P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Lohian “custodial” death violation of human rights: CM
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 10
Taking serious notice of the alleged custodial death case of Lohian, the Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, admitted today that it was a case of gross violation of human rights by the police.

“Yes, it is a case of human rights violation. I have no doubt about that. We will catch the erring police officials,” asserted the Chief Minister.

He, however, did not specify as to whether any probe would be initiated to ascertain as to how the police officials fled allegedly after committing the crime or whether any responsibility would be fixed for the lapse. “There are certain loopholes which are utilised by such people. But, I can assure you that they will be brought to book,” said the Chief Minister in response to a question as to what were the reasons that erring police officials go scot free after such incidents in Punjab. He assured that requisite compensation would be given to family of Dalit victim Satnam Satta but, without specifying the amount of compensation.

Interestingly, though an SP of the Punjab Police had assured the family of the victim that a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh and a government job would be given to the family, the incident had run into a controversy as certain quarters had raised objections that an SP was not capable of announcing compensation, especially, a government job and the police had no such funds for such a purpose. The compensation issue had further taken an interesting turn as certain political parties had alleged that the police was ‘backing out’ of its promise of government job to next of kin of ‘victim” and efforts were being made to defuse the situation by extending an “unofficial economic package” to the family.

Referring to the Nanavati Commission report on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Captain Amarinder Singh said the matter was lying with the party high command, which, would look into it “The report is to be tabled in Parliament. But, I can say it surely that the party will not conceal anything from people,” he said.

Referring to the implementation of VAT in Punjab and its criticism by Mr. Badal, Captain Amarinder Singh said," like other states VAT is being implemented in Punjab from April 1. It was Mr. Badal who had given his consent for its implementation during the SAD-BJP government rule.”

Touching the Ajnala byelection, he said he welcomed if central forces were deputed there. “We will take the poll outcome as a referendum. If SAD loses Mr. Badal should resign from politics. But the allegations of misuse of government machinery are baseless,” he said.


Cop among kidnappers of Prabir: eyewitness
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 10
Had the policeman in mufti showed fast reflexes, the sensational kidnapping of Prabir Singh, alias Guddu, a student of the local DAV Public School, could have been averted.

The policeman today told his seniors that he kept quiet when one of the kidnappers, who was in police uniform, had abused him for parking his scooter in front of a grocery shop as he thought that he (kidnapper) was a gunman of some senior officer or politician . The kidnapper had to push many two-wheelers before fleeing as they did not know how to reverse the Honda Accord car belonging to Prabir. “I would have encountered the kidnapper had I believed that the boy was being kidnapped,” the policeman told on condition of anonymity.

On the basis of the eyewitness account, the district police has zeroed on in some of the dismissed constables who later formed a gang and indulged in some of the most sensational crimes in the city in the past. The police constable said that the weapon being carried by the kidnapper in uniform seemed to be belonging to the Punjab police. However, the police has not been ruling out the possibility of an inter-state gang involved in the crime.

The family has not yet received any call for ransom since the kidnapping on January 6, as the kidnappers are aware that their location could be identified through the cell phone towers. The police believes that the gangsters would approach the family only after pressure of the police is released. The Director-General Police is monitoring the developments.

Meanwhile, the parents and other family members of Guddu joined the peace march held in the city by students of various schools for the safe return of Guddu.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, visited the house of Guddu and remained with the family for more than 15 minutes. 


Migrant labourer held for abducting schoolgirl
Tribune News Service

Harjinder Kaur (Komal) with her father outside the Tripri Police post in Patiala on Thursday.
Harjinder Kaur (Komal) with her father outside the Tripri Police post in Patiala on Thursday. — Photo by Rajesh Sachar

Patiala, February 10
A migrant labourer picked a 10-year-old girl who was waiting outside her house to go to school in a rickshaw. The girl reunited with her parents in the afternoon after she was recovered from a migrant labourer near the Railway Station.

Harinderjit Kaur, alias Komal, was kidnapped from her house in Street Number One in Guru Nanak Nagar today morning when she was waiting for a rickshaw outside her house. Migrant labourer Sham Lal, approached her saying she was being called by her father. When the girl said she would run inside and tell her mother this news the migrant labourer told the girl her father would go away by then.

Komal’s mother came out of the house soon after to see whether her daughter had boarded the rickshaw. When she did not find her daughter anywhere she got panicked and informed the Tripri Police Chowki situated nearby. Chowki Incharge Dharam Dev disclosed that he informed Superintendent of Police (City) R.L. Monga who got flashed a message through the Control Room to all police posts in the city.

Police sources said the labourer Sham Lal was nabbed near the Factory area in the afternoon and the girl was recovered from his possession. Sham Lal when questioned said he was taking the girl to his native village- Rasoli in Bara Banki district of Uttar Pradesh. He claimed that he did not have any child and wanted to adopt the girl.

For Komal’s father Paramjit Singh it was a tearful reunion. “I am thankful to the police for prompt action and “Wahe Guru” who ensured safe return of my daughter”, he said.


Playwright’s disappearance shrouded in mystery
Kidnap case registered
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Avtar Kaur Jawanda
Avtar Kaur Jawanda

Patiala, February 10
Kislay and Prabhveer may have hogged the national limelight, but the case of playwright Avtar Kaur Jawanda, who has been missing since May 6 last year, apparently does not have anyone interested. Even the Nabha Police has taken more than eight months to register a case of kidnapping and liquidation in the matter. The case was registered only yesterday.

Ms Jawanda, who was a spinster of 51, had also worked as secretary of former Chief Minister Harcharan Singh Brar. Besides being part owner of a house on the Cinema Road in Nabha near here, she is also the owner of 10 acres of prime land near the town.

For Jawanda’s sister Apanjit, it has been a terrible eight months. “This is the time it has taken us to convince the district police to register a case in the matter,” she says. This despite the fact that Apanjit first reported the disappearance of her sister on May 22, 16 days after Jawanda was last seen in the town.

Getting even a case registered in the matter was an uphill task for Apanjit, who even approached the court in this regard. “They only took a photograph from me after I reported my sister’s disappearance and did not proceed further in the matter for more than four months”. Apanjit says the police did not act for such a long time despite the fact that she and her husband asked it to probe the complaints made by the playwright against some close members of the family.

Finding it difficult to convince the Nabha police, Apanjit presented herself before the Senior Superintendent of Police here and submitted another complaint in which she claimed Paramjit Kaur, another sister of Jawanda, who was living in the same house, was responsible for her disappearance. The SSP referred the case to the District Attorney for legal opinion and when this was received, the police registered a case under Sections 364 and 120 (b) of the IPC against Paramjit Kaur and Didar Singh, the leaseholder of Jawanda’s land, and two others at the Nabha kotwali police station yesterday.

Nabha DSP S S Boparai, when questioned on the issue, said the police had begun investigating the case after receiving a complaint from Apanjit but could not unearth anything substantive. He said earlier attempts were made to find Jawanda at Muktsar and Chandigarh. He said a lookout notice had also been taken out while explaining that the police could not be accused of not acting in the matter. Mr Boparai said since allegations were levelled against Jawanda’s sister, the matter was sent for legal opinion.

Jawanda is credited with having written 25 Punjabi plays and also scripts for televisions serials, besides biographies. The National Theatre and Arts Society (NTAS) president Pran Sabharwal had called for active efforts to reveal the mystery behind her disappearance but to no avail.


Work on Special Economic Zone at Amritsar begins
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) today set the ball rolling for setting up a Special Economic Zone at Amritsar in Punjab.

On behalf of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, who had promised in September last to set up SEZ at Amritsar, his Principal Secretary, Mr T.K.A. Nair, today said that the Union Government would extend all support in this regard.

