P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


5-month-old girl’s death sparks protest
Main accused arrested
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Ajnala, March 18
The death of the five-month-old daughter of a “bonded labourer” a few days after the mysterious killing of her father, for want of medical care, today triggered a massive protest by the joint action committee in the main chowk here today.

Protesters also tried to push their entry into the house of Akali MLA Amarpal Singh Bony which was foiled by the police.

SSP, Amritsar (Rural), Iqbal Singh, said the main culprit had been arrested while raids were being conducted to arrest the other accused. He, however, denied the role of any Akali MLA or senior leader in the crime.

He further claimed that the death of the labourer’s daughter had nothing to do with the killing of her father.

Members of the committee, mostly Christians, were demanding the arrest of all those responsible for the killing of Jinda Masih. The agitators raised slogans like “Punjab government murdabad” and “Akali MLA murdabad”.

They alleged that the girl died due to lack of medical assistance and poverty.

The protest dharna was lifted only after assurance was given by SDM Dilraj Singh Sandhawalia to arrest the culprits .

Jinda Masih, who died on March 12, was allegedly taken into police custody on March 2 and 7 under the suspicion of stealing a motor belonging to Hardev Singh of Granthgarh village. Later, through the intervention of the panchayat, he was released. However, on March 12 he was allegedly taken out from his home and murdered by his landlord, having close links with the Akali party.

Family members and the village action committee approached the police and only after a protest was a case registered under Section 302, IPC, at Ajnala police station.

People of various Christian groups came together under one banner to ensure justice to the family. The protesters included church fathers and leaders like Anwar Masih, Munawar Masih, Salamat Masih, Niyamat Masih and Balwinder Singh, sarpanch of the community.


Selling spurious seeds outside kisan mela
300 bags seized, 7 rounded up
Puneet Pal Singh Gill
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 18
Coming down heavily on the dealers selling spurious seeds of different crops at a parallel market outside a kisan mela organised here today by Punjab Agricultural University, the Agriculture Department today confiscated more than 300 bags of seeds from five dealers.

According to Malkit Singh Bhullar, ADO, who conducted the raid, “Seven persons of Naveen Seeds (Karnal), Hara Seeds (Ludhiana), Garg Seeds (Ludhiana), Zamindara Kheti Centre (Ludhiana) and Bhatthal Seeds (Ludhiana) have been rounded up by the police. More than 300 bags of different varieties of paddy and cotton seeds have been confiscated.”

Sucha Singh Langah, agriculture minister, said, “These seed dealers will be charged by the police under the violation of the Seed Control Order.”

Manjit Singh Kang, vice-chancellor, PAU, said, “Such seeds are often sold outside kisan mela venues all over the state and PAU does not have any legal authority to stop or check them. Besides, these dealers don’t even give any proper bill to the farmers.”

Chief agriculture officer, Bathinda, Paramjit Singh said, “Every year we have been warning these dealers not to sell any seed without a licence. So this time we had to take action against them. Today, we made a team comprising two agriculture development officers and one block officer who conducted raids and confiscated the seeds.”


Return of natives
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 18
The worrying phenomenon of brain drain that sucked trained talent out of India in the past two decades has gone reverse. Love for the motherland and zeal to pay back in some way to their alma maters has prevailed over the temptation of dollars and better standard of living abroad, moving many to return to the country.
Dr M.S. Kang
Dr M.S. Kang, vice-chancellor, PAU

A few months ago Dr M.S. Kang, vice-chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), had returned from a lucrative international career in the USA to serve the university that was passing through a severe crisis. Now, some doctors are returning to rebuild the reputation of the 115-year-old CMC and Hospital.

A former Punjab police officer, Krishan Datt, who worked as fingerprint officer and crime scene analyst with the UK police, Nottinghamshire, has returned and taken up the job of chief security officer with DMC Hospital.
Krishan Datt
Krishan Datt, chief security officer, DMCH

A forensic expert with Punjab police, he was probably the first to be chosen in the UK police force but after spending a couple of years in England, the love for motherland forced him to come back.

Though he would have loved to join the Punjab police and help in crime detection and investigation based on his international experience, the disappointment of not getting the due regard did not discourage him.

He happily chose the DMC job. "I was earning Rs 2 lakh per month in England. But money was never any criterion. I felt after such high education and international experience, I should be serving my homeland, which needs the expertise, more than the developed countries."

Datt is also helping the Ludhiana police in setting up an international-level laboratory for scientific aid to investigation besides giving vital service as guest faculty to Punjab Police Academy, Phillaur, and Central Detective Training School, New Delhi.

As the CMC is passing through a severe crisis with the resignation of the chairman, principal and almost all the administrative committee members over allegations of financial bunglings, misuse of power, some doctors who had left the institution are forsaking lucrative careers abroad to serve the "mother" institution.

Dr Nalini Calton, wife of Dr Rajneesh Calton, another noted cardiologist who had gone to Toronto, Canada, said her husband would rejoin CMC later this year.

Sources close to Dr T.M. Jaison, a noted cardiologist, reveal he has sent feelers to return from Dubai.


Hola Mohalla begins
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, March 18
Annual five-day Hola Mohalla marking the birth of the Khalsa has started in the historic towns of Kiratpur Sahib and Anandpur Sahib. Nealy five lakh pilgrims from across the country are expected to converge here in three days. Pilgrims have already started arriving in trucks and tractor trailers carrying food items, tents and even scooters for local mobility. Rural masses have started occupying vacant lands and deras to set up tents and langars for pilgrims.

Nihangs, the ‘Guru’s soldiers,’ have started arriving on horses to the beats of the drum declaring their arrival. They have been carrying the over 300-year tradition now limited to the Hola day (the last day of celebrations) when they display martial arts in the Charan Ganga Stadium.

Conferences by political parties that is one of main features of Hola Mohalla are scheduled on March 21. The locals expect some major announcements from Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal during the political conference of the SAD. However, due to the code of conduct relating to the elections coming into force, the CM might not be in a position to make any announcement.

The Hola Mohalla celebrations had been ignored by top leadership of the Congress in the past two years. However, the sources in the party said this year top Congress leaders, including union minister for tourism Ambika Soni, might attend the conference.

Due to security reasons, the district administration has made some changes in arrangements. Deputy commissioner B. Purusartha said every effort had been made the security measures did not cause any discomfort to pilgrims.


Poll will be fair, CM assures House
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
Leader of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has assured the Assembly of free and fair elections to gram panchayats, block samitis and zila parishads. His assurance came when the Opposition feared subversion of the election process on the grounds that the voter lists had not been released till date and the nominations were to be filed by March 24.

During the zero hour Partap Singh Bajwa of the Congress took the lead by pointing out that voter lists were being withheld with an ulterior motive. He went on to say the election of sarpanches had been scheduled a week after the April 7 poll which will lead to horse-trading. Further, Bajwa pointed out that the reservations in these elections were not being followed as per the 73rd Constitution amendment and in the Doaba area especially reservation in many villages had been withdrawn.

The Congress wanted rural development and panchayat minister Ranjit Singh Brahmpura to respond to these objections. When the minister chose to ignore the questions, Speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon had to intervene to ask the minister if he wanted to reply. This led to commotion in the House with the Congress launching verbal attack on the minister forcing him to respond. In his reply, Brahmpura said the Congress was apprehensive of rigging because it had itself indulged in the practice during the last election. “But I assure the House of free and fair poll,” 
he added.

Unhappy with the reply and terming it incomplete and unsatisfactory, Brahm Mohindra of the Congress got up and pointed out that the deputy commissioners had so far not even notified the polls and the process being followed violated rules and was unfair to the backward classes. “A backward candidate cannot be elected sarpanch in the present poll, as rules are being ignored,” he said quoting rules.

At this point, leader of the Opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal got up to snub Jagdish Sawhney of the BJP, who she said had adopted a communal tone in his dialogue. She pointed out that hundreds of Congress workers were being thrown into jail to prevent them from participating in the poll process. She said she had brought such cases to the notice of the Chief Minister last night.

