Tuesday, July 8, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



HC acquits Bhullar in triple murder case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
In a reversal of events, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today acquitted Punjab’s Additional Director-General of Police Daljit Singh Bhullar, sentenced to life imprisonment in a 1996 triple murder case. His gunman was also acquitted of the charges framed against him.

The Bench, however, dismissed an appeal filed by two brothers having interest in the units which a victim — Dr Paramjit Singh Sahota — was associated with, along with Mr Bhullar’s son.

The four were convicted by Patiala’s District and Sessions Judge on August 1, 2001. They were tried for murder and other offences after the bodies of Dr Sahota, his cousin Satnam Singh and driver Vikram Chand were found burnt in a car, about 60 km from SAS Nagar, near here, on September 16, 1996.

Pronouncing the orders in an open court, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice K.C. Gupta and Mr Justice K.S. Garewal, ruled: “A few bits here and there, on which the prosecution relies, are not adequate to connect Bhullar with the offence of criminal conspiracy”.

Giving details, the Judges asserted: “From the circumstances established, it cannot be said that there was an agreement between Bhullar and other appellants, besides a meeting of minds to commit the offence. There is no physical manifestation of an agreement between Bhullar and the co-accused from which conspiracy can be inferred. Moreover, there is no evidence that Bhullar had performed an act which led to the murder of the three”.

Giving him the benefit of the doubt, the Judges said: “The appeal filed by Bhullar is accepted. He is acquitted of the charges.” Referring to his gunman Krishan Kumar’s case, the Judges stated: “There is no satisfactory evidence on the file from which it can be held that there was adequate connection between Krishan Kumar and other appellants to commit the offence of criminal conspiracy and the murder of the three. The appeal is allowed. He is also given the benefit of the doubt and acquitted of the charges levelled against him”.

In their 89-page order, the Judges held: “The circumstances against Agyapal Singh and Ladwinder Singh are very strong, which clearly point towards a conspiracy between them to do away with Dr Sahota and to further eliminate the evidence by committing the murder of his cousin and the driver. They had entered into a conspiracy to eliminate Dr Sahota and the other two became the victims because they had seen them commit the murder of Dr Sahota. To destroy the evidence, they had to be murdered per-force”.

Regarding the motive behind the murder, the Judges held: “It is true that Dr Sahota was the golden goose, but the appellants were very much aggrieved as the doctor and his brother were having financial as well as administrative control of both units, although they had not invested money. In fact, Agyapal Singh, who had invested a huge amount, had no say”.

The Judges further held: “Agyapal Singh and Ladwinder Singh were last seen with Dr Sahota and the other two on September 16, 1996, at SAS Nagar. It is true that the bodies were found 60 km from SAS Nagar, but there is no evidence that the victims were seen in the company of someone else after 5.30 on that evening. The only inference is that they were murdered by the two. Thereafter, the bodies were put in a car, petrol was sprinkled on it and it set on fire. After destroying the evidence, another car was used for returning from the scene of the crime”.

Speaking for the Bench, Mr Justice Gupta concluded: “It is there in the evidence that petrol was purchased for Rs 200 in cash that day. It is further in evidence that the company employees used to purchase petrol on chits issued by the company. The fact that petrol was purchased in cash that day suggests that the two did not want to leave any evidence. Their appeal is dismissed”.


PPSC scam: 90 pleas dismissed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
Finding no merit, a three-Judge Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today dismissed over 90 petitions filed by PCS officers whose services had been terminated by the state of Punjab after the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) recruitment scam came to light.

In a related development, another high court Bench dismissed appeals filed by the state of Punjab, seeking the cancellation of bail granted to certain PCS officers in the matter.

The officers were recruited in the executive, judicial and allied services during the tenure of former PPSC’s Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu. Challenging the orders passed against them, the petitioners had claimed that they were not related to the alleged scam.

Their counsel had submitted that there was no material with the state government for passing the termination orders. The counsel appearing on behalf of Punjab had, on the other hand, contended that though there might not be direct evidence against all candidates, they could not be cleared in view of the Rs 22-crore recovery from the then Chairman and his family.

After hearing the arguments and going through the documents, the Bench, comprising the Chief Justice, Mr Justice B.K. Roy, Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice N.K. Sodhi, ruled that the state government had inherent powers to nullify the action in case of tainted selection. Moreover, the argument was without merit that some of the officers were deemed to confirmed after the expiry of the probation period.

Orders reserved

The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday reserved till tomorrow orders on a petition filed by Gurgaon-based Orbit Resorts Limited floated by former Union minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. The company was seeking the quashing of an order passed by a Kharar court, whereby warrants were issued for searching the organisation’s premises.

Claiming that the orders were passed in a “mechanical manner”, the petitioner had added that the same were “unconstitutional and illegal, resulting in flagrant violation of fundamental rights”.

Giving details, the petitioner had added that “there was a glaring non-application of mind by the Magistrate. A general search warrant could not have been issued on the bare statement of the police claiming that search was necessary”.

The petitioner added, “The Magistrate must satisfy himself that the issuance of the warrants is necessary. He failed to appreciate that the application seeking the issuance of the search warrants was extremely general and vague in nature. It did not specify as to what purpose or objective was to be achieved”.

