P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




Farmers sell tractors to pay off debts
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Moga, October 31
Depleting water table, power crisis and rising debts have forced the small farmers of Malwa to sell their tractors. While some are selling their new tractors to pay off their debts, others want to spend the money on constructing a bore-well.

Hundreds of tractors are put on sale every Sunday at the tractor market on the Ferozepore-Ludhiana road here.

Speaking to The Tribune at the market today, Gurmail Singh of Rauli village said declining water level coupled with “anti-farmer” policies of the state government had deprived the farmers of any profit and many of them were selling their land. “On the contrary, rich farmers are getting richer and adding 2-4 acres of land to their property every year,” he said.

Another farmer, Baldev Singh of Kaliewala village, said they had to dig 540-700 ft deep for extracting water fit for irrigation and for this a farmer has to spend about Rs 1 lakh.

They have to spend thousands for getting a transformer installed and what they get is only eight-hour power supply. “We have to run our motor, which costs Rs 35,000, for 12 hours with the aid of a generator and it costs us about Rs 1,300 per day,” he said. “Add to this Rs 4,000 for manure and Rs 3,000 for spray and we are hardly left with anything,” said Bachhitar Singh of Bir Rauke village.

A group of farmers said if they somehow managed to bear these expenses but the yield was not good, then neither any bank nor an arhtiya gave them loan, while both of them were always at the service of big farmers. Even if an arhtiya agrees to lend money to them, he demands their yield in lieu of it, they said.

Mohinder Singh of Mandra village says, “Many of the farmers here are those who have bought a new tractor for about Rs 5 lakh, but now they cannot bear the burden of loan. They would sell off the new tractor, repay their debt, and get an old one that costs Rs 40,000-Rs 1.75 lakh.”

Some of the farmers are selling their tractors to build a bore-well from that money and in the paddy season they would manage their work with a hired tractor.

Farmers also lamented irregular water supply from the canal. “If the supply is on for a week, we don’t get a single drop for the next two weeks.” He said those who had taken agricultural land on contract were no better, as they had to pay Rs 15,000-Rs 17,000 per acre for it.

“We have nowhere to go now. Rising costs of inputs have virtually thrown us out of the farming business and the migrant labourers have grabbed maximum employment opportunities,” the farmers rued.

They said they didn’t even have industries in their area that could at least help them earn their livelihood.


Dwindling Sikh population worries minorities panel
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 31
Perturbed over the dwindling Sikh population in the country, the National Commission for Minorities has invited top Sikh religious leaders and intellectuals for discussion on the issue and hammering out a solution to the problem.

Sikh religious leaders, including the Jathedars of all four takhts and intellectuals like the Vice-Chancellors of Punjabi University, Patiala and Baba Farid Medical University, Faridkot, who have been invited by the NCM, would participate in a brain-storming session scheduled to be held in Delhi on November 4.

In the second phase, the NCM would also discuss the disturbing decline in the population of Parsis, followed by that of Christians and Muslims.

Prior to holding discussions with Sikh religious leaders, the NCM Chairman, Mr Tirlochan Singh, would scan an academic analysis of the factors responsible for decline in Sikh population.

Mr Tirlochan Singh, while talking to The Tribune here today, said the analysis had been prepared by the country’s top demographer Ashish Bose.

“After we go through the analysis on November 2, Mr Bose would present the same before the Sikh leaders. This will enable them to learn about the real factors that had adversely affected the growth of Sikh population in the country. On the basis of discussion with Sikh leaders on November 4 another report would be prepared by Mr Bose,” said Mr Tirlochan Singh.

According to him the sex ratio of Sikhs was not the only disturbing factor, the fact that the population of Sikh children (between the age of 6 to 11) was the lowest in the country was also causing worry. This meant that the Sikh growth of Sikh population would be limited in the near future too. According to the country’s first religion-based census report released recently, the annual growth of Sikhs was about 18 per cent.

“Since this is the lowest growth recorded, the NCM was going to take it seriously and we are going to examine all aspects. We have also invited the health secretaries of Punjab and Haryana for holding discussions on the topic. Apart from population, we would also discuss other related issues and aspects like the Sikh work culture and education in order to have a deeper insight,” said Mr Tirlochan Singh.

“I have observed that people have not taken this demographic change seriously,” he added.

As per the NCM findings, a steep decline has also been recorded in the population of Parsis. Their population has been estimated to be around just one lakh. “In some states there are just 6-8 Parsis. After the first phase, the curtailed growth of Parsis, Christians and Muslims would also be considered and pondered over by the NCM,” said Mr Tirlochan Singh.


Panchayat determined to stop allotment of its land
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 31
For Mr Rameshwar Dass Puri, it is second time in 11 years that he has to lead his team of eight panches to prevent valuable land belonging to Bhadson Gram Panchayat from being “swindled” away. The value of the land which was being “allotted illegally was put at several crores”.

The elected panchayat is putting up a determined fight to stop allotment of 101 bighas of precious panchayat land to certain influential people.

Bhadson, known for industrial units manufacturing harvesting combines and other agricultural machinery, is located on the state highway where land prices are very high because of an increasing demand by industrial units to further expand their establishments.

Though a portion of this panchayat land was earlier allotted to certain influential persons in 1993, the then panchayat, led by Mr Rameshwar Dass Puri, had fought the case well to prevent its transfer.

Now this time, Tehsildar-cum-managing officer of Nabha through an undated order allotted 101 bighas to Mrs Asha Bai through her attorney. Mr Rameshwar Dass Puri and the panchayat hold that the managing officer had no right to allot land belonging to the panchayat. Only custodian land could be allotted by the Tehsildar-cum-managing officer.

The panchayat finds itself in a piquant situation as the file pertaining to allotment of land to Mrs Asha Bai was not traceable in the Tehsil office.

The office has even given in writing that file is missing.

The panchayat has now sent applications to the Chief Secretary, the Deputy Commissioner of Patiala and the Subdivisional Magistrate of Nabha seeking their intervention saying that the land worth more than Rs 10 crore could be ”swindled” by an arbitrary, illegal and unauthorised order.

Luckily for the panchayat, it managed to get original orders of the Tehsildar-cum-managing officer on the possession proceedings for transfer of land.

Earlier, a portion of the land was transferred to the Custodian Department in September, 1996, before the panchayat challenged the transfer in the High Court

The High Court held that Director Consolidation had no jurisdiction to transfer the gram panchayat land to the Custodian Department.

As such the mutation ordered for transfer of 20 bighas of land in 1996, was set aside and the land was restored to the panchayat.

But now again, land has been allotted and this time the piece of land is much bigger, almost five times more than what it was in 1993.


SAD to launch stir against Chief Minister
Tribune News Service

Badiala (Bathinda),  October 31
While on the one hand the SAD will launch a people’s movement against the misdeeds of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, on the other hand the party will use different methods to complete the Punjabi Suba as conceived by the late Sant Fateh Singh, the architect of the Punjabi Suba Movement.

Announcing the action plan of the party at a function organised in connection with the death anniversary of Sant Fateh Singh at his native village here yesterday, Mr Sukhbir Badal, MP and General Secretary of the SAD (B) said the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of the party would work out the modalities of these agitations shortly.

“The completion of the Punjabi Suba is a genuine demand of the Akali Dal. The government concerned should hand over the left out Punjabi-speaking areas and Chandigarh to Punjab and apart from it, Punjab should be given river waters as per riparian principles,” pointed out Mr Badal while addressing the rally.

The others who attended the rally included Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, president, Youth Akali Dal and MP, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Mr Sikander Singh (former ministers), Mr Jagdeep Singh Nakai, Mr Gura Singh Tungwali (MLAs) and Mr Makhan Singh, Mr Balbir Singh Ghunas, Senior party leaders. Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister and party President, and Mrs Paramjit Kaur Gulshan, MP, Bathinda were conspicuous by their absence.

The Akalis had made sacrifices for various genuine demands of Punjab while the Congress governments in the state and at the Centre always played havoc with the economic and social interests of Punjab and divided the people on caste and communal lines.

He declared that time had come when people should know about the misdeeds of Capt Amarinder Singh’s government which was credited with the DSP recruitment scandal, bunglings in the auction of liquor vends, the sale of Punjab Tractors Limited at throwaway prices, sales tax exemptions to selective units and granting of licences to three persons with undue facilities for setting up distilleries in Punjab at the cost of the economy of the state.

While the Congress government of Punjab had been denying the facilities given to the people during the previous SAD-BJP combine government on the pretext that there were not enough funds with it to continue the same on the other hand it had been giving concessions worth hundreds of crores of rupees to certain industrialists in lieu of considerations.

He demanded a CBI probe should be held into the issue pertaining to exemptions to certain industrial units and granting of licenses of distilleries to three persons in Punjab at the cost of state exchequer. He said in certain cases, the Supreme Court and the High Court had declared the action of Capt Amarinder Singh’s government illegal and unjustified.

Later, while addressing a press conference, he refused to make any comment on the case involving Bibi Jagir Kaur, and the SGPC chief.


PSGPC chief to visit India
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 31
The newly appointed president of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC), Mr Mastan Singh, today expressed the desire to visit the Golden Temple, besides Chandigarh and New Delhi, during his visit to India after Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary celebrations.

He stated that he was keen to hold talks with the SGPC chief, the Akal Takht Jathedar, the Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), the Shiromani Akali Dal President and the Punjab Chief Minister.

He would be the first office-bearer of the PSGPC to visit India since the formation of the committee in April, 1999.

Talking to TNS from Nankana Sahib on the telephone, Mr Mastan Singh hoped that all irritants between the SGPC and the PSGPC could be removed amicably during the proposed discussions.

He said the PSGPC would extend invitations to Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht, Bibi Jagir Kaur, president, SGPC and SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal to visit Pakistan.

Talking about the controversy over handing over the kar seva for constructing a big serai at Nankana Sahib to SAD (Delhi), led by Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, Mr Mastan Singh said instead of criticising the PSGPC, the SGPC should come forward to undertake the seva of other Sikh shrines which were in a dilapidated condition.

Mr Illahi is likely to meet Capt Amarinder Singh during the World Punjabi Conference.

Answering a question, Mr Mastan Singh said the PSGPC would work out how to conduct its general election. He said the PSGPC would endeavour to finalise the beautification plan of Nankana Sahib. The kar seva of Gurdwara Chunna Mandi, the birth place of Guru Ram Dass, would be launched shortly.


Bhai Mardana’s descendant honoured
Tribune News Service

Moga, October 31
Ashiq Ali Bhai Lalji, a descendant of Guru Nanak Dev’s associate Bhai Mardana, has been honoured with ‘Bhai Mardana Puraskar’ by representatives of Bhai Nirmal Singh from Canada, Bhai Bharpur Singh from the UK, and British Canadian Society.

The felicitation ceremony was organised on the 66th death anniversary of Sant Ajmer Singh ‘Rabji’. Thousands of devotees are participating in the functions being held to mark the occasion.

Lalji’s “shabad kirtan” was appreciated by the devotees.

Sant Singh Maskeen also delivered a religious discourse on the occasion. The Chairman of Sant Ajmer Singh ‘Rabji’ Memorial Trust, Mr Balvir Singh Ramuwala, said nine couples had tied the knot on the last day of this event. 


Panthic Morcha leaders burn Bibi’s effigies
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, October 31
Panthic Morcha leaders today burnt effigies of SGPC President Jagir Kaur and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi here today. They had gathered to hold a rally in favour of their candidates for the forthcoming SGPC elections in the Dhariwal and Gurdaspur constituencies.

Addressing the rally, senior leader of the Panthic Morcha Prem Singh Chandumajra alleged that SAD President Parkash Singh Badal had violated the Sikh maryada by installing Bibi Jagir Kaur as President of the SGPC. When she had been accused of killing her own daughter, how could she head the supreme body of the Sikhs, he asked.

He also attacked Mr Badal for aligning with the BJP. He said BJP leaders like Mr Narendra Modi had openly used derogatory language against the Sikhs. However, Mr Badal had not condemned this, he added.

When asked about the defeat of the Panthic Morcha candidates in the SGPC elections, Mr Chandumajra said the morcha had been formed in a hurry. It did not have sufficient time to present itself as an alternative to the SAD.

Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, president of the Sant Samaj, also accused the SGPC of violating the maryada by presenting a siropa to Ms Uma Bharti when she visited the Golden Temple on the conclusion of her “Tiranga yatra”.

He said a united Panthic Morcha would defeat the SAD in the forthcoming SGPC elections in Gurdaspur and Amritsar districts.

Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former President of the SGPC, accused Mr Badal of destroying Sikh institutions. Important religious posts of jathedars of takhts had been made political under the Badal government, he said.

In the Dhariwal constituency the Panthic Morcha is pitting Mr Sucha Singh Chottepur, Independent MLA, against SAD’s Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, a former minister, and in Gurdaspur Mr Amrik Singh against Mr Sucha Singh Langah, also a former minister.

Mr Jeet Mohinder Singh, Talwandi Sabo MLA, was among those who attended today’s rally.


New projects in Punjab to generate 3.50 lakh jobs
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 31
To promote industry in Punjab, successive political governments have doled out huge tax concessions, incentives, exemptions, deferments etc. to various entrepreneurs. Taken together, these add up to a staggering Rs 14,800 crore, beginning 1989. These will last till 2015. This is a loss of revenue to the state.

Does Punjab have an alternative? No doubt, such exemptions are not in consonance with the national consensus arrived at a meeting of the empowered committee of state finance ministers in New Delhi on January 19, 2004.

A counter argument is that industrialisation is an answer because agricultural production is saturated, diversification in agriculture is flawed and slow, and crop adjustment scheme of Dr S S Johl is not finding favour with the Centre, so far. Punjab’s annual agricultural production is estimated at Rs 25,000 crore. Yet, the Centre is unwilling to part with just Rs 1,280 crore to help implement diversification scheme suggested by Dr Johl to revive economy and ecology.

One can also not deny that in the past several of the industrial units having availed of a variety of exemptions had closed down, once the exemption limits or period ended. Such closures have impeded industrial progress.

Policy-makers, over a period of time, have had to make this tax “sacrifice” because of the inherent disadvantages—geographical location and certain historical factors. It is a border state, land locked and no natural resources.

First, the Partition and then the civil strife has also harmed industry, particularly in Amritsar and Batala. Perhaps, keeping this in view and to resuscitate industry there, Rs 1,100 crore “economic zone” is now proposed to be carved out in the border belt. The Prime Minister had announced this zone during his Amritsar visit.

In this backdrop, the Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is very clear on tax concessions or relief, including in payment of electricity duty or excise duty, to attract industry. He tells TNS that one had to look at the spiralling impact of such concessions in a wider perspective, as coming in of mega projects will give a boost to economy and employment. To make Punjab investor-friendly, if need be, ‘’we will amend Acts, laws and rules. We now have in place a vintage Excise Act, dating back to 1914. It is 90-year-old. Should we not change it?’’

Capt Amarinder Singh’s message to the administration is clear and loud: “Find innovative ideas to attract investment and come up with legitimate incentives. There is nothing wrong to give such shots to the state’s economy and generate jobs. Is there?”

Giving TNS a list of approved and pending mega projects, the Chief Minister said following lobbying with the Centre over giving of tax concessions and exemptions to the industry in the adjoining hill states at the cost of Punjab, the Centre has now informed that a “sunset” clause had been added to the hill states’ tax benefits. These would now be valid up to only 2007.

Meanwhile, the empowered committee has approved setting up of 16 mega projects in Punjab, involving an investment of Rs 4,971 crore. Another six projects are under its consideration with an additional investment of Rs 1,415 crore. Meaning, mega projects worth Rs 6,286 crore, approximately, are in the pipe-line. Together, these projects are expected to generate 3.50 lakh jobs, as and when commissioned.

The sweep of these 22 mega units is wide—industrial parks, estates, apparel parks, multiplex or shopping malls or integrated mix use industrial projects, paper, pharmaceutical terry towel paper and spinning units.

With the economy in doldrums, the aim is to put industrialisation of Punjab on the fast track from the present slow growth path.


Kainth floats party
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 31
A new political outfit was floated under the name of Bahujan Samaj Party (Kainth) here yesterday. It would be headed by Mr Satnam Singh Kainth, a former MP and former president of the Bahujan Samaj Morcha.

Mr Kainth had floated the Bahujan Samaj Morcha after breaking away from the BSP a few years ago. He was persuaded to wind up the morcha and rejoin the BSP before the Lok Sabha elections this year. However, he was expelled from the BSP after the elections.

While Mr Nahar had revived the BSP (A), Mr Kainth chose not to revive the morcha and instead preferred to name his group as BSP (K).


Rally postponed
Tribune News service

Chandigarh, October 31
The All-India Shiromani Akal Dal President (AISAD), Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, today said the proposed march to Roomiwala Dera in Bathinda district tomorrow had been postponed.

A fresh date would be announced after the Bathinda rally on November 17.

In a statement, Mr Mann said it was decided at a meeting attended by several Dalit leaders, including Satnam Singh Kainth, Shangara Ram Shangura, Raj Singh Kheri, Avtar Singh Latur and Kiranjit Singh Gheri.


Tension in village after attack on Sarpanch
Tribune News Service

Khojewal (Kapurthala), October 31
Tension gripped this Dalit dominated village as in continuation of an old feud for the control of the village panchayat, as many as 20 residents of this village assaulted Sarpanch Kashmiri Lal and allegedly attacked his residence on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, acting on the complaint of Kashmiri Lal and his family the Kapurthala police registered a case against the alleged main accused Piara Singh and his nine accomplices.

According to Kashmiri Lal and his family, as many as 20 persons armed with hockey sticks and other lethal weapons, stopped him in front of his house while he and his nephew were about to enter the house in his jeep around 8 p.m. As he managed to enter his house, the armed persons, allegedly led by Piara Singh, started pelting stones at his jeep and his house, resulting in some damage to his house and jeep.

When Rattan Singh and Pal Singh, both residents of the village who had come to the house of the Sarpanch for some work, tried to save him from attackers, the latter pounced upon them and thrashed him.

Later, a police party descended upon the village and rescued the Sarpanch, while, his family was instructed to remain in the house. The police cordoned off the residence of the Sarpanch. The family was so scared due to the alleged attack that they opened the door of their house at around 11.30 am today. Meanwhile, security has been provided to the Sarpanch and his family in the wake of the attack, which, has terrified the villagers.

According to Kashmiri Lal, Piara Singh and some of his associates had a grudge against him as he had defeated Piara Singh in the last panchayat elections. “Actually, Piara Singh and his men are being provoked by some upper caste people, who do not want to see me as the Sarpanch of the village,” said Kashmiri Lal.

Mr Surinder Pal, SHO, said a case had been registered against Piara Singh and his associates, nine of whom had been identified. “We are trying to identify rest of the accused. Village is peaceful now. It is not a caste clash, but, an outcome of jealousy over the control of panchayat,” said the SHO.

Those booked under Sections 458, 375, 148 and 149 of the IPC included Gurmeet Lal, Bhajan Lal, Ajay Kumar, Faqir Singh, Piara Singh, Prem Lal, Chinnder Pal, Bhag Singh and others.


Ram Tirath ‘sarovar’ yet to be filled
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, October 31
The district administration has failed to fill the massive sarovar at Ram Tirath although the annual fair is scheduled to be held next month. Not only will it pose a problem for visiting devotees who desire to take holy dip but will also endanger the lives of fishes.

Lakhs of pilgrims from all over world visit the place every year for a holy dip in the sarovar during the week-long fair from November 26 at this ancient temple connected with Luv and Kush, sons of lord Rama as well as Maharishi Valmiki.

One third of the sarovar spread over 10 acres was barraged following kar seva in January this year. More than 20,000 quintals of fish was segregated in the demarked water area. However, large quantities of fish died following asphyxiation due to low level of water. Nearly all fishes of a particular species which were bred to clean the tank, died. The mortality rate of the rest too has increased in recent months due to their multiplying numbers in a limited area of water. The area segregated for women for holy bath is currently dry.

The present month of ‘katak’ according to the lunar calendar is auspicious for a holy dip. However, the administration is dilly-dallying on the issue of filling the holy sarovar even as devotees continue to take a dip in the sarovar jeopardizing the fish population. Growth of grass has also begun in the water as only 3-4 feet of water is left in the area.

A number of mahants who claim to be descendants of caretakers of the ancient Ram Tirath temple since the past 500 years, including mahant Baldev Gir, Mahant Krishan Gir, Mahant Bhan Dass, Mahant Amardass, and Mahant Kanas Dass along with the Brahman Samaj Pratinidhi Sabha, Arya Samaj, Gai Seva Samiti, Hindu Suraksha Samiti, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Sanatam Dharam Sabha, Mahavir Dal, Punjab, and Mr Surinder Kumar Billa of the All-India Hindu Shiv Sena approached the district administration and gave representations. The administration has merely forwarded the complaint to the SDM Ajnala with little progress in this direction .

It is learnt that after the permanent stay on September 15 obtained by the Mahants in a court case wherein new construction was banned in the temple premises, the activities of state level “Ram Tirath Development Board” formed by the ruling party came to a halt.

Allegations of representation only to the ruling party and a particular community on the board with Mr Sardool Singh Bhandala Minister for Excise and Taxation, as chairman, have been made often.

The Deputy Commissioner was made secretary and project coordinator of the board. A sum of Rs 1 crore had also been received by the administration for the temple's development. However, the administration should take little interest and basic maintenance, too, has stopped. Mr Bhandala when contacted said he would direct the DC to take immediate action to fill up the sarovar.


Prikshit is IT federation chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 31
Mr Prikshit K. Vasudeva of Chandigarh was elected Circle President of the North West region of the Income Tax Group C Employees Federation at its annual convention which concluded at Panipat yesterday. North West region covers Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Chandigarh. Ms S.K. Aulakh, Chief Commissioner, Income Tax, Haryana region, presided over the function.

Mr Umesh Mehta and Mr K.K.N. Kutty, President and General Secretary of the All-India Income Tax Employees Federation, addressed the convention. Meanwhile, the following have been elected office-bearers of the North West circle: president— Mr Prikshit K. Vasudeva; general president— Mr Sudhir Khanna; vice-president— Mr Dharampal Chaudhary; organising secretary —Mr D.P.S. Grewal, finance secretary— Mr K.K. Gupta and joint secretary— Mr D.S. Narwal.


Naik Manjinder Singh cremated
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 31
Naik Manjinder Singh of 47th Rashtriya Rifles, who laid down his life while fighting militants near Pharantib village in Kupwara district (Jammu and Kashmir) on the night of October 29, was cremated with military honours at Kaulserri village, near Dhuri, today.

Mr Ujjagar Singh, father of the martyr, lit the pyre. Army jawans reversed their arms and fired in the air to salute the martyr.

Naik Manjinder Singh is survived by his wife and a four-year-old son.

Among those who attended the cremation, were Col B.B. Pandey, Commanding Officer, and Col Satpal Singh, Station Staff Officer, both from Sangrur Military Station, Mr Gaganjit Singh Barnala, MLA from Dhuri.


Four deaths in mishaps
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 31
Four persons, three belonging to 20 to 35 age group and one elderly farmer, died in four separate accidents during the past 48 hours in the district.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that a youth, Lavkesh Kumar, a resident of Paras Ram Nagar, was crushed to death by an Army vehicle near Hanuman Chowk this afternoon, while the deceased was travelling on a moped with Sushil Kumar. Sushil Kumar, who suffered multiple injuries, was admitted to the Civil Hospital.

One elderly farmer, Balwant Singh, died after he was hit by a running train on the Bathinda-Kotkapura rail section this morning. Whether the deceased had committed suicide or not could not be known.

Jatinder Singh and Jagmohan Singh, both middle-aged persons, were killed in two separate road accidents, yesterday.


Police suspects Darbara behind minor’s murder
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 31
The local police suspects that the mutilated body of a minor migrant girl found dumped in the fields of Chaheru village on September 2 was also the handiwork of “baby killer” Darbara Singh.

The victim was identified as Tajbeen, a resident of Gali No 3, Avtar Nagar, Jalandhar, said police sources today.

The police is planning to secure production warrants so that the accused could be interrogated.

The police had earlier registered a case of murder against some unknown killer after the body was recovered.

Darbara Singh had murdered 17 migrant girls and boys and had raped and sodomised them.


Mass marriage solemnised
Our Correspondent

Batala, October 31
Fiftyone marriages of poor girls of Batala and nearby villages were solemnised at Guru Nanak College here today, under the patronship of Mr P.C. Pyassa, Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Punjab, and with the cooperation of the Samajik Chetna Manch, Batala.

The manch gave utensils, clothes, one sewing machine and one trunk to each couple.


220 examined at homoeo camp
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 31
A free homoeopathy camp was today organised by the District Forest Development Agency, Sangrur, in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Homoeopathic Physicians (Malwa Zone) at Amargarh village, near Malerkotla. Mr T.R. Sarangal, Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, inaugurated the camp, while Mr Husan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, presided.

More than 220 patients, suffering from various ailments, were examined at the camp by a team of doctors.


3 killed, 11 hurt as bus hits truck
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 31
Three persons were killed and 11 seriously injured when a private bus (JK-OPG-6486) collided with a truck (RJ-11P-0316) on the GT Road at Jalbehra village, 9 km from Sirhind, today.

The bus was going from Jammu to Delhi, whereas the truck coming from the Ambala side was on way to Jalandhar.

The driver of the bus lost control and hit the truck coming from the other side. The injured were immediately rushed to the local Civil Hospital, by the Sirhind police and villagers.

Mr Bashir Ahmed (35), an injured person, told The Tribune that he lost his father Abdul Fateh. He said the bus started its journey from Jammu at about 9 pm. The driver stopped the bus at Pathankot for refreshment.

He alleged that the driver took drinks there and drove the bus at a high speed. He said passengers and conductor told him to drive slow but he did not bother and hit the truck.

Those died have been identified as Abdul Fateh, Karori Mal (35), residents of Versa village in Haryana, and Sanjay Tanwar (25), a resident of Bassi in Haryana.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, visited the injured at the hospital.

A case has been registered.


School teacher shot dead
Tribune News Service

Moga, October 31
Unidentified assailants shot dead a school teacher on the Sosan-Jogeana road yesterday. The deceased, Surjit Singh, used to teach at Kahansinghwala village.

Sources said that Surjit was on his way to the school when some motor cycle-borne persons fired at him.

Another teacher, Jaljeet Singh of Jogewala who was heading towards his school at Korewala, spotted Surjit lying on the roadside.

He arranged a car to rush him to the Civil Hospital, but he died on the way to hospital.

The SP (D), Mr H.S. Pannu, and the DSP, Mr Darshan Singh, inspected the spot of incident.

The reason behind Surjit’s murder and the killers’ identity could not be ascertained.


College contractor attempts suicide; booked
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 31
Even as Mr Surjeet Singh Sran, a resident of Bhai Mati Dass Nagar, here who has taken a piece of land on contract from the Giani Zail Singh College of Engineering and Technology (GZSCET), was admitted to a nursing home after he allegedly tried to commit suicide after consuming some pesticides on the night of October 29. A case against him was registered under Section 309 of the IPC.

The case was registered against Mr Sran when a section of the teachers of the college lodged a complaint to the police authorities against the contractor for making an attempt to commit suicide and hurling abuses on them in the teachers’ colony located on the college campus.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that Mr Sran was issued a notice by the college authorities for paying an arrear of Rs 81,000. The amount was due from the contractor as he was found cultivating about seven acres more than what was given to him.

Information revealed that Mr Sran, who had taken a piece of land on contract from the college on an annual contract for farming, was found in an abnormal condition in the teachers’ colony. He allegedly hurled abuses on the teachers when a section of the faculty members reached the spot where he was lying. He also threatened that if he was charged the extra for cultivating the extra land, he would commit suicide.

Sources said that Mr Sran had taken the land on contract about two years ago and had been paying the contract amount to the college authorities, which had formed an estate committee to monitor the contract. Sources revealed that after the college authorities reviewed the land contract and measured the land on contract, it was found to be seven acres more than what was awarded in the contract.

Mr Gursewak Singh Sran, son of the contractor, when contacted, said that his father was in the ICU and hence nobody could meet him. When asked about the fact that how his father consumed poison, he asked this correspondent to talk to his maternal uncle, who was an advocate by profession.

Dr P.K. Bansal, Principal, GZSCET, when contacted, said that the contractor was issued a notice to pay the arrears amounting to Rs 81,000 in lieu of the extra piece of land which he had been cultivating over and above the land allotted to him under the contract.


4 cops booked for escape of BKU activist
Tribune News Service

Mansa, October 31
A case has been registered against four policemen posted at the Joga police station in this district following the escape of Mela Singh, a BKU (Ekta) activist, on October 29. Mela Singh was being shifted to Bathinda Central Jail when he escaped.

Apart from registering the case under Sections 223 and 224 of the IPC, the four policemen, head constables Nazar Singh, Balwinder Singh and Darshan Singh and constable Harpal Singh, have been suspended.

Mela Singh, who was arrested under Sections 107 and 151 of the CrPC, along with others were being brought to Bathinda from the Joga police station. On way to Bathinda, Mela Singh asked policemen to stop the vehicle on some pretext. As the vehicle stopped, Mela Singh escaped.

Meanwhile, the police has launched a campaign to arrest BKU (Ekta) activists. They announced that they would organise “rail roko” agitation on November 3 in the cotton belt of Punjab to lodge their protest against the sharp fall in cotton prices. Mela Singh was also arrested in this connection.

Even family members of Mela Singh are worried over his disappearance under mysterious circumstances.

Mr Shingara Singh, general secretary, BKU (Ekta), Ugrahhan group, Bathinda, alleged that the police had been victimising farmers on flimsy grounds. He said today nearly 100 activists were arrested in Sangrur.

However, the SSP, Mansa, could not be contacted despite repeated efforts.


Delhi resident killed in mishap
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 31
Kamal Chand Gautam, 75, a resident of Saket, New Delhi, was crushed to death by a mini bus on the GT road near Chachoki village yesterday. He was on way to Delhi with his family after paying obeisance at Vaishno Devi temple.

The victim was crossing the road when the bus hit him. He died on the spot. The police has registered a case under Sections 279 and 304 of the IPC.

In another accident, scooterist Sohan Lal, 50, of Nagra village in Nawanshahr district was crushed to death by a trailer near Khajurala village.


Student manhandling: probe panel visits engineering college
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 31
A five-member inquiry committee probing the causes that led to a strike and subsequent suspension of Principal R.P. Singh and Prof J.N. Jha of the SGPC-run Guru Nanak Engineering College visited the college here today. The members held parleys with student representatives and also heard the version of Prof Jha.

The committee is headed by SGPC senior vice-president Gurpal Singh Gora and comprises four other executive members.

The acting Principal, Ms Harkirat Kaur Grewal, had barred the entry of the press from the college. It was resented by students and mediapersons.

When contacted on his mobile phone, Mr Gora’s PA attended the call and came to the main gate of the college. However, he expressed helplessness in taking the mediapersons inside and also advised against printing any story in that connection.

Later on, Mr Gora answered the phone call, but feigned ignorance about the Principal’s order. He mildly admonished the Principal for issuing the gag order. According to sources, the order was issued by the Principal on the insistence of Mr Gora before he met a delegation of students.

Ms Kiranjot Kaur, a member of the committee, justified the order and said the Principal was within her rights in doing so. However, Mr Joginder Singh Panjrath, another member, questioned the need of barring the entry of the media.

Sources said the committee members heard the version of the students. Prof Jha also appeared before the committee and gave his account of the episode. Mr R.P. Singh could not appear before the committee. The members would again visit the college on November 3 to listen to his side of the story.

It many be recalled that the students had gone on strike on September 14 after one of the students alleged that Prof Jha had manhandled him following which his turban fell down. This led to protest by students.

Incidentally, this is the third committee that has been constituted to inquire into the matter. The first committee was headed by SGPC member Gurmail Singh Sangowal, while the second one was led by SGPC secretary Dalmegh Singh.


Painting contests held at Gadhri mela
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 31
Inter-school and inter-college painting competitions were held on the penultimate day of the five-day “Gadhri Babean da mela” at Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall here yesterday. Female foeticide, drug addiction, heroes of the Gadhar movement, Shaheed Bhagat Singh and poverty were the common themes chosen by the participants.

In the inter-college portrait painting competition, Rahul Arora of Government College of Fine Arts, Chandigarh, stood first. Amandeep of Government College, Hoshiarpur, was declared second, and Mandeep Kaur of Apeejay College, Jalandhar, won the third prize. Kamlesh of Government College, Hoshiarpur, received the consolation prize.

In the inter-college composition contest, Jagjit Singh of DAV College, Hoshiarpur, stood first. Alka of Government College, Hoshiarpur, won the second prize while Ritu of Apeejay College, Jalandhar, was declared third. The consolation prize went to Amarjit Kaur of Government College, Tanda.

In the inter-school portrait painting contest, Neeraj of Junior Model Co-Educational Senior Secondary School, Jalandhar, stood first. Pawan Singh of SMD Vidya Mandir, Ludhiana, won second prize and Hansika Sharma of SD Girls High School, Kartarpur, was declared third.

Sukhmanjit Kaur of Dhilwan International Public School won the consolation prize.

In inter-school composition contest, Karamvir Singh of Dhilwan International Public School stood first. Chander Kant of Lyallpur Khalsa Senior Secondary School, Jalandhar, was declared second and Navdeep Sandhu of Mehar Chand Polytechnic, Jalandhar, was declared third. The consolation prize went to Chetna Saini of Government Girls’ Senior Secondary School, Hoshiarpur.

In inter-school painting contest, Manpreet Kaur of Super Tech Senior Secondary School, Lopon, Prateek Narang of Dayanand Model Senior Secondary School, Jalandhar, and Jasleen Kaur of St Soldier Public School, Kapurthala, bagged the first, second and third prizes, respectively. Gurbir Singh of LJN DAV Model School, Jalandhar, won the consolation prize.


Unemployed teachers hold protest
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 31
Members of the District B.Ed Unemployed Teachers Union held a protest march at Ram Bagh Gardens here today.

Its president, Mr Naresh Kumar, said after the protest a deputation of the union met Dr Raj Kumar, Parliamentary Secretary, Education, at Circuit House to apprise him of their demands.

He said Dr Kumar told them that at least 32,000 posts of teacher were vacant in the state.

Dr Kumar said in the first phase the government would employ 7,000 teachers.


Cotton traders to reduce working hours of units
Chander Parkash and Rajbir Sekhon
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 31
Cotton traders and owners of ginning and pressing mills of Punjab today decided not to buy raw cotton from the market by making bids during its open auction but to make efforts to purchase it at the lowest prices in coordination with each other.

The ginning and pressing mills’ owners have also decided to reduce the working hours of their respective units by running them at a lesser capacity to reduce the running costs and overhead expenses.

The decision of the cotton traders not to make bids while purchasing raw cotton is likely to trigger a fall in the prices of raw cotton which have already been keeping low for the past about one and a half months.

The cotton traders and owners of ginning and pressing mills, who held a meeting here today, said they were forced to take such decisions as for the past many years, their businesses had been running into losses.

They pointed out that in the past about five years, about 200 cotton ginning and pressing mills had been closed down due to unprecedented increase in the costs of inputs and drastic reduction in the costs of outputs.

Mr Rakesh Rathi, president, Northern India Cotton Association (NICA), said in recent years, a number of cotton and ginning mills which were closed down by their owners had been dismantled. He pointed out that some of the cotton traders had turned paupers.

He pointed out that cotton traders and ginning and pressing mills’ owners, who had been contributing a lot to the revenue being earned by the state government, were also being harassed by different departments, including the Punjab Mandi Board, as it had been forcing them to complete a number of formalities to make their trade legal. He said these formalities had made the cotton business cumbersome.

He said a delegation of the NICA would meet the Secretary, Punjab Mandi Board, at Chandigarh on November 2 to apprise him of the problems being faced by the cotton traders and ginning and pressing mills’ owners. The delegation would also urge him to simplify the procedure of collection of market fee by the Mandi Board in connection with the cotton trade.

He said ginning and pressing mills owners had to deposit minimum electricity charges of their respective units for four and a half months while on an average the cotton season came to an end in three months. Thus, they were paying extra charges for one and a half months.

Mr Rathi said they were also facing problems on account of levying of sales tax on cottonseeds being extracted from raw cotton after its processing in ginning and pressing mills.

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