Speaking at the seminar organised by the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) on the establishment of SEZ, Mr Nair said that Punjab was a state full of great potentialities and it should strive hard to restore its pre-eminence in the country.

Urging the State Government to be pro-active on the SEZ front, he listed some points for follow up action on top priority basis. Punjab should first take formal clearance from the Union Government for setting up the zone. It should either amend the laws or enact the SEZ Act on the pattern of certain other states to remove all legal bottlenecks expected to impede the setting up and growth of the zone. A nodal agency should be set up to handle the project. And lastly, efforts should be started at global, national and local level to find investor in the zone. NRIs should be approached, he said.

SEZ should be developed keeping in view the large canvas of improving relations between India and Pakistan. He concluded by assuring all help on behalf of the Prime Minister in this regard.

Assuring Mr Nair that Punjab would do what was required with regard to SEZ, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who specially flew from Amritsar to speak at the seminar, said that the setting up SEZ at Amritsar would possibly be forerunner to some other such zones to be set up at Jalandhar for sports goods and in health sector elsewhere. " We are setting up infrastructure to attract modern industrial units in the state", he added. Touching the issue of improving Indo-Pak relations, the Chief Minister said that he would lead a delegation of industrialists and traders to Pakistan on March 12. Improvement in economic ties between the two countries would benefit Punjab a lot, he added. Estimated initial cost of the SEZ is over Rs 500 crore.

Earlier, in his inaugural remarks, the Punjab Governor, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), said there were several areas which not only required serious attention but also scientific study, approach and handling to deal within Punjab. Health of the soil was deteriorating, water usage was irrational, quality of food grains, vegetables and fruits required to be upgraded, unviable use of machinery at the farmer level required to be tackled, diversification needs better handling, and lost credibility and trust required to restored to put the state on the fast track of growth.

Delivering a freewheeling speech at the seminar, General Rodrigues said there were several bodies such as FICCI prepared to train farmers for improving the quality of their agricultural produce. European quality standards would have to be followed to make farmers to compete in the international market, he added. With minimal government interference and having commercial interest in mind, the State should be put on the path of development.

Urging to adopt holistic and transparent approach to make Punjab globally competitive state in various fields, the Governor said he had been making all efforts to set up a modern international airport having immense cargo facilities to make Chandigarh a hub for the export of vegetables, fruits etc from the region on other parts of the country and abroad.

Earlier, Mr Rashpal Malhotra, Director-General of the CRRID, welcomed the delegates to the seminar. Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, the Principal Secretary to CM, Mr Suresh Kumar, the Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill, and other eminent persons were also present . Among others who spoke and gave presentations were Mr S.K. Bijlani, Research Adviser, CRRID, Mr S.C. Aggarwal, Principal Secretary( Industry and Commerce), Punjab, Lieut Gen H. Lal ( retd), Mr L.B. Singhal, Director- General, Export Promotion Council for SEZs, Mr Gaurav Kumar and Mr B.Suresh.


Economic zones must for boosting exports
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Lalit B. Singhal
Lalit B. Singhal

Chandigarh, February 10
Concessions being given to industries in Himachal Pradesh and Uttranchal are just not enough. For boosting exports, and overall economy of a state, you have to set up Special Economic Zones (SEZs) — at least this is what Lalit B. Singhal has to say. He is the Director-General of the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry's Export Promotion Council for EOUs and SEZ Units.

In Chandigarh to attend a seminar on the "Establishment of SEZ in Punjab" organised by the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID), he adds that the two states have granted exemption from Central Excise to the units being set up there.

As such, the move will only benefit the industries manufacturing products for the domestic market. Units exporting goods will hardly benefit from the move as import and other duties will still have to be paid.

On the other hand, export-oriented units being established in the SEZs will be allowed to import and procure raw material, besides capital goods, without the payment of any duty. In fact, they will be permitted to get the goods from abroad without import licence. Even for setting up the units, goods will be allowed without the payment of duty.

Moreover, the domestic procurement of raw material and capital goods will be allowed without the payment of duties. They will also be permitted to "affect exports through third parties."

The assertion is significant as the Punjab Government is setting up of a SEZ at Amritsar. The location is "ideal" as the city is close to the airport and will provide gateway to Pakistan and Central Asia. As many as 35 flights are already operating in a week from Amritsar. Moreover, the cargo facilities are being upgraded. Regarding direct tax benefits, he says that the units being set up in SEZ will be entitled to income tax exemption for 10 years. During the first five years, the exemption will be 100 per cent. In the next two years, it will be 50 per cent. During the last three years, 50 per cent of the profits redeployed in capital goods will be entitled to income tax exemption.

Giving details of the benefits arising due to the setting up of the SEZs, he says that the units will attract foreign direct investment, along with new technology and new management practices. These will, subsequently, be transmitted to the other industries. In the end, this will result in backward and forward integration of the industry.


BDOs working for Congress win in byelection: Sukhbir
Our Correspondent

Ajnala, February 10
Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, MP and general secretary of the SAD, here today alleged that Block Development Officers (BDOs) of the area had been working like ‘Congress workers’ and were directing all sarpanches to ensure that votes were cast in the favour of the Congress candidate, Mr Harpartap Singh.

Speaking to mediapersons after addressing the rally of the Youth Akali Dal, he claimed that the sarpanches had been warned of dire consequences if the votes were not polled in the favour of the ruling party.

He demanded the handing over of the entire election process to the Centre. Alleging that the Punjab Police was working as a private force of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Badal said paramilitary forces must only be deployed to conduct elections.

Asking the officials to remain neutral, he warned that his party would open cases of irregularity against the partisan officials when their party would come in power next.

In the rally he asked the party workers to work like a well-oiled machine. He termed the election a war and appealed to the party workers to overcome their differences.

Admitting that youths in this border belt were rampantly falling in the drug trap, Mr Badal said after the election the youth wing of the SAD would run de-addiction camps at district levels.

Mr Manjinder Singh Kang, a former chairman of the Punjab Forest Corporation and senior SAD leader, said voters of the Majha belt had always supported the SAD and would also do so this time. He exhorted the youth to work to help the party win this crucial election. 


It’s unending nightmare for 1984 riot victim
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 10
It has been an unending nightmare for Surjit Kaur. She still shivers on remembering the horror she underwent on the night of October 31, 1984, when hordes of people, she did not know from where, descended on Gabri, a trans-Yammuna locality in Delhi, killing her two daughters and a nephew. Her husband Sagar Singh was charred to death in the truck he was driving.

It has been an ordeal of 20 long years for her. Her two school-going daughters Nirmal Kaur and Surinder Kaur and an adopted nephew, Surinder Singh, were mercilessly killed in front of her eyes. She had no son of her own. “Even if I don’t want to recall that horror, it keeps on haunting me everyday”, she told The Tribune here today.

Surjit Kaur, who lives in Dugri, an area mostly inhabited by the 1984 riot victims, said there had not been a single day when she does not recall her children and husband.

While she was witness to the killing of her children, she still wonders as what her husband would have done after finding himself trapped in the truck which was set afire.

She was not even given the body of her husband. “I could not even mourn the death of people so close to me as those days passed in fleeing for safety and survival”, she says.

She still wonders as what happened on the fateful night of October 31. She did not even know that the then Prime Minister, Ms Indra Gandhi, had been shot dead by her own security guards who happened to be Sikhs. She was not even aware that Ms Gandhi was the Prime Minister. She lived in the Gabri area along with the members of other communities. For a long time she did not get to know as what was the provocation for the wrath that was let loose on her. She did not know how she escaped the mob’s fury and landed in Ludhiana. And ironically she does not blame anyone for such a heinous act, as she had no enemies.

