, who could not get the ticket, of SAD, it is now the turn of the Sangrur Assembly constituency to see such a revolt.

After the announcement of SAD ticket today to Parkash Chand Garg, national vice-president of SAD, hundreds of supporters of Ranjit Singh Ballian, a former minister in the Badal government, raised a banner of revolt over the denial of party ticket to Ballian.

They also raised slogans against Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, secretary general of SAD, holding him responsible for the denial of party ticket to Ballian.

Talking to The Tribune here this evening, Ballian said Dhindsa had betrayed him by keeping him in the dark. He said about two months ago Dhindsa had told him to be ready to contest election as survey conducted by the party was in his favour. He also claimed that Mr Dhindsa compelled Parkash Singh Badal, president of SAD, to deny him the ticket from Sangrur though Badal and SAD leadership was in his favour.

Ballian said there was a disappointment among his supporters only against Dhindsa, not against the party.

Ballian said he had convened a meeting of his supporters on January 12 at Gurdwara Nankana Sahib here to chalk out the next course of action whether he should contest election from Sangrur. He said if the workers asked him to contest, he would field himself as an independent candidate.

When contacted over the phone this evening, refuting the allegations levelled against him by Ballian, Dhindsa said the allotment of the ticket to Garg was a decision of Badal and the party. He said when Badal had given the ticket to a Hindu then how he could oppose him when he (Dhindsa) was a staunch supporter of the Hindu-Sikh unity. He said he had also told Ballian that he would be given a status, more than an MLA, if the SAD-BJP alliance came to power, but Ballian did not respond to his offer. 


Brahmpura marginalised in Majha; lodges protest
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 6
Akali MLA from Naushehra Pannuan Ranjit Singh Brahmpura received a jolt when Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) did not accommodate his men from the Khadoor Sahib and the Tarn Taran Assembly constituencies in the second list of candidates issued here today.

It is learnt that Brahmpura, who is also a member of the Political Affairs Committee of the SAD, has conveyed his displeasure to party president Parkash Singh Badal.

He had opposed the fielding of M.S. Manna, a sitting MLA from Khadoor Sahib, but the appearing of his name in the second list of candidates has come as a bolt from the blue for Brahmpura, who was considered undisputed leader of the SAD in Majha zone.

He was more disturbed when his close relative, Alwinder Singh Pakhoke, a former senior vice-president of the SGPC, was not given the ticket from Tarn Taran despite his persistent appeals. Instead, the ticket was given to Harmit Singh, who had successfully won from Tarn Taran as an Akali rebel during the previous Assembly elections.

Malkit Singh A.R. has got the ticket from the Jandiala constituency, although Adeshpartap Singh Kairon, an MLA and son-in-law of Badal, wanted to field his close confidant from there. The party has given the ticket to Virsa Singh Valtoha from the Valtoha constituency, although sons of Jagir Singh Bhullar and Gurdial Singh were aspirants for it. The Amritsar’s local ticket was allocated to Raminder Singh Bolaria, who had joined the SAD last year only.

With this, Bikramjit Singh Majithia, brother-in-law of Sukhbir Singh Badal and a candidate from Majitha, has emerged as the “uncrowned” leader of the SAD in the Majha belt. The ticket distribution in the region was reportedly finalised after consulting him.


Singla faces dissidence at Cong workers’ meeting
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 6
Unruly scenes were witnessed at the first Congress party meeting convened after the announcement of poll code and attended by Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla here today.

The chaos at the meeting hall forced the minister to stop his address for a while. A section of party leaders raised their voice when the minister said:" I haven't said no to anybody during my tenure as minister." Following this, PPCC vice-president KK Sharma and PPCC secretary Chhote Lal got up and countered the minister's statement.

They accused the minister of ‘giving’ all powers to one man alone . He was apparently hinting at Mr Singla's political secretary, Mr Anil Bhola. It prompted supporters of both groups to raise slogans in favour of their leaders.

The minister was seen appealing to party workers to remain calm but peace returned only after about 10 minutes. Earlier, Mr Sharma skipped Mr Singla’s name while addressing party leaders at the start of his speech. He said he too had applied for the party ticket from Bathinda and hoped that the party would ‘respect public sentiment’.

In reply, the minister said:" I know a lot of people had applied for the party candidature from Bathinda, but they should remember that development works carried out in the past five years have made the seat as one of the most sought-after among the Congress leaders."


Denied ticket, Padiala alleges betrayal
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Kharar, January 6
After the formal announcement of Mr Jasjit Singh, son of SAD general secretary Capt Kanwaljit Singh, as the SAD candidate from Kharar in the second list, released by the party today, another strong contender for the party ticket Rajbir Singh Padiala alleged betrayal by the SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal and Capt Kanwaljit Singh with him for he being loyalist of the late Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

Aggrieved by the party decision of not granting him ticket, Mr Padiala said the Akali leaders ignored his strong hold in the constituency and his father and mother’s contribution to the party while giving ticket to Mr Jasjit Singh.

