P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab Police to help indicted officials: DGP
Tribune News Service

Daburji (Amritsar), November 22
The Punjab Police has decided in principal to come to the rescue of its officials , indicted by the CBI court in connection with the disappearance and cold-blooded killing of Human Rights Activist Jaswant Singh Khalra .

This was disclosed by Mr S.S. Virk, Director General Police (DGP) while addressing the media here today.

Mr Virk said the police officers indicted by the court had sacrificed their lives to bring peace in the troubled state. Every effort would be made to help them and their families if they go for appeal in higher court. Every effort would be made to raise the morale of police force, which had been shattered by the judgment.

He informed that about 200 cases were filed against the police officers in various courts. The department would provide necessary support to only those against whom false cases have been filed or had fought for the peace and integrity of the country. They would not provide any support to police officers who indulged in corrupt practices and brought bad name to the police department.

The DGP said that Babbar Khalsa and Khalistan Commando Force, led by Wadhawa Singh and Paramjit Singh Panjwar, were still active in Pakistan but due to western pressure they were not getting the required support.

He said that several militants had shifted their base from Pakistan and left for the western countries. They are in touch with Central government to request for their extradition to the western countries.

He said that smuggling of drugs in the Majha and Doaba belt had gone down considerably and drug peddlers, smugglers and hawala agents are active in the Malwa belt.

As many as 14 to 15 drug smugglers had already been arrested in the state and efforts are being made to nab the remaining persons who were indulging in drug trafficking through the Ferozepur-Jalalabad (Pakistan) route.

He said that he had instructed his fellow officers to be people friendly policies so that the people could visit the police stations fearlessly. He said that cases should be registered immediately and no false detection should be shown. 


PM’s help to be sought to speed up projects
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 22
The Punjab Government will seek the intervention of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, for expediting the implementation of some important projects.

Among the projects are the setting up of an international airport at Ladowal, near Ludhiana, and the starting of a bus service between Amritsar and Nankana Sahib (Pakistan). As the Assembly elections are approaching,

the state government is worried because of the delay in the taking off of the projects. The state government will get political mileage only if work on the projects begins well before the elections.

Informed sources said the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, would meet the Prime Minister on November 24 in Delhi to discuss the projects. The plying of the bus between Nankana Sahib and Amritsar is on top of his agenda.

Already, the dates have been almost finalised for the trial run of the bus service between Lahore and Amritsar. The first trial run is expected on December 11 and the second on December 13. However, no progress has been made as far as running a bus between Amritsar and Nankana Sahib is concerned. Talks with regard to the bus service on this route have not even begun at the technical level between India and Pakistan. Dr Manmohan Singh, who now handles the External Affairs Ministry, would be requested by Capt Amarinder Singh to get the needful done in this regard.

The Chief Minister is also keen on getting work started on the Ladowal airport project at the earliest. Already, a feasibility study was being conducted by a private firm in this regard, a senior officer of the state government said. However, the Chief Minister wants that by the time the feasibility study is completed, other clearances should be taken from the Union Government. Clearance from the Defence Ministry and the Environment Ministry is required, it is learnt.

The Punjab Government has already submitted the project report to the Centre for setting up a nanotechnology institute at Dera Bassi at a cost of over Rs 100 crore. The Chief Minister will urge the Prime Minister to get funds released to set up the institute, it is learnt. A biotech park and a biotech institute are also to be set up near Dera Bassi. Another issue relates to rice millers, who want exemptions with regard to the outturn ratio of rice from paddy. The Union Government has allowed the recovery of 66 kg of rice from 100 kg of paddy but the rice millers have been urging a reduction to 64 kg.

Another important matter that is hanging fire is the setting up of the national defence institute in Punjab. During the tenure of the NDA government, the then Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, had promised to set up such an institute in Punjab. However, that promise remains unfulfilled. Capt Amarinder Singh wants that the institute should be set up at Kapurthala, where the state government is ready to give about 125 acres to the Union Defence Ministry for this purpose. The Chief Minister, the sources said, would also discuss this issue with the Prime Minister.


Sidhu gives sleepless nights to Cong leaders in Majha
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 22
Cricketer-turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu has virtually shaken Congress politicians of the Majha belt by making the special economic zone (SEZ), which was to be set up in Amritsar, a big political issue.

