P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


BJP wants land Act repealed
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 10
The BJP has decided to launch a signature campaign on the “wrong implementation” of the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA) in the kandi belt of the state.

It has decided to launch a state- level stir against the “injustice” done by the Act to residents of 470 villages.

Lakhs of residents of Hoshiarpur, Mukerian, Garhshankar, Dasuya, Mohali, Kharar, Anandpur Sahib, Dhar, Balachaur, Nawanshahr and Ropar are suffering due to the faulty implementation of the Act, it said.

The BJP state president, Mr Avinash Khanna, hails from Garshankar and though the Act was about 100 years old, it is for the first time that the BJP has started opposing it. Most of the affected areas fall under the Assembly or Lok Sabha segments contested by BJP candidates.

Mr Vijay Sampla, general secretary of the Punjab unit of the BJP, said here today that the party had decided to start protests under the leadership of MP Avinash Rai Khanna. The campaign would start with a door-to-door signature campaign and would conclude after submission of a memorandum to the Punjab Governor.

Mr Sampla said if the government remained rigid on the de-notification of areas under the PLPA, the party would hold rallies in the affected Assembly segments.

He said the PLPA was an old law, primarily aimed to check soil erosion due to rain. Even after Independence and the re-organisation of states, Punjab was implementing this “obsolete and stringent Act.”

Justifying the repeal of the Act, the BJP leader said with the subsequent development and construction of 68 check dams and effective soil conservation measures like bench terracing and countering, bonding these areas had generally been stabilised and were no longer prone to soil erosion.

Meanwhile, BJP youth leader Vineet Joshi said out of the 1,68,246 hectares under the PLPA, 66,166.82 hectares had come under cultivation and 3200.08 hectares was inhabited by people.

These areas had witnessed constructions and development, he added.

HOSHIARPUR: The Punjab Land Protection Act (PLPA), under which the state government is acquiring 1.75 lakh acres of land in five districts of the state for big houses, should be scrapped. This was stated by Mr Vineet Joshi, in charge, youth wing of the BJP for Jammu and Kashmir and media in charge, BJP, Chandigarh, while talking to mediapersons at Garhshankar, 40 km from here, on Sunday. He said the Act was framed during British rule and was now being used against the farmers by the state government.


CM rapped over demand to transfer Chandigarh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 10
Training his guns on the Capt Amarinder Singh government, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal, has accused the Congress of turning its back on the long-standing demand of transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab.

Meanwhile, the SAD has formulated a comprehensive plan for transformation of the existing abysmal power sector of Punjab to what it called an “inter-state collaborative enterprise”, if it came to power after the February 2007 Assembly poll.

“In place of doing anything concrete for the transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh and his men are more interested in making trips to Dubai,” said Mr Sukhbir Badal.

Mr Badal, who was accompanied by senior SAD leaders, including, Mr Avinash, Mr Charanjit Singh Channi and BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, also ridiculed the reported announcement of Capt Amarinder Singh that his government would fill three lakh government vacancies shortly.

Unveiling its plan for the power sector reform, Mr Badal said it was aimed at breaking the stagnation in developmental activity by turning Punjab into a power-surplus state. The plan, based on joint ventures, is aimed at generation of an additional 2,500 MW to help Punjab cross the 5000 MW mark by 2012.

As per details worked out by experts nominated by the SAD and government officials of Gujarat, Orissa, Arunachal Pradesh, a fully state-of-the-art transmission infrastructure would be put in place by setting up power plants in these states in joint ventures with Punjab. “Electricity will be purchased from these states,” he said.

Interestingly, Mr Badal agreed with Capt Amarinder Singh over the possibility of use of nuclear power in the state. But he did not say anything when reminded about Haryana’s proposed plan to set up a nuclear power plant and views of scientists that nuclear power could not only be a safer alternative for Punjab, but could be cost-effective source of electricity in the state.

When asked about whether he was contesting the forthcoming assembly poll, he quipped, “Is anybody giving ticket to me?”

Mr Sarbjit Singh Makkar, former Improvement Trust Chairman, was accompanying Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal.


Appointment of granthis: SGPC chief’s ‘grip on Sikh affairs weakens’
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 10
Now the Sikh Missionaries and the Sikh’ clergy seem to be on a collision course following the rejection of the appointments of three granthis for the Golden Temple, resulting in another polarization in the Sikh Panth.

The Sikh Missionaries enjoy the support of certain former Jathedars and the Akal Purkh Ki Fauj, led by SGPC member, Jaswinder Singh advocate while Jathedar Akal Takht got the support of Sikh high priests of other Takhts, the Golden Temple, the Damdami Taksal and many Nihang factions. The Sikh missionaries are likely to come on a single platform to challenge the Sikh clergy in the coming days .

Meanwhile, former head granthi, Giani Bhagwan Singh condemned the ‘Gurmata’ passed by the Sikh clergy, rejecting the appointment of three granthis of the Golden Temple. He said Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti had no moral ground to reject the appointments since he himself was appointed Jathedar Akal Takht without following any procedure. Similarly, Giani Puran Singh was appointed in Circuit House as Jathedar Akal Takht in violation of the Sikh traditions.

The appointments of Bhai Ranjit Singh, Giani Mohan Singh, Giani Jagtar Singh and Giani Gurbachan Singh (head granthi Golden Temple) made by the SGPC executive committee were made by the Shiromani Committee without involving the Sikh Sants.

It is alleged that most of the Sikh high priests who had participated in the ‘Gurmata’, rejecting the appointments of the three granthis were former students of the Sikh seminary — the Damdami Taksal. However, the Missionaries claim that they had been following the maryada of Akal Takht.

The three granthis, Giani Maan Singh, head granthi Takht Damdamda Sahib, Giani Jaspal Singh of Ludhiana and Giani Gurbax Singh Gulshan of the U.K. have been practising the Maryada of Akal Takht and the SGPC in toto. So much so Giani Maan Singh who is still head granthi of a Takht had resigned from his post when the then SGPC chief tried to dictate terms on the Maryada. On the other hand, Giani Gulshan had reportedly cleared the religious test in 1980.

Earlier too, the Damdami Taksal and Nihang factions had won the religious battle on the issue of the Damdami Taksal with the active support of Jathedars of various Sikh organisations.

However, what is disturbing, the SGPC chief is his failure to get granthis installed as per the decision of the executive body that shows his lack of grip on the Sikh affairs and various Sikh organisations.


Farmers to begin stir from today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 10
In view of the forthcoming session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, various organisations of farmers in the state shall start an agitation at the Matka Chowk in Chandigarh from tomorrow. The Vidhan Sabha session begins on September 14.

About nine organisations of the farmers shall be jointly protesting on September 13, while the Bharti Kisan Union (Rajewal faction) has planned its rally on September 11 and the Punjab Kisan Sabha, backed by Leftists, on September 12.

The demands are almost common and related to tackling the issue of outstanding debts of the farming community. The organisations also believe that this is the last session of the Vidhan Sabha before the Assembly elections, the Chief Minister should get the Bill on rural indebtedness cleared. 


Rs 40 cr for rail link between Goindwal Sahib,
Tarn Taran

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 10
The Union Railway Ministry has sanctioned Rs 40 crore for laying the rail track between Goindwal Sahib and Tarn Taran. The work on laying the track is expected to start in the last week of October.

Besides it, the ministry has prepared an elaborate project to re-construct the Railway station at Attari. Sources said the Railway Ministry had planned to spend Rs 7 crore to provide all sorts of modern infrastructure at the Attari railway station from where pilgrims and others board train to Pakistan.

Talking about the Goindwal-Tarn Taran rail link, Dr M.S.Gill, Member of the Rajya Sabha from Punjab, told The Tribune on the phone from Delhi today that he had received a letter in this regard from Mr R. Velu, Union Minister of State for Railways. Mr Gill said already land had been acquired to lay the rail track.

“Mr Velu has stated in his letter that the Railway authorities concerned are preparing to start the work on the track next month”, said Mr Gill.” It is my long cherished dream to see Tarn Taran linked to Goindwal Sahib through the rail track”, he added.

“Earlier, I had pushed the case to declare Tarn Taran as district headquarters. This objective has been achieved,” he said. The distance between Goindwal Sahib and Tarn Taran is about of 20 kms.

Besides his visit to Punjab in the last week of this month, the Prime Minister has a programme to visit Amritsar in October. He is expected to lay the foundation stone of a Attari railway station, which will be reconstructed, and also of the foundation stone of the rail link between Goindwal Sahib and Tarn Taran.

Meanwhile, the Union Home Ministry is giving final touches to improve the infrastructure at the Wagah border, it is learnt.


Sexual complaints panel working ‘not transparent’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 10
The chairperson of the Punjab State Social Welfare Board, Ms Ratna, and the member of the Guru Nanak Dev University's sexual harassment complaints committee said its working was not transparent.

She said the member of women faculty and girl scholars were not invited to participate and present their views on such an important issue as sexual harassment.

Ms Ratna strongly advocated that the representatives of women faculty and girls research scholars and students should be empanelled so as to make them aware of their rights.

This would create awareness about the working of this important committee.

The chairperson said the university had set up the committee under the guidelines of the apex court to take on record the cases of sexual harassment, which may otherwise have gone unreported and to protect the honour of the woman.

Ms Ratna suggested that it was essential to make the working of the committee more transparent so that the victims of sexual harassment openly come forward to register their complaints.

She also said the committee should be broadbased and represented by girl students so as to encourage them to participate in this important panel.

The committee's functioning should be time bound in solving the cases of sexual harassment.


Simranjit Singh Mann honoured with
‘Kohenoor-e-Kaum’ award
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 10
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), was today honoured with “Kohenoor-e-Kaum” award by the local unit of the SAD (A), social organisations and youth clubs at a function here. Mr Mann was honoured with a Sri Sahib, a memento and a “siropa”.

Others were present on the occasion were Mr Daljit Singh Bittu, senior vice president of the SAD (A); Mr Barinder Singh Mann, president of the youth wing of the SAD (A); Mr Nirmal Singh Gharachon, a member of the SGPC; Mr Jeet Singh Alloarkh, district president of the SAD (A); and Mr Harkamal Singh Batth, president of the local unit of the SAD (A). Addressing the gathering Mr Mann asked the youth not to believe in fanaticism. He said the youth should believe in welfare of all and work for the welfare of the entire humankind.

Mr Daljit Singh Bittu asked the youth to unite in view of the Assembly elections. He said the SAD (A) would not allow acquisition of land of farmers forcibly by the government.

Mr Barinder Singh Mann urged the party workers to extend full support to the candidates, to whom Mr Mann gave party ticket in the Assembly elections, so that the voice of the party could be raised in the Assembly. On the occasion, Mr Mann also honoured some persons, including Mr Dasvir Singh Dalee, advocate for getting his name entered in the Limca Book of Records, and Mr Kulwinder Singh, a boxer.

Later Mr Mann along with Mr Wazir Khan, district president of the Muslim Wing of the SAD (A), and Mr Jeet Singh Alloarkh, district president of the party; visited a mosque in the Sunami Gate area here and expressed sympathy with the Muslims there in connection with the Malegaon bomb blasts in which several Muslims were killed a couple of days ago.


Drop case against Gaganjit: Badal

Kharar, September 10
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, SAD, said here today that the poll plank of his party in the coming Assembly elections would be the curbing of corruption and carrying out proper development in Punjab.

Mr Badal, who was here to attend the bhog of akhand path organised by party workers at Desumajra, said the SAD would have a poll alliance only with the BJP . He said after coming to power, it would launch action against corrupt ministers in the present Amarinder Singh government. Concrete evidence of graft would be presented and strict action taken against the guilty Congress leaders.

Mr Badal said the DNA report in the Gaganjit Singh case was inconclusive. The case of rape against Mr Gaganjit Singh, MLA, should now be withdrawn by the Chandigarh Administration. He said there was a deliberate attempt to malign Mr Gaganjit Singh, the family of Mr Surjit Singh Barnala and the SAD.

He said he had not received any invitation regarding a proposed discussion in the coming session of the state Assembly. He said he was not even aware of the issues on which the discussion would be held in the House. — OC


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