Reiterating the point made by Bajwa, Avtar Singh Brar of the Congress asked the Speaker if he had got the list of voters of his area. He demanded that the Chief Minister should clarify the government’s position on the matter.

At this Badal got up and assured the House instructions had been given to all officials to play a non-partisan role in the poll. “When Bibi Bhattal brought a case to my notice last night, I immediately called the SSP, Sunam, and directed him to ensure that no political worker is harassed or brought to jail,” he told the House, further assuring the legislators that they would see a poll which was fairer than any previous election in the state. 


SAD(Panch Pardhani) secy gen held, freed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 18
The Ajnala police today arrested Baldev Singh Sirsa, special secretary-general, Shiromani Akali Dal (Panch Pardhani), as preventive measure and freed him on bail in the evening.

Sirsa levelled charge against SAD MLA Harmeet Singh Sandhu of smuggling drugs a few days back in a memorandum to Nirmal Singh Kahlon, speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, through deputy commissioner K. S. Pannu.

Sirsa, who had planned a demonstration and submit a memorandum to Tarn Taran DC against the Akali MLA in Tarn Taran district today, was picked up from his house in Ajnala in the morning.

Iqbal Singh, district police chief, Amritsar (Rural), said he was taken into custody as a “preventive measure”.

Sirsa said he was arrested on fictitious charges. He claimed that Lakha Singh of the Garib Janta Dal from Tarn Taran was also held in Tarn Taran, but released soon.


Sarabjit: Family prays for release
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Bhikhiwind (Tarn Taran), March 18
The picture of her father holding her in arms and gleefully pointing a finger at the camera is still etched in her memory. But for this sole reminder of their happy days, she has virtually no other memory of her beloved father, Sarabjit Singh, who she says, accidentally crossed over to Pakistan and now faces death penalty.

“My father had big plans for me and my little sister. In his last letter we received from him two years back, he had described how he dreamt of making us self-reliant someday,” says Swapandeep Kaur, who recently completed a course in housekeeping from a private institute in Jalandhar. “I was only two years old when mom says he entered the Pakistan territory while returning from the fields one night. In those days there used to be no fencing on the international border. After that, we have only got an occasional letter for him, which only deepened our grief,” she says with moist eyes.

Swapandeep is interrupted by the postman who hands over a bunch of letters addressed to her mother, Sukhpreet Kaur. “Look at this,” she points to the letter, “people have been suggesting us religious places where we can go and pray for our father’s release. We receive such letters and calls everyday. It goes to prove that the whole country believes that he is innocent.”

PM assures Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today assured Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal that the Government of India is taking up the issue of Sarabjit Singh with the Government of Pakistan at the highest level. The Prime Minister’s letter received here this morning comes in response to Badal’s communication yesterday. In his letter the Prime Minister sought to assure Badal that “ the Government of India is making all possible efforts to seek reprieve for Sarabjit ”. Meanwhile, Badal has thanked the Prime Minister for his response.

Meanwhile, union external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee’s statement in Parliament today that India had urged the Pakistan government to take a sympathetic view on Sarabjit Singh’s mercy petition has given a glimmer of hope to his family in this border village.


Mann for law on death sentence
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
The SAD (A) has asked Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to bring in a resolution in the Vidhan Sabha condemning capital punishment. Party president Simranjit Singh Mann has said his party was against all death sentences and has held rallies in this regard.

“If the SAD-BJP is serious it should bring a resolution in the state Assembly to oppose the death sentence of Davinder Pal Bhullar and Afzal Guru,” party general secretary Bhai Ram Singh said. 


‘Those freed should use restrain’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 18
The Central and the state governments should restrain Indian prisoners from making any statement before seeking the release of other prisoners in various Pakistani jails.

Surinder Kumar Billa, president, All-India Hindu Shiv Sena (AIHSS), said the government should ensure that the Indian prisoners released from Pakistani jails do not comment like Kashmir Singh in order to get monetary benefits from the government and jeopardise the release of other prisoners.


Question Hour
10,000 teachers to be recruited on contract
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
Education minister Upinderjit Kaur today said in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha that “teaching fellows and education service providers are being recruited in the government upper primary and high schools on contract. They will be given Rs 4,550 per month and Rs 5,400 per month, respectively”.

To a question asked in this connection by Charanjit Singh Channi, MLA from Chamkaur Sahib, Upinderjit Kaur said the performance of all those recruited on contract would be assessed after three and half years and those found to be good in teaching would be absorbed in the department on regular basis on regular pay scale.

She said 10,000 such teaching fellows and service providers would be recruited. A decision in this regard had been taken after talking to representatives of unemployed trained teachers.

Raising question on panchayat land, proposed to be given on lease to industrialists at certain places, Iqbal Singh Jhunda asked rural development and panchayats minister Ranjit Singh Brhampura said there was no proposal to sell such land to industrialists. However, asking supplementaries, some of the MLAs asked the minister whether the industrialists, who would set up plants on leased land, would be given share from their income to panchayats concerned. The minister said the panchayat lands would not be given to industrialists on permanent basis and ownership of the land would stay with panchayat concerned. The MLAs opposed giving of panchayat land on lease to industrialists. They urged if any industrialist wanted to set up unit, he should buy the land from private parites.

To a question asked by Makhan Singh, sports minister Gulzar Singh Ranike said the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Sports Award would be given this year. 


Value system in e-governance stressed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
“E-governance is not enough to provide good governance to the people. There is much more to provide good governance. That includes value system of society and quality of political system,” said Ramesh Inder Singh, chief secretary, Punjab, while speaking at a seminar on “E-governance for good governance” held at Chandigarh Business School here on Saturday.

N.S. Kalsi, secretary, Employment Generation and Information Technology, Satnam Singh, chairman, Chandigarh Group of Colleges, Gurinder Pal Singh, sr manager, Human Resources, Satyam Computers, and Harish Gupta, joint commissioner, police, Hyderabad, also spoke at the seminar.


Tibetan march enters state
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 18
The march of Tibetan protestors today entered Punjab at Nangal from Himachal. The 48 protestors, including 10 women, carrying Tibetan flags and photos of the Dalai Lama demanded the immediate halt to violence against peaceful protestors demanding the Tibetan Autonomous Region in China-controlled regions.

The protestors camped at the closed school of NFL on the Nangal-Una road. Speaker of Tibetan parliament-in-exile TT Karma Chopel and deputy speaker Dolma Gayeri, along with 34 MPs, arrived at NFL School to boost the morale of the protestors.


Abduction, rape of wife from child marriage
High Court dismisses ex-husband’s appeal
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
You would have dismissed it as just another story fit for a soap opera: A husband, infuriated by the “second marriage” of the girl he tied the knot with in childhood, abducts and rapes her for taking revenge. And, then pleads innocence on the ground that she was his legally wedded wife.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has now dismissed husband Makhan Ram’s appeal against the orders of his conviction and sentence. Appeals filed by all, but one, co-accused in the matter have also been dismissed.

The First Information Report in the matter was initially registered on July 17, 1996. The prosecution had claimed that the accused, a resident of Talwandi Sabo, had married the girl during their childhood. However, the girl was married off to another person before the “muqlawa” ceremony could be performed.

‘Muqlawa’ refers to the girl’s return from her father’s house with her husband. After a stay of few days, the girl goes back to her father’s house. The husband visits his father-in-law’s house and returns with his wife.

To avenge the insult due to the girl’s “second marriage”, Makhan Ram and some others carried out an attack and picked up the girl. In the process, a relative Sardana Ram sustained injuries and later died. The girl was confined for several days and raped by the accused, the prosecution had added.

Taking up the matter, Ferozepur’s additional sessions judge in December 1998 convicted Makhan Ram and four others. Makhan Singh was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder and seven years for rape.

During the appeal filed by the accused, it was contended that Makhan Ram could not be held guilty of rape, as the girl was, in any case, his legally wedded wife even without ‘muqlawa’.

After hearing the arguments, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court comprising Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice S.D. Anand, held, “In view of the fact that the girl had entered into a second marriage, appellant Makhan Ram could not have had intercourse with her on the premise that she was his wife.”

The judges further held, “There is no dearth of law on the point that even during the subsistence of a marriage, a husband would be guilty of rape if he has intercourse with his estranged wife and without her consent.

The judges added, “In this case, the situation was far more grave in as much as the muqlawa ceremony never came to be performed and, thus, appellant Makhan Ram has to face the wrath of law for having forcibly taken her away from the custody of her present husband and for having intercourse with her without her consent during the period she was in his wrongful confinement.”

Before parting with the judgement, the judges added, “We allow the appeal preferred by appellant Baljit Singh, while the appeal preferred by others shall stand dismissed.”


Notice to Punjab on plea against Bholath DSP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
Acting on a petition for directions to Punjab and others to initiate proceedings against Bholath’s DSP for allegedly harassing Congress supporters and other residents by registering or threatening to register false FIRs, the High Court on Tuesday issued notice of motion to Punjab.

The petitioner, Kuldip Singh of Pandori Rajpatta village, alleged though senior officials were aware of DSP Balbir Singh’s illegal activities, no action was being taken against him due to his close association with Bibi Jagir Kaur, a former MLA of the area.

He also alleged the DSP had not only threatened to register a case against him, but had also sought some money on the basis of a false application from Piare Singh, who owed money to him. 


Graft cases against Badals shifted to Mohali
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 18
The corruption cases against the Badals and other SAD leaders have been shifted from Ropar to Mohali. The notification in this regard was pasted outside the court of special judge Ropar today.

Sources here said the cases had been shifted to the court now established at Mohali. Though Mohali district was carved out of Ropar, the district and sessions court of both districts continued to function at Ropar.

The superintendent of the special court said the cases against the Badals and other SAD leaders had been shifted on the orders of Punjab and Haryana High Court.


Bittu, Gamma discharged in TADA case
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 18
Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar, Panch Pardhani) chairman Daljit Singh Bittu and Gursharan Singh have been discharged in a 21-year-old TADA and attempt to murder case by Special Judge M.S. Virdi here today.

The orders say that they stand discharged for the time being. The file be consigned to the record room till the original challan is produced before the court for starting a trial.

The main reason for discharging the accused was that the police failed to produce the challan against them in the court. However, police officials were maintaining that the original challan was filed in the TADA court at Hoshiarpur as at that time there was no special court to deal with the TADA cases here.

The case was registered in 1986 on the charges of attempting to kill the then Special Judge, R.L. Anand, in Ludhiana. Bittu and Gamma were arrested in this case on April 24, 1996. A supplementary challan was presented against them in the court. But the original challan was missing. 


3-year-old living the horror of rape
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 18
More than 30 hours after this three-year-old girl was raped by an unidentified "maniac", she is living the horror of the ghastliest act of crime every minute.

As if the beastly act of the rapist was not enough, he threw her on the roadside, leaving her to die. She was found profusely bleeding by a beggar, who brought her to the Civil Hospital late last night.

She spent the entire night in pain without her parents knowing about her condition. They kept looking for her and came to know about her in the evening only when they approached the Shimlapuri police and identified her.

Too young to even explain the incident, this minor girl of Shimlapuri was cajoled by an unidentified man when she was watching TV with her elder brother at her neighbour's house.

She was not in a position to recall anything even today, lying in the hospital where she cried inconsolably, complaining about pain in her stomach. She had bruises all over her face and a swollen upper lip due to injuries.

Doctors attending on her said she was in bad state yesterday. They gave her a packing to stop the bleeding. She was operated upon in the morning and her uterine tear was stitched with eight sutures.

The Civil Hospital staff said they were too shocked to see her condition. "Why this kind of treatment with children? Are we humans? " asked a nurse while looking after her.

Her parents work as a rickshawpuller and domestic help. Her mother used to leave her with brother everyday. "I left at 12.30 pm and came back at 2.30 pm. My son told me she was missing. We searched for her everywhere. But she was nowhere to be found. I could never imagine she was raped," said her mother.

The Shimlapuri police has registered a case of rape against an unidentified person. Police officials said the act seem to be done by a maniac.


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