P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



PoWs’ kin return disappointed
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Wagah, September 12
Despite the festivity that marked the exchange of 587 Indian and Pakistani prisoners at the joint check post here, the family members of many prisoners of war (PoW) today returned home disappointed.

They don’t know when the ‘war’ would end for them. At least 54 PoWs of 1971 Indo-Pak war are still languishing in Pakistan’s jails.

The family members, carrying placards, displaying pictures and brief information of PoWs, reached here with great hope that released Indians might give them some clue about their being alive. They said as many as 54 defence personnel had been missing in Army action since1971 war. We have concrete proof that most of them were captured alive, they said.

Parents of many PoWs had already died without meeting their sons who had fought wars for the sake of country but never returned to their sweet homes. Wives grew old waiting, a few of them remarried but the question of whether the 54 PoWs are alive remain in their minds.

Dr Simmi Waraich, whose father, Major SPS Waraich, is languishing in one of the Pakistani jails, is a shattered woman. She says there have been reports that PoWs are treated abominably.

She asked the government of Pakistan, “what do a mere 54 men mean?” The wars, which they had fought, were over long ago and a ‘new chapter of friendship’ between India and Pakistan had been launched. This is need of an hour that Pakistan must understand the agony of the families they had undergone in the past over three decades.

Mr Bharat Suri, son of another PoW, said, “We talk of peace and improving ties, yet we are almost reluctant to broach the issue of missing defence personnel”. The name of Major Ashok Suri was mentioned on January 6 and 7, 1972, in the Punjabi Darbar programme of Lahore. His father also received letters from a Karachi jail on August 13, 1975, stating that there were 20 other officers with him there.

Lately, Mr Sheetal Dass Kaler, an activist of South Asian Human Rights Cell, Canada, had seen some PoWs in Kot Lakhpat Rai Jail when he had gone there to meet Sarbjit Singh, who is awaiting execution of death sentence. Mr Kaler had also seen urns, containing ashes of some PoWs on the jail premises.

Late Mohanlal Bhaskar, who was in a jail between 1968 and 1974 and repatriated on December 9, 1974, wrote a book “Main Pakistan Mein Bharat ka Jasoos tha” and gave a signed affidavit stating that in Fort of Attock a Pakistani Major Ayaj Ahmed Sipra (imprisoned for conspiring against Bhutto) spoke of his befriending a Gill (might be Wg-Codr H.S .Gill) of the Indian Air Force and a Captain Singh of the Indian Army as well as mentioning that there were around 40 PoWs of the 1965 and 1971 wars in that jail who had no chances of release.


‘Dead’ prisoner returns home alive
Tribune News Service

Wagah, September 12
The story of another Sarbjit Singh, an Army jawan, is full of melodrama. His “dead body” was handed over to the family when he was shown “drowned” in a water channel during an Army drill on September 1, 1998, having its tail-end in Pakistan .

The sister, Ms Daljit Kaur, said that though none of the family members believed that the mutilated body was that of Sarbjit Singh, but they carried out all the rituals. However, to the good luck of the family, they learnt that Sarbjit was alive and lodged in Pakistan jail as the heavy current of the water channel took him to the Pakistan side. She alleged that the Army officials did not confirm the identification of her brother though the post-mortem report of the dead body showed that he had died on September 3, while he went missing on September 1. His son was born a few days after his “disappearance”.

The near and dear ones of Sarbjit Singh hoped that he would be released from Pakistani jail shortly.


Wish to shop for fiancee landed him in jail
Tribune News Service

Pakistani prisoner Mohammad Babbar Sayyad is escorted by security men at the Wagah joint checkpost, in Amritsar on Monday.
Pakistani prisoner Mohammad Babbar Sayyad is escorted by security men at the Wagah joint checkpost, in Amritsar on Monday. — AFP photo

Wagah, September 12
The wish to shop for fiancée in India, before the marriage, landed Mohammad Babbar Sayyad in the Indian jail. However, his would-be bride waited for all the 15 years and refused to marry another boy.

Interestingly, his mother belonged to Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, while the father hailed from Delhi. However, the family migrated to Pakistan after Partition of the country. He said many of his relatives still lived in UP, Delhi and other parts of the country. He said he had written a letter to his would-be wife in 1991 that she was free to marry any boy of her choice, but she preferred to wait for him as she and her family believed that marriages were settled in heaven.

This is the story of the young boy who returned “middle-aged” to his country. However, he said like Dalbir Kaur (sister of Sarabjit Singh), his sister too approached the human rights groups of both the countries to secure his release.


Dalbir Kaur refused entry at Wagah
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 12
The Border Security Force today didn’t allow Ms Dalbir Kaur, sister of Sarabjit Singh, awaiting death sentence in Pakistan, to even enter the Wagha joint checkpost. She had gone there to tie “rakhis” to Indian prisoners who were released by the Pakistan Government today.

This came as a rude shock to the woman who was “most sought-after by the media these days. Earlier, she had been visiting Wagha joint checkpost whenever any repartiation took place here.

Ms Dalbir Kaur, while talking to media persons, said she wanted to tie a “rakhi” on each of the repartiated prisoner’s writ.

She said: “There is a deliberate conspiracy in the Pakistan Government to hold Sarabjit back. He is an innocent person languishing in jail. I hope when Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, meets Gen Musharraf, he would take up this issue,” she said. “I will not slacken my campaign. If need be, I’ll appeal to the US President”. 


Rain triggers fear  of pest attack
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 12
Following a heavy rain a couple of days back another shower today has set the alarm bells ringing for the cotton growers of the region. While agricultural experts were satisfied with the last shower, today’s rain has got them worried.

Talking to The Tribune here today, the chairman of the exports cell of the North India Cotton Association, Mr Ashok Kapur, said right now no immediate effect of rain on cotton had come to light, but if the current weather trend continued it would surely be a setback to the crop.

He said September rains had always played a spoilsport for cotton in the past and if the wet weather conditions prevailed for days together, then this year would be no different. He said if the weather opened up like it did yesterday, it would be beneficial for the crop.

He termed the rainfall till now as enough for cotton and good for the crop in Rajasthan where cotton farmers were facing an acute water crisis. The Chief Agricultural Officer, Mr P.S. Aulakh, said the cotton crop was in full bloom right now and wet weather would only increase the possibility of a worm attack. At the same time, he said the paddy crop could also be affected to some extent as it was on the verge of maturing.

On the other hand, Uttam Singh, a farmer from Ramgarh Bhundar, said he had bought costly Bt cotton seeds hoping for an impressive return, but was now uncertain about his harvest. The sarpanch of Jassi Pau Wali village, Mr Gurjant Singh, said till now they had used too little pesticides. He feared that any pest attack after rain could shoot up their input costs.

Meanwhile, reports of a moderate rain were received from different pockets of the cotton belt since this morning. While Mansa witnessed a heavy rain for an hour, it rained for about three to four hours in Muktsar district. It has added to the cotton growers’ apprehensions of waterlogging of their fields, especially those in low-lying areas. In Bathinda district alone, farmers had shifted 5,000 hectares of land from paddy to cotton expecting a rich harvest, but the rain seemed to have washed their hopes.

Prior to rain there were hardly any reports of a pest attack in the cotton belt. Cotton was sown in about 1.5 lakh hectares in the district, of which Bt varieties dominated most of the area. Six companies dealing in Bt cotton had sold about 1.4 lakh packets of cotton seeds.


Rain worries farmers
Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
Moderate to heavy rain in the past 24 hours has caused concern among farmers in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

Reports of heavy rain have come in from almost all districts of Punjab except Ropar and Nawanshahr. Rain in various parts of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh was said to be moderate. It is the second time that certain parts of this region have received heavy rain in the past 72 hours. On September 10, almost all parts of this region had heavy rain.

Farmers appeared to be worried today because the rain was accompanied with high-velocity winds in the Amritsar and Faridkot areas. It led to the lodging of the paddy crop in certain stretches.

Farmers say that it will be good for them if the sky becomes clear by tomorrow morning. “ Overhanging clouds have become a cause of concern for us at the moment. We want these to go away at the earliest”, said Gurdarshan Singh, a cotton grower from Faridkot, on the phone.

In most areas, the rain started early in the morning. In the Bathinda area, where 20 mm of rainfall was recorded, the sky became clear by the afternoon.

The Director, Agriculture, Punjab, Mr Balwinder Singh Sidhu, said that though no report of crop damage had been received from any area so far, dry weather was the need of the hour. “ As the harvesting of paddy is to start in the coming days, farmers need sunny days”, he added. Agriculture experts say that if the weather remains cloudy for some more days it can intensify the attack of pests, which is well under control in the cotton belt at the moment. Vast damage has been caused to vegetable crops because of the attack of pests.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Government is preparing to ensure the smooth procurement of paddy. It has held a number of meetings in the past days to review the procurement arrangements.


6 Punjab cops go missing in USA
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
Six men of the Punjab police, all sportsmen, have gone missing in the USA where they had gone to the participate in a sports event. They have chosen to stay back in the USA while absenting themselves from duties here, police officials said here.

The Punjab police today launched departmental proceedings against them. The matter will also be taken up with the Union Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

All six were posted at the PAP Complex, Jalandhar, where the Punjab police has its sports wing.

The DGP, Mr S.S. Virk, today deputed a senior officer to look into the matter. Initial inquiries have revealed that a seven member team went to the USA to participate in a rafting tournament. Only one of them, Ashwani Kumar, has returned. He also has proceeded on leave.

The rafting team did not participate in the event in the USA. Ashwani Kumar has been questioned by his bosses in Jalandhar about the same.


Finishing touches being given  to Sanjivini
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
The Punjab Cooperation Department has started giving final touches to Sanjivini, a healthcare scheme for farmers.

Five lakh farmers’ families are expected to join the scheme in the first phase to be run by a seven-member trust headed by the Chief Secretary. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has cleared the scheme after discussing it with senior officers of the department and Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Cooperation Minister.

The family will be taken as a unit under the scheme. It will have to pay a negligible insurance premium for health cover worth Rs 2 lakh in a year. The department has already started enlisting various hospitals where farmers and their family members can get treatment. The enlisting is being done made on the basis of the infrastructure available.

A third-party administrator will be appointed to deal with billing and tasks such as hospitalisation and the issuance of cards to members of the scheme.

Negotiations are also going on with hospitals to fix charges for the treatment of various diseases, for the period of hospitalisation, surgical intervention, etc.

Bids from the insurance companies will be invited next month. The department has planned to launch the scheme on November 14.

In the first phase, members of various cooperative societies in the rural areas will be covered under the scheme. In due course, the scheme will be extended to urban areas also.

Mr Viswajit Khanna, Registrar, Cooperative Societies, Punjab, said that various schemes, including those which were adopted by certain southern states, were studied before finalising Sanjivini.


First-ever Punjabi soap on Jalandhar DD
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
With the small screen coming of age in India, producers have started targeting the regional viewer. Hitherto, Hindi soaps dominated televisions, but regional programmes are fast carving out their own niche. The first-ever soap in Punjabi, ‘Kade Dhup Kade Chhanv’, will go on air on DD Jalandhar this coming Friday.

The 105-episode soap, aptly using the metaphor of sunlight and shade in its title, deals with the ups and downs of life. The central theme of the serial revolves around relationships, which are the main source of sentiments.

Penned by Delhi-based writer Lakhwinder Singh, the serial has been produced by Rachna Krishan and directed by Bharat Chopra with the ensemble of actors, including Ajay K Bali, Amarjeet Kaur, Dinesh Verma, Kumkum Jain, Saran Kohli, Ramesh Kalra, Vijaish Chanda and Nimi Singh among others.

The serial projects the premise that each sorrow that emanates in our life is due to the upheavals and hardships faced in relationships while every joy is also an outcome of human relationships. The characters of the serial portray the real life situations that each one of us faces, while making, breaking or strengthening relationships. It also seeks to drive home the fact that each moment of sorrow is balanced with a corresponding moment of happiness, and in the eventual analysis life has a way of balancing out.

This family drama features the couple Harbans Lal, who was considered as the “Hitler” of the family and his wife Shashi and their family. The story revolves around these three main character’s diurnal life. The story is a reflection of today’s modern and rich society and its consequences on the family.

The serial is an attempt by Brands TV to project and promote the rich cultural heritage of Punjab, while at the same time putting forth a unique opportunity to pose as a platform for talented singers. The serial will initially be telecast on DD Jalandhar only, according to a spokesperson of Brands T.V.


Throw Cong out of power, SAD’s call to people
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 12
At the Shiromani Akali Dal’s ‘Insaaf’ rally demanding punishment to the guilty of 1984 anti-Sikh violence, here today, SAD (B) president Parkash Singh Badal gave a call to people to throw Congress government of Punjab out of power and demanded that Chief Minister Amarinder Singh be jailed for his “misrule”.

A national-level ‘Insaaf’ rally of the party will be held at Boat Club on November 4 to protest against the denial of justice to victims of anti-Sikh violence engineered by the Congress regime.

Punjabis will not forgive Mr Amarinder Singh for his ‘anti-people’ policies, rampant corruption, extending undue concession of crores to people like Ponty Chadha, fooling farmers, traders and industrialists and promoting privatisation in certain departments. People using different modes of transportation reached the Anaj Mandi area in this home town. Braving rain people kept sitting at the venue of rally till the end of proceedings.

The rally, organised by the Patiala district unit of the SAD, was attended by Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, Mr Harmel Singh Tohra, Mr Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur, Raja Narinder Singh, Mr Surjit Singh Rakhra, Mr Nirmal Singh Chatrana, Mr Surjit Singh Kohli, Mr Jagtar Singh Rajla, Mr Tajinderpal Singh Sandhu, Mr Indermohan Singh, Mr Amarjot Singh Punia.

Criticising successive Congress governments at the Centre and in Punjab, Mr Badal alleged that Sikhs always suffered whenever the Congress ruled the country or Punjab. He added that though many of Sikhs were massacred in 1984, successive Congress governments at the Centre had been managing to save the culprits. He said that the Nanavati Commission report had also failed to tell any thing regarding anti-Sikh violence, which took place in the other parts of country apart from Delhi.

He said that Sikhs, would assemble at Boat Club at Delhi on November 4 to press the Congress-led UPA government to punish to culprits of anti-Sikh violence.

He added that party would also protect people of Punjab from the misrule of Capt Amarinder Singh. He said that Capt Amarinder Singh should reimburse the money which farmers had paid for electricity after he (Capt Amarinder Singh) became the Chief Minister.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh demanded adequate compensation for victims of anti-Sikh violence, job to one member of the affected family and houses for those, whose houses were burnt.

Seeking resignation of Capt Amarinder Singh as he had lost faith of the people, he said that the SAD (B) would stop registration of false cases against party workers and others on flimsy grounds by the present regime.

Mr Amarjot Singh Punia, general secretary, All-India Youth Akali Dal, said that presence of youths in the rally was indication that they (the youths) were fed up with the ‘misrule’ of Capt Amarinder Singh, who was guided by a coterie.

Earlier, Mr Badal was honoured by Mr Punia at his residence in the town.


“Saragarhi Day” observed
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, September 12
The Punjab Government has embarked upon several schemes for the welfare of jawans, ex-servicemen and their families, under which special grants are being offered to all those valiant soldiers who have shown exemplary courage for the defence of their motherland.

This was stated by Mr B.C. Thakur, Deputy Commissioner, while addressing a congregation of ex-servicemen during a “Saragarhi Day” function, organised to pay homage to the 21 gallant soldiers of 36 Sikh Regiment who died defending Fort Saragarhi in Wazirstan on September 12, 1897, against an attack of over 10,000 Pathans.

Mr Thakur said the state government had instructed all officials to redress the grievances of the ex-servicemen on priority and help them in every possible manner. He said the grant extended to the war widows had also been increased to Rs 2 lakh.

He said the pending cases of the allotment of government jobs to the relatives of the soldiers who attained martyrdom would be taken up soon. Mr Thakur honoured the families of those soldiers belonging to the state who had attained martyrdom during the Kargil conflict. He distributed a grant of Rs 25000 each to the families of 10 ex-servicemen.

He said the government was considering to introduce the battle of Saragarhi in the history text books in schools.

While speaking on the occasion, Brig N.S. Kapur, Station Commander, said the battle of Saragarhi was among the most gallant wars ever fought in the history of mankind.

An exhibition was put up by various departments, including Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, Rural Development, Sports, Employment, Punjab Agro, Milkfed, Industries, Small Savings and Horticulture, to apprise the farmers of the various government schemes and incentives.


No threat of overflow at Bhakra
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Nangal, September 12
After the threat of an overflow of water from the Bhakra dam, things have turned out to be just normal. With just eight days left for the completion of the filling period for the dam, the water level on today was recorded at 1673.52 feet, which is still 6.48 feet below its maximum storage capacity.

The filling period is due to the melting of ice in the upper hills and also the rainy season that begun on May 20 and which is likely to be completed on September 20.

However, the water level of the dam this year is higher than last year’s. Official sources said the water level of the dam was about 79 feet high last year and this time it is the highest since 1999.

During the filling period this year there has been increase of 138 feet in the level.

The dam is said to be in a comfortable position to supply water to the North India for drinking, irrigation as well as power supply, the sources added.

The reason for the slow rise in the water level of Bhakra the past 32 days is attributed to the decline in the inflow because of less rainfall in its catchments areas and also an increase in the volume of the dam.

The sources said the dam had witnessed an increase of only 11 feet in the water level after August 10. The inflow was 56,413 cusecs on August 1 while it reduced to 32, 202 cusecs on August 10. The inflow today was 29,982 cusecs and the outflow was 29,000 cusecs.


Unemployed to get Rs 35 crore in loans for dairy ventures
Tribune News Service

Kharar, September 12
Loans worth Rs 35 crore will be given by the government to unemployed youth for starting dairy and dairy-related ventures. This was stated by Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Dairy Development Minister, Punjab here today. He said the loan amount had been increased by Rs 5 crore this year.

The minister said his departments were making special efforts to motivate unemployed youth to undertake dairying and agriculture, and follow new techniques by which milk production could be increased with little expenditure. He said the Dairy Development Department was running training centres at Ludhiana, Taran Tarn, Sardool Garh and Phagwara. Besides, another centre had started functioning at Chitamali village in Ropar where the first batch of dairy farmers was undergoing training.

Mr Kang said persons belonging to the Scheduled Caste would be given electricity free of cost up to 200 units per month.

Regarding pension to the aged and the poor, Mr Kang said the previous government had enlisted such persons wrongly and illogically. These had been investigated and now out of the special corpus fund of Rs 450 crore, these beneficiaries would be given pension each month.


Govt misleading ’84 riot victims: panel
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 12
The 1984 Sikh Rehabilitation Action Committee Punjab (Bathinda Zone) has accused the state government of misleading riot-affected people “like the previous governments in the state”.

In a press statement released here yesterday, the committee president, Mr Karam Singh, said about 3,000 Sikh families were ruined in 1984 riots, of which a large number got settled in Punjab. He said about 446 such families had shifted to Bathinda, a list of which the Deputy Commissioner had already sent to the state government. Out of these, 14 families were yet to be issued cards. He said the aggrieved persons had even given affidavits to the DC for the same during the Akali regime in 2001.

He rued that though politicians visit the city for their programmes, nobody bothered to ask about their well-being. He termed the PM’s apology for the 1984 riots as a “political stunt”.

While political compulsions didn’t allow the PM to chastise perpetrators of the 1984 riots, he could at least take necessary measures for the rehabilitation of riot-hit families. He also sought a loan of Rs 5 lakh for each family so as to help them re-start their business.


Revise charges, rice millers ask government
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 12
The State Rice Millers Association has decided to continue to boycott the purchase, milling and storage of government purchased paddy till their demands are not accepted. A decision in this regard was taken at the executive body meeting of the association held here yesterday.

According to Mr Nakesh Jindal, an office-bearer of the association, the government has issued notices of recoveries of gunny bags pertaining to the past seven years, which is an arbitrary decision and will cause a heavy loss to the millers.

He said the government had been paying Rs 15 per quintal milling charges to the millers for the past three years, whereas the rates of electricity, labour costs, diesel and petrol had increased manifold.

He demanded that the milling charges should be at least Rs 30. He said the government had fixed Rs 15 as the charge for a gunny bag supplied to millers, whereas the market rate was Rs 7.


Lok Adhikar Morcha formed
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 12
A new organisation, Lok Adhikar Morcha, was formed which would act as a watchdog and create awareness among the people about their rights and social evils like drug addiction, criminalisation of politics, AIDS, foeticides, etc. Mr Daniel B.Das, coordinator, Socio-Economic Development Programme, said here today.

Mr Daniel, in a press release said that a meeting of non-government organisations active in different areas was held in which Mr Jai Singh (Phillaur), President, Dalit Dasta Virodhi Andolan, Mr Bhupinder Singh, president, Aalmi Punjabi Virasat Foundation, Mr Jasbir Singh Patti, president Awaz E Awam, Mr Kuldeep Chand Nagpal, president, Arpana, and Dr Alma Ram, chairperson of Jagriti Bhalai Kender Dalhousie, took part.


Adult education camp in slum area
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 12
The Sunam Rotary Club today started a 15-day adult education camp in a slum area, near Olympic Stadium, at Sunam, 13 km from here. About 200 adult illiterate persons attended the camp.

On the occasion, a seminar on adult education was also organised. Addressing the seminar, Mr Sukhdev Singh Sandhu, president of the Sunam Rotary Club, emphasised on the involvement of TV channels in imparting adult education. He said every illiterate aged person should be inspired to get education for the betterment of children of his/her family.

Dr Rakesh Aggarwal, Secretary (Literacy) of the club, said illiterate persons could not take interest in the education of their wards due to which their children mostly preferred to leave the schools.


Protest against petrol price hike
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 12
The district unit of the BJP today held a protest rally against hike in petrol and diesel prices. The rally began in front of the Municipal Council office and ended at the Mini Secretariat. A former Municipal Commissioner, Mr Inder Sain, accompanied by BJP workers, later submitted a memorandum against hike in petrol and diesel prices to the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr Surjit Singh Saini, for Prime Minister.


125 donate blood
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 12
The United Welfare Society last evening organised its annual blood donation camp in which 125 persons donated blood. A function was also held to mark the occasion, in which about 600 blood donors were felicitated.

The Tarksheel Society put on an exhibition in which its volunteers displayed how to check the quality of eatables and prevent adulteration. Various artistes like Yudhvir Manak, Balbir Chotian, Bir Devinder, Somi Tungwalia, Gurvinder Brar, Major Bawra, Jashan Deep, Jatinder Gobiwala and Lavleen Sachdeva enthralled the audiences with their performances.


Encroachments to be removed: minister
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, September 12
The Punjab Government has instructed all officials to actively work to remove encroachments by land mafia on municipal lands.

This was stated by Punjab Local Bodies Minister Chaudhry Jagjit Singh here on Friday. He said a state-level anti-encroachment drive had been launched in the state to remove encroachments from municipal lands.


High Court
CBI probe ordered into police encounter
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
Just over 15 years after a Kapurthala resident was allegedly killed in a fake encounter, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today ordered a probe into the matter by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The orders were issued by Mr Justice M.M. Aggarwal of the High Court while taking up a petition filed by alleged victim Palwinder Singh’s father Darshan Singh.

Seeking an independent probe into the matter, Mr Darshan Singh had claimed that his son was picked up by the Punjab Police from his residence on March 27, 1993, and was kept in illegal detention till April 3, the same year.

He had added that the police, on the other hand, had claimed that Palwinder Singh was arrested on April 3 itself and had escaped from its custody the same day.

Mr Darshan Singh had stated that a letter in this regard was written by Kapurthala’s then Senior Superintendent of Police to the Deputy Commissioner concerned. It was only at a later stage that they came to know about Palwinder Singh’s death in the alleged encounter.

During the course of hearing, his counsel added that a Chief Judicial Magistrate, asked to look into the matter, had also recommended inquiry by an independent agency. As such, the matter should be handed over to the premier investigating agency for reaching the bottom of the truth.

Case dismissed

A Division Bench of the High Court on Monday dismissed a petition filed by once-considered-a-Khalistani-ideologue Jagjit Singh Chohan. He was seeking directions to the Union of India and other respondents to return the artifacts taken away by the Army from the Harmandar Sahib during “Operation Bluestar.”

The orders were issued by the Bench, comprising Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta. In his petition, Mr Chohan had contended that a similar petition was filed in the matter earlier also. The same was disposed of by the court. But nothing was done by the respondents to comply with the directions issued by the court at the time of the petition’s disposal.


Farmers plan demonstration
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
Expressing resentment against the alleged apathetic and callous attitude of the Punjab Government towards their demands, five farmers’ organisations today announced the staging of a demonstration in front of Punjab Raj Bhavan here on September 26.

The agitating farmers’ organisations — the Punjab Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta), the Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, the All-India Kirti Kisan Sabha, the Punjab Kisan Sabha and the Khetibari Kisan Vikas Front — will organise the demonstration in order to seek his intervention in increasing the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy to Rs 760 per quintal.

Addressing a joint press conference, leaders of the farmers said the recent announcement on free power was made in view of the coming Assembly elections.

The farmers demanded that the state government should return the recovered amount in connection with electricity bills of tubewells during the past three and a half years. Besides Rs 760 per quintal as the MSP for paddy, the government should announce Rs 170 per quintal bonus on it, the leaders said.

Sugarcane dues amounting to Rs 63 crore should be given, and no arrest be made in case farmers fail to deposit their loan amounts.

They said the total debt of Rs 22,000 crore standing against farmers and farm workers should be waived and the rate of interest on agricultural loans be reduced to 4 per cent. They also demanded the introduction of a crop insurance scheme, 15 hours’ uninterrupted electric supply for tubewells and Rs 3,250 per quintal as the MSP for cotton.


SAD to mobilise support for farmers’ cause
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 12
The SAD would give a call to all political parties of the state to unite and fight for the cause of farmers, said general secretary of the party Balwinder Singh Bhunder while talking to mediapersons here today.

Political parties should put pressure on the Centre to announce a special package for the state and waive the loans of farmers of the state, which amounted to Rs 1,500 crore, he said.

He was here to inaugurate a new building of girls’ hostel in BBSB Engineering College.

He said the rates of input in agriculture had gone up but the produce had remained the same, resulting in sever debts on farmers.

He said the state government had failed to start any new project to generate more electricity. The Lehra Mohabbat Thermal Plant was started by the previous Akali government, he added.

Similarly, he said the state government had failed to get concessions for industrialists of the states on the pattern of neighbouring states like Himachal Pradesh and Haryana.

He lamented that no recruitment had been made in schools, hospitals and government offices for the past three and half years.

On Nanavati Commission report, he said his party would strive to take the report to a logical conclusion and ensure that guilty were punished.

Kirpal Singh Libra, Sukhdev Singh Libra, Ranjit Singh Libra and Harmel Singh Tohra were also present.


Rakhra Kisan Mela on Sept 21
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 12
The Punjab Young Farmers’ Association will organise a state-level kisan mela at Rakhra, 15 km from here, on September 21. The theme of the festival is “Support prices of crops should be linked with cost of production”.

The association secretary-general, Mr Bhagwan Dass, said the participating farmers would be given the foundation seeds of the high-yielding HD-2733 variety of wheat and HD-2643 — a superior grain wheat.

They will be taken round the demonstration plots of Pusa 1121, a superior long grain export variety of Basmati and the latest high yielding Pusa 2511 variety of Basmati rice.


Complainant in graft case against SI booked
for fraud
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 12
The case, in which the Vigilance Bureau had arrested Sub Inspector Mohan Lal of the Economic Offences (EO) wing allegedly for accepting bribe, has taken a new turn with the complainant getting embroiled in a fraud. The police now has booked the complainant, registry clerk Naresh Kumar, under Sections 218 and 466 of the IPC. Sources said Naresh Kumar was booked following a complaint from Karnail Singh. Sources said after finding himself in a spot Naresh along with his aide had reportedly got SI Mohan Lal arrested for graft at a local PCO in a bizarre manner.

In another development, sources said EO wing in charge Rattan Singh and Munshi Gurvinder Singh had been transferred. Sources said following Mohan Lal’s arrest the inspector had allowed the Vigilance officials to take away the EO wing’s record without consent from a competent authority and the police officials took a strong notice of it.

Sources said Karnail Singh, a ‘vasika nawis’ at tehsil complex, in a complaint to the DC and the SSP, said he bought a plot on May 6, 2004, but despite completion of all formalities the registry clerk concerned didn’t give him his plot’s registry. Taking note of his complaint, the DC asked the tehsildar to look into the matter, while the SSP ordered the EO wing to investigate his complaint. In his reply to the DC, Naresh said the registry had been handed over to Karnail after taking his signatures on the receipt book. However, sources said while the spat between two of them was on over the registry a Vigilance team after registering a case in Ferozepur on June 23, 2004, raided the Tehsil Complex during which Karnail’s registry was recovered from Room No. CO 12. Sources said the matter took another twist when SI Mohan Lal in his probe found that the receipt for the delivery of registry had forged signatures.

Sources said Naresh had also recorded a statement before Vigilance Bureau in Mohali on August 17 that the registry was handed over to Karnail Singh. On the contrary, investigations revealed that the registry, which he claimed to have given to Karnail, was seized by the VB team last year. Following the probe into case registered by it the Vigilance had submitted all records including his registry to a court in Moga.


Truck cleaner crushed to death
Our Correspondent

Rajpura, September 12
A speeding tipper claimed a life in front of an octroi post on the Patiala-Rajpura highway early this morning. It was followed by another accident in which a Chandigarh-bound car collided with the same tipper, leaving four members of a family seriously injured.

The driver of the tipper fled from the spot, said the police.

Baldev Singh (21), a resident of Budhlada and cleaner of a truck (RJ-07-G-2001), was crushed to death under the truck in which he was sleeping.

Driver Rajinder Singh had parked the truck in front of the octroi post and gone to the post to pay tax. Meanwhile, the tipper (HR-68-B-1011) hit the vehicle from rear. It was around 4.30 am. The impact of the collision led to the truck being toppled into a roadside trench. Baldev Singh fell out of the truck and was crushed to death.

Later, around 5.30 am, a Chandigarh-bound Santro car (CH-03-Q-3344) collided with the same tipper, which was parked at the spot after the accident.

The car was coming from Patiala. The car driver, a resident of Sector 22, Chandigarh, Mr Anil Bansal, his wife, Renu Bansal, and their two daughters — Richa and Koko — sustained serious injuries in the accident.

They were taken to the PGI, Chandigarh. Sources in the police said the condition of Anil Bansal and Koko was serious. Renu and Richa fractured their jaws in the accident.

A case of causing death by rash and negligent driving has been registered against the driver of the tipper. The body of Baldev Singh was handed over to the family after a post-mortem examination.


Students defy court orders, hold rally
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 12
Despite stay orders procured by the Punjabi University management, students under the banner of the Punjabi University Students Confederation held a protest rally in front of the main library. The university had put up a notice that no demonstration would be allowed on the campus or 500 yards from the main gate.

Meanwhile, a student delegation met the SSP, Patiala, Mr A.S. Rai, and complained about the caste-based comments used against expelled student leader Chamkaur Singh. The SSP has asked the DSP to inquire into the matter. The confederation has accused the Provost, Dr H.S. Bhatti; warden of hostel No. 4, Dr Dharamvir Sharma; and the Dean Students Welfare, Dr Baldev Singh Sandhu, of using degrading comments against Chamkaur Singh during the inquiry proceedings held on the night of September 9.

Four students, Chamkaur Singh of the Punjab Students Union, Bakshish Azad of the PRSU and Ravinder Dhaliwal and Sandeep Barewal of the SFI had been called for an inquiry. They alleged that they were kept in detention for nine hours by university officials.

They have demanded the registration of a case against the above three officials along with the Chief Security Officer, Mr Alamjit Singh, and a senior warden, Dr Rakesh Mohan Sharma, on this issue. The four students were later expelled and their entry into the university banned.

Dr Baldev Singh Sandhu said, “These are tactics being used by students to defame teachers. They are trying to project a negative image of the university and spread anarchy. When we called the students for an inquiry, they had nothing to say for themselves. Now, after three days they have come up with these allegations. They are basically being used by political parties. Their written statements are different from their public utterances. When we asked them, if they were present when the decision for the strike was taken, they all replied in the negative. They didn’t plan it. They were just told of it.”

Regarding the rally today, Dr Sandhu said, “It was a total defiance of the law of the land. They have no respect for the law. When I told them about the restraint order of the court, they said that they did not care.”

Students of the Economics, Political Science and Social Work departments joined the rally today. Narinder Singh of the Economics Department was suspended yesterday. The rally was led by Dharminder Patran and Rajiv Kumar of the Punjab Students Union, Rakesh Kumar of the Punjab Radical Students Union and Harvinder Harry of the Students Federation of India.

They said the protest was not limited to the students of the Law Department now and promised to continue and intensify the agitation.

The students confederation has called for a bandh on September 14.


Disparity in fee of medical colleges apprehended
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, September 12
While the counselling for admissions to the state’s medical and dental colleges continued here today, the parents of candidates remained worried about the disparity in fee structures of medical colleges and the university.

However, the Director, Medical Education and Research, has put their apprehensions to rest by stating that all colleges would follow the state government’s guidelines.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Mr Rajinder Kumar (name changed), who had come for his daughter’s counselling from Amritsar, said though the varsity said they would be charged fee as per its prospectus they were still doubtful, as some colleges had got their separate fee structures.

He feared that these colleges might charge them as per their own guidelines. He said even if the colleges were compelled to follow the varsity’s fee structure they could charge their students on some other pretext like building funds, etc.

He said he wasn’t contented with the state government’s policy on the matter. He said already they had endured so much pressure owing to re-test and re-evaluation of the controversial pre-medical tests and now the row over fee had added to their woes.

Another counselling candidate requesting anonymity said the matter should be solved amicably by the medical institutes like DMC and the state government in the interests of students. He expressed apprehension that the colleges might adopt a confrontational course like they did last year.

Surprisingly, a number of candidates and their parents were hesitant to speak to mediapersons stating that they had already underwent so much trauma in the last three months and they didn’t want to get into any trouble by opening their mouth on the issue.

Meanwhile, they seemed satisfied with the arrangements this year. Unlike previous years they didn’t have to wait for too long and the counselling sessions got over by 5 pm.

The state government had recently issued a notification, as per which private medical colleges would charge Rs 75,000, dental colleges Rs 55,000, and Ayurvedic and Homoeopathy institutes Rs 35,000, as annual fee. Earlier, DMC, Ludhiana, had pegged its annual fee at Rs 2.42 lakh, while Guru Ram Das Medical College, Amritsar, had fixed its annual fee at Rs 2.5 lakh.

When contacted, the Director, Medical Education and Research, Mr J.S. Dalal, said he had himself looked after the counselling process of MBBS candidates and all parents had returned satisfied.


Students collect Rs 1.88 lakh for SOS village
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 12
Students of the local General Gurnam Singh Public School have collected Rs 1,88,911 recently for the Rajpura unit of the SOS Children’s Villages of India.

Giving this information here today, Ms Kulwinder Singh, Principal of the school, said the students of the school had also collected Rs 1,56,628 through voluntary donations the previous year for the SOS village, Rajpura, which was the only branch of the SOS Children’s Villages of India in Punjab.

He said the SOS Children’s villages of India, which is a non-profit, non-government and voluntary organisation, is committed to the cause of taking care of orphaned or homeless children.

Today the students of the school presented a draft for Rs 1,88,911 to Ms Nirmala Lal, wife of the Chairman of the governing body of the school and Sangrur Deputy Commissioner, Mr Husan Lal. Later, Ms Lal handed over the draft to Mr Jagir Dass, Assistant Director of Rajpura branch of the SOS Children’s Villages of India, at a ceremony held on the premises of the school complex.

The Principal said Rahul Singla, Sonia Bajaj, Gaurav Jindal and Mehakpreet Kaur had been appointed young ambassadors by the organisation to promote love and affection among the masses towards the organisation.


Girls’ hostel inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 12
General Secretary of SAD Balwinder Singh Bhunder today inaugurated Bibi Bhaniji girls’ hostel, constructed at a cost of Rs 2 crore, at Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College here.

Member secretary of the college trust Kirpal Singh Libra was the chief guest at the function.

Mr Bhunder in his address said the hostel had been named after Bibi Bhaniji, mother of Guru Arjan Dev, who was a source of inspiration for many. Mr Libra read out the report of the college. He said with the inauguration of the hostel the capacity of students on the campus would exceed 1,000.

He said the hostel having 145 single rooms, 34 dormitory rooms, a common room, a TV room, a mediation and yoga room, badminton courts, lawn tennis and mess had been constructed in a record time of 14 months.


Violation of admission norms: students want probe
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 12
The Students Welfare Association of Khalsa College on Sunday sought an in-depth probe into alleged sale of seats ignoring merit.

Association secretary Milap Singh, in a press note here gave roll numbers of students and their names who were allegedly given admission violating norms regarding admission to the post-graduate classes by taking Rs 50,000.

Dr Daljit Singh, principal of the college, said he had nothing to do with the admissions, which were based on merit list. He said coordinators conducted entrance tests and Head of Departments admitted students.


Lecture on Balwant Gargi
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 12
Mr Bal Anand, IFS (retd), on Saturday delivered the ‘Inaugural Balwant Gargi Memorial Lecture’ at Government Rajindra College here.

He dwelt at length on various aspects of Gargi’s personality as projected in his literary works.

Earlier, Principal Kulwinder Singh Sidhu welcomed Mr Anand and the SSP, Mr Kapil Dev, who was the guest of honour. Prof Mandeep Sandhu conducted the proceedings of the function, while Prof Ashok Walia presented vote of thanks.


Brick-kiln owners to meet Amarinder
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 12
The State Brick-Kiln Owner’s Association today decided not to resume the production of bricks if their demands were not met by the government.

At a state-level meeting of the body here, the members also decided to meet the Chief Minister on September 25 and apprise him of the problems being faced by the industry.

Addressing a press conference here, state president of association Kanwaljit Singh Lalli said the Chief Minister had earlier constituted a two-member committee comprising Food and Civil Supply Minister Avtar Henry and Excise and Taxation Minister Sardul Singh to hear their grievances.

He said the association had apprised the committee of the problems and it had urged the government to impose a lump sum tax on the industry on the pattern of Himachal Pradesh and Haryana as VAT had also been introduced by these states.

He said a major problem of the industry was regarding the use of fly ash in the manufacture of bricks. He said a case regarding this was pending in the High Court and the association had urged the government to support them in the court on the grounds that fly ash affected the health of labourers and kilns lacked infrastructure to mix it with earth.

He expressed hope that they would start the manufacture of bricks from October 1 if their demands were acceded by the government.

District president of the body Purshotam Singla also addressed.

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