P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Thermal plant dyke breaches, plugged 
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 1
A dyke of Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant (GGSSTP) again breached today. The breach in the dyke was detected by the plant authorities today at 9 am.

According to plant authorities, the breach was detected during a routine survey of the area. A hole was formed in the dyke walls from which coal slurry started flowing to Ghanauli drain that ends in Sutlej in the international wetland area of Ropar. The plant authorities stopped the flow of water in dyke and started plugging the hole.

However, the breach in dyke has once again brought to the fore danger posed by coal ash dykes constructed near bank of the Sutlej. Earlier also, the dykes of thermal plant have breached many times and tonnes of fly ash lown into the river.

Besides the dykes of Ropar thermal plant, the coal slurry dykes of National Fetilisers Ltd (NFL) are also constructed on the banks of the Sutlej at Nangal. The coal slurry overflows into the river from these dykes occasionally.

The data collected by scientists from Thapar University, Patiala, on behalf of the Central Pollution Control Board has shown heavy presence of suspended particulate matter in the Sutlej in Nangal and Ropar regions. The presence of high percentage of suspended particulate in river water can be attributed to overflows from fly ash dumps.

The Sutlej water is used for irrigation and drinking in the Malwa region of the state. The pollutants in it affect health of residents of the state.

To safeguard the river water the government should ban setting of polluting industrial waste dumps along the river banks. The industrial waste dumps are established near river banks to facilitate discharge of polluting waste material into the river as it is easiest way to get rid of it.

Many new industries are coming up along the banks of rivers. The previous government sanctioned a distillery along the banks of Beas in Gurdaspur district. Despite the fact many focal points and industrial areas of state are lying vacant, fertile land has been allotted for the distillery near the Beas. The only logic for setting up a plant near the river could be that polluting industrial waste can be released into river water. 


Media adviser to SGPC chief gets back job
4 pc DA for SGPC employees, extension for secy
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, January 1
The SGPC executive in a meeting held here today decided to release 4 pc dearness allowance for its employees. The SGPC president, Avtar Singh, who chaired the meeting, said the increase in DA was meant for employees who were being paid salary by the organisation. 

The employees of schools and colleges of SGPC who were covered under 95 per cent grant-in-aid scheme of the government were entitled to this rise in DA.

The SGPC executive condemned Punjabi killings in the USA in the recent past and added that the Indian government should take up the issue with the US government. The SGPC on its behalf would write to the UN and urge it to take steps for safeguarding the life and property of Punjabis abroad.

Besides, in two other controversial decisions the SGPC executive gave nod to one-year extension to Harbeant Singh, secretary, and reinstated media adviser to SGPC president Daljit Singh Bedi. Bedi had been removed from the post after allegations of moral turpitude. The SGPC executive members from the Opposition Karnail Singh Panjoli and Gurbinder Singh Shampura vehemently opposed his reinstatement. They also opposed the extension given to Harbeant on the plea that it was against the Sikh Gurdwara Act.

The SGPC president, however, denied the charges levelled by the Opposition members. He said Bedi had been reinstated as no charges had been proved against him. He further said the people who had levelled the charges had been called but none turned up. He also denied the charge that any rule had been flouted in granting extension to secretary Harbeant Singh.

The SGPC also sanctioned a budget of Rs 1 crore for the newly established directorate of education for its educational institutions. It also sanctioned a grant of Rs 50,000 for Khatta Singh, former driver of controversial Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, to fight the case against the baba. The other vital issues like increasing retirement age of SGPC employees from 58 to 60 years did not come up for discussion.

Meanwhile, PWD minister from Madhya Pradesh Kailash Vijay Bargia visited Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib today. 


Adding 5,000 MWs
Impossible, say experts
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
Though the Punjab government claims to add 5000 MWs in the next four years in the existing power generation capacity but experts and the PSEB Engineers Association do not agree with it. 

Sources said even the Planning Commission was expecting that Punjab would add a maximum of 1,675 MWs in the 11th Plan that would end in 2012. Of this 1,175 MWs would be in private sector.

