P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Sushma wants three tickets for women
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The top BJP leadership is considering tickets to three women aspirants on the insistence of senior leader Sushma Swaraj. She has told the party high command that it should nominate at least three women candidates for the Punjab Assembly elections.

The BJP is contesting 23 seats in the state in alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal. It has cleared the names of 15 candidates, all men.

For the remaining eight seats, the nominees will be selected at the meeting of the party's parliamentary board in Delhi on January 19.

At the last meeting, the BJP was about to clear the names of more men candidates but Mrs Swaraj told the party high command in clear words that it would be ‘injustice’ to women if the BJP did not nominate them on at least three seats.

There are three women aspirants. Mrs Laxmi Kanta Chawla is keen on the Amritsar (Central) seat. Last time, she lost to Prof Darbari Lal , whom she had defeated in 1992 and 1997. However, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, a senior BJP leader, is also keen on the Amritsar(Central) seat.

Mr Tandon had contested in 1997 from Rajpura and become the Local Bodies Minister in the previous Badal government. However, this time the BJP high command has nominated Mr Raj Khurana from Rajpura.

Ms Vijay Laxmi Bado has sought nomination from Abohar and Mrs Trishna Minhas is keen on the Mukerian seat.


Badals cajole rebels
Ballian mellows, Pakhoke too
Tribune News Service

Tarn Taran, January 16
The Shiromani Akali Dal supremo, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today visited the residence of Mr Alwinderpal Singh Pakhoke, a former working president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, in an effort to stop him from contesting as a rebel against the official nominee, Mr Harmit Singh Sandhu.

Mr Pakhoke and his supporters had served an ultimatum on the SAD chief to withdraw the nomination of Mr Sandhu or face the consequences.

Mr Pakhoke is close relative of Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, considered the “king” of the Majha belt.

Today, Mr Pakhoke had arranged a show of strength at his residence. Among the supporters of Mr Pakhoke were the other two SGPC members from the Tarn Taran constituency - Mr Sukhwinder Singh Jhabal and Bibi Manjit Kaur Alwawalpur.

The chairman of the Block Samiti, Mr Baldev Singh Pandori Gola, two members of the Zila Parishad and the president and members of the local gurdwara committee were present at his residence.

It is learnt that Mr Badal told Mr Pakhoke that it was difficult to change the official candidate and pleaded with him to support Mr Sandhu.

Mr Pakhoke has reportedly given an assurance to Mr Badal that he would work for the victory of the party candidates.

Sangrur: Mr Ranjit Singh Ballian, a former minister in the SAD-BJP government who has been denied the SAD ticket from Sangrur this time again, Tuesday decided not to contest as a rebel from Sangrur.

He extended unconditional support to the SAD candidate from the seat. This all happened after a closed-door hour-long meeting between Mr Ballian and Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, general secretary of the SAD, at an undisclosed place on Monday night.
Earlier, after the allotment of the party ticket to Mr Parkash Chand Garg from Sangrur, Mr Ballian had raised a banner of revolt on January 6 against the party high command and had given an indication to contest from two Assembly constituencies - Sangrur and Sunam - as an Independent (rebel) to "teach a lesson" to the party high command.

Mr Ballian had then held Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, secretary-general of the SAD, responsible for the denial of the party ticket to him.

The junior Badal not only held a closed-door meeting with Mr Ballian last night, but also held a meeting this morning at Mr Ballian's residence in Ballian village, near here, with a 31-member committee, formed by Mr Ballian to take a final decision on whether he should contest or not.


At last, Ballian mellows
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 16
Mr Ranjit Singh Ballian, a former minister in the SAD-BJP government who has been denied the SAD ticket from Sangrur this time again, today decided not to contest as a rebel from Sangrur.

He extended unconditional support to the SAD candidate from the seat. This all happened after a closed-door hour-long meeting between Mr Ballian and Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, general secretary of the SAD, at an undisclosed place last night.

Earlier, after the allotment of the party ticket to Mr Parkash Chand Garg from Sangrur, Mr Ballian had raised a banner of revolt on January 6 against the party high command and had given an indication to contest from two Assembly constituencies - Sangrur and Sunam - as an Independent (rebel) to "teach a lesson" to the party high command.

Mr Ballian had then held Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, secretary-general of the SAD, responsible for the denial of the party ticket to him.

The junior Badal not only held a closed-door meeting with Mr Ballian last night, but also held a meeting this morning at Mr Ballian's residence in Ballian village, near here, with a 31-member committee, formed by Mr Ballian to take a final decision on whether he should contest or not.

However, despite Mr Ballian's decision not to contest as an Independent, the junior Badal today faced the wrath of a large number of supporters of Mr Ballian at a public meeting, who also raised slogans against Mr Dhindsa.


Bhajan’s no disappoints Cong men
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 16
Congress workers in the Balluana Reserve constituency are dismayed over the decision by the Bhajan Lal family not to campaign in favour of party candidates in Punjab.

Mr Kuldeep Bishnoi, MP and son of former Haryana Chief Minister Bhajan Lal, was yesterday quoted saying at Samalkha that neither he nor his father would participate in the election campaign in any part of Punjab.

He gave a call to other political leaders in Haryana not to favour any party in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections as they had unanimously voted in favour of termination of the water agreement Bill in the Assembly last year This was in complete disregard to the interests of farmers in Haryana.

The family of the former Chief Minister has frequently visited this area to meet relatives.

Mr Bhajan Lal and his sons have in the past campaigned in favour of the Congress candidate in the Balluana Assembly segment . Mr Bhajan Lal remained a major crowd-puller.

According to the latest census report, 25 members of the Bishnoi community, to which the former CM belongs, are settled in villages located in the Seetogunno belt around the wildlife sanctuary area. The family is credited with the potential of being capable of tilting the balance in favour of a party.


Dharam, Hema to pitch in for BJP
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The “muscleman” of the Hindi cinema Dharmendra, and the “dream girl” of yesteryear, Hema Malini, will be among several star campaigners and top leaders of the BJP, who will be wooing voters in Punjab.

The president of the state unit of the BJP, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, said yesterday that party candidates had demanded that Dharmendra and Hema Malini, who are MPs, be asked to come to Punjab.Dharmendra, who hails from Ludhiana, is a BJP MP from Bikaner while Hema Malini is in the Rajya Sabha.

Also in demand is television “Kyunki Sas Bhi...” fame Smriti Malhotra Irani. She is keen on campaigning in Punjab. Smriti, who originally hails from Delhi, is a Punjabi by birth. The party’s three-time MP from Gurdaspur and cinestar Vinod Khanna will, of course, be there to help the BJP.

Mr Khanna said campaigning would be led by Mr Rajnath Singh. Former Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani, former party chief Venkaiah Naidu, Mr Vijay Kumar Malhotra, Mr Sahib Singh Verma and Ms Sushma Swaraj would be the other campaigners.

The party would take the services of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje in constituencies bordering the desert state. Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi would woo the Bihari migrant voters in fairly in Amritsar, Ludhiana and Jalandhar.


EC allows teachers to join service
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The Chief Electoral Officer, Mr Sundaram Krishna, has allowed hundreds of teachers, appointed before December 29 when the Model Code of Conduct was enforced, to join service.

The Secretary Education, Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, issued orders last night.

Earlier, the Punjab Government had provided evidence to the Election Commission that the teachers were selected purely on merit and the appointment letters were issued days ahead of the announcement of the elections.


poll chase
Personal touch — Jr Mann’s style
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 16
Mr Emman Singh Mann, SAD (Amritsar) candidate from the Sirhind Assembly constituency, has launched his election campaign, but in a different style. A graduate from an American university, Mr Mann goes to the people alone early in the morning and attends small corner meetings.

He tells people how important is their vote and they must know about their candidates before exercising their franchise. Criticising both the Congress and the SAD, he holds Mr Parkash Singh Badal responsible for denigrating the Sikh institutions.

