P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Tension resurfaces in Talhan
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 6
Tension has resurfaced in Talhan village after nearly about two years as one of two groups of the 20-member management committee of Gurdwara Shahidan Sant Baba Nihal Singh have apprehended that the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) could make an effort to take control of the gurdwara forcibly.

Meanwhile, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, has decried any such move and has demanded that if the SGPC wanted to bring non-SGPC-run gurdwaras under its control, then the initiative should be taken from the gurdwara headed by the SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, in her Begowal village.

Mr Mann, who was accompanied by members of one of two groups of the management committee, led by Kewal Singh Keba, Bhupinder Kumar and Bhupinder Singh, has also accused the SGPC of ‘mismanaging’ the gurdwaras across Punjab and Haryana in more than one ways. Mr Maan alleged that the SGPC’s “failure” in managing affairs of gurdwaras had forced Sikhs of Haryana to demand a separate SGPC.

The seven members of the committee have apprehended that the other 13 member Jat-dominated group, led by president Naranjan Singh, have already approached the SGPC through certain local leaders, who were close to Bibi Jagir Kaur and had ‘offered’ the control of the gurdwara to the SGPC.

The gurdwara remained in the thick of controversy in June, 2003, when some groups of Dalits and Jat Sikhs of the village clashed with over control of the committee, following which, two Dalit members, Amarjit Singh and Gian Singh, were inducted in the committee. Interestingly, Amarjit Singh was learnt to be supporting the Niranjan Singh group, while, Gian Singh with Bhupinder Singh Bhinda group.

Meanwhile, the district administration and the police has taken preventive measures by deploying about 100 policemen, led by a DSP, in the village. Members of both the groups were booked under Sections 107/151 and 150/151 of the IPC as a preventive measure.

Sources maintained that a meeting of the SGPC was held under chairpersonship of Bibi Jagir Kaur in Amritsar on Wednesday, wherein, possibilities of taking of control of the gurdwara by the SGPC task force were discussed.


Top militant Bittu released on parole
Tribune Reporters

Nabha , October 6
Bhai Daljit Singh Bittu, president, Shiromani Khalsa Dal, was today set free on parole after 10 years of detention from the high-security Nabha jail on orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in the presence of the Damdami Taksal chief, Baba Harnam Singh Dhumma. Besides his sister, Birpal Kaur, and other relatives, a large number of political leaders were also present. Bittu’s marriage with Bibi Amrit Kaur, niece of Gursharan Singh Gama, is scheduled to be solemnised on October 8. Bhai Bittu returned home after 21 years. Baba Harnam Singh Dhumma and others later took him to a local gurdwara in a big procession from the jail premises. He was presented a siropa after paying obeisance before Guru Granth Sahib. Mr Tej Sandeep Singh Ajnoda, president, Sikh Students’ Federation (Bittu group) welcomed his release on parole. On this occasion, Bhai Daljit Singh Bittu thanked all those who had helped him. Later he was taken to Ludhiana in a big procession.

Ludhiana: There were many moist eyes at a modest house in Gurdev Nagar here when an elderly couple embraced their son after over two decades.

Khalistani ideologue and president of the Shiromani Khalsa Dal Daljit Singh Bittu arrived home to a warm welcome from family members, aides and friends here this evening. In the wake of Operation Bluestar, he had gone underground. Arrested in 1996 from a farm house near Anandpur Sahib, he was today released on parole for just 21 days from the high-security Nabha jail to get married.

Talking to The Tribune after meeting his aged parents, Dr Ajit Singh and Mrs Palwinder Kaur, the former chief of the All-India Sikh Students’ Federation rued the end of traditional Akali politics which had strived for fulfilling the aspirations of Sikhs, besides pursuing political goals.

"Nowadays, we see pygmies masquerading as Panthic leaders who are more interested in filling their pockets by subverting the verdict of the people. The cause of the Panth has been repeatedly sacrificed at the alter of political exigencies," he added.

Referring to the Parkash Singh Badal brand of politics, he said the sole aim of the Badals and their ilk was to maintain control over the coffers of the SGPC and use the money to fund their illegal activities.

The former hockey player and student of veterinary sciences at PAU said their party would aim to provide a direction to the Sikhs, especially youth. People are at the crossroads and are waiting for an opportunity to express their disgust with the current leadership, he opined.

He appealed to everyone to stop the blame game and do some serious soul searching. " Over the decades, the Sikh ideology has been eroded and events subverted as per a clever gameplan to sideline and project the community in bad light. It is our misfortune that uneducated and myopic leaders have been willing tools to carry out such evil designs for petty and personal gains," he pointed out.

Replying to a query on what motivated him to join the movement, Bittu said it was the call of the time and he could not strangle the voice of his conscience. " It was my duty towards the Panth,” he added.

Looking back at two tumultuous decades, he said Sikh youth today lacked role models and our aim would be to project our heroes and glorious past with greater clarity. Facing and overcoming challenges is a part of the Sikhs’ culture and every obstacle will be surmounted," he stressed.

He agreed that the Sikhs needed more educated leaders who were willing to work for a larger cause.


Rice millers asked to pay for ‘under-milled’ paddy
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 6
The Punjab Government, acting at the behest of the Central Government, has told rice millers in the state that nearly Rs 100 crore is to be recovered from them for alleged “under-milling” of paddy in the year 2001 during the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) rule.