In fact, the PSEB Engineers Association in its presentation given to the state government has stated that after the commissioning of the Lehra Mohabbat project, stage-II, no power generating capacity would be added in the state by the end of the Plan. While the state government had planned to have its entire power generation in private sector in the next four years except the Lehra Mohabbat stage-II, states like Haryana, Rajasthan have planned their entire capacity addition programme during the 11th Plan in the govt sector.

Over dependence on the private sector for power generation during the 8th, 9th and 10th Plans has proved costly for the country. Their achievement was only 53.77 per cent, 47.25 per cent and 57.22 per cent of the capacity addition targets fixed for these Plans, respectively.

From 1992 to 2007 the private sector added only 8,433 MWs against the total capacity addition of 56,618 MWs achieved in the country during this period.

Keeping in view all these facts, the PSEB Engineers Association has urged the state government to explore the capacity addition through all means such as private, private-public partnership, joint ventures with NTPC and NHPC and through state funding as is being done by Haryana and Rajasthan. Punjab needs Rs 800 crore in three years (Rs 267 per annum) to set up a 1,000 MW thermal plant.

Meanwhile, sources said certain whole time technical members of the PSEB had conveyed to its chairman Y.S. Ratra and through him to the state government that it would not be in the interest of the state and its consumers to set up new power generating projects in the private sector. They have strongly argued that one proposed new thermal project should be set up by the PSEB. Members want that the Rajpura thermal power project should be given to the PSEB.  


PSEB in save-energy mode
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 1
For conserving energy the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has decided to use compact flourescent (CFL) bulbs at 10 lakh tubewells in the state.

The PSEB chairmain, Y.S. Ratra, said each of these tubewells had two lamp points. Now in place of ordinary GLS bulbs, CFL bulbs would be installed. “This step will result in saving of 150 mVs and there will be about 40 mVs of peak load reduction due to this step.

He said consumers found using GLS bums at tubewells after February 1 would face immediate disconnection without prior notice. 


Vigilance Bureau booked 25 gazetted officers in ’07
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau, said in 2,007 it registered 178 cases of which 126 were trap cases involving 25 gazetted officers (GOs), 111 non-gazetted officers (NGOs) and four private persons who were caught while they were accepting bribe.

He added in the year 39 cases were also registered in which 17 gazetted officers, 55 non-gazetted officers and 76 private persons were involved and 13 cases of disproportionate assets were also registered involving four gazetted officers, nine non- gazetted officers.

The bureau has also registered 67 inquiries in which 46 GOs, 46 NGOs and 18 private persons were involved

The bureau has submitted challans pertaining to 196 cases to the courts in which 41 GOs, 238 NGOs and 48 private persons were involved.

During this period five GOs, 56 NGOs and six private persons were convicted by various courts in 60 cases pertaining to the bureau awarding imprisonment one year to four years imposing fine of Rs 2,73,200/- on the accused. 


Vendetta politics: Cong nails SAD-BJP ‘double standards’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
The Punjab Congress has taken strong notice of “the double standards of the SAD-BJP regime as Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was time and again giving statements that there was no politics of vendetta in Punjab, whereas according to news published today the Kapurthala police has cancelled 16 cases registered against Congress workers in the Bholath Assembly constituency, “found to be fabricated and false.”

Punjab Congress spokesperson Jagmohan Singh Kang and former minister said charge of the Congress party on political vendetta had been vindicated by the revelation following police investigation. He said out of 30 cases registered against Congress workers of Bholath constituency, 16 were found to be false as per statement of the SSP Kapurthala, if such is the case in one constituency only, out of 117 constituencies, the plight of Congress workers could be well gauged ,in the rest.

He said on same day when the police chief of Kapurthala district admitted the above said statement, the Chief Minister, Punjab was commenting there was no truth in the Congress allegation of political vendetta.

Conveying gratitude on behalf of the Congress party to Punjab Governor S.F. Rodrigues, who had intervened after Punjab Pradesh Congress chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal brought to his notice the registering of false cases against Congress workers and sought his intervention. He said only on the intervention of the Governor, a dedicated cell for looking into vendetta cases was established in the police headquarters.

He claimed 57 more cases had been sent by the Punjab Congress after scrutiny by the State Grievances Co-ordination Committee to the ADGP (Crime) for fair and just probe into the same, to ensure justice to the affected Congress workers.