Talking to The Tribune at Attewali village on the sidelines of an election meeting, he said like other parties, he did not believe in showing off and rather preferred personal contact with voters. He must know them.

Candidates are spending crores on elections, but he can’t. People of the area have a personal rapport with him, he said.

Mr Mann said the SAD (Amritsar) was sure of winning a good number of seats as the people of Punjab had had seen the governments of both the SAD and the Congress. They got nothing, but only promises from them.

During the Badal regime corruption broke all records whereas the Amarinder government crushed the voice of people by use of the police. Comparing Punjab with the states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, he said the youth of Punjab was facing utmost desperation as all previous state governments had failed miserably in creating job avenues.


Bhai Ranjit Singh not to campaign
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 16
Virtually stung by the drubbing in the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) elections, Bhai Ranjit Singh, former Jathedar of the Akal Takht, has decided not to campaign in the Punjab Assembly elections and the byelection to the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat.

However, Mr Avtar Singh, SGPC chief, who has been camping in New Delhi for more than one month, attributed the defeat of the SAD to “organisational failures” of the Delhi unit. He said the selection of most of the candidates was also not up to the mark, resulting in marginalisation of the party in the gurdwara elections.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Bhai Ranjit Singh alleged that his brother Mr Gurcharn Singh was defeated in the Tagore Garden constituency with a big margin since both the SAD and the Sarna brothers had “purchased” votes.

When asked the reasons for not campaigning in the Assembly elections in Punjab, he said various rival Akali factions had failed to form a “Panthic front” and hence he did not want to play the game of the Congress.

The SAD (Delhi), headed by Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, has won the gurdwara elctions with an absolute majority by capturing 28 seats, followed by the SAD (11 seats).

However, the newly formed SAD (Panthic), headed by Mr Manjit Singh Greater Kailash, suffered the biggest jolt with winning only six out of 32 seats contested by the party.

While the SGPC chief and Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president of the SAD, were the star campaigners of their party, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, a veteran SGPC member, and Bhai Ranjit Singh campaigned for the SAD (Delhi) candidates.

After winning the DSGMC elections, Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna and his younger brother Mr Harwinder Singh Sarna have decided to plunge into the election campaign in favour of the 'Panthic candidates' to be fielded against the SAD candidates.

They said the voters of Delhi had endorsed the decision of the DSGMC to send golden palanquin to Nankana Sahib despite a “vilification” campaign by the Badal faction.


The twice cursed

Thousands of border farmers are facing starvation. The compensation of Rs 2,500 per acre given to them by the Central Government in 1998 has been stopped. There are no takers for such land while land prices elsewhere in the state have skyrocketed. They want their voice heard in the cacophony of electioneering, say Varinder Walia and Gurbax Puri

Border fencing will be a major poll issue during electioneering. Land in at least 17 constituencies of four districts of Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur and Ferozepore districts falls across the fencing.

The plight of farmers with agricultural land across the fencing has remained unchanged, despite tall promises by various governments. At least 25 villages of the Valtoha Assembly constituency have fertile land across the border fencing.

Farming is not possible without the active support of womenfolk but women are unable to cross the fencing. The BSF is yet to recruit women among its cadres for frisking women at the entry gates.

Mr Satnam Singh Amishah, a resident of Amishah (Valtoha), said that limited time was given to farmers to cultivate their land across the fencing. There was no taker for such land while land elsewhere had witnessed a spurt in prices. They were not allowed to cultivate sugarcane as it posed a security threat. The farmers could not get remunerative prices for their crop which was damaged due to restrictions by the BSF .

Thousands of these farmers have been facing starvation as the state and central governments have failed to come to their rescue.

The compensation of Rs 2,500 per acre, given to them by the Central Government in 1998 has been stopped. Promises notwithstanding, the farmers have not been paid this amount for the past six years.

A visit to the Kakkar and Rania villages bordering Pakistan revealed that neither the Congress nor the Akali government in the past has given them adequate compensation. Their fields were fenced in 1988, during the peak of militancy and a huge chunk of cultivable land was rendered waste.

