Tuesday, September 11, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Panthic Morcha kicks off campaign
Mann against amnesty to cops
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, September 10
In an apparent show of strength, the constituent parties of the Panthic Morcha kicked off their election campaign by organising a massive rally here which drew a large crowd.

Today’s rally, the first of its kind in a series, was attended by Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, SAD (A) president and MP, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, Capt Harcharan Singh Rode, Mr Dhian Singh Mand, Jathedar Charan Singh Lohara, Mr Swaran Singh Panjgrahi, Jathedar Virsa Singh Fathuwala, Mr Didar Singh Bains, Mr Amritpal Singh Nakai, besides a host of other leaders.

Launching a scathing attack on the SAD-BJP led government in Punjab, Mr Mann said the government was not serious about the river waters issue. Representatives of the SAD in the Lok Sabha remained mute spectators and absented themselves during discussion on this issue, he alleged, adding that the morcha would oppose any Bill or Supreme Court order that allowed water to go out of Punjab. About amnesty to police officials who were facing human rights violation cases, Mr Mann said they were liable to be punished as they indulged in sheer ‘genocide’.

He said the morcha would approach the International Criminal Tribunal in Holland which looked into war crimes if amnesty was granted. He said those officers who said they just complied with the orders of former DGPs, Mr O.P. Sharma and Mr K.P.S. Gill, should give a written affidavit so that a case against these two police officials could be registered.

Regarding voting rights to Sehajdhari Sikhs in SGPC elections, Mr Mann said it was a sinister gameplan of the BJP and the RSS. They were pursuing a policy whereby migrant labourers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar were being included on the list of voters, he alleged. Extending support to the Rai-Sikh community, he said no body would be allowed to take away their lands which they had been tilling for years.

Mr Mann criticised the deteriorating law and order situation in Punjab and rampant corruption.

He also decried the Union Government for the alleged saffronisation of education and termed it as unconstitutional.

Talking about the rise in the MSP by Rs 20, Mr Chandumajra said it was a cruel joke on farmers. He sought a bonus of Rs 50 as prices of diesel, urea and pesticides had increased in the past couple of years. He claimed that distress sale of paddy was going on in various grain markets in the Majha region where the farmers were selling their produce for merely Rs 380.

About Army personnel who had deserted their barracks in the wake of Operation Blue Star, Mr Mann said no steps had been taken for their rehabilitation so far and they were living in abject poverty.

The Government had also not taken any substantial step towards the release of hundreds of Punjabi youths languishing in jails for the past 17 years.


BJP backs Centre on relief to ‘tainted’ cops
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 10
Criticising the role of some human rights organisations for opposing the move of the Central Government to provide relief to those Punjab police officials, who are facing trials in different courts for alleged excesses committed during militancy in the state within the ambit of the Constitution, the Punjab unit of the BJP yesterday came out in support of these police officials by backing the Central Government on the issue.

The Punjab Food and Civil Supplies Minister and a senior BJP leader, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, while talking to this correspondent here yesterday, said his party had always supported the demands of these police officials, who had fought the proxy war on behalf of the nation.

“Infact, these human rights activists are more concerned about terrorists, who had joined hands with anti-national forces and had spared no effort to disintegrate the country during those black days of terrorism. Why don’t these organisations go to Kashmir and highlight the human rights violations committed by terrorists, who had killed hundreds of innocent people in the valley for the past more than 13 years?” the minister questioned.

Mr Mittal, who was the president of the state unit of the party during militancy, said.” We stand by the police officials, who have been falsely implicated in cases related to alleged human rights violation.”

It may be mentioned here that it is for the first time that the party has come openly in support of tainted cops, particularly when the Punjab Chief Minister and SAD supremo, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, recently announced that law will take its own course in case of these cops.

When asked whether there was any move to review or withdraw the controversial permissions granted to prosecute these police officials for alleged excesses by the state government since it was only the Central Government which could permit their prosecution, the minister said there was no question of reviewing the permission cases since the matter was subjudicial.

The Zinda Shaheed Police Officers Welfare Association had already challenged the authority of the Punjab Government in granting permission to prosecute these police officials for their involvement in alleged cases of excesses during militancy on the plea that the Punjab Disturbed Area Act had clear provision that only the Central Government could grant permission to prosecute the police officials.


Govt callous towards indebted farmers: BKM
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 10
In a step which may cause a lot of embarrassment to SAD, especially in view of the ensuing assembly poll, the Bhartiya Kisan Morcha (BKM), a frontal organisation of the SAD’s poll alliance partner, BJP, has accused the state government of being callous towards a large number of incidents of suicides committed by debt-ridden farmers of the state.

The morcha has also prepared a detailed report of these suicides, the reason behind them and the attitude of the state government towards such incidents and has submitted the same to the Prime Minister, even as some political experts see it as an effort by the BJP to emerge as a champion for the farming community so as to enlarge its vote bank, which may prove costly for its ally SAD.

In the report, the morcha has elaborated that the state farmers owe 86 per cent of debt to commission agents, 13 per cent to big farmers and only 7 per cent to the state government organisations and the maltreatment at the hands of commission agents coupled with inaction on the part of the state government was the single most important reason behind suicides by farmers.

The morcha alleged that though the first incident of suicide due to debt had come to light in 1990 yet successive governments did not consider them as debt-related deaths till 2000, when the state government made a provision for a compensation of Rs 2.5 lakh to each of the victims in its budget. “But it is sad to note that the policy was not being implemented effectively and the police authorities tried their best to dissuade relatives from getting deaths registered in the police record as suicide deaths”, Mr Grewal said.

As many as 80 debt-related deaths took place between 1996-98 in 14 villages of Sangrur district alone and two-third of the victims were farmers and farm labourers below the age of 30 years. Almost 64 per cent of the victims were Jat Sikhs, 18 per cent scheduled Caste and rest landless labourers of different castes. This was followed by 27 suicides in three months, last year, that too in September. Most of these farmers had taken debt from commission agents for the marriage of their children and this was witnessed in the whole state, the report said.


Farmers’ union launches loan-waiver movement
Tribune News Service

Mansa, September 10
In a significant development which could have far reaching impact on the political scene of the country, as many as 15 farmers’ organisations of the country today launched a “karja mukti” movement (Loan waiver movement) and urged the Central Government to boycott the Doha conference on WTO.

Representatives of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta), the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sanghrash Samiti, the Bihar Pardesh Kisan Sabha, the Bharatiya Kisan Union, Haryana, the West Bengal Krishak Samiti, the Rajasthan Kisan Sanghatan, the Andhra Pradesh Kisan Sangh, the Tamil Nadu Kisan Morcha, the Orrisa Kisan Sabha, the Kerala Krishak Sanghatan, the Setkari Majdoor Parishad Maharashtra, the Chattisgarh Kisan Sabha, the Uttaranchal Kisan Sabha, the Jharkhand Majdoor Kisan and the Madhya Pardesh Kisan Sabha announced that they would launch the movement like the Punjabis launched the freedom movement.

The gathering in various resolution passed on the occasion demanded that Central Government should boycott the coming Doha Conference and reject the MSP announced for paddy.

The farmers also demanded that prices of agriculture products should be linked with the Wholesale Price Index of 1967. The farmers said they had decided not to allow any government agency to arrest and attach the property of any farmer for the recovery of loans.

Mr Raja Ram Singh, president, Bihar Pardesh Kisan Sabha, while addressing the gathering, pointed out that time had come when the farmers should make efforts from a common platform to get their genuine demands accepted by the government agencies.

Mr Ghasi Ram, president, Bharatiya Kisan Union, Haryana, alleged that the Central Government always supported industrialists and provided them with under benefits. On the other hand, the farmers were not given minimum return of their hard work.

He said under the WTO agreement, the country was being converted into a dumping ground for surplus food grains and other commodities of the foreign countries which would prove to be fatal for the farmers who had been reeling under heavy debts.

Mr Pishora Singh Sidhupur, president, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta), alleged that anti-farmer policies of the successive government had forced them to commit suicide. He added that Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab, who regarded himself to be the champion of the farmers was using force to suppress their voice.

Those who also addressed the conference included Mr Pawan Sharma, convenor, Akhil Bharti Kisan Sangharash Samiti, Mr Parshotam Sharma, President, Uttaranchal Kisan Sabha, Mr Mohinder Chaudhary, President, Rajasthan Kisan Sanghatan, Mr Bangaru Rao, President, Andhra Pardesh Kisan Sabha, Mr Sughandhan, Secretary, Tamil Nadu Kisan Morcha, and Mr Vidiyadhar Pattar, secretary, Kerala Krishak Sanghtan.

Increase MSP by Rs 60: CPI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 10
Dr Joginder Dayal, secretary, Punjab State Council of the CPI, in a statement issued here today said that all efforts to get the minimum support price of paddy increased by Rs 50 per quintal had proved “much ado about nothing”.

The Rs 20 per quintal increase was nothing but a “cruel joke” on the peasantry, which had been facing economic ruin. Dr Dayal demanded that the MSP should be increased by at least Rs 60 per quintal over that of the last year. In case the Central Government did not increase it, the state government should pay Rs 40 per quintal to the growers. The government purchasing agencies should enter the market with immediate effect to save the growers from making distress sale of their produce, he added.


Power panel not consulted again
Tubewell connection charges slashed
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 10
The Punjab Government seems to have bypassed the State Power Regulatory Commission while slashing the charges for temporary power connections for agricultural tubewells from Rs 10,000 to Rs 5,000 per horsepower two days ago.

The decision was announced by the Chief Minister following a meeting attended by Power Minister Sikander Singh Maluka, PSEB Chairman Sudhir Mittal and members of the board. The Chief Minister while regularising all 41,000 temporary power connections for agriculture tubewells, also slashed the connection charges.

Sources said this was the second time that the commission had been bypassed in the matter of charges by the government. They said earlier the commission was ignored by the government when it readjusted the slab system applicable to domestic consumers and increased the power given free of cost to the Scheduled Caste families in the state.

They said the commission had come into being through an Act of parliament and it was mandatory for the government to consult it on tariffs as well as other issues which affected the financial health of the board, including deciding on connection charges for agricultural purposes.

They said as the commission was a statutory body, it could not be bypassed and even if the government wanted to go in for some sop it had to submit the proposal to the commission. If it still wanted to go ahead, it would have to compensate the board for the loss suffered by it.

They said the commission had not analysed the situation before the government decided to give concessions to the Scheduled Caste families and relief to domestic consumers. The sources said the commission was yet to decide on tariff revision keeping in view that power in Punjab was one of the cheapest among the states despite the fact that the state was reeling under a financial crisis.

Commission Chairman and former State Chief Secretary R.S. Mann was

not available for comments on the issue. Other members of the commission also could not be contacted.

The sources said the decision was likely to put additional burden on the board which was already floundering due to the free power facility given to the agriculture sector. They said the board, which was already short of funds, had now been denied another opportunity to mop funds by regularising power connections.

Agriculture experts said the move was regressive in nature as it went against the government policy of diversification. They said while the government was harping on the need for diversification and repeatedly stressing the need to bring lesser land under paddy cultivation in the state, it had done the opposite by its latest action. They said regularisation of temporary connections given for paddy transplantation would only encourage the farmers to continue sowing paddy instead of going for alternative crops.


ORP reversion orders: 6 cops may be bailed out
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 10
The state government may bail out at least six police officers above the rank of DSP who have been reverted to their original rank under the high court orders regarding ORP rank officers in the Punjab police.

Highly-placed police sources told The Tribune that the promotions of these officers were recommended directly by the then state government and thus the present government had the power to issue orders to retain them at their present post. A number of police officers who come under this category have reportedly met Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and have apprised him of the power of the government to retain their promotions.

The police officers said some of them had even lost their families and had to live under tight security due to constant threats from terrorists. They were rewarded by the government and the then Chief Minister had at state-level functions awarded them promotions for their acts of bravery, they said. The officers have pleaded that they were given promotions on merit and not due to favouritism.

According to sources, the government is in the process of taking legal advice on the matter. It has been brought to its notice that the government can allow the officers to retain their post.

Even the DGP, Punjab, Mr Sarbjit Singh, had in a recent visit to the city hinted at such a development. Without taking names, he had said that the cases of some officers could be reviewed.

A senior police official said the government had almost decided to notify the retaining of promoted posts of these officers. He said the notification was under the rules that the state government was authorised to promote an officer while the Police Department was not.

The cases of these six officers were being discussed at several levels after the Police Department began implementing the high court orders. While hundred of policemen were demoted, the names of these six officers were not included in any list. The DGP, Punjab, has so far chosen to comment that some cases were under review as the high court had formed a two-member committee to review some cases. 


PPCC asks MLAs to declare assets
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 10
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) today demanded that all Akali ministers, including the Punjab Chief Minister, and MLAs should declare their assets as promised in their poll manifesto during February 1997 Assembly elections. 

This was stated by Mr Sukhpal Singh Khaira, secretary, PPCC, while addressing a press conference here today.


Cong promises pension to traders
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 10
The Punjab Congress today announced it would launch a pension scheme for the trading class in case it was voted to power.

The PPCC media committee chairman, Mr Surinder Singla, announced at a press conference here that the Congress would launch a scheme to give pension to poor traders in the state if voted to power. He said the motive was to recognise the role of traders in the tax collection system and give the needy ones some benefit. Modalities of the scheme were being worked out.

He said the Congress would remove the tax barriers which had been reintroduced in the state by the Akali-BJP government, rationalise the tax structure and withdraw Sales Tax form 22. He said the party was confident that once the policy of “terrorising” traders was stopped, tax collections would increase substantially.

Mr Singla said the Congress would take up with the Centre the issue of streamlining the central excise administration. The party was confident that with the right measures, foremost among which would be creation of jobs in new fields, the economy of the state could be revived.

Mr Singla, reacting to the Chief Minister’s recent statement that he did not have time to reply to charges made by an idle man (PPCC President Capt Amarinder Singh), said Mr Badal was running away from answering the charges made against him.

He said the Congress and the people wanted to know what Mr Badal was doing when he was not in government. He alleged that instead of standing with the people like Capt Amarinder Singh, the latter had aided and abetted terrorism.

The Congress leader claimed that the Chief Minister had not denied that he or his family owned a five-star hotel in Gurgaon or that he possessed a fleet of buses. He said the Congress had the right to raise questions on the properties of the Chief Minister. As to how these had been acquired was a public issue. He said in a democracy the Opposition had the right to raise issues of public interest and the Congress was doing just that.

The press conference was addressed by former legislator Prem Gupta, an expert on employee affairs, who said the Congress would form a permanent commission, if elected, to re-examine service conditions every two years. He said the commission would also restore the party between private aided and government college lecturers, besides reviving the State Subordinate Service Selection Board which had not made any recruitment in the past more than four years.

Cong cell convener
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 10
Mr Inderjit Singh was appointed convener of the Punjab Congress Backward Cell at a meeting held here today.



BSM to hold rallies
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 10
The Bahujan Samaj Morcha (BSM) will hold rallies in different cities of Punjab in order to strengthen the party’s base keeping in view the forthcoming assembly elections in the state.

This was stated by Mr Satnam Singh Kainth, former member of Parliament and President of the state unit of the BSM, while addressing a press conference here today. Mr Kainth said that the BSM would make up its mind on any type of electoral alliance when the assembly elections were announced and added that his party had no part in the decision making of the present SAD-BJP alliance in the state.

He claimed that the BSM had the potential to fight at least 70 assembly seats and the party was ready to go it alone, if necessary. Mr Kainth said that Mr Kanshi Ram’s claim that there was no leader in the BSP was wrong since Mr Kanshi Ram never let any person to emerge as a leader.

Mr Kainth added that keeping in view the various electoral combinations no party could come to power on its own and it was here that the BSM would play a vital role in the government formation.

Mr Paramjit Kainth, convener of the district unit of the party, said that the party would hold rallies at Amritsar on September 15, Nihalsinghwala on September 16, Ludhiana on September 22 and Banga on September 23.



Stone of CPM office laid
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, September 10
Prof Balwant Singh, Secretary of the state unit of the CPM, laid the foundation stone of the party office to be constructed in the memory of Natha Singh Mandali at Banga town today. 

While addressing the gathering, he criticised the NDA government for its wrong economic and foreign policies and said the CPM would hold “flag marches” from September 13 to September 20. Activists of the party would court arrest from September 25 to September 27 throughout the country.


RJD to contest 117 seats
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, September 10
The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) will contest 117 Assembly seats in the forthcoming elections in the state and is willing to enter into an electoral alliance with any political party, except the BJP.

This was stated by Mr Vijay Yadav, member of Parliament and incharge of the party affairs in Punjab, at a party meeting here yesterday.


Rights activist awaits justice
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 10
A petitioner has been appearing in a local court every two or three months for the past 14 years, but neither has his case moved forward or been dismissed.

The petitioner, D S Gill, a Ludhiana-based human rights activist, had filed a case against Mr Bhajan Lal, former Haryana Chief Minister, in 1987 when the Congress leader was a Union Minister, demanding legal action against him for allegedly instigating the armed forces and others to kill terrorists without any legal trial.

In all these years, the case has not moved any further. While the respondent has not made a single appearance, the activist is undergoing a seemingly unending ordeal of appearing in the court after every few months.

The case, now forgotten, had, in fact, hogged the headlines in 1987 when Mr Bhajan Lal, then Union Minister for Environment and Forests, was summoned to the District Courts, Ludhiana. He, however, got a stay from the Supreme court. Interestingly, the judge who had taken up the complaint and issued bailable warrants was shifted within 24 hours. The judge transferred five times in a span of a few months. He died soon after some illness.

Mr Bhajan Lal, when contacted over the phone at his Delhi residence, said he did not remember the case as so many years had lapsed.


Traffic blocked, Cong leader’s arrest sought
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 10
Activists of the Doaba Helpline for Women, Hoshiarpur, headed by its president, Ms Pushpa Sharma, staged a dharna in front of the main gate of the city police station and took out a rally here today to show their resentment against the police authorities for not arresting Prem Mehta, president of the women cell of the District Congress Committee, and other members of her family for mercilessly beating her daughter-in-law, Ms Jyoti Mehta, for dowry who is undergoing treatment at the local Civil Hospital.

They blocked traffic at Clock Tower for hours and shouted slogans against Prem Mehta.

Later, Mr Tikshan Sud, Minister for Excise and Taxation, Punjab, was called who met the investigation officer to know about the progress in the case and arrests of the culprits.

Mr Sukhwinder Singh, DSP (City), who is investigating the case said he had thoroughly investigated the case and found that Chander Shakher Mehta, husband of Ms Jyoti Mehta, had another wife Ms Alka Nagpal, resident of Model Town. According to the birth entry record of the municipal council and local nursing home, Chander Shakher and Alka Nagpal had a one-and-a-half-year old female child. A case under Section 494 of the IPC was being registered against him. He said mother and brother of Ms Jyoti Mehta produced sufficient evidences to prove that Ms Prem Mehta and her family demanded dowry from Jyoti.

He said Chander Shakher had been arrested last night while Prem Mehta and other members of her family absconded.

After an assurance by Mr Tikshan Sud and the investigating officer that the culprits will be arrested soon the activists lifted the dharna.


Probe into civic body functioning begins
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 10
A team from the Vigilance Office of the Local Bodies Department today started an inquiry into the alleged bunglings in various development works carried out in the city by the municipal council authorities. The team is on a two-day visit to the city during which it will examine the material used in the construction of streets and main roads of the city. It may also take samples of the material used for chemical analysis.

Sources said the team would also examine the case of a marriage palace constructed reportedly on government land in violation of the law. Several municipal councillors belonging to the ruling and opposition parties had levelled charges of large-scale corruption in the affairs of the municipal council in the past few months and had demanded a high-level probe into them.

Things took an ugly turn on August 28 when two BJP councillors were manhandled and beaten up by SAD councillors when the former raised the issue of corruption during the meeting of the civil body. The BJP councillors have demanded stern action against the SAD councillors involved in the beating up incident. Mr Krishan Kumar Garg, a BJP councillor, had alleged that contractors in connivance with some councillors were cheating the public by using sub standard material while constructing roads and streets.

The head of the vigilance team holding the inquiry into the alleged bunglings, refused to give details. He said there were some bunglings in the construction of the roads and the streets. However, he said he would submit a report to the department.

He added that the material taken from the roads would be sent to a laboratory for chemical analysis, adding that only after a report was received from the laboratory would he be able to say whether the material used was upto to the mark or below the prescribed standard. He said normally such reports were received within a month.


Govt ‘shielding’ officers behind scam
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 10
The veteran CPI leader, Mr Satya Paul Dang has alleged that the Minister for Social Security, Mr Gobind Singh Kanjla, in a reply to a question put by Mr Hardev Singh Arshi, MLA had concealed several facts.

He asked the Chief Minister whether the minister in charge of social security, should be allowed to continue to hold office after Rs 23- crore pension scam had been unearthed in one district.

He said the fact-finding report of Dr Rishi Paul Singh, Public Grievances Officers, was not placed on the floor of the Assembly as it contained startling information on the scam.

He alleged that the report, if made public, would reveal that the huge amount embezzled by them had not been pocketed by two or three officers but by more than seven to eight officers.

He alleged that the major part of the amount had been pocketed by some very prominent persons of Amritsar district and Chandigarh.

He said without the connivance of senior officers such a big scam was not possible.

Significantly, in his reply the minister admitted that the inquiry report of the Assistant Commissioner (Grievances) was received through the Deputy Commissioner as the report indicated that the office of the district social security officer had paid double pension to beneficiaries and pension to ineligible persons. This all had been manipulated with the involvement of district social security officers, employees and agents.


Malooka’s son plying bus without permit: union
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 10
Members of the Tempo Union, Jandawala village in the district, have alleged that Mr Gurpreet Singh Malooka, son of Mr Sikander Malooka, Minister for Power, Punjab, is illegally plying a bus on the Jandawala-Khemuana route without permit. The members told this correspondent that six tempos and two buses were plying on this route with permit. They alleged that a bus (PB-13 E 9804) was being plied on the same route by Mr Gurpreet Malooka without having a permit for this route. They said the permit issued to this bus was for Goniana-Kothe Guru route and was issued in the name of Mr Tara, of Tillen Kalan village in Ludhiana district.

They said they brought this to the notice of the Secretary, Transport Commission, Chandigarh, Regional Transport Officer and transport officer, Bathinda. They urged these authorities to direct Mr Malooka to ply the bus on the route for which the permit was issued. Mr Gurpreet Singh Malooka when contacted said earlier he used to ply the bus on the Jandawala-Khemuana route. But now the bus had been plying on the Goniana-Kothe Guru route for the past many days.


Small papers unable to keep afloat
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 10
The quiver is full again and the arrows are flying. Yes, the newspaper “Tir Kaman” has started publication again after a short lull.

However others, including “Senapati”, “Roop”, “Inteqam”, “Swaran” and “Hazara Patrika” have closed shop and many others are in the process of doing so, unable to exist without government support.

While some papers have closed down, others are taking out their papers just to maintain their file, which has to be sent regularly to the Home Department so that they can continue to be eligible for grant of advertisements.

The back of small newspapers has been broken after the stoppage of the majority of advertisements given to them. They now exist all but in name. While the effect is being felt all over the state, it is more so in this city as the most number of such publications are being brought out from here.

Mr Avtar Singh, who brings out the weekly “Gairat” says the good days for small newspapers have long since passed and presently it is difficult to bring out the paper. He says as the government is not releasing any classified advertisements now, it is difficult to keep the paper afloat from one’s own resources.

Giving details, he says earlier most small newspapers used to get around Rs 50,000 per month from the government by way of classified advertisements every year, which helped to cover costs to a big extent, but now the government policy is to give advertisements only to prominent newspapers and national dailies. He asserts that small newspapers are still relevant and that the government policy is not logical. He says advertisements of small municipal committees are appearing in a national daily at Delhi while publication in a few small newspapers at a fraction of the cost may have served the purpose.

However, a cross section of the people of the city do not have much sympathy over the closure of the small newspapers, with some of them happy that they are dying a natural death.

“The small papers took birth due to the politics of self aggrandisement encouraged by the ruling political class and were fed by officials for their vested interests. It is good that an end is being put to this practice”, says Mr Gurcharan Singh, a resident of Sheranwala Gate in the city. He says the government has probably now realised that using the papers for self publicity does not help in the long run.

Others say small newspapers have also adopted the policy of blackmail and have unleashed a reign of terror in the city. They add that a favourite tactic of such papers is to print defamatory material about some person and distribute the same in his office or locality, compelling him to enter into some “adjustment” with the newspaper or face further “disclosures”.

The Small Newspapers Editors Union President, Mr Sohan Singh Barha, however contends that small newspapers should only be treated as those which have been recognised by the DAVP and that it is upto the authorities to take action against unrecognised papers indulging in shady activities. He says people should also bring such activities to the notice of the police, which can take action in the matter.

Mr Barha, however, claims that small newspapers still have their own place in society and should be encouraged by the government.

He says papers being brought out regularly like “Ranjit”, “Charhdikala”, “Dharaledar”, “Ashiana”, “Tir Kaman”, “Pau Phutti” and “Gianvan” are feeling the pinch. He says the union has tried to take up the matter at various levels, but has not ben able to change the government thinking on the issue.

It will now meet the Chief Minister to stress the restarting of the old advertisement policy, he adds.



Grant too meagre, say soldiers’ kin
Our Correspondent

Khasa (Amritsar), September 10
“It is too little and too late”. This is how the widow of Gopal Singh of the Sikh Regiment who laid down his life during the 1962 Indo-China war said Expressing anguish, Jagir Kaur said. the government should have given them the same relief as had been given to martyrs of “Operation Vijay” during the Kargil hostilities.

Similar sentiments were expressed by family members of slain soldiers of 1962, 1965 and 1971 wars. They said they had been facing financial strain. The army has given them a grant of Rs. 50,000 each.

The widow of Hav Gurcharan Singh from Burj village said with tears in her eyes that her only son, was killed by militants but no compensation had been given by the Punjab Government. Her pension was too meagre to support her family, which included her daughter-in-law and grand-daughter. She urged the Army authorities to enhance her pension and give compensation for the death of her son.

These families who attended a ceremony today requested Major-Gen Ashok Kapoor to provide them with free medical facilities at Army hospitals. General Kapoor, GOC 15-Infantry Division, handed over drafts for Rs 50,000 each to 109 families. He offered to provide them with all kind of medical help.

As Rs 100 as medical allowance was very low, he offered to take up the matter with the Defence Ministry.


Pannu’s vehicle ‘carried liquor bottles’
Payment of claim may be delayed
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 10
The survey report submitted by the Oriental Insurance Company, Bareilly (Uttar Pradesh), on the ill-fated Toyota Qualis belonging to the SGPC which met with an accident on February 16, resulting in the death of Balbir Singh Pannu, Senior Vice-President, SGPC, and three other occupants, may delay the payment of claim totalling Rs 5 lakh.

The surveyer, Mr Arvind Kumar, may create ripples in Sikh circles as the report mentions that the vehicle was carrying four bottles of whisky and three empty bottles of liquor, a gas burner, an AK-47 rifle with 19 cartridges and a .9 mm pistol.

Mr P.C. Sharma, branch manager of the insurance company, said the claim had been withheld in view of the non-submission of various documents, including the post-mortem report of the driver, Simrat Paul Singh.

He said he had sent a letter dated September 7 to the Secretary, SGPC, Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, and sought immediate submission of the post-mortem report of the driver, which was a must for any accident claim.

It is learnt that the driver was not an employee of the SGPC.

When contacted, Mr Arvind Kumar said from Bareilly, that without the post-mortem report it was difficult to pay the claim to the SGPC. He confirmed that the liquor bottles were being carried in the ill-fated vehicle of the SGPC at the time of the accident. He, however, said liquor in the ill-fated vehicle won’t come in the way of getting the claim.

It may be mentioned here that the vehicle had collided head-on with a bus on Shahjahanpur-Bareilly road near Simra village in the wee hours on February 16. Apart from Mr Pannu, the driver Sukhsimratpal Singh, Sukhbir Singh, a Punjab police constable and Nirmal Deep Kaur died on the spot after the accident.

The survey report said the vehicle was crushed and shattered in the front and the bodies of all four killed in the accident were taken out from the vehicle with great difficulty under the supervision of SHO of Fatehganj East police station.

When contacted, Dr Bachan showed ignorance about the survey report. He, however, admitted that the claim could not be taken as certain formalities were yet to be completed.

Sources claimed that the SGPC was suffering a loss of about Rs 5,000 per month due to non-payment of the claim. The branch manager of the insurance company said the SGPC could not claim interest on the delayed payment. 


Shamlat land 'converted' into private property
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 10
Mrs Shyama Mann, Financial Commissioner (Revenue), has requested the Chief Secretary, Mr N. K. Arora, to take appropriate steps immediately to set aside what she has described as "illegal and totally perverse" order passed by a senior officer of the Rural Development and Panchayat Department in Ropar district divesting Chatauli village of over 35 acres of panchayat land worth several crores of rupees.

According to informed sources, Mrs Mann has also directed the Commissioner, Patiala Division, to take note of the "illegal order" dated February 16 last passed by the officer and to proceed to reverse it after following the due procedure if no one has filed a revision petition against the order.

Deterrent action should be taken against the officer and others who are allegedly involved in the entire process from the passing of the "illegal order", fixing of shares in the land, sanctioning of the mutations, etc.

Mrs Mann, according to sources, felt that the officers concerned of the Revenue and Rural Development and Panchayat Departments, exercising quasi judicial powers, acted in unison to convert the shamlat land, which was public property belonging to the panchayat of the village, into private property.

The land is strategically located near Kurali town. In the revenue records it is shown shamlat land (common land). In fact, the land in question is part of the bed of a nadi.

Mrs Mann has stated in the letter to the Chief Secretary that almost the entire village was inhabited by Muslims who left the country during Partition. Those who left the country had a share in this shamlat land. As per the Supreme Court's orders, the ownership of all shamlat land in which those who had left the country had a share was vested in the gram panchayats concerned long ago.

The present residents of Chatauli village are either allottees who came from Pakistan or oustees from the Chandigarh Capital project. They settled in the village after January 26, 1950. They are not original owners of the land in the village . In the light of this , they could not be shareholders in the shamlat land of the village. As per law only those who are in continuous possession of any land holding in the village before January 26,1950, can be title holders in shamlat land in any village.

Mrs Mann said that undue alacrity was shown by the officer concerned in passing the order for the partition of the shamlat land. The application for the partition of the land of the village was filed on January 3 last before the officer by three persons. A decision was taken on February 16, within six weeks. And after passing the order pertaining to the partition of the shamlat land, the officer concerned issued directions to the Naib Tehsildar, Kharar, on February 22 to execute his order dated February 16 and sanction a mutation in favour of the petitioners and other "co-sharers" as per their respective shares in the land.

However, the officer was not competent to issue any such direction to Naib Tehsildar, who was any employee of the Revenue Department. The Naib Tehsildar obeyed the order implicitly. He also fixed the shares of the petitioners and others in the shamlat land, though he was not competent to do so under the law.

In the normal course, the fixing of shares is a long-drawn process as it involves the summoning of land owners, proper hearing of objections, if any, and detailed calculations.

Mrs Mann further stated that she had come to know that after the determination of shares and sanction of mutation, a part of the land was quietly sold to a private company which had given an address at SAS Nagar. Mutations of sale were also sanctioned promptly by the Naib Tehsildar.

Besides initiating other legal measures, Mrs Mann, has directed the Commissioner, Patiala division to stop any partition of the area which constituted the bed of the nadi. The partition of a nadi can be refused under Section 112(2) of the Punjab Land Revenue Act.


Workers hold state-level protest rally
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 10
A large number of workers, including women, under the banner of Kirti Mazdoor Union, Punjab, led by its state president Baru Satwarg today blocked roads at Mahavir Chowk near the local Civil Hospital for half-an-hour in support of their demands.

They also took out a protest march through the town and raised slogans against the state government. Earlier, the union held a state-level rally in the complex of the SDM’s office which was addressed by several speakers including Mr Satwarg, Ms Gurpreet Kaur, general secretary of the Krantikari Nari Sabha Punjab, Brijesh Kumar, state secretary of the Punjab Radical Students Union, Mr Tarsem Lal, state committee member of the Democratic Teachers Front, and Mr Hari Ram, state committee member of the Kirti Mazdoor Union.

The speakers criticised the state and Central governments for not accepting their demands which included implementation of eight-hour duty, parity of wages of male and female workers, waiving loans of workers, free power supply and fixation of Rs 125 as daily wages.


Crisis in NRI Sabha deepens
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 10
Even as the NRI Sabha, Punjab, allegedly created division in the Indian Overseas Congress by organising a meeting of its UK unit under the chairmanship of Mr Mohinder Singh Jaswal, the chairman of the Overseas Congress Mr Daljit Singh Sahota, today asserted that Mr Jaswal had no right to issue any statement as he had been expelled from the organisation four years ago.

What had upset members of the NRI Sabha was the formation of a rival NRI cell by the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) and threats by Mr Sahota and senior Congress leader and MP Balbir Singh that the sabha would be disbanded after the Congress came to power.

Irked over the threats, the members today said the UK unit of the organisation had held a meeting under the chairmanship of Mr Jaswal and had “disowned” the policies of Mr Balbir Singh and Mr Sahota. 


Son denies charge
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 10
Surjit Singh, son of Mohinder Kaur, has denied that he turned his mother out of the house after getting her property transferred into his own name. Responding to a representation made to the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.R. Kaler by Mrs Mohinder Kaur, Surjit Singh said, he still loved and respected his mother as much as he used to five years ago. However, he regretted that she had lodged the complaint against him at the instance of her daughter (and his sister Pritam Kaur).

Surjit Singh alleged that Pritam Kaur owed him Rs 3 lakh. He said, he had lent the money to his sister on the assurance of his mother about 10 years ago. Since he had the assurance from his mother, he did not adopt legal means to get the money back hoping Pritam Kaur would return the money on her own.

Surjit Singh said he had not got the land (belonging to his mother) transferred into his name, but he had purchased it from his mother, who gave the money to her daughter. He disclosed that he had earned the money in Iraq, where he worked for three years during the Iran-Iraq war. 

AISSF(U) to start drive against drug abuse
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 10
Dr Manjit Singh Bhoma, convener of the All-India Sikh Students Federation ( United), said today that the federation would celebrate its foundation day on September 13 in Jalandhar.

It would announce its programme on that day against growing drug abuse among youth in this part of the country.

It would also launch a campaign against the tendency of Sikh youths becoming clean shaven.

He claimed that five different factions of the federation had now united.


CM orders steps to set up sub-station
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 10
The Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, yesterday directed the local municipal corporation to immediately hand over land at Sakatari Bagh in the city to the PSEB to set up a 132 kv sub-station. 

Mr Badal, who spent two days in the city, gave an assurance to the BJP MLA, Ms Lakshmi Kanta Chawla, that board official had been directed to take steps to set up a sub-station and communicate the work done to him.


Speed post passport service launched
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, September 10
A speed post passport service was formally launched today in the Phagwara post office. The Postal Department has introduced this service to spare people the inconvenience of waiting in long queues in passport offices.

Postal employees of the Phagwara post office said today that seven passport forms were sold in the first two hours of the day.

The Postal Department will charge Rs 100 per passport for the service while a passport form will be available for Rs 20. An applicant will have to deposit a demand draft for Rs 300 along with the form in the post office. However, the applicant will have to collect his/her passport from the passport office only.


Complaints against cable service
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 10
In a representation to the Deputy Commissioner, the Consumer Welfare Council has urged him to fix the subscription charges for cable connections in the city and to direct the cable operators to provide good services to the consumers.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Prem Bhatia, president of the council, said members of the council met Mr R. Venkatratnam, Deputy Commissioner, today and told him about the monopolistic behaviour of the cable operators .


Explosive detection vehicles for police
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 10
The Director-General of Punjab police, Mr Sarabjit Singh, flagged off 16 anti-sabotage explosives detection vehicles here today.

The special vehicles, he said, were part of the modernisation drive. Each of them would be equipped with the latest explosive vapour detector, linear junction detector, deep search metal detector and other gadgets. Besides, each vehicle would carry a sniffer dog.

At present, the Punjab police has 20 anti-sabotage squads. Each of the six police ranges, besides the PAP, the railheads at Bathinda, Amritsar and Ferozepore, VIP security, CM security, the Madhopur headworks and other important units have anti-sabotage squads. Until recently, these squads were using the available vehicles.

Each member of the anti-sabotage squads, including those who will man the special vehicles, have undergone a three-month special capsule course in various anti-sabotage measures. These vehicles and their equipment will be useful in detecting IEDs and even explosives buried underground at public places.

Mr S.S. Virk, Inspector-General of Police (Security), explained various features of the new squad.

Also present were Mr S.V. Singh, Mr Lalit Bhatia, Dr G.S. Aujla and Mr M.P.S. Aulkah, all ADGPs; Mr K.K. Attri, Mr N.P.S. Aulakh, Mr Shashi Kant, Mr A.P. Pandey, Mr S.S. Bhullar, Mr R. Prasad, Mr Anil Kaushik, all IGs; Mr G.D. Pandey, Mr R.P. Singh, Mr Rajinder Singh and Mr Dinkar Gupta, all DIGs; and Mr A.S. Rai and Ms Amrit Brar, both SPs.



4 carrying opium, poppy husk held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 10
As part of their campaign to check the menace of narcotics, the district police has arrested four persons and seized 1.25 kg of opium and 8 kg of poppy husk from them.

In a press note issued here today , Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said Kabal Singh a resident of Rania in Sirsa district of Haryana, was arrested when he was trying to smuggle 1 kg of opium. He was arrested near Rampura and a case had been registered against him under Sections 18,61 and 85 at the Rampura police station.

The SSP said Gurmail Singh, a resident of Lehra Dhurkot, was arrested for possessing 200 gm of opium near Sivia village and a case had been registered against him at the Thermal police station.

Surinder Pal, a resident of the local Bhaleria colony, was arrested from the Santpura road for possessing 50 gm of opium and a case had been registered against him at the Kotwali police station.

Dr Jain said Sukha Singh, a resident of Jeeda, was arrested near Bir Behman village for allegedly possessing 8 kg of poppy husk and a case had been registered against him under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act at the Sadar police station.

He said under a campaign against satta transactions, the police had arrested 20 persons and registered 14 cases against them. It had also seized Rs 5,655 from them.

Dr Jain said all these persons had been booked under Section 13 of the Gambling Act at various police stations of the district.

Under the Excise Act, the police had arrested eight persons and registered cases against them. It had seized from them 32 litres of illicit liquor, 61 kg lahan and unearthed an illegal distillery.


SFI flays education policy
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, September 10
The Students Federation of India (SFI) and the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) on Saturday organised a rally at Doaba Polytechnic, Raipur, about 35 km from here.

Addressing students, Mr Rakesh Nayyar, vice-president of the state DYFI, criticised the NDA Government for ‘saffronisation’ and privatisation of education. He said the DYFI and the SFI would continue their struggle against the policies. The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, had promised to generate one crore jobs every year for the youth, but on the contrary he had curtailed the existing employment opportunities, he alleged.

He demanded that the right to education and the right to work should be included in the Fundamental Rights. At least 10 per cent of the Central budget and 25 per cent of states’ budgets should be spent on education. Education should be given to girls free of cost.

Mr Asanand Kaluchang, former general secretary of the SFI, also addressed the rally. An SFI unit was constituted at the polytechnic. Mr Gaurav Mangat (president), Mr Rajinder Singh and Mr Harman (vice-presidents), Mr Himanshu (general secretary), Mr Paramjit Singh and Mr Deepak Chopra (joint secretaries), Ms Rajbir Kaur (treasurer) and Mr Navpreet (press secretary) were nominated.


Strike by teachers of aided colleges
Our Correspondent

Ropar, September 10
Teachers of aided colleges in the district today observed a strike in support of demand of lecturers of the Dev Samaj College for Women, Forezepore, for the implementation of the pension scheme.

Due to the strike teaching in Khalsa College, Anandpur Sahib, Sahibzada Ajit Singh Jhujar Singh College Bela, Khalsa College for Women, Morinda, and other aided colleges of the district remained suspended for some time.

The general secretary of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union, Anandpur Sahib, Mr Avtar Singh, said today’s strike was observed on the call of the state body of their union.

As many as 5,000 lecturers of 150 aided colleges in the state have been demanding the implementation of the pension scheme.

However, despite repeated assurances by various functionaries, including the Chief Minister, no action has reportedly been taken on the matter.

The union will observe a two-period strike until September 22.

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