Kang said Punjab Congress would stand by the affected party workers and leaders at every level and not allow the SAD-BJP government to unleash a rein of terror on them. 


Valtoha-VC row intensifies over 
Syndicate meeting

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 1
A tussle between Akali MLA Virsa Singh Valtoha and Guru Nanak Dev University vice-chancellor Dr Jai Rup Singh took a new turn here today with Valtoha “threatening” to take up the issue of not holding the Syndicate meeting for over six months with the government.

Valtoha said the Syndicate, which is the Upper House of the varsity, had not met since June 28, 2007, even though it had a tradition of holding monthly meetings during the Congress regime.

Even the inclusion of three members of the Senate in the Syndicate was also pending as the Syndicate had not had the opportunity to discuss the issue, even though the Senate had given its decision two months ago, said Valtoha.

Dr Jai Rup Singh could not be contacted for comments on the issue.

The Syndicate plays a crucial role in university affairs and it is authorised to make sure the vice-chancellor does not violate the university calendar, besides sitting in judgment for other administrative decisions. “In case the VC falters, the syndicate can give its recommendations to the state government for necessary action,” he said.

Valtoha alleged that the VC views no member of the Syndicate was authorised to reconsider the powers of the Syndicate delegated to him without his prior approval. “This is proof enough of the dictatorial attitude of the VC, even though he is one of the 18 members of the Syndicate,” alleged Valtoha, who has written to the university registrar R.S.Bawa on the issue.

On October 31, the university Senate meeting witnessed unruly scenes when Valtoha and other government nominees opposed any move to authorise the VC to nominate three syndics.

But despite opposition by the government nominees, the senators authorised the VC to nominate any three educationists as syndics much to the chagrin of government nominees. A fuming Valtoha said he and his supporters would give a dissenting note and brought the matter to the notice of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

The supporters of the VC, including Dr Gurnam Singh, a former dean, academic affairs, and Dr Amarjit Singh of the varsity termed the demand of Valtoha and his supporters as a “threat to the autonomy of the university”. 


Trident Land Issue
BKU (U) boycotts meeting
Chandumajra fails to turn up
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 1
Leaders of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) refused to hold a meeting with the Barnala deputy commissioner and other officers as Prem Singh Chandumajra, political representative of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, reportedly failed to turn up at the meeting at PWD Rest House at Barnala at 11am today.

The meeting was fixed in the presence of the Chief Minister some days ago in connection with the implementation of the government-farmer agreement in letter and spirit, regarding enhanced compensation (70 per cent) to farmers of Dhaula, Sangherra and Fatehgarh Chhanna villages (near Barnala) whose 376 acres had been acquired by the state government for the Trident Group and some other related issues like compensation to farmers for the damage of their tube well motors, crops and trees standing in the land at the time of its acquisition and withdrawal of cases registered against the farmers during agitations.

Talking to The Tribune today, state president of the BKU (Ugrahan) Joginder Singh Ugrahan said they reached the rest house, the site of the meeting, but neither Prem Singh Chandumajra nor any district officer reached there. So he rang up to the Barnala DC, who told him that Chandumajra was not coming as he had forgotten the date of the meeting, but he (DC) and land acquisition officer were ready to hold the meeting with them, he added.

Ugrahan said after hearing this, he and other leaders of the BKU (Ugrahan) decided not to hold meeting and boycotted the same. He said there was no use to hold a meeting with the district 
administration till the political representative of the CM attended meeting.

Ugrahan also said they would chalk out the next programme after listening to the CM’s version on the issue.  


Amarinder busy with book on Anglo-Sikh war
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 1
The linking of Amarinder Singh to Pakistani journalist Aroosa Alam might have attracted media and his detractors, but what has skipped attention of all is that he has been equally or even more deeply involved elsewhere also.

It is his long-cherished dream - a well-researched book on the Anglo-Sikh war. The book, focusing on the facts and the Indian point of view regarding the Anglo-Sikh war, was likely to go for printing towards February end.

“Today, I am doing a chapter on the battle of Ferozeshah. I have got my hands on a lot of material on the subject. In fact, the literature hitherto available on Ango-Sikh war has generally been written from the British point of view. The Lahore darbar at that time or in the aftermath of Maharaja Ranjit Singh may have been hobnobbing with the Britishers but it was a fact that the Sikh soldiers had fought very valiantly. They displayed their chivalry to such an extent that they nearly routed the British forces in the battles of Ferozeshah, Sabhrawan, Chllianwali and Gujrat, despite the fact that they had been stabbed in the back by their own masters,” said Amarinder while talking to The Tribune.

For collection of historical evidence, Amarinder has already visited a number of places in India and abroad. “In fact, I have been working on the book for the past about 10 years or even much before I had taken over as the Chief Minister in 2002. I have already been to the Queens Museum in England and to Lahore for fetching relevant material. Besides, we have so much of matter lying in our archives in Patiala, Chandigarh and Delhi. I have also been to Kathmandu in Nepal where Maharani Jindan had been detained at the instance of Britishers. Almost 120 pages of the book are ready and the remaining part would be accomplished by the last week of February when I plan to send it to the Press,” he added. 


Shingaar: Mann contests Babbar Khalsa role
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 1
Criticising the Punjab government and the Punjab Police for allegedly picking up and detaining Beant Singh’s killer Jagtar Singh Hawara’s aide Baljit Singh Bhaau, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Simranjit Singh Maan today said the incident proved there was no difference between the government and extremists.

“If a state is resorting to such unsavoury acts, then what was the difference between a state and an extremist organisation? If a state is violating rule of the law, how it could prevent others from doing so? Moreover, why all, including leaders of the ruling SAD (Badal), were silent over this issue? Badals have started this illegal act in the state,” said Mann.

He also criticised linking of the Babar Khalsa outfit with the Shingaar cinema blast. “Actually, this was the idea of the National Security Adviser, but there was no logic behind this linking. Why would the Babbar Khalsa people kill Muslims on Id day? The cooked up story is full of contradictions. On the one hand, the central government has been saying the Babbar Khalsa people had been getting training in Pakistan and on the other, it was saying the Babbars were behind the blast. If Babbars were behind the crime, why would Pakistan extend any help to them ever? Can Pakistan afford killings of Muslims?” questioned Mann. 


NRI Sammelan
Same-sex marriage votaries’ participation may kick up row
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
Participation of certain Punjabi politicians, who supported the Canadian government on homosexual marriage issue in 2005, in the NRI conference being hosted by the Punjab government is likely to lead to political controversies in Punjab and Canada.

Akal Takht jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti had issued a directive against same-sex marriages on January 16, 2005. He had stated these marriages were “anti-Gurmat” and at no gurdwara in the world such marriage should be allowed to be performed. When the directive was issued, the same-sex marriage was a burning issue in Canada and its government had proposed to bring a Bill in the Canadian Parliament to allow such marriages.

However, going against the spirit of the directive issued by Akal Takht, certain Punjabi members of the Canadian Parliament had supported the government on this issue. Sources said one or two politicians, who supported the Federal Government of Canada on this issue, were expected to take part in the NRI conference. And they may also go to the Golden Temple and Akal Takht to pay obeisance.

Obviously playing host to such Punjabi NRI politicians, who acted against the spirit of the Akal Takht directive, can embroil the SAD-led government in unending political controversy. A journalist from Canada told The Tribune that the participation of such NRI politicians in the conference had already become a hot topic in Punjabi political circles in that country.

Meanwhile, there is also resentment among NRIs as many of them have not got invitations for attending the conference. And most of the Punjabi journalists settled in Canada are also unhappy in this regard. “We may hold a press conference on the NRI conference issue on reaching Chandigarh in a few days”, said a Canadian journalist.  


Act tough against terror, Tandon to Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
Former Punjab minister and senior BJP leader Balramji Dass Tandon yesterday said “terrorism in Punjab should not be allowed to be revived at any cost”.

Tandon said the revelation that militants having links with the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) had carried out the blast in Ludhiana, was a serious development for Punjab.

He said the Punjab government should ensure that all aspects related to the case were investigated properly and it was ensured all suspects were nabbed.

