Wednesday, March 19, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Akalis undecided on unity
But one on clemency for Davinderpal Singh Bhullar
Lalit Mohan

Anandpur Sahib, March 18
The various Akali Dals at separate conferences on the eve of Hola Mohalla here today, demanded clemency for Davinderpal Singh Bhullar sentenced to death by the Supreme Court for bomb blast in front of India Youth Congress office at New Delhi.

From left: Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, Mr Surjan Singh Thekedar, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur and Mr Suchcha Singh Chhotepur at the SHSAD conference; Mr Simranjit Singh Mann along with his party leaders at the SAD (Amritsar) conference.

The SAD (Badal) conference passed a resolution to this effect. The resolution was read by Capt Kanwaljit Singh, former Punjab Finance Minister decried death sentence of Bhullar and demanded clemency for him. Similar resolutions were also adopted at the conferences of the SHSAD and the SAD (Amritsar).

Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, general secretary, SHSAD, told the Press that all Akali parties would jointly present a memorandum to the President of India on March 30 demanding commutation of Bhullar’s sentence.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal at a press conference also said that sentence on Devinder Pal Singh to be illegal. Devinder Bhullar was extradited from Germany on the condition that he would not be given death sentence. But in the case of Bhullar the above fact had been ignored, he alleged.

Mr Badal also alleged that none of the accused in the 1984 riots against the Sikhs had been sentenced but Bhullar only a co-accused had been sentenced.

Later addressing the conference Mr Badal accused the Congress government in the state of interfering in internal affairs of the Sikhs. Capt Amarinder Singh was trying to take control of the religious places of the Sikhs by force. He tried to do the same in SGPC elections but failed, he added.

The government in the state had gone back on election promises and taxes had been imposed on people and many welfare schemes and free power for the weaker sections started by the previous government stopped.

Mr B.S. Ramoowalia, president of the Lok Bhalai Party, addresses a conference at Anandpur Sahib on Tuesday.

Lieut-Gen Baldev Singh Randhawa (retd) addresses ex-servicemen at the Rashtriya Raksha Dal conference in Anandpur Sahib on Tuesday. — A Tribune photograph

People gather at Anandpur Sahib on the eve of Hola Mohalla.

The farmers of the state facing hardship had been burdened with electricity bills on tubewells and cess on canal water, Mr Badal alleged.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh alleged lawlessness prevailed in the state and opposition leaders were being harassed. Alleging rigging of the recently concluded Municipal Council elections, he said that if voted to power the SAD would have the things rectified.

Jathedar Kirpal Singh Badungar, president of the SGPC, alleged that the Congress was encouraging vested interests to interfere in religious affairs of the Sikhs. The recent attack by activists of the Khalsa Panchayat on SGPC officials in the Golden Temple complex was one such act of the Congress, he alleged. Bibi Jagir Kaur, former president of the SGPC, Mr Sucha Singh Langah, former Punjab minister, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, general secretary of the SAD, Bibi Satwant Kaur Sandhu former Punjab minister also addressed the conference.

Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, told the Press that unity between the Akali Dals was possible.

A recent meeting between SHSAD president, Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Mr Prakash Singh Badal had raised hopes of unity of the Akali parties but the issue had not been discussed by the parties, he said. On the re-installation of Bhai Ranjit Singh as Jathedar of Akal Takht, Mr Chandumajra said that it could be sorted out through dialogue.

He hoped that the “beating” at the hands of the Congress would force the Akali Dals to unity.

Optimism of Mr Chandumajra on unity was, however, not shared by president of the SAD Prakash Singh Badal. Mr Badal declined to comment on the issue of unity.

The SHSAD, president Gurcharan Singh Tohra failed to attend the conference of the party due to health reasons. Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur also addressed the political conference. He accused the Congress government of victimising opposition leaders. He alleged rigging of Municipal Council elections of use of police force too.

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann president of the SAD (Amritsar), in a resolution, adopted on the eve of Hola Mohalla urged the Union government to declare SGPC elections.

He alleged that SGPC elections were due for one and half years, and the Union Government was not keen on holding these fearing that its alliance partner might lose hold on the mini parliament of the Sikhs. The SAD (A) threatened to internationalise the issue of SGPC elections.

Later at the conference of his party Mr Mann said that his party had taken a vow to pull down the leadership of M/s Tohra and Badal for they betrayed the Sikhs politically and religiously.

He also ruled out unity of his party with other Akali Dals. Both Mr Badal and Mr Tohra had no principles, he alleged. Mr Mann further said that his party demanded that Sikh jathas should be allowed to go to Pakistan for pilgrimage on Baisakhi this year as per the Liaquat-Nehru at Pact.


Ramoowalia’s call to root out graft
Our Correspondent

Anandpur Sahib, March 18
The Dal Khalsa and the Lok Bhalai Party held political conferences for the first time on the eve of Hola Mohalla here today.

Leaders of the Dal Khalsa addressing the conference adopted two resolutions, including support to the right of women to perform ‘sewa’ in Darbar Sahib and decrying of death sentence to Bhullar.

Various leaders of the Dal Khalsa, including Kanwar Pal Singh spokesperson, Mr Karnail Singh Panjoli, youth leader, Mr Jaspal Singh Dhillon Chairman of the Human Rights and Democracy Forum and Kulwant Singh Kanwal criticised the BJP government for promulgating the harsh laws like POTA, allegedly to silence the voice of the minorities. The Lok Bhalai Party resolved to save Punjabi youth from the ‘clutches’ of travel agents. The party also vowed to rehabilitate Punjabi girls deserted by NRI husbands.


SGPC chief: no row over Kalam’s visit
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, March 18
The SGPC chief, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, today clarified that there was no controversy or confusion over the visit of the President, Mr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, to the Golden Temple complex next week.

Talking to mediapersons here , he said the SGPC was aware of the status of the head of the state and would fully discharge its duties and responsibilities in receiving and welcoming him.

Even in the past former Presidents namely V.V. Giri, Neelam Sanjiva Reddy and Giani Zail Singh visited the Golden Temple Neelam Sanjiva Reddy was so impressed that he even wanted an akhand path to be done on his behest at the complex. Mr Parkash Singh Badal accompanied him to lay the foundation stone of Guru Ram Dass Medical College and Hospital.

The SGPC would go by “maryada” in looking after the President and accord him the status he deserves. He reiterated that there was neither any controversy nor any confusion about presenting siropa to the President.

Professor Badungar also clarified that it was the SGPC which was acting as a nodal agency for printing all literature, posters and banners to seek clemency for Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar. The SAD and SGPC would take part in the March 30 rally being organised to seek clemency for him.


Kalam to visit Hoshiarpur village
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 18
Mr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, President of India, will witness development works done by the NRIs at Kharaudi village of Mahilpur block in the district during his visit to Punjab on March 23.

Mr Kirandeep Singh Bhullar, Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur, told this correspondent here yesterday that elaborate arrangements were being done to welcome the President in the village. He said the President would reach Kharaudi by helicopter and inspect the development works there. During his half-an-hour stay in the village, he would also address the residents.

Kharaudi village is located 6 km from Mahilpur town on the Mahilpur-Phagwara road. The village has a population of about 600 and the main profession of the residents is agriculture. Members of almost all families of the village have gone abroad. Dr Raghbir Singh and Mr Gurdev Singh Gill, who are living in America, inspired other NRIs to help in the development of their native village by providing it with modern and basic amenities there. A village Development Board has been constituted for this purpose.

They contributed about Rs 50 lakh and started various projects for which the Punjab Government also provided Rs 27.50 lakh. The village now has sewerage, water supply, solar light, pumps, septic tanks, parks, fish tanks and pucca lanes and drains. The NRIs have also constructed the school building with all modern amenities. The Board has kept Rs 10 lakh for the maintenance of these projects.

Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Minister for Rural Development, Punjab, visited the village last month and released another amount of Rs 20 lakh to the village for its further development. Residents of the village are much excited at the proposed visit of Mr Kalam.


Punjab robbed of share in UT taxes?
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
Does anyone know how the Centre over the decades has “profited’’ from Chandigarh and why it has cleverly let Punjab and Haryana fight over its possession? Or how in this process Punjab has suffered an irreparable economic loss while Haryana has reaped all advantages from its proximity to New Delhi?

Here is the answer: The revenue receipts that the Centre collected in sales tax and excise alone from Chandigarh amounted to Rs 4,816 crore (1992-93 till date). Against this, it incurred an expenditure of only Rs 1,195 crore. The figures for 2002-03 alone showed that the revenue receipts were Rs 716 crore and the revenue expenditure Rs 160 crore. Moreover, 1.5 lakh Punjab Government employees in Chandigarh paid income tax and so did all Punjab boards/corporations registered in Chandigarh.

Yet if the Centre never cared to give any share to Punjab all these decades, it too had never bothered to demand its share out of the huge tax collections made by the Centre under the divisible tax pool. Since 1966 the Centre has reaped crores from Chandigarh!

This little known or ignored fact was raised in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha by Congress MLA Sunil Jakhar yesterday while speaking on the motion of thanks he had moved on the Governor’s Address.

Unfortunately, when Mr Jakhar was speaking the Treasury Benches were empty and opposition benches inattentive.

Mr Jakhar compared the resources available to Haryana for its development due to its locational advantage and “proximity’’ of its cities like Gurgaon and Faridabad to New Delhi vis-a-vis Punjab, which has always attracted far less private and Central Government investments due to its locational disadvantages and as a border state. “And yet, Haryana wants to rob Punjab of its water, which we do not have to spare”, he added.

In fact, several suggestions and observations made by Mr Jakhar and also Mr Manpreet Singh Badal of the Akali Dal merit attention. Both of them spoke feelingly of challenges and opportunities ahead in the context of the WTO and good governance.

On the WTO, Mr Jakhar suggested it be turned to the advantage of Punjab industry and agriculture, ensuring a level playing field for the people involved in the two sectors. There must be a review of the land laws and re-determination of land ceiling to make agricultural holdings economically viable so that small, medium and marginal farmers were eligible for direct government subsidies.

Both MLAs conveyed to the House that it would be doing injustice as much to itself as to the electorate by looking for only skeletons in one another’s cupboards rather than taking up in the House issues of development and welfare of the people that have been placed on the backburner.

In view of yesterday’s walkout by the Opposition, matters may precipitate if there is no agreement on the report of the rules committee tabled in the House. The report seeks to curb zero hour from 60 minutes to 30 minutes and stipulates that a member must give in writing the issue he/she wished to raise at least one hour before the sitting of the House. Also, only one member from each party/group would be allowed to speak on one subject on the basis of a first-come first served basis; and also that no ruling of the Speaker will be questioned by a member.


NGO helps mother, daughter return home
Jaswinder Paul Singh

Bathinda, March 18
Ms Sudesh Rani and her daughter Shikha, residents of Indore, had never thought that a humanitarian gesture by two fellow passengers at the Nizamuddin railway station in Delhi would lead them to unknown places in Rajasthan and Punjab and deprive them of their belongings.

Fourtyfive-year-old Sudesh Rani and Shikha (18), while waiting for a train to Indore with their relatives, after paying obeisance at Vaishno Devi in Jammu and Kashmir, were offered tea by two youths at the railway station.

After drinking the tea, they fell unconscious and when they regained consciousness, they found themselves at the Ganganagar railway station in Rajasthan.

Shocked to know that all their belongings, including ornaments and cash, had been looted, they managed to reach the Bathinda railway station yesterday, taking the risk of travelling without ticket.

In Bathinda, someone informed Sahara Jan Sewa, a local NGO, when they were seen roaming at the railway station in an inebriated condition.

The NGO contacted them immediately and arranged food for them. Shikha still in a state of shock told volunteers of the NGO, that her father was running a readymade garment showroom in Indore, but as they did not have any money, they could not contact him for help.

She said they did not suspect the youths, when they offered them tea, as they appeared very helpful. Mr Vijay Goyal, president of the Sahara Jan Sewa said the NGO had arranged for the tickets and other items.


MLA in custody has no right to attend session
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
A member of the Legislative Assembly, in lawful judicial custody under court orders, has no legal right or privilege to attend the Vidhan Sabha session — the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled in a significant judgement.

In a ruling, Mr Justice Satish Kumar Mittal of the High Court has held: “I am fully in agreement with the view taken by the Madras High Court wherein it has been clearly held that an MLA is not entitled to attend the session while he is in legal detention and no direction can be issued to take him to the Legislative Assembly for attending the session under armed escort”.

The judgement is significant as at least two petitions had been filed in the High Court by MLAs seeking directions to the state authorities for allowing them to attend the session.

In his detailed orders on a petition filed by Mahilpur MLA Sohan Singh Thandal seeking directions to the state of Punjab for taking him to attend the session, Mr Justice Mittal has added: “When the petitioner has no legal right to attend the session, then the jail authorities cannot be directed to take him to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.”

Mr Justice Mittal has further added: “Keeping in view the facts and the circumstances of the case and the legal position, I am of the opinion that the prayer made by the petitioner in the present petition cannot be granted and the same is hereby declined”.

Giving details, the Judge observed: “Counsel for the petitioner, at the outset, submitted that though the petitioner has no legal right being in lawful custody, in a criminal case, to attend the session, under the common law and practice, he may be allowed to attend the proceedings by an interim measure.... He further submitted that the apprehension of the state that the petitioner might escape from custody while attending the session is totally misplaced”.

The Judge further observed: “On the other hand, Punjab’s Deputy Advocate-General Mansur Ali, opposing the petitioner’s prayer, submitted that a MLA has no legal right to seek the issuance of directions to the authorities including the jail officials to take him to attend the session when he is in legal custody in a case registered against him”.

The Judge concluded: “After considering the submissions made by counsel for the parties, I am of the opinion that the petitioner, in lawful judicial custody under the Court orders, during the pendency of a criminal case against him under an Act, has no legal right or privilege to attend the session which commenced from March 14.... I am also of the view that the petitioner cannot be granted the relief of interim bail at this stage during the pendency of his regular bail application before the trial court”.


Loser Cong candidates blame Kangar
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 18
The Congress leaders, who lost in the Municipal Elections in Rampura Phul have blamed local MLA Gurpreet Singh Kangar for their defeat.

In a letter to Mrs Sonia Gandhi Captain Amarinder Singh, Mr HS Hanspal and other senior leaders of the Congress party, the defeated Congress candidates including Mr Avtar Singh, Mr Parshottam Mannu and Mr Ajaib Singh Kuku said that during the elections Mr Kangar worked towards their defeat. They were official candidates of the Congress party.

They alleged that while the MLA assured them support, he (the MLA) fact in supported the Akali candidates and the dissidents of the Congress. They said that at a public meeting Mr Kangar did not mention their names but only asked for votes for two Congress candidates, Mr Suresh Bahia (former president of the Rampura Phul municipal council) and Mr Parmod Kala.

They alleged that the MLA supported Mr Manjit Singh, an Akali from ward number 15. He contested the Municipal elections on Akali ticket last time. They also further alleged that an advertisement of winners did not have the photograph of Mr Satvir Singh, general secretary, DCC, who won from ward number 6.

They urged the party high command to probe the defeat of the official candidates and the role of Mr Kangar in it.

Mr Gurpreet Singh Kangar, MLA, Rampura Phul, said that the losers in elections had to accept defeat as mandate of the people. He said that these people had started levelling false allegation against him in frustration. He claimed that he had campaigned above party line and urged the people to vote for candidates dedicated to the development of the area.

Mr Kangar added that he had not organised even a single rally in support of any candidate and added that he was an independent MLA and would do whatever he deemed fit for the betterment of his constituency.


Cong coordination panel in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
Congress President Sonia Gandhi has set up a committee for coordination between the Punjab Government and the Pradesh Congress Committee.

Mrs Mohsina Kidwai, General Secretary of the party and in charge of the party affairs in the state, said such committees had been set up in all states ruled by the Congress.

It is clear from the high-profile setup of the committee that it will be calling the shots in government as well as in organisational matters and henceforth no individual leader will be having over-riding powers to outdo others.

Mrs Gandhi took over a year to form such a committee in Punjab. It has been, in fact, set up following reports of dissidence in the party ranks started reaching the party high command, which only last week approved the expansion of the Council of the Ministers and also gave an assurance to consider first-time MLAs for inclusion in the ministry once they go through the learning experience pertaining to matters regarding the functioning of the government and other administrative issues.

Significantly, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Rural Development and Agriculture Minister, has also been included in the committee.


Channi flays Cong rule
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, March 18
Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, Congress MP from Hoshiarpur, said at the ‘Sharadhanjli Samaroh’ today at the Samadhi of his father, former minister Dilbagh Singh, in nearby Barnala Kalan village that the Amarinder government had no achievements to show in its one year of rule.

“The CM is too busy to meet even elected representatives. A Cabinet minister was instrumental in denying party ticket to Mr Amarjit Singh, a candidate from Ward No. 6 in the recent Hoshiarpur Municipal Council elections,” he said.

Mr Gurvinder Singh Atwal, Cabinet minister; Mr Parkash Singh and Mr Tarlochan Singh Soond, both MLAs; Mr Kuldip Rana, president of the District Congress; Mr Satvir Singh, president of the District Youth Congress; Mr Sita Ram, Mr Lalit Mohan Ballu and Mr Rajinder Chopra, all municipal councillors; and Mr Manoranjan Kalia, general secretary of the Punjab Youth Congress; among others, paid tributes to Dilbagh Singh.


Chandumajra hails unity move
Our Correspondent

Sunam, March 18
Terming the unity move between the SAD and SHSAD leadership as good for the Sikhs and the Panth, Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, general secretary of the SHSAD, said unity should be for all times to come.

Prof Chandumajra said this while addressing a conference organised in connection with the SHSAD’s “jantak laambandi” (public mobilisation) drive against the “anti-people” policies of the state and central governments at Cheema Mandi, about 14 km from here, yesterday.

Prof Chandumajra said unity between the SAD and the SHSAD was the need of the hour to defeat the Congress in future as it had done enough damage to the Sikhs due to factionalism.

Prof Chandumajra announced that the SHSAD would organise a protest march in Delhi on March 30 in protest against the death sentence awarded to Prof Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar. He said a meeting of the SHSAD would be held on March 22 at Ludhiana to prepare a strategy.


Dinanagar posts go to Congress
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, March 18
Mrs Neelam Mahajan and Mr Shaminderpal Saini both of the Congress were elected president and vice-president, respectively, of Dinanagar Municipal Committee at a meeting at Dinanagar today. Mr Vimal Kumar Setia, District Transport Officer, was the presiding officer. Both were elected unopposed.

Mrs Mahajan is the wife of Mr Satish Mahajan former president of the Dinanagar Municipal Committee. His ward No. 7 was reserved for women of general category. This time Mrs Neelam Mahajan was declared elected Municipal Commissioner unopposed from this ward.

The Dinanagar municipality till yesterday was reserved for Scheduled Caste women for the post of president, but the supporters of Mrs Mahajan got this changed in favour of general category women.


SAD nominees get Longowal Municipal
Council posts
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 18
Mr Daljit Singh Sidhu and Mr Darshan Singh Gill, both SAD Municipal Councillors, were today elected president and vice-president, respectively of the Longowal Municipal Council. Mr Manpreet Singh Chhatwal, SDM, Sangrur, supervised the election.

In the 13-ward Longowal Municipal Council, seven nominees of the Shiromani Akali Dal were elected, and five nominees of “Sanjha Front” led by the Congress party won the MC elections and one nominee of the SAD(A) had also won the Municipal elections. Longowal village falls in the Assembly constituency of Mr Gobind Singh Longowal, an SAD MLA from Dhanaula.

Mr Gobind Singh Longowal, MLA from Dhanaula said today that Mr Daljit Singh Sidhu and Mr Darshan Singh Gill were elected as president and vice-president respectively of the Longowal Municipal Council today though six members of the opposite parties had boycotted these elections. He said the councillors of opposite parties boycotted the elections pleading that they had not been given 90-hour notice for the elections. But the SDM told them that as per an amendment only 48-hour notice was required, so the elections were held today, he added.


Nagar council chiefs’ election on March 23
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 18
The elections of the presidents and vice-presidents of nagar councils of Kotkapura and Jaitu in the district will be held on March 23. Mr A. Venuprasad, DC, said the meetings of the municipal councillors of Jaitu would be held at 11 am in the office of the respective nagar council where as the councillors of Kotkapura Nagar Council will gather at 2 pm in its office to complete the process. Dr Harkesh Singh Sidhu, ADC and Mr Nirbhai Singh, SDM, will look after the work of Kotkapura and Jaitu, respectively.


PM to inaugurate bridge on Beas
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, March 18
The Naussehra Feri Bridge on the Beas river in this district will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee according to information given by Mr Vinod Khanna, Union Minister of State for External Affairs to Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner. The bridge will be ready by April 30 and the inauguration ceremony will be held on May 16.

Mr Sinha said the total cost of construction of the bridge would be Rs 6.78 crore. The bridge was to be completed by February 12 by Gammons and Company.

He said efforts to complete approach roads to the bridge in Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur districts had been initiated on a war-footing.

Mr Sinha said trees planted along roadsides hindered the work. The respective divisional forest officers have been instructed to clear the roads of eucalyptus. The work of felling of these trees was in full progress these days.

Mr Sinha said companies entrusted to complete the approach roads were all set to accomplish the task the pave the way for inauguration of the bridge on schedule.


Vigilance probe into MC irregularities
Our Correspondent

Mansa, March 18
Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, Administrative Secretary of the Local Government, has handed over the case regarding irregularities committed by the Municipal Council of Bareta to the Vigilance Department. The council had allotted plots for a residential colony to its employees.

An inquiry by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, established that the council was not the owner of the land, that, in revenue records, belonged to the Excise and Taxation Department. The inquiry also showed that, while seeking permission from the state government, the council had not made any mention of a notification saying that the council could give its land on lease for not more than five years. It was found that the allotees were to deposit the price of the plots at collectorate within 3 months and 12 employees paid up long after the deadline.

The council took no action against defaulters and nine employees further sold these plots. It failed to recover Rs 50,000 each from these employees who had sold the plots against simple receipts and evaded stamp duty. On the recommendation of the DC, the Administrative Secretary passed on the case to the Vigilance Department.


CBI team visits bank to probe murder
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 18
The CBI, which is here to investigate a four-year-old murder case of a bank manager, has intensified its probe to nab the culprits. The CBI team headed by Mr J.S. Bhatti, SP (CBI), has been enquiring for last three days from various employees of the bank and other witnesses in the case.

According to sources, the team investigated for about five-hour from Suman Mahajan, wife of the deceased Naresh Mahajan and other family members. Naresh Mahajan was the manager of the Putlighar branch of the Oriental Bank of Commerce and was allegedly murdered on October 22, 1998.

The team reportedly enquired from the family members about the suspected accused, including top persons involved in the crime.

The murder had even rocked Parliament at least twice and hit the headlines for allegedly being a case of parallel banking with the involvement of some top persons. Family members of the deceased had alleged that the case was being scuttled and they had even met the then Home Minister.

The case had changed hands nearly 13 times, including thrice from the CBI SPs and from different investigating officers ranks of the DSP.

Meanwhile, Mr Surinder Kumar Billa, President of the All-India Hindu Shiv Sena, alleged that the case was being politicised. He said even after such a long time, the CBI had not come to any conclusion and failed to arrest culprits of the murder. He threatened to file a writ petition in next month if the CBI failed to arrest the accused.


Register case: Khalsa panel
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 18
The Khalsa Mission Committee has demanded to appoint a judicial inquiry from the state government over the violent situation prevailing at Naurangabad village, 7 km away from Tarn Taran, between Sikhs and followers of the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan, known as Noormahalias.

Mr Jasbir Singh Padhri, spokesperson for the committee, said the situation was alarming and the government must do something concrete to control it. He appealed to the Jathedar of Akal Takht to call a meeting of a 31-member committee appointed on the Noormahalia issue. The KMC demanded a case to be registered under Section 302 of the IPC. He said after the incident the KMC appointed a five-member committee. According to the findings of the committee, Malager Singh was taken to the house of Mr Charan Singh, a follower of Noormahalia, on March 6 and was allegedly beaten up.


Girls take lead in Holi celebrations
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 18
Holi was celebrated with traditional gaiety and style here today and girls took the lead in the celebrations. Groups of girls were seen making rounds of the city in their vehicles with no check by the police, that otherwise, was deployed in large numbers.

There were celebrations in parks and open areas in front of houses.

While no untoward incident was reported from the city, the traffic police fined about 500 drivers for violating various rules. None of the drivers was a woman. Heavy police arrangement was seen on the geri route and at public places like Rose Garden and city centre. Most educational institutes had two holidays and it reduced the police men’s burden a lot.

