P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Congress in election mode as CM bashes Akalis
Dubs Anandpur Sahib resolution secessionist
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, January 13
The ruling Congress party today informally launched its election campaign for the Ajnala Assembly byelection, slated for February 23, at a conference organised here to mark the supreme sacrifice made by the 40 Muktas, on the eve of the Maghi Mela.

The Congress declared that it would seek votes for its candidate on the basis of the performance of the government in the past three years.

The Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, made a political attack on the Akalis especially the former chief minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President SAD (B), by dubbing the Anandpur Sahib resolution-1973 passed by them as secessionist and the only factor which brought the economic development of Punjab to a complete halt.

State Congress chief H. S. Hanspal accused Mr Badal of betraying the Sikh sentiments by not completing the Galiara project around the Golden Temple. The project was launched by late Congress Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, alleged that the Akalis had always been playing with the sentiments of people.

Akalis, when in power, never bothered about the welfare of Punjab but when out of power, they always tried to disturb the atmosphere of the state, she said.

Mr Jagmeet Brar, who was specially invited by Mr Hanspal to attend the conference held in his hometown, was not invited to address the gathering.

Mr Brar left the venue before Captain Amarinder Singh completed his speech.

The others who attended the conference included Mr Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, Mr Lal Singh, Mr Harminder Singh Jassi, Chairman, Markfed and office-bearers of the Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee (PPCC).

Captain Amarinder Singh, while lashing out at Mr Badal, said the Akali Dal led by him was always looking for an opportunity to create trouble in Punjab for their vested interests.

The passing of Anandpur Sahib resolution was one such example and they were still raising non-relevant issues which could cause a setback to the peace prevailing in the state.

The Chief Minister alleged that though Mr Badal claimed himself to be a champion of the farmers' cause, the spurious seeds of cotton and substandard pesticides, being manufactured by his (Mr Badal) close kin led to the situation where a large number of cotton growers committed suicide.

He announced that the Punjab Government had sent the amended Johal panel report to the Centre for its approval and the amended report was well received by the Ministry of Agriculture.

He added that when the Johal panel report was implemented in toto in the Punjab, the agriculture would become a paying proposition in the state.

He said the Punjab Government would try to decrease area under the paddy crop in its diversification programme. He tried to justified the falling prices of raw cotton this year due to its over production.

The Chief Minister claimed that, for the first time in the reorganised Punjab, the Congress government had managed to bring the private industrialists forward to invest Rs 10,000 crore in various projects.

Exports from the Punjab had been increasing every year and it had crossed five figures in crores in the current financial year, he said.

To boost the IT sector, the computer education had been introduced in the schools. Muktsar would be given all facilities to make it a model city, he promised.

He admitted that rural areas of Punjab could not be given 24-hour uninterrupted power supply as the generation of electricity had come down significantly in the state.

He announced that tercentenary occasion of the supreme sacrifices made by the 40 Muktas would be celebrated by organising a state- level function in this town in May 2005.

The CM added that Punjab Government had created a social security fund to the tune of Rs 450 crore to ensure timely payment of pension to all sections of the society.

He declared the Punjab Government would leave no stone unturned to provide basic amenities to the people of Punjab.

Captain Amarinder Singh, after paying his obeisance at Gurudwara Tutti Gandi Sahib, unveiled the statue of Dr B. R Ambedkar, inaugurated the 66 KV grid substation and formally launched the web internet service in the Deputy Commissioner's office.


Amarinder govt terrorising Akali workers, says Badal
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, January 13
Launching a scathing attack on the Congress Government in Punjab, former Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal today said it had done nothing in people's interest during the past three years and its only aim was to terrorise SAD workers.

Speaking at the party's conference on the occasion of Maghi Mela here, Mr Badal said Punjab had been leading on all fronts but now it was trailing behind all states of the country. He said that people of Punjab were hardworking and it were the government's policies that let the state down. He stated that during the Akali regime the state made a lot of progress. "Free power and water to farmers, house tax and octroi waiver, refinery project, Amritsar airport, work at Shahpur Kandi and on railway tracks and roads, were our major achievements," he added. Mr Badal said: "We consider ourselves servants of the people, but being a member of the royal family Amarinder considers himself to be your master."

He said that during the Akali regime, the state got its due share in every government scheme, but today despite the Congress government at the Centre the state was getting nothing. He said the state was even denied tax waiver on the

lines of Himachal Pradesh, which would lead to industries deserting the state at a fast pace. He said the state's farmers were already reeling under a financial crunch and now exodus of industries would leave thousands of people unemployed. He flayed the Central Government's proposed move to stop procurement of paddy and wheat saying that it would prove to be the death knell for the state's farmers. He said the SAD would oppose this move tooth and nail, as it would ruin the state's farmers. He said that his party would soon announce a major programme to sensitise people on these issues.

He alleged that the Punjab CM, Capt Amarinder Singh, was promoting "self-interest" by ignoring people. He alleged that the CM gave liquor contracts of the state to his favourite, Ponty Chadha, and did not allow any other contractor to bid during the auction. He further alleged that Punjab Tractors was also sold off at throwaway prices. Mr Badal lamented that the state government was indulging in wasteful expenditure and was not paying pension to the elderly, widows, and disabled.

Dwelling on religious issues, Mr Badal said the biggest challenge before the Sikh community was to check the rising drug menace among its youth and make them follow Sikh tenets.

Addressing the rally, SGPC president Jagir Kaur flayed the policies of the state government and said it had failed on all fronts. Ironically, Mrs Jagir Kaur, who is facing the charge of killing her pregnant daughter, raised the issue of female foeticide. She appealed to the people to curb this evil saying "So kyo manda akhiye jit jame rajan" (why to speak bad about someone who gives birth to a king).

