Friday, November 8, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

4 pro-Badal members debarred from voting
Petitions filed against Tohra, 7 others
Tribune News Service

Mr Harminder Singh Gill, AISSF president and close confidant of Mr G. S. Tohra, alongwith other leaders of the federation outside the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission court after the suspension of four pro-Badal SGPC members on Thursday. — photo Rajiv Sharma

Amritsar, November 7
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) today suffered a big jolt when the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission restrained four pro-Badal SGPC members from ‘functioning and performing duty’ as Shiromani Committee members forthwith till November 26. They can’t vote in the crucial annual election of the SGPC executive, scheduled for November 12.

In the absence of Mr Dara Singh, who has already been suspended on charges of picking up a brawl under the influence of liquor, the two-member Bench of Sikh Judicial Commission comprising of Mr Kashmir Singh Patti (president) and Mr Raghbir Singh Sandhu (member) today heard four petitions, filed by pro-Tohra leaders, seeking disqualification of certain members for violating the gurdwara Act.

The four members who won’t be able to participate in the annual election include Mr Sucha Singh Langah, a former Akali minister, Mr Jaswinder Singh Advocate, convener, Akal Purkh ki Fauj, Mr Dara Singh Zira and Mr Bhagwan Singh.

Meanwhile, the pro-Badal leaders today filed as many as eight petitions in the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission seeking disqualification of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Mal Singh Ghuman, convener, ‘non aligned’ seven-member committee, Mr Hardip Singh Mohali, Mr Joginder Singh Jogi, Mr Kehar Singh Rathour, Mr Jaswant Singh Taan, Mr Kashmir Singh Bariar and Mr Gurtej Singh Jodhpur Pakhar.

In the petition, filed by Mr Surinder Singh Sultanwind, he alleged that Mr Mal Singh Ghuman had misused SGPC vehicles during his tenure as an SGPC member. In another petition, Mr Sultanwind has alleged that Mr Kehar Singh Rathour had got employment for his son, Mr Avtar Singh, in the SGPC in gross violation of the gurdwara Act. The petitioner sought disqualification of both the members and urged recovery of the amount with interest.

In yet another petition, Mr Kamaljit Singh alleged that Mr Kashmir Singh Bariar, an SGPC member, got his nephew Mr Sarbjit Singh appointed as a driver in the Shiromani Committee in violation of the Act.

A petition filed against Mr Hardip Singh Mohali, a spokesman for the seven member ‘non-aligned’ SGPC members, alleged that he had misused the official vehicle. The petitioner sought disqualification of Mr Mohali as an SGPC member. Mr Shashpal Singh in his petition has alleged that Mr Jaswant Singh Jogi had got his son adjusted in the SGPC by filing a false affidavit. Mr Dishadip Singh, a pro-Badal activist has filed a petition against Mr Gurtej Singh Jodhpur Pakhar seeking his disqualification as an SGPC member for getting his son Gurvinder Singh a job in the SGPC in violation of SGPC bylaws.

The judicial commission has fixed November 11 as the next date for hearing. At least six more petitions filed by pro-Tohra leaders would also come up for hearing on that day.

Mr Rajinder Singh Mehta, adviser, Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) has alleged that the petitioner had sought the disqualification of Mr Tohra on the plea that he was responsible for the appointments of his relatives during his stint as SGPC chief.

The charges against Mr Sucha Singh Langah, who has been restrained from functioning as SGPC member, include that he had organised 510 paths of the Ramayana in violation of Sikh tenets. The petitioner, Mr Harminder Singh Gill, President, AISSF, has prayed to the Sikh Judicial Commission that Mr Langah be disqualified from the SGPC.

The two members Mr Dara Singh Zira and Mr Bhagwan Singh Dhamot have been restrained from functioning till November 26 on charges of claiming TA/DA twice.

Mr Jaswinder Singh Advocate who was also been restrained from functioning as SGPC member faces charges of getting a grant of Rs 1 lakh in the name of Akal Purkh ki Fauj from the Shiromani committee funds. 


Capt Kanwaljit, Bibi detained
Tribune News Service

Halwara (Ludhiana), November 7
Former Punjab Finance Minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh and former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur are likely to be booked for allegedly kidnapping SGPC member Bibi Harbans Kaur Sukhana. They were detained late this evening by the Jagraon police.

Talking to TNS near Rattowal Chowk on the Ludhiana-Halwara road, Capt Kanwaljit Singh and Bibi Jagir Kaur said the Congress was using force to cow Akali leadership and the present incident was an example.

“We feel that rule of jungle prevails in the state and Capt Amarinder Singh is leaving no stone unturned to wrest the control of the SGPC,” they said.

Narrating the sequence of events, they said they had gone to meet SGPC member Harbans Kaur and were talking to her in the house here when a police party locked the main gate from outside. “We managed to scale a boundary wall with the help of a ladder. We were moving towards Ludhiana when a police party stopped us and said we were being detained on the charge of kidnapping.”

Capt Kanwaljit said: “We had gone to meet her and do not know her whereabouts. Moreover, why would a kidnapper boldly move around, knowing the current tense situation in the run-up to SGPC poll. “We are being harassed by this oppressive regime. Instead of detaining us, the cops should be on the lookout for her,” he added.

Earlier, both leaders had a heated argument with the police, only to be told that their queries would be answered by the SSP, who reached the spot minutes after they were detained. The SSP could be heard telling that the Bibi was missing after their meeting and as per law, they came within the ambit of kidnapping.

Equipment of a news channel were also allegedly impounded by the cops.

At the time of filing the report, the police was carrying on with their investigations. 


Jail bharo’ stir deferred till Nov 27
Badal whisks away Kewal Singh
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Alamgir, November 7
Even as the jail bharo agitation of the SAD has been postponed to November 27, the political affairs committee (PAC) of the party today refused to have any truck with the seven-member committee and also decided to get SGPC members held “captive” by the government released.

The PAC met under the presidentship of the SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, at the historic Alamgir Gurdwara late this evening. It was attended by a majority of the members. The members finalised their strategy in the run up to the polls, the manner in which the SGPC members will be taken to Amritsar and other related issues.

Those present included secretary general Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Bibi Jagir Kaur, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, Mr Tota Singh, Mr N.S. Kahlon and Mr S.S. Sekhwan. SGPC chief Kirpal Singh Badungar was also present. Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi and Mr R.S. Brahmpura were absent Dr Upinderjit Kaur is abroad.

Mr Badal said: “We are votaries of non violence and will do our best to ensure that the polls remain violence free. But the government has turned the venue — the Golden Temple — into a virtual fortress and the devotees are being screened before being let in. However, we will not tolerate any restriction on our movement that day. We have reports to suggest that the members will be detained and not allowed to vote. In case this happens, there is no telling what might happen,” he cautioned.

The reaction of Captain Kanwaljit Singh indicated the upbeat mood in the SAD camp. He said “last time a siege was laid to the holiest of Sikh shrines was in 1984 and the consequences are there for everyone to see. If members and people are not allowed and they decide to do something about it, the onus will rest with the government,” he warned.

Earlier, as the meeting was in progress, activists of the youth wing of the SAD had an altercation with the members and supporters of the seven member committee outside the gurdwara. An ugly situation was averted with the timely intervention by a large police posse.

Talking to TNS, Mr Hardeep Singh Mohali, a spokesperson for the committee said “it was unfortunate that Mr Badal had even refused to meet them. We just wanted to present out views and avert an election. A consensus candidate would be in the interests of both the Panth and the party,” he added.

Meanwhile, the SGPC junior vice-president, Mr Kewal Singh Badal, who has allegedly been

under house arrest in Jagraon since Wednesday evening, became the first beneficiary of the aggressive attitude adopted by former Chief Minister and SAD president Parkash Singh Badal, vis-a-vis the alleged government interference in SGPC elections, when he was whisked away from his residence by Mr Parkash Singh Badal leading a large cavalcade of supporters, NSG commandos and officers of his personal security squad late this evening.

After announcing the policy at Alamgir earlier in the evening, Mr Badal drove down to Jagraon and also offered mediapersons a ride to witness things for themselves. Mr Kewal Singh Badal, a son of former Agriculture Minister Gurdev Singh Badal, was taken away by the SAD president who came with a convoy of more than 10 cars, and took him to some undisclosed destination. The Jagraon police personnel guarding his residence since Wednesday evening had left the house minutes before the SAD chief arrived.

Apparently tipped off in advance, Mr Kewal Singh also did not waste any time and was waiting for Mr Badal. None of the two responded to media queries and left in a jiffy.

Informed police sources said the Jagraon police also got wind of Mr Badal’s ‘raid’, and decided to shift the police personnel from the house. Interestingly, earlier in the day, some commandos were seen guarding the house of Mr Kewal Singh. They were, however, withdrawn later on.

A senior police officer of Jagraon, requesting anonymity, said Mr Badal executed a neat ‘commando-style operation’ but the police had no intention to interrupt since they were only for his security. He said the NSG commandos, police security guards of Mr Badal and his supporters came in a large cavalcade of cars and jeeps and surrounded the house.

The police was taking the statement of Mr Kewal Singh’s family members to ascertain whether he was kidnapped or went away willingly.

While Mr M.S. Chinna, SSP, Jagraon, was not available for comments in the evening, he had, while talking to mediapersons at Ludhiana earlier in the day, maintained that Mr Kewal Singh was not under house arrest and was given police security only as there was threat to his life and property.

He said the police had no intention to stop anybody from meeting Mr Kewal Singh, as he was never under house arrest and was moving in and out of the house at his will. The DGP, Punjab, Mr M.S. Bhullar, had also told mediapersons in Ludhiana after chairing a meeting of senior police officers that the police had given security to SGPC members on their own demand or on intelligence inputs that there was some threat to their life and property.

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