P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Campaigning ends for SGPC poll
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 9
Forty-eight hours before the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) polls, the campaigning for 170-member general house came to an end at 5 pm today in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, besides the union territory of Chandigarh. Door-to-door campaigning is expected to continue till the election day.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is directly contesting for each seat. The party has fielded 170 candidates for as many number of seats. Besides SAD, others in the fray are candidates belonging to the Panthic Morcha, SAD (Amritsar), SAD (Haryana), Akali Dal (Ravi Inder) and Dal Khalsa, besides Haryana Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. In Punjab alone, approximately 440 candidates are in the fray.

In a press statement, SAD’s Secretary D.S. Cheema claimed that their party would fare well despite the government’s attempt to thwart the process of conducting fair and free elections by not deploying Central forces.

The elections will be held on July 11 and the counting would begin soon after the polling on the same day. The results would be officially announced on July 15.

The last SGPC general house elections were held in 1996. In the 170-member SGPC’s general house, Punjab has 157 seats, Haryana has 11 seats, while Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh have one seat each. The seats are spread over 120 constituencies across the three states and in Chandigarh. As many as 30 seats are reserved for women and 20 for scheduled castes. 


PM has not kept his word on SGPC poll: Badal
Tribune Reporters

Rayya (Amritsar), July 9
Coming down heavily on Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, for “not fulfilling his promises of appointing Central observers and sending Central forces for conducting free and fair elections to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee,” Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), alleged that the Central Government was hand in glove with the state government.

This is for the first time that the SAD has fired a salvo against Dr Manmohan Singh after he became the Prime Minister.

Before addressing an election rally here today, Mr Badal told reporters that the law and order situation in the state was grim. Expressing his mistrust about the Punjab police, he said policemen had been working in tandem with the rival Akali factions who were being helped by the state government to capture the SGPC – the supreme body of the Sikhs. Mr Badal said this was why the SAD wanted deployment of Central forces to conduct the SGPC elections. He said there was a nexus of politicians, criminals and the police which had suffocated the Punjabis. Mr Badal alleged that the Congress government wanted to rig the elections by using muscle power and the state machinery.

The SAD President alleged that the Congress government had directed the Returning Officers to reject genuine votes while a large number of “bogus voters” had been enrolled .

Replying to a question, Mr Badal said the Amarinder Singh government had failed on all fronts. Instead of solving the problems of a common man, Congress leaders indulged in infighting. They rush to Delhi every now and then to get their grievances redressed. In such a scenario, what could a common man expect from the government, he asked.

On the rejection of the candidature of three candidates, including Mr Alwinder Pal Singh Pakhoke, acting President, SGPC, and two former Akali ministers, Mr Badal alleged that the Returning Officers had resorted to undemocratic means . He said instead of rejecting their papers, the Returning Officers should have asked the candidates to deposit the fee outstanding against the names of their wards who had got admissions under the NRI quota in the SGPC-run Guru Ram Dass Medical College.

Interestingly, various speakers who addressed the rally tried to raise political issues like withdrawal of free power supply to the farmers instead of speaking on religious issues. The Akali leaders said the Panthic Morcha would be routed in the SGPC elections as its members were contesting the elections without having any agenda.


SGPC poll: 14 polling stations very sensitive
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 9
Even as 14 polling stations have been identified as very sensitive and 67 as sensitive out of the total 264 polling stations set up for the SGPC elections to be held on July 11, the district police authorities claim to have made foolproof security arrangements to conduct the poll in a free and fair manner. Information gathered by TNS revealed that each polling station would be manned by a policeman of the rank of head constable. One constable and a Punjab Home Guard jawan would be associated with him.

Information revealed that there were 24 candidates for the six constituencies of the SGPC falling in this district. While Bathinda and Talwandi Sabo constituencies would elect two members — one from the general category and one from the reserve category, the other four constituencies would elect a single member. About 338 booths had been set up for the convenience of electors.

Police sources said that six gazetted officers and 11 non-gazetted officers had been deployed to monitor the security arrangements. District police chief Kapil Dev and the SP (D), Mr Ajay Maluja, would supervise the security arrangements.

Though the candidates carried out aggressive campaigning, it remained violence free so far. Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president, SAD, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, SAD (A), and Panthic Morcha leaders addressed a series of rallies.


SAD extends support to PCS officer
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 9
In a significant development, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today extended its support to Mr Harkesh Singh Sidhu, a PCS officer and independent candidate from the Dirba constituency, in the SGPC elections. earlier, Jathedar Gurmail Singh Dirba was the official candidate of the SAD from Dirba.

Talking to The Tribune over phone, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Secretary General of the SAD and MP from Sangrur, said the decision had been taken in view of the larger interests of the party. The party felt that the votes of the SAD might be divided between Jathedar Gurmail Singh Dirba and Mr Sidhu, and it would help the candidate of the Panthic Morcha.

