P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



ASI lets four impounded trucks with khairwood go
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, April 11
The nexus of the officials and forest mafia operating in the area came to light once again here today. An Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) posted at the Sadar police station of Hoshiarpur has let go four trucks loaded with khairwood that were caught by the SDM, Hoshiarpur, last night on the orders of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr D.K. Tiwari.

The trucks were carrying logs of trees felled illegally from the forests of Hoshiarpur. Sources here stated that the total value of the logs was about Rs 32 lakh.

The information regarding the transit of the trees felled illegally from the forests was provided to the Deputy Commissioner by the former wildlife warden, Mr Sukhdeep Singh Bajwa, and Mr Gunraj Singh. The Deputy Commissioner had directed the SDM, Hoshiarpur, and Assistant Commissioner, Grievances, to check the illegal transit of felled trees.

The officers caught four trucks loaded with khairwood that was being taken out of the district. They took the trucks in their control and handed them over to the Sadar police station. The SDM directed the ASI present on duty that as papers had to be verified, so they should not allow the trucks to leave without their permission.

However, today when the SDM and Assistant Commissioner reached the police station they were in for a surprise. They were told by the officials there that the trucks had been released.

The Deputy Commissioner said it was a serious lapse on the part of Sadar police station officials. The SDM had communicated verbally to them that the trucks carrying the felled trees should not be released without his permission.

From the circumstances it seems that the lower police officials misled the SSP by saying that every thing was correct about the trucks and got verbal orders to release these. I would write to the police authorities for suitable action against the officials who had let the trucks go, he said.

After the inquiry officers reported the matter to the Deputy Commissioner, he directed the police authorities to lay nakas to nab the trucks. However, the vehicles were not found.


Farmers seek arrest of attackers
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 11
Hundreds of farmers today staged a dharna in front of the office of the DSP here to express resentment over the failure of the police in arresting certain Congress activists who had allegedly attacked Mr Jagjit Singh, a senior office-bearer of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Krantikari), here in January.

Despite ongoing harvesting of wheat crop, the farmers reached at the office in the afternoon on their tractor-trailers, jeeps and motorcycles. They carried banners and placards with slogans condemning the police.

The protesters sqatted on the road blocking traffic and raised slogans demanding the arrest of the culprits in the attack and transfer of the DSP.

The protest was jointly organised by the BKU units of Abohar and Fazilka. Lok Sangram Manch workers joined in the protest.

Addressing the protesters, Mr Surjit Singh Phul, state president of the BKU, and others alleged that some senior workers of the ruling party from Khippanwali and Ghallu villages in the neighbouring Assembly constituency had attacked Jagjit Singh at a marriage place here. They chased the attackers, but the culprits pointed revolvers at them in the presence of the police.

They threatened them they would eliminate them if a complaint was made to the police regard the incident, the BKU leaders said, adding that law and order machinery had paralysed here. The city had become paradise for narcotic smugglers, land mafia and other criminals.

There had been a series of incidents of loot, burglary, kidnapping, killing, chain snatching, etc. The police had failed in solving the crimes committed even in broad daylight.

They warned that the BKU and the manch would intensify the agitation if persons involved in the assault on Jagjit Singh were not arrested soon.


Electric spark destroys wheat crop
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 11
While the vagaries of the weather have already taken a heavy toll on the wheat farmers’ crop, some of them are also losing their crop to sparking from transformers or electric poles.

Wheat crop spread over 12 acres of land belonging to three farmers was today gutted on the city’s outskirts as a fire broke out due to sparking from a transformer.

Talking to The Tribune, Bhupinder Singh of Behman Deewana village said: “I had taken seven acres of land on lease hoping for a good harvest but our all expectations were gutted in today’s fire.”

He lamented that he had no means left to pay up the remaining lease amount to his landlord.

Buta Singh, a farmer hailing from Kheta Singh Basti, lost wheat crop in 4.5 acres, while Angrej Singh was lucky to see at least his crop in one acre survives.

Both of them said though they had called up fire brigade in time, but fire tenders could not reach the appropriate place from where they were in a better position to douse the fire.

Scores of farmers alighted from a couple of buses going on an adjoining road to help extinguish the fire, thereby restricting the damage.

Buta Singh said: “This is not the first time that the farmers have lost their crop to fire in this area. It has happened many times in the past too.”

Angrej Singh complained that electric poles put up in the middle of their fields were in a bad shape and high tension wires were hanging so low that one could touch them with his hands.

“We always face problem in sowing and harvesting our crop. We can’t engage a Combine for harvesting and hardly manage some labourers for harvesting, as nobody wants to risk his life,” he added.

Once a woman labourer had suffered an electric shock while harvesting, he said.

These farmers said all their complaints regarding electric poles and high tension wires in their area had fallen on deaf ears.

Meanwhile, the Tehsildar, Mr Rajeev Verma, who visited the spot, said the height of the transformer that caused the fire was also less. He said he had asked the PSEB officials to take corrective measures in the area.


Heritage complex: govt, SGPC take tough stands
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
The Punjab Government and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) have taken tough stands on the inauguration of the Khalsa Heritage Complex at Anandpur Sahib.

While the state government has drawn up its own programme to inaugurate the complex, the SGPC has stated that the “religious route” should be followed to perform the inaugural ceremony or else it will boycott the show. The inauguration is scheduled to be done by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, on April 14. The SGPC has decided to boycott the function, saying that Panj Piaras, and not the Chief Minister, should inaugurate the complex.

The Punjab Government has decided that since the state is to spend more than Rs 200 crore on the project, the Chief Minister will inaugurate it. Instructions have been issued to organise the function. “The heritage complex is a state project and the SGPC has nothing to do with it”, said a senior functionary while confirming to The Tribune the Chief Minister’s programme to inaugurate it on April 14. It was a state project and the inauguration would be like a normal government function, said an official who is busy with the preparations.

Speaking to The Tribune on the phone from the UK, the SGPC chief, Mr Avtar Singh, said: “The heritage complex is linked to the religious sentiments of people and we would like Panj Piaras to inaugurate it preceded by the parkash of Guru Granth Sahib and ardaas. If anyone else does the inauguration, it will not be acceptable to us”, Mr Avtar Singh said.

The controversy has surfaced over the inauguration of the first phase of the heritage complex. The SGPC says the complex depicts history relating to the Sikh Gurus.

The first phase of the complex has a museum depicting Sikh history, starting from Guru Nanak Dev, with sophisticated multimedia and virtual reality equipment.

In the past the SGPC had justified its objection to the Chief Minister doing the inauguration, saying Panj Piaras had laid the foundation stone of the complex in November, 1998, in the presence of the then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Work on the project stopped for about a year due to the paucity of funds. Later, the work restarted in March last year when Capt Amarinder Singh helped the Anandpur Sahib Foundation by lending Rs 100 crore. Besides, the balance of Rs 48 crore was to be granted by the Central Government. The total cost of the project is about Rs 300 crore and out of this about Rs 150 crore has already been spend on its construction.


Govt lost Rs 2.10 cr in sale of steel from old bridges: report
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
Probing the alleged loss of used steel from old bridges built across the Bikaner Canal passing through Ferozepore, an enquiry conducted by the Irrigation Department, Punjab, has revealed that the state lost Rs 2.10 crore in the process.

A departmental probe has said that engineers involved in removing the old bridges constructed in 1925 and replacing these with new ones, misrepresented facts about the quantum of steel removed from the old bridges. The subsequent process of disposing of the used steel was not right and caused a loss to the state exchequer, says the report, adding that engineers undervalued the steel to sell it off at a rate which was lower than that of waste newspaper. It also indicated that large quantities of used steel were missing. The report was submitted about four months ago.The department is at present taking it up for action, if any.

Defending himself, Mr V.K. Mantrao, Chief Engineer, Canals, said: " This enquiry was a load of rubbish." All procedures were followed correctly, he claimed, adding that "if an old bridge weighed 18 tonnes, how am I supposed to provide for more steel than what was used originally in 1925 ?" Mr Mantrao has been blamed in the enquiry report.

He claimed to have adopted a time-tested method to calculate the weight of steel. He claimed the report was the outcome of professional intra-departmental jealousy with his peers and nothing more.

The enquiry report has suggested the registration of a criminal case against Mr Mantrao and the Executive Engineers found to be involved in "causing a loss". Meanwhile, the Secretary , Irrigation, has asked his officers why an official of the rank of Chief Engineer, instead of Superintending Engineer, was not asked to conduct the enquiry.

The report says that funds for removing the old bridges and replacing these were released by the Rajasthan Government. The Bikaner Canal carries water to Rajasthan and it was inter-state work. Punjab had carried out the task in its area.

A total of 34 bridges were to be dismantled.However,steel removed from only 11 bridges was referred to the condemnation board, which is authorised to dispose of government property through auction. The matter relating to the used steel was brought to the notice of the condemnation board in October, 2002. It took up the case in 2005 and subsequently detected the alleged loss of Rs 2.10 crore.

The report says the engineers concerned fixed the reserve price of the used steel at their own level.They were not competent to do so. Moreso, the engineers fixed the price of the steel at Rs 3 per kg. Quoting a separate example, the condemnation board said it had fixed a reserve price of Rs 12 per kg while fixing the price of used steel in 2001 in Ferozepore. The steel was subsequently auctioned at Rs 16.10 per kg.

The enquiry said the total steel dismantled from the 34 bridges should have weighed 1,452 tonnes while only 89.97 tonnes was put up before the condemnation board for inspection. " This means the remaining steel has been unauthorisedly sold off by the engineers concerned, thereby embezzling Rs 2.10 crore". Mr Mantrao said: " I have complete records of dismantling all 34 bridges and can provide these at any time to a competent authority".


Journalists told to get ID cards made
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 11
The civil administration has initiated proceedings to check yellow journalism.

The SDM, Mr Jaskiran Singh, said at a meeting with representatives of daily newspapers here yesterday that he had received a complaint from a social activist that an illegally published newspaper carried a report indulging in character assassination. As he did not respond, a copy of the newspaper was pasted at his residence to cause mental agony and social humiliation.

The Editor, who was also publisher and owner of the newspaper, has been asked to produce documents that authorised him to publish the newspaper.

It was pointed out during hour-long meeting that more than one hundred vehicles carried “Press” stickers. Some of these were seen parked at taxi stand also. Such vehicles had been frequently crossing Punjab-Rajasthan border.

The Registrar of Newspapers of India had frozen titles of thousands of newspapers by public notification in 1998 as they had neither filed annual returns, nor published as per norms regularly. But some of the owners have continued to publish such newspapers on religious and national festivals. Such newspapers carried photographs and messages of civil and police officers to claim proximity.

During discussions, it came to light that the District Magistrate, Ferozepore, Mr Ranjit Singh, had directed the DSP here to conduct inquiry against the publisher-cum-editor of such a newspaper but the editor was appointed a member of the peace committee as representative of the press.

The SDM has asked reporters to submit their credentials and get identity cards by April 30. He has sent a DO letter to the DSP to take stern action against the users of vehicles bearing “Press” marking illegally. Other police officials have also been asked not to entertain persons impersonating as journalists without proper validity. Any one indulging in blackmailing and character assassination would be taken to task, he warned. Those present in the meeting offered full cooperation to the authorities.


Punjab to have $100 m mega food park: Subodh Sahay
Tribune News Service

Union Minister of State for Food Processing Subodh Kant Sahai, ASSOCHAM President Anil K. Agarwal and Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla at a seminar on food processing in Chandigarh
Union Minister of State for Food Processing Subodh Kant Sahai, ASSOCHAM President Anil K. Agarwal and Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla at a seminar on food processing in Chandigarh on Tuesday. — Tribune photo by Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, April 11
A mega food park will be set up in Punjab, with an investment of 100 million USD. An MoU has already been signed between the Confederation of Italian Food Processors and ASSOCHAM (The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India), for developing this park.

This was revealed by the Union Minister of State for Food Processing, Mr Subodh Kant Sahai, here today. He was here to participate in a conference on emerging opportunities and challenges in processed food sector. "In order to attract more investment in this sector and fuel growth, a new Integrated Food Law, which has been introduced in the Parliament, will come up for discussion in the next session of the Parliament," he said. The Minister said that the food park will be set up on 100 acres of land.

"The food park will process food based on European Union standards (penne, pastas, tortillas (from corn), besides cookies, so that 50 per cent of the food is bought back by the European Union. ASSOCHAM, Government of Punjab, and the Central Food Processing Ministry is preparing a joint study report about the park, which will be submitted to the Italian Consortium within the next six to eight weeks," said Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, while adding that the park's location is yet to be decided.

Mr Anil K. Agarwal, President of ASSOCHAM, while elaborating on the food park, informed TNS that apart from providing water purifying and waste management machine, Italy will also provide logistics for the project. "Separate segments for processing of cereals, oilseeds, fruits, vegetables, dairy products and meat and poultry, will be set up in this park," he said.

He also announced that ASSOCHAM was holding talks with the French government for utilising their technical knowhow in setting up other food processing parks. "We are holding talks with the Kerala government for processing tea, coffee and spices, by taking over plantations there. We also propose to set up food processing parks in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir," he said.

Earlier, Mr Sahai said that an integrated food law, which seeks to converge all existing 16 laws governing food products, will be passed in the next session of Parliament. Under the new Law, a scientific panel will be set up to study requirements of the food processing sector. "We plan to develop the food processing industry so that it grows into a 1,00,000 crore industry in the next five to 10 years. Thus, we have asked all the states to do a mapping of their food crops, so that a ready reference is there for foreign investors in this sector. The cargo and cold storage chain, too, will be strengthened," he added.

He also announced that a National Institute of Food Management will be set up at Kundli, along the proposed Kundli Manesar Palwal Expressway, with an investment of Rs 300 crore, so that trained manpower is available to the industry. The course curriculum has been designed in association with the industry, he said.


BJP rally shows ‘divide’ within
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 11
The tussle between two different factions in the state BJP became evident in a rally organised here last evening when one faction associated with the president of the state BJP and an MP, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, made every effort to prove their strength on the stage by ignoring another senior leader of the BJP and former Cabinet Minister of Food and Supplies Maddan Mohan Mittal.

The tussle became evident when Mr Mittal joined the stage with other leaders, including Mr Khanna, at old Anaj Mandi here. Mr Mittal was not informed about the rally following his difference with the Khanna faction. The rally, which begun at about 7.30 p.m. and continued till 10.30 p.m., dominated by the Khanna faction that controlled the stage functioning.

The Khanna faction was adamant on not allowing Mr Mittal to address the gathering. But later when Mr Mittal expressed his desire to make a speech, Mr Khanna convinced his faction not to create ruckus and allowed Mr Mittal to address the gathering.

Both Mr Chhatwal and Mr Puri apparently unhappy did not even announce Mr Mittal’s name for addressing the gathering.

Party sources said the rally was earlier scheduled to be held in Nangal by the Khanna faction, but following difference with the other faction it was called off. The BJP leaders, however, said the rally was cancelled as the farmers were busy during the daytime in their fields these days.

When questioned, Mr Chhatwal said Mr Mittal was not informed about the rally as he belonged to Nangal Assembly constituency. Mr Khanna and Mr Mittal, however, denied the differences among the party leaders.

While addressing the gathering, Mr Khanna blamed the Congress government for rise in farmers’ suicide, deteriorating conditions of the law and order in the state and poor power supply.

The secretary of the national BJP unit, Mr H.S. Garewal, also blamed the Congress for ignoring the farmers of the state while Mr Mittal criticised the government’s privatisation move.

Others who addressed the gathering included Chamkaur Sahib MLA Satwant Kaur and former Ropar MLA Tara Singh Laddal.

Meanwhile, several locals who gathered here were disappointed when the star attraction of the rally former Cricketer and MP Navjot Singh Sidhu did not turn up. The party leaders said Sidhu was busy in another BJP rally in Amritsar.


Badal to join Advani’s yatra in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, April 11
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, will be part of the “suraksha yatra” of the senior BJP leader, Mr L.K. Advani, when it enters Punjab, Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, national secretary of the BJP, said here today.

Talking to reporters here, Mr Grewal claimed that the SAD-BJP alliance was intact and the seat-sharing would be worked out soon to the mutual benefit of both partners.

Calling upon the NRIs to invest in India, the president of the Punjab unit of the BJP and MP, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, demanded the setting up of a special cell for the redressal of grievances of NRIs.

Claiming that over 6,000 Indians were languishing in jails in foreign countries, Mr Khanna alleged that the Congress-led UPA government was not pursuing their cases properly.

Later, both leaders heard the grievances of several NRIs at a function here.


SAD, BJP workers block traffic
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 11
Activists of the Shiromani Akali Dal, BJP and Christian Front today blocked traffic for more than three hours at Kathunangal, about 20 km from here, today in protest against the alleged “repressive policies” of the state and Central governments.

The dharna was addressed by Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, local MP, Mr Raj Mohinder Singh Majithia and Mr Bikram Singh Majithia, in charge, SAD, Majitha constituency.

Mr Majitha claimed that the Capt Amarinder Singh government had failed on all fronts.


Kang’s charge against SAD
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 11
The State Minister of Tourism and Animal Husbandry Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang yesterday blamed the Shiromani Akali Dal for ignoring the interest of residents of Chamkaur Sahib while reviewing the work done there for subdivision to be made on April 14.

He said despite historical importance of the town, the Akali government had ignored it. He also held a meeting with administrative officials in this regard at Chamkaur Sahib.


’84 riot victims plan dharna at PMO
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
The Punjab Riot Victims Welfare Association said here today that it would soon organise a dharna in front of the Office of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, in Delhi as the state's bureaucracy had failed to give justice to the victims.

Speaking to mediapersons at Kalgidhar Nivas, Mr Surjit Singh, president of the association, said the Deputy Commissioner and other officers of the district administration in Ludhiana had been treating them in a shabby manner.

Mr Surjit Singh said that as association members had been holding rallies and dharnas against the government, it had a strong political bias against them and was not ready to give the package announced by the Prime Minister for them.

The Punjab Government had issued 22,000 red cards to migrant Sikh families who were targeted during the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi and elsewhere in 1984. Following the violence, they had shifted to Punjab from various parts of the country. However, only 10,400 persons, who were issued red cards, had filed their claims. Many of these families had lost their breadwinners and children in the violence.

He said that as the Prime Minister had announced Rs 2 lakh as compensation, 4,500 persons had filed their claims for the relief in Ludhiana. They had given proof of their residence, etc, which was sought by the district administration. However, two Subdivisional Magistrates of Ludhiana had rejected 1,100 applications, he added.


Indo-Pak initiatives foster confidence on border
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, April 11
Peace overtures initiated by both India and Pakistan have fostered immense confidence amongst residents of the border villages situated along the zero line, who now move in their fields without any fear.

Earlier, these border residents had suffered losses on account of Indo-Pak hostilities especially when due to the overall national mobilization in reaction to the dastardly attack on the Indian Parliament, the Army had moved to the frontiers.

Mines were installed on an unprecedented scale all along the border. Thus, mines were laid in agricultural fields, over approaches, covering houses and occasionally even hampering the movement to villages and farm houses causing immense loss of human life as poor villagers and cattle inadvertently treaded into the mine fields.

In all, mines were laid in 7241 acres in Amritsar district and 15858.41 acres in Ferozepore district. Although, the Army had instituted a number of measures to ensure that the villagers do not come to any harm, these steps proved inadequate and in spite of all precautions, several border residents including men, women and children got injured and some of them like Harnam Singh, Malkit Singh and Chuda Devi even died while many lost their limbs. Not only this, standing crops were destroyed resulting in huge financial losses.

In some of the fields, tubewells and electric motors installed were damaged beyond repair. Some of the fields even lost their fertility when the mines were removed.

However, the losses notwithstanding, the people of these border villages took the setbacks in the stride and extended unflinching help to the Army. On the other hand, the Army realizing the hardships caused to residents of the villages along the zero line due to the mines, took up the task of disbursal of interim relief to these people. It organized a series of medical camps, and launched programmes under “Operation Sahyog”. In fact, not only civilians, Army officers and jawans also met with accidents caused by mines.

Army officials like Major D.K. Singh lost their lives while prodding mines during the de-mining process.

Many casualties had been reported while the mine fields were being sanitized and demined.


Sikh devotees leave for Panja Sahib
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 11
Four special trains carrying more than 3,000 Sikh pilgrims today left for Panja Sahib and other historic gurdwaras in Pakistan to participate in the Baisakhi celebrations.

The pilgrims include a jatha of more than 1,600 devotees sent by Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) besides 1,200 sponsored by Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee and 136 from Khalra Mission Committee and others.

The SGPC, in a press note issued here today, stated that the jatha was given rousing send off from its complex. Mr Ranjit Singh, Daroli Kalan, an SGPC member, led the jatha. The jatha would reach Panja Sahib in Hassan Abdal district (Pakistan) on April 12. After participating in the religious ceremony it would leave for Nanakana Sahib on April 15. The jatha on its return journey on April 17 would offer prayers at Dera Sahib Gurdwara at Lahore and would arrive at Amritsar on April 20.

Mr Balwinder Singh Jhabal, secretary, KMC, before leaving for Pakistan strongly pleaded that visa centers should be opened on the both sides of the border to facilitate easy accessibility to all the devotees to offer their prayers at the holy shrines.

He said although the Sikhs living in India travel regularly to Pakistan along with several jatha around the year, the Pakistani Sikhs do not enjoy similar facility to visit India on regular basis. He urged the government to also make arrangements for their regular visit to the Golden Temple and other historic gurdwaras in India.

Meanwhile, the custom authorities seized a large quantity of paans (beetle leaves) being carried by several pilgrims.


56 bodies seek clemency for Sarabjit
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 11
About 56 sabha societies and bar councils led by the International Bhai Mardana Yadgari Kirtan Darbar Society today sent a memorandum to Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf urging him to grant clemency to Sarabjit who was given death sentence by the Pakistan Supreme Court in a mistaken identity.

The 57-page memorandum urged the Pakistan President to at lease change the decision of hanging Sarabjit Singh. In the memorandum, the society said the 14 persons were killed in the four bomb blasts in Lahore and the responsible persons were the enemies of humanity and one Manjit Singh was alleged to be involved in the blasts.

However, the society added that they were not helping Manjit Singh who committed the crime, but they were helping Sarabjit Singh who was facing the punishment due to mistaken identity.


SDM’s directive on canal water storage
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 11
The SDM, Mr Jaskiran Singh, has asked the Public Health Department and Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board to suspend storing of canal water with immediate effect.

The SDM had asked the SDO, Public Health, and SMO, Civil Hospital, here on April 7 to examine the quality of the water flowing in canals in this subdivision. The SDO yesterday confirmed that the water was unfit for human consumption. The SMO had dispatched four samples of water for testing to the department lab.

Meanwhile, the SDM today directed the officials that such water should not be stored in the rural and urban reservoirs. Better chlorination of water would be ensured, he said. People have been advised to boil drinking water or prefer groundwater in case it was not salty.

Through the water contaminated due to excessive discharge of effluents by the industrial units in Ludhiana region had affected 25 lakh persons in Ferozepore and Muktsar districts, no civil officer bothered to initiate action. Contaminated water had already been stored in hundreds of ponds for the cattle, sarpanches lamented.

According to information received from Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president SAD (A), the Punjab Governor has asked the Managing Director of the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board to take necessary steps immediately. A deputation led by Mr Mann had yesterday apprised the Governor of the problem in canals connected with the Sirhind feeder.

Mr Shiv Kanwar Sandhu, founder of the Sanjay Vichar Manch, said reports on samples of canal water submitted by the sarpanches of the region to the state lab were expected tomorrow. He had already summoned a meeting of the sarpanches on Baisakhi to evolve an action plan in this regard.


Three BKU (Ugrahan) activists released
Our Correspondent

Barnala , April 11
Sixtythree activists of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU-Ugrahan) were released from Barnala and Ludhiana jails on April , 9 after they tendered an apology.

Mr G.Nageshwara Rao, SSP, Barnala police district , said that as many as 53 activists were released from Barnala jail whereas 10 were released from Ludhiana jail.

At least 554 activists of the BKU(Ugrahan) were arrested on March 19 and 20 under Sections 107 and 151 of the CrPC for protesting against the Punjab Government move to acquire 376 acres in Dhaula , Fatehgarh Chhanna and Sanghera for Trident Group Of Industries planning to set up three new industrial units - a sugar mill, a papermill and a garment unit in Dhaula (Barnala) and Sanghera(Barnala).


Henry lays stone for PUNSUP offices
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur/Hoshiarpur April 11
The Minister for Food and Civil Supplies , Mr Avtar Henry, today laid the foundation stone for new offices- cum- shopping complexes of PUNSUP at Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur.

The buildings would be constructed at a cost of Rs 85 lakh each. While talking to mediapersons, Mr Henry said that the building in which the PUNSUP offices were located were in poor condition.

He said that PUNSUP that was running in losses during the SAD-BJP government had now registered a profit of Rs 57 crore in the last financial year. The organisation in the past four years had repaid most of its debt and registered a profit due to efficient management and control. The organisation had achieved 99.99 per cent milling in the past four years.

He also said that PUNSUP would procure 20 per cent of the total wheat coming to the mandis of the state. For this all arrangements had been completed.

On support price of wheat, he said the Chief Minister had urged the Union Government to give Rs 100 bonus on wheat. If the bonus was not given the arrival of wheat in the government mandis was likely to fall as private traders were buying at higher prices.

The other agencies of the Food and Civil Supplies Department like PUNGRAIN had also registered a profit, he said.

Mr Henry denied there was a shortage of kerosene or LPG in the state.The officers of the department had been directed to check the depots and LPG agencies regularly.

Mr Henry announced a grant of Rs 2 lakh each for Gurdaspur and Dinanagar constituencies. He also announced that a water supply scheme worth Rs 3 crore would be launched in a kandi village of Mangriwal Nari in Hoshiarpur.


Trident issue: 9 bodies join hands
Tribune News Service

Moga, April 11
The farmers’ agitation against the acquisition of 376 acres of agricultural land for Trident Group in Barnala got a shot in the arm today with nine farmer bodies joining hands to take the agitation to its logical conclusion.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, general secretary of the BKU (Ugrahan), said the decision was reached at a meeting held here under the leadership of Mr Hardev Singh Sandhu. He said the bodies that had given their consent to join in the agitation were the BKU Ugrahan, the Kisan Sangharsh Committee, Punjab Kisan Sabha (Taggar), Kirti Kisan Union, Punjab Kisan Union, Punjab Kisan Sabha, BKU Sidhupur, Jamhuri Kisan Sabha and the BKU (Krantikari).

He said in the first phase of their agitation, they would hold a conference during the coming Baisakhi fair at Talwandi Sabo. They would decide their future course of action at a joint meeting on April 20.

The farmers would take out protest marches in Dhaula, Sanghera, Fatehgarh Chhana and other villages of the area on April 25-27. They demanded withdrawal of the land acquisition notification.


PSEB employees protest privatisation move
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 11
Numerous employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) today took out a massive protest rally in the city against the impending privatisation of the board.

Despite the fact that it was a government holiday, thousands of employees, under the banner of the PSEB Employees Joint Forum, gathered outside the PSEB head office in the afternoon, where union leaders addressed them. The employees later took out the rally over to the main roads creating traffic bottlenecks and chaos.

After the demonstrators reached the YPS chownk, barely 200 m away from the Punjab Chief Minister’s new Moti Bagh residence, they were stopped by the police, which was stationed there in large numbers.

Traffic remained clogged for nearly four hours on the busy Mall road forcing the traffic police to divert vehicles on other roads which only added to the chaos.

The employees were demanding the immediate scrapping of the Electricity Act, 2003, along with prohibiting the management from outsourcing PSEB’s work. They were also demanding jobs for the kin of deceased PSEB employees and filling up of nearly 20,000 vacancies which were lying vacant for the past several months.

Prominent among those who addressed the gathering were Mr Amarjit Sodhi, Mr Surinder Singh Pehalwan, Mr Radhey Shyam, Mr Karam Chand Bhardwaj and Mr B.S Sekhon.

The leaders alleged that the Chef Minister was going ahead with the privatisation plans due to pressure from various corporate houses which wanted to have a share in the PSEB’s holdings.

Mr Sodhi said the board was all set to receive grants of Rs 150 crore under the Rajiv Gandhi Pendu Yojna Scheme, Rs 250 crore from Mandikaran Board and Rs 750 crore under the Central Government’s APRDP scheme. However, the government had laid a pre-condition that the board would receive the grants only through private companies and contractors, he added.


Smuggling to dominate BSF-Rangers talks
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 11
The recent spurt in the smuggling of narcotics through the Indo-Pak border is likely to top the agenda during the bi-annual meeting of the Border Security Force (BSF) and Pak Rangers to be held in Lahore in Pakistan from today.

The 17-member delegation of the BSF led by Additional Director-General N.P.S. Aulakh crossed over to Pakistan today. The head of Pakistan Rangers, Director-General Hassan Mehndi and Colonel Adal and sector Commandant Tariq received him.

Talking to the mediapersons, the leaders of the delegation said besides the alarming increase in the seizure of narcotics on the international border, the talks would also focus on joint patrolling and problems on border fencing. The delegation said the spurt in smuggling could be attributed to the thaw in relations between the two neighbours.

The delegation includes senior BSF IGs from Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajashthan, and Gujarat and Delhi headquarters, besides surveyors, officers from the PWD and members of the National Narcotics Control Bureau.

The delegation will return on April 14.


NGO adopts Banga, 100 villages for healthcare
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, April 11
Guru Nanak Mission Medical and Educational Trust, Dhahan Kaleran, a premier NRI-sponsored NGO, which has been striving to provide better and affordable healthcare and educational services in rural areas, has taken the lead in delivery of healthcare facilities.

The trust has adopted Banga town and 100 villages in the vicinity of the hospital at Dhahan Kaleran. The trust will issue a golden health card to each family residing in the town and the villages adopted by it. This card will carry the names of all the members of the family and it will act as a master health card for the family and any member whose name appears on the card can use it.

Dr Budh Singh Dhahan, founder president of the trust, while divulging details, lamented that though the health sector had witnessed a vast expansion over a period of time, rural areas were being neglected.

Over 6,000 households comprising 38,000 people have been contacted.

The North America Sikh Medical and Dental Association (NASMDA) has adopted the hospital for providing latest healthcare equipment and voluntary services of super-specialist doctors.


HIV patients form group
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 11
For the first time in Punjab, AIDS patients got together to protect their rights and spread the message against the dreaded disease. People leaving with HIV and AIDS (PLHA) have formed a strong group in the state to facilitate and improve their access for treatment.

PLHA, the president of the network group Mrs Gurbinderjit Kaur, said here today that more than 10 patients have joined their hands to share their experiences as to how they were hooked to this killer disease. Talking to newsmen, she said that the group would raise the issue of the human rights and their social rights to live honorably in the society.

She appealed to HIV positive patients that they should not fall prey to the much-publicized Keralite medicine and sought the support and cooperation of other HIV patients who may be living in social isolation. She urged them to come out of their self-imposed shell and face the world boldly and live a normal life.


DC unveils statue of Dr Ambedkar
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 11
Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, unveiled an 8-foot-high statue of Dr B.R. Ambedkar, built at a cost of about Rs 2 lakh, at Ambedkar Bhavan here yesterday.

The Ambedkar Social Welfare Naujwan Society honoured Mr Hussan Lal by presenting him a memento.

Mr Rajesh Kumar, president of the society, urged the Chief Minister to install portraits of Dr Ambedkar in the courts and government offices throughout the state. He also urged the government to use the bhavan for the purpose it had been constructed.


Prof Neki awarded fellowship
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 11
Dr N.S.Neki, Professor of Medicine, Government Medical College and Rajindra Hospital, here, has been awarded the fellowship award of the Indian Association of Biomedical Scientists.

This award has been conferred on Dr Neki for his outstanding contribution in the field of biomedical sciences by the Society of Indian Association of Biomedical Scientists.


20 jhuggis gutted

Hoshiarpur, April 11
At least 20 jhuggis of migrant labourers were reduced to ashes when a fire broke out at Focal Point in Chotala village, 32 km from here, this afternoon.

According to police sources, all the household articles lying inside the jhuggis were destroyed. The fire was controlled With the help of villagers. — OC


5 injured in accident

Kharar, April 11
Five persons were injured in a collision between a bus and a vehicle carrying ‘birs’ of Guru Granth Sahib near Daon village, here, yesterday.

According to information available, the birs were being taken to a gurdwara in Chandigarh from Shri Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar. OC



Kharar, April 11
The following have been elected office-bearers of the Chandigarh Punjab Union of Journalists, Kharar branch: president — Devinder Singh Chauhan of NRI TV; senior vice-president — Dr Bhupinder Singh of Jag Bani; vice-president — Baljit Marwaha of Dainik Bhaskar; general secretary — Darshan Singh Sodhi of Rozana Spokesman; secretary — Kushal Anand of Naya Zamana; and cashier — Rajesh Kausik of News Today. — TNS


Convict shoots 17-yr-old girl
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 11
A convict in an abduction case shot dead Priyanka Jain (17), daughter of Parveen Jain, a local cloth merchant, at her house in Gudiya Shivalya Mohalla, 52 km from here, last night. The act is stated to be that of revenge.

According to police sources, an FIR under Sections 363, 366, 34 and 120-B of the IPC was registered against Balwinder Singh for abducting Priyanka on February 20, 2003. On her statement, Balwinder was convicted and sentenced to seven years and five years imprisonment. He was now on bail.

