Tuesday, January 16, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




Infrastructure blueprint drawn up
By P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan15 — If infrastructure is the modern “engine of growth”, as the Punjab Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, views it, the engine has been geared into action.

The Punjab Infrastructure Development Board has cleared all hurdles, paving the way for pre-qualification detailed notice inviting tenders (PQDNIT) for the proposed roads, flyovers, river bridges and by passes. Taken together, these works are estimated to cost Rs 2,215 crore.

The Principal Secretary, Finance, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, says: “The financial tie-up stands worked out in detail. All formalities will be completed before March 31 next enabling the execution of works. All projects are expected to be completed within 15 to 21 months”.

Money inflow will be from the central road fund, Nabard, public bonds and infrastructure cess already levied in the state.

Providing physical and social infrastructure was one of the thrust areas identified by Capt Kanwaljit Singh in his Budget speech (March 22 last). For sustaining a growth rate of 8 per cent, a minimum investment of Rs 5,000 crore per annum, in infrastructure alone, was needed. In Punjab the current investment was barely Rs 1,000 crore per annum, he had said.

The Finance Minister had identified 12-odd projects, involving an investment of Rs 1,737 crore. He even announced June 3, 2002, as the expected date of completion. The projects included the four-laning of roads, the construction of flyovers, river bridges and bypasses and the improvement of certain key roads to ease congestion on the highways.

At its meeting on January 9, the board “solved” the major problem brewing in the PWD (B and R) to the “satisfaction” of the Minister, Mr Sucha Singh Langah, and the engineers, whose protest is partly responsible for the delay in taking decisions. The engineers have now been given enough elbow room by making a provision that they would be appointed “project engineers” with related administrative and financial powers.

The board, Mr Lakhanpal says, has identified the following projects: four road corridors (Ludhiana-Chandigarh, Ludhiana-Moga, Zirakpur-Patiala and Ropar-Phagwara); seven bypasses, 10 flyovers; and three river bridges. Priorities have been set to remove obstacles.

To quicken the execution and get over the usual inbuilt system hurdles, the PQDNIT has been introduced with norms, standards and terms of reference adopted from and followed by the National Highway Authority of India, the Ministry of Surface Transport and the FIDIC, an international organisation.

The proposed tenders will have four new components: one, the Rate quota system has been introduced against the earlier item-wise rates; two, the arbitrator to be appointed will be acceptable to the contractor and project engineer; three, the system of daily measurement by a junior engineer has been dispensed with; and, four, payment to the contractor will be made on the predetermined completion of a particular stage of construction.

The projects will be completed on a turnkey basis. To ensure quality, there is a clause on incentives and disincentives. The role of the PIDB will be limited to “monitoring” once the executing agencies and the administrative departments are identified and the works allotted. For each project there will be a separate unit comprising a project engineer, his staff and the contracting agency. A technical committee for evaluation has also been constituted with Mr G.S. Sodhi as convener.

A total of 1,500 km of Plan roads are also to be taken up after the technical survey is completed. These highways are the ones with “narrow width and poor surface and drainage”. For the reconditioning of these roads, Rs 550 crore is needed. This work will also, hopefully, get completed by September, 2002.


Pinky continues to  elude police
By Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 15 — Continuous efforts by the Ludhiana police notwithstanding, all three policemen wanted in the Avtar Singh murder case, have not been apprehended.

The wanted policemen are the main suspect Gurmeet Singh, alias Pinky; Assistant Sub-Inspector Pawan Kumar and constable Parveen Kumar. The remaining five suspects, Bittu Gill, Sonu, Jaswant Singh, alias Puna, Iqbal Singh and Parminder Singh, alias Pammi, have already surrendered before the police .

Interestingly, all three wanted policemen are well connected. Yesterday, a police party had gone to Verka in Amritsar to apprehend the constable — one of official gun man of Gurmeet Singh. The constable is a son-in-law of a serving DSP posted in Fatehgarh Sahib district.

Bittu Gill, another gun man of Gurmeet Singh, had been privately employed after he was dismissed as a special police officer after allegations of rape were made against him at Sarabha Nagar police station in Ludhiana some years ago.

According to sources in the police, the DSP had promised the investigators that his son-in-law would “definitely surrender” by 11 a.m. on January 15.

Police parties sent to apprehend Gurmeet Singh and Assistant Sub-Inspector Pawan Kumar were reportedly camping at different places waiting for the suspects to show up.

A message has been flashed to Gurmeet Singh that he must surrender January 17, before the writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court comes up for hearing on January 18. A notice has already been issued to the state of Punjab in the case by Mr Justice V.M. Jain of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on a public interest litigation filed by the Lawyers Initiative demanding a CBI probe in the Avtar Singh murder case.

In fact, after the crime Gurmeet Singh accompanied by some of his friends, left for New Delhi where he stayed with an uncle of Sonu, one of his drivers, before he checked in at Deen Dayal Hospital, near Tihar Jail. After staying in the hospital, he left after furnishing a request in writing that he was getting discharged on his own though his blood pressure had not stabilised. At one stage it was 273/140.

The investigating teams have been keeping a close watch on the houses of certain officers, both serving and retired, who are considered close to Gurmeet Singh, alias Pinky. So far no success appears to have come the way of the police.


Pinki case: Moga SP asked to explain
From Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

PHILLAUR (LUDHIANA), Jan 15 — The state Police Department has sought an explanation from the SP of Moga, Mr Shiv Kumar, for allegedly shielding Gurmeet Singh Pinki, main accused in the Avtar Singh murder case. The police is also probing the role of other officers in the case and may initiate departmental action against them.

According to information, the police is also aware of the proximity of the accused cop with senior officials of the Jalandhar police division. It has been reliably learnt that Pinki was instrumental in the busting of several gangs of thieves and robbers by the Jalandhar police. In yet another revelation, sources informed that a senior police official sought to protect Pinki at a meeting recently when the question of continuing police security to the former cat came up.

Confirming this to The Tribune, Mr Sarbjit Singh, DGP, Punjab, added that the SP of Moga had been asked to explain his alleged role of shielding Pinki. He said the SP had also given press statements that the accused was one of the best cops of the state police.

He said the statement made by the SP had not sent positive signals to the public as it indirectly amounted shielding the accused. The DGP admitted that Pinki was quite close to senior officials of the Jalandhar police division as he gave them vital information about certain criminal gangs.

The DGP, however, denied the shielding of the accused by Mr P. C. Dogra, former DGP, as Mr Dogra had several times criticised the functioning of the former police cat.

The DGP regretted that former cats had started misusing their power and now some of them were topping the list of rogue gallery of the state.

Avtar case: another suspect held
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 15 — Iqbal Singh, another suspect in the Avtar Singh murder case, was nabbed by the police near the district courts here today. With his arrest, the number of persons in police custody in the case has risen to five.

According to SHO Santokh Singh, the suspect was present at the shooting incident that took place at Maya Nagar on January 7.

He said the police nabbed the suspect at a naka when he was trying to go to a friend’s house. However, the suspect told the police later that he was not trying to run away and was about to surrender.

Meanwhile, there is no information about another suspect, Parveen Kumar, who according to a senior police official was traced at Verka village. A team from the CIA wing was sent to bring him here but it has not found him.

Mr Santokh Singh said Iqbal Singh would be produced in court tomorrow.


Terrorists may strike on R-Day; cops alert
Tribune News Service

PHILLAUR (Ludhiana), Jan 15 — The DGP, Punjab, Mr Sarbjit Singh, today said that security had been beefed up following the receipt of intelligence inputs about terrorist strikes in the state on Republic Day.

After inaugurating a 10-day workshop on thematic analysis of terrorism, he said terrorist groups of Jammu and Kashmir were making forays in the state. The security of senior officers, personalities and ministers has been beefed up following these reports.

He said that the police had also received information about target-based activities of the terrorists and was keeping a watch on their activities.

Addressing the participants at the workshop, the DGP revealed that several bureaucrats and police officials in the state had been supporting Punjab terrorist groups and were promised a series of promotions or prominent ranks once the dream of Khalistan was realised. He said that even certain politicians were made such promises.

He was citing the experiences of the state police vis-a-vis the terrorism activities to the participants who had come from several parts of the country for tips on combating terrorism.

The DGP said that the main reason of the subsiding of terrorism in the state was that the ideology of the Khalistan-demanding terrorists had lost appeal with the masses who were fed up with the “cruelty” done by the terrorists. He said the terrorists had started looting people and even raping the wives and daughters of persons who used to shelter them.

The DGP said the unrest among the people owed its genesis to the disturbed relations between the state and central governments for several decades. Most of the time when Akali government was elected in the state, a Congress-led government was in power in the Centre. He said the two parties were always at loggerheads, which prompted the politicians to look for other ways of gaining control.

He said apart from the improved Centre-state relations in the 1990s, several policies of the state police also helped in the countering terrorism. He said there was a time that the police morale was low and it seemed that there was no light at the end of the tunnel.

However, policies like liquidating suspected terrorists, infiltrating police cats in the terrorist groups and countering the idea of the terrorists helped curb terrorism.


Kukas, torch-bearers of freedom struggle
From Vikrant Jindal

NAMDHARI Sikhs known as Kukas in the annals of Indian history are rightly called “torch-bearers of India’s freedom struggle”. Sri Satguru Ram Singh ji, founded the Namdhari sect on April 12, 1857, at Sri Bhaini Sahib in Ludhiana district of Punjab.

At that time India was under the yoke of the British Empire. Simultaneously, its people were being repressed under evil customs Shri Satguru Ram Singh ji mobilised the people for the freedom of their country and against the evil customs of society.

He inculcated religious awareness among the people which served to evoke the feeling self-respect and sacrifice for the sake of the country. In a short period lakhs flocked to him and they became aware of their serfdom and bondage. In the 19th century, killing girls in infancy and their sale-purchase was a daily occurrence in India.

The main cause behind these pernicious customs was the enormous burden of marriage expenses and illiteracy. Sri Satguru Ram Singh ji laid emphasis on the education of both boys and girls. He introduced a system of mass marriages. Dowry, marriage procession and various other formalities associated with marriage were stopped.

The first-ever inter-caste marriage was performed on June 3, 1863, in Khote village of Ferozepore in Punjab. Sri Satguru Ram Singh ji made every effort to accord respect and equal status to women in society. He was the first in world history to have used non-cooperation as a weapon to free his country from the yoke of the British Empire. Mahatma Gandhi talked of it later Sat Guru Ram Singh’s non-cooperation movement entailed boycott of government services, of educational institutions opened by the British of law courts started by the British and foreign goods. He believed political freedom was a part of religion.

Sat Guru Ram Singh ji set up his own postal system. Diplomatic relations were established with native states and neighbouring countries such as Nepal, Afghanistan and Russia. In 1869-70, a separate regiment “Kooka platoon” was created in the Kashmir State. Namdharis revolted against the British rule.

They raided a slaughter house at Amritsar on June 15, 1871, and then Raikot on July 15, 1871. The British Government reacted quickly. But could not arrest the persons who had raided the slaughter houses. Three Namdharis were hanged on Three Namdharis were hanged on August 5, 1871 at Raikot, four at Amritsar on September 15, 1871, and two at Ludhiana on November 26, 1871.

Under the leadership of Hira Singh and Lehna Singh, Namdhari Sikhs attacked Malerkotla on January 15, 1872. There was a fierce fight. The Kukas fought bravely. Persons from both sides were killed. Hira Singh lost his left arm. All of them resolved to surrender before the authorities. At that time the ruler of Malerkotla was a minor. Mr Cowen was working as a Superintendent of the Council of Administration. He immediately sent the force to bring all arrested Namdharis to the Malerkotla Parade Ground where he had stationed cannons from a neighbouring state.

Mr Cowen conducted the trial. Even the names of persons were not recorded. He immediately ordered the rebels be tied to the cannon’s mouth. But the daring Namdharis said they would come to the cannon’s mouth by themselves. Once again Mr Cowen asked them to stand with their backs to the cannons.

Again the Kukas replied that only the cowards died by receiving shots in the back. They would die a brave death with shots in their chests. Before the order to shoot, Mr Cowen questioned group leader Hira Singh, “Why did you attacked Malerkotla?”. Hira Singh replied firmly and boldly: “We want the rule of our own brother”.

Seven times the seven cannons were ignited and all the time seven Namdharis, 49 in all gave up lives for the independence of India. A young boy of 12, Bishan Singh, was asked by Mr and Mrs Cowen to renunciate Namdharism to save his life. As soon as Bishan Singh heard these words, his eyes became balls of fire. Like a lion he pounced on Mr Cowen and caught hold of his beard.

Mr Cowen was saved by native officers who cut the hands and head of Bishan Singh with their swords. The following day on January 18, 16 more Namdharis were blown off with the cannons. On this day Waryam Singh was short. He was asked to go back as he was too short. Waryam Singh ran and brought some pebbels and sods of earth from nearby fields and prepared a small platform. Standing upon it, he challenged the gunman to open fire.

The Malerkotla incident gave an opportunity to the government for crushing the Namdharis. Satguru Ram Singh ji and prominent subas were arrested and exiled. Namdharis were ordered not to hold meetings or leave their residences without informing the police or the village head. More than five Namdhari Sikhs were not allowed to assemble at a place.

In the meantime, the Indian National Congress had been wooing the Namdhari Sikhs. It organised a number of conferences at various places in Punjab to insite the people against the British tyranny.

Now, Sri Satguru Jagjit Singh ji is working for the unity and integrity of the country, love and affection towards the down-trodden, peace and prosperity of mankind is his message.

In the memory of the great warriors of our freedom struggle, a beautiful building has been constructed. A monument in the shape of a ‘khanda’ with three wings has been built. On each wing 22 holes have been made which represent the number of martyrs. Mr Surinder Singh Namdhari, president of the memorial said their plan was to cover the khanda with Japanese steel to enhance its beauty.


Vegetable growers look to Rajasthan
From Sarbjit Singh
Tribune News Service

SAMRALA (Ludhiana), Jan 15 — Vegetable growers are concerned over the fall in the prices of vegetables in the wholesale market in this region.

As a crop diversification measure, farmers had brought a substantial area under vegetables, especially cabbage and potato. However, it has not been a profitable venture for them. Growing vegetables is a very risky affair”, said Mr Tirlochan Singh, of Khant village who brought seven acres under cabbage this year.

Punjab and Chandigarh vegetable markets have become unviable for the farmers, especially cabbage, cauliflower, potato, carrot and raddish growers. As a result they have started looking towards other states. “At the moment, Rajasthan is profitable for us”, he said. While in Chandigarh vegetable market, a bag cabbage weighing 40 kg fetches a Price of Rs 40-60 only, in Bikaner, Jaipur and Ajmer it is sold for Rs 120 or so.

Even after deducting transportation and other costs, one can get Rs 85 per bag whereas in the local market after the deduction of the overhead cost the farmer gets only Rs 35 per bag. Truckers charge about Rs 5,000 for a trip to Bikaner, etc.

The farmers say in a good season, one can earn up to Rs 50,000 from one acre of cabbage but in other times, the earnings are between Rs 25,000 and 30,000. Cabbage has a good market in the entire country as it is used extensively in fast food as well as for salad.

In the wholesale market, potato, raddish, cabbage and carrot fetch a price below Rs 2 per kg. However, tomato and peas sell between Rs 7 and Rs 10 per kg. In the retail market, cabbage is available for Rs 5-6 per kg and the carrot and cauliflower are also fetching the same price. There is a big difference in the prices of whole sale market and retail market except in the case of potato which is selling for Rs 2.5 per kg in the retail market.

As it rained in the first week of this month, it intensified the maturing of the cabbage and other crops. Mr Harjit Singh, another farmer of nearby village, said in the absence of rain, the farmers could slow the growth of cabbage and other crops by regulating their watering.

As there are no takers for potato, the farmers in the potato-growing belts like Jalandhar-Hoshiarpur, Rampuraphul and Dera Bassi are getting restless. Its price in the wholesale market has touched an all-time low. A bag of potato is available for Rs 50 to 60 which costs even less than Rs 2 per kg. The potato stacked in cold stores had to be thrown as even its transportation to markets had become a liability for the farmers.

Though several statements have been made by the state government and its ministers regarding the export of vegetables to the Middle East and other countries but nothing has been done in this connection.

The “apani mandi” scheme launched for vegetable growers in main cities, especially in Chandigarh, and SAS Nagar, by the government has also lost its original character. These mandis have allegedly become centres of corruption and non-farmers have established their domination at these places. “Officers supervising these mandis give preference to non-farmers as for as the allotment of space is concerned”, said Mr Harjit Singh. The farmers are left with no option but to unload their stock at a place where buyers seldom reach.

Moreover, the buyers come late in the evening as they know that at such a time, the farmers start selling vegetables at a throwaway price because they have to return to their villages. 


Sonia urged to curb anti-party activities
From Our Correspondent

FARIDKOT, Jan 15 — Dr Malti Thapar, General Secretary, PPCC, and Mr S.K. Gupta, President, District Congress Committee, Faridkot, have jointly appealed to Mrs Sonia Gandhi, President AICC, to check the alleged anti-party activities of Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, Congress MP, to protect the interest of the Congress in Punjab. They disclosed that a deputation of senior state Congress leaders would shortly meet Mrs Sonia Gandhi to apprise her about the latest developments that occurred due to the actions of Mr Brar.

Talking to mediapersons here yesterday, they said by holding parallel meetings without the prior approval of the PPCC President, the Congress MP had not tarnished the image of the party, but had also indirectly helped the SAD-BJP alliance in Punjab. If no earlier action was taken against Mr Brar, it would encourage other party workers to do the same.

Criticising the ruling government in the state, they alleged that corruption and nepotism had reached their peak and people of the state were feeling resentful. Both Congress leaders also charged the Punjab Chief Minister with distributing funds lavishly for political gains, besides trying to lure people in the forthcoming Assembly elections which were round the corner.

Mrs Thapar and Mr Gupta also assailed the SAD-BJP government for making education, particularly medical and technical, so costly that it had gone beyond the reach of the middleclass people in the state.


Morcha does volte-face
Kainth dubs Badal anti-Dalit

Tribune News Service

JALANDHAR, Jan 15 — Virtually taking a U-turn, the Bahujan Samaj Morcha (BSM), a breakaway faction led by former MP Satnam Singh Kainth today clarified that the party had no truck with the rulling SAD-BJP combine in the state and dubbed it anti-Dalit.

Interestingly, Mr Kainth had withdrawn support to the SAD earlier last year after his party did not get a fair deal, even though it had severed ties with BSP supermo Kanshi Ram. However, Mr Kainth supported the SAD candidate, Mr Jatinder Singh Kariha, during the Nawanshahr byelection after SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal paid a visit to his place at Banga just a day or two before the election. After a closed-door meeting with Mr Badal, Mr Kainth had said he had taken up all issues concerning Dalits with Mr Badal and the latter had promised to look into issues pertaining to the Dalits.

“Even as funds for the welfare of the weaker sections were being allocated every year by the Punjab Government, it was disturbing to note that most grants meant for the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and small farmers had lapsed for want of utilisation,” Mr Kainth said, without specifying why he had not raised the demand and his concern earlier.

The Phillaur MP, Ms Santosh Chaudhary, had taken up the same issue in Parliament, alleging that the government had not allocated funds for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in accordance with their population.

Mr Kainth said: “The present regime and the previous Congress governments are no different as far as their approach towards the Dalits is concerned”. He said he had taken up all issues of the Dalits with Mr Badal, but his efforts had failed to yield any result. Mr Kainth, who had been the state president of the BSP before parting ways with it did not even spare his mentor Mr Kanshi Ram and alleged that he was making irresponsible statements.

Insiders, however, said Mr Kainth’s sudden outburst was in view of the reported negotiations between the BSP and the SAD for forging an alliance for the forthcoming elections. In fact, Mr Kanshi Ram has already indicated such an arrangement.

“I am very clear that my party will not be part of any political arrangement or of which the BSP will be a part,” Mr Kainth said. About the possibility of a truck with the SAD, he said his party would take a decision according to the circumstances.

The BSM has decided to hold rallies in different Assembly constituencies between February 17 and April 5 in view of the elections.


Circle jathedar protests during SAD meeting
Tribune News Service

SANGRUR, Jan 15 — A circle jathedar of the local unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) protested against the non-allotment of time to the district circle jathedars to address a district level SAD meeting held at Gurdwara Singh Sabha here yesterday.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, had to intervene and express regret on the issue. Jathedar Gurbachan Singh Fatehgarh, district president of the SAD, was addressing the meeting when Jathedar Baldev Singh Dhillon from Bhawanigarh protested.

The meeting was convened to obtain suggestions from workers for the preparations of a district-level political conference by the SAD on February 7. A large number of SAD workers, members of the SGPC and ministers were present.

Some others speakers also raised voice against the no say of SAD workers in the government and the administration.

Mr Dhindsa, addressing the gathering, claimed that there were no differences among party leaders. However, he admitted that there were grouses among some leaders and workers as they had not been accommodated by the party so far. He called upon the workers to get ready for the February 7 Sangrur conference. He said the jathedars should visit each village of their respective circles for the purpose.

Mr Fatehgarh, said a high-level committee comprising four ministers belonging to this district, an MLA and the district president had been formed for the conference.


SAD, BJP ‘promoting’ nepotism
Tribune News Service

FEROZEPORE, Jan 15 — The SAD-BJP combine government has been charged with encouraging nepotism, a charge they earlier used to level against the Congress government.

The leaders of two parties, who earlier accused the Congress of dynastic politics, have evoked criticism from several quarters over similar charges. While the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has always been a target of attack for “grooming” his son, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, the recent appointment of the Punjab BJP chief , Prof Brij Lal Rinwa’s son, Mr Sandeep Rinwa, as an executive member of the party’s youth wing has evoked fresh controversy.

Moreover, the son of Punjab BJP Minister, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, has also been appointed as the executive member of the party’s youth wing.

Likewise, other SAD and BJP leaders are not far behind in the race to promote their sons and sons-in-law in active politics. Recently, the SAD preferred Union Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa’s son Parminder Singh as their candidate for the recent Sunam assembly byelection. Mr Parminder Singh is now a legislator.

Among the “powerful” sons-in-law are Mr Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, Punjab Excise Minister, who is married to Mr Badal’s daughter. Mr Sheetal Singh, a legislator representing Dharamkot in Moga is another priviledged son-in-law of the Agriculture Minister, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal.

Ironically, the rebel Akali leader Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, who now accuses Mr Badal of having obsession for his son, had also helped his son-in-law Harmel Singh become a minister in the Badal government. It is a separate matter that Mr Harmel Singh later resigned in support of Mr Tohra .

It is pertinent to mention that the two parties have always been unsparing in their criticism against the Congress for rallying behind the Nehru-Gandhi clan. However, these leaders now defend their moves claiming that their offsprings have been elected unanimously by the party rank and file.

Mr Badal has reiterated that his son’s appointment as Union Minister in the previous government was a collective decision of the party. Mr Rinwa also offers a similar excuse. However, veteran Communist leader Satya Pal Dang explained, “Since politics is becoming a paying profession, no party, including SAD and the BJP can be an exception in grooming their kin for benefits of power.” Even a suspended BJP leader, Mr Jagmohan Kaura, accused the state party unit of setting a precedent of dynastic politics, a tradition that was started by the Congress.

A former leader of the All-India Sikh Student Federation, Mr Sarabjeet Singh Sohal, alleged that the top Akali leadership does not want other youngsters to replace them and groom their own sons to ensure secrecy of their wrongdoings in politics.


Left parties to hold rallies in Punjab
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 15 — The Left parties of Punjab will hold rallies and processions all over the state at subdivision headquarters on January 24 in protest against the alleged “conspiracies of imperialists and right rationalists aimed at destabilising the Left Front government of West Bengal”.

This was stated here today by Mr Balwant Singh, state secretary of the CPM and Mr Joginder Dayal, state secretary of the CPI in a joint statement. The Communist leaders said that the BJP-led government at the Centre was “hatching conspiracies with Ms Mamata Banerjee, who had been indulging in violent activities in the state for her narrow political interests”.

They claimed that the BJP and Trinamool Congress were “misleading the nation by making false propaganda” against the West Bengal Government.

Criticising the SAD, they said that the Punjab Chief Minister, who claimed himself to be a supporter of federalism, had not uttered even a single word against the leaders of the BJP and the Trinamool Congress who had been demanding imposition of President’s rule in West Bengal.

of Mr Sumesh Goyal, who takes over as DIG, Lokayukta.


High Court
Fresh summons to Bibi Jagir Kaur
From Our Correspondent

CHANDIGARH, Jan 15 — Mr Justice Surinder Singh Nijjar of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued fresh summons to former SGPC President Bibi Jagir Kaur to show cause why anticipatory bail granted to her on November 15 last year by the High Court should not be cancelled.

Mr Justice Nijjar directed the Kapurthala SSP to serve summons to Bibi Jagir Kaur as the earlier summons sent to her by the court could not be served and case could not be taken up today.

Mr Kamaljit Singh, who claims to have married to Bibi’s daughter Harpreet Kaur, had filed a petition under Section 439 of the Cr PC for cancellation of anticipatory bail granted to Bibi Jagir Kaur alleging that she has been misusing the facility granted to her.

The CBI had registered a case under Sections 120-B, 302, 304, 342, 313 and 201 of the IPC against Bibi and 7 other persons for the alleged murder of Harpreet Kaur.

Harpreet case: CBI completes inquiry
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Jan 15 — The CBI said today that it had completed investigation in the Harpreet death case, in which Bibi Jagir Kaur was a prime accused, and the future course of action in the case would depend on the Supreme Court verdict on the special leave petition filed by the agency to quash the anticipatory bail granted to former SGPC President by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

“We have completed the investigation into the Harpreet death case. The future course of action depends on the verdict, which is scheduled for hearing this week,” the CBI Director, Mr R.K. Raghavan told newspersons here.


Centre must reject WTO pact: Tohra
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Jan 15 — Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal President Gurcharan Singh Tohra today said the Shiromani Akali Dal should impress upon the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Central government to walk out of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement if it was sincere about protecting the interests of Punjab farmers instead of trying to befool them by making empty protests on the issue.

Addressing a rally at Dakala, about 20 kilometers from here, Mr Tohra said the while Mr Badal was now speaking against the WTO agreement at various seminars, he had never criticised the WTO when the earlier BJP-led government was dependent on his party for continuing in office.

The Akali leader while advocating that the country should walk out of the WTO agreement, said the nation could go on for mutually beneficial trade agreements with individual nations. He said only by doing so could the country save its agricultural class and small industry from economic ruin.

Asserting that the WTO was anti-farmer, he said the farmers of Punjab might be most affected by the agreement as diversification in the cropping pattern could not become a reality in the state. He said the crops proposed under the diversification initiative had been rejected by the farmers as there could not be marketed effectively. He said presently there was need to formulate practical programmes to counter the ill-effects of the WTO agreement.

Mr Tohra also asserted that the Punjab government was not doing enough for the welfare of farmers in the state. He said while Rs 87,000 crore due from industry in the form of loans could be waived off, the Rs 57,000 crore loan recovery due from the farmers of the state could also be waived off as agriculture had also become a unprofitable business.

He said the government should also initiate steps to make pattedars owners of Shamlat lands being cultivated by them. He said the land could be sold to the pattedars at nominal rates after 25 per cent of it was given to the landless and the Scheduled Castes in the respective villages. He said by doing so the government could also recover a huge amount of money which could be used exclusively for the development of the respective villages.

Speaking on the occasion, former MP Prem Singh Chandumajra said the government had failed to fulfill its election promise to adjust 90 per cent of the unemployed youth in the industrial sector.

He said the government had not even adjusted 10 per cent of the unemployed youth in this sector after taking over the reins of the state due to which nearly one lakh youth were unemployed in the State. Party youth wing leader Randhir Singh Rakhra also spoke on the occasion. 


Amarinder’s views on WTO pact “his own”
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Jan 15 — Mr Jagmeet Brar’s loyalist, Mr Harinderpal Singh Mann , who recently held a show of strength in Samana against the wishes of the Punjab Pradesh Congress and has reportedly been suspended from the party, while calling for the replacement of PPCC chief, Amarinder Singh, today said the views expressed by the PPCC chief on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement were his personal views and not that of the Congress.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Mann said he had met Congress general secretary in charge for Punjab, Moti Lal Vora in Delhi yesterday and had been conveyed that the party was to still formulate its official stand on the WTO agreement and whatever was stated by the PPCC chief on the issue was not the party line.

He said he had been told by the high command that a high-level committee had been constituted under the chairmanship of former Speaker Balram Jakhar to formulate the party line on the WTO issue. He said the first meeting of the committee was likely to be held on January 19. He said this meant that both Capt Amarinder and Mr Jagmeet Brar had been expressing their personal views on the WTO and the PPCC chief did not have any right to pull up Mr Brar on the issue.

He said the party had to go in for a mass leader in Punjab who had a base among people. He said the poor response to the Congress rallies at Fatehgarh Sahib and Muktsar under the patronage of Capt Amarinder and the overwhelming response to the ‘’mahapanchayat’’ organised to felicitate Mr Brar on becoming the party whip spoke volumes about his popularity.

Mr Mann also claimed that he had not been suspended from the party as claimed by the pradesh Congress leadership. He said he was still to receive any notice on the issue and Mr Vora had told him that he had not been suspended. He said as district Congress committees were still to be reconstituted, Mr Hardial Singh, who had issued the alleged suspension notice to him, had no right to do so as he was no longer the district Congress (rural) president.


Paddy to be shifted from idle mills
From Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

MANSA, Jan 15 — The state Food and Supply Department has decided to shift the paddy lying in the non-operational mills to those which have started the milling operation.

The department has taken this decision to prevent the millers from changing good paddy with the substandard paddy before the milling. This would also ensure the delivery of rice under custom milling category to various agencies by the end of February, 2001.

Official sources said in Bathinda and Mansa districts, the milling of paddy had not picked up though it was started in the last week of December, 2000. Only a section of rice millers had taken the power connection for running their mills.

Sources added that up to January 5, 2001, the millers in the two districts could deliver rice much below the expected quantity and if the trend continued, they would not be able to deliver the rice in lieu of paddy to various agencies by the end of February.

Sources added that milling operations in the Bhucho, Rama Mandi, Maur, Bhagta Bhaika and Bareta centres was yet to take off. In other centres, most of mills which had been allotted paddy for milling were running to full capacity.

Official sources said that about 45 per cent milling capacity of both these two districts had already been reduced as number of mills which defaulted in the delivery of rice last year were not given any paddy this year.

Sources added that the internal fightings of millers at certain places was also creating a major hurdle in the smooth operation. Also, certain millers, who wielded influence on the powers-that-be, were trying to dictate terms.


Army Day celebrated
From Tribune Reporters

JALANDHAR, Jan 15 — Army Day was celebrated with gaiety and fervour by the Vajra Corps at Katoch stadium here on Monday.

Lieut-Gen Kamal Dawar, GOC, Vajra Corps, while addressing the troops at a sainik sammelan organised on the occasion, complimented them for their commendable performance in fighting the insurgents in Kashmir and north-eastern states of the country.

A weapon and warfare equipment exhibition was also organised. The latest weapons held by infantry, field artillery and mechanised forces were displayed.

BATHINDA: To commemorate Army Day, an exhibition of weapons, artillery, photographs and weapons seized during Operation Vijay was organised at the premises of Government Rajindra College.

The exhibition was inaugurated by Brig B.S. Dhaliwal, Chief Engineer, Military Engineering Services, Bathinda zone.

A lunch was organised at Chetak Officers Mess for veteran defence officers of the district.


RSS leader to file defamation case
From Our Correspondent

PHAGWARA, Jan 15 — Mr Surinder Mittal, a senior RSS leader and former member of the District Consumer Court, today announced that he would file a defamation case of Rs 1 crore against a social activist, Dr Amarjit Chaucer, and others for causing damage to his reputation by accusing him of murdering Ashok Kumar, brother of Dr Chaucer.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Mittal, a tenant of the deceased, alleged that the diary purported to have been written by Ashok Kumar and released to the Press last week by Dr Chaucer was fake and the signatures of the deceased on it were forged.

Mr Mittal distributed copies of a report of a forensic and handwriting expert to mediapersons to prove his point. He claimed that his relations with Ashok Kumar were cordial.

“In my defamation suit, I will make Dr Chaucer the first party and will include all others who were a party to the conspiracy to malign me,” Mr Mittal said. 


5 teachers, 2 students hurt in mishap
From Our Correspondent

FAZILKA, Jan 15 — Five teachers and two minor schoolchildren were injured as a three-wheeler in which they were travelling skidded in thick fog near Hotel Kanchan Tara here today.

According to available details, the teachers and students of Sarv Hitkari School here were going to school in the three-wheeler. As the three-wheeler driver Sujan Khan tried to give way to a car coming from the opposite direction, he lost control of the vehicle and rammed into a stationary truck and skidded.

The injured teachers have been identified as Sucheta Grover (24), Neeru Babbar (28), Rekha Narula (35), Rishu Sukhija (22) and Sheetal (25). Arish (8) and Sahil Puri (9) are the two schoolchildren injured in the accident.

The driver also sustained injuries. All injured were immediately taken to the local Civil Hospital.


CPI: withdraw cases against employees
From Our

BATHINDA, Jan 15 — The Communist Party of India (CPI) today criticised the clashes between employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and Punjab police. A delegation of the district unit of the CPI and the PSEB employees’ federation, led by the CPI MLA Hardev Arshi and Mr Jagjit Singh Joga, district secretary, CPI, met the SSP in this regard and demanded that the cases registered against the employees be withdrawn.

Mr Joga said the chief engineer should be asked to resolve the matter by discussion. He alleged that cases have been registered against those employees who were not present at the dharna.


Ambulance for animals flagged off
Tribune News Service

JALANDHAR, Jan 15 — Mr Manpreet Badal, Akali MLA from Gidderbaha, said here today that there was no likelihood of mid-term poll in the state.

Mr Badal, who flagged off an ambulance for treatment of injured and sick animals launched by the local chapter of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty against Animals (SPCA) at Circuit House here today, said there was no need or even possibility of mid-term poll in the state. “We want to serve people and secondly there is a lot of infighting in the Congress. Keeping this in view, I think there is no likelihood of a mid-term poll,” said Mr Badal.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr S.S. Bhatti, president of the local unit of the SPCA, said an arrangement of an on-the-spot treatment of animals had been made and the ambulance would prove to be useful. He said the SPCA had plans to open “animal homes” in all district headquarters in the state.


Truck delays train by 5 hours
From Jaswinder Paul Singh

BATHINDA, Jan 15 — The Dainik Express, a superfast train running between New Delhi and Bathinda, covered a distance of 12 km in about five hours last night.

Official sources said the train which was approaching Bathinda halted at a small railway station and proceeded from that station towards Bathinda after about five hours.

Passengers were taken aback at this sudden halt. When they came out of the train they were even more surprised as there was no station nearby. Some of them feared they had met with an accident. They could not find out the reason of the halt. The biting cold, dense fog and darkness added to their problems.

Some women passengers were getting worried as it was getting dark. They had boarded the train from Delhi keeping in mind its arrival at Bathinda station but they had to spend several hours on the train.


Folklore academy holds meeting
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Jan 15 — Despite a common culture, it is sad the people separated by the Indo-Pak border line are denied social relationships with each other, said a Punjabi critic, Dr H.S. Bhatia. He was speaking at a meeting of the Folklore Research Academy.

Dr Tara Singh Sandhu, who presided over the meeting, blamed the political make-up of both sides for breaking the social relationships of people belonging to the two Punjabs.

A former secretary of the Kendri Punjabi Lekhak Sabha, Mr Talwinder Singh, expressed his views on the script problem of both sides. He said the banning of the Gurmukhi script from West Punjab and the Persian script from the East Punjab had aggravated the problem of understanding literary pursuits.

A open letter to writers, scholars and newspapers of Pakistan was handed over to Dr Shiv Inder Singh Sandhu who is going to Lahore to attend a medical conference.


Lok adalat for bank loan cases
From Our Correspondent

PATIALA, Jan 15 — A state-level lok adalat for bank loan cases at the pre-litigative stage as well as for those pending in various courts of Patiala will be held in the district club complex with the cooperation of the district administration and the District Bar Association on January 28 here. Various bank functionaries who are competent to accord concession to the borrowers in bank loan cases will also be participating in the lok adalat.

In a press release issued by the District and Sessions Judge, Mr S.N. Agarwal, the pre-lok adalat was held on January 6 and 13 and would be held again on January 20 and 27. 1177 applications have been received from various banks and these cases will be taken up in the pre-lok adalats and the lok adalat to be held on January 28 along with courts at Rajpura, Nabha and Samana.


Shagun’ cheques given to Dalits
Tribune News Service

SANGRUR, Jan 15 — Mr Ranjit Singh Ballian, a Punjab minister and local MLA, distributed 97 cheques, worth Rs 5,100 each, under the “Shagun scheme” to members of Dalit families here today.

Addressing a programme organised to distribute cheques, Mr Ballian urged the people to help the state government in the development of the state and welfare of Dalits and weaker sections.

Mr Ballian also said the SAD-BJP Government had created a record in implementation of several welfare schemes in letter and spirit.


Holiday in Sangrur on Jan 19
Tribune News Service

SANGRUR, Jan 15 — There will be a local holiday in government offices, boards, corporations and educational institutions in the district on January 19.

Mr Anirudh Tiwari, Deputy Commissioner, said here that January 19 had been declared holiday in connection with the martyrdom day of Sardar Sewa Singh Thikriwala, freedom fighter.


Former IG dead
From Our Correspondent

PHILLAUR, Jan 15 — IGP Amir Chand Sharma (retd) died here last evening. He was 60.

Punjab police chief Sarabjit Singh, Police Academy Director A.A. Siddiqui, besides former Punjab Cabinet minister Santokh Singh Chaudhary, were among those who attended his cremation today.


Green light to slash ST
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 15 — The Punjab Finance Department today gave the green light to the state Excise and Taxation Department to slash sales tax on more than 20 items, including jewellery, precious stones, edible and non-edible oils and computers.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, who had a discussion with the Financial Commissioner (Taxation), Mr Y.S. Ratra, told The Tribune that the notification pertaining to the slashing of the sales tax rates would be issued within a fortnight.

Led by Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Science and Technology Minister, a deputation of jewellers from Bathinda and Amritsar had met the Finance Minister this morning, seeking a reduction in sales tax on jewellery. Later, the Finance Minister held a meeting with Mr Ratra.

Mr Ratra assured the Finance Minister that there would be no effect on the overall pre-fixed target of tax collection with the slashing of the rates. He said that the target of about Rs 3,000 crore would be achieved. The Excise and Taxation Department had submitted a proposal for cutting sales tax on these items in August last year. However, the proposal could not be cleared due to technical reasons.

The Excise Department had mooted a proposal to cut sales tax to 4 per cent from the existing 6 to 8 per cent on bicycles, rickshaws and tricycles. On edible and non-edible oils, it was to be brought down to 4 per cent from the existing 6 to 8 per cent and on pickles, chutney, jam and papad, varian to 4 per cent from the existing 6 to 12 per cent.

On computers, it was to be reduced to 4 per cent from 8 per cent and on jewellery and precious stones to 1 per cent from 2 to 8 per cent. On plastic chappals it was to be brought down to 4 per cent from 8 per cent. Other items included in the proposal were utensils, dals, tractor and combine harvester parts, polythene bags, ball bearings and cooking gas.


Punjab to construct 3,000 km of roads
Tribune News Service

JALANDHAR, Jan 15 — The Punjab Government has planned to construct 3,000 km of new roads in the state during the next two years.

Stating this while addressing a seminar on the teachings of Guru Gobind Singh organised at Rampur Laillan Kalan village near here today, the Punjab PWD Minister, Mr Sucha Singh Langah, said the SAD-BJP government had constructed nearly 5,000 km-long new roads in the state since 1997.

He said the state government was making every effort to introduce computers in all schools and as a part of this plan, computer education would be provided to students of 2,500 primary, middle and high schools of the state. He said the Punjab Government had allocated Rs 40 crore for the introduction of computer education in about 700 schools during the current financial year.


Postal services timings extended
From Our Correspondent

PATIALA, Jan 15 — The Head Post Office (HPO) has extended the timings for basic postal services to the public upto 6.30 p.m. with effect from January 16 onwards, disclosed Ms Sukhwinder Kaur Senior Superintendent of Post Office, Patiala Division, here in a press conference today.

She said, besides this, other measures had already been taken to streamline postal services by opening an exclusive speed post centre for booking, delivery and despatch of the speed post articles from 9 a.m. to 6pm alongwith the new speed post extension counters been opened at Jourian Bhattian Post Office, Patiala City Post Office and Baradari Garden Post Office. She said second delivery of speed post articles had also been started during December and a dedicated team of postmen were employed to ensure better service to the public.

She assured that the local speed post articles booked at the Patiala Head Office upto 3 p.m. will be delivered on the same day. She reminded that the second delivery of the ordinary mail will also been introduced to make prompt delivery of the ordinary articles.

Ms Sukhwinder Kaur opined that transactions under various small saving schemes like saving bank, recurring deposit, monthly income scheme and time deposit schemes have been computerised while keeping pace with the technology. Moreover, other schemes like National Saving Schemes, Kisan Vikas Patras and Public Provident Fund were still in progress.

She further added that basic facilities of booking the registered articles, speed post articles, sale of stamps, Indian postal orders, passport forms and the UPSC forms will be provided in recent times. One development officer and a field officer have also been appointed for the Postal Life Insurance and the Rural Postal Life Insurance schemes. She added that their e-mail address is: suvidha_care@rediffmail.com to enable the public to sent them any complaint regarding the postal services.


Smugglers’ gang busted, 1 held
From Our Correspondent

NAWANSHAHR, Jan 15 — Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, in a press note issued here yesterday claimed to have busted an inter-state gang of drug-traffickers with the arrest of Jasbir Singh alias Jassa, a proclaimed offender and resident of Mujaffarpur village, and seized from him a truck loaded with 25 bags of poppy husk, at nearby Gujjarpur village. His two accomplices Kala and Titoo are reportedly missing.

The SSP said Jasbir Singh, who was arrested by the Nawanshahr police from Panchkula, was the main poppy husk smuggler in Doaba region.

A case under the NDPS Act has been registered against him.


New school hours in Punjab
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 15 — The Punjab Education Minister, Mr Tota Singh, today said that all government and recognised private schools in the state would function from 9.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. till January 31 keeping in view the prevailing foggy weather in the state.

He directed all district education officers to strictly enforce the new school hours with immediate effect.

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