Tuesday, October 22, 2002, Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Dissidents to face action: Badal
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Alamgir, October 21
Adopting a tough posture in the run- up to the SGPC elections, SAD chief and former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today made three crucial declarations: the candidate for the SGPC chief’s post will be selected by the party high command, the elections will be held at Amritsar and that party dissidents should toe the party line or face the consequences in the coming days. The elections are to be held on November 12.

The SAD chief was here to address a general house meeting of the party at Gurdwara Alamgir which was attended by senior party leaders besides a large number of MLAs and district unit chiefs. He later interacted with all unit presidents besides youth wing leaders separately to modulate the strategy to make the statewide tehsil level dharnas on October 28 a success. Also present was Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, MP.

Talking to TNS, Mr Badal said the party was in the second stage of protests after the first round was successful.

Commenting on the reported differences between him and Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, Mr Badal said the latter was a senior and esteemed colleague and they had no differences. Even then, I appeal to him to take part in the party programmes,” he said.

Mr Sukhbir Badal said, “We are planning to expose the tall claims of the government.

Earlier Capt Kanwaljit Singh, general secretary of the party and former Finance Minister, read out the resolutions which were decided at the PAC meeting from October 19-20. The resolutions were passed by a voice vote and show of hands.


‘Non-aligned’ members’ agenda on Takht chiefs
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 21
The “non-aligned” SGPC members would replace Jathedars of Akal Takht and Kesgarh Sahib if they succeeded in electing “true Panthic” president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee at its annual election to be held at Amritsar on November 12.

Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, general secretary of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal stated this to the Press here today. He alleged that Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti was installed Jathedar of the Akal Takht in violation of Panthic traditions. Prof Chandumajra also alleged that the ‘hukamnamas’ (edicts) issued by the previous Jathedars would be implemented in toto by the ‘Panthic jathedars’. He indicated that Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president, Shiromani Akali Dal could be summoned by the ‘Panthic jathedars’ allegedly for denigrating the Takhts and violating the Sikh traditions.

Meanwhile, the scene of activities relating to the SGPC is shifting to Amritsar with the convening of annual session of the SGPC for electing president and other office-bearers of the committee. Sikh circles said that the SGPC had advanced the annual session which could have been held till November 30 due to the “horse trading” by different Akali factions.

To a question, Prof Chandumajra said that the SHSAD was ready for ‘Panthic unity’ to oust the Congress government if Mr Parkash Singh Badal stepped down as SAD president. Second condition for Panthic unity was that Mr Badal must appear before Akal Takht for violating Sikh traditions.

Prof Chandumajra said that it was moral defeat of Mr Badal as senior leaders of his party Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi and Mr Mal Singh Ghuman had been supporting the move of the non-aligned members. He claimed that the non-aligned members would win the election with thumping majority.

It is interesting that when Mr Onkar Singh Sharifpura, a member of the non-aligned group tried to leave the press conference, Prof Chandumajra insisted on his sitting in the room as he was not that “non-aligned” as he was considering himself.

To a query that if majority of the non-aligned members would support candidature of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra for the post of SGPC chief, Prof Chandumajra said that decision would be taken in a democratic way.

Prof Chandumajra said that his party would oppose the candidature of Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar as he had failed to give good performance as SGPC chief.


Badal serves notice on CM, Chief Secy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 21
SAD President and Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Parkash Singh Badal today served a legal notice on Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Chief Secretary Y.S. Ratra to demanding an end to the tapping of telephones at his residence and the residence of his nephew, Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, a legislator.

He said in case the phone tapping was not stopped within three days, he would be forced to resort to legal action. The telephones at his official residence in Sector 2 in Chandigarh and also at his Badal village residence were being tapped by both the vigilance and intelligence wings of the Punjab police.

“The tapping was being done without any authority. This action of the state government amounts to serious contravention of the provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, and the guidelines issued by the apex court on the subject.

“My client has even protested to the Chief Secretary about this blatant interference with his fundamental rights. The Chief Secretary stated that as per his knowledge, there was no order to tap the telephones,” stated counsel for Mr Badal.

The notice further said that the state could not evade responsibility for this serious violation of the freedom of speech and expression of the private and political life of opposition leaders. This action of the government, he said, was unprecedented in the history of Punjab.


SAD-Cong conflict: Punjab on the boil
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 21
Punjab is on the boil. The political confrontation between the state government and the SAD, the main opposition party, is heading for the worst. Even parties like the BJP, the CPI and the CPM have started warming up against the government.

What has charged the atmosphere on the political and religious fronts is the alleged blatant interference of the state government in SGPC affairs. The state has been bedevilled by one religious controversy after the other for the past few months. It started with Baba Bhaniarewala. Later, the Ashutosh Maharaj controversy took over. And now the tussle over the SGPC elections between the SAD and the government and Tohra faction has assumed dangerous proportions.

Its consequences for Punjab, which witnessed violence for years, will be grave. It is a known fact that Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale’s emergence on the Punjab scene was a sequel to the extraordinary political interest shown by the Congress in the SGPC elections three decades ago.

The political temperature in the state had been rising well before the Assembly elections. A bitter pre-election campaign between the Congress and the SAD clearly pointed towards the shape of things to come. Immediately after taking over the reins of power, Capt Amarinder Singh gave the go-ahead to the authorities concerned to chase Akali leaders and others, especially those who have remained favourite of or close to Mr Badal.

The Vigilance Bureau’s drive continues unabated against Akali leaders which Capt Amarinder Singh describes as a campaign against corruption. However, the way the Akali leaders, who remained behind the bars on serious corruption charges, have been welcomed on their release on bail, must have disturbed no end Capt Amarinder Singh and his close associates.

Early this week Mr Sucha Singh Langah, a former PWD Minister, was released. The bureau projected him as a “most corrupt” politician. A long list of his properties and other serious allegations was released. The welcome Mr Langah received when he entered the Batala constituency after release made big news. He was taken to his village in an open jeep decorated with flowers. “Welcome gates” were erected at various places to receive him. Even “ladoos” were distributed.

When Mr Tota Singh was in jail, people from his area and other parts used to queue up to meet him.

Why is it so? Capt Amarinder Singh wanted to “finish” the Akalis by exposing the alleged corruption by Mr Badal and his ministers. However, the outcome of the campaign against corruption has upset Congress leaders. Mr H.S. Hanspal, President of the PPCC, when asked about Mr Badal’s impending arrest commented on Saturday that the “state government did not want to make Mr Badal a hero by arresting him. He would be arrested only after collecting proper evidence against him”. Congress leaders wanted that Mr Badal should not be allowed to capitalise politically from his proposed arrest by the Chief Minister.

The Akalis have gained a lot politically in the past few months. Mr Badal, who had an inkling of the things to come, moved from one place to another to mobilise party workers against the state government. And on realising that the imposition of power bills on the farming community had provided him with an opportunity to strike hard against Capt Amarinder Singh, he immediately announced the “morcha” programme.

Where did Capt Amarinder Singh or his party fault? Neither he nor his party politically backed up the campaign against corruption that wholly depended on the bureau’s top brass or say the official machinery. If he or other party leaders had gone to the people to make them understand what they were doing, the Akalis would have been further pushed into the corner. It is impossible to politically “finish” leaders like Mr Badal by solely depending on the official machinery.


2 Garcha supporters held
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 21
Just a day after Akali Dal MLA, Jagdish Singh Garcha, was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau on corruption charges, the Dehlon police has arrested two of his trusted workers from Bondli village. The workers were evading arrest for the past three months allegedly due to the pressure exerted by the Akali leader.

The arrests have infused new life in a beleaguered family at the politician’s native Bhutta village. It claimed to be a victim of the oppression of his supporters. The family was recently helped by the Punjab Human Rights Commission (PHRC), which ordered registration of a case against seven persons, several of whom were close to the Akali leader.

Sohan Singh and Nachattar Singh of Bondli village were arrested by a raiding party of the Dehlon police last night from Bhutta village. A local court remanded them in two-day police custody.

The family led by a woman, Ms Kulwant Kaur, was harassed by seven persons, including the husband of the woman, who wanted her to name all her property in his name and desert her old and ailing father. The incident took place in April last year but no action was taken by the police. The family had alleged that the accused were the supporters of the Garcha family, which exerted pressure on the police in the area.

A case, on the directions of the PHRC, was registered in August but these two persons could not be arrested. Ms Kulwant Kaur claimed here today that whenever they approached the police, it talked of pressure from the Garchas. However, the arrest of the Akali leader has changed the equations.

Ms Kulwant Kaur, the complainant, was married to Mr Darshan Singh of Rattan Palo village for some years but started living separately early last year accusing him of trying to grab her land. She was allegedly kept in illegal confinement for over two weeks by her husband and others in April last year. Former MLA Tarsem Singh Jodhan, who supported the woman’s cause was also gheraoed and detained illegally for several hours at Rattan Palo village last year. All this was allegedly done with the help of the Akali MLA.

