Tuesday, November 12, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



A day of legal battles
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
While Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his men in the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and his men in the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal were busy making sure that their “loyalist” reach Amritsar well in time for the crucial SGPC executive committee election tomorrow, legal battles continued in New Delhi, Chandigarh and Amritsar.

At stake in these legal battles were the fates of some of the lawyers themselves who happen to be either members of the SGPC or hold positions in the SGJC. And those following Sikh politics evinced lot of interest in the proceedings at all the three legal fora, including the country’s highest court.

In fact, it was a clarification issued by the Supreme Court in the afternoon that set the ball rolling . It was this order passed early in the afternoon that helped dispose of a number of petitions as well as some orders passed today by the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission.

The clarification issued by Mr Justice Y.K. Sabharwal and Mr Justice N.K. Swami and received by the local office of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee around 1.45 p.m. was well in time when the Bench headed by the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court reassembled at 2 p.m. to continue hearing all the 12 petitions filed by SGPC members who had been debarred by the SGJC from participating in tomorrow’s meeting.

The clarification was produced before the Bench by Mr Hardev Singh Mattewal, a former Advocate-General of Punjab, who was representing the petitioners.

The clarification or a further order of the apex court was considered necessary as Mr Kashmir Singh Patti, president, Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission, had been granted leave. The court also issued notice on stay application besides directing status quo as on October 25 to continue on the judgment of the constitution Bench of the High Court. The matter came up today as the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee sought clarification of the October 25 order.

After hearing the parties, the apex court clarified that order of October 25 would not preclude the high court to examine the legality and validity of the notification of July 5, 2002, issued by the Government of Punjab, Department of Elections. It is not in dispute that the legality and validity of the said notification was not subject matter of consideration before the high court in the impugned judgment nor for the consideration in the present appeal.

“The High Court will be free to examine the legality and validity on its own merit and shall also be free to pass such order as it may deem fit or proper without in any manner influenced by order of October 25,” the clarification said. Once it was produced the arguments started on the petitions filed by SGPC members against the SGJC orders.

Interestingly, some of the eminent Sikh lawyers, representing different parties, arguing the case included Mr Harbhagwan Singh (Advocate-General - Punjab Government), Mr Paramjit Singh Patwalia (Mr Kashmir Singh Patti), Mr Manjit Singh Khaira (Chief Minister, Punjab), Mr Navkiran Singh (Mr Harminder Singh Gill, the complainant before the SGJC).

While arguments started in the high court about the validity of the orders of the SGJC, the commission at its office in Amritsar continued hearing petitions against seven more members of the SGPC and later ordered to debar all seven members. The high court restrained the commission from debarring any more SGPC members besides allowing all 12 members, already debarred by it, to attend tomorrow’s general house meeting and cast their votes. Their votes shall, however, remain sealed in envelopes and shall not be counted towards the result tomorrow.


7 more pro-Badal men debarred
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 11
In an unprecedented move, the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC) has written to the Chief Secretary to appoint an observer for conducting a free and fair poll of the SGPC executive, while restraining seven more members, loyal to Mr Parkash Singh Badal, from functioning as SGPC members.

With this, the number of the members who stand debarred from participating in the poll, scheduled for tomorrow, has gone up to 12.

The seven members are Mr Darshan Singh Kaunta, Mr Dilbagh Singh, Mr Bakshish Singh, Master Preet Singh, Mr Shingara Singh Lohian, Bibi Darshan Kaur Tufaan and Bibi Kamlesh Kaur. They have been restrained from functioning as SGPC members under the provisions of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925.

Earlier, the commission had issued similar orders against Mr Sucha Singh Langah, a former Akali minister, Mr Jaswinder Singh, advocate, Mr Bhagwan Singh Dhamot, Mr Dara Singh Zira and Mr Kashmira Singh Gandiwind.

With this, the strength of the SGPC members, whose support has been claimed by the Badal faction, has been reduced by 12 members. Mr Hardip Singh Mohali, a spokesman for the seven-member “non-aligned” committee, has claimed that it has the support of 95 members, even as the Badal faction claimed that it had more than 100 members with it.


Badal authorised to name candidate

Amritsar, November 11
A meeting of SGPC members of the Shiromani Akali Dal here this evening authorised party chief Parkash Singh Badal to nominate the presidential candidate and other office-bearers to be fielded for tomorrow’s election of the SGPC Executive Committee.

Mr Badal told reporters after the meeting that 102 members were present, but the number was expected to be between 108 and 110 as some members had gone to pay obeisance in the Golden Temple. PTI


Sonia should apologise: Badal

Amritsar, November 11
Former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and SGPC members on his side today demanded “an unconditional apology from Congress President Sonia Gandhi for the Punjab Government’s interference in the religious affairs of the Sikhs”. UNI


87 with us: Tohra faction

Amritsar, November 11
The Akali factions, led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, today made conflicting claims about their respective strength in the Sikh apex religious body, a day ahead of the crucial elections to the executive of the SGPC here tomorrow.

While Mr Badal claimed the support of 108 members in the premier Sikh body, including 98 who flew into the city this afternoon in a chartered flight, Mr Tohra’s loyalist Mahesh Inder Singh Garewal, a former minister in the previous Badal government, claimed the support of 87 members, adding, “They are in a meeting with Tohra Sahib at Youth Hostel in the city.’’ Mr Garewal countered Mr Badal’s claim, saying that only 72 members were flown into the city this afternoon.