MP Sukhbir Singh Badal alleged that the Amarinder Singh Government had let loose a reign of terror on Akali workers. He alleged that the Congress Government had looted the state's exchequer. Former Finance Minister, Captain Kanwaljeet Singh, warned Congressmen that the "score would be settled once the Akalis returned to power".

He said that officials involved in "harassment" of Akali workers would also be taken to task. He alleged that the state government waived excise worth Rs 200 crore of some liquor contractors, but it did not have money to pay pension to the elderly.


Splinter Akali groups target Badal, Amarinder govt
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, January 13
While the Congress and SAD (B) were attacking each other at their rallies, splinter Akali groups targeted both and held them responsible for the present state of affairs in Punjab.

Addressing a rally, SAD (Amritsar) president, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, said there was no Opposition left in Punjab and Congress and SAD (B) had reached a compromise. He said Mr Badal was not playing his role of Opposition leader well and his party was doing nothing but staging walkouts in the state Assembly as well as Parliament.

He alleged that the state government was considering to appoint a person as the state's DGP, who had formed his private army during the days of militancy and Mr Badal was not even opposing his candidature.

Lashing out at other parties, including the CPM and BJP on the issue, he asked, "Who will fight for the rights of Punjabis." He said the school buildings across the state were in dilapidated state and they had no teachers. Studies in the border areas had almost come to a grinding halt, he added.

He alleged that the state of health services and roads were no better. Taking a dig at Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, he said, "He always travels by air. How would he come to know about people's problem when he does not travel by road."

Mr Mann said Mr Badal was neither taking up these issues in the state's Assembly, nor his party was voicing farmers' woes in Parliament. He alleged that Mr Badal was supporting a draconian law like POTA in Parliament and his party staged a walkout when the UPA government wanted to repeal it.

Mr Mann said Mr Badal also failed to do anything on the religious front despite the fact that his party dominated the SGPC. He said that historic gurdwaras like Khadoor Sahib, Tarn Taran, Goindwal Sahib, were running into losses.

The SAD (Longowal) also spoke on the similar lines. The party president, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, announced the launch of Mukti Andolan at the party's conference. Mr Chandumajra said Mukti Andolan was aimed at freeing religious institutions from "non-panthic" forces, sensitising people on social evils, and highlight "anti-people" policies of the state government.

He said his party would make all efforts to throw out "non-panthic" forces, who had captured seats of power in the religious institutions. He alleged that the SGPC was handing over its property to its "favourites" by forming trusts. He alleged that the state government had failed to pay dues of cane farmers and remaining bonus to the paddy growers.

The SAD (Ravi Inder) president, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, said both Congress and the SAD-BJP combine had failed to solve people's problems. He announced that his party would initiate a process to bring religious parties, Left parties, farmers' bodies, and the Lok Bhalai Party on one platform.


Jagmeet not invited to speak at Cong conference
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, January 13
The differences in the Congress rank and file came to the fore today when Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, former MP, was not invited to address the gathering at a conference organised by the Congress today to commemorate the supreme sacrifices made by 40 Muktas during the last battle of Guru Gobind Singh at Khidrana Di Dhab (now Muktsar) with the Mughals.

Not only this, to show his resentment, Mr Brar left the venue while Capt Amarinder Singh was addressing the gathering. When Capt Amarinder Singh was addressing a Press conference in the pandal, Mr Brar was holding a separate press conference in a local restaurant.

Mr Brar said though he was invited to attend the conference by PPCC president, H.S. Hanspal, denial of an opportunity to speak to the people on the same occasion reflected the wisdom of a section of party leaders who tried to send a message across that he (Mr Brar) was no more relevant in Punjab politics.

Talking to TNS, Mr Brar said he had conveyed to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, that either he (Chief Minister) should take a firm stand on the sharing of river waters issue as mere termination of all prior accords on the same was not enough or he should tell the people the truth behind the same. He added Capt Amarinder Singh had been facing an embarrassing situation as he had passed a termination bill without consulting AICC chief Ms Sonia Gandhi. He said what would be the impact of that bill on Haryana Assembly elections was yet to be seen.

He categorically stated that Capt Amarinder Singh today kept his attack on the Akalis, including Mr Parkash Singh Badal, mild in his speech despite the fact that Muktsar was the home district of Mr Badal. Capt Amarinder Singh had given only Rs 2 crore to Muktsar town in the past three years while he had spent Rs 200 crore on Patiala town alone in the past two years. He said these two things had made it clear that the fight of Capt Amarinder Singh against Mr Badal was hollow.

He said he was also perturbed over the fact that not a single leader, including Capt Amarinder Singh, touched the tsunami disaster despite the fact that a section of local residents were willing to give a cheque of Rs 11 lakh to Mr Hanspal for sending the same to the PM Relief Fund.


Cong resents campaign against Sibia
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 13
Local Congress leaders today resented the slander campaign allegedly launched against the newly appointed Chairman of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust, Wg Cdr Paramjit Singh Sibia (retd).

The leaders in a joint statement alleged that the campaign was being orchestrated by some disgruntled elements within and outside the party who were not happy with his appointment.

In a joint statement the Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, and Youth Congress leaders, Mr Pawan Dewan and Mr Amarjit Singh Tikka, observed that Mr Sibia was an "honest man with a clean image".

Without naming anybody in particular, the Congress leaders alleged that certain vested interests who had their eye on the Chairman's post were now resorting to false and wild allegations against Mr Sibia. They pointed out that mere registration of an FIR did not mean that he was guilty.

They said it was the same people who sabotaged his (Mr Sibia's) election in Jagraon and then that of Mr Manish Tewari in the parliamentary elections. They pointed out that it was an important assignment he had been given and he would need support and cooperation of everyone.