Meanwhile, Mr Jasjit Singh said he got full support of Akali loyalist in the constituency and claimed to win the elections even if Mr Padiala contest the elections as an Independent candidate.

“The SAD leaders have trusted my credential and I will ensure my victory from the constituency. There is strong resentment against the Congress this time and I have full support of the Akali workers,” he added.

Mr Padiala, whose father and mother had won the elections from Kharar in 1885 and in 1997, respectively, talking to The Tribune, said he might contest the elections as an Independent candidate but the decision about it would be taken on the death anniversary of his father Bachhiter Singh on January 17, when his supporters and other senior leaders would express their views about it.

He said he was denied ticket on the ground that he was facing a criminal case. While some of those who had been granted ticket were even convicted in criminal cases.

Mr Padiala, who had contested the last Assembly elections on the ticket of the Panthic Morcha, stood fourth. He had polled 20,463 votes.

The Congress leaders, staking their claims to the party ticket, claimed of an easy win for the Congress this time.

The president of the district Congress, Mr Balbir Singh Sidhu, said he did not think that Mr Jasjit Singh would give any fight to the Congress candidate in the elections. He said the Congress would launch its election campaign as soon as the party high command announced the candidate.


SAD cold-shoulders Garg, ex-MLAs
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 6
The SAD’s decision to deny ticket to ex-minister Chiranji Lal Garg, former MLAs Makhan Singh and Bhai Harnirpal Singh Kukku has been received with surprise in Bathinda, Pakka Kalan and Muktsar Assembly constituencies.

For Bathinda Assembly seat, the SAD chose Mr Sarup Singla, who was not even a primary member of the party a couple of months back, over Mr Garg, who had been associated with the party for more then four decades. A visibly upset Mr Garg termed the decision as “murder of loyalty”.

He said it would send a wrong signal among the partymen and people. He said the party’s decision to ignore its loyal soldiers would prove damaging for the party. On any intention to fight as Independent, he said he would hold a meeting of his supporters to decide the future course of action.

Meanwhile, as soon as the announcement of Mr Darshan Singh Kotfatta being allotted the party ticket from Pakka Kalan Assembly constituency came in, Mr Makhan Singh declared that he would contest the poll as an Independent. He said he would repeat the history of Talwandi Sabo from where rebel SAD candidate Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu had won the elections last time. He alleged that some senior party leaders didn’t like his proximity with the Badal family.

In Muktsar the treatment meted out to former MLA Harnirpal Singh Kukku was the talk of the town. The former MLA had also called a meeting of his supporters tomorrow to chalk out his future strategy. 


Cong leaders support Atwal’s candidature
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, January 6
The mass contact rally organised by the District Congress Committee, Jalandhar (Rural), at Noormahal yesterday turned out to be a virtual show of strength in support of the sitting MLA, Mr Gurwinder Singh Atwal.

Riding on political rumour that the Congress high command can field another candidate from this constituency, the speakers, including the District Congress Committee Jalandhar (Rural) president, Mr Rajinder Singh Johal and the Zila Parishad member, Mr Sandeep Sharma, openly declared their support for Mr Atwal’s candidature for this seat.

Mr Atwal was, however, confident that Mrs Sonia Gandhi would give first preference to him. He listed the development works initiated by him. Other Congress leaders, including the Block Congress Committee president, Mr Anokh Singh Cheema, former Nagar Council president, Mr Tirth Ram Sandhu, the Block Samiti vice-chairman, Mr Joginder Singh, the Indian Overseas Congress Committee chairman, Mr Balbir Singh Mander, besides 24 other Congress leaders extended their support to Mr Atwal. Meanwhile, Mr Surinderpal Singh Thammanwal, a former minister, said he would work as per the directive of the high command.


SAD nominee Bhatti seeks sant’s blessings
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 6
With the announcement of party ticket by SAD to Mr Didar Singh Bhatti from the Sirhind constituency, his supporters and BJP workers today thanked Mr Parkash Singh Badal for giving the ticket to the “deserving candidate.” Mr R.S.Cheema, former minister, and Mr Kirpal Singh Libra, former MLA, were also in the race.

Mr Didar Singh Bhatti and his supporters paid obeisance at Gurudwara Fatehgarh Sahib and visited the Dera of Sant Baba Ajit Singhji Hansali- wale for blessings.