However, this decision of the party was not liked by some Akali activists who raised slogans against Mr Dhindsa at Dirba today. But Mr Dhindsa claimed that these were the supporters of Mr Baldev Singh Mann, who had already been expelled from the SAD by the party chief.


Gurdwara poll panel chief’s effigy burnt
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, July 9
Activists of Panthak Morcha led by Mr Amrik Singh Theekriwal, seeking election from Gurdaspur for the SGPC, today burnt the effigy of Gurdwara Election Commission (GEC) chief at Gurdaspur, near level crossing, and demonstrated against the decision of the commission for countermanding the SGPC elections in the Tarn Taran, Dhariwal and Gurdaspur.

Mr Theekriwal alleged that the commission had been playing in the hands of the Shiromani Akali Dal.


Assembly meeting on SYL on July 12
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 9
Mystery with regard to the one-day special session of the Punjab Assembly called for July 12 by the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, continues to deepen. The session has been convened on the request of the Punjab Council of Ministers. Sources said today the Vidhan Sabha Secretariat had got a letter from the state government that it wanted to discuss the “SYL canal issue” during the session. However, nature of the business to be transacted in the House has not been stated in the letter.

There are reports that the session has been called to annul all “accords and agreements” signed with regard to the distribution of river waters by Punjab with the neighbouring states of Haryana and Rajasthan till date.

The argument is that Punjab was “armtwisted into signing” these agreements by the Union Government from time to time since 1995.

A hint regarding the declaration of all such agreements invalid was given here today by Mr H.S. Hanspal, President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. After addressing a meeting of the district presidents of the party, he said that all “accords and agreements” should be declared null and void by the state Assembly. He said even the Union Government had no right to appoint any tribunal to adjudicate the distribution of Punjab river waters.

Sources said the state government had been consulting top lawyers, including Mr Soli Sorabjee, in this connection. A special meeting would be held by the Punjab Cabinet Sub-Committee with Mr Sorabjee tomorrow, it is learnt.

There are also reports that the Assembly wanted to enact a law making a provision that “without its permission no canal, that carries water beyond the state boundaries, should be dug or constructed within the state boundaries”. The draft of the Bill, according to sources, is being finalised in Delhi with the consent of top legal experts. However, officially, there is no confirmation of such move from the State Government. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Mr Lal Singh, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa and Mr Surinder Singla met the Union Minister for water resources this afternoon and presented to him state’s viewpoint. The Union Government has already announced the appointment of the CPWD for constructing the canal.

The Punjab Cabinet Sub-Committee on the canal was supposed to hold a meeting in Delhi this evening regarding the canal issue. However, now the meeting has been postponed to tomorrow.

The former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was the first to suggest that a resolution should be passed in the last session of the state Assembly declaring all agreements invalid. However, the ruling party did not buy his argument. 


Improvement Trust woos Central departments
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 9
The Improvement Trust has started wooing central government departments and other organisations like banks to open their offices in the two premier residential colonies, Guru Gobind Singh Avenue and Surya Enclave, developed by it on the Jalandhar-Pathankot highway.

The trust authorities have already allotted 6.89 acres of land to the Central Excise Department, 6,500 square yards to Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, in addition to selling 12 residential flats to the State Bank of Patiala, seven to Punjab National Bank and 24 such flats to Trinity College in Guru Gobind Singh Avenue during the past two years.

Sources in the trust revealed that trust officials were in the middle of carrying out final negotiations with the top authorities of the State Bank of Patiala, the Registrar of Companies, the CPWD and the Regional Passport Office so as to sell land to these organisations for opening their offices in Surya Enclave, also known as the 170-acre scheme.

The State Bank of Patiala has already applied to the trust for purchase of eight kanals of land worth Rs 1.20 crore for shifting its city based zonal office, followed by the Registrar of Companies, who has applied for 5,500 square yards of land worth Rs 1.75 crore and the CPWD authorities, which have sought allotment of 8,500 square yards worth Rs 2.5 crore, to it in Surya Enclave for opening of their respective offices.

The trust officials maintain that though these organisations have applied for allotment, they were still holding negotiations with the trust.

“We are in the middle of the negotiation process even as these organisations have shown keen interest in purchasing land for their offices in Surya Enclave, which was well received by the residents. Our objective behind the proposed allotment of land to central government offices and other organisations is not only to ensure concentration of government and other offices at one place but also to gradually develop Surya Enclave as one of important centres of the city,” said Mr Tejinder Bittu, the Chairman of the Improvement Trust.


Somnath pays obeisance at Golden Temple
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 9
Mr Somnath Chatterjee, Lok Sabha Speaker, commended Punjabis for their tremendous progress after Independence. He was here on his two-day visit to the holy city. He paid obeisance at Golden Temple and added that Punjabis had contributed greatly in the freedom struggle of the country.

Mr Chatterjee, who received outstanding Parliamentarian Award in 1998, wrote in the visitor’s book ‘I am happy to come to this place of pilgrimage-which symbolises the great teachings of the Sikh religion, which is one of love, friendship and brotherhood. I pay my obeisance in this one of holy temples’.

However, he refused to answer any quarry regarding Parliament. Speaking about Marxism he said it was still relevant and strive for bringing job opportunity, health and education to all people. When asked how he differed from the ideology of his father, who was the President of Hindu Mahasabha. He replied that ideology could change naturally.

He will preside over as the chief guest of the 98th annual convocation of Khalsa College here tomorrow. He would also pay homage at Jallianwala Bagh.


Ashwani Kumar’s ‘action plan’ for welfare of farmers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 9
Moved by a story on suicides by farmers in southern Punjab published in The Tribune, Member of Parliament-cum-Senior Supreme Court advocate Ashwani Kumar has taken up the matter with state Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh. Among other steps required to curb the spate of suicides by farmers in the state, he has suggested the setting up of a committee under the Chief Secretary’s chairmanship.

In fact Mr Kumar has advised the Chief Minister to adopt a “five point plan of action”. The plan, he asserted, could be implemented effectively and expeditiously for honouring the Punjab Government’s commitment towards the welfare of agriculturists. He said immediate remedial steps were required “to vindicate the promises made to the people, and to justify their right to govern in the name of the people”.

In a letter to the Chief Minister, Mr Kumar has suggested that the committee could review the implementation of schemes announced by Central and state governments on district-wise basis for bringing relief to farmers facing financial destitution.

He added that district- level committees should also be constituted under the chairmanship of Deputy Collectors to conduct surveys of all the villages under their jurisdiction for identifying individuals, and households, for immediate monetary relief to overcome acute financial misery. The results of the surveys could then be independently verified by a group of senior state government officers for being reported to the state-level committee headed by the Chief Secretary.

This exercise, he added, should be completed in a timebound manner, preferably within two months from receiving the letter. In case the records were already available, the committee could go into the reasons behind “the failure to initiate appropriate action at the government level to prevent the extreme act of suicides by farmers”.

He also recommended the creation of a special fund for giving immediate relief to the farmers living under conditions of acute poverty. Private and public donations to such funds could be made tax-free to mop up resources from the private sector also, if necessary. Punjab, he asserted, was known as granary of India.

Suitable legislation, he recommended, should be introduced in the next session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha “to ensure that creditors could not claim, possess or own basic minimum land holding of indebted agriculturists”. The provisions of the Punjab Relief of Indebtedness Act must be vigorously enforced, he said.

For highlighting the enormity of the problem, he quoted a study. The study claimed that in Sangrur district alone 98 suicides were reported since April 2001. Another study said cases of suicides by farmers due to humiliation resulting from increasing dept had increased by nearly 52% through the 1990’s. Farmers’ debt in Punjab stood at Rs.10,000 crore, a huge increase from Rs. 5700 crore in 1996-97. 


Cong councillors’ walkout against MC chief
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 9
A piquant situation arose a the monthly general body meeting of the municipal Council, Phagwara, today when Congress councillors staged a walkout against their own party’s council president, Mr Malkiat Singh Ragbotra, in protest against his alleged autocratic working style and the stifled development of the town. However, Mr Ragbotra outrightly denied the allegations.

It may be mentioned here that the Congress has 15 councillors, besides one ex-officio vote of the local MLA, support of three independents, which makes it strength in the 28-member house to 19. The SAD, the BJP and the BSP, respectively, have three, four and two councillors, it may be further mentioned.

The brewing discontent in the ruling party today boiled into a full-blast factional feud when Mr Manmohan Sharma, Block Congress (urban) president- cum-councillor, led the protestors. Conflicting versions were given about the number of those who staged the walkout. While Mr Sharma claimed that as many as 11 councillors, including 10 belonging to the Congress and one Independent, had walked out of the meeting, Mr Ragbotra asserted that only seven or eight councillors had walked out.

Mr Sharma gave the names of those Congress councillors who had walked out as Mr Brij Bhushan Parbhakar Billa, Mr Pawan Sharma Pappi,Mr Padam Dev Sudhir Nikka,Mr Ramesh Jordan,Mr Devinder Sapra, Mr Sanjiv Bugga, Mr Sushil Maini, Ms Tripta Dhir, Ms Jyoti Ghai, he himself and one Independent Mrs Paramjit Kaur Pahwa. However, Mr Ragbotra claimed that Ms Ghai had not walked out.

Interestingly, the Opposition councillors kept sitting in the meeting along with other Congress councillors who had stayed put.


CPI to hold dharna in front of House
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 9
The state unit of the CPI has decided to stage a dharna in front of Parliament during its current session to lodge its protest against the apathetic attitude of the state government towards the plight of farmers, who have been reeling under heavy debt and committing suicide.

Talking to TNS today, Dr Joginder Dyal, state secretary, CPI, Punjab, said that the party would also hold its conference in Harkishanpura village of this district, which was a classic case of rural indebtness, in the third week of this month. Mr C.K. Chandrappan, president, All India Kisan Sabha, would address the conference.

Dr Dyal alleged that the Punjab Government had failed miserably to protect the interests of the indebted farmers. He added that in the past more than two years, it had become apparent that Congress leaders had been running the government from Delhi. He said that if the Congress government was serious about improving the plight of farmers then it should sit in Chandigarh and work for the welfare of farmers.

The diversification of agriculture, which the state government had launched with much fanfare, had failed miserably as it could not set up the marketing and storage facilities for the crops which were brought under contract farming.

Dr Dyal said that Harkishanpura village was a classic example of indebtness of people working in the agrarian sector. He added that though almost all the families of this village were under debt due to rise in the cost of inputs and decline in the production of crops, the successive state governments failed to take corrective steps.

He said that the CPI wanted the state government should not run away from its responsibilities towards farmers and should take up the matter with the Central Government to bail them out of the perpetual indebtness.

The farmers of Punjab had come under heavy debt because they were forcibly initiated into paddy cultivation by the Central Government when the country was facing food grain crises. When the farmers made the country self reliant in food grains, the Central and state governments failed to take care of their interests.

He demanded that the Central Government should come forward with a solid policy to redress the pressing problems of the indebted farmers and should adopt some formula to waive interest on agriculture loans, which had been piling up every year. Apart from it, their agriculture loans should be restructured so that they could repay it easily.


Border areas without drinking water
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, July 9
In an act of mismanagement and lack of planning the Punjab Government is keeping the people of the border areas without drinking water. The generators installed at the rural water supply schemes of the Public Health Department have been without diesel for the past seven years. The state government has not sanctioned even a single penny for buying diesel to run the generators at the rural water supply schemes.

Even these days when power cuts have made the life of people miserable the generators installed at the water supply schemes have failed to help. The reason is that no fund has been sanctioned for operating them. The sources in the department of Public Health say that due to non-operation and lack of proper maintenance most of the generators of the department have become non-functional. In many generators the batteries have worn out and other parts are rusting. If the government can not provide diesel to run the generators what is the fun of spending lakhs on buying them. In Gurdaspur division alone only five such generators were unutilised due to the non-availability of funds for buying diesel, they allege.

The need to operate the generator sets over the rural water supply schemes is being felt badly by the Public Health Department authorities this year. The officials say in some of the border areas due to difficult terrain power is not available continuously for 3-4 days. Due to it the department is not in a position to supply water.

Besides the generator set, the non-availability of funds for maintenance is hitting the functioning of these schemes in the district. Most of the schemes here are tube well based. Generally motors used on tube wells for pumping water to overhead tanks get damaged. The government has not provided any funds for the maintenance of the motors since long. The department officials have to get them repaired from local markets on credit. The funds for these small repairs have to be spent from meager user charges collected from rural people, they say.

The anger of the rural people here, who are not getting proper drinking water supply, is now spilling on roads. Yesterday, the affected villagers blocked traffic on the Pathankot-Dalhousie road for about two hours in protest against the non-supply of drinking water.

With the Opposition parties trying to take advantage of the anger of people more and more, such protests are expected in the coming days if the government does not take steps to regularise the rural water supply.


Waters expert tells Punjab to challenge Section 78
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 9
The river waters expert, Mr P.S. Kumedan, today urged the Punjab Government to challenge Section 78 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act in the Supreme Court because under this section Punjab was denied “ sovereignty” over its own waters.

Addressing a press conference here, he said that the water was a state subject under the Constitution. However, by inserting Section 78, the Union Government got over riding powers to interfere on the issue of river waters of Punjab. He said that Punjab did not have any power with regard to its own waters because of Section 78 while all other states in the country were “sovereign” to decide issues with regard to waters.

He said that insertion of Section 78 was ultra vires of the Constitution on the ground that it was beyond the competency of Parliament to enact such a law. He said Article 4 of the Constitution says that while creating new states, Parliament can make “supplemental, incidental and consequential” provisions but this” article did not empower Parliament to amend the Constitution under the guise of making supplemental, incidental and consequential provision.”

In several cases, The Supreme Court has struck down the laws made by Parliament under the supplemental, incidental and consequential provision. The Supreme Court has clearly stated that under these provisions, “the power with Parliament invested is not the power to over ride the constitutional scheme”. He said that the Punjab Government should move the Supreme Court taking the plea that the state’s sovereignty over its waters should be restored by declaring the Section 78 null and void.

The state government should also challenge all river water agreements and accords under the Indian Contract Act. He said that agreements and accords were signed without “any consideration”. As per Section 25, agreement without consideration is void”. Punjab got neither any compensation nor royality as “consideration” on the signing of agreements and accords with regard to river waters. He said that before 1947, Punjab used to get “ seigniorage” ( revenue) for giving water to erstwhile Patiala and Bikaner princely states.

He said that the Punjab Assembly should also pass a law declaring all agreements and accords null and void.


Panel formed to upgrade Attari railway station
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 9
A joint action committee comprising immigration and customs officials has been constituted to introduce new facilities at the Attari railway station, said Mr R.R. Jaruhar, General Manager, Northern Railway, here today.

He said some of the suggestions, including fencing around Attari railway station, bigger waiting rooms and use of entire platform had come to committee which were under consideration. At present half of the platform was under use at the international railway station.

The General Manager said railway line from Jalandhar to Jammu would be made two-way making traffic smooth to the border state. He said the work in this regard would be completed by 2007. The railway line of Jalandhar to Pathankot would also be made two-way, he added.

He said manufacturing of new items such as open box-N wagon, brick van and boggie frame would soon be introduced, besides increasing the capacity of Northern Railway Coach Factory here. He said at present the rail coach factory was manufacturing goods wagons, bogie under truck of passengcoaches, manufacturing/repair of wheel axles for various types of locomotives, coaches and wagons, casting of brake blocks of cast iron etc.

Speaking on the security in the northern railway after the increased incidents of looting and beggar menace, he said at present railway protection force (RPF) had been conferred the duty of protection of about 115 trains in northern India. He said a number of persons were arrested while begging. However, due to lack of deterrent laws in the Railway Act, they were released. He said more measures were being taken in this regard.

Earlier, he visited all platforms and reservation booking windows, waiting halls at Amritsar railway station. He said Amritsar was the terminating point for trains but it has enough space for improvement. He stressed upon good drainage system and announced that the length of washing lines would be increased upto 24 coaches.


Councillors boycott MC meeting
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 9
A meeting called to elect senior vice-president and junior vice-president of the Municipal Council, Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib, today at council office was postponed as no municipal councilor, besides Dr Harbans Lal, MLA turned up to at the meeting.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, who came to preside over the meeting waited for 10 minutes. As no one turned up, he postponed the meeting.

Sources said the councillors did not turn up at the meeting as a majority of them refused to accept the candidates being sponsored by Dr Harbans Lal, MLA, for these posts. Apprehending pressure from the MLA, nine out of a total of 15 councillors had fled the town last night and returned after the postponement of the meeting.

Nine councillors, who boycotted the meeting, said they wanted that the council office-bearers should be elected unanimously, but the MLA was pressuring to make certain councillors senior vice-president which was not acceptable to them.


MC staff block traffic
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 9
Employees of the local Municipal Corporation today abstained from work and marched in procession to the Government Rajindra Hospital from the corporation head office in protest against the alleged negligence in treatment of its Technical Services Employee president Harjit Singh after he was doused with acid by two assailants yesterday.

Traffic was blocked all along the Lower Mall and afterwards also on the Mall and the Patiala-Sangrur highway due to the protest. Traffic on the Patiala- Sangrur highway remained blocked for more than one hour with agitated employees sitting in ‘dharna’ outside the main gate of the hospital.

Employees tried to enter the hospital premises but Sub Divisional Magistrate Tej Pratap Singh Phoolka assured the agitating employees that their concern about the lack of proper medical care to their employee leader would be conveyed to the government for appropriate action. He also took a memorandum from the employees in this regard.

The employees lifted the dharna only after this assurance. Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh president Balwant Singh speaking at the function said the administration should probe the negligence shown by doctors of the Rajindra hospital who, he charged, did not give timely aid to the employee leader.

Meanwhile Civic services in the city were affected as the corporation employees have been abstaining work since yesterday. Employees had closed the headquarters office as well as other offices yesterday after they came to know about the attack.

The Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers Association meanwhile claimed that Harjit Singh had been fully attended to by the residents and senior consultant of plastic suergery Dr Avtar Si ngh. Association president Dr J.R. Arora and Secretary Dr B.S. Sohal said sensing the seriousness of the damage doctors from other departments like medicine, ENT and anasthesia were also called and their opinion sought. They said consequently the patient was shifted to the ICU.

The doctors said at no time did the patient remain unattended and that there was no negligence on the part of residents and senior doctors. They said when the patient died relatives and friends of the deceased stormed the ICU damaging hospital property and misbehaved with the staff on duty. They demanded action against the persons concerned.


Hanspal seeks concessions for Punjab industry
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 9
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president, Mr H.S. Hanspal, has in a letter written to the Members of Parliament asked them to request the Finance Minister to provide special concessions and package for the industry and trade in Punjab on the pattern of concessions offered earlier to the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh.

He said while offering benefits to industries and trade in these states, the Finance Minister has ignored the areas falling in the border and Kandi belt of Punjab. The districts of Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur and Ferozepore districts which have been suffering due to their close proximity to the Pakistan border, and some other parts of Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur and Ropar districts should also be given the status of industrially backward areas and the special benefits given to other states extended to them also.

He described the Budget as pro-common man Meanwhile, the Punjab unit of the BJP has decided to organise a statewide protest on July 12 and 13 against the Budget, dubbing it inflationary and not development-oriented as claimed by the UPA government.

Mr Rajinder Bhandari, general secretary of the state unit of the party, told mediapersons today that the protest will be preceded by a state-level rally at Pathankot, which will be addressed by the national general secretary of the party, Ms Sushma Swaraj. They would also devise guidelines for the two-day protest, which would also focus on the “tainted ministers’’ in Punjab.

Dubbing the Budget to be against the interests of the middle class, Mr Bhandari said 2 per cent education cess on all Central tax, widening the service tax net and hiking its rate to 10 per cent will ``crush te middle class’’ which has not been provided any relief in income tax.’’

The Budget was neither pro-farmer nor pro-poor because it is silent on resource mobilisation to fund schemes for the farmers and the poor.


Anniversary celebrations with blood donation
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, July 9
The 403 Light Air Defence Regiment, a newly raised unit of the Air Defence Artillery, started its first anniversary celebration by organising a blood donation, here today. Brig V.K.Saxena, Commander of the formation, inaugurated the camp. About 250 Officers, soldiers and their family members donated blood at the camp. 

A team of officers from the Armed Forces Transfusion cell, Delhi, made the arrangement for the camp. Brigadier Saxena appreciated the gesture of the unit personnel to donate blood on the first anniversary of its raising day.

Col P.S. Bhatia, Commanding Officer of the 403 Light Air Defence Regiment, said the unit also planned to hold a cycle expedition, pagal gymkhana, special sanik sammelan followed by “barakhana” in the next few days to mark the anniversary of the unit.


Army recruitment rally from July 18

Jalandhar, July 9
The Army will organise a recruitment rally in Gurdaspur between July 18 and 25 for soldier general duty and soldier technical, soldier clerk and nursing assistants. While candidates from Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts only can participate in the rally for soldier general duty recruitment, the rally for recruitment as soldier technical, soldier clerk and nursing assistants shall be open for candidates of all districts of Punjab, a defence spokesman said here today.

The spokesman said academic qualification for soldier general duty is Class X with 45 per cent marks or intermediate pass. For soldier technical, candidates should had passed Class XII with physics, chemistry and mathematics with minimum 50 per cent marks.

The candidate should have passed Class XII examination from any stream with English with minimum 50 per cent marks in aggregate and 40 per cent marks in each subject and graduate candidate will get 20 per cent additional weightage for individual with proficiency in computer and typing for soldier clerk category. The candidate should have passed intermediate examination with physics, chemistry, biology and English with minimum 50 per cent marks in aggregate and also have secured minimum 40 per cent marks in each subject for the trade of nursing assistant category. — UNI


Unethical practices by labs alleged
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 9
The Sangrur Medical Technologists Association has decided that all members of the association will work according to the code of conduct in running a clinical laboratory. Any member violating rules and regulations will invite action.

Mr Mohan Lal, President of the association, said here yesterday that the association had noticed that certain members or their assistants stayed in the Civil Hospital and coax patients for laboratory tests at their laboratories. He also stated that some complex and sensitive tests which could not be done at Sangrur or nearby stations, were done by a few members of the association. Such acts were against the code of conduct of the association and also “unethical” and brought a bad name to profession.


Dalit women stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 9
A large number of Dalits, mostly women, staged a dharna at the old city police station today to express resentment over the increasing number of incidents of rape in the community, especially in the Arya Nagar locality here.

Sources said the maximum number of drug addicts belonged to the areas marked under the jurisdiction of the old police station.

The highest number of complaints regarding alleged sexual exploitation and intimidation had also been received in the past from the locality.

The protesters mainly from the Dhanak community, raised slogans against the police for not arresting the culprits named in the complaints filed by some women, including widows, alleging attempts to outrage their modesty or to lure them into the immoral acts.

In some cases the police had not even registered the first information reports (FIR), they alleged.


DSPs’ selection: fresh advice given to govt
Our High Court 

Chandigarh, July 9
The counsel for Punjab Government in the ongoing case concerning the alleged irregularities in the selection of Deputy Superintendents of Police (DSP) today told the Punjab and Haryana High Court that he has given a fresh advice to the government in the matter.

Today, soon after the proceedings began, the counsel sought some time from the court on the plea that he has not been able to discuss his advice with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

However, counsel for one of the petitioners, Jaskaran Singh Brar, urged the court not to adjourn the case any further.

The Bench headed by Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy adjourned the case to July 14 to enable him to consult the Chief Minister.

Hearing adjourned

A Division Bench of the High Court comprising Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar and Mr Justice Amar Dutt adjourned the hearing in the petition filed by three Akali leaders to July 15.

The three Shiromani Akali Dal leaders, Sucha Singh Langah and Sewa Singh Sekhwan, both former ministers, and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) acting chief Alwinder Pal Pakhoke, have sought directions to the Deputy Commissioners of Amritsar and Gurdaspur to allow them to contest the forthcoming SGPC elections.

Today, former Punjab Advocate-General H.S. Mattewal, counsel for the petitioners, questioned the powers of the Deputy Commissioners to disqualify the petitioners on flimsy grounds. He also asked how Deputy Commissioners refused to follow the order passed by Chief Commissioner of Gurdwara Elections Justice J.S. Sekhon (retd).

After hearing the counsels, the Bench asked how the Deputy Commissioner passed strictures against the Chief Commissioner. The Bench also expressed concern over the language used by the Deputy Commissioner.

The Bench also wondered if the DCs did not know that during elections the entire machinery came under the control and supervision of the Chief Commissioner.

Taking a serious view of the actions of the DCs, the Bench noted that it was a fit case for contempt.

Hearing inconclusive

Hearing in the writs filed by former Punjab Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal chief Parkash Singh Badal, his son and Lok Sabha Member Sukhbir Badal, former ministers Tota Singh and Sohan Singh Thandal remained inconclusive.

The Division Bench of Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar and Mr Justice Amar Dutt adjourned the hearing to July 13.

The four leaders have challenged the power of Special Judge, Ropar, S.K. Goel to hear the disproportionate assets cases involving them. They have also sought quashing of all proceedings in the matter so far.

During hearing, former Punjab Advocate-General Hardev Singh Mattewal, counsel for the petitioners, said that the trial at Ropar was unconstitutional as the accused can be tried only where the alleged offences are said to have taken place. He also questioned the validity of the cases being registered at a Mohali Police Station.

Referring to the lack of any concurrence given by the Punjab and Haryana High Court to appoint Mr Goel as Special Judge to hear the case, he said that this rendered all proceedings in the cases illegal.

Mr Mattewal also stated that while the sanction of the Vidhan Sabha Speaker has been taken to try Mr Badal, the same was not taken in the case of the other two MLAs.

He also asserted that even in the case of Mr Badal, another sanction, which was must, was not taken to try him for alleged disproportionate assets.

The counsels of the petitioners also stated that incomplete challans could not form the basis of charges.

However, the counsel for the Punjab Government asserted that the writs filed by Mr Badal and others were irregular as only revision petitions should have been filed.

While adjourning the hearing to July 13, the Bench also allowed the parties to make requests to the Special Judge not to hold any further hearings in the cases further. Tomorrow, the Special Judge is scheduled to consider charges against one of the accused.


Tension follows woman’s murder
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 9
Tension gripped Lehragaga town, about 40 km from here, today following the murder of a married woman, Hem Lata, allegedly by her in-laws at Lehragaga yesterday. The in-laws cremated the body in a hurry at the Lehragaga cremation ground and fled. They are still at large.

Residents of Budhlada, the paternal home town of the deceased, and Lehragaga today staged a demonstration in Lehragaga town. The shopkeepers there kept their shops closed in protest. The protesters also disrupted rail and vehicular traffic by staging dharnas there.

As per reports from Lehragaga, the protesters also threw stones on the Gypsy of an SHO and raised slogans against the police, alleging that it had failed to arrest the culprits even after 24 hours of the crime.

The protesters continued their dharna the whole day, but it was reportedly lifted this evening when senior officers from Sunam and Moonak assured them that the accused would be arrested in 24 hours.

The Lehragaga police has registered a case against 11 persons under Sections 302, 201, 506 and 120-B of the IPC on the statement of Mr Prem Chand, a brother of the deceased. The case has been registered against Vinod Kumar, husband of Hem Lata, Dev Raj, father-in-law, Darshana Devi, mother-in-law, Rajesh Kumar, brother-in-law, Meena, Pushpa Devi, and Neelam, all sisters-in-law, Kesho Ram Bhutalia, Ram Ji Dass Bokhria, Mithu Ram, alias Narain Dutt, and Kanchan, wife of Rajesh Kumar.

In his statement, Mr Prem Chand alleged that his sister was married to Vinod Kumar about 13 years ago, but as Vinod had illicit relations with another woman he started forcing her sister to divorce him. He said the previous day they came to know that his sister had been murdered by her in-laws. On reaching Lehragaga they found the house of his sister locked. 


SP to hold inquiry into illegal detention
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 9
Mr Kultar Singh, SSP, has entrusted the inquiry in the alleged kidnapping and illegal detention of three minor children belonging to Raikot (Ludhiana) by the Amritsar police to the SP city-I, Mr Harmanbir Singh Gill.

Three minors, including two girls, were detained illegally at the Chheharta police station on July 5 and 6 in connection with an alleged dowry case against their maternal uncle. The children had alleged that the cops had misbehaved and used abusive language.


Blind murder case solved
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 9
The district police, Hoshiarpur has succeeded in solving the blind murder case of Jarnail Singh, sevadar of Gurdwara Tahli Sahib of Rara village who was killed in the gurdwara on the night of June 26.

Mr Lok Nath Angra, SSP said here today that Namjan son of Lahora of Jharkhand, was arrested while his accomplices, Nobel, Nobel’s son and Ajay of Orissa were still at large. Mr Angra the accused had gone to the Gurdwara for stealing cash from golak (cash box). When they were committing the crime, sevadar Jarnail Singh woke up. They hit his head with a brick, killing him. Later they threw his body outside the boundary wall and escaped with the cash box.


Patwari held for taking bribe
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 9
A local court today remanded a patwari in judicial custody till July 12 after his arrest by vigilance officials yesterday on the charge of accepting a bribe of Rs 25,000, from a farmer for providing documents needed for getting a loan.

It is learnt that Surinder Pal Singh was allegedly caught red-handed while taking the bribe amount from Mr Paranjit Singh at Rajpura.

It was alleged that Surinder Pal Singh, patwari of Buta Singhwala halka, had demanded Rs 32,000 for giving the required documents to the farmer but the deal was finally settled for Rs 25,000.

Mr Paramjit Singh then complained to the vigilance officials in this regard.

The patwari, who belongs to Fatehgarh Sahib district, was arrested by a vigilance team headed by a DSP.


CM gives Rs 4.5 lakh to students to go to NASA
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 9
Students of the city who are aiming for the moon after being selected for the Space Settlement Design competition organised by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics at NASA’s facility in Florida are set to realise their dreams with the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh releasing Rs 4.50 lakh from his discretionary fund to facilitate their travel.

Budha Dal School Principal Dr Amrit Aujla told TNS that the School had also received a sanction of Rs 5 lakh from the Department of Science and Technology following an earlier promise made by its Minister Kapil Sibal during a meeting with the students.

The money from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund was released by the government today and is being deposited in a special fund created by the Budha Dal School Management. The students of Budha Dal and the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology are participating in the competition as part of a joint 18 member team.

Dr Amrit Aujla said the Budha Dal School management had also chipped in around Rs 1 lakh and the “Project NASA” account of the school now had Rs 10.5 lakh in its kitty. She said the money received from the state Chief Minister was welcome as the team had drawn a blank despite trying to get corporate sponsorship for their visit. Dr Aujla said the total cost of the project was around Rs 16 lakh and that the rest of the cost would be shared by the team members themselves.

The 18-member team said they had prepared a project called “Bellevisate” which involved designing a project in space and a device which could prevent global warming.

The students have also designed a tourist attraction on the moon. The project envisions the creation of a space city on the moon in 2024 for which eight teams have been selected. The team is leaving for the USA on July 13.


Engineering college gets accreditation
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 9
Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College has received the approval of accreditation from the National Board of Accreditation of India. The board is associated with the All India Council for Technical Education.

A spokesperson for the college said as many as five B.Tech courses had been accreditated — civil engineering, computer science and engineering, electrical engineering, electronics and communication engineering and mechanical engineering — for a period of three years. The institute already holds an ISO 9001-2000 certification.

The institute had applied for the accreditation with the AICTE, New Delhi, following which a 11-member team, headed by Dr P.V. Vaidyanathan, a former vice-chancellor of Annamalai University as its Chairman, visited the college on April 30 and May 2. Other members of the team were from the Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore, the Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, and the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai.

The Principal of the college, Dr Rupinder Pal Singh Suker-Chakia, said that the Institute was going to introduce AICTE-approved M.Tech programme in computer science and engineering also with effect from this year, besides the 12 AICTE-approved M.Tech programmes being taught in the college.

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