The millers said was no “under-milling” and added that they went by the specifications of producing 64 kg of rice from 100 kg of paddy, issued by the then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

However, the Central Government said they were to produce 67 kg of rice from 100 Kg of paddy. Now, as fall out to the proposed recovery of this huge sum, various associations of rice millers have decided not to mill any paddy till specifications are spelt out in writing and contracts are signed.

The millers allowed government procurement agencies to stock paddy in their storehouses yesterday but added the rider of “no milling”.

The Central Government after protracted negotiations with the Punjab Government had concluded that in 2001 the millers provided 64 kg of rice for each quintal of paddy to the state procurement agencies.

On the other hand, they provided 67 kg of rice per quintal of paddy to the Food Corporation of India, thus denying the state agencies about 3 per cent of rice. This rice is valued at Rs 100 crore and the sum needs to be recovered from the millers, said sources in the Central Government.

Accordingly, about two weeks ago the state procurement agencies issued recovery notices. The millers met the Chief Minister and other senior ministers. Last week it was ordered that the recovery notices be “kept in abeyance”.

The idea was to get over with the paddy procurement and then deal with the issue of recoveries, confirmed a senior official.

Like this year, the specifications for paddy procurement had been lowered in 2001 following damage to the crops. Subsequently, on October 14, 2001, the specifications for rice production were also lowered to allow production of 64 kg per quintal of paddy. Normally 67 kg rice per quintal of paddy is the benchmark.

Interestingly the sources said in 2001 paddy started arriving in mandis on September 22 and it was procured at normal specification of 3 per cent damage till October 14. SAD, which was a constituent partner of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at the Centre got the specifications lowered to allow 8 per cent damaged paddy to be procured. Correspondingly, the specifications for paddy milling and rice output were lowered.

Now the Government of India is refusing to release this money to the Punjab Government saying the paddy procured between September 22 and October 14 was not to be covered under the lowered specification of 64 kg of rice for each quintal of paddy. Punjab had cleared the bills of the rice millers in 2001 by allowing this specification for the entire stock and did not impose the cut of date of October 14, 2001.

The President of the Punjab Rice Millers’ Association, Mr Tarsem Saini, said no milling of rice would take place this year unless the government notifies the specifications of rice production. We will first sign agreements and only then start work. He said “sending notices of recovery was unfair as we have already been paid the money by the procurement agencies.”


CCI, Markfed make symbolic purchase of cotton
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, October 6
Though the Markfed and the Cotton Corporation of India have entered the cotton market, they are making symbolic purchases across the cotton belt and farmers have gained little due to their presence.

Reports from parts of Malwa suggest that the farmers selling their produce at the MSP of Rs 1,835 in every market can be easily counted. The president of the District Arhtiya Association, Muktsar, Mr Gurdas Girdhar, told that 4,500 quintals of cotton arrived in the market today, of which the CCI and Markfed purchased 400 quintals each. He said though the market witnessed brisk buying, the prices hovered around 1810-15. He said if the government agencies speeded-up purchase, it would add to the cotton-growers’ returns.

Sources said out of the total arrival of 4,000 quintals in Malout, the CCI purchased 300 quintals, while Markfed procured about 500 quintals. In Gidderbaha, 1,500 quintals of cotton arrived in the market of which the CCI purchased 350 quintals. Abohar and Fazilka witnessed an arrival of 7,000 quintals and 3,000 quintals respectively. The CCI purchased 400 quintals of cotton in the former, while Markfed and CCI bought 300 quintals each in Fazilka. In Muktsar, the cotton price ranged between Rs 1810-15, while in Malout it was Rs 1775-1825 and around Rs 1,760 in private purchase. In Gidderbaha, the CCI purchased cotton at about Rs 1,800, while private buyers procured it at Rs 1,750-1,775. In Fazilka, cotton prices fluctuated between Rs 1,775-1,835, while in Abohar it was Rs 1,825.

Sources added that quality of cotton was likely to show a marked improvement after Monday and the prices would also shoot up. Though the CCI today entered the market of Kotkapura, here too it made a symbolic purchase. Both the agencies entered the market in Mansa on Wednesday. While Markfed purchased 200 quintals of cotton, the figure stood at 250 quintals for CCI. Meanwhile, the Bathinda market has recorded an arrival of 16,831 quintals of cotton between October 1-5, of which the CCI purchased 1,220 quintals and Markfed 955 quintals, while the private buyers procured the remaining 14,656 quintals.


Irregularity in weighing of paddy detected
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 6
Just when paddy growers heaved a sigh of relief due relaxation in specifications, a case of misappropriation in weighing paddy has come to light at a purchase centre at Jandawala village.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rahul Bhandari, unearthed this fraud during his visit to grain markets in some villages today. The DC on reaching the market at Jandawala asked for weighing purchased paddy again, which revealed that each bag contained 200-300 gm more.

Taking serious note of the matter, he cancelled weighing license of the agent concerned and asked the District Food and Supply Controller to penalize him.

He also visited the markets of Jeeda and Harraipur, where he asked the Markfed officials to issue notices to a Markfed inspector and an arhtiya for not using the specified colour of thread to seal sacks and not properly cleaning paddy packed in them.

The Markfed inspector was not present at the time of DC’s visit to the market, following which he ordered a probe into the matter, besides seeking a reply from him. He also checked the power and water arrangements at the markets. He asked the FCI officials at Jandawala grain market to speed up the procurement.

The DC also took stock of purchase of cotton at Goniana Mandi where the farmers rued slow procurement.

The DC asked the Markfed officials to quicken cotton purchase. He interacted with the farmers and assured them of swift procurement of paddy as well as cotton. He asked the district mandi officer to visit grain markets in the evening and report him on power arrangements.


FCI shies away from procurement
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, October 6
The Food Corporation of India (FCI) has procured only one third of paddy as compared to what it had in the corresponding period last year from various markets of the district.

As per information available, the FCI has markets of Muktsar, Doda, Dhulkot, Mahabadhar, and Mehrajwala. It has purchased only 6,000 quintals of paddy from these markets, whereas it had procured 21,000 quintals in the same period last year.

The purchase too has been made in the Muktsar and Dhulkot markets, while other markets have witnessed purchase by private parties. Farmers are surprised at the fact that private buyers would also sell their paddy to the government and why the FCI was shying away from procurement.

As compared to the FCI, Pungrain has purchased 17,000 quintals of paddy, Markfed 14,000 quintals and Punjab Agro 7,000 quintals. On the other hand, private buyers have purchased a whopping 6.5 lakh quintals of paddy. The farmers got an average price of Rs 605-612 per quintal.

Meanwhile, reports of delay in paddy procurement have been received from different pockets of Moga district. Sources said no bidding had taken place at many purchase centres after September 26. Sources said the farmers had been awaiting paddy procurement at a number of villages in the Dharamkot area for the last few days.


Forest officials destroy crops of poor farmer
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Sujanpur (Gurdaspur), October 6
Restaurants and hotels have come up on the banks of the UBDC canal and are operating under the vigilant eyes of the district authorities instead of acting against them, officials of the Forest Department destroyed the crops of a poor farmer, allegedly sown on irrigation land.

Bir Singh, a resident of Gandla Lehri, village was in for a surprise yesterday when large number of Forest Department officials and policemen came to his fields along with a tractor. They ransacked the crops of vegetables and paddy he had sowed lowing the five-acre land for the past six months. The temporary shelter, he had constructed to keep watch over his crop, was also ransacked.

Showing extra promptness in the matter, the forest officials also planted saplings on the land to mark their control. The saplings were planted despite the fact that period for planting saplings was over.

The logic of the officials was that the farmer, Bir Singh, was tilling the government land. However, Bir Singh, while talking to The Tribune, alleged that he had taken the land on lease from the Department of Irrigation and had put in hard labour to make the barren land cultivable.

Since the land became cultivable it came under the eyes of local politicians. The local minister has been trying to take control of the land from him. Earlier also, his crop was destroyed. However, the forest officials settled the issue by paying him compensation.

The police picked up his son to pressurise him to evict the land. He approached the Punjab and Haryana High court that appointed a warrant officer. The warrant officer got his son rescued from the illegal police custody.

The farmer alleged that he requested the officials concerned to allow him to reap his crop. However, they forcibly destroyed his crop.

The officials concerned, when contacted said they destroyed the crop on the orders of Deputy Commissioner Vivek Pratap Singh. However, the DC said he had not issued any eviction orders in the recent past. He said destroying the crop of a farmer was wrong and he would look into the matter. He, however, added that the officials might have used the eviction order issued him in distant past.

The SSP, Mr Pramod Bhan, said their role was limited to just providing security to the forest department officials.

The sources said many politicians of the ruling party have encroached upon land of the Irrigation Department in the area. Some have been constructed farm houses on the irrigation land. They were now eyeing the small piece of land in possession of Bir Singh.


Govt officials ‘creating trouble’ for farmers
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, October 6
A large number of farmers aligned with Bharti Kissan Union farmers (Ekta) held a rally here today in protest against the alleged “callous” behaviour of both the Central and Punjab governments to resolve their problems regarding smooth procurement of the paddy in the state.

Addressing the rallyists Mr Jagjit Singh Dalewala, president of the district body of the Kissan Union strongly condemned the senior representatives of both the governments for creating trouble for the farmers in the smooth procurement of their paddy crop under the pretext of the specifications.

Describing the recent decision of the union government for giving relaxation in the purchase of the produce just an eyewash, the leader categorically stated that the farming community will not tolerate such tactics and would fight to the last to get justice.

Saying that the damage to the crop was due to incessant rains in the state, he demanded that both the governments should allow more relaxation in the specifications for paddy purchase to save economic conditions of the farmers who were already under heavy debt.

Expressing concern over suicide by a farmer in Kapurthala district recently following the failure of the state agencies to purchase his produce timely, Mr Dalewala made it clear that if the governments failed to change their attitude towards the farmers in resolving their problems amicably, more of them may be compelled to follow the path of suicide.


Farmers protest police inaction
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 6
Activists of the Jamhoori Kisan Sabha and the Kirti Kisan Union, today held a protest dharna and gheraoed the DSP’s office, against the alleged police inaction in arresting the accused, responsible for razing the house of a retired state government teacher by the head of Gurdwara Tahli Sahib located on the Ajnala-Chugawan road here. They also organised a rally that passed through bazaars of the Ajnala.

Lakha Singh, the head sewadar of Gurdwara Tahli Sahib and his followers, carrying firearms, allegedly completely demolished the house of Jaswant Singh on September 26th. Jaswant Singh had alleged that the debris, along with furniture and other belongings, were dumped in the houses of some Congress workers at the behest of a Congress MLA.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Ratan Singh Randhawa of Jamhoori Kisan Sabha and Dr Satnam Singh of Kirti Kisan Union alleged that the political leaders, religious leaders and criminals, all had made a nexus and nobody was there to listen the grievances of people.

They demanded that the accused should be arrested without any delay and authorities should take stern action against them. He said the government should give Rs eight lakh as a compensation, besides repossession of the land and property of Jaswant Singh. They also appealed to the senior police officials to take to task the accused police officials for their alleged connivance with the accused baba.


Nayagaon rape case: Govt to order CBI probe
Our High Court Correspondent

Meanwhile, the father of the rape victim Balkar Singh met the new SIT chief, Mr Suresh Arora, and decided to join investigations. “I met Mr Arora in Mr Sumedh Singh Saini’s office. I was assured by Mr Saini that my daughter would be given justice by the new SIT. Both the IGs have also assured me that the DGP, Punjab, would ensure fair investigations into the case and there was no need for fear,” he said.

However, sources in the police department pointed out that Balkar Singh had “gone missing” from his house this morning. “And since he had yesterday threatened to commit suicide, a search operation was launched to locate him. We then requested Mr Saini to intervene and help us trace him. Mr Suresh Arora when contacted confirmed that he had met the father of the rape victim.

Chandigarh, October 6
The Punjab Government will handover investigation in the infamous Nayagaon rape case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The case pertains to the alleged rape of a minor girl by some influential persons and it is being investigated by a special investigation team (SIT) constituted on the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The government has moved an application in the High Court, informing it of its intention to hand over the investigation to the CBI shortly. The government is expected to issue a notification in this regard soon.

The case had hit headlines sometime back following the controversial arrest of Indian Express reporter Gautam Dheer by SIT for his alleged involvement in the case.

Following a spate of claims and counterclaims in the High Court, the Division Bench of Mr Justice Amar Dutt and Mrs Justice Kiran Anand Lall had on September 29 left it for the Punjab Government to adjudicate all pending issues in the matter “in accordance with law”. The issues included that of the journalist’s arrest and whether, his role in the main rape case should be delinked from the main case and handed over to the CBI for further investigation.

The DGP, Punjab, Mr S. S. Virk, on September 22, had informed the court that it was clear that Indian Express reporter Gautam Dheer was “in no way connected with the offence of rape registered in 2003 or with any other offence during the intervening period”. He had opined that Dheer’s case should be delinked from the main case and it could be entrusted to a senior police officer, who could “also go into the details of the manner in which his arrest was affected”.

However, the rape victim’s family as also IGP Sumedh Singh Saini, who was then heading SIT, had opposed any move to delink Dheer’s case from the main case. Mr Saini had also conveyed to the Punjab and Haryana High Court his intention to quit as SIT chief. Thereafter, the Punjab Government removed Mr Saini and designated IGP Suresh Arora as the SIT chief.

The application filed by the government today states that in view of the circumstances of the case and recent developments, it has been decided to hand over the investigation in the case to the CBI. The application is likely to come up tomorrow for hearing.


Rape case: remand of accused extended
Tribune News Service

Kharar, October 6
A local court today extended by one day the police remand of Labh Singh, arrested by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Punjab police probing into the Nayagaon rape case. Labh Singh, an alleged close associate of the accused in the case, was presented before the court following the end of his police remand. Meanwhile, a local court today remanded a DSP of Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) Kahan Singh to judicial custody.


SGPC’s Gurdas Hall, school locked
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 6
An unsavoury situation arose when local police today locked the SGPC’s Gurdas Hall, which houses a Serai and Senior Secondary School for Girls, thereby putting Sikh Sangat and students to lot of inconvenience here today.

The lock, put up yesterday evening was opened in the morning following strong protests, lodged by the Shiromani Committee authorities .The pilgrims who were staying in the Gurdaspur Hall could not attend the morning ceremonies of the Harmander Sahib, while the strength of the students was very low. Free bus service, between Harmander Sahib and Railways station to ferry the passengers, could not ply till 8 A.M. as the buses were parked inside the Gurdas Hall.

It is learnt that the district police swung into action on the basis of ‘disinformation’ that the SGPC authorities were planning to take the charge of a historical gurdwara in the border belt. The sources pointed out that heavy police force was also deployed in the periphery of Gurdwara Satlani Sahib in the border belt of Amritsar.

Senior SGPC employees had come to Gurdas Hall for evolving some ‘strategy’. However, on the pretext of averting any clash, the police virtually “gheraoed” the Gurdas Hall since yesterday evening.

Bibi Jagir Kaur, the SGPC chief had earlier alleged that certain influential persons had encroached upon the land belonging to Shiromani Committee in different districts, especially Amritsar and Gurdaspur. She had also appealed to them to clear the encroachments.

Taking serious note of the alleged interference in the ‘religious affairs’, the SGPC president described the police action as ‘undemocratic’. The press release of the SGPC claimed that the strategy was being worked out to recover over Rs 1 crore from the agriculture labour which was in possession of SGPC land at Gurdwara Teja Kalan and Ghanie Ke Bangar, Dera Baba Nanak (Gurdaspur district) . The staff was deputed for this purpose with due intimation to the concerned Deputy Commissioner and police stations.

The SGPC chief alleged that the supply of langar and milk for the children staying in the Gurdaspur Hall was hampered due to police action.

Though the police have denied any harassment to the Sikh Sangat, the senior functionaries of SGPC including manager of Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib were stopped at police nakas of Daburji and Beas etc. The SGPC employees and police officials also entered into verbal duel at some places.


Badal seeks clarifications on Dhar’s allegations
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 6
On the eve of the Congress Chief Ministers’ conclave here, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today shot-off a set of questions to the Congress.

The President of the SAD, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, asked the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, to break her silence on the disclosures made by a former Joint Director, Intelligence Bureau, Mr M.K. Dhar, in his book “Open Secrets”.

Mr Badal said in his book Mr Dhar had claimed that during the tenure of Rajiv Gandhi, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) carried out extensive undercover operations in Punjab in which top politicians of the country along with high ranking bureaucrats and security officials were in close contact with some of the most wanted Khalistani terrorists.

Mr Badal added that the author had claimed “those in the MHA, including the Home Minister, Mr Buta Singh, were engaged in sending not only massive sums of money to the most dreaded terrorists but even despatched the consignments of lethal weapons, which were used in the killings of innocents in Punjab.”

Quoting from the book, Mr Badal asked the Congress to either confirm or deny the following questions. “Did Rajiv Gandhi’s friend Satish Sharma met dreaded Khalistani terrorists, including Daljit Singh Bittu, on Rajiv Gandhi’s behalf and did the MHA not organise the dispatch of lethal weapons, including AK 47s?”

Mr Badal said Mr Dhar in his book had claimed that an attack was carried out against RSS workers at Daresi ground, Ludhiana, allegedly at the behest of the top brass of the MHA. Referring to the book, Mr Badal said the induction of Bhai Jasbir Sinh Rode into the Punjab political scene was an operation planned and executed at the level of the then Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi.

Challenging the Congress High Command to respond to these revelations in Dhar’s book, Mr Badal alleged that the book confirmed that the tragic violence was a plan of the Congress to communalise national politics.


3-member panel to monitor pollution by Budha Nala in Ludhiana
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 6
Almost three-and-a-half years after the Punjab State Human Rights Commission(PSHRC) took congizance of widespread pollution in the Budha Nala in Ludhiana, playing havoc with the health of residents, the commission has formed a three-member committee to monitor pollution and suggest remedial measures.

In his order, a Member, Mr BC Rajput, appointed a committee comprising Dr B. D Kansal, a retired Professor of Soils, Punjab Agricultural University, Dr Ajit Sood, Professor in the Department of Gastroenterology and Dr Vandana, Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, both from the Dayanand Medical College.

"The panel may specifically report as to how the flow of dirty water in the Budha Nala is causing pollution and the diseases to the population. The report should be self-contained suggesting the ways and means pointing out as to how the Budha Nala is polluting the underground water in certain areas and what remedial measures should be taken by the authorities concerned," the order said.

It may be recalled that acting on a petition filed by Mr C. S Bakshi, a human rights lawyer, the commission had taken congizance of water pollution in the Budha Nala and asked the authorities concerned to take remedial measures.

However, despite assurances from the authorities to the commission, a Ludhiana-based reporter of The Tribune, who was examined by Mr Bakshi as a witness, submitted that there was widespread pollution, especially ground water pollution, due to Budha Nala.

He stated that he had reported in the news items as to how the facts were being suppressed by certain persons. In fact, it was the reporter,who had suggested the names for the constitution of the committee "to bring out the truth and fix responsibility" with a view to providing relief to the harassed residents.

On their part, the Municipal Corporation of Ludhiana had filed a report claiming that all possible measures were being taken to clean the Budha Nala.The ultimate solution lies in the completion of the three sewerage treatment plants, it stated.

The Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board, in its status report, had reported that for environmental protection in the critical reaches of the Sutlej, an action plan amounting to Rs 230 crore covering Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Phagwara and Phillaur was being implemented.

Meanwhile, on an application filed by Mr Bakshi, it was reported on January 29,2004, that 42 per cent of the work had been completed and the remaining work would be competed before December 31, 2005.The commission has fixed November 21 as the next date of hearing in the case.


Probe report swept under carpet
Ravi Bhushan Puri

Pathankot, October 6
The Department of Cooperation, Punjab, has come under scanner for allegedly not forwarding the inquiry report against a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a local cooperative bank in which the inquiry officer has proposed registration of a criminal case against the CEO and others.

The inquiry report was reportedly forwarded to the Punjab Government, but the same was swept under carpet due to political influence of the Chief Executive Officer-cum-Managing Director of the bank.

Sources revealed that inquiry into the financial scam came into light when some local leaders raised hue and cry against the financial irregularities involving CEO and others in investing the public money in non-government bonds causing losses to the bank. The inquiry report also indicated various other irregularities committed by the MD.

The report has also recommended penalty for the indicted official and recovery of money invested in non-government bonds. Highly placed sources in the Department of Cooperatives said the report had been submitted to the Minister for Cooperation Punjab, Jasjit Singh Randhawa.

After the final report was submitted, the authorities concerned proposed registration of criminal case against the officials responsible for committing financial irregularities causing huge losses to the account holders and government exchequer.

The report also revealed that the bank MD has invested public money in non-government bonds and financially unstable institutions. Sources reveled that bank purchased 6000 bonds of Industrial Investment Bank of India, a Koltaka-based institution. Further, the bonds were sold on April 15 and 19 at a price of Rs 17,900 per bond against the prevailing market rate of Rs 17,950 on that day, thus causing losses to the bank.

The other allegation is that the bank money was invested in poor financial institutions such as Himachal Pradesh SDL.

When contacted, Registrar Punjab Cooperation Department, Mr Viswajit Khanna, said “matter was entirely official and truth will come out very soon which would be communicated.”

Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, said the report had been forwarded to Secretary, Cooperation, for action.

Interestingly, sources revealed that two senior Congress leaders had an altercation at Chandigarh over the proposed action against the MD.


Bungling alleged in relief for tsunami-hit
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 6
Opposition group of the local Service Club situated in historic Ram Bagh gardens led by Mr S.S. Chhina, yesterday complained to the DIG border range, Mr HS Randhawa, alleging lakhs meant for tsunami victims were embezzled by the then self-styled president of club Mr Sarabjit Singh Sandhu, and his brother Amritpal Singh Sandhu.

In the complaint with copies to the Prime Minister, the Chief Minister and the DGP, Mr Chhina alleged the accused collected Rs 200 per member promising that the money would be passed on the Deputy Commissioner for forwarding to the PM’s Relief Fund.

He said recently, Mr Sandhu was divested of the office of the president and the district administration appointed a receiver. He said it was found that money meant for tsunami victims was never passed on to the government and there was no trace of money. Mr Chhina alleged the accused cheated more than 2000 members of the club by embezzling the money.

Mr Sandhu, however, refuted the allegations and said that only a few members had submitted the money for tsunami funds and that too was late. Therefore, no money was deposited in the tsunami Relief Fund. He said the money was in the records of the service club. He added that he had not embezzled any money.


IT tribunal rebukes Commissioner (Appeals)
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 6
The local Bench of the Income Tax (IT) Tribunal in a judgement passed strictures against the commissioner (Appeals) and Assessing Officer.

The case was instituted by assessee Maj-Gen Kanwarjit Singh Gill who as legal heir had filed Income Tax return for his late mother Narinder Kaur Gill.

It was observed by the appellate tribunal, represented by judicial member Bhavnesh Saini and assented by account member Joginder Pall that the “assessing officer had made heavy additions in an arbitary manner, which were stamped with approval by the Commissioner (Appeals)”.

The tribunal also awarded legal costs of Rs 5,000 to General Gill.


Dalits demand free power
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 6
Demanding free domestic power supply for Dalits, labourers and the Christian community, the Pendu Mazdoor Union held a demonstration here yesterday.

The members gathered outside Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall in the morning and marched toward the DC complex to present a memorandum. As the members were not allowed to enter the complex, they sat in dharna in front of he complex gate, forcing police personnel to allow them to go inside.

The members led by district president Hans Raj demanded that the scheme being offered by the government would only benefit 1 per cent of the Dalits.

The members raised slogans against the government and declared that they may have to resort to more agitations if their demand was not met.


Villagers gherao PSEB staff
Tribune News Service

Moga, October 6
Residents of Kokri Kalan village today gheraoed the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) employees who had gone there to cut off power connection of the village’s waterworks due to non-payment of electricity bill.

According to sources, a nine-member team of the board reached the waterworks to cut off power connection, but before they could do anything a large number of villagers reached the waterworks. They asked the board staff to restore the power supply, but they denied. Women protesters then reportedly snatched some cables from their hands and forced them to leave without snapping the power supply. 


PSEB union stages dharna
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, October 6
Employees of the Technical Services Union (TSU), PSEB circle, staged a dharna and held rally at the local mini-secretariat to protest against the failure of the district police to nab all culprits allegedly responsible for throwing acid on a JE near Panjgrain village in the district over two months back.


Punjab to set up 1,000 broiler farms
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 6
The Punjab Government has planned to set up 1,000 commercial broiler farms of 2000 birds’ capacity each.

Farmers opting for this can avail loans and a sum of Rs 30 crore has been earmarked for this during the current financial year.

The project is to be launched in the districts of Fatehgarh Sahib, Ropar, Hoshiarpur and Nawanshahr. 


4-laning: oustees want compensation

Hoshiarpur, October 6
Apprehending eviction due to the four-laning of the Jalandhar-Pathankot National Highway 1-A, at least 24 residents of the Tanda Municipal Council have demanded compensation for their landholdings and rehabilitation.

They have sought an impartial assessment of their property and sufficient time to surrender their landholdings.

In a representation to the Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur, they have demanded proper compensation to avoid arbitration and litigation. — TNS


high court
Govt asked to file affidavit on allotment of flats
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 6
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the Punjab Government to file an affidavit as to whether the decisions taken by it regarding allotment of flats and booths in the meetings presided over by the previous Chief Minister are part of the deliberations of the two committees set up by the Prime Minister.

During resumed hearing on the application filed by the Danga Perit Welfare Society (Punjab), Ludhiana, the Bench comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice D.K. Jain and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta was requested by the government to grant four more months' time for taking a final decision on the issue of allotment of flats and booths to the riot victims.

The society has pleaded for restraining the respondents, including the government and PUDA, from conducting draw of lots or making allotment of vacant flats in 504 LIG Scheme, Urban Estate, Dugri Road, Phase II, Ludhiana, to persons other than the riot-affected, Seeking more time, the government application stated that the Prime Minister has constituted two committees for rehabilitation and employment of the 1984 anti-Sikh riot victims and their families.

However, to this counsel for the petitioner society wondered what the committees had to do with the cases of the members of the society.

The hearing will now resume on November 8.


Pardoned DSPs to get full service benefits
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 6
The Punjab Police will give full service benefits to two Deputy Superintendents of Police, whose sentences had been pardoned by the Punjab Governor, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd) recently.

The Governor had pardoned the sentences of Swaran Singh and Jaspal Singh, respectively. Swaran Singh will be deemed retired as he has crossed the age limit to serve in government job. He will get full pensionary benefits with retrospective effect.

Jaspal Singh, is still eligible to serve, will get back his rank and avail all consequential benefits like salaries arrears, provident fund deposits and fresh pay fixation. Senior officials of the Punjab confirmed that this was the first time that policemen convicted during the days of terrorism had been pardoned. Besides these two, five more policemen have been convicted and are undergoing sentences in separate cases.

Another 32 policemen are facing trial in separate cases for having allegedly committed excesses during the days of militancy. Out of these, 22 cops have obtained a stay on their trial from either the Supreme Court or the High Court.

The Governor has used his powers under the Article 161 of the Indian Constitution to grant pardon. The Home Department has issued orders informing the police about the pardon.

In the case of Swaran Singh, he was convicted for having allegedly picked up a brother of a terrorist from Jalandhar and killed him. He was posted in the CIA staff, Hoshiarpur. He was undergoing life imprisonment.


‘Canteen owner’ murdered

Sangrur, October 6
Mr Chaman Lal (27), who ran a canteen at Civil Hospital, Dhuri, was reportedly found “murdered” near Benra village, on the Sangrur-Dhuri road this morning. He reportedly had gone to Benra village to bring milk last evening.

Dr Ramesh Sharma, who today conducted a post-mortem examination of the body at the Dhuri Civil Hospital, told The Tribune this evening that there were three injuries of sharp-edged weapon on the body of Chaman Lal. Two on neck and one on his arm, he added.

Dr Anup Kad, SMO, Civil Hospital, Dhuri, said contract of the hospital’s canteen was in the name of Mr Chaman Lal’s father, who died some time ago. After the death of father, Chaman Lal and his brother started running the canteen jointly. A case has been registered. — TNS


7 members of Kale Kachhewala gang held
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, October 6
The local police has arrested seven members of an inter-state Kale Kachhewala gang.

In a press conference held here today, the SSP, Gurdaspur, Mr Pramod Bhan, said at about 2.30 am last night the police received an information that the house of Malkiat Singh at Garden Colony on the Dhaki road had been burgled.

Police parties surrounded the area. They managed to nab seven members of the suspected Kale Kachhewala gang that committed the robbery. Those arrested were identified as Bhani, Birju and Rajesh, all residents of the Banoor area in Patiala, Iqbal, Suleman, Hardoi and Najid, all residents of Rampur district of Uttar Pradesh.

The gang had killed 32 persons while committing robberies in Punjab, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh. During interrogation the gang members admitted to committing a large number of robberies and killing people in the process.

A double-barrel gun and sharp-edged weapons were recovered from the accused.

The SSP said most of the arrested members of the gang belonged to the nomadic Shiman Kalandar tribe. Earlier, they used to commit robberies in the area ranging about 100 to 150 km from their encampment.

Over a period of time they had changed their modus operandi. The members of the gang carried out a recce in different areas. After finalising the target they came from different directions, generally on trains. They got together just to carry out the crime.

After committing the crime they again split and gathered at a pre-decided point to distribute the booty.


Four killed in accidents

Jalandhar, October 6
Four persons, including two brothers, were today killed in different accidents in the city.

The two brothers identified as surinder yadav and Varinder Yadav, were killed at G.T. Road near the focal point area, as their bicycle was rammed by a private bus from the rear side, resulting in their demise on the spot, the police sources said.

The trade union workers of the focal point area held a demonstration in protest against the large rate of accidents in the area.

In a separate accident, an old person, identified as telu ram, a resident of Randhawa Masanda village, was crushed under the wheels of a local mini bus at his village.

In another incident in the city, one unidentified person was killed in the road accident in cantonement area, the police sources said, adding that efforts were on to identify the deadbody as well as the erring vehicle, involved in the accident.

Meanwhile, the cases regarding the accidents had been registered in the concerned police stations and the deadbodies were sent to the local Civil Hospital for post-mortem, police sources added. — PTI


Lecturer run over by truck
Our Correspondent

Kharar, October 6
A woman living in Phase VII here was allegedly run over by a truck near the sales tax barrier at Balongi village here today.

The deceased was coming back on a bicycle from a school in Badmajra village, when the accident took place. It is reported that the school is run by the son of the deceased and she was coming back after meeting him.

According to the police, the deceased worked as a lecturer in a college at Ropar.

The police has registered a case under Section 279 and 304 A of the IPC against the driver of the truck.


Girl from Bangladesh held against her wishes
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, October 6
Sahina, a girl from Bangladesh in her teens, is waiting to be rescued from her husband in Bhulana village situated near the rail coach factory here.

According to sources, Sahina was married to a more than 30-year-old cousin of a renowned landlord of the area. The cousin, who couldn’t get married in Uttar Pradesh where he lived, came to Punjab in search of a bride. Getting no success in finding a bride for himself, the family of the landlord decided to marry him to a Bangladeshi girl, whom they bought from an unidentified local resident.

Whenever she insists on leaving, the landlord and his family snubs her, saying they have paid money for her to get here.

Though Sahina is not allowed to go out of the home alone, she managed to send a letter written in Bengali expressing her helplessness in returning home at the address of one Bimal Krishan Das of Gair Khali village, Khalo, Badher Hat Khulna, Bangladesh.


Relatives, gunman of MLA beat up man
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 6
The relatives and the gunman of an MLA, brutally tortured Tejinder Singh, a resident of village Bal Kalan under Majitha Police district, who was being falsely implicated in a theft case.

Alleging this, Mr Balwinder Singh Dhudhala, of district unit of CPI (Rural) alleged that on October 3, Tejinder, who is a labourer, was picked up by the relatives and the gunman of the MLA, who threw him in the Majitha police station, after torturing him for unknown reasons. He alleged that Tejinder was now being falsely implicated in a theft case that happened about a month back.

Ms Vibhu Raj, SSP Majitha, has marked inquiry to DSP (D) in the case, who would submit his report within a few days, claimed Mr Dhudhala, in a press release issued here today.


Eight held for attempt to murder
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 6
The police has made eight arrests in the case of attempt to murder of a doctor at Satnam Memorial Hospital here.

The police has registered a case under Sections 307, 427, 148 and 149 of the IPC against the eight accused — Rajinder, Harjit Singh, Vijay Kumar, Balbir Kumar, Jaspal, Pawan Kumar, Surender Singh and Paramjit Singh.


Heroin seized from J&K cops
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 6
The district police arrested two Jammu and Kashmir policemen for allegedly possessing heroin worth Rs 70 lakhs here late last night. A case has been registered

The accused identified as Kamal Kishore and Suraj Parkash, constables J&K police, came on a car numbering WB02-G-6699.

During checking, the police recovered 300 grams and 400 grams of heroin from Kamal and Suraj, respectively. 


House burgled

Abohar, October 6
Burglars took away 45 tola gold ornaments and Rs 1.5 lakh from a house in the Old Suraj Nagari locality. Dr B.D. Chaudhry, a Mumbai-based film distributor, said he went on a pilgrimage to Mata Vaishno Devi on Monday. His son yesterday received a phone call from a friend that locks of their house in Street No. 3 of Old Suraj Nagari were found broken. — OC


Students to protest on Oct 13, 14
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 6
To support the demands of students of Punjabi University, Patiala, seven student organisations of Punjab will hold protests and demonstrations at all district and tehsil headquarters on October 13 and 14, according to Mr Gurmukh Singh Mann of the Punjab Students Union.

The students bodies, under the banner of the Punjabi University Students Confederation, yesterday criticised the Vice-Chancellor, Mr Swaran Singh Boparai,accusing him of making irresponsible statements. Student leaders had claimed that the Vice-Chancellor’s statement in a letter to Rajya Sabha MP, Mr Nilotpal Basu, was false. Mr Boparai had claimed that out of 26 protesters picked up by the police on September 30 from outside the university gate, 15 were not on roll of the university, was not true.

In fact, according to student leader Gurpal Singh Dhaliwal, all protesters were registered with the university. They furnished a list of all arrested students, along with their departments and courses.

Almost a month after the closure of the Department of Law in Punjabi University authorities, on the recommendation of the faculty of the department, decided to resume teaching work in the department in a phased manner. To start with, teaching work in LLB-I morning and evening classes and LLM-I and LLM-II classes will be started from October 10, according to information provided by Dr B.S. Sandhu, Director, Public Relations, yesterday.

The Department of Law was closed on September 9 following a strike by students of the department who were demanding the scrapping of the internal assessment, besides other demands. The university authorities had taken a different view and termed them as incidents of hooliganism and disruptive activities and accused student leaders of taking help of outsiders.

“Now that the nefarious designs of disgruntled elements failed to evoke any response from common students and the whole university functioned normally, the authorities have decided to open the department also,” said Dr Sandhu.

They welcomed the restart of teaching work in the department, saying that the students had already lost too many teaching days. The department should not have been closed at all, said Mr Dhaliwal.

He also accused Mr Boparai of making irresponsible statements and not being able to solve the problems of the students.


PRTC chief interacts with students
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 6
A “meet-the-student journalists” programme was organised at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Punjabi University, Patiala, today.

Veteran journalist and Chairman, PRTC, Ved Prakash Gupta, who was the chief guest of the function, interacted with students. He said: “Under the new KM Scheme, students will be provided with concessional bus passes and that Patiala will have a modern bus stand within a year.”

He hoped that students would stay away yellow journalism. He added that he would soon organise a five-day workshop for journalists in association with the department.

Head of the department H.P.S. Walia, and Head, Publication Bureau of the university, Satish Sharma also spoke on the occasion.


Zonal Youth Festival

Amritsar, October 6
The Zonal Youth Festival for Men (A-Zone), Guru Nanak Dev University, will be held from October 8-10 at Dasmesh Auditorium.

According to Mr Baljit Singh Sekhon, Director, Youth Welfare, teams of affiliated colleges situated in the districts of Amritsar and Gurdaspur would take part in this three-day festival. — OC

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