There are more than four contenders for the Congress ticket for the Sirhind constituency though Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, a three-time winner, is almost sure to get the ticket. A young advocate, Mr Amarjit Singh Cheema, member, Block Samiti, Bassi Pathana, is giving sleepless nights to Dr Harbans Lal.

He has visited every nook and corner of the constituency and donated in lakhs to clubs, social and sports organisations. He hold a rally at Sirhind today which was attended by hundreds of supporters.

He announced that if the Congress did not give him the ticket, he would contest as an Independent. Mr Gurwinder Dhillon, Chairman, Block Samiti, Bassi Pathana, and Mr Gursatinder Jallah, have also filed applications for the Sirhind seat.

Dr Harbans Lal has started his election campaign. He organised five meetings at Bhamarsi, Sanipur, Nabipur, Harlalpura and Brahman Majra, which were largely attended. He also visited senior Congress leaders, who were annoyed at him.

In Amloh, Mr Sadhu Singh Dharmsot, Parliamentary Secretary, is the frontrunner for the Congress ticket. But all is not well with the SAD . There are two main contenders, Mr, Makhan Lal Lalka, a Bajigar, who joined the SAD, deserting the Congress a few years ago, and Mr Balwant Singh Sahpur, former MLA from Amloh. 


Poll mood: Sachha Sauda forms panel
Our Correspondent

Barnala, January 6
To ascertain the mood of their followers a seven- member committee organised a meeting at Dera Sachha Sauda here today. A large number of workers and devotees of the sect took part in the meeting. Mr Gurbaz Singh, media head and member of the state-level political committee, said,“ This time the sect has decided to openly support candidates of any political party.”

However, the workers left it to the sect chief, Sant Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, to take decision in this regard. This has alarmed the Congress as in the past it had entered into confrontation with the dera sect.

However, Gurbaz Singh said the decision of lending support might differ from one constituency to another. The dera has about 40 lakh followers in Punjab and Haryana.


DC declares 73 booths sensitive
Our Correspondent

Barnala, January 6
Mr Surjit Singh Dhillon, Deputy Commissioner, has directed all political parties to follow the modal code of conduct in 73 sensitive and 14 hypersensitive polling booths of the district. As many as 355 polling booths have been established in Barnala, Dhanula and Bhadaurin Barnala districts. He said the district officers had been directed to ensure free and fair elections. He met in charge of various departments in this regard and directed them against releasing any fund for new development work.

Earlier, he held a separate meting with representatives of various political parties and advised them not to put up hoardings, banner or flags on houses or government buildings. Disciplinary action would be taken against those violating it. He has also restricted the use of loudspeakers from 10pm to 6 am.


Number of voters goes down
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 6
The total number of electorate in the Abohar Assembly segment has gone down by 4,000 as compared to that in 2002. But this time 82 per cent have been covered under the voter I-card scheme, marking an increase of 22 per cent.

This was stated by Dr N.S. Brar, Sub-Divisional Magistrate, at a press conference after taking over the charge. He said the administration had provided a special team to make corrections in the cards at the SDM office. He made it clear that the nominees of political parties or Independents would be permitted to launch publicity campaign only after filing nomination papers. Permission for using a specific number of vehicles will also be mandatory. No banner or hoarding will be displayed on public property without permission from the owner, he added. 


Poll bol
‘We will form excesses commission’

Capt Kanwaljit Singh “If voted to power the SAD will form the ‘excesses commission’ headed by a retired High Court judge to probe the repressive policies of the Congress government in the past five years,” said Capt Kanwaljit Singh, SAD general secretary. The law would take its own course, he said, dispelling apprehensions that the proposed commission would set off another round of vendetta politics in Punjab.

‘I like Badal’s nature’

"It was a compulsion of the Congress to make me general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. I had never begged any office from the Congress. Now I have joined the Shiromani Akali Dal because I like the cool and calm nature of its president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal", said Mr Gurbachan Singh Babehali after joining the SAD quitting the Congress on Saturday.

‘Cong without captain’

"The Congress is party without a captain. No one knows that who is a candidate of chief ministership in that party. Even, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has got new clothes sewn, dreaming that she can become Chief Minister also", said the SAD leader, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, commenting on the Congress.

‘Poll time is real test of workers’

"Real character of the party leaders is tested at the time of elections. Those who continue to work for the party even without getting nominated as candidate in elections are the real party leaders. One has to pass many tests to reach to the top in party hierarchy", said Mr Parkash Singh Badal while commenting on those who rebel on denial of ticket.


SDM flags off polio awareness rally
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 6
Dr N.S.Brar, SDM, flagged off a polio awareness rally from Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital here today. It was organised to mobilise people for tomorrow’s polio eradication drive. Nearly 60 booths have been set up in this regard.

While addressing a large number of participants, including students of Sardar Patel Nursing Institute, Dr Brar said: "We should take a pledge to ensure that not even a single child was left unvaccinated.” Dr G.R. Garg, Senior Medical Officer, said mobile teams would also be pressed into service. The Punjabi Sabhyachar Manch has taken the responsibility of administering polio drops to children travelling in the trains.



Shatabdi gets delayed by 3 hrs

Phillaur, January 6
Upline rail traffic on the Ludhiana-Jalandhar rail section remained suspended for about three hours as the engine of a goods train got stuck near the Phillaur railway station late last night. This delayed the Amritsar-bound 2013 UP Shatabdi Express which got stranded between Ladhuwal and Phillaur railway station.

Railway sources while confirming the incident said today that the goods train got a new engine from Ludhiana and proceeded towards its destination. The rail traffic could be restored after three hours. — OC


Cancellation of train flayed
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 6
The Railway Passengers Association (North Zone) has condemned the Railway Board for cancelling the service of 3007/3008 Howrah-New Delhi-Bathinda-Sriganganagar Udyan Abha Toofan Express on the New Delhi-Abohar- Sriganganagar section till the end of the month.

The train, it said, was the only one that connects Rajasthan with Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal.


Cops avert clash between two groups
Our correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 6
Timely intervention by the police averted a clash between two groups at Plahi village of this district today.

According to the DSP (R), Manjit Singh along with five persons armed with firearms and blunt weapons went to the house of Prithpal Singh of the same village and assaulted his family members. They fired two shots from a .315 bore rifle at them. One person was injured and shifted to the local Civil Hospital.

On receiving information, the SP (D), along with a police party, reached there and intervened. A case has been registered. Enmity over a land dispute is said to be the reason behind the incident.

No arrest has been made.


Petrol station looted
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 6
Five masked men looted a petrol station on the national highway No. 15 in neighbouring Sriganganagar by pointing a knife at a salesmen, official sources confirmed this today. The modus operandi was the same as adopted in looting a petrol station outside Gobindgarh village on NH 10, near here, last month.

According to information, five persons with covered faces, forced their entry into the petrol station owned by Ms Luxmi Devi Pareek, near Loonkaransar, on NH 15 at 2.30 a.m. They snatched mobile phones from salesmen Krishan Lal and Om Parkash, thrashed and locked them inside a cabin. The culprits decamped with a bag containing Rs 40,000. The salesmen were later freed by the staff, which reported for duty in the morning.

The police recovered an empty bag from a truck. The driver and his assistant told the police that they had picked it on the way.


Smuggling of narcotics on rise
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 6
Demand for narcotics from Punjab has increased with the beginning of the election process, two smugglers reportedly indicated during interrogation today.

According to information, the police in Sriganganagar seized 2.9 kg opium from Gurdev Singh and his son Jasbir Singh Jassa, who had gone to Badinga village to smuggle narcotics. Both are to be produced in a trial court on Monday.

The day-long interrogation yesterday indicated that they were smuggling narcotics from Rajasthan to Punjab with the help of those who enjoyed influence among political and administrative high-ups. Even when the Punjab Police has intensified vigil on the roads linking this subdivision with Rajasthan, there are reports that the smuggling has increased manifolds.


Two die in road mishap

Kharar, January 6
Two persons were killed in a road accident near Mullanpur Garibdas, here today. The mishap took place when the scooter of Angrej Singh (26) and Gurpreet Singh (20) hit a truck parked on the road. The two were rushed to the PGI where Angrej, who was driving the scooter, was declared brought dead while Gurpreet later succumbed to his injuries. The police has registered a case against the unknown truck driver. — TNS


Computer teachers’ protest continues
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
Relay fast of retrenched daily wage computer teachers today entered the 12th day. Protesting teachers alleged that despite the fact that condition of some of teachers had deteriorated, the state government had refused to budge from its stand.

Members of the Substitute Computer Teachers Union (SCTU), Punjab, have been holding protest outside the office of the Director- General, School Education, Punjab, in Sector 34. Meanwhile, condition of one of the protesters, Mr Harsimran Singh of Amritsar, continued to be critical. He was admitted to the hospital after he complained of breathlessness. Similar was the condition of Jaspal Singh of Gurdaspur.

On Thursday, the President of Shromani Akali Dal (SAD), Mr Parkash Singh Badal, assured jobs on priority basis to the protesting teachers.

The disgruntled teachers maintained that they had been teaching computer in schools across the state for over eight months before being retrenched by the government. They were told at that time that they were relieved for winter vacations, but told later that new teachers on contract basis have been employed at their place.

They asserted that in spite of over 1000 posts lying vacant in various schools in Punjab, the authorities concerned were reluctant to appoint them.


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