Tandon, who in the past has been in Parkash Singh Badal-led Cabinet on three occasions, said the Chief Minister should act seriously to see all such elements trying to foment trouble were curbed with an “iron hand”. People who were opposed to Baba Bhanirewala, Baba Ashutosh or Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh were also trying to create trouble.  


Khemkaran rail link with Ferozepur to 
be relaid

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 1
The Railway Board has accepted the long-standing demand to lay the 28-km track for the Khemkaran-Ferozepur railway line for the Amritsar-Mumbai rail route.

Kahan Singh Pannu, deputy commissioner, has said this in a communication sent to the district administration that the Railway Board had conveyed its decision to get a survey of the project conducted.

“The project will provide a direct link up to Mumbai, via Jaipur and Jodhpur. It is a small stretch of railway line from Gariala, near Patti in Tarn Taran, to Malawala area in Ferozepur district, which needs to be relaid,” he said.

“Once the project materialises, it will prove a boon for traders of the Amritsar belt. We are hopeful that the board will make the budgetary sanction once the survey is conducted,” he said.

Meanwhile, Amardeep Singh Cheema, member, agriculture working group, Planning Commission, said the railway link that connects Batala to Qadian, also needs to be revived.  


100 Pbi boys killed in Canada drug warfare
65 Asian girls in US jails for drug trafficking
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 1
Sixtyfive Asian girls believed to be Punjabi are in the US jails for trafficking drugs and more than 100 Punjabi boys have lost their lives in drug war in the British Columbia (BC) state of Canada.

Though Punjabis still are considered a hard-working community in the West, their younger generation has also earned notoriety as they have ‘attained’ domination in the flourishing drug trade in Canada and even the US in one decade.

They virtually have elbowed out Mexicans, Italians and have over their place in drug peddling in the two countries where the authorities have put Punjabis at the top of their suspicion lists.

This disclosure was made by Canada-based weekly Hamdard’s editor-in -chief Amar Singh Bhullar to The Tribune. Bhullar, whose paper is published simulatenously from Toronto and Vancouver in Canada and California in the USA, is also editor of the Qaumantri Punjabi, a Punjabi magazine, was on a visit to Punjab.

“More than 65 Punjabi girls, a number them born in Canada, are serving terms in jails of the Sarnia area near Niagra Falls in the USA on the US-Canada border. We have confirmed their presence in the Sarnia jails through the US police authorities. The total number of Punjabi girls involved in drug trade in Canada and USA could be on the higher side. Young Punjabi girls fall in the trap of drug-peddlers, most of whom were their boyfriends, for getting rich quick. We are trying to locate other such girls in the USA and Canada. In most cases, boyfriends push their women into the drug trade,” said Bhullar.

Bhullar said what could be even more disturbing was that a few Canada-based Punjabi boys married in Punjab and not in harmony with their wives were pushing their wives into the drug trade. “Such unfortunate girls are usually oblivious of the designs of their crafty husbands who put drugs like cocaine or marijuana in their vehicles and push them inside the US border. If they are caught, the husbands think they have ‘freed themselves’ of the trouble of keeping their wives with them, and if they pass the border successfully - a matter of rare chance due to increased surveillance - they enjoy the big bucks earned by keeping their partners in the dark. In any case, brides are neck deep in trouble and more in emotional quagmire,” said Bhullar.

According to Bhullar more than 100 Punjabi boys had lost their lives five to 10 years in the gang war in Canada. “Actually, this is a war of superiority and going on between Punjabis, Mexicans and Italians in BC. Punjabis have chartered their way to the top slot in the drug trade, particularly in Canada. The British Columbia authorities are so fed up with the strengthening web of drug peddlers that they have constituted a special task force to tame them, but they are yet to succeed in the war against drugs. The increasing influence of Punjabis in the drug trade in the two countries has belittled Punjabis in the eyes of the world,” said Bhullar. 


PM House Row Nambardar, deed writer missing
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 1
The Nambardar, vasika navees (deed writer) and witnesses in the case related to the registering of a power of attorney of the Prime Minister’s property in New Delhi have reportedly went underground. The probe committee, headed by the SDM, was not able to locate them.

Deputy commissioner Kahan Singh Pannu hinted at the registration of a criminal case against the accused while tehsildar Rajesh Sharma might have to explain for showing laxity. The latter had registered the power of attorney of the Prime Minister’s residence and property in the name of Amit Choudhry.

The district administration had cancelled the licence of the deed writer and removed the nambardar.

With a view to avoiding such cases of fraud and impersonation in future, the district administration has also made it mandatory for establishing the identity of the person seeking power of attorney under the IR Act, 1908. It also announced a reward of Rs 5,000 to those deed writers who would bring to notice such acts. 


Boy commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, January 1
Manjinder Singh (17), a student of the local Sri Guru Arjun Dev Khalsa Secondary School, committed suicide by jumping before a running train today near Kakka Kandiala village, 4 km from here.

The deceased was the son of a poor tailor Balwinder Singh of the local Mohalla Tonk-Kashatrya. Manjinder had been mentally disturbed over the financial crisis in the house and was not able to demand money for purchasing books and other material for pursuing his studies. He had two brothers and a sister who all are school students.

Manjinder had to go to school after winter vacation today, but instead of going there, he committed suicide. The body was cut into four pieces.

Balwinder Singh, father of the deceased, said Manjinder was his beloved son who used to help him in his tailoring work after school hours. The news broke like a wild fire in the area. The cremation was largely attended.

The police post of the Government Railways Police (GRP) has registered a complaint under Section 174, CrPC.

After post mortem, the body was handed over to the parents.  


Made-in-China kite strings invade Indian skies
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 1
Made-in-China kite strings are selling like hot cakes here with kite flying in the city expected to reach its peak around Lohri.

And those obsessed with using the sharpest strings for a mid-air kite-tangling contest do not mind the share of disadvantages the Chinese strings come with. The rubber-like strings are finer than the regular local brands. However, the lower price tag makes up for the cut that the kite flyers get on their fingers using theChinese brands.

“While a charkhi of Chinese dor starts from Rs 180 onwards, the local ones come at a minimum price of Rs 210,” says a shopkeeper, who has been in the business of kites for two decades.

“Most customers, who were initially were very excited about the Chinese strings, are gradually coming back to the local brands. Some of the younger customers even complain that they could not attend school because of cuts on their fingers,” he says.

Besides, tunka or giving soft jerks to the string while the kite is in the air is not possible. “I like Chinese strings because of its elastic texture. This takes away most of the excitement of kite flying. Without the tunka, this string is not the solo flier’s cup of tea and is suited only for those keen on playing tangling,” he says.

Kite sellers are of the view that the Chinese strings come laced with metallic material which makes it stronger and relatively harder to cut with another string in flight. That is why it is only die-hard lovers of Chinese strings who are sticking to it despite the problems it comes with.

The Chinese strings were introduced in Amritsar last year and had sold like ho cakes. However, this year, the sales have dipped a bit.

“The Chinese brands had also hit the business of local string and kite makers and we had to rely only on the wholesale margin. But now local makers are again smiling as the clientele has got divided between the two makes,” he says.

While kite flying is popular throughout Punjab, Amritsar is one of the few cities where winter season is considered ideal for flying kites. Ranjit Ahluwalia, a kite maker in Tarn Taran, says the cool winds make sure that youth do not end up getting sunburns. And against the scientific theory that the relatively lighter air in summer is more conducive for kite flying, the regular kite fliers do a decent job in winter as well, he adds. 


‘Human bombs’ were raising families also
Jupinderjit Singh & Mahesh Sharma
Tribune News Service

Kamalpura, January 1
The two alleged human bombs Bhawanjit Singh and Palwinder Singh of the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), caught in the Shingaar cinema blast and RDX smuggling cases, were raising families while they were allegedly getting training in terror activities, planning and executing the blast incident.

A visit to this village, where the families of both accused live, has revealed that both got married last year at a time when their alleged secret job of undergoing terrorism training, RDX smuggling and planning terror attacks was at peak.

So far, the police has not made any suggestion that their parents or wives knew about their secret activities, which underline that the two alleged terrorists knew they were playing with the life of these girls also, besides the targets of their terror attacks.

Their families have striking similarities. Both are poor Dalits for whom money seemed to be the biggest need in life. Both alleged militants had married almost at the same time with women having the same name.