Arguing on the petitioner’s behalf, the counsel asserted: “The Magistrate also failed to consider that the application for the issuance of search warrants was submitted with malafide intention and was politically motivated.

The court process was being exploited for extraneous considerations in order to wreck vengeance. The real intent of the prosecution was to malign and defame former Chief Minster Parkash Singh Badal and his family”. The orders would be pronounced by Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall on Tuesday.


Jathedar threatens to ex-communicate Romana
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 7
Jathedar, Takht Patna Sahib, Giani Iqbal Singh has threatened to ex-communicate Mr Mohinder Singh Romana from the Sikh Panth and Mr Romana has announced that the management of Takht Harmandar, Patna Sahib would place the former suspension for using “extra-constitutional” power.

In a letter to Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, faxed to Akal Takht secretariat here today, Giani Iqbal Singh said that the Sikh clergy could not discuss the case of Mr Romana at its meeting, scheduled to be held on July 10 here as the chapter of Mr Romana, already stood closed by the high priests of Takht Patna Sahib.

However, Mr Romana reiterated that Akal Takht was supreme and had the right to declare anybody ‘tankhaiya’ (guilty of religious misconduct), Mr Romana said that no other Takht had the right to ex-communicate any Sikh from the Panth as there was no precedent in Sikhism. Refusing to oblige the Sikh high priests of Patna Sahib and step down as president, Mr Romana said that the management could not sack him without cogent reason.

Taking serious note of the statement of Mr Romana that he would file a defamation suit against the Sikh clergy of Patna Sahib, Giani Iqbal Singh said that he (Mr Romana) must know that such a ‘wrong step’ would create problems in the way of declaring any Sikh ‘tankhaiya’ by Akal Takht even.

He said Mr Romana being a member of the SGPC must know Sikh traditions before taking such steps. Giani Iqbal Singh said that counter defamation cases would be filed against Mr Romana in Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi, Patna, America, Canada and Germany etc by the Sikh sangat.

Giani Iqbal Singh said that the Sikh high priests of Patna Sahib had already directed the gurdwara management to sack Mr Romana for not obeying the directives of the Sikh clergy. He said Mr Romana should himself tender his resignation as president of the management in wake of the directives of the Sikh clergy (Patna Sahib).

Mr Romana alleged that Giani Iqbal Singh had been facing serious charges including ‘moral turpitude’ and hence he had no right to continue as Jathedar of the Takht. Mr Romana said that on his request, Akal Takht had already called him to depose before the Sikh clergy on July 10. He said he would request the Sikh clergy for taking action against Giani Iqbal Singh for indulging in ‘anti-panthic’ activities.

Meanwhile, a spokesman of the Damdami Taksal and some other Sikh organisations alleged that Giani Iqbal Singh had indulged in ‘anti-Panthic’ activities at the behest of government agencies.


Sacked minister’s kin lash out at CM
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 7
Family members of Dr Harbans Lal have lashed out at Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for dismissing him from the ministry without giving him a chance to prove his innocence.

Addressing a press conference at Aam Khas Bagh here today, Mrs Prem Lata, wife of the sacked minister and district president of the Mahila Congress, and Mr Munish Verma, his son and president of the District Youth Congress, alleged that Dr Harbans Lal was innocent and he had been dismissed from the Cabinet under a deep-rooted conspiracy.

The Chief Minister has taken this step prior to the visit of Union Home Minister L.K.Advani to justify his action of conducting raids targeting Mr Parkash Singh Badal, they said. They alleged that the Chief Minister’s coterie had made Dr Harbans Lal a scapegoat as he belonged to a poor family.

They asked the Chief Minister why he had not taken any action against Principal Secretary S.K. Sinha even though the latter had already been indicted after a probe. The family members said the Chief Minister had taken action against Dr Harbans Lal at a time when he was struggling for survival at Escorts Hospital, New Delhi.

The family members said they would meet Ms Sonia Gandhi in Shimla to apprise her of the alleged high-handedness of the Chief Minister.

They said the sacked minister had never given extension to contractors to fell trees.


Contractor’s version on forest scandal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
Mr Lachhman Singh, a forest contractor and former Congress minister from Haryana, has a different story to tell about the “ forest scandal” that led to the sacking of Punjab Forest Minister Harbans Lal and the suspension of a Divisional Commissioner.

Addressing a press conference today, Mr Lachhman Singh said though he was given an extension for felling trees by Mr Harbans Lal, it was not implemented by the Forest Department. The Forest Department was to issue a permit to cut trees. As no permit was issued, not a single tree was felled. When no tree had not been cut, how could a multi-crore scandal take place? he questioned.

“I will seek an appointment with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh soon to submit all documents and other related material to prove my point to him,” said Mr Lachhman Singh, who has been working as a forest contractor since 1945.

“Neither Mr Harbans Lal sought any money from me, nor I offered anything to him,” Mr Lachhman Singh asserted. When asked to comment on Mr Harbans Lal’s sacking, Mr Lachhman Singh said he would not say anything as it was an internal matter of the Punjab Government.

