Tuesday, February 18, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Amarinder Singh for probe by retired SC Judge
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, February 17
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh said here today that his two ministers, named in a call girl racket claimed to be busted by the Gujarat police yesterday, would not cooperate with the police if a case was registered against them. Stating that he had no faith in the CBI who could be asked to look into the matter, the Chief Minister informed that his party would request for an independent investigation by a retired Judge of the Supreme Court.

Addressing mediapersons following a function here, the Chief Minister vehemently defended Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa and Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, stating that there was no question of taking any action against them or asking them to quit office even temporarily. ‘‘The whole issue has been stage-managed and timed in the wake of the Himachal elections. Give me one day and I can get a similar case registered against Mr Narendra Modi himself here in Punjab. The police always knows which women are involved in such things and all one has to do is get them to take someone’s name. Does Mr Modi want us too to stoop to that kind of politics?’’ he said.

When pointed out that this the second set of charges similar in nature against the two ministers, the Chief Minister said, ‘‘That in itself proves that the police is being used to defame our government. I stayed in the same hotel along with three other chief ministers, there was half the national press there. The corridors were buzzing with security men. And why does the police come up with all this now? Were they sleeping these three months? This all just means that one thing. Mr Modi is coming to Himachal tomorrow and he wants a talking point.’’

When asked if his own statements against Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal were also “timed”, “stage managed” to be used as a “talking point”, the Chief Minister replied that his comments were in reaction to the public claims made by Mr Dhumal that he was a clean non corrupt person. ‘‘If his property ownership is above board, then why did he deny that the schools he owns are not his? Over Rs 13 crore out of the total of Rs 41 crore worth of his property, is what he has amasses after he became Chief Minister. And he is accountable for all that.’’

Answering a query whether the party will be asking for a CBI investigation into the matter, the Chief Minister said that if the Gujarat police registers a case against the two ministers, ‘‘firstly they would not cooperate with the police. Even if they agree, I will not allow them to. Secondly the case will be taken out of Gujarat police’s jurisdiction and a request made for investigation by a retired SC Judge.’’

Stating that this episode would have no impact on the position of the party in Himachal, the Chief Minister claimed that his party would be winning with at least 2/3rd majority in the state.


Charges politically motivated: Bajwa
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
Two Punjab ministers, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa and Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, who have been named in a “sex racket” by the Gujarat Government, today said that the charges against them were politically motivated and they were ready to face a Judicial inquiry in this connection.

At a joint press conference, they demanded that a retired judge of the Supreme Court should be appointed to inquire into this episode. Mr Bajwa said that a defamation case claiming damages worth Rs 100 crore would be filed against the Gujarat Government for levelling false charges against him and his colleague.

Reiterating what he said yesterday, Mr Bajwa said that the Gujarat Chief Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, had been pressurising his officers to “cook up this story of call girls to defame Congressmen”. As the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had exposed the scandals of the Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, the BJP through the Gujarat Government played a “dirty game to frame us”, said Mr Bajwa. There were no names in the FIR registered in Ahmedabad regarding the busting of a call-girl racket.

Mr Bajwa said that neither he nor Mr Samra availed the services of any outside driver while campaigning in Gujarat from December 2 to 9. “We were not the only persons to stay in that hotel. Several other VIPs, including a number of chief ministers, had stayed in that hotel when we were there”, he added.


Badal wants CM to quit on moral ground
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
The Shiromani Akali Dal today demanded resignation of the Congress government in Punjab on moral ground to prevent any further damage being done to the moral fibre of the Punjabi society and its culture. “Punjab cannot be allowed to be governed by sex-clients, pimps or middlemen”

“The government led by Capt Amarinder Singh is stinking with sleaze all over and must go immediately as it had become an alarming danger to the socio-cultural and religious values in the land of the great Gurus and sants. The land famous for high spiritual values and social honour has come under a grave cloud of lasciviousness which poses a grave threat to the morality of our children and future generations.”

In a statement here, the SAD president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said that in the event of the Punjab Council of Ministers refusing to take the civilised course of resigning on moral ground, the Governor, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), must consider a direct corrective intervention and apprise the Union Government of how the administration in the state had been converted into a handmaid for unethical pursuits by those at the helm. The Governor should find a constitutional remedy in the larger interest of moral well-being of our society. The value system of governance that had been brought under a dark cloud must be safeguarded at all costs.

“The Chief Minister has come to symbolise a culture and conduct of loose moral and known for his hasty defence of all immoral activities of those around him. This is because the scandals surrounding his personal life have snatched from him the moral authority required to put the fear of law and society in the minds of his aides and colleagues.”

Mr Badal was reacting to the reports on the involvement of Punjab ministers “as clients” in the shocking sex and sleaze scandal originating in Gujarat. The Akali leader said that reports doing the rounds of official, political and media circles indicate that the Gujarat episode was only a tip of the iceberg of depraved moral conduct.

“The Chief Minister and his colleagues have become a butt of ridicule for the people outside the state and a source of crying shame for Punjabis.” He said that scandals of indiscriminate resort to the leisure and pleasure culture by the Chief Minister had encouraged the ministers and bureaucrats around him to treat the people’s trust as a licence for the gratification of greed and lust.


Bajwa, Samra should resign: Sukhbir
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 17
Mr Sukhbir Badal, General Secretary, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and member Rajya Sabha, has demanded the resignation of Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, Minister for Revenue, and Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Minister for Public Works, for their alleged involvement in a sex scandal during their poll campaign tour of Gujarat in December last year, which was highlighted by Mr Amit Shah, Minister of State for Home, Gujarat, in Ahmedabad yesterday.

Mr Sukhbir Badal alleged that both Punjab ministers had not only tarnished the image of the state but also the entire Punjabiat. While talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Sukhbir Badal, who had arrived to inaugurate a rural sport function at Sikhanwala village in the memory of Akali leader Nirmaljit Singh, criticised the state Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, for allegedly protecting the ministers.


BJP, SAD activists burn govt effigy
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 17
Even as the names of Congress Ministers and an MLA allegedly involved in the Gujarat election sex scandal were made public yesterday, the BJP and SAD held a demonstration in the city demanding legal action against these politicians. They burnt an effigy of the Punjab Government for its failure to keep its ministers in check.

Activists of the BJP and the SAD raised slogans against the Punjab Chief Minister and alleged that he had given ‘freedom’ to ministers and MLAs to indulge in the immoral activities.

The activists said as the ministers had been “exposed”, the Congress had no right to remain in power. They demanded that Capt Amarinder Singh and his Cabinet should resign.


Child swap: no end to agony
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, February 17
Since the past four months an old woman, a grandmother Sumitra Devi has been waiting for her baby grandson who allegedly was ‘swapped’ with a female child by a midwife Ramesh Rani in November last year. Talking to The Tribune, the aging Sumitra said, “My mental agony is unbearable but the hope of the return of my only grandson keeps me alive, as also the hope that this great wrong would be undone one day.”

This racket of selling, swapping and buying new borns was exposed after a vigilant relative of a woman Parveen Kumari, found that the child delivered to her a night ago had an umbilical cord (navel) which was about 20 days old. The police caught up with the midwife who had delivered the child after she settled with the informer to pay her Rs 20,000 to hold her (midwife’s) silence on the issue. Thereafter the midwife confessed to at least 14 “deals” clinched in a racket of midwives.

She confessed that three midwives/nurses and some doctors were also involved in the racket. Till now five persons, including 3 midwives and one couple, have been arrested, while arrest warrants against five more persons, alleged to be purchasers of the new borns, had been issued, said Mr Vijay Partap Singh, SP (City-I), who is working on the case.

Sumitra Devi, grandmother of a male child from her son Manohar and his wife Paramjit, relating the incident, said that when she had brought her daughter-in-law Paramjit for delivery to midwife Ramesh Rani she sent her out on frivolous errand and then gave her a sedative to rest. On awakening she (the grandmother) was given a girl child who was wearing a different set of clothes other than the ones the family had given to the midwife. On being asked the midwife told the grandmother that she always gave poor people a set of clothes and did not charge anything from them.

Later when the racket was exposed, family of Sumitra also made a claim for their male child, who was exchanged for a female child.

However, it has been nearly one and half months since the DNA samples were collected from Sumitra’s family yet there was no report of the results.

Mr Amarjit Singh, district secretary, CPI, expressing sympathy with the family, said blood samples should be collected anew since a lot of time had elapsed and results may be affected. He also urged the government to pay for DNA tests as families of victims were poor. Mr Vijay Singh, SP, said the samples were being readied to go to Hyderabad for the tests.


