Saturday, September 28, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



New MSP adds fuel to farmers’ stir
Withdraw Dhindsa from Cabinet, Badal urged
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 27
The retention of last year’s minimum support price for paddy for the current year has added fuel to the ongoing agitation of various farmers’ organisations on this issue in this region.

A large number of farmers under the banner of the BKU (Ekta group) today held a symbolic “bare chest” march here today and later staged a dharna in front of the head office of Markfed. The march signified that by not increasing the MSP, the Centre had robbed the farmers of their clothes, a basic necessity for human existence.

Besides the BKU (Ekta group) sitting in dharna here since September 23 to seek justice for farmers, other farmer and political outfits today resolved to take on the Centre on the paddy issue. “We will not rest till the MSP is increased,” said leaders of these organisations.

The BKU (Ekta group) has urged SAD President Parkash Singh Badal, whose party is a partner in the Vajpayee Government, to withdraw Union Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa from the Cabinet.

Let Mr Badal draw a line on the MSP issue to prove his loyalty to the farming community in the state, said Mr Pishora Singh Sidhupur, BKU (Ekta group) chief. Not to increase the MSP was a decision of the Union Cabinet of which Mr Dhindsa is a member. Mr Badal should not mislead people on this issue. Mr Badal wanted to win the sympathy of farmers and also wanted to be in the good books of the Vajpayee Government, added Mr Sidhupur.

On the other hand, Mr Dhindsa says that he had taken up the paddy MSP issue in the Union Cabinet meeting held last evening. Following his intervention, the Prime Minister asked Union Agriculture Minister Ajit Singh to prepare the case for compensation to the drought-hit farmers. Immediately after the recent session of Parliament, he had held a dinner meeting with Punjab MPs to request them to “remain united to protect the interest of farmers”.

“However, the state government did not extend any cooperation to me on the paddy issue, he added. He said the Chief Minister holding a dharna in front of the PM’s residence yesterday was a “childish step” . It should have been the last resort. The Chief Minister should have called on the Prime Minister to discuss this issue by presenting Punjab’s case before him.

The kisan wing of the SAD Amritsar today extended its support to the BKU (Ekta group) agitation. A jatha of 35 workers of the Kisan wing participated in the “bare chest” march.

Meanwhile, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, SHSAD General Secretary, has said that his party activists led by Mr G. S. Tohra will gherao Krishi Bhavan in Delhi on September 30 to protest against the retention of the MSP at last year’s level.

Though the Congress has cancelled its “rail roko” programme after holding a dharna in Delhi but there is great resentment in the party over the MSP issue. After a meeting with the Prime Minister yesterday, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was expecting a substantial increase in the MSP. Now the Punjab Government was feeling let down by the Union Government.

The Punjab Kisan Sabha, a farmer wing of the CPI, has rejected the MSP. Mr Hardev Arshi, Secretary of the Sabha, said the leaders of paddy-producing states such as Mr Badal, Mr Om Prakash Chautala and Mr Chandrababu Naidu had failed to get justice for farmers. The agitation of the Sabha on the paddy issue would continue. The secretary of the state committee of the CPI ( ML), Mr Kamaljit Singh, has also supported the agitation of farmers.


MSP may trigger social tension in Punjab
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 27
The paddy procurement in Punjab will commence on October 1 at the same price as that of last year. Though there is no change in the minimum support price (MSP), informed sources told TNS that the issue whether the states should or should not levy taxes beyond 4 per cent purchase tax was likely to be reconsidered by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs shortly. It would reconsider its decision of retaining the same, as also the issue of payment of bonus.

The revenue that accrues to Punjab due to taxes and levies of 11.5 per cent on wheat and paddy in each season adds up to Rs 1453.95 crore (2001-02). The break down is Rs 741.49 crore in respect of wheat and Rs 712.46 crore from paddy. Since the new decision is that the paddy procurement price is to be the ‘’MSP plus 4 per cent purchase tax and all state taxes and levies beyond that would be contained within the MSP’’, Punjab stands to lose in a big way if the Centre does not revise its decision.

Mr K. R. Lakhanpal, Principal Secretary (Finance), said that out of Rs 1453.95 crore that Punjab earned as revenue, the contribution of purchase tax at 4 per cent was Rs 505.7 crore. If Punjab was denied other taxes, it would suffer a net loss of Rs 948.25 crore per year.

The other taxes and levies beyond 4 per cent purchase tax were: Commission of arhtiyas, (2.5 per cent); market fee and rural development cess, (2 per cent each); and infrastructure cess, (1 per cent).

The Centre had not taken into consideration the fact that Punjab had invested over Rs 15,000 crore to establish a strong rural infrastructure for procurement of foodgrains by constructing a network of village roads and marketing places (mandis). It involved a huge ploughback to maintain these in good shape.

Mr Lakhanpal said that if the new decision was implemented and Punjab suffered a loss of Rs 950 crore it would adversely affect the existing establishment of markets (mandis), Mandi Board and projects undertaken by the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board. These three institutions depend on the money that accrued from the taxes on foodgrains.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had led a delegation to the Central Government and met the Prime Minister and others concerned. But the NDA Government response was indifferent. The state Finance and Food Minister, Mr Lal Singh, is now in New Delhi to pursue Punjab’s case on the MSP, restoration of taxes and levies beyond 4 per cent and bonus.

The state Planning Board Vice-Chairman, Dr S.S. Johl, who was once Chairman of the Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices, has reacted sharply to the announcement on the MSP. He said this was ‘’unprecedented’’ that the MSP was announced so late.

Dr Johl said first it was the delayed monsoon, which created a drought-like situation and then came untimely rain. That resulted in the cost of production per unit going up. This cost had been borne by the state as well as the farmers to an extent. The state wore the cross of higher cost by way of supply of power (eight hours to 10 hours daily) which it did not have and had to purchase at a high cost. Moreover, it was diverted from paying (urban and industrial consumers) to the non-paying (agriculture) sector. All this called for the state being compensated by the Centre by way of bonus and additional financial assistance.

Mr B. R. Bajaj, Principal Secretary, Food and Supplies, said the state agencies were all set to start procurement from October 1.


Farmers upset over low MSP
K. S. Chawla

Ludhiana, September 27
Resentment prevails among the farmers of Punjab over the low minimum support price for paddy announced by the Central Government today for 2002-2003.

The farmers were upset that they had to invest heavily on diesel and fertilisers to save their crops from drought caused by the failure of the monsoon on this year.

Resentment was write large on the face of the farmers as they were expecting some increase in the minimum support price for paddy due to the drought conditions in Punjab in particular and the country in general.

The farmers said they had to spend Rs 2,500 to Rs 5,000 per acre extra to raise the paddy crop this year. Besides, they had to spend more man-hours to cultivate reasonably good crop.

The farmers were being fleeced by rice millers in mandis and forced to make distressed sale of paddy. They were not even getting the minimum support price of last year which had been retained by the Central Government for the current year. The MSP for the last year was Rs 560 per quintal for A grade and Rs 530 per quintal for common variety of paddy.

The farmers were being forced to sell their produce at Rs 404 for the common variety and Rs 450 to Rs 515 for the A-grade variety. In some rare cases millers had purchased a heap of paddy at the rate of Rs 560 and little less than that. Khanna being the biggest market in Asia was receiving paddy from farmers of other districts. They were under the impression that prices were higher in Khanna mandi.

Mr Balwinder Singh, a farmer of Ludhiana, who had rushed his produce to Khanna mandi felt dejected when he received Rs 515 per quintal for his produce. He said he was being offered this price at Ludhiana mandi even. He alleged that the rice millers were fleecing them at present and afterwards the FCI and other agencies would fleece them jointly.

Mr Sadhu Singh, a farmer of Parjrakha village, had sold his produce at Rs 500 per quintal while Mr Avtar Singh, a farmer of Aloona Mian village near Khanna, got Rs 527 per quintal for his produce. Mr Avtar Singh disclosed that he had to spend an additional sum of Rs 10,000 to raise the crop. The government should fix the price at Rs 700 per quintal, he demanded. Mr Sadhu Singh said millers and government agencies were not willing to pay even the minimum support price.

Khanna mandi was receiving more than 20,000 quintals of paddy daily and had received as many as 1.15 lakh quintals till yesterday. Mr Gurdial Singh, president, Rice Millers Association , Khanna said the quality of paddy had been damaged due to late rains. Nearly 4 per cent of the paddy had been damaged whereas the government had fixed the limit at 2 per cent. They would have to face the problem in passing on rice to the FCI, he said.

However, the arhtias of the mandi said the quality of paddy was average and not much complaint had been received. The average yield varies from 18 quintals to 25 quintals per acre.

The FCI and other officials agencies of the state government would officially start purchasing the paddy in Punjab from October 1.


CPI, CPM to stop trains today
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 27
Terming the fixing of Rs 530 per quintal as the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy by the Central Government as a cruel joke with the farming community, the Communist Party of India has decided to stop trains in the state tomorrow to register its protest in this regard.

Addressing a press conference here today, the secretary of the state unit of the CPI, Mr Joginder Dyal, alleged that the BJP-led central government had deliberately accepted the recommendations of the Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices to maintain the MSP at last year’s level.

“We have decided to stop trains at Phillaur, Rajpura and Mansa railway stations to register our protest. The BJP government is least concerned about the plight of the farmers, who have been forced to supplement a weak monsoon by using various means, resulting in the spending of about Rs 2,000 extra per hectare on irrigation due to the drought situation,” he said.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) also announced that it would join the “rail roko” programme.

In a press statement issued here, the secretary of the district unit of the state CPM, Mr Gurmeet Singh, said party activists had been instructed to stop trains throughout the state.


Minister lambasts Centre on MSP issue
Our correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 27
Dr Harbans Lal, Minister for Forest and Food Supply, Punjab, the Congress and kissan union leaders have condemned the anti-farmer policy of the Union Government to keep the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy unchanged at Rs 530 for ordinary and Rs 560 for Grade A, respectively, because the input prices of paddy have gone up during the year. The Punjab Government had demanded Rs 660 per quintal for the ordinary and Rs 726 for the Grade A paddy.

Dr Harbans Lal pointed out that due to drought the farmers of the state had to bear double expenditure on the crop but the Union Government had shown insensitivity towards them at the time when they were hoping that the Centre would enhance the MSP and announce some bonus on paddy to compensate the extra expenditure incurred by the farmers.

Dr Harbans Lal said the farmers of Punjab had played a vital role in bringing Green Revolution in the country and made India self-sufficient in the field of grain production. Dr Lal also condemned the role of the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and alleged that Mr Badal had been constantly pressurising the Centre not to increase the paddy MSP, as it would benefit the Congress in the state. He said when the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, decided to hold a dharna in front of the Prime Minister’s residence in New Delhi on September 26, Mr Badal reportedly made frantic calls to the Union Ministers concerned, Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister and urged them not to concede to the demands of the Congress, as it would only further upset his applecart and strengthen the Chief Minister’s grip over the farming community. Dr Lal said Mr Badal had played a negative role and tried to give political colour to the issue.

Even Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Rajya Sabha member and Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers, did not take up the issue with either the Prime Minister or his Cabinet colleagues even as Punjab farmers were showing resentment and holding protests and traffic jams at various places in the state. Criticising Mr Dhindsa, Dr Lal stated that he was only touting Mr Badal’s doublespeak policy and sharing Centre’s thinking that the MSP for paddy should not be increased. He said had Mr Dhindsa been sincere in his effort, he could have resigned from the Cabinet.


Rajnath rules out review of MSP
Tribune News Service

Khanna, September 27
The BJP general secretary, Mr Rajnath Singh today ruled out any possibility of review of the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy announced by the Central Government yesterday. He also said nor was there any chance of providing bonus to the farmers to compensate them for the additional input costs because of the drought in the state.

Addressing a press conference here today, after inaugurating the gaon chalo abhiyan, of the party, Mr Rajnath Singh observed, if the Punjab Government wanted to provide relief to the farmers over and above the MSP, it could do so. “But the Central Government may not be able to provide any further relief”, he said.

He also denied that the Central Government had deliberately delayed the announcement of the MSP for paddy at the instance of Mr Parkash Singh Badal for creating problems for the Punjab Government. “We are as much concerned about the plight of farmers as anyone else”, he asserted.

He refused to react to the statement of the Shiv Sena chief, Mr Bal Thackeray that his party would pull out of the NDA if the government did not take any action against Pakistan. On whether his party favoured a military solution to deal with Pakistan, Mr Rajnath Singh said, “All options can be explored if Pakistan does not fall in line”.

On the Gujarat temple attack, he maintained that both the Central and the state governments were keenly monitoring the situation. 


BJP bid to make inroads into rural Punjab
Vimal Sumbly & Iqbal Singh

Khanna, September 27
The gaon chalo abhiyan of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which was launched here today by the party general secretary and the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr Rajnath Singh, did not seem to have generated the desired response as not many people attended the inaugural function here. And those who attended it were mostly drawn from urban areas.

Even the hype created by a splinter group of the Bharatiya Kisan Union to gherao the BJP leadership proved to be a damp squib, with no BKU activist seen anywhere near the venue of the programme. To prevent any untoward incident, the administration had deployed police personnel at the venue.

Mr Rajnath Singh said if the BJP had to align with other parties for electoral compulsions, the alliance should be on equal terms.

Asserting that after Mr Venkaiah Naidu took over as party president, the BJP had shifted focus to the rural areas. He maintained that the government led by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had changed the picture of rural India, which no other government had done during the previous 50 years.

Mr Rajnath Singh listed a number of achievements to his party’s credit. He claimed that the NDA government had allocated Rs 13,700 crore for rural development in the country. It had started schemes like kisan credit cards, rural housing, gas connections to rural people, and telephones in rural areas.

He hastened to add that this did not mean that the party was “anti urban”. He said the country’s economy was dependent on agriculture and if farmers are well off the overall economy of the country would prosper.

He also announced that the government accorded top priority to setting up small and medium scale industries in rural areas to provide employment to rural youth at their doorstep.


Two cars of Pherurai seen
4 lockers of family found in Chandigarh
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 27
Two cars of Mr Gurcharan Singh Pherurai, former SSP, who is wanted in disproportionate assets case and a fake currency scandal, have been spotted in Haryana even as the Jagraon police today claimed to have found at least four lockers of the family in Chandigarh, which may contain some valuable documents or valuables.

The police has also found some intriguing property returns filed by the absconding cop during his tenure with the police. The cop had said they had seven acres of land. The property returns belie the claims of Pherurai’s brother, Gurmail Singh, that they owned 34 acres of ancestral land.

Police sources said a Toyota Qualis and an Esteem were seen in Haryana. “The police was working on this lead”, said Jagraon SSP Mukhwinder Singh Chhina, declining to give more details.

Ever since Mr Pherurai had gone in hiding, there was speculation that he was under the shelter of some influential persons in Haryana. This is for the first time that something concrete has been suggested. The Jagraon police had already got the black films permit of these cars cancelled. The Haryana police and intelligence agencies have been informed.

Mr Chhina disclosed that the police had found four lockers, three in the name of Pherurai and one in the name of his wife, at Punjab and Sind Bank, Sector 17, Chandigarh. These lockers would be opened soon, he said.

He said he had received property returns filed by the accused under the All India Service Conduct Rules, 1968.

Contrary to the claims of Gurmail Singh, brother of Pherurai, that they had made their property from 34 acres of ancestral land, Mr Pherurai had claimed in returns filed in 1976 that he was living in a joint family and had no separate property, but he claimed to own seven acres in 1990.

The return, a copy of which is with The Tribune, said, “He lived in joint family with three brothers under the supervision of his father.”

Gurmail Singh, who is also absconding, in an interview to some newspapers had claimed that the police was cooking up the case against them by showing that they had property worth crores. He had claimed that they had developed from 34 acres of land. However, this means that Mr Pherurai had been making false claims in his property returns also.

Interestingly, some news reports today claimed that Mr Pherurai had claimed of not acquiring any movable or immovable property in the 25 years of his service, whereas copies of property returns with the Jagraon police said he did claim seven acres of land.


Houses of Bhunder, brothers raided
Our Correspondent

Mansa, September 27
Sleuths of the Vigilance Department led by Mr Baljinder Singh Grewal, Superintendent of Police, Bathinda, conducted raids at the hideouts of Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Sardulgarh MLA and confidant of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal yesterday.

They searched the houses of Bhunder and his brothers Bhag Singh, Major Singh and Gurtej Singh.

The search started in the wee hours yesterday and continued till this morning.

The Vigilance Bureau also searched the premises of Mr Tarsem Chand Bholi, commission agent of Bhunder.

The Vigilance staff were accompanied by a heavy police force, Mr Ravinder Walia, tehsildar of Sardulgarh, and Ms Saroj Aggarwal, tehsildar of Mansa.

It is unofficially learnt that the Vigilance staff recovered licensed arms and some documents during the raids.

The raids were conducted in connection with a case registered against Bhunder under Section 420 and 120-B of the IPC and Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Bhunder, who has absconded had moved an application in the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge, Mansa, Mr Harbans Lal, for anticipatory bail on August 1.

The application was rejected on August 12. 


Vacate-building notices to 22 owners
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 27
Even as the Punjab Government is evolving a scheme for one-time settlement of violation of building bylaws within the municipal limits, owners of 22 such complexes have been served notices to vacate the buildings.

Only a few violators of the building bylaws have responded to the notices served on behalf of the Commissioner, Municipal Corporation. The deadline for submitting the reply is September 30.

Similarly, the corporation has initiated a process to cancel the licences of six architects whose designs didn’t conform the bylaws.

Among those who were served notices to vacate the buildings are: Ajit Hospital (Green Avenue), Dr Daljit Singh Eye Hospital (Mall Road), Kamal Palace (Batala Road), Roop International (Chhehtra), Dr Ved Parkash Gupta (Mall Road), Surinder Singh, Ram Saroop, Kanwaljit Singh, Dalip Singh, Lakhbir Singh, Sukhbir Singh, Hardip Singh, Sacred Heart (Sister of Charity), Sanjeev Gupta, Joginder Singh, Ashu Mehra, Ms Kamaljit Kaur, RKM International, Tasvir Singh, Tejinder Singh, Arwind Mahajan and Tejinder Singh.

The notices read: “Whereas required under Section 272 of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976, you were required to obtain a completion certificate. But without intimating the corporation you have occupied the building. Hence, you are directed to vacate the building, failing which the police will be directed to get the building vacated”.

In his report sent to the Secretary, Local Government, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, has said that the special task force had been constituted, headed by Deputy Commissioner and comprising Commissioner, District Town Planner (Housing and Urban Development), S.E. (PWD) and SDO (Civil) concerned as its members with a view to pointing out violations of bye-laws in commercial buildings of the city.

The Punjab State Electricity Board has been directed not to issue or disconnect electric connections as they (violators) had not got completion certificates from the corporation. The SEs of (operation and maintenance cell) has been directed to disconnect water and sewer connections to those buildings which were not constructed as per the building bylaws.


Avtar Henry raps HelpAge
J. S. Malhotra

Jalandhar, September 27
Giving a severe bashing to the HelpAge India, an NGO, for launching its campaign to help the old and destitute at a five-star hotel here, Punjab Industries minister Avtar Henry today advised it to go to the slums instead of using the opportunity to gain media attention.

Mr Henry, who was the chief guest for the launch of Join-Hand campaign, openly expressed his displeasure by saying that instead of holding such functions in a five star hotel, the NGOs should concentrate more on old and destitute living in miserable conditions in slum localities of the cities by organising such functions at grassroots level.

“I request you with folded hands to start the campaign from slums to ensure greater participation of the affected persons in the welfare programme. The NGOs should not have any lust for popularity through media,” An emotional Mr Henry said.

He said it was a matter of great concern that the number of elderly persons in the country was increasing rapidly, whereas the younger generation had forgotten their duties towards them causing a serious social problem. “The youth should realise the importance of the elders, who had made tireless efforts to shape their personalities,” he added.

Expressing concern over the changing demographic pattern and breaking of joint family system, Mr Henry said there was need to revive old Indian values and traditions.

The minister announced to donate a sum of Rs 21,000 for HelpAge India and assured the NGO that he would take up the case pertaining the to allotment of a piece of land at reserved price from PUDA at Jalandhar for construction of an old age home.

HelpAge India had been doing commendable job for the old and destitute belonging to poor families for the past 25 years by supporting projects like homes, income generation activities and programmes for rehabilitation.


Amended Consumer Act in Lok Sabha: Brar
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 27
The Central Government has made some amendments in the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, to redress the complaints more effectively. The Bill of the Act was passed by the Rajya Sabha in its recent session. The Rajya Sabha has sent the same Bill to the Lok Sabha for final approval. The Bill will be approved in the coming session of the Parliament after slight changes in some of its clauses.

This was disclosed by Mr Justice H. S. Brar (retd), President, state Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, who was here in connection with the annual inspection of the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, while talking to mediapersons at PWD Rest House here today. He said the limit of the district-consumer forum was being raised from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 20 lakh and State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 1 crore. The National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission would only deal with cases of more than Rs 1 crore in future.

Mr Justice Brar said though the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission daily deal with 100 to 150 complaints, including appeals, original complaints, their revision and execution. But due to the shortage of the staff and proper resources the pending cases had increased to more than 2,400. He said two more Benches were required to clear all pending cases.

He said keeping in view the pendency of cases which was much higher in Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar and Patiala, the state government had been requested to constitute additional forums in these districts. Besides, he had also requested the government to appoint the whole time members of the forum in Punjab. Whole time members had already been appointed in Sangrur district. He said consumer forums should solve the cases within three to six months of receiving the complaint.

