P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM flags off direct flight to London 
New airport at Halwara soon 

Tribune Reporters

Rajasansi, August 4
Taking a serious view of illegal construction on the periphery of Rajasansi International Airport, Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, said builders would have to adhere to the norms prescribed by the Airport Authority of India.

After flagging off a Jet Airways direct non-stop flight from Amritsar to Heathrow, London, here today, Capt Singh said the government would provide support to expand the existing operations of the airport and acquire land to meet the international standards. 

Unfolding the proposed air connectivity scenario in the state, he said his government had given a go-ahead to set up a civil airport alongside the Air Force Station at Halwara to benefit businessmen of Ludhiana. 

The government had sought the approval of the Civil Aviation Ministry and would shortly acquire land on the periphery of the Hawara Air Force base . 

Addressing a gathering after the formal inauguration of the three weekly direct flights from Amritsar to London, Capt Singh said it was a matter of pride that now Guru Ram Dass International Airport, Amritsar, had 82 international flights within a week and many other reputed international airlines were in queue to start their operations from Amritsar.

He said the new terminal building at the Amritsar airport with almost double the existing capacity was ready to cater to the operations of various domestic as well as international airlines. 

The Chief Minister also mentioned that the Centre had already approved the project for setting up of a greenfield airport at Halwara near Ludhiana instead of Ladowal where the Punjab Government was keen because of the existing cargo facility over there. 

Chief Executive Officer of Jet Airways Y.R.Sadri expressed gratitude to the Punjab Government for extending cooperation to Jet Airways for the start of this flight. He said Jet Airways had further plans to start many direct flights from Amritsar and Chandigarh. He also announced that Jet Airways would soon launch Amritsar-Chandigarh domestic flight in the morning and another direct flight from Chandigarh to Mumbai. 


Dullo’s son, nephew held for molesting girl
Tribune News Service

Shimla/Chandigarh, August 4
A son and a nephew of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief Shamsher Singh Dullo, along with two youths, were reportedly detained by the Himachal Pradesh police today. The police said the boys had allegedly fired from an automatic weapon near Shimla and tried to outrage the modesty of a girl today.

One of the boys has been identified as Bunny. He is said to be a son of Mr Dullo. The other detained youths include a nephew of Mr Dullo, a friend of Bunny and a gunman of the Punjab police. A carbine has been recovered from them, the police said.

The police had flashed a message that four boys, travelling in a red Honda City car, had sped off from a place near Shimla .

The fiance of the girl had told the police that some youths from Punjab had indulged in rowdyism and tried to molest the girl. They had fired a shot in the air to scare them and sped off.

The police intercepted the car at Dharampur and detained the four youths around 7 pm. It waited for the Shimla police to arrive and take the youths to Shimla. The youths, along with the police, reached Shimla late tonight. The police was interrogating them when the reports last came in.

Mr A.P. Singh, SP, Shimla, confirmed that the four boys had been detained and medical examinations were conducted on them. Attempts to reach Mr Dullo went futile as he did not take calls on his mobile phone. 


Panthic panel launches gurdwara reform move
Ajay Banerjee & 
Surinder Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 4
Various factions of the Akalis along with Sikh leaders, who are opposed to style of functioning of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandak Committee and Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today launched what they termed as the second phase of the Gurdwara Reform Movement and said it would be to “liberate” the Sikh institutions.

They also announced a joint panthic coordination panel comprising the members of the Akali parties and also a few known radical elements who in the past have espoused the cause “Khalistan”. The congregation lambasted the SGPC for allegedly “playing into the hands of Mr Badal” and also apportioned some blame on to the Congress for meddling in Sikh affairs.

Announcements of forming a Panthic panel and starting the reform movement were made at an impressive gathering at the Dewan Todar Mal hall in this historic town here today. A series of programmes of the panel will include a daily gathering of a select group at Akal Takht for one month starting August 16. A memo will be handed over to the Jathedar of the Akal Takht “reminding him of his role and responsibility” and asking him to summon Mr Badal to the Takht, said the leaders. They also announced the formation of a “ shadow SGPC” and said names would be announced soon.

Even as these developments come less than six months ahead of the Assembly elections in the state, the two leaders of the panel, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann and Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta told The Tribune: “The panel will not field any candidate in the elections. However, there will be no bar on anybody contesting on his own and from his own party”. Mr Mann added “the panel would not be officially backing anybody in the polls”.

Mr Mann while replying to a question as to why the Panthic panel seemed to thrive more on an anti-Badal stance and was not that harsh on the Congress, said: “It was Mr Badal who was controlling the gurdwaras which need cleaning up” and added that not just Mr Badal, it was the Congress, the BJP and the RSS besides Central intelligence agencies that were causing harm to the Sikhs. The members of the panel said they were opposed to all un-Sikh practices that had crept into the religion in the past few decades.

Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, a one time loyalist of former SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra, said the SGPC had now become a slave to one individual. He also went on to blame the Congress and the BJP for interference in Sikh affairs. Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, a former chief of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, stressed upon the need to develop a system for the appointment of Jathedar of Akal Takht.

Meanwhile, the proposed press conference of the Panthic panel scheduled to be held at 3 pm in the conference room of the SGPC, had to be shifted following allegations that the SGPC did not open the lock of the conference room despite requests made to the SGPC chief, Mr Avtar Singh. The manager of gurdwara refuted all the allegations.

The following is the panel: Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, Mr Daljit Singh Bittu, Bhai Ram Singh, Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, Mr Hardeep Singh Mohali, Mr Karnail Singh Panjoli, Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, Prof Harminder Singh, Mr Harvinder Singh Sarna, Bhai Tarsem Singh, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, Mr Ranjit Singh Chajjalwaddi, Mr Darshan Singh Issapur, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Justice Ajit Singh Bains, Mr Satnam Singh Paonta Sahib, Mr Jaspal Singh Dhillon, Mr Rajinder Singh, Mr Jarnail Singh Nawanshahr, Mr Navkiran Singh, Baba Harnam Singh Dhuma, Bhai Ram Singh, Bhai Mohkam Singh, Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan, Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, Giani Harinder Singh, Mr Mandhir Singh, Mr Narain Singh, Mr Amrik Singh Dharmi Fauji, Mr Gurkirpal Singh, Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, Sant Baljit Singh Daduwal, Mr Jaswinder Singh, Mr Jagdish Singh (Haryana SGPC member), Dr Gurcharan Singh Sirsa, Mr Sudarshan Singh Wazir (J&K Gurdwara Management Committee) Mr Karnail Singh Pir Mohammed, Nihang Baba Deep Singh and Mr Balwinder Pal Singh Thekedar.


SAD cautions against Panthic panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4
The Political Affairs Committee of the Shiromani Akali Dal has passed a resolution to “caution” the Sikh masses all over the world and the people of Punjab against the just formed Panthic coordination panel and termed it as “a deep rooted” Congress conspiracy.

These elements were trying to inject violence and brute force in the sacred precincts of Sikh places of worship, said the resolution copies of which were released to the media here tonight.

The SAD led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal also declared that it was their democratic right to manage Sikh shrines as per the mandate given by the Sikh masses. “We cannot hand over the management of our religious and historical heritage to self-serving, non-representatives whose sole contribution to the Sikh religion has been their deeds of violence to vitiate the sanctity of the holy gurdwaras,” the party declared.

The PAC meeting was attended among others by Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Captain Kanwaljit Singh, Mr Ranjit Singh Brahampura, Mr Tota Singh, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal and Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, apart from Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

The resolution said: “The Sikh shrines, including the holy sanctum sanctorum of Sri Harmandar Sahib, Sri Akal Takht Sahib and other holy Takhts, are being run in accordance with Sikh Maryada by representatives of the Sikh masses in the SGPC”.

A spokesperson said: “ Do these people want the Congress party to control the gurdwaras” They should enter the electoral fray for the religious Parliament of the Sikhs and get elected first. 


Valmikis, Mazhbi Sikhs observe bandh
Tribune Reporters

Hoshiarpur, August 4
On a call given by the Valmiki Mazhbi Sikh 12.5 Per Cent Reservation Bachao Sangharsh Morcha, shopkeepers here observed a complete bandh today.

Educational institutions were also affected by the bandh as some school managements closed their institutions before time. Normal life in the city was paralysed by the bandh.

However, emergency services, government offices were functioning as usual.

Members of the Valmiki community led by their leaders, held demonstrations in different localities in protest against the decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to cancel 12.5 per cent reservations for Valmikis and Mazhbi Sikhs in government jobs. They blamed the government for not adroitly presenting the case due to which the reservations were cancelled. They demanded the restoration of 12.5 per cent reservations not only in government jobs for them but also in educational institutions.