Most of the Congress MLAs elected from that area have apprehensions that if Mr Sidhu continues to hammer at the SEZ issue in the manner he did yesterday, it will eliminate their chances of winning the coming Assembly elections.

The way youth responded to Mr Sidhu’s rally in Amritsar yesterday, has created panic among Congress leaders keen on trying their luck again in the Assembly elections which are only a year away from now.

Mr Sidhu, who has learnt the art of mesmerising people at political rallies by mixing wit, quotes from religious books and one-liners in his speeches, has emerged as a big crowd puller in the Majha belt. It is a known fact that Mr Sidhu proved to be a hit at rallies of the National Democratic Alliance in Bihar during the recent Assembly elections which the NDA won convincingly.

“Sidhu’s energy level is amazing and he has really created a big niche for himself in the political sphere in the Majha belt by winning the confidence of people”, said a senior Congress leader of Amritsar.

The way Mr Sidhu was projecting the state government in poor light on the issue of the SEZ would prove costly to the Congress in the Assembly elections, he added.

However, the state government seems to be not much worried about all this.

Informed sources said the state government was of the view that there was no substance in Mr Sidhu’s propaganda on the issue of the SEZ. “All the row kicked up by Mr Sidhu on the issue is misplaced and has no rationality”, a senior government functionary said.

“As many people are not aware of what the SEZ is, Mr Sidhu is taking full advantage of it” he added. The Punjab Government had already shortlisted DLF, a private organisation, to set up the SEZ in Amritsar.

There were six bidders for the SEZ and only three of them finally qualified. DLF was picked for the job.

The required approval to DLF would be given by the state government on November 28 at a meeting of the empowered committee which had been set up under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to give clearance to projects worth Rs 100 crore or more.

He said all SEZs in the country had been developed by private companies such as Reliance, Mahindra and Mahindra, DLF. These private companies themselve bought land and developed it to make it available to industrialists to set up their units.

The state government’s job was to only notify the policy with regard to the SEZ. This had already been done, he added. Once the SEZ started shaping up, the Union Government would be informed in this regard for the issuance a notification for granting exemption from various levies and taxes on items manufactured and produced in the SEZ.

The state government had to play the role of facilitator in the matter of framing policy and informing the Union Government for the issuance of the notification.

Sources said that Capt Amarinder Singh would address a dinner meeting of industrialists in Amritsar on November 30 to explain to them the present status of the SEZ.


Singla bowls political bouncer to Navjot Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla today said the Punjab Government would be writing to the Government of India for extension in the deadline for the unbundling of the Punjab State Electricity Board. “There are certain problems being faced by the state in the unbundling process,” he said.

Mohali, November 22
The Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, today flayed adverse remarks made by Member of Parliament from Amritsar, Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, regarding granting of a special economic zone (SEZ) for the city.

Stating that Sidhu’s remarks were nothing more than “damn stupidity” that exposed his political illiteracy, Mr Singla pointed out that Sidhu did not know that the Punjab Government had to follow the rules laid down for the granting of the SEZ status by the Government of India.

Mr Singla was interacting with media persons here during a seminar on the Reservation Bill 2004 held here.

“Granting of SEZ status is done by the Union Government on recommendations of state governments. Any private company can be granted the status by the Government of India following which the company would be given certain concessions. We have been trying to get companies to set up bases in Amritsar so that the case for SEZ status to that company can be forwarded. In order to invite companies to Amritsar we have gone out of the way to grant concessions. Some companies have also come forward. But to say that the Punjab Government is not serious about Amritsar SEZ is nothing but spreading misinformation,” he said.

Mr Singla added that DLF had been showing interest in setting up their works in Amritsar but “the conditions that they are demanding are not fair. They have asked that once they set up a base there, we would not allow other companies there to get into textiles, light engineering, food processing, logistics and services etc. We cannot agree to that,” he said.

“All this is nothing but foolish propaganda. Sidhu should stick to cricket- talk. He has made so much money playing cricket why does he himself not set up an SEZ in Amritsar?” said Mr Singla.

Listing the achievements of his government Mr Singla said British Petroleum, one of the world’s largest petrochemical companies had tied up with HPCL and were planning to establish a petrochemical complex in Punjab. “Doubling the capacity of the Bathinda refinery is also being planned,” he said.


Bir Devinder seeks CBI probe into cash bungling
Tribune News Service

Kharar, November 22
The Kharar MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, today demanded a CBI probe into his allegation of bungling in the construction of the Municipal Bhavan that was recently inaugurated in the township.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh was talking to media- persons here today at a public function.

