P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Govt land sold ‘in connivance’ with Revenue officials
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, June 20
Government land on the Pathankot-Dalhousie road near Mamoon village has been sold by some persons allegedly in connivance with Revenue officials. The matter has been brought to the fore by Mr Balkar Singh, a resident of Mamoon village.

Mr Balkar Singh, in his complaint to the Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, alleged that Kuhls (drains for irrigation) used to run from the Chakki river to the village. Gharats (flour mills operated by water) also used to run on the said drains.

Mamoon village panchayat in1982 in a resolution handed over the ownership of the land on which drains and gharats were running to the government. The deed for transferring the land belonging to the Nawin Kuhl and Mughli Kuhl to the Irrigation Department was issued on February 1, 1982.

However, though, the mutation of the drains was transferred in the name of the Irrigation Department, the gharats continued to be in the name of owners in papers. The ‘private’ remained in the column of ownership till land consolidation in 1999-2000.

Nobody bothered about the anomaly in revenue papers till some persons tried to take its advantage. They allegedly in connivance with Revenue officials bought the land of ‘gharats’ from the persons, who were owners of the land just in papers. When the sale took place Mr Balkar Singh reported the matter to the tehsildar concerned and provided him with relevant documents for the purpose.

However, despite that, the tehsildar, besides executing the sale deed, entered the mutation of the land in the name of buyers. Mr Balkar Singh moved an appeal in the case before the SDM who recently cancelled the mutation effected by tehsildar in favour of the buyers of the land.

Mr Balkar Singh, however, alleged that despite the cancellation of the mutation the land was not being transferred by the Revenue officials in the name of government. While the authorities have not been acting on the matter illegal owners of the land have already started construction on it.

He also alleged if the land belonging to ‘gharats’ was not transferred to the government then the owners would have taken its possession since long. Why is it that it only after 20 years somebody has woken up to buy the land.

Mr Balkar Singh has filed a complaint in the matter before the Commissioner and the Punjab Chief Minister.

Deputy Commissioner Vivek Pratap Singh said they had got the construction on the land stopped after the information was provided. Appropriate action would be taken in the matter as per the law, he said.


State offers building for central institute
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
As the Union Government is keen to start the Indian Institute of Science for Education and Research (IISER) from the current academic session(2006-07) in August, the Punjab Government has offered the building of the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Public Administration in Sector 26 here to run it till the construction of its own campus in Mohali.

Informed sources yesterday said the Chief Secretary, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, had told the Union Ministry for Human Resource Development, which is keen to start the institute from the current academic session, that there was enough space available at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute to run the IISER.

The Mahatma Gandhi Institute, where certain offices of the Punjab Government are housed, has a big campus.

Sources said the state government had planned to reserve the entire Sector 81 in Mohali for building the new campus of the IISER. The Union Government had laid the condition that the IISER campus should be located close to Chandigarh because a large number of scientists from various parts of the country would be working in it.

Good quality accommodation and education institutions would be required for their families. And all such facilities would not be available except in Chandigarh.

The Union Government has earmarked Rs 500 crore for setting up the IISER in Punjab. Pune and Kolkata are the other places where IISERs are to be set up this year.

The Union Government has asked the state government to make 200 acres of land available for it. The IISER will be having various courses with an overall intake capacity of 2,000 students and 200 faculty members. Besides this, there will be about 700 scientists in the IISER to work on various research projects.

There would be bachelor’s and master’s courses besides Ph.D in science research.

Earlier, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had proposed to set up the IISER at Jalandhar where the campus of the Pushpa Gujral Institute of Science was available for this purpose. However, as now the Union Government wanted the IISER should be set up in close proximity of Chandigarh, the government has taken the decision to set up it at Mohali. The IISER has been allocated to Punjab on the initiative taken by the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh.

It will be the first big educational institute to be set up by the Union Government in Punjab. The state government has been trying for the setting up of the Indian Institute of Management( IIM) and the Indian Institute of Technology(IIT) in the state and had written to the Union Government in this regard. However, it has got no response from the Union Government in this regard. 


Hardcore terrorist Bira in Phillaur jail
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, June 20
After hard efforts of SSP, Jalandhar, Ishwar Singh, dreaded Khalistan Commando Force (Panjwar) terrorist Kulbir Singh Bira wanted in 32 criminal cases was deported from America and brought to Phillaur police station late last night yesterday.

