P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Thumping margins raise many a brow
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 9
The charges of booth capturing and rigging loomed large over the municipal corporation elections yesterday. An analysis of the votes polled by candidates gives an illustration of one-sided inclination of the voters in the elections.

The analysis of the results received from the district administration today revealed that 24 of the 32 candidates of SAD secured more than 70 per cent of the total votes polled. Of the remaining, five got more than 60 per cent and only three more than 50 per cent. Many of the SAD candidates have secured more 90 per cent votes.

Interestingly, in ward No. 40 Congress candidate Anu Sharma got just 32 votes against 2,213 polled for SAD candidate Luvleen Kaur.

Taking into consideration the fact that it is for the first time that the SAD-BJP government has been voted to power since Independence in Patiala, such landslide polling for the SAD candidates is very hard to digest for many. In other wards, where the contest was between the BJP and Congress candidates, margins were realistic and narrower. A SAD candidate got 99 per cent votes

The result of ward No. 39 in the Patiala corporation elections held yesterday is startling. The SAD candidate from the ward, Jaspal Singh, who is also the hot contender for the post of mayor, has got 99 per cent valid votes.

From the data available here the total number of valid votes polled at the ward were 2,974. The SAD candidate got 2,934. The tally of the Independent and Congress candidates was pathetic.

The Congress candidate from the ward, Harbir Singh, got just 32 votes. Independents Sukhpreet, got just nine, Manmohan four, Jia Lal three, Paramjit Singh and Iqbal Singh 2 each.

Two other Independents Surjeet Singh and Paramdir Pal Singh did not get even their own vote.

Taking the 99 per cent margin into account the district administration declared 660 votes in the ward as invalid.

The Akalis can justify such high percentage on the plea that most of the Independents and Congress candidates had retired in their favour. 


Chinks in ruling combine
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 9
The results of the civic body elections have brought to the fore factionalism in the ruling SAD-BJP combine.

Defeated SAD candidate from Ward No. 12 Labh Singh has accused senior SAD leader Surjeet Singh Rakhra of engineering his defeat. Talking to newspersons here today, Labh Singh alleged that he had requested the district administration not to set up polling booths in the village of independent candidate Rajinder Virk. However, his request went futile.

The polling in the village was rigged, resulting in his defeat, he alleged.

Labh Singh was the lone candidate supported by the minister for cooperatives Kanwaljit Singh. Earlier, he has been booked under the Arms Act.

General secretary of the BJP Inder Kumar accused Surjeet Singh Kohli, former SAD minister, of conspiring to defeat his father Radhay Sham from Ward No. 36. He alleged that independent candidate from their ward Krishan Chand joined the SAD just after winning the elections. This indicated conspiracy to ensure the defeat of his father. The polling in the ward was rigged for more than two hours, he alleged.


MC Elections
Time for introspection, not celebration, for SAD-BJP
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
Elated over the SAD-BJP combine’s performance in the just-concluded municipal corporation elections, which is being projected as a big win, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and acting president of the SAD Sukhbir Singh Badal are busy in celebrations.

Sukhbir Badal today said that people had expressed confidence again in the leadership of the SAD-BJP combine. People had endorsed the development agenda of the combine. Frustrated over the massive defeat in these elections, the Congress leadership was levelling allegations of violence, booth capturing and so on, he said.

Is it really a big win? Have the elections provided an occasion for a big celebration or for making a dispassionate analysis of the “ performance”? Leave aside Patiala for a while. The election results of Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar cities make a strong case for the SAD-BJP combine to go in for a detailed analysis and comparison of its “performance” in these elections and that in the last assembly poll.

Just six months ago, the SAD-BJP combine had registered a landslide win in Ludhiana city. All its four candidates were elected MLAs, defeating the Congress candidates comprehensively. By that measure, the combine should have registered a clean sweep in the corporation elections there. However, in the corporation poll, the SAD-BJP combine won 37 seats out of 75. It is still one short of a majority. In one ward, re-polling has been ordered because of a fault in the electronic voting machine. Obviously, the SAD-BJP combine desperately needs to win from the remaining ward to have a majority in the elected house of the corporation on its own.