Mr Lachhman Singh said in Mirzapur village (Ropar) a forest was there on common land with 300 farmers as shareholders. “ I am also one of the shareholders in that jungle,” he added. “I paid about Rs 4 crore to all shareholders and signed agreements with each of them for felling the trees a few years ago. For felling any tree even in a private forest, the Forest Department’s permission was a must.”

“After that I applied for permits. However, the department continued to dilly-dally and it led to litigation. Then the department issued a permit on December 26, 2000, to fell the trees within three months.”

“In fact, this forest has a huge crop of khair trees, which fetch a high price up to Rs 800 per quintal in the market as its product, “katha”, is used in pan masala and also for dyeing leather etc.”

“However, as about 60,000 trees were to be felled, I was unable to cut all trees within the given time, “he added. Then I again requested for an extension which was denied. It again led to litigation. At last Mr Harbans Lal opined on the file that I should be given an extension, which was a routine matter in Punjab and other states like Haryana where a Divisional Forest Officer was competent to give such an extension,” he claimed.

Though he had suffered a loss of Rs 1.5 crore in this forest, “ I have deposited Rs 60 lakh as a security with the Punjab Forest Department. Besides, trees worth Rs 2.50 crore have not been allowed to be cut,” he added.


Harbans Lal’s removal ‘right’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
Dr Joginder Dayal, Secretary of the Punjab CPI, said today that the removal of Forest Minister, Harbans Lal and the suspension of Mr Dharmvir, an IAS officer, were steps in the right direction.

He said all other ministers, facing cases of corruption in the Court or who had been indicted by the Lok Pal should also be removed.

Likewise, tainted bureaucrats and police officers should also be shown the door. Those facing serious charges of corruption inquiries should be handed over to a sitting Judge of any high court or the Supreme Court.

The CPI leader said that a commission should be set up to look into all corruption cases since 1992. Dr Dayal condemned Mr L.K. Advani’s statement in support of Mr Badal, saying indefensible allies should not be defended by the Deputy Prime Minister.



Foundation rebuts Badal’s charge
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
The Indo-Global Education Foundation and Bikramajit Singh, Officer on Special Duty to the Punjab Chief Minister, today denied the allegation levelled by former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal that Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has a share in the foundation.

Addressing a press conference, Mr Sukhdev Kumar Singla, chairman of the foundation, said the organisation had promoted an education city at Abhipur village through the Indo-Global Education Society, which was a charitable and non-profit organisation. Mr Singh said Mr Bikramajit Singh, who was also present at the press conference, had donated 93 kanals and 19 marlas of land to the society, besides selling 29 acres of land at a cost of Rs 32 lakh. The registration of the land was done last year.

Mr Singla said since Mr Bikramajit Singh had donated land, he was taken as one of the members of the society. However, he was not in any manner connected with the management of the project. The Chief Minister had also nothing to do with the foundation and the society.

Mr Singla said he had all respect for Mr Badal, but the latter should not politicise the society and the foundation which had been set up to impart quality education in the state. Mr Badal had alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh had a stake in the foundation.


Police remand of Narottam extended
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, July 7
Mr Rakesh Gupta, Judicial Magistrate, today extended the police remand of Mr Narottam Singh Dhillon, a nephew of former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, by one day. Mr Dhillon would be produced before the Judicial Magistrate, Gidderbaha, tomorrow.

Mr Dhillon, who was in judicial custody in a corruption case registered against him at Mohali was brought to the Lambi police station on June 30 on the production warrant secured on June 28 from the Malout court. On June 30, Mr Nirmal Singh Lubana, Judicial Magistrate, Malout, remanded him in police custody till July 5. On July 5, Mr A.S. Virk, Judicial Magistrate, Gidderbaha, extended his remand till July 7.

Today, Mr Dhillon was presented before Mr Gupta as Mr Virk was on leave. Mr Gupta had ordered that Mr Dhillon be produced in the Gidderbaha court on July 8.

A case against Mr Dhillon was registered under Sections 489 A and 489 B of the IPC, Sections 18, 21, 22 of the NDPS Act, Section 4,5 and 6 of the Explosive Substance Act, Section 13 of FEMA and Section 25 of the Arms Act at the Lambi police station.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that though the Lambi police could not recover any narcotics, arms, explosive and fake currency despite the fact that Mr Dhillon had been in police remand for more than one week. The Punjab police was attempting to establish links of Mr Dhillon with Pakistan’s ISI and top terrorists of Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of interrogation of an international smuggler arrested by the Amritsar police on June 24.


6 ministers lash out at Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
Six Congress ministers, in a joint statement issued here today condemned Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s ‘sinister conspiracy’ to mobilise innocent rural masses to launch a morcha against the Punjab Government’s drive against corruption during the Badal regime.

They alleged that while Mr Badal was getting panicky, his nine ‘corrupt’ colleagues had been proceeded against for their proven acts of corruption. The ministers said the people of Punjab had fought against the British, but Mr Badal’s morcha against the drive against corruption was unprecedented.

Referring to Mr Badal’s tirade against Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s alleged anti-Sikh actions during the past two decades, the ministers reminded him that he had thanked her last year for her intervention, which enabled his group win the SGPC elections.

