Thursday, September 27, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Killianwali rally: strength yes, but what 
about votes
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Killianwali (Muktsar), September 26
An impressive and unprecedented turnout notwithstanding, the ruling SAD-BJP alliance appears to have squandered an opportunity to launch its electioneering campaign on a positive note here yesterday.

If the gathering was an indication of the show of strength, the SAD-BJP alliance appears to have scored a point as it succeeded in overshadowing the “Garibkisan Maha Panchayat” organised by Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar and Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee at Malout, near here, on September 11.

Those who witnessed the Malout rally and the “sadbhavna rally” here maintain that the numbers became irrelevant yesterday as it was virtually the entire Malwa region which had turned out at the twin city of Killianwali and Mandi Dabwali. But how far the alliance, compared to the Congress, succeeded in converting this massive turnout into votes in the coming elections remains to be seen. The most intriguing aspect of yesterday’s rally was that it lacked the punch which any political party would love to have on the eve of elections.

The elite group of speakers, including the Prime Minister, Union Communications and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister, besides four Chief Ministers, avoided talking about the coming assembly elections in Punjab. Perhaps the audience had come for a different message which it did not get. The disappointment was writ large on the faces of those who sat through for hours together — from 10 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. At the fag end of the rally when the Prime Minister spoke, many of them got restless and started walking out but were persuaded to remain seated on the “security grounds”.

The Chief Minister and his close group of advisers seem to be “elated”, maintaining that they “consciously kept elections out as they wanted to prove that Mr Parkash Singh Badal was the leader of masses and the turnout a straightforward proof that he carried unflinching mass support with him.”

It seems that the rally has silenced the critics of the Vajpayee-Badal camp for the time being.

Though hundreds of trucks, tractor-trailers and even buses were used for ferrying people, mostly from the Malwa belt, to the venue of the rally, but none of the opposition parties have raised any accusing finger against the ruling alliance for “misusing official machinery”. This again is considered by the alliance as a positive development maintaining that participation in the rally was “voluntary” and by “conviction” and not by “coercion”.

The alliance leadership is feeling “relieved” as the initiative it had lost in the exchange of letters episode appears to have been wrested back with the “success” at Killianwali. The leadership is now convinced that the debate with the PPCC chief on the issue of “property” was “unnecessary and avoidable”.

About the four Chief Ministers coming together, probably the symbolic message they wanted to convey was that those supporting more powers to States were on the same side and enjoyed massive public support.

The success of the rally also makes Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal and his camp stronger within SAD. He was given the command of organising the rally.

The political climate in the state is now all set to witness a beehive of activity leading to the elections in a few months’ time.


Rally boosts SAD, BJP morale
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Killianwali (Muktsar), September 26
Despite a long-standing dispute between Punjab and Haryana over territorial changes and river water share, residents of both states turned up in lakhs here yesterday to participate in the “sadhbhavna” rally in connection with the birth anniversary of late Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal.

Though the rally was organised in this village bordering Haryana, it attracted lakhs of people who remained seated for about eight hours to listen to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee amid heat and dust. Both Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Om Prakash Chautala, Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana, respectively, did not speak on the issues relating to the transfer of Chandigarh and Punjabi-speaking areas to Punjab, and construction of SYL canal.

Mr Vajpayee urged them to solve these issues through negotiations.

Due to traffic jams at several places, a number of leaders, including Mr Tandon, could not reach the site of the rally. A large number of people who were coming to attend the rally returned midway.

Observers said though Mr Vajpayee failed to announce any sops for farmers, the promise made by him that the interest of agriculturists would be taken care of in the Doha conference was still something to look forward to.

They pointed out that the promise of all help from the Centre to Punjab by Mr Vajpayee and the massive turn out at the rally had boosted the morale of the party rank and file.

A major section of sitting MLAs and those who were aspirants for party ticket tried to outdo each other by bringing maximum number of people. 


Killianwali show irks Congmen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
Raising serious objections on the Choudhary Devi Lal’s birth anniversary celebrations organised by the Badal Government at Killianwali yesterday, the Punjab Congress said today it was a matter of shame that the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal had celebrated the birth-day of the man who had fought relentlessly against Punjab.

Addressing a press conference here today, the chairman of the media committee of the party, Mr Surinder Singla, said the Congress had all regard for the late Choudhary Devi Lal as a political leader , but it was questionable why the Badal government had spent crores of rupees to organise such a “show” for the leader who was “anti-Punjab”.

The “nyaya yudh” launched by Choudhary Devi Lal in the late seventies was based on an anti-Punjab agenda like transfer of certain areas and more share in riverwaters.

Mr Singla said it appeared that Mr Badal was repaying a “debt of gratitude to the Chautala family for gifting landed property worth several crores of rupees at a throwaway price to his son, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, for a hotel in Gurgaon by organising this extravaganza”.

Punjab’s interests could not be "subjugated" to the interests of the two families — Badal and Chautala. The interests of these two political families could not take precedence over the interests of the people of Punjab, he added.

It was a matter of surprise that the Punjab Government had enough money to install the statue of Choudhary Devi Lal, but was continuously dragging feet to contribute the state’s share to a memorial of the late Mr Beant Singh.

Mr Singla said could Mr Badal explain to the people of the state what they had gained from the Killinanwali “show”.

The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, who came to address the rally, did nothing except create a fear among the farming community about the recent developments with regard to agriculture the world over.

Talking about octroi, Mr Singla said the Congress had been demanding for the past three years the abolition of octroi.

But the Badal Government had done nothing on this front except making statements. Octroi involved a most "obnoxious and primitive system of tax collection".

It should go, he added. He said the Punjab Government should explain to the people why it did not abolish octroi four years ago.

Coming to the party affairs, Mr Singla said ticket would be distributed according to the criteria set by the party high command and there was no questioning of favouring any particular leader. He said though the party had no dearth of talent, it could look beyond for a few extraordinary talented persons for putting up as candidates in the Assembly elections. 


Pak closes Indian TV channels
Launches propaganda against India
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 26
Perturbed over the vast coverage by Indian electronic media about ‘double standards, of Gen Parvez Musharraf, President, and his government on the horrendous terrorist attacks in America and its consequences, the Government of Pakistan has directed cable operators all over the country not to beam Indian TV channels till further orders. This was announced by Pakistan television network. The citizens of Pakistan would now depend upon Pakistan television and the local press to keep themselves abreast with the day-to-day happenings.

However, the Indian Government has not taken any step to ban PTV which was banned during the Kargil conflict. The towers catch the signals of PTV easily in border belt. The PTV is also beamed through cable operators all over the country.

On the other hand, PTV has launched massive propaganda against the Indian Government as the Government of Pakistan wants to pacify its citizens after the surcharged circumstances created after the unconditional support given to the USA for attacking Afghanistan. Since Pakistan has been observing ‘solidarity day, tomorrow all over the country with a view to mobilising public opinion in favour of the stand taken by General Musharraf, the penal discussion held on PTV was clear indication that the Government of Pakistan has to endeavour to educate the common Pakistani that the government had taken a ‘timely ‘decision. The members of the panel fired a salvo against the radical Pakistanis who had been criticising General Musharraf for taking a stand against the Taliban.

Interestingly, Justice Nasim of Lahore praised the Taliban and asked the American Government not to be ruthless against innocent Afghanis who had been suffering for the past two decades.

The panelists took a clear stand in favour of General Musharraf who had taken a ‘bold step’ against international terrorism.

Though Pakistan has been aiding and abetting terrorism, especially in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab, PTV said that Islam had no place for terrorism.

Pakistan television today interviewed hand-picked leaders and intelligentsia from Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar and Islamabad who seemed standing like a ‘rock ‘behind General Musharraf. Those who were interviewed include Nehmat Ula (Quetta), Amar Mohammad (Lahore), Tariq (district administration, Islamabad), Dr Khalid from Peshawar. They urged the countrymen to rise above party affiliation and support the President at this crucial juncture. Without naming India, they said “our enemy wants to take benefit out of the prevailing situation. They suggested that any wrong decision at this point of time would directly benefit the enemy (i.e. India). Tariq Mohammad, a contemporary of Mohammad Jinah, founder of Pakistan, said that citizens of the country would have to be wise and bold at this crucial juncture.

As per PTV, a big plan has been chalked out to involve students and intelligentsia and people from all walks of life to solicit support for the stand taken by General Musharraf to mark tomorrow’s “solidarity day”. Apart from big rallies all over Pakistan, seminars and declamation contests are being held in schools and colleges tomorrow.

However, some of the Pakistanis opined that there was apprehension of a civil war in the case of any ‘wrong decision ‘taken by the people of Pakistan. Interestingly, there was no mention of the protests and rallies being held all over Pakistan by the radicals who have been opposing the decision of General Musharraf.


Baba Piara Singh, 3 followers arrested
Our Correspondent

Ropar, September 26
Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara was arrested by the police at about 9 p.m. today. The SSP, Ropar, Mr GPS Bhullar, talking to this correspondent on the phone, said the Baba, who had been evading arrest since the past three days, was arrested from during combing operations.

He had been in an adjoining forest for the past three days without food, which had weakened him. He would be presented before the CJM, Ropar, tomorrow.

Earlier in the day, three more followers of Baba Piara Singh were arrested during the combing operations of the forests surrounding the dera of the Baba. The SSP said Sadhu Singh of Jargari village in Pyal, Ludhiana, Pritam Singh of Jatpur village in Jagraon, Ludhiana, and Harjit Singh of Kalheri village in Morinda in retaliation to the burning of the Bhav Sagar Granth of the Baba by certain Sikh student federation activists in Ludhiana along with Malkiat Singh of Morinda, who has already been arrested by the police, conspired to burn the ‘bir’ after instigation from the Baba.

Initially they planned the burning in Khamano. However, later they chose the gurdwara at Ratangarh village for the crime.

They allegedly came in the gypsy of the Baba to commit the crime. After committing the crime the three returned to the dera of the Baba, while Malkiat Singh stayed behind and was arrested on the same day. All three had been hiding in the forest since then, the SSP added.

Meanwhile, the district administration has started the process of removing the dera from the alleged encroached government land.

The SDM, Anandpur Sahib, Mr Paramjit Singh, when asked to comment stated that no one had filed any complaint regarding the encroachment of the land by the Baba.

However, after the recent incidents a Naib Tehsildar had been deputed to go through the revenue records and submit a report on the ownership of the land on which the dera was located.

If the report indicated that the dera was on encroached land then, a case would be filed under the Public Properties Act for the eviction of the land, he said.

Sources said the Baba, who was just a labourer in the sericulture department in Ropar just a decade ago, now had about 150 acres to his name.

Besides this he also had horses, a house at Dhamana village and a few vehicles.


Rs 15 crore sanctioned for PAU
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 26
Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) is set to enter a new era in bio-technology research, post-harvest management and quality production following the sanction of Rs 15 crore out of the Rs 100-crore corpus fund being created by the Punjab Government to provide a new thrust to the agricultural economy of the state.

The Punjab Government has sanctioned Rs 15 crore to the varsity recently so that it can initiate research in the thrust areas through a schematic budget. According to sources once the corpus fund comes into being, the varsity will have around Rs 10 to 11 crore every year as interest accruing from the fund to carry out its research projects.

The PAU Vice-Chancellor, Dr Kirpal Singh Aulakh, said a committee had been constituted under the chairmanship of a former Vice-Chancellor, Dr G.S. Kalkat, to utilise the fund. The VC said he himself would be the vice-chairman of the committee which would also have two international-level scientists from the International Rice Institute, Manila, and the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Centre, Taiwan, as its members. He said a scientist from the Indian Council for Agriculture Research and two farmers would also be members of the committee.

Dr Aulakh said the immediate problem facing the state was how to decrease the acreage under paddy cultivation. He said while at present 26 lakh hectares were under paddy cultivation, the figure should ideally be only 16 lakh hectares. He said the varsity would lay stress on diversification into sugarcane, maize, vegetables and fruit cultivation. He said high-yield breeds of these crops were being developed by the university.

The VC said besides this the varsity had also mooted a proposal for giving a tax holiday to farmers going in for diversified crops. He said market fee and the Rural Development Fund cess should be waived for such farmers. He said to encourage diversification on a large scale and to make agriculture production more professional it was also proposed to make amendments to the land laws so that those leasing out their land for contract farming did not have any fear that they would lose possession of their property in the long run.

He said the varsity had also recommended a fresh thrust on development of agro-based industries.

He said it was unfortunate that while India was number two in agro-production, agro-processing units were almost non-existent. He said this position would have to be rectified if agro-farming was to be encouraged in the state.

It has also been proposed to effectively use the around 14 lakh unemployed youth in the state who have studied above the matric level by encouraging them to establish agro-related ventures.

The government has also proposed to introduce agriculture as a subject in schools. A committee has been constituted under the presidentship of former Agriculture Commissioner Sukhdev Singh.


Mandis ‘throwing’ norms to winds
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 26
This year unofficial relaxations in quality norms are allegedly being implemented by different state procurement agencies to save the SAD-BJP government from any embarrassment on account of paddy procurement, even as the Food Corporation of India has been adamant to stick to these norms in the mandis. Unlike in the past paddy is being procured at a faster pace due to alleged unofficial relaxations being bestowed upon them by the state procurement agencies on the alleged verbal orders of the state government to throw quality norms to the winds in mandis run by them so as to win over farmers and to avoid criticism on account of paddy procurement during the current election year.

During a round of different mandis of the Doaba region it was found that unlike in case of the FCI, the process of procurement was going on smoothly in mandis run by the state procurement agencies like Markfed, Punjab Agro, Punsup, Food and Civil Supplies and the Punjab Warehousing Corporation as they were not strictly following the specification fixed by the Central Government. And same was the case with other mandis in the state, official sources admitted.

According to the specifications fixed by the Central Government paddy failing the quality test (a maximum of 3 per cent of discolouring and damage) would not be purchased by any of the procurement agencies. But except for the FCI-run mandis, paddy bearing losses upto 8 to 10 per cent (pertaining to damage and discolouring) was being purchased by officials of the agencies at the minimum support price of Rs 560 per quintal without any objections. “We have been verbally told by our bosses to ignore the specifications fixed by the Central Government in order to avoid any criticism or protest by farmers,” admitted a senior officer of an agency associated with a procurement agency. Similarly, another official said the stress of the agencies during the ongoing election year was not to ignore anybody who comes to any of the mandis in the state with his produce.

The state government agencies alongwith private traders and the FCI are likely to purchase 70 per cent and 30 per cent respectively, of the total expected arrival of about 125 lakh metric tonnes this season.

Awareness among farmers regarding the need to clean their produce before coming to mandis is also one of the reasons for reducing their problems. “We had already told farmers that if they wanted to avoid trouble they should ensure beforehand that their produce was cleaned. This has also resulted in fast procurement this year,” Jalandhar Deputy Commissioner K. Shiva Prasad said.


DC: speed up procurement
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 26
Deputy Commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir today took a strict note of slow procurement in some mandis of the district and directed procurement staff to purchase paddy swiftly from all mandis.

The Deputy Commissioner gave these directions following a meeting held to review the procurement process in the state. It was earlier brought to his notices that while 40,000 quintals of paddy had arrived at the Nabha mandi, only 8,000 quintals had been purchased. Similarly at Bhadson, he was told that only 1,000 quintals out of 11,000 quintals which had arrived in the mandi had been purchased.

Mr Bir also directed the procurement staff to ensure that paddy was purchased twice in a day at 10 am and at 2 pm. He said the district had been divided into 12 zones and PCS officers concerned would conduct on-the-spot inspections to ensure this regulation was followed.

The Deputy Commissioner has also ordered all station house officers in the district to ensure that no combine harvester operated during the night hours. He said senior Agricultural Department officials had also been asked to make a survey of the mandis. He said dispute redressal forums had also been constituted in all the mandis so that farmers grievances could be taken up immediately. He disclosed that 7,465 metric tonnes of paddy had been procured in the district till September 25.


Procurement of paddy in full swing
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 26
Procurement of paddy is in full swing at all 35 purchase centres in the district. A total of 9602 metric tonnes of paddy has been purchased by various agencies in the district, according to Mr Vikas Paratap, Deputy Commissioner, in a press note issued here today.

He said there was no shortage of gunny bags, crates and polythene covers in mandis and the lifting of purchased paddy had been started. He added that all arrangements had been made on all the purchase centres and the SDMs concerned were monitoring the procurement process on priority basis.

He also urged the farmers to bring clean and dry paddy to the mandis so that it could be purchased without delay. He added that the payment of the procured paddy was being made according to the norms.

He said all purchase agencies had been asked to purchase the paddy which came to the mandis.

He also urged all rice millers, commission agents, labour unions and transporters to co-operate with the administration for the smooth purchase of paddy.

Ms Rajwant Kaur Ghuman, DFSC, said instructions had been issued to all employees involved in the procurement process to purchase the paddy twice a day. Their leaves had been cancelled keeping in mind the paddy season.


Strike hits paddy weighing
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 26
Weighing of procured paddy and filling of the same in the bags remained paralysed, for about seven hours in the grain market here today, when the “tolas” (weighmen) went on strike on the issue of non-supply of gunny bags to them by the arhtiyas. As per the practice till last evening, the weighmen brought the gunny bags from the nearby godowns of the procurement agencies. These gunny bags are being supplied to the arhtiyas by the procurement agencies.

Later, the matter was resolved at a meeting, held between the representatives of the arhtiyas and the weighmen.


CPM holds protest rallies, dharnas
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 26
The CPM today staged protest rallies and dharnas in various parts of the city for the second consecutive day in protest against the alleged anti-people policies of the Central and state governments.

Though leaders and activists of the party offered for court arrest yet nobody was taken into custody.

Hundreds of activists gheraoed the post and telegraph office for more than two hours. Mr Mangat Ram Pasla, member, central committee, and Mr Rattan Singh Randhawa, district secretary of the party, while speaking on the occasion condemned the Central Government for adopting “pro-imperialist” policies. They said the CPM won’t tolerate any anti-people policy of the Central Government.

Despite harvesting season, more than 3,000 activists of the party including students and women, raised slogans against the Central Government.

The city committee led by Mr Vijay Kumar Mishra, held a protest rally in front of the Municipal Corporation today.


SGPC sub-committee members summoned
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 26
The three-member SGPC inquiry panel has summoned members of the sub-committee on September 29, which had purchased 15 mini-buses worth Rs 1 crore during the presidentship of Bibi Jagir Kaur allegedly in violation of the rules.

Interestingly, this is for the first time that the sub-committee members, who belong to the SGPC, will appear before their fellow SGPC members who are on the inquiry panel.

The members of the inquiry committee include Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, general secretary, Mohinder Singh Romana and Harbans Singh Manjpur, both executive members. The SGPC members who have been called for explanation are Mr Harsurinder Singh Gill, a close confidant of Bibi Jagir Kaur, Mr Kuldip Singh Dhaus and Mr Dilbag Singh Pathankot, an executive member.

The inquiry panel has also asked Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, secretary, Mr Harjit Singh, assistant secretary, and the then personal assistant to Bibi Jagir Kaur, Mr Surjan Singh Gharinda, and Mr Avtar Singh, both SGPC employees, to remain present at the meeting.

Earlier, the file pertaining to the purchase of mini-buses was lost. However, it was found after some days from a bathroom of the SGPC complex under mysterious circumstances. A senior employee who was found guilty was transferred after he was found guilty.


Bara takes over as OSD
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 26
Mr Narinder Singh Bara, a close confidant of Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, today took over as officer on special duty (OSD) amid controversy as no advertisement was inserted in any newspaper for seeking applications for the post as per requirement of the SGPC.

Mr Bara was appointed OSD with a single motive to clip the wings of Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, secretary. Though Mr Talwandi wanted to remove Dr Bachan from the post yet he could not do so as he was being shielded by Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Interestingly, Mr Talwandi gave important assignments to “Tohra loyalists” with a view to corner confidants of Bibi Jagir Kaur, former chief of the SGPC. Mr Dilmegh Singh and Mr Ranbir Singh — both former personal assistants to Mr Tohra — have been given the charge of trusts and gurdwaras (Section 85), respectively. Earlier, these sections were being looked after by Dr Bachan, a close confidant of Bibi Jagir Kaur.


Patiala suffers 30 pc octroi decrease
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 26
The octroi collection is as good as abolished in the city with no truck coming into the city today and the Municipal Corporation witnessing a steep decline in the octroi collections since the past three months.

Businessmen of the city, who have been anticipating abolition of octroi since the past few months, felt there was little need to order goods right now when octroi collection was on its way out. According to sources, the traders had been ordering the bare minimum of goods since the past three months ever since the move to abolish octroi came into light due to which the Municipal Corporation had incurred a 30 per cent decrease in octroi collection.

“Octroi collection is our mainstay and we shudder to think what will happen if it is allowed to be abolished,” said a municipal worker. Sources disclosed that the corporation was earning around Rs 12 crore on account of octroi during the year and that the octroi collection constituted around 40 per cent of its total Rs 28-crore budget.

They said octroi was the safest source of revenue in the budget with revenue also coming in by way of water supply (Rs 4.5 crore), house tax (Rs 4 crore), excise duty (Rs 2 crore) and buildings (Rs 2 crore). The sources said abolition of octroi would ensure a standstill of all development work in the city as the salaries of the employees alone constituted a major part of the corporation budget. “This effectively means we may not be in a position to meet our salary obligations what to talk of having money for anything else”, another employee disclosed.

Municipal officials said the government claim of compensating the Local Bodies for the loss likely to be suffered by them once octroi was abolished would not serve their purpose. He said the reason for this was that octroi collection was used for day-to-day needs and grants from time to time by the government would not be so effective.

While the octroi abolition move had made traders happy, the city residents were concerned that it would serve as the death knell of the corporation. “The corporation is already short of funds due to which it cannot maintain even the water supply during the summer months. With such steps being taken by the government we will have little hope of its further augmentation”, said Dilsher Singh, a resident of Tripiri.

A major multi-crore scheme to provide sewerage and augmentation of water supply facilities to the peripheral colonies of the city could also be hit if octroi was abolished. Sources said the corporation would not have enough money to put in its share of the project cost under a scheme which was being partly financed by HUDCO. They said any such move would be disadvantageous to the city in the long run with a large number of citizens being denied essential services. 


Traders postpone transactions
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 26
While the abolition of octroi from October 1 had sent a wave of enthusiasm among the business community it had hit the octroi contractors hard as most of the traders of the state have postponed their major business transactions.

The traders in order to get exemption from octroi are not making new purchases. Only the necessary commodities like medicines are being brought in the city. The traders who have godowns on the outskirts of the towns and cities are dumping the goods there in order to bring them after October 1.

The same situation had arisen in August when it was expected that the Chief Minister would make some announcement regarding the abolition of octroi on August 15 while speaking on the Independence Day celebrations in Ferozepore. The octroi collection of cities and towns had come down considerably during those days.

But for octroi contractors the decision has come as a bombshell as they had not expected that such decision. The reason behind their optimism was that if the government was not able to abolish octroi in the last four years then it could not do so now.

One of the contractors said if he knew that the octroi was to be abolished he would not have taken the contract. He said he had to bear the loss of lakhs of rupees due to the decision.

Mr R.D. Gupta, Vice-President of the Punjab Beopar Mandal, said the decision taken by some of the traders not to purchase goods before October 1 was not octroi evasion but only tax saving. He said there was nothing wrong in the move of the businessmen.

An official of the local municipal council said there would an adverse affect on the income from octroi in the remaining days of month.


Loans of ex-Jodhpur detainees waived
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
Busy in the distribution of largesse, obviously to win the support of various sections, the Punjab Government today waived loans totalling Rs 12.62 crore of former Jodhpur detainees and gave relief of Rs 16.19 crore to exservicemen.

In a statement, the government said that 78 youths, who were detained in the Jodhpur jail, were extended financial assistance in the form of loans in 1990-91 and 1991-92 to purchase transport vehicles under a self-employment scheme.

This was done following their release from the jail.

Though the government has not made it clear who these youths are, it is obvious that they are mostly Sikh youths who were arrested from the Golden Temple complex and elsewhere during operation bluestar.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, said that the decision was taken at a meeting attended by senior officers and others concerned. He said the state government had decided to waive the entire loan amount due against them. Out of this, the Punjab Financial Corporation would give a relief of Rs 874.08 lakh and the state government would reimburse an amount of Rs 388.11 lakh.

He further said that the government had also decided to extend relief to exservicemen who were given loans under the gainful employment scheme. The borrowers would now be required to return only the principal amount due against them till March 31, last. The PFC would waive penal interest and compound interest which was to be charged from them. The state government would reimburse simple interest on their behalf to the PFC. This relief totalled Rs 16.19 crore.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh said that a concession of Rs 364.83 lakh was granted to 50 Jodhpur detainees, last year.


Order on Chohan’s bail reserved 
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 26
Additional Sessions Judge B. S. Mangat today reserved judgement on the bail application of Khalistan ideologue Jagjit Singh Chohan till tomorrow in the sedition case filed against him by local advocate and Punjab Pradesh Congress Legal Cell member Jagmohan Singh Saini.

The judge also ordered that Dr Chohan should be present in the court tomorrow. Though his lawyer Ranjan Lakhanpal stressed that he had applied for personal exemption yesterday, the complainant objected to this.

Earlier the judge listened to the arguments of both parties on the issue of grant of bail to Dr Chohan. The complainant claimed that Dr Chohan had misused the concession of anticipatory bail allowed to him earlier this month to threaten prosecution witnesses Mital Lal and Hakam Singh on September 24 within the court complex in the presence of two advocates. Mr Saini claimed that Dr Chohan threatened the witnesses that they would be liquidated in case they did not withdraw their complaint.

Mr Saini claimed that in such circumstances when concession of bail under Section 483, CrPC, had been misused, it was liable to be withdrawn. He claimed when the complainant and the witnesses went to the police station to lodge their complaint, the police did not record it.

Mr Ranjan Lakhanpal arguing his case said Dr Chohan was a law abiding and respectable citizen. He said a bare reading of the complaint would reveal that the applicant is totally innocent and that all allegations have been levelled with an ulterior motive. He also cited various authorities to argue that offences alleged against Dr Chohan had not been made out.

He also said that Section 196, CrPC, clearly barred the courts from taking cognizance unless there is government sanction to do so and that the summoning order was unsustainable in the eyes of law. The advocate said no useful purpose would be served by sending Dr Chohan to judicial custody. 


A tale of broken promises, stones 
Pawan Kumar

All foundation stones have a story of their own and tell different tales.

The foundation stones are laid with pomp. Dignitaries are invited and the stone is unveiled. Garlands are put on the stone and many more around the neck of the invitee. People clap and then forget about the stone.

Certain foundation stones are built into buildings but some keep waiting to be built and are forgotten. The unlucky ones are broken and laid into the ground. These broken stones reflect false and broken promises made by “worthy” politicians.

On October 24, 1977, the then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, laid a foundation stone of the Gateway of India in the middle of the Amritsar-Lahore road to commemorate 400 years of Amritsar’s founding. Many trees were cut to build a wonder to greet people from across the border who came to India by road and rail.

Now after about 24 years, the Badal Government or any successive government has not laid a single brick nor begun work on the monument. Even though the Prime Minister has inaugurated the Delhi-Lahore bus service on March 20, 1999, Mr Badal, who had laid the foundation stone, still does not bother to start work on the Gateway of India.

Interestingly, when activists of the Citizens Forum, led by its president, went to the site they even found the foundation stone missing. They found only the platform which supported it. The activists looked around the site and found the foundation stone in a jhuggi. Pieces of the foundation stone are still missing. How callous can the administration be; can it not maintain the foundation stones by planting trees around it, asks Mr Brij Bedi, forum head.

During the Congress regime in 1994, the then Mayor, Mr Om Parkash Soni, planned to get the foundation stone of a “gateway of Amritsar” laid at the same place by Mr Beant Singh, the then Chief Minister. But the site was shifted to a place near Daburji, after learning that foundation stone had already been laid there.

Instead of the Gateway of India, slums have mushroomed near the site. The site is amidst miserable conditions and cattle can be seen grazing there.


Forum asks PTL to pay compensation
Our Correspondent

Ropar, September 26
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed Punjab Tractor Limited (PTL), to pay a compensation of Rs 25,000 to Gian Singh, a farmer of Parol village of the district, for deficiency in service on its part. The complainant had alleged that he purchased a Swaraj-735 tractor on November 23, 1999, at a cost of Rs 2,50,700. However, after about one month of the purchase the tractor failed to run properly, he alleged. On his complaint, the pump of the tractor was changed but in spite of doing that the tractor did not run properly which led the complainant to make a request to the concerned official to change his tractor as it was in the warranty period. His request was, however, turned down. The complainant demanded a compensation of Rs 50,000 for the harassment at the hands of the company officials and the replacement of the tractor.

The company officials, however, denied the allegation. The forum, presided by Mr J.P. Gupta, found the company to be deficient in providing service and awarded compensation to the complainant, to be paid within 30 days, failing which an interest at the rate of 18 per cent per annum would be paid by the company. The forum also directed the PTL officials to repair the tractor to the satisfaction of the complainant.


Badal speaks to PM on Afghan Sikhs
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 26
The Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, spoke to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, on the pitiable condition of the Sikhs who are trapped in Afghanistan after the horrendous attacks on the USA.

Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, Secretary, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), said he had given a detailed report to Mr Badal on the condition of Afghani Sikhs who had taken refuge in gurdwaras there. He said there was apprehension that the Sikhs could be used by Taliban as ‘human shield’ and hence there was an urgent need of the intervention of the Central Government.

Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, General Secretary, SGPC, said she would endeavour to get detail of the Afghani Sikhs through Indian Embassy. She said the SGPC was very much concerned about the safety of Sikhs living in Afghanistan.


SP (CID) summoned in torture case
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, September 26
Mr Bhajan Ram, Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate, today summoned Mr Balbir Kumar Bawa posted as SP (CID), Chandigarh, and Raj Kumar and Joga Singh, constables, for allegedly kidnapping and torturing Mr Om Parkash, a catering manager at the railway restaurant here. According to the complainant, he was picked up from the railway station (Pathankot) in 1993 and taken to the CIA Staff at Ludhiana where he was allegedly confined to a cell and tortured.


Panel: register 22 ultrasound centres
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 26
The District Advisory Committee (DAC) for the implementation of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act at its meeting here yesterday recommended the registration of remaining 22 ultrasound centres in the district. As many as 28 ultrasound centres of the district had applied for the registration. Of these, registration of six centres had been recommended by the committee at its first meeting.

Now, the committee recommended the registration of all ultrasound centres in the light of directions from the Director, Health Services Family Welfare, Punjab,: “any special degree like MBBS or other such eligibility is not important for the registration of an ultrasound centre”.


Fire victims given cheques
Padmini Jain

The sufferers of the fire in Azad Market on Patiala Road in March last were distributed cheques worth Rs 4 lakh by the SDM of Rajpura, Mr Bhupinder Singh on September 14. They were also promised help to rebuild their shops. Present on the occasion were the president of the District BJP Committee, Mr Dev Raj Lalru, and several other leaders of the BJP-SAD alliance.


Annoyed by the Municipal Committee’s decision to take the responsibility of octroi collection once again, the municipal employees went on a two-day strike.

The strike created several problems for the residents. Water supply remained disrupted and garbage piled up everywhere in the town. The employees took out a procession wearing black clothes and burnt an effigy of the government.


Some college teachers of Ludhiana were manhandled by the police and arrested. This sparked a strike is all private colleges of Patiala region. Teachers of Patel Memorial National College, also joined the strike to express their resentment against the Ludhiana incident. As the teachers wore black badges and abstained from classes, the students roamed about in an undisciplined manner.


Punjab National Bank and Lions Club of Rajpura together organised a Van Mahotsav programme at the Government Senior Secondary School. Mr NC Jain, Regional Director, PNB, was the chief guest.

Outstanding students were given prizes and uniforms were distributed among needy children. The president of the Lions Club, Mr Raj Kumar Tata, and the school Principal, Mr JP Singh, gave Tulsi and Neem plants to all present. Twenty-four saplings were planted on the school campus.


At a veterinary camp organised in Parba village, 8 km from Rajpura, by the National Chemicals and Fertilizers Limited and the Department of Animal Husbandry, 250 animals were vaccinated against common diseases. While innaugurating the camp, Dr Nirmaljeet Singh, Vetinary officer, Rajpura, said caring for animals was a religious act. Dr A. Sharma, tested animals for stomach and other problems and conducted some simple operations.


Couple killed in road accident

Batala, September 26
A middle-aged couple was killed when their scooter was hit by a truck, near village Dhalla Nur under Quadian police station, today, the police said.

The dead have been identified as Paramjit Singh (40) and his wife, Jasbir Kaur (38). A case has been registered against the truck driver and the vehicle impounded, the police added. PTI


2 labourers buried alive

Hoshiarpur, September 26
Two labourers were buried alive when the well they were digging caved in near Mirzapur village of the district, the police said here today.

The deceased, identified as Amarjit Singh and Paramjit Singh along with their fathers were digging for a tubewell yesterday when suddenly it caved in.

In another incident, an unidentified body of a middle-aged man was found near a petrol station at Miani early this morning. The Tanda police has registered a case in this connection. PTI


Bar Association
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
Mr Paramjit Singh Shergill has been elected president of the Malerkotla Bar Association.

Other office-bearers are: senior vice-president — Mr Amarjeet Singh Grewal; vice-president — Mr Mohd Azaz; secretary — Mr Ashwani Kumar Sharma; joint secretary — Mr Shabhaz Khan.


EC gears up for elections
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 26
The Election Commission of India is gearing up for the smooth conduct of poll in view of the forthcoming Assembly elections.

The commission in a communication to the Chief Election Commission of the state has directed to initiate special revision of electoral rolls.

According to the schedule sent to all political parties of the state the publication of Draft Roll would be on November 3, 2001, the period for filing claims and objections would be November 3, 2001 to November 29, 2001, the special campaign would be initiated on November 10, 11, 24 and 25 and the disposal of claims objections and preparation and printing of supplements would be by January 5, 2002 and the final publication of electoral rolls would be done on January 7, 2002.

It has also been mentioned in the schedule that the overall objective and important goal is to make the entire electoral rolls as clean and correct as possible with the maximum involvement of the electors and political parties. The process would not only consist of mere inclusion of names of persons who have become eligible for the first time but also the deletion of the names of dead persons and electors who have shifted out of the relevant areas.

With this intimation all political parties in the district have geared up their rank and file for the first phase of elections. The supporters of respective political parties have started filling forms of the new voters in their areas.


Cop involved in snatching chain arrested
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 26
The district police has arrested Jaspal Singh, a Punjab police constable, for his alleged involvement in vehicle theft and chain snatching in the city.

Jaspal Singh, who was a Special Police Officer (SPO), in Punjab Home Guards and later recruited as constable, was arrested on the basis of documents of an unnumbered scooter which he along with offer accused namely, Gurmit Singh had used for snatching chain on September 5 in the city.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, in a press note issued here today, said Jaspal Singh had been indulging in vehicle theft and chain snatching for the past one year.

He said that during investigations it had come to notice that Jaspal Singh was also involved in the theft of a Maruti car which was later found abandoned in the Goniana area. The stereo and tyres of the car were also found to be missing.

Two gold chains weighing one tola and four tola each were recovered from the accused. Another associate of these accused namely Satpal Singh, alias Sattu, was yet to be arrested. A case has been registered under Section 356, 382 and 34 of the IPC.


70 kg of poppy husk seized, two arrested
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 26
The police has arrested two persons allegedly involved in the smuggling of narcotics and has seized 70 kg of poppy husk and five bottles of illicit liquor. Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP in a press note issued here today said Gora Singh, resident of Pakka Kalan, was arrested from near Sukhladhi village, for possessing 70 kg of poppy husk. A case under Sections 15, 61, 85 of the NDPS Act was registered at Raman police station.

Amritpal Singh of Poodli village was arrested for allegedly possessing illicit liquor. He said five litres of illicit liquor had been recovered from him. A case under Sections 15, 61, 85 and of the Excise Act had been registered against him at Rampura police station.

Two persons have been arrested in two cases for their alleged involvement in ‘satta’ transactions, Rs 340 have also been recovered from them. The culprits have been identified as Avtar Singh of Talwandi Sabo and Baljinder Singh of the city.


Officer booked for abetment to suicide
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 26
An Additional Excise and Taxation Commissioner has been booked by the city police on the charge of abetment to suicide of an employee of the department, Mohinder Singh, who died under mysterious circumstances allegedly after consuming some poisonous substance here today.

According to a complaint lodged with the police by some close relatives, he took the extreme step as he was allegedly harassed by the AETC.

According to the police, AETC Partap Singh was allegedly harassing the deceased over the issue of some untraced files. The relatives told the police that the deceased was quite upset during the past few days and confided in his family the ‘undue’ harassment he was being subjected to.

While initially the police did not come in the picture, but when some relatives of the deceased complained to the police, a case was registered in the evening.


Rising school dropout rate worries Jacob
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 26
Lieut Gen (retd) J.F.R. Jacob, Governor, Punjab has expressed his concern over the increasing dropout rate of school children in the state.

Mr Jacob who was here today in connection with a meeting of the district officials said the number of school children being enrolled in the government schools of the state was decreasing.

He expressed concern that the teachers of the government schools were not taking whole-hearted interest in teaching.

He urged the District Education Officers (P&S) to take steps to improve the standards of education, particularly in the rural areas. The lowering of the intellectual levels of the students was also mentioned by Jacob.

Mr Jacob while chairing the meeting of the Health, Agriculture, Horticulture, Animal Husbandary, Water Supply, Rural Development, Forest departments and Sewerage Board officials took a note of the various development activities of the district.

Mr Jacob asked the Civil Surgeon, Mr Bawa Ram Gupta to ensure that doctors go on regular duty in the rural areas while pointing towards female foeticide, Mr Jacob ordered the Civil Surgeon that a case under the Female Foeticide (Prevention) Act 1997, should be registered, whenever such a case of wrong doing was found.

The Punjab Governor while talking to the agriculture exports said that the traditional cropping pattern of wheat, cotton, rice should be broken and more stress should be laid on the cropping of the fruits. More cash crops like cotton should be sown improve the economic condition of the farmers of the state.

While directing the Deputy Director, Horticulture, Mr Jacob said more field trials and cultivation of various high yielding varities of fruits like grapes and kinnows should be carried out in the region. He also announced to give a football to every school in the district to encourage sports.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
121 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |