P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Anganwari workers not to seek bail
Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 28
The arrested anganwari workers, who were mercilessly beaten up by the police for staging protest and disrupting the Chief Minister’s speech at a seminar here yesterday, have taken a tough stand against the alleged atrocity of the Punjab police. The workers have decided not to apply for bail and in their support a number of organisations have opened a front against the police and the government.

Meanwhile, demanding the release of 11 workers, members of the Anganwari Workers’ Union (AWU) today staged a demonstration in the city. They lodged resentment outside the bus stand, where they reportedly broke a rear-view mirror of Badal-owned Orbit bus. Finding themselves again in a tooth-and-nail position, a number of police officers reached the spot to defuse the tension.

The protesters disclosed that the AWU had called their members on Monday to Bathinda to stage dharna outside the mini-secretariat.

When the kin of Hargobind Kaur, state president of the AWU, were contacted, they said the arrested women workers of the union told them about the sleepless night as the jail authorities did not even give them food. They also alleged that police officers at the Civil Lines police station, including ASP (City) Harsh Kumar Bansal, harassed them and did not allow them to have even water.

When Superintendent of the Central Jail, Bathinda, L.S. Jakhar was contacted, he said: “The accused were put in our custody in the late hours on Thursday. When we asked them about dinner, the police officers told us that they had been provided food at the police post”. Despite repeated attempts, the ASP (City) could not be contacted.

On the other hand, the Punjab Human Rights Committee in a telegram to the President alleged that the ruling coalition government was destroying democratic functioning and institutions.

The committee further demanded imposition of President’s rule in the state. About the issue, district magistrate, Bathinda, Rahul Tewari said: “On the basis of news clippings, one policeman has been suspended and a woman worker of the ruling party booked. An inquiry has been marked to the additional deputy commissioner, who will present the report within 15 days.”

Panel for probe
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh: Taking note of the maltreatment by the police against Anganwari workers, the Punjab Human Rights Commission has directed the Punjab DGP to issue directions to the officials. The commission has further asked the DGP to extend full cooperation to the ADGP of the commission.

The commission has gone through the news items and photographs of the incident published in various newspapers.

The commission has taken cognisance of the matter and entrusted the investigation to the ADGP of the commission, who will submit his report on or before the next date of hearing.

Police action condemned
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur: Punjab Subordinate Services Federation president Sucha Singh Khatra, general secretary Ved Parkash, senior vice-president Satish Rana and finance secretary Surinder Ghai in a joint press statement here today condemned the brutality shown by the police against anganwari workers.


Land compensation to be based on location: Sukhbir
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 28
Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) president Sukhbir Singh Badal has said compensation for land acquired by the Punjab government will be in accordance with the location and worth of the land being acquired. Talking to mediapersons following his appearance in a court yesterday, Sukhbir said the announcement of compensation of Rs 1.5 crore per acre for the land being acquired by the government for the Mohali International Airport has set a new standard in the state.

“But this does not mean that every piece of land that is acquired by the government for its various projects will be paid the same amount. The compensation for land located in a central business district like Mohali will be different from what landowners will get in other places,” he said, adding that the Akali-led government had set a new record in awarding land compensation and the interest of the land owner was supreme.

When pointed out that even Mohali landowners were complaining that the compensation of Rs 1.5 crore per acre was not enough, Sukhbir retorted, “The land owners are happy and have been given what they demanded.”

He said Mohali would be a changed city in the next two years. “The central business district (CBD) project is afoot and will be launched soon. The CBD here will be like no other in India. We have very big plans for Mohali and these will be visible soon. No other city in India will be comparable to the infrastructure facilities that this city will pride of,” he said. He added that the top business management institutes were opening schools at Mohali.


No ownership, still ZP allows felling of trees
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 28
The Ropar Zila Parishad has got felled 100 trees illegally from the Ropar-Nurpurbedi road. When this correspondent visited the area the labourers were still felling green ‘tahli’ and mango trees along the road side. 

When asked, the labourers said they had been told to do so by contractors. One of persons who posed as a contractor said they had purchased the trees through an auction from the zila parishad for about Rs 3 lakh.

Interestingly, the zila parishad got the trees felled despite the fact that it does not own the road. It was earlier owned by the zila parishad. However, about two years ago it had been taken over by the PWD. All forest strips along the PWD roads belong to the Department of Forests. These strips are only allowed to be felled in case of widening of roads.

The felling of trees was allowed despite the fact that there was no move to widen the road. Moreover, the officials of zila parishad had also not got the trees evaluated from the Department of Forests before fixing their minimum price. As per the felling rules in the state no fruit tree is allowed to be felled. In addition, the stumps of trees are not allowed to be uprooted so as to allow it to regrow.

The DFO, Ropar, Amit Mishra, said the zila parishad had neither informed them nor got the price of trees fixed from the Department of Forests. He said as per rules the strip forest along the Ropar-Nurpurbedi road should have been transferred to the department after it was given to the PWD. However, the zila parishad did not do so for reasons best known to them.

Officials of the department while speaking on the condition of anonymity said there was no justification in the fellings. The ADC (D), Ropar, who is incharge of the zila parishad, declined to comment on the plea that he was busy in a meeting. Deputy commissioner B. Purusartha, however, said nobody could allow green tree felling with out permission. He gave an assurance that he would look into the matter.


Air Force officers not happy with pay panel report: Arjan Singh
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 28
Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh said here yesterday a large section of Air Force officers was not very happy with the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission as they were expecting a higher raise.

Asked if the hike in salaries would help youth choose defence services again, he said his feedback was that the Air Force authorities planned to raise the issue with the Centre to seek more raise.

Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh, who is in the city for the inauguration of a MIG 23 Bn aircraft at Guru Nanak Dev University, said the bringing of salaries of defence personnel on a par with that of the civil staff had failed to please everybody. “At least, that is what I’ve gathered, though it no longer involved in the decision-making process,” he said.

Commenting on the demand to separate Air Force stations from civilian airports, Arjan Singh said he was in favour of separate airports. “With air traffic increasing manifold, ultimately we will need separate airports for Air Force and passenger flights,” he said.

“The number of flights has gone up at a phenomenal rate across the world and such issues need to be looked in the light of that,” he said.

Amritsar MP Navjot Sidhu had been raising the issue of shifting the Air Force station from the Rajasansi International Airport to facilitate its expansion and had said he would raise the issue with the Ministry of Defence.

“Even though the issue involves a deeper study, given the fact that civilian flying is very different from that of the Air Force, it will be in the interest of innocent passengers keeping in view the rising air traffic steps to separate the two. However, the high cost involved definitely is a hurdle to achieving this,” he said.

Arjan Singh, who was the first Chief of Air Staff at 44 and led the IAF to the first-ever battlefield in 1965, said the previous vice-chancellor of GND University had made a request to him for putting in place a jet plane on the campus and he had come for its inauguration.

The government of India conferred the rank of Marshal of the Air Force on Arjan Singh in 2002 making him the first and the only “five-star” rank officer in the IAF.


Bhattal condemns sewa of SAD-BJP govt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
The SAD-BJP coalition government in the state has “proved” its widely publicised motto, “Raj nahin, sewa,” by mercilessly beating women anganwari workers at Bathinda on Thursday.

Punjab Congress president Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and state Congress working president Mohinder Sing Kay Pee, in a joint statement here today, condemned the “shameful, unfortunate and uncalled for” brutal act of beating, dragging and manhandling women anganwari workers, who were peacefully protesting against the Badal government for its failure to meet their demands.

They said the way policemen and senior officials tried to tie the hands of protesters with rope, as reported in the media, and drag them towards a police vehicle, calls for strong condemnation.

Bhattal and Kay Pee said the present regime, to put its failures on every front under the carpet, was humiliating and meting barbaric and inhuman treatment to protesting demonstrators against the government for their rights.

The Congress leaders demanded an immediate and independent inquiry into the incident and punishment for the erring officials.