Refuting the charges levelled against Capt Amarinder Singh, the ministers said news about the disappearance of Rs 2 crore from the bank lockers of Ravi Sidhu, the dismissed Chairman of the PPSC, was incorrect.

Regarding the allegation about the Rs 5,000-crore loan from the International Finance Consortium, the ministers clarified that the state had received the letter from the consortium with regard to the approval of the loan, pending clearance from the Union Government. The statement was issued by Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Mr Lal Singh, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Mr Sardool Singh, Mr Gurchet Singh Bhuller and Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa.


News analysis
Cong-Akali verbal duel clouds Punjab
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
All one hears these days is the exchange of challenges and threats between Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Parkash Singh Badal. While the state Vigilance Bureau has adopted an aggressive posture by stepping up search of the properties owned by the Badals, the beleaguered Akalis submitted a memorandum to the Punjab Governor on June 30, demanding immediate dismissal of the state government. There has been a virtual indictment of the Amarinder Singh Government by Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani on July 3 following breast-beating by the Akalis and their veiled threat to pull out of the NDA. In a belated reaction, the state BJP too huddled together and submitted a memorandum to the Governor on July 4, seeking the restoration of democracy and the end to dictatorship.

The blame game between the two principal political parties has only vitiated the atmosphere giving rise to politics of confrontation, right down to the panchayat level, resulting in social tensions. The accusations between the two political rivals have remained the same. If the Congress charges the Akalis with causing harm to the state’s interests by the their queer mixing of religion and politics and holding them responsible for terrorism, the Akalis accuse the Congress of having betrayed Punjab by selling out its interests in inter-state disputes on sharing of river waters, territory etc.

If the Congress came out with a charge sheet against the Akali-BJP Government in January, 2002, listing 12 allegations, the Akalis have twice submitted memoranda to Punjab Raj Bhawan — once on May 23, 2002, and then on June 30. A close reading of the two documents reveals that it is almost a counter charge sheet of what the Congress had issued against the Akali-BJP Government in January, 2002. The points raised are the same.

Earlier, Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, MLA, a nephew of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had submitted a memorandum to the Governor and the State Election Commission, highlighting the state “excesses” during the Zila Parishad and block samiti elections in May, 2002.

In this politically vitiated environment, there does not seem to be any meeting point where the Congress and the Akalis could work for reconstructing Punjab, which has become a laggard state, where the economy is a shambles, finances are in a mess, the youth is high on drugs agriculture is stagnating, industry is gasping for fresh investments etc.


Dalits’ march from July 11: Paswan
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 7
The Lok Janshakti Party headed by former union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, in its bid to create awareness among people about the alleged excesses committed on Dalits by the Punjab Government during the recent Talhan caste clash, has decided to hold a Dalit chetna cycle march from Jalandhar to Delhi on July 11.

Mr Paswan, in a letter to the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, alleged that caste clashes at Talhan village in recent past badly shaken the faith of the Dalit community in the Punjab Government as the latter had failed to take appropriate action against those police officials, who were responsible for indiscriminate firing on agitating mob at the Buta Mandi area on June 5 resulting in the killing of a Dalit youth, Vijay Kumar.

He said Dalits should be given 50 per cent representation in the managing committee of Talhan gurdwara as they constitute more than 75 per cent of total population of the Talhan village.


4 Left parties to launch stir from July 15
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 7
Four Left parties have decided to launch a statewide agitation from July 15 to 30 against the failure of state and Central Governments to settle the main issue, including the restoration of free power to the farming sector and free education to girl students.

At a meeting of the state secretaries of the CPM (Pasla faction), it was unanimously resolved to oppose the policies of privatisation and liberalisation being pursued by both state and Central governments by launching an agitation in the state for which the MCPI, the CPI (ML) and the Forward Block had already extended their support.

The Left parties would hold dharnas at tehsil levels to create awareness among masses about anti-people steps taken by both governments.


Work on thermal plant channel given up
Our Correspondent

Ropar, July 7
The construction of the escape channel of Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant (GGSSTP) here has been hit as the contractor entrusted with the construction of initial portion of the channel has stopped the work. Highly placed sources said Sandhu Builders entrusted with constructing the channel along the stage-I and stage-II dykes at a cost of Rs 4.7 crore in 2000 had abandoned the work after dithering over it for two years.

The Ropar Hydel Department of the PSEB will take up the construction of the escape channel. The escape channel carries waste water of the plant to Sutlej. The said channel earlier was kutcha and caused water-logging of fields in the area. The Hydel Department decided to raise a concrete wall on the outer side of the channel while the other side was to be compensated with the retaining wall of the ash dykes. The department had also planned to raise 1.7 MW micro hydel project on the escape channel after the completion of construction.

The contractor has abandoned the work on the plea that the construction quality of the ash dykes of stage-I and stage-II of the plant was poor. He alleged that clay content in the ash dyke walls as per norms should be 8 per cent to 15 per cent. However, the clay content in the said ash dykes along which the channel was to be constructed was just 2 per cent to 3 per cent. Due to it there was seepage of water from the dykes that made the construction of channel impossible, the contractor has maintained in his complaint to the higher authorities of the PSEB.