BJP to support SAD candidate at Ajnala
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
The BJP would support the Shiromani Akali Dal( SAD) candidate in the Ajnala byelection scheduled to be held on February 23. This was made clear today by the president of the Punjab unit of the BJP, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna.

“We have a clear understanding on this issue with Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president of SAD, and would support his party candidate”, asserted Mr Khanna.Though the BJP has taken a clear stand regarding the byelection, recently the top brass of the party was engaged in an internal discussion to decide whether the BJP should continue its alliance with SAD or not.

Meanwhile, Mr Khanna has announced to organise a big youth rally at Ludhiana on February 27, the day the Amarinder Singh Government completes three years in power. Mr Khanna said the rally had been named as “ pole khol, halla bole”, which means expose government by attacking it on all fronts.

Mr Khanna, talking to a group of mediapersons, said that all sections of society were angry with the Amarinder Singh Government. Spiralling prices of sugar had a back-breaking effect on people. Schools are in bad shape. Over 25,000 vacant posts of teacher have completely paralysed the functioning of government schools. Farmers had been committing suicides and no one was around to listen to their voice. The situation on law and order front was worsening every passing day. One can find newspapers full with reports of rape, murders, thefts and other heinous crimes. The government was stifling the voice of those leaders who dared to speak against these issues.

He also referred to atrocities committed on Scheduled Castes in Fazilka area. The government was not even ordering an inquiry by senior police officers in such cases, he added.

He said that his party was against the sending of MLAs on foreign tours. Punjab MLAs should instead be sent to coastal areas to help the tsunami-affected people, he added. As the state was neck-deep in financial crisis, there was no logic to send MLAs on foreign trips, he added.” I would not propose the name of any MLA of my party for such tours at moment”, he added.

All-party meeting

Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, president of the BJP, today urged Punjab Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh to call an all-party meeting to discuss important issues such as unbundling of the PSEB, privatisation of education and health services etc. He said these were important issues and affect people across the board. Because of this reason, a debate should be held before taking any conclusive decision in this regard.


Voters lose faith in I-card process
Raj Sadosh

Abohar, January 13
Almost all booths in the Balluana and Abohar Assembly segments set up to photograph voters wore deserted look today as they said they had lost confidence in the process for preparing photo Identity cards.

A visit to some of the booths revealed that the voters’ lists were published in 1999 for the Balluana (Reserve) constituency though revision had been done every year. Those who had reported at the booths during the previous exercises had so far not been issued photo identity cards, sources said. The maximum number of complaints in both the segments was regarding wrong names, gender, parentage and age. Though the voters had submitted duly filled forms for correction, there had been no response from the contractors assigned to prepare the cards.

Some voters pointed out that the Haryana Government had adopted on the spot card preparation system to redress the grievances but the State Election Commission had not accepted this demand despite repeated requests. It would have been better to ask the voters to report at the subdivisional offices with relevant documents for getting prepared fool-proof I card on a specific day, some said.

A woman told this correspondent that though she had never get herself photographed earlier but card number entered in her name in the voters list mentions otherwise, depriving her of the opportunity to get photographed. The employees concerned were not ready to listen to her explanations. Many people who had visited such booths for necessary changes in their cards had not been given fresh cards, even after a year. The voters’ list here was revised in 2003 but spelling mistakes were not removed.

Thus today’s session for preparing photo identity cards had become a futile exercise again, voters said. Even members of the municipal council and village panchayats were helpless in redressing the grievances of affected people.


SGPC against same-sex marriage
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
The SGPC is against same-sex marriage, which has become a hot issue in countries like Canada, where Sikhs are settled in a big number.

Taking a clear and firm stand on the issue, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, general secretary, SGPC, said today that such marriages were against the Gurmat and Sikh code of conduct. “Because of this reason, the SGPC was against such marriages,” he added.

There are six Sikh MPs in Canadian Parliament. They are divided on the issue. Three of them have taken a stand against the Bill to be passed next month by the Canadian Government to legalise such marriages in that country. However, two MPs — Mr Ujjal Dosanj and Mr Navdeep Singh Bains — are supporting the Bill. Ms Ruby Dhalla, another MP, has not made her stand clear yet.

Asked that certain Sikh MPs are supporting the Bill in Canada, Mr Bhaur said that it was because of politics of votes that they were supporting it. Sikh MPs should only support what was in accordance with the Sikh “maryada” and code of conduct. They should stick to what has the approval of the Gurmat, he added.

Mr Sukhdev Singh is not alone to say so. Leading Sikh scholars, including Dr Kharak Singh, who has authored books on Sikh religion, and Dr Jodh Singh, Editor-in-Chief of the Sikh Encyclopaedia, are of the same view. Dr Jodh Singh said that the concept of same-sex marriages was against the spirit of Guru Granth Sahib. It was also against the law of nature.

“To go against the law of nature was not advisable for those who have been given the responsibility by people to shape the destiny of their respective countries,” said Dr Jodh Singh. “Man has been paying a heavy price for violating the law of nature,” he added, pointing out the devastation caused by tsunami.

Questioning those supporting the same-sex marriage, Dr Jodh Singh asked whether two men married to each other could give birth to a baby, and likewise could two women married in the same manner procreate? If the answer was no, then why to support such marriages, he said.

Dr Kharak Singh, who was a member the Sikh Dharam Parchar Committee of the SGPC that decides about such issues, says that same-sex marriages was an unnatural phenomenon and Sikhism does not approve of it.

Meanwhile, informed sources said that top echelons of the Sikh clergy were expected to issue a statement with regard to the same-sex marriages either tomorrow or early next week.

“Obviously, the legalisation of such marriages by Canadian Parliament by enacting the law next month would influence the Sikh way of life especially of its youth, in that country,” Canadian Sikhs have told Sikh leaders here.


