P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab in election mode
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, October 16
The political scenario in Punjab seems to be fast heading for elections. The elections to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha are due to be held in February 2007 and only 15 months are left for the same.

A critical look at the proceedings of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Akali behaviour and the Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s spirited defence of the actions taken by him, including free power supply to farmers and Dalits all point to the preparations for the Vidhan Sabha elections. The Chief Minister has further announced that he would soon take more steps for the welfare of the farming community and also the trading community.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal as a tireless campaigner leaves no stone unturned to counter any such move on the part of the government. He is travelling too frequently and is trying to remain in contact with his rank and file. Mr Badal does not leave any opportunity to present his adversary, Capt Amarinder Singh, in bad light.

The Congress has appointed a Dalit Sikh as president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo started with gust and it looked as if he had been able to generate enthusiasm among the Congress ranks. Soon it was discovered that his dynamism could result in revival of factionalism in the Congress and Mr Dullo sensed the mood immediately and is now trying to project himself as the sword arm of the Chief Minister. The unstinted support by the PPCC president to the actions of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau and his reprimand to the ministers for airing their views is being viewed as an example. The Congress organisation under Mr Dullo does not let any opportunity slip out of its hands to galvanise the masses on the festive occasions. In the recent past a good number of rallies have been held where Akali bashing, corruption and such other issues remained in focus. The Chief Minister insists that his government has honoured the promises made in the election manifesto. Capt Amarinder Singh regards Akalis as his main opponents and he particularly refers to the Punjab peasants who are considered traditional supporters of the Akali Dal. The Chief Minister takes pride in enumerating the achievements of his government and in particular his contribution in bringing the people of Pakistan Punjab and Indian Punjab closer. He also does not fail to forget Sikh devotees who are keen on visiting Nankana Sahib and refers to the upcoming Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus service. The Chief Minister also claims to have improved the economic position of Punjab.

The Akalis on the other hand attack the wayward habits of Chief Minister and they also make personal attacks on him. The Akalis are trying to make capital out of the current mess in procurement of paddy and cotton in the state despite the fact that there had been smooth procurement of the three main crops during the past three years and farmers were put to least difficulty. While defending themselves on the corruption front, the Akalis do not fail to mention the Nehra Commission report.

While the Congress is trying to put up a united face, the Akali supremo Parkash Singh Badal is trying to have a contact with splinter Akali groups and win them over before the Vidhan Sabha elections. Mr Badal has forgotten the beating his Akali Dal received as a result of the separation of Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra. He is also keeping a close watch on the mood of the rank and file vis-a-vis the religious situation in the SGPC.

At the same time there is talk of forming a third front in Punjab and some Akali factions, including Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, Akali Dal (Amritsar) has started talking about the same. Mr Mann has been able to establish his credibility with a sizeable section of the Sikhs and this was amply demonstrated during his detention on charges of sedition. However, there seems to be no such possibility. The people in Punjab think that the power scene in Punjab will be a sea-saw game between the Congress and the Akali Dal.


SAD (A) against more water to UT from Bhakra
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 16
Opposing proposed supply of two crore gallons of more drinking water to residents of Chandigarh from the Bhakra through the recently completed fourth pipeline, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) has threatened that farmers of Punjab would launch a statewide stir in case more water was supplied to Chandigarh by Punjab in accordance of wishes of the Adviser to the Chandigarh Administration.

The SAD (Amritsar) also questioned the Chandigarh administration and the Punjab Chief Secretary why more water should be supplied to Chandigarh from Kajauli headworks on Bhakra canal when the water actually belonged to farmers of Punjab and when no agreement between Punjab and Chandigarh existed for supply of water?”

The Adviser to the Chandigarh administration has reportedly written to the Punjab Chief Secretary to further ask the BBMB for release of 2 crore gallons of water for Chandigarh through recently completed fourth pipeline. Three such pipelines, each with two crore gallon capacity, were already reportedly drawing water from Kajauli and the Chandigarh administration was said to be envisaging construction of two more pipelines of four crore gallons capacity in the next phase of city beautiful’s development.

Reacting to move of the Chandigarh administration to fetch more water from Punjab, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, chief of the SAD (Amritsar) has written to the Punjab Chief Secretary. Mr Maan has asked the Punjab government to make it public if any agreement for supplying of water to Chandigarh from Punjab existed between Punjab and Chandigarh.

