P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Badal case: Next hearing tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 26
Arguments on the framing of charges against SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal concluded today as General Secretary SAD Sukhbir Badal filed another affidavit before the Special Court, Judge, G.S Saran, seeking action against Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, and investigation officers for allegedly implicating him and his family members in a case of corruption. After hearing the arguments by the defence counsel, the Judge fixed the next date of hearing on February 28.

In his affidavit Sukhbir Badal, said the state’s machinery had acted to subvert the Constitution and rule of law on the direction of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, to implicate him and his family members in a false case. It is clear the attempt from the very beginning was to foist a false case against Badals by political opponent Amarinder Singh, he added.

Refuting the Vigilance Bureau’s claim that no official was associated with the proceeding of the Income Tax, no correspondence took place with the Income Tax authorities, Sukhbir Badal, in his affidavit produced all letters exchanged between the Chief Director, Vigilance Bureau and the Commissioner of the Income Tax, Bathinda, regarding the assessment of his and those his family members' income.

Concluding his arguments against the framing of charges against Parkash Singh Badal, former advocate-general H.S Mattewal said the Vigilance Bureau had done tainted investigation, as it had no basis and evidence for the valuation of the Badals' properties. 


Badal house quiet
Eerie silence at Harminder Jassi’s residence
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Badal (Muktsar), February 26
With less then 24 hours to go for the results, the ancestral home of SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal wore a deserted look today.

Amid an unusual calm at the Badal household, security personnel at the main entrance told this correspondent: "Nobody is home. Badal Saheb didn't return after campaigning came to an end in Valtoha." They said it had been over a week since they made an entry in the visitors' register.

A Badal aide said the former Chief Minister and his wife were expected to arrive in the village any time.

The atmosphere at the residence of another heavyweight, Manpreet Badal, facing a triangular contest for the Gidderbaha Assembly seat, was upbeat.

His supporters said their leader would emerge victorious. Meanwhile, Congress candidate for Lambi Mahesh Inder Singh Badal was busy meeting his aides at his residence located adjacent to that of the his cousin and opponent Parkash Singh Badal.

There was a stream of supporters in the house.

They were seen either reading newspaper reports or in an animated discussion over the poll prospects of their leader, as they sipped cups of tea.

There was an eerie silence at the residence of Congress candidate from Bathinda Harminder Singh Jassi, a close relative of the Dera Sacha Sauda head. Tension was palpable. One of his relatives said there was a sense of uneasiness before the results.


At Amarinder’s, big crowd, little exuberance
Chander Parkash and Ravi Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 26
There was an uneasy calm on the eve of the poll results at the residences of almost all candidates. Since early morning, there was a steady flow of party workers at the Chief Minister’s new Moti Bagh residence.

In the absence of the Chief Minister himself, the party rank and file was being attended to by the his MP wife Preneet Kaur. The workers were there, but the exuberance was surely missing.

The hustle and bustle which was much in evidence during the 2002 assembly and the 2004 parliamentary elections, when Preneet Kaur was reelected for the second time from this constituency, was simply not there. Till late in the afternoon, just 92 people had made their way to the CM's residence.

This sombre atmosphere stood in stark contrast to the jostling crowd outside the residence of Brahm Mohindra, Congress candidate from the nearby Samana constituency, who is trying his luck against SAD candidate S.S Rakhra.

Sombre too was the mood at the residence of Surjit Singh Kohli who contested against Amarinder Singh on the SAD-BJP ticket. Unlike the Chief Minister, Kohli, ever since the elections were over on February 13, has been meeting people of the assembly segment at every available opportunity.

At the Patiala residence of Lal Singh, who contested from nearby Dakala, workers were seen discussing the results but nobody was willing to make a guess.


CM: Malwa will ensure my win
Sarbjit Dhariwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
Hours before the counting of votes, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today claimed that his party would form the next government, winning 65-70 seats.

Asked who would be Chief Minister if his claim proved right, he said a decision on the matter would be taken by party high command Sonia Gandhi.

In a cheerful mood, Amarinder Singh said he was certain that SAD president Parkash Singh Badal and some other senior Akali leaders like Tota Singh, Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Sikander Singh Maluka, Gurdev Singh Badal and Balwinder Singh would lose.

