P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Cong, SAD two sides of coin, says Bittu
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 8
Acquittal of Khalistani proponent and president of the Shiromani Khalsa Dal (SKD) Daljit Singh Bittu by the Supreme Court in a murder case has added new dimension to the Sikh politics of the state.

A former chief of the Sikh Students Federation was named one of the accused in gunning down a son of then DSP Raj Kishen Bedi on June 10, 1986, in Ludhiana. Of the 21 criminal cases registered against him, he has been acquited in all cases save the Rs 5.70 crore PNB dacoity in which he has already been granted bail.

Now he will be free to indulge in activities of his party and is likely to devote his energies to counter anti -Sikh policies being pursued by the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal).

Talking to The Tribune on phone from Delhi, his counsel, Sushil Kumar, said the apex court had allowed his argument that the confession of Bittu was not admissible as evidence under the old TADA. The police had taken Bittu’s confession under the old one, was wrong. Similarly, witnesses in the case were not reliable and had deposed that Bittu was not present on the spot on that day, he pointed out.

Political pundits are of the view that after reportedly poor show of the SAD during the Assembly debate on terrorism, the release of educated and soft spoken Khalistani proponent is likely to result in new permutations and combinations, a development which is bound to give sleepless nights to SAD leaders. Whether radical groups would rally around him is to be watched.

Another question is will Bittu be able to succeed where other leaders of the Khalistani movement had failed. He has his task cut out for him as youngsters have grown up without a role model and politics of pelf and power for sycophants is well entrenched, they point out.

During his parole a fortnight ago, Bittu had remarked that the debate on terrorism was a farce since the Congress and the SAD were two sides of the same coin. Only they could shed light on who was responsible for turning villages of Punjab into killing fields, he had remarked.

When the news was conveyed to his aged parents, Dr Ajit Singh Sidhu and Palwinder Kaur, thanked the Almighty and reiterated that their son had been framed by the police. All along we had been saying that he was not guilty of any wrong-doing, a stand which has been vindicated by the SC’s decision, they added.

A senior leader of the SKD, Mr Surinderpal Singh, said the time had come for the Sikhs to honour those who laid down their lives for the ‘chardi kala’ of the Panth. It was the time to kick out the pygmies masquerading as Panthic leaders who are more interested in filling their pockets by subverting verdict of the people. The cause of the Panth has been repeatedly sacrificed at the altar of political exigencies,” he added.

Referring to the Parkash Singh Badal brand of politics, he said, “Who had raised voice for the rights of the Sikhs and their hopes and aspirations”?


Badal, Amarinder criminalised politics, says Mann
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 8
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, SAD (Amritsar) today accused Chief Minister Amarinder Singh of allowing his family members and kin to indulge in corruption, adding that his party would send a representation to UPA chairperson Ms Sonia Gandhi to check this trend which had been acquiring alarming dimensions in Punjab.

Reacting to media reports Mr Mann alleged that it had been established that Mr Amarinder Singh had provided Punjab Police gunmen to his kin Mr Jagat Singh, a son of former Foreign Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh without valid reasons. He added that Mr Jagat Singh used his gunmen for criminal acts.

Talking to The Tribune today he said that after the “oil for food” scandal involving Mr Natwar Singh had come to light, he was sure that clandestine visit of Natwar Singh, to Dubai a few months ago was also connected to that thing.

He said that now Mr Amarinder Singh should tell people how he went to Dubai, why he kept his visit secret, who accompanied him who he visited in Dubai and with whom he stayed in that country. He said that it was a serious matter and connected with the security of the country. He added that Mr Amarinder Singh was one of the leaders, who put signatures on the document demanding the creation of Khalistan. He also drafted the Amritsar declaration.

Alleging that previous Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal also allowed his kin to indulge in corruption, he asked that when Mr Amarinder Singh provided gunmen to Mr Jagat Singh then why he had been telling a lie to people. He added that as Mr Badal and Mr Amarinder Singh had encouraged criminalisation and corruption. He said that Mr Badal also gave a representation to former secretary General of the UN, Boutros Ghali for the creation of ‘Khalistan’.