She is fed up of being photographed every now and then. The first condition for talking to The Tribune was that she would not be photographed. “I lost so many people...it is not a moment to celebrate and get photographed”, she tried to argue as she has exhausted her tears over the years. “I was not only widowed at the age of 40, but orphaned and forlorn”, she says pathetically.

She does not have anyone whom she could call to be her near or dear one. The Nanavati report is no consolation for her, as even its volumes cannot fill the blank space in her life. 


Make Nanavati report public, says Mann
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, February 10
The Akali Dal (Amritsar) has sought immediate release of the Justice Nanavati Commission report on massacre of Sikhs in Delhi and other places in November 1984 as any delay in publication of the report would be detrimental to the cause of justice.

In a letter to the Union Home Minister, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, Akali Dal (Amritsar) has stated: “Our apprehensions and fears regarding the contents of the report would lead to more speculation and this would only result in rubbing salt on our wounds. While we would wait for the report to be made public, we are already quite skeptical about the contents of the report. We sincerely hope that this commission’s report which has not yet seen the light of the day’.

Mr Mann has pointed out that it was painful to note that no senior police personnel, administrative officer or political leader had been punished during the past 20 years for the daylight massacre of 2733 Sikhs (government figures confirm by Justice Ranganathan Mishra Commission report). “We do not understand as to how this lapse can be justified by various successive governments and commissions”, he said. Mr Mann maintained that massacre of Sikhs in Delhi in November 1984 was a genocidal act as it consisted of premeditated and planned acts of omission and commission by the police, the administration and the executive leadership of the country. To call them riots was wrong and misleading and an attempt to trivialise the crime perpetrated by the then Congress leaders. “The only way to render justice is to ensure that the erring police, administrative and political leadership is punished”, he emphasised.

Mr Mann also called upon the government that it must sign and ratify various international conventions and covenants regarding the prevention of the acts of genocide and reduce them to municipal laws. “We are of the firm opinion that if the state does not do so, then genocidal acts like massacre of Sikhs in Delhi in November 1984, the sporadic acts against Christians in various parts of the country in the past decade, extermination of Ethnic people of the north-east and the slaughter of Muslims in Ahmedabad in 1992 will continue,” he has stated.


Governor’s interference unwarranted, say GND University teachers
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 10
Terming the Governor’s interference in the controversial issue of headship of the Department of Sports and Physiotherapy, Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), the Guru Nanak Dev University Teachers Association has lodged a complaint with the president of India, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, seeking his immediate intervention in the matter.

The association has also requested the President to issue necessary instructions to the state Governor and Chancellor of the university to act in accordance with the University Act and statutes.

In its 12-page letter to the President, the association demanded that the Chancellor may be directed to withdraw his ‘illegal advice’ of an amendment to the University Act given to the vice-chancellor. The association said that the Chancellor also owed an explanation as to why he issued advice only to GNDU and not to other university where such a department existed.

Addressing, mediapersons, the association came heavily on the Vice-Chancellor, and alleged that the Vice-Chancellor had failed to defend the university statutes. The association demanded the resignation of the vice-chancellor on moral grounds on his failure to defend university statutes.

The association led by Dr Davinder Singh and Dr Kuldip Singh, president and secretary of the association, respectively, said that the Chancellor was only a titular head.

Dr Davinder Singh, who is also convener of the Punjab Federation of University Teachers Association, said that under the University Act and statutes, the Chancellor had limited powers and duties and had not any authority to interfere and issue any directive to the vice-chancellor, even in the form of advice for initiating any amendment to the statutes.

However, the Vice-Chancellor following the reported interference appointed the Dean faculty as the acting head of physiotherapy department.

Terming the Governor’s advice over the headship issue as ‘unconstitutional’, Dr Kuldip Singh alleged that the facts were not properly informed. He alleged that even the state government did not take notice of the unconstitutional step.

The association threatened that if the authorities concerned and the government failed to take any action the teachers would protest in Ajnala during the Chief Minister’s rally.


Five held for immoral trafficking
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 10
Acting on a tip-off, the Sunam police raided a marriage palace, namely, Bombay Palace, at Sunam, 13 km from here, last night and arrested three women, allegedly involved in immoral trafficking, along with two other persons from the place. Four persons, including owner of the palace and an ASI of the PAP, managed to escape from the scene.

Addressing a press conference here this afternoon, Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Sangrur, said on several occasions earlier, the police had information about the running of immoral trafficking activities at Bombay Palace, but every time the persons involved in the act managed to flee from the scene before the police conducted a raid there.

Mr Chahal said that during the last night raid at the palace, the police arrested three women, namely, Sonia Verma (Ludhiana), Preeti (Bathinda) and Puja (Bathinda), all involved in immoral trafficking; Rajesh Kumar Raju, a pimp; and Tony, a customer, from there, while Balwinder Singh, an ASI of PAP; Sarbjit Singh, said to be an owner of the palace; and Aman and Happy, both customers, managed to escape from the scene.

The SSP said that it had also come to the knowledge of the police that a brother of Sarbjit Singh, Mr Amarjit Singh, who is sarpanch of a village in the Sunam area, was the real owner of the palace.

The SSP said the Sunam police had registered a case against all accused under Section 3/4 of the Immoral Traffic (Women and Girls) Act 1956.


Amarinder lambasts Badal
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 10
The Congress today attacked SAD President and former Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal for failing to secure any economic package for the state during his tenures.

Addressing rallies in Gujarpura village and at Ajnala in support of Congress candidate Harpratap Singh Ajnala, the Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh lashed out at Mr Badal for doing nothing for farmers.

Enumerating the achievements of his own government he stated that six crops were procured in a smooth procedure which was a testimony to the government’s seriousness towards the agrarian community. Diversification of crops and contract farming were the milestones for the benefit of the peasantry.

Lambasting the former Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh alleged that he had misled the innocent youth of Punjab who were allured to opt the path of terrorism while sons of affluent Akalis pursued higher studies abroad. Giving a call to defeat such forces Capt. Amarinder Singh said corruption had touched the crescendo during the Akali ruled while Mr Badal’s son amassed property. 


‘No credit’ to Akalis for Gurpurb holiday
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
Though there are many Akali political and religious leaders who have been trying to get all credit for making the Modi Government revive Gurpurb (Guru Nanak's birth anniversary) holiday, Gujarati Sikhs have a different story to tell.

The Gurpurb holiday was removed from its list by the Gujarat Government in the beginning of 2004. Immediately after this development, the issue was taken by the Sikh community there with the then Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, who belongs to that state and also with Mr Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat. Besides, formal letters were also sent to the Akali leaders and the SGPC asking them to take up the issue with the leadership of the BJP in Delhi.

Certain senior leaders of Gujarati Sikhs personally approached the SGPC president and other Akali leaders in this connection. But nothing happened inspite of the fact that the leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had good relations with the then Vajpayee Government in Delhi. SAD was a part of the BJP-led coalition Government in Delhi.

Mr Tarlochan Singh, Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, who was also close to the then Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, also wrote several letters to Mr Modi to get the holiday revived. However, Mr Modi remained silent on the issue. He just acknowledged the letters of Mr Tarlochan Singh but did not take any action.

Dr Jaswinder Singh Sethi, president of the Sikh Pratinidh Sabha of Baroda( Gujarat), said.'' We knocked the doors of all senior Akali and SGPC leaders but no one proved effective in our case". He said that it was worth asking Mr Badal and Bibi Jagir Kaur, president of the SGPC, as to why the BJP leaders did not listen to them on the issue of Gurpurb holiday. He said that if there would have been some other political party, it would have severed all political ties with the BJP on the issue of Gurpurb holiday. But leaders like Mr Badal and Bibi Jagir Kaur did not make a single statement on the holiday issue.

Dr Jaswinder Singh said his sabha approached Mr Parminder Singh, general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. ''We urged Mr Parminder Singh to take up the issue with the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and Mrs Sonia Gandhi. But Mr Parminder Singh chalked out a different strategy and rattled the Modi Government by making the Gurpurb holiday a national issue within three days. Mr Modi declared Gurpurb a holiday within a few days after a demonstration held by Sikhs in Gujarat under the command of Mr Parminder Singh,'' said another senior leader of the sabha.


Widow alleges inaction against cops
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 10
A widow hailing from Kot Ise Khan has alleged that no action has been taken against four policemen involved in excesses against her son despite orders from the ADGP, Punjab.

In a press note issued here today, Surjeet Kaur alleged that the Zira CIA in charge had picked up her son Manjit Singh in the wee hours on July 21, 2004, saying he was to be interrogated in a case. She alleged that when her younger son, Hardeep Singh, reached the CIA office, he came to know that Manjit was being thrashed after every two hours. She alleged that the CIA staff didn’t allow Hardeep to meet his brother. Hardeep then approached the high court, whose warrant officer raided the CIA premises next day, but the CIA staff had already shifted him to some other place, she alleged.

The warrant officer then raided about 12 police stations in nearby areas, but failed to trace Manjit. Hardeep then wrote a letter to the human rights commission and top police officials in this regard.

Surjit Kaur alleged that the police official dumped Manjit in front of their house on July 24 when his condition deteriorated. He was admitted to the Civil Hospital in Kot Ise Khan, from where the doctor concerned sent MLR to the Kot Ise Khan police station. She said that next day the ASI from the Zira police station, Resham Singh, recorded her son’s statement, but took no action.

Later, the human rights commission summoned the victim’s family and after hearing them, marked an inquiry to the ADGP (IVC), who asked the DSP (IVC), Gurjeet Singh, to look into the matter. The DSP ordered registration of a case against ASI Ajmer Singh, ASI Bikramjit Singh, Head Constable Gurjant Singh and Constable Sahib Singh under relevant sections of the IPC. He also ordered departmental probe against SI Jaspal Singh and ASI Resham Singh.

He submitted his report to the ADGP, who after getting a nod from the DGP wrote to the human rights commission (letter no. 849/C6/19-1-2005), informing it about the action recommended against the accused. The ADGP also asked the Moga SSP (letter no. 850/C6/19-1-2005) to book the above-mentioned police personnel.

Surjit Kaur has demanded immediate action against the policemen involved in the case. However, the DSP of Dharamkot, Mr G.S. Romana, said he had called both parties for re-verification today, but the complainant didn’t show up. He said he would submit a report after the re-verification, following which a case would be registered against the accused.


SGPC flays attacks on Sikhs in Chhattisgarh
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 10
Taking a serious view of violence unleashed in Chattisgarh where shops and other commercial establishments belonging to Sikhs were burnt and looted, the Akal Takht and the SGPC have sent urgent missives to the Prime Minister, the President and the Home minister to take stern cognisance of the attacks.

Urging for immediate intervention, SGPC president Bibi Jagir Kaur, in a communication to Chairman National Commission for Minorities and Chattisgarh Chief Minister, stated that Sikhs were in minority there and panic had been created among Sikhs here whose relatives were affected in Chattisgarh.

"To rein the turbulence, urgent measures to ensure security to life and property of minorities be ensured on a priority basis", she said.

Perturbed over the events that led to burning and looting of properties of the Sikhs, Bibi Jagir Kaur has sought attention of the government to threats and obnoxious comments being meted out to the minority community. She further stated that the SGPC was flooded with telegrams and calls seeking help.

Cautioning that the situation may take an ugly turn, the SGPC president called for emergency measures to deal with the situation.

Meanwhile, Akal Purkh Di Fauj coordinator Kuljit Singh stated that despite the curfew imposed in the affected areas, the situation was still very tense.

Mr Jaswinder Singh of the Fauj demanded that adequate safety measures should be taken to protect the interests of the minority community.


Police claims solving two cases
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 10
The Jalandhar police today claimed to have solved two cases in the district within eight hours of reporting of the crime.

Addressing a joint press conference here today, Mr Ashok Gupta, Deputy Commissioner, and Mr Satish Kumar Asthana, SSP, said Parminder Kaur Waraich, a resident of Golden Avenue, had complained that her husband Karnail Singh Waraich, a retired Punjab Sugarfed official, was kidnapped by Mithilesh Kumar, his wife Manju, Raju and Ravi and they were demanding huge ransom of Rs 28 lakh as ransom, which, was later reduced to Rs 15 lakh.

She said Mithilesh and Manju, who were tenants of Waraich family, were also saying that their 6-year-old daughter Moni had also been kidnapped who were demanding ransom of Rs 10 lakh, but she did not believe it

After this, a special investigation team (SIT) was formed, which arrested Mithilesh Kumar and his wife Manju in the morning. After questioning, both confessed to their involvement in the crime and said they wanted to usurp the house of Karnail Singh Waraich. For this they hatched a conspiracy with Ravi and Raju, who were promised Rs 50,000 for their help in the crime. They called up Karnail Singh to their rented room along with his wife and they were beaten up. As a result Karnail Singh died. Mithilesh, Ravi and Raju took body of Karnail Singh Waraich and dumped on the Chintpurni road beyond Hoshiarpur after which they cooked up the story that their daughter was also kidnapped by Raju and Ravi. Body of Karnail Singh was later recovered.

Similarly, in case of Amandip Singh, a four-year-old child of Goraya, the investigating team led by DSP Kamaljit Singh Dhillon, the crime was solved within hours.

Mr Asthana claimed that there was no caste-based tension in Variana village and all that happened on February 6 was a quarrel between two groups of youth. He also blamed media for giving communal colour to the incident. But, on the other hand, Mr Asthana could not explain as if it was not caste-based tension then why cases under the SC, ST Act (Prevention of Atrocities) was registered at the Sadar police station against nine persons.

Referring to Lohian custodial death case, Mr Ashok Gupta said a compensation of Rs 5 lakh has been announced by the Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, today.


Employee unions stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 10
A number of employee unions, including those of the Punjab Roadways, Punjab State Electricity Board, teachers, and Class IV employees, today staged a dharna and blocked traffic on Joginder Singh Chowk in favour of their demands. The blockade disrupted traffic flow on the Ferozepore-Ludhiana road for about an hour.

Addressing the protesters, the state general secretary of Punjab Subordinate Services Federation, Mr Balbir Singh Ramoowala, alleged that the state government’s policies were “anti-employee and anti-people”. The state deputy general secretary of the Punjab Government Transport Workers Union, Mr Gurmail Singh, alleged that crores of rupees had changed hands in the private contract of Amritsar bus stand and demanded a CBI probe into it. He further alleged anomalies in the contracts of Ludhiana and Jalandhar bus stands.

All the employee unions announced to take out a protest march in Ajnala on February 19 to expose the “anti-people” policies of the Punjab Government. They alleged that the state government was taking decisions against the interests of employees, farmers and poor at the behest of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). They alleged that the government was handing over the public sector units to multi-national companies. The Class IV employees union chief, Mr Fakir Chand, the district chief of the Government School Teachers Union, Mr Gurmail Singh, and the state leader of the PSEB, Mr Amrik Singh Masita, were also present.


Pammi urges singers to shun vulgarity
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 10
"Nachde Punjabi", the fifth music album of popular Punjabi singer Pammi Bai depicting various hues of Punjabi culture, was released here today. Speaking to mediapersons, Pammi Bai, who was accompanied by Punjabi pop singer Sarbjit Cheema, noted lyricist Inderjit Hasanpuri, music director Kuljit, said Punjabi culture was so rich that singers and performers need not take any support of vulgarity and obscenity in their videos. "It is my effort to make people realise this through my audios and videos," he said.

Dr Swaran Singh, Commissioner, Jalandhar division, said it was nothing short of miracle that Pammi Bai had come out with "clean" albums and got fame in the era of vulgar videos.

Mr Paramjit Sarao, DIG, said through his music, Pammi had proved that depiction of real Punjabi culture could also attract people in a big way. "Pammi has brought traditional clothing like pagri and salwars back in fashion," he said.

Mr Satnam Manak, Associate Editor of Punjabi daily Ajit, said he was happy to observe that Pammi's cassette had brought along a fresh message for younger generation. "Best part of it is that it has been done at a time when Punjabi culture and music had become a victim of commercial people, who exploited it to mint money," he said.


Irate villagers assault ‘pimp’, two others
Protest against alleged police inaction
Our Correspondent

Lalru, February 10
The Lalru Mandi panchayat beat up three persons, including a pimp running flesh trade racket from a house, here today. This was in reaction to the police’s alleged dilly dallying on the issue for the past many years.

Residents of the locality, who were agitated over the alleged failure of the police in curbing the crime, held a meeting with the panchayat members and decided to take action against the alleged pimp.

Led by Sita Rani and panchayat members, comprising Surinder Kaur, Rajiv Kumar Sharma, Prem Balocha, former sarpanch Jaswant Rai Bhalla and others, the villagers reached the house of the alleged pimp and held a protest.

They had an altercation with Kamlesh Kumari, owner of the house, and some others present at the scene. Heated arguments between the parties took an ugly turn resulting in a clash. Protesters assaulted two men and a woman, while two men escaped. Rajesh Kumar, an injured, has been admitted to the Civil Hospital, Dera Bassi. The panchayat then locked the house.

Talking to Chandigarh Tribune, the village sarpanch alleged that the woman had been running a flesh trade racket in the locality for the past many years and had become a source of nuisance for the residents.

The house owner, however, denied the allegations. She claimed that she had purchased the house from Jayanmti Devi, a resident of Ambala city, for Rs 7.5 lakh three months ago.

She claimed that she had started staying there only recently after paying the earnest money to the seller.

SSP Patiala A.S. Rai said necessary legal action would be taken against the defaulters after investigation.


Shopkeepers encroach on highway
Bipin Bhardwaj

Rajpura, February 10
The encroachments on the busy Rajpura-Patiala highway “flourish” in violation of all norms posing hindrance to the free flow of heavy traffic.

A kilometer-long stretch of the highway from Tali Wala Chowk to Durga Mandir has virtually turned into a death trap for motorists and pedestrians due to the encroachments. Courtesy, the local civic body and the Police Department holding responsible each other for scores of encroachments that have come up on the highway.

The encroachments have come up on the government land along the roads leading to Kasturba Chowk and Chhuni Wala Chowk. The land owned by the Rajpura Municipal Council has been virtually ‘taken over’ by the encroachers.

The stretch has been encroached upon by a number of traders, shopkeepers, auto-rickshaw owners and horse carts owners. Various makeshift dhabas and other vends have also come up on the government land along the highway thus adding to the road congestion.

Though scores of VVIPs, VIPs, bureaucrats, political leaders and members of the judiciary from Chandigarh, Haryana and neighbouring states pass from the area daily but that too have failed to move the authorities.

Residents of the area complain that motorists hardly follow traffic rules here. Though the traffic police has deployed its personnel at traffic light points and accident prone areas but cops seem to have a soft corner for the offenders.

Due to the road congestion, the number of accidents have increased to many folds in the past, claimed Mr Sudarshan Singh, a local resident.

A majority of the encroachers are related to local municipal councillors, directly or indirectly.

While talking to Chandigarh Tribune, Mr Rajinder Raja, president of the civic body, made it clear that the encroachments were almost 10 to 15 years old. He claimed that to remove the encroachments from the highway was the job of the police and not of the civic body.

Mr Gurmeet Singh Chauhan, DSP, Rajpura, said, “About encroachments on the highway, better you ask the civic body president”. He, however, refused to comment upon the issue of the violation of traffic rules in the area.


MLA asks rights panel to review order on shamlat land
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 10
The local MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, has requested the Punjab State Human Rights Commission to review its order given in connection with the shamlat land under dispute at Jhanjeri village.

Addressing mediapersons here today, the MLA appealed to the commission to review the orders in the interest of the public, including schoolchildren. He said students, Muslims and the general public were going to be adversely affected.

He said two schools were being run on the shamlat land. Apart from this, there was a graveyard, cremation ground, veterinary hospital, etc.

He said apart from the shamlat land, there was not even an inch of land around the village which could be used for public use.

He said there was a war-like situation in the village as two groups, landless and landowners, had come up against each other.

He said he had spent about Rs 8 lakh on both schools for getting some rooms constructed. He said the commission had allegedly encroached upon the fundamental right of students, the right to education, by directing the administration to register sale deeds of the land reserved for public use. He said the commission should also have given a hearing to the affected people.

He alleged that the directions of the commission, wrongly or rightly, conveyed the impression to the public that a ‘land shark’ had used the authority of the august body for personal gains. There was a need to dispel this impression.

He said he would wait for 15 days for a favourable decision in the interest of the public from the commission, failing which he would be compelled to file a petition.

He said the village has a total of 2195 kanals and 12 marlas of shamlat land which was divided among people but 85 acres out of that land had been left for public use. A government high school was running on 20 kanal while a primary school was running on 4.14 marlas. Land had also been reserved for a graveyard, cremation ground, gram panchayat, Harijans, pathways, veterinary hospital, etc.

He said the then Ropar DDPO, Mr Jaswant Singh, had divided the land on November 15, 1994. The SDM had done a number of mutations in this regard. The village panchayat made an appeal to the commissioner concerned, which was dismissed. He demanded action against the two officials for ignoring public interest.


865 drugs to disappear from medical stores
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 10
About 865 drugs would disappear from all medical stores of the state shortly, due to the strict compliance of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985, said Mr R.D. Gupta, Chairman, Punjab Chemist Association, today.

In a press note, Mr Gupta said the AIOCD, a parent body of the chemists, had asked the chemists of the state to clear their existing stocks of drugs immediately. He said the AIOCD had imposed a ban because under the NDPS act, the police had harassed number of chemists in various states.

Mr Gupta said the drugs that had been banned include diazepam, codeine, chloride oxide, lorazepam, nitrazepam, flurazepam etc. But non-availability of such brands would create critical situation in the state, he added.

Mr Gupta demanded that government should fix the quantity of the sale and purchase of these drugs so that chemists as well as patients should not suffer. Meanwhile, he demanded the removal of the DSP, Malout, due to the lathi charge resorted on chemists a few days ago at Malout. 


Police torture of youth alleged
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 10
Advocates representing the Lawyers For Human Rights International today claimed that the Ludhiana Police had tortured a man and kept him in illegal confinement for one week.

Brijinder Singh Sodhi, who led a team of lawyers to the Government Rajindra hospital where Rajinderjit Singh was brought from the Ludhiana Civil hospital, said it was a case of torture. Mr Sodhi said Rajinderjit had a bruised abdomen, ankles and thighs and that most probably his kidney had also been damaged. He said his organisation would take up the case with the Punjab Human Rights Organisation. Rajinderjit was referred to the PGI in Chandigarh by the Rajindra hospital authorities.

According to Rajinderjit, he was picked up by the police from the Sunder Nagar Police Post on Wednesday and kept in illegal confinement. He said he was taken to the Civil hospital in Ludhiana when his condition worsened.

The police denied the torture. Sources said a case was registered against him under the Arms Act earlier for threatening a girl who was not inclined to marry him.


Another secretary for SGPC?
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 10
With the reported appointment of Mr Raghbir Singh as SGPC secretary, the SGPC would now have two secretaries.

The reported appointment has been made despite the presence of an active secretary, Mr Dilmegh Singh, in the SGPC.

Mr Raghbir Singh, when contacted, admitted his appointment. He added that he had been made in charge of all gurdwaras which had attached agricultural land with them.

However, a senior SGPC functionary stated that the report was wrong and no appointment had been made.


2 migrants found dead in room

Abohar, February 10
Two persons were found dead in the morning inside a rented room near Azad Theatre, 39 km from here, on the Abohar-Sriganganagar road here.

Sources said a family of migrants from Uttar Pradesh had taken the room on rent for storing onions.

Luxman (18) and his relative Chaneesa (30) slept inside the room last night, but did not come out in the morning. Failing to get any response, their brothers broke open the door.

The migrants were found under the bags of onion that had apparently slipped down while they were asleep. They were taken to a nearby hospital, where they were declared brought dead.


Illegal building coming up, allege bank staff
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 10
A building coming up in Nihal Bagh, which forms part of the reserved area of the Baradari gardens, has come under the scanner with the All-India State Bank of Patiala Employees Federation claiming that the structure was being constructed even though its building plan had not been passed by the Municipal Corporation.

Addressing a press conference at the Prabhat Parwana Trust building which is right next to the upcoming structure, association general secretary N.K. Gaur said the building owner had built a 2,500 square yard basement and was presently constructing the first floor of the building without taking the required permission.

The union leader however alleged that the Municipal Corporation was turning a deaf ear to all their complaints. “We first sent telegrams to the corporation and yesterday also went to meet the Commissioner but we have not been promised any action”, Mr Gaur said.

The union leader announced that the association would take organisation-level action in the matter.


Punjab, UT staff block traffic
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 10
A large number of members of the Punjab and UT Joint Action Committee today blocked traffic for two hours on Nangal Chowk on the National Highway here protesting against the indifferent attitude of the Punjab government toward their demands. Following the protest, the hundreds of vehicles coming from Chandigarh remained stranded on the highway from 12 p.m. till 2 p.m.

The convener of the Joint Action Committee, Mr Sukhdev Singh said that employees of various departments demanded to abolish the policy of the Punjab Government to dismantle the PSEB, release of the salary of the government employees, to fill the vacant posts lying in various departments, eliminate contractual system and to purchase new buses for the Punjab Roadways.


250 new buses for Punjab Roadways
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
As many as 250 new buses will be added to the fleet under the Golden Rozgar Bus Scheme by Punjab Roadways. State Transport Minister Mohinder Singh Kaypee added that on the one side employment opportunities would be provided to residents, on the other hand an annual profit of Rs 5 crore would be made from these buses.

He added that 333 conductors would be redeployed. In this way there would be a saving of salary to the tune of Rs 3.04 crores per annum. The buses would be on road within one month, Mr Kaypee added.


Grant for development works

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 10
The state economy is back on track and the government will earmark huge amounts of money for development works in the next year’s budget, said Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal while addressing a press conference at Sanghol village here today.

She was here to inaugurate a newly constructed building of the local Government Senior Secondary School.

She announced a grant of Rs 3 lakh for various development projects in the village. OC


Advisory panels on dowry set up
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 10
Following directions of the state government advisory boards had been set up in the district to root out dowry system prevailing in the society.

The Deputy Commissioner and also the chairman of the advisory board, Ms Seema Jain, said that the advisory board would motivate the members at local level to spread awareness among the villagers to root out.

She said besides it, seminars would also be organised at various places to inform the people about ill effects of the dowry system and to impart information to the girls and their parents about their rights.


Munjal resigns as Additional AG
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 10
Advocate C.M. Munjal, who is facing contempt of court proceedings in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, today resigned from the post of Additional Advocate-General, Punjab.

Mr Munjal, who is also Chairman of the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana, had submitted resignation from that post also.

Sources say that Punjab Advocate-General Harbhagwan Singh has forwarded Mr Munjal's resignation to the authorities for necessary action.


Hi-tech cold storage begins functioning by month-end
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
Computers maintaining temperatures and humidity, remote controls to carry out various other tasks, latest fumigation facilities to keep the produce fresh and edible---the state-of-the-art cold storage is all set to start operations at Channo village in Sangrur district by the month-end.

Built in an area of 4 acres on the Patiala-Sangrur road, this facility in North India will have a storage capacity of 6,800 tonnes of potatoes and will be exclusively dedicated to Frito-Lay of Pepsi.

The development is significant for the obsolete cooling technology is being moved out from the chain of cold stores in Punjab.

It is being replaced with the most modern temperature maintaining technology available in the world to enhance the value of the products stored and fetch better returns.

The hi-tech facility would be a boon for potato growers and would give a filip to potato production in the state.

A private entrepreneur, Mr Sukhinder Singh of International Fresh Farm Products India Ltd, who has set up the facility here, said the stocks would cater to the growing potato requirements of Frito Lays, which has its plant in the vicinity. ''Their present demand is 130 tonnes per day and proper storage facilities would help us stock their quota of three months and supply them quality potatoes of proper size and firmness all through the year,'' he said.

He explained that equipped with the technology to monitor carbon dioxide levels and the latest CIPC technology for fumigation, they would be able to enhance the shelf life of the potatoes by retaining its quality and edibility.

The company, he said, is rigid on its requirement for quality standards and takes potatoes only from those who take seeds from them and follow the specific growing patterns.

The quality controls available on line will not only provide the required information about storage to the technocrat at Channo but also to

those in the head office at Delhi, and if need be, the officials in the USA, said Mr Singh.

The Managing Director of Punjab Agro Industries Corporation , Mr Himmat Singh, which has provided assistance to this ambitious project, said setting up of this facility would give a boost to potato production in the state and the area under its cultivation would increase by at least 1,000 acres. The income of the farmers would also double-up as compared to the returns they get in the traditional wheat/paddy cultivation, he added.

Besides this, the process of integrated gradation and storage would provide jobs to a few hundred people of the area on a sustainable basis.

Mr Sukhwinder Singh said the trials had been successfully completed and two of the four chambers would be commissioned by month-end.


Hailstorm: SDM recommends special girdawri
Tribune News Service

Gurusar Jaga (Talwandi Sabo), February 10
Till 4 pm yesterday, thousands of acres of land of this village were under a sheet of yellow flowers of sarson crop, which has started ripening. Today, the entire stretch wore a deserted look as the hailstorm flattened the same within a few minutes. Similarly, the standing wheat crop in Nawapind village of Talwandi Sabo subdivision has come under slush after the hailstorm played havoc with the standing crops.

The farmers of about 15 villages falling in this subdivision and a number of villages of Mansa district experienced the same devastation yesterday afternoon after the hailstorm lashed this area for about half-an-hour and left a trail of destruction killing countless birds, cattle and uprooting hundreds of trees and electric poles apart from damaging standing sarson, wheat and fodder crops in thousands of acres of land. The early sown wheat crop had suffered more damage than the late sown wheat crop.

The hailstorm also caused a breach in the Jagga distributory that flooded about 30 acres of land in which the sarson and wheat crop was standing. The breach was, however, plugged by the residents of Gurusar Jaga village.

Mr Gurkirat Kirpal Singh, SDM, Talwandi Sabo, who made an intensive tour to the affected villages today, said he had recommended for special girdawri in the affected villages to the state government to assess the loss caused to the crops. He added that as per preliminary reports, the sarson crop had suffered total loss while the loss to the wheat and fodder crops could be visible only after a week or so. He said four out of total 15 villages were worst affected.

He said he had also sent the Tehsildar to make a round to the affected villages so that a fair assessment of the loss caused to the crops by the hailstorm could be made before the state government ordered a special girdawri in that connection.

A number of panchayats of the affected villages have also moved applications to the SDM, Talwandi Sabo, for making arrangements for the assessment of the damages caused to their crops at the earliest and subsequently payment of compensation to the affected farmers.


Special girdwari in Malwa region
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today ordered a special girdwari in the hailstorm-hit districts of Malwa region.

Capt Amarinder Singh said that the Deputy Commissioners of Bathinda, Mansa and other affected districts had been asked to depute revenue officials concerned to assess the damage caused by the recent hailstorms.

There have been reports that in various parts of the Malwa region were yesterday lashed by hailstorms, thus causing damage to various crops such as wheat, mustard, gram etc. The Chief Minister said that the Finance Commissioner (Development), Mr P.K. Verma, had been asked to tour the affected areas at the earliest possible.

It is second time in the past few days that hailstorms have hit various parts of the Malwa belt. Earlier, reports of heavy damage caused by such storms to Rabi crops had come from the Abohar-Fazilka area of Malwa.


NABARD launches kisan club
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 10
The Dharamkot branch of NABARD today launched kisan club and distributed Kisan Credit Cards to farmers. Deputy Commissioner Mandeep Singh presided over the function.

Addressing the farmers, Mr Paramjeet Singh, Bank Manager, said the formation of the club and disbursal of cards had been done under the "Vikas Vahini Yojana" of the bank.

He said the farmers would be sensitised on various state government schemes from the club's platform. They would also be provided with technical expertise relating to the farming sector, besides redressing their agricultural problems with the aid of experts.

He said the bank had already sanctioned credit of Rs 4.5 crore to about 500 farmers adding that through the credit cards the farmers could avail loan at the rate of Rs 20,000 per acre.

The banker said the club members could also form a self-help group that could help them save money and utilise it in the hour of crisis.

The Deputy Commissioner expressed hope that the club and the credit cards would go a long way in improving the lot of the farmers.


MC recommends suspension of Asst Town Planner
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 10
The general house of the local municipal corporation (MC) today passed a resolution recommending the suspension of its Assistant Town Planner (ATP) besides disapproving the issuance of a Rs 62 lakh work order by its Commissioner Manvesh Singh Sidhu without taking the Finance and Control Committee into confidence.

The general house meeting saw some councillors complaining against the functioning of Assistant Town Planner Nirmalpreet Singh. The ATP was accused of encouraging encroachments in the city, besides allowing various towers of mobile companies to come up without following rules.

The house, besides passing a resolution recommending the suspension of the ATP, also passed a resolution recommending that all four Building Branch Inspectors be transferred out of the branch. The resolution recommended that all four Inspectors should be allotted posts in which there was no public dealing.

Meanwhile, Deputy Mayor Inderjit Singh Boparai brought to the notice of the house that the Commissioner had not got the approval of the Finance and Control Committee of the house before issuing work orders for Rs 62 lakh in the Diesel Component Works (DCW) area.

After the matter was brought to the notice of the house, it noted that the Commissioner was bound to take its approval before issuing work orders for all projects with a budget of more than Rs 25,000. A two-member committee was formed by the house to look into the matter and submit its report within two weeks.

Meanwhile Mr Sidhu, when contacted, said he had issued the work order for the execution of development works in the DCW area because the funds for the same had been received from the Small Savings department and were not corporation funds. He said the work order had been issued after due deliberations, which included getting the estimates evaluated by the Drainage department, inviting tenders by a committee which opened them and recommended the issuance of work orders.


24 quintals of poppy husk seized
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 10
The CIA staff today seized about 24 quintals of poppy husk and arrested one of the accused in this connection, while the rest are at large.

According to a press release, the accused were bringing poppy husk from outside the state when their vehicle (PB-12B-9893) overturned near Jalalabad.

Following a tip-off, the CIA staff raided the spot and seized poppy husk when the accused were shifting it into a mini truck. About 24 quintals of poppy husk was seized and Pipal Singh was arrested in the case.

Those who have absconded have been identified as Paramjeet Pamma, Sona Singh, Nishan Singh, all belonging to Daulewala village, and Raju of Sherpur Takhtuwala village.

The police has registered a case against them under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act.


Attempt to kidnap college girl
Our Correspondent

Khanna, February 10
Four car-borne youths with muffled faces tried to kidnap a college student here today. One of the accused has been identified, the police said.

The grandfather of the victim, a student of the BCA (I) course of AS College, has lodged a complaint with the city police station in this connection.

According to the complaint, the girl was on the way to her college on a Moped. When she reached near Model Town on Samrala Road, four youths with muffled faces came in a white Zen car and stopped the girl. They tried to put her in the car but the girl escaped and ran away. When she raised the alarm, the accused sped away.

SHO Rajan Parminder said that one of the accused had been identified and the police had started conducting raids to nab the accused. However, he said that the case may not be of kidnapping.

Reliable sources said that the accused are of the same college.

The principal of the college said he was not aware of it.


IFS officer booked in dowry case
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, February 10
The Shahpur Kandi police here has booked an officer of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) for allegedly torturing his wife for dowry. A case under Sections 498-A and 406, IPC, has been registered against the officer.

According to the victim, Mrs Zeenat Malik, a resident of Defence Colony, Chhatwal, near here, she was married to Mr Birja Parshad Malik working as an IFS officer, a resident of New Delhi, in June, 2001. It was alleged that her parents had given sufficient articles of dowry in the marriage. She said that despite sufficient dowry was given in the marriage the officer demanded more dowry.

On her failure to bring more dowry, the accused allegedly started maltreating her. She alleged that even in Moscow where her husband was posted, she was maltreated and the matter was reported to the authorities concerned.


7 booked for hunting wild boar
Tribune News Service

Kharar, February 10
Forest officers here today booked Shingara Singh, a resident of Bagindi village for allegedly hunting down a wild boar in the village this evening. Shingara Singh, along with six others, was booked by the forest range officer on charges of poaching under various sections of the Wildlife Protection Act.

The wild boar that had been shot dead was with the Forest Department and a post-mortem would be conducted tomorrow.

According to the police, the accused was leading a group of over six persons carrying the carcass of the wild boar in the village in the evening when he was stopped by forest guard Bhupinder Kumar. The six reportedly managed to overpower the guard. The guard ran to the nearest village Kasauli and informed the police. By the time the police reached the spot, the accused along with the other unidentified person had fled the spot leaving the carcass there.

Forest Department officials led by Mr Gagandeep Singh Sandhu, Forest Range Officer, range Kharar raided Shingara Singh’s house in the village but he had absconded.

Meanwhile, the local police too booked Shingara Singh under Sections 186 and 353 of the IPC for causing hurt to a government official on official duty. Mr Bhagwant Singh, SHO, Mullanpur Garibdass added that Shingara Singh’s house was also raided and 48 bottles of scotch were found there. “A case under various sections of the Excise Act has also been registered against him”, he said.


Five cars recovered, 1 arrested
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 10
The local police has arrested a car thief Subhash Chander of Nihgahan mohalla, Mehligate, and recovered five cars from him.

This was stated in a press note issued today by the Kapurthala SSP, Mr Arun Pal Singh. He said Subhash was arrested while he was going to sell a car (PB-07-H-4709) at Saini Auto Sale near Dana mandi on the Hoshiarpur road, after putting a fake number plate (PB-32-0-5220) on it. He admitted that he had stolen four cars from Central Town, Green Park colony and Sarai road earlier also. All stolen cars had been recovered.

The DSP, Mr Jaspal Singh, said Subhash used to purchase condemned vehicles from Baweja Motors and Sahni Motors, Garah road, Jalandhar. And used to swap the chasis and engine numbers of these vehicles.


Cyclist dies in mishap
Our Correspondent

Rajpura, February 10
A 54-year-old resident of Guru Arjun Dev Colony, died on the spot in an head on collision between a scooter and a cycle at the gate of ESI Hospital, here today.

Cyclist Fateh Chand was entering the main road from the Hospital when the scooterist rammed into his scooter (PB-39B-4571) into the cycle leaving the rider dead on the spot.

According to sources, the scooterist was allegedly deaf and dumb who later fled from the scene. The body was sent to the local civil hospital for a post mortem examination.

The police has registered a case of negligent and rash driving against the scooterist. No arrest has been made.


Govt revises scholarships of Sainik School
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, February 10
The decision of the Punjab Government to revise the scholarships for the wards of the local Sainik School after a gap of 16 years has brought cheer to hundreds of students of the state.

Not only has the state government revised the scholarships, but also the income slabs of the parents against which they would be awarded scholarships have been revised. The school office received a formal order in this regard last evening thus bringing a hope for the students and their parents who had been awaiting for this for the past several years.

In an official facsimile sent by the Special Secretary, School Education, it has been stated that those who were enrolled in 2004 to 2005 and whose parents had an annual income up to Rs 1.8 lakh would be eligible for the scholarships.

The scholarship amounts had not been revised ever since they were introduced in 1989. While the fee of the students had been increasing from time to time, no change had been made in the amount of the scholarship ever since, thus causing a huge financial burden on the parents.

During a visit to Sainik School in August 2003, the Chief Minister had promised that the income slabs and scholarship amounts would soon be revised. The government had fixed four income slabs. The lowest was fixed at Rs 96,000 per annum for which the scholarship was proposed to be Rs 26,000. The second slab was that of Rs 1.2 lakh per year for which the proposed scholarship amount was fixed at Rs 19,000. The parents with an income of Rs 1.44 were assured Rs 13,000 as scholarship for their wards and those with income up to Rs 1.8 lakh were assured that their children would receive Rs 7,500 as scholarship.

The highest income slab against which a student could get a scholarship was Rs 40,000. The fact that a parent with an annual income equal to or less than Rs 40,000 sends his ward to a school charging nearly as much amount for fee per annum (including hostel, mess and other charges) was by itself self-contradictory. The government also ensured that the scholarship went to only those students who score at least 45 per cent marks in individual subjects and 55 per cent in aggregate.

Taking to The Tribune, schoolchildren said they were happy over the decision taken by of the government as most parents who were not able to bear the burden of getting their wards admitted to the school would face no hassles now. They said with a scholarship from the state government and a nearly Rs 10,000 scholarship from the Central Government, their education would almost become free of cost.

Jaswant Singh and Mukul Mahajan, both plus two students, who cleared the NDA entrance test and medical fitness examination, said besides getting two scholarships they were now hopeful of getting their fee of plus one and two refunded.


Packets of Class V question papers without seal
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 10
Packets of Class V examination papers, supplied by the state government to various centres are without any proper seal or official stamp. A simple cellophane put on the packets can be removed with ease and the papers could be leaked without much effort.

Many superintendents of examination centres have given in writing that the simple packing could be tampered with easily. A member of the flying squad, Principal Gurdip Singh Randhawa, confirmed that superintendents of various examination centres had given him in writing that the packets of the examination papers were not properly sealed.

Interestingly, the district has no District Education Officer and Deputy Education Officer. There are 420 centres for conducting the examination where more than 55,000 students are appearing. However, Mr Harjit Singh, Superintendent, DEO office, claimed that papers were not leaked at any of the centre.

Mr Jarmanjit Singh, a Superintendent at one of the examination centres and president of the Punjab Subordinate Services Federation, demanded that the packets distributed at the centres should be properly sealed. In his written complaint, he said apart from being unsealed, there is no official stamp on the packets.

It is also alleged that papers were leaked at many centres with a view to show better results as many schools of the border district are without teachers.


Science congress concludes
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 10
The eighth Punjab Science Congress concluded yesterday with academics calling for a coordination between scientists, technologists and industry to develop indigenous technology.

The valedictory session was presided over by Dr S.P.S. Virdi, Dean Academic Affairs.

On this occasion Punjab Science Academy presented Young Scientist Award -2005 to Bhatian Anjana. Manju Dewan, Neeraj Rani, Vishal Goyal and Snayog Jain. Best Poster Awards were presented to Dhana Piyari, Punam Sharma. R.K. Narula and P.Kataria.

A feature of this three-day congress was that stress was laid on academic and research presentations. According to Dr H.S. Rose nearly 270 scientist participated and record number of papers on different aspects of science and technology were presented. Earlier, Dr S.K. Salwan, Vice Chancellor, PTU, Jalandhar, in his paper stressed to explore technology on the fields.


Row over election of Beopar Mandal chief
Our Correspondent

Barnala, February 10
A controversy arose over the post of the president of the Beopar Mandal, Barnala, as Mr Chajju Ram, former president of the Truck Union, and SAD (A) leader Anil Bansal claimed themselves the new president of the mandal.

The local traders called a meeting to elect the Beopar Mandal president at Aggarwal Dharamshala today.

The situation became interesting when the traders listened another announcement in the bazars followed by the first one that Mr Anil Bansal, alias Naana, has been nominated as the new president of the mandal. The two announcements made the traders confused.

While the meeting at Aggarwal Dharamshala was held as per the schedule where the traders declared Mr Chajju Ram as the new president. Municipal Committee president Makhan Sharma also supported Mr Chajju Ram.

Mr Bansal, talking to The Tribune, claimed that his appointment had been made by Mr Madan Lal Kapoor, state president, Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal. On the other hand, Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal (Jetwani) group secretary Tirath Dass Sindhwani flayed Mr Bansal’s appointment. He said that the Jetwani group had already parted ways with the Madan Lal Kapoor group. So he did not accept Mr Bansal’s appointment.


Traders hold protest march against VAT
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 10
Twentyfive industrial and trade organisations of Phagwara today organised a protest march against the Punjab Government’s move to implement VAT in the state from April 1.

The protesters marched under the banner of the Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal. The march started from Dana Mandi, passed through the various bazars and converged outside the Excise and Taxation office in Hargobindnagar. They held a rally there.

Addressing protesters, Mr Partap Chand Bhutani, vice-president, Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal; Mr Sudesh Sharma, president, Federation of Phagwara Small Industries; and Mr Ashok Gupta, president, Laghu Udyog Bharati, alleged that VAT was anti-trade and anti-industry.

It was borrowed from Europe and would go against the concept of uniformity and common market, they said.

A national VAT should be introduced keeping in mind the interests of industrialists and traders, they demanded.

The protesters later presented a memorandum to the authorities for its onward submission to the Punjab Chief Minister. The memorandum underlined the need of keeping VAT in abeyance for checking flight of the industry from Punjab.


10 pc dividend for Markfed staff
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
Markfed yesterday announced a 10 per cent dividend to be distributed amongst its employees. Declaring this during Markfed’s general body meeting, Managing Director S.S. Chunny said a laboratory for wheat testing was being set up at Ropar. According to a press release, Mr Channy also told the members that agri-export zone for potatoes and basmati was being set up.

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