P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Badal, Amarinder in court
SAD chief’s defamation suit against CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 29
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh appeared in a court here today in a defamation case against him by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Parkash Singh Badal.

The SAD President recorded his statement in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Y.S. Rathore.

Capt Amarinder Singh was also present in the court.

The defamation case had been filed against him during the Punjab Assembly elections in February 2002.

Through a civil suit filed in August 2002, Mr Badal had accused Capt Amarinder Singh of spreading and publishing false reports about his assets and property.

Mr Badal had sought damages of Rs 5 crore through the civil suit.

The Chief Minister had been granted bail in this case.

The SAD President stated before the CJM that the Chief Minister had levelled baseless allegations against him through advertisements in newspapers.

One of the charges was that Mr Badal and members of his family had amassed wealth worth Rs 3,500 crore.

Mr Badal stated that the Chief Minister had been settling scores with him as Mr Badal had denied Capt Amarinder Singh a party ticket, before Capt Amarinder Singh joined the Congress, because he was a drawing-room politician.

After recording the statement in the presence of the Chief Minister, the CJM adjourned the hearing till November 4.

Talking to mediapersons, the Akali leader expressed the hope that the case would reach its logical conclusion.

He termed the Centre’s announcement of a hike of Rs 10 per quintal in the minimum support price of paddy and cotton as a cruel joke played on a beleaguered peasantry.

He described the Punjab Cabinet reshuffle as a hilarious exercise meant to reward people whom the Chief Minister had called tainted.

Mr Badal said the reshuffle coincided with the Supreme Court notice to the Chief Minister’s colleagues and the controversy over the corrupt and the mighty in the government.

Talking to mediapersons, Capt Amarinder Singh said the Centre’s announcement of a hike of Rs 10 per quintal in the minimum support price of paddy and cotton was less as expenses on agriculture had increased by 122 per cent.


SAD to move motion over MSP
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Nankiana Sahib (Sangrur), July 29
Terming the increase of Rs 10 in the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy as a “cruel joke” with farmers by the Union Government, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, secretary -general of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and an MP from Sangrur, said today the SAD would move a call attention motion in the Lok Sabha on July 31 against the meagre hike in the MSP of paddy.

Mr Dhindsa was here in connection with a meeting for the preparations of a function to be organised on August 20 at Longowal by the SAD on the occasion of the death anniversary of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal.

Mr Dhindsa said the SAD would not only oppose the meagre hike in the MSP of paddy in the Lok Sabha it would also put pressure on the Union Government to hike the MSP up to the satisfaction of the farmers.

He said though the prices of the diesel had increased repeatedly and supply of power to the tube well motors was poor but the government had given just a hike of Rs 10 per quintal in the MSP of paddy, which was unacceptable to the SAD.

Mr Dhindsa also disclosed that the SAD's poll manifesto for the ensuing Assembly elections in the state would be ready by October-end. Then it would go to the political affairs committee (PAC) of the SAD for the final approval and after that it would be released. He said the members of the manifesto committee were working on the manifesto round the clock by meeting various sections of the society to know their views and demands.

Mr Dhindsa said in the ensuing Assembly elections winning ability would be the main criterion for the allotment of seats between the SAD and the BJP.

He said there was no quota fixed for the BJP in the seat sharing. In case the SAD and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) reached an alliance then the BJP might lose some seats in the alliance.

He also appealed to the BJP leaders not to issue statements regarding their claims over the seats. If these leaders wanted to say something then they should present the matter before the SAD-BJP coordination committee in place of going to the press, he added.

Mr Dhindsa also stated that the SAD after coming to power would review all those “wrong” decisions of the present government, which were “anti-people” and “anti-employees”. He also flayed the government for the deteriorating health services and education system in the state. He said Amarinder government had ignored health and educational institutions by not appointing employees, like doctors and teachers, in the schools and hospitals. Besides this, the state government had also failed to improve facilities in schools and hospitals, he added.

Mr Dhindsa said on the death anniversary function of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal at Longowal, top leaders, like Mr Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar; Mr Rajnath Singh and Mr Arun Jaitley, president and general secretary, respectively of the BJP were expected to come.


SAD may hit House proceedings
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 29
The SAD today declared that it would stall the proceedings of Parliament on Monday if its plea for focusing national attention on the “petty” hike in the MSP of paddy and cotton, besides other issues concerning farmers, was not accepted.

“The SAD wants full-scale discussion on the shockingly inadequate MSP and on the causes and ramifications of farmers’ suicides. If our attempt is foiled by the ruling party, we would be left with no alternative but to stall proceedings in both Houses of Parliament. Party MPs will resort to democratic norms of protest in and outside Parliament,” SAD general secretary Sukhbir Singh Badal said here today.

He also dared the Punjab Chief Minister to sit in dharna in front of the residences of Congress President Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister to press for a hike in the MSP of paddy and cotton and to force them to “stop the policy of discrimination against the peasants.”

“Capt Amarinder Singh had enacted the ‘tamasha’ of sitting in dharna in front of the then PM Atal Behari Vajpayee’s residence. If he shows the courage to do the same in front of Dr Manmohan Singh and Ms Sonia Gandhi’s residences now, we will not only join him but also sit there till the demands of the farmers are met,” he said.

He expressed shock at the disclosure made by the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, that the Punjab Chief Minister had denied the existence of suicides by farmers in the state and had, therefore, sought no Central package to aid the affected families. “This is not only dishonest to the extreme but also utterly inhuman,” he said.

He recalled that the Centre had refused to give help to the state’s potato growers whose crop had been damaged last year because the state government had informed the Centre that there had been no crop damage in Punjab. 


Sangat has clarified its position to Takht: head
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 29
The Rashtriya Sikh Sangat said here today that it had clarified its position on various issues to the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, and a five-member committee set up by the Jathedar a long time ago.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Gurcharan Singh Gill, national president of the sangat, said the organisation was allowed by the Jathedar of Akal Takht to participate in the function organised to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Parkash of Guru Granth Sahib in 2004 in view of the report given to the Jathedar by the five-member committee consisting of Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, member of the SGPC, Dr Balwant Singh Dhillon of Guru Nanak Dev University and three others.

Mr Gill distributed copies of the letter written in this regard by Giani Joginder Singh on August 7, 2004, to the Secretary, Dharam Parchar Committee of the SGPC. A copy of the letter was also sent to Mr Gill at his Jaipur address. He said that respecting the supremacy of Akal Takht, the sangat had earlier, on the directive of the Jathedar of Akal Takht, stopped yatras which were to be taken out from various places to celebrate the 400th anniversary in 2004.

However, later the sangat had clarified its position to the Jathedar. " At present, there is neither a ban on the activities of the sangat nor any restriction on it from Akal Takht", he claimed. As the sangat is said to be an offshoot of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, hawkish Sikh organisations often target the sangat and its leadership. And the political alliance between the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the BJP is also "attacked" in the process.

Mr Gill said the sangat would take part in the 300th anniversary of Gurgadhi Divas of Guru Granth Sahib which would be celebrated in 2008 at Nanded . " The sangat has sought the blessings of Akal Takht in this regard", he said, adding that the sangat was for holding the anniversary under the overall command of Akal Takht.

Mr Gill said the sangat had unflinching faith in the supremacy of Akal Takht and was strongly opposed to those who were out to harm the institution of Akal Takht in any manner. He said his organisation believed in Guru Granth Sahib as Guru and did not accept anyone else as Guru. " It considers that the Sikhs have a separate identity and Sikhism is a separate religion", he added.

Mr Gill, who was accompanied by Mr Rulda Singh,national secretary of the sangat, said the sangat believed in the traditional Indian family system and was trying hard to strengthen it. The sangat's main objective was to promote harmony in Indian society and to bring various communities close to one another. " The sangat does not contest the SGPC and other elections as an organisation", he asserted. He said the sangat was a social and religious organisation which had been educating people across the country with regard to the teachings of the Sikh Gurus and the importance of "Sarab Sanjhi Gurbani".

He said that there were organisations which convened press conferences almost on a daily basis to get cheap popularity by attacking the sangat. The objective of such organisations was to create divisions in society for their vested interests. " We do not believe in remaining in the media headlines on a daily basis and believe in working silently to propagate the message of Gurbani", he added.Mr Gill said he had to convene a press conference today to remove misgivings being created by certain organisations with regard to the sangat.

He said the sangat had played an active role in getting removed the names of several Sikhs settled abroad from the "black list" that was prepared by the External Affairs Ministry after 1984 and had also defended Sikh youths lodged in various jails in the country in courts. He showed several letters written to him by the SAD and the SGPC with regard to the pursuing of cases of Sikh youths in the special court at Ajmer. Mr Gill claimed that he was instrumental in providing legal assistance to Mr Simranjit Singh Mann when he was in the Bharatpur jail.

He said there should be an advisory committee of intellectuals to assist the Jathedar of Akal Takht on various religious and other matters.


MLA’s brother booked for opening fire
Varinder Walia and
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Rajasansi (Amritsar), July 29
The Amritsar police today booked Mr Harpinder Singh Gill, alias Rajan, younger brother of Mr Jasbir Singh Dimpa , an MLA from Beas and Chairman of the Sewerage Board , Punjab, and Mr Harmanbir Singh Gill , S.P. (D), Tarn Taran, on charges of opening fire on Balkar Singh, a former sarpanch of Ball village, in an alleged inebriated condition, near here late last evening .

Two gunmen and an another accomplice of Mr Rajan were also booked by the Sadar police station.

Interestingly, few hours later, the police lodged a counter FIR against Balkar Singh — the former sarpanch and others under the similar sections of Indian Penal Code and the Arms Act which were framed against Mr Rajan.

However, Mr Rajan claimed that a complaint was registered against the former sarpanch yesterday at Rajasansi police station for taking law into his hands.

However, Mr Rajan who himself is a member of Zila Parishad and a senior Congress leader claimed that it was the “Project Manager” of his company who was booked by the police and not he. The FIR lodged on the complaint of Mr Balkar Singh mentioned the name of the accused as Hatinder Singh Gill, alias Rajan , a brother of Dimpa who allegedly opened fire.

The complainant alleged that Mr Rajan had approached him for the purchase of his prime land, that adjoined the land where the Dimpas' were constructing a Five Star hotel and housing flats, near Rajasansi International Airport in collaboration with the Radisson chain of hotels.

The former sarpanch alleged that the Dimpas allegedly ploughed the water channel, which was passing through their land with a sole motive of “grabbing” his prime agricultural land, near the airport.

When contacted, Mr Chaman Lal, S.P. (City), said the police had to register a counter FIR against Balkar Singh and others on the basis of “facts”. He denied that there was any pressure from any quarters on the police.


Ex-DSP gets death for gunman’s murder
Rajneesh Lakhanpal

Ludhiana, July 29
A fast-track court here today awarded death sentence to a former DSP of the Punjab Police, Sher Singh of Khanna, in connection with the killing of his gunman, Kuldip Singh, by firing a shot from an AK-47 rifle, on August 16, 1999. Sher Singh was in a drunken state at that time.

The sentence was awarded under Sections 27(3) and 25 of the Arms Act, finding the accused guilty of using “prohibited weapon” in the commission of the offence, after the Punjab and Haryana High Court had remitted the case to the local court.

Earlier, a local fast-track court had sentenced the accused to rigorous life imprisonment on August 14, 2003, finding him guilty of murder.

At that time Presiding Officer of the fast-track court A.S. Kathuria had held: “The charges levelled against the accused were duly proved by the prosecution, which shows that he has no regard for human life. He killed a young man, who was posted with him for his security and protection of his life.”

Later, the former DSP filed an appeal in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. On May 25 this year, the high court remitted the case back to the lower court with the observation: “Since the judgement of the trial court is admittedly defective on account of its failure to give any finding in relation to the third and the fourth charge under Sections 27(3) and 25 of the Arms Act, the trial court should record independent finding on the issues already framed.”

After hearing the rival contentions of the defence counsel and the public prosecutor, the judge observed: “The charges against the accused that he took in his possession an AK-47 rifle, a prohibited arm, and used it to murder his gunman, stand duly proved.”


Jalota in SAD working committee
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 29
Former president of the Patiala Municipal Committee Sohan Lal Jalota, who recently left the Congress and joined the SAD, was inducted into the 51-member working committee of the SAD.

According to Mr Jalota, SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal rang him up to inform him about the induction.

Later, Mr Jalota met Samana Akali MLA Surjit Singh Rakhra in the presence of various local Akali leaders, including district SAD president Inder Mohan Bajaj, and thanked Mr Badal and former Finance Minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh 
for the induction.


‘Woman’ cop shifted for ‘sex change’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 29
A “woman” constable was immediately shifted from the women cell of high-security Central Jail following serious charges that she had allegedly underwent “plastic surgery” to change her sex to become a male.

The jail authorities have ordered a high-level inquiry into allegations. Apart from complaints by the jail inmates, the jail authorities received written complaint from one Lakhwinder Kaur, resident of Kapurthala.

The jail authorities confirmed that the statements of both constable and complainant were recorded by the Deputy Superintendent (Jail) today. Some jail officers, on the condition of anonymity, said the constable had links with highups of the Jail Department and hence no action could be taken against her in the past. It is learnt that the constable was transferred from Jalandhar Jail to Amritsar last year.


Renal patient cries for help
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 29
She had never imagined that one day all her near and dear ones would turn their back on her when she really needed their help.

Balwinder Kaur (49), a residence of House No. 6, Officer Hostel, here had to come to grips with the grim reality when she suffered a renal failure. She has been surviving on dialysis thrice a week for the past four months.

“I sought help from my relatives to donate kidney for me but all turned their backs on me. My condition deteriorated this March and I remained admitted for a month in a private hospital in Mohali. My mother paid Rs 3 lakh for treatment by selling her agricultural land. Doctors thereafter advised her dialysis thrice a week. If I don’t get the treatment, I have a bleak chance of surviving more than six months,” said Balwinder Kaur.

Balwinder Kaur, whose blood group is B +ve, has three children, including two daughters, to take care of. “I am the only one to care of my children and if something happens to me, they will not have anywhere to go,” she said.

Balwinder Kaur, an employee of Education Department, has spent her entire GPF savings on her treatment. “I have to spend around Rs 26,000 on dialysis every month.”

She has sought the help of good Samaritans to step forward and help her in her crisis.


Bhog of ultras: Mann justifies; Bitta flays cops
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 29
The leader of the Shiromani Aklai Dal (Amritsar), Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, today justified the holding of the bhog ceremonies of slain militants while a former Union Minister, Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, blamed the Punjab Police for showing laxity in controlling the situation and allowing former militants a free run.

The two, in separate statements, were reacting to a news item which appeared in The Tribune today on how intelligence agencies had taken note of the growing strength of people at the bhog ceremonies of former militants in the past few months.

Mr Mann said: “If the intelligence agencies are alarmed at the bhog ceremonies of our Sikh martyrs, we, on the other hand, take equal umbrage at the Indian Government glorifying Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.” The two former Prime Ministers had “destroyed” and “vandalised” places of worship of the Sikhs, alleged Mr Mann.

Mr Bitta, on the other hand, blamed the Punjab Police for the recent developments. “There has been a failure somewhere in curbing such elements and allowing them to regroup,” he said, alleging that cases against former militants were being weakened, allowing them to be saved from punishment in pending court cases.

Mr Bitta said he would talk to the top leadership of the country with regard to the developments in Punjab in the past few months. He added that he had warned earlier about the possibility of the regrouping of militants in Punjab. The state intelligence agencies must keep watch on the situation or else matters could get out of hand, he said.


Vanamahotsava celebrated
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 29
The Rotary Club (Patiala Greater), under the presidentship of Dr Ajay Gupta celebrated vanamahotsava and also started a ‘Green Patiala’ by planting saplings and medicinal plants in PUDA park in Urban Estate, Phase -II, here today.

A medicinal sapling was also planted by the District Forest Officer, (DFO) Mr C. Kumar, while Mr Anil Goel, Public Relations Officer, of the club said more medicinal plants would be planted in different areas of the city. 


Teej celebrated

Patiala, July 29
Staff and students of Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Public School, Tripuri, celebrated Teej with much fanfare at the school’s premises here today. A student, Shiveti Gupta, was selected as the Teej queen. The Principal of the school, Ms Anu, encouraged the students to channelise their talent in a professional way. TNS


4 hurt in jail clash
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 29
Four undertrials in high- security Central Jail were injured when two groups clashed here today. The injured were admitted to Civil Hospital.

The condition of Baljinder Singh is said to be serious.

According to information, the four persons quarrelled over a minor dispute of making tea. Jarnail Singh and Baljinder Singh, who are in the jail in an attempt to murder case, were making tea.

Meanwhile, Raju and Mohan Pal arrived there and allegedly asked Jarnail and Baljinder to leave the place. When they refused to do so they started quarrelling. 


3 of family booked
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, July 29
Three members of a family, all residents of Walipur village, 6 km from here, have been booked by the Verowal police.

The police sources said today that the case had been registered on the complaint of Ms Jaswant Kaur, who told the police that she was married to Gurdev Singh four years ago.

She alleged that soon after the marriage, her husband with the help of his father Kabal Singh and mother Amandeep Kaur started harassing her mentally and physically.


Dharna at Govt Mohindra College
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 29
The Joint Action Committee of Government Mohindra College staged a dharna for two periods on the college campus here today. Representatives of the Old Students Association (OSA) of the college also joined the protest.

Addressing the gathering, Prof Mukhtiar Singh, former Chairman of the Punjab School Education Board, demanded the arrest of those responsible for attack on college Principal.

The executive committee of the Punjab Government College Teachers Association and the Joint Action Committee of Mohindra College held a meeting on the college premises.

It was also decided unanimously to boycott classes of all local government colleges and stage a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office on August 1.


Tax evasion detected

Malerkotla , July 29
The local Excise and Taxation Department has detected tax evasion involving lakhs of rupees.

The tax evasion has reportedly been done by a local ghee manufacturing unit.

Giving this information here yesterday, Ms Hardeep Bhanwra, Excise and Taxation Officer, Malerkotla, said that the ghee Manufacturing unit, Idassa India Limited, had purchased milk worth Rs 8 crore during the financial year 2005-06, but had not paid purchase tax amounting to Rs 32 lakh to the department.

She said the tax evasion came to the notice of the department when the scrutiny of documents of the firm was made. — OC


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