Kang warns govt

Punjab Congress spokesman Jagmohan Singh Kang today warned the SAD-BJP government and officials of the Panchayat Department to refrain from disturbing and manipulating the present formation of zones of Panchayat Samitis, which are already notified.

Kang claimed that at some places the zones of Panchayat Samitis were being re-carved and roster of reservation of sarpanches also changed to benefit certain workers/leaders of the ruling party.

He said the election process had already started. Hence, the zones and constituencies could not be changed at this stage, which indicated the mala fide intentions on the part of the ruling party.

Kang stressed that the Congress would take all courses, including legal remedy, against such moves. He also warned the government officials to refrain from playing partisan role and act according to the law.

He appealed to the state Election Commission to ensure that such unlawful activity did not happen in the interest of free and fair conduct of Panchayati Raj elections.


Present revised budget, SGPC told
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 28
Even as the SGPC is to present its annual budget for 2008-09 tomorrow, certain members of the committee have urged it to present the revised budget according to the provisions of Gurdwara Act after making amendments.

Manjit Singh Calcutta, member, SGPC, in a missive to Avtar Singh, president, SGPC, rejected the budget and the supplementary budget to be presented tomorrow. He warned that appropriate action would be taken against the authorities concerned if the budgetary provisions were not revised. Talking to the media here today, he said the committee had presented the deficit budget of Rs 30 crore with an income of Rs 18.5 crore without explaining how they would be able to generate Rs 11.5 crore.

Calcutta said the committee had been launching various ambitious projects like Guru Granth Sahib World University without taking into consideration their viability and funds involved. He said the committee had made a provision of only Rs 10 crore in its budget for the project. He further said 80 acres provided by Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib had not been used for agricultural purposes for the past four years, causing a loss of Rs 80 lakh. He said the reserve funds with the gurdwaras were being taken away by the SGPC. 


SGPC chief tells Calcutta to quit
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 28
Avtar Singh, president, SGPC, while refuting the allegation of Manjit Singh Calcutta with regard to the budget proposals, has demanded his resignation as he was no longer associated with the SAD.

Talking to the media here today, Avtar Singh said, “The budget will be passed as per the norms and no drama will be allowed to be staged to disrupt its proceedings.”

On the allegations that the SGPC and Dharam Parchar Committee had more drivers than cars, Avtar Singh said this charge was not true. He said the total number of cars was 57 and the drivers were 47. “While the Dharam Parchar Committee has 41 cars and 29 drivers, the SGPC has 16 cars and 18 drivers,” he said.

On the allegation that certain members did not receive a copy of the budget agenda in time, he said copies were sent through registered post on March 11 to every member. He also objected to the constitution of draft making committee by Calcutta, saying that only the SGPC had the right to form such committees. “I got calls from Sikh intellectuals who were placed in the committee without their consent,” he said. He released the Nanakshahi table calendar and the official diary of the SGPC.


PRTC’s Loss-making Operations
504 posts abolished
Sarbjit Dhaliwal/Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
The PRTC plies buses on 552 routes in Punjab and neighbouring states, but it suffers a loss on 469 routes. That means its operational cost on 469 routes is more than its earning on these routes. It earns profit only on 83 routes.

With an objective of cutting the operational and other overhead costs, the PRTC has abolished 504 posts in the past three years. Of the posts abolished include clerks (20), chowkidars (84), sweepers (62), yardmaster (25), head mechanics (11), head carpenter (12), service engineers (10), storekeeper (12), chief inspector (6), senior assistants (16), electricians (10) and gunmen (37).

A scrutiny of its operations and functioning made by the Public Undertakings’ Committee of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha has revealed that the PRTC was suffering loss because of increase in the plying of private buses, no increase in bus fare and high establishment cost.

Till the end of the last fiscal year, the PRTC had 979 buses with establishment of 5,047 employees and was covering 3,30,00 km daily.

Though the PRTC has earned operation profit of Rs 52 lakh during 2006-07, its overall loss for the year is Rs 8 crore. That was because of the payment of an installment of interest of Rs 100 crore that it had got from the state government.

The PRTC authorities told the committee that the operational cost of the buses operated by it is Rs 20.29 per km whereas the operational cost of the buses being operated under the kilometer scheme is only Rs 14.59 per km. There is a saving of Rs 5.7 per km under the scheme. The PRTC can save Rs 6.75 crore by shifting to the km scheme.

Because of the break down of buses on the route, the corporation had suffered losses of Rs 1.14 crore in 2006-07.

Though wearing of the uniform for the staff of the PRTC is must, they have not been provided with uniforms since 2001 because of its poor financial condition. 


Stray dogs eat 3-yr-old girl
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 28
In a shocking incident, three-year-old Tota lost her life in the Lehragaga area last night when stray dogs ate her left arm completely, besides biting her on various parts of the body, including the chest.

A post-mortem examination was conducted at the Sunam Civil Hospital today. The doctor said the body was in a bad condition.

Tota had reportedly walked alone on the road after the accident of her father near Daska village, about 10 km from Lehragaga.

Tota’s body was recovered from the field today.

According to the police, Gurjant Singh, along with his wife and two daughters, was going to Kulana village (near Budhlada) from Lehragaga last night to pay obeisance at a religious place there. Near Daska village his scooter rammed into a tree and he died on the spot, while his wife fell unconscious.

Gurjant’s younger daughter remained with her mother. 


Advani’s book gets flak
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 28
The Shiromani Akali Dal Amritsar (Panch Pardhani) today criticised certain highly objectionable contents in the autobiography written by L.K. Advani.

A joint press statement released by Daljit Singh Bittu, chairman of the party, and Harinder Singh Khalsa (Norway), member, presidium, said the autobiography “My Country, My Life” was a testimony to the future shape of things.

Citing the portion of the book dealing with Punjab, they said Advani had not only justified the storming of the Golden Temple by the Army, but had regretted the delay in executing it. They further alleged that on one side Advani described Sikhs as part of Hindus and on the other hand he had bestowed upon Parkash Singh Badal the title of a national leader.


High Court
PPSC chief Sinha seeks blanket bail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
Apprehending arrest due to political and personal vendetta at the hands of the state chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and his MP son Sukhbir Singh Badal, Punjab Public Service Commission chairman Sanjit Kumar Sinha today sought blanket bail.

Sinha was principal secretary to the Chief Minister and also the home secretary in the previous Congress regime. In his petition filed, Sinha has sought directions to the Punjab chief secretary, state police chief, the Chief Minister and Sukhbir Singh Badal to give him 10 days prior notice in any case registered in the state by the police, the vigilance bureau or any other state agency.

The PPSC chairman submitted he apprehended his arrest in a bid to dislodge him from the post so as to facilitate the chairman of Badals’ choice as they held a grudge against him because it was during his tenure cases of corruption were registered against them. The CM is also the minister for the vigilance department, the petitioner added.

He asserted the respondents, it was known, were digging up a 14-year-old case involving the appointment on compassionate grounds of some naib tehsildars by the petitioner when he was divisional commissioner of Patiala division. Sinha added he had filed an appropriate reply in the matter and nothing further was done. The case will now come up for further hearing on April 1.

Notice of motion

In a petition filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, nine constables working as computer operator have sought directions to the state of Punjab and other respondents to formulate different channel for their promotion.

The petitioners claimed they were working after being appointed exclusively as computer operators with basic qualification different from those of general duty constables in the Punjab police.

Counsel APS Shergill said service of petitioners has so far been governed by the Punjab Police Rules, 1934, framed under the provisions of The Punjab Police Act, 1861.

Now, the State of Punjab has enacted the New Punjab Police Act, 2007 and considerable changes have been made in the statutory provisions to improve the functioning in the present day scenario where scientific policing and usage of latest techniques have become inseparable part of police functioning.

Taking up the matter, a High Court Division Bench, headed by Justice Mehtab Singh Gill, issued notice of motion for April 7.

Punjab Law Commission

The Punjab Law Commission, functioning without adequate infrastructure, is being to shifted the Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Public Administration here. As the public interest litigation filed by advocate H.C. Arora for directions to provide appropriate infrastructure to the commission came up for hearing before the High Court, Punjab Advocate-General H.S. Mattewal said it was immediately being shifted to the institute. 


Assault on Arjuna Awardee
Cops exhibited inhuman touch: HC
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
Nearly 10 years after Arjuna awardee in athletics Raghbir Singh Bal and his brother were allegedly assaulted by a deputy inspector-general of police and other police officers on the New Year’s Eve in Amritsar, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled the incident exhibited inhuman touch of police officials.

Restoring an order on summoning the accused police personnel, Justice R.S. Madan ruled: “It is manifest that in this case all the instructions, which have been issued by the apex court, have not only been violated, but show the contemptuous and inhuman touch of the police officials.”

The case dates back to the intervening night of December 31, 1997 and January 1, 1998. Bal, posted as second-in-command, 45-Battalion, CRPF at Sikkim, had alleged that Border Range DIG Sukhdial Singh Bhullar had slapped him and his brother before ordering the cops to teach them a lesson following an argument over the stopping of their car.

Going into the background of the matter, Bal had claimed the car in which he was travelling, along with brother S.S. Bal - posted as second in command, 99-Battalion, RAF, CRPF at Hyderabad - was stopped by police official later identified as inspector Balbir Singh.

Subsequently, DSP Ravinder Kumar Bakshi arrived at the stop and told them that certain other cars were not being stopped as they were carrying the families of police officials.

The cops were joined by another person in civil dress, later identified as DIG Bhullar, who started using foul language. At his asking, inspector Balbir Singh and DSP Bakshi started beating them up, complainant Raghbir Singh Bal had alleged.

It was also alleged that the police, in an attempt to escape their misdeeds, registered a false case against the brothers under 
Section 332 of the Indian Penal Code.

Acting on Bal’s complaint, the trial court summoned the accused police officials to face trial under Sections 323, 325, 506 and 34 of the IPC vide order dated March 18, 1998.

Inspector Balbir Singh moved an application for discharge in the matter on the ground that no sanction was obtained before initiation of criminal proceedings. It was dismissed by Amritsar Chief Judicial Magistrate vide order dated January 12, 2001. A revision petition was, however, accepted by Amritsar Sessions Judge on March 20, 2003 after holding that the trial court’s order was illegal.

After hearing the arguments on petition challenging the Sessions Judge’s order, the Judge held: “In the case in hand, from the appraisal of the evidence and the documents placed on record, particularly the injuries suffered by the complainant and his brother at the police officials, it cannot by any stretch of 
imagination be termed to have been caused during the discharge of their 
official duties”.

Before parting with the orders, the Judge added: “The order dated March 20, 2003, by Amritsar Sessions Judge is set aside, whereas order dated January 12, 2001, passed by the Amritsar CJM is restored.”


Not one, but 2 youths raped 3-yr-old
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 28
Not one but two youths had raped the three-year-old girl, who was found abandoned in Shimlapuri a week ago. Both were drunk.

After the crime, the accused dropped her from a height with the intention to kill her. It was a dhaba owner who found her and admitted her to the local Civil Hospital.

The police has arrested both accused, Pankaj Kumar (24) and his nephew Ranjit (18).

Pankaj often used to visit the victim’s house and the latter’s mother trusted him enough to leave her daughter with him.

SHO, Shimlapuri police station, Mandeep Singh said both were in an inebriated condition when they lured the girl, who was watching TV in their house.

The police tracked the accused down when the victim’s mother told the cops that the girl was repeatedly calling Pankaj’s name when she was sedated while recuperating in the hospital.

When the police raided the house of the accused, it found blood-stained clothes and arrested them.

Pankaj told the police that it was Ranjit who had lured the girl and raped her when she was watching TV with them. She was gagged so that her cries could not be heard. Later, when she fell unconscious, they took her out and threw her far away from the house thinking the family would never find out what went wrong with their daughter.

The victim’s mother said the girl used to call Pankaj “uncle” and play with him. “I never knew he would do this to my daughter. He has betrayed us,” she cried.


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