“Congress candidate in Lambi Mahesh Inder Singh will lead in 43 of the 52 villages in the constituency from where Parkash Singh Badal is the SAD candidate.”

The counting of votes for 116 Punjab Assembly segments and one Lok Sabha seat will begin tomorrow at 8 a.m. and results will be out by 11 a.m. Polling was held for 115 assembly segments and Amritsar Lok Sabha seat on February 13. For the Valtoha segment, the polling was held on February 24. For the Beas Assembly constituency, the polling will be on March 11.

Mr Amarinder Singh said his party had got sound support from the Sikh peasantry in the Malwa belt and would win at least 40 seats from that region. “We will also win a good number of seats in Majha and Doaba region to form government on our own.”

On the high polling percentage, he said it would go in favour of the Congress. “We were not expecting the response what we got from the Sikh peasantry in Malwa region," he said. "I believe people have voted for continuity in the state.”

Amarinder Singh expressed gratitude for the cooperation he had received from the bureaucracy. “Relations of my government with officers were harmonious and result-oriented. That is why we were able to achieve much on the development front.”

He also thanked his ministers on whether he saw any shortcomings in his government, he said :“I have done my best and have no complaints.”

He had a word of praise for deras and babas who supported his party. “ I am grateful to them for extending their support to the Congress." Asked whether a CBI inquiry against a dera chief had made him seek the support of the Congress, he said “no, it is not true.”

Asked why he had been using tough words against the Badals, he said: “They (Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh) were using indecent expressions against me. I had told them that their every attack would be answered with equal force.”


Punjabi diaspora focussed on outcome
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
If the number of overseas telephone calls and queries on the internet from media channels and members of the Indian diaspora are any indication, world attention is focused on Punjab election results tomorrow.

Ethnic media organisations, including TV channels and radio stations, are in constant touch with not only leaders of the Congress, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) and even the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), but also with mediapersons covering Punjab affairs. These organisations are planning live talk shows.

Besides the overseas media, national and Punjab channels are also trying to rope in senior political leaders, media executives and political analysts for their special election analysis programmes.

Capt Amarinder Singh, Parkash Singh Badal, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Chaudhury Jagjit Singh, Avtar Henry, Bibi Jagir Kaur, Tota Singh, Manpreet Badal and Lal Singh are headed back to their constituencies for the counting that begins at 8 am.

Who will make it, is the moot question on the minds of overseas Indians. Several multinational companies eyeing Punjab as investment destination are also watching developments with interest. Never before Punjab elections have evoked such an interest.

“It has been the unprecedented turnout and peaceful conduct of voting that have made these Punjab elections so special. Accelerated rate of growth and development, the changing skyline and Punjab’s concerted wobble to fiscal health have generated an interest worldwide,” says Beant Singh Dhaliwal from Canada.

“Punjab results will have widespread ramifications on the Punjabi community worldwide,” says Jaswant Singh Atwal settled in Ottawa, Canada. “The Punjab election results will also have a direct bearing on the divided Sikh community controlling gurdwaras and various other social and cultural organisations.”

Says a Vancouver-based journalist Gurpreet Singh:” The Punjab elections have the moderates and former fundamentalists divided once again. Interestingly, the hardcore elements have shown a swing in favour of the Congress this time.”

Punjabis settled elsewhere, especially in Delhi, are watching the political developments in Punjab with interest.


We have managed a swing, says Dullo
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Khanna, February 26
As one walks through the narrow bylanes festooned with Congress bunting leading to the residence of PPCC chief Shamsher Singh Dullo on Samrala road, a large group of people are walking out of his house.

Dullo, dressed in a white kurta pyjama and sporting a cream turban, sits in the lawn of his house, basking in the sun and chatting with another group of close friends. All the while, two aides are attending his calls on the mobile and the landline and passing on important ones to the “Sahib.”

As hot tea is served to The Tribune team, Dullo says the people want the development phase to continue.

“The policies pursued in the past five years have paid rich dividends which will be witnessed tomorrow. The opposition sans agenda.

Another reason he cites is the inroads made by the party in the traditional Akali pocket borough in the Malwa belt. But he remains short of spelling out the expected tally. “All I can say at this point is that we have managed to effect a certain swing in our sevour.”

The conversation is interrupted with the arrival of his family members who whisper in to his ear, as he nods gently. A guard arrives to announce that the car is ready. “In politics, there is no respite even after the poll as social commitments beckon,” he explains and leaves.

The residence of Satpal Gosain, BJP nominee from Ludhiana East, workers lounge around, discussing poll prospects. Gosain seems confident of emerging a winner. ‘‘With blessings from the Almighty, I am sure the public has given me a mandate to serve them. After all, they want a change after five years of autocratic rule.’’

Party workers point out to the huge turnout in urban as well as rural areas. The urban voters have voted for the BJP while those in the rural areas have favoured the Akalis, they stress.

A worker announces that they are late for a function. Gosain gets up to leave.


Resignation today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
At its last meeting here today, the Punjab Council of Ministers recommended the dissolution of the 12th Punjab Legislative Assembly. The recommendation is to be forwarded to the Governor tomorrow.

Speaking to mediapersons, Amarinder Singh said he would submit his resignation to the Governor tomorrow, following which the Council of Ministers would cease to exist.”

The meeting approved the transfer of 391.53 acres of land in Sector 81 of SAS Nagar (Mohali) to the Union Government for Knowledge City comprising.


3 kidnappers held, 2 escape after encounter
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 26
In a joint operation, the Faridkot and the Bathinda police today arrested three abductors of a petrol station employee. However, two of their aides succeeded in giving the police a slip after a three-hour encounter at Mehma Sarkari village, near here.

According to sources, Chander Shekhar, a salesman at Reliance Petrol station at Jaito, was abducted on the evening of February 23, as the abductors mistook him as the pump owner.

Initially, they demanded a ransom of Rs 20 lakh for his release, but shocked at the identity of the person kidnapped by them, they finally struck a deal for Rs 1.5 lakh last evening.

They told Chander Shekhar's kin to leave the amount at a particular place and promised to release him immediately after the payment was made. As soon as they freed him last night, the Faridkot police enquired him about the abductors. He said the village where he was kept had two gurdwaras. With the aid of hints given by him, the police succeeded in nabbing three of the accused.

The police came to know that two of their aides were hiding in Jassa's house at Mehma Sarkari village. Around 4 am, when the police asked them to surrender, they started firing.

Meanwhile, the police teams from Nehianwala and Sadar police stations also reached the spot. The police retaliated and the encounter lasted for around three hours. However, both of them fled away. The police carried out a search operation and recovered the amount paid as ransom and four pistols from Jassa's home.

Apart from Jassa, his mother Sukhdev Kaur, a heart patient, Pargat Singh and Mithu Singh, both residents of Gehri Bhagi village, were also arrested. A case has also been registered against absconding Darshan Singh and Binder Singh under Sections 307, 353, 186 and 34 of the IPC and the Arms Act.

When queried about Sukhdev Kaur's arrest, Faridkot SSP Arunpal Singh said she was one of the co-accused, as the kidnapped person was kept in her house. He said she had also fired some gunshots following the escape of two abductors to create an illusion of their presence inside. He said if the need be, she would be provided medical help as per norms.


Kanwaljit’s house under media light
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
SAD-BJP candidate from Banur Capt Kanwaljit Singh, was a-much- sought-after man today with his house in the plush Sector 9 here virtually turning into a media centre.

Crew members of TV channels outnumbered party cadre for "bytes" of the modern face of the Panth-centric SAD. Keeping a fine balance between answering questions from mediapersons and attending visitors, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, was a picture of composure.

" You do not have butterflies in the stomach when you are sure of victory," the upbeat former Finance Minister told the reporters, scoffing at suggestions on anxiety ahead of the results.

Ducking inconvenient queries, the Finance Minister-in-waiting set the economic agenda for the next government. The writing is on the wall for Capt Amarinder Singh, who played havoc with the state economy.