Giani Puran Singh may be relieved as
Head Granthi today

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 13
Giani Puran Singh, bete noire of SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur, is likely to be relieved from the post of the Head Granthi of the Golden Temple tomorrow. Giani Gurbachan Singh, priest of the Golden Temple, will succeed him.

The decision to relieve Giani Puran Singh would rake up yet another controversy as the extension of his term was approved by Mr Alwinderpal Singh Pakhoke, the then acting SGPC chief, without approval from the executive.

It was Giani Puran Singh who had excommunicated Bibi Jagir Kaur from the Sikh panth through a controversial edict in his capacity as the Jathedar of Akal Takht in 2000.

Though a strong group of Akali faction of the Majha region had lobbied hard to get extension for Giani Puran Singh, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief, has reportedly told them that the SGPC chief was free to take any decision.

Though Bibi Jagir Kaur succeeded in getting Giani Puran Singh sacked as the Jathedar of Akal Takht in 2000, her successor, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, had appointed him as the Head Granthi of the Golden Temple.

However, Giani Puran Singh had never attended any meeting of the Sikh clergy, which is mandatory for the Head Granthi of the Golden Temple. Though Akal Takht had announced that the Sikh were separate community, Giani Puran Singh had announced that they were descendants of Luv and Kush.

It is learnt that Bibi Jagir Kaur had told Mr Badal that Giani Puran Singh was accused of violating the ‘Sikh code of conduct’. Earlier, he had refused to accept the Nanakshahi Calendar approved by the SGPC.


UK-based foundation to open eye hospital at
Nankana Sahib

Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 13
The UK-based SAARC Foundation has planned to set up a major medical & eye centre at Nankana Sahib in Pakistan the birth place of first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Dev.

The President of SAARC Foundation, Prof T.H. Kirmani, in a letter addressed to an eminent eye surgeon Dr Daljit Singh, who has been designated to supervise and manage the eye centre said the shrine hospital project would be developed in five months and would be inaugurated by the Chief Minister of West Punjab (Pakistan) Mr Perwaiz Elahi.

Prof Kirmani pointed out that this project would symbolise a unique corporation among the SAARC nations and would bridge a bond between India and Pakistan. He added that the Pakistan Government had drawn up a comprehensive plan to develop Nankana Sahib into a model city by providing all basic civic amenities to the Sikh pilgrims from world.

Dr Daljit Singh while talking to ‘The Tribune’ said he felt honoured to be part of this eye hospital especially at the birthplace of Guru Nanak Dev.


Two in Vigilance net on charge of corruption
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
In two separate trap cases, a junior assistant in the Agriculture Department and a village patwari were caught red-handed by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau on Wednesday. Both were posted at Patiala.

In another development, the statements of six witnesses in the bitumen scam were recorded before a magistrate in Kharar. In all the statements of 17 witnesses have so far been recorded in the matter.

At least 14 of the 17 witnesses were working as drivers with a contractor allegedly involved in the scam. The others included a chartered accountant, besides a computer operator.

Giving details of the trap cases, the sources in the Vigilance Department maintain that the duo were caught separately while accepting bribes. Junior Assistant Kesar Singh had allegedly demanded Rs 1,000, while patwari Sant Singh had allegedly demanded Rs 20,000. Both the traps were laid under the supervision of Punjab’s Additional Director-General of Police-cum-Vigilance Chief A.P. Pandey.

The sources added that the junior assistant had allegedly demanded the money in a matter pertaining to the issuance of a licence, while the patwari had promised to get work done in a Patiala district resident’s favour in a land-related case. Instead of paying the money, the resident approached the Vigilance Bureau and a trap was laid.

The sources said the bitumen scam was busted in June last year on the basis of a news story carried in these columns. The registration of a case in the matter was considered significant as about 24 engineers, including a Superintending Engineer, were arrested by the bureau sleuths.

Preliminary investigation into the matter had revealed that “huge quantities” of bitumen — meant for laying and repair of roads in the state — were allegedly being diverted by the engineers after taking bribe from trader Satnam Arora. Proprietor of Messers Servo Road Lines in Ludhiana, Arora was allegedly mixing bitumen with kerosene for making “cheap” furnace oil before selling it at higher rates to the industries.

The investigations had further revealed the engineers — taken into custody — had amassed movable and immovable property worth Rs 12 crore. At least two of the engineers had allegedly gathered properties worth Rs 1 crore each, while another engineer had property worth Rs 85 lakh. The properties were in the form of gold jewellery, bonds and national saving certificates, besides residential plots and houses.

A senior vigilance officer added that the operations were a part of a major offensive launched by the bureau under ADGP Pandey’s charge. As a result of the drive, 66 gazetted officers and 165 non-gazetted officers were booked by the bureau in 2004 on the allegations of being involved in corruption.


Middlemen make hay while authorities keep mum
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Lakhanpur, January 13
The middlemen are thriving on the sales tax and toll tax barriers of Jammu and Kashmir government. The said barriers are located on the Punjab and J&K border.

As one enters the Lakhanpur town located on the border of Jammu and Kashmir, the display boards on the shops openly illustrate the kind of business thriving in the area. The display boards on every second shop in the area attract the customers who are seeking to settle their sales tax or toll tax.

The messages on the boards read like 'Khan Tpt and sales tax agents, Fauji Tpt and sales tax agents, meet for settling Tpt or sales tax disputes'. The messages also tell probable clients that they can approach the agents and middlemen to get their transport or sales tax liabilities adjusted.

The sources here said there are over a hundred middlemen or agents running their operations openly from their offices in the area. There are many other agents who are otherwise running hotels or confectionery shops, but can also act as agents, if need be.

The Tribune team met some of such agents at Lakhanpur barrier posing as traders who wanted to settle their sales tax. The agents openly offered to get the sales tax settled at half the original amount. You just hand over the relevant papers and cash to the agent and enjoy tea or cold drink at his shop, while he does the entire dealing with the concerned authorities.