He was produced before Phillaur judicial magistrate V.K. Goel early morning today, who sent him to police custody till June 24.

SSP Ishwar Singh, while talking to The Tribune, said many more disclosures were expected from Bira. Bira was arrested in the US in 2002 when he sought political asylum there.

Bira was being kept in Phillaur under heavy security cover. He was involved in more than 53 killings, including of former Punjab minister Darshan Singh Kaypee, former CPM MLA Balwant Singh Cheema. He was also involved in the killing of three Communists, including Comrades Varinder Kumar, Surjit Singh and Gagan.

He was one of the killers who killed nine BSP activists in a bomb blast on February 16,1992.

Bira killed one ASI, two Home Guard jawans, one SPO, and looted cash worth Rs 2.13 lakh from the Sindhwan bank branch. Bira killed one bodyguard of ex-MLA Balwant Singh Sarhali on October 5,1990.

He shot dead one police personnel and a woman at Nawanshahr on January 9,1991. He killed the Sarpanch of Bharomajara village in 1991. He killed one truck union president Jasbir Singh at Goraya.

He killed two persons in a bomb blast at Barrapind near Goraya in 1991. Bira killed a panchayat member on February 15,1991, at Rurrkakhurad village and two persons of same village on June 29,1991.

He killed a Congress activist Tirth Ram at Barrapind on October 5,1991. Bira was involved in the killing of two SPOs at Tarkhanmajara village in 1992.

He shot dead Communist MLA Sarwan Singh Cheema, his gunman, and four SPOs near Zandiala on November 4,1991.

He killed a college Principal Mehar Singh at Sangh Dhesian village on February 28,1991. He also killed an ex-MLA Balwant Singh Sarhali .


Privatisation of civic services emphasised
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
Calling for increased participation of private sector in developing infrastructure at the municipal level, Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, today said despite the best efforts of the state government, adequate civic services were not being provided.

Punjab, he said, required Rs 6,000 crore to augment urban infrastructure and municipal services, but enough resources were not available and deficiency in services continued.

He was addressing participants at a training programme on privatisation of municipal services for strengthening fiscal domain, organised by the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) here in collaboration with the Delhi-based National Institute of Urban Affairs.

The Finance Minister said that in the provision of civic services at present there was a huge gap between pricing and cost recovery. He said the Prime Minister as well as the Chief Minister were emphasising on the need to improve the delivery of services as the present state in urban areas was pathetic.

Highlighting the importance of the private sector, he said it brought in additional capital, technology and growth. It also brought in an atmosphere of competitiveness and efficiency.

In his welcome address, Director- General, CRRID, Mr Rashpal Malhotra, highlighted the importance of privatising civic services and also delved upon the role of the private-public partnership for financing urban infrastructure development.

Mr J P Gupta, Honorary Director, CRRID, said lack of trained manpower was the foremost reasons for deterioration in the quality of urban management. Inadequate finance, ineffective governance, environmental degradation and economic deprivation of the poor had resulted in urban decay, he added.

Several presentations were also made by experts in the field. Mr Hitesh Vaidya from Financial Institutions Reform and Expansion Project, Delhi, spoke on municipal resource mobilisation for empowerment of city governments and urban reforms for strengthening fiscal domain of local bodies.

Private-public partnership for financing infrastructure projects under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission was elucidated upon by Mr S K Sharma, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana, while major issues and opinions concerning development of urban infrastructure and municipal services were highlighted by Mr Manoj Teotia, Assistant Professor at CRRID. 


Singla, Sahai to attend farm festival
Tribune News Service

Mohali, June 20
Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla along with the Union Minister Subodh Kant Sahai would be attending the annual Royal Agriculture Festival organised by the British Government. Stating this here today Mr Singla added while this was an occasion to learn about the food industry there, it was also an opportunity to generate awareness about the farming and food processing practices in Punjab.

Mr Singla was talking to newspersons following the inauguration of the Orient craft project in the township. Lambasting the comments made by Parkash Singh Badal about the legitimacy of the mega projects being approved by the Congress government Mr Singla said other states in the country were ready to give land for free to the companies to set up base.


Punjab CM honours Yash Chopra

Chandigarh, June 20
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh tonight honoured the legendry Bollywood director and producer Yash Chopra with the Punjab Rattan Award.

Presiding over the first-ever Punjab Rattan Award-conferring ceremony held here at Hotel Taj, Capt Amarinder Singh said Yash Chopra was one of the most charismatic and powerful directors in the Indian film industry, his name synonymous with the glamour of the romantic film and a style within Indian culture.

On the occasion, Cultural Affairs Minister Partap Singh Bajwa read the citation and described him as the living legend of the Indian film industry. — PTI


356 part-time workers not paid for over 2 years
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, June 20
The government has been giving doles with an eye on elections. However, 356 part-time employees working in high and middle schools of the district have not been paid for more than two-and-a half years.

The part-time workers have been working in the Department of Education for decades as sweepers and “kulers” (those provide drinking water to students in hilly areas). They are paid from Rs 800 to Rs 1200 per month as minimum wages fixed by the government.

However, since 2004 the part-time workers have not been paid any wages. Sources here said earlier the school principals used to pay salaries of the part-time employees from the funds available with them as the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) fund. The funds later were received from the government.

However, since 2004 the schools have exhausted all funds at their disposal to buy computers as per the direction of the government. They do not have any amount to pay the salaries of these part-time workers. The District Education Officer has sent a communication to the Education Department seeking Rs 1,30,42,496 to clear salary dues of the part-time employees.

However, the government has sent just Rs 26 lakh. With this meagre amount the Education Department can clear just four month dues of the said employees.

The part-time employees most of whom are poor Dalits alleged that they have been pushed to starvation due to the payment of salaries. Shukuntala Devi, a part-time employee, said her children had turned her out of the house after her income had stopped. Now she was surviving on remittances from people. They could do any other work as despite being part-time they had to spend most of their time in school. The school staff used them for all small chores of theirs.

The Class IV part-time and Daily Wage Employees Front of Punjab has threatened agitation in case the salaries and arrears of the part-time employees of the Education Department are not released.

Mr Amarjeet Shastri, a spokesperson of the front, alleged the attitude of government towards part-time and daily wage employees had been apathetic. Though prices of all essential commodities had been increasing the minimum wage fixed by the government had not been revised. While regular government employees were paid dearness allowance every six months, the daily wage and part-time workers had not been revised for over a year now.


Badal, SGPC chief settling scores: Sarna brothers
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 20
Firing a salvo against Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, Shiromani Akali Dal, and his party leaders, Mr Harwinder Singh Sarna and Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, President, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, (DSGMC), and SAD (Delhi), respectively today alleged that they (Badal faction) were trying to mislead the intelligence agencies against them.

The Sarna brothers alleged that the missive of Mr Avtar Singh Hit, a former President, DSGMC, sent to various intelligence agencies, levelling ‘baseless charges’ against them was written at behest of Mr Badal. They said Mr Badal, Mr Hit and Mr Avtar Singh, SGPC chief 
wanted to settle political scores with them by “stooping so low”.

The Sarna brothers said it was a matter of record that the SGPC chief shared stage with foreign-based Sikhs, including Mr Manmohan Singh Khalsa, UK-based Dal Khalsa leader and Dr Pritpal Singh, President, American Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee during his recent visit to Pakistan. So much so the SGPC President and Mr Manmohan Singh travelled from Lahore to Nankana Sahib in the same vehicle. The fact could be corroborated from the footage of a TV news regarding the seminar held at Lahore to commemorate 400th anniversary of Guru Arjan Dev, showing SGPC chief sitting with Dr Pritpal Singh in the five-star Pearl Continental Hotel, Lahore.

“Being a public servant, one can’t avoid meeting the Sikhs in gurdwaras”. They said the DSGMC and the SAD (Delhi) had been endeavouring to bring Sikhs into mainstream of the country which had been appreciated by well-meaning persons.

It is also a matter of record that in the year 2000, Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, the then DSGMC chief had immediately left the stage when it was captured by militants at Nankana Sahib on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

The DSGMC chief alleged that Mr Badal had close relations with the USA-based militant leader, Dr Ganga Singh Dhillon, President, Nankana Sahib Foundation. He also alleged that Ms Surinder Kaur Badal, wife of Mr Badal, held a meeting with Dr Dhillon during her last visit to Pakistan. “The Badal faction wants to use the services of Dr Dhillon during the forthcoming Assembly elections”, they alleged.

The Sarna brothers said that like the DSGMC, the SAD (Badal) had been fighting cases of as many as 22 Sikhs who were booked on charges of series of ‘transistor bombs’ in New Delhi.

Mr Badal must understand the fact that most of the Sikh youths had gone astray following fiery speeches, delivered by Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his party leaders during peak of militancy.

The Sarna brothers said that they did not have to get certificates from Mr Hit or Mr Badal about their patriotism. ‘Our credentials are crystal clear’, they said. 


New Act soon on local taxes in lieu of octroi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
Punjab is all set to have a local area development Act that will ensure a new method of taxation on goods once octroi in the state is done away in a month's time from now.

Sources in the state government said the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today gave the nod to have such an Act that will lay down the policy on taxation at the municipal level.

The new form of taxation will be approved by the Punjab Council of Ministers and efforts are being to have the matter placed before it at its meeting on June 26.

The sources said a decision had been taken to do away with the octroi collection points. The new formula would ensure that the Rs 645 crore collection made through octroi would be maintained at that level. Only the mode of collection would change. Traders might have to file returns on tax levied on goods. It could also be calculated on the total turnover of each trader.

The Chief Minister has said that no financial constraints should arise in the functioning of the local bodies due to this change in the taxation formula. He has categorically said that the interests of the employees working in the local bodies should be safeguarded.

Since octroi is the main source of revenue for municipal councils and corporations the government is being cautious in ensuring that the entire system of the local bodies should not crumble without this.

The Act, besides laying down the mode of collection, will also spell out the system of management of the taxes collected. 


Razing of hutments kicks up row
NGO head, Editor trade charges
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 20
The demolition of hundreds of hutments in SST Nagar here late last evening by the Improvement Trust authorities has created a controversy. It has led to a confrontation between the Sudhar Sabha, an NGO, and Mr Jagjit Singh Dardi, Editor-in-Chief of the Chardikalan Group of Newspapers.

Dr Paramjit Singh, chairman of the Sudhar Sabha and Patiala Vikas Manch, along with his associates, held a protest against the removal of hutments by staging a dharna at the site of demolition. In a complaint filed to the Deputy Commissioner, he has alleged that Mr Dardi held out a threat to his life publically when he, along with his associates, was taking to the victims at the spot of demolition yesterday evening.

Not only this, the gunmen, who were accompanying Mr Dardi and his kin, attacked him, he has alleged. Mr Dardi also threatened to killing him, he said. He added that Mr Dardi also threatened him that he would be implicated in criminal cases with the help of a person, who was close to the state Chief Minister. He demanded that the authorities concerned should make proper arrangements for the safety of his life.

He alleged that Mr Dardi had also encroached upon a part of the public park from where the hutments were removed by the trust authorities. Not only this, a school building had also come up illegally in the residential area.

Mr Dardi has denied these allegations. He alleged Dr Paramjit Singh and hundreds of his associates first instigated the dwellers of hutments to attack him (Mr Dardi) and the staff of his newspaper. Some goons were accompanying Dr Paramjit Singh who made his staff members immobile, he alleged.

He said Dr Paramjit Singh started misbehaving with him and his staff members. Dr Paramjit Singh also made some of the persons, whose structures were removed, to put up their huts again in the park. He said Dr Paramjit Singh also indulged in hooliganism and tried to disturb the peaceful atmosphere of the city. He said a stern action should be taken against such persons.

Meanwhile, Dr Paramjit Singh said the authorities concerned should explain why the hutment dwellers were uprooted without giving them any notice while it had failed to remove encroachments dotting the nook and corner of the city.


Seven crude bombs found in Amritsar

Amritsar, June 20
Seven crude bombs were found during digging of a piece of land where a steel factory was once located in the suburban town of Chheharta today.

The crude bombs were unearthed this afternoon during the digging process by labourers on the factory land which was now being levelled to carve out plots for sale, Senior Superintendent of Police S.S. Srivastva said. Six similar bombs were found at the same site on June 17.

The factory had been lying closed for some years and the bombs seemed to have been part of very old scrap used for steel manufacturing, he said.

The police had taken the bombs in its possession and their exact nature and the intensity would be worked out by Army experts later, the SP, said. — UNI


Dullo flays Badal for criticising PM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
The president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, today reacted sharply to remarks made by Akali Dal chief Parkash Singh Badal against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Terming Mr Badal’s statement as “lies”, Mr Dullo said he was just envious of the Prime Minister instead of being proud that a Sikh was holding the top post in the country.

Mr Badal had yesterday said the Prime Minister had done nothing for Punjab. Mr Dullo listed out what all the Prime Minister had done and alleged “the Badals had been provoking the victims of the 1984 riots and using them for their vested interests by taking out processions of widows without giving them any relief or compensation while Dr Manmohan Singh had given a relief package worth Rs 718 crore to the riot victims”.

Not a single penny of relief was given when the BJP-led NDA Government was ruling and it was supported by Mr Badal and his party.

The UPA Government had provided the healing touch to the wounds of these people, added Mr Dullo.

The opening of the bus service between Amritsar and Nankana Sahib had fulfilled the long cherished dream of every Sikh. The latest being approval of the multi-crore project of the elevated road to Shri Harmandar Sahib, Amritsar. Dr Manmohan Singh had done what could be expected from a devoted Sikh sitting in the highest executive seat of the country, added Mr Dullo.

Mr Dullo further said the Akali Dal remembered the Panthic agenda only when out of power. He added that the people of Punjab in general and the Sikhs in particular had the right to ask the Shiromani Akali Dal and Mr Parkash Singh Badal to give account of the money offered in the Guru-Ki-Golak.


SAD (Longowal) to join third front
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 20
Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, President, SAD (Longowal), said yesterday that his party would join the third front which would come into existence at the national level to defeat the communal forces like the BJP and the Congress.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Chandumajra said the party had been formulating a third front in Punjab for the coming Assembly elections and a formal announcement would be made on August 20 at Longowal village on the occasion of death anniversary of the late Sant Harchand Singh Longowal.

While condemning both the Congress and the SAD leadership for politicising the function organised by them in connection with the 400th anniversary of the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev, Mr Chandumajra said time had come when people should give a crushing defeat to those parties, which had been using religion for their own political gains.


Jaswant Mann announces candidates for elections
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
The All-India Shiromani Akali Dal, which announced its candidate for 11 Assembly segments here today, will stick to the Anandpur Sahib resolution.

Speaking to mediapersons, Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, President of the party, called upon the Sikhs to reject the SAD headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal. Mr Mann said a panthic front was in the offing. He claimed that Mr Surjit Singh Barnala was prepared to lead the front. " I met Mr Barnala and talked to him in this regard", Mr Mann asserted. He said the panthic front would be opposed to Mr Badal and also the ruling Congress in the state.

He said that Mr Jatinder Singh Sandhu would be the party's candidate from Kharar, Mr Shamsher Singh Maloya from Chamkaur Sahib, Mr Nishawar Singh Malli from Samana, Mr Gurinderpal Singh Dhanula from Barnala and Mr Iqbal Singh Grewal from Quila Raipur.

Besides, Mr Satnam Singh Kanda would be the candidate from Amritsar(South), Mr Talib Singh Sandhu from Payal, Mr Hardeep Singh Bajwa from Sri Hargobindpur, Mr Kashmir Singh from Jallalabad and Mr Gurmej Singh from Raja Sansi.


Badal ‘bartered’ Sikh interests
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
The All-India Shiromani Akali Dal today said that the Akali Dal led by Mr Badal had adopted-policy and programme contrary to Sikh ethos. He has placed under the BJP, the Sikh interests, political urges and aspirations.

The press conference was addressed by Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, president and Mr Gurinder Pal Singh, among others.

It was pointed out that “the All-India Shiromani Akali Dal reiterates that the political goal of the Khalsa Panth is preordained and determined as contained in the Anandpur Sahib resolution of 1973”.


Fervour marks celebrations
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 20
As part of the four-day-tercentenary celebrations being held here to commemorate the stay of Sri Guru Gobind Singh at Bathinda in June 1706, a nagar kirtan was taken out from local Gurdwara Hazi Rattan Sahib. The nagar kirtan, which passed through various parts of the city, was led by Sri Guru Granth Sahib and Panj Piaras. Besides a large number of devotees, an elephant, horses and camels, gatka parties and band groups also participated in the nagar kirtan, which concluded at the local Gurdwara Kila Mubarak Sahib.

Mr Rahul Bhandari, Deputy Commissioner, Bathinda, and Mr L.R. Nayyar, patron of Malwa Heritage Foundation, Bathinda, honoured “Panj Piaras’ by presenting them ‘siropas’. He said the nagar kirtan would strengthen unity and brotherhood among various communities as members of different communities had participated in the nagar kirtan with enthusiasm and religious fervour.

As part of the series of tercentenary celebrations, artistes from Punjabi University, Patiala, staged a play “Mitti Rudan Kare” to make the people aware of the social evils and drugs at the Kila Mubarak here last night.

Meanwhile, a holiday has been announced on June 21 in government, semi-government, boards and corporations’ offices and government and private educational institutions of this district. This holiday has been announced so that employees and officers could take part in the function to be organised on June 21 here to celebrate the stay of Sri Guru Gobind Singh at Bathinda in June 1706.


Protest against decision to close nurseries
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, June 20
Members of the Forest Workers Union staged a dharna before the office of the District Forest Officer here today to protest against the closure of nurseries.

The DFO, Pathankot, in an order passed recently had stated that over 31 plant nurseries were operating in Gurdaspur Forest Division. The number was exorbitant. The respective range officers should identify and close the unnecessary plant nurseries.

The workers’ union representatives, however, alleged that if the nurseries were closed, many of part-time workers would lose their job. The part-time workers had been working with the department for over a decade now.

The Forest Department has spent lakhs on luxury trips of Wildlife Advisory Board members to South Africa in violation of rules and regulations. Recently the Forest Minister, along with the Chief Conservator of Forest, who is retiring on June 30, and a coterie of DFOs went on a trip to north-eastern states on the pretext of an education trip. Lakhs of rupees were again spent on the trip.

Instead of spending huge amounts on sojourns of the minister and senior officials, the department should at least continue giving employment to the poor farmers of the kandi areas who have been employed in the nurseries, the protesters alleged.

The nurseries were set up in area for afforestation under the JBIC project. The objective of nurseries was to provide saplings for rapid afforestation in the reserve forest areas. However, despite creating such a large infrastructure for afforestation, the forest cover in the state had gone done. In fact it was now lowest in the country, even below Rajasthan and Haryana.

The union has threatened to intensify its agitation in case the workers were ousted from job on the pretext of closing the nurseries.


Reduce tax on petroleum products: BKU
Tribune News Service

Moga, June 20
Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal-led Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) today demanded reduction in the tax levied by the Punjab Government on petroleum products to 4 per cent. The demand was raised during a dharna outside the mini-secretariat here.

BKU leaders said the government should reduce the tax on petrol and diesel to provide some respite to the residents of the state, especially farmers, from the steep hike in the prices.

They also demanded to include Jat farmers of Punjab in the OBC category as UP, Rajasthan and MP had already included them in this category.

The BKU demands included proper increase in the rates of different crops and reduction of the interest rate to 4 per cent on loan provided to farmers under different schemes.


Brickkilns to stop production from June 30
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
Brickkilns in Punjab will stop production from June 30 in protest against the use of fly ash in the manufacture of bricks.

A decision in this regard was announced by the Chandigarh Periphery Brickkiln Owners Association and the Punjab Brickkilns Association here today.

Speaking to mediapersons, Mr Kuldip Kumar Khaduja, chairman of the Punjab Brickkilns Association, said the kiln owners would not resume production till the notification issued with regard to the use of fly ash was withdrawn. He said there were 2,700 brickkilns in the state.

The other demand of the owners related to the levying of lumpsum tax on brickkilns. At present 4 per cent VAT was charged on bricks. However, Mr Inderjit Singh Randhwa, vice-president of the association, said that the levying of VAT had become a source of exploitation of brickkiln owners. It was difficult to maintain accounts, he added. Earlier, the Taxation Department used to charge tax from brickkilns in lumpsum. However, the practice was stopped only a few years ago.

Mr Randhawa said the state government had agreed to revert to the old practice of collecting lumpsum tax from brickkilns. But this decision had not been implemented by the authorities. He said the brickkiln owners were prepared to pay the tax in lumpsum.

Mr Randhawa said that the owners of brickkilns could not bear the cost of transporting fly ash from various thermal plants to their kilns. He said they had to buy special closed vehicles to transport the fly ash which was offered to them in the form of slurry by the plants. He said already 70 per cent of the fly ash was being used by cement factories and there was no need to ask the brickkilns to use it, he added.


Social bodies stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 20
The demolition drive saw many social organisations jumping into the fray with two such organisations— the Patiala Sudhar Sabha and the Patiala Vikas Manch— staging a dharna after a senior journalist allegedly assaulted some of their cadre.
The Sudhar sabha and the Vikas manch activists were still sitting on the dharna at the time of filing the report.


Havildar suspended, probe ordered
Tribune News Service

Mansa, June 20
The Mansa SSP yesterday suspended Mr Ajaib Singh, a havildar posted in the economic offences wing, and ordered a departmental inquiry against him for causing injuries to his neighbour, Mr Narinder Kumar.

Talking to this reporter over the phone yesterday, the SSP, Mr Ram Singh, said after an altercation with his neighbour over a wall of their houses, the havildar threw bricks in the house of Mr Narinder Kumar a few days ago due to which the latter received injuries.

The SSP said he had suspended the havildar and ordered a departmental inquiry against him. He further said a case would be registered against him on the basis of the medical report of Mr Narinder Kumar. 


Prakash utsav of saint Kabir celebrated
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 20
The Bhagat Employees Welfare Association, Punjab, celebrated the 608th prakash utsav of saint Kabir.

Mr Tara Chand Bhagat, president of the association, said here yesterday that school uniforms were distributed among students, and toppers in education and sports were given prizes.

He rued that the state government had failed to honour its own words of establishing a Satguru Kabir intersection and a building here. Mr Yashpal Bhagat, Director, Planning Commission, was the chief guest.


Masked dacoits loot Rs 2.68 lakh from bank
Tribune News Service

Khalchian (Amritsar), June 20
In two sensational incidents, six masked dacoits today looted Rs 2.68 lakh from Punjab National Bank, Dhoolka branch, while in another incident that occurred few hours later, another band of masked youth decamped with cash, jewellery and other valuables, in Majitha police district here today.

District police chief, Majitha, Gautam Cheema, said though no arrest had been made yet the police had found certain vital clues.

The bank manager of PNB, Muchhal village, Jaswant Paul, said two men had first entered the bank on the pretext of drawing some amount. They pretended to be filling certain forms at the inquiry counter, when four masked dacoits armed with firearms entered the bank. They pounced upon the security guards and snatched their official rifles.

In a separate incident, six Santro car borne masked youths, using similar modus operandi, entered the house of one Pritam Singh in Muchhal village and looted Rs 60,000 in cash, jewellery and other belongings worth Rs 2.50 lakh.

The police have sealed all exit points of the Majitha district. 


4 killed as motor cycles collide
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, June 20
Four youths, including two brothers, were killed on the spot in a head-on collision between two motor cycles on the Noormahal-Bhandhala road last night.

The deceased were identified as Malkinder Dass, Sonu, Mohini and Soni. According to reports received here today, Malkinder, Sonu and Soni were going on one motor cycle when one motorcyclist Mohini collided with their motor cycle. The bodies were sent to the Phillaur Civil Hospital for a post-mortem examination.


Prostitution racket busted, six arrested
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 20
The police claimed to have busted a prostitution racket in the district with the arrest of six persons, including the kingpin of the racket.

The police has registered a case under various sections of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act. According to a press statement issued by Mr Shiv Kumar Verma, SSP, the police got a tip-off that one Shashi Sharma, resident of Mohalla Dayalpuri, Sirhind City, was running a brothel in her residence.

The SSP said that the lady used to bring girls from outside and supplied them to customers.

He said a police party, led by Mr Jaspal Singh Thind, DSP, Fatehgarh Sahib, and Bhupinder Singh, Inspector, raided Shashi’s house following which she, along with three girls and two customers, was arrested in compromising situation.

He said the girls were identified as Kirandeep, resident of Solan, Rajinder Kaur, resident of Khanna, and the customers as Amrit Kumar, Gaurav Matta, both residents of Mandi Gobindgarh, and Swarn Singh, resident of Balahri Khurd village.

The SSP said Shashi Sharma disclosed on interrogation that she had been running the brothel since long and used to take Rs 500 from the customers and give Rs 200 to girls

He said investigation was going on and more sensational facts were likely to come out. 


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