“Punjab should learn a lesson from Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, who, has refused to supply water to the Sonia Gandhi water works in Delhi, which, was completed a year back and was lying unutilised for want of water. Even PM Dr Manmohan Singh has spoken to Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav regarding this, but, he has refused to budge,” said Mr Mann.

Expressing its concern over burgeoning migrant population in Chandigarh, where nearly four lakh slum-dwellers had already settled, Mr Mann alleged that the Chandigarh administration was encouraging slum-dwellers by providing them with unlimited quantity of free water. “As there is no water shortage, more and more migrants are coming daily to Chandigarh and they are being settled as a policy of the BJP, the Congress and the SAD (Badal) to change demography of the city just as the Chinese government was setting Han people in Tibet,” said Mr Mann, who, was accompanied by senior party leader Bhai Ram Singh and others.

Mr Maan maintained that giving water to any state by the Punjab government was a legal and constitutional matter, but, it could not be given as per whims and fancies of any leader or government. “The Captain Amarinder Singh government has passed the termination of Water Act, but, kept Section 5 in the act, with the connivance of the leader of opposition Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to legalise what previous leaders have already surrendered arbitrarily to Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi and Chandigarh. This clause in the Act is totally outside the scope of law and the Constitution and it is unacceptable to people of Punjab,” asserted Mr Mann.


Punjab’s “crorepati defaulters”
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 16
A select band of entrepreneurs can be called Punjab’s “crorepati defaulters”. They are the entrepreneurs who benefited anything between Rs 1 crore and Rs 5 crore when part of their unpaid loans were written off as bad loans.

In all 29 “crorepati defaulters” are part of the total 543 entrepreneurs who were in “no position” to repay loans taken from public sector companies of the Punjab Government.

The companies floated by these entrepreneurs have availed of the benefits offered under the one-time settlement (OTS) policy for such defaulting units.

The Punjab Financial Corporation and the Punjab Industrial Development Corporation had floated their OTS policies to recover bad debts following the announcement of the Industrial Policy 2003.

For the state government, the policy has freed a major chunk of the nearly Rs 325- Rs 350 crore locked up in bad debts. Close to Rs 230-Rs 240 crore has been recovered.

As per the policy, the state decided to sacrifice a portion of the unpaid loan and recover a portion of the loan from these 543 entrepreneurs. Official sources said the plan of the government was to revive the industrial sector which has been suffering since long.

Sources said most of these loans pertain to the period when lending rates were high. While the banks lowered their rates, state public sector companies could not lower these as they had borrowed from other financial institutions to finance industry in Punjab.

In most cases, about 20 per cent to 30 per cent of the pending loan had to be sacrificed. The gainers turned out to be defaulters, whose unpaid dues ran into crores. Some of them got a waiver of up to 60 per cent.

Leading the group is a Patiala-based company which was to pay Rs 6.29 crore as loan. It managed to pay only 61 lakh and the rest Rs 5.68 crore had to be written off as “financial sacrifice” by the state.

A hotel in Jalandhar benefited Rs 1.35 crore. Two paper mills in Ropar and Hoshiarpur gained Rs 8.50 crore and Rs 2 crore, respectively.

An agro-chemical company owed Rs 4.90 crore, but it got away paying Rs 1.15 crore, gaining Rs 3.74 crore. A Bathinda-based pharma company benefited Rs 2.79 crore while another drug manufacturing unit in Faridkot gained Rs 2.28 crore. The examples are numerous and those whose gained between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 1 crore are sizeable in number. 


Despite fake degrees, teachers continue to serve
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, October 16
Three hundred teachers who acquired jobs against posts of ETT teacher using fake BEd degrees are still serving. They are drawing salaries and working as teachers in government schools despite the fact that about six months ago in a verification the degrees on the basis of which they acquired the job were found to be fake.

The teachers had acquired fake degrees from Maghad University in Madhya Pradesh and got recruited by giving kickbacks during the regime of the former SAD-BJP government. The former government had recruited about 7,200 BEd and ETT candidates against posts of ETT teacher.

The Tribune first highlighted the scam. The Punjab and Haryana High Court, admitting an public interest litigation filed on the basis of the news, directed the Department of Education to enquire into the matter.

On the directive of the court, the department formed committees to verify the degrees acquired from out-of-state universities by the teachers.

The committees initially found the degrees of over a 100 candidates to be fake. Most of the fake degrees were acquired from Maghad University.

The department submitted a report in this regard to the Punjab and Haryana High Court and ousted over a 100 teachers. A former Secretary, Education, directed the committees to verify the degrees of all candidates recruited by the department.

Subsequent inquiries conducted by the committees have till date found the degrees of 300 more teachers to be fake.

However, the department has not removed them from the job.

Sources said lower-rung officials of the department were not forwarding the case to higher officials to delay action.


CM inaugurates colony, skips bus terminal
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 16
Unmindful of the problems being faced by the residents of the holy city and tourists coming from various parts of the country, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh yesterday inaugurated a private housing colony.

Earlier, he was scheduled to inaugurate the ultra-modern bus terminal in the holy city. Instead of inaugurating the bus terminal, the CM has given his assent to inaugurate the formal launching of a private housing colony being constructed by a real estate private company.

Residents and tourists of the city are facing severe problems due to traffic chaos and congestion in the make shift bus stand on the crowded GT Road. They expressed total disillusionment with the functioning style of the Chief Minister as they had to go about two km further away to board a bus.

Further, the illegal parking of private buses outside the new bus terminal besides encroachments has added to the woes of the residents.

The residents have been waiting for a long time for the inauguration of the Bus terminal, which is first of its kind in Asia having a number of modern facilities.

The residents alleged that the Chief Minister was more interested in the obliging the private companies rather than solving the problems of the common man.


Major increase in area under maize
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 16
Punjab Agro announced today that it had surpassed its target of contract farming for new and high-yielding varieties of maize for kharif 2005, covering more than 57,700 acres against the target of 54,000 acres.

In Hoshiarpur alone, over 25,000 acres have been brought under maize contract farming. The other districts which have benefited from the same this year are Nawanshahr (8,629 acres), Ropar (9,000 acres), Jalandhar (7,896 acres), Kapurthala (1,205 acres), Gurdaspur (2,500 acres), Patiala (1,650 acres), Ludhiana (600 acres) and Fatehgarh Sahib (700 acres).

With this, the crop diversification programme has got a further impetus. Incidentally, during Kharif 2003, as much as 28,089 acres were brought under contract farming of maize, which increased to 31,857 acres in 2004.

According to Mr Joginder Singh Mann, Chairman, Punjab Agro Foodgrains Corporation: “The contract farming programme has benefited the contracted as well as non-contracted farmers both. Due to Punjab Agro’s intervention in the market and the offer of assured buy-back, farmers have started getting better prices for their produce. Judicious use of inputs, machinery and technology has been promoted. Machinery had been provided to farmers free of charge which resulted in optimum utilisation of inputs. This programme had brought about efficiency in the entire agri-business system,” he added.

Giving details of the increased market rates, Mr Himmat Singh, Managing Director of the corporation said, “The contracted MSP of maize - Rs 540 per quintal has led to increase in its market rate, thus benefiting the farmers. The prevalent market price ranges between Rs 590 and Rs. 640 per quintal and the produce is being procured in the open market immediately on arrival.”

About the arrangements made for procuring the produce of farmers, Mr Kripa Shankar Saroj, Managing Director, PAFC, said: “We are fully geared up to procure maize crop. Adequate arrangements have been made at all 24 procurement centres in all nine districts.”

This year, late rains caused a lot of damage through disease and discolouration to paddy, but maize has not been affected. Maize requires much less irrigation than paddy and is also an important source of cattle fodder, poultry feed and a wide range of other food products.


A Tribune Exclusive
PNRC: Govt for major structural changes
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 16
Faced with growing concerns over the irregular and highly controversial manner of functioning of the Punjab Nurses Registration Council (PNRC), which is mandated the task of supervising and recognising nursing training institutes, the Punjab Government is considering drastic measures to “remove structural weaknesses” in the PNRC.

According to highly-placed sources, the Legal Remembrancer (LR), Punjab, is studying the feasibility of carrying out amendments to the Punjab Nurses Registration Act, 1932.

The amendments, if and when carried out, would have a major impact on the functioning of the PNRC.

Lately, the PNRC has been in the eye of a storm following highly questionable decisions regarding grant of affiliation and recognition to private nursing institutes, majority of which don’t have the requisite infrastructure.

One of the major changes envisaged in a note prepared by Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, Secretary, Medical Education and Research, Punjab, is change in the composition of the PNRC.

The note, which has been approved by Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who also holds the charge of Medical Education, suggests increase in the strength of members of the PNRC.

Presently, the PNRC is a 13-member body, including the President (Director, Research and Medical Education). The other members include four nursing superintendents of hospitals where nursing students are trained, four registered nurses (nominated by the government), two registered nurses (elected), one registered health visitor (elected) and one registered midwife (elected).

Now, the department has proposed that the President of the Punjab Medical Council, Chairman of the Punjab Dental Council, seniormost Principal of the Government Medical College in Punjab, one of the principals of a government nursing college, Registrar of Baba Farid University, Faridkot, one nominee each of the Indian Nursing Council, the PGIMER, Chandigarh, and the Director of Government Mental Hospital, Amritsar, should also be members of the PNRC.

It has also been proposed that only a group A government officer, who is a postgraduate degree-holder, should be appointed Registrar of the PNRC.

In order to bring transparency in the functioning of the PNRC, Mr Kaushal has suggested that the council should maintain a up-to-date website containing all information as also decisions taken by it. The private colleges recognised by the PNRC, it has been further suggested, should also maintain websites. The college websites must contain complete data regarding the infrastructure and faculty etc.

Sources told The Tribune that once the LR vetted the proposed amendments, the same would be put up before the Council of Ministers.


Burglary in Kharar house valuables stolen
Tribune News Service

Kharar, October 16
In a daring daylight burglary, thieves decamped with cash and valuables reportedly worth lakhs from the house of a government servant here this morning.

According to the police, the owner, Mr Sant Singh, was out with his family when the burglary took place. The family was preparing for the wedding of their son and it has claimed that it had lost the entire collection of gold and valuables.

Mr Sant Singh told the police that he had left home with his wife this morning at 10 am to distribute wedding cards. His two sons, Harvinder and Baljinder who run a tent house business in Kharar had also gone out for work. The two came back home at 2pm and found the house ransacked.

“We entered from the front gate by opening locks. When we went inside the house we realised that a theft had taken place. Every almirah in the house had been broken and ransacked. A sum of Rs 90,000 in cash and the valuable items, including a large amount of gold, collected for the wedding are missing,” said Harvinder whose wedding is on November 5.

According to the police, the thieves who were most likely in a group, had gained entry to the house from the back gate. “First they opened the latch of the outer door by cutting the wire mesh. Once inside, they tried to break the main door of the house. But they failed. Finally, they broke the grills of the windows and gained entry inside. Then they opened the main door, said Mr Raj Bachan Singh Sandhu, DSP Kharar. The thieves seemed to have spent at least an hour in the house and they checked every storage place. “Every valuable item that could be carried in small bags had been taken away,” pointed out Mr Sant Singh.

Mr Sandhu added that the burglary seemed to be the handiwork of someone who knew that there was a wedding in the family. “We have rounded up some persons and are questioning them. We would be able to nab the thieves shortly,” he said.

The family, however, alleged that the police reacted very late to the incident. “The police was called at 2.30 pm but they reached almost two hours late,” according to a close relative of the family. Later a dog squad and a finger print expert team was also called to the house for investigations. A case under Sections 454, 380 of the IPC has been registered.

The ransacked house following a daylight burglary in Kharar on Sunday.


Judge’s murder: police questions kin
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 16
After getting a clue to the murder of Mr Vijay Singh, presiding officer, Labour Court, Chandigarh, the police raided different places in the district in the past 48 hours.

The police claimed it were yet to make any breakthrough in the case but 48 residents of this district, including a doctor couple have been questioned in this connection in the past two days.

Mr V.K. Bhawra, DIG, Patiala range, monitoring the investigation of the case, said the police had got a number of clues to the case but these could not be disclosed as it could hamper investigation.

Several people including a lady doctor running a clinic in this town and his husband, close kin of the deceased, his friends from this and other towns had been questioned by the police.


20 villages get uninterrupted power supply
Our Correspondent

Abohar, October 16
Mr B.K. Bindal, Member (Operations), PSEB, yesterday inaugurated 24-hour power supply line for 20 more villages at the Khuyiansarwer subdivisional office. Mr Sajjan Kumar Jakhar, former Minister for Irrigation and Cooperation, joined Mr Bindal in switching on the supply and presided over the function.

With this 55 villages of the area have been covered under the 24-hour supply scheme, Mr Bindal said. Rest of the villages, numbering 10 only, would be provided the same facility by November 14, birthday of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru. The project launched today had cost Rs 160 lakh to the PSEB.

He said that so far 10,000 villages in Punjab had been provided with 24-hour supply lines, but the supply could be ensured for 13 hours in the coming season unless new resources for power generation were explored. The board had planned to extend the 24-hour facility by laying new lines to rest of the villages by December 31. He denied that the contractors had left the job incomplete, delay in some cases was due to irrigation timings, he added.

Claiming that the PSEB was committed to ensuring uninterrupted supply of power to its consumers Mr Bindal said that the board had purchased electricity from other states by Rs 2400 crore this year so that the farmers could be supplied power atleast for eight hours daily.

Mr Bindal and Mr Jakhar requested the consumers not to waste power and refrain from theft.


20 vehicles running on LPG challaned
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 16
Taking serious notice of the rising use of domestic LPG in vehicles after hike in oil prices, the District Transport Officer has challaned 20 four-wheelers for violating norms in the past couple of days.

Talking to The Tribune, DTO Charandev Singh Mann said the practice of using domestic LPG in private vehicles and taxis had been catching up in the city.

He said apart from being a traffic hazard, it was violative of the Motor Vehicle Act. He said there were at least 500-600 vehicles running on the LPG in the city and they were contributing to the prevailing LPG crisis.

He said even two-wheeler owners, especially milkmen, had got small cylinders installed on their vehicles.

The DTO said the vehicle owners should follow a set procedure for switching over to the LPG.

He said they should get prescribed gas kits installed by the company authorised by the State Transport Commissioner and then apply for change in mode of fuel with the department, for which they required to pay a nominal fee.

He warned that the department would challan more vehicles and those using LPG in illegal manner would be dealt with strictly. 


Bhattal opens NGO’s centre
Tribune News Service

Lehragaga (Sangrur), October 16
Deputy Chief Minister, Punjab, and local MLA Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today inaugurated a food processing, tailoring and stitching centre of the Bisnouli Sarvodaya Gramodyog Sewa Sanstha (BSGSS), a Delhi-based nongovernmental organisation (NGO), here.

BSGSS secretary, New Delhi, Nandita Bakshi, project director, ATMA, Sangrur, Kuldip Singh, and members of various self-help groups were present on the occasion.

Ms Bhattal also flagged off a “free health services van” of the NGO for providing medical facilities in villages under its rural health programme.

The van has been donated by the Baba Hira Singh Bhattal Memorial Trust, while the NGO will spend Rs 35,000 per month on the medical facilities.

Addressing the gathering, Ms Bhattal appreciated the services being provided by the NGO in the Lehragaga block.

She also appreciated the services of Nandita Bakshi towards society. She expressed the hope that the projects, started by the NGO, would play a big role in the uplift of the poor rural women.

The NGO also launched the marketing of products, like “papad”, pickle, organic manure, jam, “murabba”, cushions and embroidery items prepared by members of self-help groups in the block.

The NGO had chosen the district about seven months ago to make its more than two lakh economically dependent women self-reliant by forming 5,000 self-help groups in five years.

Talking to The Tribune, Ms Bakshi said the NGO had fulfilled its promise by starting projects in the block four months ago.

She said the NGO would start its projects shortly in the Sunam area also.

Ms Bakshi also said the NGO in assistance with the Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology (SLIET) had also started a computer training centre for rural women at Andana village, near Moonak.


Make marriages less ostentatious, says SGPC
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 16
The Dharm Parchar Committee (DPC) of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee yesterday called upon the Sikh masses to perform marriages of their children in nearby gurdwaras instead of marriage palaces or big hotels and refrain from ostentatious displays of wealth on such auspicious occasions.

The SGPC said that the trend of extravagant displays of wealth on wedding receptions made the life of poor persons difficult who wanted to copy the rich persons so far as weddings are concerned .

Interestingly, Supreme Court of Pakistan had recently imposed a ban on holding a “walima” or wedding receptions, describing the practice (walima) as un-Islamic. The court had ruled that a complete ban should remain enforced across the country (Pakistan).

Elaborating on the revolutionary decision of the DPC, Bibi Jagir Kaur, president, SGPC, said that serving of rich and elaborate food on marriage parties should be discouraged.

The decision is in line with the teachings of Sikhism, which lays great emphasis on a simple way of life. The SGPC press release stated that the Sikh clergy had already directed the Sikh masses to hold ‘lawan’ in front of Guru Granth Sahib in Gurdwaras that had been accepted by and large. However, the wedding receptions are normally marked by large consumption of liquor etc that need to be curbed.

Bibi Jagir Kaur said that the lavish expenditure on the marriage of daughters had resulted in large-scale female foeticide, which was against the tenets of Sikhism. The statistics provided by the government had substantiated the fact that female foeticide was on the rise. The trend of performing of marriages in hotels and marriage palaces need to be discouraged.


OPD timings of govt hospitals changed
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, October 16
The Punjab government has changed the hours of Out Patients Department in all government civil hospitals, dispensaries including ayurvedic hospitals from tomorrow.

Stating this a spokesperson of the Health Department here today that now all OPD departments will open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. from tomorrow. However emergency services will be available 24 hours. The time had been changed due to winter season.


CM’s greetings

Chandigarh, October 16
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today extended greetings to the people of Punjab on the occasion of Prakash Utsav of Maharishi Valmiki.

In a message, he said Maharishi Valmiki was the author of the holy “Ramayana”.

The epic was a reservoir of wisdom and storehouse of human values. — TNS


Kheti Virasat to sue breakaway group

Bathinda, October 16
Joint Director of Kheti Virasat, Surinder Singh, today said they were planning to initiate legal action against the breakaway group of their organisation.

He alleged that the newly formed NGO had been making claims on their findings and was taking credit for works carried out by the Kheti Virasat. — TNS


Bus conductor killed in mishap

Moga, October 16
A conductor of a bus of Dashmesh Public School Kotisekhan died on the spot while 10 students were injured, three of them seriously, when the bus overturned near the petrol station at Kotisekhan on Saturday, the police said today. — PTI


Five Christian activists get bail
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, October 16
Five activists of the Punjab Christian Movement (PCM) who were arrested on September 26 for a attack on RSS activists in Jalandhar, were freed on bail from Phagwara jail last evening.

Three members, including a woman, were injured in a clash between activists of the RSS and the Punjab Christian Movement on September 26 when PCM activists reportedly were marching from Company Bagh towards the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Jalandhar, opposing the proposed visit of RSS chief, KS Sudarshan in Sain Dass School, Jalandhar, on October 2.


Govt blamed for suicide by farmers
Tribune News Service

Nangal, October 16
Criticising the Punjab government for suicide committed by the farmers in the state recently and low procurement of paddy, the national vice-president of the BJP and Punjab state party in charge, Jas Kaur Meena, yesterday demanded constitution of the special committee to study the suicide cases of farmers in the state and to take suitable action to prevent such cases.

While addressing a press conference last evening after attending national executive meeting here, Ms Meena said that it was unfortunate that due to failure of the Punjab government to make suitable arrangements for paddy procurement in time, more than 10 farmers had committed suicides. She said that due lack of proper policy of the Punjab government, the condition of the farmers had become miserable.

Talking about the state executive body meeting, she said that a meeting was called to review the arrangement of the rally to be addressed by the BJP national president, Mr L.K Advani, in Jalandhar and discuss condition of Dalits in the state. She said that rally was given slogan “Dalit bolya singhasan dolya”.


Suspended traffic cops dismissed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 16
The district police has terminated the services of four traffic policemen who were caught red handed while accepting bribe near make shift bus stand recently.

These include ASI Najjar Singh, constables Kulwant Singh and Nirmal Singh and sepoy Karam Singh. Two of the accused traffic policemen — SI Sarabjit Singh and constable Jassa Singh — were still absconding.

They were dismissed under Punjab police rule 16.1, Section 7 Police Act 1861, Article 311(2), (B) Constitution of India. This was informed in a press release issued here.

The vigilance after receiving a number of complaints of harassment of tourists by police personnel for allowing them entry in the city met the accused policemen in garb of visitors. The accused used to demand bribe of Rs 100 from a vehicle owner of the state other than from Amritsar and Rs 500 to Rs 300 from these outside the state.

The district VB chief revealed that postings at these points and some other selected places of the city had become lucrative for traffic police personnel and they were getting hefty bribe depending upon rank and place of the posting to the person concerned.


Municipal councillor arrested, wife booked
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, October 16
The police here arrested Mr Mohammad Ismail, Municipal Councillor, for murder attempt and under the Dowry Act and also booked Municipal Councillor Ms Bholi Ismail, former president of the local Municipal Council and wife of Mr Mohammad Ismail, and Umar Din, a brother-in-law of Ismail in this case yesterday.

Mr Rachhpal Singh, DSP, said that the police had arrested Ismail and booked Ms Bholi Ismail and Umer Din on the charge of attempt to murder Nazira Bano, wife of Umar Din, and for demanding dowry from Nazira Bano.

In her complaint to the Punjab State Human Rights Commission and the Punjab and Haryana High court, Chandigarh, Nazira Bano alleged that after her marriage on April, 14, 2002 her in-laws including her husband Umer Din, Mr Mohammad Ismail and his wife Ms Bholi Ismail had started harassing her to bring more dowry. She further alleged that in April 2004 she was thrown out of the house after beating up with rods and these persons tried to kill her. Meanwhile her husband married again without divorcing her. The High Court on May 13, 2005, directed the police to investigate the case.

After five months the police yesterday arrested Mr Mohammad Ismail who was produced before Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate, Ms Mandeep Pannu, yesterday and was remanded in police custody for two days. Bholi Ismail absconded and Umar Din secured anticipatory bail.


Man lynched by mob
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 16
A person was beaten to death by a mob when he tried to loot Raj Kumari, wife of Shamsher Singh, of Fatuwal village at pistol point when she was going from Mukerian to her home last night.

According to police sources, the looter tried to loot Raj Kumari at pistol point. First, he snatched her gold ear rings and asked her to hand him over all valuable belongings. When she refused, the looter fired at Raj Kumari, but the shot was missed. She raised the alarm and after hearing her cries residents of locality came for her rescue.

Meanwhile, the looter hid behind the nearby bushes. Later, people searched him and beat him mercilessly to death. The sources further said the looter was identified as Ashwani of Naushera Pattan.

A countrymade pistol along with one .303 live cartridge was seized by the police. A case under the Arms Act has been registered.


2 arrested in Darbara case
Tribune News Service

Kharar, October 16
Claiming to have solved the murder of 55-year-old Darbara Singh, the Kharar police today arrested two persons Amarjit Singh and Balwinder Singh who had reportedly committed the crime after getting a supari of Rs 1.5 lakh from the brother of the victim.

Darbara Singh was hacked to death by a group of at least four persons at his residence in Rampur Taparian village near Kurali on September 21.

On October 4 the Kharar police had arrested Gulzar Singh, brother of Darbara Singh and Balbir Singh on charges of murdering him by “hiring” killers.

According to the police, Gulzar Singh had hired Amarjit Singh, a nihang of Tehar village, Chamkaur Sahib, to do the job for Rs 1.5 lakh. “Gulzar Singh had a drinking problem and this was not liked by his elder brother Darbara Singh. Just a few weeks before the murder, Darbara Singh had turned Gulzar Singh out of his house. Gulzar Singh started living with Amarjit and the two planned to murder him” said Mr Raj Bachan Singh Sandhu, DSP, Kharar.

Amarjit Singh formed his own gang which comprised his son Dalbir Singh and Gurdeep Singh. The three along with Gulzar met at Balbir’s house and planned the murder. “They hired a Mahindra jeep telling the drivers Paramjit Singh and Baljinder Singh that they wanted to get a buffalo from Taparian village. They reached the village and asked the two jeep drivers to stay outside at the phirni village. They committed the crime and came back and told the drivers what they had done,” said Mr Sandhu adding that the two drivers had deposed the entire story before the magistrate yesterday. The weapons used in the crime have also been recovered by the police.

Two others wanted in the case, Dalbir Singh and Gurdeep Singh are still at large said the police.

The victim Darbara Singh, was killed after the rest of his family was locked inside a room in their house by the assailants. Darbara Singh was unmarried and had been living in Dubai for over 25 years and had returned to his native village some years ago. Here he lived with Gulzar and his family.


Valuables worth Rs 1.7 lakh stolen

Phagwara, October 16
In a broad daylight burglary, valuables worth Rs 1.7 lakh stolen today from the house of Parshotam Lal Passi at Manav Nagar, Hadiabad.

Stolen valuables 25 tola jewellery and rupees 5,000 in cash.

The Passis had gone to attend a religious function of a family friend of Hadiabad. Burglars entered the house after breaking open the locks after noon. When the Passis returned, they found the house ransacked and burgled.


Man dies; wife, son hurt in mishap

Phagwara, October 16
One person was killed and three others, including a woman and a child, were injured when a bus hit them near Khajurla village here last night.

Mr Subhash Chand (45), a resident of New Railway Colony, Jalandhar, came to Khajurla village for some work along with his wife, Lakshmi and son Anand on a cycle. When they were on their way back to home, a PRTC bus (PB-11 3722) going from Phagwara to Jalandhar, hit them killing Subhash Chand on the spot. His wife, son and a passerby, identified as Pyara Lal, were also injured seriously in the accident.


Two robbers nabbed
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, October 16
Two armed motor cycle-borne Home Guard personnel looted Rs 15,000 from another motorcyclist, Kartar Singh of Timowal village, near Shekhchak village, 12 km from here, on Friday. However, they were nabbed by villagers and handed over to the police.

The accused have been identified as Sawinder Singh and Rachhpal Singh. A case has been registered.


PTU youth fest concludes
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 16
The PTU Inter-College Zonal Youth Festival organised by the Institute of Engineering and Technology, Bhadal, concluded today. In the three-day event, 212 students of 12 colleges of engineering, management and pharmacy of PTU Zone IV participated. The chief guest, Rana K.P. Singh, Parliamentary Secretary, Industries, Commerce and Transport, advised students to work with dedication and sincerity to excel in life.

Dr Amarjit Singh, Professor, Department of Punjabi, Kurukshetra University, was the guest of honour. He emphasised the need for conservation of Punjabi culture. Dr S.S. Wadhwa, Principal, IET and Mr Ajit K. Gupta, Principal, College of Architecture, IET, were also present.

The results of various events are as follows:

In group song (Indian) — Rajeev Kapil, Gaurav Bakshi, Jasjeet Singh and Jeet Vikram Minhas of the GGS College of Modern Technology, Kharar, won the first position, while Anumeha Mahajan, Amandeep Kaur, Renu Bala, Shany Thakur, Srishty Kant and Sheikh Shazia Rehman of the College of Architecture, IET, were declared runners up.

In classical instrumental solo, (non-percussion), Namrata Gera of the IET stood first; in one-act play “Mughal-e-azam — 05” enacted by Munish Takhi, Ramandeep Singh, Puneet Sharma, Anisha Raghav, Jaspreet Singh Matharu, Tasveer Kaur, Navtej Singh, Sheena Sharma, Kawaljeet Singh and Vaneet Sethi of the IET won the first prize while “Maun Dhari” by Harpreet Dhillon, Tejinder Pal Singh, Navjot Salaria, Saurav Kumar, Rajwinder Singh and Nitin Gupta of the Indo-Global College of Engineering, Abhipur, secured the second position.

In the quiz event, Ravi Kalia, Saurabh Maini and S. Sriram of the IET won the first prize while Vikram Minhas, Vibhu Bhaskar and Jasjeet Singh of the GGS College of Modern Technology, Kharar, secured the second position.


Students honoured for collecting relief
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 16
Students of General Gurnam Singh Public School here were honoured yesterday with trophies, gold, silver and bronze certificates, besides pens and badges, by Ms Rozy Sareen, a representative of the SOS Children’s Villages of India, Rajpura branch, for collecting donations. The students had collected Rs 1,88,911 in the last week of August and first week of September this year, which were handed over to the SOS Children’s Villages of India, Rajpura, on September 12.

Mr Kulwinder Singh, Principal of the school, said four students had collected Rs 2500, Rs 2100, Rs 2000 and Rs1050 through voluntary donations.


College girls celebrate World Food Day
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 16
World Food Day was celebrated at the Government College for Girls here Saturday. A food carnival was organised on the occasion by students of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics in which stalls of nutritious, low-calorie foods were put up for the college students.

The carnival was inaugurated by the Principal, Dr G.K. Jaggi.

The stalls were appreciated by the students as well as the staff of the college.

The students took a pledge to conserve water to save environment.

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