The authorities at the toll tax barrier said as per their records, about 2,000 trucks loaded with material pass through the Lakhanpur barrier everyday. The Jammu and Kashmir government imposes a sales tax of 12 per cent on all goods entering the state. Besides, a toll tax of Rs150 per heavy vehicle and Rs 65 per light vehicle is also imposed.

This leaves a lot of scope for corruption and cause for the middlemen to thrive. The sales tax authorities at Lakhanpur, when contacted, said they have no registered agent in the area. Similarly the toll tax authorities also denied that they had any registered agent in the area.

When asked why the activities of middlemen were not being checked, the barrier authorities maintained that it was the job of civil authorities.

The sources, however, said if collection of sales and toll tax was checked completely, the financial situation of the government might improve considerably.


J&K hot market for stolen vehicles
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, January 13
Jammu and Kashmir has become a favourite state for car thieves across north India to dispose off stolen cars. The inference has been drawn by Gurdaspur police from the increasing numbers of stolen cars being recovered by the local police.

The SSP Gurdaspur, Mr Ishwar Singh, said a large number of vehicles stolen from Delhi and surrounding areas had been recovered from the Madhopur area on the Punjab-Jammu and Kashmir border.

Yesterday a TATA Sumo (PB-07-K-4665) stolen from the south Janakpuri area of New Delhi was recovered from the border. Both occupants of the vehicle, Mr Raj Kumar, a resident of Januari area of Haryana, and Mr Narinder Singh, a resident of Gardhiwal area of Hoshiarpur, were arrested.

During interrogation both revealed that they had purchased the vehicle knowing the fact that it was stolen. They were going to Jammu and Kashimir to dispose of the vehicle in the valley. Another Maruti Zen car (DL-2C-J-5186) stolen from New Delhi was also recovered recently from the Madhopur barrier. Mr Arun Kumar, the occupant of the car, was also arrested.

To check the flow of cars stolen from the region into the valley, a computer centre has been established at the Madhopur barrier. This computer centre helps in the verification of the suspicious vehicles data provided by the National Crime Records Bureau, New Delhi.


Nabha peasant accuses own brother of
committing fraud

Ramanjit Singh Sidhu

Chandigarh, January 13
Manmohan Singh, a peasant from Gunike village in Nabha, faces a threat of losing his small landholding as backed by ruling party leaders, his brother in an alleged connivance with the police, revenue and Housefed employees has forged documents to avail a loan of Rs 1.85 lakh by mortgaging his land.

He has been approaching the police for a criminal action against his brother and officials but the police is dragging its feet to uncover a major land grabbing racket suspected to have been flourishing by tinkering with revenue records in the area.

In his complaint to the SSP Patiala filed on January 4, Manmohan Singh alleged that his brother Atar Singh in connivance with a former Gunike sarpanch Bakhsish Singh, Housefed employees Sher Singh, Gurjant Singh and Darshan Kumar and Tehsildar Baljit Singh Sidhu allegedly forged documents and took the loan from Punjab Housefed against his land.

Interestingly, Atar Singh, when asked about the accusations leveled by his brother, said that he had returned the loan money about a month-and -half back by selling his land within couple of years despite the fact the repayment schedule was fixed for 15 years.

He said "now there is no question of fraud." When asked if he was accused of forging fake affidavits, he said the patwari mistakenly gave the numbers of the land belonging to his brother. He also claimed the DSP was convinced of his arguments.

Bakhsish Singh, who was Sarpanch of the village between 1998 and 2003 and whose term had expired in June, 2003, attested a forged affidavit made on behalf of Manmohan in July, 2003, mentioning that the complainant was taking a loan from Punjab Housefed, Chandigarh, by mortgaging his land.

He further said Vijay Kumar, who works as a typist and Darshan Khan, who is a nephew of Bakhsish Singh, allegedly made all the forged documents. He said neither he nor his father Kartar Singh were present in the office of Tehsildar when Vijay Kumar and Bakhsish Khan stood witnesses to the affidavit.

Manmohan Singh came to know about the fraud when he went to tehsildar's office to get a certificate that he had no loan outstanding against him. To his utter surprise, the records mentioned that Atar Singh had taken a loan of Rs 1.85 lakh on his land.

Mr Lal Singh, the Patwari from Nabha, confirmed that Atar Singh obtained the registry of the land by allegedly producing fake affidavits on which Vijay Kumar and Bakhsish Singh put their signatures as witnesses. Atar Singh later took loan by pledging that registry.

When asked, Mr Baljit Singh Sidhu, who was the Tehsildar of Nabha when the registry was made in 2003, said he had to sign thousands of files daily and it was impossible for him to "check" each of the document presented before him.

Sher Singh, the inspector, Punjab Housefed Office, Nabha, said the loan was sanctioned on the basis of registry pledged to Housefed. He further said, "Atar Singh had returned the amount of loan about a month ago." While a block president of Housefed, Mr Tejinder Singh, said Manmohan Singh had no solid proof to support his accusations.

DSP, Nabha, Mr Shamsher Singh Boparai, said the police was investigating the case.


MP busy, villagers have to wait
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Kabirpur (Sultanpur Lodhi), January 13
Thousands of residents from nearly 65 villages falling in Sultanpur Lodhi subdivision, who had been looking forward to a “Suwidha camp” to get their grievances redressed with the administrative authorities, are a harried lot as the camp was postponed for the second consecutive day today.

The camp was earlier scheduled to be held at Kabirpur village, nearly 45 km away from the city, yesterday but it was postponed for today. Villagers were once again told early this morning that the camp would be held after four or five days as an MP, Rana Gurjit Singh, who was to visit the camp, was busy.

This was to be the third camp of its kind where villagers were told to come up with their problems pertaining to as many as 22 departments and boards, including the PSEB, the Red Cross Society, the Welfare Department, Police, the Employment Board, Transport and Animal Welfare.

Villagers said tents for the camp had been pitched in the grain market since January 9. The preparations were on to hold the camp on January 12 but it was postponed for the next day. They said employees from the PSEB and the Employment Exchange had come again yesterday to make preparations for today but since it was again postponed, they had to take their material back.

The villagers said they were informed by their sarpanches that the camp had been postponed and it would be held after sometime. Interestingly, the confusion about the exact date of the camp still continues as residents of Kabirpur village said that the camp would be held on January 17 while those in the adjoining Bussowal village said that it would be held on January 18.

Ms Baljit Kaur of Kabirpur village said she was amazed with the sudden twist in the attitude of the MP towards the problems of the village.

Mr Gian Singh, also from the same village, said they had been assured that a bridge in the village that had partly broken would be reconstructed, but to no avail. He said he wanted to take up various long-pending issues of the village such as those of a 25-bed hospital that was to come up, poor condition, of hospital, understaffed veterinary hospital and contaminated water supply.

Rana Gurjit Singh said his programme had been cancelled owing to the personal engagement of the SSP, Mr Arun Pal Singh, who was to celebrate the first Lohri of his son. He said the programme had now been rescheduled for January 18.


Ex-serviceman may lose land to mafia
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 13
Having fought twice to safeguard every inch of the motherland during the 1965 and 1971 wars, Col Onkar Nath Chopra (retd.) today finds it an uphill task to save his own agriculture land-holding at Chanankhera, on the Abohar-Malout road, from the land Mafia.

According to information,the mafia works in tandem with armed men who work on a contract basis.

sale deeds of disputed urban and rural property are registered at revenue offices in connivance with document writers, stamp paper sellers and employees of the revenue department .

The favourite alibi in such deals is that due to computer virus, manual registration of the sale deed have been effected.

The police, too, turns a blind eye to such cases, sources said. If at all action is mandatory, FIRs are registered under bailable sections of the Indian Penal Code.

Colonel Chopra has been fighting from pillar to post for the past six months for his land.

Last year he had complained to the local police that a senior SAD leader,considered close to the high command, had grabbed 16 acres of his land and deployed armed men there to restrict his entry.

Last month the Colonel again approached the police and civil officials on the issue. His complaint faxed to Chandigarh had some effect. The local police intervened.

Some armed persons,including a senior SAD leader,were taken into custody.

A senior police officer was deputed to conduct an inquiry but the complainant was astonished to find that most of the witnesses had turned hostile, allegedly under pressure.

the Colonel said he and his family members were facing threats He had now decided to knock at the door of the Chairman, Human Rights Commission, Punjab, now for justice.


Police-public contact programme launched
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 13
The district police, in its bid to solve grievances of the people on the spot and bridge the communication gap with the public, launched police-public contact programme, Sampark, at Lohian, 38 km from here, today.

During the day-long exercise, as many as 60 complaints of different nature were received and disposed of immediately by a team of senior police officials. The verification of character and antecedents of 74 applicants for passports, arms licences and police clearance certificates was conducted on the spot.

Police officials also issued a list of notorious travel agents who had been booked for cheating gullible persons on the pretext of sending them abroad. The police officials informed the participants that the district police had arrested more than 750 travel agents in different cases who had duped innocent people of more than Rs 20 crore during the past about one decade.

Dr G.S. Gill of a local hospital examined drug addicts and gave free medicines. Besides, an NGO, Aas Kiran, announced to hold a three-week-long free drug de-addiction programme at Lohian.


Wild animals cause panic
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 13
Panic has gripped several villages in the district located near forest areas as wild animals, including a panther, have entered the district forest areas from Himachal forest areas following intense cold. The panther was spotted at Majri village in the district. Paw marks of panthers were seen at several places by forest rangers.

Fearing threat to the lives of villagers from the wild animals, the administration has directed all senior officials of Anandpur Sahib, Nurpurbedi, Kharar, Kurali and Morinda to inform villagers about the presence of wild animals in forest areas. The villagers living near the forest areas have been advised not to enter the forest areas before 10 am and after 4 pm.

The Forest Department had intimated the district administration about the presence of the wild animals in the district on December 30.

The District Forest Officer, Mr S.S. Bhatti, said a forest ranger had seen a panther two weeks ago and reports of paw marks were received from various places. “We have deployed 100 forest employees to keep track of the wild animals and also for surveillance,” he said, adding that 30 teams had been constituted for the purpose.


Vikas manch claims shortage of teachers, doctors
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 13
Professor Mohan Singh, president, Amritsar Vikas Manch (AVM), claimed that thousands of posts of teachers and doctors were lying vacant in the border area villages.

In a press statement issued here yeterday, he said a one-day survey conducted by the manch had arrived at the above findings.

Professor Mohan Singh had written letters to the leaders of the border belt, including Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, Member of Parliament, Mr Rattan Singh Ajnala, Rajmohinder Singh Majitha and Mr Sardool Singh, Excise and Taxation Minister, to draw their attention towards the sorry state of affairs in schools and hospitals of the border area.

He feared that several schools were on the verge of closure as adequate number of teachers were not available. He said it was strange that a number of schools were being run by one or two teachers.


Preneet Kaur lays stone of sub-station
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 13
The PSEB is leading all other electricity boards of the country in connecting 9,054 out of 13,123 villages of the state with 24-hour power supply on urban pattern. This was stated by Mrs Preneet Kaur, MP, Patiala, during the foundation stone laying ceremony of 66 kv Sub-station at Bhagrana village in the district yesterday. While addressing the crowd she told the people that PSEB was supplying power to the agricultural consumers at subsidised rates.