Stating that he had written to the Punjab Chief Minister giving details of the alleged bungling, Mr Bir Devinder Singh said in case the government did not take cognizance of his complaint he would have to resort to taking a legal recourse. “I will stand by truth till the last breath,” he said today.

Meanwhile in Mohali, the Block Congress Committee President, Mr Kuljit Singh Bedi, called an emergency meeting of the members today.

It was resolved that the party president be asked to take strict and exemplary action against the Kharar MLA for having broken all party rules and making wild allegations in public against the party’s own men.


Expel Bir Devinder: ministers, MLAs
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 22
As many as five MLAs and other congress leaders here today demanded expulsion of Mr Bir Devinder Singh from the party for his alleged unprovoked utterances against his colleague.

The MLAs are Mr Jasbir Singh Dimpa, Chairman, Punjab Sewerage Board, Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Harpratap Singh Ajnala, Mr Harjinder Singh Thekedar, Chairman, Punjab State Forest Corporation, and Mr Jugal Kishore Sharma.

Mr Thekedar urged Mr Pranab Mukherjee, in-charge of Punjab affairs of the Congress, to expel Mr Bir Devinder Singh from the party for his anti-party activities with a sole objective to destabilise the party and tarnish its image.

Mr Inderjit Singh Baserke, president, District Congress Committee (Rural), alleged that Mr Bir Devinder Singh was levelling baseless allegations against Capt Amarinder Singh on the backing of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, SAD.

Chandigarh (TNS): The infighting among Congress legislators took a new turn as four ministers today opened a front against Mr Bir Devinder Singh, MLA from the Kharar constituency, seeking his expulsion from the party immediately.

In a joint statement the four said they had made an appeal to the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, and also to the leader in charge of Punjab affairs, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, seeking Mr Bir Devinder Singh’s expulsion.

The ministers — Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Public Works (B&R), Mr Avtar Henry, Food and Civil Supplies, Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, Revenue, and Mr Hans Raj Josan, Forests — sought the expulsion of Mr Bir Devinder for “his anti-party activities” and held him responsible for tarnishing its image in public.

These ministers further said that Mr Bir Devinder Singh had levelled baseless charges of corruption against a senior Cabinet Minister due to his personal animosity on the issue of delimitation in Mohali. This, they alleged, was just to malign the minister with the ulterior motive of meeting his political and narrow vested interests.

They said the Congress was a disciplined party and had its code of ethics for redressing any genuine grouse or grievance at the party level.

They accused Mr Bir Devinder Singh of airing his views in the media instead of approaching the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo. They went on to allege that Mr Bir Devinder Singh was an “opportunist and selfish person”.

Reacting sharply to his utterances in a section of the Press that there was a danger to his life, the ministers alleged that Mr Bir Devinder Singh was in the habit of blowing the issue out of proportion just to gain popularity in the media.

They added that the behaviour and attitude of Mr Bir Devinder Singh would not help him in achieving his aim of destabilising the party, said the ministers.

Meanwhile, Mr Ram Pal Dhaipi, general secretary, PPCC, and Mr R.R. Bhardawaj, vice-chairman of the state Planning Commission, in a joint statement said that Mr Bir Devinder Singh should quit the party as he had no business to target the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who was the leader of the party in the Vidhan Sabha.


Bir Devinder invites wrath
Tribune Reporters

Ropar, November 22
The Parliamentary Secretary, Industry and Commerce, and MLA, Nangal, Mr Rana K.P. Singh, on Tuesday demanded ouster of Mr Bir Devinder Singh from the party for his outburst against Capt Amarinder Singh and Local Bodies Minister Chowdhary Jagjit Singh.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh had crossed all limits and violated norms of the party by raising false allegations against the CM and Chowdhary Jagjit Singh. If he had any grievances against anyone he should report the matter to the PPCC President, the CM or the Congress high command, Mr Rana said.

HOSHIARPUR: There is no room for indiscipline in the Congress and any leader who is damaging the party has no right to continue as its member. These views were expressed by Mr Ram Lubhaya and Mr Lov Kumar Goldy, Congress MLAs from Shamchaurasi and Garhshankar, respectively, in a joint press release here on Tuesday.

They alleged that Mr Bir Devinder Singh had been trying to harm the party since long. Seeing his anti-party activities, it appeared that he was playing the opposition role within the party.