Accusing former Union Minister Sukhbir Badal of promoting criminalisation in politics Mr Mann said Mr Amarinder Singh and Mr Parkash Singh Badal could not stop their kin and family members from misdeeds.

Mr Mann, added that while the Chief Minister had been visiting here and there by misusing official helicopters, people of Punjab were left with journeys on broken roads of the state. Upkeep of roads seemed to have disappeared from the agenda of the Congress government.

The Jalandhar-Amritsar road leading to Akal Takht and the Nangal-Anandpur Sahib road leading to Anandpur Sahib were in bad shape.


Stage set for SGPC election
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, November 8
The stage is set for the next election of the president and other office-bearers of the SGPC as the executive committee has decided to call the general house on November 23. Under the Gurdwara Act, the election of the president and other office-bearers is held before November 30 every year.

Although Bibi Jagir Kaur has time and again said she will not contest for the post of president of the SGPC, she has also declared that she would accept the offer if her political mentor, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, wanted her. Mr Badal is understood to be seriously thinking the pros and cons of fielding her as a candidate for next year. The family members of Mr Badal are reported to be in favour of retaining Bibi Jagir Kaur for the post of president of the SGPC. Perhaps they have found her too pliable. At the same time, various groups within the Shiromani Akali Dal and all those who have always remained close to Sikh affairs are set to put pressure on Mr Badal with the argument that retention of Bibi Jagir Kaur as president of the SGPC will alienate a sizeable section of the Sikhs from the Akali Dal and it could prove suicidal in the next Vidhan Sabha elections.

A large number of Sikhs already feel that handling of the affairs of the SGPC has been far from satisfactory. The administrative staff at the headquarters is plagued with indiscipline and Bibi Jagir Kaur is anxious to induct her own loyalists. She remains ready to interfere in the affairs of educational institutions run by the SGPC because of which groupism is raising its head in some of the premier institutions. She is too keen to reorganise the trusts managing the medical, dental and engineering colleges. She has been able to induct some such members who remain defaulters in case of payment of fees for the NRI seats of their children.

It is also alleged that Bibi Jagir Kaur has become a willing party to make provisions to place these trusts out of the authority of the SGPC knowing fully well that these trusts are financed and run by the SGPC. She remains the president of these trusts in her capacity as the president of the SGPC. This is only to preempt complaints being lodged before the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission. The Sikh Sangat, however, look askance at all these measures.

The affairs of the gurdwaras in Pakistan, it seems, have gone under the complete influence of Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, president, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee thanks to his efforts in the Kar Sewa and the negative attitude adopted by Bibi Jagir Kaur towards the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee and the Pakistan authorities. Now she is trying to retrieve her position by making repeated statements regarding the Sikh shrines in Bangladesh. It will not be a surprise if Mr Badal gets convinced about his compulsions to think of some other person to foot the bill as president of the SGPC.

Many names are doing the rounds. Some among them are facing charges of corruption and have not paid the dues in respect of payment of fees of their wards in the SGPC-run institutions. Among the candidates whose names are in circulation, only two names are being mentioned who can inspire confidence among the Sikh masses for the Shiromani Akali Dal. Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi is an old stalwart and during his one-year stint as president of the SGPC, he did not attract any negative reputation. He is the one who revived the practice of sending jathas of devotees to shrines in Pakistan which had been stopped by Bibi Jagir Kaur and also launched direct relay of live kirtan from Harmander Sahib world wide.

The other name, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta is a Sikh scholar and is popular among ardent followers of Sikh faith throughout India and abroad. He had a long stint as secretary of the SGPC and carried a clean image. But it is yet to be seen whether these two stalwarts will suit the political considerations party supremo Parkash Singh Badal.


No room for foreigners in SGPC: Bibi
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 8
Bibi Jagir Kaur, President, SGPC, here yesterday said foreign Sikhs could be accommodated in the religious advisory committee to gain their valuable knowledge.

She told this to a 25-member Jatha of Sikh women from England. Earlier, they paid obeisance at the Harmander Sahib.

She said foreign Sikhs could not be taken in the Shiromani committee. As many as 60,000 copies of Gurmat Prakash had been sent to devotees across the world. A hospital namely Miri Piri Medical College would be opened at Shahbad Markanda in Haryana.

She presented siropas to the Jatha.


International Sikh body to take birth on Nov 13
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 8
The International Sikh Confederation ( ISC) will be launched here on November 13 at an international Sikh conclave of eminent persons. The conclave will be held at Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Kanthala, near The Tribune chowk.

The conclave is being organised by the Institute of Sikh Studies, an organisation that had mooted the idea of the ISC in November 2003. Dr Kharak Singh told The Tribune today that the adhoc committee of the confederation would be announced on November 13. The general session of the confederation would be held in April during Baisakhi festival.

It appears that the leadership of the SGPC, which claims to be the apex religious body of the Sikhs, has not agreed to set up such a body. And the SAD leadership headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has also not endorsed it yet. But several other Panthic organisations have supported the move.

He said that as many as 25 delegates from various countries such as the USA, Canada and Australia would take part in the conclave. Besides, delegates representing various Sikh and Panthic organisations from various parts of India would also participate in the conclave.

“Already lot of discussion had been held on this issue in the last two years. Now time has come to launch it”, said Dr Kharak Singh, who was a part of the three- member committee set up to prepare the constitution of this worldwide body of the Sikhs.

He clarified that the motive of the confederation was not to replace any Sikh organisation such as the SGPC or any Panthic political organisation. He said certain vested interests were creating a wrong impression in this regard.

At present, there is no Sikh organisation that represents the Sikhs scattered in various parts of the world. The SGPC represents a section of Sikhs in the North of India. The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee represents the Sikhs who live in Delhi. There was no representative body for the Sikhs living abroad.

In such circumstances, there was a need to launch the confederation, that would play the role of an apex body to various panthic organisations discuss to the issues with regard to the Sikhs at a common platform and also decide the strategy to resolve the same.

“We have got tremendous response” Mr Gurdev Singh, president of the Institute, said. He said the late, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, who headed the SGPC for 25 years, had endorsed the concept of the confederation.

Regarding its structure, Mr Gurdev Singh, said there would be a general house of all primary members of the confederation governing council of 200 members. In the governing council, 60 members would be taken from the SGPC, 10 from the DSGMC, 30 from various States in the country, 45 from the Sikh diaspora all over the world and 50 from various Sikh institutions and five from Sikh Takhts. There would be a 25-member executive committee and five advisory councils of eminent persons to advise on various issues such as education, religious affairs, economic affairs, international and legal affairs and Press and public relations etc.


Agitating millers stop purchase of cotton
Raids on cotton mills
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mansa, November 8
Protesting against the issuance of notice to some cotton mills on the alleged evasion of market fee, members of Cotton Factories Association stopped purchase of cotton from the local market yesterday adding to the concern of the farmers awaiting procurement. They also staged a dharna in front of the DMO office in favour of their demands today.

The situation could turn serious if the matter was not resolved quickly as the president of Punjab Cotton Factories & Ginners Association, Mr Bhagwan Bansal, warned that if the district administration continued with its “unfair attitude” towards the millers they would stop making cotton purchase across the state.

No bidding took place in the market since yesterday.

Speaking on the issue, the president of the association, Mr Raj Kumar Danewalia, told that in the last one-and-a-half months the SDM had raided seven cotton mills. He claimed that nothing objectionable was found doing these raids. He alleged that the authorities unnecessarily raked up the issue of ginning outturn and charged three firms with evading market fee, besides issuing them notices asking them to deposit the same within a week.

“This despite the fact that we pay the market fee on raw cotton and not on the basis of lint cotton,” he added.

He alleged that the district administration was doing grave injustice with them. He sought appointment of a committee to look into the whole matter.

When contacted, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Raj Kamal Chaudhuri, alleged that some members of cotton mills association were trying to pressurise the DMO to withdraw notices issued to them regarding some irregularities and fines. He said there was no question of withdrawal of notices and they would not buckle under their pressure.

On ginning outturn, he said it was a technical issue and the millers had the right to appeal before Punjab Mandi Board in this connection.

Regarding the farmers’ plight, he said they were in dialogue with the agitators and hoped that the matter should be resolved today.

Meanwhile, the tussle between the district administration and the millers had put the harried cotton farmers in a tight spot, as they didn’t know where to sell their produce. With cotton prices hovering around Rs 1,900 the government agencies like the CCI and Markfed could not make any purchase and in such a scenario the absence of private buyers would only worsen their situation.

While the farmers, who were yet to unload their cotton from trolleys, were thinking to take their produce to other markets, those who had dumped had no option but to wait for purchase to start. The stalemate continued till the filing of this report and cotton purchase was yet to start.


260 bags of paddy stolen
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 8
Two hundred and sixty bags of paddy were reportedly stolen by a gang of thieves from a rice-sheller, Guru Nanak Rice Mill, situated near Lehragaga, last night. The thieves had stolen 400 bags of paddy from the rice-sheller, but they could only carry 260 bags with them.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Paramjit Singh Goraya, DSP (D), Sangrur, said it seemed that there had been at least 10 to 12 thieves in the gang who committed theft and used a four-wheeler for carrying the stolen paddy bags. He said the thieves had stolen 400 bags of paddy from the rice-sheller but they could only carry only 260 bags with them as the chowkidar woke up and raised the alarm. After that, the thieves ran away, leaving 140 bags in the nearby fields. The police has registered a case.


Sanjivni’s launch on Nov 20
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 8
The novel healthcare insurance scheme, Sanjivni, which will benefit nearly 20 lakh farmers and their families, will be launched at a state-level function in Ropar on November 20. A decision in this connection was taken here today at a meeting presided over by the Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill, who will head the Sanjivni Trust set up by the Punjab Government to run the scheme.

The trust will have its own system to monitor the scheme, which was conceived and planned by Mr K.S.Pannu, an IAS officer. It has been fine tuned and finalised, after negotiations with various insurance companies, by Mr Viswajit Khanna, Registrar of Cooperative Societies, who is the member-secretary of the trust.

Official sources told The Tribune that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, would inaugurate the scheme, the first of its kind in the country. Several government and non-government organisations and the Centre have been impressed by various features of the scheme and have sought full details in this regard from the state government authorities.

The premium of the health insurance cover will be within the reach of even small and marginal farmers and also small-time artisans and others engaged in agriculture-related jobs in the rural areas. As the scheme will be implemented through cooperative societies, those interested should be members of any society related to agriculture and allied sectors.

The sources said that the premium would be a few hundreds and not more than Rs 450 in any case for a family of six members. Any of the family members, covered under the scheme, would get free treatment if he or she remained hospitalised for 24 hours or more. Treatment costing up to Rs 2 lakh per member would be free.

Persons joining the scheme, who will be issued membership cards, will not have to pay in cash to the hospital. The healthcare bill of the hospital up to Rs 2 lakh per member will be cleared by ICICI Lombard, an insurance company engaged by the trust. In fact, as almost all hospitals, which are on the panel under the scheme, have agreed to provide treatment at about half the normal charges for heart surgeries or other major operations, the health insurance cover will actually be worth Rs 4 lakh per member. As hospitals will have an assured number of patients, they have lowered the rates for members who will be admitted on the basis of the membership card.


8-yr-old girl killed as school gate collapses
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 8
While eight-year-old Sadhna was sitting near the school gate during her mid-day break at school today she had no inkling that her schoolmates, who were swinging on the school gate, would prove to be disastrous for her. She paid for it with her life as the pillar supporting the gate collapsed and fell on her. Six-year-old Jaspal Singh and 10-year-old Sonia were injured in the accident.

The accident occurred at the Government Elementary School, Samania Gate. Sadhna, who was sitting on the ground along with her friend, was killed on the spot. Jaspal and Sonia were admitted to the Government Rajindra Hospital with foot and hand injuries, respectively. The injuries are not life threatening.

Meanwhile, the Secretary, Primary Education, Government of Punjab, Mrs Tejinder Kaur, said she was in know of the incident. As for the funds given to schools for repairs it is a paltry amount of Rs 5,000 for elementary schools, which is provided under the Sarv Sikhsha Abhiyan. “The schools use these funds to get minor repairs done, like white wash and fixing of doors and other things.” When asked if the amount was adequate, of course, her answer was in negative. Attempts to contact District Education Officer (Elementary) Pritpal Kaur proved futile as she did not answer the phone. 

The sign painted near the gate for children, ‘Sikhya laye aao, Sewa laye jayo’ (Come to study, Go for service), seems incongruous as Sadhana did come to the school for education but was not able to go back alive.

An ex gratia grant of Rs 50,000 has been announced for Sadhna’s family, who live in Mirch Mandi. Her father, Mewa Lal, is a daily-wage earner. The Red Cross would bear the expenses on the treatment of the injured children.

An inquiry has been ordered into the incident. It would be conducted by Sub-Divisional Magistrate Poonamjeet Kaur, according to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh.

The Deputy Commissioner termed the accident ‘as extremely preventable’ and said a thorough probe would be conducted to see how the accident happened.

“Primary evidence indicates that the pillar and the gate were not properly secured to the wall. We will do our utmost to see to the security of the children and ensure that such incident don’t happen in future.”

“The SDM would look into the whole episode to see where the fault lay. The building of the school is old but the gate was a new construction. If it is a case of negligence, then whoever it is would be held accountable.” 


Man kills brother, sister-in-law over property dispute
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 8
A commission agent reportedly killed his brother and sister-in-law near Quila Mubarak over a property dispute early this morning.

According to sources, the deceased, Raj Kumar alias Kalu, had been engaged in a property row with his elder brother Ashok Kumar for long. The sources said Ashok had possession of the whole property after the death of his father and Raj Kumar was demanding his share in it.

The accused allegedly had a tiff with the deceased fortnight back and they were having strained relations.

Ashok Kumar had set his shop opposite Desraj School, where he called Raj Kumar and his wife Pushpa Devi to sort out the matter this morning. On reaching there they saw Ashok sitting with his sons Deepak and Amardeep. The couple had an altercation with them, following which the accused fired at them with a revolver killing both on the spot and injuring their son Jatin who too accompanied them.

Jatin was rushed to Civil Hospital with a bullet injury in his back. He was later referred to Ludhiana. The bodies of the deceased were handed over to their family members after postmortem examination. A case has been registered against the accused under Sections 302, 307 and 34 of the IPC and the Arms Act. Ashok and his sons are still at large and the police has launched a manhunt to nab them.


IT raids on industrialists, crores unearthed
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 8
In an Income Tax raid on a chemical processing units, the department recovered unaccounted money worth several crores during a day-long operation, here today.

IT officials descended on houses belonging to ‘Aggarwal brothers’ of Gopi Krishan Processors in the wee hours and remained there till late evening. According to highly placed sources, raiding parties from Panchkula, Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Bathinda, Patiala and Ludhiana reached the house number 479 in Green Avenue and recovered two personal diaries of the owners.

The raids were conducted on behalf of Ms Sudha Sharma, Director-General (Enforcement), Panchkula, and continued till the filing of report.

Senior IT officials claimed that owners of the processing units had admitted that they had used ‘code language’ to mention payments of 10 crore which was not accounted for. The raiding parties also recovered cash worth Rs 50 lakh. Raids were also conducted on the residences of at least 17 persons, including managers, partners, middlemen and recovered huge cash. It is believed that the IT officials recovered approximately Rs 5 lakh from Dyeing Master and Print Master.

Many industrialists, who indulged in tax evasion, went underground following the raids on Gopi Krishan Processors. The raids were conducted in White Avenue, Rose Avenue, Green Avenue and Batala road locality.


Plan to develop Wagah mooted
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 8
Keeping in view the increased trade and tourist traffic at Wagah Border, the Punjab Government has mooted a plan for the development of Wagah area. At present facilities at this border are insufficient and inadequate and are unable to cater to the increasing trade and tourist traffic.

Punjab Tourism Minister, Jagmohan Singh Kang, while presiding over a meeting held here today to review the development of Wagah border said in view of the improved and cordial relations between India and Pakistan more tourists were coming to India, and trade had increased manifold.

He added that a vision document for the development of world class infrastructure at Wagah would be prepared which would dwell on requirements of warehousing, cold storage, plant and animal quarantine, provision of medical facilities etc. He said a committee had been formed with the Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar as the convener which would co-ordinate with different departments and central agencies and suggest steps to be undertaken for short term as well as long term planning for the development of Wagah Border area. This committee would submit the report within one month.

Mr Kang stated that Rs 50 Lakh had already been earmarked from border area development fund during the current year to meet the immediate requirements of BSF, customs and tourism regarding provision of public conveniences and parking.

He further added that the state would approach the Union Government for setting up Wagah Development Authority. 


Cattle died due to compaction, no new cases: expert
Tribune News Service

Kharar, November 8
The Deputy Director Department of Animal Husbandry, Dr Ram Singh, today said that the two head of cattle that died in Madanpur village in the past three days, was due to compaction. He added that the third ailing animal in the same house was suffering from a different disease which had been taken care of.

He added that no other head of cattle in the village was suffering from any disease. Six animals had died in Madanpur village near here in the past few days. Two of these cattle died yesterday morning at the residence of Swaran Singh.

Meanwhile, BKU state vice president Shamsher Singh Gharuan, Sewa Singh and Mehar Singh, both executive members of the BKU, and Jaspal Singh Niamian block president BKU, have demanded that the farmers who have lost their animals should be given compensation by the government.


Road blocked to protest against demolitions
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, November 8
Residents of the Grain Market area today blocked the Hoshiarpur-Phagwara road for over two hours in protest against the demolition carried out by the enforcement wing of the Hoshiarpur Improvement Trust on Monday.

The trust had demolished over 20 structures, including some business establishments and residential complexes, during a demolition drive carried along the road yesterday. The structures were pulled down to develop Scheme II of the Improvement Trust.

The protesters raised slogans against the trust authorities and alleged high-handedness of the government. They claimed that the trust authorities had acquired their land at a throwaway prices (Rs 714 per marla) while the land prices along the road were from Rs 50,000 to Rs 80,000 per marla.

Traffic on the road was also disrupted for hours as the protesters did not permit any vehicle to cross the road. Vehicles heading towards Phagwara from Hoshiarpur and in reverse directions had to take alternate routes to reach their destinations. The district administration had deployed a number of policemen to avoid any untoward incident.

Vehicular traffic on the road was restored after Mr Pritam Singh, Subdivisional Magistrate, Hoshiarpur, reached the spot and assured the protesters of justice. 


Dharna to demand boy’s search
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 8
Villagers of Badrukhan, Changal, Lidhran, Bahadurpur and other villages, yesterday staged a dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner here and demanded that 14-year-old missing boy Jugraj Singh be traced. The protesters raised slogans against the police and the administration for “failure” in recovering the boy. Women protesters held ‘Siapa’ on the occasion. Jugraj Singh had gone missing since June 4, 2004 from Badrukhan village.

The protesters were addressed, among others, by Mr Parkash Chand Garg, national vice-president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD); Mr Rajinder Singh Kanjhla, district president of the SAD; Mr Jeet Singh Alloarkh, district president of the SAD (A); Mr Pavittar Singh, district president of the BSP; Mr Nirmal Singh Gharachon, SGPC member; Mr Amarjit Singh Badrukhan, a leader of the SAD Youth wing; Mr Karam Singh Badrukhan, patron of the action committee; Mr Dhanna Singh, a leader of the Kirti Kisan Union; and Mr Joga Singh Phaguwala, a former SGPC member.

Mr Gurpreet Singh Thind, Assistant Commissioner (General), Sangrur, visited the protesters at the dharna site and received a memorandum from the protesters. He assured the protesters that the administration would initiate steps to recover the boy.

It is alleged that the missing boy was seen some time ago by a milk seller in Alipur village (near Nabha) in a house. On this, Panchayat members of the Badrukhan village along with policemen visited Alipur village, but the owners of the house allegedly did not allow them to enter their house. After that the police called them (Alipur residents) to the police station and questioned them about Jugraj Singh. During questioning, they reportedly admitted that Jugraj Singh had stayed 15 to 20 days at their home, but later fled.

Mr Navdeep Singh, SHO, Sadar police station, Sangrur said the police had arrested Gurbaj Singh and Baljinder Singh, both residents of Alipur village, in connection with the missing boy case. He added Gurbaj Singh and Baljinder Singh were in jail now. He also said the police was conducting raids to recover the missing boy.


High Court
PIL on pardon granted to two police officers
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 8
A public interest litigation has been filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court challenging the pardon granted by the Punjab Government to two police officials convicted for abducting and murdering two persons.

In its petition, the Lawyers for Human Rights International (LHRI) through its president Amar Singh Chahal has questioned the pardon to DSP Jaspal Singh and former DSP Sawaran Dass, both of whom had been convicted for the crime and sentenced to imprisonment.

Jaspal, who was on bail when the pardon was granted, had been sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for kidnapping and causing the death of one Amrik Singh. At that time, Jaspal was posted as SHO, Police Station, Patra, and Amrik was allegedly harbouring terrorists. A Patiala court, in 2001, had awarded him the sentence.

As for Sawaran Dass, who is now retired, he was given life imprisonment after being found guilty of abducting and murdering a brother of an alleged terrorist. At the time of the incident, Dass was posted as Inspector with the CIA Staff, Hoshiarpur.

The Governor, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), had granted pardon to the two cops on the recommendation of the Home Department.

In its petition, the LHRI has stated that after reading about the grant of pardon in the newspapers, it applied to the Punjab Public Information Officer as well as the Home Department, seeking copies of the orders relating to the pardons. However, there was no response from the government.

The petitioner has prayed that the action of the government in granting pardon to the two cops be declared illegal and the government be restrained from considering any more such cases for grant of pardon. It has also said that the grant of pardon was not in public interest and was highly arbitrary and irregular.

Today, after hearing the petitioner’s counsel, the Bench of Chief Justice Mr Justice D.K. Jain and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta adjourned the matter to November 14.


Judicial custody for jobless ETT teachers
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, November 8
The Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Faridkot, remanded 40 unemployed ETT teachers in judicial custody and sent all of them to Central Jail last evening following their refusal to receive bail.

The local police which detained them under Sections 107 and 51 for disturbing peace presented them before the SDM for necessary action.

These teachers had yesterday gheraoed Punjab Cooperation Minister Jasjit Singh Randhawa at Nehru stadium.

Meanwhile, the district unit of unemployed ETT teachers union today decided to hold a demonstration and a rally at Faridkot tomorrow to condemn the incident.


Traffic helpline launched in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 8
Road users in Punjab can dial 1111 from an Airtel phone and 98153-91111 from phones of any other telecom service provider in the state to seek help in case of accidents or traffic problems or to give information about any crime on the highways.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, launched the traffic helpline and also a highway patrol vehicle of the Punjab Police here today. The Chief Minister also released a set of school books regarding traffic and road safety rules for students of Classes I to V. The books have been published in coordination with a non-government organisation, the Society for Accident and Aid for Traffic Help (Saath). Books for other classes are also to be published. The books will be sold on a no-profit-no-loss basis.

The helpline would be accessible from landline phones also, said Mr S.K. Sharma, IG, Traffic. Efforts are being made to tie up with other mobile service providers to allocate the number 1111 for the accident helpline.

The helpline would work like this: When someone makes a call from his/her phone, the person would be automatically connected to the nearest patrol vehicle. This linkage has been provided by a telecom company. At present, there are 40 vehicles stationed across the state. The number would increase to 60 by the end of March next year.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Chief Minister announced the setting up of the State Road Safety Council under his chairmanship to ensure effective coordination among various agencies related to road safety and traffic management.

Presiding over a high-level meeting here in this connection, the Chief Minister said even though the rate of accidents had declined over the past two years a lot needed to be done. The Chief Minister also approved the system of compounding traffic challans at the police level. At present, all challans are payable through judicial courts. The revenue generated from the fines collected through the challaning of vehicles in future would be shared by the traffic wing of Punjab Police and the state government.


2 held for raping physically challenged
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, November 8
In a shocking incident, a physically challenged teenager girl of Chakk-Mallan village near Mahilpur was allegedly raped by two youth of the same locality, about 25 km from here, on Monday.

According to the police, the suspects Balwinder Singh, alias Ballu, and Parminder Singh, alias Bindha, abducted the girl, while she was on her way to the house of her relative, Mr Ajit Ram. Finding the girl alone, the two abducted the girl, took her to Parminder Singh’s house and raped her repeatedly.

As the girl screamed for help, neighbours assembled and nabbed Parminder Singh while Balwinder Singh tired to escape. Sources in the village revealed that Balwinder Singh while fleeing from the site callided with an iron gate and collapsed. He was later admitted to the Civil Hospital, Mahilpur with head injuries.

Subsequently the two were arrested. A medical examination of the girl was also conducted at the Civil Hospital.

The police has registered a case of rape and abduction under Sections 342, 376 and 34 of the IPC against Balwinder Singh and Parminder Singh.


Undertrial escapes
Tribune news Service

Hoshiarpur, November 8
An undertrial escaped from a police party on Sunday morning. Accused Balbir Singh was being taken to his native village Dinowal Khurd in Garhshankar subdivision to attend the marriage of his brother.

Balbir Singh was lodged in the district jail in February 22, 2002. Being accompanied by about three police personnel. Balbir Singh managed to escape between Hoshiarpur and Garhshankar.

Mr Satpal Singh, Jail Superintendent, Hoshiarpur, has recommen ded a suitable action against the cops who accompanied Balbir Singh.


65-year-old woman trader beaten to death

Amritsar, November 8
A 65-year-old trader was allegedly beaten to death in full public view after she asked two inebriated persons to pay for the cold drinks they had taken from her stall here, the police said today.

Karan and Maja, the accused, allegedly beat Shanti Devi to death in the Lahori Gate locality after she asked for payment. The aged shopkeeper cried for help but no one came to her rescue, the police said.

After committing the crime the duo walked away, Deputy Superintendent of Police Lakhbir Singh said.

The aged widow is survived by only son who used to help her at the tea kiosk, the police said. — PTI


Two killed in mishap

Kapurthala, November 8
Two persons were killed when their motor cycle collided with a tractor-trailer, the police said here today.

Paramjit Singh and Satbir Singh, both friends, died last night after the motor cycle hit the tractor-trailer at the Dalla road under Talwandi Chaudhrian police station.

Paramjit Singh was a resident of Amanipur village while Satbir Singh belonged to Pamna village. The police has registered a case. — PTI


Youth commits suicide

Phagwara, November 8
A 25-year old youth Amrit Kumar of Kattan in Nawanshahar district allegdelly committed suicide by jumping before the Akal Takhat Express near Satnampura Railway crossing here late last night. The Railway Police has registered a case. — UNI


Baba, wife held for cheating
Our Correspondent

Batala, November 8
The Qadian police today arrested self styled Baba Satindera Kumar, who was earlier a patwari and booked him under Sections 420, 506 and 120-B of the IPC on the complaint of Ashok Kumar and Ashwani Kumar, sons of Mr Krishan Gopal Aggarwal of Atterian Mohalla. They stated that their father was suffering from kidney trouble and they contacted the Baba, who claimed to cure him.

The Baba wanted them to build a building which he did in Dharampura mohalla, Qadian by spending lakhs. However, despite this their father expired on February 11, 2003. After this the Baba told the family that in their family only women will survive and to avert it a havan will have to be done and for this he took lakhs and jewellery.

The complainants demanded their money which was not returned.


Non-teaching staff on fast
Our Correspondent

Abohar, November 8
Mr Romesh Midha and Mr K K Sidana, senior members of the state committee of the Non-Teaching Staff Union, and Mr Prabh Dayal, president of the district unit, today went on hunger strike for the day as the union held a district-level dharna at the DAV campus here. The staff of privately managed aided colleges raised slogans against the state government for not accepting genuine demands.

Mr Midha said it was unfortunate that the government had remained apathetic to the charter of demands, agreed in principle, for a long time. The non-teaching staff worked as backbone of the institutions and deserved fair treatment, he added.

The union resolved to give a call for symbolic strike all over the state on November 18 and hold state-level rally on DAV Campus, Jalandhar, on November 30 if the government remain non-responsive.

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