P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Punjabi youths in BC dying in drug mafia wars: Brar
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 10
Young boys becoming victims of drug mafia wars has become the main concern for Punjabi parents settled in Canada, especially in British Columbia.

As many as 107 youths have been killed in such gang wars in recent months, almost all of them Punjabi immigrants, says Mr Jagroop Singh Brar, a second-time member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia from the Panorama Ridge constituency. Surrey's 20 per cent population is Punjabi.

Several gangs are engaged in selling crystalline drugs prepared from pseudo ephedrine hydrochloride, says Mr Brar, who is here on a short visit. It is a dangerous drug akin to any cough syrup-inexpensive and addictive.

Indo-Canadian gangs, dominated by Punjabis in British Columbia, do business from the streets and settle drugs-related disputes, such as sharing of booty, through violent means.

This often leads to violent deaths, mostly at public places.

With the youths falling prey to the drug mafia, Punjabi immigrants are a worried lot. Mr Brar says he has been urging the federal as well as the provincial government to take the help of experts, NGOs and rehabilitation centres to tackle the problem.

"We have been urging the government to set up a 24-hour helpline to help parents whose wards are forced by gang leaders to join them.", Mr Brar says.

Hailing from Deon village in Bathinda district, Mr Brar, a former international basketball player, migrated to Canada in 1991. He represents the New Democratic Party. He was first elected in October, 2004, in a byelection and the second time in May ,2005, with a bigger margin. He served as a lecturer in Shaheed Bhagat Singh College, Kotkapura, and later as Assistant Director, Youth Services, before leaving the country for greener pastures.

The other problems he lists are domestic violence and evaluation of professionals.

Regulating bodies do not accept Indian qualifications, he says. And many face difficult times clearing the requisite tests to get their qualifications accepted.

“Sometimes it takes two or three years to get this process completed. I have urged the government that since those with professional degrees are allowed to immigrate on point basis, their qualification should be accepted too."


HP schools to have Punjabi from class I
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Kahnuwan/Mukerian, December 10
Punjabi will be introduced in the Himachal Pradesh School Education Board curriculum from the first standard. Himachal Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh stated this to reporters here today. The Hamirpur-Amritsar bus service would also be started by the state soon for the benefit of two states.

Mr Virbhadra Singh also announced the raising of a community centre at Kahnuwan in memory of Maharana Pratap. The centre will be built at Kahnuwan by the Himachal government.

Mr Virbhadra Singh along with Punjab Minister Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa here to inaugurate a gate at Kahnuwan raised in the memory of Maharana Pratap. He also laid the foundation stone of a statue of Maharana Pratap at Kahnuwan.

The statue would be ready by January 7 and all projects launched in the area in memory of Maharana Pratap would cost the government Rs 50 lakh.

The sops were announced to woo Rajput voters in the Kahnuwan area.

Mr Virbhadra Singh said farmers of Punjab had played significant role in green revolution and making the country self sufficient in foodgrains.

However, now the state needed second green revolution. The Himachal will extend full support to Punjab towards it.

Later talking to reporters he said he would campaign for the Congress in the areas of Punjab bordering Himachal. I would also campaign in the Kahnuwan constituency represented by Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa.

Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa said all communities had joined the Congress in his area due to over-all development of the area.

Over 300 crore had been spent in the Kahnuwan area on development works in the past five years. All rural and marshy areas of the constituency now were connected with roads and bridges.

Due to development many panchayats of the opposition parties had joined Congress. This includes the Kahnuwan panchayat one of the biggest panchayats of the area, which was represented by the BJP joined the Congress recently.

Mr K.P.S. Rana who was also present said the Congress was the only party which had given adequate representation to all communities. The Congress had brought peace to Punjab that was hit by terrorism. Peace and progress of the country was possible only under the rule of the Congress, he added.

Mr Davinder Singh Darshi and Vicky office-bearers of the Punjab Rajput Sabha were present on the occasion.

Later Mr Virbhadra Singh also addressed a Rajput Mahasabha function at Mukerian. Speaking on the occasion, he said Maharana Pratap was a martyr who fought for the freedom of the country and became a role model for many others.


Cong leaders violate HC orders on hoardings
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 10
Party ticket-seekers for the forthcoming elections of Assembly have installed more than 300 big hoardings on the various crossings and either side of the road along the route of the yatra from Garhshankar to Nasrala village to welcome the Chief Minister.

The installation of hoardings is a violation of the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the district administration has become a silent spectator on the issue.

In the Garhshankar segment from Samundra to Saila Khurd, Mr Lov Kumar Goldy, MLA, has installed dozens of hoardings, carrying photographs of Ms Sonia Gandhi, Dr Manmohan Singh, Ms Ambika Soni, Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo and his own.

In the Mahilpur segment area, Mr Rakesh Ahir, Deputy Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, who has recently resigned from his post, Dr Dilbag Singh, Senior Medical Officer of Mahilpur Community Health Centre, who has also resigned from his post and Mr Kulwinder Singh, general secretary of the DCC, Hoshiarpur, have installed a number of big hoardings carrying the photographs of the leaders along with their own photographs at Badown, Tutu Mazara, Mahilpur, Bahowal, etc. All these persons are aspirants for the party ticket.

In the Hoshiarpur segment, Mr Sunder Sham Arora, Chairman, Market Committee and media in charge of the DCC, and Mr Inderpal Singh, a lawyer and member of the Disciplinary Committee of the DCC, have installed big hoardings carrying photographs of various Congress leaders and the photograph of Mr Dharampal Sabharwal, a member of the Rajya Sabha and president of the DCC, along with their own photographs.

In the hoardings jointly installed by Mr Naresh Thakur, former minister, and Mr Kuldip Kumar Nanda, general secretary of the PPCC, the photograph of Mr Sabharwal was missing.

Although the date for the Assembly elections is yet to be declared by the Election Commission of India, the ticket-seekers of the Congress have spent lakhs of rupees.

The district administration has launched an “operation clean-up” throughout the route. The road of the route had been repaired. It is learnt that the MC had spent about Rs 10 lakh on installing new lamp posts. Encroachments by shopkeepers have also been removed.


Sidhu prays ‘for justice’
Tribune News Service & UNI

Amritsar, December 10
After his conviction in a road rage death case by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, former BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu today visited the holy city to “seek justice” from the “temple of god”, the Harmandar Sahib. "I offered ardas (prayers) at the Harmandar Sahib and sought justice from the Waheguru", he said as he emerged from the Golden Temple after paying obeisance.

"Though I have full faith in the judiciary and the legislature, still I also have faith in god", he told the waiting reporters outside the shrine. "I am in “chardi kalan” (high spirits), he said when asked how he was feeling after his conviction followed by his resignation from the Lok Sabha.

The cricketer-turned-politician had reason to be elated as a large crowd comprising his well wishers and supporters, including many local SAD and BJP leaders welcomed him with garlands on his arrival at the railway station here.

Addressing his supporters at the railway station, Sidhu said, "My fight is between the Raja and principles". In his speech he, however, did not mention the name of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

Navjot Sidhu said though he had resigned from the membership of Parliament, he would do everything for the people of his constituency.


Maneka lauds Sidhu’s role as MP
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 10
Dr Manmohan Singh was deliberately elected as Prime Minister by the UPA so that tainted politicians could be adjusted as ministers in the government.

Stating this to the media here today, Ms Maneka Gandhi, chairperson, People for Protection of Animals, while extending her support to former BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, said the Prime Minister had also proved to be one of the weakest Punjabis she had even seen.

She said besides Shibu Soren, who had been convicted for murder, there were several MPs who continued to be ministers in the UPA Government. “Mr Sidhu had done the right thing by resigning as Member of Parliament and had set an example for the coming generations,” she added.

Commenting on the conviction of Mr Sidhu, the former Union Minister said since the Assembly elections were approaching, the state government was trying to file cases against BJP and Akali workers to retain power.

Ms Gandhi said Mr Sidhu had proved to be a better MP as no other MP from the holy city had raised his voice for the city in Parliament. She said if the BJP decided to field Mr Sidhu in the elections, Amritsar city would stand to benefit.