Executive Engineer Ropar Hydel Department, Jasmer Singh admitted that the contractor entrusted with the construction of initial portion of the channel had left the work. He told that a notice had been issued to him. If he failed to respond to the notice his contract would be cancelled and fresh tenders called for the work.

On the poor construction quality of dykes as alleged by the contractor Mr Jasmer Singh said that he could not question the quality of dykes. The experts of the PSEB have already assessed the project. The job of the contractor was to construct the channel.

Last year a major breach occurred in the state-II dyke of the plant due to which thousands tonnes of fly ash flowed into the International Wetland area of Ropar.


Probe sought into illegal construction
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 7
The Punjab Human Rights Committee, a non-governmental organisation, has urged the AICC chief, Ms Sonia Gandhi, to probe the involvement of the local Congressmen who had reportedly struck a deal with a section of land mafia to get the illegal construction work at the Bhupindra flour mill regularised.

Mr Ved Parkash Gupta, general secretary, Punjab Human Rights Committee, in a letter written to Ms Gandhi, alleged that a section of Congress leaders of Bathinda had started trying to make a fast buck by getting the illegal construction work regularised in the Bhupindra flour mill. He added that the Municipal Corporation authorities had issued notices to some of the occupants of the land in this mill, who had raised unauthorised constructions on its premises.

He pointed out that the conversion of Bhupindra flour mill into a residential area and the subsequent development of a colony on it had triggered a large-scale protest in the city about three years ago. PUDA was forced to register a criminal case against three persons, who were involved in this deal. During the previous SAD-BJP government, no action was taken against those who were involved in various sorts of illegal activities, he added.

When the Congress came to power, a section of Congress leaders started making an attempt to get the illegal construction regularised. Though the illegal construction had been going on, the municipal corporation authorities had turned a blind eye to it, he said. He demanded suitable action against the Congressmen involved in the scam after holding a probe. Meanwhile, information gathered by TNS revealed that the Municipal Corporation authorities had been indulging in selective demolition of unauthorised structures in the city.

Information revealed that a section of land mafia had been making attempts to grab those pieces of the Central Government land whose values ran into crores of rupees and were lying dispossessed, at throwaway prices by exploiting loopholes in the legal system. Mr Amritpal Singh Sidhu, general secretary, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Punjab, alleged that some unscrupulous elements had started developing unauthorised colonies with the active patronage of those “who mattered most” in the corridors of power.


Miss India Nikita interested in films
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 7
Nikita Anand, Miss India-2003, and noted artiste Bhagwant Mann regaled audience at the Monsoon Hungama Shopping Extravaganza organised by a chain of stores here today.

Bhagwant Mann made children and others burst into laughter with his jokes. Nikita answered children’s questions on fashion and its scope in India.

Nikita, originally from Jalandhar, said she was interested in Bollywood and would do so when an offer came her way. Nikita won “India Times Face Hunt Model” contest in Delhi in 2002, donned crown of Miss Ranchi in 1997 and the May Queen contest of Mumbai in 2000.

Asked if she would work in a comedy by Bhagwant Mann, she said, “I would be pleased to do so, particularly, as Bhagwant is likely to force people to laugh in his film.”

Mr H.S. Sidhu, general manager of the chain of stores, said his organisation had completed two years to celebrate the event.


Sufi Foundation has mentor in Muzaffar Ali
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
In some months from now, the rich Sufi tradition of Punjab will be awarded its rightful place in the scheme of cultural progress of the state once the Sufi Foundation India, a voluntary organisation formed by some culturally-inclined people, including some top Punjab police officials, is launched with the objective of preserving the glorious heritage of Punjab.

Formed some time ago under the chairmanship of the ADGP, Law and Order, Punjab, Mr A.A. Siddiqui, an ardent lover of the Sufiana tradition, the organisation has a mentor in the celebrated film maker Muzaffar Ali, who was in the city on a special invitation from the organisation yesterday. With his strong Sufiana leaning and rich knowledge of the field, Muzaffar Ali could possibly have been the best ‘counsellor’ for the organisation.

Some years ago, Ali floated his own music company through which he had released four cassettes on Sufi love, the latest being ‘Jahan-e-Khusro. The earlier ones were ‘Paigham-e-Mohabbat’, ‘Jaam-e-Ishq’ and ‘Raqs-e-Bismil’. Not just this, Muzaffar Ali is also working on an international film based on the life of a renowned 13th century poet Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi. To be made on a budget of $ 10 million, Ali wants Al Pacino and Robert De Niro to work in this film. Another acclaimed project of Ali ‘India, Garden of Saints’ is a film on Sufi saints in India.


Judicial courts start functioning
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, July 7
The newly set up judicial courts commenced functioning with Mr Kuljit Pal Singh, Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division), assuming charge as the first judge of these courts here today.

However, due to the ongoing summer vacation in the courts, the judicial work on civil matters would only be started from July 16, but the work pertaining to criminal matters begun from today onwards. Mr Kuljit Pal Singh was the Additional Civil Judge, Zira, before his transfer here as the first judge of these courts.

The Bar Association, Jalalabad, welcomed the new judge at a function held at the newly built tehsil complex, which also housed the judicial courts. Almost all members of the Bar were present.

Mr Sat Pal Kamboj, president of the local Bar association, thanked Mr Justice K.C. Gupta of the Punjab and Haryana High Court-cum-Administrative Judge, Ferozepore, and Mr M.M. Bedi, Sessions Judge, Ferozepore, for their sincere efforts in setting up these courts.

Mr G.K. Jindal, a senior advocate, said junior advocates had a sizeable majority in the local Bar and deserved to be treated liberally by the court.

Mr Dheeraj Gumber, advocate, regretted that no one from the local civil administration turned up to welcome the new judge.

Sources disclosed that about 3,000 civil and criminal cases pertaining to Jalalabad subdivision were likely to be transferred to the new courts, which were at present with Fazilka judicial courts and the judicial work of the adjoining block of this subdivision was also being attached with the new courts.


Hold plebiscite on fiscal policies’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 7
Challenging the statement of Capt. Amarinder Singh that by electing the Congress panchayats in a large number of villages the people had voted in favour of government's fiscal policies, the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta) said to test this the Chief Minister should hold a plebiscite.

In a statement here today, the state unit president of the BKU (E), Mr Joginder Singh Ugraha, alleged that the Congress government had talked to fulfil all the promises made before the elections. He said the government should conduct a survey on issues like withdrawing facilities of free power and water from the farmers of the state. He said their union had also got the support of the Kisan Sangharash Committee on the issue of the restoration of free power to the farmers. Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, state general secretary of the union, said with the privatisation of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) the cost of power would increase and every section of society would be affected by it.


Memory man holds workshop
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 7
Try remembering, “45050250254001481682164...” difficult? Yes, but not for Mr Biswaroop Roy Chowdhaury, a man with a name recorded in the Limca Book of Records, for his sharp memory.

Mr Chowdhaury is in the city to conduct a workshop on techniques of improving the memory and concentration. While talking to Mr Chowdhaury said The Tribune he had mastered the techniques by reading the books on the subject. He now runs an institute to help people improve their memory and concentration. He memorised more than 100 random digits by asking the last two digits of the phone numbers of the audience during his lecture. He also demonstrated his skills by remembering the playing cards and their hiding places after asking the participants to hide the playing cards that were distributed to them.

He said to improve the memory, concentration and recalling capacity both the left and right parts of the human brain should be used. He added that the items which have any visual dimension were fast to remember rather than those remembered by sound, which he claimed was the weakest of the memorising techniques. He urged the students to locate their weaknesses in the memorising, retention and recalling, rather than simply saying that they were not good at memorising things.

Mr Vicky Singhal of Sine Soft Education, who organised the workshop, said in the age of competition hard work should be replaced with smart work.


Panchayat poll on July 13
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 7
The State Election Commission has decided to hold polling for the post of sarpanch and panchayat members of Behman Dewana village on July 13, according to a press note issued here today by Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Election Officer, Bathinda, Mr Anurag Aggarwal.

The elections for the sarpanch and panchayat members of this village were postponed on June 29 due to poll violence in the village.


Volunteers leave for Kashmir
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 7
The first batch of volunteers of the Shri Amarnath Langar Seva Samiti left for Kashmir today to set up service camp at Pissu Top, one of the most tough hill spot.

This will be the seventh such annual camp by the organisation there. The cavalcade of trucks and mini-trucks loaded with material to be used for running free kitchen for a month was flagged off by Councillor Vimal Thathai in Rani Jhansi market today.

Mr Sohan Lal Kataria, president of the samiti, said 35 volunteers, including women were accompanying the cavalcade to serve at Pissu Top.


Group Capt Suresh takes over charge
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 7
Group Captain T. Suresh took over as Station Commander, Air Force Station, Raja Sansi here today. Capt Suresh was commissioned in the fighter stream of the Indian Air Force in 1981. He is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy and graduate of Defence Services Staff College, Wellington. He has undergone the higher command course at Army War College, Mhow. He has 2900 hours of accident-free flying on fighter aircraft to his credit.


Ranjit Sagar Dam oustees plan stir
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, July 7
Ranjit Sagar Dam oustees from Thar Block are contemplating agitation for the acceptance of their demands.

Mr Rameshwar Nath Gautam, Sarpanch, Thara Chakla, and president Ranjit Sagar Dam Oustees Union, said at Pathankot that the demands of the oustees include one post each for an oustees' family, rehabilitation allowance and compensation for the land acquired in Punjab on the pattern on the pattern of Himachal government.


Child killed in mishap
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 7
A two-year-old child, Bivhor Jain, died while six other members of the family were injured in an accident involving three vehicles on the GT road near Kanshi Nagar here last night. Those injured included Mrs Gitika Jain, Mrs Dakhshi Jain, Mrs Garima Jain, Rohit Jain, Rajiv Jain and Ms Banika Jain — all family members.

They were returning from Jalandhar. It was learnt that a Tata 709 vehicle suddenly applied brakes and the two cars following it rammed one after the other. The injured persons were taken to a Ludhiana hospital. The police has registered a case. The child was reportedly the grandson of an industrialist, Mr Ramesh Jain.


Protest against PSEB privatisation
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 7
In their novel protest against the government move to privatise the state electricity board many half-naked PSEB employees today held a demonstration near Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall here today.