After Operation Blue Star the Central Government decided to fence the entire 533 km border with Pakistan. The porous border had facilitated smuggling of arms from across Pakistan.

While cultivation in Pakistan's villages, including Toti, Sharihpur, Miani and Ichogill, is allowed up to the last inch of the border, the Indian farmers are suffering due to unplanned fencing. Mr Rattan Singh Randhawa, general secretary, Border Kisan Sangharash Committee, said elsewhere in the world, farmers who were not allowed to cultivate their land were duly compensated.

The villages are located on the embankment of the Ravi, which also causes colossal damage to their land during flash floods.


Parties get the dollar boost
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 16
This winter is witnessing the maximum homecoming of NRIs to their native villages in Punjab. They are back not just to meet their kin, take care of their land or marry off their children, but to take part in the election process by donating funds to political parties and canvassing.

They are using the opportunity to put forth their demands in poll manifestoes.

There are NRI supporters for almost every party, be it the SAD, the Congress or the Lok Bhalai Party. Leaders of various parties have been making all-out efforts to get in touch with their NRI contacts abroad, asking them to arrange funds with the promise that their demands would be fulfilled.

The common demands of the NRIs include fast and thorough inquiry into police cases, trials through fast-track courts, more flights for better connectivity at the Rajasansi airport and amendment to the Rent Act to introduce the lease system.

These demands were put forth before the SAD supremo, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who held a meeting with NRIs at a hotel here this weekend. Nearly 200 NRIs took part in the meeting. The New York unit of the SAD, led by Mr Raghbir Singh of Subhanpur, donated Rs 10 lakh to Mr Badal.

Mr Badal, along with his aides, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Bibi Jagir Kaur, had reciprocated by assuring them they would fulfil their demands in case they were voted to power.

Mr Raghbir Singh, who is into real estate business in New York, said he would go back on January 21 and again come back on February 7 with more funds as he had also promised to support other candidates, including Mr Parminder Singh Dhindsa, contesting from Sunam, Ajnala candidate Amarpaul Singh Boni, Attari candidate Gulzar Singh, Tanda candidate Balbir Singh Miani and Gardhiwal candidate Des Raj Dhugha. "I will then be here till the poll results are announced," he added.

The Lok Bhalai Party, led Mr B.S. Ramoowalia, is also getting support from NRIs. Party secretary Ramandeep Singh Bharowal confirmed that NRIs from Europe, Canada and the US had offered support to the party for contesting the poll.


Weary voters say ‘yes’ to all
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, January 16
Political parties are raising the issues of development and job promises and levelling charges of corruption against each other as their main poll planks. However, in many constituencies, especially rural ones, these issues matter the least.

It is personal relationship with the voter that a candidate is depending on the most. The contestants in such constituencies, including Fatehgarh Churian, Kanuwan and Shri Hargobindpur, in this district are trying to exploit every relation to get votes.

Vehicles have been provided to friends to bring kith and kin of the voters even from far-away places. They are sent to bring back into fold disgruntled voters in villagers. Besides, the friends of voters from other areas of the state are being brought to pressurise them emotionally into supporting a particular candidate.

The situation has become so hectic in some areas that in the morning voters are visited by the ruling party leaders and by those of the Opposition in the night. They have no option but to say ‘yes’ to all.

Some of the candidates, while speaking on the condition of anonymity, admitted that there was no sure way to get votes than establishing personal relationship with voters through their known ones. By adopting that method one could associate entire family clan with a candidate.

Persuading the opinion leaders of the community is another method being adopted by candidates. The opinion leaders are generally sarpanches, doctors, teachers or community leaders. After persuading the opinion leaders with some promise or gratification, they are made to pledged their support to a particular candidate in a religious place.

Bringing big leaders of some party to rallies in respective constituencies show their proximity with them is another conventional method to affect the electorate. The SAD leaders are organising rallies of Mr Prakash Singh Badal and Mr Sukhbir Badal to project themselves as likely ministers, if voted to power.

