P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


BJP holds ‘Parda Faash’ rally
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 17
The state BJP president, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, said today that the BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) alliance would bag more than 100 seats in the forthcoming Assembly elections.

He was addressing a “Parda Faash” rally organised here.

Mr Khanna said the people of Punjab were fed up with the Congress government, which had been found indulged in big scams like Citi Centre scam of Ludhiana involving Rs 2,100 crore.

He said it was just the tip of the iceberg. “There are other scams also in which the Congress leaders have been found involved and we would expose all those scams after coming in power,” stated Mr Khanna.

Meanwhile, former cricketer and member of Parliament Navjot Singh Sidhu said, “If the Congress bags even 50 per cent of the total seats, I would leave the politics.”

Mr Sidhu said the Congress leaders were playing dirty politics. They had been found indulged in the Citi Centre scam in Ludhiana.

The state BJP co-in charge Mr R.P. Singh said he was ready to debate with the Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, on any issue.

He said he would send Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu on television channel to debate with the Chief Minister on the development issue and hence would expose the Congress government.

He said besides corruption, the Congress government had not done anything. He said the condition of power supply was so poor that there was a routine power cut of more than eight hours in Ludhiana.

The Congress also ignored the Backward Classes in the state for its own interests. “The Improvement Trust has also been found indulged in a number of big scams that are still to be exposed,” he said.

Meanwhile, the tussle between Mr Anil Joshi and Dr Baldev Raj Chawla has intensified over the issue of the seat in the forthcoming Assembly elections.

While Mr Anil Joshi is a strong BJP activist and BJP state executive member, Dr Baldev Raj Chawla is a former Punjab Health Minister, who lost his seat to the Congress candidate during the last Assembly elections.


Another complaint against ‘kar seva’ baba
Chander Parkash
Tribune News service

Patiala, September 17
The state police has received yet another complaint in connection with embezzlement of foreign donations against the absconding baba of ‘kar seva’, Amrik Singh, who is facing criminal cases in Patiala and Amritsar for his alleged involvement in embezzlement of donations to the tune of crores of rupees.

Mr S.S. Virk, DGP, while talking to TNS here yesterday said the complaint was being investigated by appropriate officers and action would be taken as per the outcome of investigations.

He added that what the baba had done was that he had collected a significant number of dollars from foreign countries and did not deposit the same with the authorities concerned. He said Amrik Singh went to Pakistan for carrying out ‘kar seva’ of historical gurdwaras.

A criminal case was registered against Amrik Singh by the Patiala police for his alleged involvement in purchase of land with the embezzled money in this area.

A number of bank accounts in name of Amrik Singh were also detected in different banks of this district by the police. A perusal of the bank statements of this account revealed the manner in which Amrik Singh, Guriqbal Singh and Amandip Singh used to embezzle funds. Amrik Singh had purchased 27 kanals and five marlas of land at a village near Bahadurgarh.

Amrik Singh, Mukhtar Singh, Mukhtar’s wife Harjit Kaur, Mukhtar’s son Amandip Singh, Mukhtar’s daughter Kanwaljit Kaur, Harmohinder Singh, Guriqbal Singh, alias Rinku, and Dharmjit Singh were booked in the local Tirpuri police station.

The FIR alleged that Amrik Singh had illicit relations with a resident of Bakshiwala.

It was alleged that Amrik Singh had given 1.5 kg of gold and a mobile phone to Kanwaljit Kaur.


Another controversy haunts Ch Jagjit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 17
Controversies seem to be chasing Punjab minister Ch Jagjit Singh. After the ruckus in the Punjab Assembly over the Ludhiana City Centre issue, it seems Ch Jagjit Singh faces another charge, that is, of tampering with records of the Vidhan Sabha. He is also the Parliamentary Affairs Minister in the Amarinder Singh Cabinet.

The case relates to the last Budget session of the Assembly where allegations were levelled against Ch Jagjit Singh for having exempted a 32-acre plot from a scheme of the Amritsar Improvement Trust on the Jalandhar-Amritsar road. For two days the matter was hotly debated in the Vidhan Sabha as a ruling party MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, had levelled the allegation that crores had changed hands.

As per the records of the Vidhan Sabha, on March 1, the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, announced the constitution of a committee of the House to look into the matter raised by Mr Bir Devinder Singh. As per the details emerging now, the Vidhan Sabha issued a corrigendum on April 21, 2006, saying “the announcement by the Speaker shall be treated null and void”.

This has raised the hackles of the Opposition MLAs. Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder and Mr Tota Singh, before they, along with others, were suspended from the House. They later submitted a privilege motion against the minister, saying that their suspension smacked of mala fide intention.

It also showed as if the Speaker had never announced the formation of the committee despite having formally informed the House about its constitution.

In the demand for moving a privilege motion, the three MLAs said, “It may, therefore, be construed that the Vidhan Sabha Secretariat has tampered with the original record and committed a fraud on the sitting members of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha”. This was in total violation of the procedure for the transparent democratic conduct of business according to precedence and practice.

They have alleged that Ch Jagjit Singh, who has been accused of embezzlement of over Rs 100 crore by senior members of his own party, has prevailed upon the authorities to get the proceedings of the House obliterated and whitewashed to prevent imminent action against him under the anti-corruption law of the land.


Vigilance initiates probe into forest plantations
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, September 17
The flying squad of the Punjab Vigilance Department has initiated an inquiry into the plantations made under a Japan bank aided project from 2001 to 2005.

A team of vigilance officials has camped in the forest office at Hoshiarpur and is collecting the data regarding plantations carried out in the said period.

The SP, Vigilance, Mr H.S. Bhullar, under whose supervision the inquiry has been initiated, told The Tribune that they were in the process of collecting the data regarding the plantations. The inquiry has been initiated on the basis of the probe started by the Punjab vigilance earlier in this regard.

According to papers, the plantations have been made in a forest area extending to about 4,24,000 acres under Sections 4 and 5 of the Forest Act and in reserve forests of about 40 sq km across the state. The Forest Department advertisements claim to have carried out plantations across 79,576 hectares in the state.

The places at which the plantations have been made can only be assessed from the revenue records of the forest land. The revenue records are either available with the Department of Forest or the district revenue authorities.


Fee hike keeps girls away from polytechnics
Manish Kumar Singal
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 17
The percentage of women in Punjab showing interest in vocational courses has reduced significantly. They have stopped seeking admissions due to the government decision in 2003 to increase the fees.

Parents are reluctant to pay high fees of vocational courses. Harjeet Kaur and Jaswinder Kaur said they wanted to become professionals but after the fee hike, their parents were not able to pay the fees of government polytechnic colleges.

The percentage of girl students seeking admission to these institutes has fallen to 35-50 per cent. In some courses, there is not even a single student.

Up to 1998, technical education was free for girls. In 1999, a nominal fee of around Rs 7,200 per annum was charged from both boys and girls. In 2003, the fee was raised up to Rs 23,000 per annum.

Prof S.P. Singh of Government Polytechnic College for Girls, Ludhiana, said parents refused to get their girls admitted to the institutes as they felt they would be married in some years and spending so much money on education made little sense.

At Government Polytechnic Institute, Ludhiana, not even a single seat was left vacant till 2002. It offered courses in computer (60 seats), electronics (60), garment technology (60) and IT (30). After the hike, the intake was computer (40), IT (20) and garment technology (18).

Similarly, Government Polytechnic Institute, Patiala, offered commercial arts (60 seats), IT (60), architecture (30) and electronics (60) but after the hike, the intake was commercial arts (5), electronics (56), architecture (11) and IT (60).

The condition at the Ropar polytechnic institute is even worse. It offers computer (30), chemical engineering (30), electronics and communication (60) and pharmacy (30). All the seats were filled before the fee hike but after 2003, the figures were computers (30), chemical engineering (vacant), electronics and communication (12) and pharmacy (21).

According to Mr Baljeet Singh, a lecturer at the Ropar polytechnic institute, said, “The average income of common man in Ropar is around Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 per month. In such a scenario, parents feel it is not possible for them to educate their daughters.”


Garg stakes claim for SAD ticket
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 17
The national vice president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Mr Parkash Chand Garg, has staked his claim on the Sangrur Assembly seat as a candidate of SAD in the ensuing Assembly elections by saying that he is a strong claimant for the SAD ticket for Sangrur Assembly seat this time as he has been serving SAD for the past 30 years as a loyal worker.

It is an open secret that there is a direct fight between Mr Ranjit Singh Ballian, a former Punjab Minister, and Mr Parkash Chand Garg for the SAD ticket during the ensuing Assembly elections for the Sangrur Assembly seat. Mr Ballian had contested the last Assembly election from Sangrur as an independent candidate when he had been denied the SAD ticket.

Talking to The Tribune here, Mr Garg said Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president of SAD, was a man of secular thinking, so he would give sufficient number of tickets to non-Sikhs who had a lot of trust in him.

Mr Garg also stated that though he had been denied the party ticket during 1997 and 2002 Assembly elections, he remained loyal to Mr Badal and SAD and supported the official candidate of the SAD every time. He said if he contested from Sangrur this time, he would certainly win by a big margin as he had a strong base in rural as well as urban areas of the Sangrur constituency.

Mr Garg also stated that he had already started meeting people in the villages and towns to contest the next Assembly elections.


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