The general house of the SGPC is now left with 176 voting members after the death of nine members since 1996 when general elections to the body was last held. Five Sikh high priests are ex-officio members of the body, but without any voting right. UNI


Talwandi joins hands with Tohra
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 11
The Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) today received a shot in the arm when former SGPC chief, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, joined the Tohra group on the eve of SGPC elections.

Lashing out on the arrival of central observers for SGPC chief’s elections, Mr Tohra while talking to mediapersons termed it as a “direct interference of the Centre in the Sikh religious affairs” by the NDA government. He said Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister, who was crying hoarse about the state government interference in the Sikh religious affairs had now brought in central observers to “meddle” in the religious affairs of Sikhs.

Claiming the support of 95 SGPC members in a House of 176, he said 40 members from the Badal group have approached him and promised to cast their votes in favour of consensus candidate by the seven-member non-aligned group.

On the deployment of forces around the temple, he said Mr Badal himself had invited it by issuing provocative statements about “bloodshed” and taking 30,000 persons to Amritsar on polling day. The entry of the police into the SGPC complex yesterday is a lergacy of Mr Badal in whose reign the police had entered the complex several times in the past, he added.

Mr Mal Singh Ghuman, convener of the non-aligned group, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, former MLA and a number of SGPC members were among those present today.


Badungar holds the key
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
If anybody holds the key to tomorrow’s crucial general house meeting of the SGPC to elect its new executive for 2002-03, it is its President, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar.

He is going to preside over tomorrow’s meeting. Since the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed that all 12 members, who were earlier debarred by the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGPC) from participating in the annual general meeting, would attend the meeting and cast their votes, it would be the discretion of the SGPC chief whether to declare the results of the elections scheduled for tomorrow or wait for the verdict of the court till November 26.

In case Professor Badungar is convinced that one faction is clearly ahead of the other group in the voting, he could well declare the result even after assuming that entire 12 votes cast by the otherwise debarred SGPC members would go in favour of one group or the other without being able to alter the result, he could declare it or even hold it back. The discretion will be solely his.

UNI adds: Mr Badungar tonight said he or the SGPC would not cooperate with the election observer appointed by the Punjab Government for tomorrow’s SGPC presidential poll.

The state government, through a notification by the Governor of Punjab, has appointed Nawanshahr Deputy Commissioner Ashok Gupta as observer for the crucial poll tomorrow. The notification directed SGPC president to cooperate with the observer to facilitate him to do his job properly.


BJP leaders show black flags
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
Outwitting the local police, the top leadership of the BJP led by state unit chief Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, staged a black flag demonstration in front of the official residence of Capt Amarinder Singh here.

All the demonstrating BJP leaders were arrested and taken to a nearby police station where they were released on bail by the S D M, Mr Prithi Chand. Among the arrested were: Mr Rinwa, and Mr Lajpat Rai, M.P. (Rajya Sabha).

Before taking the BJP leaders in police vehicles, policemen had a verbal duel with the leaders. An SHO of the UT police reportedly roughed up Mr Vineet Joshi, media in charge of the BJP. Senior leaders took away Mr Joshi from the grip of the SHO.

A handful of policemen immediately swung into action and lined up across the road to stop BJP leaders march towards the main entrance of the CM’s residence.

The BJP had invited mediapersons to their office in the MLA hostel (Number 4) at 12.30 p.m. Quickly mediapersons were told by Mr Avinash Jaiswal, that BJP leaders were going to hold a demonstration in front of the CM’s residence.

On being stopped a few yards short from the residence they started raising slogans against Capt Amarinder Singh. The immediate provocation to hold the demonstration was reports that the Punjab government had allegedly directed its transport officers not to allow the BJP to hire buses and trucks for its rally at Tarn Taran on November 13.

In a letter to the Chief Minister, the BJP leaders have accused him of playing with hard-earned peace in the state. They have condemned the imposing of Section 144, Cr.P.C, in Punjab; house arrest of SGPC members, and crackdown on Akali workers, among other things.


Evicted devotees have no place to go

Amritsar, November 10
With the administration issuing orders on immediate vacation of ‘serais’ in the Golden Temple complex and hotels in the 500-metre vicinity of the shrine, a large number of devotees are now stranded and have no place to go for the night.

Though the orders were passed by the District Magistrate this afternoon, but in an early morning swoop by a police party headed by DSPs Jagdish Khera and R.S. Ghuman in the rest house areas of the temple complex, devotees were asked to vacate the four rest houses in the complex.

These rest houses-Guru Ram Dass Serai the oldest, and the three new ones, Guru Hargobind Niwas, Mata Ganga Niwas and Guru Arjan Dev Niwas — are located in the area housing the administrative offices of the SGPC that is the Teja Singh Samundri Niwas where the annual elections the SGPC are to be held tomorrow.

A group of schoolchildren from Paonta Sahib in Himachal Pradesh and another group of children from Andhra Pradesh have packed their baggage and left Guru Ram Dass Niwas following the orders of the district administration.

Likewise, there were a number of foreign tourists who had booked rooms and were staying in Guru Hargobind Niwas. They, too, had to leave after the orders were passed.

According to SGPC officials, individual ‘akhand paths’ by families are held at different places in the rooms and shrines inside the main Golden Temple complex and many of these devotees had to vacate their rooms in the ‘serais’.

The administration, when contacted, claimed that they had held a meeting with the hotel owners in the 500-metre vicinity of the Golden Temple four days back and conveyed their instructions, but a certain owner, who preferred not to be named claimed he came to know of the order only when certain mediapersons contacted him this morning.

Meanwhile, the police has erected barricades in the Brahmbuta Market area leading to the serai area where the elections are to be held and even outside the Clock Tower entrance and entrances on the Atta Mandi and Baba Atal sides.

According to eyewitness reports and pictures captured by satellite camera channel operators, police in plainclothes is present in strength inside the main Golden Temple complex and the ‘serais’ and had even occupied rooms in hotels which were issued vacation orders. UNI


Mann’s challenge to Badungar
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, November 11
The SAD (A) President, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, flaying the ‘siege’ of the Golden Temple complex and ‘illegal’ vacation of three serais — Guru Nanak Niwas, Guru Hargobind Niwas and Mata Ganga Niwas — by the police today, stated this morning that he was prepared to defy prohibitory orders promulgated under Section 144, Cr PC in Amritsar, provided SGPC chief K.S. Badungar accompanied him.

He claimed the serais had been vacated for the first time since these were built and the action of the Amarinder Singh government was “most unjustified and bound to boomerang”. 


High priests’ concern over siege
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 11
Jathedar of Sri Akal Takht Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti and four other Sikh high priests today took serious note of the conditions prevailing during the election of the SGPC chief, which has vitiated the religious atmosphere.

In a meeting at Akal Takht, they expressed grave concern over the police siege to the Golden Temple complex and massive barricading of roads leading to the temple.

They warned that such measures by the government would only lead to the worsening of conditions and added that all members of the SGPC were cautioned to keep the panthic values intact and adhere to religious ethics at all costs.

This was stated in a press note signed by Jathedar of Akal Takht Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Giani Jagtar Singh, granthi, Sri Darbar Sahib, Giani Manjit Singh, jathedar, Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, Giani Bhagwan Singh, head granthi, Sri Akal Takht Sahib, and Giani Mal Singh, granthi, Sri Darbar Sahib.


Golden Temple, SGPC complex segregated
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 11
The state authorities have erected new barricades with blinds to segregate the Golden Temple from the SGPC and sarais complex. The move has surprised SAD leaders and SGPC officials. Rajya Sabha member and son of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Sukhbir Badal, feared that the police might attempt to kidnap their members in the night.

A large number of police personnel have been deployed on the 65-feet-wide road dividing the Golden Temple from the SGPC complex.


DC: no cops in temple complex

Amritsar, November 11
The Amritsar district administration has categorically denied that any Punjab police personnel entered the Golden Temple complex. At a joint press briefing here today, Deputy Commissioner Iqbal Singh Sidhu stated that they had clear directions from the Chief Minister to maintain the sanctity of the Golden Temple complex under all circumstances. UNI


Police action has ‘hurt’ Sikhs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
Justice A.S. Bains, President, Punjab Human Rights Organisation and Mr Gurdarshan Singh Grewal, Professor of History, Panjab University, in a joint statement have said that “ the indiscreet and unwarranted action of the Punjab government of sending the police into the Darbar Sahib complex on the pretext of maintenance of law and order has hurt the sentiments of the Sikh community”.

“ At the behest of the Congress high command, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has played into the hands of the forces that have always been keen to justify operation blue star “.


SGPC poll: Dera Bassi DSP shifted
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, November 11
Unable to prevent the escape of an SGPC member, Mr Dhyan Singh Jharmari, the Punjab police has transferred Deputy Superintendent of Dera Bassi police to the Punjab Police Academy, Phillaur.

The Punjab police had given the responsibility to Mr Balwinder Singh Brar, DSP, to keep a watch on the activities of Mr Jharmari. The police had also provided security to Mr Jharmari at his native Jharmari village near Lalru. Despite round the clock security, Mr Jharmari eluded the police and escaped to rejoin the SAD.

For the alleged lapses in the security of Mr Jharmari, the police authorities shifted Mr Brar to Phillaur and Mr Joginder Kumar, from Phillaur, was appointed as DSP in Dera Bassi.

Taking a serious view of the lapses in restraining Mr Jharmari from joining the SAD and not arresting and prominent local Akali leaders, highly-placed sources in the police disclosed that some other police personnel with Dera Bassi and Lalru police stations were likely to be transferred.

It may be recalled that Mr Jharmari had escaped after eluding a Head Constable, a constable and an SPO deployed by the police with him on November 5 afternoon. The SGPC member had eluded police personnel and escaped in casual dress.

After his arrival in Sonta village near Ambala he addressed a press conference and joined some other Akali leaders in Balasar in Hisar.

Mr Jharmari was a member of the seven-member committee constituted by Mr Mal Singh Ghuman to give a jolt to the SAD. Sources said that Mr Jharmari was promised to provide some money and jobs to his two kin by the SHSAD and the Congress. Mr Jharmari rejoined the SAD (Badal) after the SHSAD and the Congress failed to keep the promise. It is also learnt the SAD offered him about three times more money promised by the SHSAD which led him to rejoin the Badal group.



SGPC member Bhutiani ‘missing’
Our Correspondent

Ahmedgarh, November 11
Mr Joginder Singh Bhutiani, member, SGPC, has not returned home since Saturday morning. Family members suspect the police for ‘picking’ him. However, district police chief has refuted the charge.

The police had put a vigil at Mr Bhutiani’s house, after Professor Badungar visited him twice.

The police had reportedly stopped Mr Bhutiani from going to Paball to meet Mr Baldev Singh Mann, a close confidant of Mr Surjit Singh Barnala.

Mr Bhutiani’s wife said, “We are more worried about his health. He is on medication after having had kidney transplant”. Mr Amandeep Singh Rai, Senior Superintendent of Police, Sangrur, and Mr Rajbachan Singh Sidhu, DSP, Malerkotla, have refuted the charge.


Jailed SGPC member released to vote
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, November 11
The District and Sessions Court has ordered to release Tarlochan Singh Mamdot, member of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), to let him go to Amritsar under police protection so that he can cast his vote in the elections to the president and the executive body of the SGPC.

He was under judicial custody in a case of fraud registered against him in a paddy scam but was presently admitted to the local Civil Hospital after complaints of health problems.

After hearing the request of Tarlochan Singh through his counsel, the District and Sessions Judge, Mr M.M.S. Bedi ordered to take him to Amritsar under police protection so that he could cast his vote in the elections of the SGPC.

He was released from the hospital. A huge number of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) members, under the leadership of Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, accompanied Tarlochan Singh to Amritsar.

Talking to TNS, Tarlochan Singh condemned the state government’s action to get security forces enter the Golden Temple complex. “This has hurt the Sikh sentiments”, he said.

In a reply to a question, he announced that he would vote for the candidate backed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal to protect the interests of the Sikh panth. The decision was taken after meeting with Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal at Civil Hospital today.


Arrest of Jagir Kaur, Brahmpura stayed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has stayed for seven days the arrest of former SGPC President Bibi Jagir Kaur in an alleged case of electricity theft. In a related matter, Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall of the High Court has stayed the arrest of Punjab MLA Ranjit Singh Brahmpura.

Taking up the petition filed on behalf of BIbi Jagir Kaur, Mr Justice Nijjar on Sunday evening ruled: “It is stated by Junior Assistant in the DRR Section of the High Court that the matter was directed to be placed before me for my hearing at my residence on the specific orders passed by Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi. Apparently none of the other Judges, who are to hear applications for anticipatory bail during the Divali vacations, are available”.

The Judge further ruled: “I have heard counsel for the petitioner at length. He has submitted that FIR number 157 dated November 7 has been registered against the petitioner at Bholath police station under Section 379 of the IPC, and Section 39, along with 43 of the Electricity Act. According to counsel, the FIR is false and concocted”.

The Judge concluded: Since the matter is already sub judice before Kapurthala’s Additional Sessions Judge, it would not be proper for this Court to make any comment on the merits of the case. At the same time, the submission made by counsel with regard to the apprehension of the petitioner of being taken into custody cannot be lightly brushed aside. In view of this, the petitioner’s arrest is stayed for seven days....”

Seeking the grant of bail, Bhrampura had earlier expressed apprehension that he would be implicated in a case as the government wanted to tarnish his image due to oblique political reasons. The MLA had added that the government had adopted a revengeful attitude towards its opponents and members of the Akali Dal in order to arrest them in false cases.

Going into the background of the case, his counsel had added that the tactics were being used against the petitioner for demoralising the supporters of Shiromani Akali Dal so as to help the All India Shiromani Akali Dal during the forthcoming elections to SGPC’s executive committee.

Notice of motion

A Division Bench of the High Court on Monday issued notice of motion on a a public interest litigation filed by a social organisation — Movement Against State Repression — alleging that governments in the state of Punjab had failed in their constitutional duty to provide adequate loans to the farmers resulting in an alarming increase in the cases of suicides in the rural areas on account of debt trap.

The organisation had claimed that in absence of adequate government financial agencies in rural Punjab, the farmer were being pushed into the hands of private money lenders and commission agents who were charging high rates of interest.

They had added that as per a study carried out by them, the cases of suicides by the farmers had increased by as much as 250 per cent. They further added that some agro scientists had even predicted a total collapse of the agricultural sector in the state of Punjab within the next 20 years.


Notice issued to state on bail plea
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, November 11
Bibi Jagir Kaur, former President of the SGPC and at present a sitting member of the SGPC and SAD MLA from Bholath, today appeared in the court of Mr Zora Singh, Additional Sessions Judge, in connection with a bail application under Section 438, CrPC, filed by her on November 8 to obtain anticipatory bail in a power theft case registered against her at Bholath police station.

The Additional Sessions Judge on the bail application issued notice to the state for November 11 but declined to stay the arrest of Bibi Jagir Kaur.

On refusal of interim stay on her arrest, Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, in his order of November 10, stayed the arrest of Bibi Jagir Kaur till November 17 on her petition and also directed her to appear in the court of Mr Zora Singh at 10 a.m. Mr Justice Nijjar also directed the Additional Sessions Judge to decide Bibi Jagir Kaur’s anticipatory bail application by November 17. In compliance with the order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Bibi Jagir Kaur today appeared in the court at 10 a.m. along with her counsel and produced the order before the Judge. Mr Zora Singh, after marking the presence of Bibi Jagir Kaur in the case in the court, adjourned her bail application for arguments to November 14.

A heavy police force was deployed outside the court complex in anticipation of Bibi Jagir Kaur appearing in the court today. The Bholath police on November 10 obtained an arrest warrant for Bibi Jagir Kaur in a power theft case.

Talking to newsmen outside the court complex, Bibi Jagir Kaur condemned the Punjab Government for allowing the police to enter the Golden Temple complex.

UNI adds: Meanwhile, the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC) on Monday adjourned the hearing of two separate petitions filed against SGPC President Kirpal Singh Badungar and former SGPC President Bibi Jagir Kaur till December 9 and December 5 respectively.

The supporters of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) had filed a petition against Bibi Jagir Kaur before the two-member SGJC on November 8 pleading that she be debarred from taking part in the November 12 annual SGPC poll as she was facing a CBI probe on charges of ‘murdering’ her daughter.


Defence properties being misused
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, November 11
Following President’s nod, the decision of the Ministry of Defence to vacate all defence properties from civilians within the limits of cantonment areas in the country, a few startling facts have surfaced in the Ferozepore cantonment area where most of the properties have long been misused by the allottees to gain profits.

In connivance with senior officials of the Army and the cantonment board, in the past few decades most of the bungalows allotted in the Ferozepore cantonmen area have either been sold, sublet or used for commercial purposes, thereby violating the general order issued by the Governor-General in Council No. 179, dated September 12, 1836. These orders are still applicable to the old grants issued by the Government of India within the limits of the cantonment areas in the country.

According to details available, the defence authorities have prepared a list of bungalows in the Ferozepore cantonment area being misused for profits or political activities. Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, Political Adviser to the Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr Ravinder Singh Babbal, Congress MLA from Ferozepore cantonment area, Mr Sukhpal Singh Nannu, BJP MLA from the Ferozepore city area, the DIG, Ferozepore Range and the CEO, Cantonment Board, are among illegal occupants, who the defence authorities say, will have to vacate their houses.

Sources in the Army revealed that a major portion of the defence land was granted to Karwa brothers, way back before Independence, but either sold or gave away the bungalows on rent illegally. Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi has recently got bungalow No. 101 on rent from the family of Rattan Chand Karwa without approval from the Ministry of Defence.

He has illegally renovated the house without sanction from the Cantonment Board.

The house tax of the bungalow as per official record of the Cantonment Board is still having paid by the Karwa family while Rana Sodhi has managed to enter the house allegedly with political influence.

Similarly, bungalow No 22-A belongs to Mr Nathu Ram who regularly pays house tax to the Cantonment Board, but it illegally occupied by Mr Ravinder Singh Babbal, MLA of the ruling Congress from Ferozepore cantonment constituency. He is also carrying out political activities from this bungalow. Bunglow No. 49 built in 8.3 acres originally stands in the name of Nawab of Mamdot from whom it was purchased by former MLA Girdhara Singh’s family. At present, he resides in this house along with his adopted son, Mr Sukhpal Singh Nannu BJP MLA from the Ferozepore city constituency. The defence authorities say this bungalow is being misused for political activities.

The late Rattan Chand Karwa, who owned most of the defence property, had also sublet bungalow No. 24 to the Punjab police to accommodate the office and residence of the DIG, Ferozepore range, and bungalow No 22 to RAW. Neither the state government and the police nor RAW and the Union Government pay house tax to the Cantonment Board.

Other bungalows/properties that have been sublet, illegally sold or are being used for commercial activities are Nos 19, 27, 36, 43, 53, 54, 69, 71, 72, 77, 78, 79, 82, 84, 86, 88, 109, 111, 113 and 163.

A senior official in the Army here revealed to TNS that the process to regain the defence property had begun, with formal orders to resume bungalow No. 84 already reached with the Army authorities here. The rehabilitation Department of the Punjab Government has illegally occupied this bungalow since the past many years. The Ministry of Defence has recently served a notice of vacating this bungalow on the Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore, and all construction works going on have been stopped with immediate effect. Interestingly, the compensation sanctioned by the Ministry of Defence in lieu of acquiring this bungalow is just Rs 50, 400.

Mr Parshotam Lal, CEO, Ferozepore Cantonment Board, told TNS that the general order issued by the Governor-General in Council No. 179, dated September 12. 1836, clearly stated that the Government of India reserved the right to resume defence property at any time on giving one month’s notice and paying the value of such buildings.

Section 6 (2) of these orders clearly states that the defence land belongs to the government and cannot be sold by the allottee except for a military or medical officer to anyone.


Sarpanch, panch held for fraud
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 11
Mr Mahal Singh, Sarpanch, and Mr Nachhattar Singh, member panchayat of Phulokhari village of the district, who along with others including some officials of the Panchayati Raj Department of the state government, were involved in fraud of panchayat funds, have been arrested by the Talwandi Sabo police.

Police sources said after Mr Mahal Singh and Mr Nachhattar Singh were arrested, the court remanded them to police custody.

A case under Sections 409, 465, 467, 471 and 120-B of the IPC and Sections 13 (1) (D) and 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered against the accused on September 22, after they were found guilty of having embezzled more than Rs 40 lakh of panchayat funds in the inquiry conducted by the Executive Engineer, the Panchayati Raj and the District Development and Panchayat Officer. The complaint against the accused had been lodged by Mr Tara Singh to the Deputy Commissioner, M Anurag Verma.

Sources said while only four persons had been named in the FIR registered on September 22, there was likelihood of involvement of more officials. Sources said the Panchayat of Phulokhari village had received more than 1.25 crore as compensation from the Punjab Refinery Project authorities, which had acquired its land and of these more than Rs 40 lakh were eaten up.

After the embezzlement of Rs 40 lakh was established by two different officers, Mr Verma wrote to the Block Development and Panchayat Officer, (BDPO), Talwandi Sabo, to recover the amount from Sarpanch and panchayat member, Mr Mahal Singh and Mr Nachhattar Singh, respectively. The Deputy Commissioner also wrote to the Director, Department of Rural Development and Panchayat, Punjab for action against Mr Narinderjit Singh, and Mr Thana Singh, panchayat secretary. He had also urged the Director to take action against sarpanch and the guilty panchayat member.

According to the inquiry report submitted by the said officers, the accused had purchased material for the construction of buildings in the village in excess and in a very short period at exorbitant prices without taking any quotations of competitive prices, with an intention to embezzle money and favour those who knew them.

The Sarpanch and the panchayat member had also failed to maintain the muster roll properly. The accused had shown payments to draftsman for making site plans of the buildings without having sanctions for the same from the authorities concerned. For the purchase of furniture, the accused had entered more expenditure in the register than what they had actually paid to the supplier.

The accused had also shown expenditure on earthworks which ran into lakhs even as the same was to be conducted free of cost. The accused had shown payment to tractor owners for construction activity as well as 5,000 litres of diesel was shown to be used in tractor for construction. The inquiries had also revealed that technical and financial instructions were given to the Junior Engineer, the Panchayat Secretary and other officials of the BDPO office by the higher authorities including constructing the boundary wall of the government middle school, construction of a dharamshala for Scheduled Castes and regarding some repair works to the carried out on the government buildings had not been followed.

Even the measurements in books of civil works were not maintained properly by officials concerned.


List of 31 officers given to police
Our Correspondent

Ropar, November 11
The management of the Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant (GGSSTP) here today passed on to the Ropar police the names of 31 officers who allegedly passed and verified the bills of labour contractors between 1997 and 1999 in which the EPF scam occurred. The reliable sources told this correspondent besides the names of the engineers and accounts officials serving in the plant, the GGSSTP management has also passed on to the police the copies of the work orders and other memorandums related to the EPF scam.

The sources told that interestingly recent list of accused officers prepared and passed on to the police by the GGSSTP management even exceeds the number of officers held guilty by the PSEB vigilance. The PSEB vigilance has accused 28 officers for dereliction of duty. However, the recent list prepared by the GGSSTP management has added three more names to the list of accused officers.

The SSP Ropar, Mr GPS Bhullar, admitted that the plant authorities have sent a reply to the information asked for by the GGSSTP. About booking the officers who passed and verified the allegedly fake bills of the labour contractors, the SSP said that the investigating officer SP (Headquarters), Mr Varinder Pal Singh, would first scrutinise the information provided by the plant authorities before taking further action. 


Police remand of Pherurai sought
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 11
The state Vigilance today produced former SSP Gurcharan Singh Pherurai in a local court here to get his police remand in a case registered against him for paying money to former PPSC Chairman Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu to get his son and a daughter selected for different posts.

Pherurai was produced in the court of Mr Ranjit Kumar Jain in connection with the FIR number 68, registered against him in the PPSC case. It has been alleged that the former SSP paid money to get his son and a daughter selected as a Deputy Superintendent of Police and a PCS officer, respectively.

The court has put off the petition till tomorrow. Meanwhile, Pherurai is being put up at the local Central Jail here. He had been brought from Ludhiana to be produced in the local court.


Guru Nanak’s teachings hold good’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 11
Noted Sikh authority Dr Bhai Harbans Lal of the United States of America today said the concept of oneness of the human race propounded by Guru Nanak Dev was most suitable for 21st century.

Delivering a special lecture at the Department of Guru Granth Sahib Studies on Punjabi University campus here, Dr Lal said Guru Nanak Dev had propounded a prophetic and revealed religion that was suitable for the coming centuries. 


14 idols installed at Achleshwar
Our Correspondent

Batala, November 11
Fourteen idols have been installed at the Achleshwar temple 6 km from here on the Batala-Jalandhar road yesterday. The Achleshwar festival is to begin on November13, 2002.

The idols installed are of Ganesha, Shankara, Parvati, Ram Durbar, Radha-Krishan, Nandigan, Jagdamba Kartik Swami, Shani Dev and, Lakshmi-Narain.

Mr Pawan Kumar Pamma and Mr Haveli Ram, trustees, Shri Achleshwar Mandir Trust, said the idols cost the trust Rs 14 lakhs.


Action sought
Our Correspondent

Taran Taran, November 11
Harjinder Kaur, a resident of the town, in a letter to the higher police authorities has demanded action against her husband Waryam Singh, a PAP personnel. 

She has alleged that Waryam Singh had got married to another woman and turned her out of the house for bringing inadequate dowry.


Telefilm on minister

Fatehgarh Sahib
The shooting of a telefilm on the life of Dr Harbans Lal, Minister for Forests, being produced by an NRI, Mr P.S. Kamal, started at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib on Monday.

Mr Kamal, producer of the telefilm along with Prof P.S. Nirola, director, said that 26 Punjabis living in the country had been identified from different fields for shooting 26 episodes of the tele serial on their lives at a cost of Rs 1 crore. They said that these tele serials would be telecast on Doordarshan and other private channels in India and abroad OC


4 die in accident

Moga, November 11
Four persons were killed in a head-on collision between a bus and a car at Jogewalan village on the Moga-Ferozepore road, 15 km from here, this morning.

All occupants of the car — Shyamlal, Tara Devi, Renu Sayal and Pushpa Devi — died on the spot. They were going to Ludhiana. The police has registered a case against the bus driver. UNI


Two dead

Moga, November 11
Two persons were killed and one was injured when an Army vehicle hit their scooter near Ajitwal under Mehna police station on Monday. 

A woman, Tejinder Kaur, and her 12-year-old son, Inderjit Singh, died on the spot, her husband, Kamaljit Singh, was grievously injured. PTI


Crop diversification in Muktsar
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, November 11
To diversify the crop pattern, wheat will be cultivated in 1.84 lakh hectares as compared to last year’s 1.93 lakh hectare in the district.

Ms Usha R. Sharma, Deputy Commissioner, while presiding over a meeting of the Agriculture and Development Committee here today, said farmers had been motivated to adopt diversification to break the wheat-paddy-cotton rotation. She said the Agriculture Department had supplied 1,254 quintals of certified seeds at the rate of Rs 1,100 per quintal to farmers in the district.

She said 9000 hectares in the district, which were under wheat last year, would be used to cultivate oilseeds, barley, gram and winter maize. She said as compared to last year’s 3000 hectares, oilseeds would be sown in 8,000 hectares this year. She said farmers had been given 1,300 kits of PBR-91 variety of mustard. Each kit contained one-and-a-half kg of mustard seeds. These had been given free of cost.

Besides, the Agriculture Department has been successful in getting 200 exhibition plants of mustard sown. Farmers sowing these plants would be given Rs 800 per plant as monetary help.

Under the contract farming, mustard would be sown in 500 acres as per an agreement with the Adventa company.

Ms Sharma said while area under gram cultivation last year was 300 hectares, this year gram would be sown in 1,000 hectares. She said 1000 mini-kits of gram seeds had been given to farmers free of cost. The area under barley cultivation would be doubled this year.

Ms Sharma asked officials of the department to motivate farmers to sow crops by using strip-and-bed till drills. She claimed that by using these, farmers could save Rs 800 per acre.

Mr Major Singh Brar, Chief Agriculture Officer, said there would be no shortage of fertilisers, pesticides and seeds in the district. He said raids would be conducted to check the sale of spurious seeds, pesticides and fertilisers.

He said so far 93 samples of fertilisers, 158 of pesticides and 140 of seeds had been taken. He said of these, two samples of fertilisers, 12 of pesticides and nine of seeds had failed. He said legal action would be taken against the guilty.

Mr Brar said the PBW 343 variety of wheat should be sown till November 21 while the PBW 138 and PBW 103 varities should be sown till December 15.


INLD postpones ‘kisan panchayat’
Our Correspondent

Abohar, November 11
The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) has postponed its “kisan panchayat” scheduled to be held outside the Fazilka Cooperative Sugar Mills here at Bodiwala Peetha village tomorrow.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the INLD here last night. It is understood that the imposition of Section 144 all over the state in connection with the election of the SGPC president by government was one of the reasons for indefinitely postponing the protest dharna.

The farmers were taking their sugarcane crop to the mills in a big way. They had been assured of quick processing and payments. Meanwhile, the mills had received sanction from the government to sell last year’s sugar stocks in open market.


Postings and transfers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
Some postings and transfers were ordered in Punjab today. Mrs Romila Dubey is Principal Secretary, Department of Cultural Affairs, Archives, Archaeology and Museum and CEO, Anandpur Sahib Foundation. She relieve Mrs Geetika Kalha of the additional charge. Mr Vivek Pratap Singh is Director, Cultural Affairs, Archives, Archaeology and Museum and Director, Tourism, and Additional Secretary Cultural Affairs, Archives, Archaeology and Museum.

Mr Jaswant Singh, PCS, under transfer as Additioal Secretary, Excise and Taxation is Additional Secretary, Education, vice Pribhjot Singh Mand, PCS, who goes as Additional Secretary, Excise and Taxation, as per a press note by the Chief Secretary.


Dividing road belongs to corporation: DC
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 11
Even as the road which divides the Golden Temple and the SGPC complex was a thoroughfare till the early eighties, the SGPC always considered it as part and parcel of the Darbar Sahib complex. That is why two pillars erected by the SGPC were demolished by the district administration in 1982-83.

However, the SGPC has been maintaining the road for a long time, including cementing it. The popular conception about the dividing road is that it has always remained in the possession of the SGPC and nobody objected to it when the task force regulated the traffic on the road even as it technically belongs to the municipal corporation.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Iqbal Singh Sidhu, maintains that the road belongs to the municipal corporation and can not be a part of the SGPC complex as devotees can walk here with their shoes on.


Restriction orders in Muktsar
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, November 11
Ms Uhsa R. Sharma, District Magistrate, has imposed various restrictions in the district through separate orders issued today.

As per the first order, a male cannot ride pillion on a two-wheeler (except on a bicycle) between 10 pm and 5 am.

A ban has also been imposed on the assembly of five or more persons, and shouting of slogans. For holding rallies, permission from the SDMs concerned is necessary. However, the ban is not applicable to religious places, satsang or marriage parties.

According to another order, shops will remain open between 9 am and 8 pm while liquor shops in urban areas will be open between 9 am and 8 pm those in rural areas will be open between 8 am and 7.30 pm.

Ms Sharma has banned rehris on the Kotkapura road, the Bathinda road and the Railway road in the city.

The orders will remain in force till January 2, 2003.


Suicide cases on rise
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, November 11
The number of suicides by youths in the district is on the rise. In a majority of such cases reported in civil hospitals, aluminium phosphide tablets were consumed by the victims. These tablets are easily available in the market and are used to protect the wheat stock from insects.

Post-morterm on 144 was performed at the local Civil Hospital during the past six months, of which 39 cases pertained to suicide. Dr G.P.S. Bedi, Senior Medical Officer, Civil Hospital, told this correspondent here today that of the 39 victims, 21 were girls or women. All victims were in the age group of 18 to 40.


Body found
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 11
A body was found from a distributary at a place between Poohla and Lehra Mohabat villages, about 18 km from here. The condition of the body showed that the person might have been murdered and the body thrown into the water channel.

The deceased was about 40-45 years old. His feet and neck were tied with a cloth. Volunteers of a local NGO, Sahara Jan Sewa, fished out the body from the distributary.

The Nathana police has registered a case under Sections 302 and 201 of the IPC.


Non-govt colleges’ plea to Amarinder Singh

Jalandhar, November 11
Dr Ishwar Singh, president of the Non-Government Colleges Management Federation (NGCMF), Punjab and Chandigarh, today strongly criticised the step-motherly treatment being meted out to non-government colleges by the state government.

Addressing a news conference, Dr Ishwar Singh said the decision of the Punjab government to freeze the grants at the level of 1999-2000 and to scale down by 10 per cent every year has thrown the non-government colleges in a grave financial crisis, as the salary of all non-government colleges have been doubled on account of introduction of new pay scales. He appealed to Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to immediately order the withdrawal of cut in grants and update the grant -in-aid scheme on the basis of annual claims of the colleges for 2002-2003.

Dr Ishwar and Principal Subash Kumar, General Secretary of the Federation, pleaded for the implementation of the pension-cum-gratuity scheme in respect of teaching and non teaching staff as per the Punjab Government decision taken in 1996.

They also expressed serious concern on the decision of the government to shift the plus one and plus two classes from the colleges to the schools with effect from the coming session.

They appealed to the Chief Minister and the Education Minister to immediately hold a meeting with representatives of the management, principals and the teaching and non-teaching staff. UNI


Teachers’ union postpones stir
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, November 11
The Government Primary Teachers Association, Punjab, has postponed its proposed demonstration to be held at Jalandhar on November 12 in protest against the new policy of the state government to November 16, 2002, according to a press note issued by Mr Mohinder Heer, president of the association, here today.

According to the new policy, promotion channels of more than 10,000 primary teachers, head teachers, central head teachers and the Block Primary Education Officers will be affected.


UGC funds to be based on NAAC certification
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 11
Funding by the University Grants Commission (UGC) will now be based on the certification given by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC).

Disclosing this here today upon arrival to inspect the Government Mohindra College here, which is the first government college in the state to be assessed by NAAC, the organisation’s Academic Consultant, Dr Geeta Iyengar said in future institutions accredited with NAAC would be given additional funds by the UGC.

Dr Iyenger said the process and methodology adopted by NAAC had gained nationwide acceptance and till date 296 institutions, including 70 universities and 226 colleges, had been accredited by the institution.

She said the certification was valid for a period of five years and added Guru Nanak Dev University and Punjabi University had been accredited by NAAC.

The NAAC expert said a two-member team of academicians, including Prof Bhoomitra Dev, former Vice-Chancellor of Gorakhpur and Rohilkhand Universities, and Prof K S Chalam, Professor of Economics and Director of the Academic Staff College, Andhra University, would assess the institute over a period of two days from tomorrow. 


Resentment among traders
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 11
Mr Ashok Garg, president, Punjab Yuva Beopar Mandal, has condemned the Punjab government for giving tremendous powers to officials of the Sales Tax Department. They could misuse these powers, fears Mr Garg.

Mr Garg said that the traders were facing financial crunch due to slump in business. The new policy would add to their miseries. He said traders could be sent to jail or fined, for a small mistake in keeping the accounts.

Mr Garg said that the traders could hold dharnas, rallies in the state if the demand was not accepted.


World Bank team meets officials
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
A three-member World Bank team today opened a dialogue with Punjab, officials. The state had sought financial assistance for social service and poverty alleviation projects.

The World Bank team, comprising Mr Vikrma. K. Chand, a Senior Specialist in public sector management, Ms Indra Rajarama, specialist in fiscal reforms and Mr Deepak Ahluwalia, met with administrative secretaries concerned in the departments of Finance, Information Technology, Public Health, Panchayat and Rural Development and Financial Commissioner, Development.

During the day, the State Planning Board Vice-chairman, Dr S. S. Johl, also met Mr Ahluwalia. The team is scheduled to meet with the Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh, for wrap-up session later.


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