They urged the state government to bring a legislation in the coming session of the state Assembly for making equal distribution of reservation between Valmiki / Mazhbi Sikhs and Aadharni Samaj to avoid any confrontation in future. Later, they burnt the effigies of Capt. Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister and Ch. Jagjit Singh, Local Bodies Minister, Punjab. They also presented a memorandum to the Chief Minister through SDM, Hoshiarpur.

Reports of complete bandhs were also received from Garhdiwala, Hajipur, Dasuya and Mukerian towns.

Batala:The city observed a bandh in support of the demand of Valmik and Mazhbi Sikh organisations. Valmiki organisations had formed a 27-member action committee comprising Mr Pardeep Luthra, Municipal Councillor, Mr Mangal Singh of the Bahujan Samaj Party and Mr Sukhdev Raj.

Amritsar:Call for Punjab bandh given by the Aadhi Dharam Samaaj (ADS) yielded near complete response here on Friday. Markets wore a deserted look though no untoward incident was reported. A bus was stoned outside Hathi gate near Valmiki temple.


Upset over extension in sops to HP, Singla talks to PM
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4
Upset over the extension given to Himachal Pradesh in the industrial package by the Union Government, the Punjab Government today lodged a protest with the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, informing him that the state would be hit hard by this decision.

The Centre yesterday issued a notification extending the package of concessions till March, 2010, to industrialists who would set up units in Himachal.The concessions were earlier given to the state up to March, 2007. 

The state Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, today spoke to Dr Manmohan Singh on the phone informing him that already Punjab had suffered a lot because of the industrial package given to various hill states in March, 2003, by the previous NDA government led by Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Declaring hill states as special category states, the Union Government had then announced to give exemption from excise duty and income tax and subsidy on investment to industrial units to be set up in the hill states for 10 years to promote an industrial base in these areas. Among the states given the package in 2003 were Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Sikkim and Jammu and Kashmir.

However, in the case of Himachal the package was given only up to March, 2007, by the Union Government with a promise to increase it for a total period of 10 years in instalments as was done in the case of Sikkim and other hill states. 

Meanwhile, sources said the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, would take up this issue with the Union Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, who played an important role in extending the package to the hill states, on August 8 in Delhi. Earlier a few months ago, Mr Chidambaram and Dr Manmohan Singh had promised to the Punjab Government that there would be no extension in the concessions to Himachal beyond March, 2007. 

Capt Amarinder Singh had fixed a meeting with Mr Chidambaram a week ago to discuss the issue of debt-ridden farmers of Punjab and to secure some financial relief for them from the Union Government. However, now the new issue of the industrial package has been added to the list of issues to be taken up with Mr Chidambaram. 

Owing to the availability of the concessions, more and more industrialists are setting up their units in Himachal and Uttaranchal.

Sources said Punjab would rope in the Chief Ministers of other states to put pressure on the Union Government to give the concessions advanced to the hill states to the other states also. 


Party workers unhappy with govt officials: Dullo
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, August 4
PPCC president Shamsher Singh Dullo said today the party workers in a few districts were unhappy with the administration, as officials were making them wait for hours before meeting them for small works. He stated this while interacting with mediapersons at the Circuit House here.

He warned that action would be taken against the officials ignoring to the party workers. He said the Congress had launched a contact programme with the party workers and it would get their feedback from all the Assembly constituencies on the development works being carried out by the government before August 11.

He said at the end of the programme he would submit a report to the Chief Minister to facilitate appropriate changes in the administration.

He said though he wasn’t willing to fight Assembly elections, he would do so if the party high command would asked him to. He said posts lying vacant in various departments would be filled soon and appointments would take place purely on the basis of merit.

He said the economy of the state was in a shambles when the Congress took charge in 2002, but today Punjab had a deposit of Rs 2,300 crore in the RBI. 


Bus hits electric pole, student killed 
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 4
A school student was killed, while a couple of others were injured when the private bus they were travelling in dashed into an electric pole in a bid to save a three-wheeler carrying 12 students on the city outskirts today.

According to sources, the accident occurred when the driver of a mini bus, which was on its way from Malwala village to Bathinda, tried to save a three-wheeler transporting school students near Verka Milk Plant on the Dabwali Road. Sources said the three-wheeler quickly came on to the main road after exiting the Housefed Colony and the bus driver turned his steering only to collide with an electricity pole. About six persons including three schools students were sitting atop the loaded bus. One of them, Gurdeep Singh, sustained serious injuries and was rushed to a private hospital where he breathed his last. The deceased was a student of Class IX in Summer Hill School and was the only son of his parents. Another student sitting on roof jumped from the bus, while a couple of others suffered injuries. Sources said had the bus driver not changed his direction all 12 students sitting in the three-wheeler would have been killed. The bus passengers also had a close shave, as they suffered a mild electric shock soon after the bus hit the pole. The injured were admitted to the local Civil Hospital.

On the other hand, the residents of Housefed Colony said they had been demanding speed bumps at exit points of their locality for long, but their demand had fallen on deaf ears. 


Protest by PWD workers
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 4
Members of the PWD Field and Workshop Workers Union held a rally against the government demanding regularisation of the service of daily wagers here today.

The union would stage protest in the constituency of Capt Amarinder Singh on August 29 and on August 25 in front of Deputy Commissioner’s office here.

Mr Subeg Singh, Chairman, local zone of the union, demanded that daily wagers who had completed at least 18 years of service must be regularised without any delay.


NGO does what govt could not
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 4
The Naujwan Samiti, Gobindgarh village, 6 become torch- bearer for other NGOs by finishing a service project just in two days, the work that could not be done by the gram panchayat and the Education Department for the past two decades.

The low -level ground in the Government Elementary School used to get flooded during monsoon. The boundary wall had been badly damaged. The sabha while responding to an appeal made by Mr Kulwant Singh Bhatti, center head teacher of the school, on wednesday took up the project in hand. Three hundred trailers filled with sand were unloaded to level the ground.

The workers arranged material and constructed 250 feet boundary wall. Hundreds of saplings were planted on the school campus and at the village cremation ground.

A free kitchen was run by devotees of a dera for those who participated in the ‘kar seva’. 


Mullanpur — village of death traps
Kulwinder Sangha

Kharar, August 4
Mullanpur is a village of death traps with at least four more dry wells of the kind in which the octogenarian Rekhi Ram fell and died last night.

Rekhi Ram, a carpenter, fell into a dry well, more than 60 ft deep, while going back home. Two persons had died many years ago by falling into the same well.

The Tribune team which visited the village today saw children playing near the uncovered wells while elderly persons were found sitting on the protective wall, unmindful of the danger of falling.

While some of the wells were filled over the past some years, at least four wells are still lying uncovered, which could prove to be death traps for residents of the village.

The most dangerous well is located in Sainian da Mohalla. Many persons were seen sitting on the dilapidated wall of the well. Ms Kamlesh told The Tribune team that her husband had fallen into this well about 12 years ago. Her children were small then.

Mr Nachattar Singh said the village panchayat wanted to fill this well about three years ago, but the Sainis living in the locality did not allow this.

Just close to this death trap is another deep well falling in the shamlat land. The well was covered with wild growth.

Another uncovered well was found in the Harijan mohalla. Though the protective wall around this well was a little higher, it was nothing short of a death trap. Mr Diwan Singh, a former sarpanch and member of the Panchayat Samiti, Kharar, said three persons — Jaswant, Bahadur and Nek — had tried to commit suicide by jumping into this well. He said the government should issue directions to the village panchayat to get all  deep wells filled up or covered.

Another uncovered well was found in the fields close to the village. This, too, was covered with wild growth. The well  had a barbed wire  fencing around it.

A deep well located in the Balmik Mohalla was got covered with metal rods by the residents of that locality. Mehar, who lives in the area, said money was collected from the residents to get the well covered as children played there and the danger of their falling into the well always loomed large.

Mr Arvind Puri, president of the Youth Welfare and Sports Club, said many representations had been given to the authorities concerned to get the wells filled or covered, but nothing had happened so far.


Comrade Indori cremated
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 4
The mortal remains of freedom fighter comrade Amarnath Indori were cremated at the Rajpura road cremation ground here today.

A contingent of the Punjab Police reversed arms and fired 25 rounds in the air as a mark of respect to the departed soul. His body was brought to the cremation ground draped in the Tricolour. The pyre was lit by his son Suresh Kumar.

The cremation turned out to be a largely attended affair. Prominent among those who were present were the Patiala Deputy Commissioner, Mr R.K. Verma, SP (Headquarters), Mr Gurmeet Singh Chouhan, Chairman, PRTC, Mr Ved Parkash Gupta, Chairman, Patiala Improvement Trust, Mr K.K. Sharma, president of the District Congress Committee (Urban), Mr Prem Kishen Puri and District Public Relations Officer Ujagar Singh.

Speaking on the occasion, the Deputy Commissioner said the District Red Cross Society would make arrangements to provide free education to the granddaughter of comrade Indori.


No graft charges, says counsel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4
Reacting to the news-item headlined ‘PSEB officers facing graft charges go scot-free’ published on July 10, a Jalandhar-based advocate has claimed that Rajit Sharma, Senior Executive Engineer, Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), Hoshiarpur, is not facing any graft charges.

In a communication to The Tribune on Mr Sharma’s instructions, the advocate has stated that allegations of corruption were intentionally levelled in an attempt to defame the engineer following “some rivalry and jealousy between the officers of the PSEB”.

“Even the competent legal authority has virtually given its findings in favour of my client,” he has stated. An order in this regard, passed by the PSEB’s Disputes Settlement Authority, “has become final and no appeal is pending against it”.

Describing the report as “totally false”, he has added that the allegations of PSEB officers pocketing “the billing of meters worth crores” were never levelled and the competent authority has not recorded any finding to this effect.

The Tribune Correspondent adds: I have in my possession an inquiry report in which the charges were established against the official. The PSEB has also stopped an increment of the official following his indictment in one of the cases referred to in the report. 


Mutation of disputed land cancelled
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 4 
In a significant development in Malikpur land scam case, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Vivek Pratap Singh, has cancelled the mutation of about 50 acre land of hydraulic research centre effected in favour of private buyers by the local naib tehsildar.
The centre at Malikpur was set up in 1935. The model of all major irrigation projects, including Bhakra and Ranjeet Sagar dam, were tested here. The centre is owned by the Department of Irrigation, Punjab.

The land on which the centre was set up was acquired in 1935. However, in one of the land consolidations, the revenue authorities erroneously entered the name of original owners of the land in column of owners while the Department of Irrigation was shown as in possession of the land.

Revenue officials said the error was minor and any gazetted revenue officer could have rectified it. However, the error was not rectified.

The result was that the error came in the notice of land mafia. A group of property dealers bought the land from the original owner. Interestingly, while the minimum cost of the land in the area has been fixed at about Rs 10 lakh per acre, the registries were effected by the owner in favour of property dealers at the rates ranging from Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 per acre.

The mutation of the land was effected in favour of buyers during the stint of former Deputy Commissioner Harjeet Singh. After the matter was highlighted in these columns, the department arose from its slumber to protect the land.

The then, Secretary, Irrigation, Mr K.R.Lakhanpal sent a team to Pakistan to locate the records regarding the acquisition of land for the centre. Department officials also found the documents regarding a case filed by the original owner for enhancement of compensation awarded to them for the land acquired from them for the centre. The documents proved that the land was acquired by the government.


Two held for eve-teasing in varsity

Amritsar, August 4
The security staff of Guru Nanak Dev University today rounded up three outsiders, who tried to enter the varsity premises in an inebriated condition. The security staff has also rounded up two youths on a charge of eve-teasing, near the Library building. Mr S.S. Chhina, Security Officer, said that all youths were handed over to the police. Mr Chhina said that the three persons also misbehaved with the security personnel when they signalled them to stop at the entry point. 
Meanwhile, Dr Jairup Singh, Vice-Chancellor, asked the Security Officer to make arrangements to provide tea to the staff on evening duty at entry and exit points. — TNS


Dr Inderpal Singh to be felicitated today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4
The Council of Boards of School Education in India in association with the Shivalik Education Society will honour eminent educationist, Dr Inderpal Singh, former Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) and former Vice-Chairman of Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) tomorrow on his 75th birth anniversary.

Dr B.P. Khandelwal, former Director, NIEPA ,and Chairman, CBSE, will preside over the function to be held at Shivalik Public School, Mohali.

Dr Inderpal Singh is a Shiromani Lekhak of the state and has written and edited 32 books in English and Punjabi. His book “Naame ki wadayi” won the Bhasha Vibhag (Language Department) award.

He presided over sessions in international conferences organised by the World Council on Curriculum Instruction. He is a member of many national and state committees. He was also honoured by Chief Khalsa Dewan on 300 years of celebration of Khalsa.

Among his sources of inspiration he recalled his association with Bhai Sahib Bhai Vir Singh though his father, Sardar Sohal Singh, and teachers like Dr Joshi, VC (retd) of Panjab University and educationists all over the world. He is also proud of his student, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab.

As an educationist, he remained teacher, Principal and administrator for 44 years.

He is presently Chairman of the Shivalik Education Society.

Recently he has been made Chairman of the International Conference on Education to be held in November 2006 with DPI Colleges as its Member Secretary. He says he has not retired but re-tyred. 


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