In Ludhiana, the BJP’s performance is far from satisfactory. It had put up candidates in 37 wards and won in 14 . In terms of performance that is below 50 per cent.

And the same is true in the case of Amritsar. In the assembly elections, the SAD-BJP combine had won in three of the four assembly segments. One seat had gone to the Congress. In the corporation elections, 62 results have been declared so far and re-polling has been ordered in three wards. Of the total of 65 wards, the SAD-BJP combine has won in 32. That means it is yet to get a majority there. It is a must for the SAD-BJP combine to win in two of the three remaining wards to get a majority in the house on its own. And in Amritsar, the BJP’s performance again is not encouraging. It had put up candidates in 38 wards and won in 17.

Take the case of Jalandhar. Of the 60 wards, the SAD-BJP combine won in 33 . It has just scraped past the majority point (31). In the assembly elections, the SAD-BJP combine had completely wiped out the Congress as all its four candidates were elected MLAs from the city. Going by that standard, the SAD-BJP combine should have scored a big win there. In Jalandhar, the BJP had put up 38 candidates and 19 won. The SAD had put up 22 candidates and 14 won.

In Patiala city, where the Congress had won the assembly election, the SAD-BJP combine has registered a big win. Of the 49 wards, the results of which have been declared, the combine has won in 41. The SAD had put up candidates in 35 wards and won in 32 and the BJP, which had put up candidates in 15 wards, won in nine.

The Congress won in just four and its ally, the CPM, in one ward. However, what happened in Patiala on the polling day has already become a big story of electoral politics.


Powers delegated to Boparai withdrawn
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 9
The syndicate has withdrawn the powers delegated to vice-chancellor of Punjabi University Swaran Singh Boparai. Senior syndicate member, MP and former chairman of the Minorities Commission Tarlochan Singh gave this information in an exclusive interview to The Tribune today.

The statement of Tarlochan Singh is contrary to the information revealed by the university authorities through a press note released after the syndicate meeting a few days ago. The authorities had maintained that Tarlochan Singh praised the activities of the VC and no decision was taken to withdraw the powers delegated to him by the syndicate.

However, Tarlochan Singh, while talking to The Tribune, alleged that the VC had been misusing the powers. He had been taking decisions on his own.

He also said that as the powers of the syndicate were delegated to the VC, its meetings were inordinately delayed. The present meeting of the syndicate was held after about five months.

The law also does not permit delegation of power of syndicate to the VC, he said.

Tarlochan Singh also claimed that other senior members of the syndicate, including S.S. Johl, supported his stance on the issue.

Meanwhile, Boparai said the decision to withdraw his powers has not been finalised by the syndicate as yet. 


Sandhu passing orders from jail!
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 9
It has come to light that Registrar of Punjabi University B.S. Sandhu passed orders while in police custody. He was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau on charges of graft on August 6. Since then he has been in police custody. However, he signed a letter in response to an application seeking information under the Right to Information Act on August 7.

Amandeep Vatish, a resident of Ajit Nagar, Malerkotla, had sought certain information from the university under the Act.

In a letter dated August 7, bearing the signatures of B.S. Sandhu, he has been asked to deposit Rs 140 as photostat charges for 140-page information sought 
by him.

Meanwhile, the CJM, Patiala, remanded Sandhu in judicial custody for 14 days. 


Chief Minister keen on defence university
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has shown keen interest in establishing the proposed National Defence University in the state. Conveying this to Chief of the Army Staff Gen J.J. Singh, the CM offered his assistance for the immediate commencement of work in this regard.

The Army Chief arrived here on a two-day visit and also met Punjab Governor Gen S F Rodrigues (retd). Commissioned into the Maratha Light Infantry, he steps down on September 30, after 43 years of service.

Gen Singh discussed issues relating to the welfare of soldiers and ex-servicemen with Badal. On the matter of low-cost housing for the soldiers, the CM readily agreed to support the project and also expressed willingness to support other Army-assisted development projects.