Seva’ by Sikh women: clergy to take up issue
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 17
Sikh high priests are likely to take up the issue of allowing baptised Sikh women to perform ‘seva’ in the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple in the forthcoming meeting. According to highly placed sources close to Jathedar, Akal Takht.

Sources said that two Sikh high priests, Jathedar Vedanti and Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar, Kesgarh Sahib were signatories to the directive which allowed baptised Sikh women to perform at the Golden Temple eight years ago, Prof Manjit Singh has supported the cause of allowing women to perform ‘seva’ as he had stated that Sikhism did not allow gender discrimination, Jathedar Vedanti, who had signed the directive in his capacity as priest of the Golden Temple is now Jathedar, Akal Takht, it is learnt that Akal Takht secretariat has received several messages from all over the world to implement in toto the directive issued by the Sikh clergy in 1996. Many Sikh scholars had sought summoning at Akal Takht of those who had opposed the implementation of the directive.

Meanwhile, Mr Joginder Singh Talwara, of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha (Prabandhki Panchyan) a confidant of Jathedar Vedanti said that the Sikh clergy would definitely allow baptised Sikh women to perform ‘seva’ at the Golden Temple as per Sikh traditions. He said women and men were treated equal in Sikhism, hence gender discrimination could not be allowed. He however, said that the Sikh clergy might fix certain days to permit baptised Sikh women to perform the ‘seva’ inside the sanctum sanctorum. He said Sikh high priests might also suggest ways to regulate the devotees at the time of ‘sukhasan’ so that baptised devotees — men and women could perform ‘seva’ without any hindrance.


Assaulted’ Sikh women threaten dharna
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 17
Ms Mejinderjit Kaur and Ms Lakhbir Kaur, who had lodged a complaint of discrimination and rude behaviour with the Akal Takht Secretariat alleging that they had been ‘assaulted’ by sevadars and were not allowed to perform ‘seva’ at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on February 13, said today that they would sit on a dharna outside Akal Takht on March 6 or 8 in order to “appeal” to the highest Sikh body to grant rights of ‘seva’ to women.

Speaking at a press conference here, the women stated that they had initiated a world-wide signature campaign so as to pressure the Sikh religious bodies to grant them all rights as dictated by the Sikh gurus. Lamenting that the Sikh women were being subjected to gender discrimination, they said a similar controversy regarding not allowing the Sikh women to perform ‘seva’ had come to light in 1996 but nothing concrete in this regard took place.


Bir Devinder to get berth, says CM
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, February 17
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, gave a clear indication of including, Mr Bir Devinder Singh into his Council of Ministers. “He is seniormost among those who have not been made a minister. All is set for the Cabinet expansion. Only a go-ahead from the party’s high command is pending,” said the Captain, addressing mediapersons after inaugurating the first Child Protection Unit here today.

In another important announcement, he dispelled all speculation regarding the replacement of the Director-General of Police, clearly stating that DGP M.S. Bhullar would continue in his post till retirement.



Jalandhar, February 17
An AC coach of the Amritsar-Hawra Mail today derailed at Kartarpur near here in the evening, but no injury has been reported in the derailment.

The derailment occurred around 7.30 in the evening when an AC coach of the Amritsar-Hawra mail suddenly derailed between the Kartarpur and Suranasi area near here, railway sources said, adding that no one was injured in the incident. PTI


3 killed in road mishap

Jagraon, February 17
Three persons were killed and about 20 others, were injured ‘five of them seriously’ in a head-on collision between a PRTC bus and a truck near Jagraon this evening. The condition of at least two of the injured was critical. The accident took place when the bus hit the over-speeding truck that was coming in the wrong direction.

Sources said the bus driver tried to avert the collision by swerving to the left but still could not escape. The driver side of the bus was completely damaged. Passengers sitting on the left side of the bus escaped with minor injuries. The bus No. PB-11 E- 9593 had left Ludhiana in the evening and was headed towards Jagraon. The dead included the bus driver and two passengers sitting just behind him. A case has been registered against the truck driver, Roshan Singh. TNS


Significant ruling on rape case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
The Punjab and Haryana High Court, in a significant judgement, has ruled that the presence of semen on the victim or her clothes was not necessary to prove the offence of rape.

Dismissing an appeal filed by a Jalandhar district resident sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment for raping a minor, the Court held that penetration was the only ingredient required to be proved.

The Judge added: “Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, lays down that penetration is sufficient to constitute sexual intercourse necessary to offence of rape”.

