P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Amarinder unfolds development agenda
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 27
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said yesterday that the state would be an economic power soon as the government had been working hard to accomplish the task.

Addressing a mammoth gathering after unfurling the national flag and taking the salute at an impressive march past here on the occasion of Republic Day, the Chief Minister, while unfolding the development agenda, pointed out that the state government had initiated steps to add more than 2000 MW of electricity in Punjab within four to five years by setting up the Lehra Mohabbat stage-two project, Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant, Doraha, gas plant and the Shahpur Kandi project.

Besides, the state government had taken up upgradation of about 870 km of important roads, including national and state highways, construction of railway overbridges wherever necessary and providing safe drinking water and sanitation facilities in rural areas of Punjab at a cost of Rs 1819 crore. The PRTC and Punjab Roadways would add more than 500 buses to their existing fleet shortly, he added.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who also inspected the guard of honour by Punjab police and NCC cadets, announced a special package for Bathinda town. He said the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) would construct a ring road connecting the Bathinda-Barnala road to the Bathinda-Mansa road, which would boost economic development. Apart from this, four railway overbridges would be constructed over various level crossings in the city while a subway would be constructed to connect the main city with the trans-railway colonies. He said the Punjab Government would also give Rs 50 lakh as special aid to the local Mahant Gurbanta Dass School for the Deaf Dumb and Blind.

The Chief Minister said the Punjab Government had decided to organise a state-level function to mark the tercentenary of Guru Gobind Singh’s visit to the local fort on June 12, 2006.

Later, the Chief Minister watched the colourful programme, including Bhangra, Gidha and other items presented by school children. Tableaux prepared by different state government departments, a vehicle carrying missiles and a heritage village named Jaipal Garh set up by the Bathinda Region Heritage Foundation (BRHF) were also on display.

Capt Amarinder Singh also honoured 10 war widows and 13 other eminent personalities, including police officials, for their outstanding achievements in their respective fields. He also gave tricycles to physically challenged persons and 70 spectacles to children under the National Blindness Control Programme.


CM to urge Natwar to take up Beant’s assassins issue
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 27
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has said that he will meet Union Foreign Minister Natwar Singh to urge him to take up the matter pertaining to the presence of the assassins of late Chief Minister Beant Singh in Pakistan during his (Mr Natwar Singh’s) visit to that country after few weeks.

He was addressing mediapersons here yesterday. He said he had come to know from the statement of DGP A.A. Siddiqi, which appeared in a section of press, that assassins of Beant Singh had crossed over to Pakistan after fleeing from the Burail jail of Chandigarh. He was yet to verify the fact whether Mr Siddiqi had made such statement or not, he said.

He said the government had launched a probe, being conducted by Mr Anil Kaushik, ADGP, into the allegations of ‘cash-for-deal’ levelled against Chief Parliamentary Secretary Rana Gurmit Sodhi. He said he suspected that someone had been playing foul to malign the image of Mr Sodhi and the Congress government.

He said, “We will go to the bottom of the issue. Mr Kaushik has also been asked to find out whether anyone within the Congress or the state government or outside the same has played any mischief in it or not.” It was a bad trend that before anyone was found guilty, media trials were initiated in various cases, he said.


Governor calls for another Green Revolution
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 27
Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd) exhorted people to rededicate themselves to the task of nation-building and to fulfil the mission of a ‘Resurgent and self-reliant India’, envisioned by stalwarts of freedom struggle.

Addressing the gathering at a state-level Republic Day function here on Wednesday, Gen Rodrigues, who also unfurled the National Flag, said the goal of freedom was attained by the supreme sacrifices made by numerous known and unknown martyrs. He said thousands of jawans of the Army, the police and the para-military forces also laid down their lives for protecting unity and integrity of the country and the real tribute to those valiant patriots would be to realise their dreams of making India a strong, vibrant and confident nation.

Describing agriculture as the economic bone of Punjab, the situation warranted yet another Green Revolution in the agriculture sector and for this the state government and the Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, should make a whole-hearted effort to achieve the goal, keeping in view the diminishing land holdings and increasing urbanisation. “The focus of the effort should be to achieve new high-yield varieties, conserving water resources and changing crop patter,” observed the Governor.

Expressing concern over increasing incidence of female foeticide in the state, the Governor said the unethical practice must be put to an end for maintaining the male-female ratio and social harmony in the state. “Health education organisations, NGOs can do a lot towards this end and to make society free from other social evils,” said Gen Rodrigues adding that the very spirit of the Constitution envisaged social justice and empowerment of women and children.

The Governor, who was accompanied by his wife Ms Jean Rodrigues, Mr A.A. Siddiqui, the Director-General of Police, the Jalandhar Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ashok Gupta, and other serving and retired Army and civil officers, also inspected the parade led by Dr Sukhchain Singh, ASP. Contingents of the Punjab Police, the PAP, the CRPF, the NCC, scouts and guides and schoolchildren participated in the parade, which, was followed by an impressive display of tableaux. The Governor also presented awards and trophies to persons who had achieved distinction in their respective fields.

The following persons were honoured by the Punjab Governor on the occasion of state-level Republic Day function at Jalandhar on January 26.

Freedom fighters Mr Dhanpat Rai Nahar, Swaran Singh, Mr Kharaiti Lal Vasudeva, Mr Sohan Singh Kular, Cap Om Parkash, INA were presented shawls.

Home Guards Mr Baldev Singh Tiger, Divisional Commandant, Ferozepore, Mr Anantjit Singh Sidhu, District Commander, Amritsar, Mr Parmodh Chander Sharma, Mr Parmod Chander Sharma, Ludhiana, Mr Rattan Chand, Jalandhar and Mr Harjit Singh, Gurdaspur district were awarded medals.

Others who were honoured include Mr Tejinder Bittu, Chairman, Improvement Trust, Jalandhar, Mr Gurmangal Dass, a sports lover from Rurka Kalan village, Mr Santokh Singh, Prof Lakhbir Singh, Mr Surinder Singh Bhapa, Prof Satish Kapur, Ms Nandini Sharma, Capt I.S. Dhami, Mr Mukesh Kumar, Mr Sharanjit Singh, Ms Sonia, Master Parveen Kumar and Ms Krishna Roy.


Chohan booked for hoisting saffron flag
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 27
The Amritsar police today booked 35 radical Sikhs including Khalistan supporter, Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan, Bhai H.S. Dhami, President Dal Khalsa and Bhai Satnam Singh Paonta Sahib, a hijacker, on charges of unfurling saffron flag, delivering inflammatory speeches and opening fire in the air.

They had unfurled the ‘saffron flag’ similar to the one hoisted by Maharaja Ranjit Singh at Lahore Qila, on the occasion of Republic Day here yesterday. The Sikh youths also opened fire in the air and gave salute to the saffron flag with naked swords.

Those arrested include Manjinder Singh, Avtar Singh, Kuldip Singh, Major Singh, Sawinder Singh, Kashmir Singh, Sukhdev Singh and Arjun Singh and at least 25 unidentified persons. Those who are absconding include Kanwarpal Singh, Dhami, Dr Chohan and Paonta Sahib.

The Islamabad police station has registered an FIR against all accused under Sections 124, 153- B, 336 and 120 B of Indian Penal Code. Mr Harmanbir Singh, SP (City) said that the rest of the accused would be arrested shortly.

However, Britain-based Dal Khalsa leader Manmohan Singh Khalsa,, told TNS on telephone that the Amritsar police had provoked the Sikh leadership all over the world after registering a case against 35 leaders.

The function of unfurling the saffron flag took place at Gurdwara Shaheed Ganj, Block B where Sikh-Nirankari clash occurred on April 13, 1978.

In their speeches, the radical Sikh leaders announced that they would endeavour to achieve separate Sikh nation through democratic and peaceful means. They said that they would give a call to the Sikh masses not to participate in the Republic Day functions.


Republic Day function low key due to tsunami disaster
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 27
The memory of the tsunami disaster was brought back by the students during the Republic Day function organised at the Nehru Stadium here yesterday. The show highlighted the plight of disaster-affected people and the need to help them.

Earlier, the National Flag was unfurled by the Minister of Co-operation and Forestry, Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa. A march past by the contingents of the Punjab police, students of various schools and the ex-servicemen accompanied by the their bands attracted the audience. The cultural items included Bhangra and Gidda.

This was followed by a grand parade by various departments, including Markfed, Verka, Forest and Agriculture Department.

While addressing the gathering Mr Randhawa highlighted the achievements of the Punjab Government. Talking about the electricity problem in the state, he said the government had been planning to purchase Rs 2400 crore electricity from other states to fulfill the requirements. Mr Randhawa also announced Rs 25, 000 fund for the students who took part in the cultural function.

However, the freedom fighters and their family members, invited by the administration on this occasion, alleged that they were being ignored. A 75-year-old woman fell ill after having food in the canal rest house after the function.

Meanwhile, Netaji Model School organised the Republic Day function on the school premises. The school authorities registered their protest against the discriminating attitude of the administration for not selecting their culture item for the Republic Day function.


IIAS in for major overhaul: Grewal
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 27
The Indian Institute for Advance Studies (IIAS), Shimla, is in for a major overhaul that would review and restructure research and teaching. A meeting of the Governing Council, scheduled to be held at Delhi tomorrow would debate concerns and issue to bring about drastic reforms in the functioning of the institute. This would be the first major initiative taken by Dr. J.S Grewal, Chairman of the Governing Council of the institute after being conferred Padam Shree for his outstanding contribution to academics.

Talking to The Tribune, Dr. Grewal said "the working of the institute per se would be put under the microscope and what I would propose is a constructive self-review by setting up a committee that would look into the various administrative and academic aspects and suggests reforms". Dr. Grewal said that though he was an academic, but he would try to use his past experience as Director, IIAS and Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University to 'set the institute in order'. His priorities include filling the vacant administrative positions and taking measures to improve the academic environment.

A historian, specialising on history of medieval India, Dr. Grewal's second love was Sikh history that he has been enriched by contributing several volumes that include what he terms as his best book, titled "Guru Nanak in History", published in 1969 and which saw the University of London conferring a D.Lit degree upon him. Several other volumes, including "Sikhs of The Punjab", published in 1990 by New Cambridge sums up Sikh history from Guru Nanak Dev to the present day.

He would come out with his two volumes 'History of Medieval India', being published by the Oxford University Press. The first volume on 'State and Societies in Medieval India' would be released next month, while the second volume 'Contesting Interpretation of Sikh Traditions' would follow latter.

Expressing his opinion as a historian, Dr. Grewal said that the recent thaw in the India- Pakistan relations could translate into a better ties on individual level, but it is not possible for the 'east' and 'west' Punjab's to come together politically.

He brushed aside serious concerns about what is being called the 'saffronisation' of history by saying that 'the past political regime did try to indulge in it, but by and large a majority of historians in India tow what the west historiographically calls the liberal writing.

He said that the most vehement opposition to saffronisation of history came from those with a Leftist leaning and the liberals supported this, but this should not be construed to mean that the mainstream liberal historians are adopting a Leftist view.


Maneka tells PFA to file case in leopard killing
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 27
Member of Parliament and noted animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi has directed the PFA, Jalandhar or Ludhiana, to file a court case regarding the killing of a leopard by the Phillaur police on Monday last. She has also urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to take action against the erring officials about the mismanaged operation leading to the death of the endangered species under Schedule I of the Animal Protection Act.

It has also been established that the Phillaur cops and state wildlife officials did not try to take help from experts in the Tiger Safari or the Chhat Bir zoo who were equipped with tranquiliser guns to deal with such a situation.

A senior official has confirmed to The Tribune that no phone call was made for taking help or at least to seek some advice for controlling the wild cat. The Tiger Safari is situated less than 10 km from Phillaur but no one tried to contact officials there despite struggling for over two hours with the leopard.

Taking strong exception to the incident, Ms Gandhi has in an e-mail to The Tribune stated that she has taken up the matter with Capt Amarinder Singh, besides giving a piece of her mind to the state wildlife officials.

She stated that she spoke to the DFO who said that he did not even go to the spot and sent only a Ranger who did nothing to save the animal. She said that in 1997, the Supreme Court gave a direction that all forest units should have tranquilising guns and officials should be trained in their use. But the Forest Department of Punjab has not complied with the directions.

She said that the PFA officials have been directed to file a case by name against the wildlife officials and the policemen involved in the operation.

Dr Sandeep Jain, president, PFA, Ludhiana, has stated that there was no senior official of the Wildlife Department present to asses the situation and guide the police and other officials and to convey the true picture to the higher officials.

He claimed that the tranquiliser guns available with the Wildlife and Forest Departments have not been repaired since long. He said this can be judged from the leopard incident where a forest guard went to the site empty handed.

Meanwhile, the three cops injured by the leopard were discharged from hospital in Phillaur last evening. They were kept under observation for three days.


SGPC honours Canadian MP espousing same-sex marriage
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 27
Even as Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar of Akal Takht, described same-sex marriage as anti-Panthic, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee yesterday honoured Mr Navdeep Singh Bains, youngest member of the House of Commons in Canada, with a siropa. Mr Bains had stated that his party would vote in favour of such marriages.

The siropa was presented by Mr Gurpal Singh Gora, senior vice-president, at the information office of the SGPC in the Golden Temple premises. A model of the Golden Temple and a set of religious books were also presented to him.

Mr Bains paid obeisance at the Golden temple and Akal Takht and also listened to Kirtan at the sanctum sanctorum. Mr Dilmegh Singh, secretary, SGPC, and Mr Harjit Singh, PA to the president, Bibi Jagir Kaur, interacted with the Canadian MP and told him about Sikh religions view of the lesbian marriages.

Later, Mr Bains emphasised on proper education of children and youth while speaking at a special ‘sanman samaroh’ organised by Khalsa College Management Committee at the college here yesterday. He said “Education is the key to success and bright future in today’s scenario.”

He said proper education and training must be imparted to children and youth so that they could have a good future in various fields. He said initially Sikhs and Punjabis, used to take up only transport business in Canada, but the new generation had great job opportunities in various fields, including engineering and medicine besides information technology.

He said persons who wanted to go to Canada for higher education or for jobs should have good educational background so that they did not face any problems.

Mr Bains, who became a member of parliament at the age of 26, was presented with a shawl and a picture of Khalsa College by the management of the college.

Mr Navdeep Singh, talking to this correspondent, said there was a need to invest in the educational sphere to improve the system. When asked why NRIs living in Canada were not investing in the educational system here, he said for investment in educational institutes here, “we first need partnerships which would help in building trust amongst NRIs”. However, he added that in the near future there were no such plans.

Interacting with teachers and the faculty, he said racial discrimination had decreased to a great extent. He said Canada was a land of minorities who had contributed to the overall development of the country.


Clergy accepts Giani Gurdit Singh’s apology
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 27
The Sikh High Priests today expressed their satisfaction over the explanation and regret expressed by Giani Gurdit Singh for giving wrong captions in his controversial book, “Mundavni”.

Takht Patna Sahib banned the book and its author was declared “Tankhaiya” (guilty of religious misconduct).

The Sikh clergy directed Giani Gurdit Singh to arrange an akhand path at Akal Takht, offering Rs 501 in its “golak’ and “kadah parsad” of Rs 101 as repentance.

Giani Joginder Singh, Giani Iqbal Singh, Giani Rattan Singh, Giani Tarlochan Singh and Giani Baldev Singh Nandgarh — all Jathedars of the five Takhts, signed the directive.

However, it is not clear whether Giani Gurdit Singh will have to appear before Takht Patna Sahib which had given him religious punishment ? Today’s meeting was arranged on the petition of Giani Gurdit Singh.


Akhand Kirtani Jatha splits for second time
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 27
Close on the heels of division in Damdami Taksal , another important Sikh body, Akhand Kirtani Jatha, which had come to limelight during militancy day, witnessed a split following elevation of Bhai Baldev Singh, Deputy Jathedar, as its Jathedar, replacing octogenarian Bhai Ram Singh here yesterday.

However, the opponent group removed Bhai Baldev Singh as Deputy Jathedar and Bhai Arjun Singh Shergill, a spokesman of the jatha, for their alleged anti-Jatha activities .

Though, Bhai Baldev Singh, supported by the All-India Sikh Students Federation (Pirmohammad) and certain other Sikh organisations approved his nomination, yet the opponent group accused him (Bhai Baldev Singh) of being too ambitious. They alleged that it was unfair to alleviate Bhai Baldev Singh as Jathedar when Bhai Ram Singh was still alive.

Earlier, the Akhand Kirtani Jatha had witnessed a split when late Baba Thakur Singh, the then Acting Jathedar of Damdami Taksal, and Bhai Ram Singh, Jathedar of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha, had joined hands. The splinter group was named as Akhand Kirtani Jatha (Prabandhki Panchayan) led by Bhai Joginder Singh Talwara (late) .

The 101-member committee of the jatha had elevated Bhai Baldev Singh as Jathedar. However, certain members raised their objections over this move. Later Bhai Baldev Singh was honoured with “Siropa” (robe of honour) by the SGPC and Akal Takht.

Talking to The Tribune, Bhai Baldev Singh claimed that his predecessor, Bhai Ram Singh, had accorded his acceptance to his alleviation. He said Bhai Ram Singh had been appointed patron of the jatha. However, reliable sources close to Bhai Ram Singh, said that Bhai Ram Singh had reserved his comments on the development.


Additional DGP to probe Pathankot land scam
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 27
Less than a forthright after allegations of demanding Rs 25 lakh were levelled against Punjab’s Chief Parliamentary Secretary Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi in Pathankot land scam, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has ordered a probe into the incident. He has asked Additional Director-General of Police Anil Kaushik to conduct an inquiry.

Talking to The Tribune during Governor’s At Home organised at Punjab Raj Bhavan, the Chief Minister said Mr Kaushik was expected to submit his report within a week or so after receiving the order’s copy. He added that further course of action would be decided only after receiving the report. ADGP Kaushik, when contacted, said he was at present not in a position to comment on the issue as he had so far not received the order’s copy.

Giving details, the sources said the case allegedly pertained to six kanals located on the Dalhouise road in Pathankot. The land was initially given on lease for 30 years by the Punjab Government to the Jammu and Kashmir State Transport Department where it was running a transport workshop and transit camp. Following the lapse of the lease, the operations from the area were stopped. However, the area continued to be in department’s possession.

The sources claimed that, subsequently, local land dealers tried to get the land on lease from the Jammu and Kashmir Government with the alleged help of Rana Sodhi. However, Punjab Revenue Department officials later found out that the same was not possible as Punjab Government was the land owner since the lease had lapsed. The matter was brought to the fore in a section of the press and land transfer to private parties was stalled.


A rent deed that survived Partition
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 27
An original rent deed, signed between a big Sikh landlord and his Muslim tenant at Rawalpindi, a few days before Partition, is now a prize possession of UK- born Bhupinder Singh who recently came here from Pakistan.

It was a chance meeting with a Muslim resident at a busy ‘Sardaranwala Bagh’ chowk at Rawalpindi who told Mr Bhupinder Singh that he had been waiting for a Sikh to take away the original rent deed which he had been preserving since Partition.

"This is my way of paying the debt to the Sikh landlord."

Muslim tenant Mohammad Hassan of Rawalpindi said he was ‘under debt’ that he could not pay the rent money as mentioned in the deed signed in 1947.

‘‘Sardarji never came back after signing the deed and I didn’t know what to do about the rent I owed to him." He said the entire area, which to date is called ‘Sardaranwala Bagh’ (now converted into a big shopping complex) belonged to the two brothers — Mohan Singh and Sohan Singh.

As per the rent deed, written in Persian script, the shop was rented out for Rs 7 per month to Mr Hassan. An amount of Rs 35 was taken as advance. The rent deed also bore signatures of two witnesses.

Mohammad Hassan told Mr Bhupinder Singh that the two areas, 'Sardaranwala Bagh and Krishan Pura’ were both dominated by Sikhs and Hindus. However, Partition forced them to leave Rawalpindi.

‘‘I have learnt that the Sikhs and Hindus who had migrated to England or India were now millionaires’, but the permanent settlers (the Muslims) had not made much progress.

Mr Bhupinder Singh also visited Murri, the hill station in Pakistan. He said after Partition all the Sikh and Hindu families migrated to India but one Sikh family, which did not leave, converted to Islam. He said unlike India, the colonial buildings and scenic beauty of the hills and other parts of Pakistan had been preserved after spending huge funds.

Mr Bhupinder Singh gave an another interesting account of his visit to the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Shekhupura, near Nankana Sahib. He said unlike India where bureaucrats were not easily accessible to the common man, the Shekhupura Deputy Commissioner was holding an open darbar outside his office. Under a huge portrait of Mohammad Ali Jinah, the founder of Pakistan, a caption was written:

"Nobody in the holy land of Guru Nanak tells a lie, they always speak truth’’.

He was also impressed with the preservation of the Sikh art and heritage in the Quila from where Maharaja Ranjit Singh ruled the whole of the Panjab.

He, however, said that the ‘Maryada’ in most gurdwaras in Pakistan was not being maintained properly.


Hanspal probing charges against Sodhi: Bhattal
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 27
Mr H.S. Hanspal, President, PPCC, is probing into the allegations against the Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, for his alleged role in demanding money for a non-existent land deal. There is no need to get the probe conducted from any other agency. At present there is no need either to remove him from his post or seek his resignation till the completion of probe. This was stated by Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, Punjab, while talking to mediapersons at the PWD Rest House here yesterday.

Replying to a question regarding the involvement of any Congressmen in levelling the charge against Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, she said the probe being conducted by the state Congress chief would make clear the position of Congressmen involved in this episode.

Referring to the appointment of Mr S.S. Virk as the 31st Director-General of Punjab Police, she said that no doubt Mr Virk belonged to the Maharashtra cadre, but he had done commendable job to root out terrorism and bring peace in Punjab. He was capable officer and suited for the border state like Punjab. Moreover, it was the prerogative of the Chief Minister to choose any officer of his choice. The appointment of Mr S.S. Virk as the DGP would not affect the seniority of any police officer of the Punjab cadre.

Ms Bhattal said the state government would spend Rs 35 to 45 lakh each in all segments of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha for the overall development before March 31.


Cong clears Harpartap’s name for Ajnala byelection
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 27
The Congress High Command today cleared the name of Mr Harpartap Singh for the Ajnala byelection which is to be held on February 23. The official announcement regarding this is expected soon.

His name was okayed following a meeting of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, with the Defence Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, who is also in charge of the party affairs of Punjab, this afternoon. Mr Harpartap Singh, son of late, Mr Harcharan Singh Ajnala, Speaker of the Punjab Assembly, had lost the election in 2002 by a narrow margin of 356 votes to Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, an Akali candidate, who later quit as MLA and was elected MP from Tarn Taran.

From Ajnala, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has named Mr Amarpal Singh, son of Dr Rattan Singh, as party candidate.

Meanwhile, last evening Capt Amarinder Singh hosted a dinner for party MLAs, MPs and other senior leaders at his official residence here and discussed with them various strategies chalked out by the party’s think-tank with regard to the Ajnala byelection. This morning at his residence, he had a breakfast meeting with the Deputy Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, in this regard. Other issues such as that of Rana Gurmit Sodhi were also informally discussed at the dinner meeting.

Mr Harpartap Singh’s brother, Mr Rajbir Singh, was also a contender to the party ticket. In fact Mr Harpartap Singh had contested as Independent candidate last time. The official candidate of the Congress, Mr Ravi Rajbir Singh, had lost the last election with a huge margin.

Meanwhile, before leaving for Delhi today, the Chief Minister held a closed-door meeting with the top brass of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB). Its proceedings are being kept secret.

Sources said that at the meeting three issues were discussed. First was with regard to the power crisis, that is expected to last up to June-July because of the low level of water in various dams where hydro-power generating units are located.

Capt Amarinder Singh today decided to take up the issue of power crisis with the Central Government. The Union Government would be asked to come to the state’s rescue.

Secondly, the issue of the unbundling of the PSEB also came up at the meeting. Though the government is keen to unbundle the board, for a while it wanted to move cautiously in this regard. The government has the apprehension that the unbundling of the PSEB may become a main reason for all employees to unite against it (government). The government did not want to give any reason to employees to become a force against it at this moment, it is learnt.

On the other hand, the State Electricity Regulatory Commission has added to the worries of the PSEB authorities, who are facing a tough time because of power crisis. The commission has reportedly returned the petition, which was filed to seek revision in tariff for the next financial year to the PSEB.

The commission has reportedly asked the PSEB to first make it clear that in case of its (PSEB) unbundling, which organisation would collect the power tariff and other revenue.


I was insulted at Maghi Mela: Brar
Tribune News Service

Mansa, January 27
In a significant statement which could have far-reaching consequences, the firebrand Congress leader and former MP, Mr Jagmeet Brar, today said that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, should learn to give due recognition and honour to each party worker.

Mr Brar, who was here today after making a three-day election tour to Haryana, while addressing a press conference said that not only Capt Amarinder Singh should give due honour to the party workers he (Capt. Amarinder Singh) must also establish links with them. He added that so far Capt Amarinder Singh had not been doing so.

The Congress leader said that the way he was insulted at the party’s conference organised at Maghi Mela at Muktsar by denying him an opportunity to address the gathering was an example as it had never occurred before in the party’s history. He said that claim of Capt Amarinder Singh that he (Mr Brar) was not allowed to speak as per the protocol of the party.

He said that when for the past 25 years he had been addressing the Maghi Mela conference and had been fighting against Akalis, including former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, from that stage then why he was not allowed to speak on the occasion of Maghi Mela this year and that too in the presence of Capt Amarinder Singh.

He claimed that he had been maintaining the protocol and had been giving due regard and honour to Capt Amarinder Singh on all occasions. He added that, apart from it, he had also been maintaining dignity of party. He added that it was Capt Amarinder Singh who spoke against the Congress when he was in the Akali Dal for 14 years.

He said that as the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Amritsar, had been giving step-motherly treatment to the Sikhs living in Haryana, so a separate parbhandak committee for them would be set up when the Congress came to power in that state.


Punjab dominates in growth of citrus fruits
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 27
Punjab has virtually established its domination in the country as far as growing citrus fruits is concerned. Punjab’s kinnow, which had failed to capture the national market because of its poor taste a few years ago, has now almost ousted the Nagpuri orange from the market as its (kinnow) quality has improved tremendously. In fact, kinnow produced in the state is so sweet, juicy and attractive lookswise that its demand abroad is going up.

At present there is about 18,000 hectares under the kinnow crop. Its production is around 2.60 lakh tonnes. Besides it, 2500 hectares is under the orange crop.

Shailsh Periwal and his brother Sidharath Periwal, both Khipawali village (near Fazilka-based farmers), who have won several honours and prizes for growing quality kinnow, mausumi and red blood malta fruits, say that growing of the citrus fruit was most viable among all agriculture crops.

They have been growing kinnows and malta since 1955, when their father, Mr Sushil Periwal, imported certain varieties of these fruits from California. They have never looked back since then. Their father owns 150 acres of land and of it about 70 acres is under kinnow fruit. “We have been earning Rs 1.25 lakh per acre from kinnows by giving the task of picking and selling of this fruit to contractors”, says Shailsh Periwal.

This year they have won the first prize in the red blood malta and mausumi. In fact, winning prizes has become a habit for them. They have been winning prizes for the past six years at competition-cum-exhibitions organised by the Punjab Horticulture Department. This year, it was organised at Abohar.

“We have planned to shift to organic farming of fruits”, says Sidharath Periwal. From the next year, five acres will be covered under organic farming. “We have also planned to install our own fruit gradation plant. Under the guidance of Mr Surinder Dogra, a horticulture inspector, a plan has been prepared to raise the yield of kinnows”, he informs.

Dr Kulbir Singh, Director, Horticulture, Punjab, said the department was motivating farmers to diversify in horticulture sector. He said by putting little hardwork one could earn a lot in this sector.


Demand to open up Hussainiwala border
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, January 27
Residents of the Pakistani border town of Kasur have joined the demand of the local residents to open the Hussainiwala-Kasur border which was closed after the 1971 Indo-Pakistan conflict.

The Pakistani Foreign Minister, Mr. Khursheed Mohammed Kasuri, who hails from Kasur, promised a delegation of the residents of Kasur, which called on him recently, of making allout efforts in this regard. Members of the National Assembly from Lahore and Kasur, Abdul Alam Khan and Chowdhry Manzoor Ahmed, told a delegation of the Bhai Mardana Society in Lahore that they were making persistent efforts to open the Kasur- Hussainiwala border but little seemed to have been done by their counterparts on the Indian side. Chowdhry Ahmed said that both Kasur and Ferozepore had been hit hard due to the closure of this border.

Mr. Simranjit Singh Mann, a former MP, said as rates of wheat and other crops were high in Pakistan, the Punjab farmers could benefit from exporting their agriculture produce to Pakistan. The wheat was being sold at Rs 1800 per quintal in Pakistan whereas its MSP was around Rs 600 in India. Similarly, sugar and dry fruits were cheaper in Pakistan and tobacco leaves

were in great demand there. Mr. Mann said that keeping in view the unprecedented power crunch, the state government can also think of purchasing electricity from Pakistan in lieu of exporting foodgrains to that country.

Ferozepore-based exporters like Mr. Manohar Lal Jhanji remember those days when they used to make a lot of profit by importing dry fruits from Pakistan and then selling them in different parts of the country.

Major Harminder Singh Bhullar, OSD to CM Punjab, while airing his concern about the poor financial conditions of the border residents said that the opening of the border would ameliorate the hardships of the residents to a great extent.

Mr Ashwani Mehta, President of the Local Beopar Mandal, said that if the Hussainiwala border was opened for trade and transit, the transporters, PCO booth owners, hotels and restaurants, porters and general merchants will be benefited a lot. Once a flourishing trade center, Ferozepore now lags way behind Amritsar.

A senior Congress leader, Mr Jagmeet Brar, while talking to The Tribune said that he had already discussed this issue with the Prime Minister.

Mr Zora Singh Mann, Member of Parliament, showed letters he had written to the central government demanding the opening of this border.

Mr Sukhpal Singh Nannu, MLA, said that this border should be opened soon so that the farmers can benefit from the export of fruits and vegetables and other agriculture produce.


Cops’ recruitment “only on basis of rules, vacancies”
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 27
For recruiting cops, nod by the Director-General of Police (DGP) will not be enough, once standing orders being drafted by senior Punjab Police authorities come into force.

Sources in the Punjab Police Headquartes here claim that the existence of vacancies and the recruitment rules will also have to be taken into consideration along with the DGP's approval while appointing personnel in the force.

The development is significant as Punjab's former DGP M.S. Bhullar had reportedly granted approval for enlistment of approximately 600 Special Police Officers (SPOs) as constables, but the process could not be completed as the ban on recruitment was in force in the state.

Taking a serious view of the matter, the administrative wing of the Punjab Police—headed by Inspector-General of Police (Headquarters) Sanjiv Gupta—had recently ordered the spiking of all pending cases in which approval could not be granted for enlistment due to the ban on recruitment.

The wing had also ordered the cancellation of appointments granted to as many as 53 clerks. They, too, had been recruited in the Police Department without the existence of vacancies.

Giving details of the standing orders, the sources assert that appointment orders will be issued after ascertaining the existence of vacancies and studying the relevant rules once the instructions came into force.

The sources add that the authorities are currently working out the modalities for issuing the orders. The instructions, they add, are expected to be issued within the next few days.

IG Sanjiv Gupta and Assistant Inspector-General of Police (Personnel) Kuldeep Singh could not be contacted for their comments. But sources add that the present DGP A.A. Siddiqui is keen on streamlining the recruitment process before he retires upon attaining the age of superannuation on January 31.

It may be recalled that a suitability test for the absorption of the SPOs was initially conducted in 2002. On the basis of the test, 4,647 SPOs were found suitable for absorption. By the beginning of 2004, as many as 1,821 of these SPOs were enlisted as constables out of the total.

In compliance with the directions issued by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, a last opportunity in the form of suitability test was offered to the remaining SPOs. In the test, 1,408 SPOs were found suitable, while 2,647 were rejected.


Minister’s effigy burnt
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 27
Activists of the International Bhau Bhaichara Sanghathan and people who benefited through free ration being distributed by it, today burnt an effigy of Cooperation Minister Jasjit Singh Randhawa at Bahadurgarh, near here.

The activists of the sangathan and a few hundred people were protesting against action taken by the local police against a ration distribution centre, Modikhana, established by the sangathan’s president, Mr Balwinder Singh Safdipur. The action had been ordered by the Cooperation Minister, who claimed that he would not allow Mr Safdipur to encroach on what he called government land.

The activists of the sangathan raised slogans against the Minister. The dharna continued for three hours. Mr Safdipur said Modikhana had not been established on government land as was being claimed by the Minister. He said the establishment had been set up on government land which was under his occupation for the past 20 years. “You can even see the foundations laid by me at the spot”, he added.

Bhauchara Malwai Wing head Didar Singh Daunkalan said the Minister was in fact trying to deflect attention from the issue at hand — that he did not want the sanghathan to continue with its social welfare activities. He said the local police had played into the hands of the Minister by removing the boards and other material of the Modikhanas without going into the merits of the case.

Sangathan vice-president Nirmal Singh Fagganmajra said the organisation had established as many as 14 such ration distribution centers all over the state. He said with the functioning of the headquarters of the organisation here being disrupted, as many as 4,000 families who were getting ration free of cost would be affected.


Ward of deceased PSEB employee attempts self-immolation
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 27
The ongoing agitation by wards of deceased Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) employees today saw a young man dousing himself with kerosene and attempting to set himself aflame.

A tragedy was, however, averted with Assistant Sub-Inspector Sandeep Singh, who was posted there grappling with the man, Rajesh Batish, and snatching the match box from his hand. Batish had earlier sprinkled kerosene on his head and had started to run inside the Secretariat complex of the board with a match box in his hand. He was attempting to set himself aflame when the ASI caught hold of him and took the match box away.

Batish is admitted in the ICU of Government Rajindra hospital at present. He had to be admitted to the hospital as he swallowed some of the kerosene which he had sprinkled on himself.

Meanwhile, the local police has registered a case against Batish under Sections 309, 120 (b), IPC, for attempting to commit suicide. The security outside the PSEB Secretariat has been strengthened to intercept any further attempt of this kind.

The wards of deceased employees have been staging dharnas for more than one month against a recent change in the board’s policy under which it is not giving employment to any of the dependents of the deceased employees.


Villagers, Pashupalika workers rescue sambhar
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 27
Residents of Sheikha village and activists of Pashupalika, an animal helpline and rescue centre being run by the Jalandhar police and that of the People for Animals, saved a Sambhar, which had strayed into the village and got stuck in a village pond.

The sambhar was probably trying to save itself from some hunters when it strayed into Sheikha village last evening and got stuck in the village pond.

As anxious residents got to know about the position of the animal, they informed the Police Control Room from where information was passed on to workers of Pashupalika and animal activists.

They heaved a sigh of relief as a team of Sarpanch Surinder Singh, Naresh Kumar, Sarbjit Singh and Ranjit Singh entered the pond and rescued the animal after two hours.


Villagers up in arms against Defence move
Our Correspondent

Dappar (Lalru), January 27
To oppose the move of the Defence Ministry to ban constructions and other establishments within a distance of 1,200 yards from the crest of the outer parapet of the depot, the residents of effected villages held an emergency meeting in Amlala village, here today.

Villagers also constituted a 11-member action committee to take up the issue with the Deputy Commissioner, Patiala, and the defence authorities. The committee threatened the authorities with approaching court and the Human Rights Commission if the issue was not handled in a positive manner.

Apprehending evacuations, over 4,000 residents of 12 villages — Dappar, Gholu Majra, Chandiala, Karkaur, Baroli, Ber Majra, Amlala, Isapur Jangi, Hanspur, Janetpur, Mehmoodpur and Fatehpur Jangi - have been passing sleepless night for the past over a fortnight.


25 war widows given shawls
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, January 27
The Republic Day was celebrated by the local administration at Government School, Dera Bassi.

Mr Narinder Sangha, Subdivisional Magistrate (SDM), hoisted the Tricolour and took the salute. Contingents from the Punjab police force, the Home Guard, the NCC and the NSS organised a march past on the occasion.

A cultural programme was also presented by students from government schools at Mubarikpur, Dera Bassi, Dappar, and Lalru. Students of various private schools also presented various cultural items.

The SDM presented shawls to 25 war widows and blankets to 30 leprosy patients. To help the tsunami victims, Swami Builders, Bartana, handed over a cheque for Rs 51,000 to the SDM.


Play staged at Wagah
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 27
With the aim of extending a hand of love and brotherhood to Pakistan, students of DAV International School presented a play, “Yeh Lakeerein - Ek Pegam” at Wagah border yesterday.

Sixty students of the school presented the play written in narrative form. The play indicted corrupt politicians for spreading ill-will among the citizens of both the countries.

The play unfolds with the Kargil war. After which women of martyred soldiers were shown looking for their near and dear ones in the battlefield, while holding lanterns in hands. Written and directed by the staff of the school, the play served a symbolic purpose that a handful of corrupt politicians to fulfil their personal interests could go to the extreme of spreading rancour among general public.


Labourer dies as soil caves in
Our Correspondent

Barnala, January 27
A labourer was buried alive while digging for a tubewell at Raisar, about 14 km from here, today.

As per reports, Pappu Singh (35) was working with two other labourers at the tubewell when soil caved in and he was buried alive.

The dead body could be recovered after hours of turmoil. It was handed over to the family after a postmortem examination at the local Civil Hospital. Pappu Singh is survived by his wife, three daughters and two sons.


KMC for dissolution of litigation cell
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 27
Taking strong objection to filing of false cases on key witnesses of the Khalra abduction and murder case, Khalra Mission Committee (KMC) spokesman Satwinder Singh demanded dissolution of the litigation cell set up by the Parkash Singh Badal government allegedly to help the guilty police officers in cases of large-scale abductions and murders during terrorism.

In a press note issued here today, the KMC expressed anguish that several guilty police officers were enjoying prime positions despite being the main accused in gruesome cases.


Residents donate Rs 51000 for tsunami hit
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 27
The Giani Zail Singh Nagar Welfare Association, Ropar, today contributed Rs 51000 for the help of victims of tsunami. The cheque was presented to Deputy Commissioner, Seema Jain, by president of the association, Ram Singh Saini, accompanied by other members. Mr Saini said that after the disaster it become our moral responsibility to help the needy people. All residents of the Giani Zail Singh Nagar contributed for affected people.


Judges in India are underpaid, says barrister
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 27
His purposeful eyes endorse the resoluteness in his voice as Canada-based barrister H.S. Mann talks about providing better facilities to the Judges in India for weeding out “whatever” corruption is present in the system.

He knows what he is talking about for Mr Mann had done some intense practice at the District Courts in Patiala before leaving the country in 1988 for doing his bar-at-law.

“The Judges in India are underpaid — at least when you compare their wages with those of judicial officers in Canada,” he asserts. “That is, perhaps, the reason why the lure of money remains. You see the problem cannot be entirely solved till you pay the Judges appropriately”.

Another thing. The code of conduct should be adhered to. “Any violation of the code should be viewed seriously, if you want the system to function smoothly,” he adds with a smile.

That is fine. But what do the authorities do with the Judges facing allegations of corruption in Canada? In India, the Judges belonging to the superior judiciary can be removed through impeachment, but the system is cumbersome. “Yes, impeachment is a long process. In Canada, the procedure is not so complicated”, he says.

Adjusting his spectacles with a settled hand, he adds, “You have a Judicial Council in Canada for inquiring into the allegations against the Judges. The entire thing is take a very seriously. If the allegations are proved, strict action is recommended”.

The action, he says, can be placing the Judge under suspension, or straightaway dismissal from service. It all depends upon the gravity of the of offence. Recently, a Judge was proceeded against in Canada after miscarriage of justice was established. The Judge had been accused of sexual misconduct”.

But what about the dependence of Judges belonging to the subordinate judiciary upon executives for facilities, including house and vehicles? “In Canada there is complete separation of the Judges from the executive. The facilities and the infrastructure are provided by the Attorney-General’s office through the Chief Justice. So, there is no direct interference between the judiciary and the executive”.

And what about the procedure of posting Judges? Are the local Judges allowed to hold court in place they belong to? “Oh, yes. There is nothing wrong with it. You see, there is a clear distinction between the roles. Once a person is a appointed a judicial officer, he is respected as a court.”

Otherwise also, lawyers act as Judges in some matters. But the distinction is maintained. “I do act as a Judge in land cases at Ontario. That time things are different. Then I am a Judge. At other times I am a lawyer.”

As far as shortage of Judges is concerned, the problem is existing in Canada also. Charges can be thrown away and relief granted in case of delay”, he concludes.


High Court
Hearing in Mann's PIL on Virk adjourned for tomorrow
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 27
The PIL filed by former MP and Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann seeking directions to respondents, including Union Home Ministry and the Punjab Government, not to post ADGP (Intelligence) S.S. Virk as Director-General of Police, Punjab, when the current incumbent retires at the end of this month, has been adjourned for tomorrow.

The petitioner has also sought directions to the government to repatriate Mr Virk to his parent cadre of Maharashtra.

Today, when the petition came up before the Division Bench of Chief Justice B.K. Roy and Mr Justice Rajive Bhalla, Mr Mann was also present in the court.

The petitioner has stated that the Union Home Ministry had charge-sheeted Mr Virk sometime back for refusing to return to his cadre state. Despite repeated reminders, Mr Virk has refused to go back to his parent cadre, the petitioner has added. A copy of the chargesheet has been appended to the petition.

The petitioner has also claimed that suppression of eight senior police officers by appointing Mr Virk as DGP would cause "heartburn" and have a "demoralising effect" on the force.

Notice issued

The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion for March 20 on a petition seeking an independent probe, preferably by the CBI, in the alleged nexus between the Jalandhar Municipal Corporation and colonisers.

In the petition filed by the Jalandhar unit of the Punjab Human Rights Organisation through its unit president, Mr Shashi Kumar Sharma, it has been alleged that there exists a strong nexus between the Jalandhar Municipal Corporation and the colonisers, which dupes gullible people.

It also alleges that the MC and colonisers worked hand in glove to first woo people to invest in their "illegal" colonies by digging in a few poles so as to give the impression that the government was setting up a colony. They also managed to get these colonies regularised, but only after charging heavy money from the investors in the name of development charges, which in a recent case was Rs 1 lakh per dwelling unit.

The petitioner claims this has been the pattern in the development of a major part of the town. While 167 colonies were regularised before 1993, some 230 of them have been set up since then. He has demanded a probe so that the nexus is unearthed.

After hearing counsel, the Bench comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice Binod Kumar Roy and Mr Justice Rajive Bhalla issued notice of motion to the state of Punjab and other respondents.

PIL on facilities

The High Court on Thursday issued notice of motion for March 21 on a PIL seeking directions to the Municipal Committee, Ferozepore, for construction and proper maintenance of roads, sewerage, installation of street lights, adequate water supply, etc.

The petition to this effect was filed by Dr G.S. Rawat on behalf of residents of Dashmesh Nagar, Ferozepore. The petitioners have stated that the Municipal Committee is under the obligation to properly maintain these infrastructure facilities in lieu of which it is charging house tax from the residents of Dashmesh Nagar and is also charging fee for sanctioning building plans.


Hyundai told to change car engine, pay Rs 25,000
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 27
The Sangrur District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed M/s Pioneer Hyundai, Ludhiana, and Hyundai Motor India Limited, Irrungattukottaj, Sriperumbudur Taluk (Tamil Nadu) to change the complete engine assembly of the Santro car of Mr Pankaj Bansal, Dhuri, with a new one.

The forum has also directed both Hyundai parties to pay Mr Bansal Rs 25,000 as compensation for mental agony and harassment and Rs 2,000 as litigation expenses.

Mr Bansal had purchased a new Santro XG MET Euro II car from M/s Pioneer Hyundai, Ludhiana, on June 5, 2003, for Rs 3,77,470 with a warranty period of two years.

According to Mr Bansal the car consumed excessive engine oil and when the oil quantity reduced the car started making noise. It was taken thrice to M/s Bhagat Singh Motor Company Private Limited, Sangrur, an authorised service dealer of the Hyundai, but the defect could not be removed. M/s Pioneer Hyundai, Ludhiana, had been putting off the matter on one pretext or the other and did not care to rectify the defect, he added.

However, M/s Pioneer Hyundai, Ludhiana, pleaded that the car was free from any defect and it was not bound to replace the same. M/s Hyundai Motor India Limited (Tamilnadu) raised objections in its reply by saying that the complaint was false and frivolous.


Tax official sentenced to jail for 4 years
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 27
A special court of the CBI today sentenced tax assistant Buta Singh to four years’ imprisonment besides imposing a fine of Rs 4000 in a fake refund order case amounting to Rs 45 lakh.

A case of forgery was registered in April 98 by the CBI against the accused, who had been working in ward No 1(7), Ludhiana, along with other six persons on the complaint of the then Deputy Commissioner (Income Tax), Ludhiana Range, Mr Gurpreet Singh.

It was alleged that Buta Singh had during the period between September 1995 and March 98 forged the signatures of Income Tax Officers Karnail Singh and P. K. Walia to prepare fake refund orders in the name of six persons to the tune of Rs 45 lakh.

The refund orders had been prepared in the names of the accused’s wife Hardyal Kaur, his two sons Gurpreet Singh and Manvinder Singh besides three others, including Darshan Singh, Gurnam Singh and Amarjit Singh. The money had been credited into the accounts of the co-accused in various banks and withdrawn later.


Hailstorm damage crops
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, January 27
Standing wheat and mustard crops along with fodder were damaged in hundreds of acres in different villages in this district after a strong hailstorm hit this region late evening today.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that within 15 minutes, a thick sheet of hailstorm covered a considerable part of Fattanwala and Chak Attari villages in this district. The reports of huge damage caused by hailstorm to the crops and cattle in other villages of this district had not been ruled out by the authorities concerned.

Earlier, on January 22 a strong hailstorm caused huge losses to the crops in various villages and the district administration had been planning to carry out a special survey to assess the loss of same.

A section of farmers of the affected village said that so far no official of the district administration had come to them to help them out of this situation. They added that though they applied extra fertilisers to revive the growth of wheat and mustard plants, whose growth was stunted after the hailstorm hit this region on January 22, the today’s hailstorm had dashed their hopes of getting any produce.


Illegal trade thriving on border
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Madhopur (Gurdaspur), January 27
The middlemen are not the only people thriving on the illegal trade on the Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir toll and sales tax barriers. Another illegal trade of “Palti” was being carried out openly under the watchful eyes of the law enforcement authorities, causing huge loss of revenue to the Governments of both Punjab and J&K.

A toll tax of Rs 150 for a nine-tonne load of truck is imposed on the toll barrier of Jammu and Kashmir border in Lakhanpur. The automatic computerised weighing machines have been installed at the toll tax barrier leaving no scope for any vehicle carrying more than nine- tonne weight to pass without getting penalised. A penal tax of Rs 40 per quintal is imposed on any vehicle carrying more than nine- tonne material.

The stringent rules have given birth to the illegal trade of ‘Palti’ thriving on both sides of the toll tax barriers of the Lakhanpur barrier. “Palti” was a name coined for the trade by the locals due to its nature. As the name suggests, it is the trade of overturning goods from one vehicle to another.

The heavy vehicles carrying goods coming from J&K can be seen moving towards an open area near the toll tax barrier rather than moving forward. Here small Tata trucks are waiting for them. The extra load from the heavy vehicles is transferred to smaller trucks to evade the penal toll tax. The local truck owners are paid an amount ranging from Rs 300 to Rs 500 to just help clear the toll barrier, depending on the amount of penal tax being evaded. Similar trade was taking place on the other side of the barrier also for trucks bringing fruits from the valley.

Interestingly, the trade was taking place just 200 to 300 meters from the toll barrier of Lakhanpur but no action was being taken to check it. The authorities at the toll barrier when contacted said on the condition of anonymity that the trade had political patronage due to which they could not stop it. 


Travel agent arrested
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, January 27
Amritpal Singh, a travel agent of Kotli Bevan village of this district, was today arrested by the police for his alleged involvement in committing a fraud on Mr Yadwinder Singh, a resident of Rukhala village.

Mr L.K. Yadav, SSP, said Amarjit Singh had promised Mr Beant Singh, father of Mr Yadwinder Singh, to send his son to Malaysia if he was paid Rs 3.5 lakh. Mr Beant Singh paid Rs 3.35 lakh to Amarjit Singh.

On January 2, Amarjit Singh took Yadwinder Singh to Delhi and then took him to Thailand. After Amarjit Singh returned to India, he told Mr Beant Singh that as he had sent his son to Malaysia, he should be paid the balance amount of Rs 15,000.

Later, Yadwinder Singh contacted his parents and told them that he had been left in Thailand instead of Malaysia. His parents asked him to come back. After reaching India, Yadwinder Singh went to Rajasthan to stay with his paternal uncle.

Today, Amarjit Singh came on the local bus stand to collect the balance amount from Mr Beant Singh. However, he was arrested by the police while he was taking money. Mr Beant Singh had already lodged a complaint with the police in this connection.

A case has been registered under Section 420 of IPC.


Policeman shot at, four booked
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 27
In a shocking incident, a Punjab Police personnel was seriously injured when he was shot at by a group of four persons at Bajuhan Khurd village in Nakodar last night. According to the police, a case under Sections 307and 34 of the IPC and 25,54 and 59 of the Arms Act has been registered against Paramjit Singh of the same village and his three accomplices, who were still at large.

The police said the victim, identified as Kuldeep Singh, along with his brother went to his house on the outskirts of the village last evening. According to his neighbourers, some miscreants who were in a car fired shots at Kuldeep. Kuldeep was rushed to Nakodar Civil Hospital from where he was later referred to a local private hospital. His condition stated to be critical.

In the complaint to the police, it was alleged that Paramjit Singh, alias Pamma, was leading the attackers. According to sources, Pamma is wanted by the police in several cases.


Schemes for NRIs get nod
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 27
The programmes adopted by Punjab Government for providing new avenues of investment in industry information technology sector for NRIs were discussed by Parliamentary Secretary of Cooperation and Information Technology Prakash Singh and California’s Lt. Governor Cruz M Bustamante, along with Premier of British Columbia Gordon Campbell.

An official spokesman said Mr Bustamante and Mr Campbell assured full support and co-operation at every level.

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