Bhawanjit Singh, caught by the Jagraon police with 3 kg RDX and charge of being a trained human bomb, was married to Jasbir Kaur, while Palwinder Singh, accused in the Shingaar cinema blast case, was married to another woman, also named Jasbeer Kaur.

Both accused were the youngest of six children (four daughters and two sons), respectively, in both houses. Both couples were baptised Sikhs. There was only a difference in their education.

Surjit Singh Ramdasia, father of Palwinder and Gokha Singh, father of Bhawanjit Singh, admits that Bhawanjit and Palwinder had been in touch with Gurpreet through this mobile phone, but deny their involvement in terrorist activities.

Gokha Singh, a retired primary school teacher, said his youngest son Bhawanjit was an electrician and had done ITI diploma from a college at Manuke village about two years ago, “My son can't do this. He is innocent. It is a frame-up”.

While the police alleged that the accused were trained in handling explosives and making bombs in Garhi Mansowal in the Garhshankar area, parents of the accused claimed that they had been discharging their family duties during those days.

"He was undergoing apprenticeship at power grid at Payal and was to appear in final examination in last week of October. Bhawanjit and Palwinder had met Gurpreet Singh at the bhog ceremony of Gagan of Mulanpur. Though they had been talking to each other on mobile phone of Palwinder they (Gurpreet and other) never came to their house," Gokha Singh said.

Palwinder’s parents rued that a mobile phone bought by his son proved to be his undoing. “The Dakha police had identified Palwinder and Bhawanjit on the basis of call details from the phone. The phone was provided by a scrap dealer of Bassian village with whom he (Palwinder) had served for some months.”

He said Gurpreet was known to them, but no one knew his activities. “Does this mean it was a crime to receive calls from a friend? Now we hear they were human bombs. That is atrocious.”

The Tribune could not meet Jasbir, as the parents of Bhawanjit said she was away somewhere. Palwinder's wife Jasbeer said she had no idea about the alleged activities of her husband. She claimed that the police had harassed her a lot. “We were taken to Amritsar, where I was kept in a room at an inn, while Palwinder was taken around to places not known to me.”  


New anti-drug policy
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 1
The Punjab police has embarked upon a new anti-drug policy for the New Year, which can be safely termed “Mission Big Fish”. As part of this, a concerted effort will be made to cut the supply line of narcotics across the state.

Talking to The Tribune, ADGP (law and order) Chander Shekhar said here yesterday that given the prospects of making a quick buck from drug peddling, those hooked onto drugs eventually enter the trade and add to the supply. 


Debt-ridden farmer commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Barnala, January 1
A debt-ridden farmer committed suicide at Thullewal village, about 15 km from here, on Sunday. The deceased Chamkaur Singh (28), son of Harnek Singh, is survived by his wife and two children, both below the age of seven years.

As per sources, Chamkaur had two brothers. The family owned about 4.5 acres of land. But about two years ago, the land was sold off due to a financial crisis. After this, Chamkaur started farming on land got on contract basis at Manal village. But he could not meet the high cost of agriculture production.

On Monday morning Chamkaur inhaled some poisonous liquor in his fields. The brothers of the deceased took him to the Civil Hospital, but he died on the way. A case has been registered.  


Jails to have mobile jammers
Tribune News Service

Patiala , January 1
All central and district jails of Punjab will have mobile jammers and video conference facilities in two years.

The Punjab Vidhan Sabha has approved the installation and use of video-conferencing facility in jails for the hearing of inmates in courts from jails though a section of judiciary had objected to the move saying video-conference aided hearing could not be a substitute for personal hearing and presence of an accused in court.

“We don’t have any provision in the IPC for handing down punishment to those inmates who are found in the possession of mobile phones in the jails, but to check allegations in this regard and the malpractice, we have decided to equip jails with mobile phone jammers in two years. Besides, since the Vidhan Sabha has cleared the project of installation of video conferencing facility in jails,” said Punjab DGP (Jails) Mohammed Izhar Alam Khan here today. Khan was addressing a press conference.

Senior superintendent of Patiala Central jail Jeewan Garg and the jail school principal G.S. Sidhu were also present. Earlier, Alam distributed 700 blankets donated by a Ludhiana-based hosier, among jail inmates. 


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |