P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Govt ‘misinformed’ House panel
Farmers’ suicides in state
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 14
The Bharti Kisan Union (BKU) has blamed the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, for not presenting wholeheartedly the issue of suicides by farmers in Punjab. Expressing concern over the information given to Parliament’s Standing Committee on Agriculture by the Union Agriculture Ministry that only two farmers had committed suicide in Punjab, Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal, general secretary of the BKU, said today that it was clear that the state government had not supplied proper information in this regard.

He said though farmers had been committing suicide in Punjab for the past 10 years, the state government had failed to present this issue before the Union Government in a proper manner.

Mr M.S. Gill, member of the Rajya Sabha, who had attended the meeting of the Standing Committee yesterday in Delhi, had told The Tribune on the phone that the Union Agriculture Ministry informed the committee that it had only two cases of suicide officially reported to it from Punjab.

Mr Rajewal said his organisation had received reports that 13,000 farmers had committed, suicide in recent years. Mr Inderjit Singh Jaijee said that in two blocks

Mr Rajewal said his organisation had received reports that 13,000 farmers had committed suicide in recent years. Mr Inderjit Singh Jaijee said that in two blocks — Moonak and Andana — of Sangrur district 1,360 farmers had committed suicide. He claimed that in the entire state, 40,000 farmers committed suicide between 1987 and 2005.

Mr Jaijee said that the state government had prepared a status report on suicides in 2004. In that report, which was submitted to the Union Government, the state government admitted 2,116 farmers’ suicides from 1987 to 2004. “The Punjab Government should ask the Union Government about the status report on suicides”, said Mr Jaijee.

The Chairman of the National Farmers Commission, Mr M.S. Swaminathan, has said that there is need to properly study the phenomenon of suicides in the farm sector. Steps are required to check the suicides. He has expressed concern over the increasing number of suicide cases.

Punjab’s problem is that it has not got documented cases of suicides through the proper channel. There are two or three private institutes which have conducted studies from their own perspective.


Farmer bodies show solidarity on Trident issue
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 14
Terming their protest against the acquisition of land in three villages by the Trident group as justified, nine farmer organisations today expressed the resolve to take their agitation to its logical conclusion at their Jameen Bachao Conference in Talwandi Sabo.

The farmer bodies that participated in the conference were the BKU (Ugrahan), the Kisan Sangharsh Committee, the Punjab Kisan Sabha (Taggar), the Kirti Kisan Union, the Punjab Kisan Union, the Punjab Kisan Sabha, the BKU (Sidhupur), the Jamhuri Kisan Sabha and the BKU (Krantikari). Five resolutions were passed at the conference.

Farmer leaders termed the notification relating to acquisition of the farmers’ land at Sangheral, Dhaula and Fatehgarh Chhana villages as “illegal and anti-farmer”. They stressed on garnering more support to strengthen their stir.

In another resolution, they said any farmer providing raw material to the Trident unit would face a boycott. They also urged the Trident employees not to extend any aid to their employer on the acquisition issue. They sought withdrawal of cases registered against the farmer leaders.

The farmer bodies also demanded a compensation of Rs 10 lakh and a government job to a family member of Sarmukh Singh Jethuke, who died in Ludhiana jail after being arrested during the Jameen Bachao Morcha.

BKU (Ugrahan) president Mr Joginder Singh Ugrahan, Kirti Kisan Union president Hardev Singh Sandhu and Mr Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu of the Kisan Sangharsh Committee were the prominent leaders who addressed the gathering.


Heritage Complex to be completed by next Baisakhi
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, April 14
Inaugural function of first phase of the Khalsa Heritage Complex (KHC) here today turned out to be a show of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s religious and political strength the SGPC had protested that the KHC should be inaugurated by ‘Panj Piaras’ not by the CM. Religious heads of Sikh organisations from Delhi, Punjab and prominent Congress leaders were present here.

Amidst chaos the KHC was inaugurated by five eminent Sikh personalities in the presence of the Chief Minister on Baisakhi. However former Jathedar and head granthi of Akal Takht Puran Singh boycotted the function but another former Jathedar of Akal Takht Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode performed Ardas prayer before the inauguration.

Apparently unhappy with the SGPC, although the CM denied that he did not inaugurate the KHC as the SGPC had opposed it but he said I do not care about the SGPC and it has nothing to do about the inauguration of the KHC. He also alleged that Rs 50 crore were allocated for the KHC when Mr Badal was the Chief Minister but he spent only Rs 43 crore and no body knew where he spent the rest of Rs 7 crore.

President of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee Harvinder Singh Sarna had brought here 40 religious leaders of various orgnisations. Besides, it a large number of heads of the Sikh religious bodies including Baba Manmohan Singh from Baran (Patiala), Baba Hardev Singh Duma, head Damdami Taksal, president of the Sant Samaj Sarbjot Singh Bedi, also joined the CM here.

Confusion prevailed when the CM accompanied by PPCC president Shamsher Singh Dullo, Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and his other Cabinet colleagues Partap Singh Bajwa, Jagmohan Kang, Parliamentary Secretary Industry and Commerce, K.P.S. Rana, Anandpur Sahib MLA, Dr Ramesh Dutt Sharma arrived at 9.45 a.m. here.

The CM along with others immediately left for the PSEB rest house when he learnt that the arrangement made was not appropriate for the religious function. Thereafter priests brought Guru Granth Sahib to gallery room to perform prayer. For an hour, the CM along with others visited the KHC for inauguration.

The CM also announced Guru Gobind Singh Marg from Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib Anandpur Sahib to Takht Sri Dam Dama Sahib Talwandi Sabo would be extended up to Takht Sri Sach Khand Hazur Sahib by 2008 on the 300th anniversary of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji. He said a blueprint of this project had been conceptualised and modalities were being worked out with the four governments of Haryana, Delhi, Madya Pradesh and Maharashtra to execute this project within the stipulated time.


Four get their vision back
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Bandages being removed from the eyes of patients at the Golden Temple complex, Amritsar, on Friday.
Bandages being removed from the eyes of patients at the Golden Temple complex, Amritsar, on Friday. — Tribune photo by Rajiv Sharma

Amritsar, April 14
The call of Jathedar Akal Takht to donate eyes a couple of years ago, finally lighted the lives of four persons on the auspicious occasion of Baisakhi when they were able to see the Baisakhi celebrations of Punjab's New Year Day, here today.

The bandages were removed from the eyes of the four persons who had lost their eyesight due to accidents in the past. The bandages were removed by Mr Jaswinder Singh Advocate, a member of the SGPC at the Golden Temple complex.

After paying their obeisance, the beneficiaries participated in the Baisakhi celebrations, which was celebrated with religious fervour. Mock duels and bands playing religious tunes were part of the processions, marking the beginning of harvesting.

Before giving the call for eye donations, Jathedar Akal Takht Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti had himself pledged to donate his eyes. Giani Tarlochan Singh, Jathedar Sri Kesgarh Sahib, also announced the decision to donate his eyes.

Blood and eye donation camps were jointly organised by the Bhai Ghanayia Charitable Bank, Hoshiarpur, and the Netar Daan Association in collaboration with the Shiromani Committee.

The persons who got their vision back were Jaswant Singh, Harinder, Pyare Lal and Chhota.


Baisakhi Milan Samaroh: Sikh bodies’ plea to Takht

Amritsar, April 14
The Shehbaj Khalsa and Gursikh organisations urged Akal Takht to direct some prominent Sikh leaders not to participate in the Baisakhi Milan Samaroh to be held on April 16 at Delhi.

Addressing a joint press conference, Mr Sukhmander Singh Karmuwal, secretary, Gursikh, and Mr Amardeep Singh Amar, Jathedar, Shehbaj Khalsa claimed that the programme was to be organised by the Sangat Sansar, a magazine of the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, a wing of the RSS. They gave a memorandum to Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, in this regard.

They named several Sikh leaders, including Giani Karnail Singh Garib, Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, President, SAD (Delhi), Mr Tarlochan Singh, Member, Rajya Sabha, Mr Joginder Singh a former Director of the CBI, and Sant Sadhu Singh, Dera Mohanpur in the memorandum. They requested Jathedar, Akal Takht, to stop them from attending the function.

They said that some Sikh leaders were participating in the event despite the fact that Akal Takht issued two directions to Sikh masses from abstaining to participate in the programmes of the RSS and the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat in 2001. Though they had mentioned the name of Mr Tarlochan Singh but he could not be contacted.

Meanwhile Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, disassociated himself from the function. He said he received an invitation today but conveyed to the organisers that he would not be available as he had busy schedule on that day. — OC


Computer teachers observe black Baisakhi
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, April 14
Computer teachers employed by the Education Department, Punjab, today organised a protest rally and observed the day as black Baisakhi to protest against low wages being paid to them.

Over 100 computers teachers today organised a protest rally in Pathankot raising slogans against the government. They also submitted a memorandum of their demands to the SDM, Pathankot.

The teachers alleged that they were being paid lesser than the peons and watchmen of the department. The president, Computer Teachers Union of Punjab, Mr C. S. Manhas, while talking to The Tribune, here today, said the computer teachers were getting just Rs 3,960 per month in hand and they are being deprived of allowances and perks being extended to regular teachers.

Such treatment was being meted out to them despite the fact that they have higher qualification vis-à-vis most of the regular education department teachers.

Most computer teachers employed by the Education Department are MCA, M.Tech, MSc (computer science), MSc (IT), PGDCA, BCA, BSc (IT) qualified.

The government was exploiting the highly qualified computer technocrats of the state by giving them meager wages. This would also harm the computer education program launched by the government. None of the computer teachers has joined the schools located in remote rural areas.

The computers installed in these schools are lying useless. Unless the government gives facilities of regular employee none of the computer literate person would go to rural areas.

The teachers alleged that they were being forced to agitate for their demands as other methods had been exhausted. They have already met the education minister and local representatives to present their case.


Woman wins battle against land mafia
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 14
Ms Dimple Miglani, who had been spearheading a fight against the land mafia for the past 18 months, today succeeded in getting back the physical possession of her house in the Radha Swami colony on Hanumangarh road here.

She encountered no resistance from those who had rendered her family homeless "illegally" on September 10, 2004.

She and her children had sat on a dharna and gone on a token hunger strike at the district headquarters also. Sadly, she lost her mother during the struggle.

According to residents of the locality, some armed persons allegedly deployed by the land mafia at Miglani's house ran away on seeing some policemen patrolling the area this morning.

A domestic servant was seen escaping in a white car that carried red light atop.

Mr Chander Shekhar, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order), Punjab, had on March 28 asked the Deputy Inspector- General, Ferozepore, to investigate allegations of a major land grab by Balkaran Singh Bhullar, a Canada- based NRI here.

The role of a high-ranking police official, earlier attached to the Vigilance Bureau, was also under scanner as Ms Dimple's father, Dr Om Parkash Mutneja, had directly blamed the said official of shielding the culprits, sources said.

The incident happened when Mrs Dimple had gone to the Dera Beas in Amritsar district on September 10, 2004, with her family.

She rushed back on learning that some armed persons had grabbed their house and agriculture land adjacent to the Radha Swami Colony.

But the armed persons threatened to eliminate the family and did not allow them to take out clothes and utensils even.

Her father-in-law, who had been under a state of shock after death of his wife, had reportedly signed some papers to sell the property to Balkaran Singh's family even when the sale deed of the house was pledged to the local branch of Oriental Bank of Commerce.

Though period for executing the sale deed was one year, the alleged land mafia managed to get the sale deed registered and even mutation was completed in a single day.

Dr Mutneja alleged that none of the persons named in the FIR was arrested during the past 12 months because a very senior officer of the Punjab Police who was posted with the Vigilance Bureau at the time of registration of the FIR had allegedly been shielding the land mafia.

This was brought to the notice of Mr Siddiqui who summoned the said officer and asked him not to interfere but the problem continued even after shifting the said officer from the Bureau.


Cops help coloniser grab land
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 14
At a time when it takes years to solve a simple crime, the local police allegedly acted with undue haste in helping a coloniser to take possession of land, the matter of which was sub judice in a local court.

All this was done despite standing instructions from the top brass of the police that cops at any level should not interfere in the civil matters. Of late, there has been a spate of such incidents in the district where land mafia, in collusion with the politicians and the cops, have steamrolled over the rule of law.

In this particular event, the cops reportedly helped Mr Satwinder Singh Bittu, a coloniser, to encroach upon 10 acres of land in Gill village, which are adjacent to a colony, Ranjit Avenue, being promoted by Bittu.

Today late in the evening, a strong posse of police from the Sadar police station, accompanied by Bittu, reached the disputed land and ploughed standing wheat crop with the help of seven tractors. A JCB was also used to pull down a house on the land. All this when a group of heavily-armed persons patrolled the periphery of the land with the police personnel blocking all approach roads.

Even mediapersons, who reached the site, were turned away by the cops by claiming that they had all the relevant papers to use force to hand over the possession of the land to the coloniser.

Mr Gurnam Singh Gill, owner of the land, said it was blatant misuse of the police powers to plough my standing wheat. “I pleaded with the cops to see my papers and the court case, but they refused to hear my side of the story and went ahead with their plan,” he narrated.

He said he had sent telegrams to the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the DGP and the Punjab Human Rights Commission.

Bittu could not be contacted till the time of filing this report.


Source of Kali Bein drying up
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, April 14
The depleting ground water level has dried up the original source of the historically significant Kali Bein river. The river used to originate from the bauli (a place where water naturally erupts from the ground) in Dhanoa village falling in Mukerian subdivision of Hoshiarpur district.

The residents of this village have constructed a temple around the bauli that is believed to be the source of the Kali Bein. The elders remember that the water level in the bauli was so high that a large volume of water used to flow from it and gush into the river.

The flow of water increased further during monsoons. However, in the past two decades the water in the bauli has gone down.

The bauli no longer contributes any water to the historic river. The water level in this natural source has gone down by about 10 feet. The bauli is located in a low lying area near the Beas river. The area was once waterlogged.

However, due to the indiscriminate use of water in the past two decades the water level in the entire area has gone down by about 20 feet. Now the authorities pump water into the Kali Bein river from the Mukerian hydel canal.

After starting from Dhanoa, Kali Bein moves parallel to the Beas river through the plains gathering water from the surrounding area for about 170 km. It has also played an important role in forming fertile plains by bringing down large sediments during floods. The river culminates in Beas at Ahlikalan village about 10 km short of Harike Pattan. Enroute the river also feeds the Kanjli wetland.

It is also historically significant because Guru Nanak Dev was said to have received enlightenment after taking a dip in the Kali Bein river.

Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal has been working relentlessly to clean the environment and develop the area around river Kali Bein. However, despite his best efforts the river is threatened by encroachments. Due to encroachments on the riverbed at places it has been reduced to a small stream.

The elders of Dhanoa village have demand that keeping in view the historical significance of the river, the government or some voluntary organization should launch a program to recharge the bauli.


Preneet inaugurates Patran subdivision
Tribune News Service

Patran (Patiala), April 14
Ms Preneet Kaur, Member of Parliament (MP) from Patiala, while promising a high-level probe into the alleged use of substandard material in the construction of the Patran bypass road, today said that the guilty officials would not be spared.

Ms Preneet Kaur made this statement when a section of the residents of this town, which had been formally accorded the status of a subdivision by her, lodged a complaint with her that the Patran bypass road, which was constructed about a couple of months ago, had started breaking up allegedly due to use of substandard material.

The MP, who also laid the foundation stone for the strengthening and widening of the Patran-Moonak road at a cost of Rs 7.5 crore, said she would take up the matter connected with the setting up of the Patiala-Jakhal rail link in Parliament.

She claimed that the Punjab Government, led by Capt Amarinder Singh, was aware of the problems being faced by the residents of this area and hence efforts were being made by the Chief Minister to bring industries to this region to generate employment opportunity for the youths.

She added that Nabard had sanctioned a project to save the people from Ghaggar floods.

Lashing out at former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Ms Preneet Kaur alleged that Mr Badal always befooled the people by making false promises. She added that Mr Badal announced that Patran would be accorded the status of subdivision time and again but did nothing in that connection.

She said that with the elevation of status of Patran as subdivision, residents of the town and its surrounding 77 villages would not face any problem for getting their official work done on one hand and, on the other, the entire region would witness allround development. She said that a 30-bed hospital in the neighbouring town of Samana would be ready for providing medical care to the people shortly.

Mr Malwinder Singh, younger brother of Capt Amarinder Singh, and Ms Gursharan Kaur Randhawa, Chairperson, Zila Parishad, were present in the function.


Girl unites with mother after 10 years

Amritsar, April 14
It was emotional atmosphere all around Pingalwara, a house of destitute, mentally retarded and old persons here when Gudiya (15) reunited with his mother Rupinder Kaur after a decade.

Gudiya was admitted to Pingalwara by the in-laws of Rupinder Kaur after the death of her first husband. She was only five years old at that time. Rupinder, who now resides in Yamunanagar, searched for her daughter without any success as her in-laws did not disclose to her about her whereabouts.

Talking to newsmen in the premises of the Pingalwara, Rupinder said she was taking her daughter back after the due consent of her second husband. She said when she came to know about her daughter, she told to her husband who agreed to adopt her as his daughter.

Mr Baljit Singh, chief sevadar of the Pingalwara, said that Gudiya was given emotional send off by the whole staff and her friends of the Pingalwara society. She was given bangles and new cloths before she left for her new home with her mother.


Leaning transformer poses threat
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, April 14
A Punjab State Electricity Board transformer in the Bajri company locality poses threat to life and limb of schoolchildren. The transformer is located next to the government middle school in the locality.

It leans to one side as the angle irons supporting it have given way. Just wires connect it to the poles. The poles supporting the transformer are weak and tilted. The authorities have tried to check the poles from falling by putting bricks at the basement. However, it did not work.

Residents of the locality say whenever strong breeze blows the transformer sways. There is a threat a wire connected to the transformer might break and fall on a passerby. There are two schools in the vicinity of the transformer and hundreds of children use the passage every day.

The PSEB authorises have been requested many times to get the problem rectified. However, all complaints have fallen on deaf ears, residents alleged.


Ambedkar remembered
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 14
The Punjab unit of the BJP Scheduled Castes (SC) Morcha, the district office of the Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes Welfare Department, Punjab, and the local Dr Ambedkar Social Welfare Naujwan Society here today celebrated the 115th birth anniversary of Bharat Ratna Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar.

Prominent among those who remembered Dr Ambedkar at the morcha function here were Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, president of the Punjab BJP; Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, national secretary of the BJP, Chaudhary Swarna Ram, former Punjab Minister; Mr Rajesh Bagga, president of the Punjab BJP's SC Morcha; and Mr Vijay Sampla, a general secretary of the Punjab BJP.

On the occasion, Ms Geeta Rani, who had won a gold medal in Plus 75 kg category in weightlifting in Melbourne Commonwealth Games recently, was also honoured by the BJP leaders.

A seminar was also organised in memory of Dr Ambedkar by district office of the SC and BC Welfare Department, Punjab.


Insurance Co told to pay compensation
Our correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 14
The District Consumer Forum, headed by Mr B. C. Gupta, president, has accepted the complaint of Mr Sunder Sham Sood, a resident, filed by him under section 12 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 against the National Insurance Company. The forum has instructed the insurance company to make a payment of Rs 1,05,000/- along with Rs 12,000/- as compensation within a period of two months failing which the complainant would get interest at the rate of 9 per cent per annum from the date of this order till payment.

In his complaint Mr Sunder Sham Sood stated that he got a medical policy from the said insurance company for a period of one year from April 27, 2004. He felt some heart problem and got bypass surgery done from Escorts Hospital and Research Centre, Faridabad, on October 8, 2004 for which he paid Rs 1,39,872/-.

He filed a claim for Rs 1,05,000/- before the insurance company who repudiated the same merely on the ground that the complainant had concealed material facts regarding the disease which he was suffering when he purchased the policy.

The forum after recording the evidence of both the parties came to the conclusion that the complainant had been getting himself insured from the various insurance companies right from March 26, 1995 to March 25, 2004 and he had purchased another policy from National Insurance Company on April 27, 2004 for one year.

In another complaint the Forum after following the judgement of the National Commission accepted the complaint of Sudesh Kumar of village Saila Khurd and ordered the local branch of National Insurance Company to pay Rs 97463/- along with a compensation of Rs 5000/- within a period of two months. The insurance company repudiated the accident claim of Sudesh Kumar on the pretext that the complainant had sold the vehicle to Harbans Singh, but the insurance policy had not been transferred in the name of purchaser.


NRI, parents booked in cheating case
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 14
Balkaran Singh Bhullar, a Canada-based NRI, has again been booked along with his father Dhian Singh and mother Gura Devi for allegedly cheating a widow. The city police last night registered a case against them under Sections 406, 420 and 506, IPC, official sources said today.

The Sadar police had booked Balkaran and his father in an alleged land sale fraud case involving Rs 26 lakh early this month. The police arrested Dhian Singh and the local court remanded him in judicial custody.

Ms Paramjit Kaur, a resident of Balluana village, near here, at present residing in Ranjit Avenue, Amritsar, had alleged that the Bhullar family borrowed Rs 15 lakh from her but repaid Rs 2 lakh only.

She was asked to visit Bhullar’s house at Kalatibba village, near here, on February 15, 2006, to collect the balance amount but she was allegedly threatened with dire consequences if dared to demand the money.


Rotary Club sets up academy
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 14
The Rotary International District 3090 has set up a leadership academy to “awaken” the youths in Patiala and for this pilot project it has chosen certain educational institutions, said Prof Dr Harbans Pathak, district governor, Rotary 3090, while addressing a function organised by the local Rotary Club here today.

Dr Pathak said the club believed that youths were the main strength of any country. We should utilise their energy in positive manner and involve them in social service as well as motivate them for waging a war against social evils.

He said for this we must provide them quality of leadership and the academy intends to inculcate among its participants the important aspects of the leadership skills.

He said Mr S.K. Girdhar has been made counselor of the academy.

Mr Surjit Singh Sahi and Prof Kashmir Singh president, and secretary, respectively, of the local Rotary Club, Dr Dharminder Singh Ubha and governor-designated Bhupinder Singh Jaggi were also present on the occasion.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |