Saturday, November 9, 2002, Chandigarh, India

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Pre-dawn swoop on SAD workers
Hundreds taken into preventive custody, others go underground
Tribune Reporters

An Akali leader courting arrest in Patiala.
— Photo by Subhash Patialavi

Chandigarh, November 8
Hundreds of second-rung Shiromani Akali Dal workers were taken in preventive custody in a statewide swoop by the police early this morning. Former Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition Parkash Singh Badal described the swoop as the “broad daylight rape of democracy and gruesome suppression of civil liberties and rule of law”.

According to reports reaching here, Amritsar was the worst hit where as many as 120 SAD workers were taken in custody. Ferozepore, Faridkot, Ludhiana, Moga, Jalandhar , Patiala, Bathinda, Muktsar and Hoshiarpur also reported large number of preventive arrests.

Interestingly, none of the MPs, MLAs — both past and present — or any senior leader of the party was taken in custody. Hundreds of dal workers, fearing arrest, have gone underground.

The preventive arrests were probably a sequel to forcible “freeing of two SGPC members from the security cover clamped on them by the state” by the dal leaders in Ludhiana district yesterday.

The workers were pulled out from their houses, taken to the police stations and charged with Sections 107 and 151 of the Cr P C. No official version was available.

Talking to “The Tribune” over the telephone, Mr Parkash Singh Badal said this “action of the state government was unprecedented in the history of Punjab. These arrests have proved our fears to be true. Had the SGPC members been in the state, they would all have been taken in custody by the police,” he alleged. He exhorted Punjabis to give a befitting response to this “act of madness”.

He warned all right thinking people against the dangerous implications of the government’s “highly provocative” action. “The future of peace and democracy is at stake. We will have to defend these values with all the force at our command,” he added.

Patiala: Nearly 80 Akali leaders, including former minister Surjit Singh Kohli, former legislator Balwant Singh Shahpur and relatives of two SGPC members were arrested in the district since last night.

The Samana police has also made Samana legislator Surjit Singh Rakhra a virtual prisoner in his house in Rakhra village and raided the house of former minister Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur. However, he was not arrested.

There were some escapes as demonstrated yesterday in Halwara with Rajpura circle jatha president Surjit Singh Garhi jumping off the roof of his house and making away after he pleaded that he be allowed to enter his house to wear his shoes. The Rajpura police then arrested his two sons — Ravinderpal Singh and Devinderpal Singh.

Patiala district police chief Paramraj Singh Umranangal said the police had arrested Akali leaders as a precautionary measure to ensure there was no disturbance in the law and order situation in the state. He said leaders of both the SAD and the SHSAD led by Gurcharan Singh Tohra had been arrested. Mr Surjit Kohli has been a Tohra loyalist, though of late, his relations with Tohra have been waning.

The others arrested at Samana late night and today include Samana circle jatha president Gurdev Singh Bahmana, SGPC member Joginder Singh Panjrath’s brother Jagdish Singh Panjrath, Sarpanch union president Gurcharan Singh Ghangrauli, Kuldeep Singh Naseerpur, Thekedar Mahinder Singh, Mahinder Singh Lalwa and Angrej Singh Lalwa beside few others.

In Patran, former Market Committee president Baljinder Singh Hariau, Akali jatha office-bearer Santokh Singh Khinda, Shatrana legislator Nirmal Singh’s brother Bhupinder Singh and former Block Committee member Mandhir Singh Kamboj were arrested.

In Rajpura, among those arrested were district level office-bearers Pritam Singh Khanpur, Dhyan Singh Saedkheri, Jarnail Singh Saedkheri, Inder Singh Amirpur, Amaritpal Singh, Jaswant Singh Neelpur, Jaswinder Jassi, Hari Singh Garhi, Santokh Singh, Jagjit Singh, Amar Singh, Narinder Singh Sodhi and Sant Singh, besides a few others.

FEROZEPORE: At least 100 workers of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) have been arrested by the police in Ferozepore, Faridkot and Moga districts.

Special police teams were organised to raid the residences of Akali leaders early in the morning.

But according to reports, no influential leader — MLA, MP, district president or former MLA/MP has been arrested. They are said to have gone underground since late evening after the meeting of SAD at Ludhiana.

At least 30 Akalis are reported to have been picked up by the police in the border district of Ferozepore. As per the reports available from Ferozepore police, Harbans Singh Palla, member Zial Parishad, Piara Singh, close associate of Member Parliament Zora Singh Mann, Harnek Singh, member Municipal Committee, Balwinder Singh, sarpanch of Shanke village, Daljit Singh, SAD supporter, Chamkaur Singh, sarpanch Tibbi Kalan village, Surjit Singh, sarpanch Betu Kadeen village, Kartar Singh, former sarpanch of Bhageke village, Amrik Singh of Jhok Harihar village, Sukhdev Singh sarpanch of Mehok Bhatti village and Sarwan Singh, a supporter of SAD were picked up from their residences early in the morning and later shown arrested under Sections 107 and 151.

They were produced before the court of Sub-divisional Magistrate, Ferozepore. The court has ordered to send them to judicial custody till November 22. Gurcharan Singh circle president of SAD Mallanwala was also said to have been arrested by the police.

In Moga district, at least 60 Akalis are said to have been picked up by the police from their residences in Moga, Baghapurana and Nihal Singh Wala sub-divisions. They include Kamaljit Singh, Sant Gurdev Singh Matwani, Rajwant Singh Mallah, Prem Chand, Giani Tarlok Singh, Manjit Singh and others.

FARIDKOT: The Faridkot police, allegedly under directions of the state government raided the residences of the senior Akali leaders last night in this district and arrested a large number of them. Prominent among them are Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar and Mr Pamma Maur, president and secretary general of the District Youth Akali Dal, respectively. Mr Sadhu Singh Gill, Director Land Mortgage Bank, Mr Sukhdev Singh, president, Dalit wing, Mr Mohan Singh, Member Panchayat Samiti, Kotkapura, Mr Makhan Singh, Chairman, Market Committee, Sadiq, Raj Maur, member, Block Samiti, Kotkapura, Mr Chinder Singh and Mr Daljit Singh, both sarpanches, Mr Harmel Singh, Mr Rajinder Singh Maan, Mr Bhola Singh, Master Mukhtiar Singh, Mr Sukhmander Singh Mumara.

Criticising this action, Mr Mantar Singh Brar and Mr Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon SAD MLAs of Kotkapura and Faridkot, respectively, told this reporter on telephone that the police also visited their houses in the wee hours today in search of them, but failed to find them. Mr Ranjit Singh, brother of Mr Brar, was arrested.

Both the MLAs warned the government to stop interfering in the affairs of the Sikh community. They alleged that the government was interfering in the Sikh affairs at the behest of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president of the SHSAD.

Confirming the arrest of the Akali workers and leaders, the police sources said that nearly 40 members had been detained.

Meanwhile, the district police has also tightened the rope around two SGPC members of Faridkot Mohinder Singh Romana and Gurdev Kaur by deploying police officials at their residences.

JALANDHAR: As many as 43 SAD leaders from Jalandhar and about 25 from Kapurthala were arrested.

Former minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur and Gurdip Singh Bhullar, former MLA, were reportedly put under house arrest.

The police said the arrests were made as a preventive measure to avoid the breach of law and order in the wake of SGPC elections scheduled for November 22.

Most of the senior Akali leaders had gone underground while their houses were raided in the wee hours today.

Mr Sarwan Singh told this correspondent that the policemen in “mufti” were keeping vigil around his house since last night and he was being forced to remain inside his house. Besides, his telephone line was allegedly disconnected throughout the night to maintain pressure on him, Mr Sarwan Singh alleged, adding that his telephone calls were being tapped at the behest of the Congress government.

The police raided the house of Gurcharan Singh Channi, general secretary District Akali Dal (Urban), Gurmeet Singh Dadowal, Baljeet Singh Neelamahal, general secretary, Youth Akali Dal, Paramjit Singh Heera, executive member of SAD, Pritam Singh Basti Mitthu, executive member, Kamajit Singh Bhatia, former councillor, G.S. Narula, former Senior Deputy Mayor, Inderjit Singh, former District President SAD, Surjit Singh Azad.

Mr Baljeet Singh Neelamahal, senior Akali leader, who along with his two brothers had gone underground for fear of arrest, talking over phone from an unknown place, alleged that his wife and children were humiliated by the policemen during an “illegal” raid at his house in the wee hours today. “How did the police search my house without any search warrants issued by a court of law? The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, is using the police to facilitate victory for the Tohra camp in the forthcoming SGPC elections,” Mr Neelamahal added.

Senior Akali leaders revealed that they had not been going to their houses for the past many days to escape arrest.

Jalandhar SSP Paramjit Singh Gill, said nearly 40 Akali leaders were arrested.

The arrested persons were being produced in the courts of SDMs concerned.

Mr Rajinder Dhoke, SSP, Kapurthala, also admitted that about 25 leaders had been arrested in the district.

SAS NAGAR: The Ropar police arrested five Akali leaders from SAS Nagar and Kharar today. The five have been sent to judicial custody till November 13.

Three of them, Amrik Singh Mohali, Jagar Singh and Arjun Singh Shergill — were arrested from SAS Nagar subdivision and presented before the SDM here in the evening who sent them to Patiala jail.

Among those presented before the Kharar SDM were Ujagar Singh Badali and Gurbachan Singh. Ujagar Singh Badali of SAD fought the assembly elections from the Morinda constituency while Gurbachan Singh is the Block Samiti member at Naya Gaon.

ROPAR: In this district 12 SAD leaders, including Mr Ujjagar Singh Wadali, a former district president of the SAD; Mr Gurinder Singh Gogi, a senior leader of the Youth Akali Dal; Mr Amrik Singh Mohali, a senior SAD leader and Mr Paramjit Singh Lakhowal, a former member of Zila Parishad, were arrested.

A senior police officer here this evening said more arrests were on the cards. He said Master Tara Singh Ladal, former MLA from Anandpur Sahib and former Punjab minister, had gone underground.

Among others arrested were Mr Heera Singh; Mr Jaspal Singh, sarpanch of Bhalian village; Mr Arjan Singh Shergill from Mohali; Mr Harbhajan Singh from Nawan Graon; Mr Ujjagar Singh of Kurarra village, Mr Surinder Singh from Mataur village and Mr Joginder Singh, sarpanch of Bangian village.

GURDASPUR: More than 60 SAD workers were arrested today under Sections 107 and 251, IPC, in a pre-dawn swoop by the police in view of a call given by the party chief to reach Amritsar by November 10.

Three workers were arrested from Pathankot, three from Sri Hargobindpur, one from Qadian, seven from Kahnuwan, 17 from Gurdaspur, six from Dinanagar, 11 from Dhariwal, three from Kalanaur, two from Dera Baba Nanak and three from Fatehgarh Churrian and four from Batala. No Akali workers has been arrested from the Sujanpur and Narto Mehra Assembly constituencies.

Those arrested included Mr Hardyal Singh Gaznipur, Vice-Chairman, Land Mortgage Bank, Mr Tarlok Singh Dugri, former vice-chairman, Zila Parisahd, Mr Tarsem Singh Malook Chack, former Chairman, Panchayat Samiti, Dinanagar, Mr Gurmukh Singh, vice-president, All-India youth wing of the party, and Mr Balwinder Singh, sarpanch of Langah. Mrs Pushpinder Kaur from Awankha in the Dinanagar Assembly constituency was the only woman to be arrested.

However, no prominent Akali leaders including senior office-bearers of district Akali jatha or former MLAs or serving MLAs were arrested, as they are suspected to have gone underground.

PHAGWARA: Raids were reportedly conducted at houses of Akali leaders in this area early this morning. However, police denied it. Sources said the police failed to pick up any one as the leaders had gone into hiding.

Mr Jarnail Singh Wahid, former member of the PSSSB, Mr Sarwan Singh, former chairman of the local market committee, Mr Jatinderpal Singh, and Mr Satnam Singh Arshi were among those whose places were raided in the pre-dawn sweep.

However, local DSP Harmanbir Singh Gill denied that any raids were conducted.

PHILLAUR: Twelve Akalis of the Badal faction were arrested in Phillaur, Bilga, Noormahal and Goraya in this subdivision early this morning.

Mr Gurmit Singh Daduwal, Mr Kashmir Singh and Mr Gurnam Singh were nabbed by the Noormahal police and Mr Inderjit Singh and Ajaib Singh by the Goraya police.

Circle Akali President Phillaur Baldev Singh, block samiti member Amrik Singh and Sukhwant Singh Rurrki were arrested by the Phillaur police, while Mr Avtar Singh Ramewal, Mr Kulbir Singh, Mr Palwinder Singh and Mr Kuldip Singh were nabbed by the Bilga police.

HOSHIARPUR: The Hoshiarpur police arrested nearly 35 workers of SAD, including some of their office-bearers, early this morning under Sections 107 and 151 of the CrPC. Some leaders could not be arrested due to their non-availability in their houses.

LUDHIANA: In the ongoing arrests and raids against Akali workers all over the state, as many as nine leaders were arrested while five others were let off after questioning.

According to sources, the raids which have been going on since early morning had sent the rank and file of the local SAD unit into panic. The leaders could be seen calling up their colleagues informing the raids at their places and enquiring about the fate of others. Many called up for the intervention and help of senior party leaders.

Those arrested include SAD adviser Vijay Danav, Councillor Balbir Singh Mankoo, former councillor Arjan Singh Cheema, local unit vice president M. S. Mukhi and general secretaries P. S. Dhall and Shivtar Singh Bajwa, Dakha circle chief Satinder Singh Bhanorh and Youth wing senior vice president A S Mallah.

Raids were conducted at the residences of former minister Jagdev Singh Tajpuri, state SAD youth chief Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, former MP Amrik Singh Aliwal, Jagjiwanpal Singh Doraha and youth leaders K. S. Dua and Harjinder Singh Latti.


Bibi booked for power theft
Tribune Reporters

Kapurthala, November 8
The Bholath police today registered a case under Section 379 of the IPC and Section 39 of the Indian Electricity Act against Bibi Jagir Kaur, sitting Akali MLA from Bholath Assembly of the district and former president of the SGPC, on the charge of stealing power from the PSEB line at the Dera Sant Baba Prem Singh Muralewale at Begowal village, 28 km from here.

Bibi Jagir Kaur is also a member of the SGPC from Bholath.

In a press note issued today, Mr R.N. Dhoke, SSP, alleged that the premises of the dera was checked by officials of the PSEB, Kartarpur subdivision. During checking it was found that the dera by putting ‘kundi’ connection on the main line going to Bibi Jagir Kaur’s house was stealing power by bypassing the electric meter.

The SSP said Bibi Jagir Kaur could be arrested any moment.

Mr Rasham Lal, Executive Engineer, Kartarpur circle of the PSEB, said he along with two Executive Engineers of the Kapurthala circle, one SDO and five junior engineers of the PSEB besides other staff raided the dera of Bibi Jagir Kaur at Begowal village following a complaint of power theft on Thursday night and found that dera and one house under construction were getting power supply directly from the main line bypassing the electric metre. Bibi Jagir Kaur was not present at the time of the raid on her dera.

Mr Roshan Lal said a notice of power theft was given to the manager of the dera and a fine of Rs 45,415 has imposed which was paid on the spot. He said this was the second incident of power theft at the dera during the past three months. Earlier the board had charged a fine of Rs 19,199 from the dera for stealing power.

AMRITSAR: Bibi Jagir Kaur has claimed that she has been implicated in a false case to stop her from casting her vote in the ensuing annual election of the SGPC executive, scheduled for November 12.

She succeeded in arriving at the SGPC complex in the wee hours on Thursday through lanes and bylanes by dodging the police. She is the first SGPC member, loyal to Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who reached Amritsar.

Bibi Jagir Kaur claimed she had never indulged in power theft. She said she had been depositing Rs 1 lakh as advance before he annual mela of Dera Prem Singh. She alleged that the state government had stooped so low to hijack the annual poll despite the claims of Capt Amarinder Singh to ensure free and fair election.


2 Punjab cops held in Sirsa
Booked for bid to kidnap SGPC member
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 8
An Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) of the Punjab police and a constable, both posted in Sangat police station, in this district, were arrested by the Sirsa district police yesterday while they were allegedly trying to kidnap a member of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Mr Harpal Singh.

Mr A.S. Ahlawat, SP, Sirsa, Haryana, when contacted on phone, while confirming the arrest of two Punjab policemen said the constable had been identified as Balwinder Singh while he did not remember the name of the ASI.

He added that a case under Sections 364, 511, 506 and 491 of IPC had been registered against them in Rania police station. The case had been registered against them on the complaint of SGPC member Harpal Singh.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that under the “verbal” orders of state police authorities, a number of personnel of Punjab police, Vigilance Bureau and CID wing, had been sent to Haryana to find and subsequently pick up SGPC members who were suspected to residing in various farmhouses owned by former chief minister of Punjab Parkash Singh Badal and other politicians of Haryana.

Information also revealed that policemen of Punjab had been roaming in plain clothes in various pockets of Sirsa district to accomplish the task.

A special cell to chase and pick up the SGPC members, now staying put in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh to evade the pressure being mounted on them allegedly by the Congress government, had been created by the state police authorities. The functioning of the special cell was being monitored by a senior level police official.


Cops won’t be let in: Badungar
Amritsar converted into police cantonment
Tribune News Service

Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC chief, at a Press conference in Teja Singh Samundari Hall, Amritsar, on Friday.
— Photo by Rajiv Sharma

Amritsar, November 8
The holy city of Amritsar has been virtually converted into a police cantonment, with the deployment of 10 companies of Punjab police commandos and heavy police force summoned from other districts, at all entry and exit points even as the DGP, Mr Mehal Singh Bhullar, reviewed the security arrangements today.

The SGPC chief, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, however, warned that the police won’t be allowed to enter the SGPC complex as it was the responsibility of the committee to conduct the poll.

However, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Iqbal Singh Sidhu, and Mr Narinder Pal Singh, SSP, held an informal meeting with SGPC chief and other office-bearers and reviewed the security arrangements in the complex — the venue of the election.

The SSP said that though it was an internal matter of the SGPC, the law would take its own course if any problem arose at the time of the annual election.

Over 100 Akali workers and leaders, including Mr Rajinder Singh Mehta, adviser of SAD, were rounded up in the massive crackdown. Each and every vehicle reaching the city is being checked by the ‘Black Cat commandos’, thereby putting the general public to inconvenience. This is reminiscent of the old days when Punjab passed through a great turmoil.

Nakas at various places have mushroomed overnight despite the claims of Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, to ensure a free and fair election of the SGPC executive scheduled for November 12.

The raids were conducted on the houses of MLAs, former Akali ministers and MPs, including Mr Rajmohinder Singh Majithia, Mr Virsa Singh Valtoha, a former member, Punjab State Subordinate Selection Board, Mr Vira Singh Lopoke and Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala.

Mr Badungar said the Punjab police would not be allowed inside the SGPC complex in the  garb of security. If the police entered the complex Mr Badungar said the action to be taken would be decided there and then.

He said task force was part and parcel of the SGPC which had already been geared up as a routine matter. He urged the state government and the DGP to lift the police nakas around the SGPC complex so that devotees who throng in thousands every day from far-off places do not face any inconvenience.

He alleged that the state government had created a fear in the minds of Akali leaders and common workers. Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, press secretary of SAD, claimed that thousands of Akali workers had been rounded up in one of the most massive crackdowns ever seen in the state.

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