Mr Amit Mittal, a person of Ganesha Basti here, said he and his friends had not played Holi, as they had fears that traffic policemen would fine them. “While boys were stopped for driving without full documents, the police had a soft corner for girls,” he said.

Women at a religious place organised a traditional burning of Holi.


Holi celebrated
Our Correspondents

Pathankot, March 18
Holi was celebrated in the town and surrounding areas with enthusiasm on Tuesday. Young boys in groups, riding scooters and cars, were seen moving around the town, enjoying the day. Eve-teasers, too, were active.

PHAGWARA: While most revellers here played Holi with colours, a group of women chose to play it with flower petals. A large number of two-wheeler riders prowled in the town, throwing colours and dancing to drumbeats. Some used Holi as an excuse for eve-teasing.

PHILLAUR: Holi was celebrated with usual fervour in the town, with youngsters driving around the town, sprinkling colours on each other. Senior citizens celebrated Holi in a more traditional way by distributing ‘parshad’. Though the police was alert, there were several incidents of eve-teasing.


Check conversions, SGPC urged
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 18
The Rashtriya Sikh Sangat (RSS) has urged the Dharam Parchar Committee of the Shri Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee to take initiative for checking the conversion of Dalit Sikhs to Christianity in the state.

Expressing concern over the large number of conversion in the recent past Mr Sewa Singh Chawla, president of the state RSS unit in a press statement here yesterday said that it was the moral duty of the committee to take steps in this regard.

Mr Chawla said merely bringing a legislation in the state Assembly for banning the conversion would not serve any purpose.

There was a need to educate the people in this connection. He said if the matter was not resolved urgently, the situation may further deteriorate.

The committee should also help the poor financially, Mr Chawla said 


Lok Adalat settles 15, 687 cases
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 18
As many as 15,687 cases have been settled at 131 “Lok Adalats”, organised by the Jalandhar District Legal Services Authority so far.

“Lok Adalats”, which to focused on solving cases through mutual consent or compromise Rs 34 crore compensation awarded to aggrieved parties.

Mr R.M. Gupta Chairman of the authority, said that for ensuring justice to all at such “Lok Adalats”, eight different benches had been created. These benches were headed by Mr Surinder Gupta, Mr R.S. Attri, both Additional District Judges, Mr A.S Grewal, Chief Judicial Magistrate, Ms Mandip Pannu, Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division), Mr H.S. Grewal, Ms Rajwinder Kaur, Mr H.S. Gill and Ms Harrit Kaur, all Civil Judges (Junior Division).

A special “Lok Adalat” was organised by the authority on March 15, at which 198 out of 299 cases were settled and compensation of Rs 72 lakh awarded.

Mr Gupta said a special “Lok Adalat” would be organised by the authority on March 29, to take up pre-litigative cases of bank recoveries. Similar, “Lok Adalats” would also be organised at Phillaur, Balachaur, and Nakodar.


Sangathan threatens agitation
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 18
Addressing a meeting of the Punjab Nagarpalika Karamchari Sangathan here yesterday, Mr Kulwant Singh Saini, general secretary of the sangathan, said according to reliable sources, it was noticed that the Punjab Government was preparing lists of all those municipal employees whose retirement was due in 2005.

He alleged that the state government had a plan to retire all these employees. He warned the sangathan would go on an indefinite strike throughout the state, if it was done.

Referring to the proposed abolishing of octroi, he said the Punjab Government had announced that it would provide requisite funds to all municipal councils in the state in lieu of octroi after its abolition but it had not provided even the share of councils from the excise revenue for the past one year.


2 kg of heroin seized; two held
Tribune Reporters

Sahnewal, March 18
One cop was injured in an encounter between the Ludhiana police and a three-member gang of narcotics smugglers near Government Senior Secondary Girls School, here this afternoon.

Two members of the gang were arrested while the third managed to escape. The police has seized 2 kg of heroin worth Rs 2 crore; Rs 20,000 fake currency notes; and two revolvers. During the encounter around 20 gunshots were fired.

This is the second encounter between the police and the anti-social elements near Sahnewal in less than 10 days. A few days ago the police had arrested a ‘terrorist’ while another one committed suicide.

Mr Bhupinder Kumar, the injured cop, was admitted to the local Civil Hospital. He is a gunman with a DSP of the Ludhiana police.

The accused have been identified as Amolak, alias Baldev Singh, of Harike village in Amritsar district and Sukhbir Singh, alias Titu of Mohali. The third escaped in an Indica car (CH-03-E-6617). Police sources believed that the man took away Rs 2.80 lakh fake currency notes.

Senior police officials of Ludhiana reached the Sahnewal police station. Doctors examining the injured cop said his condition was serious.

The sources said the accused had links with the ISI, which had stepped up its activities to cripple the country’s economy.


Travel agent held
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 18
The police has arrested a travel agent on the charges of cheating and tampering with a passport while four others were booked on the same charges.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, in a press note issued here today, said a case was registered under Sections 420, 465, 467, 468 and 471, IPC, following receipt of complaint from the Regional Passport Office authorities. It was alleged that Gurmej Kaur of Dhariwal Qadian village was issued a passport No. A6963897 on December 21, 1998.

However, the date of birth of the passport holder was tampered with and changed at the time of renewal of the passport. The passport authorities detected the forgery and Gurmej Kaur stated in an affidavit that she had given her passport to Davinder Sharma, who was a travel agent, for renewal. Subsequently, Davinder Sharma was arrested by the police last night.


Fake currency notes seized
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 18
The Talwandi Sabo police has seized 11 fake currency notes of Rs 100 denomination from Hansa Singh, a resident of Mansa, and registered a case under Section 479 of the IPC. A police party arrested the culprit and seized Rs 1,100 fake Indian currency from his possession.

The police has also launched a campaign against the drug peddlers. Pardeep Kumar, Gurjit Singh, Baldev Singh and Jaswinder Singh were arrested under Section 15 of the Indian Medical Act and 420 of the IPC.


Woman raped
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, March 18
A resident of Retewali Bhaini village has alleged that she was raped by Des Raj and Lekh Raj, both brothers, and Deep Singh, all residents of the same village, with the help of two women accomplices. It is reported that the family of the victim had property dispute with the family of the accused. A case had already been registered.

The Sadar police station has registered a case under Section 376 of the IPC against the accused. 


14 copying cases detected
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, March 18
A flying squad of the Punjab School Education Board led by Mr Parminder Singh, Member, Academic Council, in raids conducted in six schools of Ferozepore district detected 14 cases of copying yesterday.

Nine cases of unfair means were detected in the morning session of science subject of 10th class while five copying cases were detected in Punjabi subject of plus two class in the evening session. Four students were booked in Boota Singh High School, Jalalabad, three each in Government School of Guruharsahai and Chack Budhoke, two in government schools of Dabwali Kalan and one each in government senior secondary school for boys, Fazilka and Guru Teg Bahadur School, Guruharsahai.

The other three members of this flying squad are Gurcharan Singh Brar, Sant Ram, both lecturers, and Sukhwinder Singh. This Abohar-based team has booked 30 cases of copying in the recent examinations of 10th and plus two classes in different schools of district which is highest till now.

Besides these copying cases, Mr Baldev Krishan Mittal, District Education Officer (Secondary), Ferozepore, said after tour of 68 examination centres, he had found 11 copying cases of which nine were found in schools of Zira subdivision and two in Jalalabad subdivision.


School for mentally challenged opened
Our Correspondent

Moga, March 18
Deputy Commissioner G. Ramesh Kumar yesterday inaugurated VISTA, a school for mentally challenged children by the district Red Cross Society on the Katcha Zira road here today. The school has the capacity to enroll 35 children.

Giving details of the project, Mr G. Ramesh Kumar, who is also the secretary of the society, said three teachers and a Principal had been appointed and arrangements were being made for the transportation of children. No fee would be charged from poor children, he said. Among those present on the occasion included Ms Mohindra Devi, chairperson, Hospital Welfare Section, Moga, and the SDMs of Bahapurana Moga and Nihal Singh Wala.


National seminar on folklore
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 18
Guru Nanak Dev University will organise a two-day seminar on “Folklore: tradition and modernity” on March 21.

The seminar will be inaugurated by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh, while Dr Baljit Singh Gill, Professor Emeritus at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, will deliver the keynote address.

About 100 teachers from the universities of Punjab and other universities will take part in the seminar. This was informed in a university press note here yesterday.

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