The five BJP candidates from the district are Mr Davinder Thakur from Sujanpur, Mr Mohan Lal from Pathankot, Mr Bishamber Dass from Narot, Mr Sita Ram from Dinanagar and Mr Jagdish Sahni from Batala. The six SAD candidates are Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon from Fatehgarh Churian, Mr Sucha Singh Langah from Dhariwal, Mr Gurbachan Singh Babaehali from Gurdaspur, Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan from Kanuwan, Mr Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal from Qadian and Mr Balbir Singh Badh from Shri Hargobindpur.


Poll khol
Babus vanish
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
Even as the state gears up for the elections, senior bureaucrats in Punjab have decided to take it easy and wait for the results to pour in.

What otherwise can explain the scant presence of babus in their offices located in the Punjab Civil Secretariat. While punctuality and presence in office was never the hallmark of ministers in the Congress regime headed by Capt Amarinder Singh, the mood seems to have percolated down to senior bureaucrats too.

The situation in the Punjab Mini-Secretariat, Sector 9, is also no different with few officers attending office regularly.

For three consecutive days, this reporter visited the Civil Secretariat and found most officers missing. While the official reply from the staff attached with the missing government officers was that they had gone for meetings, few responded to a subsequent query about the venue of the meeting and the subject.

Interestingly, the Private Secretary of a senior IAS officer asserted that “no work” was possible due to the restrictions imposed by the code of conduct that came into force on December 29 last year.

With senior officers deciding to skip office on one count or the other, the junior staff too is adopting an easy-going attitude.

Yesterday, when this reporter visited the office of a senior IAS officer, he was told that the officer had gone for a meeting with the Chief Secretary. But, it later transpired that even the Chief Secretary, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, was not in his office.

Mr Harpartap Singh, who had come all the way from Jandiala in Amritsar, was among the hundreds of visitors to the Civil Secretariat who had to go back disappointed as the officers were not present.

“I can understand why ministers are not attending office. But, why are officers also doing the same? Governance has come to a standstill. I have been told to come back after the formation of the next government,” he rued.

A senior government officer suggested that one reason why his colleagues had not been attending office regularly and pushing files was that many were anticipating a change in government and did not want to get any flak for decisions taken by them on their own.

A resident of Malerkotla, who had come to the Civil Secretariat to get his work done but could not meet the officer, lamented that he had spent time and money in coming to Chandigarh but to no avail. “This happens during all elections. Somebody, probably the Election Commission, should take note,” he said.


SAD: Bhattal violating code
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The Shiromani Akali Dal today demanded action against the Deputy Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, and the Congress for violating the Model Code of Conduct.

In a letter to the Chief Electoral Officer of Punjab, the SAD secretary, Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, alleged that letters were being written on back dates by the office of Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab for providing tubewell connections to voters in the Lehra Assembly constituency. The connections were given from the discretionary quota of the Chairman, PSEB.

A copy of one such letter, sent to the party head office by the SAD candidate from Lehra, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, was also forwarded to the Commission. The letter, dated December 29, 2006, was sent to Mrs Niranjan Kaur of Jhabbar village, block Lehra, by the office of the Deputy Chief Minister.

Dr Cheema said it was a case of favouritism and it also meant interference in the working of the PSEB.


Left names Bhikhi from Dirba
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 16
The CPI (ML-Liberation) has announced Mr Harbhagwan Bhikhi, district secretary of the party, as its candidate from the Dirba Assembly constituency.

He is the joint candidate of the Left Front, including the Forward Bloc, the CPM (Pasla) and the RSP.

Mr Bhikhi launched his election campaign today.

He said his party would not seek votes from capitalists, landlords and moneylenders, as his was a party of poor farmers, labourers and workers.


In fray, come what may: Cong leader

Barnala, January 16
To add to the woes of the Congress, youth leader Harinder Singh Dhillon, alias Seera, has announced he will contest the Assembly elections from Barnala, come what may. The announcement has sent alarming signals to the party.

He has already his election campaign in Barnala and surrounding villages. Mr Dhillon said that he had worked hard for the party. It was payback time now. He said he had decided to contest, whether or not he was allotted the ticket. — OC


Ladal goes Independent

Ropar, January 16
In a jolt to the SAD, a former minister and senior Akali leader, Mr Tara Singh Ladal, today announced to contest as an Independent from the Anandpur Sahib Assembly constituency against the SAD candidate, Sant Ajit Singh.

Mr Badal sent two representative - president of the SAD youth wing Sharanjit Singh Dhillon and former MP Kamal Nath Chowdhary - to pacify Mr Ladal at his residence this evening. — TNS


Two panchayats resolve boycott of Dalits
Our Correspondent

Barnala, January 16
Mr Surjit Singh Dhillon, Deputy Commissioner has ordered a probe into the Daraj-Daraka issue following a complaint from the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) CPI(ML) Liberation Front which alleged atrocities on Dalits.

Panchayats of Daraj-Daraka villages passed resolutions for social boycott of Ramdasia Sikhs residing near the site used for dumping dead cattle in Daraka village. On Sunday a committee was formed to look into the issue of shifting the carcasses from the present site. The district administration directed the panchayats of Daraj -Daraka villages to shift carcasses from the present place.

The 31-member committee prevailed upon both panchayats to pass resolutions for the social boycott. A resolution was passed to this effect. It also has a clause that in case of violation of this resolution a land-owning family will be fined Rs 1100. As per resolutions people of Ramdasia community will not be allowed to work in fields.

A few days back both villages witnessed tension over the issue of shifting of carcasses . The Dalit community supported the CPI(ML)liberation also held a rally in favour of its demands for shifting the carcasses from their habitat.

A delegation of the CPI(ML)liberation headed by Mr Labh Singh Akalia, district secretary met Deputy Commissioner Dhillon today apprising him of the boycott of Dalits. They demanded action agianst the 31-member committee under the SC/ST Act 1979. Bahujan Samaj party also demanded strict action against the persons responsible for this resolutions. Leaders of the Bahujan Samaj reacted against this boycott. They said this was not as per the Indian Constitution.

Mr Surjit Dhillon, Deputy Commissioner said he had marked an inquiry to the SDM Tapa. Action would be taken only after an investigation, he added.


Roof structure collapses
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 16
The concrete structure of a roof for a dharamshala collapsed a few minutes after completion at Bahavwala village, near here, today. Two walls used for the construction of the roof also collapsed. However, no one was injured.

The state government had released Rs 1 lakh under the Punjab Nirman Yojna for the building. The residents regretted that they had been complaining against the use of poor quality material, but in vain. Officials blamed the mason for using poor wood to support the structure. However, they said the limit of expediting the work with funds provided under the scheme could not be exceeded.


Missing Girl’s body found in canal
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 16
The body of Navpreet Kaur (2), who mysteriously went missing from Gurdwara Shaheedan on January 13, was found in the Chatiwind canal here last evening. The body was handed over to the family after conducting a post-mortem examination here today.

The incident has shocked the family of Mr Bhupinder Singh, father of the deceased, who suspected that her daughter had been murdered. Mr Bhupinder Singh said he, along with his daughter, had gone to pay obeisance at Gurdwara Shaheedan on January 13. He said he went in a toilet and left the daughter near “jora ghar”. He said when he returned within two minutes, he found his daughter missing. He said he immediately informed the family and lodged a complaint with the police. He said the family searched the nearby areas but failed to trace Navepreet.

He said yesterday the police found the body of the girl in the canal and called the family for identification.

Mr Bhupinder Singh said the Chatiwind canal was 2 km from the gurdwara and it was impossible for a two-year-girl to reach there without the notice of anyone. Expressing his suspicion he said his daughter might have been killed.

Meanwhile, according to sources, the post-mortem report confirmed that the girl was murdered by gagging.

