P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Secret parleys between Sikh body, radicals to fore
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 17
The revelations made by Mr Rulda Singh, president of the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, a mouthpiece of the RSS, about the return of more than 400 “black-listed” Sikhs from different parts of the world and securing release of top militants from Punjab’s jails have created ripples in the Sikh Panth.

Earlier, Mr Rulda Singh shot into limelight for arranging “secret parleys” between RSS chief K. Sudershan and a section of the Sant Samaj, including Damdami Taksal, coinciding with tercentenary celebrations of the birth of the Khalsa Panth during the Vajpayee government.

Talking to TNS today, Mr Rulda Singh said the then Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and Union Home Minister Lal Krishan Advani held talks with “innocent” black-listed Sikhs in 2003 in New York and tried to resolve their problems by trimming the black-list.

However, Mr Rulda Singh refused to comment that he, along with Mr Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat, went to get Mr Daljit Singh Bittu, president of the Shiromani Khalsa Dal, released from jail.

However, Mr Jaspal Singh Manjpur, spokesman for the Dal, alleged that Mr Rulda Singh was spreading “disinformation” to create confusion among the Sikh Panth.

He claimed that neither Mr Modi nor Mr Rulda Singh were present at the time of the release of Mr Bittu. He said the pictures and video footage taken at the time of the release of Mr Bittu were a proof that Mr Rulda Singh was deliberately “defaming” the militants.

He said Mr Bittu was released on the court orders and hence the RSS had nothing to do with his release. The supporters of Mr Bittu said the “so-called revelations” made by Rulda Singh were doubtful since he (Mr Bittu) was released during the Congress regime whereas Mr Rulda Singh had access to the BJP-led NDA government only.

Mr Manmohan Singh, a UK-based Dal Khalsa leader, refuted the allegations made by Mr Rulda Singh that he (Mr Manmohan Singh) started supporting him during his visit to London. He alleged that Mr Rulda Singh was playing “double game” with a view to tarnishing the image of those who had “sacrificed” for the sake of the Sikh Panth.

Bhai Mohkam Singh, a spokesman for Damdami Taksal, alleged that the “audio recording” being circulated in Sikh circles on the release of Devinder Singh Bhullar were doctored.

Mr Rulda Singh, however, said the initiative taken by the RSS or the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat to scrap the black list was aimed at cementing the Hindu-Sikh relations. He said rumours were being spread by those (militants) who could not take the benefit of the initiative taken by his outfit.

Mr Rulda Singh said he had also held discussions with the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, where Mr Sukhpreet Singh Udoke had met him. He said Mr Udoke might have recorded his “revelations” without telling him. He, however, said he could comment only after cross-checking the authenticity of the recordings.


CM seeks report on Sukhi case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has asked the Home Secretary, Mr A.K. Dubey, for a report on the allegations of a militant having “active links” with senior functionaries of the Punjab Police. The Chief Minister has sought a detailed factual report at the earliest on the background of militant Sukhwinder Singh Sukhi and his links, if any, with the top brass of the police.

It was reported yesterday in a section of the media that Sukhi was living under the assumed name of Harjit Singh Kahlon in Jalandhar. He is said to be a frequent visitor to the Punjab Police Headquarters in Sector 9 here, sources in the police confirmed.

Sukhi, who belongs to the Khalistan Liberation Force, had reportedly claimed said that he enjoyed the patronage of the Director-General of Punjab Police, Mr S.S. Virk.

Sources said senior officers in the Punjab Government had collected initial information in this regard from within the police force and also the Home Department.

Senior police officials are of the opinion that legally Sukhi should be arrested under the cases in which he had been arrested earlier and then declared a proclaimed offender.

Officials here have expressed shock over how Sukhi had free access to the police headquarters, where IPS officers, who are on the “hit list” of militant organisations, have their offices.

According to reports, Sukhi along with another militant, Gurjant Singh Budhsinghwala, had allegedly shot dead a Punjab Police Inspector R. Sodha. He also reportedly engineered a bomb blast in which four men of the CRPF died. He also allegedly fired at a rath yatra led by the then BJP President, Mr Murli Manohar Joshi, killing six persons in Phagwara. A truckload of weapons was also allegedly recovered from him for which he was arrested and booked.

Meanwhile, the issue has also taken a political turn. The President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has shot off a letter to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh. A delegation of the SAD will also meet the Prime Minister on the issue. Mr Badal alleged: “The SAD believes that the Chief Minster will use the state police and state intelligence to do what the central agencies had done during the eighties”.

He further alleged: “The present Chief Minister continued to maintain a private army of such dangerous undercover killers”. In his communication to the Prime Minister, Mr Badal said hardcore militants, believed to be long dead, were actually roaming around in Punjab.


Bitta for probe into cops’ patronage to terrorist
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
The president of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front, Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, today sought a time-bound inquiry into reports of alleged police patronage to a terrorist in Punjab. The investigation should be carried out by a central agency so that the culprits were nabbed, he added.

Mr Bitta who was addressing mediapersons here, said: “The investigation into the matter must be carried out by the Central Bureau of Investigation to bring out the facts on who all were behind the giving of patronage to a terrorist in Jalandhar for years together”.

A section of the media had reported that a hardcore terrorist Sukhwinder Singh Sukhi, alias Harjit Singh Kahlon, was allowed to live in Jalandhar for 14 years under an assumed identity. The Punjab Police had declared him dead in an encounter. The terrorist had alleged that he was under the patronage of the Director-General of Punjab Police, Mr S.S. Virk.

Mr Bitta maintained that “several ultras are bent upon disturbing peace in Punjab.” He claimed that there were 15 or 20 more terrorists who were alive after being declared dead in different encounters by the state police.

Mr Bitta alleged that certain senior Punjab police officials had been hand in glove with terrorists and this had led to a deterioration in the law and order situation during the period of terrorism in the state.


Hawara fails to appear in court
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 17
As Jagtar Singh Hawara, chief of the Babbar Khalsa International in India, today failed to appear in the court of Mr Jaspal Singh Chugh, Additional District Judge (ad hoc), Fast Track Court, Sangrur, personally or through his counsel, the judge initiated ex-parte proceedings on the petition filed by Balwinder Kaur, wife of Hawara, under Section 12 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, for annulment of her marriage with Hawara.

The case will come up for ex-parte evidence on March 3.

Mr Chugh mentioned that summons were sent to Hawara under registered AD cover, not received back. Postal receipt showed that the summons were posted on January 9, so it was presumed that summons had been duly served upon the respondent (Hawara).

Earlier summons were sent through registered cover through the incharge, Burail Jail of Chandigarh, but the AD received by this court did not bear any endorsement of the Superintendent of Burail Jail, Chandigarh and due to this summons were again issued.

In view of this, it is pellucid that summons have been duly served upon the respondent, but the respondent has failed to appear through counsel. So, the respondent is proceeded against exparte.

In her petition, Balwinder Kaur had sought the annulment of her marriage with Hawara on the plea that she had been cheated by Hawara by introducing himself as Sahib Singh. At the time of the marriage, she and her family did not know that the man she was marrying was Jagtar Singh Hawara. She also mentioned in her petition that she had learnt that Hawara was already married and had not divorced his wife. Had she known that the man was Hawara and was already married, she would not have given her consent to the marriage. In the light of this, she prayed to the court to annul her marriage.

Balwinder Kaur is in judicial custody in connection with a case registered against her and others by the Dhuri police on June 19, 2005.

The police had allegedly seized explosives and other ammunition from them in the area of Bhullarherri village, near Dhuri.


Young stars showcase talent
Rubinder Gill
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 17
Two young stars, representing a shared legacy but different nations, showcased their expertise at the ongoing Patiala Heritage Festival at Qila Mubarak last night. The performance was of continuation of tradition and heritage by young talents who have inherited the legacy and are sustaining it. — Reza Ali Khan and Irshad Khan took the performance well into the night.

It was a sort of homecoming for Reza Ali Khan, grandson of the famous Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan of the Patiala gharana. The young ustad returned to the seat of the gharana to perform where his ancestors had held centre stage. He was welcomed and applauded as he unleashed the magic of his voice. He was ably assisted on the tabla by Amzad Khan and on the sarangi by Murad Ali.

Another safekeeper of legacy took over the other half of the session. Irshad Khan, nephew of sitar maestro Ustad Vilayat Khan of the Imam Khan gharana, has a history of four centuries of musicians. He is the ninth generation to carry the on tradition. A leading artiste of surbahar and sitar, he started with raag Rageswari. After alaap and jor, he went on to Dhrupak taal. On the tabla was Hindool Majumdar who slowly built up a crescendo.

Irshad Khan built an instant rapport with the audience as he presented his innovations and new style of ‘tantr and gayaki’ in Rupak taal. Sweetness flowed as he sang and played “Ae mere rasele tu toh aaja.” Dewangee took hold of the ustad and the listeners as he sang “rut hai deewanee”.

Raag Tilak Amran came next. Thumri “Paatiyaan likh-likh hari, main hari” was followed by a composition from the family’s crest of treasure. When it seemed that the crescendo could go no higher, it was taken upto another notch to reach magical, almost unimaginable levels.

As it petered out, the notes took on a mythical slow sweetness. And it was another build-up as fingers flew fast and furious to produce the sweet melody that produced a state of trance.


In praise of Patiala Maharaja
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 17
Qila Mubarak and its walls reverberated with the majesty of the Sham Chaurasi gharana as Shafqat Ali Khan unleashed the grandeur of his voice last night at the ongoing Patiala Heritage Festival. The range and control of his passionate voice echoed around.

Performing at the founding seat of another great gharana, the maestro is the 11th generation of great musicians. He started with a bandish of 10 matras ‘sundar badan’ which had been composed in the praise of the Patiala Maharaja. He had learnt it from his father Ustad Salamat Ali Khan. The full house sat mesmerised as the ustad presented his compositions. The applause after every presentation was defeaning.

Another bandish by Ustad Amir Khan ‘Aaj mere ghar aeye balma’ was presented in Sufiana kalam, expressing a woman’s happiness on the return of her lover. The ustad presented one jewel after the other to bedazzle the music lovers as no one budged from their seats. The anticipation of the next presentation was an experience in itself. The combination of khayal and tarana was exquite as the tone and tune built up.

Ustad Salamat Ali Khan had introduced Ghalib and Iqbal’s Urdu poetry in tarana. Shafqat, following in his father’s footsteps, rendered Ghalib’s ‘Dil-e-nadan tujhe hua kya re, akhir is dil ki dwa kya hai’. Sasi’s pain in Khwaja Ghulam Farid’s kafi followed in ‘Tatti roh-roh mein vat niharaan, oh sawal mor muharan’. He sang it in Sindhi bharavi.


Govt to review Vigilance cases
against sarpanches, panches

Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
Buckling under pressure built up over the past two weeks by a joint front of unions of employees of panchayati raj institutions and the Panchayats Union, the Punjab Government today agreed to review the cases registered against employees, panches and sarpanches by the state Vigilance Bureau.

Senior officials led by the Chief Secretary, Mr K.R.Lakhanpal, held a meeting here with representatives of the joint front to assure them that in future no case would be registered against any employee, panch or sarpanch without conducting a proper inquiry. A major complaint of employees, panches and sarpanches was that cases against them were being registered by bureau on flimsy grounds without verifying the allegations levelled against them.

Besides, Mr Lakhanpal, the others present at the meeting from the government side were Mr Suresh Kumar, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, Mr J.R.Kundal and Mr Sarabjit Singh, both senior officers of the Panchayati Raj Department. Mr A.P. Pandey, ADGP, Vigilance Bureau, was also present.

Following the acceptance of its major demands, the joint front has decided to call off its ongoing agitation.

The president of the Panchayats Union, Punjab, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bareke, told The Tribune after the meeting that Mr Lakhanpal had given an assurance that all cases in which challans had not been filed in courts yet would be reviewed by the bureau.

He said there was groupism among panchayats in various villages. Bureau officials, he said, had registered cases on the basis of just complaints made on plain paper by one group against another. Most of the cases related to alleged bungling in the utilisation of funds allocated to panchayats and panchayati raj institutions.

He said Mr Lakhanwal had also given an assurance that in future all complaints would be properly investigated and cases registered only if there was adequate evidence to prove the allegations. Besides, permission would be sought from the Punjab Panchayat Raj Department before filing a challan against any official of the department or panch or sarpanch in court.

He said other representatives of the joint front who took part in the meeting were Mr Kapoor Singh, Mr Rajwinder Singh, Mr Jaswinder Singh, Mr Yadvinder Singh, Mr Ranbir Singh, Mr Rachhpal Singh and Mr Ajaib Singh.

Mr Lakhanwal had also told the Panchayats Union that its demand to implement the 73rd Amendment was being examined at the top level.

A meeting would be called in this regard in a week.


Kangar finds Maluka restless
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 17
The war of words over the “removal of red light” from a former Power Minister, Mr Sikandar Singh Maluka’s vehicle intensified today with the Rampura Phul MLA, Mr Gurpreet Singh Kangar, terming the charges levelled against him by the former as “totally baseless” and aimed at “misleading people”.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Kangar denied the charge that he got Mr Sarbjeet Singh posted as Dayalpura SHO and said all police postings in a district were made by the SSP.

He said the police chief of Bathinda worked with full honesty without succumbing to any political pressure. He claimed that unlike the previous SAD-BJP regime in the state, political interference in appointments and transfers was not allowed under the Congress regime and so the question of him getting someone posted did not arise.

Referring to the former minister’s charge that the police laid siege to a temple of Guru Ravidas and entered it wearing shoes, he accused Mr Maluka of whipping up people’s religious sentiments for gaining political mileage and cheap popularity. He claimed that fast-paced development of Punjab under the leadership of Capt Amarinder Singh had demoralised the Akali leaders, prompting them to level such baseless allegations against their political rivals. He alleged that Mr Maluka continued using red light atop his vehicle even after the defeat of the SAD in the last Assembly elections. He alleged that Mr Maluka’s vehicle had been challaned for the same offence earlier too. “Mr Maluka is getting restless to use the red light atop his vehicle. He should be patient and wait for his party to come to power,” he said.

He said he did not have any personal enmity with Mr Maluka and termed it as political rivalry.

Interestingly, Mr Kangar had also shot off a letter to the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, on the issue. The MLA, while denying the SAD leader’s charge of conspiring against him along with the IG, said he was in Chandigarh for the past three days to attend the Assembly meetings and it was on record. Mr Kangar also expressed unawareness about the controversial background of the Dayalpura SHO.

Meanwhile, talking about the forthcoming Assembly elections, Mr Kangar, who had recently switched his loyalty from the SAD to the Congress, announced that in case he was denied the ticket by the Congress, he would not fight the elections.


Sidhu for extension of freight corridor
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 17
BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu today urged the Central Government to extend the high-capacity freight corridor from Ludhiana to Sonnagar, West Bangal, till Amritsar.

Talking to The Tribune from Delhi, he said the corridor should be extended to the holy city as it had emerged as a major gateway to Pakistan, Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries.

He said he would take up the issue with higher authorities. The MP said since the setting up of Amritsar as special economic zone (SEZ) was on the anvil, it was important to link the city with the major ports of the country, as it would provide a thrust to the industrial activity here.

Meanwhile, All-India Rice Exporters Association vice-president K.R.S. Sobti said it was important to link the city through the corridor as the present road cargo traffic had been clogged due to congestion.


Experts trash Punjab Human Development report
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
A renowned sociologist and director of correctional administration Chandigarh, Prof S.L. Sharma, today stated that authors of the Punjab Human Development report had failed to take a realistic view of the situation of development in the state.

Professor Sharma was delivering the key-note address at the two-day data dissemination workshop of the United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) "Human Development Report 2004: Punjab" that began at Panjab University here today.

Professor Sharma pointed out that while the data used for the report was outdated (many of the figures used are of the 1991 census reports and not of 2001). The conclusions that the authors had derived from the data also did not match with what one could see happening around the state. He said there was repeated mention of the finding that Punjab was second in the nation with regards to human development. But it did not seem to be the case.

Professor Sharma explained that human development meant an improvement in life chances and choices and the state of human freedom. The human development index had been calculated using standardised indicators, including life expectancy/longevity, literacy and purchasing power of the people. "But development is not just all this. It is what it does to people. Moreover, these criteria are Western constructs. We need to transcend these Western constructs and define human index according to our lived experience. The quality of such reports suffer at the hands of pontification," he said.

Stating that the report had effectively segregated gender, caste, class and regional variations in the state, there were large gaps in the report. "What about the state of the youth ? What about the aged? Life expectancy has gone up but has the state developed in terms of adding life to those additional years that an old man lives?"he questioned adding that another notable flaw was the use of the increase in income factor rather than the purchasing power as one of the criteria to judge development.

A renowned economist, Prof Sucha Singh Gill, who is also one of the authors of the report reiterated at the workshop that the state of farmers in Punjab had turned abysmal. "And we have not been able to sensitise the state regarding the extent of the problem. The state's endeavour at diversification of crops has proved to be nothing more than a still-born child and there is an urgent need to reorient its agriculture policy. While more and more farmers are finding agriculture to be a losing proposition, there are also not enough jobs for them in the organised sector. They are forced to work in the unorganised sector at low wages," he said.

Stating that Punjab had slipped to the fifth position with regards to per capita income, Professor Gill added that Maharashtra and Haryana had overtaken Punjab. "Also the proportion of work force deployed in agriculture has drastically gone down from 55 per cent in 1991 to about 40 per cent in 2001. The total workers' participation in Punjab has also gone down to just 37 per cent and as low as 30 per cent in rural areas. The unemployment rate in the state is higher than the all-India average. Over 67,000 hectares of land has been shifted from agriculture to non-agriculture use," he said.


Power position in Punjab to improve
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 17
The ongoing power cuts in Punjab will be fewer from tomorrow as one of the non-functional unit-1 of 210 MW capacity in the Super Thermal Plant here was made operation today.

The unit-1 will supply additional power of 50 lakh units to the state every day.

The Unit-1 had remained closed for 47 days following its annual maintenance.

PSEB sources said that the actual period of the annual maintenance was 45 day, but the maintenance of Unit-1 took two more days.

The sources said that the demand for power in the state was about 900 lakh units while the supply is only of 800 lakh units.

The towns will have power cuts for four hours while the rural areas for more than eight hours.


Free power to SCs: load condition relaxed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
Failing to implement the decision of giving free power to Scheduled Castes families up to 200 units, the Punjab Government has now decided to relax the condition of load in their case.

Sources said that the proposal in this regard would be discussed at a meeting of the Punjab Council of Ministers tomorrow. Earlier, the state government had given 200 units of free power to SC families having a connected power load of up to 300 watts.

However, now families having a connected power load of up to 500 watts would be entitled to free power up to 200 units. The financial burden of the new benefit would be Rs 110 crore.

The eligible SC families would be entitled to the benefit of free power from September 1, 2005.


Sammelan purely under Taksal
patronage: Harnam Singh

Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 17
Sant Giani Harnam Singh ji Khalsa, chief Damdami Taksal jatha, Bhindran Mehta, has categorically made it clear that the world Sikh sammelan being organised at Fatehgarh Sahib on February 26 is purely arranged under the patronage of Damdami Taksal and not on the behest of any political organisation, government or any individual.

He was addressing a large gathering at Sirhind town after inaugurating the head office of the sammelan set up here to monitor the arrangements. He said certain organisations and political persons have been alleging that the World Sikh Sammelan has the direct or indirect support of the state government and is being organised to benefit a particular political party.

He said that it is totally false, malicious and misleading propaganda just to sabotage the sammelan being made under a planned conspiracy. He said that Damdami Taksal has sent invitations to more than 3,500 organistions all over the world, including SGPC, SAD(A), Dal Khalsa, Akhand Kirtani Jatha, jathedars of all Takhts and they are getting overwhelming response from all quarters. He said that all arrangements like pandal, transportation, langar, boarding and lodging and exhibitions have been finalised. He said that the heads of various sects, political, religious, social organisations, societies, clubs, scholars, farmer organisations, human rights, Dalit organisations have confirmed their participation.

Three seminars have been organised at different places and the last would be organised at Law Auditorium, Sector 36, Chandigarh, on February 25.


Sonia’s assurance to Rai Sikhs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Congress President and Chairperson of the UPA, has assured a Rai Sikh delegation that their demand for SC status for Rai Sikhs would be taken up at the next meeting of the Union Cabinet. After Cabinet approval the issue would be put up in Parliament.

She gave this assurance to the delegation led by Mr Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Youth Affairs and Sports, Punjab, and Dr Satnam Singh, President of the Rai Sikh Association of India.

The Rai Sikhs are a socially and economically backward community. Mostly setted on the banks of the Satluj and the Beas with very small land holdings, the Rai Sikhs have been fighting for SC status for a very long time.

In the past there have been MLAs and MPs from this community. They include Dr Mohan Singh Phillianwala, MP, and Mr Sajwar Singh, Mr Laxman Singh and Mr Sher Singh, MLAs.

During his election campaign Mr Rana Sodhi had promised the Rai Sikh community, who are mainly settled in Ferozepore district, that he would get SC status for them.


Blood donors honoured
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 17
Mohindra health club of Government Mohindra College, Patiala organised a Basant mela to honour its over 300 blood donors at the college campus here yesterday.

Mr Shamsher Singh, an NRI, who was the chief guest, while inaugurating the festival, gave a cheque of Rs 50,000 to the college.

Dr Manmohan Singh, renowned cardiologist, and President of the Punjab Medical Council, in his presidential address announced five gold medals in the memory of his father, late Professor Gursewak Singh, former Principal of Mohindra College and DPI, Punjab.

Chandigarh: Punjab Vidhan Sabha employees also celebrated Basant Panchami in the Vidhan Sabha premises.

The speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, awarded cash prizes to the contestants in the ghazal, geet and poetry competitions. The first prize of Rs 5,000 was won by Darshan Singh Rathore.


Pharmacists protest

Patiala, February 17
On a call given by the Punjab State Pharmacists Association, a demonstration was held at the Civil Surgeon’s office here today.

A demand charter was presented to the Civil Surgeon and the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh, by Mr Narinder Mohan Sharma and Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, president and secretary of the association, respectively. TNS


high court
Punjab owes Rs 149 cr to municipal corporations
High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 17
Despite making big claims about development works being done by it, the Capt Amarinder Singh Government in Punjab owes a whopping Rs 149 crore to various local bodies as share of taxes collected from their areas.

This disclosure was made by the government in its reply to the PIL filed by former cricketer and Lok Sabha MP from Amritsar Navjot Singh Sidhu.

In his petition, Mr Sidhu has sought directions to the government to release Rs 34 to the Municipal Corporation, Amritsar, as its share from taxes collected from there. He has alleged that the civic body is starved of funds for carrying out development works.

Today, counsel for the government informed the Bench of Chief Justice Mr Justice D.K. Jain and Mr Justice Surya Kant that the government had decided to release a sum of Rs 3.46 crore pertaining to the first quarter of the year 2005-06 and Rs 5.21 crore for the year 2003-04 to the MC, Amritsar within a month.

Adjourning further hearing to February 27, the court directed the government to file a detailed statement of amount due and actual payments made to the MC, Amritsar, since 1999 within one week.

Recruitment challenged

The proposed recruitment of 675 constables in the Punjab Police has been challenged in the High Court by Mr Sarup Singh and 91 others from Patiala and Sangrur districts. The petitioners are working as Special Police Officers (SPOs) for the last 15 years on a consolidated monthly salary.

In their petition, they have sought directions to quash the advertisement of January 31, February 1, 2006, whereby applications had been invited by the Punjab Police for induction into the Punjab Armed Police (PAP) and India Reserve Battalion (IRB).

After hearing their counsel, the Division Bench comprising Mr Justice J.S. Narang and Mrs Justice Kiran Anand Lall issued notice of motion for April 6.


Former union minister and president of Lok Bhalai Party Balwant Singh Ramoowalia today offered to assist the Punjab and Haryana High Court in the case pertaining to a large number of Indian youths languishing in foreign jails after they were duped by travel agents with lucrative job offers.

It may be recalled that the High Court had taken suo motu notice of the news item published in The Tribune headlined ‘Kin of 40 youths trapped in Kuwait threaten suicide’ and asked the Punjab Government what action it was taking to prevent recurrence of such incidents in future.

In his application, Mr Ramoowalia has prayed that he be impleaded as party to the case, stating that he has helped over 150 youth, who were languishing in jails of Kuwait, return to India.

The matter will now be taken up for further consideration on May 19.


BKU lifts siege from sub-divisional complex
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 17
The Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) lifted siege from the sub-divisional complex here late last night after an assurance from Parliamentary Secretary, Irrigation and Horticulture, Sunil Jakhar.

The BKU workers had earlier “detained” the two for more than three hours when they approached leaders at the dais for negotiations. Both officers were allowed to leave only after office hours.

The BKU had turned down all proposals put forth by the officers saying that farmers had no faith in them since the promises made by Deputy Commissioner through ADC Rahul Tiwari in December were not fulfilled. Mr Jakhar who visited the sub-divisional complex late last night held discussions with spokesperson for the national committee of the BKU Rakesh Tikait and union’s state president Ajmer Singh Lakhowal.

Hundreds of farmers had resolved not leave the premises unless their main demand was accepted.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Jakhar assured that Market Committee secretary Chanan Singh would be transferred from Abohar and the Vigilance Department would be asked to probe into the allegations levelled by the BKU against him regarding malpractices in the sale of cotton and corruption.


Infant’s death: probe inconclusive
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 17
The magisterial probe into the alleged death by negligence of a male infant and illegal private practice by two government doctors remained inconclusive yesterday.

It was learnt yesterday that Dr Yash Mitra, SMO,Civil Hospital,and gynaecologist Dr Harpal Kaur appeared before Mr Balwinder Singh Dhaliwal, Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Phagwara, who had been entrusted with the enquiry by Kapurthala Deputy Commissioner Sameer Kumar.

Mr Badal Kumar, father of the infant, and Mr Rakesh Kumar, brother of Mrs Priya Babli, mother of the infant, put forth their grievances before the Magistrate. ASP Sukhchain Singh Gill and Tehsildar Kanwar Narinder Singh were also present.

The ambit of the probe veered round ascertaining as to whether Dr Yash Mitra, SMO, Civil Hospital, and Dr Harpal Kaur, also a government doctor, did private practice at City Hospital, Satnampura, where the male infant had died on February 13. The aggrieved party had claimed that the private hospital was being run by Dr Mitra in the name of his wife, Mrs Anu Mitra, and that the delivery was done there by Mrs Harpal Kaur, a government doctor.


Son uses axe to kill mother
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 17
Jagdish Dhanak (18), allegedly axed his mother Roshani (38) at their house in Sihaganwali village, 37 km from here yesterday.

According to information, Jagdish entered the house and asked his mother to cook food. When she refused, an argument ensued and he took an axe and attacked her.

He then came out of the house and went to a STD PCO shop to inform the police but could not do so as he had no money. Jagdish started crying saying that he had killed Roshani as she had refused to give up “prostitution” despite repeated warnings from her sons and husband.

She had recently tried to implicate some residents of the locality when they tried to coerce her in this regard.

The police has arrested Jagdish and seized the axe. 


Three women allege torture by cops
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
The Punjab unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today presented three women before mediapersons who alleged that they were stripped naked and administered electric shocks on their private parts by Punjab Police personnel in Muktsar district.

The women — Amarjit Kaur, Virpal Kaur and Rani — residents of Johar village in Malout, claimed that they were illegally detained in the last week of December for a few days by the police.

The SSP, Muktsar, Mr L.K. Yadav, told The Tribune that the allegations were brought to his notice a few days ago and an inquiry had been marked into the incident. An officer of the level of SP had been entrusted with the probe.


NRI’s daughter abducted

Tarn taran, Feb 17
A 15-year-old girl of Bhail Dhai Wala village, daughter of an NRI, was kidnapped by her relatives.

The Goindwal police registered a case under Sections 363, 366, 420, 34 IPC in this regard.

Police sources revealed that the accused have been identified as Bhupinder Singh (25) of Phakhoke, Buta Singh and his daughter Mandeep Kaur, both residents of Pheloke and Gurmit Singh of Maniala Jai Singh.

Mr Iqbal Singh, uncle of the victim in his complaint alleged that one of the accused, Bhupinder Singh, had illicit relations with the girl. He said she used to go to her aunt’s house at Pheloke where Bhupinder Singh used to come

The complainant alleged that accused, Bhupinder Singh along with others came to their house on the February 4 and took the girl on pretext that her aunt had called her, as she was ill. The police authorities said no arrest had been made so far. — OC


Demand to close distance education courses in PTU
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
Members of the Punjab Unaided Technical Institutions Association today demanded the closure of the various distance education courses being run by Punjab Technical University.

Mr J.S. Dhaliwal, President of the Association, said in a press conference yesterday that the Council for Technical Education, New Delhi, had not approved these courses in which over 32,000 students were enrolled across the country.

Alleging that these courses were of “low” quality, Mr Dhaliwal said PTU had allowed courses to be run from small shops without the requisite infrastructure. “Technical courses, which involve laboratory work, should not be conducted through distance education,” he said.

He further alleged that large-scale anomalies had been built into the system of choosing distance education study centres across the country. “While the university got 25 per cent of the share of the fee, only 45 per cent went to the centre. The rest was doled out to a middleman called the service provider for no reason at all. A vigilance enquiry is already on regarding this,” he said.

When questioned if the private engineering colleges were facing a shortage of students due to the distance education option available with students and hence the protest, Mr Dhaliwal said they had offered the university to run these courses. “Our infrastructure goes waste during the evening and that can be put to good use for these courses,” he said. Mr Dhaliwal also admitted that some of private engineering colleges were already running distance education courses of the PTU.

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