The employees, carrying placards bearing anti-government slogans in hands, reached the venue of demonstration to symbolise fate of employees after the trifurcation of the PSEB. They said that privatisation was an anti-employee step.

Protesters belonging the Employees Federation, the Council of Junior Engineers, the Bijli Front, the Technical Services Union and the AITUC Federation criticised the Punjab government for unilateral decision to dispand the board under the garb of restructuring the power sector in the state, even as the employees were not taken into confidence in this regard, which, they termed, as highly deplorable.

It was decided to observe strike on July 9 and July 10 in the state. Later, the employees presented a charter of demands to the Deputy Commissioner at his office, who assured to send it to Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.


SSP Brar to head probe
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, July 7
The multi-crore UBDC re-modelling land scam will be investigated into by a Special Investigation Team (SIT), headed by Mr R.P.S. Brar, SSP, Gurdaspur.

The other members of the team are: R.K. Jaiswal, SP, headquarters, Sukhwinder Singh, DSP, intelligence.

Highly placed sources put the number of officials of the Irrigation Department and contractors accused in the case at 30.


Sarkar Commissioner, Ferozepore
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
Mr B. Sarkar, Secretary, School Education, Punjab, has been posted as Commissioner, Ferozepore Division. He will replace Mr Dharamvir, who has been placed under suspension.

Mr Sarkar has also been given additional charge as Commissioner, Faridkot Division.

The orders about the posting of the Secretary, School Education, will be issued later.


Four arrested for immoral trafficking
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 7
Acting on a tip-off the police raided hotel Niagra near Surta Singh road late last evening and nabbed seven persons, including hotel owner’s nephew, manager and two women.

Those arrested include Paramjit Singh alias Pamma, nephew of the owner, Sarabjit Singh Gill, Karanjit of Guru Nanak Pura locality, Balwinder Kumar of Kishan Kot, abadi and Baljit Singh of Guru Nanak Nagar, Verka, and two women.

Mr Kultar Singh, SSP said the police got information that Paramjit Singh had been running a flesh trade in the hotel. He said the police headed by Mr Swinder Singh, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Rural-I and SHO Islamabad police station was formed. The team raided the complex late last evening and arrested them. A case had been registered at Islamabad police station.


Chennai-based firm dupes residents
Our Correspondent

Nabha, July 7
A Chennai-based firm, Mahalakshmi Home Needs, has decamped with lakhs of rupees collected from local residents after promising to supply them household goods at cheaper rates.

According to information, the firm had taken two shops on rent near Dulladi Gate here for running its business. Various household goods, including ACs, refrigerators, coolers, mobile phones, sofas, utensils, double beds and dressing tables etc. had been kept in the shops. The firm was supplying these things at 15-45% lower rate than the market price on advance booking.

Many associations here had made complaints regarding the functioning of the firm to the local administration. The police authorities had even pasted a notice outside the shops, asking the people to buy things at their risk. But many people ignored the notice and booked things with the firm recklessly. Today, when the proprietors of the firm failed to turn up to deliver the booked goods, people protested outside the shops. The police sealed the shops.


VB team raids 4 chemist shops
Our Correspondent

Naya Gaon (Kharar), July 7
A team of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau today raided four medical stores in Naya Gaon village here this afternoon and reportedly seized certain types of drugs. The raids were conducted after the VB received complaints that some shops in the village were selling certain restricted drugs to students of Panjab Engineering College and Panjab University, Chandigarh.

It is learnt that a large number of youths addicted to a restricted syrup, capsules and ampules from Chandigarh, Panchkula and SAS Nagar frequent medical stores on the periphery of Chandigarh. It is alleged that several chemist shops on the periphery, especially in Naya Gaon and Mullanpur-Garibdass villages, were selling medicines to youths to make quick bucks.

The medical shops which were raided are Krishna Medicos, Deep Medical Store, Bobby Medical Store and Jolly Medical Store. The VB team was also accompanied by a Drug Inspector. The raids continued for over three hours.


Two poppy husk dealers get jail
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 7
A local court today awarded a 10-year imprisonment to two persons accused of dealing in poppy husk. A case against the two had been registered in June, 2001.

Additional Sessions Judge P.S. Virk awarded a 10-year imprisonment each to Surjit Singh and Nidhan Singh of Kuka village in Samana subdivision of this district. A case had been registered against them after they were caught with five bags of poppy husk containing 1.5 quintals of the narcotic substance near Samana. The court also fined the two Rs 1 lakh.

According to the prosecution, the accused had been apprehended while sitting on the bags of poppy husk. They had run away from the spot when the police party reached there but were apprehended later.

In another case, the court of Civil Judge S S Mann today awarded a one-year imprisonment to bus driver Surinderpal Singh, alias Ghola, who was accused of running over a girl in January, 2001. A case had been registered in this regard at the Patiala Sadar.


One wanted in dacoity case surrenders
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 7
Raja Ram alias Kitty, of Jahan Khelan wanted in a dacoity case surrendered before Ms Gurpreet Deo, SSP, here today. He was wanted in a dacoity case of Sangam Investment Pvt Ltd and Omega Money Exchange of Garhi Gate, Gaushala Bazar here. Six of his accomplice involved in the dacoity had already been arrested by the police.