Mr S.S. Srivastava, district police chief, said anything substantial would be said only after post-mortem reports. However, he denied abduction for ransom as the family was very poor, or sexual abuse of the girl.


Couple killed in mishap

Batala, January 16
A couple was killed and two of their minor daughters were injured as the motorcycle on which they were travelling was hit by a private minibus near Kila Darshan Village on the Batala-Gurdaspur road. However, the driver of the bus absconded after the accident and the police impounded the minibus involved in the accident.

Mukhtiar Singh (30) and his wife Rajwant Kaur (20) of Nawan Pind under the Ghuman police station were travelling on a motor cycle along with their two minor daughters Navpreet (6) and Muskan (3) were hit by the minibus belonging to Dhillon Bus service coming from opposite side.

While Rajwant Kaur died on the spot, her husband Mukhtiar Singh died on the way to the Batala Civil Hospital.

The police said two minor daughters were injured but their condition was stable.

The police booked driver of the bus Joginder Singh of Model Town area of the city who fled from the scene after the accident. — PTI


Youth held for woman’s murder
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, January 16
Within 24 hours of the incident, the police has solved the blind murder case of Shanti Devi (70), wife of Kartar Singh, last Sunday while she was alone in her home.

Giving details about the case, Mr Arpit Shukla, SSP, said that on January 14 the police was informed that an aged lady residing in a city locality was murdered by some unknown person. An FIR in this regard had been lodged at the Ferozepore City police station.

Ashish Kumar of Goyalwar district in Baroda was arrested on suspicion as circumstantial evidence pointed towards him. Ashish was working as a helper at the shop of Vijay Kumar and resided in the neighborhood of the victim. During interrogation he confessed to the crime.

The SSP on January 13 Ashish consumed liquor and went to the house of Shanti Devi. When she protested his entry into her house, Ashish hit her on the head with a scissor and later strangulated her with cable TV wire. She died on the spot.


Suicide by youth

Hoshiarpur, January 16
A young boy committed suicide by hanging from the roof of his house in Dhagam village of this district after he was allegedly maltreated by his relatives, the police said here today.

Harwinder Singh was sent by his mother Kuldeep Kaur to his grandmother Satya Devi’s house to bring key of a room of their ancestral house in the village on January 13, the police said.

However instead of handing over the keys to the youth, Satya Devi along with her daughter-in-law Jatinder Kaur allegedly maltreated him and took the matter before the village panchayat.

The relatives of the youth refused before the village panchayat to give any share to Kuldeep Kaur and her son in the ancestral property.

Frustrated, the youth committed suicide by hanging from the roof of the house, the police said. The police registered a case against the youths, grandmother and her daughter-in-law and village panch Jarnail Singh in this connection. — PTI


PSEB issues notice to school
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 16
The Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) has issued a show cause notice to Rightway Public School here asking its management why the Board should not cancel its affiliation as the school had failed to meet required specifications as laid down by the PWD, following which its safety building certificate had been invalidated.

In a letter to the principal of the school, which is located at 2A-1, Model Town, the PSEB Secretary said the lives of the students are in danger due to the unsafe structure of the school.

It is pertinent to mention here that a Punjabi University lecturer, Mr Vishal Mohindra, had been waging a battle to ensure the safety of the students and in this regard he had repeatedly written to various authorities, including the Municipal Corporation and the PWD, seeking their intervention. His main complain was that the school, just adjacent to his residence, was being run illegally without adhering to the prescribed norms laid down by the PSEB and other government authorities.

Vishal, who made use of the Right to Information Act to get things moving, has also petitioned the District Magistrate saying, "The school building has put the lives of small children at high risk. This is sheer violation of their basic rights." He also pointed out several other discrepancies in the functioning of the school.

The owner of the school, Mr Jagjit Singh, when contacted, alleged that people with vested interests were trying to defame the school. He added that all the formalities prescribed by the authorities had been met and the show cause notice has also been replied to. He added that the PWD authorities will inspect the school building again and will issue the necessary school safety certificate.


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