P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Sukhbir, Adesh behind Ponty’s entry into Punjab
K.S. Chawla

LUDHIANA: The tussle between two brothers-in-law resulted in the entry of UP liquor baron Ponty Chadha in the Punjab liquor trade during the SAD-BJP government headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

It was during the auction of liquor shops in 2001-02 that Mr Ponty Chadha came into the limelight in Punjab and managed to get liquor shops worth Rs 16 crore in Ludhiana, thanks to the support by Mr Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, son-in-law of Mr Parkash Singh Badal and then Excise and Taxation Minister.

There was a tussle between Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, son of Mr Badal, and Mr Kairon over the grant of liquor vends to Garcha brothers (Jagdish Singh and Mann Singh) who had monopoly control over the liquor trade in Ludhiana district. Mr Kairon was opposed to the Garchas, while Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal supported them.

The auction of the liquor shops had to be postponed thrice as no agreement could be reached between the two groups over the allocation of liquor vends. There was even a fear of a clash at one time between the two groups.

Upset over the situation, Mr Parkash Singh Badal organised a meeting of the two groups at Chandigarh to sort out the issue, but it failed. Finally the auction of liquor vends in Ludhiana district was held at Patiala instead of Ludhiana. It was during this auction that Mr Ponty Chadha got liquor shops worth about Rs 16 crore.

By the time the auction for the 2002-03 year was held, the political set-up in Punjab had changed and the state had a Congress government headed by Capt Amarinder Singh. The auction of liquor shops was organised in the state by Mr Y.S. Ratra, then Chief Secretary, and there was not much controversy over the liquor vends, although Mr Ponty Chadha got liquor shops worth over Rs 75 crore in Ludhiana district.

This was the first year of Congress rule and the Chief Minister wanted to avoid any type of controversy. Moreover, he was claiming to have launched an anti-corruption drive in the state.

The year 2003-04 saw the auction of liquor shops full of controversies and tussles between the local liquor traders and Mr Ponty Chadha. Mr Ponty Chadha got liquor vends worth Rs 95 crore in Ludhiana district. The liquor traders that the up liquor cartel procured liquor vends worth over Rs 350 crores in the state during the year 2003-2004.

This year, the auction of liquor shops was marred by controversies — first at Jalandhar and then at Ludhiana — on Monday. The Ponty Chadha group has also allegedly got monopoly control of liquor trade in Amritsar district.

While Mr Manmohan Singh, Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner, who conducted the auction at Ludhiana, claimed that the auction was fair and smooth and there was no controversy, the local traders allege that the entire trade had been passed on to the Ponty Chadha group. They further allege that many traders were not allowed to enter the venue of the auction and they did not get the opportunity to participate in the auction.


No support to INLD: Badal
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 9
The Shiromani Akali Dal President and former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today announced that his party would not support the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), led by the Chief Minister, Haryana, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, during the coming Lok Sabha elections.

With a formal announcement to support the BJP in Haryana, Mr Badal has politically disassociated himself from an old-time friend, Mr Chautala, while giving relief to the Haryana BJP, which has decided to contest the poll on its own following differences with the INLD.

Refuting reports that the SAD would support INLD candidates, Mr Badal said his party was part of the NDA alliance and there was no question of opposing NDA candidates. “We have decided to support candidates of the BJP and other NDA partners in Haryana,” he said, adding that party general secretary Sukhbir Badal had not made any announcement regarding support to INLD candidates during a function to mark the completion of four years of the Chautala government in Haryana.

Making a scathing attack on the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, for alleged irregularities in the auction of liquor shops, he said UP-based liquor baron Ponty Chadha had a secret understanding with the Chief Minister, who had sold the interests of the state for monetary gains. “We have submitted a complaint regarding irregularities in the auction of liquor shops to the Election Commission of India, seeking cancellation of licences granted to Mr Ponty Chadha in a wrong manner,” he said, adding that the state would lose more than Rs 50 crore in these auctions.

On the party preparedness for the elections, he said the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, would address political rallies at Patiala, Ludhiana and Jalandhar on March 18, 19 and 20, respectively, for which a detailed programme was being worked out with the BJP general secretary, Mr Parmod Mahajan.

Regarding announcement of party candidates for the Rajya Sabha elections, he said the process to select candidates was on and their names would be announced within two days. Asked whether the SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, would be fielded again for the Rajya Sabha poll, he evaded a direct reply and said he would not like to comment on the issue at this juncture.

Meanwhile, Mr Badal today inspected a special air-conditioned bus, which would be used by him for electioneering. He expressed satisfaction over the facilities available in the bus.


Badal meets Chandumajra
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 9
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Prakash Singh Badal held a closed-door meeting with senior Akali leader and former MP Prem Singh Chandumajra at the latter’s residence in Urban Estate in the city late yesterday evening.

According to sources Mr Chandumajra complained that he had been denied party ticket for the Lok Sabha elections from Patiala at the instance of Shiromani Committee President Gurcharan Singh Tohra. The sources said Mr Chandumajra also alleged that the SGPC chief had derided him by issuing statements against him despite the fact that he had always maintained that he would remain in the party and not stand as an independent.

Mr Chandumajra when questioned on the issue, said he had met Mr Badal yesterday evening and briefed him on the recent events after he had been denied party nomination from Patiala.

The Akali leader maintained that Mr Badal had agreed to meet representatives of the 101-member Committee which had met him earlier on March 12 at his residence.


Badal seeks votes for Naresh Gujral
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, March 9
The SAD and BJP today launched an election campaign from the town for Kapurthala and Sultanpur Lodhi assembly constituencies by organising a rally in favour of Mr Naresh Gujral, the Akali Dal-BJP nominee from the Jalandhar Lok Sabha seat.

Addressing the rally, SAD president Parkash Singh Badal described Ms Sonia Gandhi as an “inexperienced person who was not capable of holding the post of Prime Minister.”

Former Prime Minister, I.K. Gujral thanked Mr Badal for giving party ticket to his son. He appealed to the people to vote in favour of NDA candidates.


Ramesh Singla joins SAD
Our correspondent

Nabha, March 9
NCP leader and former MLA of the town Ramesh Singla joined the SAD today in the presence of Raja Narinder Singh, a former Cabinet minister and Mr Surjit Singh Rakhra, MLA, Samana.

Mr Singla said there was no respect for party workers in the Congress and it had become the party of the influential and the rich. He said the formal announcement regarding this would be done on March 24 when SAD president Parkash Singh Badal would come to Nabha. He said he would act as a sincere worker of the party and work to defeat the Congress candidate from Ropar constituency.

During 1992 elections, he won elections as an independent candidate from Nabha assembly constituency and later joined the Congress during Beant Singh’s regime. Mr Singla also remained president and general secretary of the Youth Congress, Punjab.


PM to address rally in Patiala on March 18
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will kickstart the election campaign of the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janta Party (SAD-BJP) combine in Punjab on March 18 by addressing a rally at Patiala, the home town of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

The Prime Minister may also visit Jalandhar to address another rally the same day. He will be back in Punjab on March 26 to receive the “Yatra” of Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani in Amritsar.

The visit of Mr Vajpayee to Patiala has become significant as the Shiromani Akali Dal nominee, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, is facing Mrs Parneet Kaur, wife of the Chief Minister. Patiala is also the home turf of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

“The Prime Minister’s rally at Patiala will be a massive show of strength of the SAD-BJP combine,” says a spokesman of the Dal holding that the visit of Mr Vajpayee will be a morale booster for all Shiromani Akali Dal and Bharatiya Janta Party candidates.

Though SAD has already announced candidates for all 10 seats it is contesting in Punjab, its alliance partner, BJP, is also expected to finalise the names of its candidates for the remaining three Lok Sabha seats in Punjab. While Union Minister of State for External Affairs Vinod Khanna is certain to be nominated again for the Gurdaspur seat, the BJP High Command will have a tough time in deciding candidates for the remaining Hoshiarpur and Amritsar seats.

In all probability before Mr Vajpayee comes to Punjab on March 18, the BJP high command would have finalised the names of candidates for three Punjab seats.

In Hoshiarpur, besides the Punjab BJP chief and sitting legislator from Garh Shankar, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, former Minister for Food Supplies Madan Mohan Mittal and sitting MLA from Hoshiarpur, Tikshan Sood, Mr Prem Dutt Sharma, son of Pt Yagya Dutt Sharma, is also in the run for the party ticket.

Another former Minister, Mr Sat Pal Saini, is also in the running for the Hoshiarpur ticket.

In Amritsar, the fight appears to be mainly between Mr Daya Singh Sodhi and Mr Balramji Dass Tandon while Mr H.S. Grewal, a General Secretary of the Punjab unit of the party, is also a strong contender for the position. At one stage the name of former Test cricketer Navjot Sidhu and former Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar, Mr Sarabjit Singh, was also mentioned for the Amritsar ticket.

Interestingly, the BJP to prove its secular credentials is more keen to put up a Sikh candidate from Amritsar. The Shiromani Akali Dal has already taken the initiative by nominating Mr Naresh Gujral, son of former Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral, from Jalandhar. The Dal is keen that Prime Minister Vajpayee also launches the election campaign of Mr Gujral on March 18. Mr Inder Kumar Gujral has been already camping in Jalandhar to campaign for his son.


Neglecting Kambojs may cost parties dear
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 9
The ire of the Kamboj community over their continued neglect in the political arena in Punjab will be faced by the major political parties during the Lok Sabha elections.

The 32-lakh-strong secular community, comprising the Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims, constitutes 13 per cent of the total population of the state, has a dominating presence in 25 out of the 117 Assembly constituencies in the state.

Noted economist Dr Jaswant Singh Chamak and Mr Jagir Singh Rattanpal, general secretary and senior vice-president of the All-India Kamboj Mahasabha, claimed that of the 13 Lok Sabha constituencies the victory of the candidates would be influenced by the community votes in at least six constituencies — Jalandhar, Ferozepore, Patiala, Amritsar, Phillaur and Sangrur.

They lamented that neither the SAD, the BJP nor the Congress had chosen any Kamboj candidate for the elections. The community had suffered due to the injustice done by the SAD with whom a majority of the Kambojs were traditionally identified. This, despite the fact that the SAD was founded by a Kamboj, Master Sunder Singh Lyallpuri, and out of the 86 martyrs of the Nankana Sahib massacre, as many as 31 martyrs, belonged to the Kamboj community. Similarly, Shaheed Udham Singh Sunam sacrificed his life for the freedom of the country, they pointed out.

The SAD had brought two community leaders — Sardar Harbans Singh Chandi from Lohian and Rajanbir Singh, son of the late Finance Minister Balwant Singh, from Sultanpur Lodhi — in its fold, but Mr Badal had neglected them while distributing ticket for the Lok Sabha elections, they added.

Likewise, the Congress had not considered any Kamboj candidate even from their stronghold of Jalandhar, Patiala, Ferozepore and Amritsar. It is pertinent to mention that no Kamboj MP has ever entered the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha since Independence.

Dr Chamak said the mahasabha had constituted a secular political organisation, All-India Shiromani Inqalabi Dal, in January, 2002, and this outfit has played a great role in the victory of some Akali and Congress candidates in Ludhiana and elsewhere.

The main aim of the party would be to frame policies to provide gainful employment to lakhs of unemployed youth. The dal would take steps to remove corruption at every level. Similarly, revolutionary plans to increase the income of farmers and the downtrodden, improve the present sick educational system and to create urban and rural infrastructure would be formulated and implemented in a phased manner.

An emergency meeting of the executive of the dal would be held soon to plan a strategy for active participation in the coming Lok Sabha elections. Only those candidates who are honest, dedicated, capable of speaking and raising issues of public and state interests would be put up or supported by the party, he pointed out.


Punjab RS poll on March 26
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
The Election Commission of India today issued the schedule for holding the Rajya Sabha biennial elections from Punjab.

Punjab Additional Chief Electoral Officer Babu Lal said that five Rajya Sabha members, including Mr Ashwani Kumar, Mr Lajpat Rai, Mr Sukhbir Singh and Mr Gurcharan Singh, would retire on April 9. The elections to fill these seats would be held on March 26.


BJP to announce candidates by March 15
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, March 9
The Punjab BJP will finalise recommendations for BJP candidates for three seats of Lok Sabha Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Hoshiarpur by 13 and the panels of candidates would be send to BJP high command which would announce BJP candidates by March 15.

This was stated by Punjab BJP President Avinash Rai Khanna to this correspondent here on Tuesday evening.

Mr Khanna told that the BJP would bring only able, honest and clean candidates to contest Lok Sabha elections.

BJP president alleged that the auction of wine shops was conducted to benefit nears and dears of the Congress. Mr Khanna told that a state executive committee meeting of the Punjab BJP had been summoned on March 13 at Datarpur near Talwara to discuss organisational matters.


BJP seeks removal of Congress councillor
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 9
Following allegations against Congress councillor Rajinder Bhalla, Chairman of the Water and Sewerage Board, for allotting tenders of the Operation and Maintenance Cell to his kin, the BJP has demanded his removal from the post.

Welcoming the step of the MC Commissioner, Mr K.S. Kang, for cancelling tenders and informing the Director, Local Government, about the violation, the BJP’s general secretary, Mr Rajesh Khandhari, and Mr Harish Taneja in a press stated that the councillor was also the acting administrator of Sri Durgiana Temple.

The BJP alleged that the Durgiana Committee had “managed” to convert the MC land lease agreement, meant for a school, for building a commercial establishment on the plea of fund crunch at a House meeting.


Shiv Sena to field five candidates
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 9
The Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) has decided to field its candidates on five seats during the coming Lok Sabha Elections.

Addressing a press conference here today, state president Ravinder Arora revealed that the party had decided to contest Amritsar, Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur, Faridkot and Sangrur Lok Sabha seats. He added the Congress and the SAD (Badal) had failed to safeguard the interests of the state.


Bhai Ranjit Singh to campaign for SAD (A)
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 9
Former Jathedar of Akal Takht Bhai Ranjit Singh, while accusing former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal of harming interests of Sikhs by playing into the hands of the RSS, today said he would campaign for SAD (A) candidates in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Bhai Ranjit Singh, while addressing a press conference, said village-level, block-level and district-level units of the Akal Council would work for exposing misdeeds of Mr Badal and ensuring the victory of SAD (A) candidates in the poll.

He alleged that Mr Badal had spent hundreds of crores of rupees, belonging to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC), for political gains and in elections contested by him in the past 50 years. He disclosed that the SGPC had given Rs 2 lakh to Mr Badal for contesting the corruption case registered against him by the Vigilance Bureau, which was against Sikh conventions and ethics.

“Even community kitchens were organised in gurdwaras controlled by the SGPC for people, who accompanied Mr Badal when he appeared in a Ropar court in connection with the hearing of the corruption case registered against him,” pointed out Bhai Ranjit Singh adding that Mr Badal had been using the SGPC as a tool to further his individual interests.

He alleged Mr Badal was working with the RSS for political gains.


VHP to support Mann
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 9
Mr Sukhpal Singh Sra, vice-president, Vishawa Hindu Parishad (Punjab), Bathinda district, today said the VHP would support Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, SAD (Amritsar), who is contesting from the Sangrur parliamentary constituency in the Lok Sabha elections.

In a press release here, Mr Sra pointed out that the decision to support Mr Mann was taken at a meeting here as Mr Mann had advocated a ban on cow slaughter. He added activists of the Bajrang Dal also participated at the meeting.


Beware of touts, cautions PPSC chief
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
When a Tribune team met Lieut-Gen Tejinder Singh Shergill (retd.), the new Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC), at Shivalik Retreat in the Western Command headquarters this morning, he was helping wife Rindy pack bags to leave for Patiala. She looks forward to a ‘’more challenging’’ job that her husband has been assigned with.

General Shergill said: “The very fact that the organisation I am heading is a ‘public service commission’ should make it abundantly clear to those who get selected that their religion is “service’ of the people’’.

Gen. Shergill intends to have an interface with youth and teachers in universities and colleges to apprise them of what Punjab expected of them for its socio-economic resurgence and motivate the youth to develop a ‘’commitment to serve the people and the state’’. He would also survey other commissions and carry his colleagues along as a team in his endeavour to make the PPSC the best of the lot.

Punjab, he continued, was progressing from an agrarian to an IT economy and knowledge-based society. Much was required to be done to evolve systems and infrastructure to hone the skills of the youth. “Therefore, the PPSC has a social responsibility to discharge as it scouts for the right talent’’, General Shergill said.

Irrespective of the political background of the PPSC members, General Shergill believes that the commission should not only be “apolitical” but also appear as such. “Frankly, I am yet to get familiarised with the new mission. Having studied its strengths and weaknesses, we shall progress and meet challenges ahead”. His only word of caution to those aspiring to appear before the commission is “Beware of touts. Do not ever listen to them”.

After his schooling at Sanawar, he joined the National Defence Academy, where his brother, Bimy, was already enrolled. General Shergill stood first in all three wings — the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. A topper in academics as well, he went on win the President’s Gold Medal at the NDA, Khadakwasla.

Tracing his roots to the famous Majithia family of Amritsar, General Shergill, born on September 30, 1943, is son of late Major-Gen Rajinder Singh ‘Sparrow’, so named because of his agility and also for having narrated extempore an English poem, ‘Sparrow’, as a student at Amritsar’s Khalsa College.

The General has written a book, “Counter-Insurgency support to a host nation”, besides several dissertations on a wide variety of issues.


Probe every selection, says outgoing PPSC chief
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Gen Surjit Singh Sangra (retd)
Gen Surjit Singh Sangra (retd)

Jalandhar, March 9
In an interesting development, General Surjit Singh Sangra (retd), former PPSC Chairman, today urged the Punjab Governor to appoint the “highest of public enquiry” to probe every single selection made by the PPSC during his tenure in view of the allegations made by Shiromani Akali Dal chief Parkash Singh Badal.

Gen Surjit Singh said the allegations levelled by Mr Badal were “simply disgusting” particularly, when the selections for the PCS (Executive) nominations were made by the whole commission, which incidentally had 50 per cent of those members who were appointees of Mr Badal. “The selections were totally merit-based and sans any corruption or sifarish,” said an anguished General Surjit Singh, adding that Mr Badal should have thought twice before coming out with such petty allegations.

The General also asserted that recent nomination of three candidates to the PCS (Executive) by the PPSC was entirely “on the basis of performance and merit,” of these candidates and in the light of government’s recommendation to the PPSC, which, according to his was definitely” not an investigating agency.

General Surjit Singh, who talked to The Tribune in length about his experiences as the PPSC chief, said he had no grudges and that the source of his “complete satisfaction” was a “flawless” selection procedure devised by the commission for selection of candidates and having successful in making the commission work as a coherent single unit. He said the only thing left to be done was implementation of revised syllabi and introduction of one Combined Services Examination on the lines of the UPSC for selection, for which, the board has already written to the Punjab Government. “See, I have no grudges, particularly, as all members unitedly put in their best of efforts. It was perhaps for the first time that such a congenial and transparent environment was experienced by one and all. Criticism is welcome, if it is healthy, moreover, my assignment is over now and I am again back to my old job of looking after War Widows Children Hospital and the Army Public School, Beas, of which I am the honorary director,” said Gen Surjit Singh, who was also one of five members of the National Conference Committee for reforms, formed by the Government of India for improvement of the selection process of Public Service Commissions of different states.

Talking about the nomination of three “tainted” candidates to the PCS (Executive), Gen Surjit Singh said it was wrongly interpreted in the media and that there was no scope for any government or other interference. “In contrary to the impression, we did not conduct the written test on advice of the office of the Advocate-General, which, wrote to us that since it was reconduct, it would be technically wrong to make candidates undergo a written test. While the recommendation of names was made by the government, we, lowered the marks of subjective examination by 25 per cent and even introduced a test of ‘written expressions,’ to make the selection procedure more fair and transparent.


Synthetic milk racket busted 
Basic supply from UP
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

  • Supply from UP at Rs 3 per litre
  • "Surf", urea added
  • Dairy owners mixed it in milk

Rajpura, March 9
The district health authorities today destroyed 1,000 litres of synthetic milk seized in a raid on a plot in the factory area here today. Apart from ingredients like detergent and urea, it also had flies and other foreign particles in it.

The drums being inspected during a raid by health officials at a plot in the factory area at Rajpura on Tuesday
The drums being inspected during a raid by health officials at a plot in the factory area at Rajpura on Tuesday.

The team, led by Dr V.S. Mohi, took samples of the milk and sent those to the State Food Laboratory in Chandigarh. The samples were filled in the presence of one Raghbir Singh, who has taken the empty plot on rent and is allegedly involved in the racket.

According to department sources, Raghbir Singh had bought synthetic milk from trucks that come from Uttar Pradesh and sell it for Rs 3 per litre. Following this, "Surf," urea, refined oil and dry milk powder is further added to the stuff to increase the "fat" content, which is then sold to dairy owners in the town. These dairy owners on their part mix this concoction in the milk from their dairies to increase their profit margin.

A visit to the site revealed all that Raghbir Singh needed to set up his business was a few plastic drums and water. Although the operation was being conducted on an empty plot, the plot was walled on three sides and had a large iron gate in the front. Eight to 10 drums containing "milk" were present at the site. Flies, mosquitoes and foreign particles were floating in the drums. The liquid in the drums did not seem to have the characteristics of milk, it being very oily.

Raghbir Singh, who admitted the milk belonged to him, tried to explain away the situation saying that he was going to sell it to a nearby milk plant so that it could be converted into powder. However, he had no answer as to why the factory would purchase his small quantity of milk when it had a regular supply of thousands of litres.

The health department sources said the man did not have any equipment to check the fat content of the milk, which was necessary in case he was to sell it to the milk factory. Moreover, there was no system for filtration of milk at the site.

The site itself was emanating a foul smell as there was no proper system of draining out water from the premises. Part of the plot was waterlogged due to this. The sources said a raid had been conducted on the plot earlier too, but the man had managed to escape after destroying the milk.

Patiala Civil Surgeon Hardev Singh, who visited the spot, directed further investigation in the area to expose the entire racket.


Turban issue: Mann’s poser to Dhindsa
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 9
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), today asked Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister and Mr Tarlochan Singh, Chairman, National Commission for Minorities, to clarify whether they misled the Sikh community or French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin misled them over the issue of a ban on turban by the school-going Sikh children in France.

Mr Mann said after meeting the French Foreign Minister both Sikh leaders had told the Sikh people that France would not impose a ban on wearing turban by the Sikh students in schools, as they had been given assurance by the French Minister in this regard. Mr Mann said in place of lifting the ban on turban by Sikh students, the Senate of France also approved the Bill imposing ban on wearing turban by Sikh students some days ago, making it a law. Earlier, this Bill had been passed by the lower House of the French Parliament.

Mr Mann said with the passage of this Bill by both Houses of French Parliament, Sikhs had been deprived of their right to wear turban in the schools of that country. He said this act of the French Government was grave injustice to the Sikhs.

Mr Mann said the Sikh community wanted that Mr Dhindsa and Mr Tarlochan Singh should pursue this case with French Foreign Minister to put pressure on the French Government to withdraw this ‘black law’.

Mr Mann also asked Mr Dhindsa and Mr Tarlochan Singh to tell the Sikhs about their next course of action to get this ban lifted.


Sikh judicial panel’s notice to Tohra
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 9
The Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC) today issued notices to Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra SGPC chief to reply to allegations made by Mr Baldev Singh, a member of the Dugri Panchayat, in the case of allotment of prime land on lease, at cheap rate to a confidant of the SGPC chief.

The three-member the SGJC bench was chaired by Mr Manmohan Singh Brar and members Mr Ajwant Singh Mann and Mr Amrik Singh Randhawa, here today.

A case of misappropriation of land of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, gurdwara, Dugri (Ludhiana) was filed against the SGPC president and executive committee members. It was alleged that 99-year lease for eight acres of land at cheap rates was given to the chairman of the Kalgidhar Education Trust in gross violations of by laws of the SGPC.

The complainant had urged to disqualify Mr Tohra and the SGPC executive committee besides restraining Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta from working as honorary secretary. It was alleged that despite and earlier resolution cancelling the deed in the tenure of Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar it was revived during tenure of Mr Tohra causing huge financial loss. The petitioner had sought Rs 5 lakh as damages from respondents and a decree to be passed against all 23 respondents.


Spokesman Editor may be ex-communicated today
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 9
The Sikh clergy is likely to excommunicate Mr Joginder Singh, Editor monthly Spokesman from the Sikh Panth tomorrow.

Earlier, he was declared ‘Tankhaiya’ (guilty of religious misconduct) on February 5 allegedly for indulging in blasphemous activities.

However, Mr Joginder Singh had already announced that the Sikh high priests had no right to excommunicate any Sikh from the Panth. He had also already served a legal notice to Jathedar Akal Takht. However, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti had said that Jathedar being above law could not be summoned by any court.


‘Akal Purukh di Fauj’ to educate 10,000 youth
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 9
As part of the 500th birthday celebrations of Guru Angad Dev, the ‘Akal Purukh di Fauj’ has decided to arrange for the education of 10,000 youth from 98 villages in the Khadoor Sahib subdivision in the 15-35 age group.

Mr Jaswinder Singh, fauj convener and member SGPC, in a press release here yesterday, said the organisation would also make required provisions to financially help children for education in the area.

The fauj has appealed to retired teachers to come forward for the benevolent cause of educating the masses as a suitable tribute to the Sikh Guru and his teachings.


Panthic board to organise Khalsa march
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
The Panthic Parliamentary Board today announced to begin a Khalsa march on April 1. The march, which starts simultaneously from Akal Takht, Takht Sri Damdama Sahib and Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, Anandpur Sahib, will conclude at Nanded Sahib on Baisakhi day.

Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, Secretary-General of the board, said the march was being organised to commemorate the fifth birth centenary of Guru Angad Dev, the fourth centenary of “parkash utsav” of Guru Granth Sahib and the 3rd centenary of the martyrdom of four Sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh. Dalits, minorities and other neglected sections of society would be requested to participate in the march.


Panthers Party condemns J&K Bill
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 9
The Punjab unit of the Panthers Party has condemned the decision of the Jammu and Kashmir Government to divest women of their residency rights in case they marry outsiders.

Mr Gurinder Sood, a spokesperson for the outfit, said the Jammu and Kashmir Permanent Resident (Disqualifications) Bill was an attack on the freedom of women and also infringed on their freedom and equality. The Bill was highly objectionable since women would lose their special permanent status.

“The Mufti regime is playing into the hands of fundamentalist forces, which want to create a separate Kashmir outside India, but the Panthers Party will never let this happen. We appeal to the President and the Prime Minister to intervene as it is a national issue and a direct attack on the freedom and equality of Indian women,” he said.


Ex-servicemen hold rally in city
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 9
More than 400 former servicemen of the district today held a rally and took out a march in the city to lodge their protest against the non-acceptance of their demands by successive governments at the Centre.

Addressing the rally at the local Teachers Home here, Mr Mukhtiar Singh and Mr Jagnandan Singh, general secretary and organising secretary of the Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association, Punjab, Bathinda unit, respectively alleged that for the past two decades the political parties, which remained in power, had been deceiving former servicemen by making false promises prior to the elections and later failing to keep them.

Apart from it, the ex-servicemen had also been feeling that they had been alienated from society, as they were not being given their due despite the fact that they had made sacrifices for the nation.

They said in a memorandum submitted to the President of India through the Deputy Commissioner, Bathinda, they had demanded that implementation of one-rank-one-pension with the minimum pension of Rs 5,000 per month or automatic switch over to the new assignments in the civil field after retirement from the Army in the same scale/grade till the age of superannuation.

They said other demands of the association included that ex-servicemen should be given 100 per cent seniority in service when they were reemployed, restoration of DA on the pension of those ex-servicemen who were reemployed, minimum pension of Rs 1275 to veterans of World War-II, withdrawal of contributory health scheme, free bus facility for their wards from school to their homes and CSD facilities.


1 student killed in mishap
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 9
A student of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College, Fatehgarh Sahib, was killed while four others were seriously injured in a road accident near Peerjain village on the Sirhind-Chandigarh road, today.

According to information, five students of the college travelling in a Matiz car were returning to Chandigarh after attending the college. Rajbir Singh Sandhu, son of Mr Harcharn Singh Sandhu, SDM, Nihal Singh Wala, was driving the car. The accident occurred when a Swaraj Mazda canter hit the car, which overturned.

Rajbir Singh and all other four students were rushed to the local Civil Hospital, where they were referred to the PGI, Chandigarh. Rajbir Singh died in the PGI, while the condition of four others was stated to be out of danger.

The driver of Swaraj Mazda was also injured and was admitted to Civil Hospital, Fatehgarh Sahib.


One killed in cylinder blast
Our Correspondent

Batala, March 9
Mangal Masih (45), a resident of Shastri Nagar, was killed and six others injured when an LPG cylinder exploded in a house in the Gobindgarh mohalla here this morning.

The roof of the house, the residence of Mr Atma Ram, was also blown off in the blast. The injured have been admitted to the Civil Hospital here.

According to reports, when Seema (17), a daughter of Mr Atma Ram, ignited the gas stove in the kitchen, the cylinder burst and she and her younger brother Gagan (13) were injured seriously.

Two storeys of the house collapsed and four other members of the family were also injured, Mr Atma Ram, his wife Darshna (44), son Sonu (17) and daughter Veena (15).

More than six houses in the neighbourhood were damaged and windowpanes of some nearby houses broken in the blast.

When this correspondent contacted Fire Station Officer Jaskaran Singh Brar, he said the fire brigade had recovered 19 gas cylinder from the house. Some of them were full. Neighbours of Mr Atma Ram said he was a supplier of LPG cylinders.


2 killed in mishap

Samana, March 9
Amandeep Singh (21) of the nearby Bhedpuri village and Jaspreet Singh (22) of Kadial village in Ferozepore died in a road accident near Aggarsein Chowk, Samana, today. Harpal Singh was seriously injured in the incident and referred to Government Rajindra Hospital, Patiala. — OC


High Court
Arbitrator appointed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
Acting on a petition filed by a Mohali-based builder, a Division Bench of the high court has appointed Justice A.L. Bahri as arbitrator. In his petition, Dhandi Builders Limited had earlier sought directions to the state of Punjab and other respondents for quashing an order passed by an executive engineer with the Punjab Police Housing Corporation regarding the construction of certain house at Jalandhar.

Pronouncing the orders, Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar and Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall observed: “We are of the considered opinion that the matter with regard to the rights and liberties of the parties, even with regard to imposition of penalty, can be left to be decided by the arbitrator”.

Refixation of pay scales

Mr Justice A.K. Mittal of the high court has issued notice to senior Punjab IAS Officers B.R. Bajaj and D.S. Guru, beside two other respondents, for alleged non-implementation of the orders issued in a pay scale refixation case.

In his petition, Sikandar Singh of Mansa had earlier alleged that the high court had directed the refixation of pay scales of the petitioners working as laboratory technicians (Grade I and II). But the respondents had failed to implement the judgement willfully.

The case will now come up for further hearing on April 26.

Officers’ list

In a petition, Superintendents of Punjab Police Bachan Singh Randhawa and Mukhtiar Singh have claimed that the state of Punjab and other respondents were making preparations for sending list of officers for selection in the IPS cadre without granting them the benefits.

In their petition, the two officers claimed that the state, acting on their representation, had ordered that they should be granted seniority above Commandant of 82 Battalion R.P.S. Bajwa. But they later came to know that the Director-General of Police had sought review of the order. However, neither the order was implemented, nor reviewed. Subsequently, the respondents were making preparations for sending the list.

Taking up the case, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, comprising Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar and Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lal, fixed March 15 as the next date of hearing.


Scrap income support scheme, says BKU (Rajewal)
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 9
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (Rajewal) today asked the Union Government to scrap ‘Income support scheme’, if it was sincere to the welfare of the farmers as this scheme is thoroughly “defective” and would “ruin” the farmers.

Under this scheme, the crops of the farmers will be reportedly insured, and the government will stop procurement of various crops, including wheat and paddy, at the minimum support price (MSP), paving the way for the traders to purchase the farmers’ produce at lower rates.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal, national General Secretary of the BKU (Rajewal), said under the ‘Crop insurance scheme’ the premium would be paid by the farmers which had been fixed in such a manner that no farmer would be in a position to pay the same for getting his crop insured. He also asked the Union Government to continue the policy of MSP for crops and procurement of crops by government agencies.

Mr Rajewal also criticised the Union Government for not giving permission to sell the sugar lying in the stores of Punjab, worth about Rs 600 crore. He said due to this, the Cooperative Sugar Mills of the state were not paying arrears, worth Rs 80 crore, to the farmers for the last year’s purchase of sugarcane.

Mr Rajewal was here today to attend a district-level dharna, organised by the district unit of the BKU (Rajewal), in protest against the reported selection of Sangrur district as an experiment for not making procurement of wheat allegedly by the government agencies this year and non-payment of arrears, worth Rs 80 crore, of last year’s sugarcane produce to the farmers in the state by the Cooperative sugar mills so far.

Mr Rajewal also stated that the BKU would also stage a big protest dharna in front of Parliament on March 16 in New Delhi to protest against “anti-farmer” policies of the Union Government.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Mann, All-India President of the BKU (Rajewal), said due to the wrong policies of the government, the farmers were committing suicides as they were not able to pay loans. He said the procurement of the farmers’ produce by the government agencies was duty and responsibility of the Union Government. He also asked the Union Government to pay the premium of insurance of crops of the farmers to prove that it was a “pro-farmers” government and wanted prosperity of farmers.


Clerk suspended for bid to frame officer
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 9
Mr Bal Krishan Bali, a clerk in the SDM office at Rampura Phul, is in trouble for making an attempt to frame up district revenue Officer (DRO), Bathinda, D.R. Virmani into a false case of corruption by getting a raid of Vigilance Bureau conducted on his office today afternoon.

Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, said that Mr Bali had been suspended and a case would be registered against him for his involvement in an attempt for getting a false case registered against an officer.

Official sources said that Mr Bali along with a team of Vigilance Bureau led by DSP, Ashutosh Landed in the district administrative complex (DAC) in the afternoon. Mr Bali then went inside the room of Mr Virmani and tried to give him some money.

When Mr Virmani refused to accept that money, Mr Bali started manhandling with him and tried to put that money in his pocket forcibly. Mr Amrik Singh Waraich, SSP, (Vigilance Bureau), Bathinda range, when contacted, said that raid was conducted on the complaint lodged by Mr Bali. He added that all formalities were completed before conducting the raid. He said that Mr Virmani did not accept money from Mr Bali and hence the raiding team, came back.


Contractor’s blacklisting ordered
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 9
The Punjab Government has directed the Executive Officer of the Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib Municipal Council to initiate the process of blacklisting octroi contractor Kirpal Singh and Company.

The Executive Officer, Mr Girish Verma, has asked the council president to call a meeting to take up the case.

Earlier, Mr G.S. Gill, Additional District and Sessions Judge, had dismissed the anticipatory bail applications filed by all partners of Kirpal Singh and Company.

A vigilance team of the Local Self Government Department had raided the council office on a complaint of Mr Amarjit Singh Dhingra, general secretary of the district Congress that the contractors were harassing traders and fleecing vehicle owners by issuing fake transit passes.

Following the raid, the Executive Officer and two octroi inspectors of the municipal council were suspended. The police had registered a case against the contractors under sections 420, 467, 468, and 471, IPC, at Sirhind police station. However, no arrest has been made so far.


Improvement Trust budget passed

Amritsar, March 9
The local Improvement Trust budget of Rs 69.64 crore dipped by nearly Rs 17 crore from last year’s budget of Rs 86.43 crore. A major part of the revenue would go towards the repayment of loans.

The budget was passed today by its chairperson, Ms Ratna, in presence of trust officials and trustees.

Disinterest of the local administration in buying space for the prestigious “Panorama project” for showcasing the marvel of Maharaja Ranjit Singh at the trust’s new Amritsar scheme, and the indifference of dairy owners towards establishing themselves at trust scheme in Fatabad were major setbacks for the trust. — OC


Woman kills lover
Tribune News Service

Moga, March 9
Ranjit Kaur, alias Jiti, a resident of Mandi Ahmedgarh, was today arrested along with her son and paramour, for her alleged involvement in kidnapping and murder of a commission agent, Mohinder Pal Aggarwal, on March 2.

A special investigation team (SIT) was constituted by the SSP, Mr Mukhwinder Singh Chinna, after Aggarwal was found missing under mysterious circumstances. The team managed to solve the crime after recovering his body from the bank of a canal, passing through Ahmedgarh town, yesterday.

Aggarwal, who was allegedly having an illicit relationship with Ranjit Kaur, was killed by her, her son Amarjit Singh and paramour Harpreet Singh, alias Bhoru, when he refused to fulfil her demands for money and jewellery.

Mr Chinna said that after hatching a conspiracy to kill him Ranjit Kaur, who had got married the second time to Mr Jaswinder Singh, a truck driver, after the death of her first husband, called Aggarwal and took him to Ahmedgarh in his car. After reaching there, the accused made his drink liquor following which he became unconscious.

Ranjit Kaur, with the help of her accomplices, took him to the canal in his car. After reaching there two of the accused caught the arms of the victim and the third tied a piece of cloth around his neck and strangulated him. The body was dumped in bushes near the bank.

Mr Chinna added that after three accused were arrested, they admitted that Ranjit Kaur was involved with Aggarwal for the past six years. Aggarwal had arranged an accommodation for her in this town and another in Ludhiana.

Later, Ranjit Kaur shifted to Ahmedgarh, where she started living with her second husband Jaswinder Singh, Aggarwal used to visit her there as well.

Mr Chinna said Ranjit Kaur confessed during interrogation that she, along with her paramour and son, had murdered Aggarwal after he refused to give her money and jewellery.

A case has been registered in the city police station under Sections 364, 120-B, 302, 201 and 34 of the IPC. The body has been sent to Guru Gobind Singh Medical College, Faridkot, for a post-mortem examination.


Missing newly married woman found, alleges rape

Moga, March 9
A newly married woman, who went missing under mysterious circumstances from Amritsar in January this year, has been traced by the Maharashtra police and was brought back yesterday, a senior police official said today.

Baljit Kaur of Ajitwal village here, who was married to an Army jawan Jaspal Singh of Dhudike village in November, 2003, was missing since January 16 when she visited the Golden Temple alongwith her husband, Senior Superintendent of Police M.S. Chhina said.

He said she was traced by the Maharashtra police from Vapi village under Kasa police station of the state on February 28.

After the Maharashtra police informed the Moga district police, Baljit was brought back here yesterday and medically examined in the local Civil Hospital, he said.

Baljit, in her statement to the police said she was taken to Amritsar by Jaspal where four persons, including a woman, were waiting for them as per a conspiracy hatched by her husband.

These persons brought some “halwa” and Jaspal asked her to have it. After she ate the “halwa”, her husband left the place and asked them to come back within 10 minutes, Baljit alleged, adding that in the meantime, she fell unconscious.

She alleged that she was taken in a car by these persons — Gurmail Singh, Jagga Singh, Bhaya and Manjit Kaur — to Rajasthan and was repeatedly raped.

The SSP said these persons left her in the Vapi village of Maharashtra where she was found by the police.

The Moga police will now get the arrest warrant of Jaspal Singh, the SSP said. — PTI


Miscreants fire at rest house, DTO safe
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 9
Some miscreants fired at the Forest Rest House located near the Tanda bypass bridge here early this morning. Mr Chander Gaind, District Transport Officer (DTO), who was staying there, came out along with his security guard. But by then, the miscreants had vanished.

According to police sources, three shots were fired from a revolver, of which one hit a car parked there. The police has registered a case under Section 307 of the IPC and 25/54/59 of the Arms Act.

Mr Chander Gaind has recently joined as District Transport Officer here. Some miscreants also made an attempt to set his office on fire by sprinkling kerosene last week.

His father R.P. Gaind, Additional Sessions Judge of a TADA court in Jalandhar, was gunned down by terrorists.

Meanwhile, Mr Lok Nath Anga, SSP, has said after preliminary investigation, it was found that none of the inhabitants of the complex, including the cook-cum-watchman of the rest house, heard firing or saw anyone there. It was presumed that the shots were fired from outside the boundary wall. He said the room where Mr Chander Gaind was sleeping was beyond the firing range.

However, on the request of the District Transport Officer, additional security had been provided to him, he added.


Two shops burgled
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 9
A shop dealing in watches and electronic items and a tea shop were burgled here last night.

The burglars made a hole in the rear wall of the two shops and decamped with goods and cash. The crime was noticed when the shop owners opened their shops the next morning.

According to the police, a number of watches, colour TV sets, a CD player, car stereo systems and cassettes were among the items taken away from Sharma Watch and Electronics. A sum of Rs 500 was taken away from the cash box of the tea shop.

A dog squad and a fingerprint expert were summoned. The dog squad lost scent after a short distance. No clear fingerprints could be lifted from the scene.

The police said a case had been registered under Sections 457 and 380 of the IPC on the basis of a statement of the tea shop owner through till this evening the other victim had not provided a detailed list of the goods stolen from his shop.


Suicide by two girls

Hoshiarpur, March 9
Two village girls, aged 19 and 14 years, allegedly committed suicide by jumping into Mehngarowal check dam last evening. Their bodies were retrieved in the night and forenoon today, the police said.

Sadar police station SHO Tarlochan Singh said while body of Amarjit Kaur (19) was pulled out of the dam four hours after the friends, holding hands, plunged into water at 5 pm, that of Gurpreet Kaur (14) was retrieved from the dam silt at 11.30 am today. Both victims were residents of Bhagpur village, 18 km from the dam site.

Nine-year-old Madhu, sister of Gurpreet Kaur, told the police that the friends before walking the 18 km distance to the dam made telephone calls from public booths at Baghpur and Kantian on the way. On reaching the dam, they removed their chappals, held each others’ hands and jumped into the reservoir.

The police did not register case of suicide and instead returned bodies to their relatives after a post-mortem. — UNI


Two held for robbery

Jalandhar, March 9
The police today arrested two robbers and recovered a motor cycle, which was recently snatched by them at gunpoint.

Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, SSP, said an FIR was registered in the Sadar police station on March 6 on a statement of Harinder Singh, who alleged that two youths had snatched his motor cycle when he was coming from Vishrampur village. — PTI


Students seek grace marks
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 9
Students, who appeared for the Punjab School Education Board class XII examination in physics theory (evening session), have sought grace marks in lieu of an error in question No 20 (series-B) in the English version of the question paper. This was stated in a press note today.


Liquor shops’ auction fetches 134.28 cr
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, March 9
The auction of the liquor shops of the Ferozepore circle were carried out amidst tight security arrangements today.

The liquor shops under this circle were auctioned for Rs 134.28 crore, which was Rs 1.22 crore higher than the last year’s amount.

Mr P C Piasa, DETC, told mediapersons that the liquor shops of Ferozepore district wee auctioned for Rs 53.95 crore, which showed an enhancement of Rs 74 lakh over the last year. The vends of Moga revenue district were auctioned for Rs 47.55 crore, Rs 48 lakh less than the preceding year. The liquor vends of Muktsar revenue district were auctioned for Rs 32.53 crore, which was Rs 96 lakh more than the last year’s amount.

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