P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Unauthorised colonies to be regularised: Singla
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
In a decision of far reaching economic and social consequences, the Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, today announced in the Budget speech that all unauthorised residential colonies and slums in the state will be regularised. The only condition is that these colonies and slums should not be located on public land.

This means all colonies and slums built illegally around major urban centres like Chandigarh, Mohali, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar or Bathinda will be regularised. Mr Singla said, a detailed scheme to cover both -the colonies as well as the slums - will be announced in May.

Later at a post-Budget press conference, Mr Singla justified the move to give legal sanction to encroachers and lawbreakers saying “ there has been failure of policy and enforcement in the past few decades and we must find a solution for the same”. The government, he added was committed to provide basic infrastructure in all urban colonies. Slums will be covered under the national policy of slum development. Basic services of water supply, sewerage, drainage, roads, street lights and public institutions will be provided.

Among other announcements for urban areas, Mr Singla said the government had decided to develop “ super economic corridors” around Ludhiana and Mohali.

On infrastructure, the Finance Minister announced the setting up of the Road Maintenance Fund with an outlay of Rs 216 crore per annum for the next four years upto 2009-10. The Finance Minister also proposed the following allocations: Rs 176 crore under Nabard scheme for widening of roads and construction of bridges; Rs 100 crore for the World Bank project for road infrastructure; Rs 63 crore from the Central Road fund will be utilised for roads; 21 new road over bridges over railway lines and 2 under bridges at Mansa and Maur are to be constructed. The Ludhiana ring road and the Mohali bypass, projects are being studied for public-private participation, Mr Singla added.

Also the state government is intent to achieve a rate of investment in infrastructure equal to 3 per cent of the Gross State Domestic Product in the next four years. This will translate into capital investment of Rs 4,500 crore by the state and Rs 3,000 crore by the private sector.

The government, despite making an announcement about construction of an international airport terminal at Halwara Airbase has made only a token allocation of Rs 50 lakh for the project.

Meanwhile, the Chief Secretary, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, informed that all World Bank-aided projects will start from April 1 and a formal agreement shall be signed in September. 


Renewal programme for small farmers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
In his budget presented in the State Assembly today, the Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, has focused on the agriculture sector, backbone of the state’s economy.

Announcing the agriculture renewal programme for small farmers having land holdings up to 10 acres, Mr Singla said the Government would provide finance, inputs, training, technology and marketing tie-ups to farmers to start commercial dairy, poultry and fishery units under this programme. Apart from this, vegetable production in green and net houses would be promoted.

The Government was in the process of arranging Rs 200 crore from a nationalised bank to launch this programme. Additional income of Rs 450 crore would be generated for farmers because of this programme, he added.

He said that a provision of Rs 24 crore had been kept in the budget for agriculture production pattern adjustment programme. Under the National Horticulture Mission, the area under horticulture will be increased to 500,000 hectares during the next financial year.

Mr Singla has proposed to hand over 450 rural veterinary dispensaries to panchayati raj institutions. Funds will be provided to operate them. For Sri Guru Angad Dev University of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, a provision of Rs 4 crore had been kept. For the rehabilitation of stray cattle, a grant of Rs 2 crore would be given to various “gaushalas”.

The state cooperative banks will distribute loans worth Rs 8,516 crore during the next financial year. To free cooperative movement from bureaucratic control, a Punjab Self Supporting Cooperative Societies Bill will be introduced.

As far as rural development is concerned, the Government will hand over the control of 4,181 primary schools to village panchayats. Sarpanches will play a vital role in the functioning of such schools. More powers will be given to panchayats. In all, Rs 984 crore will be spent on rural development. Village development fund has been operationalised to provide sewerage facilities in 1692 villages. There is a programme to cover all 10,800 villages in the next five years under this programme.

For construction of toilets, Rs 60 crore has been provided in the Budget, Mr Singla said. And Rs 10 crore has been provided for environmental improvement of Scheduled Caste bastis. The PSEB has been asked to provide 24 hour supply to domestic consumers in all villages by July this year.

For the development projects taken up by NRIs in their village, a provision of Rs 1 crore has been kept for matching grant by the State Government.


Govt not in denial mode, says Singla
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
The Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, today refuted the allegation that the State Government remained in a denial mode as far as providing delivery system in education, health, and other service sectors was concerned.

Replying to a volley of questions for not making recruitment in any department for the past four years and for abolishing thousands of posts of teachers and other employees, Mr Singla said that certain corrective measures were required to improve the delivery system in education, health and other social sectors. Because of this reason, the Government did not make recruitment.

Asked whether it was correct on the part of the Government to improve the state’s economy by making serious compromises in education, health and other service sectors, Mr Singla said that the economy had improved by compressing expenditure on unproductive sectors.

Mr Singla said that four years ago, when the Congress came to power in Punjab, the state of the economy was pathetic. “We had to do a lot of hard work to put the State’s economy, that was wrecked by the previous SAD-BJP Government, back on rails”, he added. “As at present we have a comfortable position from the fiscal point of view, we can afford to give jobs by starting recruitment”, he added.

He said the revenue deficit, which was Rs 3,781 crore during the last year of the SAD-BJP Government, had now come down to Rs 1,390 crore only and the fiscal deficit had come down from Rs 4,959 crore in 2001-02 to Rs 3,659 crore this year. He said total debt now stood at Rs 53,391 crore which was only 331.37 per cent of the revenue receipts whereas in 2001-02, it was 460.39 per cent of the revenue receipts.


No announcement on ending of octroi
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
There is a new thinking in the Punjab Government over the abolition of octroi. The State Government was to make an announcement regarding its abolition in its Budget statement today. However, the announcement was held back for certain reasons.

The Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, said that the State Government would come out with a concrete proposal regarding the abolition of octroi by May end.

Informed sources said that the State Government had been working on a new proposal to retain octroi only on 20 items such as cement, coal, cars, and petrol and to abolish it on all other goods, including ‘‘karyana’’items.

Sources said that octroi alone on petrol had been generating a revenue of Rs 232 crore. Likewise, a substantial sum was collected through octroi on coal, cement and other bulk items. The projected generation of revenue from octroi during the current financial year was Rs 760 crore.

The main objection of traders was regarding the charging of octroi on ‘‘karyana’’ items for which they had to face a lot of humiliation in the hands of octroi contractors.

‘‘Once the octroi is abolished on karyana and other small items, traders will be having no objection", said a senior officer. Also, contractors would face no difficulty while collecting octroi on items such as cement, coal, cars and petrol because these were items which could not be concealed, the officer added.

As municipal committees would continue to earn a major part of their revenue from octroi on a select list of 20 items, there would be no difficulty for them to meet their day-to-day expenditure on various services such as cleanliness, minor repairs of sewer, roads and streets etc. Municipal bodies could not do without cash in hand to perform its day-to-day activities related to cleanliness etc.

When questioned regarding the abolition of octroi, the Chief Secretary, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, said that the enforcement of VAT had led to increase in the revenue substantially in the state. He said that once the revenue went up to Rs 6,000 crore from VAT, there would no need to impose octroi in the state.

It may be mentioned that the ruling Congress party had promised to abolish octroi in its manifesto before the last Assembly elections. However, it is yet to keep its promise. Besides Punjab, Maharashtra and Gujarat are the only states in the country where octroi is charged.


Rs 924 crore for power sector
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
Laying emphasis on the power infrastructure, the Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, today announced that Rs 924 crore, or 23.11 per cent of the total Plan size, is to be provided for generation purposes and strengthening of transmission and distribution of electricity.

Out of this Rs 400 crore is to be utilised for the transmission and distribution system, while Rs 300 crore is to be utilised for the completion of the Lehra Mohabbat-II, thermal plant.

On the much delayed Shahpur Kandi Dam Project, Mr Singla said work will be taken up on this Rs 2400 crore project. A sum of Rs 50 crore has been allocated on the irrigation part of the dam.

Also the state will provide a sum of Rs 267 crore to the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) as compensation for providing free power to farmers.

On the irrigation front, the Finance Minister said the state will introduce a system to have participation of users in water management to improve efficiency of water usage and maintenance of these assets.

The state has increased the Plan outlay to Rs 292.24 crore from last year’s Rs 221.76 crore. The major allocations will include Rs 34 crore for the Kandi Canal from Hoshiarpur to Balachaur. Also in the Kandi area, a sum of Rs 12 crore has been set aside for Thana Dam and Rs 32.70 crore for deep tubewells.


Rs 4.51 cr spent on PSSSB, for no work
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
A sum of Rs 4.51 crore was spent just to maintain and run the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board in the past three years and two months. And during this period the board was not called upon even once to make any selection or recruitment for the Punjab Government.

The details were spelt-out in the Punjab Assembly today. The board was reconstituted on November 14, 2002, and till January, 2006, Rs 1.04 crore had been spent on salaries and expenditure of the Chairman and members. Another Rs 2.51 crore was spent on salaries and allowances of the of the staff. Rs 79.41 lakh was the miscellaneous expenses of the board. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, while countering criticism on the matter said Rs 1.04 crore paid as salaries to the Chairman and members was the additional expenditure while the salaries of the staff had to be paid in any case.

The Congress MLA from Kharar, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, wanted to know why the board was reconstituted when there was a ban on recruitment. He also suggested sarcastically that the matter of the board making no recruitments in all these years should be referred to the “Guinness Book of World Records”. The Chief Minister also took it in the lighter vein and said: “Wait till the term of this government is over and then we will refer the matter ourselves”.

The matter of land acquisitions in Zirakpur area took an ugly turn in the House when the area-MLA, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, of the Shriomani Akali Dal, flashed a copy of a notice asking the “Guru Granth Sahib” to be present for hearing in a land acquisition case. The Chief Minister, intervened and said: “Such a notice is a foolish thing to do by anyone and action will be taken against the person who did it”. The Akalis, not satisfied with the answer, protested again. The Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, pacified the Akalis saying: “There is no need to politicise the issue, the Chief Minister has made a statement in this regard that action will taken”.

The Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said the farmers whose lands were being acquired in Zirakpur should be paid compensation as per market rates and also a 30 per cent of that sum as compensation for being evicted.

The Minister for Education, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, tabled a detailed report on abolished posts. A total of 26,905 posts have been abolished. These include teachers, office staff and other officials. Meanwhile, the House was informed that 38 persons had illegally occupied forest land in Amritsar.

The Chief Minister, while replying to a separate question told the House that departments where shortage of staff will adversely effect, the departments concerned have been asked to submit their proposals to the committee of officers, headed by the Chief Secretary, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, which will refer the matter to the Council of Ministers.

Also during question hour, another Congress MLA, Mr Gurbinder Atwal, asked the PWD Minister, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, to specify, if he meant to say October 2006 or October 2007 while referring to a project. Mr Atwal reminded Mr Bajwa “ You may not be here on this post in October 2007”.


Rs 7 cr for soldiers’ widows
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
The Punjab Government has earmarked Rs 7 crore in the 2006-07 Annual Plan for paying a compensatory grant of Rs 5 lakh each to widows of soldiers killed in action and soldiers who have suffered 100 per cent disability.

This was announced by the Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, in his budget speech in the state assembly today.

As per the state government policy, Rs 5 lakh is paid as compensation to widows and disabled soldiers. This is in addition to the ex-gratia grant to next of kin of soldiers killed in action. This grant is being paid since 1999.

During the current financial year, the government had released Rs 7.25 crore for the purpose. It may be recalled that about two years ago, the State Government had been unable to pay this grant to a large number of beneficiaries as no finances were available.

A token provision of Rs 50 lakh has also been made to set up a defence university in Punjab. The State Government has taken up a case with the centre for setting up the proposed university in Punjab.

The finance minister also announced that Rs 50 lakh has been earmarked for completing the Maharaja Ranjit Singh War Museum in Ludhiana, while another Rs 40 lakh has been provided for training wards of ex-servicemen in various technical and non-technical trades.


Truck operators’ ultimatum to govt
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Nangal, March 7
The situation continued to be tense here on the third day as the Punjab State Transporters Union gave 72 hours’ ultimatum to the government to withdraw all cases registered against 22 Nangal truck operators for their involvement in the burning of buses and trucks of Himachal. The union warned if its demand was not accepted in the stipulated time then all truck operators of the state would block traffic on the all roads in the state linked with Himachal and would not allow vehicles from Himachal to enter Punjab.

Various political leaders including Congress MLA and Parliamentary Secretary Industry and Commerce, K.P.S. Rana, Akali leader and former MLA Ajaib Singh, and BJP leaders also met truck operators gathered here to extend support to them.

MLA, K.P.S Rana, at Nehru Sadan here said the firing incident at Goalthai(H.P) could have been avoided has the Himachal police handled the clash between the truck operators of Nangal and Barmana factfully. I have met family members of Jarnail Singh killed in the firing also those injured. I have full faith in the magisterial inquiry into the incident by ordered Himachal Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh. He demanded compensation for the truck operator killed in the incident and said that there was no need to stop vehicles of the Himachal as we have decided to provide every possible help to the truck operators.

Giving details of the memorandum submitted to the administration, president of the truck operators union, Tarlochan Singh said besides the withdrawal of cases against the truck operaters, we have demanded that a case of murder should be registered against the police officials of Himachal who were responsible for firing in which one Nangal truck operator and others were injured seriously in Goalthai in Bilaspur. 


Minor boy tortured by police
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 7
The minor Dalit boy who was tortured allegedly in illegal police custody last night has been admitted to the Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital here. The police allegedly gave him electric shocks.

Residents of Nai Abadi who thronged the hospital this afternoon, said that Mahavir (14) son of Mr Khiali Ram Kumhar of street 21 was summoned by the old city police station for interrogation in connection with a theft committed in the house of Mr Paramjit Singh. The complainant had told the police 16 tolas of gold ornaments and Rs 17000 in cash were stolen from his house last month. Conduct of Mahavir had come under scanner but Mr Manminder Singh alias Killo, Ms Bimla Devi and Ms Anju Sharma president and secretary respectively of the Mahila Congress stood guarantee for the boy.

The police yesterday took the boy in custody and detained in the lock-up at the old police station near the municipal complex. When his relatives visited him this morning to serve meals Mahavir reportedly broke down. He alleged the police used third degree methods to extract confession of theft. Electric shocks were given near his penis, the victim alleged. People started gathering at the police station as word spread in the area. They got him freed and admitted to Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital.

Mr Baldev Makkar state organiser of the Congress Seva Dal and other senior workers of the ruling party condemned the police for inhuman act. Mahavir had been visiting villages on a bicycle to sell earthern pots to assist his family in financial needs. The police tried to implicate him, residents said.


BJP organises rally
Tribune News Service

Dhar (Gurdaspur), March 7
The Bhartiya Janata Party today organised a rally at Dhar to protest against apathy of the government towards farmers of the Kandi area. BJP workers led by former ministers Mohan Lal and Satpal Saini gathered at Dhar crossing for the rally.

Addressing the workers Mr Mohan Lal alleged farmers of the Kandi area had suffered due to inclement weather this year. Due to less rain this year crops have suffered total damage. Drought-like conditions prevails in many Kandi areas especially the Dhar sub-division. Here people are dependent on rain for irrigation as sinking of tubewells was not feasible in the area.

A special survey should be ordered to give compensation to the farmers of the area. Farmers of the areas have given many representations to the government for compensation. However, till date no survey had been ordered, he alleged.

Mr Saini alleged that though the government had increased water tariff for each standpost in Kandi areas from Rs 10 to Rs 80 per month people were not getting drinking water. Drinking water in Dhar area was reaching just for one to two hours in a week.

Deputy Commissioner Gurdaspur Vivek Pratap Singh said that directions had already been issued to the SDM Dhar and Pathankot to assess damage to crops. 


Hunting of wild boars, blue bulls allowed
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur March 7
Under pressure from the lobby of hunters, the Punjab Government has allowed hunting of endangered species of blue bull and wild boars. A notification in this regard was issued by the government yesterday.

The state Minister for Forests, Mr Hans Raj Josan, when contacted, admitted that the notification had been issued for issuing permits for hunting the said species of animals in the state. As per the notification, hunting has been opened even in the ecologically sensitive kandi forest of the area.

The hunting of the wild boar has been opened in Ropar, Dasuya, Garhshankar, Dhar, Balachaur, Ludhiana, Pathankot, Dera Baba Nanak, Anandpur Sahib, Kharar, Ajnala, Tarn Taran and Patti subdivisions. The hunting of blue bull has been opened in Sangrur, Malerkotla, Mansa, Budhlada, Muktsar, Malout, Bathinda, Talwandi Sabo, Adampur, Payal, Jagraon, Ferozepore, Zira, Jalalabad, Fazilka, Abohar, Patiala, Nabha, Fatehgarh and Faridkot subdivisions.

As per the notification, the permit for hunting would be issued by the respective SDMs after receiving a resolution from the village panchayat, stating that the said species of animals were damaging their crops. The permit would be valid for two months, the minister said.

Interestingly, the government has kept the forest and the Wildlife Department out of the procedure for issuing permits for hunting.

Earlier also the government had initiated the move to open hunting under pressure from the lobby of hunters surrounding the Chief Minister. However, the move was stalled as the department did not have census of the animals for justifying hunting.

After that a hurried census of the animals was carried out by the Wildlife Department. As per the census, there are 8,000 blue bulls and 14,000 wild boars in the state. However, some of the members of the Wildlife Advisory Board, while speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the number of animals projected in the census was exaggerated.

They alleged that there were about 12,000 villages in Punjab. Wild boars existed largely in the Kandi areas comprising about 3,000 villages. If the census of the department was believed to be true, there should be four wild boars per village in the Kandi area. The boars should be seen roaming about in the forests. But the fact was that it was still very difficult to locate the animal in the forests.

Mr Sukhdeep Singh Bajwa, former Wildlife Warden, who caught an SDM in the poaching case, described the government move as unfortunate.

Environmentalists have flayed the government move. They have alleged that as per the forest survey of India report the forest cover in the state has gone down by 80,000 sq hectares. If the forest area has gone down to such an extent, how can you expect the animal population to grow to such a proportion that hunting can be justified.


Govt to allow killing of animals destroying crops
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
In a move that may raise the hackles of animal rights activists, the Punjab Government will allow farmers to shoot animals invading the fields and destroying standing crops. This problem is experienced more in the kandi belt of the state all along the border with Himachal Pradesh.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, announced in the Assembly that the farmers will be allowed to have firearms and permission will be given to shoot down the animals destroying their crops. He said “rules are being framed and a notification will be issued soon”.

The Chief Minister said a system to have special fencing around the forest areas is being made in Nabha Tehsil. This fencing will stop animals from coming out of the existing sanctuaries in that area and destroy standing crop. He was replying to a question put by Congress MLA from Nabha, Mr Randeep Singh. 


Breach in thermal plant channel
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 7
About 50-feet breach today occurred in the channel carrying dirty water from the thermal plant here to the Sutlej. About 200 feet stretch of the channel got damaged after the breach. The construction work on the 3-km channel was completed in March at a cost of about Rs 8 crore.

The channel was constructed to generate power from the waste water discharged into the river through a micro-hydroelectric project of 1.7 MW near Ghanauli village. The PSEB had given the contract of the project to a private party and spent Rs 14 crore on the project to generate 4 lakh units of power everyday.

Although officials of the plant claimed that the breach had occurred today, sources said a small breach had occurred a few days ago and only this morning a major portion of the channel was washed away.

Earlier, the water used in the turbines used to be released through the Ghanauli canal. Villagers living near the canal would complain of dirty water from canal damaging their fields and polluting groundwater.

With the construction of the channel, the PSEB had hoped that the problem of the villagers had been solved.

The officiating Chief Engineer (Civil), Patiala, Mr Harbash Gupta, visited the site to assess the damage.

Chief Engineer of the plant N.K. Arora said the dirty water discharged from the plant had been diverted to the Ganauli canal after the breach. He said dirty water entered into nearby fields causing damage to crops. 


Grants worth Rs 1 cr distributed
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 7
Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, at a public function at Bassi Pathana today distributed grants worth Rs 1 crore to the Municipal Council, Bassi Pathana, adjoining village panchyats and various organisations of the area for development purpose.

He said the state government had chalked out a detailed development plan for the overall development of the Bassi Pathana town at a cost of Rs 1 crore. Besides, the town would also be covered under the newly launched schemes of the government by which the water supply and sewerage facility of the town would improve.

He said the government was going to get a tubwell bored and a water tank constructed at a cost of Rs 57 lakh in the town.

He added that the Chief Minister had sanctioned Rs 2.5 crore for the development of Aam Khas Bagh as a tourist complex. 


Fire in forest

Hoshiarpur, March 7
A fire broke out in the forest area of Nainwan village located on the border of Garhshankar and Nawanshahr this afternoon.
According to official sources, fire engulfed about 500 acres of forests and was spreading towards the village. On receiving information, the Tehsildar of Garhshankar rushed to the spot and requisitioned municipal fire engines from Nawanshahr. The fire engine sprinkled water around Nainwan village. — OC


high court
Patiala SSP, Punsup chief asked to be present in court
High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 7
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the Senior Superintendent of Police, Patiala, Mr A.S. Rai, and the Managing Director, Punsup, Mr Surinder Singh Ghuman, to be present in court on March 9 to explain why despite court orders to stop any further construction activity of a multi-storeyed commercial complex in the New Lal Bagh area of Patiala, construction has not been stopped.

The court was hearing an application filed by residents of the locality, on whose petition the High Court had on March 2, restrained Mr Ghuman and his wife from going ahead with the construction of the multi-storeyed commercial complex owned by them. The SSP is the son-in-law of the Ghuman couple.

The residents, Mr R.K. Malhotra and 17 others, have challenged the construction on the ground that it was against rules as New Lal Bagh is a residential colony. They have alleged that the influential respondents were constructing the complex in blatant violation of rules and regulations. They have also alleged that since the SSP is their son-in-law, no action is being taken to stop the construction.

On March 2, a Division Bench comprising Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill and Mr Justice Uma Nath Singh had issued notice to the respondents for March 31.

Affidavit sought: The High Court has directed the Secretary, Transport, Punjab, to file an affidavit within two weeks, stating therein whether or not a clear-cut criteria has been fixed for identifying dignitaries for the purpose of allowing red beacon light atop their vehicles.

The affidavit would also say if the notification issued by the Union Government in this regard had been taken into consideration while issuing a notification.

In its order, issued during hearing of a PIL filed by Mr Namit Kumar, the Bench of Chief Justice Mr Justice D.K. Jain and Mr Justice Surya Kant also observed that the Punjab Government in its reply had referred to the steps taken by the nagar panchayats of Dera Bassi and Zirakpur for the smooth flow of traffic on the Chandigarh-Ambala highway.

It also observed that the reply filed by the ADGP, Crime and Law, Haryana, enlists the directions issued to the department for proper implementation of the orders of the court.

The Bench also noted that the Haryana Government had assured that it was working on an action plan to curtail the menace of unauthorised plying of three-wheelers in the state.

The Bench later adjourned the matter.


Three robbers arrested
Our Correspondent

Barnala, March 7
The police here claimed to have busted a gang allegedly involved in five bank robberies in the state recently. While talking to reporters here today, SSP G. Nageshwar Rao said the police had arrested three persons — Jasbir singh, Navdeep Singh and Nirbhai Singh —and Rs 8 lakh had been seized from their possession.

He said one of them Jasbir was responsible for the bank robbery at a Punjab National Bank branch at Thekrewal where Rs 15.5 lakh were looted by three persons on February 22. The SSP said another 6-7 members of the gang were still at large.

The accused had confessed to have committed five bank robberies and about a dozen other incidents of snatching and looting, he said. Their area of operation included Barnala, Sangrur, Jagraon, Khanna and Ludhiana. Before committing robbery at Thekrewal, Jasbir along with Kuldeep Singh and Gurcharan Singh had stolen a car (PB28A-0405) from Mandi Ahemdgarh that was used for the robbery.


Villager killed in road mishap
Tribune News Service

Kharar, March 7
A 56-year-old man of Pacci Rurki village was killed when a car coming from the opposite direction hit him on the Kharar-Morinda road late last night. The victim, Surinder Singh, died on the spot. He was going to his village when the accident took place. A case under Sections 279, 304 and 337 of the IPC has been registered. 


Minor boy suffers abuse

Rajpura, March 7 
A seven-year-old boy was allegedly assaulted sexually by a shopkeeper of Surankalan village, near here, last night. According to reports, the boy was wooed by the shopkeeper, Bunty, into his shop where he was allegedly sodomised. He was also threatened with dire consequences in case he narrated the incident to anybody. However, when the boy reached the home, he narrated the entire incident to his family. The boy has been admitted to AP Jain Civil Hospital here. A case has been registered. TNS


Eight injured in armed attack

Tarn Taran, March 7 
A group of armed persons attacked Dalit families of Baserke village near the Indo-Pakistan border here late last night. About eight Dalits, including a woman, were injured in the incident. The Dalit families of this village were regularly complaining to the village elders for the past few days that their female members were being teased and harassed by influential persons .OC


Two women with fake passports arrested
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 7
Two Indian women were arrested with fake passports when they were about to board the Samjhauta Express at Attari today.
Both women belong to Uttar Pradesh. They were identified as Aktari Begum, wife of Mohammed Irshad of Depa Sarahi Sambal, and Kumar Jahan, wife of Nisha of Dunzar Sarahi, both in Muradabad district.

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