P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Erring jawans face court of inquiry
Assault on civilians
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 5
Revealing that a court of inquiry was ordered yesterday into the incident in which Army jawans tried to assault residents of Mohalla No.31 in Jalandhar Cantonment, General Officer Commanding of Vajra Corps said today that that he felt the issue was being blown up out of proportion.

Seemingly quite evasive on the issue during a stone-laying ceremony of an officers’ mess here this afternoon, Lieut-Gen Noble Thamburaj, GOC, said the chain-snatching incident must have been quite provocative for the jawan who was accompanying his wife on their way back from the Dasehra festival.

“I can understand that it must not have been easy for any jawan to see anyone simply snatching his wife’s chain and running off like that. He saw him and followed him till the residents of the colony rescued him. I also believe that it was wrong on the part of the jawans to go back and assault the residents there.

“But they are jawans and somehow incapable of making the right decisions. Had we been in their place, we being matured, would have handled the situation differently”, the GOC added.

When asked as to how many jawans had been apprehended after the incident, he said, “Nearly 14. We have not caught them. They are just there with us”.

On being asked about the role of the police, the GOC said, “It will catch the chain snatcher. They have booked him”. About the Army men involved in the incident and booked by the police, he said, “The civil procedure is too long. There are judicial delays and it takes years before a case is solved. Our military law is the quickest and the harshest”.

Meanwhile, a press release pertaining to the incident was issued by the public relations unit of the Corps this evening.



Delay in cotton purchase has farmers fuming
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 5
Their is resentment among the cotton farmers here as the bumper arrival of the crop and private buyers’ limited weighing capacity have delayed the procurement of their produce.

A section of the farmers has been awaiting bidding on their produce for the past five days. A glut-like scenario has spelt trouble for them. The arrival is reportedly up by three times this year.

Member of the local market committee Sadhu Singh said the cotton arrival till October 4 had reached 43,650 quintals as against the last year’s figure of 14,680 quintals.

Mithu Singh, a farmer from Phus Mandi, said he came to the market four days ago, but there was still no sign of bidding for his six quintal cotton produce. He said his nephew Tej Singh had to wait for eight days for the sale of his produce.

He said: “Our condition is worse then farm labourers these days. At times, I wonder if I took five acres of land on contract after paying Rs 50,000 and purchased Bt cotton seeds from Gujarat only to starve in the cotton market awaiting the procurement of my produce.”

Kaala Singh and Darshan Singh of Shergarh village also echoed similar sentiments. They said last year their crop was purchased within two days, but this year they had already waited for four days and there was no hope for another two-three days.

The market committee official, however, attributed the delay in purchase of cotton to limited weighing capacity of private buyers and the acute shortage of labourers.

Meanwhile, much to the chagrin of farmers, the cotton prices are hovering around Rs 1,900, depending upon the quality of the produce.

Angry farmers said they should be getting more for their crop, as the shortage of labourers had led to doubling of plucking rates. “We are paying around Rs 300 for plucking of a quintal of cotton and the labourers collect their payment as soon as we dump our produce in the market,” said Gurmail Singh of Gehri Bhagi village.

The farmers demanded that the government should step in to put an end to the delay in purchase of their produce and their “loot by private buyers”.

BKU general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokri said the union had also received complaints of “farmers being looted by private buyers”. He blamed the state government for it. He said the government should start purchasing cotton through the CCI and Markfed instead of giving leeway to private buyers to openly loot the farmers. He said they had taken a note of the issue and would discuss it in their meeting on October 7.


Coop banks bleeding farmers, says Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 5
Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, MP, has alleged that a number of cooperative banks, moneylenders and cooperative societies are virtually bleeding farmers by charging hefty compound interest on loans up to 30 per cent per month due to the apathy of the Punjab Government.

He advocated the implementation of the “damdupat” system in respect of loans of farmers as it favours charging of simple rate of interest without any penal charges on loans.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Sidhu, who was accompanied by BJP leaders, including BJP district president S.D. Chugh, alleged that the farmers’ plight could be assessed from the fact that they were being made to pay huge interest ranging from 24 to 30 per cent per month by cooperative banks, societies and moneylenders.

“The fact is that the rate of interest charged on farm loan is not as important as the method of charging it. All cooperative banks and societies charge farmers compound rates of interest at monthly, quarterly or half-yearly basis in flagrant violation of a Supreme Court judgement and the Reserve Bank of India directives that interest should not be charged at monthly basis on advances for agriculture and allied activities.

Referring to suicides committed by farmers in Punjab, Mr Sidhu said that as many as 1,360 farmers had committed suicide between 1998 and 2005 in Punjab. “The threat posed by overcharging of loans is so intense that in a recent case a regional rural bank lent Rs 97,000 to a farmer for purchase of tractor and by the time the bank went to the court for realisation of the loan, it had grown to a whopping Rs 19 lakh,” he said. 


Rice millers’ body hails decision
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 5
The District Rice Millers Association has welcomed the decision of the state government to stop recovery orders issued by various procurement agencies for recovery of the difference in the amount of gunny bags with effect from 2000-01.

Nakesh Jindal, Press Secretary of the Punjab Rice Miller's Association, said the government had taken the decision in the interest of the industry. 


Political families will have to wait
PAB meeting deferred
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 5
A meeting of the Project Approval Board (PAB) of the Punjab Government which was scheduled to grant exemptions to industries owned by three political families of the state was postponed today following revelations of huge benefits being passed on to these families.

Sources in the state government said that after The Tribune exposed the agenda of the meeting in its edition today, the proposal for providing special incentives of more than Rs 45 crore to the three families was put on the back burner. Serious objections were expected to be raised during the meeting as passing on such unprecedented benefits just months before the Assembly elections would have raised a storm against the Congress.

The Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation at a meeting of its board allowed Abhinav Cotspin to repay a portion of the PSIDC share between the years 2016 and 2021. This meant the company would not be required to pay interest as the loan, the repayment which would start in 2016, would be treated as a zero rate loan. The company is owned by Mr Ashwani Sekhri, Parliamentary Secretary, Punjab. This was to be ratified by the PAB.

Apart from this the PSDIC will be suffering losses running into crores of rupees. Also, the one-time settlement scheme of the Punjab Government to recover money from defaulting industrial units had lapsed on June 30,2004. Abhinav Cotspin applied after the last date and the PSIDC had decided that any matter to condone the delay in applying had to be done at the level of Council of Ministers. In other words, the board of the PSIDC probably realised in retrospect that it was incompetent to allow any such benefits on its own.

The other case mentioned in today’s edition of The Tribune was of Harpartap Steel. The PSIDC has allowed it concessions even as it was not covered under the rules for the OTS. Since this company did not start production, it was not even eligible. Despite that it was allowed to sell off a 15 acre plot in Mohali for a whopping Rs 146 crore to a private developer. Questions are being raised why the PSIDC did not stake a claim to a proportionate share from the sale proceeds. Also, the Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation sold a 3 acre plot in Mohali for Rs 80 crore at an open auction. So, the price of the land can well be imagined.

The third beneficiary, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, a former Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, who owns Brahma Steyrs, was to be given one more extension to implement the financial closure of his project. The PSIDC had cleared his case. The PAB in the past has been benevolent. 


IT notices to colonisers
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 5
The Directorate of Investigation (Income Tax Department) has detected ‘illegal’ transactions (traditional word Hora writing) relating to sale and purchase of prime properties, involving evasion of stamp duty worth several crores.

The Income Tax Department has issued notices to the colonisers, directing them to explain the difference between rate of property, fixed by the District Collector and the prevailing market rates.

This is likely to open Pandora’s Box since the real estate developers and the clients who tear off the ‘Hora’ after the deal is finally signed. The revenue authorities have to register the deeds as per the collector rates which are abysmally low compared to the prevailing market rates. On an average 150 sale/purchase deeds are registered every day in Amritsar City alone while its number is much more in the entire district.

When contacted, Mr Rajesh Sharma, Tehsildar, admitted that there was huge difference between the collector rates and market rates; with the result the sellers and purchasers hoodwink the state by evading stamp duties. The traditional ‘Horas’ are invariably destroyed and never registered with the revenue authorities.

The loss of revenue could be gauged from the fact that besides residential plots being sold in the various colonies, the commercial complexes including malls , hotels and other business establishments which had been sold at mind boggling rates. The auction on The Mall which had fetched a record Rs 78500 per square yards by the Municipal Corporation last year had already set the rates for commercial properties. The unexpected boom in the real estate was witnessed recently when big colonizers from New Delhi started investing in the holy city.

Interestingly, the collector rates which were increased from Rs 9,000 to Rs 11,000 in the Ranjit Avenue were reversed by the state government, facilitating the big players in the real estate to make money. The fact remains that the auction of Improvement Trust in Ranjit Avenue fetched Rs 22,500 for per square yard.

However, a colonizer said that the evasion of stamp duty could be curbed if it (stamp duty) is lowered. 


Schools yet to wake up to dengue threat
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 5
While dengue threat looms large over Punjab, managements of schools here and in adjoining areas are yet to wake up to the enormity of the situation as they are still making students to wear summer dress, shorts and half-sleeved shirts, ignoring the dengue prevention tips of the Punjab Health authorities. The authorities have recommended that people should cover body fully to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

Meanwhile, the health authorities have decided to issue specific guidelines to the schools that they should either advance the introduction of winter dress, which is normally introduced in November or should at least make students wear such clothes, which could cover their most of body.

Apart from the managements of schools, particularly those of private and public schools, instructions will also be given to District Education Officers (Primary and Secondary). The health authorities will ask them that they should make it sure that schools adhere to dengue-preventive tips and make students aware about the disease.

Their advice to take preventive measures seems to have fallen on deaf ears in case of schools. Students still come to schools in shorts and half-sleeved shirts. There are certain public schools, which make their students wear shorts and half-sleeved dresses even during peak of winters.

“This can pose a potent dengue threat. So, we are going to ask the schools and the DEOs to take requisite steps. Schools are being asked to not only introduce appropriate dresses covering most of body, but also to create awareness among children about other preventive steps,” said Dr J.P. Singh, Civil Surgeon.


Suspected dengue case in Patiala
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 5
A young engineer, suspected to be suffering from dengue, was admitted to a local hospital today.

Mr Harpreet (23), a resident of Ratan Nagar here and working as an engineer in a business firm at Ghaziabad in Uttar Pardesh, was admitted to the local government hospital this afternoon.

Dr Rakesh Gupta, Civil Surgeon, Patiala, said Mr Harpreet was given treatment for dengue. He was made to undergo blood transfusion to increase the platelet count. He added that Mr Harpreet was responding to the treatment.

Dr Gupta said though it could not be said with certainty that Mr Harpreet was suffering from dengue, the symptoms suggested so.


Dengue: Singla asks depts to ensure cleanliness
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 5
Mr Surinder Singla, Health Minister, Punjab, has asked all departments concerned to ensure cleanliness and check unhygienic surroundings all over the state. He said a multi- disciplined approach was required for the prevention of dengue fever in Punjab.

Mr Singla said this at a high-level meeting of the State Task Force to review the latest dengue situation in the state. The minister also enmphasised that awareness campaign be intensified for the prevention of this deadly disease.

He has asked the Department of Rural Development and Panchayats to take up the task of generating extensive awareness campaign amongst the masses.

Mr D.S. Guru, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, said instructions had been given to all Civil Surgeons in the state to make announcements from, common places like mandirs, gurdwaras and community centres in rural as well as urban areas regarding dengue prevention. He also said rapid response teams had been constituted in the department to visit affected areas. 


Garbage all around despite dengue outbreak
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 5
Even after dengue cases are on rise in neighbouring areas and a patient suspected of being infected with dengue was reportedly admitted to the PGI, the district health authorities have yet to swing into action.

The Deputy Commissioner may have issued instructions to municipal councils and health authorities to make appropriate arrangements to cope with the disease, but in reality the scene was quite different. A visit to different areas of the city revealed garbage still being dumped in open along the roads and puddles of water in localities. The conditions were worse along the canal where the garbage and waste continue to get heaped.

In many places like Uchha Kehra, Mata Rani, Chhota Khera, Sham Nagar, Guru Nanak colony, waste water was still released in open drains. But none of the officials even visited these areas.

When contacted, the civil surgeon, Ropar, S.P Sharma, said one suspected case of dengue went to the PGI but there was no information about it. He said with a view to spread awareness about dengue fever, a team comprising of Dr Rakesh Gupta, an epidemiologist, and Sanitary Inspector Dharmpal visited vulnerable slum areas, including Shampura, a Muslim colony, places near the bus stand and railway station and the Sadavart gurdwara. Steps have also been taken for sprinkling BHC powder and fogging operations in the city and slum areas, he added. 


Decision to give Lahore ‘political, not personal’
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 5
“It was a political decision taken much earlier and not the personal decision of Lord Cyril Radcliffe, Chairman of the Boundary Commission, to give Lahore to Pakistan”, said Prof Kirpal Singh, reacting to what Mr Kuldip Nayar has written in his book, “Scoop, Inside Stories from Partition to the Present.”

Prof Kirpal Singh, who has himself written well-documented books on Partition, had himself interviewed Radcliffe on July 23,1964, much earlier than Mr Nayar, who interviewed him in 1971. Not agreeing with what Mr Nayar has written in his book, Prof Kirpal Singh, who retired as Head, Punjab Historical Studies Department, Punjabi University, Patiala,says that the decision to give Lahore to Pakistan was taken by the Partition Council.

However, members of the Punjab Assembly from the Eastern region had refused to leave Lahore. Along with officers, they insisted that it should be given to India. As the situation started turning volatile, Lord Mountbatten himself visited Lahore on July 20, 1947, and directed the representatives of East Punjab to vacate the city by August 10. Lord Mountbatten told the authorities concerned to post officers allocated to East Punjab in all districts except Amritsar,Gurdaspur and Ferozepore by withdrawing from the areas given to West Punjab. The posting of officers allocated to East Punjab was deferred for some time in Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Ferozepore because some parts of these districts were to be given to West Punjab.

Prof Kirpal Singh said the Railways was the first to accept Wagah as the border. Attari was declared the last station in Indian territory on the Amritsar-Lahore rail line. Moreover, the Punjab Assembly, which met on June 23, had accepted the notional division of Punjab as East and West Punjab. And the decision was conveyed to the Boundary Commission on June 26.

He said that the Ferozepore and Zira areas were given to India on the insistence of the late Master Tara Singh, who had come to know that these areas were being given to Pakistan and made a strong protest against the decision. He said Ferozepore and Zira had no contiguity with the Jammu area. It was Gurdaspur district which had contiguity with Jammu. He said that as Sikhs protested in large numbers against the giving of Ferozepore and Zira, the Boundary Commission’s award was modified to give these areas to East Punjab. In fact, Lord Mountbatten wrote a detailed letter about the unrest among Sikhs for giving Sikh-dominated areas to West Punjab. To pacify the Sikhs, the award was modified, he added.


Youth Cong to hold rallies
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 5
The Youth Congress will hold yuva chetna rallies and jan sampark meetings in all district headquarters during the next 25 days to mobilise its activists for the forthcoming Assembly poll, said Mr Vijay Inder

Singla, president of the Punjab Youth Congress, while addressing a press conference here today.

Regarding reshuffle in the Youth Congress, he said it would take place once the rallies were over and any extension of the tenure of its district presidents would depend on their performance in these rallies and the turnout. He made it clear that “non-performing” district chiefs would be removed. He said the district presidents, who had crossed the age barrier of 35, would also be removed with the only exception being the ones whose age was a little higher then 35 and were performing well. He said he would seek special permission for the latter from the high command.

He ruled out any groupism in the Youth Congress and said there was great enthusiasm among the workers. He said a team comprising 11-15 members of the Youth Congress would be formed in all villages for the ruling party’s election campaign. 


SAD meeting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 5
To gear up the party for the October 15 state-level protest demonstration, which will be held here at Matka Chowk, the Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has convened an urgent meeting of all party MPs, MLAs and district presidents of the party.

The secretary of the SAD, Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, said the meeting would be held at Gurdwara Manji Sahib, Alamgir, near Ludhiana, on October 7.


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