P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Credit card puts police on killers’ trail
Vikramjit’s murder case
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 16
A carelessly used credit card has put the Punjab Police on the trail of the persons who could have killed 22-year-old Vikramjit Singh, alias Vicky, son of a leading Ludhiana-based industrialist. Vikramjit's body was found in the forests near Solan in Himachal Pradesh on the busy Kalka-Shimla National Highway on June 29.

The gruesome murder — the private parts bore injury marks and the body had two gunshot wounds — had sent shock waves across the region.

After starting the investigations, the Punjab Police found that the victim, who had returned to India on June 9 after completing his studies in Britain, also possessed a credit card. The card was used to make purchases in a high-class shopping mall in Gurgaon, Haryana, on June 28. This use of the card was made a day after Vikramjit had been kidnapped on June 27, said well-placed sources in the police.

To find out whether Vikramjit had used the card himself or someone else had used it on his behalf, the police approached the bank that had issued the card. The signatures of the purchaser on the credit card bill did not match those of Vikramjit. The alleged killers probably forgot that malls nowadays have sophisticated closed-circuit cameras. Also, the credit card, when swiped through the automated billing machine, gives details of the list of items purchased and also the date and time.

A team of the Punjab Police then scanned through the footage of the camera installed in that particular mall. Since the credit card bill gave the date and time, the search on the video footage was narrowed down to cover the entry of the killers and the time of their purchase. The Director-General of the Punjab Police, Mr S.S. Virk, confirmed that the video footage had revealed that three youths had used the card. All three were wearing caps and one of them was talking all through on his mobile.

Although hesitant to list the items purchased, the DGP said " one of them purchased Nike shoes worth Rs 9,000". He expressed confidence that the killers would be traced. The photographs taken from the video footage have been shown to the Special Investigation Team of the Delhi Police, the Haryana Police and also the UP Police. Contract killers could have been possibly used.

The Himachal Police, on finding Vikramjit's body, had performed the last rites on June 30, thinking it to be an unidentified body. Separately, on June 29, the victim's Honda Accord car (PB10-BT-0775) was found near Gurdwara Manji Sahib, Alamgir, Ludhiana. The Himachal authorities approached their counterparts in Punjab only after reading an advertisement in a newspaper. The family, accompanied by Punjab Police personnel, reached Solan on July 4 and identified from photographs of the body that were taken by the Himachal Police, that it was Vikramjit.

Right from the time the kidnapping was reported, the Punjab Police was at a loss to determine the modus operandi of the criminals and also the reason for the murder. The victim's family had received a call from Dubai and Karachi informing it about the kidnapping. The police had then denied that any ransom call was received. 


Sidhu for revival of Ludhiana-Karachi rail link
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, August 16
There was a virtual stampede on the Pakistan side along the zero line on joint Indo-Pak check post at Sadiqi in Fazilka sector as a large number of people gathered to have a glimpse of MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, who had come to preside over a cultural programme organised by the Fazilka Press Club on late Tuesday evening.

The programme had been organised in connection with the Independence Day celebrations. As the enthusiastic Pak nationals were stopped at zero line, Mr Sidhu addressed them from the Indian side and delivered the message of peace and amity.

A large number of people had gathered to watch the cultural programme organised on the occasion. The programme was also attended by Zora Singh Mann, SAD MP from Ferozepore, and Surjit Kumar Jyani, President of the BJP Kisan Morcha Punjab, former MLA Fazilka and Forest Minister.

Speaking on the occasion Sidhu made a plea for the revival of Ludhiana-Karachi rail link via Fazilka. This rail link was known as the Golden Railway Track during the pre-partition era.

He recalled that at that time the Britishers used to earn maximum revenue from trade activities along this rail track. The BJP MP also sought the setting up of a Visa Centre at Amritsar. He said the distance between Amritsar and Pakistan was far less than the distance between Amritsar and Delhi, from where visas were being granted at present.

As Sidhu stood along the zero line to convey his message of peace on public address system, hundreds of Pakistanis converged to listen to him leading to a minor stampede. Some of them even sustained minor injuries in the stampede.

The Retreat ceremony on the joint check post last evening also became more significant as thousands of people from both sides gathered there. Some of them had come from distant places in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and UP to have a glimpse of their relatives on the other side of the border. They waved gleefully as tears rolled down their cheeks which depicted the pain and agony of separation.

