Tuesday, January 28, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Murder cases to be registered: CM
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 27
Capt Amarinder Singh, Punjab Chief Minister today declared that murder cases would be registered against all those found responsible for the deaths of poor kidney donors.

Talking to reporters after the convocation at Khalsa College for Education here, Capt Amarinder Singh said his government won’t spare anybody, including police personnel and doctors, involved in the kidney scam. He said the SIT had been given a free hand to expose those who had conspired in the multi-crore kidney trade. Expressing concern about the plight of poor persons who had been lured to sell their organs by the nexus, the Chief Minister described these as acts of criminal nature.

The Chief Minister announced that a high-level committee, headed by the Chief Secretary, had been constituted to prepare fresh guidelines for organ transplants for hospitals, doctors and donors. He said he had directed the Chief Secretary to make these guidelines transparent. The Chief Minister said the racket had shaken the confidence and faith of the public in the medical fraternity. He said it was shocking that doctors were hand in glove with anti-social elements to make money. “Without mentioning Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister, he said he was responsible for hushing up the racket as FIRs were quashed twice at Tarn Taran during the SAD-BJP regime.

Replying to a question about the Panchkula episode, Capt Amarinder Singh claimed that this had not dented the image of his government. He said after the submission of the Bhagat Singh inquiry committee’s report, appropriate action would be taken.

On the economic front, the Chief Minister said the prestigious Rs 16000-crore Bathinda refinery project was not being shelved as reported in a section of the press. He said he had written two letters to the Prime Minister and was also in touch with the minister concerned.

Commenting on the Centre’s special economic package for Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, the Chief Minister said he had taken up the issue with the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister for immediately announcing such a package for the state.

The Chief Minister said the economic reforms introduced by his government last year had started yielding results and hopefully funds would be available to accelerate the pace of development. He said Asian Development Bank had already agreed to provide seed money for undertaking the diversification of agriculture.

Ruling out the possibility of the privatisation of the PSEB, he said the government had received the report suggesting ways and means to improve its efficiency. He said the PSEB Officers’ Association would be taken into confidence before making changes in the board.

Earlier, the Chief Minister, while delivering the convocation address, said he strongly favoured that English should be taught from Class-I and a debate was already on in this regard.

Meanwhile, Mr Surinder Kumar Billa, president, All-India Hindu Shiv Sena, has sought the handing over of the investigation in the kidney scam to a sitting judge of the Supreme Court.


Kidney scam: middleman held
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 27
In a breakthrough, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) today arrested Baljit Vickey who had allegedly lured a minor Bagicha Singh, son of a granthi, to donate his kidney for a police inspector posted at Chandigarh.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, meanwhile, reportedly issued fresh instructions to the SIT in connection with the kidney scam during his visit to the city today.

Mr S.K. Sharma, IG (Jalandhar), told ‘The Tribune’ that Vickey had met Bagicha Singh at the Golden Temple and lured him to donate his organ in lieu of the job of a driver. Bagicha Singh was allegedly forcibly taken to a Jalandhar Hospital after getting his hair cut and shown as a migrant, ‘Raju’. The unfolding of this case had rocked the state. This is one of the cases in which Dr O.P. Mahajan, the then Chairman of the Authorisation Committee and suspended Principal, was indicted.

Mr Sharma pointed out that the interrogation of Vickey might throw more light on the nexus between doctors and middlemen. Meanwhile, it is learnt that Capt Amarinder Singh was briefed about the progress of the investigations into the kidney trade by the SIT.


State-wide Republic Day celebrations
Jacob’s stress on new strategies in farm sector
Tribune Reporters

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 27
The 54th Republic Day function was celebrated at Mata Gujri College Stadium here yesterday. Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd) unfurled the National Flag and took the salute from contingents of the Punjab Armed Police, Punjab Police, Home Guards and NCC cadets.

In his address, the Governor cautioned the people of the state against the nefarious designs of Pakistan, which is fighting a proxy war by sponsoring cross-border terrorism. Speaking about Punjab, General Jacob said the state had suffered tremendously during the past decade due to terrorism but the people here had given it a befitting reply to maintain communal harmony in the state. He felicitated the people of Punjab for participating actively in the Assembly elections last year. They had reaffirmed their faith in the democratic values, he added.

General Jacob underlined the need for new strategies in the agriculture sector by diversification of cropping pattern with focus on research in agriculture and biotechnology. Lauding the role of farmers, General Jacob said that despite drought in the state last year, farmers had produced 121 lakh metric tonnes of paddy and had contributed 70 per cent wheat and 48 per cent paddy to the Central pool.

General Jacob said the industrial policy being framed by the state government would focus on the IT sector and biotechnology, besides developing infrastructure at a rapid pace. Talking about measures taken for the welfare of Scheduled Castes, the Governor said that 5-marla plots were being provided to homeless Scheduled Castes families and Rs 20 crore would be provided to over 8000 such families. He said the old age pension scheme would be restored soon after carrying out a proper survey. The Governor said that the Punjab Government has focussed on providing good governance and an all-out battle had been launched to provide a transparent and corruption-free government.

SANGRUR: While unfurling the National Flag at the Republic Day function at the local War Heroes Stadium on Sunday, Capt Amarinder Singh, Punjab Chief Minister, announced that in view of increasing demand for jobs by the youths, his government would soon raise two Indian Reserve Battalions (IRB). In the battalions, youths from the state would be recruited, purely on a merit basis.

Capt Amarinder Singh also stated that his government wanted to create an atmosphere of merit-base appointments. He said recruitments through the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) would start soon and only competent and meritorious candidates would be selected by it. He further said the state government would also announce its new industrial policy at the earliest. This policy would be investor-friendly and would promote industry in the state in a big way.

The Chief Minister also said his government had started old-age and widow pensions from January 1. He said during the survey of old-age and other pension beneficiaries, the government had detected 1.09 lakh bogus pensioners who have been drawing Rs 28 crore annually.

He also mentioned his government’s multi-crop, multi-year contract farming scheme to promote the diversification of crops and get rid of wheat-paddy rotation.

The Chief Minister also held the previous SAD-BJP government responsible for allegedly ruining the state’s economy. He said his government had been making sincere efforts to uplift the state’s economy.

MOGA: Republic Day was celebrated here with traditional fervour and gaiety. Social Welfare Minister Santokh Singh unfurled the National Flag and took salute from contingents of the Punjab police, “NCC and Home Guards. Mr Santokh Singh highlighted the achievements of the Punjab Government in various fields.

PHILLAUR: The local SDM, Mr Sandeep Hans, hoisted the National Flag at an impressive function on Republic Day at Govt. Senior Secondary School Phillaur on Sunday.

MALERKOTLA: Mr Pardeep Kumar Sabharwal, SDM, unfurled the National Flag at the Republic Day function at a local Dr Jakir Hussian Stadium on Sunday. He took salute from contingents of the Punjab Police, Home Guards, NCC, scouts and guides.

PHAGWARA: Parliamentary Secretary (Cooperation) Punjab Gurwinder Singh Atwal on Sunday unfurled the National Flag at a subdivisional-level function here to celebrate Republic Day. Local MLA Joginder Singh Mann was also present on the occasion.

NAWANSHAHR: Mr Avtar Henry, Industries and Commerce Minister, unfurled the Tricolour and took salute from the contingents of the Punjab Police, Home Guard jawans and NCC cadets here at the district-level Republic Day function on Sunday. HOSHIARPUR: Republic Day was celebrated here with great enthusiasm at the local Police Grounds on Sunday. Mr Kirandeep Singh Bhullar, Deputy Commissioner, unfurled the National Flag and took the salute from the BSF, Punjab Police, Home Guards, ex-servicemen, NCC cadets, scouts and guides. Mr Bhullar said the District Administrative Complex was being built at Hoshiarpur with a cost of Rs 31.98 crore.

HOSHIARPUR: Republic Day was celebrated here with great enthusiasm at the local Police Grounds on Sunday. Mr Kirandeep Singh Bhullar, Deputy Commissioner, unfurled the National Flag and took the salute from the BSF, Punjab Police, Home Guards, ex-servicemen, NCC cadets, scouts and guides. Mr Bhullar said the District Administrative Complex was being built at Hoshiarpur with a cost of Rs 31.98 crore. 

KAPURTHALA: Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, Irrigation Minister, unfurled the National Flag at the local Guru Nanak Stadium on the occasion of Republic Day. He took salute from contingents of the Punjab police, NCC and scouts. Mr Bhullar distributed 10 tricycles, three wheelchairs and 18 sewing machines among needy and physically challenged persons.

AMRITSAR: Patriotic fervour marked the Republic Day celebrations here on Sunday. Mr Jagjit Singh, Minister for Local Bodies and Parliamentary Affairs, unfurled the National Flag and took the salute at Guru Nanak Stadium. Talent search competitions were conducted on the occasion at Alexandra High School. Bishop Pradeep Kumar Samantroy unfurled the National Flag on the occasion.

GURDASPUR: Mr Khushhal Bahl, Education Minister, unfurled the National Flag here on Sunday to mark the 54th Republic Day celebrations. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Bahl said that the year 2003 is being celebrated by the Punjab Government as the year of development. He said education standards would be raised in the state so that the wards of economically weaker sections get quality education. In this regard, Rs 112 crore was being spent for infrastructure development in the Education Department and social welfare schemes were being implemented.

JALANDHAR: The state government has earmarked a sum of Rs 900 crore for the upgradation of healthcare facilities and setting up of dispensaries to extend medicare to the needy. Speaking on the Republic Day celebrations at Guru Gobind Singh Stadium here on Sunday, the Punjab Health Minister, Mr Ramesh Chander Dogra, said the state government with the help of a grant of Rs 817 crore from the World Bank, would provide potable water to all parts of the state.

ROPAR: The Minister of Transport, Mr Tej Prakash, honoured 40 persons of the district for excelling in sports, social work and official duty at the Republic Day function organised here on Sunday.

NABHA: The 54th Republic Day celebrations were organised here at the local Government Ripudaman College. The MLA of Nabha, Kaka Randip Singh, unfurled the National Flag. Eminent freedom fighters of the town were honoured on the occasion.

BATALA: Mr Ashwani Sekhri, Minister of State for Industries and Tourism, unfurled the National Flag at Batala on Sunday on Republic Day. Mr Sekhri said that new industrial policy in the state would be investor-friendly and would have special package for border districts of Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Ferozepore.

Women waiting for their turn for getting sewing machines on Republic Day
Women waiting for their turn for getting sewing machines on Republic Day in Bathinda on Sunday. — Photo by Kulbir Beera

BATHINDA: Mr Mohinder Singh Kay Pee, Technical Education and Industrial Training Minister, Punjab, unfurled the national flag here on Republic Day. The Red Cross Society distributed 25 tricycles to handicapped persons and 56 sewing machines to widows. Students of different schools presented a cultural programme. A march past was also organised.

Republic Day was also celebrated at Rampura Phul and Talwandi Sabo, where the respective Sub-Division Magistrates unfurled the National Flag. Mr K.K. Batra, Regional Provident Fund Commissioner-II, unfurled the National Flag at Sub-Regional Office of Employees Provident Fund Organisation on Republic Day on Sunday. The DCC celebrated Republic Day at the local Congress Bhavan.

MUKTSAR: Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, Housing and Urban Development Minister Punjab, distributed tricycles to five handicapped persons and honoured 20 persons for their achievements in fields like education, sports, social service etc on Republic Day. Mrs Angrej Kaur, mother of a soldier, who sacrificed his life while fighting terrorists in Kupwara in Jammu and Kashmir was also honoured with a citation.

ABOHAR: Mr Sajjan Kumar Jakhar, president, District Ferozepore Congress Committee, unfurled the National Flag at a largely attended function at Gandhi Chowk here on Republic Day. Mr Sunil Jakhar, MLA, presided over the function. A cultural evening was arranged in Jhamku Devi Senior Secondary School Mehrana Dhora village near here on the occasion. Mohit, Jasmine, Sushila, Neeraj, Manpreet and Rachna topped in various song and dance competitions.

MANSA: Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Rural Development and Panchayats and Agriculture Minister, Punjab, unfurled the National Flag at the local Government Nehru Memorial Postgraduate College on Sunday. Ms Bhattal paid rich tributes to the martyrs who sacrificed their lives in the struggle for the independence of the country. She said while the anti-corruption campaign of the government would continue, the government would pay special attention towards the development of the state.

BARNALA: Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, Minister of State for Removal of Grievances, hoisted the National Flag on the occasion of Republic Day at a colourful function organised at the local new grain market complex. Mr Sharma, who was the chief guest on the occasion, inspected a guard of honour and took salute from the contingents of the Punjab Police and NCC cadets. Mr Sharma honoured 33 freedom fighters of the region on the occasion.

