P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Akali groups against Bibi’s renomination
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 4
As the countdown to the November 23 election for the post of the president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) begins, splinter Akali groups like the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), the all India Shiromani Akali Dal, the Shiromani Akali Dal (1925) and the Akali Dal (Longowal) have started mounting pressure on former Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) leader Parkash Singh Badal to ensure that Bibi Jagir Kaur is not given another term as it will “spell doom for the highest Sikh institution”.

The leaders of these groups maintained that given the nature of charges the Bibi was facing, ideally she should have stepped down on her own. Mr Jaswant Singh Mann of the All India Akali Dal pointed out, there were 18 cases pending before in the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission against Bibi Jagir Kaur. “This is unprecedented”, he remarked, adding even a small question on the integrity of the SGPC president should be the reason enough for him or her to step down. He said, the nature of charges against the Bibi was too serious to be taken lightly as she was facing the charges of murdering her own daughter.

Mr Mann said, “in case Mr Badal decides to re-nominate her for another term it will amount to negating totally the spirit and fervour of the Sikh history”, he said. He said, the post of the president of the SGPC had a sanctity which should be maintained at all costs. He wondered as if there were no other suitable and better candidates for this post.

President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) Simranjit Singh Mann was more critical of the Bibi as president of the SGPC. He said, his party was the only organisation that had always been protesting against her whenever she comes for the hearing of the case of murder of her daughter. Mr Mann said, while he welcomed the appointment of a woman to the highest position of the SGPC, but the Bibi did not deserve it. He alleged, “the Bibi had committed the cardinal sin of the foeticide and killing her own daughter”.

He claimed that the highest institution of the Sikhs had witnessed degradation of moral values during her tenure. He said, the Bibi had failed to rein in the elements found guilty of grave immoral acts of rape and attempt to rape. Moreover, he said, financial management of the SGPC was in a shambles and nobody seemed to be accountable. There were reports that the Bibi had not even deposited the 10 per cent of the offerings from Anandpur Sahib to the SGPC account.

It is learnt that the four splinter groups had planned a campaign against the Bibi to ensure that she was not re-nominated to the post of the SGPC president. Mr Jaswant Singh Mann said, nobody had anything personal against her, but the situation she had placed herself in demanded that she should not continue to be the president. 


Internal bickering intensifies in Cong
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 4
A day before PPCC president Shamsher Singh Dullo’s visit to the city, the infighting in the Congress intensified today with PPCC secretary Tehal Singh Sandhu and Satpal Bhateja retaliating to the charges levelled against them by the city Congress.

However, Mr Sandhu backtracked on his utterances against Finance Minister, Surinder Singla and said nothing was spoken against the minister in the meeting on Monday.

Addressing a press conference, he and Mr Bhateja launched a scathing attack on DCC chief Inder Singh Sahni, but were tight-lipped on Mr Singla. Mr Sandhu produced his appointment letter to the post of the PPCC secretary to refute the allegation of the city Congress.

The lack of coordination between both leaders was also visible when Mr Sandhu stopped Mr Bhateja from distributing copies of the list of projects that Mr Singla had promised for his constituency, but before that a few mediapersons had already received it.

Both leaders said they had never tried to sabotage any of the party programmes.

They said they had only organised a meeting for the preparations for Mr Dullo’s visit and had raised people’s voice in it. They levelled charges against Mr Sahni and ex-MC Ashok Kumar and said they wouldn’t rest until both of them were removed from their posts.

Mr Sandhu said he had always supported Mr Singla in the past over three years of his tenure as the Bathinda MLA and Finance Minister.

Mr Singla said he was ready for a debate on the issue of development in Bathinda with dissidents as well as SAD leaders. He said he had brought the refinery project back on tracks along with a petrochemical plant that would generate thousand of employment opportunities in the region. He said development projects were being undertaken in the city on priority basis.


Octroi to go by March next, says CM 
Greets Muslims on Id 
Tribune Reporters

Malerkotla, November 4
After offering greetings to Muslims on Id-ul-Fitr at the Idgah here today, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh announced octroi would be abolished in the state by March 31 next, as promised by the Congress party during previous Assembly elections. He said the Congress party had made 66 promises to people in manifesto, of which 61 had been fulfilled while only five promises, including the abolition of octroi, were to be fulfilled. He claimed that remaining promises would be fulfilled by March-end.

To a question Capt Amarinder Singh said the government would launch a Rs 300 crore project from Malout town on November 14 for providing potable water and sewerage facilities in 22 cities of the state. He said the cities having Municipal Corporations, had not been included in the project.

The Chief Minister participated in the Id-ul-Fitr celebrations at the Idgah, where more than 20,000 Muslims offered “Namaz”, along with Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD Minister, Punjab, Ms Preneet Kaur, MP from Patiala and Ms Razia Sultana, local MLA and Parliamentary Secretary, Punjab. All of them greeted the Muslims on the occasion. The Chief Minister also presented a cheque for Rs 15 lakh to Ms Razia Sultana for the development of the Idgah. The amount had been announced by the Chief Minister for the Idgah on Id-ul-Fitr last year. He announced that he would send more money for the development of Idgah, if required by the Idgah authorities.

The Chief Minister also said the formation of the Punjab Waqf Board would be done in three to four days after the completion of formalities in this regard. After that name of the chairperson of the Waqf Board would be announced, he added.

The Chief Minister also stated that an Urdu Academy would be set up here shortly as funds had been earmarked in the state Budget for the purpose. He also said that the state would have a Lok Pal and process had begun in this regard. He said four Fast-Track Courts at Divisional Headquarters in the state would be set up to decide quickly cases at of corruption. He said the government had arranged requisite money for setting up Fast-Track Courts.

Capt Amarinder Singh said it was difficult to hold debates on Development and law and order in the state in all more than 12,000 villages of the state. So a debate would be held in the state Assembly on development, corruption and law and order issues in the months to come. He said the debate would be telecast, so that all residents of the state could watch it.

SANGRUR: Id-ul-Fitr was celebrated with religious fervour at the Idgah here on Friday. A large number of Muslims offered namaz on the occasion. Mr Jaskaran Singh, national general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), visited the local Idgah with a message from Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the SAD (A), for the Muslim brethren on Id. In his message, Mr Mann offered greetings to the members of the Muslim community.

BATALA: Muslims celebrated Id in and around Batala.

A large gathering by the Ahmadiyas was addressed by Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Wasih Ahmed Sahib at the Idgah ground at Quadian, international headquarters of the Ahmadiya community.

Hindu and Sikh friends of the Muslims greeted them on this occasion.


Punjab’s no to Centre’s move on rice output
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 4
The Punjab Government has rejected a move of the Central Government that the state share a burden of Rs 40 crore to meet the gap on account of the lowered output of rice from paddy being procured in Punjab.

In an unprecedented move, the Centre has asked the Punjab Government to share the financial loss as rice production would be lower than usual from the "damaged" paddy procured from Punjab farmers.

In the first week of October, the Central Government, while accepting the plea of the Punjab Government, had relaxed the specifications for paddy procurement and allowed 8 per cent damaged paddy instead of the normal 3 per cent. Consequently, the specifications regarding rice production also were lowered.

The Central Government has said that it would lose about Rs 80 crore worth of rice by lowering the specifications for rice production from the damaged paddy. Further, it has asked that Punjab share 50 per cent of the burden( Rs 40 crore).

Under normal circumstances it is accepted that 67 kg of rice is produced from 100 kg of paddy. The Central Government lowered this to allow 66 kg of rice for every quintal of paddy as the crop had been damaged due to late rain. The Punjab Government had demanded 64 kg of rice production for every quintal of paddy.

This lowering of rice output would mean less rice reaching the godowns, says the Central Government. The Punjab Government has argued that late rain had damaged the crop, which the farmers could not prevent. Punjab's stance is that the Central Government should bear the entire loss, official sources confirmed.

Till this confusion over the financial burden is cleared, rice shellers are reluctant to mill paddy.

A test conducted by the Food Corporation of India at the Khanna mandi is also being cited. FCI officials had conducted a test, milling 2 tonnes of paddy to determine the rice output. This reportedly turned out to be just 63.11 per cent.

In its list of relaxations for rice production, the Central Government also allowed more damaged grain. Usually, this is allowed to the extent of 2 per cent .It has now been fixed at 4 per cent. However, the same relaxations have not been allowed in the case of levy rice .

Another dispute is also going on between the Central Government and the Punjab Government. The Central Government is not releasing nearly Rs 100 crore for alleged "under-milling" of paddy in 2001 during the Shiromani Akali Dal regime.

The millers are of the opinion there was no "under-milling" and add that they went by the specification of producing 64 kg of rice from 100 kg of paddy, which was fixed by the then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.


Four of family murdered in cold blood
Anirudh Gupta

Zira (Ferozepore), November 4
Four members of a family were murdered with sharp-edged weapons in their house on the outskirts of Lohke Kalan village in Zira subdivision, 30 km from the district headquarters here, last night.

The incident took place around 8.30 pm yesterday.

The victims have been identified as Balkar Singh (18), his mother Gurmit Kaur (40), grandmother Nasib Kaur (60) and sister Charanjit Kaur (20).

Gurmit Kaur’s husband had gone away to Ambala with a combine for harvesting when the incident took place. Preliminary investigations suggest robbery as the motive since the lockers and almirahs in the house were found broken when the police reached the spot this morning.

Mr Iqbalpreet Singh Sahota, DIG, Ferozepore Range, who reached the spot along with Mr Karamjit Singh, SP, Headquarters, and Mr Harinder Singh, SP, Detective, told The Tribune that the crime seemed to be the handiwork of a migrant worker employed in the house two months ago.

Mr Sahota said the worker was missing since last night and had taken with him all his belongings, including clothes, utensils, which indicated his involvement in the crime.

Mr Sahota said the police had recovered blood-stained clothes of the worker, who probably took a bath and changed his clothes before fleeing.

The DIG said Kartar Singh, father of Sukhdev Singh, was residing close by with his younger son, who heard some faint screams that night but did not suspect anything foul.

Kartar Singh was the first person to reach the spot this morning, who then informed the police.

Mr Sahota said the family members did not even know the correct name and antecedents of the migrant worker who was probably picked up from the Ludhiana railway station some time ago.

Mr Sahota did not rule out the possibility of the involvement of accomplices of the migrant worker in the crime as it was not easy for a single person to murder four persons.

The body of Balkar was found near the entrance whereas the other three bodies were found in the verandah of the house lying in a pool of blood. The police also found blood stains in the kitchen and at some other places in the house.

Mr Harinder Singh, SP, Detective, said sniffer dogs had been pressed into service and police parties had been sent to various places, including Delhi, Saharanpur and Ludhiana.

Mr Harinder Singh said on Divali night, Balkar had an altercation with the migrant worker, who was drunk.


Badal incapable of debate with Cong leaders, says Mann
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 4
The President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, today said that the President of the SAD, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was not capable of holding a debate on any issue with any leader.

He said it was clear from the statement made by Mr Badal's son, Mr Sukhbir Singh, that his father ( Mr Badal) was running away from holding a debate on the issues of development and law and order with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, in the Punjab Assembly.

Mr Mann said if the debate was held in a village, his party could also participate in it because it had a large following in the rural areas. He said SAD leaders like Mr Badal had in the past boycotted debates on important issues in the Assembly and Parliament. Certain SAD leaders were even unable to defend their own leader, Mr Badal, on the corruption issue in Parliament.

Mr Mann said that as Mr Badal was not capable of holding a debate with Capt Amarinder Singh and other Congress leaders, he should ‘‘leave the field for me’’ to take on Congress leaders. ‘‘ Mr Badal should vacate five seats in the state Assembly and one in Parliament for my party and then my men would be happy to hold a debate with the Congress leaders on any issue", Mr Mann said. 


Commission agents block Rajpura-Patiala highway
Our Correspondent

Rajpura, November 4
The commission agents of the New Grain Market today blocked traffic on the Rajpura-Patiala highway near Mohabbat Palace, here for over three hours and demanded cancellation of a criminal case registered against the president of their union.

Scores of vehicles were stranded on the highway and the motorists were subjected to inconvenience. Even after the jam was lifted it took more than an hour for the police to streamline the traffic.

The jam was lifted after senior police officers intervened and assured action against those found guilty in the inquiry.

A newly wedded couple bore the brunt of the blockade as they were forced to walk that extra km to reach the venue of the marriage.

The protesters alleged that the police had falsely implicated their president Mr Lajpat Rai. They demanded cancellation of the criminal case registered against Lajpat Rai, his son Sanjeev and Gurdeep Singh.

On the other hand the police sources said the case had been registered following a complaint made by Gurmeet Singh, Inspector in Punjab Agro. Mr Gurmeet Singh had alleged that he was beaten up by the accused following a dispute over the issue of delivery of sacks. The police has registered a case under various Sections of the Indian Penal code in this regard.

Gurmeet Singh in his complaint mentioned that on November 2 the Punjab Agro delivered sacks for the procurement of paddy to a commission agent.

The truck driver delivered the consignment at the wrong address and the other person used the bags. The verification of the matter established the fault following which he asked the shopkeeper to return the bags.

Gurmeet Singh alleged that the shopkeeper Gurdeep Singh refused to do so and slapped him before their President Lajpat Rai and Sanjeev Kumar. Later they all allegedly joined in and roughed him up besides tearing his register.


Sarabjit’s kin resolve differences
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 4
The split in the family of Sarabjit, who is facing death penalty on the charges of bombing in Pakistan, came to an end yesterday when both Dalbir Kaur and Sukhpreet Kaur, sister and wife, respectively, mutually compromised and resolved not to indulge in any accusation.

Sukhpreet Kaur had levelled serious allegations, saying that Dalbir Kaur had pocketed the financial aid poured in from various avenues for fighting the case, a charge denied by the latter. She said certain Congress leaders were misleading Mrs Sukhpreet Kaur.

These accusations had harmed the ‘Save Sarabjit campaign’. Both Dalbir Kaur and Sukhpreet Kaur, talking to the media here, said whatever had happened between the two was a conspiracy hatched by ‘opposition’ who were against the family and did not want the release of Sarabjit. They expressed grief over the past unfortunate happenings between the two.

Mrs Dalbir Kaur had earlier alleged that since she had joined the BJP, the Congress leaders were piqued over it. However, Dalbir Kaur while addressing the mediapersons here charged her sister-in-law with spreading lies and accused her of being a bad character as “she (Sukhpreet) was spending several nights out of her house”.


Tragedy averted at dam
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, November 4
A tragedy was averted last night at Ranjit Sagar reservoir, near here, when the engine of a private steamer ferrying 45 persons reportedly stopped functioning. Immediately the district administration of Kathua, near here, and the dam authorities swung into action and saved the standard passengers by arranging another boat. The rescue operation was continued for a couple of hours.

Despite a blanket ban, illegal boating is going on unabated in the Ranjit Sagar Dam (RSD) reservoir.

Mr Jagdish Singh, Chief Engineer of the dam, monitored the rescue operation with the help of officials of Kathua.

All the passengers were brought to the dam rest house and later sent to their respective destinations by the dam authorities. All the passengers reportedly belonged to Jammu and Kashmir.


Documentary on drug addiction
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 4
The release of documentary on the drug abuse turned out to be a day of reckoning when the children of drug addicts in the locality of Maqboolpura, infamous for drug menace, pledged to refrain from taking any kind of intoxicants here late last evening.

More than 500 children and youths of the area descended on the premises of Citizen Forum Vidya Mandir School to watch the 30-minute documentary by Dr Jatinder Jain, SSP, Batala. The gripping documentary brought out the startling facts about how a human being degenerates into a non entity after administering drugs of various kinds and loses out not only his mental balance but also his relationship and money.

Dr Jain, who had been spearheading the drive against the drug menace, said that he had been trying to influence the public opinion against the use of drugs, alcohol and other kinds of intoxicants.

The interesting facet of the documentary was the ideal use of famous TV anchors and Punjabi folk and Sufi singers, including Hans Raj Hans, Jasbir Jassi and Satinder Satti, who volunteered to convey their message against the drug abuse. Their powerful narration of the facts with regard to drug abuse carried a strong message against this menace and hoped that the young generation would not fall prey to this alarmingly growing habit, especially in Punjab.


Three-day Virasat Mela begins
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 4
The three-day Virasat Mela began today with the opening of “Jaipal Garh”, a village depicting cultural heritage of Malwa, and a painting exhibition. However, the fair failed to draw good response on the first day.

Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla inaugurated the heritage village, IG Rajinder Singh lighted the traditional lamp to open the painting exhibition. ‘Jaipal Garh’ beautifully portrays typical rural lifestyle of Malwa, as it had a house of potters, weavers and nambardar. The village also had a well, a madrassa and a ‘samadh’. Shops were also set up on the pattern of villages.

The village also presented a rare opportunity to have a look at old vessels that were no more in use these days. ‘Nambardaran di Haveli’ had men dressed in typical Punjabi attire sitting on a cot. Armed men could be seen at ‘Vailian da Vera’, where “mischievous elements” of the village get together. Another attraction at the village was ‘Trinjana’ where girls converge for embroidery work. ‘Chachi Atro da Ghar’ was the centre of attraction, where the Finance Minister had ‘makki di roti and sarson da saag’.

A part of the city’s historic Quila Mubarak had also been built. Various stalls of food were put up at the fair.


Names of deputy leader and 60 devotees deleted
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 4
The names of deputy leader of a Sikh jatha to Pakistan Mr Mahinder Singh Hussainpura, and 60 other Sikh devotees were deleted in preliminary scrutiny by the Punjab and Central Governments.

The SGPC had submitted the names of about 2,500 devotees for the jatha to Pakistan scheduled for November 10 on the occasion of celebrations of the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

Taking serious notice of deletions, SGPC President Bibi Jagir Kaur stated that it was very unfortunate that the names of pilgrims wishing to seek blessings at gurdwaras had been deleted.


A pond of neglect
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Kharar, November 4
J.W. Fairlie, a Sub-Divisional Officer serving at Rupar (Ropar), district Ambala in 1926 could not have imagined that his orders banning fishing and boating in the Big Tank, Kharar, engraved on a slab would one day be the only remnant of the tank.

Repeating a set of orders issued in 1891, Fairlie thought it practical to get these orders engraved in slabs on top of one of the ghats of the Big Tank to ensure that these are seen by everyone and thus followed

The tank called the Maharaj Ajj Sarovar named after Lord Rama’s grandfather, is considered to be at least 20 centuries old. The locals believe that it was the Mahajraj who had got the sarovar dug.

Notwithstanding claims of the residents, experts date the sarovar two centuries old and find it part of the area’s eco system. A rain-fed water body spread over 15 acres on the Chandigarh-Kharar road, the sarovar has four ghats.

The ghat walls and steps have crumbled. The pond fills up during the rains and later sprouts wild growth.

The sarovar used to be full of water and life throughout the year and we decided to revive the central position that this sarovar held for the residents,” said Shashi Pal Jain, an executive member of the Maharaja Ajj Sarovar Vikas Parishad.

The Parishad led by some of the township’s leading residents including Kirpal Singh Saini of Kharar’s Rotary Club, Principal Balbir Bakshi, Lala Om Prakash Aggarwal sought the government help on several occasions since 1997, but with little success. “A big project was started in 1997 following the visit of the then Lok Sabha Speaker here, but nothing took off beyond the planning stage,” said Mr Jain.

The Parishad has in the past five years collected funds from residents and constructed a dharamshala, a park and a walk-track around the sarovar. “We are expecting the Secretary, Tourism, Punjab, to send a proposal for the revival of this sarovar in the next financial year,” said Mr Jain.


Sant Daljit Singh for world peace sammelan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 4
Sant Daljit Singh, founder of the Chicago-based Guru Nanak Mission, today suggested holding of the World Peace Sammelan in Kashmir for lasting peace in the valley.

Sant Daljit Singh, who is in Kashmir with a team of volunteers and relief material, congratulated the Muslims on Eid today, visiting the historic Hazrat-e-Bal in Srinagar. He had a brief meeting with Maulvi Bashir Ahmed Farookhi of the historic mosque to strengthen bonds between the Muslims and Sikhs dating back to the early 15th century. 


MP to trek constituency on foot
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, November 4
The Rajya Sabha member from Gurdaspur, Mr Ashwani Kumar, would trek the rural areas of the district on foot from November 15. In a press conference held here today, He said the idea was to have an on-hand experience about the problems of the area.


Relief for quake victims
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 4
The students of Sahibzada Ajit Singh Academy on Friday donated their clothes, toys and also contributed financial aid to the victims of the earth quake that killed hundred of people in Jammu and Kashmir. Chief Administrator of the academy, Mr Mohan Singh, said a sum of Rs 24 thousand and thousands of warm clothes donated by the students were handed over to Mr Satnam Satti, the Chairman of Youth Hostel Association and would be distributed in the remote villages of Uri sector.


Hans Raj Aryan youth festival opens
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 4
The Governor of Kerala, Mr R.L. Bhatia, said that the youth festival had helped revive rich culture and heritage of the country. He made this remarks while inaugurating the all-India Mahatama Hans Raj Aryan youth festival at the BBK DAV College for Women here today. He complimented the DAV management for taking interest to maintain Indian values.

The Principal of the college, Mrs J. Kackria, said more than 900 students from the 60 DAV schools in the state participated in the two-day festival.

The secretary of the college management committee, Mr Mohan Lal, said these festivals helped bring about the spirit of competitiveness and showcased the talent available in the schools. He said that the national level youth festival from among the top teams of the schools would be held on November 14-15 at New Delhi. 

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