There were touching scenes. An 80-year-old Indian woman Hazi Gulam Fatima who had come from Kishangarh (Rajasthan) shouted loudly on seeing her 81-year-old brother Atta Mohammad from Ahmedgarh in Pakistan, on the Pak side. But before she could be told to keep quiet by BSF personnel her voice had reached her brother who rushed near the border to talk to his separated sister. Even though they remained on two opposite sides of the border, they enquired about each other’s well being with gestures. The brother-sister duo had decided on telephone to reach the border to have a glimpse of each other.

The area along the zero line was colourfully decorated on both sides and patriotic songs were played on loudspeakers. 


Kalam recognises Seechewal’s exemplary effort
Dharmendra Joshi

Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal's relentless efforts of cleaning the Kali Bein rivulet have started bearing fruit. The President, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, has not only recognised his work but will be visiting his Nirmal Kuteya in Sultanpur Lodhi of Kapurthala district on August 17.

Sant Balbir Singh, belonging to the Nirmal community, started the herculean task of reviving the Bein, sacred to the Sikhs for its association with Guru Nanak Dev, on July 16, 2000.

The Bein had turned into a virtual sewer as several drains from Kapurthala and Hoshiarpur flowed into it. The Sant himself jumped into the muddy waters and began removing the hyacinth. The act attracted hundreds of his followers to the rivulet.

There is an interesting incident behind the initiation of the 'kar sewa'. Several intellectuals held a meeting in Jalandhar to discuss the pollution of holy Kali Bein in July, 2000. All the speakers expressed concern over the polluted rivulet. In his address, the Sant advised the participants to do something practical to save the Bein instead of just shedding crocodile tears. He made an announcement there itself of starting the 'kar sewa.'

Sant Balbir Singh, a college dropout who hails from Seechewal village of Jalandhar district, and his followers first began pulling out the weeds manually. Gradually the number of followers grew and villagers joined in the cleaning operation with tractors and mechanical equipment. During the 'kar sewa', not only was the Bein cleaned, but a wide road was also built on its banks.

According to a survey, Sant Balbir Singh's work on the Bein was estimated to cost about Rs 50 crore before June 16, 2003. His followers and the environment lovers donated all the money. In January 2004, bathing ghats were built on the holy Bein at Gallowal. With this began construction of a series of ghats and for the first time in the history of revived Kali Bein, the festival of Baisakhi was celebrated on the banks of the Bein in 2004. In July 2005, the Sant started an expedition to make the holy city of Sultanpur Lodhi green by planting several saplings.

The 'kar sewa' not only helped in cleaning the Kali Bein but it also benefited residents in many ways. Several areas of Dasuya and Mukerian in Hoshiarpur district have got rid of water-logging as the flow of water was restored. Now the residents of these localities are able to cultivate their land. Similarly, the water table has started improving in several parts of Kapurthala district with the restoration of flow of water in the Bein. As much as 200 cusecs water is being released into the Bein from the Mukerian Hydel Channel to ensure regular flow. Sant Balbir Singh's efforts may be taken as a role model to clean the polluted Ganga, Yamuna, Sutlej, Ravi and Beas and other rivers.

A five-member delegation led by Sant Balbir Singh met the President at Rashtrapati Bhavan on April 21 this year and apprised him of their work. Impressed by the Sant's efforts, the President accepted his invitation to visit the Bein. Thereafter the effort found mention over a dozen times in Mr Kalam's speeches.

The Sant's joy knew no bounds early this month when he received a fax message from Rashtrapati Bhavan stating that Mr Kalam would visit the Bein on August 17. The President will not only make an aerial survey of the cleansing operation of the Bein, but is also scheduled to pay obeisance at Gurdwara Sant Ghat, where Guru Nanak Dev reportedly re-appeared after a three-day dip in the rivulet. He will also go to Nirmal Kuteya, and is also scheduled to lay the foundation stone of Guru Nanak Art Gallery besides planting a sapling in the Nirmal Kuteya complex and inaugurating a photo exhibition there.

Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) had already been set up in Sultanpur Lodhi and Kapurthala municipalities but the same are still to be installed at four municipalities- Bholath and Begowal in Kapurthala district and Dasuya and Mukerian in Hoshiarpur district- located along the Kali Bein to stop permanently the flow of sewage into it. Similarly the ponds in 42 villages located on the banks of the Bein are to be widened and repaired to stop the flow of sewage into the rivulet. While the Punjab Government has sanctioned a grant of Rs 5 crore for the purpose, work on installing STPs is yet to begin.

Before the Kali Bein 'kar sewa', the Sant was known as 'Sadkan Wale Baba' (road-making baba), as he is credited with making about 500 km of link roads in the Lohian, Nakodar and Sultanpur Lodhi areas.


Shifting of 6 women prisoners, kids to Ludhiana jail flayed
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 16
Six women inmates lodged in Central Jail here along with their children were shifted to Ludhiana Central Jail today amid protests.

Following the guidelines of Supreme Court the state Department of Home Affairs had directed the local jail authorities to transfer the women prisoners and their children to an all-women jail in Ludhiana. The SC verdict was aimed at providing congenial environment to the children of women inmates.

Taking up the issue of these women Ms Ratna, Chairperson, Punjab State Social Welfare Board, after listening their woes during her visit to the jail on the occasion of Independence Day celebration, told The Tribune that transfer of women inmates was indeed a harsh move as the children were already being looked after in a crčche and were regularly attending government school in the jail complex.

Ms Ratna said relatives of all inmates were based locally and their cases were being tried in local court. Now they will have to come all the way from Ludhiana to attend the trial proceedings.

Citing the example of one such inmate she said as both husband and wife were lodged in the same jail they were able to provide parental love to their children but now with this shifting things had become difficult for the family.

The Chairperson said she had taken up the issue of their shifting with the state Home Secretary, Mr G.S Cheema, who had assured her that the government would review this decision.


Panthic panel wants gurdwara reforms
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 16
The Gurdwara Sudhar Lehar Panthic Committee of various Akali factions led by Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta today submitted a memorandum to Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar of Akal Takht here, demanding immediate gurdwara reforms, including appointment of Sikh high priests as per the maryada.

Mr Calcutta, veteran SGPC member and spokesman of the committee, talking to the media alleged that the authority of Akal Takht – supreme temporal seats of the Sikhs—had been denigrated by the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and SGPC officials for their vested interests.

He said it was shocking that the appointment of a Jathedar was made at Circuit House by Mr Badal when he was Chief Minister of the state. The Sikh masses were disillusioned with the “arbitrary decisions” taken by the Jathedar. With the result, the institution of Sikh clergy had been in the eye of a storm lately and a common Sikh started raising ifs and buts on the decisions pronounced from Akal Takht.

The Jathedar of Akal Takht was also accused of playing a partisan role to favour a particular party, as he had not bothered to give a chance to the opposite parties to clarify their stand.

However, senior SAD and SGPC leaders, including Mr Badal and his wife, were not summoned at Akal Takht for allegedly violating the maryada.

Mr Calcutta said the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) had been misusing the gurdwaras and ‘Guru Ki Golak’ during political rallies for fulfilling its political aspirations.

A number of cases had been filed in the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission in this regard.

He accused SAD supremo of not taking up the issues of Anandpur Sahib Resolution, transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab, fair adjudication of inter-state river waters and other problems of the people with the Central Government whenever they came into power.

He said SAD (B) was fighting elections with no ideology and was bent on dividing the Sikh community.

He said various jathas would submit the memorandum daily for 30 days and it would be not only from the people of the state or the country but from all over the world to show that there was widespread resentment against the recent decisions pronounced by the Jathedar of Akal Takht.

He further said that under the Gurdwara Sudhar Lehar, they would hold seminars and conferences in various cities to educate people against the ‘patit puna’ (apostasy), drug abuse and female feticide, which were against the tenets of Sikhism.


Price difference leads to petrol smuggling from HP
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur/Hoshiarpur, August 16
About 8 per cent difference in prices is leading to smuggling of petroleum across the Punjab-Himachal borders in the both districts. Shopkeepers in border areas of the state have found an attractive business in the difference in rates of petrol. They now bring petroleum in cans from the petrol stations of Himachal and sell it in Punjab making a profit of Rs 4 on a litre.

Shopkeepers in the Talwara area of Hoshiarpur and Narot Jaimal Singh area of Gurdaspur can be seen keeping cans of petrol outside their shops as an advertisement for petrol’s sale. The sources here said that earlier shopkeepers used to sell petrol as there was no petrol station in the surrounding areas.

However, now despite the presence of petrol stations the shopkeepers sell it cheaper as they procure it from petrol stations of Himachal. Petrol station owners in the border areas of Punjab have been reporting decrease in sales due to difference in price of petrol.

Public sector oil companies are allowing them profit of 80 paise per litre. However, any one bringing and selling petrol from neighbouring states of Himachal and Jammu and Kashmir can easily make a profit of Rs 4 per litre. Sources alleged that large smuggling of petrol was also taking place in tractor tankers from Jammu and Kashmir in the Narot Jaimal Singh area of Gurdaspur district.

Owners of petrol stations also alleged that Petrol was being sold in the open by shopkeepers illegally. Legally one has to get explosives licence to sell petrol even at petrol stations.

After last hike in petroleum prices in Himachal have become Rs 3.96 per litre lower than that in Punjab. In Punjab price of petrol in cities is Rs 52.44 per litre whereas in Himachal it is Rs 48.45 per litre.

Difference in price of petrol in both states increased to about Rs 4 a litre as Himachal government reduced sales tax on the increased price. Besides Punjab government has levied an infrastructure tax of Rs 2 per litre on petrol. The Punjab Cabinet only recently passed a proposal to reduce the tax on recent hike that would decrease the prices of petrol by 91 paise. However, the proposal has not been implemented till today and the people are paying the old price of Rs 52.44 per litre.


Patiala youth murdered in USA
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 16
Ramanpreet Singh Randhawa, a youth from Patiala who was now living at Concord in California (USA), was murdered by two persons at a birthday party on August 14.

Ramanpreet (31), brother of Mr Harpal Randhawa, a former youth Congress leader, went to the USA in 1996 and was supposed to visit India in December this year. He was running a business there.

Ramanpreet Singh happened to be the third youth from Patiala district to be murdered in the USA in the past three years. He was popular among the Punjabi community in USA as he used to help new comers to that country from India.

Mr Harpal Randhawa said Ramanpreet Singh was stabbed repeatedly by the murderers killing him on the spot. The reasons behind the murder could not be known yet, he added.


MCPI (United) spells out economic policies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 16
The Marxist Communist Party of India (United) today released its updated programme that details the party’s vision on future economic policies.

The document, released by Mr Jagjit Singh Lyallpuri, all-India convener, claims “ the only path of rescuing the country from capitalism is the path of democratic revolution leading to socialism”.

Giving an example, Mr Lyallpuri said US capitalism that was considered an engine of growth was facing a crisis. On the other hand, China was emerging as a super power. The strategic alliance between China and Russia along with agreements of these countries with India and also other countries in South Asia and the Middle East, was posing a challenge to US imperialism. He chided the CPM for siding with the Congress at the Centre. The CPM had declared the Congress an “enemy” in 1964 and now had joined hands with it to enforce globalisation.

The new economic policies pursued in the past decade or so had killed medium and small-scale industries in the country. On the agricultural front the country had to now import foodgrains, said Mr Layallpuri. Wealth had been channelised in a few hands and monopolies had been created.

Mr Lyallpuri said it had not been decided yet how many seats the party would contest in the coming Assembly elections in Punjab. However, it would expose and oppose the Congress and also the BJP-Akali combine. He claimed to have the support of members of main parties and said there was no plan to have an alliance with any newly formed party.

Mr Prem Singh Bhangu, a senior member of the party, said a 31-member committee had been formed to conduct the All-India Party Congress from September 17 to 20 at Kisan Bhavan here. A rally would also be organised in Chandigarh on September 17.


Badal promises the moon to youth
Our Correspondent

Rajasansi, August 16
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, SAD, announced pre-poll promises while addressing a rally here today.

He said after coming to power his party would set up a public school in each block of the state to provide education free of cost to children of Dalits, backward Christians and Majhbi Sikhs.

Criticising the state government, he said it was offering freebies only to corporate houses. He said his government would set up a health fund for the treatment of the poor. The wrong policies of the Centre and state governments had led to rise in prices of the life-saving drugs and the treatment. He said the old-age pension would be increased to Rs 400 from Rs 200.

Regarding the educated youth, he said his government would establish a department to help them in finding employment or supporting them financially in starting business. He condemned the government for using force against protesting BEd and ETT teachers.

Commenting on the rape charge against Akali MLA Gaganjit Singh Barnala, Mr Badal said a probe must be conducted to know the truth.


Put CM under surveillance in Dubai: SAD
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 16
The general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, today demanded that the activities of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, during his ongoing Dubai trip should be put under strict surveillance of central agencies and the Ministry of External Affairs

He also demanded that the sources of expenditure during this trip should be made public as the Chief Minister was staying in an expensive hotel.

Mr Badal alleged that the visit was “a money-laundering rendezvous”.


SAD, BJP launch stir against land Act
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 16
Leaders of the SAD and the BJP launched a campaign against the Punjab land Preservation Act (PLPA) 1990 here today. The leaders claimed that residents of 470 villages that fell in Ropar, Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr and Gurdaspur districts in the Kandi area, were suffering due to the wrong implementation of the PLPA.

Youth BJP leader Vineet Joshi, who is a member of the national executive of the BJP Youth Wing and in charge of organisational affairs of Jammu and Kashmir, held a press conference to announce the launch of the campaign.

The SAD MLA from Chamkaur Sahib, Mr Satwant Kaur Sandhu, a former Akali minister, Mr Tara Singh Laddal, the district president of the local unit of the BJP, Mr Vijay Puri, and its general secretary Indersen Chatwal, accompanied Mr Joshi.

He said the BJP and the SAD would start a series of protests, followed by a door-to-door signature campaign. The leaders would submit a memorandum, along with those signatures, to the Punjab Governor.

Mr Joshi said in the past 105 years ground realities had changed in those Kandi areas. Total 66,166.82 hectares had already been brought under cultivation land and 3200.08 hectares is now habitable area. Moreover, the government too had changed the nature of the land in the Kandi area under the Act.

Ms Satwant Kaur Sandhu said if the government remained rigid over the de-notification of the areas under PLPA, the leaders would go to the extent of holding a “chaka jam” and dharnas. 


Gurkirat seeks ticket from Payal
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 16
Mr Gurkirat Singh Kotli, political adviser of Punjab Congress chief Shamsher Singh Dullo, today made his claim for ticket for the Payal Assembly segment by saying that his grandfather, the late Beant Singh, won from that place four times.

Addressing a press conference, he said though it was the prerogative of the party high command to select candidates, he had been making his claim as his grandfather had worked in the Payal area.

Asked why a section of Congressmen had been leaving the party at a point when the Assembly elections were drawing near, he said there was no factionalism in the party and if one or two Congressmen left, it did not make any difference. 


CPM activists hold protest march
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 16
Hundreds of activists of the Communist Party India (Marxist) (CPM) Punjab and residents of the localities on the Fatehgarh Churian road and the bypass here today held a protest march against the Khanna Paper Mill for spreading pollution in the area.


Flouting rules to get pensionary benefits
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, August 16
An official of the Veterinary Department allegedly flouted rules to avail of voluntary retirement and service benefits despite being convicted in a criminal case.

According to the information, Bhupinder Singh Brar, who was working as a veterinary pharmacist in Government Veterinary Hospital, Chak Banwala in Fazilka subdivision was convicted to 18 months' imprisonment in a land dispute case by a court.

He took voluntary retirement just five days before the judgment concealing the fact regarding the pendency of criminal case against him, in contravention of the norms to avail himself of service benefits.

Earlier, Mr Brar was reportedly involved in a land scam which landed him in trouble as a criminal case was filed against him on June 24, 1994 by Gona Ram, owner of the land.

Later, Brar was convicted by Judicial Magistrate First Class Fazilka on February 1, 1996 against which he filed an appeal in the Sessions Court, Ferozepore.

After fighting a long legal battle, when Mr Brar found that the decision might go against him, he allegedly in connivance with few officials of the department applied for retirement under VRS.

According to information, for any employee seeking voluntary retirement, it is mandatory to furnish an affidavit declaring that no case is pending against him. Brar concealed the pendency of a court case against him and was hence relieved from the job on November 1, 2001 with all service benefits. Apart from getting all service benefits at the time of retirement, Brar is also entitled to pension of Rs 4804 pm, which he is getting regularly.

After five days of his getting voluntary retirement, Brar was sentenced to 18 months' RI by the court of Mr. G K Dheer, Additional Sessions Judge, Ferozepore, who dismissed his appeal and announced imprisonment.

Now, the Vigilance Bureau has started investigations into the matter.

Mr. Narinder Pal Singh, DIG, Vigilance Bureau, who is looking into the case said Mr Brar cheated the government by concealing the facts regarding pendency of a criminal case against him for which an inquiry is on.

Mr Brar, when contacted, however, refuted the allegations and claimed that he had done nothing wrong. He said in the affidavit which he had submitted at time of taking voluntary retirement, he had just mentioned that no departmental case was pending against him. 


Bhattal lays stone of 66 KV substation
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 16
Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Irrigation and Power, laid the foundation stone of 66 KV grid sub-station at Ghamur Ghat, near Khanauri, 70 km from here, on Monday.

The land for the sub-station has been given free of cost by the panchayat of Ghamur Ghat and direct feeder will be provided from the sub- station to the villages on urban pattern supply (UPS).

Ms Bhattal announced that Punjab was the first state in the country to provide 24-hour power supply to nearly 13,123 villages across the state on UPS. Mrs Bhattal added that an uninterrupted 8-hour power supply was being provided to tubewells everyday even though the PSEB had to purchase power supply and for this a record number of 289 sub-stations had been erected or augmented at a cost of nearly Rs 600 crore from 2002-03 to 2005-06.

Mrs Bhattal added and another 100 grid sub-stations were being planned during 2006-07 at the cost of Rs 400 crore.

Mr Y.S.Ratra, Chairman, PSEB, said the proposed sub-station would have an installed capacity of 66/11KV and would be constructed at an approximate cost of Rs. 2.90 crore .

With the commissioning of this sub-station, seven villages, Ghamur Ghat, Genota, Phuld, Maniana, Rampura, Kudni and Handa, would be fed from this sub-station. These villages were earlier facing acute low voltage problems and frequent interruptions of power supply due to lengthy 11 KV feeders and over loading of 66 KV sub-station.

Since the length of 11 KV lines feeding these villages would now be considerably reduced, the villages would be benefited by way of better voltage profile and uninterrupted power supply. 


Glimpses of relatives on border
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 16
Pak Rangers lathicharged surging crowds at the Sulemanki tower complex to watch the Independence Day celebrations near the Sadaki joint post, 45 km from here.

Most of Pak nationals were keen to have a glimpse of their relatives who had come here from different parts of Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana. Pakistani officials had raised a shamiana few metres away from the zero line. Hundreds of men, women and children waved cloth pieces, shoots and huqqas at their relatives. Though many found it hard to identify the relatives from 100 ft distance, but their fleeting glimpses came as a cheer to them.

Rangers joined civilians in dance over Punjabi songs. Some women broke into a jig near the shamiana. The jalebi and pakora stalls across the gate did a brisk business.


Class IV staff on hunger strike
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 16
A large section of activists of the Fourth Class Employees Union, Punjab, yesterday started a two-day hunger strike in front of the statue of Mahatma Gandhi here in protest against the “maltreatment” meted out to them by the state government.

Mr Darshan Singh Lubana, president of the union, alleged the activists, who wore black clothes, were protesting against being forced to work in houses of senior functionaries of the state government and ruling politicians as domestic servants.

He said class IV employees were made to look after kitchen gardens in official bungalows of government officials, milch cattle and kitchen. They were also forced to sweep official bungalows.

Mr Lubana said the services of many Class IV employees had not been regularised despite the fact that they had been working for the past 20 years. 


IGP gets President’s medal
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 16
Mr Satish Kumar Sharma, IGP, Punjab Police, Patiala Zone, was awarded the President’s Police Medal for meritorious service on the eve of Independence Day.

Mr Sharma joined the Punjab Police as an ASP in 1983. He was awarded the Police Medal for Gallantry in 1994 and the President’s Police Medal for Gallantry in 1995.

He headed the police force in Faridkot, Patiala, Jalandhar and Ferozepore districts.


Attempt to bring youth back to life
Tribune Reporters

Patiala, August 16
A youth who was presumed to have died and whose body was taken to the cremation ground on Monday, was brought back to his locality yesterday where a religious preacher tried to bring him back to life before the police made him see reason.

Vikas Mintoo (19), a resident of Dhiru ki Majri, was trying to repair some cable wires when he got electrocuted. He was taken to Rajindra Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

When all was set for the last rites, an old woman found him breathing. This triggered various theories and some elders deemed it fit to bring his body back to the locality where a religious preacher tried to revive the youth.

In a strange sight, the youth was buried with only his neck and face above the ground. Some policemen in mufti mingled with the crowd and used their local contacts to convince residents that what they were doing could not be taken to its logical end.

Vikas was cremated this morning.


Provide adequate water, MC told
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 16
Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Kharar MLA, has directed the local Municipal Council to provide adequate supply of water to the residents of the town by running tubewells on generator sets during power cuts.

The MLA said that he had been receiving complaints that the town was facing an acute water shortage, as power supply remained disrupted for long hours.

It was brought to the notice of the MLA that the civic body had purchased generator sets for tubewells by spending lakhs of rupees but these could not be used as a proposal of the council regarding the purchase of diesel was stayed by authorities concerned.

The MLA assured that he would get the stay vacated and the generator sets should be made functional within the next three days so that residents were able to get adequate supply of water even during power shut downs.


Villagers block traffic
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 16
Residents of Baba Sotal today blocked the Morinda-Ropar road, demanding the arrest of those responsible for the death of a property dealer, Manjit Singh.

Later, they met the SSP, who marked the case to the CIA staff.

The body of Manjit Singh was found under mysterious circumstances on August 13. He had suffered serious head injuries and his mobile phone was found missing. The villagers claim it to be a case of murder. 


Ropar jail to start working soon

Ludhiana, August 16
Jails in Punjab are virtually bursting at the seams with 3,000 inmates more than the capacity of 12,000 persons.

The ADGP (Jails), Mr H.R. Chadha, said: “The only solution is the construction of more jails. A new jail in Ropar has been completed and will start functioning soon.” He said suggestion boxes had been installed in the Central Jail, Patiala, for getting feedback from the inmates. — TNS


Office-bearers elected
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 16
Mr Raman Kumar Verma was elected president of the Panchayati Raj Engineers Association (Class-1) while Mr Parkash Singh its general secretary. The other office-bearers are: P.K. Aggarwal — vice-president; Davinder Kumar Hans — finance secretary; Reeta Aggarwal, Tejpal Singh and Sanjeev Gupta— Executive members.


I-Day celebrated with enthusiasm
Tribune Reporters

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 16
Independence Day was celebrated with enthusiasm in the district. The district-level function was organised at the grounds of MG College. Mr Harnam Dass Johar, Minister for Public Health, hoisted the National Flag.

He handed over sewing machines to widows and tricycles to handicapped and announced a grant of Rs 50,000 for schoolchildren who participated in the function. He also honoured police personnel who participated in cultural activities.

Similarly, Independence Day was celebrated at Bassi Pathana where Ms Harbans Kaur Dullo, Parliamentary Secretary, unfurled the National Flag.

Mr Arsh Deep Singh Thind, SDM, unfurled the flag at Amloh and Mr Ravinder Kumar, SDM, unfurled the flag at Khamano.

Patiala: Mr R.K. Verma, Deputy Commissioner, stressed the need for strengthening Punjabi theatre to maintain a balance between industrial revolution and cultural movement for the development of the nation. He was speaking at “Tiranga sandhaya”, a patriotic programme organised by the National Theatre Arts Society in collaboration with the NZCC, and the State Bank of Patiala.

A Punjabi musical play, “Sanu Kee”, directed by Pran Sabharwal and Sunita was staged.


Credit for award goes to farmers, says Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 16
Mr Balwinder Singh Sidhu The Director, Agriculture, Punjab, Mr Balwinder Singh Sidhu, who was honoured yesterday with a State Award by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, at Patiala, is an expert in agricultural engineering and water usage management. He is the author of three books and several research papers on this subject. Besides a citation, Mr Sidhu was given a cash award of Rs 11,000.

Mr Sidhu, who has been to several countries for advanced training in agriculture-related technology, was earlier honoured by the Union Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources for promoting biogas-based plants in Punjab from 1987 to 1992. As Joint Director, Agriculture, he was in the forefront of popularising the zero-tillage scheme. He is now focusing on the diversification of agriculture with the objective of making it a profitable venture for small and marginal farmers.

Happy at receiving the award, Mr Sidhu said: ‘‘ The credit for it goes to the hard-working farmers of the state and extension officials as well as agricultural scientists". 


BKU (Ekta) urges CM to waive loan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 16
The BKU (Ekta) has criticised the statement of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh made on Independence Day pertaining to the waiving of interest on cooperative loans for farmers.

In a pressnote, Mr Pishora Singh Sidhupur, district president of the union, said the Chief Minister’s statement meant that just 2 to 4 per cent of the farming community would benefit.

He urged the CM to waive the entire loan of Rs 20,000 crore which farmers owed to various banking institutions.

He also urged the CM to get the MSP of cotton enhanced by at least Rs 500 per quintal and that of sugarcane by Rs 100.


Seven booked under Child Marriage Act
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 16
After a thorough inquiry into the complaint of Mr Paramjit Singh, a son of Khan Singh of Maitla, Bulhowal police station has registered a case under Sections 4/5 of the Child Marriage Act against Davinder Singh and his wife Harjinder Kaur of the same village and five of his other relatives for forcibly marrying his 15-year-old daughter Gurpinder Kaur with 30-year-old Tarsem Singh, a son of Major Singh of Naagra village (Jalandhar).

According to Mr Darshanjit Singh Dhindsa, SP (D), Hoshiarpur, Mr Paramjit Singh alleged that his brother Davinder Singh, along with his wife, brother-in-law Paramjit Singh, mother-in-law Charan Kaur, sister Paramjit Kaur, sister’s husband Gurbax Singh and Veena, owner of a marriage bureau of Nandanpur (Jalandhar), married Gurpinder Kaur in a temple at Nandachaur village of this district on April 28, 2006. He further alleged that Davinder Singh took Rs 60,000 from Tarsem Singh for marrying his daughter with him.

He had made a complaint to the DSP of Bholath in this connection and also produced the birth certificate of Gurpinder Kaur, but the DSP refused to register a case under the plea that the place of occurrence of crime did not fall in his jurisdiction.

Later, Paramjit Singh made a complaint to the DIG, Jalandhar Range, who handed over the inquiry of the case to the district police.


3 members of robbers’ gang arrested
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, August 16
The district police has unearthed a six-member gang of robbers responsible for a number of looting incidents and arrested its three members. The police has also seized two .315-bore revolvers and eight cartridges from their possession.

Mr Parveen Kumar Sihna, SSP, told newsmen here today that a police party, led by Mr Harmanbir Singh Gill, SP (D), set up a naka in the area and arrested three members of the gang.

The arrested members had been identified as Saraj Singh of Jhanda Bagga, Harpal Singh of Makhu and Amarjit Singh of Faridkot.

The SSP said the looters had confessed to have robbed a petrol station on the Sarhali road on July 29 and looted Rs 71,000 from a bank in Abohar.


Man kills wife
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, August 16
Three deaths were reported in separate incidents during the past 24 hours here.

Balwinder Singh (47) killed his wife at Noodri village, 8 km from here, last night. Police sources revealed that Balwinder, who was allegedly under the influence of liquor, attacked his wife with a brick. She was injured and later he tortured her brutally. She died on the way to hospital. A case under Section 302, IPC, has been registered against the accused who fled from the spot soon after the incident. A minor domestic dispute is said to be the cause of the incident.

In another incident, Satnam Singh (35) of the same village was run over by a train when he was crossing the track. He failed to see the approaching train. The Government Railways Police registered a case under Section 174 of the CrPC.

In the third incident, Gursewak Singh, a worker of the local HP Filling Station, died on the spot due to an accidental gun shot. Gursewak reportedly took the rifle from Kartar Singh, a gunman posted at the filling station and tried to take his own photograph holding the gun in his hand. The gun went off accidentally injuring him in the abdomen. He died on the spot. 


Man murders daughter over illicit relations
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 16
A man, along with his son-in-law, reportedly murdered his daughter following an altercation with her over her illicit relations here today.

According to sources, the deceased, Manjeet Kaur, was married to Gurjit Singh, a resident of Ballaram Nagar, a carpenter by profession. She had an 11-year-old son and an eight-year-old daughter.

Sources said her husband was suspicious of her character and had asked her family members to persuade her to mend her ways. When all his efforts didn’t yield any results, he called his father-in-law Thakur Singh to his residence to sort out the matter.

Sources said both of them had a heated debate over the issue with the deceased and when she didn’t give in they allegedly started thrashing her, which led to her death.

They ran away from the spot after perpetrating the crime. The police has registered a case against them, while the victim’s body has been sent to the local Civil Hospital for a post-mortem examination.


Computer teachers burn Singla’s effigy
They get Rs 3,080 pay and safai karamcharis Rs 3,600
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 16
Under the banner of the Punjab Computer Teacher Union, Sangrur, computer teachers of this district today burnt the effigy of Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla near main bus stand here in protest against the alleged “anti-computer teacher policies” of the state government. Before burning the effigy, some teachers cleaned the chowk with brooms and later “beat up” the effigy with brooms. They also blocked traffic for about 15 minutes at the traffic lights chowk.

The protesters, led by Mr Gurvinder Rattan, state vice-president of the union, also took out a protest march through the bazaar and held a “siapa” by placing the effigy at the Chhota chowk and raised slogans against the Punjab Government and in support of their demands.

Their demands include the discontinuation of the policy of appointment of computer teachers on contract, regular appointments of the computer teachers, and full pay scales to those working in the schools on a contract basis.

Mr Rattan said salaries of Rs 3,080 or Rs 3,960 per month to the computer teachers was a cruel joke as the state government had recently announced a salary of Rs 3,600 per month for the safai karamcharis of the municipal councils.

The protesters were addressed, among others, by Mr Nitash Sharma, Mr Devinder Singh and Mr Pushpinder Pal Rattan, general secretary, press secretary and spokesman, respectively, of the district unit of the union.


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