Dullo warns Bir Devinder against going to media
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, November 22
PPCC president Shamsher Singh Dullo today warned Congress MLA from Kharar Bir Devinder Singh against going to media with statements against state Congress leaders. Responding to queries from newsmen at a press conference here today, Mr Dullo said he had received the letter of Bir Devinder Singh, seeking 15 days’ time for replying to the show-cause notice issued to him.

However, instead of 15 days, Mr Bir Devinder had been given seven days to respond to the show-cause notice.

When asked if a probe would be initiated against the allegations levelled against Local Governments Minster Jagjit Singh Chowdhary, Mr Dullo said it would depend upon the contents provided by Mr Bir Devinder Singh.

He admitted that the utterances of Mr Bir Devinder were harming the interests of the party in the state.

Meanwhile, a group of MLAs, including Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Mr Dimpa and Mr Harpratap Singh, in a joint statement issued here, demanded the ouster of Mr Bir Devinder Singh from the party. They alleged that he was harming the interests of the Congress, “as he was in league with the Akalis”. Mr Bir Devinder Singh has always harmed the party interests by criticising the party leaders on flimsy grounds, they said.


Staff show black flags to Dullo
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, November 22
Members of the General Category Employees Federation today showed black flags to the PPCC president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, to protest against the implementation of the 85th amendment. They gathered in large numbers at the Nehru Park this morning in view of Mr Dullo’s visit to Gurdaspur.

While Mr Dullo was addressing a press conference, the employees marched to the rest house raising slogans against him and the Punjab Government. The protestors included employees from various government departments. They also held a rally in front of the rest house.

They blamed Mr Dullo for forcing the Punjab Government to implement the 85th amendment. The reservation in promotions was unjustified and was harming the interests of the general category employees. Due to its implementation, most of the general category employees would have to retire without any promotion while reserved category employees who are much junior to them would become their superiors.

The general category employees also announced the boycott of the ruling party ministers and MLAs who welcomed Mr Dullo in the district. Its leaders would campaign against the ministers and MLAs who have welcomed Mr Dullo in the coming Assembly elections.

The employees laid siege to the gate of the PWD Rest House for about one hour. They said the employees of the general category would show black flags to Mr Dullo in the state. The other ministers would also be presented bangles due to their failure to protect the interest of general category.

The protestors demanded the withdrawal of decision of the Cabinet to implement the 85th amendment pending which they threatened to intensify their agitation.

Mr Dullo and other Congress leaders did not react to the protest of the general category workers.


Vote freely in SGPC elections, says Boran
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 22
SAD(A) has urged all members of the SGPC to cast their vote for the post of SGPC as per their conscience.

The official spokesman for the party, Jathedar Surinder Singh Boran, in a press release here today said that it was unfortunate that all members of SGPC belonging to SAD(B) had given the right to Mr Badal to choose the candidate for the post of presidentship. These members were behaving like slaves of Mr Badal. He said giving the right to a person, who had denigrated the principles of Sikhism was like disobeying the principles of Sikhism, which were taught by our great Gurus.

Bibi Jagir Kaur had already brought a bad name to the community and had harmed the most prestigious organisation of Sikhs he alleged.


SAD to stay away from ‘procession’ to Nankana Sahib
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 22
Shiromani Akali Dal supremo Parkash Singh Badal today announced that his faction and the SGPC would stay away from the “palki” (palanquin) procession, proposed to be taken from New Delhi to Nankana Sahib.

Mr Badal said the procession which was already mired in controversy, had created “bad blood” in the Sikh circles. He said neither he nor his party was invited by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) President, Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna to participate in the procession. He said his party was not in favour of demolishing the old structure of the sanctum sanctorum of Nankana Sahib. Mr Badal evaded a direct reply as to why the bullet marks of Operation Bluestar were emitted from the Golden Temple.

However, Mr Badal said that the SGPC would make all arrangements for the stay and “langar” for the Sikh sangat, which would come with the palki. Bibi Jagir Kaur, President, SGPC, said that there was no importance of gold in the Sikh religion. On the other hand, the supporters of Mr Sarna questioned: “Can Bibi Jagir Kaur remove the gold from Harmander Sahib? The gold palki was changed about two years ago.