The CM said recruitment into the Army from Punjab should be facilitated by creating training infrastructure here itself. He also sought the Army’s assistance in development of roads and other infrastructure along with developing educational projects.

The CM saw ex-servicemen as a disciplined and potent resource in the state, which was capable of contributing immensely towards development of various projects in the upliftment of rural and backward areas and also for border area development.

The Army Chief’s wife, Anupama Singh, who is president of the Army Wives’ Welfare Association (AWWA), is accompanying him. She attended an AWWA meet at Manekshaw Auditorium and interacted with the ladies of Chandimandir military station.

The General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, briefed the General on various operational and administrative matters.

Tomorrow, Gen J.J. Singh is scheduled to pay homage to the martyrs at the Veer Smriti war memorial, followed by an address to all officers of Chandimandir station before his departure for Shimla.


Properties of POs to be attached
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9 
Punjab DGP N.P.S. Aulakh today issued directions to the SSPs to attach properties of proclaimed offenders (POs).Aulakh was reviewing the performances SSPs here today. The DGP said the ever-increasing list of POs in each district did not reflect well on the working of the police department.

He said a time-bound drive would be launched to nab all POs. 


Race for Amritsar mayor’s post hots up
Varinder Walia/Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 9
Though the Shiromani Akali Dal has equalised its number of councillors with its alliance partner,the BJP with the joining of two independent Municipal Councillors, race for the post of mayor has hotted up.

With two independent Councillors joning the SAD fold, its tally has gone up to 17 while the combined tally of the alliance partners has reached 34 .The SAD hopes some more independents may join the party .

The ordering of re-polling for two wards where Congress and independent candidates were leading has come as shot in the arm for the ruling party. The Congress party leaders alleged re-polling in two wards was ordered at behest of the ruling party . The election machinery did not bother to take any action in the wards where the ruling party indulged in blatant violation of the model code. This has put a big question mark on the conduct of free and fair elections .

The order of re-polling by the state election commissioner reads the Commission supported the recommendations of the returning officer that the counting of votes in other booths of the ward had already been made public and thus there was no alternative except to order re-polling in all booths of ward no 29 and 40. The election commission ordered fresh poll in all polling booths of ward no 29 and 40 shall be held on August 12 and results declared after the counting of votes of all booths of the ward on the same day.

Meanwhile, Bikram Singh Majithia , minister information and public relations said the SAD would not stake claim for the post of mayor . However, he added a final decision in this regard would be taken by Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal and acting president, SAD, Sukhbir Badal after repolling to the remaining wards in the state on August 12. The two independents Prabhjot Kaur from Ward no 43 and Manjit Kaur who joined the SAD had won from Ward no 34.

Gurjit Singh Aujla, the Congress candidate from ward 5, demanded paramilitary forces should be deployed in the area during the re-poll scheduled for August 12.


Cracks in SAD appear
Tribune News Service

Dhadhogal (Sangrur), August 9
At a Shardhanjli samaroh organised on the martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Dhadhogal (who laid down his life during the Praja Mandal movement while fighting the tyranny of the rulers) at the village gurdwara here today, factionalism in the SAD in Sangrur district surfaced. Two groups of the SAD, Dhindsa and Barnala groups, paid tributes separately to the martyr from the same stage.

First leaders of the Barnala group, including former Dhuri MLA Gaganjit Singh Barnala, paid tributes while leaders of the Dhindsa group kept themselves away from the stage by sitting in a room of the gurdwara. Former Sherpur MLA Gobind Singh Kanjhla also paid tributes. When Gaganjit left the stage, his supporters also left the pandal. After their departure leaders of the Dhindsa group, including Dhuri MLA Iqbal Singh Jhundan and district SAD president Rajinder Singh Kanjhla, came on to the stage.

After receiving reports about factionalism, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal yesterday cancelled his proposed visit to the village today to pay tributes to the martyr. However, Sangrur deputy commissioner S.R. Ladhar on behalf of the Punjab government and district administration garlanded the martyr nstalled at Bagrian Chowk.

Punjab PWD (B&R) Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa, along with some Jhundan, Kanjhla and Dhuri circle president of the SAD Bhupinder Singh Bhalwan, paid tributes to the martyr. 


Dullo, Sukhbir trade charges
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Congress today countered each other on claims of rigging in yesterday’s civic body polls.

Working president of the SAD Sukhbir Singh Badal maintained the elections were held in a free and peaceful manner. “The Congress should come out with specific instances of rigging, rather than creating a ruckus after it lost the elections, he said at a media conference here today.

Meanwhile a statement of Shamsher Singh Dullo Punjab Congress chief, and others have alleged “the Punjab Police contested the election on the behalf of the ruling combine and the process was hijacked. Democracy had been raped by Badal and his men.”


Cong Rout
Bir Devinder for overhaul
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 9
Former deputy speaker Bir Devinder Singh here today said the rout of the Congress in the municipal corporation elections called for serious retrospection and overhaul of the party in the state.

He said it was a serious matter for the party to win just four seats in the town, in spite the fact that both Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha constituencies were represented by the party.

Taking a dig at Amarinder Singh, he said the former Chief Minister had created a terrible mess in the party here and was squarely to blame for outrageous policies, which had led to the party’s rout.Bir Devinder added that Amarinder Singh had overlooked their concerns in the past over growing corruption in the local bodies department.

People had vent their anger at the royal family and the verdict was not against the party, he opined.


Amritsar to USA 4 times a week
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 9
Air India has decided to launch its flight connecting the holy city with New York (USA) via London next month.

Station manager of Air India here Ashwani Arora said from September 11 Air India would launch four weekly flights to the USA via London in view of the increasing demands of Punjabi NRIs living in the USA. He said the latest acquired jets Boeing 777 would fly on four days a week on Tuesday, Thurday, Friday and Sunday.

He said Air India and Air India Express were operating more than 12 flights a week connecting various destinations including Sharjah, Dubai, Birmingham and Toronto. He said the flights were going full capacity and there was demand for more flights to other destinations. 


Muktsar villages flooded
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, August 9
With rain flooding many areas of the home district of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, there have been quarrels among villagers over draining out water.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that while gunshots were fired in Kotli Sangar village, residents of Udekaran and Sarai Naga villages staged a dharna on Muktsar-Kotkapura road to lodge their protest against the apathetic attitude of authorities concerned towards their plight.

In most of the villages, the water level has gone up to six feet. Heavy rain has left a trail of destruction as standing crop of paddy and cotton in thousands of acres has suffered heavy damages. The affected villages included Thandewal, Sanghudhon, Udekaran, Kotli Sangar, Bahmanwala, Sarai Naga, Chotra, Baja Marad, Motlewala, Chak Motlewala, Takhtat, Malana, Jammuana, Chabewali and Barkandi.

The powerhouse located in Sarai Naga village had become non-functional due to floods and thus power supply to about 25 villages had been stopped for the past few days.


‘Hindus feel free in Pak’
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 9
“We are enjoying more freedom under the regime of Parvez Musharraf, President of Pakistan, as Hindus there are now treated on a par with Muslims”, said leader of the Hindu jatha from Sindh province in Pakistan Gobindram Vishnu Dass Makhija.

Makhija told The Tribune here today that General Musharraf had brought in various reforms, which had benefited the Hindus in that country. Earlier, they could vote only in favour of Hindu candidates and were not allowed to vote in favour of their Muslim brethren. Now, they were free to caste their votes in favour of candidate whom they think would redress their problems.

The Hindus and Sikhs in that country can apply for government jobs now, he added.

A 53-member delegation, including five women had crossed over to India through the Wagah joint check post on July 20 for participating in the birth anniversary of the 5th descendant of Gobind Ram at Raipur in Chhattisgarh. The delegation arrived in the city today.

Reshma (25), resident of Khanpur Mahar (Karachi), said the girls were now enjoying more freedom even in small towns of Pakistan. 


Corruption in roadways depot alleged
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 9
Activists of the joint action committee (JAC) of five unions of the Pepsu Roadways Transport Corporation (PRTC) today held a gate rally to lodge their protest against the alleged malpractices and corruption prevailing in the local depot. It has sought a high-level probe into the matter.