She alleged that many Punjab ministers were involved in land grabbing and poaching at Harike Pattan and the state government had failed to take any action in this regard.

Commenting on the UPA Chairperson, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Ms Maneka Gandhi said she was not morally strong.


Probe ordered into land scam
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 10
The Amritsar police has ordered an inquiry into the alleged multi-crore land scam involving the brother of a senior IPS officer, certain senior politicians of the 
ruling party and officials of the local Municipal Corporation.

Mr S.S. Srivastva, district police chief, today confirmed that Mr Chamal Lal Sharma and Mr Lakhwinder Singh, SP (City) and DSP Civil Lines, respectively, had been deputed to probe the matter on the basis of the complaint filed by the Improvement Trust. However, Mr Srivastva said the police had written to the Improvement Trust to produce original documents which were supposed to be enclosed with the complaint. Though the Improvement Trust had mentioned that all the 'relevant documents' were being enclosed with the complaint, yet these were not found in the file.

The district police chief said after the inquiry, legal opinion would be sought before registration of a case.

After dithering for a long time, the Chairman of the Improvement Trust had written to the police for filing the FIR against the company, headed by the brother of a senior IPS officer. The Improvement Trust believes that the land is worth over Rs 100 crore.

The Improvement Trust had alleged that 'bogus deeds' were prepared to usurp its land, opposite the District Red Cross Society office, in connivance with officials concerned.

The Trust had also described the RP Employer Private Limited as a 'bogus' firm.

The Chairman of the Improvement Trust said the complaint had been sent on the basis of the revenue record that established beyond doubt that the prime land belonged to the Trust.

Sources in the Improvement Trust said land-use of the residential area could not be changed by the corporation especially if the case was pending in court.

Meanwhile, the police has ordered yet another inquiry against senior politicians of the ruling party who are at the helm in the Improvement Trust and Municipal Corporation following allegations regarding change in land use of prime land meant for green space.

Mr Lakhwinder Singh, DSP, has been deputed as inquiry officer. The complainant alleged that he and his family members were booked by the police on 'flimsy grounds'.


Punjab may have more DIGs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 10
At least four serving SSPs in Punjab are due for promotion as DIG. Three DIG-level officers are scheduled to be promoted as IG and one IG is expected to be made Additional DGP.

Sources in the Punjab Police confirm that the promotions will be done once a departmental promotion committee (DPC) meeting is convened. Mr G.D. Pandey (1981 batch) is slated to be become ADGP. Three DIGs - Sanjeev Kalra, Parag Jain and H.S. Randhawa - from the 1989 batch are due for promotion as IG.

The SSPs due for promotion, seven of the 1993 batch, are Ms Gurpreet Kaur, Mr Varinder Kumar, Mr Ishwar Singh, Mr J.K. Jain, Mr S.K. Asthana, Ms Shashi Prabha Dwivedi and Mr R.N. Dhoke. These promotions shall hinge on vacancies. Mr Varinder Kumar, Mr S.K. Asthana, Mr R.N. Dhoke and Mr Ishwar Singh are serving as SSPs in the districts.

The question being asked in police circles is about the possibility of non-IPS officer getting a chance to become SSPs.


Proud father of women hockey stars is no more
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 10
Nathu Ram, who passed away on Friday night in a Faridkot hospital, was not an ordinary peon. Father of four international women hockey players, including Olympian Rupa Saini, this illustrious man of 80 died “unknown” on a day when the “political might” of the state had descended on Badal and Moga, the areas Nathu Ram had served all his life.

Fighting penury, he struggled from the one-room dilapidated government house to get his daughters all the support they needed to excel as outstanding sportspersons, in general, and hockey, in particular. While Rupa Saini had the distinction of leading India in the only Olympics (Moscow 1980) country’s women hockey team played, her sisters - Krishna, Swarna and Prema - donned national colours in several international tournaments.

Sainis are perhaps the only example in the country’s sports history where all sisters played for India. Incidentally, they come from a state where prevalence of female foeticide is a “historic shame”.

“He was an idol and a guiding star and I wish every child has a father like him,” remarked Rupa Saini after the mortal remains of Nathu Ram were consigned to flames in the presence of several international hockey players and others in Faridkot this afternoon.

But neither the state government nor the Union Government ever considered it worth to honour this man, who produced four international players on his own. Interestingly, the accumulated service the family rendered to Government Brajendra College is of more than a century. Even whatever was promised to his daughters for their excellence on playfield was also not given to them. A couple of years ago, the Grewal Sports Association honoured Saini sisters and Nathu Ram at the Kila Raipur Rural Olympic Games.

Both Rupa and Prema, started their career with lecturership in the same college.

“All we know is that all of us were born in the same one-room house and grew there,” recalls Rupa, who is now a senior member of the faculty of the Government College of Physical Education at Patiala.

Nathu Ram leaves also behind a son. His son also had a class III job in the Government Brajendra College where Nathu worked his whole life. Only a few years ago the family had moved out of the college premises when Rupa’s brother, Mr Ram Chand, also superannuated. But it was not without a tragic note. Mr Ram Chand had lost his eldest son, Mandeep Saini, in a tragic car accident in 2002. The family later started a hockey tournament in his memory.


Dimpy murder: Tardy probe to be protested
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 10
Accusing the UT police of inaction in the murder case of slain gangster Prabhjinder Singh alias Dimpy and equally blaming the state government for it, his family members today announced that they would take out a “rosh lehar” (protest march) in the Malwa region, starting from his native Chandbhan village on December 13, to form a public opinion on the issue. The march would be followed by a massive “rosh lehar conference” in Kotkapura, which would be addressed by leaders of political parties.

Addressing a press conference here, Dimpy's father-in-law and president of an action committee, formed to take up the case, Mr Hardeep Singh Kadian said fed up with the tardy investigation of the police they had already filed a petition in the high court seeking a CBI inquiry into the case.

Terming it as a "political murder", he claimed that had Dimpy been alive the SAD would have been wiped out from the region in the coming Assembly poll. He alleged that the police had not interrogated Harneev Kaur, the lone eyewitness in the case, who "enticed" Dimpy to come out of the Lake Club on the fateful day. He further alleged that soon after the incident, Harneev drove to her home, along with bullet-riddled Dimpy in her car.

He claimed that her neighbours heard a gunshot after she reached her residence. He alleged that her father admitted her to Sector 16 hospital and didn't intimate anybody about Dimpy's body lying in their car. The body, he claimed, was later spotted by the police. He alleged that Harneev was shifted to the PGI when mediapersons reached the hospital and started posing queries to her.

Mr Kadian said the police was yet to arrest Sandeep Bhau and Rocky, two persons named by Raju, who was reportedly told by them to keep an eye on Dimpy's movements on the day of his murder. He alleged that while Sandeep Bhau was often seen with a senior SAD leader, Rocky used to stay at an Akali MP's residence.

He said though the case was being investigated by the police, the Punjab Government could help the former in tracing these two "conspirators".


Pensioners gives memo to CM
Our Correspondent

Barnala, December 10
The Pensioners Welfare Association observed "Pensioners Day" here today and urged the government to redress their grievances at a function organised by the association.

Mr Inder Yash Bhatti, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Barnala, who was the chief guest, said the district administration would plan for the welfare of the pensioners of Barnala district.

Inderpal Sharma, president, Punjab State Pensioners Confederation, regretted that the Congress had not done what it had promised in poll manifesto.

The association submitted a memorandum to Captain Amarinder Singh, Punjab Chief Minister. The memorandum comprising demands of the pensioners and senior citizens, including enhancement of medical allowance to Rs 500, offering all retiral benefits of Punjab Government pensioners to semi-government departments retirees, removal of certain anomalies etc.

Mr Bawa Datt Rattan, general secretary of the association that he would contest Assembly poll from Barnala Assembly segment.


Illicit relations behind shooting at brother
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 10
Om Parkash Soni, who fired at his brother, Raj Kumar Soni, yesterday at Rawatsar in the neighbouring Hanumangarh area, reportedly told the police that he had conspired to kill his elder brother to strengthen illicit relations with the brother’s wife, besides fetching Rs 5 lakh on account of life insurance claim, the police said today.

According to information received here, Om Parkash had allegedly developed illicit relations with his sister-in-law for the past two months and wanted to eliminate Raj Kumar Soni, a reporter of a Sirsa-based Hindi newspaper. He took his brother on a two-wheeler to the outskirts of Rawatsar last evening under the pretext of meeting two friends. There he pushed him on to the road and fired shots using illicit weapon.

Assuming that his brother had died, Om Parkash rushed back but was nabbed by the police as some persons rushed Raj Kumar Soni to the Civil Hospital from where he was referred to Ludhiana.


Tributes paid to Balwant Gargi
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 10
Tributes were paid to renowned Punjabi dramatist Balwant Gargi by theatre group NTAS on the occasion of Gargi Theatre Samaroh, organised to mark his 90th birth anniversary, here today.

The chief guest, Dr Raj Kumar Gupta, head of Rajan Nursing Home, described Gargi as a legendary figure of the world of Punjabi literature. He announced a cash award of Rs 5,100 to the NTAS for remembering stalwarts of Punjabi literature.

Punjabi play “Jadon Bohl Ronde Ne”, directed by theatre couple Pran and Sunita Sabharwal, was also staged on the occasion.

Mr Shyam Lal Gupta, chief coordinator, NTAS, presided over the function.


Woman commits suicide, 7 booked
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, December 10
A 25-year old married woman, Sukhraj Kaur of Mallaha village, allegedly committed suicide yesterday. She was perturbed by the mental harassment being given by her in-laws.

Seven members of her in-law’s family, including her husband, have been booked under section 306,34 of the IPC by the Verowal police. The case was registered on a statement given by Mr Jagir Singh, father of Sukhraj Kaur. She got married to Jagjit Singh about five years ago.

Jagir Singh in his statement said Jagjit had been forcing his daughter to get the movable and immovable property of her parent registered in his name as Sukhraj Kaur had no brother.

He alleged that Jagjit Singh along with brothers Kala Singh, Baljit Singh and Manjinder Singh and his sister-in-law used to harass Sukhraj regularly. Thus she committed suicide by consuming some poisonous substance. She was admitted to a hospital but died later on. A post-mortem examination was conducted at the local Civil Hospital today.


Panel for free education for scavengers’ children
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, December 10
National Safai Karamchari Commission Chairperson Santosh Chaudhry has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to stop releasing development grants to those states which had failed to stop the practice of scavenging in the country.

Talking to newspersons here today, she sought free education for the kids of scavengers. She alleged that most states were giving false figures about this evil and were diverting the funds on other sectors meant for this purpose only.

She said all officers concerned of the area should be punished if carrying the night soil by scavengers could be detected.

Chaudhry said the commission had released a huge amount of Rs 7.5 millions to the different states since 1993, and 34 per cent share was given only to Uttar Pardesh which openly violated the rules and diverted the funds on other purposes.

She suggested to the Prime Minister to summon a high-level meeting of Chief Ministers of all states only to discuss this issue as the PM had committed to stop this evil by the end of 2007.


Teachers oppose Vikas Yatra
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 10
Thousands of teachers of aided schools in the state today decided to protest against the third phase of the Chief Minister’s Vikas Yatra as their demands have not been accepted. The teachers have been observing an indefinite strike since December 4 demanding pension and other benefits at par with government teachers and release of their salaries.

Giving details at a press conference here, the adviser to the Punjab Aided School Teachers and Other Employees Union, Mr Manohar Lal Chopra, said as many as 1000 teachers, including the president and other office-bearers of the union, had courted arrest in support of their demands.

“Although the government has constituted a five-member committee headed by Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, to solve our problems, no one has invited us for a meeting,” Mr Chopra added.


Unemployed teachers put up medals for sale
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 10
Activists of the Unemployed DPI Teachers’ Union today adopted a novel way to take out protest march in support of their demands.

They put up their medals and trophies on sale during their march as a mark of protest against the government policies.

They urged the government to fill 5,000 vacant posts of DPIs and 500 lecturers in physical education and sought marks on the basis of gradation to the sportsmen and raising the recruitment age to 42 years.


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