Mr Justice Brar was welcomed by Mr M. P. Handa, president, District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum, citizens, leaders of various social organisations and members of the District Bar Association on his arrival at the local PWD Rest House last evening.


Notice on vigilance body revamping plea
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 27
Weeks after former Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court Arun B. Saharya reportedly commented upon the functioning of the Punjab Vigilance Department, Dr Rattan Singh and seven other MLAs today sought its revamping.

In their petition taken up by the Bench headed by Mr Justice G. S. Singhvi, the petitioners stated that revamping should be done by posting competent officers of integrity who would discharge their duties in a fair and objective manner regardless of political pressure or the status of the accused.

Claiming that the former Chief Justice had adversely commented upon the department’s functioning, they added that the officials were currently working to suit the whims and fancies of the ruling party and the Chief Minister. Some of the officers were themselves tainted, the petitioners alleged. A senior official was reportedly indicted in a case involving the recruitment of Naib Tehsildars, counsel had submitted on their behalf.

It was further added that action was not being taken against Congress leaders either by the state police or by Vigilance officials while the Akali leaders were being implicated in false cases. Taking up the petition, the Judges issued notice of motion to the state of Punjab and certain other respondents for December 10.

Bhattal’s plea withdrawn

Punjab’s former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal’s petition seeking the quashing of an alleged corruption case registered against her was today dismissed as withdrawn by Mr Justice R.C. Kathuria of the High Court.

A case under Section 409 of the Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Corruption Act was registered on the allegations that Ms Bhattal had misappropriated Rs 20 lakh after withdrawing it from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

Pre-arrest bail for MLA

Mr Justice R.C. Kathuria of the High Court on Friday granted anticipatory bail to Punjab MLA, Balwinder Singh Bhunder. He was directed to surrender his passport.

Mr Bhunder was apprehending implication in case registered against him allegedly due to political vendetta. Giving details, Mr Bhunder, in an earlier petition, had submitted that Mr Ajit Inder Singh Moffar of the Congress had been defeated by him in the election. Seeking grant of bail, his counsel had added that Mr Bhunder had remained a Cabinet Minister from 1977 to 1980, besides being a Rajya Sabha member and MLA for five times.

Stay on sack of workers

Acting on a petition filed by 11 Anganwari workers, a Division Bench of the High Court stayed their termination. The Bench, comprising Mr Justice Jawahar Lal Gupta and Mr Justice S.S. Grewal, also issued notice of motion for December 10.

In their petition, Ms Rajwinder Kaur and other petitioners had claimed that they were selected by a duly constituted committee in November last year, but their services were terminated with the change in government.


Langah gets copies of challan papers
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 27
The court of the Special Judge, Mr A.S. Kathuria, here today, supplied the copies of documents of the challan to Sucha Singh Langah, a former Punjab PWD Minister and senior Akali leader, and 15 others in a case registered against them at SAS Nagar on May 16 under sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Besides Langah, the copies of documents of the challan were given to Amrik Singh Mohali, an Akali leader, Gurcharan Singh Channi, Pradeep Bhuteja, Vinod Kumar Garg, Kamaljit Singh Neetu, Jasbir Singh, Bikramjit Singh, Sampuran Singh, Subhash Chander Jain, Nimratdeep Singh and Gagandeep Singh, both SDOs, Sher Singh Shera and Gurinder Pal Singh, both contractors. All were present in the court today.

Mr Kathuria also fixed October 5 as next date for scrutiny of documents of the challan papers in the case. Mr H.S. Kang, public prosecutor, who appeared in the court on the behalf of the prosecution, said the copies of the documents of the challan were given to the court by the Vigilance Bureau, today, which were later supplied to the accused.

Mr L.R. Roojam, Sessions Judge, Ropar, today entrusted the bail application of Langah to the Special Judge for further proceedings. Earlier on September 17, on request of the counsel for the accused the Sessions Judge had adjourned the hearing on the bail application of Langah till today. After receiving the bail application of Langah, Mr Kathuria, adjourned the hearing to October 5.

Langah, against whom the challan was presented by the Vigilance Bureau on September 17, stated in his bail application that the Vigilance Bureau, SAS Nagar, had registered a false case against him.

The judicial remand of Langah was also extended by the Special Judge till October 5 today. Langah has been in custody since July 25, the date on which he surrendered in a court at Kharar.

When Langah was produced in the court, a large number of his supporters were present outside the court room. After the hearing, when Langah came out of the judicial complex to board the police van, they raised slogans “Jathedar Sucha Singh Langah, zindabad”.


Corpn ex-chief Kang in VB net

Amritsar, September 27
A Vigilance team, headed by Mr Tejinder Singh Sandhu, SP, today arrested Manjinder Singh Kang, former Chairman of the Punjab Forest Corporation, on charges of amassing huge properties disproportionate to his known source of income. Kang who is also a relative of SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal had unsuccessfully contested the previous Assembly election on Akali ticket from the Beas constituency. Kang was arrested from his house in the posh Basant Avenue locality. However, despite a two-hour search of the palatial house, the Vigilance Bureau failed to get anything “objectionable”. The Qualis vehicle of the former Chairman was impounded by the Vigilance Bureau. OC


Run Kisan Express in evening: residents
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 27
Residents of the city have urged the railway authorities to make arrangements so that the proposed Kisan Express between Bathinda and Delhi should depart from the city in the evening. The residents said an evening train to Delhi from the city would be more beneficial to them as compared to a morning train.

Mr Nitish Kumar, Union Railway Minister, had announced on Thursday at Jind that a new express train would be introduced between Bathinda and Delhi, in memory of former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal.

Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, member, working committee of the SAD, and chairman, Punjab Aggarwal Sabha, said the Kisan Express would be more useful for residents of the city, if it started from here in the evening.

Ms Vimal Garg, president, Innerwheels International Club, said they would meet the local railway authorities and apprise them of the usefulness of the new train if it departed in the evening. She said there were quite a number of trains for Delhi in the morning but only a few ran in the evening.

Dr Gaganjeet, member, IMA, said on many occasions the absence of a train in the evening was felt.

Other residents also expressed the same view. They said there should be a gap of at least two hours between the timings of the Kisan Express and other trains running between the city and Delhi.


Village boys’ ingenuity bears fruit
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 27
In a secluded village off the Bathinda — Dabwali highway, a combine harvester rumbles across the dusty fields. The combine might not have attracted much notice except for the fact that it measured only two feet and was made out of scrap.

Giving shape to his dreams of becoming an engineer, Kulwant Singh (16) of Phallad village, has assembled a battery-powered working model of a combine harvester using a small motor and other material found around his house.

He is not alone in displaying ingenuity, something generally not seen among the rural folk. Bhinder Singh (14) from Chauke has come up with miniature working models of tractors, which has taken his village by storm. The talents of these enterprising boys, were recognised when the Punjab Revenue Minister, Mr Amarjit Samra awarded them certificates during the kisan mela here.

“I have collected all parts and material for making the combine harvester myself,” Kulwant told TNS. “I used photos of a combine harvester as a guide and managed to assemble it without help from anyone,” he added. Aspiring to be an engineer, he said he had earlier made a cardboard model of a combine before proceeding on a working one. This is the first time in his village that anyone has come up with such a project, something, he says, his family is proud of.

For Bhinder Singh, graduating from clay models to working ones has been a momentous achievement. Using off-the shelf battery powered motors, old rubber slippers and wood splinters to carve out the chassis and body of tractors, he has so far made 20 different models. A string of commendations and monetary awards given by various tractor agencies bear testimony to his creativity and innovative skills.

“I am now designing my own tractor model and have christened it Punjab Roshan,” he said. “It will be slightly different from tractors we see and will project some added features,” he added.

Engaged in this hobby for the past three years, Bhinder said he used to visit tractor agencies and outlets regularly to procure literature and photographs. “I read a lot about tractors,” he said.


Imbibe traditional values’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 27
Thousands of people, a majority of them being women, avidly listened to a religious discourse by Sudhanshu Maharaj at a special function organised by the Vishav Jagriti Mission at Shermajra village near here.

The function, which was attended by a large number of VIPs including former Minister Brahm Mohindra, saw the preacher appealing to the people to imbibe traditional values through scientific means. Later, he also met a select gathering at the residence of Mr Kuldeep Bhattal, who is the head of the local unit of the Vishav Jagriti Manch.

Earlier, Sudhanshu Maharaj appealed to the people to adopt one day in the year to pay respect to their parents. He said this was necessary to inculcate faith in them that they were being looked after by their children. He also disclosed the various activities of the mission saying it had established an eye hospital in Delhi by the name of Karuna Sindhu hospital besides doing work among the tribals of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. He said among the major mission projects in Northern India included the International Meditation Centre being established at Manali.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Bhattal said the city unit of the mission had gained in strength after establishing a permanent base at Shermajra village. He said the local mission had adopted a number of deaf and dumb children as well as mentally retarded children who were being completely looked after by the mission.


85 rickshaw-pullers identified for loans
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 27
As many as 85 persons have been identified and will be given loans to purchase rickshaws and rehris (hand-driven carts) under a scheme launched by the government.

A press note issued by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma, said a camp in this connection was held at Sanjay Nagar here with the help of the Dost Welfare Society, an NGO, where persons, who hire rickshaws and rehris at Rs 10 to 20 per day to earn their livelihood, were identified.

Mr Verma said if the beneficiaries repaid their loans in time and without defaulting any instalment, half of the loan amount would be subsidised. He said if all instalments were paid in time, the beneficiaries could become the owners of the rickshaws and rehris in six to seven months.

Mr Sadhu Ram Kusla, Assistant Project Officer, District Rural Development Agency, (DRDA) said all formalities for sanctioning loans were completed on the spot. He urged the beneficiaries to repay the loan without default in payments so that banks continued to support these schemes.

Mr Verma said a team of doctors had been deputed to screen the residents for TB and skin diseases. He assured the residents that the ration depot would be reopened and ration cards made available to those residents who do not have the same.


Bhagat Singh remembered
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 27
A big scooter chetna rally was today organised by the local Shaheed Bhagat Singh Memorial Society to mark the birth anniversary of the martyr and highlight the role played by him for social reconstruction.

The rally was flagged off from local Town Hall by SDM Pritam Singh. The local MLA, Mr Joginder Singh Mann, was also present.

Riding scooters and motor cycles, the participants passed through bazars and then proceeded to Khatkar Kalan, the ancestral village of Bhagat Singh, where laddoos were distributed to the residents.

A bhangra party, dancing to drumbeats, led the rally. Mr Sukhwinder Singh, chairman of the society, was among the participants.


50 women staffers hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 27
Around 50 women were injured, 10 of them seriously, when a bus carrying employees of Saurabh Factory situated at Malerkotla, skidded off the road and fell on one side while negotiating a turn on the Malerkotla-Nabha road near Alipur village this evening.

Police sources said the bus, which was carrying the women working at the factory which manufactures thread met with the accident due to negligent driving. All injured have been admitted to the Civil hospital at Nabha.

Sources said villagers from Alipur helped ferry the women, to the hospital where their relatives claimed they were not attended to immediately.

The women belonged to Chittianawali village, near Nabha.


Forward Bloc meeting begins at Ropar
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 27
The All-India Forward Bloc (AIFB) at the meeting of its Central Secretariat and the Central Committee here today condemned the stand, taken by the Mayawati government on the Ayodhya issue, and demanded her resignation.

The three-day meeting of the party, which began in the complex of Netaji School, was presided over by Mr Veelappan Nair, Chairman of the AIFB. The meeting was attended among others by Mr Debabrata Vaswas and Mr V.P. Sani, General Secretary and Secretary, respectively, of the party; Mr Bir Singh Mahato, MP, Mr Kaleemudin and Mr Hafeez Aalam Sairani, both ministers of West Bengal; Mr G. Devarajan, Mr G. Fernandes and others.

The meeting also demanded a high-level probe into the attack on Akshardham Temple by the terrorists.

Earlier, on the occasion of 96th birthday of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, bhog of Sri Akhand Path of Sri Guru Granth Sahib was performed on the school premises.


SGPC poll may be delayed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 27
The SGPC elections, which were due to be held in October, 2001, are expected to be delayed further as the Union Government has not yet taken any decision in this connection yet.

This became clear today from the further extension in the date for the registration of voters for the SGPC.

These elections will not be held before March next year, as the Gurdwara Election Commission of the Government of India today extended the date for the registration of voters for the SGPC till February 28 next year.


Social worker honoured
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 27
The National Theatre Arts Society (NTAS), Patiala, honoured city’s noted social personality, Mr Mohan Lal Gupta, senior advocate and acting president of the Sanatan Dharam Kumar Sabha, Patiala, during a Sewa Day, function at Dr Khushdeva Singh Leprosy Patients Colony Taffazalpura, here. The function coincided with the conclusion of three week-long function to mark the 23rd death anniversary of Dasaundhi Ram Bir, a renowned social worker.

Theatre couple, Pran Sabharwal and Sunita Sabharwal, and NTAS personalities, including president G.S. Kakkar, radio-TV artist Rajinder Verma, joint secretary, (PSEB retd) P.C. Tiwari and Leut-Col Bishan Dass (retd) presented NTAS’s ‘Sewa Shiromani Award’ to Mr Mohan Lal Gupta in recognition of his life-long dedicated social services.


Thermal plant’s new dyke opened
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 27
Mr V. K. Mohindroo, General Manager of the Ropar Thermal Plant, today inaugurated the new dyke for depositing flyash of phase three (unit Nos 5 and 6) of the plant. He released today the wet ash into the southern pond of the new dyke, built at a cost of Rs 5 crore on 200 acres.

This new dyke would increase the life of already existing dyke as the flyash of these units was being deposited in the phase two dyke till yesterday


Aid to border villages under BADP stressed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 27
Deputy Commissioners and officers of the Planning Department today stressed on redefining blocks along the international border for assistance to villages under the Border Area Development Programme (BADP) by reverting to the earlier criteria.

Mr P.K. Mohanty, Principal Adviser, State Planning Commission, Government of India, who was here to hold discussions with the Deputy Commissioners of three border districts of Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Ferozepore as also the Principal Secretary, Planning, Mr J.S. Kesar, visited Bhittewad villages, where he was apprised of the demands and grievances of the villagers.


Mushaira charms audience
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, September 27
A “Jashn-e-Bagharvi” and a mushaira were organised by Sher Mohammad Khan Institute at the local Islamia Senior Secondary School here last night.

Prof U. C. Singh, Dean of Academic Affairs, Punjabi University, Patiala, was the chief guest and Intizar, Naeem and Tabish Mehndi from Delhi were the guest of honours. Prof U. C. Singh praised Prof Zinatullah Javed, head of the institute and Dr Mohammed Jamil for organising the literary function.

Prof Zinatullah quoting a couplet of Allama Iqbal, said the main motive of “Jashn-e-Bagharvi” was to remind us that humanity meant respecting and loving others irrespective of caste, creed and colour. A book, “Aziz Bagharvi, Shakhsiat aur Funn” was also released. The second session was related to mushaira. Nasir Saifi and Mohammed Akhtar recited ghazals of Aziz Bagharvi and charmed the audience with their melodious voices. Aziz Bagharvi, Intizar Naeem, Tabish Mehndi, Naaz Bharti, Khalid Kifayat also presented their compositions.


Temple carnage condemned
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 27
Various religious bodies today condemned the massacre of devotees in Akshardham Mandir in Gujarat.

Bishop Pradeep Kumar Samntaroy of the Diocese of Amritsar, Church of North India, addressing a special gathering of Diocesan functionaries said that no religion justified the killings of innocents. Terrorists had brought disgrace to their religion, he said.

All-India Terrorist Front members led by its general secretary Mr Mohinder Singh Sidhu, observed two minutes’ silence in memory of those killed in Gujarat at the Jallianwala Bagh Martyrs’ Memorial here today.

The Khalra Mission Committee, a radical Sikh organisation, too condemned the killings. Mr Balwinder Singh Chhabal and other leaders of the organisation said while the Gujarat situation was very sensitive, the Chief Minister of the state had undertaken a “gaurav yatra” to score political points. 


Head Constable booked in corruption case
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, September 27
A case under the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered against a Head Constable of the Punjab police, posted in the CIA staff, here today after he was found guilty of taking bribes by implicating people in false cases.

Though Head Constable Gurraj Singh managed to escape after he came to know that a case had been registered against him, the police found that he had spent Rs 15 lakh on the marriage of his daughter and given a Honda City car in dowry.

The police came to know about Gurraj Singh’s activities when the SP (D) conducted a probe into the complaints by Mr Navjot Singh, Mr Jagdish Singh and Mr Tarsem Singh that they had been booked in false criminal cases by the head constable to extract bribes from them.

Mr Major Singh Dhillon, SSP, in a press note issued here today, said the accused had purchased two acres in Thandewala village and a plot measuring 27 marlas on the Muktsar-Bathinda road. He was maintaining a car, a scooter and a motor cycle. He used to send Rs 10,000 per month to his son, who was studying in Chandigarh, Mr Dhillon added.

He said after a case under Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered against the accused, police parties raided those premises where he was suspected to be hiding.

In another incident, a police constable, Jagir Singh posted in Ferozepore district, was arrested by the Lambi police today while smuggling poppy husk from Rajasthan in a car. About 15 kg of poppy husk was seized from him. a case under the NDPS Act had been registered against Jagir Singh.

Mr Dhillon said in the past two weeks, the police had arrested 11 persons involved in the smuggling of narcotics and seized more than 1.25 quintals of poppy husk from them. A scooter used by them had also been impounded.

Meanwhile, a countrymade pistol with five cartridges, 90 litres of illicit liquor and Rs 3,382 in cash had been seized from various persons.


Pak undertrial sodomised

Amritsar, September 27
A Pakistani undertrial was sexually assaulted and sodomised at the high security Central Jail here last night. According to an FIR registered at the sadar police station today, the victim, Mehmood Ahmed, 19, was sodomised in his cell in the jail. The alleged culprit, Rafiq Ahmed, 30, too, was a Pakistani national and was in the same cell, the police said.

According to the jail authorities, Mehmood Ahmed lodged a complaint with the jail superintendent. A medical examination of the victim was conducted and a case under Section 377 of the IPC was registered against Rafiq Ahmed. UNI


5 arrested for gambling
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 27
The police has arrested 18 persons for their alleged involvement in gambling and smuggling of narcotics.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, in a press note issued here today said Surinder Kumar, Raj Kumar, Dev Raj, Harbans Singh and Gurmail Singh were arrested for gambling and Rs 6770 were confiscated from their possession. They have been booked under the Gambling Act at Dayalpura police station.

Similarly Ved Parkash, Utam Singh, Ramesh Kumar, Raj Kumar, Rachhpal Singh, Deepa Singh and Rakesh Kumar were booked under Sections 13, 3 and 67 of the Gambling Act at Talwandi Sabo. The police confiscated Rs 45721 from their possession. Six persons were arrested for smuggling poppy husk.


Bail denied in dowry death case
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 27
The District and Sessions Court of Moga yesterday dismissed the bail plea of a woman in a dowry death case.

The Additional Sessions Judge, Mr Jagmohan Singh Chawla, dismissed the bail application of Sudesh Rani, co-accused of murdering her daughter-in-law Usha Rani.

It has been alleged that Usha Rani’s husband Ripan Kumar, father-in-law Subash Chandra, mother-in-law Sudesh Rani and brother-in-law Vipan Kumar, all residents of Moga, murdered Usha Rani on June 2.


Brick-kiln owners for ordinance withdrawal
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 27
If the present situation continues and expenditure keeps on increasing many brick kilns in the area would have to be closed.

This was stated by Mr Surjeet Singh, vice-president, Punjab Brick Kilns Owners Association, at a meeting held here on Wednesday evening. The meeting convened by members of the district unit of the association was called for discussing the problems being faced by brick kiln owners.

The brick kiln owners showed concern over the increasing prices of coal and labour. They said it had become difficult to run the business in the given circumstances.

Mr Surjeet Singh said the ordinance passed by the government that the brick kilns owners in the circumference of 50-km of any thermal power plant, should mix fly ash in some proportion with the earth while manufacturing the bricks, would increase their expenditure. He added that for this purpose they would have to install new machines for mixing the fly ash with the earth.

Another brick kiln owner said the government had failed to provide uninterrupted power supply which was necessary for running the machines and added that 80 kilowatt supply was needed for running one such unit.

He said brick kiln owners whose unit did not fall in the prescribed area would start selling the bricks at less rates.

Mr S. P. Bansal, president, All-India Bricks and Tiles Manufacturing Association, said efforts were being made so that the respective governments could be urged to do away with the new instruction. He said a delegation of the association would meet the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, soon in this regard.


21 trade unions organise rally
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, September 27
A Joint Action Committee of 21 trade unions of Ranjit Sagar Dam today organised a rally in front of the office of the Chief Engineer, Ranjit Sagar Dam, in protest against the move of the Punjab Government to hand over the Shahpur Kandi extension project to a private company. Mr Mangat Ram Pasla, senior vice-president, CITU, Punjab, Mr O. P. Kalia, general secretary, INTUC, Punjab, Mr Bant Brar and others addressed the rally.

The leaders of the union urged upon the Punjab Government to handover the Shahpur Kandi extension project to the department. In case the project was handed over to the department machinery worth Rs 700 crore would be utilised and 6,000 workers get the work.

The leaders threatened that in case their demands were not fulfilled they would stage a dharna against the government in Chandigarh.

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