In his detailed order, the Judge observed: “Counsel for the appellant has laid much stress that semen was not present on the prosecutrix or on her clothes. This is not necessary....”

Accused Gopal Krishan was earlier booked by the police under Section 376 of the IPC after the victim’s mother had found the accused forcing himself upon the girl. The mother had added that she had left her residence in search of the victim after the girl had failed to turn up for three or four hours.

The accused, when confronted with the incriminating evidence against him, had, on the other hand, denied the allegations. Claiming himself to be innocent, he had asked for a trial. The trial court, after hearing the arguments and going through the documents, had held him guilty of the offence.

Notice issued

Issuing notice of motion on a petition filed by Kilanwali Municipal Committee clerk challenging the orders passed by the Secretary reducing his pay for calculating the pensionary benefits, a Division Bench of the High Court has stayed the recovery from the petitioner.

In his petition, Om Parkash had asserted that the action was against the principles of natural justice. The order, his counsel had added, was passed without granting an opportunity of hearing. The case will now come up for further hearing on July 24.


Directing the production of record on a petition filed by District Mandi Officer with Punjab Mandi Board Jagtar Singh Sanghera, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued notice of motion. The case will now come up for further hearing on March 28.

In his petition, Mr Sanghera had contended that annual confidential reports at the time of the Departmental Promotion Committee meeting in March 2000, were very good or outstanding, but a junior was promoted.

His case was kept in a sealed cover as a charge sheet was pending against him. Counsel had added that the charge sheet was, subsequently, dropped and the petitioner was exonerated but the petitioner was not promoted. 


Caged inmates: SC notice to Punjab

New Delhi, February 17
The Supreme Court today issued a notice to the Punjab Government seeking action against police personnel for taking four accused in an iron cage from a court to the jail on December 27 last year.

The notice was issued by a Bench of Ms Justice Ruma Pal and Mr Justice B.M. Srikrishna on a petition filed by one Mr Shovan.The petition sought enforcement of fundamental rights of all citizens and non-citizens. UNI


Prosecution of MC chief allowed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, Secretary, Local Government, Punjab, said that the state had granted sanction for prosecution of Dr Kuldip Singh Gill, president, Municipal Council, Moga, who had allegedly kept municipal funds of Rs 1,75,380 for three years in his personal custody.

The money was received from shopkeepers of Guru Nanak Market, Moga, for transferring shops to them.

Mr Kaushal said that the cash was neither deposited in any account nor any receipt was issued. Finally, before the election in February, 2002, the amount was refunded.

Thus, the president allegedly kept the money with himself from October 15, 1998, to February, 2002.


Ensure regular LPG supply: DC
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 17
Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner has directed the officials of the Food and Supplies Department to check the stock of LPG in various agencies. Presiding over the monthly progress review meeting of district officers, he directed the officials concerned ensure regular supply of LPG in the district. He informed that a case had been registered against an agency in this regard.

The Deputy Commissioner said a fresh survey of below poverty line people would be conducted in the district.

Reviewing the 24-hour power supply scheme for the rural areas, he informed that 149 villages of the district had been brought under this scheme. 


DSP files bail plea in kidnapping case
Our Correspondent

Mansa, February 17
The DSP, Vigilance Department, Chandigarh, Mr Brij Mohan Sarup, today applied here for the grant of anticipatory bail application in the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge Dharam Singh in a kidnapping case registered on February 28, 1998. The trial court of Ms Jatinder Kaur, Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Mansa, had issued arrest warrants against him.

The case was registered on the inquiry report of the then District and Sessions Judge, Sangrur, Mr G.S. Khurana, on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

According to the FIR, Malkiat Singh was kidnapped by certain police officials in plain clothes from Bhikhi on March 31, 1992, in alleged connivance with Mr Sarup, who was the SHO of the police station, Bhikhi, at that time. He was reported to have escaped.


Power supply to SDM’s office cut
Our Correspondent

Mansa, February 17
The local office of the Punjab State Electricity Board of suburban subdivision yesterday disconnected the electric connection to the tehsil office here for non-payment of electricity bills for the last about two years.

Similarly electric connection to the old office of the SDM Mansa was also disconnected due to non-payment of bills.

Unpaid electric bills for the offices of Tehsildar and the SDM were Rs 37,521 and Rs 35,972, respectively. The work at these offices has come to standstill due to disconnection of the electric connections.


Wheat procurement steps reviewed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
The Punjab Food and Supplies Minister, Mr Lal Singh, today reviewed wheat procurement with agencies of the state. Procurement commences on April 1.

During rabi 2003-04, the percentage share of procurement of wheat was fixed for the various procuring agencies as follows: Food and Supplies 10, Markfed 20, Punsup 18, PSWC 10 and PAFC 9. The state agencies would procure 67 per cent and the FCI 33 per cent.

In 2002-03, the state procured 98.90 lakh tonnes of wheat. For the next rabi, arrangements are for 120 lakh tonnes.

Mr Lal Singh told the agencies to dispose of the arbitration cases expeditiously. He directed the Managing Director of the State Warehousing Corporation, Markfed and Punsup that all pending cases be decided urgently as Rs 350 crore are involved in arbitration cases.


YC workers stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, February 17
Workers of the Youth Congress led by the district president, Mr Raminder Awla, staged a dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner in protest against the “wrong” policies of the Central Government.

Addressing the rally Mr Awla said the NDA government was playing dirty with the farmers of Punjab by not lifting levy sugar worth more than 500 crore lying in mills. He also criticised the Union Government for not increasing the wheat MSP and termed the Rs 10 relief announced by the Union Government as a cruel joke on farmers.

Later, they submitted a memorandum to the DC to be forwarded to the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.


BKU gheraos DC’s office
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, February 17
Works in courts here was hit following gherao of the Deputy Commissioner’s office by Bharatiya Kisan Union activists today. Staff of the Additional Deputy Commissioner’s (Revenue) office, GA to the Deputy Commissioner and Sadar Kanungo could not perform office duty.

The BKU after 11 days of blockage of the G.T. Road opposite Dinanagar police station shifted dharna to Gurdaspur on Saturday to gherao the Deputy Commissioner’s office. The gherao would continue till the payment of the sugarcane supplied to sugarmills in Punjab was made, said Mr Bhupinder Singh Mann, national president, BKU, to newsmen today. Mr Mann said that the Chief Minister of Punjab was confusing the issue by saying that the payments of sugarcane were not being made due to hurdles by the Central government. 


Doctor held with smack
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 17
The Majitha police has arrested Dr Harnek Singh for possessing 800 gm of smack. Ms Shashi Prabha Dwedi, SSP, Majitha, in a press note issued here today, said Dr Harnek Singh, a resident of Butala village, used to bring smack and bhukki from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, respectively. She said the accused had brought the narcotics eight times till now. A case has been registered under Sections 21, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act.


Singla meets SSI representatives
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 17
Mr Surinder Singla, local MLA and Chairman of the Punjab Finance Committee, who interacted with representatives of SSI here yesterday, said the delay in disbursement of sanctioned subsidy and higher power tariff had led to closure of a number of SSIs. In addition to delayed release of subsidy, obsolete technology being used by a section of SSI and poor management were forcing the industries to run into losses.

He said in open economy, industrialists would have to compete with the best technologies and for that best technology and modern management practices would have to be employed. He claimed that the matter would be taken up with the state Chief Minister and seniormost officials of the Industrial Department.

Mr Varinder Mohan Garg, spokesman for small-scale industries, said a large number of SSI units here had been hit by the lopsided power tariff being charged by the electricity board and non-payment of interest to the small-scale industries (SSI) by government departments.

He said the electricity board charged these units minimum power tariff based on load connection, irrespective of the fact that the power consumption decreased during off season.

Mr Garg pointed out that the model implemented by the Rajasthan Electricity Board, where excessive bill charged during lean consumption period was adjusted for the minimum bill charged, was needed. He claimed that in the present set-up, consumers ended up paying more power bill than the power consumed. 


Beopar Mandal bandh today
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, February 17
The local unit of the Punjab Beopar Mandal today held a meeting here at the Arya Samaj Temple under the chairmanship of Mr Sham Lal, senior vice-president of the unit, and decided to observe complete bandh tomorrow in protest against the non-acceptance of their demands.

Mr Rajesh Gupta, secretary, of the unit, said their main demand included the suspension of Mr Krishan Kumar, Additional Commissioner, Sales Tax, and registration of criminal case against Mr H.S. Punia, ETO, who on February 15 had allegedly brandished his service revolver during a raid on the Dalhousie Road shops.

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