P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Multi-crore loan scam: PNB writes to CBI
Varinder Walia and Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, August 9
The Vigilance Bureau of Punjab National Bank (PNB) has reportedly written to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the multi-crore loan scam in which a bank Manager, lawyer, valuer, ‘fake Charted Accountant ‘and two more persons are directly involved.

According to highly placed sources in the PNB, many heads will roll following the thorough investigation by the CBI.

The scam was detected in the Mewa Mandi branch of the bank in which at least dozen clients were duped. Though the bank had already lodged an FIR in a local police station against the four persons, yet high officials in the PNB decided to hand over the case to the CBI for a thorough probe to unearth the role of the racketeers.

Mr S.S. Bhatia, Senior Regional Manger, PNB, while confirming the involvement of the then Branch Manager, S.M. Sharma, and three others in the alleged scam, refused to give further details. He, however, said the bank would not spare anybody whatsoever rank he may be holding if found guilty. He described the incident as ‘most unfortunate’ as banks lose their credibility after such happenings.

According to bank sources, during his stint as the Manager, Mewa Mandi branch, S.M. Sharma had sanctioned loans from Rs 5 to Rs 6 crore. However, the bank has been duped of Rs 1.5 crore, which has been sanctioned in excess to the value of the mortgaged property. The valuer and the lawyer had reportedly played dubious role to enhance the value of the properties, mortgaged with the bank.

The modus operandi of the con men, who connived with the bank Manager, was that they would get in touch with needy persons and promise them easy bank financé for housing loans after mortgaging their properties. One such person, Gursharn Singh of the Sultanwind area, in his representation to the Chief Minister and DGP had asked for the registration of criminal cases against the ‘fake CA’ and the bank Manger. They would prepare all the documents with the help of a lawyer and valuer. Interestingly, the ‘fake CA’ would withdraw the loan money himself. After getting blank cheques from the loanees, con men used to encash the cheques themselves, thereby sharing the money among themselves.

The preliminary inquiry, conducted by the PNB, revealed that the ‘fake CA’ would open the account on the same day of the sanctioning of the loan in alleged connivance with the Manager. He would withdraw the amount in his own name, which used to be siphoned off in the name of his (Jatinder Singh’s) father.

Besides Gursharn Singh, other alleged victims include Harwinder Singh, Daljit Singh, Gursharn Singh, Pawan Kumar and others.


ATR on Nanavati Report
Kalam’s intervention sought
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 9
The SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, today said the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of the SAD (Badal) would be convened on August 13 and 14 to intensify the protest against the failure of the Congress government to provide justice to the thousands of victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, General Secretary, SGPC, here today sought the intervention of the President of India, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, for the implementation of the Action Taken Report of the Nanavati report.

Activists of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) youth wing, the All-India Sikh Students Federation (Mehta) and the Akal Purkh Ki Fauj (APKF) carried out a protest march and burnt the effigy of the Congress for not taking action against the guilty as recommended by the Nanavati commission in its report.

Raising anti-congress slogans, the march started from Bhai Gurdas Hall the at Town Hall chowk and concluded at Hall gate chowk with the burning of an effigy.

Mr Jaswinder Singh Advocate, chief of the APKF and member of the SGPC, lashed out at the Congress for not implementing the report.

Mr Bikram Singh Majithia, senior vice-president, Youth Akali Dal (Badal), said the Congress government by refusing to act against its accused ministers had exposed its real face. He said the Congress was ‘anti-Sikh’.

Mr Majithia also criticised the Nanavati report from exempting the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi from the anti-Sikh riots.

Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, President, International Bhai Mardana Yadgari Kirtan Darbar Society, said one by one all commissions had failed to provide justice to the Sikh community. He felt that it was right opportunity for five high Sikh priests to pronounce their edict in this regard.

Bhai Ram Singh, General Secretary, SAD (Amritsar), flayed the Congress government headed by Dr Manmohan Singh for the cruel joke played on the Sikh community in the Nanavati commission report which had strongly indicted senior Congress leaders.

The Chief Khalsa Diwan (CKD) in a press note issued here today also condemned the role of Congress leaders in the massacre of innocent Sikhs during 1984 riots in Delhi and other cities.

The Sikh Chintak Manch expressed its disappointment while condemning the commission report. It demanded that the guilty persons should be removed from the important posts. It also condemned the Akali leaders who failed to pursue the pending cases in the court and doing nothing for the rehabilitation of the families of the victims.

The Punjab Human Rights Organisation in its statement added that the Congress leadership had failed to provide justice to the victims and was shielding its senior leaders who were involved in carnage.


SAD plans protest against Centre
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 9
The Shiromani Akali Dal will take out a protest against the Central Government for “giving a clean chit to those responsible for the 1984 riots”, stated SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal while interacting with mediapersons here today.

Mr Badal said the party would also hold district-level protests against the Centre’s attitude on the issue. He said a meeting of the party’s political affairs and working committees would be held on August 13 and 14 to discuss the Nanavati Commission Report and the Centre’s stand on it. He said the date of protest in Delhi would also be announced during the meeting.

He said the Action Taken Report (ATR) tabled by the Central Government had “clearly favoured the guilty” and added salt to the wounds of the Sikh community. He appealed to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to hold a discussion again in the Cabinet so as to ensure justice to Sikhs.

He said he would also appeal to the President in this connection. Mr Badal said by exonerating the guilty despite the commission’s recommendation, the Centre had done grave injustice to Sikhs.

He asked the Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, to quit his post if he had any conscience. Naming DGMC chief Sarna, he said Sikh leaders should put in their papers on this issue.

He said he would demand legal action against the perpetrators of the 1984 riots, besides their expulsion from the Congress.