FARIDKOT: Residents of the town showed little interest to witness the 54th district-level Republic Day function held at the local Nehru Stadium on Sunday. Only a few hundred people, mostly officials of different government departments besides students of various educational institutions, attended the function. The SAD leaders abstained from the function to express resentment against the “atrocities” being committed by he Punjab Government against senior Akali leaders and ministers on false and fabricated charges. Ms Vinita Prasad, wife of the Deputy Commissioner and chairperson, Welfare Section Hospital, distributed 14 sewing machines and 10 tricycles to the needy donated by the District Red Cross Society Faridkot.


Vigilance picks up MC chief for interrogation
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, January 27
The district Vigilance Bureau today picked up Mr Satish Sharma, President, Municipal Committee, Dhariwal, at 10 a.m. from his medical shop at Dhariwal and took him to an undisclosed place for interrogation.

Official sources said Mr Avtar Singh, a Municipal Commissioner of the Dhariwal Municipal Committee, along with his associates, including Brij Bhushan, Marshall, Rakesh Pal Gautam and Manjit Singh, had lodged a complaint with the Deputy Commissioner and the Punjab Vigilance Bureau Chandigarh, levelling allegations of misappropriation of development funds by the President.

The Deputy Commissioner, after receiving the complaint, deputed the Subdivisional Magistrate, while Vigilance Bureau deputed the DSP (Vigilance), Gurdaspur, to hold an inquiry.

The sources said while the SDM’s inquiry was in progress, the DSP (Vigilance) had found that the charges levelled against the President were true.

It was alleged in the complaint that the President had misappropriated development grants for the construction of the Langah market, Janjh Ghar and the paving of streets. The allegations regarding the use of substandard material during the construction of the Langah market and Janjh Ghar have been established after an inquiry, the sources said.


Block samiti members picked up: SAD
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 27
While the SAD said today that the Punjab police had picked up its elected members of the block samitis on the eve of the elections of chairpersons and vice-chairpersons of these bodies, the state government denied the allegation.

Elections of the office-bearers of 140 block samitis will be held tomorrow under the supervision of the respective Deputy Commissioners. A notification on the elected office-bearers will be issued before February 4, the day the elections of chairpersons and vice-chairpersons of Zila Parishads will be held.

SAD General Secretary Kanwaljit Singh said police parties raided various places in the past 24 hours to arrest elected members of block samitis belonging to the party. He alleged that Mr Jagdip Singh Jangpura, a block samiti member from Rajpura, was picked up from Patalpuri Gurdwara in Kiratpur Sahib in Ropar district, where he had gone to immerse the mortal remains of his father . Capt Kanwaljit Singh said that police entered the gurdwara, violating its maryada.

He appealed to the Jathedar of Akal Takht to take suitable action in this connection. Capt Kanwaljit Singh claimed that five other members — Hari Singh Garhi, Ms Tapinder Kaur, Ms Surinder Kaur, Mr Lajja Ram and Mr Sunheri Lal — had also been picked up. “I have got reports about police raids from Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and other parts of the state”, he added.

The state government denied the SAD allegations.


Mann recognises Nandgarh
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, January 27
Mr Balwant Singh Nandgarh, who was recently appointed Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib by the SGPC, today got recognition from Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, Akali Dal (Amritsar).

Talking to TNS, Mr Mann said the Jathedar had been given recognition by his party after he responded in the affirmative to a question, which was posed to him (Jathedar Nandgarh) on January 17 on issues pertaining to political and religious aspects of Sikhism.

Though Mr Mann claimed that during his meeting with him today, Jathedar Nandgarh favoured the sending of Sikh jathas to Pakistan, the implementation of the 1973 Anandpur Sahib Resolution, the implementation of the 1946 resolution of the SGPC in connection with the creation of a sovereign Sikh state, which was moved by the then member, Mr Balwant Singh Kukkar and the inclusion of the word “Sikh Panth” in the resolution passed by the SAD at Moga in 1996, Jathedar Nandgarh said the creation of a sovereign Sikh state was not feasible now.

Meanwhile, Mr Mann said he would put these questions to the Jathedars of other takhts as per his party’s policy. He added that his party was in favour of the implementation of the Nanakshahi Calendar.

SANGRUR: Mr Simranjit Singh Mann has expressed concern about the handcuffing of Dr Sareen and Dr Mahajan, suspects in the kidney scam, while they were in judicial custody.

In a letter to the Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, Mr Mann stated “our party is perturbed to learn that the two doctors have been handcuffed in judicial custody, which has never been done so far except for during the Beant Singh Government which also handcuffed me in judicial custody while I was in Patiala jail during his regime”.


Cong infighting comes to fore
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 27
Infighting in the Congress came to fore when Mr Om Parkash Soni, who had joined the party after being elected as an independent MLA, organised parallel Republic Day function, here yesterday.

Addressing the function, Mr Soni pointed out that he was an aspirant for Congress ticket from Amritsar for the parliamentary election from where senior party leader R.L. Bhatia had been elected for the past six terms. Mr Soni’s remarks caused a flutter in the party circles and the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh had to state that the party would seek report in this matter.


SAD meeting tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 27
A meeting of the SAD officer-bearers, including district presidents, MLAs, MPs and members of the SGPC will be held at Gurdwara Alamgir, near Ludhiana, on January 29 to discuss the latest political situation.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal will preside over the meeting.

The case of Prof Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, who has been sentenced to death in a bomb blast case, will also be discussed at the meeting, according to Mr Iqbal Singh Tiwana, secretary of the party.


RSS ‘Shaurya Samaroh’ sparks controversy
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 27
The RSS announcement to honour 600 of members and their family members at Amritsar, for saving thousands of Hindus from the clutches of ‘Muslim goons’ during partition, has kicked up a controversy.

The venue of the function has not been announced but it will be announced on January 29. The move is being seen as an attempt at uniting Sikhs and Hindus against Muslims.

The proposed function ‘Shaurya Samriti Samaroh’ has invited strong opposition from Sikh organisations which view with suspicion the real agenda of the Sangh Parivar.

The Dal Khalsa has sought a ban on the RSS function aimed at reviving the traumatic happenings of Partition and pitting one minority against another. The Shiromani Akali Dal (Mann), the all-India Sikh Youth Akali Dal, president Mr Karnail Singh Panjoli, Mr Kanwar Pal Singh secretary, Dal Khalsa in a joint statement to the SSP through the Deputy Commissioner have threatened a protest in front of the venue of RSS function for playing with the sentiments of people in the border city which has witnessed enough bloodshed for more than a decade.

Criticising those opposing the proposed function BJP leader Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla said these ‘unpatriotic’ persons/ leader were familiar neither with the history of Partition nor felt the pain of sacrifices by the RSS and others who died for freedom. Meanwhile senior CPI leader Satya Pal Dang, charging the RSS with pursuing an agenda of “Hindu rashtra” against cultural nationalism, said the Sangh parivar’s intention was clear as it would desire followers of other religions to be second class citizens.


Martyrs remembered
Tribune Reporters

Patiala, January 27
The Tricolour was unfurled by the Punjab Assembly Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, at the YPS stadium here on the occasion of Republic Day yesterday.

Speaking on the occasion, he called upon the people to maintain communal harmony and paid tributes to martyrs Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru. Ten widows were presented with sewing machines and hearing aids were distributed among hearing-impaired persons.

The day was celebrated with verve at several other places across the city. Republic day was celebrated as National Integration Day at Government Senior Secondary School, Lachkani village, near here. A demonstration on the typical recipes of different regions and states was also held to mark the occasion.

The PSEB celebrated the day at its headquarters by organising a colourful function. Mr S.K. Anand, member (operations) hoisted the Tricolour and inspected a guard of honour presented by jawans of the Vigilance and Security wings of the PSEB.

Mr S.S. Boparai, Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, unfurled the national flag on the university campus to mark the occasion. Students of the University Model School presented a P.T. show. Among those present on the occasion were Mr R.N. Pal, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Dr U.C. Singh, Dean (Academic Affairs), Dr Param Bakshish Singh, Registrar, and Dr N.S. Kapoor, Dean (Students Welfare).

Functions were also held by members of the Uttaranchal Sabha and the Garhwal Sabha and the staff and students of Government Middle School, Kheri Manian.

Mr Ashok Baijal, Chief Administrative Officer of Diesel Component Works (DCW), unfurled the national flag at the DCW complex.

Mushaira held: A multi-language mushaira was organised to mark the Republic Day celebrations at the Central Library auditorium here on Sunday. The mushaira was organised by Mehak Cultural Forum.

Nashir Naqvi’s patriotic poems were appreciated by the audience. Shams Tabreji, S. Anjum and Subash Sharma also recited verses from their poems. Mrs Sukhminder Kaur and Satinder Walia, city-based poetesses recited poems based on terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.


Brahmpura to get 7-day notice before arrest
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 27
Taking up a petition filed by Punjab MLA Ranjit Singh Brahmpura seeking the grant of anticipatory bail, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the issuance of a seven-day notice if the petitioner was required to be arrested. The Court had earlier extended the stay on arrest till today.

Seeking the grant of anticipatory bail, the MLA, in his petition, 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 the Shiromani Akali Dal so as to help All-India Shiromani Akali Dal during the elections to SGPC’s executive committee.

Plea dismissed

The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday dismissed a petition filed by Baba Piara Singh Bhaniarawala — accused of sacrilege — seeking directions to the state of Punjab and other respondents for restoring his dera reportedly established in the 80s.

In his petition, the baba had also sought damages of Rs 5 crore for illegal demolition of religious institution. Directions for prohibiting the respondents from interfering in the performance of religious and spiritual activities of the dera were also sought.


Body to defend Bhullar formed
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, January 27
Various religious and political leaders of Sikhs today formed a ‘Forum for the Defence of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar’. The forum has been constituted to set the ball rolling for a series of collective actions to protest and appeal against the Supreme Court verdict awarding the death sentence to Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar in the 1993 Delhi bomb blast case. Justice A.S. Bains will be the Convener of the forum and Mr D.S. Gill its Coordinator.

The Sikh congregation also decided to send a delegation to meet the President, Mr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, and the Union Home Minister Mr L.K. Advani, at the earliest in this regard.

It was decided that the delegation led by former Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal will move a mercy petition before the President.

This resolution was passed following a strongly worded public appeal by former Jathedar of Akal Takht, Bhai Ranjit Singh to Mr Prakash Singh Badal on the occasion, stating that it is ‘‘he and he alone who will be heard at the centre.’’ The appeal was accepted by Capt Kanwaljit Singh, General Secretary Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), who stated that his party was ready to rise above all political differences and take full responsibility of leading this protest movement at the Centre.

All possible aspects of the Devinder Pal Singh case were discussed during the meeting. It was decided that the group of lawyers working with various human rights organisations formulate a separate petition focussing on the two main points that India’ had promised Germany when Bhullar was deported from Germany that he would not be subjected to capital punishment and that the main accused in the case, Daya Singh lahoria, had already been acquitted.


With no cable TV, DD ‘shines’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 27
With the deadlock between cable TV operators and the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) yet to be broken subscribers were forced to watch DD.

Cable TV remained disconnected for the third day today, with some sections of the city getting to watch only four channels. Residents said cable operators were not providing them with the service even though paying up to Rs 200 per month. Mr Narinder Mittal, father of two school going children, said with cable TV unavailable to them, the children were devoting more time to their studies. He said it was difficult for parents to force the children to study or stop them from watching TV.


Mill owner remanded in custody
Our Correspondent

Barnala, January 27
Mr Jagnahar Singh, Additional CJM, Barnala, today remanded Rajvir Singh of Durga Rice Mills, the prime accused in the Barnala rice scam, in judicial custody till February 10.

Following the expiry of the police remand, Rajvir Singh was produced in the court. The police pleaded for the extension of the remand but the magistrate sent him to judicial remand. Earlier the Barnala police had conducted raids on godowns of Markfed, Punjab Ware Housing Corporation and Punjab Agro here. The police had sealed 14,000 of the 27,000 bags of rice.


Bhattal’s assurance to farmers under debt
Our Correspondent

Mansa, January 27
“No farmer will be arrested due to failure to repay the bank loan received for agriculture purpose as announced by the Chief Minister Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh”. This was stated by Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Rural Development and Panchayats and Agriculture Minister, Punjab, while talking to mediapersons here yesterday.

Ms Bhattal, was reacting to a news report published in the columns of this newspaper yesterday. She said she would talk to the authorities concerned who had taken the step of arresting five farmers of the district, out of whom three were released as they made the payment to the local Primary Cooperative Agriculture Development Bank.

She said three-tier panchayati system would be strengthened in the state and to achieve it, the elections of Chairmen of panchayat samitis and zila parishads would be held on January 28 and February 5, respectively.

She further said facilities under the Rural Development Scheme (RDS) would be provided to 500 villages before March 31. She said training camps would be organised to educate all persons concerned to apprise them of their rights and duties, and state government officials would be sent to Gujarat for training on the pattern of the said state. She said all 12,360 villages of the state would be brought under the new RDS during the tenure of the present Congress government in the state.

She said Rs 155 crore had been released for making 50 per cent payment of old-age pensions. She further said Rs 10 crore had been embezzled by village sarpanches during the erstwhile SAD-BJP government out of which Rs 10 lakh had been recovered.

She said 5 marlas plot would be allotted to houseless persons belonging to the economically weaker section of the society. Earlier, on Saturday, a cultural programme “Chirrian Da Chamba” was organised by the District Cultural Society in Kamboj Theatre here which was presided over by Ms Bhattal.


One arrested on cheating charge
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, January 27
The police has arrested Harjinder Singh, a resident of Batala, on a charge of cheating persons on the pretext of sending them abroad. Mr Kulwinder Kaur, his mother, who is an alleged conspirator, is still at large.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, talking to mediapersons here today said Mr Gurdial Singh, a resident of Sohal village in this district, had complained that Kulwinder Kaur and her son, who are relatives of his elder brother, came to his house in March, 2002, and persuaded them to pay Rs 3 lakh for sending his nephew Satnam Singh, to Italy. The complainant alleged that he had paid the money to the accused in instalments but neither his nephew reached Italy nor the amount paid refunded.

The SSP said Gurdial Singh stated that Satnam Singh along with five others were sent to Lebanon on July 1, 2002. Mr Gurdial Singh said he received a letter on September 21 from his nephew that he along with 10 youths from Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana had been deported to Pakistan where they are lodged in a Quetta jail.

Meanwhile, officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Indian embassy in Pakistan are in contact with the Pakistan authorities to assure early release of the youths, said Mr Gurdial Singh.


Police role in flesh trade: panel summons 3 ASIs

Moga, January 27
The Punjab State Women Commission has started an inquiry into the alleged involvement of three police officials of Kot Kapura in Faridkot district in flesh trade in the area.

On a complaint of two girls from Kot Kapura, the Chairperson of the commission has directed the Faridkot police chief to ensure the presence of three police officials Harpreet Singh, Sukhdev Singh and Sarbjit Singh (all ASIs) before the commission at Chandigarh.

The victims (two girls) in separate complaints had alleged that the cops were “hand in glove with CIA staff, Faridkot, and two other women of the area and they with the help of these two women forced poor girls into prostitution”.

One of the victims alleged that the police officials frequently visited houses of these women who arranged girls for them. The other victim alleged that the police had detained her brother-in-law on September 28 after she refused illicit relations with some cops. Her brother-in-law was released after receiving Rs 10,000 in bribe. PTI


Sacked cop Budh Singh remanded in police custody
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 27
A case under the Excise Act was registered against Budh Singh, a dismissed Punjab Police inspector, for possessing liquor. He was remanded in police custody till Monday by a court here on Saturday in a case registered against him under the Prevention of Corruption Act last evening.

Budh Singh, was in the news for violating human rights including the stripping of a woman in front of her son in the police station here including in extortion intimidation and theft and enjoying “political patronage” in the past, was arrested yesterday by the Vigilance Bureau for having wealth disproportionate to known sources of income. He has been facing more than six criminal cases in different police stations at Bathinda and Mansa districts.

A case against him was registered under Section 13 (1) E read with Section 13 (2) 88 of the Prevention of Corruption Act in the vigilance bureau police station, Bathinda for having wealth worth Rs 16.75 lakh between January 1, 1987 to December 31, 1998, which was disproportionate to his known sources of income. During this period Budh Singh spent Rs 21,58,024 against his income of Rs 4,82,695.

According to the documents seized from his house by the Vigilance Bureau, Budh Singh had purchased land worth lakh of rupees in Thandewala village of Muktsar district, in Bhadurgarh village Jattian in Bathinda district and in Muktsar town.

Mr Baljinder Singh Grewal, SP (Vigilance), said that bank accounts of Budh Singh were being examined. He added that more information in connection with other assets acquired by Budh Singh through illegal means was being also collected.


UGC team
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 27
A 10-member UGC team led by Dr Parmod Talgeri arrived at Punjabi University today to take stock of the teaching and research activities.

A university statement here said the team would be in the university till January 30. It said the faculty had been geared up to highlight its accomplishments in the area of research in various disciplines. It said the team was expected to visit all teaching and research departments.

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