‘Alteration’ of ardas to be discussed today

Amritsar, November 22
The issue of deleting the words, praying ‘easy access to gurdwaras of Pakistan from the daily prayer of Patna Sahib at the behest of Jathedar Iqbal Singh would be discussed in the meeting of Sikh clergy, scheduled to be held here tomorrow.

The announcement, made by Jathedar Patna Sahib at the first International Advisory Board meeting of Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, held at Lahore on November 17, had caused flutter in the Sikh community. After attending the meeting of the PSGPC, the Jathedar Iqbal Singh told this correspondent that there was no need to pray to the Almighty in daily ardas for easy access to the Sikh shrines in Pakistan which had already been accepted by allowing Sikhs to carry out ‘kar sewa’ there .

Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, Shiromani Akali Dal, said that he personally felt that the words ‘easy access to Sikh shrines in Pakistan’ should not be deleted from the daily prayer as it had not been granted yet. — TNS


Holy book brought from Pak
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 22
The Nankana Sahib Sikh Yatri Jatha has brought an old volume of Guru Granth Sahib from Pakistan.

Mr Swarn Singh Gill, president of the jatha, said that the holy book was brought from Haji Mohammad Dilshad Alikhan, a resident of Imnabad. He said the holy book was bought by the father of Dilshad, Choudhary Abdul Raja Alikhan from a shopkeeper of Kasur nearly 48 years ago.

He said the Chaudharis were originally from Patiala and had settled in Imnabad after Partition. He said they allowed Sikh pilgrims to pay obeisance to the Bir.


Work allocation of 5 officers changed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 22
The Punjab Government today changed the work allocation of five IAS officers.

Mr K.K. Bhatnagar, Principal Secretary, Technical Education, will relinquish the additional charge of Industrial Training.

This will now be handled by Mr R.C. Nayyar, Secretary, Parliamentary Affairs, and Secretary, Punjab Human Rights Commission.

Mr J.B. Goel, Secretary, Technical Education, will relinquish the additional charge of Secretary, Industrial Training.

No orders have been issued regarding who would be the Secretary, Industrial Training.

Mr Narinderjit Singh, Director, Technical Education and Industrial Training, will swap places with Mr R.K. Verma, Director, State Transport.


Jalandhar DD wins acclaim
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 22
Jalandhar Doordarshan has bagged as many as four national level awards, including the annual national-level Prasar Bharti-instituted best TV show Award for the third time in a row.

“Nacchiye Gaayie Shagan Manayie-2004”, a show directed by Jaswant Deed was adjudged as the best TV show by the Prasar Bharti authorities.

Interestingly, it is for the third time since 2002 that Jalandhar Doordarshan has got the prestigious Best TV show Award. The art producer of the show was Shailendra Sharma.

The Best Telefilm Award has gone to “Lamian Udeekaan”, another Jaswant Deed directed telefilm based on Sahitya Academy Award Winner author Mohan Bhandari’s story. Another award for best make up of an in-house telefilm category went to team of “Apna Apna Hissa,” a telefilm.

According to Mr Raman Kumar, a senior news reader with the Jalandhar Doordsarhan, the Best Set and Art Direction Award has also been netted by the Manoj Kumar and Manohar Lal for the show, “Nachiye Gaayie Shagan Manayie.”

The awards, according to Raman Kumar, were handed over to representatives of Jalandhar Doordarshan in presence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilas Rao Deshmukh at a ceremony organised by the Prasar Bharti authorities at Mumbai on November 16.


PSEB employees observe strike
Tribune Reporters

Hoshiarpur, November 22
Employees of the Punjab Electricity Board observed strike in Hoshiarpur circle today to oppose the Power Act, 2003 and to protest against the non-implementation of their already accepted demands by the board’s authorities. The strike was called by the joint forum of the employees.

Mr Om Parkash, leader of the employees joint forum, in a press note issued said the cash collection centres remained closed and streetlights could not be switched off during day hours as none of the employee was on duty. He further stated that reports of strike had been received from Ropar, Mohali, Patiala, Muktsar, Faridkot, Ferozepur, Bhatinda, Sangrur, Ludhiana, Khanna, Jalandhar, Nawanshahr, Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Gurdaspur districts. Besides, employees of Thermal Plants in Ropar and Bhatinda and Hydel Projects at Joginder Nagar also observed strike.

He stated that neither state nor Central Government had extended any invitation to the employees of the PSEB to scrap the Power Act, 2003 and to abolish the board for converting it into a corporation or making it private. The last date for the implementation of the Power Act was December 9, 2005. With its implementation the power will become costly which will directly hit industrial units, farm sectors and employees.

He said if the Power Act 2003 was not scrapped, the PSEB employees would boycott their duties on December 7 and would participate in the proposed national strike of the employees on December 8, 2005.

Bathinda: Technical-wing employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board on Tuesday struck work in Bathinda circle following a call by the joint forum to protest against the state government’s move of corporatisation of the electricity board.

Addressing the protesters, the senior vice-president of employees’ federation, Mr Parminder Singh Chehal, said poor sections of society were unable to afford electricity in all those states where the Electricity Act, 2003, had been implemented. He said they would not allow any such measure in the state as the board had been doing well after recovering from huge losses.

In a press note issued here, the federation claimed that the Union Government was about to sanction Rs 500 crore to the state for power reforms, but later backed out stating that the state government was extending free power to farmers and Dalits.


PSEB staff strike work
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 22
Various employees’ unions of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) struck work in protest against the boards decision to implement the Electricity Act-2003 which calls for the privatisation and corporatisation of the board in the future.

Leaders of the unions also said that the settlement reached between the management, Labour Commissioner (Punjab) and the unions was yet to be implemented. Under this agreement jobs were to be provided to the kin of deceased employees, regularisation of services of work-charged employees, to provide arrears to lower divisional clerks in the 9-16 year scale and the withdrawal of police cases against trade union leaders.

According to unconfirmed reports the strike was partial to complete with Ropar circle reporting 92.7 per cent, Faridkot 87 per cent, Ferozepore 85 per cent, Muktsar 85 per cent and Bathinda 84 per cent strike.

Meanwhile, the board chairman, in a press release, claimed that the strike had ‘virtually no impact in the PSEB secretariat and also said that attendance in all offices was complete’.

The chairman added that the board had made arrangements to maintain regular power supply and that control rooms were set up at all zonal offices across the state.

He also said that all the thermal and hydro generation plants functioned normally.


Commandoes return from Bihar
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 22
Punjab Police commandoes, who did duty during the Bihar elections, returned here today.

Prominent among those present at the railway station to receive them were Mr T.S. Dhaliwal, DIG, Commando (Punjab), Mr Kartar Singh, Commandant, IRB (1st battalion), Mr B.S. Rathore, Commandant (1st Commando battalion), and Mr H.S. Bains, Commandant (2nd Commando battalion).

Eighteen companies of Punjab Police commandoes had left for various districts of Bihar to supervise the election process on November 6. They had left under the supervision of Mr A.K. Pandey, Commandant (4th Commando battalion), Mr B.S. Sidhu, Commandant (5th Commando battalion).


CM seeks report on land-grab

Ropar, November 22
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has directed the Principal Secretary to look into the illegal grabbing of the common land by influential persons in the villages of Ropar, which are close to Chandigarh.

The CM has ordered for detailed report about illegal grabbing after the Parliamentary Secretary of Industry and Commerce, Mr K.P.S Rana, took up the matter with him. — TNS


Proceedings before human rights panel stayed
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 22
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today stayed further proceedings before the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) in a complaint case pending before one of its controversial members, Mr B.C. Rajput.

Taking up a petition filed by Jalandhar resident Balwinder Singh through advocate R.S. Bajaj, challenging the authority of the PSHRC is ordering re-investigation in a case filed by him against a travel agent couple, who had allegedly cheated him, the Bench of Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar and Mrs Justice Nirmal Yadav also directed the Jalandhar Police to continue with the case filed by the petitioner notwithstanding the orders of the PSHRC.

In his petition, Mr Balwinder Singh has stated that he had lodged a complaint against travel agent S.K. Sharma and his wife, Ms Savita Sharma, accusing them of having taken Rs 2.5 lakh from him to send him to UK. However, neither was he sent to UK nor was his money returned. Following preliminary investigation, the Jalandhar Police lodged an FIR on September 23, 2004, against the couple. Later, both got out on bail.

However, on October 8, 2004, Ms Savita filed a complaint before the PSHRC, alleging that she had been wrongly implicated in the case. She also accused the police of harassing her.

When the matter came up before the bench of Mr Rajput, he directed the SSP, Jalandhar, to get the matter reinvestigated. An SP-rank officer was deputed by the SSP to re-investigate the matter.

On February 22, Mr Rajput, while directing the SSP, Jalandhar, to submit the report, ordered that till the matter was finally disposed of by the PSHRC, challan in the case would not be filed in the trial court. In his report dated August 4, the SSP, Jalandhar, stated that Ms Savita had been found to be innocent and necessary orders had been issued to the SHO to get her discharged in the case.

Noting that she had alleged that she had been confined in the police lock-up for four days and also remained in jail and that she should be granted compensation for the suffering, Mr Rajput, on August 31, asked the SSP to depute an officer along with the inquiry file to appear before him on the next date so that it could be ascertained who was responsible for detaining Ms Savita. The matter is fixed before the PSHRC for November 24.

Questioning the authority of the PSHRC in restraining the police from filing the challan, the petitioner has also prayed for quashing of the orders of PSHRC.

While issuing notice to the respondents for February 21, 2006, the High Court also directed the Jalandhar Police to continue with the process in the FIR.


Case filed against Bibi
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 22
A case was filed against Bibi Jagir Kaur, President, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, and three office-bearers of the management committee of Gurdwara Guru Sahib Padshahi Chhemi (sixth guru), popularly known as Gurdwara Bohali Sahib, situated at Nadala tehsil, Kapurthala, in the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC) by a member of the local committee.

Kulwinder Singh Sandhu filed the case alleging that ‘undue benefit’ was given to a person by exchanging his land with a “prime piece of land” of the gurdwara.

The other three members of the local committee against whom cases were filed were Surat Singh, President, Gurbax Singh, vice-president and Swaran Singh, member.

Sandhu, who had refused to sign the resolution of the local committee to facilitate the “hush hush exchange”, alleged that the ‘beneficiary’, Balkar Singh was given ‘undue benefit’ as he had got the prime land valued at about 2 crore in lieu of his ‘rural plot’, valued at Rs 25 lakh.


Govt flayed for ‘anti-farmer’ policies
Our Correspondent

Abohar, November 22
The two factions of the Bhartiya Kisan Union are now vying to muster support from the farmers of this rich cotton belt.

The BKU (Lakhowal) today resolved to extend the dharna at the new grain market here by inviting activists from other districts to join the agitation on rotation basis.

The other faction identified as Ekta Ugrahan group organised a mammoth rally followed by protest march that passed through the main roads of the sub divisional town before submitting a memorandum to the SDM, Mr Jaskiran Singh.

The Technical Services Union (TSU) of the Punjab State Electricity Board extended active support to the Ekta Ugrahan faction. The latter reciprocated by supporting the demands of the TSU and justified the state-level strike that started past midnight.

The BKU (Lakhowal), most of the farmers felt, had deviated from its original agenda while starting the indefinite dharna early this month. The agitation had involved cotton growers of the region as purchase was not made at the MSP as announced by the Union Government.

There were complaints that an alleged nexus between the buyers and officials of the market committee led to discrimination with cotton growers in terms of weight and rates. Now the growers were getting viable rate and sale of the produce loaded in trailers too had been streamlined. The agitators had virtually lost the core issues. They have now diverted their attention to exposing the misdeeds and rampant corruption in the market committee which has existed for the last decade or so.

The show of strength exhibited by the Ekta Ugrahan faction was indeed more impressive than the Lakhowal faction’s dharna, farmers said. The Ugrahan faction leaders criticised the state government for anti-farmer policies which, they asserted, led to maximum number of suicides during last month.


Man held with 2.25 kg charas
Tribune News Service

Pathankot November 22
The Pathankot police has arrested Roshan Lal and recovered 2.25 kg charas from him. In a press note issued here yesterday, the police said Roshan Lal was arrested near Chaki bridge on a tip off. He had absconded since the arrest of his two accomplices. The police had confiscated 4.75 quintal narcotics from a house in Pathankot. Anita Michael and Mohit Michael, mother and son, were arrested in the raid.

Police officials alleged that the mother and son were packing the narcotics in small packets for retail sale in Punjab areas.

They told the police that Roshan Lal used to supply them narcotics in bulk. He used to smuggle narcotics from areas of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal. They then would pack it in small packets and supply it further in retail.

On the statement of the mother and son, the police booked Roshan Lal under the NDPS Act. After his arrest, the police officials claimed that Roshan Lal told them that he had hidden charas near the Chaki river bank. The same was recovered from the said spot.


Purse snatched
Our Correspondent

Kharar, November 22
A purse containing Rs 45,000 was snatched from a woman by a youth here today.

According to information available, Mrs Krishna Sharma had withdrawn the amount from the Union Bank located on the Landran road. When she was returning from the bank a youth approached her and tried to divert her attention. When Mrs Sharma looked around the youth snatched her purse and fled.

The police was not aware of the incident.


Pharmacy students allege favouritism
Rubinder Gill
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 22
Students on the waiting list for admission to the Masters in Pharmacy course at Punjabi University, Patiala, have complained of favouritism by the department. The top three students on the waiting list, Anshu Arora, Rupa Joshi and Cheena Rana, have alleged injustice against them by the university authorities for denying them admission while taking in another student whose name was neither on the merit list nor the waiting list. The three students had applied in the extra-payment seats under the NRI category.

The student has not only been admitted to the course but he also managed to bag the most preferred and prestigious option available in the course. She has joined the prized stream of pharmaceutics. Amandeep Kaur’s name did not figure either on the merit or waiting list. Moreover, her marks in the B. Pharma course were about 65 per cent, much below the marks attained by Anshu Arora, Rupa Joshi and Cheena Rana, all of whom have above 70 per cent marks in the same course.

Only three students attended the third and last counselling session conducted by the Department of Pharmacy on October 7. Anshu Arora was the first on the waiting list followed by Rupa Joshi and Cheena Rana. They were told to keep in touch with the department in case of a seat falling vacant. The three duly kept contact with the department but were told that as such no seat was available. The three also met the Vice-Chancellor regarding the admission process and to see if the number of seats could be increased in the category. Last year 10 extra seats were made available in the course. The three students were told that this option was not available this year.

When the students again contacted the department, they came to know that Amandeep Kaur had been given admission despite being nowhere on the merit and waiting list and not attending the counselling session.

“We feel so frustrated. This is not the way things should be done. They are playing with our careers. By right one of us should have got admission and not Amandeep. We are trying to get justice. If she has got it, then we should have got it before her. We are just asking for our right,” says Cheena Rana.

According to the rules spelt out in the prospectus of the university, admission should have been according to the merit and waiting lists. The rule has clearly been flouted and deserving students are bearing the brunt of favouritism.


Reprieve for medicos as exam centre changed
Pawan Kumar

Vallah (Amritsar), November 22
Coming to the rescue of students of Sri Guru Ram Das (SGRD) College of Medical Sciences and Research, the Vice-Chancellor, Baba Farid University of Medical Sciences, Faridkot, today changed the examination centre of the students from the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC)-run college to Government Medical College.

More than 30 students under the Sikh minority quota and PMT rushed to Government Medical College to give the examination as the SGPC-run college authorities allegedly refused to give roll numbers to them till they did not deposit the prescribed fee.

Their parents had urged the Vice-Chancellor to intervene in the matter. Mr Jaswant Singh, Assistant Registrar of the university, who reached the college and took all students to government college and issued them provisional roll numbers.

The parents alleged that the college authorities did not heed to the stay orders granted by the Punjab and Haryana High Court which had asked the medical college to allow the students to appear in the examinations. Even their peaceful protest in front of the college gate and residence of Principal also failed to change the mind of the authorities, who asked them to first deposit the prescribed fee, they added.

The decision is being seen as great embarrassment for the SGPC. The incident has drew criticism from the trustees of the institution also, who while condemning it said this attitude of the Principal had let down the institution. He said had the university not intervened on time, it would have serious repercussions on the careers of the medical students.

Thanking the Vice-Chancellor of the university, the parents said his timely action saved the careers of their wards and strongly criticised the college authorities for their alleged irresponsible attitude.

Dr U.S. Dhaliwal, Principal of the college, could not be contacted even after repeated attempts as he was on leave. He also did not respond to the call made on his mobile.


Teachers told to adopt positive attitude
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 22
There was a need for a change in the mindset of teachers towards their profession and cultivating right attitude.

This was stated by the Director of the Institute of Personality and Aptitude Testing, Mr Rajnesh Garg, while addressing teachers during a workshop on “Re-inventing teaching” at Shivalik Public School here yesterday.

He said behavioural problems among the children could be tackled with a positive attitude and making them feel confident, he added.


Punjabi varsity ex-don dead
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 22
Dr Mahinderpal Kohli, a former Director, correspondence courses, Punjabi University, Patiala, died at Bhilai in Chattisgarh, on Tuesday.

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