One more accused of this dacoity case, Inderjit Singh, alias Sabbi, was still at large.


Minor girl abducted

Phagwara, July 7
A 13-year-old girl was allegedly kidnapped by some scooter-borne miscreants near the Khalwara Chowk here last night.

The father of the girl, in his complaint to the police, said his daughter was kidnapped when she had gone to fields to relieve herself.

Though the local police had denied the kidnapping incident, it had questioned some youths in this connection. — UNI


Cop creates terror on varsity campus
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 7
A newly recruited Punjab Police Inspector created terror early this morning in the Punjabi University campus by firing several shots in the air in front of hostel number 6 in the varsity campus in an inebriated state.

Surprisingly, even though the incident happened very close to hostel number 7, which is occupied by girl students, the university authorities and the local police is trying to hush up the matter with the authorities not registering any complaint and the police conveniently not registering any FIR in the case.

Newly appointed Inspector Manmeet Singh Dhillon, who is presently serving at the Bahadurgarh Commando Complex, which is near the university campus, fired around four rounds in the air from his service pistol at around 2.45 am today. The shots led to terror in the varsity campus and the security staff of the varsity bolted the main gate.

Varsity Security Officer Lt-Col (retd) Alamjit Singh, when contacted, said he had directed his staff to close the varsity gate as soon as the shots were heard. He said subsequently he phoned the police control room and police personnel rushed to the university at around 3 am. He said the police seized the service pistol from which the shots had been fired as well as the brand new black coloured Bolero in which Manmeet Dhillon had come to the university along with another companion.

However, despite the fact that the Punjab Police Inspector was handed over to the local police in an inebriated state, the police has not even registered a case in the matter. Not only was the Inspector let off but he was also not medically examined despite several witnesses seeing him in a drunken state.

The varsity authorities have also been pressurised to hush up the matter. In an unprecedented step even though a firing incident has taken place on the campus, the university authorities are still to officially complain to the police and get an FIR registered in the matter. The Inspector is the son of a very senior Income Tax official Baljit Singh Dhillon, who also came to the university today and was seen interacting with senior varsity officials.

Varsity Public Relations Director Dr B.S. Sandhu when questioned on the topic said he did not want to make any comment on the issue. When asked whether Mr Baljit Singh Dhillon had come to the university and had met the Vice-Chancellor, he said he was not aware of it. However, independent sources disclosed that Mr Baljit Singh Dhillon remained in the university for nearly the whole day.

Meanwhile, students disclosed that Inspector Manmeet Singh Dhillon was involved in student politics and was known to a particular group in the university. The sources disclosed that Manmeet and his friend as well as other students consumed liquor till around 2.30 am following which in a drunken frenzy Manmeet fired several shots in the air from his service pistol after coming out of the varsity hostel gate.


Student bodies protest fee hike
Tribune Reporters

Nabha, July 7
Various students’ bodies held a joint rally as the local Ripudaman College opened here today. They were protesting against fee hike, abolition of free education for girls, privatisation of education and withdrawing of bus pass facility from students.

Addressing the rally, Mr Raminder Singh, president, PSU, said that the Punjab Government had closed the doors of colleges for lower and middle class students by enhancing fee. He said this was happening under the instruction from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Mr Yogesh Attari, president, ABVP, and Mr Kashmir Singh, secretary, AISF, also addressed the students.

SANGRUR: Activists of the Punjab Radical Students Union (PRSU) on Monday held protest rallies in the local Government Ranbir College and Akal Degree College, Mastuana, against the unprecedented hike in fees and funds in the colleges by the government. They demanded the withdrawal in the hike of fees and funds immediately.

Mr Sukhwinder Singh, district unit secretary of the PRSU, while addressing the rally at the local Government Ranbir College, said by increasing the fees and funds upto Rs 12,000, the state government had sent a signal to the students of weaker sections that now there was no place in the colleges for them.

Mr Harbans Sonu, a senior leader of the PRSU, also asked the government to immediately withdraw the hike in fees and funds.


Dharna by mill men
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 7
Employees of the three cooperative spinning mills of Bathinda, Goindwal and Abohar which have been closed by the state government today staged a dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Agarwal, to lodge their protest against the non-payment of their salaries for the past two years.

In a memorandum submitted to the Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, through the Deputy Commissioner, the president of the Yuva Shakti Union of Bacospin Spinning Mill Bathinda, Mr Tara Singh, said the state government should withdraw its decision to close these mills. Arrangements should be made to start the mills again through a financial aid of Rs 5 crore each, he added.

He said a commission should be set up to inquire into the reasons of losses in these mills and the guilty should be brought to book.


Bank employees stage protest
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 7
Employees of the local branches of different banks today held a demonstration in front of ICICI Bank here in protest against the alleged harassment of its staff members.

Mr Amrit Lal, secretary of the Punjab Bank Employees Federation, while addressing the gathering, alleged that the management of ICICI Bank had transferred hundreds of its employees throughout the country for participating in the all-India bank strike on May 21.

He claimed that employees of the bank were being harassed by the management on one pretext or the other. He said the agitation would be intensified if the management failed to accept their demands.

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