P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Amarinder Singh returns from UK
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 28
Former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh returned from London early this morning. He is likely to meet top Congress leadership in New Delhi during the next two days before coming back to Punjab.

According to sources, Amarinder may meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi. He is also scheduled to meet his advocates considering that his appeal for stay on the Punjab Vidhan Sabha’s resolution to expel him from the Assembly is to be taken up for hearing by a constitutional bench of the Supreme Court on October 3. His supporters do not anticipate him being arrested during this time.

His loyalist Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu, who is also in Delhi, said a court order made it mandatory for investigating agencies to give the former Chief Minister a four-day notice before any arrest. He said the order was valid till October 1 following which it might be extended.

However, sources claim that the order has been granted in connection with
other Vigilance cases registered against Amarinder and does not cover the
decision of the Vidhan Sabha, directing the state Vigilance to register a case
against him for alleged malpractice in exempting a private builder from land
acquisition for a scheme in Amritsar.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court had recently ruled that the investigating officer of the case could seek Amarinder’s custodial interrogation if required.

Meanwhile, Sidhu said the former Chief Minister would also hold a press conference to clear the air regarding certain rumours about his family being sidelined during the recent Punjab trip of party general secretary Rahul Gandhi.

He said an attempt had been made to defame Amarinder by claiming that he was “in hiding” in his New Moti Bagh Palace during Rahul’s trip to Punjab.

Amarinder had left for London immediately after filing for a stay on the Assembly’s resolution to expel him from the House.

He had taken permission to go abroad earlier and said the visit was necessitated due to appointments taken with doctors in London.

He had also claimed that he was scheduled to meet the editors and publishers of his book on the history of the Punjab from 1839-1849, which was in the printing stage.


Ex-CM wasted public time on luxurious life, says Badal
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 28
Hitting out against his arch-rival Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has accused Amarinder of wasting time as a Chief Minister in leading luxurious life and indulging in his “controversial escapades” to Dubai, Pakistan and Canada.

In the same breath, the Chief Minister alleged that the Congress during its “long misrule” in the state had always been exploiting the “Dalit card” and getting their votes by misleading them and without making any serious effort to provide them with even the basic amenities.

“Amarinder as a Chief Minister was duty-bound to ensure that people of Punjab got basic and requisite amenities. Instead Amarinder did not lose any opportunity to soak himself in his luxurious lifestyle.

“While Amarinder kept enjoying life at the cost of people and their precious time, on the other hand people kept reeling under lack of requisite sanitation, sewerage, power and water supply during the previous Congress regime.

“The SAD-BJP alliance, whenever came to power, initiated a number of Dalit and public welfare schemes like atta-dal scheme, shagun scheme, old-age pension, homes for homeless, widow and handicapped persons’ pension and free power for the poor. The SAD is the lone political party which has given due representation to Dalits in the party setup without any discrimination,” said Badal while holding a sangat darshans in wards Nos. 42 and 23.

Badal, who was accompanied by senior party leaders, including Prem Singh Chandumajra, former SGPC chief Kirpal Singh Badungar, Surjit Singh Kohli, Surjit Singh Rakhra, his media advisor Harcharan Bains, Patiala Division commisioner S.K. Ahluwalia, DIG Paramjit Singh Gill and SSP S.K. Asthana, was also honoured by councillors of different wards and office-bearers of different Balmiki sabhas.

On the occasion, Badal announced that the state government would hold a state-level function to commemorate the birth anniversary of Maharishi Balmiki.

Referring to the Punjab government’s efforts to promote sports in the state,
Badal said his government was making all-out efforts to promote traditional and
international games in the state.

“We are in the process of formulating a sports policy. The Punjab government has already decided to reward Olympic gold medallists with Rs 1 crore each,” he said.

On the law and order situation in the state, Badal said the Punjab Police was keeping a close watch on it.