Whatever be the outcome, the Akali stalwart is a busy man and it is not without reason that electronic channels vie with one another to have him live on air. His command over English, Hindi and Punjabi is flawless.

The affable leader spent the day "accommodating" every TV channel while keeping the print media scribes, most of whom preferred to take his quotes on the phone, in good humour.

"Taking Punjab to the numero uno position in India is a gigantic task which the SAD-BJP alliance will endeavour to accomplish through cooperation and consensus," the leader said with a smile.


Chaudhury’s worry lines tell it all
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Dhaliwal (Jalandhar), February 26
Punjab Local Bodies Minister Chaudhury Jagjit Singh appears to be a man worried. He makes an effort, but in vain, to hide the frown on his forehead.

He diverts his attention playing with his dog Romeo. “Have you asked the people about the voting pattern,” he inquires anxiously from local Congress worker Mohinder Singh of Nagra village. The worry lines reappear, as he waits for a reply. Singh assures him that a majority of votes were polled in his favour.

The Chaudhury nods, but his apprehensions persist. Not many people are flocking to his house in his native Dhaliwal village. It is definitely a sign for concern.

He, however, brushes aside queries in this regard and is remains correct . "A number of workers came to the office before 9 am and were sent to Jalandhar for a meeting on the counting arrangements. I am winning hands down," he concludes with a forced smile.

The veteran politician has now enough time for odd tasks. He asks his PA Arjun to fetch the driver. He goes to the memorial of his father Master Gurbanta Singh, located in a four-acre land.

He goes inside the memorial building and inspects the dress designing and computer classes being run for the village girls there.


Tota is fingers-crossed, son talks of big win
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 26
Unperturbed by the poll predictions from various quarters, the atmosphere in Akali heavyweight Tota Singh's camp today appeared one of optimism.

"What initially appeared to be a tough fight, gradually turned out to be one-sided affair and my father will win with a huge margin," claimed a confident Birjinder Singh , Mr Tota Singh's son.

The mood among party workers was upbeat and infectious. Waiting for the final results, those close to the Akali leader said the jathedar had held several rounds of meetings with his party men and discussed the poll results. Everything indicated towards a thumping win, they claimed.

Speaking to The Tribune, a confident Tota Singh said: "We'll win and that too with a huge margin." An assessment by the party poll booths had boosted their morale as more than 90 per cent of these across the constituency had given favourable reorts. "Going by this assessment, we are convinced that the mandate is in our favour," Mr Tota Singh claimed.

However, he said he was keeping fingers crossed. "Who knows if some of the voters may have reported at our poll booths but voted in favour of other candidates."


Kangs celebrate with family dinner
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
With less then a day to go for the declaration of election results, Jagmohan Singh Kang, Congress candidate from Morinda is a poised man, sure of a win.

Anxiety, if any, is not showing on him. Relaxed, he and his family are celebrating the last day of the agonizing wait with a family dinner. “The dinner is to celebrate our 30th marriage anniversary, which falls today and, of course, to mark the end of this wait,” points out Kang’s wife Ravinder Kaur.

“I began the election journey with a visit to Mansa Devi Temple and the Nada Sahib Gurdwara. We will be visiting the shrines again to repose our faith in the almighty and pray for a positive outcome of the election results,” says Kang.

Any sleepless nights? “No I never lose sleep over anything. I intend to sleep well tonight. There is no nervousness. I have faith in God.”

Back home from a cabinet meeting, Kang holds parleys with his counting agents. His house in Sector 39 here is abuzz with workers, discussing the voting pattern. “The entire fortnight has been spent on speculation. We have held endless meetings with workers to know how things were on the voting day,” says his son Yadvinder Singh.

Supporters too exude confidence and the discussion revolves around the margin of victory. There is no question of losing, in the Kang household the word ‘losing’ is not even uttered.

Kang is the sitting MLA from Morinda. “I have done a lot for the constituency and given none any reason to complain. The Congress rule has been good for the state and the voters know it.” 


Bibi is all confidence
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Begowal (Kapurthala), February 26
This Bibi is beaming, and seems to be waiting for a mere formal declaration of her victory. One may call it over-confidence but she thinks she knows what is in store for her.

An Akali candidate from Bholath, she laughs while telling a group of SAD workers: “ Sunya ke une ladua da order pehla e de ditta, chalo a sade e kam aane ne.' (I have heard my Congress rival Sukhpal Singh Khaira has placed orders for ladoos. This is good because the ladoos will be distributed by us, not him.)

The group, including chairman of the Nadala market committee Jarnail Singh and principal Trilok Singh, who left the Congress just before polls, burst into laughter.

Workers come in groups to greet the Bibi. Heads bowed, they touch her feet. All discussion is about the poll outcome, with a dig at Bibi’s opponent Khaira every now and then, for claiming victory at a press conference.


A lull at Raghunath’s abode
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, February 26
The houses of political bigwigs Pratap Singh Bajwa and Raghunath Sahai Puri at Sujanpur today wore a deserted look. The usual hustle and bustle was missing.

Both have been in Chandigarh since the day of polling and are expected to visit the counting centres in the district tomorrow morning.

The residences of Congress leaders Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Ashok Sharma and Rumal Chand also had few visitors. Sukhjinder Singh Randhawapaid obeisance at Harmander Sahib at Amritsar.

The BJP stalwart Mohan Lal was at his residence at Pathankot with only a few supporters. The leaders discussed the likely outcome of the elections.


A day of the punters
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 26
The century old ‘satta bazaar’ has come alive with punters having a field day, speculating on the poll outcome, especially the Lok Sabha byelection, here.

The odds favour the Congress and anyone betting on this party’s victory is likely to earn a lot. The majority of the bets favour SAD-BJP combine forming the next government. Whatever may be the result, many would become millionaires overnight.

The bets on election process were earlier confined to urban areas of the state but this time, the trend has caught the fancy of the rural folk, who have even put their tractors or land holdings at stake.

A bookie having international operations said the volume of money in the election related ‘satta’ was directly proportional to the interests of electorate in the elections.


Singla, Sidhu camps anxious

Amritsar, February 26
The houses of Mr Surinder Singla and Mr Om Parkash Soni, Congress candidates for the Amritsar Lok Sabha and Amritsar West assembly seats turned alive today with supporters pouring in. But the residences of former Lok Sabha MP Navjot Singh Sidhu and candidate for the Amritsar North constituency Anil Joshi continued to wear a deserted look.

The secretaries of both Sidhu and Singla said the victory was their’s. However, anxiety among supporters of the two major political parties was visible. — TNS


Tight security for counting of votes
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi/Rajpura, February 26
Fate of several prominent politicians, including the former Finance Minister and SAD general secretary, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, will be known tomorrow when counting of votes takes place amid elaborate security arrangements.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, who is aiming for a hat trick from the Banur assembly segment, is pitted against Mr Rakesh Sharma, Congress candidate and son of former Finance Minister Hans Raj Sharma.

In fact, the Akali stalwart had survived the Congress wave in the 2002 elections by defeating Ms Seelam Sohi of the Congress by a mere 714 votes.

The Government College in Dera Bassi, which is the counting centre for the Banur segment, has virtually been turned into a fortress with para-military forces and the Punjab Police personnel guarding the electronic voting machines (EVMs).

The area had been declared out of bounds for the general public, except for the election agents and the media persons.

In Rajpura, former minister and sitting MLA Raj Khurana, who switched loyalties from the Congress to the BJP, is the fighting it out with Mr Hardyal Singh Kamboj of the Congress.

In the last elections, it was a virtual cakewalk for Mr Khurana as he trounced Mr Balramji Dass Tandon by a huge margin of 16,748 votes.

However, with dissidents remaining active in the run-up to the elections in all major political parties, the contest is slated to be tough one this time around with a close fight in the offing in Capt Amarinder Singh’s home district. Meanwhile, a minister in Capt Amarinder Singh’s government, Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, is reportedly fighting with his back to the wall in the Ghanaur assembly constituency against a former minister and the SAD-BJP candidate, Mr Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur.

In fact, the dissidents may play spoilsport for the candidates of the mainline political parties. While Mr Madan Lal contested as a Congress rebel, Mr Gursev Singh Harpalpur contested as an Akali dissident.


Murder suspects pelted with chappals

Pathankot, February 26
When the police today brought the in-laws of Rajan Bala, whose charred body was found yesterday, to their house, residents of the locality threw bathroom slippers and other articles at them. The police had a tough time controlling the crowd.

The Rajan’s in-laws were brought to the house to collect the articles of their daily need. The residents, later, took out a procession and burned the effigy of the suspects. They demanded capital punishment for them. They said they would depose in the court, if need be.

Rajan was allegedly burned to death in the Sarai locality here. Her charred body was found on the roof of her house. Despite the house being located in a congested locality, none of the neighbours heard her screams.

Gaurav Anand, her brother, in a complaint filed with the police, has alleged that Rajan had strained relations with her in-laws. She was married to Ajay Kumar, an advocate, three years ago. They had two children. Her in-laws have been demanding more dowry, he alleges.

The police has registered a case under Sections 304-B, 201 and 34 of the IPC against the husband, father-in-law and the mother-in-law of the deceased.

The officials, involved in preliminary investigation of the case, apprehended that Rajan could have been strangulated and then her body was charred to give an impression that she committed suicide. Her tongue had come out, which was a sign of strangulation, they said.

However, the exact cause of death could only be ascertained after post-mortem. — TNS


Forensic expert invited to Paris
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 26
Dr Rakesh Mohan Sharma, Head, Department of Forensic Science, Punjabi University, has been invited by Dr Jean-Jacques Minet, Head, Forensic Science Department of the Central Laboratory, Paris, and chairman of the organising committee of the 9th International Symposium on “Analysis and Detection of Explosives” to be held from July 2 to July 6 there.

He will present a research paper on “Characterisation of RDX in Explosive Formulations and Residue by Chromatography and Spectrometry”.

The symposium will provide a platform for experts to compare their practical experience and know how with those of their colleagues.

It is aimed at opening new avenues for developing preventive detection of explosives in targeted places experimental tests comparable to bomb attacks carried out by terrorists with improvised explosive devices (IED) and to establishing and enhancing connections, mutual cooperation and assistance between network of international experts in the field of explosives investigation.


Couto is new Jalandhar bishop
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 26
Bishop Anil Couto has been appointed the bishop of Jalandhar, the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese announced today.

Bishop Couto, who is currently serving as the auxiliary bishop of the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese, since his appointment on March 11, 2001, will now take complete charge of the diocese of Jalandhar.

Jalandhar was in need of a new bishop as Pope Benedict accepted the resignation of its incumbent bishop Symphorian Keeparath, who turned 75, a few months ago.


AIG Kang dead

Amritsar, February 26
Mr H.S. Kang (57), AIG, Counter Intelligence, died after a heart attack here last evening. He leaves behind wife, son and two daughters.

Earlier, Mr Kang had met with an accident in December and he recovered, but on February 3 had a clot in the brain. He was admitted to hospital where he recovered on February 22. After the discharge he had a heart attack and was shifted to Escorts multi-speciality hospital where he expired.

The police presented the guard of honour with reversed arms to pay homage to Mr Kang. Mr Kang joined the police as an Inspector in 1979 and rose to become DSP in 1989 and AIG recently. — OC


Farmer’s wife dies
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 26
The wife of a debt-ridden farmer, who got engulfed in fire while trying to save her self-immolating husband, succumbed to her burn injuries at the PGI, Chandigarh, last night.

The body of the deceased, Harjinder Kaur, was brought to the civil hospital here in the morning for a post-mortem examination. Initially the hospital authorities were reportedly reluctant to perform the post-mortem, but later agreed to it.

Sources said her husband Bahadur Singh owned a small piece of land and his debt was mounting. Unable to bear the burden of debt, he set himself afire at his residence in Bhucho Khurd village a few days back. He too was referred to the PGI, but he died on the same day.


Seminar on female foeticide
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 26
A seminar to discuss ways to eradicate female foeticide was organised at Dughat village near Bakshiwala, in Patiala district, under the guidance of Mr Justice M.M. Kumar, of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chandigarh, and Mr Inderjit Singh Walia, District and Sessions Judge-cum-Chairman, District Legal Service Authority, Patiala. The seminar was presided over by Mr Kuldeep Singh, Addl. District and Sessions Judge, Patiala.

An exhibition was also organised by the Health Department, highlighting the menace of female foeticide, AIDS and other dreaded diseases. It was attended by villagers from Dughat village and surrounding villages. While speaking on the occasion, Mr Kuldeep Singh, Additional District and Sessions Judge, told the people to change their mindset regarding girl child.

He also informed the people that the PNDT Act, 1994, prohibits sex selection of the child before birth and anybody found guilty of sex selection of a child by way of ultrasound, can be punished with imprisonment up to 3 years and a fine of Rs 10,000.


Tumour was benign, not his friend
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 26
Sarwan Singh of Gandran village near Bhogpur in Jalandhar died while being “operated upon” for the removal a benign tumour from his chest at Ruhani Sat Parkash Charitable Hospital, Nainowal Vaid, yesterday. The “operation” was allegedly performed by Jaspal Singh, a helper to a surgeon at the hospital.

According to SHO of the Bulhowal police station Sukhpal Singh, Jaspal Singh was working as a helper to a surgeon at the above mentioned hospital. He was a friend of Sarwan Singh, who had developed a minor tumour following an injury in the chest while doing a welding job.

Yesterday, Jaspal Singh came to the fields of Swarn Singh, cousin of deceased Sarwan Singh, and took Sarwan Singh with him. Before leaving, he told Swarn Singh that they would return after two hours.

Around 3.30 pm, Hardev Singh, father of Jaspal Singh, informed Swarn Singh that his cousin had died and his son was bringing the dead body in an ambulance to the house of deceased. Swarn Singh, along with his son, rushed to the house. They saw Jaspal Singh and others taking down the body from the ambulance. After putting it on a cot, Jaspal Singh and his accomplices fled from the scene.

The SHO said during the investigation, it was found that Jaspal Singh had taken Sarwan Singh to the aforesaid hospital and himself performed the “operation” to remove the tumour. During the “surgery”, Sarwan Singh died due to the negligence of Jaspal Singh, who was not a qualified doctor.

A case under Section 304-A of the IPC has been registered against Jaspal Singh and police is actively searching for him.


Reader fined Rs 2 lakh
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 26
The Civil Court slapped a fine of Rs 2 lakh, along with 18 per cent interest against Dr Gurvinder Singh Bhalla, a reader of the Department of Commerce and Business Management, Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), in a defamation case filed against him by Dr Joginder Singh Arora, a senior lecturer of Khalsa College.

The Civil Judge (junior division) in its judgment ordered the defendant to pay the amount along with the interest within a period two months from the date of judgment, failing which the plaintiff would be entitled to recover the amount along with 10 per cent interest per annum till the recovery of the amount.

The case was filed on the basis of a story published in newspaper, in which the defendant allegedly made libelous remarks against the complainant and two of his colleagues regarding leakage of paper in a prestigious institution with malafide intention to injure the reputation of the complainant and the institution.


Travel agent booked
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 26
The Chheharta police has booked Arminder Singh of Ratan Chand Road for allegedly defrauding Sanjeev of New Model Town in the Chheharta locality here.

Sanjeev, in his complaint lodged under Section 420, IPC, stated that Arminder took Rs 1.25 lakh from him to send him abroad and providing a job there. He said the accused sent him to Singapore but did not provide any job to him.

He said he returned after many hurdles. He said when he demanded his money back from the accused, he refused to do so. No arrest has been made so far.


Farewell to engg college principal
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 26
The teaching and non-teaching staff of the Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College here accorded a warm farewell party in honour of college principal Dr Dilbagh Singh Hira on superannuation.

A colourful function was organised at the Giani Dit Singh auditorium of the college. SGPC member and SAD candidate from Sirhind Didar Singh Bhatti presided over it.

The function was attended by representatives of various sections of society as well as by mediapersons.

Addressing the gathering, Bhatti hailed the services rendered by Hira during his six-year tenure in the college as principal.


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