A case under Sections 365, 467, 468, 471 and 384, IPC, was registered against Darshan Singh, Sohan Singh, Mohan Singh, Pargat Singh and Jeet Singh of Bondli village, and Jagtar Singh, Shingara Singh of Rattan Palo village. Of them, Darshan Singh was the only person to be arrested.


Govt seeks report on brawl at Wagah
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Wagah, October 21
The Central Government has reportedly sought a detailed report about the yesterday’s brawl between a BSF jawan and Pakistani Ranger during the daily Retreat ceremony held at the Wagah joint checkpost.

According to sources, BSF officials remained busy throughout the day to finalise the report. The details are being collected from different sister agencies deployed at the Wagah border. It is learnt that some of the senior officers had been summoned at New Delhi to give “firsthand information”.

The sources pointed out that the BSF jawan and Pakistani Ranger were pulled up by senior officials of both countries as losing of their tempers had created an unsavoury situation at the time of the Retreat ceremony, watched by thousands of people of both countries everyday. The tension mounted even as both India and Pakistan had decided to withdraw their troops with a view to de-escalate tension on the international border.

Earlier, similar situation had arisen when a BSF jawan and a Pakistani Ranger had cocked their rifles against each other during the Kargil conflict.

A few days earlier, a Pakistani national had crossed over to Pakistan from the Wagah checkpost by giving a slip to the BSF before the start of the Retreat ceremony. Though the BSF had lodged a strong protest and demanded the handing over of the person but to no avail. Pakistani Rangers had claimed that no Indian had crossed over to Pakistan and hence there was no question of returning the man.

The Retreat ceremony was disrupted for a few minutes following the brawl between the BSF jawan and Pakistani Ranger while lowering of the national flags of their respective countries.

Now the security has been tightened by the BSF and the Pakistani Rangers on their respective sides of the Wagah checkpost to ensure that such unsavoury incidents do not recur.


Border demining tough task
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, October 21
Even as the Indian Army is set to withdraw troops, the task of demining along the border with Pakistan will be onerous.

Both India and Pakistan had deployed a large number of anti-personnel and anti-vehicle mines along their common border. This is one of the largest mine-laying operations anywhere in the world since 1997 when 122 nations signed the Mine Ban Treaty (Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Antipersonnel Mines and On Their Destruction). Neither India nor Pakistan are party to that treaty, though both have stated their support for a comprehensive global ban on anti-personnel mines at some point in the future.

The Indian Army apparently began to mine its territory on December 25, 2001, and has mined its entire area of 1,800-mile (2,897-km) border with Pakistan, at times creating minefields three miles wide (4.8 km). Mines have been laid in agricultural areas, which the civilians were forced to evacuate.

According to a spokesperson of the state government, 27,127 hectares (105 square miles), including 350 villages, along the 210-km (131 mile) International Border in the district had been earlier acquired by the Army to lay mines or construct fortifications. But later, after the harvesting was completed for the wheat crop in April, 2002, the Army acquired new areas to lay fresh mines.

However, senior officials of the Army and the district administration failed to give the exact area under mines at present, sources revealed that the mined area was increased to about 35,000 hectares of land.

Pakistan has also extensively mined its side of the border.

While neither India nor Pakistan have agreed to ban antipersonnel mines, both are party to the 1996 Amended Protocol II of the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons. This protocol obliges both parties to provide effective exclusion of civilians from areas containing anti-personnel mines. India and Pakistan are also not party to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. They are among the 14 countries in the world that still produces anti-personnel mines.

Pakistan’s arsenal of anti-personnel mines is around six million mines, the fifth largest in the world. Pakistan states that it has not exported anti-personnel mines since 1991 and that in February 1999, it “totally banned” the export of anti-personnel mines through Statutory Regulatory Order-123 (1) 1999 and “export control procedures.” However, questions have been raised about Pakistani-manufactured anti-personnel mines being supplied to armed groups fighting in India-administered Kashmir.

India accused Pakistani army troops of using mines during the intense fighting in the Kargil region of Kashmir in mid-1999.

However, both India and Pakistan are party to the 1996 Amended Protocol II of the Convention on Conventional Weapons. This treaty regulates, as opposed to prohibiting, the use of anti-personnel mines and establishes certain technical requirements for them. There have been a number of incidents in the conflict between India and Pakistan that raise serious questions about the manner in which the two countries are implementing Amended Protocol II.

Article 5 of Amended Protocol II requires that a state emplacing non-remotely delivered antipersonnel mines take steps to ensure the effective exclusion of civilians from these mined areas. Marking, fencing, and monitoring of mined areas are common ways that effective exclusion is accomplished.

In Ferozepore district in Punjab, the civilian administration and Indian Army have been conducting mine awareness education for the civilian population and fencing and warning signs in the Hindi and Gurmukhi languages have been put up.

But civilians are continuing to fall victim to mines on both sides of the border as they unwittingly enter mined areas.

A senior Army official posted on the front here told TNS that demining must be carried out by the same Army units that laid the minefields. But they have not yet received any such orders to demine the area before the de-escalation process begins. The top brass of the Army is understood to be in favour of keeping some of the minefields in Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat ‘alive’. 


French envoy’s assurance to Sikhs
Photographs on driving licences
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 21
Mr Bernard de Montferrand, French Ambassador to India, assured of “a pragmatic approach to the issue of photographs of Sikhs without turbans on driving licences in France”. There was resentment among Sikhs living in France over the French Government’s orders in respect of driving licences to have photographs of Sikhs without turbans.

This turbanless photograph on licence was made mandatory especially after the September 11 attack on World Trade Center in New York last year. Sikhs became victims of hate crimes after the terrorist attacks, due to “mistaken identity” and many Sikhs were killed in hate crimes all over Europe and America. This prompted Sikhs all over Europe and America organise and to propagate that Sikh identity was separate from that of Arabs.

Talking to The Tribune, on stringent “visa restrictions” for Indians to his country, he said the French government had not changed its visa policy radically. However after the September 11 attacks in New York caution had been intensified to prevent any untoward incident in France.

Paying obeisance at Sri Harmandar Sahib here today the French Ambassador said “reality of India is beyond the capital”. Overwhelmed after a visit of the shrine he wrote in the visitors book “with my gratitude for your so warm welcome in this so holy and respectable temple, I hope the honour, which have united the Sikh community and France since the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh will continue to develop”.

The French Ambassador said he was greatly moved by the spiritual aura of Golden Temple and added the French had rare connection with Sikhs as Maharaja Ranjit Singh had employed French generals to train his army to face the might of the Mughals around 1850.

“We would like to revive those ancient ties by incorporating relations in corporate buildup between companies in Punjab and in France. This could bring about a dynamic change for both collaborating countries. He was presented with a set of books, a model of Golden Temple by SGPC general secretary Ms Kiranjot Kaur. Ms Kiranjot Kaur said that the French Ambassador had visited the Golden Temple especially to know more about the history of “turban” after restrictions had been imposed on the turban in driving licence use of photographs in France.

Meanwhile at his meeting with Mr SP Singh vice-chancellor, of Guru Nanak Dev University, Mr Bernard emphasised on educational and research programmes and signing of more MoUs between Indian and French universities.

The French Ambassador said that there were language barriers and other obstacles in the education system in France but now the education system had been made more liberal. He stressed on exchange programmes and scholarships between the two countries.


Man loses four sons to liquor
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Fear stalks the family of Mr Pritam Singh, an ex-serviceman and a resident of Maqboolpura, who lost all his four sons with in a span of four years because of an overdose of liquor or drugs. Besides, many young persons of the colony have lost their mental equilibrium for the same reason.

Mr Pritam Singh said he lost his son Satnam Singh (22) six years ago due to the latter’s addiction to drugs. He left behind his widow and a son. His elder brother, Balbir Singh, father of four children, died the next year. Mr Pritam Singh told TNS that Balbir Singh who had returned dead drunk died in his sleep. Harjinder Singh, the third son of the ex-serviceman, died only after one and a half years of his marriage. The fourth son, Kashmir Singh, alias Billa, who came home dead drunk on April 4, 2000, died the same day.

Gurdeep Kaur, mother of four sons who died in the prime of their youth, attributed the tragedy to illicit liquor which was easily available in Maqboolpura. She said two of her daughters-in-law who were widowed got re-married but the other two decided to spend their whole lives as widows. She said it was difficult to look after the fatherless children on a meagre income of the family. Some of the school-going children were withdrawn from schools after the deaths of their fathers.

The widows work as domestic servants to eke out a living . However, Mr Pritam Singh said it was difficult to meet the expenses. Two of his grand daughters were of marriageable age.

Another young man, Balwinder Singh, alias Billa, who does not know when he became an orphan, has lost his mental equilibrium because of drug addiction. Balwinder Singh who was brought up by his aunt who lost her husband to drugs, said it was difficult to trace him as he frequently ran away from home, Like him, many persons of the area have been leading a similar existence.



Police Commemoration Day observed
Tribune Reporters

Mansa, October 21
Police Commemoration Day was observed by the district police at the district administrative complex here on Monday. Mr Sudhanshu Shekhar Srivastva, Senior Superintendent of Police, was the chief guest. Mr Hartej Singh Sekhon, Superintendent of Police. (Headquarters), read a list containing 975 names of martyrs. District officials and members of the families of police martyrs laid wreaths the memorial. The chief guest distributed blankets to 32 family members of the district police martyrs.

HOSHIARPUR: Police Commemoration Day was observed by the district police at the local Police Ground here on Monday. Mr Romesh Chander Dogra, Health and Family Welfare Minister, Punjab, while presiding over the function paid rich tributes to the martyrs of police and paramilitary forces who lost their lives while performing their duties.

Ms Gurpreet Deo, SSP, paid rich tributes to the martyrs and said as many as 975 jawans of the paramilitary forces and the Punjab police had lost their lives during this year while performing their duties, out of which 36 were from Punjab and four from Hoshiarpur district.

BARNALA: The district police observed Police Commemoration Day at the local Police Lines Complex on Monday. Mr Gurinder Singh Dhillon, SSP, presided over the function. Mr N.S. Walia, SDM, Mr Gurdip Singh Pannu, SP (Headquarters), Mr Prem Chand Aggarwal, Chairman of the Punjab Beopar Mandal, and Ms Amita Bhathal, president of the Punjab Brahmin Sabha (Mahila wing), were other distinguished guests who were present on the occasion.

FARIDKOT: Members of over 30 policemen’s families affected by terrorism in the district have resented the decision of the Punjab Government to stop the DA in the pension of the dependent parents of those policemen who laid down their lives during militancy in the state. In a joint representation to Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, SSP, at a district-level Police Commemoration Day function held at the Police Lines here on Monday, they regretted that the dependents were already getting a pension of Rs 2,170 per month against Rs 5,000 as per revised decision of the Fourth Pay Commission in 1998.

Earlier, while paying rich tributes to the police martyrs, the SSP announced that a decision had been taken to construct a gate near Jalaleana village at Kot Kapura in the memory of Sepoy Jasbir Singh who sacrificed his life while fighting with terrorists near Sadiq village in the block about 12 years ago. He also laid a wreath on the memorial of martyrs.

JALANDHAR: A Police Commemoration Day parade was held on Monday at the local PAP complex in the honour of police martyrs.

Mr M.S. Bhullar, Director-General of the Punjab police took the salute. Jawans paid tributes to martyrs by reversing arms.

A number of senior police officials, including Mr R.S. Gill, Additional DGP of the PAP, Mr D.R. Bhatti, Additional DGP (Computer and Wireless), Mr Bakshi Ram, ADGP, and Mr J.P. Virdi, IG, PAP, laid wreaths on the martyrs’ memorial.

PATIALA: The Inspector General of Police, Mr Anil Kaushik on Monday led senior officers of the district police in paying tributes to the policemen who had laid down their lives on the Ladakh border during a skirmish with the Chinese forces in 1959.

Senior police officers, both serving and retired, alongwith jawans and family members, attended the function which was held in the Police Lines here.

Names of martyrs from 21 states in the country were readout by the Superintendent of Police, Mr Rattan Lal Monga, on the occasion. Paying rich tributes to the slain police officers IGP Kaushik said members of the Punjab Police force had always shown exemplary bravery in the face of any threat to the nation be it war or terrorism. A two-minute silence was also observed in the memory of four senior police officers and jawans of the Patiala Police who had died during the terrorisms period in the state.

SSP Paramraj Singh Umranangal while speaking on the occasion also paid rich tributes to members of the force and their families, specially those of the martyred police jawans and officers.

FEROZEPORE: The policemen should always be ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of internal security of the nation. This was stated by Mr Praveen Kumar Sinha, SSP, while addressing police officers on the occasion of Police Commemoration Day here at Police Lines on Monday.

The local police led by the SSP paid rich tributes to police martyrs. Mr Sinha garlanded the bust of DSP Gopal Singh Ghuman.

PHILLAUR: Police Commemoration Day was observed on Monday at the Punjab Police Academy, here. Senior officers, staff and trainees assembled at the Martyrs’ Memorial in the academy and paid homage to the martyrs of the police and paramilitary forces.

Dr G.S. Aujla, DGP-cum-Director, Punjab Police Academy, saluted and paid tributes to the police martyrs.

BATHINDA: Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, paid rich tributes to the police martyrs at a function organised to honour the kin of police martyrs at Police Lines here on Monday.

ROPAR: Police Commemoration Day was observed under the leadership of Mr Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, SSP, at Police Lines here on Monday.

Members of the families of 52 police martyrs of the district were honoured by presenting them blankets and hot cases.

Wreaths were laid at Martyrs’ Memorial here by Mr Bhullar, Mr Surjit Singh Grewal, SP (D), Mr Varinder Pal Singh, SP (H), and Mr H.S. Bhullar, SP, SAS Nagar.

FATEHGARH SAHIB: Police Commemoration Day was observed on Monday at Police Lines here. Mr Mahinder Pal, District and Sessions Judge, and Mr B. Chandra Shekhar, SSP, paid homage to police martyrs.

Two minutes’ silence was observed in the memory of the martyrs. The District and Sessions Judge, the SSP and all senior police officers honoured the families of 16 police martyrs.


Buy levy rice, millers to govt
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 21
The Punjab Rice Millers Association today demanded that the government should start accepting levy rice from millers immediately on the pattern being followed by the Haryana Government.

In a statement here, association president Tarsem Saini said the association had already met Food and Supplies Minister Lal Singh and Principal Secretary Food, in this regard but still no instructions had been issued to accept levy rice from the millers.

Mr Saini claimed that this appeared to be part of a planned conspiracy by certain officers who wanted to create obstacles for the government. Due to this reason the demands of farmers such as restoration of driage allowance for parboiled unit, restoration of driage allowance from 1 per cent to 2 per cent in respect of raw rice, stoppage on the recovery of bags for the crop of 2001 -02 at Rs 16.87 per bag and non payment of incidental damage for levy at Rs seven per quintal had not been met till now.

The millers were ready to provide bags at the time of paddy procurement if the government was ready to give them depreciation charges at Rs six per bag as was being done by the Haryana Government. Though the millers had been assured that this policy would be implemented in Punjab, it had not been done as yet.


Badal opposes release of water
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 21
SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal today came down heavily on Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for issuing orders to release 1000 cusecs of water to Rajasthan from the Ropar headworks on the eve of wheat sowing in Punjab, demanding that these orders be withdrawn immediately. He hoped the Chief Secretary would advise the Chief Minister against going ahead with such disastrous orders. “This is a serious development with grave implications for the state’s case on its rights over river waters,” the SAD leader said in a statement issued here.

Mr Badal described Capt Amarinder Singh’s orders as “robbing the beleaguered farmers of Punjab to help the Congress government in Rajasthan. The orders had been issued to please his benefactor in the Congress high command, Mr Natwar Singh.”

Mr Badal was reacting to media reports to this effect originating last evening from Jaipur and published in a section of the Press today. The reports had spoken of the Chief Minister issuing telephone orders to Chief Secretary Y.S. Ratra to open the sluice gates at the Ropar headworks “without a minute’s delay” to ensure an outflow of 1,000 cusecs of water to Rajasthan. “I am amazed both at the haste and the timing of the Punjab Chief Minister’s orders.


Anti-tank gun barrel found

Jalandhar, October 21
Three days after a large Army arsenal was found on the roadside at Goraya, the police today found one barrel of a 12.7 mm gun between two railway lines in the same area.

Police sources said the barrel of an anti-tank gun was found lying between the two tracks near Dalewal village, about 1 km ahead of Goraya on the Jalandhar-Ludhiana section of the Northern Railway at around 8.30 a.m. by Dalewal gateman of the Railways.

The Government Railway Police (GRP) took away the barrel when informed.

It is understood that the barrel fell from an army convoy which had passed that way on its way towards Ludhiana last night. Incidentally, the arsenal comprising 30 anti-tank heavy armour-piercing bullets, two belts of General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) containing 270 rounds of ammunition of 7.62 MM calibre and another 20 rounds of the same calibre in box and five hand grenades of HE-36 type was found on Friday morning, after an overnight passage of another army convoy on the Jalandhar-Ludhiana section of the national highway. UNI


Petrol tanker owners go on strike
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 21
Nearly 2200 petrol tankers today went off road hitting supply of petroleum products. A call for an indefinite strike was given by the Punjab Petroleum Tankers Union.

No tanker loaded petroleum products from any of the three oil terminals of the state, claimed Mr Davinder Singh Babbu, president of the union, maintaining that stand-off between the union and the four oil companies continued.

“Despite our demands being genuine the oil companies are resorting to arm-twisting and trying to pressurise tanker operators into carrying petro products with the help of the police,” alleged Mr Babbu, who led a dharna of tanker owners at the oil terminal of the Indian Oil Corporation here.


Lord Paul visits ancestral home
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 21
Lord Swraj Paul was overcome with emotion as he looked at Apeejay School here. It once used to be a small house owned by his family where he used to live along with his parents, four brothers and three sisters.

Lord Paul grew nostalgic and shed tears, saying, “Here we lived in a small two-room set on the first floor.” Lord Paul, who is also the British business ambassador to the world and the Chancellor of Wolverhampton University, was back in his home town after 44 years since he left the country in 1966 for Britain, “Just like any other typical Indian family, men and women of our family used to live separately. I can still feel that togetherness at this place, which is dearest to me,” said he, adding that “who knew that the young boy who used to clean machines at his father’s small residence-cum-factory every morning would one day be known the worldover? It is sheer luck. I still remember my father telling us that no job was big or small and that one should not shirk work. He was a strict disciplinarian and all that I am today is due to him.” Lord Paul is heading a British commercial team which will hold a dialogue with exporters, businessmen and industrialists of Jalandhar and Punjab during its two-day stay here.

Lord Paul disagreed that the youth forgot their country and the importance of their motherland after going abroad. “I am sure that none of Punjabis in Britain or any other country have forgotten their places of birth. Punjabis of the Jalandhar and Doaba region constitute one third of the total population of Punjabis in the UK,” he observed.

He said he had Jalandhar on top priority and he wanted to bring businessmen and industrialists here as well as in Punjab closer to each other. “I am also persuading people in Britain to invest here and have told them that this is a land of opportunity.”

Earlier, Lord Paul was greeted by children of Apeejay School, who accorded him a traditional welcome by reciting “shlokas” on his arrival at the school. Addressing the children, he said he believed that it was luck which determined the destiny of an individual.


Panthic panel holds meeting
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, October 21
The Panthic Commission inquiring into the alleged rape and corruption charges against Baba Dhanwant Singh of the Noor Vishav Ruhani Charitable Sansthan and the role of jathedars of Sri Akal Takht Sahib and Sri Keshgarh Sahib in the episode, held its fourth meeting at the Gurdwara Singh Sabha here on Sunday to hear the view of various Sikh organisations and affected individuals.

More than a dozen organisations and individuals appeared before the five-member commission to record their views.

Later, Mr Amar Singh Chahal, member secretary, along with other members of the commission, told mediapersons that the commission would complete its inquiry into the case by November 30.


Pt Rao, Sujat Khan enthral audience
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, October 21
On the second day of the concert, organised in connection with the Sharad Utsav in memory of Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, a great Sikh General and founder of Kapurthala, an erstwhile princely state, on the sprawling lawns of the palatial Jagatjit Palace, renowned singers Neeta Pandit, Sujat Khan and Pandit Luxmi Krishna Rao enthralled the audience. The Kapurthala Heritage Society has organised the three-day musical programme from October 19 to 21 with the help of the district administration and the Punjab Government.

Meanwhile, the 219th death anniversary function spread over three days concluded yesterday. It was organised by the Guru-ka-Lal Sultan-ul-Qoum Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia Memorial Trust.


Valmiki Jayanti celebrated
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 21
The birth anniversary of Maharshi Valmiki was celebrated at the Valmiki temple, near Giani Zail Singh Nagar, here today.

A function was also organised in the temple which was attended among others by Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Mr Khillari Ram Budhiraja, a former president of the local municipal council, and Mr Jaswant Singh, DDPO, Ropar.

The spealers at the function exhorted the gathering to follow the teachings of Maharshi Valmiki to maintain high standards of social values and welfare of mankind.

PHAGWARA (OC): The ‘parkash utsav’ of Maharishi Valmiki was celebrated here with religious fervour. Congregations were held in temples. A shobha yatra was also held.


SHSAD to support Punjab bandh
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 21
The SHSAD today said it would participate in the Punjab bandh on October 29 by farmers in protest against the bar on free power and charging of electricity for running tubewells.

The district unit of the SHSAD said a meeting of party workers decided to support the kisan unions as the decision of the Punjab Government was against the interests of the farmers.

Mr Ishatpal Singh Khialiwala, district president of the party, said they would extend every help to make the bandh a success.

He said the party had been holding meetings in different villages and towns of the district to motivate its members to participate in the Punjab bandh.

He said the farmers had to spend more money this year for harvesting paddy as compared to last year but no compensation had been given to them.

Meanwhile, Mr Surjeet Singh Phul, press secretary of the BKU, said they would urge traders to participate in the bandh. He said milk vendors would not be allowed to bring milk from villages to cities on the day.

Mr Phul further said to exert maximum pressure on the government, road and rail traffic would also be blocked.

Meanwhile, the BKU (E) held a meeting here in connection with the proposed bandh. Mr Sarmukh Singh Selbarah, district vice-president of the union, said the union was trying to reach maximum number of farmers. He said a visit to various villages of the district revealed that there was resentment among the farmers about the decision of the government.

Mr Major Singh, vice-president of the district unit of the BKU (Lakhowal), said the debt-ridden farmers had to suffer economically with the billing of electricity for tubewells. 


BKU (L) protest from today

Kharar, October 21
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal) today decided to launch a mass protest from tomorrow in Punjab against the decision of the state government to accept the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission’s recommendations to withdraw the free power supply facility to the farm sector.

The protest will begin from Ferozepore and continue till November 9 when a rally will be held at Sangrur, said the BKU’s state president, Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal. PTI


Kisan unions to block traffic on Oct 29
Our Correspondent

Mansa, October 21
To discuss the programme of Punjab bandh on October 29, a district-level meeting of seven kisan unions was held in the main gurdwara here yesterday.

Those present at the meeting included Mr Ruldu Singh and Mr Bogh Singh, senior vice-president and finance secretary of the state unit of the BKU (E), respectively Mr Lal Chand of the Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, Mr Jaspal Singh of the BKU (Ugraha), Mr Nihal Singh of the Punjab Kisan Sabha and Mr Darshan Singh of the Kisan Vikas Front.

The leaders decided to block traffic on October 29 for two hours between 12 noon and 2 pm. The traffic would be blocked at Sardulgarh on the Sirsa-Mansa road, at Mansa, near Tinkoni, at Bareta on the Budhlada-Jakhal road and at Bhikhi on the Bathinda-Patiala road.


Rain creates panic among farmers
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 21
The downpour last night created panic among the farmers at the local grain market who had been waiting for the procurement of paddy.

A visit to the mandi today revealed that the farmers whose crops had been lying in the open were trying to save the produce from the water that had stagnated in some parts of the mandi. Some farmers have covered heaps of paddy with polythene sheets. Some farmers alleged that as the lifting of paddy was not speedy, many gunny bags filled with paddy had been lying in the mandi.

Hardev Singh, a farmer of Teona, said he had been waiting for the procurement of paddy for the past many days. He alleged that if such rain poured again the produce would become unfit for official purchase. He said he hoped that the paddy would be procured before it rained again.

Another farmer said if he had to stay in the mandi for more days, the sowing of the next crop would be delayed.


3 booked for assault

Fazilka, October 21
A former SHO city police, the husband and brother of a Municipal Councillor here have been booked for allegedly beating up Manjit Singh Murli, vice -president, Beopar Mandal, Fazilka, keeping him in illegal custody here on Saturday evening. An enquiry was conducted into the case following a direction by the High Court. OC


AIDS awareness course concludes
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 21
A two-day AIDS awareness training course for NSS volunteers concluded at the local SSD Girls College today. As many as 50 volunteers from five local educational institutions participated.

The course aimed at educating NSS volunteers so that they could further spread awareness about the disease among the students in their respective institutions.

Students of DAV College, Government Rajindra College, Regional College of Management and Technology, Khalsa College for Girls and SSD Girls College participated in the course.

Ms Usha Sharma, in charge of the NSS unit of the college, said during the course, information was given about the origin of HIV and number of persons suffering from it in different countries. The students were also educated about its impacts, causes of spreading HIV social and psychological impacts of AIDS.

Gurpreet of SSD Girls College, Ravneet of Government Rajindra College, Sonia of DAV College, Monika of Khalsa College for Girls and Harkirat of Regional College of Management and Technology, all volunteers, said they would spread the message to others so that the number of HIV positive persons could be minimised. They said they would organise such programmes in their institutions to debunk myths related to AIDS.

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