He also announced a special grant for providing cover to the sewage drain passing through Tafjalnagar and Bishan Nagar localities of the city.

The Chief Minister also visited the Patiala-based residence of missing pilot Rajesh Gaur and expressed sympathy with Gaur’s family members.


Sangat darshan tough for common man, media
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 28
The sangat darshan may not be a smooth affair for common people or even mediapersons all the time as they can also face numerous hurdles created by security persons around the Chief Minister at one or the other point.

In place of the common man, who may or may not be able to meet the Chief
Minister on the pretext of security reasons, local level SAD-BJP workers have
apparently more access to the CM and they were seen around the CM in the
garb of the common man.

So much so, that groupism within the SAD at the local level has proved to be the deciding factor as to which worker or common man would be meeting the CM or not.

Meanwhile, following orders from Patiala DC Vikas Garg and senior police officials, the security persons today apparently made it tough for common people, who had come all the way to meet the CM.

They also did not spare the local media. "Show us the card signed by the Patiala SSP and DC and only then you will be allowed to meet the CM," security persons deployed asked mediapersons despite being told that they had been invited by the Punjab Public Relations Department.


SAD gears up for ‘Patiala bypoll’
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 28
Regardless of the legal status whether a byelection to the Patiala Assembly constituency can be held or not immediately after the expulsion of Capt Amarinder Singh from the Vidhan Sabha, the ruling SAD is seemingly hell bent upon wresting the seat from Amarinder.

It has been luring Patiala voters away from the royal family by offering them sops worth hundreds of crores.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is so keen to “snatch” the seat from his archrival that he has virtually made Patiala his “second home”.

He had spent more than a fortnight in the past one month in the city, holding more than 34 sangat darshan programmes. While he was scheduled to hold eight such programmes on Sunday, his plans were to cover all 50 wards of Patiala by the end of next week.

The SAD government has not only initiated development projects worth about Rs 500 crore in the city, but has also made sure that some of these works take off within a week after announcement by Badal.

Some of the major projects being launched by the government in the city include India’s first Rs 250-crore air-conditioned bus stand, setting up of new grids, a scheme providing one bulb to each BPL family at a cost of Rs 85 crore, cleansing of choked nullahs, restoration of parks at a cost of Rs 5 crore, widening of Ghaggar siphons near Khanauri at a cost of Rs 137 crore and development of all 50 wards of the city at a cost of Rs 100 crore.

While Amarinder is out to challenge his expulsion in the apex court, the Election Commission of India has made it clear that there should be no obstacle in declaring the seat vacant and ordering a byelection unless it has been stayed by a court.

Former minister Surjit Singh Kohli and SAD’s NRI wing president Surjit Singh Rakhra were said to be front-runners for the ticket for the seat.

Talking to The Tribune, Chief Minister’s adviser Daljit Singh Cheema indicated that his party was in top gear as far as preparations for the byelection were concerned.

“Badal sahib gets enthused whenever he gets a chance to participate in a poll or to steer an election,” said Cheema when asked whether his party was getting ready for the Patiala bypoll.



N-deal will not help country: Rajnath
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 28
BJP President Rajnath Singh has said his party disagrees with the government stance in signing the nuclear deal with the US since it will not help the country in the way the UPA is projecting it will.

Rajnath Singh, who was in the city to address a youth sankalp rally, ostensibly organised in wake of Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Punjab, told mediapersons that they knew the value of cordial and strategic relations with the US, but not at the cost of compromising on the country’s nuclear sovereignty.

“The riders to the deal and statements emanating from Washington also confirm our apprehensions,” he pointed out.

Commenting on cross-border firing by Pak troops he said, “Zardari should be told in clear terms that in case his government does not rein in the terrorists here, we will stop all confidence-building measures (CBM)”.

He alleged that the UPA government was befooling countrymen by giving various reasons for inflation, which was not the case when the NDA was in power.

“Our government had maintained a high-growth rate and low inflation. The Prime
Minster and finance minister should tell the people why the price of petroleum
products has not come down despite a fall in the price of crude oil in international
market,” he said.

On relief to the agriculture sector, Rajnath Singh said in case his party came to power, it would waive farmers’ debts, while the rate of interest on farmers’ loans would be pegged at 4 per cent.

Though the UPA government had waived loans, only a limited percentage of farmers had benefited from it, he pointed out.

He also requested the PM to put an end to unwarranted discussions on constituting a separate gurdwara management committee for Haryana. This amounted to interference in SGPC’s work, he added.

‘Consensus needed to tackle terror’

A party that had once harped on adopting a tough line in dealing with terror and other ills plaguing the country, the BJP has now veered around to advocating the path of consensus.

BJP president Rajnath Singh said all political parties should form a consensus on national issues such as terrorism, inflation and the prevailing economic condition in the country.

After yesterday’s blast in Delhi, terror had once again become the focal point for politicians and this was reflected in Rajnath Singh’s speech.

“Terror has become a burning issue and this challenge should be taken headon by reaching a consensus with other political parties,” he stressed.

This is a far cry from party’s prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani’s remarks that the UPA government had erred in repealing a tough anti-terror act like POTA.


SAD campaign to target print, electronic media, NRIs
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 28
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) will launch a massive publicity campaign targeting not only the domestic print and electronic media, but also the Punjab diaspora throughout the world through Internet and foreign newspapers to boost the image of the party ahead of the Lok Sabha poll.

The party aims at highlighting all its major achievements and proposed projects to strike a positive note with the Punjabi voter.

Party sources said a conscious decision had been taken to avoid hitting out at the Congress in a slanderous ad campaign as in the past and concentrate on the positives of the SAD-BJP alliance.

The campaign, especially the audio-visuals, will focus mainly on people of the state and through them speak about the “achievements of the government”.

The campaign will initially be sustained for two months and then tweaked further, based on whether the parliamentary polls are announced by them or not.

Once the polls are notified, the model code of conduct will come into place and each ad will be counted towards the poll expense. Initially, the party has set aside Rs 2 crore for this period.

A senior leader of the party said, “Modern technology such as Internet, SMS, etc will be used to reach out to people with the highlights of the government. Besides, you will see that the advertisements are not confined to papers and television channels of the state. The party is negotiating rates with newspapers in Canada and the UK that has a large Punjabi population. This is being done because past experience has shown that NRIs greatly impact poll results”.

A major focus of the campaign will be on benefits given to people such as the like atta-dal scheme, achievements in terms of revenue generation such as increase in VAT collections, etc. Besides, the party will highlight major projects initiated by it.

The party is also in the process of finalising themes for the short ad films that will have people speaking about the “greatness of the party ventures” rather than politicians beating their own trumpet.

But in all this a deliberate attempt is being made to keep party president Sukhbir Singh Badal on the centrestage, thereby projecting him not only as the “man with the vision”, but also “the future leader who will take Punjab ahead by his dynamism”.


Peasants cash in on labour shortage in Malwa
Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 28
Though reports on cotton yield are sounding good this time, the problem of labour shortage is worrying Malwa farmers. Facing a shortage of labour to pick cotton, farmers have to bow to their demands.

Most farmers have become totally dependant upon migrant labourers. Peasants, too, have been forcing farmers to agree upon their terms and conditions.

Farmers have to arrange for transportation for the peasants, who are considered specialised in cotton-picking, and accommodation for them till the work goes on.

As the picking has started in Malwa, one can easily find tractor-trailers carrying labour along with their household articles all the way on state roads.

Intercepting two of such vehicles on the way from Muktsar to Bathinda, The Tribune team today came to know about the terms between the peasants and the farmers.

Gurjeet Singh, a farmer of Manak Khana village, who owns 18 acres, shared his helplessness in front of the peasants.

He said they had settled the terms at Rs 270 and 3 kg of floor as remuneration for a quintal of picking, besides three tea servings a day to all of them.

“As the picking will continue for two months, it is also our liability to provide accommodation to them at our residence,” he added.

Harbans Singh of Bhunder village, Mansa district, said: “It is all due to the change in the culture of Punjab. No farmer family is ready to do the job, due to which we all are to go by their conditions”.

“I have been taking these 11 peasants, including four women, who will on an
average individually pick 50 kg per day. Every year I take labourers from Bhullar
village in Muktsar district and in that village almost 500 people do this seasonal
job,” he said.

On the other hand, the labourers were not happy with the settled remuneration. Labourer Billu Singh of Bhullar village said: “Whatever we earn during the two months, much of that we consume at that place. But, we go there just considering about the sure job for these two months.”

When asked about the studies of the children boarded in the vehicle, Sheela Rani, another labourer, said: “As we move every season to earn livelihood, their teachers have allowed them to come along with us”.


Superfast train to link Gurdaspur with Delhi
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, September 28
To fight terrorism and control the prices of essential commodities remains the top priority of the Congress-led UPA government, stated Union minister of state for industries Ashwani Kumar here today.

“The relentless efforts being made by the government to deal with these two important issues are likely to show tangible results in the coming days,” he claimed.

Ashwani Kumar, who was here to attend a function, said the Delhi blasts had shown that forces inimical to India’s unity and integrity were active again.

Under these circumstances, a united nation should answer the call and fight a decisive battle against terrorism.

Those parties, including the BJP, who were seeking political mileage from this were not serving people, but had exposed their politics of opportunism.

Creating social divisions along religious and communal lines would help terrorists in their nefarious designs.

“The BJP has once again exposed its political bankruptcy by trying to gain out of bomb blasts, which occurred in a few cities of the country,” alleged the minister.

The Indo-US nuclear deal, he said, was a tribute to the successful diplomacy of the UPA leadership. It was a national achievement and the parties opposing it had betrayed their myopic vision.

“This deal has finally validated India’s claim to the status of a global power and will serve the cause of a clean environment and energy security,” said the minister.

Ashwini Kumar disclosed that for the first time three towns of this district, Pathankot, Gurdaspur and Batala, would be connected to Delhi with a superfast train from the middle of next month.

This had already been agreed to by Union railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav.

“The introduction of the superfast train will play a key role in boosting the economy of the border area,” he claimed.

The minister claimed the visit of AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi to Punjab had helped to unite and reinvigorate the Congress in the state.

He said all leaders of the party had worked to ensure cohesion in the party.


BSF steps up vigil with ‘boat nakas’ in riverine gaps
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Dhinda (Gurdaspur), September 28
Even as Pakistan Rangers have been carrying out unprovoked firing on the India-Pakistan border in Jammu sector to facilitate infiltration, the BSF has stepped up vigil in Gurdaspur sector.

The BSF authorities have made special arrangements to check infiltration at riverine gaps where 500-m fencing had been washed away in the recent floods.

“We have set up ‘depth-cum-ambush’ nakas at various places alongside the fencing wire in Gurdaspur sector to thwart attempts by the Pakistani Rangers to push intruders,” said a senior BSF functionary while talking to The Tribune.

Almost all nakas of the BSF along the border have been situated over the
elevated places.

Manning the border from elevated positions they could easily be spotted by intruders, the border guards, equipped with high-grade weapons, would be deployed in dig-in-positions, he added.

The frequency of mounted and foot patrolling has been increased. Boat nakas have been set up at short distances on all rivers flowing alongside the border.

“With the tense situation prevailing in Jammu sector, nothing can be left to chance,” said the senior BSF functionary.

S. S. Sandhu, DIG, BSF, Gurdaspur sector, said border activities had become almost nil in this sector.

For the past many years, there was no infiltration attempt. The smuggling of narcotics on the border had also become negligible.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that patrolling by the Pakistani Rangers alongside the border in their territory was almost negligible.

The farmers, who used to cultivate their lands situated across the fencing, said they rarely saw the Rangers patrolling the area.


Dal Khalsa founder sets terms for return
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 28
Founder of the Dal Khalsa, Gajinder Singh, whose name has figured on the list of 20 most-wanted Indian terrorists following an attack on Parliament House in December, 2001, has said he is ready to come back to India on certain conditions.

He, along with four other Sikh activists, had hijacked an Indian Airlines plane en route Delhi-Srinagar-Lahore on September 29, 1981, nine days after the arrest of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, 27 years ago.

The Indian government has sought the extradition of all 20 most-wanted terrorists.

He said he had already undergone imprisonment for more than 13 years in jails in Pakistan on the charges of hijacking the Indian Airlines plane, hence he could not be tried in any country for the same crime.

Replying to a question, he said he still miss Amritsar, Chandigarh, Patiala, but he could not negotiate on the conditions for his return which were not honourable.

Revealing his proximity to leaders of some mainstream Akali leaders, he claimed in early ’90s, then SGPC president Gurcharan Singh Tohra had offered him to contest from Patiala’s parliamentary constituency after his release from a Pakistan jail.

He said his party believed in peaceful and democratic means. This is his first interview with any mediaperson after he was declared most-wanted by government.

Talking to The Tribune on the phone on the eve of 27th anniversary of the hijacking incident, from an undisclosed destination, Gajinder, however, said he could come back to India, if he was offered a respectable way.

It is believed that he is living in Pakistan. Gajinder said he had never used a weapon for the cause of the Sikh community.

He claimed that even during hijacking none of the hijackers had used any weapon.

He had no criminal background, hence figuring of his name on the list of most-wanted Indians had shocked him.

Condemning violence for achieving the set goals, he said he had never justified
innocent killings.

He, however, confessed that the movement for a separate state had weakened due to weaknesses of certain leaders.


Balloon leads to alert
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 28
A balloon that came from across the border with a message written in Urdu at the Indo-Pak border fence here today is shrouded in mystery even as the BSF has been put on high alert.

Mohammad Aquil, DIG, BSF, confirmed this and said nothing could be said at present without verification of the message on the balloon.

Meanwhile, the BSF guarding the 553-km border in Punjab, has been put on high alert and Operation Andheri was launched after cutting off the wire of the Indo-Pak border fence near Rajatal yesterday.

Aquil said the dog squad had identified two houses from where the persons might have cut the wires.

This was an annual practice during the paddy season during which there were more chances of anti-national and activities by arms smugglers and drug runners. He said the force was put on high alert for 15 days.


Whopping increase in VAT collection
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 28
Punjab has achieved a whopping increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) and Central Sales Tax (CST) collections during the ongoing current year, thereby establishing a prime position as compared to other states.

According to raw data available from the Finance Department, up to the end of July 2008, the VAT collections were growing at a rate of over 40 per cent.

Punjab has been able to achieve this despite relief and concessions offered to
various industries.

Data on VAT and CST collection of the past five years since 2002-2003 shows that the growth rate of the collections was hovering in the range of about 14 to 15 per cent, except in 2003-2004 when it dipped to 7.7 per cent and 2005-2006 when it went to the highest of 21.5 per cent.

The growth in VAT collections during the SAD-BJP alliance has been phenomenal. Up to June 2008, Punjab had collected Rs 2004 crore, which was an increase of Rs 599 from the corresponding period during the Congress regime, showing a percentage increase of 42.7 per cent. By end of July, this came down marginally to 41 per cent.

According to figures supplied to the Punjab government by the Centre for the period 2006-2007, Uttarakhand topped the list of states in terms of percentage growth with a revenue collection of Rs 1212 crore, an increase of 30.9 per cent. It was followed by Chandigarh, where VAT revenue grew by 29.2 per cent.

In this period, at the 24th place, Punjab was the last in terms of percentage
growth, even lower than Jammu and Kashmir and Assam that were listed at 23rd
and 22nd spots.

During 2007-2008, Punjab rose to number nine position, recording a growth of 16 per cent and as per data till May 2008, Punjab was placed at third place, with a growth rate of 46.1 per cent.

Sources in the Finance Department revealed that Punjab had made projections to collect Rs 1728 crore as VAT collection during the current fiscal, a proposed Rs 78 crore over the last year.

What makes this rise in VAT collection even more important is the fact that this
has happened despite offering a VAT relief of Rs 300 to Punjab industrialists during
June 2008.

Due to active lobbying by SAD president Sukhbir Badal for the state’s industry, based on his perception of industrial growth, the Punjab Government has announced another Rs 235 crore grant to the industry and trade in Punjab.

The grant includes a relief of Rs 100-crore exemption of entry tax on shoddy
and worsted yarn, reduction of VAT on furnace oil to the tune of Rs 40 crore,
reduction of VAT on desi ghee and sweetened flavoured milk to the tune of Rs
25 crore, reduction of VAT on pulses from 4 to 1 per cent costing the state
another Rs 25 crore, etc.


NZ co. to improve state roads
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 28
The state government will soon engage services of Opus International Consultants Ltd (OPUS), New Zealand, to devise a strategy for the future implementation of output-and-performance-based road contracts (OPRC) to rehabilitate/improve, maintain and manage a portion of its road network of about 650 km in southern districts through the Punjab Roads and Bridges Development Board.

An assurance to this effect was given by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to
technical director of the company Tony Porter who called on him at his residence
on Tuesday morning.

While briefing the Chief Minister, PWD (B&R) minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa stated the civil works, under phase II of the Rs 1,500-crore World Bank-funded Punjab State Road Sector Project (PSRSP) would be now based on the output of these services likely to be commenced by mid-2009.

Under the OPUS contract, the contractor is responsible for upgrade, renewal and maintenance of the network as required and payments are based primarily on measured “outputs” reflecting the target conditions of the roads under contract, rather than unit prices for works inputs.

Typically, OPRC contracts run for periods of five-10 years, with indications being that the quantum of work involved for this network over a 10-year period will be in the order of 200-300 km of upgrade works (typically widening of the paved surface), 150-250 km of rehabilitation works and routine maintenance for the entire length of the network.

The Chief Minister emphasised the need to abide by the parameters of strict quality control, regular supervision and maintenance after the completion of road projects.

He asked the team leader of OPUS Robert Fergerstrom to undertake an extensive tour of the state to have first-hand information of the existing road conditions and suggest constructive measures to improve upon quality in the larger public interest.

Porter and Fergerstrom told the Chief Minister that their company had undertaken the construction of 70 per cent of road infrastructure in New Zealand and was consultant to many countries across the globe.

They said within an OPRC contract, the client was bound to abide by the stipulated specifications and conditions of the work allotted to him that obviously resulted in high-class quality.


Punjab MLAs to canvass for Indian-Canadians
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 28
After the tumultuous monsoon session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha which saw the expulsion of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, a number of Punjab legislators are now heading for British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario provinces in Canada to canvass for Indian-Canadian candidates for the House of Commons elections to be held there on October 14.

The Punjabi community in Canada with a strength of about 1,50,000, may have as much representation in the House of Commons as Punjab has in the Lok Sabha. With a population of over two crore, Punjab has 13 members in the Lok Sabha.

As of now, the Punjabi community has had seven to eight nominees in the
past two Parliaments.

The number of Indian-Canadians, rather Punjabis, is expected to cross double-digits in the October 14 elections.

At least, four Punjab MLAs from the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the
Congress are actively canvassing for both Conservative and Liberal candidates
in British Columbia and Ontario and a few more of them are expected to garner
support for the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP candidates in British Columbia,
Ontario and Alberta provinces.

Not only MLAs, but also several senior leaders and activists of both the Congress and the SAD are wooing voters.

In Newton-North Delta, main contestants Sukh Dhaliwal (Liberals) and Sandeep Pandher (Conservatives) come from adjoining villages in Ludhiana.

Political leaders from the Doaba region in general and Jalandhar-Nawanshahr in particular, have been evincing interest in the Canadian elections.

As of now, sitting MPs include Nina Grewal (Conservatives), Ujjal Dosanjh and Sukh Dhaliwal (Liberals), all from British Columbia, Deepak Obhrai and Rahim Jaffer (Conservatives), both from Alberta, Gurbax Malhi, Ruby Dhalla and Navdeep Bains (all Liberals) from Ontario.

Alberta, which returned all Conservative candidates in the last elections, has increased the number of Indian-Canadian candidates to four.

Initial poll surveys suggest that all four Deepak Obhrai, Rahim Jaffer and newcomers Tim Uppal and Devinder Shorey are sure to win. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is also from Alberta.

In British Columbia, Nina Grewal is all set to make her third entry into the House of Commons, while the other two candidates are Sandeep Pandher and Sam Rakhra.

While Sandeep faces sitting MP Sukh Dhaliwal, Sam Rakhra has a chance of making it to Ottawa.

From Onatrio, the Liberals hope to win all three seats held by Indian-Canadians- Gurbax Malhi, Ruby Dhalla and Navdeep Bains.

Ontario’s Indian-Canadian community’s representation may increase this time as Conservatives are hopeful of some successes from amongst three of their candidates Param Gill, Bob Saroya and Melissa Bhagat.

The third major political party, NDP, has also put up five Indian-Canadians, all Punjabis, in the contest.

How many of them Jashwant Singh Puniya, Jagtar Shergill, Mani Singh, Karamjit
Pandher and Anita Aggarwal make it to the House of Commons in Canada remains
to be seen.


Rajesh Pilot’s statue installed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 28
The statue of former Union Minister Rajesh Pilot was installed near the local bus stand here yesterday evening.

The statue was unveiled by Nirmal Singh Bhatian, chairman of the Kissan Mazdoor Mahapanchayat, in the presence of prominent personalities that included son of Rajesh Pilot and Congress MP Sachin Pilot, former ministers Surinder Singla, Jasbir Singh and Prem Gupta and Punjab Youth Congress chief Vijay Inder Singla.

The wife of Sachin Pilot was also present on the occasion. Various speakers paid tributes to the leader.

Prominent among them were Chowdhury Nand Lal, chief parliamentary secretary, who said Pilot was a messiah for Punjab and Punjabiat and added that the leader had done a lot for the state.


Magician educates jail inmates on TB
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 28
It was a unique occasion for inmates of the local district jail when they saw a magician performing tricks to educate them on tuberculosis (TB) in the jail complex here yesterday.

This performance was a part of the awareness campaign, which is being run by the District TB Control Society to spread knowledge about the disease under the revised national TB control programme (RNTCP) in the district.

At this show magician Ved Parkash from Chandigarh in one of his tricks burnt a piece of paper, put it in a small container and then brought out a very long paper ribbon to tell the inmates that TB and AIDS spread at a fast pace like that magic ribbon.

He also showed a human skeleton and said once that skeleton was a healthy man, but due to ignorance about TB, he remained undiagnosed and untreated, so he turned into that state.

On the occasion, district TB-cum-leprosy officer Surinder Singla told the inmates that TB could affect all organs of the body, not only the lungs, as a majority of the people believed. But with directly observed treatment short course (DOTS) TB of all organs was curable.

Nodal officer, leprosy, Dr Prit Pal Singh Binner, superintendent of district jail Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal and deputy superintendent of district jail Hardeep Singh Bhatti also participated in the programme.


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