Sources said Priyanka, a student of plus II, returned home from Hans Raj Mahila Vidyala, Jalandhar, after appearing in an examination yesterday. Soon after her reaching the home, two persons with handkerchiefs on their faces and carrying pistols pushed Ms Santosh Jain, mother of Priyanka, who opened the door. She scuffled with one of them and sounded the alarm.

On listening her cries, Bimla Jain, sister-in-law of Ms Santosh Jain, and Priyanka came out. On seeing Priyanka, one of them fired at her. Priyanka got bullet injuries in her neck. While escaping, the handkerchief and cap of one of the assailants fell down. He was identified as Balwinder.

Priyanka was taken to the local Civil Hospital where she was declared brought dead. The Mukerian police has registered a case under Sections 302 and 34 of the IPC and Sections 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act.


DIG told to trace notorious fugitives
Tribune News Service

Khanna, April 11
Taking a serious note of a number of fugitives still at large and the growing numbers of under-trials escaping from police custody or from courts, the DGP Punjab, Mr S S Virk, today directed Ludhiana Range DIG Parag Jain to personally monitor the development in the cases.

Mr Virk made this announcement after inaugurating new complex of Community Resources Police Centre at Khanna when mediapersons drew his attention towards the cases of several fugitives like Raman Rana and Amarjit Singh Baba, who had escaped from police custody and were allegedly forming dangerous gangs, besides indulging in gang wars in Ludhiana and other parts of the state.

The DGP also asked the Mr Jain to trace another alleged notorious criminal Nirdosh Dhand, who was yet to be arrested even after one year in the case pertaining to the murder of another gangster Anil Kumar, alias Lalla.

The DGP also announced that the Khanna example of community policing by way of recruiting CPOs — Community Policing Officers and making special complexes like Community Policing Resource Centre would be followed in another police districts.

The brain behind the show, Mr Naunihal Singh, would carry forward the idea of community policing at Mohali where he has been appointed the first SSP of the newly carved district.

Mr S K Sharma, IG Patiala Range, informed that Karnataka has already emulated the Khanna system of policing and has implement the same model in the state, while other states were making enquiries about the model.


4 kg of heroin seized, 1 arrested
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 11
The Special Narcotics Cell (SNC) has seized 4 kg of heroin from Gurjeet Singh, alias Ruby, of Tej Nagar, Sultanwind Road, here. This is the third major consignment seized here within a fortnight.

Earlier the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in a joint operation with the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) had seized 19 kg and 10 kg of heroin, respectively, in two raids.

Mr Sukhdev Singh, SSP, SNC, said at a press conference here today that Gurjeet was accompanied by Kuldeep Singh of Azad Nagar, Islamabad, who escaped from the spot. He said the cell had specific information from the CID, Jalandhar, after which a naka was laid at Sakatri Bagh where they had come to strike a deal. The police seized four packets of the contraband having the stamps of Uncle-Brother’s Foundation, tribal area of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Super Star International.

In the preliminary interrogation, the accused revealed that he along with Kuldeep had earlier also supplied a consignment at Chandigarh bus stand in Sector 17. The SSP said Kuldeep Singh was the new entrant into the smuggling fraternity. The police was conducting raids to nab Kuldeep.


Truck driver found murdered
Our Correspondent

Kharar, April 11
A truck driver was found murdered in a room in Desumajra village here today while the vehicle was found lying abandoned a few kilometers away from the scene of the crime.

The legs and arms of the deceased , Sanjiv Sharma, who hailed from Kangra, were probably tied before committing the crime. The deceased had come to Desumajra village to get the body of the truck painted.

Mr Rajbachan Singh Sandhu , DSP, said that the deceased shared a drink with some person last night and later climbed the truck to sleep inside the vehicle . But his body was today found lying in a small room near the shop from where he was getting the work done by the owner of the truck . He then informed the police.

The body of the migrant labourer was sent to the Civil Hospital at Kharar for a postmortem examination . The DSP said that it was not clear as to why and how had the murder taken place . There were no sharp injury marks on the body though some blood had oozed out of the nose of the deceased.

He said the police recovered the truck lying abandoned from near a dhaba on the Khanpur road . The tyres and the battery of the truck were found missing He said the police had registered a case under Section 460, IPC, on the statement of the owner of the vehicle.

It is reported that the owner of the truck had reportedly told the police that he had some differences with some members of the truck union who allegedly wanted to harm him. He , however , did not name any person in this regard.


3 POs held

Batala, April 11
While talking to the media persons here today, Dr Jatindra Jain, SSP, said the police arrested Iqbal Singh, a son of Ruldu, a resident of Mansandwal, and Kadar Masih, a son of Teju of Dera Baba Nanak under Section 307 and 326, IPC, who had been declared proclaimed offenders since October 10, 2002. In another case, Kajal (an eunuch) of Mansandwal was also arrested by the special staff in the above stated case. — OC

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