He said the ATR on the Nanavati Commission Report bore the signature of the Prime Minister, who is a Sikh, while the attack on the Golden Temple took place when Mr Buta Singh was the Home Minister. He said if the Centre continued to follow such policies, the atmosphere would not remain safe for minorities. He said the commission clearly pointed fingers towards some Congress leaders, but the government had done nothing against them. He alleged that the 1984 riots were an “organised assault” of the Congress on Sikhs.

Mr Badal suggested that any commission should be given six months to one year whenever it came to big issues like this. He held a meeting with the local party leaders and asked them to take out protest rallies against the Central government.


SAD to hold agitations today against govt ‘inaction’ on report
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
Angered over the Central Government’s “inaction” over the findings of the Nanavati report, the Shiromani Akali Dal has planned agitations at all district headquarters of the state tomorrow. Effigies of Congress leaders will be burnt as a mark of protest, SAD general secretary Sukhbir Badal said tonight.

Meanwhile, SAD President Parkash Singh Badal today asked the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to heed the voice of his conscience and “either ensure justice to the hapless victims of the gruesome 1984 massacre or quit.” He reiterated his party’s demand for immediate sacking of Mr Jagdish Tytler and registration of murder cases against him and others named in the Nanavati Commission report.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal also asked Congress President Sonia Gandhi to break her silence on the sensitive issue of her family’s role in the massacre.

He said the disclosures made by the then Lt-Governor of Delhi, Mr P.G. Gavai, about the deliberate refusal of the Rajiv Gandhi government to seek the help of the Army to stop the massacre had provided compelling and irrefutable proof that the killings and arson were ordered by the former Prime Minister “to teach the Sikhs a lesson.”

Mr Parkash Singh Badal also urged the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, the chief of the Delhi State Gurdwara Management Committee, Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, and other Sikh politicians owing allegiance to the guilty of the 1984 riots to stop being “tools of murder in the hands of the Nehru-Gandhi family”.

People like Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Sarna owe an explanation to their community as to why they continue to be such loyalists of the killers of innocents Sikhs, said Mr Parkash Singh Badal. The massacre of Sikhs in 1984 was not an issue that concerns the Sikh community alone.

Turning to the Prime Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal said, “The involvement of seniormost leaders of your party in the mayhem against Sikhs is too well known to be a subject of legal niceties.” He went on to add that the image and stature of Dr Manmohan Singh as a person would be badly affected if he chose to become part of the cover-up of the country’s worst bloodshed since Independence.


SAD to hold two-day meeting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has planned an extensive two-day meeting here to plan its future strategy to take on the government on the issue of the Nanavati Commission report. The two-day meeting on August 13 and 14 will be held at Kalgidhar Niwas, Sector 27, and will be chaired by SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal.

On August 13, a meeting of the district presidents will be held in the morning while on the same day in the afternoon, the working committee members, office-bearers, permanent special invitees and political advisers would meet.

The all-important Political Affairs Committee meeting will be held in the afternoon on August 14. The party General Council will meet the same morning, secretary of the SAD Daljit Singh Cheema said.


Sikh leaders flay Cong on Nanavati report
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, August 9
All hues of political, social and religious Sikh outfits have expressed anguish over the findings of the Nanavati Commission into the 1984 anti-Sikh riots which saw thousands of innocent Sikhs being brutally killed by irate mobs in various parts of the country.

Sikh leaders burnt the effigy of the UPA government here today and demanded that the leaders responsible for the barbaric act be sent to the gallows.

Mr Sukhpal Singh Nannu, MLA, while lashing out at the Congress-led UPA government said the various Congress regimes in the Centre had been playing with the Sikh sentiments. He said over the years, since 1984, the Congress had been trying to shield the leaders responsible for the massacre and the report of the Nanavati Commission was no exception.

Bhai Jaspal Singh, National vice-president, AISSF, Mr Darshan Singh, Member of the SGPC, Mr Paramjit Singh Kalsi, Mr Vajinder Singh, President, Gurdwara Akalgarh, while condemning the report said till date all commissions set up by the government to probe into the 1984 riots had been toeing the instructions of the Congress high command.

Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, President, International Bhai Mardana Society, said over Rs 50 crore had been spent on various committees and commissions set up by the government to look into the 1984 riots but none had done justice to the Sikhs, who had lost their kith and kin during that bloodbath allegedly spearheaded by Congress leaders.

Mr Bhullar also condemned the security agencies for the third degree torture of Jagtar Singh Hawara in Delhi, who he said was forced to smoke cigarettes and spit on the photographs of religious Sikh leaders. He said such atrocities were even not done to Sikhs during the Mughal times. He demanded that the matter be investigated and the security officials, if found guilty, be taken to task.


Effigy of Tytler burnt
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 9
Activists of the youth wing of the SAD (B), Hoshiarpur unit led by their president Jatinder Singh Lali Bajwa burnt effigy of Jagdish Tytler, union minister, for his involvement in organising attacks on Sikhs during riots in 1984, at Govt College Chowk here today.

The Nanavati Commission of inquiry into the 1984 riots has indicated in its report that Mr Tytler had a hand in organising the attacks on Sikhs.

Activists of the Akali Dal led by Mr Sarbjit Singh Sabhi also burnt the effigy of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Mukerian in this connection.


Report rubs salt on wounds: Bhaur
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, August 9
Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee general secretary Sukhdev Singh Bhaur has described the Nanavati Commission report as a mere eyewash as he alleged that nothing was recommended strongly against any one.

Talking with mediapersons here today, Mr Bhaur said the commission as well the UPA government were rubbing salt on the wounds of hundreds of Sikhs who were killed in the anti-Sikh riots in 1984.


Punjab Govt lacks moral courage, say ex-servicemen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
A section of ex-servicemen in Punjab have condemned the government for the “lack” of moral courage and ethics to take action against leaders who were found guilty by the Nanavati Commission probing the 1984 riots.

Reacting the Action Taken Report, Brig K.S. Kahlon (retd), chairman of the ex-servicemen wing of the SAD said all previous commission reports had time and again brought out the active involvement of certain politicians, bureaucrats and police officers in the riots.

Regretting that the Prime Minister has failed to provide justice to the victims of the riots, he said if the country had to remain unified as a nation, then justice must be dispensed or else disruptive elements in other parts of the country would get a boost.


PCC on defensive over report
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 9
The Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) is finding it difficult to explain the inaction of the UPA government over the recommendations of the Nanavati Commission that probed the 1984 anti Sikh riots. The PCC President, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, however, tried to put up a brave face by saying that it was too early to rush to conclusions since the report and the action taken report (ATR) were yet to be discussed in Parliament.

In an interview to The Tribune here today, Mr Dullo asserted that the report would not affect the Congress prospects in the elections which are less than one and a half years away. He said everybody had condemned the 1984 riots. Even if some individuals were found to be involved, that did not mean that the entire Congress should be blamed for it. He said the Congress was a secular party and it did not need any certificate from anyone.

The PCC President said his remarks that there was no Chief Minister better than Beant Singh should not mean Capt Amarinder Singh was in any way less competent. “It is not only me, but even a be reputed national magazine has ranked the state as first in the country under his Chief Ministership”, he said. The circumstances under which Capt Amarinder Singh took over the reins of the party needed to be taken into consideration as the state coffers had been left empty by the Akalis.


SGJC summons Bibi, 8 others for fund misuse
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 9
The Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC) today issued summons to Bibi Jagir Kaur, SGPC chief, three former SGPC presidents Jagdev Singh Talwandi, Kirpal Singh Badungar and Alwinderpal Singh Pakhoke, and five other senior officials, directing them to appear in the court on August 24.

The summons were issued by the panel of SGJC comprising Mr Kashmir Singh Patti (President), Mr Ajwant Singh Mann and Mr Amrik Singh Randhawa, both members, following a petition filed by Mr Harpreet Singh, a resident of Chanan Khera village (Abohar) today.

He urged the commission to recover more than Rs 70 crore from all respondents. The petitioner alleged that the respondents had spent the huge amount through the ‘illegally constituted’ Dharm Parchar Committees (DPCs) from 2000 to 2005.

The other respondents include Mr Dalmegh Singh, Mr Harbeant Singh, Mr Waryam Singh, all SGPC secretaries, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta and Mr Gurbachan Singh Bachan.

The petitioner said the respondents being trustees of the SGPC funds and properties were bound to act as per the sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925. He said they were duty-bound not to indulge in any act of malfeasance, misfeasance and abuse of powers.

The petitioner alleged that the funds were misused as the DPC was not constituted as per the bylaws. The nominations of DPC members were made as per the whims and fancies of the respective SGPC presidents. Hence, “the respondents unauthorisedly allowed the illegally constituted DPCs to incur illegal expenditures from January, 2000, to May, 2005”.


Badal to raise PCCTU issue in Assembly
Our Correspondent

Barnala, August 9
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Leader of the Opposition in Punjab Assembly, will raise the Punjab private college teachers’ grievances issue on the floor of the Assembly in the ensuing Assembly session to be held in September.

Mr Badal gave this assurance to the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) today at the local Dera Baba Gandha Singh gurudwara when a delegation of the PCCTU led by Prof P.K. Sharma, state secretary PCCTU (Punjabi University area), Prof Harbans Singh and Prof Tara Singh called upon him to apprise him of the various problems being faced by the college teachers serving in more than 150 privately-managed but of government-aided colleges of the state. Mr Malkiat Singh Keetu, MLA, Barnala, was also present on the occasion.

Professor Sharma also submitted a memorandum to Mr Badal and drew his attention towards the plight of private college teachers of the state because of irregular flow of 95 per cent grant-in-aid to these colleges. The union alleged that the private college teachers were being denied pension and gratuity benefit by the Punjab Government.

The PCCTU urged Mr Badal to take up their cause at appropriate forums so that concept of quality higher education was promoted.


New vehicles: options sought from MLAs
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
The Punjab Government has sought options from MLAs of the state to change the vehicles allotted to them. This comes close on the heels of a statement by the Shiromani Akali Dal chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, that none of the Akali MLAs will accept a vehicle as funds are required for development in the state.

Three vehicles — the Chevrolet Tavera, the Mitsubishi Lancer and the Toyota Innova — have been suggested to the MLAs as options, said sources. Officially, the MLAs are not allotted any vehicle by the state, However, an escort vehicle is provided for security purposes which is invariably used by MLAs to travel. The escort vehicle has a limit of 500 litres of fuel each month.

Last week Mr Badal had criticised the reported move of the government to buy vehicles, saying the money was needed for development purposes. There are 42 Akali MLAs in the Assembly. If the Akali MLAs do not accept the vehicles, it would be a waste of money, said the sources. By seeking options, everything would be in writing and the security aspect would be covered.

Already, the purchase of 19 Toyota Camry vehicles, each costing about Rs 17 lakh, has been approved for Cabinet Ministers.

A senior Minister, who was part of the group of Ministers that selected and shortlisted the cars, said at present the MLAs were using Toyota Qualis vehicles, whose production had been discontinued. The vehicles of almost all MLAs had covered the mandatory 2.60 lakh km and needed replacement, said an official. The old vehicles being used by the MLAs were breaking down frequently.

Leaving aside the Cabinet Ministers, the Parliamentary Secretaries and MLAs who enjoy the rank of Minister, about 80 vehicles will be needed for the others. All three vehicles have a market price of between Rs 5.40 lakh and Rs 7.50 lakh each. Since it will be a purchase for the government, sales tax will not be imposed, thus bringing down the cost by Rs 75,000 to Rs 1 lakh.

The cost of buying these vehicles will be anything between Rs 4 crore and Rs 5 crore, depending upon what make of car is finalised.

The sources said vehicles for MLAs’ escort had not been purchased since the Congress government came to power in 2002.

A senior politician of the state commented that if the Akalis were so upright they should have surrendered their present Qualis vehicles.


MC initiates action against ex-Commissioner, XEN
Norms violated in execution of civil work
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 9
The local municipal corporation has initiated a move to ensure action against its former Commissioner Manvesh Singh Sidhu and former Executive Engineer M.K. Syal for their alleged involvement in flouting the norms in the execution of a civil work related to bricklining of Tafjalpura drain passing through the city.

Mr Vishnu Sharma, Mayor, Municipal Corporation, while talking to TNS today said he had written to Punjab Local Bodies Minister and Chief Secretary for taking action against Mr Syal and Mr Sidhu after the three-member committee constituted to probe the flaws in the process of execution of the work found both guilty.

He said the municipal corporation had decided to recall the tenders in connection with the execution of the same and the process in this connection had been initiated.

Mr Vishnu Sharma said Mr Sidhu and Mr Syal did not get the estimates and tenders of the civil work connected with the bricklining of the drain approved from the Finance and Contract Committee (F&CC) of the corporation before floating the tenders and then issuing the work order to the contractor concerned. He added that Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had given Rs 60 lakh from his discretionary quota for the job.

He further said after the matter was raised in the House by Deputy Mayor Inderjit Singh Boparai, the official concerned got technical sanction for the work on February 28 despite the fact that the work order to the contractor concerned was issued on January 8.

Not only this, the tender for the work was allotted to the contractor on November 17, 2004, despite the fact that his enlistment with the municipal corporation was done on November 16, 2005, by violating norm. According to rules, no contractor could be allotted work or tender within seven days of his enlistment. He added that even the amount of contract was enhanced by the then officials after negotiating with him (contractor) for reducing the same.

Mr Vishnu Sharma said the three-member committee comprising Executive Engineer V.K. Setia, Ms Meena Sharma and Mr Pawan Nagrath (both municipal councillors) which probed the matter had concluded that norms had been violated by Mr Sidhu and Mr Syal and hence necessary action should be taken against them. He added that he had written to the authorities concerned in this connection.

Mr Sidhu claimed that the municipal corporation had got administrative approval from the Director, Small Savings, Punjab, which gave the money for the work and technical approval from the local Superintendent Engineer and officials of the sewerage board in this regard. No municipal corporation fund was involved in this job so no sanction of the F&CC was required for the same, he said.

He added that he was surprised that how the F&CC held him guilty of violating any norms without asking him to explain his position. He added that as per his information the work could not be executed as the sanction from the Railways, whose piece of land fell into the area where the project was to be executed, was not taken. He said no norms had been violated.


Suicides by farmers being underplayed: report
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
Challenging the Punjab Government’s statistics with regard to suicide by farmers, the Movement Against State Repression( MASR), an organisation which has been relentlessly working for years to document such suicides, says that Punjab has the highest number of rural suicides in the country.

In a report sent to the Centre, the state government had confirmed 2116 cases of suicide by farmers till date since 1988 in the entire state. However, Mr Inderjit Singh Jaijee, convener of the MASR, says the state government is deliberately underplaying such suicides. “ My team had completed the suicide census for villages of Andana and Lehra blocks of Sangrur district in July. In these two blocks, the number of suicides comes to 1130 from 1988 to July this year”, says Mr Jaijee. He says that if this figure is generalised, the total number of suicides will exceed 40,000 for a period of past 17 years.

Mr Jaijee asserts that every case of suicide documented by his team in two blocks was attested by the panchayat concerned. The phenomenon of suicides is not confined to Sangrur district only. “ Such cases are being reported from all districts”, he adds.

When the Congress was in opposition in Punjab, it had no hesitation in accepting that economic hardships especially burden of debt was driving Punjab farmers to end their lives. However, after coming to power, the Congress government has turned its back on the issue of suicides. “ The present government has turned a blind eye to these human tragedies. Compensation to next of kin was denied outright”, claims Mr Jaijee. Not only farmers but farm labourers were also committing suicides and their percentage is about 30 per cent, he claims.

Mr Jaijeee says that when the Akali Government was sworn in 1998, it also hesitated to accept the reality of suicides. However, when facts regarding suicides became too difficult for the Badal government to hide, it made a provision of compensation to the next of the kin in the State budget. However, no one has got that compensation yet.

Mr Jaijee says the Andhra Pradesh Government has responded to the distress of their farmers with a wide range of remedial measures. Same pattern should be followed in Punjab.

In Andhra Pradesh, as many as 800 families of the farmers, who ended their lives, had been given ex-gratia of Rs 1 lakh to next of kin, Rs 50,000 as grant for debt clearance, free electricity and also waived their dues, free schooling for children, a house and pension for family members. In addition, Rs 50,000 have been given by the Prime Minister to each affected family. An Act has been enacted to put moratorium for six months on all debts taken by farmers from money lenders. Banks have been told not invoke Revenue Recovery Act that authorises the government to attach property of defaulters.

There are toll free helplines in the office of district collectors in Andhra Pradesh to respond to distress calls from farmers, all party meetings are held on regular basis on district headquarters to tackle this issue. The Karnataka and Maharashtra Government had also given direct relief to farmers.

Mr Jaijee says the Punjab Government must provide relief and rehabilitation to the next of kin of rural suicide victims. Punjab should adopt the Haryana pattern of giving pension to all eligible categories, irrespective of land holdings. Waive all agricultural institutional loans and set up debt reconciliation boards for amicable settlement between debtors and creditors( money lenders), he suggested.

Meanwhile, on the initiative taken by Mr Jaijee, various Akali parties, different factions of the BKU and human rights organisations have written a detailed letter to the Prime Minster enlisting causes of decline of agriculture and also suggested remedies to give a boost to agriculture in Punjab.


Cong workers join BJP
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 9
Many Congress workers of Sant Nagar, a locality dominated by Balmikis, joined the BJP here today.

Mr Bhupinder Snehi, president of the city unit of the BJP, and Mr Sandeep Rinwa, general secretary of the district unit, while garlanding Mr Puran Chand Kalra and others, said this would shock the ruling Congress, which had claimed the majority support during the previous elections from this locality.

They said all sections of the society looked disillusioned with the functioning of the state government, led by Capt Amarinder Singh.


Land prices around refinery shoot up
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 9
The announcement of re-launch of Bathinda oil refinery has turned the atmosphere euphoric in and around the city. Traders of the region are anticipating a big boost to the region’s economy.

The refinery’s gates have opened once again and with it have opened doors to development of the cotton belt. The infertile land of Phulokhari is witnessing hectic activity of district officials ahead of the much-awaited re-launch by Union Petroleum Minister Manishankar Aiyer and Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh on August 12.

According to sources, traders from various parts of the country have started striking land deals in the nearby areas, as the district is set to witness a boom in business. The land prices have shot up overnight by one and a half times. Sources said a piece of land near the refinery, which was sold at Rs 3 lakh a few months back, now holds a price tag of Rs 12 lakh. Sources said the rates of land belonging to farmers of nearby villages have also shot up considerably. Sources said work on a hotel on Dabwali road, whose construction had stopped due to suspension of refinery work, has been once again kicked off with the announcement. Mr Tirath Singh of Khalsa Hotel in Rama Mandi, who used to supply meals during initial work carried out at the refinery, has bought vehicles to resume his supply of food. The number of trucks in Rama Truck Union have gone up from 140 to 270, which reduced to 190 after suspension of work. This number has again started increasing. Many city-based firms had bought heavy transport vehicles and they too sold off the same a few years back. These firms are again on vehicle-buying spree.

On the other hand, small shop owners are also upbeat with the announcement of refinery’s re-launch. The sale of Mr Subhash Chand of Kanakwal village had reduced from Rs 12,000 to Rs 1,500. “I look forward to the same kind of business now,” he avers. Farmers of Kanakwal and Phulokhari have bought land in Haryana after receiving compensation from the HPCL. They had rented out their homes to labour contractors, but the suspension of work left their homes vacant. Now, Mr Joginder Singh and Mr Balwinder Singh of Kanakwal have come from Haryana to give their homes on lease once again. Poultry farms have again started functioning.

Meanwhile, expressing gratitude to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, as well as the state government, ex-chairman of Railway Recruitment Board Mr GS Rekhi, said it would give a boost to the economic growth of Malwa, besides generating employment for thousands of unemployed youth. He said the prestigious refinery project would play a decisive role in charting the future of Punjab.


Shahpur Kandi workers gherao NHPC team
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 9
Workers of the Shahpur Kandi project today gheroaed the visiting team of the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC). The team was gheraoed at the Ravi Sadan rest house from 3 pm to 5 pm.

It was for the second time that the workers gheroaed the team during its visit to the project. They have been protesting against the decision of the Punjab Government to hand over the project to the NHPC.

The workers alleged that about 10,000 labourers and officers had been sitting vacant at the project for the past 10 years. The government was paying Rs 11 crore per month as salary to these employees. If the work was handed over to NHPC, the entire work force posted here would remain unutilised causing loss to the government.

Most of the workers posted at Shapur Kandi have ample experience of implementing hydro-power projects. Besides the Ranjit Sagar Dam, they have implemented the Ganguwal, Kotla and Pong dam projects of the BBMB, they said. The workers vowed that they would allow the NHPC to carry out the work of the Shahpur Kandi project.

The Chief Engineer Ranjit Sagar Dam, Mr PL Saini, however, said the fears of the workers to be unfounded. The NHPC has been engaged by the Punjab Government to prepare the revised detailed project report of project. The corporation would study and revise the estimates for implementing the project. It was also likely to submit the final project report very soon. The decision regarding the agency that would carry out the work would be taken after the submission of the final report of the NHPC.

Punjab, besides losing 168 MW power that could have been generated from the project, was also losing precious water that could have been conserved for the lean period of the year due to the non-construction of the project. It was also not being able to use the full power generation potential of the Ranjit Sagar dam.


Residents protest against water bill arrears
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, August 9
Residents of the Lamini locality of Pathankot today organised a protest march against the high water and sewerage bills. Carrying placards and raising slogans against the local Municipal Council and the Punjab government, they marched through to the city. They sat on a dharna outside the office of the Pathankot Municipal Council paralysing the traffic on the Shahpur road for some time. None of the council officials came out to receive the memorandum of demands of the residents. The residents then marched to the office of the Pathankot SDM, Mr Amarjit Paul, and submitted their memorandum to him.

While talking to The Tribune the residents alleged that the local council had served upon them water bills of amounts ranging from Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000. The bills included arrears of hiked water charges of the past several years. They had been submitting their bills regularly.

Most of the residents of Lamini are meagre farmers. They have barely one-two kanal land that is primarily for agriculture purpose. Despite the fact that they are living in kuchcha houses, the council has levied upon them the highest slab of Rs 150 per month.

The residents also alleged that many of the houses that still did not have the sewerage facility, had been served bills by the council officials. They demanded that a separate policy should be adopted for the poor people of the villages that have been included lately in the municipal council area.

They threatened to intensify their agitation in case the council forced them to pay the arrears and increased the water bills.

None of the council authorities officials was available for comments despite repeated attempts to contact them on the phone.


PHRC team inspects area for sanitation
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 9
The Punjab Human Rights Commission (PHRC) today came to the rescue of residents of Ward No 44 and other localities situated along the 120-foot road. A team of senior officers led by Mr H.R. Chadha (Inspector General-Investigation) of the PHRC inspected the state of sanitation and basic amenities in these localities. Residents of these localities, particularly, Mr Rakesh Kumar, had complained to the PHRC that the Jalandhar Municipal Corporation had failed to provide even basic amenities to them and that they were forced to face diseases due to insanitary conditions prevailing in the area for a long time.

Acting on the complaint, the PHRC deputed Mr Chadha and his team to inspect the affected areas and to find if there was any failure on the part of the Jalandhar MC.

Mr Chadha was accompanied by Jalandhar Deputy Commissioner Ashok Gupta, Jalandhar Municipal Corporation Commissioner C.S. Talwar and other senior officials.


Pak delegation returns
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 9
Paying tributes to the martyrs at the Jallianwala Bagh national memorial, Mr Khaleed Bansari, member of a high-powered Pakistani Foreign Ministry delegation, said people from all communities had laid down their lives during the massacre, which heralded the end of the British empire.

The nine-member Pakistani delegation, led by Additional Secretary Tariq Usman Haider, came from New Delhi today after holding a significant meeting to strengthen the Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs) with the Indian counterpart on issues like the continuation of cease fire on the Indo-Pak international border, maintaining the sanctity of the airspace and consulting each other on the nuclear issue.

After paying floral tributes at the memorial, Mr Bansari said the sacrifices made by the martyrs had no parallel in the history.

Another member of the delegation, Lt-Col Fahin Ul Aziz, appreciated the preservation of the memorial and described the visit to Jallianwala bagh as a historic one.

Later, the delegation after paying obeisance at the Golden Temple crossed over to Pakistan from the Wagah joint checkpost.


Patka no replacement for turban: Badal
Tribune News Service

Nankiana Sahib (Sangrur), August 9
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) will chalk out course of action at a meeting of its Political Affairs Committee (PAC) on August 14 at Chandigarh to protest against the report of the Nanavati Commission.

In reply to question, Mr Badal said, “Patka cannot be a replacement for the turban. So the reported relaxation to the Sikh students by the French Government to wear ‘patka’ instead of turban in the schools is not acceptable to the SAD”. He said the SAD would continue its fight against the injustice done to the Sikh students in France on the issue of turban.


Arhtiyas seek SDM’s transfer
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 9
Protesting against the Sunam SDM’s alleged “callous attitude”, arhtiyas of Sunam yesterday staged a dharna for more than an hour, held a rally and took out a march in the grain market. The protesters also reportedly raised slogans against the SDM. The entire proceedings were conducted under the presidentship of Mr Rachna Ram, president of the Sunam Arhtiya Association.

When contacted an arhtiya from Sunam and secretary of the Arhtiya Association Punjab, Mr Ravinder Singh Cheema, told The Tribune that the Sunam arhtiyas had decided to observe an indefinite strike till the transfer of the Sunam SDM, Mr Ravinder Singh, as he had reportedly “misbehaved” with an arhtiya.

All efforts made by The Tribune to contact the SDM over his landline and mobile phone proved futile. 


Coop society diesel pump opened
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 9
The Cooperative Department will introduce a new medical aid scheme, “Sanjivani”, for its member farmers. They will get an insurance cover by paying a nominal premium and will get medical treatment free of cost at selected specialist hospitals. This was stated by Mr Viswajeet Khanna, Registrar, Cooperative Societies, Punjab, while talking to mediapersons after inaugurating a diesel pump of the cooperative society at Bhaini Kalan village in the district today.

He said keeping in view the suicides being committed by farmers due to debt trap the department had reduced the interest on the loans advanced to the farmers through cooperative societies.

Addressing the function organised by the society, he said diesel pumps had been installed in 23 societies and another 20 were in the pipeline.

Capt Tejinder Singh Virdi, Joint Registrar, Cooperative Societies, Patiala division, said the schemes for setting up of diesel pumps and computerisation of the primary agricultural societies had been started in the division.

Deputy Registrar, Co-operatives, S.K. Batish also spoke on the occasion.

On this occasion saplings were planted and a cultural programme was also organised. Mr Kesar Singh, secretary of the society, read the annual report. Mr Bharpur Singh, former director of the society, Mr Om Parkas Arora, Assistant Registrar, Mr Sushil Kumar, sales officer, and Mr Arvind Sikri, Deputy Manager, IBP, respectively, addressed the gathering.


Federation delegation to meet CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
A delegation of the Punjab State Services Federation will soon meet the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to take up various demands of employees with him.

Mr Pradeep Diwan, a senior office-bearer of the Federation, said today that various demands of the employees were discussed at the annual convention of the Federation. Representatives of Kirti Kisan and Mazdoor were also present at the convention which was held under the chairmanship of Mr Charanjit Singh Walia, Chairman, Khadi and Village Industries Board.


Villagers block traffic
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 9
A large number of villagers today blocked the national highway for more than 2 hours in protest against the death of a labourer in an accident that took place near sales tax barrier in Kiratpur Sahib. The protestors also burnt the tent of sale tax employees situated near the barrier.

The protest begun in the morning when a 54-year-old cyclist, Ram Lok of Baruwala village in Kiratpur Sahib was crushed to death by a truck trying to overtake another truck near the Mashewal barrier.

The villagers alleged that the man died because the barricade was located on the wrong side and a large number of vehicles remained parked on both sides of roads. The accident had become a routine affair and several persons had lost life in accidents, they alleged.

The situation was brought under control when the SDM, Anandpur Sahib, Mr Balraj Singh Sekhon, reached the spot and assured the mob that action would be taken against the guilty. The driver of the truck escaped from the spot. The police has registered a case of death due to rash and negligent driving.


Security beefed up for I-Day function
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
A red alert has been declared across Punjab in view of the Independence Day celebrations. The police has beefed up the security in view of the developments in the past three months. A special force has been deputed for Mansa where the Chief Minister will unfurl the National Flag, sources said.

Security at the border with Jammu and Pathankot is also being beefed up. Night patrolling has been ordered at all locations where the functions are to be held. Hand-held explosive scanners are available in all districts and are being used, said a senior official.


Labour room opened

Kharar, August 9
A labour room was inaugurated at the Mini Primary Health Centre (PHC) in Majat, near here, by the Kharar MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, today.

A multispeciality camp was also organised at which 915 patients were examined. School children were given a free dental check-up, the SMO in charge, PHC, Gharuan and Majat, Dr G.S. Chahal, said. OC


18 hurt as bus overturns
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, August 9
Eighteen passengers were injured, nine of them seriously, when a private transport company bus overturned near the Chaheru railway overbridge here on Tuesday. The accident occurred when a truck coming from the wrong side ran into the bus causing it to hit a roadside tree.

The seriously injured were identified as bus driver Inderjit, passengers Kalicharan Yadav, his wife Chanda Devi, Paramjit, Baksho, Jagjit Kaur, Kuldip Kaur, Ram Murti and Krishan Kumar. They were admitted to a local hospital.

The bus (No. PB08A40251) was going from Jalandhar to Ludhiana.


Giving memo to officers futile, says BKU (Ekta)
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 9
Bringing a change in its way of working, the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta) today said no memorandum would henceforth be submitted to any government officer as it had proved to be a futile exercise. Hundreds of farmers who assembled at the new grain market endorsed the decision by raising hands.

The rally was held before a march to the sub-divisional complex in the scorching heat to sit on dharna there.

Mr Joginder Singh Ugrahan, state president of a faction of the BKU led by him, criticised the Congress government led by Capt Amarinder Singh in Punjab for backtracking on promises made on different occasions.

He said the Captain and his colleagues in the Cabinet had at public meetings declared that no farmer would be arrested for default in repaying loans and their property would not be attached/auctioned.

But bank officials and interest-greedy commission agents were still humiliating not only the farmers but women of their families also. Suicides by defaulting farmers remained unchecked.

If the farmers resorted to a peaceful agitation against “highhandedness” of the officers, they were dubbed as Naxalites and put behind the bars.

The government, irrespective of the political party in power, had unfortunately developed a habit of dealing all agitation with the lathi and bullet, he regretted.

Mr Ugrahan said local officials had not so far booked staff of the Abohar Primary Cooperative Agriculture Development Bank Ltd for allegedly beating Mr Gurdit Singh, a farmer at Bhagu village, near here, during a raid for arresting him. The staff also allegedly physically harassed women members of the farmer’s family.

The Sadar police arrested six persons, including Mr Gurdit Singh, allegedly in a false case registered at the behest of bank staff.

The union would be forced to enforce curfew for such bank officers and commission agents to prevent their entry in villages to recover loans by unfair means, he warned.


BKU seeks free power, water for farmers
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 9
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Punjab, today held a protest rally in front of the District Administrative Complex here.

The union leaders sought the restoration of free power and water to the state’s farmers.

Addressing the rally, the state union general secretary, Mr Bhupinder Singh Mahesari, demanded that the state government should waive off the loans along with interest of Punjab’s debt-ridden farmers.

He said if the government was serious about diversification, then it should offer sops to cane growers and fix its proper rate.

He alleged that some Punjab State Electricity Board officials were looting farmers through graft in lieu of providing power to agricultural sector. He said the union would launch a stir against it.

A resolution was passed during the protest seeking a thorough probe into property made by all the state government officials and departmental action against those having assets disproportionate to their known sources of income.


Farmers hold rally
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 9
Activists and members of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal) today staged a dharna and held a rally in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner here in support of their demands.

Their main demands include withdrawal of hike in the prices of diesel and petrol, increase in the minimum support price of the paddy, cotton and other crops, introduction of free power supply to the tubewells, waiving off the loans pending against the farmers, agriculture workers and Dalits and control over corruption in government offices etc.

The farmers were addressed among others by Mr Kapur Singh Chhahar, former vice-president of the Punjab unit of the BKU (Lakhowal); Mr Gurcharan Singh Chananwal and Mr Kesar Singh Bhalwan, senior vice-president and general secretary, respectively, of the district unit of the union; Mr Darshan Kumar Kular Khurad, president of Sangrur block, and Mr Amar Singh Chhiniwal Kalan, president of Mehal Kalan block of the union.


N.K. Arora is Chief Engineer of thermal plant
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 9
Finally, after a nine-day wait, the Chief Engineer (Distribution), Jalandhar Zone, Mr N.K Arora, has been appointed as Chief Engineer of the Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal plant (GGSSTP), Ropar today.

A senior official of the PSEB said a meeting of senior officials was held in Patiala yesterday and a letter was issued to Mr N.K Arora this evening only.

He is expected to join within a week.

It was for the first time when the post of Chief Engineer had remained vacant for so many days after the retirement of Mr R.S Sohal, former General Manager of the thermal plant, Ropar, on July 31.


Licence of ultrasound centre suspended
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 9
The licence of an ultrasound centre at Kurali has been suspended for a month on charges of irregularity, including failure to keep proper records.

Stating this today, the SMO in charge of the Civil Hospital here an appropriate authority under the PNDT Act, Dr Maninderjit Singh, said a team of doctors had inspected the Goel Ultrasound Centre two days ago and also seized the records. It was found that the records had not been maintained properly and the centre had the licence to function at Ropar and not Kurali.


Couple takes poison, wife dies
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 9
A newly married woman has reportedly committed suicide by consuming some poisonous substance. The deceased was the daughter of the Municipal Councillor, Mr Amarjit Singh.

According to sources, the victim, Rekha, who got married three months back and her husband Gurpreet Singh consumed poison late last evening. While Rekha died on the spot, her husband had been admitted to the Civil Hospital here.

Sources said the father of the deceased had told the police that Rekha’s in-laws were forcing her to bring Rs 1 lakh as dowry and harassing her for the same.

On the basis of his statement, the police has booked Gurpreet Singh, Jalaur Singh and Manjeet Kaur, under Section 306 of the IPC.

On the other hand, Gurpreet’s father, Jalaur Singh, said he had disowned his son who was living with his wife separately. He termed the allegations levelled against them as “baseless”.


3 of Kale Kachhewala gang held
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 9
The district police arrested three members of a Kale Kachhewala, gang, involved in killing three persons in the area and committing about 25 robberies in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pardesh and Jammu and Kashmir states.

The three members of the gang, identified as Shera, Inder and Rattan, who were arrested from the Zirakpur area, have admitted that they had killed three persons, two in the Lalru area and one in other part of the district.

A country-made pistol along with six cartridges, iron rods and torches were seized from them.

Mr S.M. Sharma, IG, Punjab Police, Patiala Zone, while addressing a press conference here today said the three members, who along with other five members of the gang had been operating during nights in the Patiala district, particularly in the Rajpura area, belonged to the Pardi community and were residents of Guna district of Madhya Pardesh.

Mr Sharma said three incidents involving these members took place in the district this year, which left three persons dead and many injured.

Mr Sharma said a case was registered in Dera Bassi police station and efforts were being made to arrest the remaining five members of the gang.


Farmer robbed at gunpoint
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 9
Three unidentified robbers today looted Rs 40,000 from a farmer at gunpoint at Mehro village near here.

Sources said Bakhtaur Singh, a farmer, was returning with the amount that he had withdrawn from the UAE Exchange located on the Ferozepore road. When he was about to enter his village, three occupants of an Indica car snatched his bag containing the cash before escaping.

The police has registered a case against them under Sections 356 and 379 of the IPC.


PO held after 12 years
Our Correspondent

Phagwara August 9
A proclaimed offender (PO), Baldev Raj, alias Surinder, alias Shinda, was today arrested after 12 years.

It was learnt that a case under Sections 457 and 511 of the IPC was registered against him at the local Sadar police station on February 18,1993.

The PO belonged to Gohawar village falling under the Goraya police station.


Quota for Pak Sikh students in SGPC colleges
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 9
In a significant decision in view of the thaw in the relations between India and Pakistan, the Dharam Prachar Committee (DPC) of the SGPC decided to reserve two per cent of seats for the Pakistani Sikh students for admission in the SGPC-run missionary colleges.

The SGPC in a press note issued here today stated that the meeting of the DPC held under the presidentship of Bibi Jagir Kaur at Chandigarh last evening had offered to provide the facility to the Pakistani Sikh students. Bibi Jagir Kaur said the Shiromani Committee would provide more seats in case more number of students showed interest in joining the colleges.

She said the seats would be available in Shaheed Sikh Missionary College, Amritsar, and Gurmat Sangeet Academy, Talwandi Sabo.

The secretary of the DPC, Mr Waryam Singh, said during the visit of a Sikh jatha to Lahore to observe the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh a large number of parents in Pakistan had requested the SGPC to allow their wards to get training to become Sikh preachers and learn the art of Gurbani kirtan.


Vet varsity to implement embryo transfer project
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
The newly established Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU) would implement the embryo transfer technology (ETT) project in conjunction with the Punjab Livestock Development Board (PLDB) at a cost of Rs 5 crore, to provide high quality genetic inputs for the milch cattle in order to increase milk production in the state.

After assuming the charge as first Vice-Chancellor of this university, Mr D.S. Bains, Secretary, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Dairy Development, said his first priority would be to create a cordial atmosphere and to ensure smooth functioning so that the new university could provide adequate services to the farmers of Punjab. Mr Bains hoped to generate resources for the new university so that it could focus on Research and Development (R&D) and make its results available to the dairy farmers of the state.

The new Vice-Chancellor, added that animal husbandry was the only sector, which held promise for the sagging agriculture-based rural economy. Hence, keeping in view the present scenario, focused attention was required for animal husbandry and dairy sector.

Mr Bains stated that the focus of the new university would be on the improvement of education methods and faculty, improving the fertility of farm animals, production of transgenic animals, production of elite herd of cattle and buffalo, conservation of native livestock breeds, control of emerging diseases, sensitive disease diagnosis, foreign collaboration on R&D and training.

The Vice-Chancellor allayed fears of animal scientists saying that all scientists working in the College of Veterinary Sciences would be given due regard in the new administrative set-up and there would be no bias and discrimination against anyone.


Army B.Ed College opened
Tribune News Service

Pathankot August 9
Lieut-Gen Hari Prasad, GOC-in-C, Northern Command, today inaugurated Army B.Ed College here today.

While speaking on the occasion, the General said the college was the first institute to be established by the Army Welfare Education Society in this part of the country.

The college is recognised by the National Council for Technical Education and affiliated to Guru Nanak Dev University.

Dependents of Army personnel and ex-servicemen from the adjoining areas of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir would get the state-of-the-art facilities as computer and science laboratories, lecture halls, library and hostel for girls in the college.

The Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, Dr S.P. Singh, who was present, assured all support for the college. Lauding the efforts of the Army, he said very soon the M.Ed. course would be offered at the college.

Garrison Engineer (West) Davinder Kumar told The Tribune that a waste Army building on the Pathankot-Jalandhar road was renovated in four months by the Military Engineering Services to make the college building. A 35-bed hostel facility had also been created for girl students.

Members of the Ex-Servicemen Association of the area thanked the General for providing an exclusive college for their wards in the area.

Lieut-Gen Jamwal, GOC, 9 Corps, and Brig R.K. Sharma, Commander, 21 Sub-Area, were present at the function.

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