The activists, from five employees union namely AITUC, CITU, INTUC, the Karamchari Dal and the SC and BC Workers Union, alleged that a section of officials of the local depot had been working for the benefit of private bus operators.

They said they would hold a major agitation on August 15. They alleged that a senior official of the depot had collected wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income. 


Ultrasound Tests for Pregnancy
Residence proof must
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 9
In a significant step that could put an effective check on female foeticide, the PNDT Cell today made the submission of residential proof by a pregnant women to the doctor concerned mandatory before undergoing an ultra sound test.

With the new development, Bathinda has become the first district in Punjab where the regulation has been implemented. It is one of the districts in the state where sex ratio is alarmingly low.

Deputy commissioner Rahul Tiwari said violation of the regulation would invite penal action. The decision to implement the regulation was taken at a meeting of the local cell.

Official sources said pregnant women could use copies of the voter lists or photo identity cards as residence proof. In case of an emergency, the doctor concerned would have to give a certificate citing why the condition of submitting residence proof was not fulfilled.

There were reports of pregnant women furnishing fake residential proof to avoid visits by the PNDT cell.

In another decision, the cell decided to keep a contact with pregnant women on the phone so that an effective follow-up could be carried out.

Project officer Sadhu Ram Kusla said the cell had been monitoring criminal cases registered against medical professionals for their involvement in illegal termination of pregnancy.

Various non-governmental organisations and representatives of the Indian Medical Association participated in the meeting.


No Water Treaty This
Villagers buying water from Haryana
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Chak Heera Singh Wala (Bathinda), August 9
Drinking water ‘flows’ to Punjab from Haryana. Sounds absurd, but it’s true.

After the authorities concerned failed to supply potable water to the residents of Chak Heera Singh Wala village for the past 10 years, they were left with no other option than to buy water from the neighbouring state.

The residents have been fetching potable water from Haryana for the past many years despite the fact that their village is located near Badal, the native village of Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.

The villagers have formed a society, which has pressed a tractor fitted with a tanker into service to bring potable water from Haryana daily. In return, the villagers have been paying Rs 30 per month to the society.

But this is not end of their woes. Although they have not been getting a single drop of water from their own state, yet they have been receiving bills for the water usage.

Balwant Singh, sarpanch of the village, said about 13 villagers had been suffering from cancer due to consumption of underground water, which had been declared unfit for human use. Now the water was being fetched from Bhakra main canal passing near from Desu village of Haryana, he added.

Meanwhile, in an application moved to deputy commissioner today, the villagers pointed out that though the underground pipes had been laid down in the village to carry water to their doorsteps from the waterworks, they had not been getting a single drop of water.

They said whenever they contacted the officials concerned on this issue, they were told that the pipes were not able to carry the water pressure. The residents urged the deputy commissioner to take action against the officials and contractor concerned, who had allegedly laid down the substandard pipes.


Lawyers abstain from courts 

Amritsar, August 9
Members of the Amritsar Bar Association abstained from courts today in protest against the alleged implication of senior advocate Baldev Singh Gill in a case by the Faridkot police. 

The association has claimed that it was a chance case of simple road accident while the police registered a case of attempt to murder against Gill. It has said it would continue its stir until the case against the lawyer was not scrapped. — OC


Prof gets Rs 17-lakh grant
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 9
Dr Sanjiv Puri, reader in the physics department at the University College of Engineering (UCoE), Punjabi University, Patiala, has got financial assistance of Rs 17.85 lakh under a research project from the Department of Science and Technology (DST), New Delhi, the sources said, here today.The project relates to the investigation of photon-atom interaction processes in the X-ray energy region. 

These studies will enhance the understanding of fundamental processes and provide accurate data on different physical parameters characterising these processes.

The sources further added that as an application, the technique based on the X-ray emission, commonly known as X-ray fluorescence (XRF) would be used for quantitative elemental composition analysis of biological, environmental and archaeological samples.


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