Mr Hardial Singh Kamboj, administrative member, PSEB, said the board had launched a new scheme to regularise unauthorised loads of tubewells owned by farmers without paying any penalty. Farmers would have to pay Rs 1,000 per BHP. The amount thus collected by the board would be spent on upgrading the transmission and distribution system to provide uninterrupted power supply to consumers.


Spinning factory gutted
Our Correspondent

Barnala, January 13
A spinning factory situated on the Handiaya road caught fire last night. The building has been damaged, but no loss of life has been reported.

Dr Bhim Garg, managing director, said that the total estimated loss was to the tune of Rs 3 crore.

According to eyewitnesses, the fire broke out at about 12.30 am following a huge blast. It was only after six hours that the fire was controlled at 6.30 am. Fire brigades were called from Barnala, the Air Force Station, Bhadarwarh, Mansa and Rampura Phul.

Deputy Commissioner Hussan Lal, SDM Jora Singh and SSP Amit Prasad visited the factory.


Journalists contribute for victims
Our Correspondent

Kharar, January 13
The Kharar Journalists Association has given a bank draft for Rs 11,000 to SDM Sukhvinder Singh Gill towards the relief of tsunami victims.

The president of the association, Mr Tarsem Jandpuri, said that it was not possible to fight natural forces but one could give financial help to the affected persons. He said the association had also contributed earlier for the relief of Gujarat victims.

The local unit of the All-Department Pensioners Association has also contributed Rs 10,050 for the tsunami victims. A pay order for the amount was handed over to the SDM, Mr Pardeep Singh, President of the unit, said today.


Water staff donate one-day salary
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
Employees of the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board have donated their one day’s salary for helping the tsunami-affected people.

The chairman of the board, Mr Jasbir Singh Gill, presented a bank draft amounting to Rs 3,53,000 to the Chief Minister. Besides this, he also presented drafts amounting to Rs 1,00,000 collected at his own level.


G.S. Gill heads IMA
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 13
Dr G.S. Gill has been elected president of the IMA, Punjab. This was declared by Dr Jagmohan Singh, chairman of the election commission of the IMA (Punjab).

Dr G.S. Gill is the first doctor from Jalandhar to have been elected president of the IMA, Punjab.

Dr Shamsher Mann and Dr H.S. Nagpal have been elected vice-presidents.


Rs 1.5 lakh penalty realised
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 13
The municipal corporation has realised a penalty of Rs 1.5 lakh by moving against octroi defaulters under a drive conducted this month. Disclosing this Mayor Vishnu Sharma said 101 octroi defaulters had been nabbed under the drive. He said Mr Randeep Singh, who was incharge of the drive, had apprehended 10 defaulters and recieved a penalty of Rs 13,880 from them. He said other officers had apprehended 85 defaulters and received 1.3 lakh in penalty from them.


Hearing adjourned in wireless scam case
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 13
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today adjourned till January 17 the hearing in PIL filed by two advocates seeking a comprehensive inquiry by an independent agency into the embezzlement of approximately Rs 2.58 crore in purchase of wireless sets by the Punjab Police.

The petitioners, Mr Ashok Chaudhary and Mr R.K. Kwatra, had told the court since top officers of the Punjab Police are allegedly involved in the matter, the investigation should be handed over to an independent agency.

They had claimed that the purchases were made "without technical evaluation of the wireless equipment from a fraudulent company already blacklisted". This, they asserted, "was endangering not only the national security, but also undermining the integrity of the complete police force".

Sometime back, the Punjab Government had informed the Bench headed by Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy that two senior police officers, former Additional Director- General of Police (Computers and Wireless) D.R. Bhatti and former Superintendent of Police (Telecommunications) Malwinder Singh Sidhu, had been chargesheeted for their alleged involvement in the police wireless purchase scam.

However, the two had also filed affidavits in the court, seeking a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the alleged irregularities.

In his affidavit, Mr Bhatti had stated that he was willing to face the consequences if the CBI came to the conclusion that there was any misconduct on his part.

He claimed that recommendations were made after examining the final report by ADGP R.K. Gupta. Mr Bhatti had also asked the High Court not to permit the Punjab Government to make him and Mr Sidhu scapegoats.


Court hands over murder case to Crime Branch
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 13
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered handing over of investigation in the case of mysterious death of a young man of Yamunanagar last year to the Crime Branch.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice, Mr Justice B.K. Roy, and Mr Justice Amar Dutt also ordered that the investigation should be conducted by an officer not below the rank of SP.

Passing this order on the petition filed by Ms Kamlesh Kumari of Yamunanagar, whose son, Raj Kumar, was found dead in mysterious circumstances, the Bench also noted that the Yamunanagar police, which has been investigating the case so far, has made only casual effort in uncovering the facts about the case.

In her petition Ms Kamlesh stated that her son got married to one Anita, who, it later transpired, had been married thrice earlier also. The marriage took place on January 15, 2004.

When Raj Kumar confronted her, she allegedly threatened him with dire consequences if he did not keep quiet. Later, she was also found in objectionable condition by Raj Kumar with four men in the house of his sister-in-law. He was once again asked to forget everything or he would be eliminated.

After some days, when he went to his sister-in-law’s house to find the truth about the persons with whom his wife was found, he went missing. Later, the police said that he had been brought dead to a hospital in Yamunanagar.

The petitioner alleged that despite making repeated requests to the district police officers, including the Superintendent of Police, no proper investigation was held in the case. She had prayed that the investigation be handed over to some other agency than the police.

After some hearings, the Bench, while handing over the investigation to the Crime Branch, ordered that the investigation be completed within four months.


Theft on board Kuwait Airlines flight
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 13
For six years in the USA, he collected gift and utility items, including a diabetes monitoring machine for his father, to present them to his family back home in Ludhiana, but lost most of these items in a mysterious theft on board a Kuwait Airlines plane.

The victim, an 18-year-old Harjinder Singh, a US citizen, has been running from pillar to post to get action initiated against the Kuwait Airlines officials or get his lost goods traced for the past over 5 months, but invain.

Though he claims to have lost goods worth Rs 7 lakh, the Kuwait Airlines has offered him a compensation of just Rs 13,000.

He has now filed a complaint with the Economic Offences Wing of the city police which was seeking legal opinion on the matter.

Narrating his tale of woes, Harjinder Singh and his father Avtar Singh, a carpenter and resident of New Shivaji Nagar here, said Harjinder was adopted by his maternal aunt in New Orleans, USA six years ago and had migrated to that country. He was 12 years old then.

He passed high school examination from West Jefferson High School and was employed as a cashier with a store.

However, at New Delhi airport, he found the locks of his suitcases broken and even the seal of the airlines was also tampered with.

He complained to the authorities, who kept dilly-dallying on the matter. The Kuwait Airlines officials assured him that he would get complete claim against the missing items.

However, last week he was shocked when he received a letter saying that a compensation of Rs 13,000 was finalised and he might accept it. He then reported the matter to the city police.

Inspector Anil Joshi, In charge, Economic Offences Wing, here said he was seeking legal advice in the matter for further action.


Child killed in road accident
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, January 13
A child was killed and four others were injured when a car in which they were travelling collided with a tractor-trailer near Jakho-Lahri village last night.

The deceased has been identified as Bobby (6).

The injured Jyoti, Roohi, Rinkoo and Pooja, all residents of Jammu, were brought to the local Civil Hospital where after first aid they were discharged.

After a post-mortem examination the body of the deceased has been handed over to the family.

The police has registered a case in this connection and impounded the vehicles.


Three JEs and two others chargesheeted
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 13
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has chargesheeted three Junior Engineers and two other employees for preparing false documents to deny a tubewell connection to a beneficiary and issuing the same to another person.

The employees have been chargesheeted following a recommendation made in this regard by the Board’s Internal Vigilance wing headed by Additional Director General of Police Lalit Bhatia. The Board’s Vigilance wing probed the case following a complaint that the employees had issued a tubewell connection to a person who had not even applied for the same under the rules and regulations of the Board.

The report stated that a tubewell connection had been allocated to Bachan Singh of Lalocha village under the Self-Finance Scheme. It said the Junior Engineers in league with others first fabricated documents to change the name of the allottee to Gurnam Singh. Following this the report said the connection was released to Gurnam Singh without conducting any spot verification All employees have been chargesheeted under Rule eight of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Employees Punishment and Appeal Regulation, 1971 for major penalty. All of them belong to the Gagumajra Sub Division.


Board's order on purchase of books
Kamlesh Sharma

Barnala, January 13
The Punjab School Education Board has directed all those schools which are affiliated to it to purchase 75 per cent books of their students directly from the board depots at various district headquarters. This recent order from the Secretary of the board has created panic among the school authorities as well as private book depot-holders.

Under the order the schools have to purchase 75 per cent textbooks on the basis of the strength of the students. The letter reads that the schools will get annual renewal of the affiliation only after producing certificates of book purchase from the depot managers.

Mr Harish Sindhwani, a depot-holder told The Tribune that in government schools the state government was already providing free books to the girls as well as those belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. With the implementation of this order, the private depot-holders had to do with only 25 per cent students. This could adversely affect their business.

The decision will also hit the students. Most of the poor students opt for second hand books. But now they will be forced to purchase new books.

Mr Sanjeev Shorey of Gandhi Arya Senior Secondary School says that it will be difficult for the school authorities to ask the students for advance money to purchase books. The decision is impractical. Even the schools have to purchase books from district headquarters. The cost of transportation is an extra burden on the schools. Moreover, they cannot force the students to buy new books against their wishes.


Varsity dons reject Governor’s directive
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 13
The stormy general house meeting of the Guru Nanak Dev University Teachers Association, held here today rejected the directive of Governor-cum-Chancellor of the university to amend the statutes/calendar of the university for alleviation of Heads of Departments and authorised its executive body to chalk out the next course of action to stage a protest dharna in front of the VC’s office.

A press note jointly issued by Dr Davinder Singh and Dr Kuldip Singh, president and general secretary of the association, alleged that the ‘coterie’ of Vice-Chancellor tried to create hurdles in evolving a consensus at the meeting. They alleged that the varsity authorities tried to fizzle out the meeting by declaring January 13 as holiday. However, despite hurdles created by the university authorities, the general meeting was attended by more than 100 members. They alleged that the authorities used all means to thwart holding of the meeting. They claimed that it was for the first time in the history of the university that the authorities individually informed the teachers about the decision of declaration of a holiday

The house debated the issue of denial of headship of Sports Medicine and Physiotherapy Department to Dr J.S. Kang along with other important issues such as pending cases of promotions, counting of ad hoc service, counting of previous service, and award of two increments to Readers.

The press note alleged that a handful of individuals, loyal to the VC tried to sidetrack the issue without any success. The members unanimously rejected the ‘illogical and ill conceived’ directive issued by the Governor regarding the headship of Sports Medicine and Physiotherapy Department. The members wondered how the appointment of a person with academic background of physiotherapy had become so important in the case of the university, whereas the physiotherapy department at Patiala is headed by a person with academic background of biological sciences. Ironically the Governor is Chancellor of both the universities. This was clear from the fact that the non-issue was made an issue by instigating students. The press note alleged that the Governor, too, was misguided.

The house unanimously rejected the proposed amendment in the university calendar relating to the rotation of headship. A delegation of Punjab Federation of University Teachers Association would seek an appointment with the Governor to apprise him of the situation and ask him to withdraw the same.

The executive would also study the legal options.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |