P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Militants changing tactics: DGP
Tribune News Service

The Director-General of Police, Punjab, Mr S.S. Virk (left), looks at arms and ammunition seized from militants in the state in the past 15 days, in Chandigarh on Monday.
The Director-General of Police, Punjab, Mr S.S. Virk (left), looks at arms and ammunition seized from militants in the state in the past 15 days, in Chandigarh on Monday. — A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, June 20
Use of modern technology coupled with allurements of money to recruits are some of the major changes in tactics of the new breed of militants in camouflaging their networking and operations, said the Director-General of Police, Mr S.S. Virk, here today.

Addressing his first media conference since the arrest of dreaded terrorist Jagtar Singh Hawara two weeks ago, the DGP claimed prior to the arrest of Hawara on June 8 the Punjab police had unconfirmed reports that Hawara was roaming around in the state.

The DGP claimed the police had nabbed 24 terrorists and sympathisers of the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) from different districts of the state in the past fortnight. The police claimed to have recovered 35 kg RDX, 2 kg PTN, nine pistols and 11 grenades from the arrested terrorists. He refused to answer questions if there was any breakthrough in nabbing Paramjit Singh Bheora and Jagtar Singh Tara - the duo which had escaped along with Hawara from the Burail Jail here in January last year.

Talking about the tactics being adopted by militants, the DGP said the modern breed of militants was very adept at using computers and conversing with each other using email. This was missing earlier. The DGP said the BKI always believed in the sanctity of Sikh religion but had now permitted youth with trimmed beards and Hindus into its fold. Some of the youth nabbed as part of the network had been lured by offers of money or promises to get them settled abroad.

The terrorists are also using deras (run by self-styled sants and babas) as sanctuaries. Earlier the militants were against these deras for having a following of their own. Now dera members have been used to transport arms and also exchange information, according to Mr S.S. Virk, Director-General of Police, Punjab.

Permitted trimming of beards and Hindus was a distinct shift, said the DGP while adding that the terrorists had shifted their base from rural to urban and semi-urban areas.

Earlier, the militants dumped all their weapons in one spot. Now they scatter the arms all over the state. Also they had formed new relations as old contacts were well settled abroad or elsewhere and did not want to come out in the open.

Pointing that the terrorists were getting “liberal fundings” from abroad, he said Jagtar Singh Hawara and his group had received Rs 50 lakh since his escape from Burail jail. He also said that certain human rights organisations had some “networking “ with militant groups as a human rights lawyer moved court the day Hawara was nabbed.

This indicated some information was being exchanged. When asked to name the human rights organisation he named the Ludhiana-based International Human Right Organisation.

Noting that the “formation and action plan” of these militant elements had also changed in recent days, Mr Virk said earlier 20 to 30 people used to form a group, but now there a one group of three persons with a leader.” Normally one intelligence, one technical and one operational member comprised the group, added the DGP.

The leader of one group might not be known to the leaders of other group, he said, adding “there is no direct link between one who plans and one who executes.” The DGP said now human bombs and improved explosive devices (IEDs) were given precedence in the terrorists plan.


Hawara’s wife, granthi nabbed
They were ready to become human bombs: police

Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 20
During a nakabandi in the area of Bhullarherri village, near Dhuri, yesterday, the police arrested Balwinder Kaur, wife of Jagtar Singh Hawara, chief of Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) in India; Sukhdev Singh, a granthi of Dohla village (near Dhuri), who reportedly got performed the marriage of Balwinder Kaur with Hawara as a mediator; Amarjit Singh, alias Kala, a resident of Kalka and Pargat Singh, alias Tharmat, a resident of Sujadpur. The police also seized a huge quantity of explosives, including 18 kg of RDX, detonators, hand grenades, pencil bombs and other ammunition from them.

Mr Surjit Singh Grewal, SP (D), Sangrur, said all four arrested persons had been produced in the court of Ilaqa Magistrate at Dhuri today, who remanded them in the police custody till June 24. A case under Sections 121, 121 A, 122, 123, 124A, 153 A, 212 and 216 A of the IPC and 3/4/5 of the Explosives Substances Act 1908 and 25,54,59 of the Arms Act had been registered against them at the Dhuri police station.

In a press note issued here today by the police, during the nakabandi yesterday, four persons, riding on two motorcycles, were stopped. During their search, the police seized 5 kg of RDX, one detonator, one switch off battery from Sukhdev Singh while it seized 100 cartridges of 30 bore, four pencil bombs, one magazine of 30 bore pistol, five detonators, four batteries of nine bolts, one night vision device and Rs 1 lakh from the bag of Balwinder Kaur.

During the search of Amarjit Singh and Pargat Singh, the police seized 49 metres of explosive wire five detonators, nine explosive sticks and Rs 45,000 from Amarjit Singh while it seized 12.750 kg of RDX, seven hand grenades and 77 cartridges of 30 bore from Pargat Singh.

Sukhdev Singh and Balwinder Kaur had been motivated to be a human bomb for the Babbar Khalsa so that they could be used in killing of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniarawala, Baba Ashutosh Nur Mehalia or some other important political dignitaries.

During interrogation it has come to notice that Sukhdev Singh and the family of Dara Singh, father of Balwinder Kaur, used to visit Gurdwara Sahib to pay obeisance. In this way, Sukhdev Singh became visitor to their house. About six months ago, Sukhdev Singh met Jagtar Singh Hawara, alias Bhalwan, alias Sahib Singh, through Amrik Singh, a resident of Muktsar at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib, who gradually came closer to each other. Sukhdev Singh got performed the marriage of Balwinder Kaur at Gurdwara Nankiana Sahib, Sangrur.

After marriage, Hawara took his wife to Patiala for a few days where he motivated her to be a human bomb, as a result of which Sukhdev Singh and Balwinder Kaur agreed to become human bomb and to act as per his directions. Hawara kept RDX and Rs 1 lakh in the house of Balwinder Kaur through Sukhdev Singh, the police added.

Pargat Singh had introduced Jagtar Singh Hawara with Dara Singh at Haryau Kalan village, in Khanna in the house of his sister for getting the marriage of his daughter Balwinder Kaur with Hawara. About three months ago, Hawara deputed Pargat Singh to explode the vehicles of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniarawala, who had to go to attend the court. Some person, namely Gurdeep Singh, an accomplice of Hawara, came to the shop of Amarjit Singh at Kalka and supplied him explosive material and a motor cycle which had now been seized from his possession.


Hawara’s accomplices remanded till June 23
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 20
The Duty Magistrate, Ms Lakhwinder Kaur, today remanded to police custody the two accomplices of Jagtar Singh Hawara — Baljit Singh Bha and Gurjant Singh — till June 23.

Baljit Singh Bha, area commander of the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), and Gurjant Singh were brought to the court today afternoon under a not so tight security cover. The accused failed to engage any lawyer. According to Baljit Singh, they had very little time to do so after they were picked up by the police yesterday.

Meanwhile, Baljit Singh while speaking to select gathering of journalists outside the courtroom said he had links with Hawara and added that the Hyundai Accent car purchased by Hawara from Patiala was brought in his (Baljit's ) name. Once he managed to take Hawara into confidence, the later gave him the responsibility of being the area commander of Patiala, Sangrur and Fatehgarh Sahib.

He disclosed Hawara had also given him the responsibility of recruiting men for the BKI.


Another Hawara aide held
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 20
Jagtar Singh Hawara’s network of informers was further dented today when the Patiala police nabbed Jasbir Singh of Faggan Majra village, near here, today.

Jasbir Singh was nabbed by a team of the local police led by the SP (D), Mr Inder Mohan Singh, and a case at the Sadar police station has been registered against him.

According to police sources, Jasbir Singh along with Jagtar Hawara and Baljit Singh Bha, who was remanded in police custody today by a local court, had hatched allegedly a conspiracy to kill former Haryana Chief Minister Bhajan Lal, Baba Piara Singh Bhaniarawala and Ashutosh, head of the Divya Jyoti Jagran.


Cache of sophisticated arms seized
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, June 20
The vast mand area once known as the hideout of militants, has once again caught the attention of people following haul of foreign-made sophisticated weapons from here in the early morning .

A cache of sophisticated arms and ammunition was unearthed which included one AK-56 rifle, one .315 bore rifle, one Pak-made .30 pistol, a US-made .38 special pistol, Pak made .22 revolver with eight bullet slots and Pak made .32 bore revolver, 812 bullets of AK-56, 17 bullets of SLR, 47 bullets of 303 rifle, 6 bullets of sniper rifle, 60 bullets of other weapons.

SSP Paramjit Singh Garewal said they could not identify the militant group who stashed arms and ammunition here.

However, there was a possibility that these were hidden when the police pressure on militants had mounted. He further said the weapons were in operational condition.

The police said it had doubts that the arms were kept on the directions of Babbar Khalsa International chief Wadhawa Singh Babbar, one of the most wanted in India living in Pakistan.


A correction

In the news report “2 gurdwaras searched for Hawara aides” carried in these columns yesterday, it was inadvertently mentioned that gurdwara in charges were also detained. It should be read as gurdwara in charges accompanied the police in the search operation. The error is regretted.


Congress govt anti-farmer: Badal

Amritsar, June 20
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) SAD (B) staged a dharna outside the District Court Complex here today and protested against the alleged failure of the Punjab Government.

Addressing the gathering, SAD (B) president Parkash Singh Badal alleged that the Congress Government in Punjab could not implement its election manifesto, rather it created a bundle of problems for the farmers of the state.

The present working style of the government has proved that the government was unfriendly towards the poor farmers, Mr Badal alleged.

He said nearly 25 lakh families were earning their bread from agriculture in Punjab and more than 90 per cent families in the state had gone bankrupt due to the unfriendly farmer policies of the government.

Farmers were spending more money on their cultivation every year but were not getting anything in return, he alleged.

The withdrawal of free electricity to farmers and Shagun schemes by the government had earned lot of criticism since it badly affected the poor masses of the rural areas, he said.

Mr Badal said the government had a defective industrial policy and because of this most of the industrialists were shifting their units to the neighbouring states of Himachal and Jammu and Kashmir where they are getting maximum advantages for establishing new industries.

The protest was also joined by the BJP as MP Navjot Singh Sidhu and other BJP leaders were present in the dharna. — PTI


Congress in league with Mann,  alleges Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
The President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today alleged that said the Congress was in league with Mr Simranjit Singh Mann and was out to disturb peace and communal amity in the state for political gains.

Mr Badal described the attacks on gurdwaras in Muktsar district as part of Capt Amarinder Singh’s design to divert people’s attention for the utter failures of his government on all fronts, including law order, to cause communal polarisation in the state.

The attack on gurdwaras by the police was meant to create an impression that extremist activity was originating from Sikh shrines, he said.

He went on to add that there was a clear pattern to extremist activity in the state and demanded to know why Mr Mann was being treated like a VIP even after a case of sedition had been registered against him.

The Shiromani Akali Dal also condemned the rise in petroleum prices announced by the Union Government today.

Mr Badal said the common man, especially farmers, employees and traders, would be worst hit by this hike. He demanded immediate withdrawal of the hike.


Protest march against Mann’s arrest
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 20
Hundreds of workers and leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), led by Mr Satnam Singh Behru, president of the farmer wing of SAD (A), and Mr Jaskaran Singh, general secretary of SAD (A), today took out a march through the town in protest against the arrest of Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, and other leaders of the party. The march started from the local Gurdwara Singh Sabha and culminated in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner here.

Some leaders were wearing black clothes and chains around their necks and hands. Their lips were covered with black ribbons. The protesters also carried placards in support of their demands.

The protest march was taken out to press upon the state government to withdraw the cases registered against Mr Mann and other leaders and to release them unconditionally.

The party leaders also submitted a memorandum, to the Sangrur Deputy Commissioner to forward it to the President of India.

Among others who participated in the protest march, included Mr Paramjit Singh Khalsa, general secretary of the party; Mr Jeet Singh Alloarkh, district president of the party; Mr Nirmal Singh Gharachon and Mr Harcharan Singh Burjhari, both SGPC members; Mr Harinder Pal Singh, president of the Sangrur unit of the party; and Mr Gurnaib Singh, district president of the youth wing of the party.

Talking to mediapersons, Mr Jaskaran Singh, general secretary of the party, said the arrest of Mr Mann was a “murder of the democracy”. He said Mr Mann had demanded what Pt Nehru and Mahatama Gandhi had promised to the Sikhs that they would be given an independent region in the north. He alleged the Congress and Mr Parkash Singh Badal might harm Mr Mann, so he should be provided personal gunmen and a contingent of the CRPF for security at the time of production of Mr Mann in the court. He said if the state government would not withdraw cases against Mr Mann and other leaders of the party, SAD (A) would intensify its struggle in a peaceful manner.


Provide CRPF security to Mann, says Jaskaran
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 20
SAD (Amritsar) general secretary Jaskaran Singh Kahan Singhwala today demanded a CRPF security cover for party president Simranjit Singh Mann during the latter’s movement from one place to another in Punjab.

In a statement here, Mr Jaskaran Singh alleged that there was every apprehension that Mr Mann, who was in jail these days on sedition charge, might be harmed or even eliminated while being taken from one district to another for being presented in courts.

The Congress government in Punjab, at the behest of the SAD and its cohorts, could go to any extent, he remarked. Mr Mann should either be allowed to take his personal gunmen during such movements or be provided CRPF security cover, he demanded.

SGPC President Bibi Jagir Kaur had met the Union Home Minister at the behest of her mentor, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief, for getting Mr Mann arrested in a sedition case and booked other party leaders under the sedition cases, he continued.

Mr Mann had done no wrong by reminding those at the helms of affairs of the promises made by Pt Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi with the Sikhs for providing them a region in North India where they could have ‘azadi’ (independence), he argued.

Mr Jaskaran Singh called upon the Hindus, the Muslims, the Christians and the Dalits to raise their voice for Mr Mann by opposing murder of democracy in his arrest since Mr Mann had been taking up the issues of these communities in Parliament as an MP.


Mann told to explain source of funds
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
A notice has been sent out by the police asking Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, chief of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), to explain about the source of his funds and how he was using them.

The DGP of the state, Mr S.S. Virk, told a media conference today that the police suspected some of the funds were being received through Hawala channels. Mr Mann was arrested a few days ago as a case of sedition was registered against him.


Pak Sikh body rules out SGPC’s role in gurdwaras
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 20
Mr Bishan Singh, vice-president, Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC), made it clear that the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) would never be allowed to manage the affairs of gurdwaras in Pakistan.

He made this statement while talking to mediapersons here today. Earlier in the morning, a 16-member multi-religion delegation, under the leadership of Mr Rana Ijaz Ahmad Khan, Advisor to Chief Minister of Pak Punjab Mr Pervez Elahi crossed over to India from Wagah joint check post.

He quipped, “Will SGPC allow the PSGPC to manage Sikh shrines of this Punjab?”

He said they were nationals of a separate country and able enough to run shrines in their country. However, he added, that they would welcome the cooperation and advice of the SGPC on the matters of maryada.

Mr Khan informed that the delegation included four members each from Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and Christian religions. He said the motive of the visit was to enhance peace and brotherhood between the citizens of both the countries and to convey that all communities were living in peaceful co-existence in Pakistan.

Born in Sahora village, a few km from here, the visit was a homecoming for Mr Khan. He visited his native village today.

An emotional Mr Khan said, “When he along with his family moved to Lahore 58 years ago all the houses were kutcha but time had changed every thing and new pucca houses had appeared there.”

The delegation would be here for 10 days and would visit several cities of India. They would also meet Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

They today met Bibi Jagir Kaur, president, SGPC. Bibi Jagir Kaur expressed her concern over not following the maryada in the historic gurdwaras in Pakistan.

She offered assistance to train granthis, ragis and sewadars of these shrines. “Either these staff could come here or the SGPC men could go there to impart training,” she said.

She added that land worth crores attached with gurdwaras in Pakistan was being encroached upon.

In an attempt to clear all the doubts, Mr Khan invited SGPC president to visit Pakistan and stated that formal invitation would be sent through Chief Minister of Pakistan’s Punjab.

He informed that implementation of promises made by Mr Elahi during his last visit here had started.


SGPC deletes ex-secy’s name for Pak visit
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 20
Former SGPC secretary Kulwant Singh’s name was deleted from the list sent by the SGPC to the Pakistan High Commission for the visit of a Sikh jatha to the neighbouring country to observe the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.


No move to privatise PSEB, says Sayeed
Tribune News Service

Nangal, June 20
Union Minister of Power P.M. Sayeed today expressed inability of the Central Government to interfere in decisions of the state government to give free power to farmers. He said the state government had right to give relief to people in power tariffs. As there was provision under the Electricity Act-2003 which empowered the state government to give relief and the Centre could not interfere in it.

Mr Sayeed said the state government could take its own decision about free power to farmers. Mr Sayeed was answering the question while interacting with the media after the inauguration of a training centre of the BBMB at Nangal.

He said the final draft of the tariff policy, after consultation with all state governments, regulatory commissions and other stake holders, was also prepared and likely to be submitted to the Cabinet for approval within a week.

Commenting on the PSEB unbundling, Mr Sayeed said the Power Ministry was strict to its stand on unbundling of the PSEB as it was statutory requirement under the Electricity Act. But there was no move of privatisation of the PSEB as no provision in the Electricity Act was mentioned for it. The ministry had extended six months’ time for the restructure of the PSEB, he added.

On the power crisis in various states, he said the Central Government was contributing 50 per cent in the total power generation. It’s the responsibility of states to increase their power generation capacity to meet the demand. He regretted that there were states which did not increase their power generation capacity in the past 10 years.

He said a new scheme, Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidutikaran Yojana, targeted to complete in next five years electrification of all villages. Financial arrangements had been made with 90 per cent as grant from the government, he added.

Mr Sayeed announced that the National Hydro Training Centre would also be established by the National Power Training Institute at Nangal for which the BBMB had already allotted 15 acres.

No senior official of the PSEB was present at Nangal during his visit. When Mr Sayeed asked about the absence of official, he said he was here to inaugurate the training centre.

Meanwhile, the acute shortage of water in Bhakra village upset P.M Sayeed, who visited there to view Bhakra Dam. After interacting with villagers, Mr Sayeed said that it was unfortunate that the villagers who had given their land for construction of dam did not have proper water supply.

He discussed the matter with a senior administrative officer of Bilaspur who accompanied him and with the Chairman of the BBMB, Mr Rakesh Nath. Mr Nath said the BBMB had already prepared schemes three months ago for the supply of the water to the village and also discussed the matter with the Himachal Government.


Toppers topple as PTU revises results
Varinder Singh

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 20
In a surprising outcome which could even put the examination system of Punjab Technical University (PTU) under a cloud, Vikramdeep Singh Sandhu, of Bathinda and the earlier topper of the PTU CET-05 examination, has slipped to the fifth position with 103 marks and the first position has been grabbed by Varun Kumar Jindal of Patiala with 108 marks in the revised result announced by the university today.

The PTU authorities who had withheld the earlier result and had attributed the exam fiasco to software snag, have claimed that all “possible steps necessary to ensure error-free evaluation of the student responses of CET-05, held on June 3, have been taken and the OMRs have been checked by two independent, identical processes.” The PTU has maintained that after revision there has been a change in the rankings of the candidates desirous of seeking admission to B.Tech, B-Pharma and B.Arch in Punjab.

Harsimran Singh of Kharar has bagged the second position, Samir Bansal of Moga has been placed third and Pallvi Gupta of Ludhiana has bagged the fourth position in the revised results.

According to Dr M.S. Grewal, Registrar, counselling dates would be notified later on.

Interestingly, it is not only Vikramdeep Singh, who has slipped downwards, Vishal Gupta of Bathinda, who earlier bagged the second position in the CET with 101 marks, has now been placed on 13th position. Similarly, Mohit Khurana of Moga has jumped downwards from 3rd position to 15th position.

The result fiasco, which was compared by many to that of controversial PMT entrance test conducted by Baba Farid University, had resulted in a lot of inconvenience to a large number of students and parents as well.

In a statement, Dr Grewal, said the revised result was announced only after it was doubly checked and confirmed to be accurate. “The design and application of keys has also been duplicated. For this, PTU had formed teams which worked round the clock and before application all softwares used in evaluation were regenerated, checked and tested thoroughly,” said he said, adding that the revised result was also available on PTU website — www.ptu.ac.in.


State heading for turmoil, says Pasla
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 20
The Communist Party Marxist (CPM) has expressed grave concern over the recent developments and feels that the situation in the state was taking a turn for the worse, for which, both the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) SAD (B) were responsible.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Mangat Ram Pasla, the Secretary of the Punjab state committee of the CPM, alleged that senior leaders of both the Congress and the SAD (B) were involved in utilising religious sentiments of people for their narrow partisan interests.

“Akali Dal has no people’s issue with them and it has always raked up religious and communal issues to garner support of the masses. Now the SGPC, dominated by the SAD (B), has kicked up a new controversy by announcing to raise a memorial for those who were killed in Operation Bluestar.

On the other hand, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and his colleagues remain ever ready to compete with the Akalis and under his directions several suspicious elements displayed provocative actions during the commemoration of Operation Bluestar. And as a reaction, Shiv Sena too organised a demonstration with naked swords in Amritsar,” said Mr Pasla.

He apprehended that a dangerous atmosphere similar to that seen during the presidentship of Giani Zail Singh was fast emerging in the state and anti-national and anti-social elements have stepped up their nefarious activities.

Mr Pasla said Simranjit Singh Maan was also busy making the situation more complicated and all these developments show that the anti-national elements were again striving to recreate a situation in the state similar to that witnessed during tragic period of the 80s.

Mr Pasla also criticised the move to privatise schools and hospitals by the ruling government.


Canal water being diverted to benefit politicians?
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, June 20
Canal water from Muktsar minor and Alamwala minor is reportedly being diverted to Abohar minor once in a week for providing water to agricultural land of some politicians. However, the authorities concerned have denied this allegation levelled by farmers of about eight villages.

Sources said the alleged diversion of water had been taking place from every late Friday night to late Saturday night for the past three weeks.

The sources said the water supply to Muktsar and Alamwala minors was stopped and water was increased in Abohar minor. This has affected farmers of Sotha, Chak Duhewala, Phulewala, Mehrajwala, Chak Tamkot, Chak Nanu Wala and Shergarh Gyan Singh Wala.

The sources said this was being done allegedly to irrigate land of some leaders.

According to the sources, Abohar branch led to agricultural land of two politicians in Abohar and Fazilka. They said all this was depriving about 20,000 acres of water belonging to hundreds of farmers. Bohar Singh and Gurdev Singh, both farmers from Chak Duhewala, said, the water supply was stopped on the last three Saturdays. Joginder Singh of Mehrajwala said farmers whose turn was due on Saturday had to bear the brunt of it. He said they were treated in a similar manner last year too.

Farmers rued that both the minors were totally dry on Saturdays and their crop was wilting. An irrigation department official, said the stoppage of water in Alamwala and Muktsar minors was illegal and instead it would increase the water level in Abohar minor that could lead to an untoward incident.

Executive Engineer, Yashpal Bansal denied any discrimination in distribution of water. He said water was being distributed as per norms.


Biotech Park: construction may start in August
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
The much-awaited biotechnology park for Punjab has finally begun to take shape following the Punjab Government also sanctioning its first instalment of over Rs 1 crore for the incubation centre, a major component of the park. The same is likely to be released shortly.

The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, has already released Rs 3.57 crore as its first instalment for setting up the Biotechnology Incubator (BTI) in Dera Bassi in Patiala. The total investment by the Centre and the state government in the project worth over Rs 100 crore would be Rs 11 crore, of which the Centre would pay Rs 7 crore. The BTI is being set up as a public-private partnership model between the Centre, the Punjab Government and Beckons Industries Limited. The Ministry of Science and Technology will be funding the Rs 100 crore incubation centre, while Mohali-based Beckons Industries would fund the other portion of Rs 26 crore.

Sources in the Punjab Council for Science and Technology said Beckons Industries Ltd had signed an agreement with UMA engineers, one of the largest construction companies of North America and a team of planners, designers and architects would be visiting the site in the first week of July.

“The target is to start the construction by the end of August as the grants have come in and following the submitting of the project report work will start,” said a spokesperson, while adding that the Government of Canada would be paying for it.

Mr Gurmeet Singh Bhatia, Managing Director of Beckons Industries, said, “the BTI would focus on medicinal and aromatic plants and quality assurance of agri products, which have been identified based on the demand of industries of Punjab. The incubator would include common extraction facility for medicinal and aromatic plants. Farmers in Punjab are taking to the cultivation of these plants in a big way due to low returns from wheat and paddy and setting up of this facility will help meet the extraction requirements for value addition, he added.

In the area of agricultural biotechnology, the MoU signed with Canada’s Saskatchewan province, focuses specifically on transfer of technologies for improvement of pulse crops, including chicken peas, beans, pigeon peas, lentilsn and cereal crops, including wheat, rye and oilseeds.

Mr Bhatia said the park would facilitate the incubation of a variety of technologies through private initiatives. The scope of research would cover but not be limited to pharmaceuticals, neutraceuticals, environment and energy. The company has already tied up with Bio-regional Life Sciences, a Florida-based (US) company for the manufacture of neutraceutical products as the essential fatty acid raw material required is available in plenty.

Talks are on with the Technology Development Authority of India for making bio-diesel by using the latest enzyme technology. Presently, it is being made from the Jatropha plant and the cost of extracting the same is high. Modalities are being worked out with IIT, Delhi and IIT, Mumbai for the same. Another MoU has been signed with Ontario-based firm, Swift Grow Inc for promoting biotechnology solutions on pollution and other related issues.

The park, once developed will be the third Biotech Park in India after Chennai and Hyderabad. The BTI would not only promote industrial activities in Punjab, but would be acting as a service centre and reference centre for northern India, especially the states of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Haryana.


TSU holds demonstration against Rinwa
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 20
The season's highest recorded temperature of 47 degree Celsius failed to deter a demonstration by Technical Services Union (TSU) and its allied organisations against Dr Mohinder Rinwa, MLA, who represented Fazilka constituency in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.

Hundreds of persons thronged the Nehru Park here today at 11 am carrying banners of Lok Sangram Manch, Bharti Kisan Union (Krantikari) and Kisan Mazdoor Mulajam Sangharsh Committee

They were expressing solidarity and wholehearted support to the TSU of the Punjab State Electricity Board in the latter’s agitation against transfer of JE Ram Partap to a remote corner of the state and subsequent suspension of four technical workers for expressing resentment over the transfer.

The gathering raised slogans condemning Dr Rinwa as well as the state government for victimising employees.

Mr Ram Niwas of Lok Sangram Manch, Mr Jagjit Singh Khippanwali, Mr Bal Krishan and Mr Baldev Singh of the BKU turned down an explanation given by Dr Rinwa asserting that he had no hand in the transfers.

They alleged that transfers and suspension were politically motivated. They decried Dr Rinwa for blaming PSEB employees for the poor functioning of the board.

They said the day the Congress government took office, process of privatising the PSEB had been launched vigorously.

Mr Dalwinder Singh Sherkhan, general secretary of the BKU warned banks and commission agents against arresting defaulter farmers and auctioning their land pledged as security against loans.

The rally demanded that all politically motivated transfers be cancelled, false cases registered against farmers at Kathunangal and Tapa be withdrawn, revision of electricity tariff should not be enforced and process of privatising the PSEB be abandoned.


Police getting octroi posts closed, says contractor
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 20
Doors of at least two local octroi posts, near the bus stand and near Shivam Hotel, were found locked last evening. The octroi contractor, Mr Raman Dhillon, alleged that all 13 octroi posts of the town had been forcibly got closed by the local police to put pressure on him and the other staff to compromise with Mr Vijay Gupta, president, Sangrur District Industrial Chamber (SDIC), on whose complaint the police had lodged a false case against four octroi personnel under Section 307 (attempt to murder) and other Sections of the IPC.

Mr Darshan Singh, in charge, city police station, however denied the charge, levelled by Mr Dhillon.

Mr Darshan Singh said Mr Raman Dhillon was making false statement, to harass him or his staff.

He said the police had not got closed any octroi post, but the octroi staff was locking octroi posts to avoid the police.

He said it was wrong that the police was putting pressure on Mr Raman Dhillon or any other to compromise with Mr Vijay Gupta.

He said he was performing his duty to arrest the four accused, who had allegedly beaten up and made an attempt to murder Mr Vijay Gupta a few days ago.

Mr Dhillon said as they had filed a suit in a court, stating that the police had wrongly registered the case under Section 307 of the IPC against four octroi personnel, in view of this the police was putting pressure on them to compromise with Mr Vijay Gupta case.

He alleged that his staff was not allowed to issue octroi slips to traders yesterday. He further alleged that the police had raided the houses of his relatives, perhaps to arrest him.


Defence personnel fail to take possession of plots
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar: After nearly 18 years of struggle defence personnel who were allotted plots have failed to take possession despite court orders.

As many as 267 plots out of a total of 700 located at Ranjit Avenue (D-block) under a 97-acre Ajnala road extension scheme in 1988, came under dispute in the year of allotment.

After years of legal battle their plots were finally notified six months ago by Improvement Trust authorities.

Fed up and frustrated over government attitude the ex-servicemen under the Defence Personnel Plot Holders Association have threatened to go on fast unto death against government’s apathy in withholding their allotment, says its chairman and president Col Gurmej Singh and Capt Gurcharan Singh, respectively.

The plots were allotted to defence personnel in different categories such as officers, JCOs and NCOs against its cost to be paid in 12 instalments. They said all the instalments had already been paid to the trust.

Col Gurmej said the Punjab and Haryana High Court had also given its decision in favor of the Improvement Trust in 2001 after a case was filed by owners of the land. He said the High Court had passed a decree in September, 2001, in which it awarded 10.76 acres of land to the owner and remaining land to the trust. However, even as notification of exemption of 10.76 acres and remaining land was issued by the state government the possession still eludes them.

Capt Gurcharan said more than 200 families would go without shelter if the plots were withheld.

The association alleged that the possession of plots was being delayed due to some vested interests. He said efforts of the association to meet Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh proved futile.

Mr Jugal Kishore Sharma, chairman of the Improvement Trust, when contacted said that the trust had already sent the third and final notice to the opposite party as per procedure and assured that the possession would be given in a month.

Meanwhile, association members threatened to go on fast unto death on failure of being allotted plots in the next 15 days. They have urged the Chief Minister to intervene and assist the defence personnel in getting the plots which were allotted to them years ago.


Railways to build bridge over Chenab
Our Correspondent

Phillaur June 20
The Railways will construct a 120 metre-high railway bridge over the Chenab as part of the under construction Jammu-Srinagar rail section.

Stating this, railway sources told The Tribune here today that the bridge would be 2.5 km long. The sources said the 11-km-long tunnel, longest in the world, near Peer Panjaal, would be the other big challenge in completing the prestigious railway section.

The sources said the Railways was committed to construct the 384- km Jammu-Baramula railway line with an estimated cost of Rs 5,700 crore by the end of 2007.

Replying to a question regarding the completion of doubling of the railway lines on the much-awaited Jalandhar-Pathankot railway section, the sources said the work would be completed next year.

The Railways had made adequate security arrangements for the passengers on all sections, including sensitive section of the Pathankot-Udhampur rail section, where additional security forces had been deputed, the sources added.


Nadda bridge to be ready soon
Our Correspondent

Kharar, June 20
The Punjab Animal Husbandry Minister, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, today said the Nadda bridge over Patiala ki Rao, a seasonal rivulet, would be completed and opened to the public within six months.

Mr Kang, who also held a public grievances meeting at Naya Gaon village, first took a round of the construction site of 62.5-m long bridge being constructed at a cost of Rs 65 lakh. The bridge has five spans, each having a length of 12.5 m. Mr Kang said the bridge would connect Naya Gaon, Perch, Seonk, Shingariwala, Jayanti Majri, Gura Kasouli, Baghindi and Karondiwala villages with Chandigarh.

He said that earlier a causeway had been constructed at the site of the bridge which was washed away about five years back. As a result, these villages were cut off from Chandigarh during the rainy season.

At the public meeting, residents pointed out that they were facing a shortage of water and power in the area. Regarding the shortage of power, the minister assured the gathering that he would take up the matter with the Chairman of the Punjab State Electricity Board.


Lance Naik Harjit gets Sena Medal
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 20
Lance Naik Harjit Singh of 18 Sikh Battalion, who hails from Vai Bhui village here, was today awarded the Sena Medal and Rs 5 lakh for killing a self-styled lieutenant of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) along with another militant during a search operation in Assam on December 25, 2001.

Mr Kirandeep Singh Bhullar, Deputy Commissioner, said Harjit Singh had killed Bijoy Rava of the ULFA and Santosh Rava, both of whom were involved in a number of terrorist incidents.


Bhattal gets threat
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
Punjab Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today sent Punjab DGP S.S. Virk a copy of the warning letter which quotes a purported resolve of UK-based militants to eliminate her.

When contacted late this evening, Ms Bhattal confirmed that she had received such a letter but refused to reveal its contents. The letter had come last week. In her letter to the DGP, Ms Bhattal has said that she had received a letter from a friend in the UK saying militants settled in that country had resolved to eliminate her.

Ms Bhattal had reportedly received such threats earlier but ignored them but took a serious note of the third letter in the wake of the recent activities like the arrest of Jagtar Hawara.

Ms Bhattal may also demand a Cabinet meeting on the security aspect in the state.


Punjab to send wild animals to Pakistan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
Both Indian and Pakistan Punjabs will exchange wild animals.

The Punjab Government here will send lion, leopard, and blue bull to Pakistan from the Chhatbir Zoo and from the wildlife sanctuary in Ludhiana. The Minister of State For Forests, Mr Hans Raj Joshan, said these wild animals were in abundance in India while in Pakistani Punjab there was a shortage of such animals.

Pakistan will sent across zebra, giraffe, falcon and crocodiles. Mr Joshan said this had been decided during his visit to Pakistan last week with his counterpart Dr. Rehman Kahlon. Dr Kahlon will visit Indian Punjab within a month regarding this exchange.

Mr Joshan said during his recent visit to Pakistan he saw about seven maize farms producing 40 to 50 quintals of maize per acre as compared to Indian Punjab where the yield was 20 quintals per acre. He said that he had submitted a detailed report to the Punjab Chief Minister.


Change of meeting venue flayed
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 20
The change in the venue of the meeting of the Grievances Committee, headed by the Education Minister, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, from Ropar to Mohali today generated resentment among its members and in general public.

This is the first time when the venue was shifted to Mohali. The presidents of the district unit of the BJP Rashtarbadi Congress Party and Communist Party condemned the changing of the venue by the 

The members of the committee complained that the earlier meeting in Mini Secretariat, Ropar, was termed as a routine one. Thereafter, on Sunday, they were informed that the meeting of the committee would be held in PUDA office, but today the venue was changed to Industrial Bhawan, they added.

Meanwhile, local reporters covering story about the absence of officials from the offices today were manhandled by employees of the Mini Secretariat. The reporters, thereafter, submitted a complaint to the city SHO.


Left parties protest against privatisation
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, June 20
Activists of the left parties today organised a rally against the privatisation policies of the Punjab Government. Hundreds of activists, including women, carried out the rally through the main market here raising slogans against the government.

The protesters alleged that the government was shirking from all its responsibilities, adding that it had been talking about privatising every thing within its ambit. About 25,000 posts of teachers were lying vacant in the government schools across the state while many schools in the remote areas were closed due the lack of teachers, the protesters rued. However, instead of recruiting the teachers, the government, motivated by private investors, was thinking of privatising the schools, they alleged.

They criticised the government's move to privatise the cooperative sugar mills allegedly at the behest of influential liquor lobby from Uttar Pradesh. They said the cooperative movements in Gujarat and Maharashtra were a big success where the economic status of the farmers had improved.



Patiala, June 20
Mr S.S Panday has been elected as the president of the Retired Officers’ Association of the State Bank of Patiala at the annual general body meeting of the association held here on Sunday. The other office-bearers are: vice-president — Mr L.D. Gupta; secretary — Mr Rameshwar Gupta; assistant secretary — Mr S.K. Malhotra; and treasurer — Mr J.K. Jindal. — TNS


Farmers resent power crisis
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 20
Over 35,000 farmers today organised dharnas in front of the offices of the PSEB at 70 places in all 17 districts of the state for highlighting power-related issues.

This was claimed by Comrade Lehmber Singh Taggar, general secretary, Punjab Kisan Sabha, a constituent of the Kisan Manch, which also comprises the Kisan Sangharsh Committee and the BKU (Ekta).

The protesters presented memorandum to the executive engineers of their respective areas for onward submission to the PSEB Chairman and the Chief Minister of the state, said Mr Taggar.

Addressing the gathering here, he alleged that there was an acute power crisis in Punjab, resulting in hardships to the farmers in transplanting paddy. The situation was grave and in case immediate remedial measures were not taken, the farmers would launch more aggressive protests, Mr Taggar warned.

He demanded that at least 16 hour power supply was required for timely completion of the paddy transplantation.


Two children kidnapped from Delhi found at Kanuwan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, June 20
Two children, allegedly kidnapped from the Sadar Bazaar area of Old Delhi, were recovered by the Gurdaspur police at Kanuwan today.

Sources said 12-year-old Mohammad Nadeem and 10-year-old Mohammad Niwas had gone missing from Delhi on May 30.

They had left home for attending madarsa, but never returned home. Their parents had lodged a complaint at the local police regarding their kidnapping.

The Kanuwan police today got information that two children, who seemed to be lost, were roaming around at the local bus stand.

The police brought the children to the police station. On questioning, they said some people kidnapped them from Delhi. Later, the kidnappers handed them over to two other persons who brought them to Gurdaspur. The kidnappers used to gag them so that they could not raise the alarm.

Today, when the kidnappers were not around, the children escaped and came to the bus stand. They pleaded to people to help them. Someone then informed the police.

Police sources said it appeared that the kidnapped children were kept at Chak Sharif village, near Kanuwan.

The Delhi police had been informed about the recovery of children, they said.

Till the filing of the report, the police had failed to arrest any of the kidnappers.


Deputy Director held for ‘threatening’ witness
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, June 20
The Deputy Director, Sainik Welfare, Hoshiarpur, Mr Daljit Singh Brar, was arrested last evening for reportedly abusing and threatening a Bargadi resident in an inebriated state. However, he was released on bail today.

Sources said Mr Brar was earlier posted in Faridkot and was reportedly involved in tampering with records and some other anomalies. The complainant, Angrej Singh, was a witness in one of his cases.

In his complaint, he stated that Mr Brar stopped his Scorpio car in front of his home last evening and started threatening him in a drunken state. Sources said Nitin Kumar was also accompanying Mr Brar.

Angrej, along with some villagers took up the matter with the police. After some time Mr Brar also reached the police station and complained that he had stopped his vehicle for changing audio cassette and somebody from Angrej’s home pelted his vehicle with stones.

In the meantime the villagers again converged on the police station and urged the police to get him medically examined, which corroborated their claim.

He was arrested under sections 107 and 151 of the CrPC and produced in the court of SDM, Jaito, who released him on bail.

Meanwhile, the police has sought consent from the higher authorities for initiating appropriate legal action against the Deputy Director.


Woman succumbs to burn injuries
Tribune News Service

Kharar, June 20
A 36-year-old married woman today succumbed to burn injuries, received in an accident in the kitchen three days ago. According to the police, the incident took place at Rane Majra village near Mullapur Garibdas, and the victim, Iqbal Kaur, was since then in the PGI.

Iqbal Kaur was married to Jaswinder Singh, a farmer of the village. This was their second marriage. The two did not have any children.

The police said Iqbal Kaur was reportedly mentally upset and seemed to have had an accident in the kitchen while cooking food. “She seemed to have fallen face first into the chulha. She was completely burnt by the time she was taken out of the kitchen and rushed to the PGI. She was in no position to give any statement to the police,” said a source in the police.

The police added that Iqbal Kaur’s parents had nothing against her husband and in-laws and would be giving an affidavit regarding this to the police tomorrow. The police had started inquest proceedings into the incident and would be getting post-mortem of the victim done.


Tractor hits train, driver killed
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 20
A tractor hit the Jhelum Express at an unmanned level crossing near Alawalpur morning.

Kirpal Singh, driver of the tractor, was killed in the accident which took place at about 6.35 a.m. as the Pune-Jammu train was heading towards Jammu.

Since the ill-fated tractor had just got onto the rail line and its one side had rammed into speeding train, no major damage was caused to the train, which halted at the accident spot for about 10 minutes. Traffic on the line too was not disrupted for more than 15 minutes.

Kirpal Singh, the deceased, was said to be hired by a contractor who was engaged in undertaking repair of the rail line.


Dalit boy murdered
Tribune News Service

Moga, June 20
A Dalit teenager boy was murdered by some unidentified persons at Manuke village, near here, last night.

Sources said the deceased, Bittu, was a student of Class X and was also working as a labourer. Last night after returning home he had gone to buy a matchbox from a nearby shop, but didn’t return even after an hour. His family members started looking for him and found his body lying near a canal on the outskirts of the village.


Rice millers rue wrong govt policies
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 20
The Punjab Rice Mills Association, while claiming that the rice mills in the state have been suffering huge losses due to wrong policies of the government, has demanded that corrective steps should be taken immediately to bring this industry out of mess.

Mr Tarsem Saini, newly-elected president of the association, said today that a number of remedial measures were needed to be taken in order to save the dying rice mills industry. He said because of sub-standard paddy purchased for milling by various government agencies, the industry was incurring huge losses.

Apart from other problems, the rate of the levy rice had not been increased. Mr Saini added that even moisture level had been reduced to one per cent while the milling rates had not been increased. He complained that instead of meeting their demands of fixing the rates of gunny bags, more taxes had been imposed on the industry.

Those present on the occasion included the president, Sanaur Rice Millers Association, Mr Satyaparkash Goyal, and prominent rice millers Mr Damodar Singh, Mr Pawan Singla, Mr Rajiv Goyal, Mr Gurmej Singh and Mr Panna Lal Mittal.

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