Thursday, June 6, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

BKU mounts pressure on govt
Withdraws bail plea of arrested leaders
Shubhadeep Chaudhury
Tribune News Service

Jind, June 5
To step up pressure on the Haryana Government to withdraw cases against the arrested leaders, the Bharatiya Kisan Union today withdrew the application moved for their bail.

Mr Surinder Singh Punia, lawyer representing the BKU, told the TNS that the application was withdrawn by him from the court of Mr J.B. Sharma, Additional Sessions Judge, today. The case was slated to come up for hearing tomorrow.

Mr Ghasiram Nain, President of the BKU, in Haryana, said they would take part in a negotiation with the state government only if the arrested BKU leaders were released by withdrawing the cases against them, Mr Nain said while nine BKU leaders could have been released on bail tomorrow, the state government would still be able to put pressure on them because of the cases pending against them. He added that moreover, there were other BKU leaders such as Mr Harkesh Malik, Vice-President of the BKU, Mr Bajinder Singh, President of the BKU in Hisar district, Mr Nain himself and others, who had been declared as proclaimed offenders, though were not be arrested.

“The government may arrest us after the agitation is withdrawn by the BKU. Therefore, our demand is that cases against all BKU leaders must be withdrawn if the government wants the BKU to involve in a compromise,” Mr Nain said.

The case had come up for hearing earlier on May 28. On that occasion bail was denied to BKU leaders due to the state government’s failure to send a representative to the court. Now the government apparently is keen to grant bail to the arrested BKU leaders to pave the way for working out a compromise. Mr Nain said they would have accepted if the arrested BKU leaders were released on bail on May 28. “However, now we would not accept anything but unconditional withdrawal of cases against all BKU leaders,” Mr Nain said.

On Monday, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, Chief Minister of Haryana, reportedly held talks with some BKU representatives, including two leaders who are in prisons. Official sources also confirmed that Mr Ramphal Kandela, General Secretary of the BKU and Mr Mohinder Singh Ghimana, President of the BKU in Jind district, were taken out on production warrants from Mahendragarh and Gurgaon jails, respectively, early in the morning on Monday and brought back to the jails later on the same day. According to Mr Nain, they met the Chief Minister along with some other BKU office-bearers in Delhi, following which they were brought back to their respective prisons. Mr Nain today said Mr Ramphal Kandela also spoke to him over telephone from Delhi. He, however, did not disclose what Mr Kandela had told him.

He added that the BKU would accept a compromise only when representatives nominated by him would take part in the parleys preceding the compromise.

Mr Nain said the road blockade by the BKU would continue and if any MLA or minister of the ruling party of Haryana was found in any of the village having a strong presence of the BKU the minister or MLA would be taken hostage by agitators. He said the demonstration by the BKU at Kandela village, where effigies of Mr Om Prakash Chautala and Mr H.S. Dhankar, the Deputy Commissioner of Jind, were being burnt today, would continue till the government invited them for taking part in a dialogue and bring the ongoing agitation to an end.

Incidentally, Mr Ramphal Kandela, Mr Mohinder Singh Ghimana and along with some other BKU activists were granted bail by a Hisar court today in a case filed against them by the police earlier.

Meanwhile, the BKU-sponsored dharna entered the 17th day at Kandela in this district even as reports said that farmers held protest dharna at other places in the state to press for the immediate release of arrested farmers and waiving off outstanding power bills.

The Haryana Congress continued its dharna at Jind for the third day today even as the party presented a memorandum to Governor Babu Parmanand in Chandigarh demanding the dismissal of the Chautala government.

BKU spokesman Baljeet Singh claimed that farmers staged protest dharna at 25 places, including Naraingarh, Shahzadpur (Ambala), Kolekhan (Kaithal), Rode (Sonepat), Dhanaunda (Jind) and Manheru (Bhiwani) Rewari road.

Official sources said various roads were cleared of protesting farmers immediately and there was no disruption of road traffic except at Kandela and around it.

Chautala’s concessions to farmers
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 5
Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala today announced a number of concessions for farmers as a “sequel to his meeting with the BKU leaders” on June 3.

Marking the beginning of the government’s soft approach towards the defaulters of electricity charges, Mr Chautala announced the discontinuation of the practice of obtaining no-due certificate from the power utilities before seeking admission to any educational institution. However, the production of such a certificate would still be necessary for official works like registration of property documents and issue of motor vehicle licences.

Going a step further, Mr Chautala said the persons living below the poverty line would also be exempted from submitting no-due certificates for availing facilities like registration of property documents and issue of motor vehicle licences. One fails to understand how a person living below the poverty line will require the registration of property documents or can afford to own a motor vehicle.

Another important concession announced by Mr Chautala relates to the conversion of horticulture tubewell connections to agriculture connections. The owner of a horticulture tubewell connection has to pay at commercial rates while the agriculture tubewell connection gets power at highly subsidised rates. The concession will help big farmers and landlords because the small and marginal farmers cannot afford horticulture connections.

The Chief Engineer’s power to allow reduction in electricity load has been decentralised and now it will vest with the Executive Engineers. The government also announced a voluntary disclosure scheme for those farmers who had excess load. Such consumers will be able to get the excess load regularised by disclosing it voluntarily.

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