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Honest Cong MLAs need not fear: Sukhbir

Amritsar, March 26
Honest Congress MLAs and other workers need not fear the present government, as the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance will not cause any harm to them.

Addressing mediapersons here today, working president of SAD Sukhbir Singh Badal urged the Congress leaders not to flee the state as the government would not to pursue the policy of vendetta but hastened to add that law would take its own course against errant leaders. Commenting on cases registered by the Vigilance Bureau against former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and his cabinet colleagues in the infamous City Centre scam of Ludhiana, Badal said the bureau was only acting on the basis of an enquiry conducted under the previous regime. He added that the present government had only pursued the conclusions drawn up by the bureau which was looking into the multicrore scam.

Assuring people of the state of proper development, the Akali leader said wasting energy in the negative direction and witch-hunt of Congress leaders would be avoided.

Maintaining that the main agenda of the party and the government would be to eradicate the menace of drugs in the state, Sukhbir said he had given clear-cut instructions to the police and other authorities to come down with heavy hand against the drug peddlers. He said the state was going through a serious crisis on account of drug abuse and said it was the duty of all segments of the society, including NGOs, to put up a joint front to launch an allout war against this evil.

Expressing dismay over the stagnation of agriculture in the state the SAD working president said the growth was dismally low because of “wrong policies” adopted by the central government. He strongly recommended that farmers must get remunerative prices of his produce which should commensurate with the rising costs of inputs. Lashing out at the union government, Badal said while the government was importing wheat from Australia at the rate of Rs 1100 per quintal, it was offering Rs 850 as MSP to the Indian farmers. He suggested that the government must rationalise the agriculture policy to meet the aspirations of the peasantry which was caught in a vicious debt trap resulting in alarming rise in the suicide by the farmers.

Answering queries on the supply of atta and dal at Rs 4 and Rs 20 per kg, Badal said the Chief Minister had already directed the district authorities in the state to prepare complete, authentic data on families earning less than Rs 30,000 per annum. He said the scheme to give these essential items would commence by the middle of May this year as promised by his party in its election manifesto.

He said the government had undertaken work to set up Amritsar development authority for the planned development of the city. He said the holy city would be the best futuristic city of the country in the coming years. Later, Sukhbir Badal addressed a meeting of Akali ministers, MLAs, MPs, district presidents and workers to understand their problems at the grass-root level.

 

City Centre Project
Amarinder, others got 100-cr kickbacks: FIR
Jupinderjit Singh and Rajneesh Lakhanpal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
Kickbacks worth at least Rs 100 crore had allegedly been received by former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh along with ex-minister Jagjit Singh, ex-PPCC president H.S. Hanspal and former chairman of the Improvement Trust, Ludhiana, in the controversial City Centre Project, the FIR lodged by the vigilance bureau states.

A copy of the FIR was procured by The Tribune late this evening as vigilance officials were not providing the document and even MP Preneet Kaur, wife of Capt Amarinder Singh had to move a local court seeking the copy.

The FIR states Sibia as the main player, whose actions and decisions were ignored and abetted by the politicians.

Tracing the sequence of events, the FIR, lodged on the report of the SSP, vigilance bureau, Ludhiana, does not specifically states how the kickbacks were paid, who gave them and what was the evidence specifically against the former Chief Minister.

His role is indicated in the FIR when it states that Sibia overruled the directions of the principal secretary, local bodies. The matter went to the Chief Minister, who in at least two meetings between May and November, 2005, discussed the issue.

The FIR then proceeds to state that the complaint of kicbacks was received against the CM and others by MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, BJP leader Avinash Rai Khanna and others at Sarabha Nagar police station. The complaint was then forwarded to the vigilance bureau.

The allegation of Rs-100 crore kickbacks is further sought to be strengthened by mentioning the case of another former chairman of the Improvement Trust Ashok Singh Garcha. He has resigned from the post alleging some person connected to the All-India Congress Committee had told him to arrange Rs 100 crore from the city centre project.

Garcha did not name the man who told him to do so in the last three years. He is quoted in the FIR that one Capt Rajesh had made the phone call to him.

Regarding the former PPCC president, the FIR mentions that Garcha had told him about the call by Capt Rajesh but he denied the Congress was seeking any kickbacks. Hanspal told Garcha to go on with his work but a few days after that he was told to resign, the FIR states.

 

Unauthorised zoo poses bird flu threat
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala March 26
The unauthorised zoo in Baradari Gardens here poses bird flu threat. About 50 exotic birds, mostly pheasants, are being kept in enclosures constructed by the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) here in violation of norms. The sources in the department of wildlife while speaking on condition of anonymity said these pheasants were prone to spreading bird flu if not kept under proper care and observation.

Interestingly, PUDA was maintaining the exotic birds in the zoo instead of the wildlife department of the state. The PUDA authorities which had no expertise on the subject were forced into the job due to whims of the previous government. Recently the Central Zoo Authority in a communication to the wildlife authorities of states has warned of the threat of bird flu posed by birds being in captivity. The communication was released after reported cases of bird flu in falcons kept in captivity in Kuwait.

However, the PUDA authorities managing the zoo here have no knowledge about symptoms of bird flu or about the proper upkeep of exotic birds being kept there. The sources here said many of the exotic birds being kept in the zoo were shifted from the new Moti Bagh Palace of the former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

The executive engineer PUDA here Nirmal Singh Kahlon when contacted admitted that many of these birds were shifted to the Baradari Gardens zoo from the Moti Bagh Palace. Some of the birds for the zoo were also purchased by a committee constituted by the government. We have written to the Department of Wildlife to take over the zoo. However, they have not yet responded to the request. When asked about the bird flue threat posed by the exotic birds kept in their captivity, he said we had no knowledge about it.

The DFO wildlife, Patiala division, Nidhi Shrivastava when contacted said that she could not comment about the bird flue threat from the birds in Baradari Gardens zoo as she had not studied them. PUDA has now written to my office for taking over the zoo. However, it cannot be done without the prior permission of the chief wildlife warden.

The member-secretary of the Central Zoo Authority BK Sharma said that the exotic birds kept in enclosures did not fall under the category of zoo as per their definition. However, still any organisation keeping the exotic birds under captivity has to have proper permits for importing the birds. Besides, the norms for prevention of cruelty to animals also have to be observed while keeping such animals or birds.

Sandeep Jain, chief coordinator of the Care of animals and protection of environment society, has condemned the government move to get unauthorised zoos opened.

 

Balle-balle, from UK to Jalandhar
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 26
A team of senior functionaries of the UK police arrived here today. No, it's not an official visit but the wedding of the son of their Punjabi colleague that has brought them here. They will watch the spectacle of a typical Punjabi wedding with all traditional ceremonies as a son of Bobby Dev, their colleague, ties the knot on March 29.

The British police officials include a former deputy chief constable Martin Davies and Steve Redhall, whose rank is equivalent to an IG (Headquarters).

Talking to The Tribune, Dev, father of the groom, who has been working with the UK police for the past seven years, said it was the pull of Punjab that had brought his colleagues here all the way from London. “There is nothing official about the visit. Most of them are coming to India for the first time and it is a perfect opportunity for them to get a clear perception about the Indian culture and enrich their knowledge by learning more about our country,” he says.

Weeks of shopping has gone into the preparations for the wedding and the wives and daughters of the police officials are all set to sport saris at the wedding. “It will be a treat to watch my colleagues dressed up in kurta-pyjamas, giving competition to the local guests,” Dev said.

“Even though I have been living in the UK for the past 30 years, I am completely rooted in Indian culture and I wanted to pass on the Indian traditional values to my son by hosting a traditional wedding for him. It will be an out-and-out Punjabi wedding. I'm sure it will be an enriching experience for the guests,” he added.

“One of our guests, Davis, was instrumental in initiating the police exchange programme between Indian and UK Police Departments. The programme has become very successful as both sides get to know more about the cultural diversity,” said Dev.

The guests plan to attend the evening ceremony at Wagah, besides paying obeisance at the Golden Temple. They will also visit the Maharaja Palace Museum in Kapurthala in the evening and the wedding ceremony in Jalandhar.

The team comprising 43 persons, including eight children, arrived in Amritsar on a Jet Airways flight this afternoon.

 

Boy’s murder
Tantrik’s disciple arrested
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, March 26
Rajinder Singh, accused of strangulating his 11-year-old son Arshpreet to death inside Dalima Vihar Gurdwara in the wee hours of March 23, allegedly "sacrified" his son to cure his ailing wife.

This fact came to light with the arrest of Jagdish Chand, a disciple of tantrik Shamsher Singh, who allegedly instigated Rajinder Singh to "sacrifice" his son to cure his wife Gursharandeep Kaur, a kidney patient.

Rajinder had said during interrogation that Jagdish had incited him to commit the crime, police sources said here today. Acting on information, Jagdish, a motor machanic, was arrested by the police from Gajju Khera village, near here, today city SHO Bikramjit Singh Brar said.

Depressed over prolonged illness of his wife, Rajinder came in contact with Jagdish about three months back. Both visited the dera of a tantrik in Mohali, seeking a cure for Gursharandeep, who reportedly showed some improvement after visits to the dera.

Rajinder's faith in occult powers of the "Baba" seemed to have been strengthened with the improvement in his wife's condition. Jagdish reportedly visited Rajinder's house on March 22 night to convince him on the child sacrifice to "save" his wife.

Jagdish is reported to have told Rajinder that he could beget another son if his wife recovered from the life-threatening disease. Jagdish reportedly acted under the influence of the tantrik.

Rajinder was held on the complaint of the priest of the gurdwara, who saw him stragulating the child.

The police is conducting raids on the dera premises of tantrik Shamsher Singh, who has reportedly amassed huge wealth and has several properties in Mohali and Patiala districts. 

 

Sanskrit seminar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 26
The Department of Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit of Guru Nanak Dev University will organise a one-day national seminar on "Description of Punjab in Sanskrit literature" on March 29 at the conference hall.

Dr Lekh Ram Sharma, director of the seminar said, Dr Ved Parkash, pro vice-chancellor of Gurukul Kangri University, Hardwar, will inaugurate the seminar.

More than 50 scholars from across the region will participate.

 
 


Record of 3 Pak women’s visit may yield valuable information: Bitta
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 26
The record maintained by CRPF personnel who allegedly accompanied Capt Amarinder Singh, former Chief Minister, and his three Pakistani women friends to New Delhi, Jaipur and Ajmer Sharif is likely to yield valuable information in the coming days.

All-India Anti-Terrorist Front (AIATF) chief Maninderjit Singh Bitta who personally collected the 'facts' about the stay of Capt Amarinder Singh and his Pakistani women guests by visiting the farm house near Mehrauli (New Delhi), Jaipur and Ajmer Sharif alleged that the former CM spent 'several nights' leaving his Punjab police security behind. The AIATF chief claimed that he personally collected the 'secret' itinerary of the former CM and his Pakistani friends from the waiters, staff and CRPF jawans who stood guard outside the farm house, five star hotel and guest houses. He alleged that the then DIG, Security, of the ex-Chief Minister, Khubi Ram, accompanied Captain Amarinder Singh and his three Pakistani women friends throughout their itinerary. He alleged that Natwar Singh, brother-in-law of the former CM, had also 'sold' India's secrets to Pakistan during his stint as Foreign Minister.

Levelling serious charges of moral turpitude, Bitta alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh remained in the company of three Pakistani women in the last week of December 2006. In the months of January, February and March, Amarinder again accompanied them to other destinations which was kept 'top secret.’

Capt Amarinder Singh had reportedly entered into wedlock with Arusa Alam, a Pakistan-based journalist. Though he had described such reports as 'baseless, misleading and concocted', yet Arusa Alam never denied the reports of her second marriage.

Bitta alleged that Arusa attended many social gatherings, arranged in Army cantonments at the behest of Amarinder and it was feared that she had collected vital information on Indian security. Bitta sought a high-level inquiry into the matter. The AIATF chief produced documentary proof, including press clippings, that showed Captain Amarinder Singh attending many functions in foreign countries organised by Sikh militants during his stint as Chief Minister. He also produced a picture of Captain Amarinder Singh standing alongside Baba Harnam Singh Dhumma, chief of the Damdami Taksal and successor to Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. Presenting another picture pertaining to the visit of the former Chief Minister to the Dixie gurdwara in Canada, Bitta said the “designs of the ex-CM were clear and he wanted to revive militancy in the state.”

The AIATF chief called upon the Congress high command to expel Amarinder Singh from the party due to his alleged anti-national activities. He alleged that Captain Amarinder Singh and Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee chief Paramjit Singh Sarna had close links with Pakistan-based militants.

 

Parents want coach arrested
Death of state-level gymnast
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 26
The death of state-level gymnast Manpreet Kaur, a student of plus two of Government Senior Secondary School, The Mall, who was found hanging from the ceiling fan in the hostel here on January 17, today took a new twist when her parents alleged that their only daughter was killed by someone.

Coming down heavily on the police, they alleged that the school coach, who was rounded up after the death of their daughter, was later let off following pressure. Jasbir Singh, a carpenter, and his wife Malkit Kaur, residents of Heir village, near Rajasansi, claimed that their daughter visited home on the eve of Lohri festival and she spent a good time with the family. The mother of the deceased, however, alleged that Manpreet (the deceased) used to complain against her coach, Ish Devgan. She had been insisting on changing her school due to alleged harassment by Devgan who would “harass Manpreet since he had been promoting another gymnast” of the school.

The parents alleged that though the police had sent DNA samples to laboratories, yet they (the parents) had been kept in the dark about the developments. "We are not being taken into confidence by the police,” alleged Jasbir Singh.

However, S.S. Srivastava , district police chief, said the family would be given justice. He said it would take some time to get the reports of the DNA tests.

It may be mentioned here that the body of the gymnast was recovered from the room when her hostel mates broke open the door in the absence of any response from inside despite repeated knockings on the intervening night of January 16 and 17.

Even though the post-mortem report mentioned that the deceased was found one-month pregnant, yet the parents alleged that it was 'manipulated' by vested interests.

The diary of the deceased revealed that she had an affair with a Chandigarh-based boy also. The boy was also released by the police after preliminary investigations.

 

Treat girl child on par with male, says CJ
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, March 26
Mr Virender Jain, Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court here today called upon the judiciary to play active role in the elimination of social evils specially female foeticide. He was here to preside over a seminar organised by Baba Farid Law College on “female foeticide”. He stated society should develop high moral values and accept the girl child as it accepts the male child. He said women should come forward to check female foeticide. “Though the judiciary is putting in its best efforts in this regard, but the problem can only be solved when society resolves to put an end to this evil”, asserted Mr Justice Jain.

Earlier, addressing lawyers and judicial officers at the district court complex, Mr Justice Jain said there could be some delay in the delivery of justice in some cases, but this has not affected faith of the masses in the judiciary.

He was accompanied by Mr Justice Mehtab Singh, Mr Justice Satish Kumar Mittal, Mr Justice Ranjit Singh Randhawa, who were welcomed by Mr Inderjit Singh Sekhon, chairman of the Baba Farid educational institutes. Present on the occasion were Deputy Commissioner Rakhi Gupta Bandhari and MLA Avtar Singh.

 

Who will bail out PSEB?
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 26
The Punjab State Electricity Board is going to seek a steep hike in power tariff to tide over the financial crunch. The board is in dire straits as far as finances are concerned to buy power from other states this summer.

In the peak months of summer the power-surplus states sell power only on direct payments. The power is available at Rs 7 per unit to the PSEB. It has to sell it at subsidized rates to the customers and free to tubewells.

However, the debt of the board has increased to over Rs 2,000 crore. It will make situation difficult for the board to seek further loans from the financial institutions. Due to uncertainty of funds the PSEB experts are uncertain about options available to them for purchase of power during the summer.

The PSEB would either have to hike tariffs or seek government support for generating cash.

Highly placed sources said the PSEB was seeking about 30 to 35 per cent hike in power tariff. The steep hike was being justified as the urban customers would have to bear the burden of free power being provided to tubewells in the state. The board was going to file a tariff revision petition with the power regulatory commission and the decision on it is expected by July. The commission had rejected the power tariff hike plea of the board last year.

As per Section 65 of the Electricity Act, the government has to pay in advance to power boards for any subsidy they want to give on power. However, in Punjab successive governments have been directing the PSEB to supply free power to tubewells but have not been providing compensation. This has increased the financial burden to such an extent that very soon the financial institutions might close their doors on the board.

The sources in the board stated that if government failed to bail out the board, then it might lead to long power cuts. They blamed the previous government also for worsening the financial position of the board. Last year being the election year, the previous government bought power at very high rates to keep the power cuts at the minimum.

 

Demand to withdraw ‘kar sewa’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 26
In a petition filed before the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission, Baldev Singh Sirsa, a resident of Khanwal village near Ajnala in Amritsar, has demanded that the 'kar sewa' work in gurdwara Sahib Talab Baba Kishan Kanwar, along with samadhs and Gurdwara Shri Hargobind Sahibji and ‘tap asthan’ allotted to Bhagwant Bhajan Singh should be withdrawn.

The petitioner has alleged that Baba Bhagwant Singh had built a palatial private dera from the funds collected in the name of 'kar sewa' and is out to carve a passage to his dera from the 'parikarma' of the gurdwara pond. Consequently, he has demanded that the resolution for allotting 'kar sewa' work to Bhagwant Bhajan Singh should be cancelled.

The 20 respondents in the petition include the SGPC through its secretary, SGPC president Avtar Singh and general secretary-cum executive member Sukhdev Singh Bhaur.

The petitioner further alleged that the respondents, in connivance with each other, had committed acts of nonfeasance, breach of trust, and gave undue favours to Bhagwant Bhajan Singh, making themselves liable under Section 142 of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925.

 

Implement mega projects, says Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today instructed the principal secretary, industries, to ensure the implementation in a stipulated period of all mega projects which were approved strictly according to the industrial policy by the previous government.

Badal's instructions to the principal secretary has set at rest speculation that the SAD-BJP government will scrap the mega projects cleared by the previous government.

Besides, the Chief Minister has held detailed discussions with the principal secretary, local government, to execute various ongoing development projects in the urban areas to provide basic civic amenities.

 

Sex ratio: aid for villages

Patiala, March 26
The department of public health and family welfare has decided to provide financial incentive to villages achieving parity in sex ratio. The district health department has provided cheques worth Rs 3 lakh each to five village panchayats of the district for achieving sex ratio of 1,000 or above in favour of women.

Stating this, Civil surgeon Rakesh Gupta said the health department had also launched a number of schemes, including Balri Rakhsha Yojana, to discourage female foeticide. — TNS

 

Trident case: BKU leader gets bail
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 26
Senior vice-president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) Jhanda Singh Jethuke was today released from the Barnala subjail as he was granted bail by a Barnala court.

Earlier as per the promise by the Punjab Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal, with the union leaders at a meeting held on March 22 at Chandigarh, the state president of the BKU (Ugrahan) Joginder Singh Ugrahan was released on bail on March 23. The Chief Minister had ensured the release of Ugrahan and Jethuke to solve the Trident land acquisition issue.

Talking to The Tribune this evening, the general secretary of the BKU (Ugrahan) Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan said though Jethuke had been released on bail today, the Barnala Deputy Commissioner had already written on March 23 last to the Principal Secretary, Home Affairs, Punjab, for withdrawal of the case against Jethuke, registered under Sections 353, 307, 186, 332, and 506 of the IPC on February 18, 2006 at Dhanaula police station.

Jethuke was arrested by the Barnala police on November 9 last in connection with February 18, 2006 case. The case was registered against some persons for injuring an Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) with a sharp-edged weapon at Fatehgarh Chhanna village (near Barnala). The attack on the ASI was reportedly made when men of Abhishek Industries Limited (Trident group) were taking possession of the acquired land at Fatehgarh Chhanna village.

On November 9, he was arrested near Dhaula Pindi village when he and about 200 farmers were returning home in vehicles after holding a rally and taking out a protest march in the streets and bazar of Dhaula village (near Barnala) against the acquisition of 376 acres in Dhaula, Fatehgarh Chhanna and Sangherra villages by the Punjab government for Abishek Industries Limited, known as Trident group.

 

India second largest cotton producer
K S Chawla

Ludhiana, March 26
India has emerged as the second largest producer of cotton in the world after China this year with 11 per cent increase in the production over the production of the last year.

Cotton production of India during the current year is estimated at 4.6 million tonnes whereas the Chinese cotton production is estimated at 6.73 million tonnes. India has beaten USA which was holding the second position in cotton production in the world. The cotton production of USA is estimated at less than 4.50 million tonnes.

India is now also the second largest nation in the consumption of cotton in the world with 4.1 million tonnes whereas China holds first position with 10.50 million tonnes of cotton consumption.

According to the sources close to the textile industry, total cotton production in the country's likely to cross 270 lakh bales this year with Gujarat leading the other states.

Cotton production in Gujarat is estimated at 95 lakh bales while Maharashtra 53 lakh bales. Punjab has recorded the highest cotton production this year to the tune of 26 lakh bales which was equal to 1992-93 production.

After 1992-98, there was steep fall in the cotton production in Punjab due to the attack of bollworm.

The increase in cotton production has been possible mainly due to the introduction of Bt cotton varieties which were tested by Punjab Agricultural University for three years.

The approval of Bt cotton varieties could be made possible with the efforts of Dr B C Gupta, former financial commissioner (Development), who prevailed upon the ICAR and the Ministry of Science and Technology to release Bt. Cotton varieties for Punjab two years ago.

According to D L Sharma, executive president of the Vardhman Group, the cotton growers in Punjab have benefitted this year as the prices of narma (American ) cotton continued to rule high despite there was rise in cotton production in the country as a whole.

Right from the start of cotton arrivals in the mandis in the months of December, January and February, the prices ranged from Rs 2100 to Rs 2200 per quintal. At present, the narma was being quoted at Rs 2350 to Rs 2500 per quintal.

Meanwhile, cotton arrivals in the mandis of Punjab have dwindles to nearly three thousand bales daily.

Sharma maintained that with the introduction of Bt cotton varieties there was less expenditure on sprays of pesticides and rise in the prices helped the cotton growers having good financial returns this year.

This has resulted in the revived enthusiasm among the farmers to bring more area under cotton in Punjab.

The increase in the production of cotton has also resulted in more export of the same and so far nearly 45 lakh bales have been exported to mainly China followed by Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand and Korea. The total export of cotton will touch 50 lakh bales this year. In Pakistan, there was shortfall of 30 lakh bales this year.

Meanwhile, India has imported six lakh bales of fine cotton from the USA and Egypt.

Punjab Agricultural University has emphasised on the Punjab Government to make arrangements for supply of Bt cotton varieties seed in sufficient quantity and also canal water for sowing of cotton from April first to April 30.

PAU vice-chancellor Dr K S Aulakh and his team of experts had a meeting with the chief minister Parkash Singh Badal last week in chalk out cotton action plan.

 

Police goes hi-tech; Internet replaces ‘munshi’ system
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, March 26
Going hi-tech, the district police has done away with the munshi and the daroga system. In the era of computers, munshis and darogas, who were in direct public dealing since the British rule, have now been replaced with the Internet.

The e-mail system has been introduced in the functioning of the department by the district police chief Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, who is also heading the charge of Batala, a separate police district created during militancy.

To ensure accessibility, three mobile cell numbers, 9876170350 at the police control room, 9876424042 at the SSP office and 9814085205 with the SSP, have been made available round the clock. In addition, an e-mail ID (policehelp100@gmail.com) has also been dedicated to receive complaints and suggestions from general public.

Talking to The Tribune, Vijay Pratap Singh claimed that teams of public relation officers (PROs) 
had been constituted to hear public grievances at each police station. Complainants feeling unattended at police stations could contact the PRO team and lodge their complaints.

"We have also separated investigation from law and order at police stations and at the district level as well. We already have standing order from the inspector general of police (IGP) since 1977, however, it was not operational at the police station level. We have implemented it with partial modifications," the SSP claimed.

The complainants can send their complaints to the SSP directly on the e-mail and the FIRs will be registered on the basis of information sent at this account.

Complaint/ suggestion boxes have also been placed at all police stations and public places in Gurdaspur and Pathankot. Informers can drop details of crime and criminals in these boxes.

 

SHO suspended for dereliction of duty
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 26
Ram Parkash, Station House Officer (SHO), city police station, was suspended today by the SSP,Dr Naresh Kumar,for failing to perform his duty when a group of people broke the wall and roof of a shop on the Bathinda-Goniana road and took away goods lying there last night.

The SSP said on being informed about the incident,he sent the DSP (City) to the spot.

Meanwhile, a case was registered against Balbir Singh alias Beer, owner of a goods carrier company, his son, another person, Gurjant Singh, his two sons,Sarbjit Singh and Gurmeet Singh, and Goshi.Besides,the case was registered against 18 persons at the city police station.

The case was registered under sections 448,511,427,148,149,380 and 457 of the IPC on a complaint lodged by Vinod Kumar, who runs the shop.

According to information, the suspects, including the owner of a goods carrier company, came to the car and tractor part shop late last night and after breaking its wall and roof, took away the goods lying there.

When Vinod Kumar who was running the shop after taking it on rent from Gurdev Singh reached there, the suspects threatened him, saying they had bought the shop from Gurdev Singh and wanted him to vacate it.

When Vinod Kumar approached the Kotwali police, he got no help. A senior police official reached the spot only after he tried to approach the district police chief for preventing the suspects from forcibly getting vacated his shop and adequate arrangements for his security.

Vinod Kumar, when contacted, alleged even the presence of the police did not deter the suspects who were about 70 in number from committing the crime.

He said he had taken the shop on rent and a civil suit was pending in a court of law which was filed for its vacation by its owner, Gurdev Singh. The SSP said raids were being conducted to nab the suspects.

 

Inside Babudom
IFS officers seek posting against cadre posts
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala March 26
The Indian Forest Service (IFS) Officers Association of Punjab has demanded that they should be posted against cadre posts in the state. The press secretary of the association, D Raja Shekar, while talking to The Tribune said they met the new minister for forest Tikshan Sud and urged him to restore rule of law by posting IFS officers against cadre posts.

During the stint of the previous government the ad hoc promotees were posted against most of the cadre posts. Almost 80 per cent forest area of Punjab is concentrated in Ropar, Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur districts. The posts of divisional forest officer (DFO) in the said districts were cadre posts reserved for the IFS officers. However, during the stint of the previous Congress government the ad hoc promotees from Punjab forest services officers remained as DFOs in the said districts.

Two IFS officers were posted last year against the newly created DFO wildlife posts in all the said districts.

Sud when contacted said that both the IFS and PFS officers had met him and pleaded their case. I would try to strike a balance in both the cadres. However, the main criterion for posting the officers would be their efficiency and performance. The main objective of the present government would be to increase the forest cover in the state.

The allegations of large-scale mismanagement in the usage of Japan bank-aided project for aforestation in Punjab were reported in the media. Despite the fact that the department of forest claimed that it had brought about 20000 hectares of area under forest cover in the state, the total forest area in the state declined on a large scale as per the report of the forest survey of India.

As per the report released in 2005, during a period ranging from 2001 to 2003 the forest area in the state reduced by about 80000 hectares. The state now has the lowest forest cover in the entire country.

The deputy commissioner, Nawanshahr, Krishan Kumar who is well-known for administrative reforms had also written to the former chief secretary against the transfer of an IFS officer in Garshankar forest division.

The wildlife warden from Hoshiarpur Sukhdeep Bajwa has filed public interest litigation against the felling of forests in the Punjab and Haryana high court. The court had banned felling in the forest but for the management planned as approved by the Union Ministry for Environment.

 

2 cops booked for murdering youth
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, March 26
On the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High court the police has booked two constables on the charge of murder of a youth under Sections 302, 201 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code.

SHO Amarjeet Singh said two constables Jasmail Singh and Baru Ram were booked on the directions of the court and the case had been transferred to the crime branch, Chandigarh for further investigation.

According to information body of Kuldeep Singh son of Ruldu Ram was found in a drain near Raikot.

The police closed the file without investigating the case and declared the case as death due to unknown reasons.

Ruldu Ram, in his complaint alleged there was a mark of bullet injury on the head of his son and the body was cut into three parts. He had alleged Jasmail Singh and Baru Ram, police constables posted at Malerkotla, were involved in the case.

Ruldu Ram had appealed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court and demanded a CBI inquiry into the case. The court directed the police to register a case.

 

Rs 1-cr rice scam detected
Gurbax Puri

Tarn Taran, March 26
Markfed today unearthed a rice scandal during routine physical verification in which rice worth Rs 1 crore was found missing from the rice processing centre, Naushehra Pannuan, here.

The authorities have suspended Naresh Kumar, store keeper, along with another high official, according to unconfirmed reports.

A case under Section 409, IPC, has been registered against Naresh at the Sarhali police station on the statement of Pardeep Kumar, district manager of Markfed. The mill was established six years back in collaboration with Japan.

Police sources stated that 14,159 bags of rice had been found missing from the stock of the mill. The district manager physically had verified the stocks only a month back.

The sources added that the police had marked the inquiry to the anti-fraud staff of the district.

 

Rs 3.18 lakh robbed from PSEB employee
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 26
Four motorcycle-borne youths snatched Rs 3.18 lakh from Punjab State Electricity Board employee Nirmal Kumar here today.

Nirmal was going to deposit the money in a bank near the OCM mill in the Chheharta area when the incident took place. The police has registered a case.

According to information, the four youths tried to snatch the bag containing the money. A scuffle followed as Nirmal tried to resist snatching. However, they whipped out a country-made revolver and pushed him and fled with the bag.

Mr S.S. Srivastava, district police chief, said the police was trying to make sketches of the accused which would be released soon. 

 

Mishaps claim four lives
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 26
Four persons were killed in three road accidents in Hoshiarpur district in the past 24 hours.

According to police sources, Amarjeet Singh (19) died on the spot while his companion Happy Misra, both residents of Hariana town, was seriously injured when a vehicle hit their motorcycle when they were going to the shrine of Goddess Durga at Dharampur village, near here, last night. Happy was taken to a private hospital in Hoshiarpur, where he succumbed to his injuries in the wee hours of today.

In another accident Mohinder Pal of Sherpur Pacca village died on the spot when he fell down from a tractor-trailer when he was also going to the shrine of Goddess Durga at Dharampur.

Gurmit Kaur, wife of Ajit Singh of Kaluwal, succumbed to her injuries at the Civil Hospital, Dasuya, last evening. A vehicle had knocked her down near the village.

 

Woman crushed to death
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 26
A married woman,Manju Moti, was crushed to death by a truck in the cantonment area on the Bathinda-Barnala road while she along with her husband, S. K. Moti, was going to military hospital on a scooter today.

Police sources said the truck driver identified as Nirmal Singh fled the scene. The truck was impounded and a case under Section 304-A of the IPC was registered against Nirmal Singh at Cantonment police station.

The husband of the deceased who suffered multiple injuries was battling for his life in the military hospital.

 

CBI arrests insurance official, surveyor
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
The CBI today arrested a divisional manager, National Insurance Company, along with a surveyor on a charge of taking bribe from an industrialist for the release of a claim.

The CBI team led by a DSP first raided the office of the surveyor, Rajesh Nakra, near old district courts in the evening and nabbed him. It later arrested divisional manager of National Insurance Company A.L Chawla from his office at Kesar Gunj.

The CBI claimed it had the recording of a telephonic conversation between the suspects about the deal.

CBI sources said the team recovered Rs 1.5 lakh from the surveyor which he had accepted from the complainant, Mr Naresh Dhall, a local hosiery trader.

The CBI had conducted the raid on a tip-off by the Anti Corruption Federation of India.

Mr Dhall claimed his factory was destroyed in a fire in January this year.He filed for an insurance claim of over Rs 10 lakh with the company. However, the arrested allegedly demanded their share before passing the claim.

The sources said the team seized several incriminating documents from the two offices.

 

100 robbed of valuables at temple
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 26
Around one hundred devotees, who had come to the historic Kali temple here to pay obeisance on Durga Ashtmi today, were robbed of their mobile phones and other valuables.

Around 100 mobile phones were reportedly lost when devotees got involved in a scuffle. The police remained a mute spectator to the entire incident.

Certain women picked a minor argument over their position in the queue. Soon others joined in and a scuffle among a few women ensued.

Men tried to pacify the women, but the scuffle turned into an ugly fight. The situation was brought under control after a lot of persuasion by other devotees.

Soon after the situation had calmed down, a few women noticed that their mobile phones, purses, jewellery and other valuables were missing. An eyewitness, Kartar Kaur, who had come from Sangrur, said: “As soon as the fight ended, some women started shouting that their mobile phones were missing. Others said they had lost their handbags and jewellery. No policeman came to help us. Our complaints failed to move them.”

According to Hari Prasad, who had come from Chandigarh along with his family, “Proper security arrangements should have been made to avoid situations like this. Besides, there was a traffic chaos on roads leading to the temple”.

According to some volunteers, inadequate security at the temple is the main reason for traffic chaos and thefts. “This is just the tip of the iceberg. Numerous cases of thefts take place during every navratra festival but most of them go unreported”, said a volunteer.

Sub-inspector Bakhshish Singh said: “We have deployed 50 police personnel in and around the temple.” However, a visit to the temple revealed the presence of less than 15 police personnel.

Superintendent of police (city) Mandeep Singh Sidhu said, “So far no incident of theft or scuffle has been reported. However, we will look into the matter."

 

Suicide by lovers

Amritsar, March 26
Two lovers committed suicide today by jumping before a train near Manawala railway station near here.

They were identified as Parul (20) and Sumit (22), both residents of Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. The Government Railway Police has initiated investigation after registering a case under Section 174 of the CrPC.

The police said preliminary investigation showed, both students of a polytechnic in Ghaziabad, had run away from there house on March 24 and came to Amritsar and stayed in a hotel. It said they were identified by their families on reaching here. — OC

 

Parents resent school’s closure
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 26
Students of Kendriya Vidyalaya (KV) No. 2, Air Force station, along with their parents here today held a protest against the decision to close down the school and transfer the students to two other KVs in the city. The school has been running in barracks of the Air Force station and the decision has been taken in view of non-availability of adequate space to construct a building to house the school.

Paramjit Singh, a parent, said the decision had come as a rude shock for the parents and students of the school, which has been running for the past 22 years in the barracks of the station.

The students added that the school was doing well even without adequate infrastructure and many of them might not be able to afford the fee of private schools. If the school can function in barracks for 22 years, there is no urgent need to shift it now.

The school principal said the students had already appeared for their exams and they would join KV No. 1 and 3 after their results are out.

 


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